Kids

Keeping Kids Germ Free During Cold and Flu Season

cold and fluYesterday, I was talking to a friend about Burrito Baby, explaining how my tactile almost-three-year-old doesn’t LOOK with her eyes, she looks with her hands. When BB says “Mummy, can I look at that please?” she doesn’t mean can she cast an eye over it, she means “can I touch it?” – I’m fairly certain that’s normal for a kid of her age but it does make me chuckle that she’s such a feeler and it also made this video by The Global Hygiene Council about cold and flu prevention ring absolutely true:

I’m ENTIRELY unsurprised to hear that kids are 25% more likely to catch colds and flu, which is exactly why both of mine will be having their flu jab this year. Many people seem to underestimate just how poorly flu can actually make you and often liken it to a simple cold but proper flu can be absolutely debilitating, especially for someone with asthma like Sausage, the young, old or people with a compromised immune system.

We had ‘proper’ flu in 2008 on Sausage’s first Christmas and honestly, it’s one of the occasions during my adult life when I can say that I felt more ill than almost any other time. Sausage’s temperature skyrocketed and she actually ended up in hospital on Christmas Day night because we were so worried about her. I was the next to come down with it, followed by Husband and between us we were basically bedridden for a week – not easy to deal with when you have a five month old baby and two sick adults.

Sausage has pretty good habits when it comes to cold and flu prevention, like flushing her tissues once they’ve been used and keeping her hands clean, but it’s not so easy with BB. She hasn’t had a dummy for ages but she still has a bit of an oral fixation, which means that we have to constantly remind her to get her hands out of her mouth and I’ve lost count of the amount of times that she’s sweetly caressed my face…with a SOAKING wet hand!

We find it really handy to keep disinfectant wipes around for keeping surfaces clean. They are so easy to use and don’t require a sponge or cloth to be kept on hand at all times, and they’re perfect for using on hard plastic toys which, quite frankly, are little germ farms if one of the kids has a cold.

How do you ensure that the spread of germs is kept to a minimum? Are you hot on hand-washing and a disinfecting diva? I’d love to hear any little tips and tricks that you use at this time of year to keep germs at bay, so do leave me a comment below.

Kids · Parenting · Technology

Technology and Kids: Moderation is the Key

kids and technologyTechnology. It’s one of those things which can be SO good when it works but can also be the bane of your life when it doesn’t. We’re quite “techy”, here in the Mum’s the Word house, and all of us have various devices that we use on a daily basis. The girls have tablets and Sausage has a mobile phone which she got for her last birthday, mostly to allow her to go Pokemon hunting without needing to use my phone!

However, it’s not without it’s issues; I often find myself spending far too much time on Facebook or Reddit or playing some mobile game and sometimes I realise I’ve spent almost all day staring at a screen, and naturally, Sausage would be the same if we allowed her unfettered access to her phone. She only uses her phone at home, but just recently My Voucher Codes conducted a survey which found that 75% of parents feel that mobile devices have a negative effect on their children’s education and how social media platforms have become so distracting to students that they are less likely to concentrate during lessons.

I do think that a lot of the problem is the lack of monitoring that goes on – just because Sausage has her own technology doesn’t mean that she is able to use them autonomously – Husband and I have to approve every app she installs and we like to ensure she has a mixture of fun and educational apps. Pokemon Go encourages exercise, so we’re happy for her to use it, and she also has apps which help her to learn foreign languages, her times table and which encourage her to train her memory.

I also think that the issue is WHEN children are allowed to use their phones. Until she’s a LOT older, Sausage won’t be allowed to take her device to school because she simply doesn’t need it. Also, when she’s at home she has to have completed her homework before she can use her phone and we don’t let her use it for hours on end. She also has to put it down at least an hour before bed because it’s now been proven that looking at screens can interrupt a person’s circadian rhythm and we certainly don’t want her to be unable to sleep!

Chris Riley from My Voucher Codes thoughts on technology for kids echo my own:

“It’s interesting to see that three quarters of parents feel that mobiles, tablets and gaming devices have a negative effect on their child’s education, yet half admit that they do not restrict the time that their child spends on the internet.

“Monitoring your child’s internet and social media usage is now more important than ever. Although there is a range of benefits from spending time online, including increased communication and access to information, there is also the risk of online bullying, depression caused by online altercations and exposure to inappropriate content. Setting ground rules, checking privacy settings and monitoring what your child is sharing are good steps to take to ensure your child stays safe online.”

He added: “We find using our mobile or tablet devices can easily take over our lives and those of our children. Setting times when you children can use these devices means they are not on their phones 24/7. It will also be beneficial to their health if they are not on devices late into the night as well as improving their concentration in class.”

How do you feel about mobile devices for kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts so do leave me a comment below.

Home

Easy Additional Storage Options

 

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We’ve all experienced it, there are simple too much stuff for the space in the house. Whether you’re drowning in kids toys, books or clothes then these extra storage options should be a big help for you.

