Home of the Week Poll: Which Is Your Favorite Kitchen?

four kitchens

Help us designate the Kitchen of the Month by telling us which of these is your favorite kitchen and why.

By Julia West

At New Home Source, we feature a beautiful house each week that's designated as our Home of the Week. Our intention is to highlight inspiring newly built homes that are on the market and help our readers discover trends in home and interior design.

Our Home of the Week homes all have a distinct style — particularly in their fantastic kitchens. So, tell us: which of these kitchens represent your personal style? Which one would you love to have in your home? Leave us a comment telling us which is your favorite kitchen and why. The kitchen with the most comments and likes will be crowned our Kitchen of the Month!

Residence 3 Plan by Melia Homes: Live Oak Estates, La Verne, Calif.

(Photo Courtesy of Melia Homes)

This kitchen from Melia Homes features an open and airy floor plan that highlights a sleek marbled island. Luxury appliances such as a spacious fridge, stovetop and double oven are placed alongside light-toned wooden cabinets topped with marble and a backsplash of neutral-colored glass tiles. The coral and gray accents bring out the natural tones of the marbled flooring and cabinetry, while the wicker chairs give the room a softer feel.

Hayden Plan by Maracay Homes: Artesian Ranch, Chandler, Ariz.

(Photo Courtesy of Maracay Homes)

This kitchen from Maracay Homes emphasizes its gourmet stainless steel GE appliances and granite island. Because the appliances and prep areas are spacious, this kitchen is both stunning and efficient. The appliances in this kitchen include a 36-inch gas cooktop with vented hood and double ovens. The teal accessories help bring out a refreshing feeling within the space with help from the light cabinets and shimmery backsplash. Not only does the island with a built-in sink and maple cabinetry make this kitchen look comfy — but check out that light and airy breakfast nook!

Starlight Plan by Neal Communities: Sugar Mill Lakes, Palmetto, Fla.

(Photo Courtesy of Neal Communities)

This kitchen from Neal Communities is a fabulous space for cooking and entertaining guests. The large island is the heart of this space, which makes it comfortable for guests to feel like a part of the kitchen when in the cook is in action. Furnished with white cabinets and light-colored wood floors, this kitchen is the epitome of a sleek chef’s work space. The kitchen’s walk-in pantry goes into the laundry room, providing plenty of space for storage. Hints of greenery in the kitchen add a sense of freshness to the space, while still maintaining a classy look.

Sahara Plan by Ashton Woods Homes: Legacy Estates at Morrison Ranch, Mesa, Ariz.

(Photo Courtesy of Ashton Woods Homes)

This contemporary Ashton Woods Homes kitchen emphasizes the abundance of natural light and modern design. It includes stainless steel appliances, modern fixtures and pendant lights to give it a shiny look. Not only does natural light come in through the large windows, but also from the Zen-style windows under the upper cabinets. The large kitchen island is the center of attention in this space as it includes a waterfall countertop that is used as an extended eating area. Wood-like plank ceramic tile flooring adds warmth to this sleek space.

All four of these Home of the Week homes feature stunning kitchens. Which one would you choose in your new home?

To view more of the homes featured here, check out our Home of the Week category in our New Home Guide.

Julia West is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Home of the Week, User Poll | Leave a comment

Going on Vacation? Here Are 6 Tips to Protect Your Home While You’re Away

Graphic of two-story home sitting in life preserver in large body of water

Make sure you protect your home while you’re away on vacation with these tips.

By Dan Chapman

Can you smell the faint scent of sunscreen in the air? Do you hear the rushing waters of your favorite beach spot calling your name? It’s time for a vacation!

Summer is the perfect time to take your vacation, but you have to make sure you protect your home while you’re gone. You want to enjoy your time braving the Tower of Terror at Disney World with your Mickey Mouse ears, not worry about if your home is just as your left it. To prevent real terror from hitting your home, be it a burglary, an out-of-control leak or your poor dog not getting enough food, use these seven tips so you can breathe easier on your summer vacation:

Call On a Friend

See if a trusted friend can check on your home while you’re away. They can get your mail for you and collect your newspaper or any soliciting pamphlets left at your doorstep. Having a heap of newspapers in your driveway is a dead giveaway that you’re not home, allowing burglars free reign to your valuables.

If you have pets, make sure you give said trusted friend (or pet sitter) clear instructions on the amount of food they should put out or you can ration food into plastic bags beforehand, as well as their usual schedules to keep things as routine as possible for them. And, leave the names of your vet and an emergency clinic should your pet need medical attention while you’re away.

