Family · Money

Keep Watering The Money Tree

Money doesn’t grow on trees – that is a phrase which all of us know, right? Hey, a lot of us probably even use that phrase on a daily basis, especially when our kids want, ask, need and throw tantrums over things that have caught their eye on the shelves in a shop. If there was such a thing as a money tree, the chances are that by now they would be kept in secure preservation somewhere like a national museum or a zoo. They may even be a rare species by now, with everyone ripping off their leaves made out of banknotes, and they would probably be selling for a lot of money on the black market. If I ever came across a money tree I would hide it away in my home where no one could see it, and wouldn’t tell anyone I had one. They would be dangerous things.

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Seeing as money doesn’t grow on trees, it is up to us to look after our money in the best way that we can. This can be saving money on bills by using minimal water, gas and electric, only using the car when it is absolutely necessary, and using coupons and taking advantage of deals when they are in the supermarket. However, with a family it can be fairly difficult to keep on top of saving the cash – especially with the demanding needs of the children having to be met.

Instead of splashing out on expensive brands and buying luxurious items when out food shopping, it may be beneficial for you to make a list of what you need, what you use and what you do not use. Take a look in the cupboards and freezer: how long has that tin of chopped tomatoes been in the cupboard? Will you ever use that frozen ready meal? If there are items which you carry on buying, but simply do not use then your best bet is to completely eliminate them from your shopping list. You will be really surprised at how much cash you could save. Also, look out for reduced items in the supermarket. It’s common for a lot of items to be heavily reduced later at night, so perhaps you may want to shop a bit later in the day rather than in the middle of the afternoon. Stock up on essential like bread, and simply put them in the freezer.

Even in bigger aspects of life, like for example if you are moving, look at different ways into how you can save money. It is a good idea to look at moving companies and what they can offer you. Also, you can sell furniture and home additions which you are not taking with you.

A lot of people like to buy second hand goods, so if you have anything surplus in your home, upload them to a second hand website and you will be surprised how many people will pay good money for the things which were lying dormant in your home.


Should You Ever Let Kids Choose Their Clothes?

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It’s already 8.30 am, but the school bus hasn’t turned up, so you’ll need to drop Jessica off on your way to work which means you’re going to be late for the morning meeting. Having yelled yourself hoarse asking everyone to get in the car, checked the dog’s been let out and then popped the breakfast dishes in the sink. you grab your keys to walk out the door. Only to be faced with Debbie, your three-year-old proudly wearing her purple party dress, shiny shoes, and fairy wings. It’s now a toss-up between letting your daughter go to daycare in an outfit you know she’s bound to get dirty, or ripped, and going upstairs help her get changed which means that entire family’s going to be making sheepish excuses to why they’re late again.

If this scenario sounds in any way familiar you’ll be pleased to know that you aren’t alone. Countless parents have reported being faced with the struggle of a child who wants to wear a sundress when it’s snowing, or having kids as young as two, or three try to dress themselves despite being too young to tie laces, do up buttons or pull on jeans. In other cases, children can become easily attached to an outfit such as their favorite pajamas or a fancy dress costume and will refuse point blank to take it off. When this happens try to explain that the outfit is now dirty, and needs cleaning or suggest to your child they’ll be much more comfortable in a different dress or pair of jeans.

Parenting websites are always overwhelmed with tales of frustrated moms, and dads patiently dressing their children only to have them appear in what they just took off, clothes that clearly need washing or outfits that are unsuitable like their swimming costume. It’s not unheard of for kids to have full on meltdowns about not being able to wear something of their parents, having a tantrum over putting on socks and refusing to get out of the car when they’re wearing something that they didn’t choose.

However, attempting to pick out their outfits or refusing to wear what you’ve chosen for them can be a positive thing. Children who are becoming vocal in their opinions about what to wear are starting to test the boundaries, becoming more independent in their thoughts and ideas and leaving the baby stages of childhood behind. They’re also at the stage where they’re ability to express themselves creatively is increasing. They often begin to assert their minds through choosing different colors, fabrics, and styles as well as trying to imitate older siblings. If you’ve got one child at school and another at home, you may have already noticed the three-year-old showing a clear interest in the school bag, gym kit, and pencil case and then trying to copy even though they’re far too young too young to carry out the activities. Still, if you are going to let kids try to pick out their own outfits, there are a few ground rules you should follow, so they don’t end having constant colds!  

