Help your Child Recover from a Broken Bone

26.3.20

No matter how much you can protect your children and tell them not to do something, accidents can always happen. As a child myself I was happily playing on a slide with my siblings one minute and then one unfortunate movement later, I had fractured a bone in my leg! You shouldn't feel like a failure if this happens to you as a parent - most children are resilient enough to bounce straight back. But there are a few things you can do to help your child to recover quicker if a fracture or break does happen. In this post I am going to share a few of these, to hopefully give you some ideas and reassurance.

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What to do after the Injury?
If your child required surgery or to be in a cast for a long time, then it's essential that you compete physiotherapy after. Physiotherapy is a vital stage because it ensures that there are no complications, by helping to restore function, increase strength, improve mobility, of course reduce any pain they might experience. It is advised to begin physiotherapy as soon as possible after the immobilisation period, as this will give the greatest chance of preventing complications. Timescales for this will differ depending on the injury, so it's best to seek medical advice on this.

Choose a physiotherapist that boasts all of the necessary qualifications and are exceptionally experienced, especially in post-fracture rehab. They are a whole host of different treatments available to help aid recovery, including strengthening exercises, flexibility exercises, massages, and gripping exercises. If you’re worried about the cost, it is worth looking into personal injury lawyers who offer top-notch legal solutions if the accident was not your fault.

What Can you do from Home?
After a big accident like this, then it is important to rest and relax as much as possible. Don't add any extra strain on the affected area (although this can difficult with very young children). Self-care is one of the most vital components when it comes to post-fracture rehab and plays an important role in recovery. Your child can of course take any needed pain medications if needed, but try not to rely on these too much. 

It might be that you need to adapt your home, and family routine, during this time too. Create a comfortable area for your child to relax in, and don't be afraid to provide more screen time than usual - it may stop them moving about too much! And definitely make sure you have in their favourite snacks, this will undoubtedly cheer anyone up during this difficult time.

This is a collaborative post.

Easy Ways to Improve your Kitchen

25.3.20

With most of us having lots more spare time at home over the next few months, it's a great time to look at different parts of the home to what might need fixing up or improving. A part of the home that very often needs a little care in this way is the kitchen, especially as it is an area that is vital to the family home, and constantly in use too. In this post I'm going to share a few of the ways in which you can improve your kitchen, to hopefully make it feel like new again!


Fix Appliances
Maybe there are one or two appliances in your kitchen that are not working as well as they could be. Look to fixing any that are absolutely essential for cooking and storing food, so that you can make sure you can still do all of those normal things. That might mean finding a new heating element for your stove, new parts for your fridge, or simply replacing your kettle that is full of limescale. Just make sure to be careful if fixing electrical yourself.

Have a Deep Clean
The kitchen is probably one part of the home that needs a good deep clean more than any other.  Now is a great time to clear everything from the sides, pull out the appliances, and have a thorough clean. Take out everything from the cupboards to clean them, and then make sure to throw away any items that are out of date or unusable. You can even have a look to see if you can arrange your cupboards in a better way with labels and baskets to help.

Have a Shuffle
You might have long felt that many of the items in the kitchen are not exactly in their best place or in the best order. Now would therefore be a good time to reshuffle items in the kitchen, and to reorganise the room generally so that it is going to be in a much better state. If you can do that, you are going to find that you have a much more inviting and enjoyable kitchen, and that cooking is a lot easier to do easily too.

This is a collaborative post.

What are the Best Skincare Treatments for Me?

24.3.20

Being a parent, running a household and trying to fit in work, it can often feel as if you've got to let things slip in order to get everything else done. But one thing you should never let slide, is your skin. Protecting it from harm with a good at-home skincare routine is important. Equally important is getting any damage that does occur treated as quickly as you can to prevent any lasting damage. In this post I am going to share some of the top clinical skincare treatments you can use to help you.


Laser Treatment
Short of having surgery, one of the most reliable ways to treat your skin in a clinic is with some type of laser device. Picking which device is the part that gets tricky. If a surface treatment with fast results is what you are after then an ablative laser procedure is the one for you. Otherwise, non-ablative treatments that help repair deep tissues (but take a long time to do so) might be more up your alley. Many of today's best diode laser devices are also multi-functional, all-in-one devices, meaning that technicians can perform several different types of treatments without the need to change devices.

Light Treatment
LED light therapy and IPL (intense pulsed light) can both help alleviate skin concerns like wrinkles as well, without being as intrusive - neither are performed with actual laser light. Since they are gentler than laser procedures, but their results often take more treatments and more time to become apparent. This is definitely a good route to take if you don't need immediate results.

Medical Treatments
Microdermabrasion, which is like mildly sanding your skin, is a way of resurfacing your skin with the use of safe chemicals. Another medical option to take is microneedling, which is a process of treating your skin with tiny needles in order to smooth the surface. Sound wave treatments like ultrasound and many more skin procedures options also exist, so it's well worth doing plenty of research before settling on one.

How to Make the Right Choice?
If you choose the wrong skincare treatment for your skin not only could you have wasted time and money, but you could also risk lasting damage to your skin. It is therefore incredibly important to make such an important choice about your skincare by using the resources available to you. Speak to your clinician or dermatologist as they will be able to give vital advice. And make sure to take the time to weigh each skincare choice carefully before lining up the first skincare treatment.

This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to Brighten up Your Home

It may be finally spring, but we all know how unpredictable the weather can be in the country. And if you're spending lots of time indoors, then a dark and gloomy space will definitely not give that spring feeling either. Luckily there are things you can do to combat this though, and in this post I am going to share 4 ways in which you can do this!


New Light Fittings
If you want to brighten up your home without too much cosmetic work, then changing up your light fittings is a good option. Consider adding spot lights to help brighten up recesses (these can be useful in the kitchen for lighting up the space under cabinets). Another option could be track lighting which involves adding multiple lights to a single overhead fitting . High bay LED lighting as found at https://www.lepro.com/led-bay-light could meanwhile come in handy for lighting up high-ceilinged rooms. It could also be as simple as changing the bulbs in your existing fittings too - just popping in a bulb with a higher wattage can easily add more light to a room.