Clean It Out

Clear out the fridge and take out the trash before you leave. This will keep nasty smells from festering in your garbage bin and attracting pests.

Air Temps

While you don’t want to cool a home that’s unoccupied (if you don’t have pets), you may want to make sure your thermostat has been programmed to a constant temperature. Depending on the weather, adjust the thermostat so that your home is neither freezing nor overly humid. Even if no one is in your home, it could get really humid in your home, so programming your AC can help dry out the air in your home and prevent mold from growing while you are away, says Michael McCalley, owner Mr. Handyman.

Water Supply

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, homeowners pay an average of $5,308 to repair water damage related to a washing machine hose malfunction — ouch.

So, before you leave, turn off the water supply to your washing machine. McCalley says this is a good idea because water going to the machine is always on and it’s your washing machine that controls the flow. If there were a rupture in your washing machine hose while you were away, your home could face serious water damage.

Turn the Lights Off ... and On

An outlet timer can be your new best friend. Spencer Sourson, president of Coursen Security Group, says that “for just a few dollars at your local hardware store, you can buy an outlet timer that will switch your lights on and off for you.” Giving the impression that your house is occupied is one of the keys to preventing a burglary.

Don’t Be Social

Online, that is — feel free to make new friends on your trip, though! One of the easiest ways to prevent burglary is to not broadcast your vacation in public or on social media. In addition, don’t post vacation photos until after you’re home, since those who are friends with you on social media aren’t the only ones who can see what you’re posting.

Easy, right? These practical tips will ensure your home is in perfect order while you’re away, so be a proactive homeowner and take care of the little stuff that will make a huge impact on your home’s security before you leave. Happy travels!

Dan Chapman is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find him on Google+.

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Beat the Heat: Top 10 Ways to Save on Cooling Costs

Man changing air filter

It’s easy and relatively cheap to change your air filters. Doing this will help your cooling unit run more efficiently, saving you money.

By Ashley Steel

Rising summer temperatures have air conditioning units across America flexing their muscles. To many it may seem like there are only two choices: sit sweating on the couch while stashing away cash or live comfortably cool while feeling the heat of your tightening budget. It doesn’t have to be this way air conditioning professionals say — in fact, they say it’s possible to keep cool without breaking the bank.

While new homes already come equipped with energy-efficient appliances and increased insulation to protect against the heat, there’s always more you can do to shave a few extra dollars off your electricity bill. Here are the top 10 ways to save on cooling costs this summer:

1. Insulate the Attic

“Roughly 42 percent of energy (as well as heat/cooling) is lost through your attic,” says Andrew Webb of AC Pro, one of the largest air conditioning companies in Southern California. “By ensuring your attic is properly sealed and insulated, you can drastically improve the consistency of your home’s air temperature.”

2. Utilize Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise in the summer to push warm air upwards and circulate cool air downwards. “While the fan isn’t actually lowering the temperature in your home,” says Webb, “you feel cooler thanks to the wind-chill effect — the wicking of moisture and heat from your skin.”

Considering this, fans should only be utilized in rooms that are occupied and should be turned off when vacated.

3. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Widely available at most hardware stores, programmable thermostats can be found for less than $100. With features that enable you to preset temperatures throughout the day, you can reduce energy use while you're away or sleeping.

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save an average of 10 percent on your heating and cooling costs annually by programming the thermostat to set back the temperature 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day,” says Webb.

4. Change Your Air Filters

Not only do a dirty AC filters promote poor indoor air quality, but they can also raise your energy bills dramatically. “A clean air filter can lower energy consumption by between 5 and 15 percent,” says Webb. Cheap to replace, he recommends changing your filters every two to three months.

5. Clean Your Outdoor Condensing Unit

Your outdoor air conditioning unit is exposed to winds that carry dirt and debris. When foreign particles build up in the unit’s screens and coils, it’s forced to work harder to remove heat and produce the cool air you enjoy. It’s important to check and clean your condensing unit on a regular basis.

Webb suggests hosing down the unit to remove built up dirt and clearing shrubs and other debris in a two-foot radius around the unit as a preventative measure.

6. Fix Refrigerant Leaks

According to Brandy Andrews, founder of the National Air Warehouse — a leading AC and heating online retailer — a system with just a 10-percent loss in coolant levels bears a 20-percent increase in operational costs. Additionally, “a system with a refrigerant leak could be releasing harmful and ozone damaging chemicals into the environment.”

