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.

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.

Upgrade your Floors

Floor tiles come in various colours, styles and textures, making them a versatile option for any DIY flooring project. Travertine is an easy DIY flooring project that can work in any room of your home and requires minimal tools or expertise. The most popular type of travertine tile is white marble, which comes from quarries all around the world, including Turkey and Brazil. White marble has traditionally been used as coping stones along with swimming pools because its terracotta colour stands out against blue water; homeowners are using these same materials indoors to create DIY flooring projects that add natural beauty and elegance to any room.

Travertine tiles are available in a variety of sizes, but for DIY projects, it is best to use the smaller sized tiles so that installation is more straightforward. Tiles can be installed over most existing surfaces, including concrete and wood floors.

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.