Add More Windows
This step of course requires a lot more work, but by adding extra windows you could help to introduce more natural light to your home. Windows could be built into walls or you could add skylights into ceilings - ideal for extensions and lofts. You could also install glass doors to provide an entrance and let in light. A frosted glass door can be great for brightening up a gloomy hallway, or bi-fold doors leading out onto outdoor space for example.

Remove Interior Walls
Removing interior walls and opting for a more open-plan layout could also brighten up your home. It could allow natural light to reach the inner rooms of your home, rather than relying on artificial lighting. Removing interior walls if of course a job left for the professionals, so like adding windows, is more of a larger job to consider.

Finishing Touches
Brighter colours (whites, creams, pastel colours) reflect more light, so are great for giving the impression of a bigger space. This can also be incorporated into fixtures and fittings around the home; consider opting for lighter tones of wood in the kitchen, and avoid dark coloured sofas and soft furnishings. You can also brighten up your home by making use of reflective surfaces such as mirrors - placed opposite a window these can create the illusion of a bigger space. You can also use reflective materials to help brighten up a room such as laminated wood or chrome steel. High gloss paints are also effective at reflecting light and could be an option for kitchen cabinets, doors and window sills.

This is a collaborative post.

4 Things to Consider Before a Bathroom Makeover

23.3.20

If you have just bought your own home after years of renting, it can understandably feel like the most exciting time of your life. You may want to jump straight in and start on cosmetic changes and renovation projects. But actually it's not the best idea to start doing everything straight away. Instead, focus on the most important (and most used) area of your home such as the bathroom, and make sure to follow the below steps before jumping in head first.


Budget
Most importantly of all, before thinking of anything else you of course need to work out what sort of budget you have for the project. None of us have money that enables unlimited spending, so there's no point picking a bathroom suite that you could never afford! But having a budget means that you can stick within what is affordable for you. Make sure that you factor in the costs of materials, finishing features and also the labor for the fitting. Covering it all means there are hopefully no nasty surprises to contend with.

Decide on the Style
The first thing you want to do is to decide on the style of bathroom you want in your home. This can depend on the space you have available, but think about what's there now, and the changes you want to make. You may have space for a separate shower and bath, or you may want to make the room feel bigger by combining the two. It could be that you want to think about a change of layout. Things like colours and also the style, such as a modern or contemporary finishes should all be decided upon before you start any work.

Fixtures and Fittings
When it comes to the bathroom you may not think there are dramatic changes that you can make. But there are ways you can add style and substance to such a small and well-used area of your home. It could be searching for electric towel rails, picking suitable bathroom storage or even a fancy interactive bathroom mirror. Just make sure to keep with the budget (as stated in point one), and measure everything for size too.

The Finishing Touches
While the project is underway, take some time to think about how you want the overall look to be. Now is the time to start thinking about colour schemes, the accessories you want on display and ultimately how you want your bathroom to look. You are spending good money to have this project done, so you want to ensure that it turns out how you imagine it to be. Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration for things like this and can often give you some ideas that you may not have even thought of previously.

This is a collaborative post.

The Best Care for your Elderly Relatives

Growing old might be a privilege denied to many, but it doesn't make it easy. Whether you’re the one that’s advancing in age, or you’re caring for elderly parents or grandparents, there are certain things to be aware of with this season of life. Research shows that older adults are more likely to suffer with loneliness and the effects of advancing age on their health. But with the right support this can be a time of happiness, relaxation and enjoying your family! In this post I'm going to share 3 ways in which you can enjoy this period of life.

Care
Finding the right place to live is important. If mobility issues mean stairs are no longer an option, then a bungalow or a complex where there are lifts would be the best bet. If there are further care needs that need to be considered, then moving into a residential home which is designed for elderly adults may be the best option though. It doesn't have to be a nursing home, there are many places that allow people to keep their independence while providing support. Alternatively if you’re caring for older family members, you may make the decision to move them in with you so you can look after them yourself instead.

Finances
For elderly people living on a state pension managing finances can be tough. Make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to, and learn to budget to manage the money you do have. If you’re caring for a loved one then you could help them by providing meals or taking on some of their care, rather than them having to pay more to an outside company to do this. It might be helpful for them if you take over the management of their finances too, so that they aren't stressing (or unknowingly over spending!)

Quality Time and Socialising
Regular visits from you and the rest of your family are bound to be appreciated, which is especially important if one of your parents lives alone or are housebound. Spend time with them, show and interest and get the family involved. If your elderly loved one lives in a nursing home or part of a complex with other residents, then make sure to encourage them to go out and speak to others too. These kinds of friendships will give them a sense of belonging within their community, and staying social and interacting has been shown to be highly beneficial for elderly people.

If they live alone, search for 'senior activities near me’ and see what kinds of clubs and groups are available to them. You could also encourage them to be social by setting them up with an easy to use phone or even a Skype account, on a tablet or laptop and teaching them how to use it. This way they you or they can keep in touch at any time of day!

This is a collaborative post.

4 Home Improvements that Add Value to your Home

22.3.20

When you own your own home one of the goals that people often have is to add value to it where they can. Whether it’s to make sure it’s a solid investment, make you home more to your taste or to try and climb the property ladder, there are certain improvements that you can make that add value to your home. In this post I am going to share 4 of the ways you can make a difference in your home.


Walls
When you decorate each room you should make it a focus to treat your walls to a little love and attention. Having smooth walls that are in good condition make your home much more appealing, easier to decorate and it adds value. So each time you decorate a room take a little bit of time to smooth over any dents, treat any mould and give it a coat of paint first. If you want to put wallpaper up, it's also a good idea to have them completely skimmed, to make them smooth and feeling brand new. If you do it room by room, you will soon have all the walls in your home complete.