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Give Them Choice

Kids love having more than one option to choose from because it helps them feel like they have a greater sense of control. As parents know there’s nothing a three-year-old likes to believe more than that they rule the roost! Don’t just silently lay out the clothes you’d like them to wear, have a chat about clothes and ask your child for their opinion, but do it in a way, so it doesn’t matter what the answer is. For instance, if it’s a chilly day they’ll need to wear jeans, socks, underwear, a t-shirt and a sweater. It doesn’t matter what color the shirt and sweater are as long as they’re wearing one but by pretending it does your child will feel like they have a say in what’s happening. Saying ‘would you like to wear your green or purple jumper?’ gives them a choice, so they’ll be far less likely to kick up a fuss. 

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Smooth Not Scratchy

Some children will wear anything while others can be pretty fussy about what they have against their bodies. Sensitive, or autistic children sometimes have complex sensory issues that mean they don’t like any types of clothing as the feel of the fabric against their skin bothers them. If this is the case, it’s best to choose soft, natural fibers like cotton, wool, and silk that are less likely to irritate them as well as bargaining with them that if they wear clothes outside they don’t necessarily have to be fully dressed when at home. Others, for some reason, prefer to wear no clothes and feel much more comfortable when wearing as little as possible. They will constantly try to take their socks off or end up removing their pajamas when in bed. The chances are that your child will grow out of this as they get older so try not to worry too much.

Try to avoid clothes that your kid has clearly indicated they hate, i.e. if they complain something’s too scratchy, check out what it’s made from as fabrics like mohair, polyester and elastane can feel tight or itchy against the skin. All children have their likes and dislikes so if your daughter’s not that into skirts, or dresses don’t force her to wear them as it will lead her to associate clothes with sadness. There are even ways to help overcome problem areas like annoying seams, irritating clothes tags, and stiff collars. Just turn items like socks inside out, cut out all tags but remember the washing instructions and wash collars until they start to soften up. Kids also like routine, so if Wendy wants to wear dresses for months on end, then that’s ok too. Pop leggings, tights or a t-shirt underneath in cold weather and always make sure she has a jumper or cardigan to hand.

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Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to get kids used to dressing themselves is by practicing when you’re not actually in a rush to go anywhere. By three most kids can put their underwear on, pull a jumper over their head, it may be back to front and put on elastic shorts or skirts. Kids like feeling confident, so being able to get dressed without your help is a significant step for them which shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure you give them plenty of praise each time they attempt it on their own, and when they finally manage a correct, weather appropriate outfit buy them a special treat. Don’t worry if your child’s a bit more cautious as slow and steady wins the race, give them the space, and time to learn how to put their clothes on without being constantly watched and they’ll soon get the hang of it!

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Race You!

Because preschoolers have a only very vague, or no concept of time they rarely understand why you’re so stressed and harried in the mornings. To them, there’s all the time in the world to play with their dolls, watch cartoons, or listen to the Peppa Pig soundtrack. Getting dressed is often the last thing on a child’s mind, if they could have even older kids would go to school in their PJ’s. The best way to encourage kids to get dressed quickly is, like every other kid-related task, is turn it into a game.

You could see how long it takes them to get ready to go outside, starting off in their sleepwear, and give them a chance to pick an outfit that they think would be suitable for say a trip to the park. For example, they could be awarded points for remembering to grab their denim jacket and bringing you their trainers but be deducted points for forgetting to put their t-shirt on before their jumper. Why not make it even more exciting by using a stopwatch and pretend race flag? Set a timer that counts down in ten-minute intervals so if your child regularly appears in the kitchen before the buzzer beeps then they get a bag of sweets or a new small toy.

