Our Month - June 2021


I feel the lateness of this post perfectly sums up how the last fews months of 2021 have been... hectic! And with restrictions easing so much it's been so easy to fall back into 'normal' life, so it feels even busier than ever after so many months of doing absolutely nothing. June was definitely one of those months that flew past too, most likely helped with a jam packed half term break at the very beginning.

We started the month with an extra special trip to Legoland Windsor. As part of our work as Merlin Annual Pass collaborators, we were invited down to Legoland and given VIP treatment for the day! Not only did that mean we got to experience all the amazing rides and attractions with hardly any queueing, but we also got to experience their amazing new area Lego Mythica too. So much fun!

The rest of half term was full of sunshine meaning we got to make the most of getting out and about. Lots of garden time, trips to the library and of course allll of the ice creams too. We picked up our new car during the week too which was rather exciting (although the littles will say they enjoyed the Nandos we got beforehand the most).

We decided to do our annual strawberry picking trip a little earlier this year, as there wasn't many left during our trip last year. We went back to Lower Ladysden Farm in Goudhurst again and it was so lovely - they have a wonderful outdoor seating area next to their cafe, and plenty of open space to run around in too. Definitely well worth a visit for fruit picking (or just a tasty treat) if you're local. And of course another annual tradition is our Father's Day visit to Nyman's NT, although it rained this year so we couldn't enjoy a picnic unfortunately.

Of course I can't talk about June without talking about getting my first Covid vaccine! It still seems surreal that we're here in this situation, but I said to Jack that the fact we're in a pandemic didn't really hit me until until I was sat waiting to be called forward for my jab. Luckily I only really suffered a sore arm as a side effect, so fingers crossed I experience the same when it comes to my second dose next month.

Throughout June we watched our tiny caterpillars grow and change, before emerging from their cocoons as beautiful butterflies. We loved following the process the last two years and it's something we definitely want to repeat again next year. The month ended with Jack competing in the Penshurst Place 5k Colour Run - a race through the countryside with a twist... lots of paint, foam and fun. This is something we definitely want to do again next year too, but as a family instead!

Are Cosmetic Procedures right for You?


With social media and everyones lives constantly under scrutiny, it's no surprise that everyone wants to look their best these days. This pressure has steered a large proportion of people to try all the possible cosmetic procedures. But finding the right treatment that suits you the best, and can provide the perfect solution to your problem, can be tricky.

The ultimate desire is to achieve natural looks and results that can enhance your looks and keep you away from all side effects after all! Some women reject the idea of ageing because it evokes the feeling of fear and insecurity in them and this has pushed them forward to try all the anti-aging products and treatments that are available in the market. One of the most popular procedures being botox.

Botox is one of the well-known aesthetic procedures chosen by millions all over the world. As an FDA-approved treatment, botox is offered in several clinics and you would be surprised to see a few in and around your locality itself (but be aware of several cowboy clinics that wouldn’t be the ideal environment for you). Your family, friends, and relatives might be able guide you to the right clinic, or you can look for yourself by searching for botox clinics near me online.

Make sure to search for the best clinic for you by looking at the online rating and reviews that are given for the clinic, its service, and also the practitioners. Before you go for the treatment, also make sure to do your research to know all the pros and cons to be sure about your choice and the treatment. It is usually possible to book a free appointment online to learn more about the treatment, and any possible complications, so you can be reassured that it's the right step for you. 

Whatever you decide in the end, make sure it's a decision that you take for yourself. You don't need to change yourself to impress anyone! Do it for yourself and for your own looks and happiness.

This is a collaborative post.

5 Ways to Eat Healthy during Pregnancy


When you think about pregnancy and eating, your first thoughts probably go towards crazy cravings and nibbling ginger biscuits to help with morning sickness. But eating a balanced, healthy diet is especially important during pregnancy, as well as following some other changes. In this post I'm going to be sharing 5 ways you can keep healthy during pregnancy.

Eat a Balanced Diet
It is completely normal for pregnant women to experience cravings and have aversions to certain foods - I went completely off of certain meats during my third pregnancy with Lilah. But it is still important to maintain a healthy balanced diet alongside these. Make sure to eat enough fruit and vegetables, as well as healthy fats, proteins, carbs, and enough water each day. If you're struggling with breakfast ideas, then why not try Growli Foods, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients ideal for pregnant women. 