Windows and Doors
Having new windows and doors installed is a great and easy way to add value to your home. It will make your home look fresher and newer, as well as making your home more energy-efficient. There are plenty of options with door installation - you could even have a sliding door in place of an existing window to open up your home to the outdoors. Doing this can make your home feel bigger and extend your living space in the summer too, by allowing you to have the doors open up to an outside seating area.

Attic Space
Although this may be a little costly, the value you can add to your home definitely outweighs the cost. Most commonly an attic conversion is usually used to create a master bedroom with ensuite and wardrobe/storage space (which then leaves the existing bedrooms to be used for children). Adding a conversion to your home means that you are appealing to a wider range of buyers, and you are also creating a great space to use rather than it been wasted space. You could even use the extra room that you have freed up as an office space or playroom.

Kitchen and Bathroom
These rooms are very well-known for adding value to a house. A brand new kitchen or bathroom suite can be expensive to install. You can save a bit of money by buying second hand, or getting a family member or friend to install for you. Having modern utilities if you plan to stay in your home will make your life more comfortable, and you are also appealing to buyers if you want to sell in the future.

Have you done any projects that have added value to your house?

This is a collaborative post.

How to Design a Child Friendly Bathroom

20.3.20

If you’ve had children you’ll understand the overwhelming urge you have to protect them at all costs. Of course this doesn’t just mean teaching them the ways of the world and supervising them while they play outside. It means keeping them safe even while they are in the house too. In fact the home can be one of the most dangerous places if you don't make it child friendly! In this post I'm going to be sharing some top tips and advice, to help you design and create a child friendly bathroom on any budget.


Blinds
If you don’t have blinds in the bathroom you can skip this step. Although it’s an important point to make (not only for blinds) but for any hanging wires or pieces of material in your bathroom. Make sure to use the correct clips to secure blind cords, check the length of the light pull so it's not at child height, and be careful with loose shower curtains too.

Child Locks
Make sure you add child locks to the toilet and cupboards before your children are old enough to get curious about them. It can be difficult to unblock toilet when your child has flushed something crazy down there, and adding a lock can help you to prevent this. It's a good idea to lock up medicines or expensive and dangerous products to prevent accidents too. You can also limit sharp corners in the bathroom by covering them up if you feel you need to.

Anti-Slip Mats
Slipping is a huge safety issue in the bathroom. Water mixed with soap can make polished surfaces slippery enough for adults, let alone children! Anti-slip bath and shower mats are a good way to prevent this. You can get child specific bath mats, but any design will do the job just as well. Just make sure to replace these often as they are a breeding ground for mould and germs if left in wet, damp conditions.

Bathroom Cupboard
Although you can add locks to cupboards, it may also be a good idea to keep specific items out of reach. Keeping razor blades, medication, and other things that can be dangerous to children out of the way is a must. 

Secure Furniture
By making sure your basin and other fixtures are as secure as possible, you’ll avoid accidents your child could have when putting their weight onto them. You never know what ideas your child might get when your back is turned, but if things are properly secured at least you reduce the chance that they will crash to the floor and hurt themselves (while also creating extremely expensive repairs for you). 

This is a collaborative post.

3 Easy Health Swaps to Make as a Family

Before having children I only had myself to think about. If I wanted to stay indoors all day eating junk food then I could. It would only impact how I felt (and looked). But now I have three young children I cannot just think of the impacts on myself. If I don't go out and exercise, then my children won't either. If I don't eat fruit and vegetables, then my children are more likely to do the same. It's easy to fall into the trap of an unhealthier lifestyle when you have children though - time is short. But there are some really easy changes we as parents can make, in order to have a happier and healthier lifestyle as a family.


Walk More
If you rely on your car to get you from A to B, it's one of those habits that is very difficult to break. With any change as far as health is concerned, it's about implementing the little things and gradually expanding further out. When it comes to something like walking instead of driving it's not realistic to do this over many miles. But think about the shortest journey you make and, at the very least, try to walk for a part of it. The fresh air can do absolute wonders for not only your mental health, but also your body, and you may very well breathe easier. If you are a smoker swapping from cigarettes to something like salt nicotine e-liquids can help but when you are looking at your ability to breathe, a little bit of cardio will make a big difference!

Swap to Whole Foods
If you eat a lot of white bread or white pasta, swapping it to the whole wheat equivalent will do so much for your digestive system. We live in an age where people have numerous food intolerances and if you are someone who does struggle, you will see a big difference. You can start to add other things into your diet that are more fibrous too. Not only does fibre make you feel fuller, but it's also good for your diet too.

Reduce your Sugar Intake
We all know that if we eat too much sugar we become addicted to it, which makes it hard to stop consuming it completely. One of the best ways to bridge the gap though, is to swap sugar filled products for natural versions instead. Something like honey or maple syrup can be a good starting point if you still need the sweet hit!

In order to look after our health, especially for the sake of our children, it's not necessarily about the massive swaps in life. If we can start to make these little alterations so much so that we don't notice we will be able to gradually make bigger changes over time. Good luck!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Save Money on your Family Car

18.3.20

There is no getting away from it, cars are expensive. Not only to own but also to run and keep on the road too. Just the initial cost of buying your car in the first place can leave you feeling as if you simply cannot ever afford to buy a newer car when you need one. One way that you can try to help spread out the cost of buying a car though, is to take out a car loan. Whilst car loans can be incredibly useful they are still going to come at a price. The good news is that there are ways that you can reduce the cost of your car loan; and here are some of the best.