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Just Chill

Lots of us think there should be a special award for parents who manage to successfully button their children into heavy duty winter coats without a struggle. Children rarely see the point of it; they’re warm right now so why should they? However, as young children can’t make the link between the temperature inside and outside they rebel against something they think will make them hot and sweaty. Try not to make a big deal out of getting their coats on if the weather isn’t too bad as often kids are happier in cooler temperatures. However, make sure you take coats, gloves, and hats with you and don’t just leave them in the car. If the weather changes they’ll soon start to feel chilly and will ask you for their coat before too long. Gently remind them that their winter coat will stop them getting cold and sick, so it’s important that they wear it.


Health · Kids

When Cancer Strikes: Helping Kids Cope When Someone in Your Family Gets Sick

It can be difficult for kids to fully understand or handle the situation when someone in the family is sick and needs medical help to try and help them recover.

Unfortunately, cancer visits many families and aside from the emotional trauma of contending with such a serious condition, there is also the prospect of endless visits to the hospital and the need to help provide some peace and quiet, all of which can be difficult for kids to cope with.

Here is a look at some ways to help kids deal with someone in their family getting sick. There is an overview of how to talk to your kids about the situation, making allowances for their age and expected emotional reactions, plus some tips on getting support outside of the family network.

We need to talk

There are many distressing and difficult scenarios that you might have to contend with when a close relative is diagnosed with cancer, and one of those challenges is what to say to the children and when to have that conversation with them.

Rather than just come right out with it at some unplanned opportunity, it is often a much better idea to plan what you intend to say to your kids in advance.

Working through the conversation in your mind and even discussing how to relay such traumatic information to a child with a health professional who understands the situation, can help you to deliver the news in the best way possible, considering the circumstances.

Keep it simple

The age of your children will obviously make a difference to how you talk to them about cancer and what is happening with a loved one, but the general suggestion is always to use simple language and give them ample opportunity to absorb the information.

It is often the case that you will need to repeat what you are saying several times and be prepared to answer any questions they come up with during the conversation.

Emotional reaction

Children will normally experience slightly different emotional reactions and school age children who have yet to hit their teens, are sometimes likely to experience feelings of guilt if it is one of their parents who is sick.

You will have to work on reassuring them that clearly, they bear no responsibility for what is happening.

 Teenagers are more likely to experience some noticeable emotional highs and lows, which means that they can display moments of anger, sadness, and anxiety, as well as feeling depressed about the situation at certain points.

It is worth mentioning the mandala coloring app by Apalon Apps which is an adult coloring book to help reduce stress. Suggest downloading apps like this that encourage mindfulness, as it could be a useful tool they could relate to when they are struggling with their emotions.

Keep their school in the loop

Dealing with cancer in the family is a deeply personal situation but it is important that if you have a child at school who is trying to cope with this problem at home, they know what is going on.

Their school can often be very helpful and understanding as they will be aware of how a family crisis can affect a child. They can make allowances for their performance and behavior, plus offer some extra support as and when they need it.

It is never going to be easy coping with cancer, but there are things you can do to help your kids cope with the situation as well as they can be expected to.

Sophie Horton is a whizz when it comes to keeping kids occupied. She is Auntie to 5 kids who range in age from 1 to 15. Her articles discuss looking after kids when they are away from home and keeping everyone happy.


Quirky Party Ideas For Birthday Boys And Girls

Not too sure what kind of party to organize for your child”s upcoming party? No problem; I’ve got your back! Here are some quirky ideas that won’t seem like any old birthday party. Every child will definitely have a whale of a time when you host one of these!


Pamper Party

This is one for the girls, but some boys may enjoy it as well! Why not treat your little darlings to a pamper session? Lots of mobile beauty therapists now take bookings for children’s parties. They can come around to your house and give all the kids manicures, massages, and apply glitter tattoos. Lots of families are now having hot tubs from specialist companies so if you have one in your garden, you could take the party outside for a bit of a spa experience!

Cinema Party

Does your child love movies? Then why not turn your living room into a cinema for the evening! There are now lots of smartphone adapters that you can buy which you can use to project videos onto a wall so you can watch your chosen film as if it were on a cinema screen. You can see these cool types of projectors online at sites like You will also need to make sure you have plenty of yummy drinks and popcorn so that everyone has plenty to snack on during the movie. If you are having your cinema party through the day, remember to draw all the curtains so that the room is as dark as possible. This way, you will see the film better!


