Family

Ideas for Rainy Days

rainy dayI am so happy to be able to FINALLY say that the holidays have begun! Sausage has had an amazing year at school, thanks to her own hard work and her fabulous year 2 teacher but now we’re looking forward to 6 and a bit weeks of fun, relaxation and adventures. We’ve got a whole bunch of things planned for the break, such as trips to the park and the beach, weather permitting! Often, though, it’s rainy days which can be the toughest to fill, so we thought we’d give you a few suggestions of what to do on days when outdoor fun is out of the question.

1. Online Games

Sausage is the owner of several electronic devices, such as an iPad and a laptop, and although we like to limit the amount of screen time she has, the holidays seems like a good time to allow her a little extra. She’s very excited about going to see Inside Out and these games give her a great little preview of what to expect.

2. Den Building

If there’s one thing my girls love, it’s building a den. Even something as simple as hanging a large sheet over two dining chairs creates a precious little space that they can retreat into to pretend they’re in a cave or a spaceship. BB may not be quite as conscious of what is happening but that doesn’t stop her having a whale of a time with her big sis!

3. Cinema

Going to the movies is a classic rainy-day activity and there are some great kids films in theatres at the moment, including the Minions movie and Inside Out. There are lots of deals for cheap cinema tickets if you look for them, and taking your own sweets and drinks (frowned upon in some cinemas but by no means illegal!) will help save the pennies.

4. Take a Bath

Okay, so taking a bath might seem like a chore to a lot of kids, but that usually because they’re short and punctuated by a lot of washing! Sausage loves nothing more than being given the time to sit in a nice warm bath, playing with her toys, making potions from shampoo and pretending she’s a mermaid. It costs nothing and will easily pass an hour when the weather is grim.

5. Mummy Makeover

This one is only for the brave! Sausage is at that stage where she likes to play at being a grown up, and while we’d NEVER allow her out of the house in make-up, letting her experiment at home is fairly harmless. I’ll let her use my make-up, or sometimes do it for her…but the really brave part is when I let her put make-up on ME! I’ve been given some very interesting looks in the past but it amuses Sausage no end.

Kids · School

Making ‘Back to School’ Less Stressful #tipsandtricks

walk to schoolAs we approach the summer holidays, I can feel the stress of the year melting away; we’ve had a good year, all in all, but with SATs and homework and school runs and everything else in between, it’s definitely time for a break. We’ve got a lot of plans for the holidays and are lucky enough to live in a coastal town, so lots of trips to the beach are in order, as well as having both Husband and Sausage’s birthdays to look forward to. However, the ‘back to school’ process is never far from our minds and we thought we’d share a few tips for making the whole thing a little easier, in collaboration with Marks and Spencer.

1. Have an Anthem

Sausage and I listen to music together quite a lot and one of the things that helped her to deal with separation anxiety when she was in Reception class was having our own personal anthem. At the time, we drove to school and we listened to our favourite song every single day, singing along and taking her mind off of things in the process. Choose a song as your anthem, the happier the better (ours was “Let Me Love You” by Ne-Yo!) and sing your hearts out on the way each day.

2. Play Games

Sausage and I are masters of the travelling game and have even invented a few of our own. Eye Spy is always a favourite but we sometimes modify it by playing by colour instead of letter. We also play guess who, the alphabet game and the rhyme game: for the alphabet game, choose a theme (Disney characters is a fave of ours) and name one for each letter of the alphabet.

3. Tell Stories

Telling stories is a great way to distract little ones, and getting them involved in the story is even better. Take it in turns to tell part of the story and their minds will be completely away from any potential school related anxiety.

4. Buddy Up

If you know someone else with kids at the same school and happen to walk a compatible route, why not link up and walk together? The kids will inevitably go off into their own little worlds and will distract each other for long enough for the school run to go by in a flash.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Often, parental anxiety can really rub off on kids and even without saying anything, you can add to their worries. It may seem easier said than done, but try to be as happy and positive as you can in the mornings, don’t mention any negativity and with any luck, your positive outlook will be what influences their mood.

Do you have any fool-proof tips on how to make the mornings a little easier? We’d love to hear all about them.

Family

A Moment in Time

Husband and I are both keen photographers; we don’t tend to carry around huge bags of photography equipment, but we both take photos on our phones almost every single day and also both take our cameras with us on days out, to document our family fun. We also spend time looking at our photos a lot, rather than just consigning them to the archives never to be looked at again. Quite often, once the girls are in bed, we’ll sit at Husband’s PC and look through all of our photos together and think back to times past, when Sausage was little, or even before both girls were born.

Photobox has asked a bunch of bloggers to create a post around “A Moment in Time” (and yes, before you ask, I’ve been singing the Whitney Houston song in my head almost constantly since the email came in!) asking bloggers to share a photo which has captured a magic moment in our lives. I’ve thought long and hard about which photo to share and I think it has to be these ones:

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If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I don’t share photos on the blog of either of my girls, but the one photo of Sausage ever to make it onto the site is the one above. This is the first time I ever got to hold her without tubes and breathing apparatus in the way, the day that we were told we could take her home in 24 hours, after a week in the neo-natal intensive care unit. There’s another picture, of the first time I ever held her, but that’s super personal and not something I often show anyone.

It’s a bittersweet thing, seeing your baby in an incubator. Tubes and wires look so wrong against a tiny human, but knowing they’re helping her to breathe and eat makes you feel grateful to all of it at the same time.

Five and half years later, along came Burrito Baby, our little pocket rocket!