Look at your Credit
Just like any form of borrowing; the type of deal (and rate of interest that you pay back for that matter) on a car loan, is going to be affected by your credit rating. If your repayment history isn’t that great, or you have a lot of credit taken out in your name, then chances are that you are not going to get as good a credit offer. Make sure that you repay things on time and work hard to reduce the amount that you owe to help improve your credit score

Don’t Finance with the Car Dealership
It may seem a whole lot easier to sign a car finance agreement at the dealership. But whilst a car dealer can sign you up for a car loan, they are acting as middlemen, which means that you are going to be paying them for arranging the credit for you. It is a much better idea to find a source for the money yourself, then head to the dealership to buy the car. That way you are responsible for the deal that you secure, not your car dealer.

Try and Save First
Loans are incredibly useful to finance a car purchase, but if you think that you can actually save the money (and you have time to spare before you need a new car) then it is actually better to save instead. Saving the money might take longer, but it means that you don’t have to worry about paying interest on what you borrow. You also don’t have to worry about paying it back as your car will essentially be bought outright.

Of course, some people are going to want to (or need to) buy a car in a very short space of time. Which means that you are going to find whichever deal you can and go for it. However, if you do have time to spare and want to shop around, then you can save yourself some money in the long term as well as treat yourself to a new way to get around!

This is a collaborative post.

Lilah at 2 Years Old

16.3.20


The last time I shared an update on Lilah she was 18 months old and just blossoming into a toddler. She's now a few months into her second year, and my goodness has she grown and developed so much since then. She's definitely a fully fledged toddler now - and boy do we know it!

We had her two-year review a few weeks ago where we managed to get updated weight and height measurements. She is roughly 12.7kg (around 27lbs) and 86.5cm tall, putting her on the 50th percentile for both. She's always been little miss average so it's good to know she'll still following that curve. She's still fitting into a few size 1 1/2 - 2 years clothing, but we've mostly switched over 2 - 3 years (although it is still a bit big at the moment), and wearing size 6f shoes. We've nearly finished teething forever as she now has nearly all of her teeth through.. hooray!





In regards to the review she's doing absolutely amazingly. Excelling in nearly every aspect, and developing exactly how she should. Lilah can count to 10 (and knows a few more too), jumps with both feet off the ground, climbs everywhere and everything, and still thinks she can do whatever the older two are doing. I love that she's so independent with her play but still enjoys the company of other little ones - although as with most 2 year olds we are struggling with sharing. Her speech is still surprising me daily too. She can have conversations now and is talking in full sentences a lot of the time. Toddlers really are amazing!

Her routine is still very similar to 6 months ago, except we have stopped her morning beaker of milk and her nap is usually a little shorter. We get out nearly every morning, whether it's to a playgroup, the park or for a hot chocolate and cake (she loves a trip to the coffee shop!), and then use our afternoons for relaxing and naps. She's still in her cot for now as she's sleeping so well, but I think we may start thinking about making the switch to a bed in the next few months. We're also planning on potty training very soon too as she's giving us all of the signs that she's ready.




Lilah loves to sing and dance, do puzzles, watch Peppa and Butterbean's Cafe, dress up, read books, playing babies, gingerbread men (at the coffee shop with mummy), playgroup, her big brother and sister, and her muzzie and dummy. She dislikes a lot of vegetables, going in the buggy when she wants to walk, brushing her teeth, sharing her toys, and getting told off (for copying her mischievous brother!).

I absolutely love this age as they really do grow and change every single day. Yes the tantrums may be strong and she's getting cheekier by the minute, but I really wish I could keep her this age forever. Stop growing so fast my little Lilah Bear!

Make Flying with Children Easier with These 3 Steps

15.3.20

Whether it’s a package holiday in the Sun, or just a trip to our local beach, travelling with young children can be a stressful time. You can't just pack the day before and turn up to the airport as late as possible when you have children - just airport security alone will take a long time! But there are some things that you can do to make travelling with your children much easier, and I'm going to share 3 of the main things you can do in this post.


Plan Ahead
Children thrive on routine - knowing when mealtimes are, what time they are going to bed, and what activities are coming up helps prepare them for the day ahead. You don’t necessarily have to have a large itinerary of items to do every day, but depending on your energy levels it is a good idea to ensure that you have something for the children to look forward to every day. It is also a good idea to plan ahead before you travel too. Booking things such as airport parking and Faro Airport car hire for when you arrive will help with your plans too. You will know that your car is safe at the airport, and that a vehicle waiting for you at the other end too!

Snacks
Children can get much hungrier and bored a lot quicker than any adult, so making sure that you have healthy (and some sweet) treats for along the way can be a lifesaver. It's a good idea to calculate how long your travel is likely to be - taking any delays into consideration - so you can make sure you bring enough snacks for the journey. I always pack a few extra snacks for the holiday just incase the food isn't to my children's taste, and don't forget the journey home either!


Entertainment
Entertainment is the number one thing that you will need for a long journey with your children. There are electronic devices, colouring books, and a whole range of entertainment items that your children can choose from. Of course your children will remember and remind you of what you need to take, but there’s a good chance that this isn’t always going to be sufficient for the amount of time that you are travelling, so make sure to take backups too. And also have some alternative ideas for the journey, such as word searches or drawing incase batteries run out or your child gets travel sick from electronic devices.
This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - February 2020

6.3.20


Isn't it funny that January can seem like an eternity, but then February comes along as whizzes by in a flash? And that's even with the extra day because it's a Leap Year! That being said though, February was pretty much a washout thanks to the constant rain (and constant weekend storms), so we didn't actually manage to do that much over the month at all.

We started the month car-less, which although a massive pain, was actually really refreshing for us as a family. We got out more and did things that we usually brush over for grander adventures. We took the littles swimming (which they absolutely loved), scooted to ballet and rugby, and went local parks that we hadn't visited in ages. Of course having the car back did make life easier, but for those few weeks we definitely found the excitement in the little things that bit more.





I stepped out of my comfort zone completely and went along to a local mums meet up - something that I would have never considered a few years ago. It was SO nice to meet some of the mums I love following on Instagram (and lots of new faces too), and Lilah enjoyed making new friends too. It really made me fall in love with Instagram again after a few months of feeling a bit unsure about it. I'm now loving it more for keeping up with those that I love, and just posting what I want whenever I want. Much less pressure, and much more enjoyable!

