Lilah at 3 Years Old

22.2.21

I haven't written an update on our little Lilah Bear since she was 2 years old, and since we celebrated her third birthday last month, I think it's about time I did! Of course Lilah's 3rd birthday was a much lower-key affair this year due to lockdown, but we still managed to celebrate her special day with a mermaid themed party at home as a family of 5. It was so lovely to see how excited she was for her big day, although she's still not happy she has to wait another whole year for it to be her birthday again!


Lilah has grown and changed so much over the last year. She's super tall now, with beautiful blonde curls and bright blue eyes. I always have comments on her age as people don't believe she's only 3 - it's strange for me too, as both Indie and Parker have always been so short for their ages. She has been wearing 3-4 clothing for a long time now and even some of those bits are on the shorter side. It's been SO lovely to see her in lots of Indie's old bits of clothing though, it brings back all the memories. She's potty trained during the day, and still naps most days too.

In September Lilah started preschool a couple of mornings a week. We originally had a shaky start with lots of tears and trouble separating, but after a few weeks she was running in and absolutely loving her mornings. I love seeing all her little creations and hearing about her day; it sounds like she has lots of little friends already.



Of course a big part of the last year was overshadowed by Covid and all of the restrictions that followed. Thankfully Lilah has only really seen the positives of this though. Having all of us together at home, being able to play with her siblings every day, lots of fun adventures close to home and making those special occasions extra special. Of course she has missed seeing family, but that's why I am so thankful she started preschool and was able to still play with friends and her teachers there.

Development wise Lilah has come on in leaps and bounds. She can count up to 20 and beyond (although just like Indie and Parker did, she struggles with 16), she loves to jump and dance and sing, and she's amazing on her scooter too. You could definitely describe Lilah as a girly girl - obsessed with pink, princesses, dressing up and jewellery... it's a struggle to even get trousers on her most days, it's dresses only!



Lilah loves PlayDoh, Frozen, dressing up, dancing, colouring, scooting, Youtube Kids (Diana Show), and playing small world / role play games. She's still very much obsessed with her dummy and muzzy too, something we really need to work on removing soon (the dummy that is). Lilah doesn't like being left out - if Indie and Parker are doing it then so can she, sharing and still isn't so keen on certain vegetables.

In a few weeks time Lilah will start going to preschool for longer hours and staying for lunch. She's so excited and I am too, but I'm also really sad about it at the same time. I feel like I've missed out on so much time just the two of us! But I know she's ready for this next step, she's definitely not our baby anymore.

Our Month - January 2021

7.2.21


I knew as soon as I typed the words 'things can't get much worse' last month that I was instantly going to be in trouble. Because things well and truly got worse in January didn't they? After a fews days of enjoying the new year, we got the news that we were going to be entering another lockdown, and lockdown 3 has definitely been the hardest of them all so far.

All non-essential shops closed, leisure closed, no meeting anyone, and schools and clubs were closed again too. Thankfully childcare for the early years remained open this time, so Lilah was able to continue going to preschool for her two sessions a week. I was so pleased about this, as it means she still gets to see her little friends and get some quality attention from her wonderful key workers there. But this does also mean that Jack has worked throughout this time (he was at home throughout the whole of lockdown 1), so it's just been me trying to tackle everything on my own during the week.






Our Monday - Fridays now mostly look like this...

Wake up, breakfast and get dressed. Spending all morning struggling to get both Indie and Parker to complete their tasks on Microsoft Teams. Both of them have live chats on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the mornings too, so we need to somehow squeeze those in. Lilah is of course home those days too, so there's also the juggle of trying to keep her entertained, but also as quiet and least distracting as possible so the big two can do their work. I'll be VERY honest here and say she's mostly using technology to achieve this, and you know what, I'm not even sorry about it! We usually finish the work by lunch time so then spend the afternoon relaxing with TV, tablets or the Switch. I do try and fit in a daily walk most days, but I actually find it really hard to find the time every day, and we're all a little bored of our local walks anyway.