02.17.2014_12.30.50The first few weeks of their lives couldn’t have been more different. BB’s birth was relaxed and uneventful, and the photo above is of me holding her when she was just moments old. Whilst Sausage was still in hospital on day 8, BB was coming along with her big sister and I on the school run!

I know it’s probably a bit of a cliche and it’s something that the vast majority of parents would say, but these two moments are the most special of my entire life. Meeting Husband and getting married comes a close second, as does when we adopted Chuck, but nothing will compare to the two precious moments where the bonds with my daughters began.

What is your ‘Moment in Time’? Do you have more than one? Were you lucky enough to be able to capture it on film? I’d love to hear about it, so leave me a comment below.

Money

7 reasons to skip the bank when looking for short-term loan solutions

loanBank loans can be an expensive form of credit. You might think that you’re applying for a loan from a responsible organisation, but once you’ve taken administrative fees, interest rates and other costs into account, your bank loan could turn out to be as expensive as a payday loan. Here are some reasons why you might look elsewhere for financial help.

1. Logbook loans

If you’re looking for a speedy response to your short-term loan application then a logbook loan from CarCashPoint may provide the solution. You will use your car as security and borrow against the value of your vehicle. Terms and conditions are clearly stated on the website and you are able to repay the loan in small regular segments. Once you’ve repaid the loan, you’ll regain ownership of your car.

2. The credit score dominates everything

If you’ve ever been late in paying a bill or married to someone who has debts, then you’re in for a shock the next time you look at your credit score. Every delayed payment will reduce your credit score and this can cause problems if you apply to a bank for a loan.

3. Your credit card may be cheaper than a bank loan

The website Money Saving Expert suggests that borrowing money from a credit card may be cheaper than borrowing from a bank. It all depends how much you need to borrow. The mule card allows you to ‘move money from your 0% debt from other cards and put it into your bank account and use it as cash.’ You will have to get a special money transfer card otherwise you could incur large fees.

4. Bank APRs are expensive

Most high street banks charge representative APRs of 14.9%. This is exorbitant compared with the amount of interest earned on savings accounts, if you can find an alternative to a bank loan, you could save some money.

5. Face to face is better

Your friendly bank manager, who understood you and your business, has all but disappeared. Current banking decisions rely on computer algorithms and quotas from the bank’s head office. According to the website The Money Advice Service a credit union might be a better option. These organisations are smaller and friendlier and will do their best to help you in an emergency.

6.Carry out your own research

Banks are in the business of selling just as much as shops or other retail outlets. Before applying to your bank carry out your own research. The bank may be trying to sell you an expensive business loan when an alternative form of credit might suffice.

7. Charges, fees and other costs

 Banks are expensive. An article from 2014 in The Daily Mail revealed that Barclays bank had raised its overdraft and loan charges, leading to customer complaints. Always check charges before applying for a loan or overdraft. A spokesman for Barclays suggested that the ‘daily fees are less confusing than APRs.’ The customer who ended up seeing charges rise from £1.50 per month to £15.00 might not agree.

Parenting

Transferable Parenting Skills for a Career in Education

Parenting is a job like none other, requiring you to be on the clock for 24 hours a day. You’ll consistently need to adapt to changing situations and expectations as your children grow, while managing the demands of a busy household. As a result, there are many parenting skills which can be transferred to the workplace. This is particularly true in the field of education, which can be a natural fit for mums who wish to build on the skill set that parenting demands. Here are a few of the top parenting skills which can be transferred to an education career.

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Image Source: Pixabay

1. Communication

Parents become expert communicators over time. Before your child even speaks, you’ll gain experience in non-verbal communication. You’ll then help your child as she learns how to talk, improve her vocabulary, and model correct grammar and sentence structure. If you join a parents’ group, you’ll also boost your communication skills by working with others, writing emails, and even potentially speaking in public. All of this provides a strong foundation for a career in education, where you’ll need to understand how to speak to groups of children effectively as well as get your message across one-on-one.

2. Creativity

Parenting demands creativity, as you probably know from any rainy day! How many times have you made up a story on the fly or created a princess costume out of an old scarf and scraps of ribbon? Being a mum requires you to think on your feet and meet challenges with an outside-the-box attitude, which is a highly transferable skill to a number of corporate settings. It’s also useful within the classroom or childcare setting, where you’ll face similar challenges as you do at home.

3. Multi-tasking

Wrangling your children in the morning and getting everyone off to school or various activities in time can test your multi-tasking skills. This can finely hone your organizational abilities, preparing you to create lesson plans in the classroom.

4. Mentoring

One of the most important jobs that we do as parents is simply being a positive role model. This is also essential for teachers and childcare workers, who set good examples and mentor children on their learning journeys. The skills you obtain as a parent to inspire and nurture your children will serve you well when working with other people’s children as well!

5. Leadership

Along these same lines, you’ll need to provide direction and help your “team” follow it. Parents become natural leaders of the family, and can use this to lead teams in the workplace. The types of training you go through for an education support certificate includes the ability to support learning for individuals and small groups alike, which is why leadership can be so useful

6. Calm under pressure

Finally, if you’ve ever gone to the supermarket with a toddler in need of a nap, you know just how important it is to keep your cool. While we all have a breaking point, every time you deal with a stressful situation you get a little bit better at keeping calm under pressure. This can help you deal with real-life classroom situations that can get heated, whether it’s breaking up a fight between students or coping with a child choking on a toy at nursery.

These skills are transferable to a number of workplace situations, but they are particularly useful when working with children. For this reason, many mums find a career in education to be a natural transition!