Due to the horrible weather February half term was pretty uneventful for us. We mostly stayed at home enjoying lazy mornings, pj movie days and baking yummy treats. I think the littles absolutely loved it though, and my goodness were the slow mornings needed! Although don't get me wrong, I have everything crossed for sunshine over the Easter holidays.


We ended the month at our favourite February spot in Knole Park. Although I'm not joining in with Me and Mine Project properly this year, I just had to make sure we took a family snap on this log. It marks 5 years of taking a family photo here (how mad is that?!), and it really does feel like our special place. You can see 201920182017 and 2016 posts here!

Create the Perfect Home Office

5.3.20

The changing nature of jobs and improvements in technology has meant that remote working is exploding in popularity. And because of its success, it's now something that affects a higher number of families than ever before. In today’s economy, there’s a good chance that at least one parent, like me, works from home some of the time.

If you work from home then having a dedicated space is incredibly important. A space where you feel relaxed and ready to get on with the challenges of the day, that also feels separate from your day-to-day life in your home. In this post I'm going to share a few of the ways that you can transform your office, to help make it into somewhere you actually want to work.


Storage
Getting up from your comfy computer chair to rifle through your filing cabinet is a massive hassle. It interrupts your workflow and adds inefficiencies to your day. For this reason, many home workers place their storage right next to their desk. All they have to do is swivel around on their chairs, and all the files they need are at hand.

Lighting
Bright lights can be a great addition to a room that you use for a few minutes at a time, but they can really begin to grate after a while - especially if you’re the type of person prone to regular migraines. Products like the LEpro LED panel light are a new solution. Instead of using a single bulb to emit light, these systems spread light out over a wide surface area, preventing any part of the lamp from being too bright. Add these panels close to your desk; providing enough visibility to get your work done, but not so much that it makes you wish you were somewhere else.

Comfort
When you work from home, you can pretty much design your office environment however you like. You won't have any managers breathing down your neck keeping an eye on you after all! Adding comfortable spaces can therefore be a real bonus for people who work from home. If you don’t need to be at your desk for a few minutes, you can sit back and enjoy the plush seating and cushions. Blankets are also great if you room is particularly cold, and can really help you feel comfortable while at work. 

Greenery
Greenery in your office can make a massive difference to the way you feel. And the more of it you have the better! The primary purpose of greenery is to help you to feel more relaxed. Having indoor shrubs in the background releases a series of uplifting hormones that lower your stress levels naturally. This therefore, in turn, makes you happier to be in your office in the first place. A lot of people place plants directly in their field of view, such as on or beside their desks. 

This is a collaborative post.

Family Holiday Ideas for Summer 2020

With the endless rain and weekly storms I'm sure I'm not the only one who is dreaming of summer. Especially a summer family holiday! Although it can sometimes feel like a lot of work to get the ball rolling on where you’re going this year, family holidays really are the best. We already have our holiday booked, but to hopefully inspire you a little, here are some destinations for family summer holidays in 2020 (which you may not have thought about before).


Ibiza
There’s a lot more to Ibiza than partying and raves. Most of the “mad” things are all confined to just two areas of the island, so avoid these and you can have a lovely Mediterranean sunny holiday. We visited a few years ago and it really is a beautiful island!

If you are a slightly bigger family like us (or travelling with extended family) I’d recommended looking at hiring a car (don’t forget baby seats are free on most flights) and then renting a villa or an Air BnB instead. The advantage of renting a villa over a hotel is having all the amenities and items you’d need at home, and you can use the car to drive to the bigger Lidls and Mercadanos that locals use to do their big shop. The pool will always have plenty of sun loungers too, so there will never be an early morning fight for one!

Holland
Holland has two things going for it when it comes to a family holiday: the coast is incredibly flat - a miracle if you’re pushing a pram about all day. And there's plenty to enjoy as a family too. A bit like Ibiza, you wouldn’t think of Holland as a standout summer destination for a family holiday, but it has a surprising amount of family-friendly attractions to visit. You’ll know The Hague because it often pops up in the news, but the city that sits between Amsterdam and Rotterdam has a lovely pier and is buzzing on summer weekends when families come to visit.

You’ll also want to check out Efteling Theme Park (Holland’s answer to Disneyland), Nemo Science & Technology Museum in Amsterdam, and if you’re travelling with little ones, AdventurePark Hellendoorn is a mini-theme park that purposely has smaller rides for kids under-12 to go on.

Foça, Turkey
I've already shared a post about planning a family holiday to Turkey (which you can read here) which focused on Izmir on the west coast of the country. It’s ideal if you want that Mediterranean style summer holiday but also want something just a pinch more different than the same old holiday to Spain.

I’d also recommend having a look at some of the family holidays Mark Warner currently have on offer, as they have a dedicated family resort in Foça with all sorts of activities and childcare options. It includes everything from yoga on the beach to kayaking to family bike roads along coastal roads. And with everything included it’s ideal when you want a holiday where mum and dad hardly have to lift a finger.


Northern Ireland
Not the most exotic destination, but the fact you can hop in the car, drive onto a boat, and arrive in a gorgeous part of the UK on the other side, makes it a fantastic no-fuss family holiday - especially if it’s all last minute. The country has become a tourist hotspot in recent years due to Game of Thrones, but there is a lot for families to see and do.

An hour’s drive north of Belfast on the ferry will take you to the Giant’s Causeway which has to be seen to be believed. There’s also the ultra-family friendly town of Portrush (apparently Barry’s amusements is where families go in the summer), the lovely coastal route to the city of Derry, and plenty of families activities around the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. In just a few hours the family can go from learning about the Titanic to playing scientist at W5, to navigating a ninja course at We Are Vertigo. It’s the kind of place you can easily tire the kids out and have a quiet evening at your hotel; absolute bliss for any parent on holiday.