Add some extra shelves

Shelves are great. You can make them so you can hang all your pans for easy access and free up a cupboard or pop your books on them. Wherever you have a spare bit of wall (that doesn’t have electric wires going through it) you can throw up a handy shelf.

Door Hooks

Door hooks are like shelves for doors. By this I mean you can attach them to any door and then you are able to hang anything from coats to dressing gowns on them. They are really cheap and are great if your wardrobes are bulging or you aren’t sure where you should put your nice fluffy dressing gown.

Ottoman Beds

This is one of the greatest space savers ever. The underneath of a bed is an underutilised storage option, but now thanks to ottoman beds that is no longer the case. Companies like Bed Star sell them and the top of the bed, mattress and all, simple flips up like the lid of a box revealing excellent under bed storage. Now you can fit shoes, clothes and pretty much anything else under the bed and access it easily.

Ottoman

Much like the ottoman beds, the ottoman is great storage solution. It is a cushioned box that you use to store things like books or DVDS in. Just like the ottoman bed is works great as it’s primary function which is either a comfy stool or soft leg rest. A great addition to any sitting area.

Additional Wardrobe

Perhaps you’ve tried all these things, but you still need more storage. Then I think it’s time you considered buying a new wardrobe. Whether you opt for a new bigger wardrobe or think a smaller additional one will work, is totally down to you. You want to get one that fits nicely in your room, but I would first consider getting some inserts for your current wardrobe. You can specially designed storage options for inside a wardrobe like special places to put t-shirts so you can maximise the storage. Also did you know that by rolling up closes the use up less space than when they are folded. That’s a pro tip for when you can’t get your suitcase to close before a holiday as well – roll your clothes rather than folding them.

Eating Out

The Night I Learned to Make a Big Mac at McDonald’s

My Personalised McDonald's apron!Last night, I had a pretty unusual experience. I was asked along to a local branch of McDonald’s to get a behind-the-scenes look at how a busy store operates and to learn how to make my very own Big Mac – not something you get to do everyday, so of course I agreed! I won’t lie, I went there with a few preconceptions of how I’d find the whole thing but I’m delighted to say that I was pleasantly surprised from beginning to end.

McDonald’s is obviously famous for its fast food but what I was surprised to find out is that everything is actually made to order – long gone are the days of burgers sitting in a heater, ready to be shoved in a bag. As soon as your order is put in, either by giving it to someone at the counter or drive-thru window, or by using McDonald’s swanky new technology which allows you to use a touch-screen to make your order and have it brought to you by a server, it’s put through to someone in the kitchen who builds it all for you from scratch.

Self-Service screens at McDonald's

If I’m honest, the whole experience was quite overwhelming; a veritable information overload if you will! Here’s a quick overview of some of the things I learned:

  • McDonald’s are not only moving towards sending ZERO waste to landfill, but they also recycle their cooking oil for use in their fleet of delivery lorries, which also operate a “never empty” policy to minimise the carbon footprint of their logistics.
  • MCDonald’s offer degrees! Employees who wish to progress are able to apply to take a degree in business management, although education is actually implemented at ALL levels throughout an employees career with them (and one guy we met last night had been working there for 36 years!)
  • Ingredients are delivered three times a week to busy stores and their quick-cook grills which can actually detect which type of patty they’re cooking, can cook a burger in just 40 seconds!
  • The bun for a Big Mac comes in three parts, each of which has a name – the top is the “crown”, the middle is the “club” and the bottom is the “heel”! They also have a special toaster for toasting the buns which took about ten seconds!
  • It’s possible to choose carrot sticks or salad as a side to an adult sized meal – I always thought that was for kids only!

In terms of what I actually observed whilst looking around the restaurant and kitchens, the thing which was most impressive was just how spotlessly clean everything is. Employees are require to stop working every thirty minutes without fail to wash their hands at an amazing sink which you operate with your knee and the whole time we were there, if something wasn’t in use, it was being cleaned.

Obviously, making a Big Mac was VERY exciting for myself and the two other bloggers who attended and the young man who took us through the process was really knowledgeable and patient (good job really, he took a matter of SECONDS to make a burger while we took waaaay longer!). Although I was sad to not come away with the recipe for McDonald’s famous burger sauce, I was pretty tickled to see that it comes in a special gun which dispenses five perfectly even dots of sauce. The whole process was actually pretty intricate (did you know that the gherkins in their burgers are even specifically placed for optimum flavour distribution?!) and I feel like the whole experience gave me a new appreciation of how hard those guys work and how much effort is actually put into the making of the food.

Me and my Big Mac!

Although we’re fans of McDonald’s in the Mum’s the Word house, Husband and I have always viewed it as a guilty pleasure which was only to be enjoyed on rare occasions but after learning about the origins of the produce that McDonald’s uses, as well as seeing how fresh it all is, I definitely won’t be feeling bad about eating it or giving it to the girls in the future.

