5 Ways to Make your Home More Family Friendly

28.5.20

When you decide to start a family, as well as the obvious preparations you need to do, you’ve also got to start thinking about how you can make your house more family friendly too. It might be the case that right now, you have no idea what you should be doing to make your home more family friendly, but that’s okay because, by the time you have finished reading this article you will... hopefully!


Bedrooms / Nursery
If you’re expecting right now then this is the best time to start preparing for a newborn by starting on the nursery. Even if you aren't planning on creating a nursery, it's a good idea to dedicate an area in your room for baby furniture and items. Make sure you have enough room for everything you need and try not to get sucked into buying too much - a changing table looks nice, but in reality a changing mat on the floor is more likely to be used! 

Stair Gates
If you have smaller children then you’re certainly going to need to add stair gates to your home. These ensure that your children can’t just wander up and down the stairs whenever they want, making sure that they are safe. These should ideally be placed at the top and bottom of the stairs to stop little ones from getting access to the stairs from both ends. It might be a good idea to add a stair gate to the child's bedroom too to stop any late night wanderings!

Baby-Proofing
All sharp things should be well and truly out of reach of any children. Something as simple as leaving scissors on the table could be a disaster if they fall into the wrong hands, and as you never know when your kids are going to start getting adventurous, it's best to get into good habits from the start. Ensure that all harmful objects and products are safely stored in high cabinets too, and if there is anything in lower ones, then there should be child locks on them instead. Look up a guide online to help you cover all the baby-proofing areas!

Playroom
If you are someone who doesn’t want to see toys thrown around the place all the time, then you'll probably want to have a space for them to go into when they want to play or relax. If you have the room then a playroom is a fantastic idea! All of the children's toys can be in this dedicated area, and you don't have to worry about the mess as much either. This could be an area that's decorated by them as well - think about hanging their art around the room, letting let choose the paint colour, and lots of comfy soft furnishings too.

Outdoor Space
Being outside is fun whatever the weather, so it's always a good idea to keep your outdoor space in good, useable condition. Keep the grass mowed and remove harmful weeds or plants, and if there is anything that looks spiky or sharp, pick it up whenever you see it. For the warmer months why not think about a swing set or slide, or even a large paddling pool so they have something to play with? When it's cooler something like a mud kitchen or scooters / ride ons can be enjoyed without the need for sun.


Hopefully you found this article helpful and it's given you some ideas on how to make your home more family friendly!
This is a collaborative post.

Keeping your Children Safe Online

Being a parent is probably one of the hardest jobs you will probably ever undertake. As well as taking care of all of their physical wellbeing, you also have to guide them in the right path - whilst still giving them freedom but from a young age. Whether that’s incorporating your teachings into hobbies and outdoor activities, or if you prefer to just sit down and talk to them, you need to be sure that they understand the dangers of the world. 


A lot of children today under the age of 10 have tablets that they play on and easy access to the internet. This of course can be great for helping them to learn and play or allowing them to watch things of interest, but they can also pose a threat. So it makes sense to look at introducing a few initial steps to help your children before they reach their teen years. Here are 5 simple rules you can follow:

  • Make sure your child knows to not reveal personal details such as their full name and address online.
  • Invent a family password for devices - this will mean your children can have a bit of freedom, but you can keep watch on screen usage.
  • Install a tracking app - these are great because they can help you keep on top of what your family are doing and where they are. If you are interested in teen monitoring apps, you can take a look at how they could benefit you.
  • Make sure they are aware of internet dangers such as scams and potential criminals. Internet safety is so important!
  • Limit screen time - this will mean that they aren't spending too much time in front of devices, and allows them to complete other tasks at home such as homework or play.
  • Talk! This is probably the most important rule of all. Make sure you and your children communicate about what they're up to in the online world. Keeping secrets or changes in behaviour can be a sign of a problem (cyber bulling, scams etc).

When do I Give them Space?
Your children should always have space, but they should also be aware that they are monitored for their own safety and that you are there for them no matter what. Encourage talking and communicating and telling you their worries and problems. Don’t make them feel an immense fear (this could prevent them from enjoying the internet at all), but make sure they understand the dangers. Fear of every situation can actually be counterproductive and may lead to your child being so afraid of everything that they are easily manipulated as well as feeling lonely and anxious. Don’t focus too much on the dangers and the bad things happening but instead empower your child by teaching them how to recognise and avoid dangerous situations.