Weekends in January have then been spent trying to enjoy as much family time as possible. Of course we've been enjoying some wintery (and extremely muddy) walks, lots of hot chocolates and cakes, and Jack has been baking at least once a week too. Jack and I have sort of fallen into a routine of a Friday or Saturday 'date night' where we get a takeaway, watch a film and just switch off for the evening too. It's definitely one of my favourite things at the moment, especially when most days can feel the same right now.






Of course January wasn't all doom and gloom though, as our wonderful little Lilah bear turned 3 on the 14th! We celebrated with all the presents, balloons and yummy treats. As Jack was working in the morning we decided to send Lilah to preschool to see her friends, and then once they were both home we went for a muddy puddle walk and ate alllll the cake. It was such a shame that she couldn't see any family, but I think she enjoyed her mermaid birthday all the same, and she's played with her presents daily since!

There are also positive signs of things improving over the next fews months. Schools aren't set to be back until at least the 8th March, but millions have had the vaccine now and case numbers are dropping. I started the month in a really bad place mentally, but now January is over and there is some hope ahead I'm feeling slightly lighter. I just hope February is over quickly!

4 Steps Towards a Successful Home-Business

12.1.21

Do you ever feel that people don't take your business seriously because you run it from home? This can crush your morale, especially if you are just starting out. But of course working-from-home doesn't mean unprofessional. Especially if you follow these tips and tricks I'm going to share in this post!


Have Specified Working Hours
While running a home-based business gives you the freedom to work at whichever time you want. You should try to give yourself some structured working hours - especially if your business means you have a customer base that need to be in contact with you.

You should come up with specific working times, which you should clearly describe on your website. Your customers will know the hours in which they can place orders or ask questions (even if the answers aren't completely instant). By having specific working hours you create a sense of professionalism, and it also helps you to create a good work / home balance for yourself as well.

Have a Work Station
Having a specific room or area in your home dedicated to your work is a great idea, not only to maintain a healthy work / home balance, but also to make your business appear more professional. Keep the area as clear and clean as possible to keep you motivated too. One of the best flooring styles you can use is an engineered wood floor accomplished by Flooring365, which makes the room you are using look presentable.

Invest in the Right Equipment
Having the right equipment needed to run your business is equally as important. You don't necessarily need the most high-tech, expensive items. But it is a good idea to shop around and find the right products for you. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, then a supportive computer chair is a must for example. 

Put the Needs of the Customers First
There is a famous saying in business that says, 'the customer is always right.' This applies even in a home-based business where you should give priority to the needs of your customers. If a client orders for a certain product or service, you should ensure it is delivered on time without delays. A happy customer will keep coming back, and hopefully they'll bring their friends too!

This is a collaborative post.

Helping your Child with their Balance + Coordination

8.1.21

Balance is something a lot of us adults take for granted. From going down the stairs, to even just sitting at the table, balance plays a key role in a lot of day-to-day activities. For children though, balance is something they need to master as they develop. This is why it’s important that they’re involved in activities that help encourage coordination and balance from a young age. With that in mind, here are some of the top activities that can help teach your child the skills they need.


Swimming
When you’re submerged in water, you have to learn how to work against the resistance of the water, while also using it to your advantage. Understanding how your body works differently in water is key to developing new coordination and balance skills, and it also helps your child begin to develop spatial awareness.

Cycling and Roller Skating
We all remember that feeling of riding our first bike - it’s terrifying but such an exciting feeling once you master it. Riding a bike or whizzing around in a pair of roller boots is all about learning how to position your body, so you maintain your balance. And although quite daunting initially, it’s the perfect way to help your children get used to using their posture to stay coordinated.

Playground Games
Climbing ladders, swinging on ropes and walking across suspended bridges all require a lot of concentration and agility. When things move unexpectedly (such as the swing bridge moving suddenly), it requires a lot of core strength to regain control over our bodies. So even though jungle gyms and playgrounds just seem like great fun to children, they’re actually teaching them valuable skills while training their core.

Simple playground games such as hopscotch and stepping stones are also brilliant for coordination. Hopscotch requires the rapid and frequent change in movements, while stepping stones mean leaping certain distances. All of these challenge your child’s coordination and balance.