If you want to read more family travel posts, why not check out all the adventures in the travel section, including recent posts on how to make travelling with children easier and oh so many posts about Disney.
This is a collaborative post.

Barracudas Activity Day Camps / Holiday Clubs | Review

28.2.20

This is a collaborative post.

The stress of finding suitable childcare for your little ones during the holidays can be huge, especially when you want to make sure it's not only fun and exciting for them, but also of great quality and affordable too. Barracudas Activity Day Camps want to take away that stress though, with the help of their holiday camps.


What is Barracudas?

Barracudas Activity Day Camps offer quality childcare at their holiday camps over the Easter break, Summer holidays and half terms, for children in England aged 4.5 to 14 years. Starting off 27 years ago with just two camps (in London and Surrey), they have since expanded to include 48 summer camps, 35 Easter camps and 3 half term camps in a whole range of locations in England - see below for full list of locations.


What sets Barracudas apart from other camps is that they really care about the children they look after. They want them to have an amazing experiences and learn new skills, but ultimately they want them to have fun! They also think about the full package - everything from the camp venues and available activities, to the staff is considered to make sure you get the best service possible. All staff are experienced and hold the correct qualifications, and correct child/staff ratios are a top priority too

What to Expect During a Day at Barracudas?

Barracudas Activity Day Camps aim to provide flexible hours for working parents. Regular days are from 8.30am to 5.30pm, however you can add on early and late club, to extend the day from 8am to 6pm. Do keep in mind that Barracudas do not supply any food, so you need to provide lunch and snacks for your child while attending a camp.



The Ofsted registered camps aim to provide fun and exciting experiences, all catered to the age of the child as well as their own interests and personalities. There are 30 sessions each week where children will have a choice of activities, plus larger pieces of camp kit, such as a giant inflatable assault course and rodeo bull that travels between the camps. Examples of activities include team building, foam fencing, go-karts, crafts, swimming, sports and a whole lot more. Of course there is plenty of down time too where the children and given the chance to relax and hang out with their friends, as well as plenty of snack breaks!

Every Friday Barracudas also run a special 'theme day', where children are encouraged to dress up and join in with themed activities. Of course they are completely optional to join in with, but they do add that extra level of fun that most children absolutely love.

Booking and Prices

Booking onto one of the Barracudas holiday clubs is really easy thanks to their well laid-out website. You can either book full weeks or pick individual days depending on your needs. This makes them perfect for all needs; if you need childcare while you work or you're simply looking for some fun activities for your children to enjoy over the holidays.



The more sessions you book the more money you save, which is another benefit of booking with Barracudas. They also offer a sibling discount if you have more than one child attending a camp. For my local camp the day rate is £40 which I think is great value for money, especially when you consider the length of the day and all of the activities included. 

If you have a child care account (including Tax-Free Childcare) you can use this to pay for your booked sessions - part of full payment accepted. And if you think you might find it difficult to pay for session in one go, you can opt for the easy payment plan which allows you to pay a deposit, and then spread the remaining cost over monthly payments.

Booking is open now for most Easter and Summer camps, click here to find your local camp!

What to Consider Before Buying a Family Home

27.2.20

Before having children my priorities for a home were understandably much different to what they are now. I wanted all the pretty knick knacks and decorative items, and flowers in beautiful vases dotted about. But if you have children then you'll know that actually, these things aren't really as important (or practical) anymore! In this post, I'm going to share 4 things I think you should consider before buying a home - especially if you have plans to have a family in the future.


Location
The location of your home is definitely something you need to consider when looking at properties. Check public transport links if you need to travel for work (or rely on these to get about like me). A local shop and pub can make an area feel much more of a community, and can come in handy when you run out of something and don't want to drive to the supermarket. Also take into consideration whether you want to stay in a location close to family and friends. Moving away can mean a fresh start and new adventure, but could also mean leaving family and friends behind. Finally if you are planning on having children definitely check the location for schools - this can be a deal breaker for some!

Space / Size
A house may feel large and roomy when you first look around, but add in all of your furniture (and yourselves) and it can soon feel much smaller. It's a good idea to take detailed measurements and then try and picture the space with your furniture in place. Also consider the number of rooms you require too, especially if you're planning on having children. They take up a lot more space than you think (and so do their toys)!

Layout
Personally, I love open plan style kitchen / diners. But I know for some they much prefer to defined separate spaces and a door that they can close at the end of the day. As a family, we spend a lot of time in these rooms eating, reading books and doing homework, and of course, playing too. So this is area is definitely a priority with a family. The number of bathrooms in a property is important if you have a growing family too. There's nothing worse than someone needing to use the toilet when another is having a shower! Walk in showers for the home would be an amazing feature in an en-suite.

Outside Space
Probably not so essential during these horrible winter months, but having some kind of outside space is definitely crucial when buying a family home. Somewhere to dry washing in the warmer months, and a space for children or potential pets to run around and let off steam. Even if you don't plan on having children for a long time, a garden is great for social gatherings and relaxing in general.

Are you looking at buying a family home? What's most important to you?
This is a collaborative post.

How to Create More Space in your Home

24.2.20

It's no secret that the longer you live in a property the more clutter and knick knacks you accumulate. Especially if you are like us with a growing family, where it's also toys, clothes and an overload of arts and crafts that fill your house too. Over time this can make your home feel smaller and more cramped, however this doesn't have to be the case. There are a number of things we can do to create more space in our home, so I thought I'd share a few examples in this post to hopefully give you some ideas and inspiration.


Have a Good Declutter
We’ve all been the victim of late-night online browsing that turns into multiple deliveries (I was especially guilty during the night feeds!). All of this extra buying is bad for your home as well as your bank balance, as you are just filling your space with items you don't necessarily need. Having a good declutter can instantly create more space in your home - make a list of your necessities (try starting with the everyday) and then start removing the things you don’t need. Donate or sell unwanted items, put unessential items you do want to keep in the loft (or storage if you don't have one), and make sure to go through cupboards for unused / out of date items too!