Take Prenatal Supplements
Taking prenatal supplements can boost your health and that of the baby when pregnant. The supplements have crucial vitamins and minerals for the body, including iron, zinc, folic acid, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D. Make sure to consult your midwife before taking any supplements to make sure you're taking the right combination for you.

Avoid Specific Foods
Although a balanced diet is essential, when pregnant there are certain foods that you should avoid. Foods such as soft cheese, unpasteurised milk, raw eggs, sushi, liver, or raw meat should be avoided. You also need to limit the amount of oily fish you consume as these contain a high level of mercury. Remember that rules and advice does change regularly though, so it's always best to check what isn't recommend often.

Don't Smoke or Drink
While you may be a smoker or love to drink alcohol often, the behaviour poses a significant risk to you and the unborn baby. Smoking increases the risk of premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), miscarriage, and other severe conditions. On the other hand, alcohol increases the chances of a baby having fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) when consumed during pregnancy. To be safe it's best just to avoid both alcohol and smoking during pregnancy.

Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids while pregnant is incredibly important for your health. It is advised to consume  6 to 8 glasses daily to hydrate the body (and this also helps with other pregnancy issues such as constipation and headaches). Make sure to limit your caffeine intake to 1-2 cups a day - or switch to non caffeinated versions of drinks altogether if you prefer.

This is a collaborative post.

3 Ways to Prepare your Home when Expecting a Baby


Although everyone says that you don't actually need to prepare much when expecting, the process of preparing for a baby can sometimes be surprisingly long and expensive. There are so many different things we need to do around the house, and we also need to get our finances in order to pay for some of the more pricey aspects of raising a child. With that said, one of the most time-consuming parts of preparing for a child is getting your house sorted before your baby arrives. There are many different components to this, so in this post I've put together a brief guide sharing the top 3 things you need to prepare before your child arrives.

Start Budgeting for Baby Equipment
First you'll want to make sure that you budget for all of the necessary accessories and equipment that your baby will be using. The bigger items such as the pram, car seat, cot and furniture can really add up in price! It's always a good idea to start budgeting and saving as soon as you find out you're expecting; this way you can spread the cost over the 9 months. Don't be afraid to look into second hand (or hand-me-down) options. Many parents find they hardly use items, so you can then get them for a fraction of the cost but still in great condition.

There are also some helpful accessories that you shouldn’t overlook. For instance a baby parasol is a great item to have if your baby is due in the sunnier months - it's recommend to not cover the pram, so these are great for protecting little one from the sun in a safe way. Of course a baby monitor is also an item that you should think about. Although it can seem like an expensive investment, you'll find it gives you great peace of mind when your little one is sleeping in a room away from you.

Have a Big Spring Clean
Although babies are small, they sure do take up a lot of space in your home. It's therefore a good idea to have a big spring clean / clear out of your home before they arrive, to make sure that you have space for all of the equipment we discussed above. Clearing out space ahead of time will make it a lot easier to store these items in bulk so that you always have them ready for when they’re needed.

Of course this can be done once your little one arrives - they'll be in your room for the first 6 months anyway. But getting this done during the nesting phase of pregnancy is usually easier, especially if this is your first child! 

Think about Home Safety
Stretching your family budget can be challenging at times, but one of the things you should never skimp on is baby safety. There are many different components to this, but it generally involves understanding where your baby will crawl and how you can protect them. Look out for sharp corners, door hinges, and definitely consider cupboard locks to keep harmful products and chemicals safely away from little ones.

This safety message is also important if you have pets at home. Stair gates are usually used to stop little ones going up stairs, but they are helpful for also keeping pets away from babies too. You can buy special nets to put over prams and moses baskets to keep cats away from babies too - especially important if your pet loves to snuggle up close in warm places! Both are important to introduce as early as possible so that your pets learn boundaries around your baby.

This is a collaborative post.

How to Budget Properly as a Big Family


When a big family purchase comes up, it can be nerve-wracking to think about spending all that money. You might be in need of something essential (we just had to purchase a new family car), or you might be wanting to plan a big family holiday. Whatever it is you're planning to buy, you need to get ready for the purchase to ensure it will fit into your family budget. You don't want to get yourself into financial trouble when there are ways around it! In this post I'm going to share a few tips for budgeting and buying as a family.

Set Savings Goals
When you need to make a big purchase, you could spend the money and pay it off later. But I always personally think it's a better option to save for the item beforehand. If you don't desperately need to make the purchase now, giving yourself time to save up instead could be the healthier option. Setting a savings goal can help you to consistently put money aside so that you can save up what you need. Work out home much you can save each month and try to automatically put it into a savings account or somewhere else for safe-keeping - this way usually means you don't have to think about the money before it's put into savings too.