What if your Child is Still Struggling?
While it’s inevitable that your child may fall over on occasions, or lose control of their bike while riding, there are some other key signs that your child may need help with their balance and coordination.

These include:

* Frequently falling or tripping (and being unable to rebalance themselves quickly).
* Lacking fluid movements so they look more robotic.
* Refraining from joining in with physical activities.
* Being late to start walking or crawling, or other more physical activities.
* Having trouble in certain environments, such as uneven ground or steps.
* Struggling to get dressed standing up.

In cases such as these or if you're particularly worried, you should seek the advice of your doctor. It may be something that can be helped with a bit of support, for example an ear infection that is affecting their balance. Check out Auris Ear Care who might have some advice for this. 

This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to Make your Business More Professional

If you are a new business then you'll understand that the competition for new clients is fierce. You're effectively competing against others in your industry, businesses with perhaps years worth of experience and brand recognition behind them. And with this kind of competition, it's difficult to know how you can stand out. Customers are more likely to select a company over its competitors when they appear professional and highly experienced. Which means, everything from your logo to your company message, branding and even the look of your emails will be scrutinised, and if you don't have the right look, then you're likely to miss out on those crucial orders and enquiries.


Boosting your professionalism is a simple yet effective way of reassuring potential customers to consider your company over your competitors. But you may be wondering how this is achievable. So I thought I would share some easy and effective ways to help you make your business appear (and hopefully be) more professional. 

Invoicing and Accounts
Getting that first sale is one thing, but holding onto that customer so they'll return again and again, is probably even more important. Having a streamlined payment process is a simple yet highly effective way to remind your clients that you're professional in everything you do. Stripe accounting integrations from freshbooks.com provides you with an easy to use, efficient way of receiving payments. Not only is this method secure but it also stores all the necessary details to speed up the process each time. This effortlessly highlights your professionalism and emphasises how straightforward working with you is! 

Set up a P.O Box
Having business mail or correspondence sent to your home address looks incredibly unprofessional. It sends out the wrong message, especially if a potential client is considering you for a large order or project. Setting up a P.O Box instantly adds some professionalism and makes your company look much more organised and reliable. A P.O Box is also a good idea from a security point of view, as it means you won't have to give out your personal address to anyone either.

Business Cards
While some may consider business cards to be a little old fashioned, they still have a place within modern business. Having a store of business cards in your pocket means you have access to an instant marketing tool, no matter where you are. Whether you're networking at an event, or you come across a potential employee who may be the perfect fit, handing over a business card is a much more personal and professional way to seal an interaction. Rather than asking someone to 'look you up on LinkedIn'.

Look the Part
Running your own business means you don't have to conform to stuffy office attire rules. However, that shouldn't mean you're working in your pj's all day, as looking the part is essential for any face-to-face interaction (whether it's in person or via video call). Even if that means looking business ready on top and comfy on the bottom for video calls, make sure you look ready and excited for the client - pjs and a mum bun can look like you're uninterested! Keep the background clear for these types of conversations too.

This is a collaborative post.

Our Year, 2020

2.1.21


It seems wrong to be saying happy New Year with life how it is as the moment, but I am hopeful that 2021 is going to be a lot more positive and 'normal' than the year we had in 2020. Things can't really get much worse at the moment can they? But I love to start off every new year with a round up of the previous year, and although last year won't be one we'll ever forget, I know there was still some lovely memories amongst the madness.

You can read my roundups of 2015, 2016, 20172018 and 2019 here, and of course read on to read all about our 2020. I wrote monthly updates throughout 2020 too, so I'll link those too for a more in-depth look at each month.


January started out with so much optimism about the year ahead. We had so many exciting things planned including holidays, trips away, and special family celebrations! We spent New Year's Day at the seaside, and of course celebrated Lilah's second birthday with a little family party at home, a trip to soft play and of course plenty of cake.



February brought rain, and a lot of it! We managed lots of local days out in-between the storms, and sorting out our car that had to go in for repair. Half term felt like a welcome relief and although we didn't get up to much, the littles and I had lots of fun enjoying lazy days at home and taking life at a much slower pace.