Andrews suggests that coolant levels be checked annually in compliance with the standards of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

7. Maintain Your Air Conditioning Unit

No matter how new your AC unit is, it’s important that you maintain it properly. Without
regular maintenance, an HVAC system’s operational cost increases approximately 5 percent per year,” says Andrews. “Not only does [basic maintenance] increase the life span of your HVAC system, it also maintains it operating at a higher efficiency.”

She suggests searching sites like Groupon to find a good deal on a tune-up.

8. Reduce Unnecessary Lighting

It may not seem like much, but “lighting generates heat, so reducing the use of lamps and lights may have a notable reduction in room temperature,” says appliance and repair specialist, Terry Spencer of RepairClinic.com, a site for replacement parts and free how-to repair help for major home appliances.

“Make a habit of switching off lights when exiting a room,” he says and always look for ways you can minimize lighting for a given situation. For example, enjoying a book late at night doesn’t require an overhead light, try using a lamp instead.

9. Utilize Shades and Drapes

Shades and drapes don’t just serve privacy and lighting purposes, they are also great for controlling temperature. Considering that light generates heat, closing your blinds can help to block out the sun’s hot rays. “This simple action may reduce room temperature by several degrees,” says Spencer.

10. Wear Lighter Clothing

It may seem like a no-brainer, but summer is called bikini season for a reason. The hot weather lends itself to shedding our winter layers. “Attire has an important role in comfort levels in homes,” Spencer says. “Wear shorts and sleeveless shirts instead of pants and long-sleeve shirts at home,” so that you don’t have to lower the thermostat below a reasonable level.

It’s not impossible to keep cool on a budget this summer. By implementing just a few of these pro tips, you can help you reduce your bill this summer. Good luck on you journey to a cool comfortable, summer indoors!

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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App of The Month: Home Maintenance Made Easy

screenshots of HomeKeepr home maintenance app

The HomeKeepr app sets reminders for home maintenance projects.

By Dan Chapman

A newly built home gives you the freedom to do the things that you like to do, rather than the things you have to do, like home maintenance.

However, if you’re still in a resale home while your new home is being built or if you’ll be in an older home for a few more years, home maintenance is an ongoing process that costs you time and money, not to mention the energy it takes to remember all of the items on your to-do list.

Let the HomeKeepr app from Which Ventures, Inc. do the work for you. OK, so the app isn’t really going to clean the cooling coils in your refrigerator for you, but it will alert you to when cleaning those coils needs to be done. The free app is available for both Apple and Android phones.

What’s cool about Homekeepr is that it not only reminds you to do maintenance check-ups, it offers advice on how to maintain your home and allows you to set a preferred service company to handle any problems. Here’s more on how it works:

The first thing you have to do is describe your house, or homes, to the app. This will take a couple of minutes and will help you get the most accurate diagnostic for your home’s maintenance needs. The app will ask you a series of simple questions about your type of home, your appliances, etc.

Homekeepr then processes your information and returns a schedule of when you need to check on certain parts of the house. You can set it so that you receive both text and email reminders (or just one type of reminder) to take care of the maintenance check-ups on any given date. If you click on, say, pest and insect inspection, you’ll see a description of how an exterminator will treat your home and a recommendation of how many times per year to get your home treated.

With this simple app, you can breathe a little easier when it comes to home maintenance. Give your mind a rest and let Homekeepr remember your home to-do list for you.

Dan Chapman is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find him on Google+

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Top 10 Tools Every Homeowner Needs in Their Toolbox

Toolbelt with brush, screwdrivers, pencil, chisel and wrench.

If you have the right tools, you’ll be able to tackle projects large and small.

By Patricia L. Garcia

When you move into your newly built home, you’re likely to get all sorts of gifts from family and friends: cook- and bakeware, decorative items like lamps or picture frames or even gift cards to your favorite home goods store.

But, what’s often left out is tools. You’re certainly not going to need your tools for any home improvement projects any time soon (that’s why you bought new!), but you’ll still need some basic tools for putting new furniture together, cleaning appliances or even changing a lightbulb. If you don’t already have a proper toolbox together, here are the top 10 tools every homeowner needs in their toolbox:

1. Screwdrivers

You’ll need both a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips head (the “star one”) for just about every home project you do, from painting (flatheads are good for opening the can) to putting furniture together (Phillips to the rescue!).

“You will come across a variety of screws in your home on various parts of your equipment that will require one or the other type of screwdriver,” says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada, a home inventory software company in El Dorado Hills, Calif. “Screwdrivers will help fix things around the home quickly, from everything like switchplates to cleaning out a hot water heater.”