Look for Affordable Financing Options
Sometimes it is necessary or makes more sense to finance a big family purchase in another way though. If it's something you need or want to get sooner, buying it and then paying it off can help you. This is probably going to be the case if you need to finance a car or buy something else that's essential to your daily life. If you're going to borrow money to finance a purchase, it's essential to be careful about how you choose to do it. Be diligent about checking interest rates and the terms of the financing so that you can afford to make the payments. Shop around for the best deals for you, and ensure you set up a proper repayment method straight away.

Outline your Needs
Before you make a big family purchase you should outline what you need from it. When you're spending a lot of money, whether it's on a house or a holiday, you don't want to make a mistake and have buyer's regret. Start with the essential things that you need to get out of your purchase, such as how many car seats you need to fit into a vehicle. You can then consider the things that might not be necessities but that will make the purchase right for your family. You might find that the item isn't something you actually need, or that you find a better version (or price) whilst your holding off too.

Look at Ways to Save
When you're spending a lot of money, it's always sensible to look for ways to save money. You might be able to save on a big family purchase by buying second-hand, looking for discounts and sales offers, or even paying up-front instead of spreading the costs. Sometimes all it takes to save some money is to rein in your expectations or settle for something simpler, instead of going all-out on your purchase. This way can help you to have more budget left for future purchases!

This is a collaborative post.

5 Things to do When your Business Growth Slows

No matter how successful your business is, it is completely normal to experience a lul in business due to various market factors. The good news is, most of the time this is a seasonal issue and you can always improve performance. But how can you grow your business when things are not looking right? In this post I'm going to share five tips to help you improve your business during slow days.

Rethink your Strategies
No business does everything right. When business growth is slow, you need to take time to rethink, refine, and redesign your business strategies. This is an opportunity to look into company processes and evaluate what is not working. You can also ask for customer reviews to determine what they would love. This way, you can align your strategies with customer preferences. 

When there is slack, the chances are that your marketing campaigns are not working as they should. Marketing is meant to convert leads into customers, and when that is not the case, you need to invest more in promotions or adjust your strategies. You should consider social media campaigns that target clients directly. Accordingly, Google offers an excellent opportunity to market your business and drive traffic to your website. You should consider hiring an SEO Agency to help you improve your business’s chances of getting noticed.

Ask your Customers
How customers perceive and interact with your business is a massive success factor. When business is not good enough, you should take time with your sales teams and review your customer service, as improving customer relations is the best way to get your business going again! Think about targeted promotions to attract more clients. consider requesting reviews to determine what your customers like about the company and what they would want you to change. This way, you can align your business processes with customer preferences. 

Create a Network
Businesses that grow together perform better - in fact the current business environment is more about collaborations. Find like-minded businesses and improve each other. For instance, you can use another business’s website for advertising your products. Using links and referrals will likely improve your business growth (although make sure to help out in return too).

Launch a New Product
Customers love trendy products, and it can be the turning point for your business if sales are stalling. Consider whether you need to develop a new product or service or improve your existing offerings. Think about what is not currently in the market or how you can improve what is already in the market. Just remember to remain authentic to yourself though, and do not try and just copy other businesses. 

There are times when business is slow, and seasonal trends may affect business growth. But this does not mean the end of your company. What you do during this period determines your success in the long run. You can choose to sit and complain, or implement changes to make your business more professional. Good luck!

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - May 2021


Although May marked the end of Spring, we didn't really get many Spring-like days over the month. Just lots and lots and lots of rain! We didn't let it ruin our days though, especially as May gave us even more freedoms so life has finally felt a lot more 'normal' than it has done in months. Weekdays were taken up with school, coffee catch ups and hiding from the cold and rain, and then weekends were back to being all about relaxing as a family and the little's clubs.

May 17th was the most important date this month. Restaurants opened back up properly so we could eat inside again. Such a strange thing to celebrate when you think about it, but after 7 months of them being takeaway only (or just simply closed), it really was a big deal. Lilah and I have definitely made the most of eating inside coffee shops that's for sure! Relaxation in restrictions also meant we could go inside other people's houses for the first time since October too. So it has been so lovely to properly catch up with friends and family in the comfort of our homes (especially with the rubbish weather). A highlight was finally getting proper squishes and cuddles with my nephew Jaxson - and big smiles too!