Of course we ended the month taking our family snaps at Knole Park. We've managed a photo in this spot for 5 years now - how amazing is that? We can literally watch our family grow before our eyes!


The first few weeks of March were spent in ignorant bliss, completely unaware of how upside down our lives were about to become. For World Book Day we had a Cinderella and a pirate - both costumes from the dressing up box because I am definitely that kind of school mum. Indie learnt to ride her bike without stabilisers, and Jack and I managed to squeeze in a child-free day out in early March too - our last until July! 

And then of course Corona arrived, schools closed and the world locked down. Because Parker had a temperature and a cough we had to isolate at home for 2 weeks too, so we spent a lot of time in the garden, baking, printing countless bits of work from Twinkl so Indie and Parker had some sort of school structure, and there were definitely a few tears thrown in too.



Thankfully our isolation ended at the very beginning of April, so we could get out for our one bit of exercise every day. Those daily walks became my lifeline, and we actually discovered so many lovely places to explore right on our doorstep. The sun got the memo too and we had such beautiful weather in April that we had the paddling pool out and our first (of many) BBQs of the year. Of course we enjoyed the bluebells and blossoms that April brings, and we had a lovely Easter Sunday with an egg hunt in the garden.



April was an exciting month for Lilah as we decided we'd use lockdown as the perfect time to potty train. She was totally ready though and despite a few ups and downs the first few days she cracked it in no time. And because apparently we don't do things by halves, we also switched her cot into a toddler bed too. Such a big girl!


We got a few more freedoms back in May so we could explore further than our local area. We could enjoy picnics on our walks instead of trying to not stay out too long, and ice creams were definitely a daily occurrence. The weather continued to be beautiful too - it's as if it knew we all needed something positive to enjoy! 

The caterpillars we got back in April turned into butterflies and we released them in the garden. They didn't stick around for long, but it was such a lovely experience for us and the littles. 



June will always be remembered as the month our lives got back to a bit of normality. Schools reopened for Reception, years 1 and 6, and early years were welcomed back too. Jack went back to work after almost 11 weeks at home, and Indie and Parker went back to school on June 3rd. It was very different though as their classes were split in half and Parker didn't have his original teacher, they had to distance as best as they could, and even have their lunches at their desks. Both of them were SO happy to be back though, and the chance to breathe after an intense few months was very much enjoyed by me.



The most exciting part of may was definitely getting to properly meet and squish my new nephew Jaxson. It makes me so sad that we had to wait 8 weeks, but it was totally worth it. It was so lovely to be reunited with my sister and other nephews and niece too - especially to see the cousins playing together again after so long apart.


Parks, shops and restaurants opened back up again in July, and I think we visited a different park a day over those first few weeks to make up for it. We were allowed to meet up with friends and family again too which brought back so much joy. Days out including a beautiful summers day at Hever Castle, strawberry picking, and of course a trip to the seaside for fish and chips and paddling in the sea.



We surprised Parker with a trip to Legoland for his 5th birthday - a moment I captured on film that I will cherish forever! We decided to buy Merlin Annual Passes so also managed trips to Chessington and Thorpe Park, visited Sea Life Weymouth and went to London for a trip on the London Eye in August too.

As our holiday was cancelled earlier in the year we booked a few days away in Weymouth. It was nothing fancy, just a few days in a Premier inn, but it was just what we needed - even if we almost melted thanks to the heatwave and no air con! Just watching the littles swim in the sea and enjoy the aquarium was perfect for us.



It was also my birthday in August, so we celebrated with Afternoon Tea at our wedding venue. Jack and I then got to enjoy a day of thrills at Thorpe Park just the two of us and dinner out, as the littles had their first sleepover at nanny's in many many months. Bliss!


School was fully back on in September (although with lots more rules and changes), so Indiana started year 2 and Parker headed into year 1. Lilah started preschool, and although she had a bit of a shaky start, she settled in well and adapted to the changes in place for Covid well. Both of the big two were fully back at their out-of-school clubs too which made our weeks feel incredibly normal! We spent our month enjoying the last of the sunshine and the freedoms we were allowed.