Another focus of the evening was the new technology which is being installed throughout the stores. As I mentioned above, McDonald’s now have self-ordering screens, which allow you to browse the whole menu and even customise your food before ordering. You’re then given a choice of ‘zones’ in which to sit before a server brings you your meal. Burrito Baby and I actually used this service before and I cannot even begin to tell you how much easier it makes things when you don’t have to carry a fully-laden tray to your table whilst wrangling a toddler. It also makes things easier for disabled customers and the screen even shrinks so that wheelchair users can still reach it all.

I was a little concerned that this level of automation meant that McDonalds had cut down their workforce but I was really happy to hear that this store in particular had actually employed MORE people to cover the kitchens and table service. There was also FAR less congestion on the shop floor – instead of queuing for ages and waiting for food, people were ordering and taking a seat which meant that there were minimal queues, despite the restaurant being full of diners, and that it was actually MUCH quieter.

The store we visited also had a family seating area which had iPads installed for kids and their parents to use and literally every single one was in use while we were there, so they’re obviously popular. Much of this new technology has been installed in response to feedback from customers about what they’d like to see in stores and is all part of the plan for the McDonald’s of the future, and I have to say, it’s so nice to see such a big chain listening to its customers and actually acting on what they learn.

Between the recycling, the reduction of carbon footprint, the quality of the food, the new tech and the beautifully redesigned restaurants, I feel like my preconceptions of what McDonald’s really is were absolutely smashed. This is clearly a company who cares about both its employees AND its customers, as well as the environment and the local community, which is a breath of fresh air. McDonald’s have really impressed me and I hope that they share their achievements with the general public so that they can have their minds changed to.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…I make a MEAN Big Mac!

(as a weird side-note – I had my hair done yesterday morning and kept thinking “Oh no, I’m going to stink of chip fat by this evening!”. The kitchens at McDonald’s have this special type of air conditioning which not only kept the whole place really cool, but means that you don’t come out of there stinking either. In fact all of us remarked that the prevailing smell throughout the whole place was of fresh bread.)

Thanks to McDonalds for a fun evening.

(Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own and reflect my sincere thoughts and feelings of the experience)

Charity

Everyone Jump For Pudsey! #JumpForPudsey

Pudsey bbc children in needWhen I was a kid, Pudsey and Children in Need was one of the highlights of the year – we’d get to do fun things like non-uniform days and bake sales at school to raise money for Children in Need and we’d all huddle round the telly for the night when it was shown on BBC One. Children in Need is now in it’s THIRTY SIXTH year (I know, it’s older than me!) having raised over £600 million since 1980 and this year they want us all to get a bit more active to help with the fundraising. Whether it’s leaps, launches, bounds or hops; the goal is for the UK to spring its way to one million jumps, turning jumps in to pounds. Boots is calling on people to get jumping with friends or family, at work or at home next week and in particular on Jump Day on the 26th of October.

The guys at Children in Need said “Helping to reach the one million jumps will be thousands of gymnasts from up and down the country who will be taking part in Jump for Pudsey challenges being staged in British Gymnastics registered clubs and leisure centres.  British Gymnastics has also created five easy jumps challenges for adults and children to do wherever they are, which can be found on boots.com and in the Jump Journal – available free from most Boots UK stores.

British artistic gymnast and five-time Olympic medal winner Max Whitlock is lending his support to the campaign to get as many people jumping as possible. Max says: “I think the Jump for Pudsey campaign is a brilliant idea! It’s great to have a campaign that not only raises money for such an incredible charity but also helps people keep fit whilst having fun. Even just a small amount of exercise like jumping can make a significant difference in helping people become healthier and happier. I’m sure lots of people will enjoy taking part and I know lots of gymnasts will be joining in and challenging each other to raise as much money as possible.” Many of Max’s fellow top Olympic gymnasts will also be showing their support for Jump for Pudsey by encouraging the public to get involved.”

Once you’ve done your jumps you can head over to the Boots totaliser to log all of your efforts with them and help get the total to one million! Jumping for Pudsey is such a simple and fun way to get involved, stay active, and most importantly raise money for disadvantaged kids in the UK and we’ve been getting our jump on in aid of this excellent cause, as well as roping in a whole bunch of Sausage and BB’s friends from school – take a look at some of our jumps below:

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If you need a bit of inspiration into how to get a bit of bounce in your step, British Gymnastics have put together a fabulous guide to encourage you to jump, which you can see here…

Jump for Pudsey

People are being encouraged to share their leaps with #JumpForPudsey  and make a donation of £3 by texting JUMP to 70313, or via mydonate.bt.com/events/jumpforpudsey. You can also find out more at boots.com/childreninneed.

We’d love to see your jumps too, so don’t forget to share all of your tweets, instagrams and Facebook posts with us so that we can follow along.