2. Tape Measure

You’re moving into your new home, so chances are you’re buying new furniture. Make sure everything fits perfectly with a tape measure, says Jerry Saliba and Craig VanDecar, owners of C&J Custom Builders, Inc., in Albany, N.Y. Or, perhaps you need to make sure which size of window curtains or shower curtain to buy or how much paint will be necessary for a job — a tape measure will be your best friend in these cases.

Tape measures come in a variety of sizes, so you can find the right one for all jobs. (There are even very tiny ones that you can carry in your car or purse.)

3. Hammer

Have you ever tried to hang photos without a hammer? There’s a reason why a hammer exists and that’s because shoes with big heels are not an appropriate way to nail something into the wall (once a heavy-heeled shoe was all I had!).

“A hammer is handy for a lot of things around the home: to quickly hang small pictures, to assemble small pieces of furniture that might require a hammer, to remove cracked tiles and to pull down items using the claw portion of the hammer,” Dodson says.

4. Power Drill

A power drill is a lifesaver when it comes to all sorts of projects, particularly when it comes to projects that require long screws. “A cordless drill can be used to quickly assemble any pieces of furniture that you buy or to hang heavy frames and artwork on the wall,” says Dodson. “A cordless drill can speed up your time to correctly tackle certain projects.”

5. Plunger

Do not get caught without one. That’s all you need to know.

6. Level

Hands down the best tool you can use to ensure that pictures or wall art are hanging straight. There’s nothing worse than hanging a picture slightly askew and having to stare at it like that, says Saliba and VanDecar.

A level is also useful for making sure you’re hanging your curtain rods straight too. Really anything that needs to be straight, a level will help.

7. Putty Knife

Saliba and VanDecar suggest a putty knife for “any of those unforeseen holes or ‘dings’ to be able to spackle” in any spots. A putty knife will help keep any fixes neat and easy.

8. Wrench

A wrench is similar to a screwdriver in that it will come in handy in many situations. Use it to remove tight bolts, to secure nuts on furniture or to adjust or unscrew hoses on your clothes washer.

9. Pliers

You can’t go wrong with pliers, which can be used to hold things firmly while you continue to work on an area or item in your home to fix it, says Dodson. You can also use pliers to easily bend wire and other similar items, she says.

Personally, I find pliers useful in holding nails in place while hammering them in — no more hitting your fingers!

10. Extension Cord

All new homeowners should have an extension cord somewhere in the house, says Saliba and VanDecar. “An extension cord is not only useful for powering something inside the home, but for any landscaping work that requires tools outside as well.”

The Great Outdoors

Don’t forget your yard when it comes to filling your toolbox. Though not all outdoor items will fit in your toolbox, you should have a hose, sprinkler, spade, shovel and wheel barrow, suggests Jerry Grodesky, managing broker in Farm and Lake House Real Estate, based in Buckley, Ill.

Nobody likes to have to run into the hardware store mid-project in their gardening or exercise clothes. Having the proper tools before getting started will make it easy to handle gardening and landscaping jobs, no matter how large or small.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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5 Easiest Plants To Grow In An Edible Garden This Summer

Having an edible garden in your yard can be easy with a few gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants. Photo courtesy of Aloe Designs.

Having an edible garden in your yard can be easy with a few gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants. Photo courtesy of Aloe Designs.

By Julia West

Summer is the ultimate gardening season. Nothing says summertime like strolling by colorful vegetables at farmer's markets or snacking on fresh veggies. Because fresh produce is at the peak of its production in this season, crops can easily be grown anywhere — even in your very own front yard. Growing delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs in your own garden is not only a fun hobby, but a fun way to save some money too. Who needs grocery store produce when you can get it from your new home’s yard?

Starting a garden may seem like a tough job — fear not! There are a few simple things to consider when in the planning process. First, think about the sun patterns throughout your yard. Almost all summer crops require long, sunny days, so you may need to rearrange existing plantings to get plants in the best spot.

If you are concerned that your edible garden might make your yard look too farm-like, look for ways to integrate your crop patch with other outdoor spaces to get the most use, value and joy from your garden.  For an extra tidy look, try using raised beds. Many edibles are low-to-the-ground plants which can be a bit boring for a yard landscape. Raised beds not only add some design interest to a space, but can make it easier to care for plants, as it’s less physically strenuous to pick crops from higher levels. (If your new home’s HOA rules prevent you from putting a raised bed in your front yard, there's always the back yard and container gardens if your only have a patio or deck.)