With the littles being able to go inside nanny and granddad's houses, Jack and I had our first 'date day'  since about August 2020 in May too. We spent the day shopping at Bluewater and enjoying a relaxing meal whilst we were there, and it was just so lovely to finally get some quality time just the two of us. It was definitely needed!

We enjoyed a super soggy, but still super fun trip to Chessington World of Adventures, where we discovered that Lilah has grown again and is now 1metre tall. This opened up even more rides for us to all do as a family which is so much fun! And we finally made it back to the cinema this month to see Peter Rabbit 2 which was actually a fab film.

May wasn't a complete wash out though, as the sunshine finally arrived right at the end of the month - just in time for half term thankfully. We had the most gorgeous trip to Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens in the sunshine, where of course the ice creams were the highlight of our visit! We then ended the month with our first BBQ of the year - totally worth the wait.

Overall it really was a wonderful month. Life felt as normal as it could be, and it's just been so lovely to get back to the things we love and enjoy. Of course there's still a little way to go until we have complete normality, but for now, I'm really happy with where things are. I could do without the masks now it's getting hot though!

5 Tips for 'Off the Beaten Track' Travel


For many people the thrill of travel comes from adventure and going to parts of the world that are more off the beaten track. If that’s you and you’re looking to travel to places that might sometimes be deemed dangerous, you need to make sure that you’re properly prepared for what the experience might ultimately throw your way. In this post I'm going to share what you should know about preparing for those kinds of adventures.

Have Clear Reasons for the Trip
First of all, you should be clear about what your reason is for wanting to take this trip. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to travel to places that are off the beaten track and that offer a little more danger that you might typically expect, but it’s good to know why you’re taking that risk. There should always be a motivation and a reason for this kind of adventure.

Understand the Location
You’ll need to have an in-depth understanding of the location and what it’s going to offer you before you head there. You’ll want to know what the risks and dangers are that you’ll be taking by traveling there and how to keep yourself safe at all times. A little research can go a long way when it comes to traveling, and that’s even more true when there's risk involved.

Get the Right Insurance
Putting in place the right insurance that’s going to cover you in the event of an injury or getting hurt is really important. Don’t take risks by not covering yourself properly. There’s legal help out there for people who are tourists in different destinations. So if you do suffer some sort of injustice, getting the right legal help makes sense. There are even qualified wrongful death lawyers that can help in the most drastic of situations.

Pack Smart
Smart packing will be something that’s very important as well. You’ll want to make sure that you have everything within you that you’ll need in order to stay safe. At the same time, you probably won’t want to overburden yourself with items that aren’t necessary or that aren’t going to serve a purpose for you while you’re traveling around.

Research the Rules for Entry
It’s a good idea to know what the rules are for entering the country. Some locations for example, will require you to have vaccinations or tests before you’re allowed to come into the country. Getting all of that sorted ahead of time because you won’t want to be delayed or sent back when you reach the country’s border security booth at the airport on arrival. Again, this comes down to research and being fully informed.

Preparation is more important than ever when you’re looking to travel to a high-risk destination. Whether there’s a risk of disease, violence or natural disaster, you need to understand those risks and prepare accordingly. That’s what the advice above will allow you to do so make the most of it!

This is a collaborative post.

Add Value to your Property with these Upgrades


If you want to upgrade your property, then you have come to the right place. Whether it's to improve your home for yourself, or because you are looking to sell, there are many ways in which you can add value to your property. In this post I am going to share some of the best upgrades you can make, so read on if you wish to find out more.

Add an Attic Space
Adding an attic space is a great way for you to add value to your property. When you add an attic space, you may find that you can easily expand the number of bedrooms you have, and this can really work in your favour if you plan to sell soon. If you aren’t quite sure if you have room for an attic then a contractor should be able to advise you on this. They should also be able to advise you on the best way to go about adding your stairs as well, so you have nothing to worry about there.

Upgrade your Garden
If you have a garden, then it is a very good idea for you to try and upgrade it if you can. Unless you are a super keen gardener, then it's a good idea to make sure that your garden is low-maintenance while also choosing plants that are evergreen. If you can do this then they will come back time and time again and you won’t have to worry about continually keeping your garden in shape. If your garden is neat or untidy then this will work against you far more than you realise and you may find that you lose value on your home.