Karaoke Party

Older kids will love showing off their vocal talents at a karaoke party! There are various ways you can organize this. If you can’t be doing with the hassle of having a load of kids singing their lungs out in your own home, you could see if you could host it at your local karaoke bar. Most bars with karaoke features often hire out singing booths for parties. However, if you want to keep your party budget as low as possible, you will find it very cheap to host at your own home. You can buy or hire a karaoke machine for use in your home.

Storybook Party

This is an excellent party option for those of you with very young children. Even though they may be young, I’m sure they will all have their favourite books already. When you send out the party invites, make sure you include a note asking everyone to come dressed up as their favourite book character. It will be so fun to see all the kids turn up in cute fancy dress and costumes! You’ll be able to take some gorgeous pictures and upload them to your Instagram for all your other mummy friends to swoon over!

Don’t waste too much time thinking about the different options for your child’s party. Hopefully, the tips above will have given you plenty of food for thought!


Gift Ideas

Great Gifts To Make Any Food Lover Drool


There are some people that are just always difficult to buy for. There are lots of different reasons why someone may not be the easiest person to buy gifts for, but it is usually because they already have everything you can think of or their tastes and personality just leave you feeling cold. Some people may be extremely picky, and you worry that they aren’t going to like whatever you buy them. Believe me, the pickiest people to buy for are foodies and food lovers! As we all have our own particular tastes when it comes to food, you can never be sure you are getting their gift just right. But, if you go with one of the following fab suggestions, you won’t ever go far wrong, and will certainly put a smile on your foodie pal’s face! That Sweet Gift is a great place to start.


Superfood Taster Selections

Superfoods have been big news for the past couple of years. These are various foods, including chia seeds and kale, that are very dense in nutrients and low in calories. They are also very often excellent sources of antioxidants, which many people claim can help protect the body from various health conditions and diseases. Your foodie friend probably already knows all about the benefits of superfoods, and I am sure that they already have a few great recipes that they use them in. So, why not buy your friend a superfood taster selection? There are various online stores which now sell these hampers that include different ingredients and foods that are renowned for their health benefits. It’s a fantastic present option, especially for the health conscious among your foodie friends!


Cook Books

Can a food fan ever have too many recipes? I’m sure your friend would think not! So, if you are struggling to think of ideas for your friend, why not keep it simple and just get them a good old cook book? There are new ones coming out into bookshops every few months, so I am sure that you will be able to find one that they don’t already have. If you know who their favourite TV chef is, you could even look out to see if they have recently published a new book. If you aren’t sure which chef’s cooking they prefer, simply look for a book that focuses on a specific cuisine or diet. For example, if you know your friend suffers from celiac disease, you could buy them a gluten-free cook book.


Beer Hampers

Who doesn’t love a refreshing glass of beer at the weekend? I’m sure your friend does! There has been an incredible boom in the craft beer industry over the past few years, and now there are more and more new breweries opening up and down the country. So many beers, so little time! Thankfully, most of these craft breweries now sell beer/ale hampers, which give beer fans a chance to sample a few of their different brews. Know which beers your friend absolutely loves? Take a look online and see if you can find them in an attractive hamper!


Homemade Treats

For a really personal twist to your gift, why not have a go at making your own homemade treats to give to your friend? I’m sure that they will really appreciate all the thought and effort that you put into them! There are lots of different ideas you could do. How about making some truffles? These are super easy to do and require remarkably few ingredients! If you would prefer to make some biscuits, chocolate chip cookies always go down well with people. Once you have baked your treats, you should package them in a cute way so that it looks like a shop-bought gift. One great way to do this is to wrap your biscuits or truffles in some clear plastic film and tie it together with a cute bow.

Professional Knife Set

If your foodie friend loves getting creative in the kitchen, you should think of some equipment that they can use when they are cooking and baking. One thing that no amateur chef should do without is a professional knife set. The difference between a basic kitchen knife and a professional one is huge! And the benefits of using professional ones in the kitchen is manifold. You will be able to find professional knife sets in the home and kitchen section of many department stores, such as John Lewis and Debenhams. You may even be able to find a brand that is endorsed by a celebrity chef!