Once you have the basic structure of an edible garden, it’s time to do some planting! Here are some ideas on the easiest-to-grow crops that you can have in your garden this summer:

1. Cucumbers

CucumbersBecause cucumbers thrive in hot weather, they are perfect summer vegetables. Its high water content makes it a refreshing crop full of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Whether you want to place hydrating slices on your eyes for a nice lounge by the pool or throw them into fresh salads, cucumbers are a summer essential.

There are many interesting varieties of this plant, including Lemon cucumbers, Boston Pickling cucumbers and Armenian cucumbers. (Photo courtesy of Seed Savers.)

 

2. Peppers

PeppersAll varieties of peppers share a preference for a long, warm growing season. This vegetable is a classic garden favorite because of the large variety available to grow.

From sweet bell peppers in shades of yellow, orange or red to spicy habaneros, peppers are always useful in the kitchen. Whether you grow an assortment of peppers or just one kind, having some around will add pops of color and zest to your garden and cooking. (Photo courtesy of Eden Brothers.)

 

3. Tomatoes

TomatoesTomatoes are known to be an ultimate summer crop. Because they need full sun and heat, leaving them to soak up the summer sun is easy to do! Nothing beats plucking this fruit from the vine and throwing it into a homemade salsa or spaghetti sauce.

If summer had a flavor, it would have to be the tomato. There are tons of different varieties to try out including Roma, Cherry and Heirloom tomatoes. (Photo courtesy of Tori Avey.)

 

4. Basil

BasilBasil really takes off in hot weather, making it a must-have herb in gardens in the summer season, particularly for those who love to cook. If you like basil, you’ll love having the ability to pick fresh leaves off the plant to throw right onto a pizza or in a tomato sauce.

You can easily grow this tasty herb in garden beds or containers. Give your garden and cooking a zesty touch by using varieties, such as sweet basil, spicy globe basil and Thai basil. (Photo courtesy of 2 Witches 1 Blog.)

 

5. Strawberries

StrawberriesStrawberries need full sun to produce the best fruit. Increasing the amount of sunlight that your strawberries receive will result in more berries — and you can never have too many! Strawberries are easy to grow because they can prosper in different locations.

You can plant them in the ground, in a raised bed and even containers like pots or hanging baskets. The uses for strawberries are endless. Throw them in your next baking experiment, on your yogurt or simply eat them right off of the stem. (Photo courtesy of Sage Landscapes.)

Who knew how easy having your own edible garden could be? With a couple of gardening tips and easy-to-grow plants, you could have the best summer harvest ever!

Julia West is a content intern for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Landscaping | Leave a comment

10 Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied at Home

keeping kids occupied

Have kids at home this summer? There are plenty of things in your new home to keep them busy, including baking time in your new kitchen.

By Ashley Steel

Summer — that time of year we all go a little bit crazy, whether it’s from the heat, a case of young love or the kids being home from school. While we can’t help the first two, we do have some tricks on the latter.

For parents — particularly stay-at-home parents — in the summertime, duty calls 24/7 and keeping up with regular household responsibilities can be stressful. Never fear — NewHomeSource is here! Now that you’re in your newly built home, there are plenty of great ways to utilize each room and your outdoor spaces. Here are the top 10 ways to keep kids occupied in your new home this summer:

1. Make a Plan

“Summer … offers a great opportunity to help kids learn planning skills,” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, parenting educator and coach with ImpactADHD, an organization designed to help struggling parents more effectively raise kids and reduce stress. “Let [kids] identify what they want to do … and then use that motivation to work through all the logistics to make it happen.” Whether you child is planning a quick trip to the mall, or a long-term project such as growing a vegetable garden, planning often involves practicing other important life skills like budgeting, self-reliance and making a commitment.

2. Take Time to Play Outdoors

Take advantage of the fact that your kids aren’t cooped up in a classroom all day. Summer is a special time for exploration of the natural world. Because of its universal appeal, many outdoor activities can be done with toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children, says Marian Fritzemeier, education and child development specialist with the Fritzemeier Foundation and who has a doctorate in education. Give backyard camping a try or dig in the dirt with your shoes off.

Sadly, as Fritzemeier points out, running through “sprinklers (is) a forgotten play activity” due to automatic timers and watering restrictions. This summer, try bringing back an old-fashioned classic and manually set off sprinklers during your child’s playtime. Additionally, a nature scavenger hunt is another great way to keep kids occupied, Fritzemeier says. “Children can collect or draw what they find … or take photos.”