Update Lighting
Change the lighting and you can change the mood of a room completely. Consider what you want the room to feel like when you’re in it - bright and light, warm and cosy, etc - and then make the necessary changes. Mirrors positioned on the opposite wall to the window will stretch the light coming in naturally around the room, helping to brighten even the darkest corners. 

Change the Flooring
The 3 main criteria you should be thinking about when it comes to flooring in your home are: the style theme, the defence it has against damage and finally, your budget. Lighter shades of oak or stone will help to give the feeling of space and freedom in your home (great for busy areas such as the kitchen and bathroom). Amtico have a fantastic range of vinyl flooring that covers all types of textures and effects. Patterns will make a room a bit more exciting, but it could potentially make the space look smaller. Therefore it might be wise to stick to simpler designs or textures if you want to enlarge a small space. Luvanto also offer luxurious vinyl flooring which will enhance the aesthetic of any room.

This is a collaborative post.

The Benefits of Renting as a Family

10.2.20

Some people might think that renting when you have a family is an odd concept, but the reality is that it's the norm for many families in the UK today. Getting on the housing ladder feels near enough impossible as most families don't have the large deposits needed, and with house prices and the cost of living rising (and let’s not even mention how expensive raising a family can be), home ownership is out of reach for many people. For us we had no choice but to rent, so now find it extra difficult to save any money with high rent prices and three young children to care for.


I think that it’s time to change the way we see this lifestyle choice though, and instead think of the positives of renting! Of course many families (like mine) will still aspire to eventually buy a house, but until that day I think it's important to stop thinking about renting as a ‘dead money’ pit stop before the good stuff. There are many benefits of renting that get overlooked in favour of the benefits of homeownership. I’m working with CIA Landlord Insurance to make more people see that renting as a family - whether it’s long-term or not - can actually be a good thing.

Long Term Contracts
A lot of people think of renting as being temporary and constantly changing. But actually this doesn't have to be the case! A lot of rental properties offer long term contracts, meaning you can make it feel like your home. Of course it’s important to plan for the future, but make sure you appreciate the ‘now’ in your rented house and make it really feel like home too.

If you find yourself looking around your rental property and thinking about all the things you’d do differently if you owned it, why not ask your landlord if you can make some changes. The worst that they can do is say no! Swap out those curtains for your favourite colour, paint the walls white or see if your landlord will let you grow your own vegetable patch in the garden. Whatever it takes to make you feel more settled, try and do it.

A house is just bricks and mortar - it’s who and what is inside that counts. Put your children’s pictures on the fridge, scatter family holiday photos in every corner, and make your space reflect your family. That’s what makes a house a home at the end of the day isn't it?

Less Responsibility
Buying a house is a very expensive process. Not only must you find the money for your deposit, but there’s also the stamp duty tax and solicitors fees to think about (and none of those come cheap). Not only that, but running a house is also expensive. You’re responsible for all of the bills, mortgage repayments, repairs, council tax, maintenance and the costs involved with selling up and moving!


These costs are an accepted part of home ownership, but when you compare that to the price of renting, the difference is significant. You pay a deposit when you move in and your rent each month, perhaps also a couple of bills, but maintenance costs and repairs are usually your landlords problems. If a boiler breaks or you encounter a bad leak, it’s not you that has to go without money for a few months to pay for the repairs (unless the damage was your fault of course). One of the biggest benefits of renting is that all the big responsibilities and financial ties sit with your landlord - not you. This alleviates some of the stress of being a home owner, and means you can save that money towards a house deposit in the future.

Flexibility
Another reason why some families prefer to rent, is because it's a much more flexible way to live. If you or your partner work in a job that means they regularly move around the country (or even to another), it's probably easier to not be tied down to a property. Renting gives you the freedom to move to different locations and properties - especially if you only sign a short lease contract.

Do you rent as a family? Would you add any other benefits?

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - January 2020

3.2.20

This year I've made myself a goal to share more personal, 'back to basics' posts on my blog. I feel like over the last few months my blog has lost it's way, and I do really miss sharing posts that I can look back on in the future! So I thought a great way to start would be to share a monthly round up style post, sharing some of my favourite things that we've got up to, or I've enjoyed over the month.


January felt like the longest month, especially as the weather really wasn't on our side for most of it. But we did manage to have some lovely days out and celebrated some special birthdays too. We saw in the new year with a trip to Brighton - exploring the pier, penny arcades, playing on the beach, and of course ending the day with yummy sugary doughnuts. There's something about the beach that makes me feel so much more relaxed and happy, so it really was the perfect start to the year.



The first of three birthdays in January, we went ice skating for my nephew's 6th birthday at the beginning of the month. Lilah turned two on the 14th, and we celebrated with a trip to soft play, lots of gifts (and cake!), and a lovely meal out as a family. I also had a rare night out for my sister's birthday at the end of the month too. We went out for tapas and ice creams and although we weren't out late it was such a fun evening!




Something I've really enjoyed this month is taking Lilah to new playgroups. I was never really a fan when the big two were little, but now they play a big part in my weekly routine. Lilah absolutely loves them, and I enjoy watching her play and interact with other little ones her age. We started a new one this month and it's quickly become a favourite. Jack's managed to come along with us a few times this month too which has been extra special (although I did feel a bit like a third wheel those weeks!).


A definite highlight of this month for me has been getting back on track with Slimming World. I took a bit of a break over Christmas - because hello all the food - but getting back to plan and healthier meals has made me feel so much better. Fitting into some of my old clothes again has been a huge confidence booster, so I'm extra determined to get to target before our holiday in May now!


I'm so excited to see what February brings for us as family already, I just hope it includes sunshine and nothing else breaking down!