Overall it is about vigilance and awareness, and being sure to keep a good relationship with you and your children by establishing the rules from a young age. The internet doesn't have to be a dangerous place, but just remember it can be.
This is a collaborative post.

Thinking of Future Holiday Plans

20.5.20

I'm sure there are many of us who are currently mourning the loss of our summer holidays this year; we were supposed to be flying off to Turkey next week! With lockdown restrictions slowly loosening though, there could be airlines up and running in some capacity at some point this summer. Although many people will want to rush to the train stations, the airports and the roads to get some kind of holiday time into their lives - after all being stuck at home for about 3 months straight who could blame you? - I think it's probably best to not start rushing any plans just yet.


Staycation
I don't think international travel will be a normal thing for a long time yet, but that doesn't mean we won't be able to have a staycation at some point in the near future. Whether that's heading to a UK holiday park, camping or even just enjoying what's on offer in your local area. Whatever you decide to do, it's always good to think about the safety of your home before you travel. After being at home for a long time it will be pretty obvious if you leave your home empty after all! You can use a service such as physicaladdress.com to reroute all your post to their PO Box. This virtual address service will then open your mail, scan it for you and send it directly to your email address. Then when you’re done with the mail, you can request the hard copy to be shredded and disposed of.

Another way to quickly protect yourself is to fit fingerprint locks throughout your house. This way you don’t have to worry about someone picking your lock and forcing their way into your home. There’s a range of fingerprint locks to choose from including the iTouchless Bio-Matic (one of the simplest to use). Then there’s the Samsung SHS-S700, which has many different settings that you can configure using the touchscreen. It can also follow your routine and spot suspicious activity - clever right?

Book Future Holidays
With everyone at home right now and not able to travel, it's likely that when we are properly back to work that those holidays slots will quickly become booked up. So why not book your Christmas holidays and / or leisure events now? That way even if you're not planning on going away you know you'll have that time to enjoy and relax at home! Why not even look into holidays for 2021 to keep you busy - everyone loves holiday dreaming right?

Our Month - April 2020

11.5.20

It's so strange to think that we spent the whole of April at home as a family. I don't think there's ever been a time where we've spent so much time together! Of course it's not been easy by any means, but I found myself settling into this new normal a little bit more in April. We 'found our groove' so to speak. And actually, looking back now there really were some wonderful moments and memories made in April.


We started the month celebrating Jack's lockdown birthday. The littles and I made and decorated him a cake, I put up some decorations and just tried to make the day as special for him as possible. We managed to get out on a walk, had takeaway for dinner and watched plenty of Tiger King - what more could you want from a 28th birthday huh?

The beginning of April was also the two week 'Easter Holidays', so we gave the littles a bit of a break from home school work and truly embraced the laziness of having nowhere to be. Plenty of mornings watching tv in our pjs, building Lego, baking, and probably a bit too much screen time. The weather was on our side too, meaning we could enjoy our daily walks in the woods a whole lot more, and even pumped up the paddling pool for the littles to enjoy! Easter itself was the loveliest weekend too, with the sun giving us an excuse to have a bbq and enjoy an egg hunt in the garden.





Talking of our daily walks, we have been exploring our local area a whole lot more over the last few weeks. Of course April brought us the wonders of blossom and bluebells, and it would have been rude not to capture their beauty - all within the rules of our daily walks of course!

When the 'holidays' were over we did find it harder to get back into our home school routine - who knew getting up and dressed by 10am was so hard now? But once the littles get going they are doing really well with the work set. We are incredibly lucky that their school is supportive and has repeatedly said that there is no pressure to complete any work. But for us it gives our weeks a bit of structure, plus I don't want them to forget what they've been learning (especially as Parker is only just learning it all being in Reception).





The most exciting updates for April though have to be the big steps we took with our beautiful little Lilah. We've been thinking for a while about switching her cotbed to a bed - the big two had been getting her in/out of it for a while now. So we thought with us all being home, it was time! The first few days were rocky, with her getting up and down and jumping into Parker's bed. But she's settled really well now for both naps and bedtime, so I'm glad we made the switch. We also took the biggest step of potty training over the last few weeks too - when better to try than when you're all stuck as home right? Again it was a wobbly start, but a few weeks in she is absolutely smashing it and accidents are becoming less frequent. I'm so so proud of her!

I'm expecting May to be another full month of staying at home, but from looking back on April I know it's not all negative. Beautiful moments really can come out of dark times.