Convert your Cellar
Transforming a cellar into a storage space can easily boost your property’s value. You just need to make sure that the build cost per square foot is less than the price per square foot. The great thing about converting your cellar is that it will count as a change of use upgrade, which means that you do not need to get any kind of planning permission. If you don’t have a cellar, then you don’t have anything to worry about. You can easily dig down if you want to add some square footage to your home, but keep in mind that you’ll need specialists working with you.

Add a Side Return
A side return is essentially a narrow alley that runs right next to your kitchen. Extending the kitchen into the side return will help you to gain even more valuable space and it will also help you to improve the layout too. A single-storey extension will most likely be classed as being a permitted development, but you do have to make sure that you meet certain conditions and/or limitations. You will also need to make sure that you comply with building regulations too.

Upgrade your Bathroom
Back inside the house, another area that is a popular choice to renovate is the bathroom. Choosing the right bathroom design can easily add a small fortune to your property, not to mention that it can also help you to make your home look fantastic.

This is a collaborative post.

4 UK River Walking Trips to Enjoy this Summer


Worried your wanderlust might come to nothing this summer? It’s certainly looking like overseas travel is off the cards, especially after the UK government announced only 12 countries would be on its ‘green list’ after the lifting of a complete travel ban (and that the list is looking unlikely to get any longer in the months ahead). But never fear, there’s more adventure on your own doorstep than you might suspect. Even if you’re not the sort to settle for a ‘traditional’ seaside holiday in the UK, there is no shortage of other options available - especially if you are prepared to get a little creative with your holiday ideas. 

How about walking a river for example? If your idea of travel is seeing and discovering new places, getting off the beaten track for a while, and getting some healthy exercise in the great outdoors, then you’d be hard-pressed to think of anything better. To get you started, in this post I'm going to share a list of ideas of well-trodden river routes in particularly scenic or interesting locations. All of the below are part of established walking and cycling routes, with plenty of options for places to stay along the way.

The Avon Valley Path
A perfect beginner’s walking route, the Avon Valley Path packs a lot into its 34 miles. Following the route of one of England’s most famous rivers, this trail connects the pretty Dorset coastal town of Christchurch to the historic city of Salisbury in Wiltshire, skirting by the edges of The New Forest on the way.

Depending on the pace you want to walk at this path can be completed in a long weekend, but with so many sights to see, you may well want to extend the journey a little longer - including taking a detour north further along the river and beyond to visit Stonehenge, Avebury and the other world-famous monuments dotted in and around Salisbury Plain.

The Thames Path
To walk along the River Thames through London is to take a stroll through the history of the great city itself. Starting at the Thames Barrier tidal defences at Charlton, the Thames Path takes in it all - the docklands, Royal Greenwich, Tower Bridge, the City, Westminster and much, much more.

But the Thames Path is much more than a novel way to explore everything London has to offer. Keep heading west, and you will pass through the leafy suburbs of Richmond and on into the Thames Valley beyond. Windsor is a 50-mile trek from central London - a leisurely week’s worth of walking. Or for a serious adventure, why not set yourself the challenge of walking the entire length of the famous river all the way to its source at Thameshead, a 180-mile odyssey that takes in Henley-on-Thames, Reading and Oxford on the way?

Heading north of the border into Scotland, the River Spey is famously associated with some of the finest whisky distilleries the country has to offer, lending its name to a distinctive style of single malt. It also winds its way through some of the most dramatic Highlands scenery imaginable, from Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms all the way to Garmouth on the beautiful Moray coast.

One for the real outdoors enthusiasts, the Speyside Way is a well-marked 60-plus mile walking and cycle route that hugs the mostly straight course of the Spey itself. For the whisky enthusiasts, the Way passes directly by the Macallan, Aberlour, Knockando, Tamdhu and Cragganmore distilleries. And if that isn’t enough for you, there are excellent diversions to take in the famous Glenlivet and Glenfiddich distilleries, too, each adding a couple of days worth of walking to your journey. 

Richmond & The Swale Trail
Finally, stretching like a hilly spine from the Scottish border down to the Midlands, the Pennines might be best known for their peaks, dales and lakes. But it is also a region of stunning river valleys traversing some of England’s best-loved countryside, any number of which make for fabulous walking routes.

The River Swale cuts through the northern reaches of the Yorkshire Dales. Starting at the historic town of Richmond with its dramatic cliff-top castle overlooking the river, a detour up into the hills to follow the famous Coast to Coast path will bring you to the market town of Reeth in a good day’s walk. From there you can follow The Swale Trail along the course of Upper Swaledale as far as Keld, with the reward of a number of beautiful waterfalls on the upper reaches of the river. Then you can pick up the Coast to Coast path again and head west over into Cumbria via Kirkby Stephen, or head south along the Pennine Way to Hawes, famous as the home of the Wensleydale cheese creamery

For some of the above routes, you can book self-guided walking holiday packages, with accommodation and luggage transfers along the routes included. But just be aware that UK travel insurance is required to cover cancellations and medical emergencies.