3. Make Work Look Like Play

“A good summer for kids can include both work and play,” says Don MacMannis, psychologist and co-author of How’s Your Family Really Doing? 10 Keys to a Happy Loving Family. “Unless you teach a child that work is bad and play is good, they will be curious about exploring any activity.”

Take the practical things that need doing, like washing the car, weeding the garden or mopping the kitchen, and turn them into a fun family affair.

4. Indulge a Little

Sharon Hepburn, a 44-year-old mother of two and author of Mothering … Your Inner Connection, believes in the power of indulgence. Whether you’re raising a house full of girls or boys or both, it’s important to entertain some of their more frivolous aspirations. Hepburn recommends a salon day where girls can get together to do each other’s nails and hair, a perfect way to indulge in your new home’s master suite.

But the possibilities don’t stop there! Your new home’s media room is the perfect place for a summer movie fest or video game day and if you opted for a pool, then it’s time for a pool party or luau. Hepburn also suggests baking as an indulgent summer activity and your new kitchen is optimized for large groups of “cooks.” Hepburn notes that “tweens love to bake and little ones can cook using cold ingredients.” Try taking advantage of seasonal fruits to add variety to your kitchen creations and to create nostalgic summer memories.

5. Don’t Forget to Educate

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean your kid’s brain should operate on autopilot; kids need educational stimulation to expand their world. “When kids are asked why they don’t read, they say it’s because they can’t find books they like,” says MacMannis. His solution? The library! Free and open to the public, libraries are an excellent place to let kids explore and pick their own books that they can then bring home and enjoy in their own rooms or a study. “Freedom of choice is the ticket to getting them motivated and excited,” he says.

6. Make Music

In addition to being one of life’s greatest joys, music provides a well-rounded and educational outlet for your child. Jay Maurice, owner of Lessons in Your Home, a music school based in Atlanta, Ga. “Not only are general music lessons a great way to keep children occupied at home, but kids have fun learning and playing music,” he says.

But beyond a learned skill that kids can add to their tool belt, learning music opens doors to countless other activities. “It’s not just practicing,” says Maurice. “Kids should be encouraged to write songs, record their music and make music videos for YouTube.”

7. Be Creative

Though many schools offer art classes, according to MacMannis, kids often complain about a lack of creative time during the school year. Summer is a great time to explore new artistic mediums, techniques and styles. “Dedicate a room … that can stay messy, so that creative ideas can be worked on whenever the mood is right (or the weather is bad),” says MacMannis.

Keep supplies like sidewalk chalk, craft paper, markers, scissors, paints and glue on hand. While younger kids may love these simple craft projects, older kids may feel left out, but Hepburn maintains there are creative outlets for older kids too. “Why don’t you let him/her paint their room? They will … get into picking out the colors, taping and spending two to three days actually painting.”

8. Community Service

Not often emphasized in school, community service is a great way for kids to learn empathy and selflessness. Summer is the perfect time to explore the ways in which your community needs help and having your kid research these needs can be an eye opening experience, says MacMannis. This tip will take you away from your new home (I know, but you have to leave eventually!).

Let your kid choose a cause they believe in and spend some time volunteering at a local library, summer camp, trash clean-up, community garden or animal shelter.

9. Leverage the Help of Friends

“Every family in the neighborhood is probably hearing the same complaints you are — ‘I’m so bored,’ ” says MacMannis, so working together with other parents can provide a lot of relief. Arrange for playdates with other kids on the block and trade off babysitting for other families in the area. Another option is to arrange for regular picnics or potlucks with other families so that the kids can play together while the adults get a few hours relief. There’s an added benefit to this: you’ll meet folks in your new neighborhood — and it will even allow you to show off your new home a bit.

10. Let Boredom Be a Teacher

“Boredom is an inevitable part of life,” says MacMannis, “and it’s not your job to keep your child from ever experiencing [it].” At some point, all kids need to learn the art of self-sufficiency and how to entertain themselves. This will give them the opportunity to further explore their new home and its surroundings.

“Just as you let them put themselves to sleep when they were babies, let them figure out how to find something interesting to occupy their thoughts and attention,” says parenting educator Elaine Taylor-Klaus. “When they complain, have some compassion … but don’t try to fix it for them.”

Without being spoon-fed ideas, children will start to follow their unique passions and aspirations while they learn to think for themselves; a valuable skill that will stick with them all of their life.

Ashley Steel is staff writer/editor for NewHomeSource, where you can search for and get information on new homes and new construction communities. You can find her on Google+.

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