4 Hobbies that Will get you Moving

10.5.20

With many of our normal forms of exercise cancelled or closed due to the current situation, there are more and more people who are taking up other hobbies to get themselves moving. Although we are restricted at the moment, we are still able to go out for exercise each day, and actually the great thing about hobbies that get you moving, is that they don’t feel like real exercise because you are having fun. They can even be a fab way to kick start a healthy lifestyle! And whether you are continuing with a hobby you have enjoyed for a while or you are looking for something new, getting yourself moving is good for your fitness as well as your mental health. In this post I'm going to be sharing 4 of these activities you could try.


Dancing
Dancing is well known for being something that most people enjoy, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it hard to resist bobbing their head along to tunes. But there are actually many different ways you can turn dancing into a hobby rather than just a quick boogie around the living room. Whether it’s ballet classes, a Zumba video, or learning hip hop on youtube, there is certainly a style for everyone and for all different levels of ability. Why not even try learning a Tik Tok dance and then showing off your new skill to family and friends!

Running / Jogging
Some people avoid running and jogging at all costs because they see it as a chore, or they associate it purely with exercise. However running and jogging can easily be something that you enjoy and even unwind with. Plus it’s one of the easiest hobbies to get you moving - all you need is a pair of trainers! If motivation is your largest hurdle, have a look at some of the available apps such as Couch to 5K which a lot of people have started doing throughout Covid-19. If you have a partner, one of the best ways to have a little healthy competition, good company, and motivation is to jog together. Just remember to start small and work up to longer distances. You don't want to run out of steam half way round and have no energy to run home.

Cycling
Ok, so biking might not be the easiest thing to get into as you do need to get suitable safety equipment like a helmet and bike lights (and possibly even a bike too). However once you’re set up it can be a really good and exciting hobby to get into. You can exercise at your own pace while enjoying scenic views, and once we're allowed you can enjoy exploring some trails too. While we have some good weather it’s definitely better than sitting on a bike in the gym, that’s for sure.


Yoga
Some people don’t consider yoga to be a fitness hobby, however yoga is fantastic for a complete body workout. It might not look strenuous from a distance, but it’s a brilliant way to improve your health without feeling like you are exercising. There are several different types of yoga, from meditative styles of restorative yoga to more intense workouts of Bikram or Vinyasa. And depending on what type of yoga you choose you can expect to burn as many as 600 calories in a one-hour session! The mental health benefits are fantastic too, especially if you need to relax and zone out right now.

One of the biggest reasons people avoid exercise is because they don’t enjoy it. Turning it into a hobby can help to alleviate this feeling, so why not choose a new hobby to start today!

This is a collaborative post.

Lilah's #MealTimeMilestones with doddl Cutlery

4.5.20

Written in collaboration with doddl.

If you're a parent, then you'll know first hand the mess that comes with weaning your baby. We followed the baby led weaning approach with all three children, so of course the mess we experienced was on a whole other level! But as your child grows and develops things do get that little bit easier, especially when you start introducing cutlery in to mix.


Lilah is two so has been using cutlery for a little while now, but she still has a little way to go with mastering her knife and fork skills. So when we were invited by doddl to have a go at their #MealTimeMilestones challenge, I thought it would be perfect for us - especially as we have plenty of time together at home at the moment, to practice and develop her skills.

A few weeks ago we were sent the pink doddl cutlery set (also available in blue and green) and the #MealTimeMilestones checklist and we started the challenge! doddl products have been specially designed to help children eat independently from day one and beyond. The handles of the knife and spoon have been designed to fit perfectly in your child's hand, and the knife has an ergonomic handle to support the hand and wrist (and to make it easy to push down onto food). Lilah instantly recognised the doddl cutlery as hers and now only refers to it as 'Lilah's fork' - so sweet!

There are 10 steps in the #MealTimeMilestones checklist, from the simple task of holding the cutlery successfully, to the much tricker 'final frontier' of using the knife and fork together to eat successfully.  We have successfully ticked up to number 8 on the checklist over the last few weeks, and it's been so fun to watch Lilah learn and explore. It's worth noting that the checkpoints are aimed at an age range of 12months+, but all children develop differently, so don't worry if your child doesn't do them all or in a different order.





Lilah holds her cutlery confidently and loves scooping up her food such as cereal, spaghetti and of course making sure she's got every last drop of milk left in the bottom of her bowl - number 5 is definitely ticked off,although we do still have some spillages.. oops! She loves to stab her fork into her food to see what she's picked up before adding some dip dip and quickly gobbling it down too.