This is a collaborative post.

4 Cleaning Tips to Create a Fresh, Happy Home!


A tidy and clean home. Sounds like a tricky one right? Well, when you’re juggling a career, or a family, or maybe both, it certainly is tricky! Therefore it’s important to try and get things in order as soon as possible. It will make you feel better, give order to the home and make things feel fresher. It isn’t easy to revamp your home, but with a little focus you can. In this post I thought I would share some cleaning tips that will assist you on your way.

Create a Routine
To help you deal with the long list cleaning tasks, it is recommended to divide the work into several days (or even just times throughout the day). For example, Wednesday you will clean the bathroom and the kitchen, and on Thursday you will maintain the appliances and then Friday focus on flooring and the other rooms. This will make it easier for you to reduce your workload by a full day, while at the end of the week you will have a weekend free. This style of cleaning will also help you to keep on top of when jobs were last done too!

Introduce Chore Charts
If you feel that you are cleaning on your own and that the burden is difficult for you, enlist the help of the whole family for cleaning. Divide the different between yourself and your partner, and don't forget to get children involved where they can too - they can help with folding and distributing laundry, dusting, watering the garden, cleaning the patio and helping in the garden. You can make it fun with the temptation of pocket money as a reward, as well as teach them about things too. 

Tidy up at the End of Each Day
In order for your home to always remain clean and tidy, it is important to maintain order. Put everything back in place after you find it, try to wash your dishes in it as soon as you have finished eating from them, do not leave clothes thrown anywhere, and make sure to tidy the house at every end of the day. This is easier said than done but if you adopt a ‘now’ attitude and not ‘later’, then you will get a lot more done (and you will thank your previous self when it comes to relaxing of an evening too).

Hire a Cleaner
If you really don't think you can tackle everything yourself (or even if you don't want to), then why not consider hiring a cleaner. There are hundreds of cleaning companies or individuals that provide reliable and professional home cleaning. Professional cleaning help will help with cleaning the elements of the home that you have not reached such as windows, or skirting boards. You could even consider getting in professionals for carpet cleaning because they will have the correct equipment to do a thorough, but careful, job.

This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to get More from your Unwanted Belongings


I'm sure we're not the only family to have cupboards and boxes piled high with 'stuff'. Over the years we hold on to so many things, usually 'just in case', or because of sentimental value. But sadly, we can’t all hold onto all of our belongings forever - especially if you don't have the room to store anymore things. It’s not all bad though, as you can gain from it too!

Selling things online can be a great way to gain some extra cash here and there, which is perfect if it’s from things that you no longer want or need. The troubling part is putting in the effort to sell them, as it can take time and hard work if you really want them gone. But once you get going and start reaping the rewards, it will be 100% worth the time and effort put in.

In this post I'm going to share 4 ways in which you can get more from selling your unwanted belonging.

Compare Prices
If you’re going to start listing items online, you should make sure you’re not under or overvaluing them, otherwise you’re going to struggle to make any money. No one is going to buy your belongings if there are many others who are selling those same items at a cheaper price! Keep in mind that these things are worthless to you, so any price that others deem reasonable is a great gain for you. There are many different sites where you can list your items, so you have plenty of different options to compare with. Be careful to not undersell items though, as holding out for that bigger payout can be worth it.

Fix Items Before Selling
It goes without saying that the items you want to sell need to be in good condition - no one is going to want to buy a broken, dirty item are they? Getting rid of your clothing or other expensive items might be more difficult if they’re visibly unclean or damaged. Make sure to take plenty of photos so buyers can really see the quality of them item before purchasing. While upcycling antique furniture might not be a skill that you have, if at all possible it can help you fetch a much higher price if your items are in a better condition. You could even have a professional repair your items for you if you feel like the cost isn’t going to take your gains into the negatives.

Know the Right Site for Selling
As you have a lot of different sites that you can list your items on, there are going to be different demographics on each one. While you can list your item on each site, you should make sure you don’t risk overlapping any. If you have something being auctioned on a site like eBay, then you don’t want to be talking to someone on a different site about how much they’re willing to pay for it. Every site has rules, so reading up on them briefly before starting your sales can help to make sure you get the best sale.