Jack and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, with what turned out to be our last time just the two of us for a while. We got into a routine of muddy autumnal walks and then super relaxed Sundays at home - a routine that suited us perfectly! 

We managed to get away on our long-weekend break to Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk at the start of half term, a holiday that was a true blessing in disguise as we were put back into lockdown just a few fews later. We got to enjoy the pool, play in the arcades, spot seals on the beach at Horsey Gap and even ride a few rides on Great Yarmouth seafront.  



Jack booked the rest of half term off work so we got to enjoy the week all together again. We went on our annual pumpkin picking trip, to Legoland for their Brick or Treat event and celebrated Halloween at home with a yummy feast and party games. 


We were put back into lockdown in November, meaning everything had to close again and we weren't allowed to see family and friends properly. Thankfully schools and early years settings remained open, so we just filled the weekends with muddy woodland walks, lots of lazy days at home and a trip to the seaside for fish and chips. 


Indie turned 7 at the end of the month so we had a little party at home just the 5 of us, with a takeaway pizza for dinner at her request. I was so sad we couldn't give her a proper birthday or party, but she was glad she got to see friends at school and loved her cake and presents. We then got into the festive spirit early with a trip to Hever Castle and put up the Christmas tree.


We came out of lockdown and straight into Tier 3 (so exactly the same as lockdown, but shops and a few other places opened up again). We managed to squeeze in a visit to Father Christmas before Indie was sent home from school to isolate due to a positive case in her class. And then just as she was allowed out again, I had to get a covid test because of a cough. Thankfully it was negative, but the isolation period meant that both littles finished school early!

Even more restrictions were announced and we got moved up to Tier 4 - everything closed and no mixing at Christmas. It was devastating but we still managed to have a lovely Christmas period at home just the 5 of us. It was different, but I'm hopeful next year we will all be back together again.



The year ended with even more bad news. Case levels are rocketing and despite all the current restrictions, schools are remaining closed for at least a few more weeks. It's not the way I thought 2021 would be starting, but I really am trying to remain positive about everything. There are vaccines now being administered and we are on the countdown to Spring, so I have everything crossed we will get some normality this year.

2020 was a rollercoaster, but it gave us time together as a family and helped us to enjoy the little things more. I mean it won't be one I'd be in a hurry to repeat, but it did have it's beautiful moments too!

Our Month - December 2020

1.1.21


There aren't really many words to describe the month of December. We started the month with more restrictions as we were put into Tier 3 (shops, gyms and restaurants closed again), which definitely put a dampener on things. We tried to keep things as magical for the littles as possible though with plenty of Christmas fun. We were lucky enough to still be able to visit Father Christmas, the littles wrote and posted their letters to him, we drove around to see the Christmas lights and watched all the Christmas films we possibly could. We also built a questionable gingerbread house (and a much better one towards the end of the month) and practically turned into hot chocolates as we drank them nearly every day.

Things started to take a downward spiral a few weeks in though when one of our school bubbles finally burst. Indie's class was the first in the whole school sent home to isolate and it was back to home-schooling - although a lot more organised this time because of Teams. Thank goodness for amazing school mums too for helping get Parker to and from school! We were almost out of isolation when I developed an awful cough though, so this time we were all in isolation whilst I waited for my Covid test results. Thankfully it was negative, and miraculously no-one else caught my cold, so we were allowed back out just before Christmas. 








And then the news of tier 4 was broken... who knew there would ever be 4 tiers huh? Christmas was always going to be different as we weren't going to be seeing family anyway, but having the official news that no one could mix at all for Christmas was a big blow. All of our usual Christmas traditions were off, but we still had a lovely few days regardless. Jack luckily has the festive period off work so we spent our days on muddy walks, lazing in our pjs and visiting every local National Trust property possible. Christmas Day was spent at home just the 5 of us, and although different, it was still pretty special.

We ended the month (and the year) with a walk, takeaway and movies, so nothing too different to our normal quiet one if I'm honest. Getting the news that Indie and Parker won't be heading back to school for a little while yet kind of put a dampener on celebrating. I am hopeful that things will get better though... as they can't really get much worse can they?