Before we were set the challenge by doddl we hadn't introduced a knife to Lilah, so this was probably the most exciting part for us. She was a little unsure at first - it is a big step after all - but after a few tries she successfully cut through some of her dinner! She was so proud of her achievement and I think it really gave her some confidence to try again and again. Of course we still have a long way to go (my eldest is 6 and still struggles with this step!), but I love that this challenge has given us the push to introduce a knife at this stage.




I'm really excited to keep following the steps with Lilah, to help her progress with her skills. Cutlery skills take time and practice to develop, but with the help of our new tools it really can be a doddle. Pun intended!

Have you tried the #MealTimeMilestones checklist with your little one? Why not give it a go!

Can you Exercise During Pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant and already feeling tired and achy, the last thing you might want to do is exercise. After all, it’s difficult for most of us to get motivated even without the excuse of growing a human inside us! But actually being active during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for both you and your baby. It has been shown to reduce prenatal depression, aid sleep and can lead to easier labour and recovery.

There are of course limited to what you should and shouldn't do though - the type and amount of exercise you do is dependent on your level of fitness before you were pregnant, and you should consult your doctor or midwife before commencing any type of exercise programme during pregnancy. Gentle activities such as walking, swimming and yoga for prenatal wellness are all good options, especially for those who have not exercised regularly before pregnancy. 


What are the benefits?

It is normal and healthy to gain weight during your pregnancy, but health professionals recommend not putting on too much to lower your risk of complications, back pain and gestational diabetes. Regular exercise can help maintain steady weight gain, and help you keep your strength throughout your pregnancy. A study in the British Medical Journal found that pregnant women who followed exercise programmes were less at risk of gestational diabetes and also less likely to need intervention in the form of unplanned cesareans. 

Recovery times after birth can also be quicker for those who have regularly exercised in pregnant. Many women feel like they can safely and happily return back to their pre-pregnancy activities sooner. This could be due to feeling stronger and the body / muscles remembering what to do.

Exercise can can help to regulate hormones and moods by releasing endorphins. This can not only help with you day-to-do mood, but also help to combat pre/post natal depression and anxiety. Also as counter-intuitive as it may seem, getting some exercise can actually make you feel less tired. Regular exercise can make it easier to both fall asleep and stay that way! Ideal if you're unfortunate enough to suffer with pregnancy insomnia.

Whether you're exercising to keep fit, relax, or just simply because you enjoy it, it really is a great thing to do during your pregnancy (and beyond). Just make sure to take it easy sometimes... you'll need the energy for when baby arrives!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Add an Irish Touch to your Wedding Day

3.5.20

Wedding planning is an exciting and busy time for any bride to be. However this can be especially true if you are planning to have a very traditional affair, such as an Irish wedding. But even if you are not Irish, anyone can add the rich meaning and symbolism of an Irish wedding into their big day. Doing so can not only add an extra layer of meaning and closeness to the day, but also make your wedding stand out from the rest. In this post I'm going to share a few of the ways you can bring an Irish twist to your wedding, to hopefully make your day extra special!


The kind of wedding ring used in Celtic culture is the Claddagh ring (where the ring shows a heart being held by two hands). This ring symbolises friendship, love, and loyalty - the basis of a happy and lasting marriage. These words are often engraved inside the ring as a constant reminder of what is important. How special is that?

Handfasting is another important tradition that is fulfilled in an Irish celebration. This is done by taking a piece of ribbon or rope and physically tying the couple’s hands together. Originally this was done as an engagement ceremony to show the couple’s intention to get married in the future. However today it is done during the ceremony (either during or after the vows) to show that the couple is now one. You could even make this extra special by having the ribbon embroidered with your wedding date and initials.

In a traditional Irish wedding the bride would carry an actual horseshoe down the aisle to bring good luck to the marriage. Of course today it is more appropriate to add decorative horseshoes into the decorations instead. You could even add a small horseshoe charm to your bouquet for a more subtle approach. Irish brides also wore blue dresses instead of white, which may be a step too far for some brides. So why not incorporate blue into your bridesmaids dresses or colour scheme instead!

As you can see there are many ways to incorporate some Irish traditions into your wedding day. The infographic below shares a few more ideas to consider. I hope this has given you some inspiration!


Infographic Design By Claddagh Ring

This is a collaborative post.