It's NOT Always about the Money
If you are in a hurry, considering charity isn’t a bad idea either. While you’re not going to be making any money from your donations, it’s great to give back. Those items are going to be sold at a cheaper price, and the money from them is going to go straight to the charity that you chose. Of course if you’re looking for quick cash this isn’t ideal, but giving to charity has its own rewards too. If you are looking to gain at least a small amount financially, then why not consider a boot fair or thrift sale instead!

This is a collaborative post.

Are Playgroups Necessary for Children?


Playing is an important part of your child’s learning journey. Not only are they are great well to develop social and problem-solving skills, but they're also an excellent way to make new friends while building fundamental skills. Nowadays, as more and more playgroups open, this makes it easier for children to develop their social-emotional skills before entering school. But choosing the right one is not always an easy task - so in this post I'm going to give you some helpful advice!

What is a Playgroup? 
A playgroup is usually a regular meeting, in which babies, toddlers, or preschoolers can learn through creative and social plays. They are also a great place for parents to be social and network within the community, making them perfect for finding 'mum' friends who have children of a similar age to yours.

Playgroups are usually categorised into ones suitable for different ages:

- Between 6 and 12 months, a playgroup will focus on developing sensory, gross and fine-motor skills through various hands-on activities, such as songs, and stories, to help nurture their curiosity and interests. These types of playgroups in Hong Kong are quite common. 

- Between 1 and 2 years old, a playgroup will help toddlers to continue exploring their sensory and motor skills while developing social and communication skills through songs, stories, and other stimulating activities. Examples of these types of groups could be messy play, music time or the beginnings of dance classes.

- Between 2 and 3 years old, most will include more interactive activities on top of sensory exploration and hands-on learning. Physical activities such as Gymboree and toddler sports classes are great for this age.

What is Taught in a Playgroup? 
Of course each different playgroup will have different learning objectives and goals to focus on. The approaches and teaching would be different at various age levels, but overall the ultimate goal is learning through play. From songs, stories, hands-on activities to interactive games, a playgroup ensures that every child is learning something while playing. Adults support children to do the activities with a schedule so that they can establish their own routines and shape good learning habits. 

Most of the activities are theme-based following a curriculum designed appropriately for different age groups. It allows children to play and understand their companions and surroundings while developing fundamental skills. 

A playgroup provides children with the chance to engage with other kids and enrich their learning experience in a diverse and immersive learning environment.

Through attending playgroup, children can:

  • Learn language skills (speaking and listening).
  • Build awareness of their surroundings. 
  • Develop physical skills. 
  • Boosts curiosity and creativity. 
  • Spark interests in various areas. 
  • Develop social skills (manage their emotions, express their feelings, interact with others). 
  • Build confidence and self-awareness. 
  • Build independent thinking skills. 
  • Develop decision-making and problem-solving skills. 
  • Develop communication and collaboration skills. 

What makes a Good Playgroup?
A good playgroup gets children involved in multiple task-based learning activities, allowing children to explore, question, communicate, ask for help from team members, think creatively, and solve problems with innovative solutions. 

But of course, at the end of the day the best playgroups for you and your child, will be the one where they are happy and comfortable in their surroundings. Some children thrive in a music or dance class, whereas others will prefer a less structured approach to a class. My youngest mostly enjoyed the free-reign church groups where she could just play with countless toys, and decide where she wanted to be and when.

This is a collaborative post.

5 Things I Wish I had Known Before Pregnancy


With our youngest child Lilah being over 3 years old, pregnancy and all of it's ups and downs seems like a lifetime ago now. All three of my pregnancies were completely different experiences for me, yet there were many similarities throughout all of them, and even with my third pregnancy there were things I was so shocked about! So here are 5 things that I wish I had known before pregnancy.

How Long the First Trimester Can Feel
There is nothing quite as magical as seeing those first lines (or the words 'pregnant') appearing on a pregnancy test. But like many other pregnant couples, Jack and I decided to keep our pregnancies secret until we had our first scan around 12 weeks. But what no one talks about it just how long that first trimester feels! Feeling those rubbishy symptoms, not knowing what's going on, and then having no-one to share it with can make those weeks feel like months. I found it helpful to join pregnancy forums with other expectant mums due around the same time. Or even more helpful could be to share your wonderful news with your closest friends or family.