How to Make Travelling with Children Easier

22.1.20

It may only be January, but that hasn't stopped me thinking about the Summer already. I shared our family holiday plans for this year a few months ago (we're off to Turkey and I cannot wait!), but as it's our first holiday abroad since the big two were very small, I'm of course feeling a little nervous about it. With planning and preparing, I know it'll be amazing though. So I thought in this post I would share some tips we've learnt over the years, that make going on holiday with children not only easier but really enjoyable too!


Make sure to Pre-book Everything
This can cover a whole selection of things, but pre-booking before you travel will make travelling a whole lot easier. This starts when booking your holiday. Paying to pre-book seats on the plane can seem like a waste of money, but trust me when I say it saves you a lot of stress - no one wants to turn up and find out the whole family is dotted all over the aeroplane! A lot of hotels will also allow you to pre-book family essentials such as cots, highchairs, sterilisers and even pushchairs before you travel too. This will save you space in your suitcase, and mean you can relax a little knowing everything will be ready for you when you arrive.

If you know you'll be going on days out or excursions during your trip, it's always a good idea to pre-book tickets before you travel too. For example, you can find the best value universal studios tickets if you book before travelling - plus pre-booking usually saves you queuing in extra queues while there too!

Only Pack the Essentials
It can feel like you need to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you travel with children, but you really don't! As long as you aren't going to an obscure country, then wherever you're travelling to will have shops where you can buy items such as nappies, snacks and beach toys. Packing just the essentials (and a few spares) will also make the airport easier to navigate, as you won't have endless suitcases to keep an eye on.


Relax your Expectations
A holiday for most is a special occasion, so it can feel like you really need to make the most of the time you have. However, when travelling with children it's probably easier to relax your expectations. Don't try and go on every excursion, or fill every day with adventures and exploring. And if you're trying to stick to your usual routine from home, it's probably best to throw that out the window too. We've always found it easier to take every day as it comes and to let the children decide what they want to do each morning. And if you feel like you need 5 minutes of relaxation, there's always kid's club!

What tips would you add?

This is a collaborative post.

Home Layout Mistakes to Avoid

8.1.20

If you are renovating your home or even building your dream property from scratch, then you are most likely planning to customise it's layout so it meets the needs of your family. This is obviously great, but there are a few common mistakes you need to make sure that you avoid.


Bad Design
You may think that your plan looks great on paper, but sometime mistakes only become apparent when you move in. For example, if your kitchen is too far from the main entrance to your home then this means that you will have to carry your groceries further when you bring them in through the front door. If you want to make sure that your layout is perfect then imagine various scenarios, or think about your daily routine. Will your new layout create any potential challenges? If so, then it’s time to hit the drawing board again.

If you host guests on a regular basis, then don’t think about removing the downstairs bathroom. If you have an outdoor space, then make sure that it can be accessed comfortably via the living room or even the kitchen. If you add obstacles, then this will make it harder for people to move through your home and this can be frustrating when you have guests.

Open Plan
Open plan is great if you have children, or if you have a lot of people in your home on a regular basis. But it can feel difficult to keep the spaces feeling separate and tidy.. You could break up the space by adding cheap large rugs to your living room, and you can also experiment more with bright or bold colours too. Open plan designs can often mean that your home loses more heat too, so definitely something to consider before taking the plunge.

Poor Space Allocation
It doesn’t matter if you have a large home or a small one, because a few centimetres of wasted space in one area, could make a huge difference to another room. Corridors are a prime example here. You have to make sure that they are attractive but at the same time, you also need to think about fire safety and comfort. Your architect should be able to help you meet the minimum requirements here.

Lack of Storage
Storage is essential when you own a property - especially when you have a growing family. No architect or planner will be able to tell you how much storage you need, because only you know your lifestyle more than anyone. If you want to help yourself here then you should know that you can’t put a price on adequate storage, as it will help you to avoid clutter and keep your home looking streamlined and organised.
This is a collaborative post.

Find the Best Childcare for You with Childcare.co.uk | Review

In collaboration with Childcare.co.uk

With Lilah turning two next week *sob*, Jack and I have both been thinking a lot about what childcare route we're going to take with her. We've experienced both the nursery and preschool routes before with the older two, but there are actually a few more choices we could make. A website that has been created to help with this kind of decision is Childcare.co.uk - an award winning online social networking platform for parents, childcare providers and private tutors.


What is Childcare.co.uk?
The idea of the Childcare.co.uk website is to perfectly match parents with the right childcare provider for them. They are the UK's largest childcare website with currently over 2 million users (a mixture of both parents looking to find childcare, and those looking to find roles in the childcare sector). From nurseries, registered childminders and nannies, to babysitters, private tutors and even private midwives, it really is the number one place to go for any childcare needs.

How does it Work?
The website is incredibly easy to understand and navigate. If you just want to do a quick, simple search, then the handy dropbox at the top of the site is where you want to head. All you have to do is pop in what you're looking for and your postcode, and within seconds results will appear. I was able to find 18 nurseries with 10 miles of our address - some of which I had never heard of which is really helpful. And if we wanted to go down the childminder route there are 144 within 10 miles - I didn't even know these existed a few years ago!
If you are a parent or childcare provider who has a very specific search in mind, then joining the Childcare.co.uk website as a member would be the best option. This is completely free and allows you to create an advert which showcases what you're looking for / providing. As a parent you can then read reviews, browse profiles and chat to potential carers in a safe space. If you are a childcare provider there's also access to over 200 online training courses from leading training providers.

Is it Worth it?
What I really like about the website is that you can be really specific with your searches. You can filter searches to include only those who are Ofsted registered or have first-aid training, pick just a specific gender, and even whether they are a smoker or not. It's these extra steps really help to connect parents with their perfect childcare provider. I definitely think Childcare.co.uk would be helpful for anyone who is looking for childcare, or someone like Jack who works in the childcare sector. It's definitely worth signing up to, even if it's just to get some fantastic childcare advice, as they have lots of that too!


Have you used the Childcare.co.uk website before?