'Morning' Sickness isn't the only Symptom of Pregnancy 
Growing up and watching films you get sold this idea that morning sickness (which only occurs very early in the morning of course) is one of the only 'big' pregnancy symptoms. So when I did get pregnant and didn't experience sickness I was shocked. I was then especially shocked when I started experience other unenjoyable symptoms. Trapped wind, sciatic pain, aversions to smells... and that was just during the first trimester! 

How Anxious you'll Feel Before Every Scan
I think I actually felt more anxious before my 12 week scan with Lilah than I did with Indiana - and she was the third. But I honestly just don't feel as if those nerves ever go away until your baby is in your arms. It's completely normal to worry, but remember it's important to talk about how you're feeling if you think you're worrying more than normal. We paid for early reassurance scans with Lilah around 7 weeks, which did also help with the worry (but also expensive, so I know these aren't available to everyone).

How Important Pregnancy Vitamins Are
Of course the most important thing during pregnancy is to make sure you're eating a healthy and varied diet, as this will help you to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. However it's also recommended to take a folic acid and vitamin D supplement during pregnancy.

Feel Pregnancy supplements are Mumsnet rated and have been launched as a 100% natural pregnancy and breastfeeding supplement. Taken twice a day they provide 100% of the daily recommended intake of folic acid, vitamin D3, iron, zinc and everything you need to support healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy they can assist with fertility and foetal development, they can also help to reduce nausea and improve overall health and energy levels. Plus you can continue to take Feel Pregnancy supplements postnatally too, as they will help support breastmilk quality and production.

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You Don't Actually Need to Buy Much
Three babies later I am still completely guilty of buying too much during pregnancy, but the reality is that babies really don't need that much stuff. As long as you have somewhere warm and snug for them to sleep (a basic moses basket will do for the first 6 months), food for them to eat and cosy vests and sleepsuits for them to wear (and then you'll only need up to 12 in each size), all of the fancy baby gear can wait. None of mine ever liked a swing, and all of those fancy outfits and shoes were hardly worn. Wait until your baby is born and you get to know what they like before you spend lots of money!

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - April 2021


April definitely started with a bang this year. Not only did we celebrate Jack's birthday (and our nieces on the same day), but the same weekend also included Easter! Last year was a very quiet affair for Jack's birthday because of lockdown, but thankfully we managed to make up for it a bit this year. We managed to get back to the seaside for the first time in almost 6 months and reunited with some family while there too. Fish and chips on the beach, giant ice creams and just being by the sea... it was lovely!

We spent the Easter weekend enjoying egg hunts (and eating ALL the chocolate), reuniting with family and just enjoying having some normality back in our lives. The weather was mostly on our side too, as although we could see family and friends again, it was still only allowed outside. The littles definitely didn't seem bothered by the weather though, they were just happy to be playing with their cousins again and not having to just go on another walk around the block.

The Bank Holiday weekend led straight into the Easter school holidays, which were actually a welcome relief after the exhaustion everyone was feeling from being back at school after lockdown. We spent the first week visiting all the local parks (I made the littles day with a trip on the train to a different one), and just enjoying the lazy mornings and afternoons. Jack managed to book the second week off though, which worked out perfectly for us as it tied in with even more restrictions to lockdown easing!

The weather was definitely up and down (especially compared to last Easter's glorious sunshine!), but we tried to make the most of the week for sure. We spent the Monday at Emmett's Garden enjoying their Easter trail, and then braved the shops on the Tuesday as all of the littles needed their feet measuring and new shoes. Wednesday we went to the pub for lunch (for the first time since November!), and my goodness was it just as good as I was hoping. Thursday was a really exciting day as it was our first day back at a theme park this year. We had the best day at Chessington, and despite the rain and crowds, we managed to do so many rides. And then Friday we headed back down to the beach for an evening by the sea. Phew!

Back to school after the holidays also meant back to in-person clubs for the littles too. And this time it was extra special as Lilah started her very own ballet class. She had been watching Indie during her zoom lessons for weeks, so it was so special to see her in her little uniform and heading off into her lesson with all the other little ballerinas. She's wearing Indie's old ballet uniform and has Indie's teacher too, so it's made me extra emotional.

And finally, there was a really big moment for Parker in April... he learnt to ride his bike without stabilisers! We have been saying for a while that he was ready to give it a try, so while everywhere we quiet we just went for it. It took him a couple of attempts to get the hang of it, but after that he was whizzing off and absolutely smashing it. Of course we need to get the hang of steering and brakes, but they all get there eventually right?