Driving

Is Your Vision Good Enough for Driving?

One In Three Brits Risk Driving Ban With Overdue Eye Tests

I’ve been a glasses wearer since I was 11. At primary school, our classes were pretty small, so seeing the blackboard was never an issue, but once I got to senior school, the classes were bigger and suddenly I realised that my vision wasn’t good enough for me to see what was being written on the board. I went for an eye test, and lo and behold, I needed glasses, albeit with a pretty weak prescription. My lenses have got stronger pretty much every year since then, until about 2 years ago when the optician said I’d reached some sort of vision-stasis and that my eyes hadn’t worsened since my last test. However, I still get yearly tests because as a driver, I think it’s massively important. Please ensure you have your eyes tested and check out dailies total contact lenses.

Vision Express has recently conducted a survey which came up with some, quite frankly, terrifying results. Here’s a video that they’ve made all about it:

New research revealed today by Vision Express has found:

• Almost 30% of UK drivers are overdue an eye test, with 4% admitting to never having had one

• Drivers with uncorrected vision which falls short of legal thresholds face potential insurance invalidation, a heavy fine, penalty license points and even driving disqualification

• On average, Brits will be spending almost three hours in their vehicles en-route to their UK holiday destination and will be travelling with three people, including one child

• There will be increased pressure on UK roads this summer with 50% of Brits families holidaying in the UK, compared with 38% last year

• Brits are more likely to have their cars stocked with drinks and snacks, rather than they are to have had a recent eye test

As drivers, we’re all spot-on when it comes to getting our cars MOT’d to make sure they’re as safe as possible, but that safety-checking should always extend to ourselves – if your eyes aren’t giving you a reliable picture of what you’re seeing, then you’re putting yourself, your family and every other road user in danger. If you cause an accident and other people are injured including any that are in the car with you, you could find yourself facing legal action for whiplash claims and other injuries.

My ability to drive is something which is so essential to us as a family because of where we live; we’re 6 miles from Sausage’s school, 3 miles from the nearest shop and we don’t even really have passable pavements on any of the roads immediately around our house. In an emergency, Husband or I could cycle to get where we needed to go, but transporting ourselves as a family would be very tricky indeed. This means that my eye health is of paramount importance.

Do you make sure you have yearly tests? Are you as shocked as I am about the amount of people driving around with potentially poor vision?! If you are, you might want to consider using a car service to get you around for a while! Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

Kids

Sausage’s Ninth Birthday Gift Guide

In just twelve short days Sausage, my tiny ginger bundle of happiness and wild imagination, will be turning nine. I genuinely cannot get my head around the fact that I’ve been a mother for NINE whole years, and I’m so proud of the amazing little human she’s become. On the down-side, Husband and I have discovered that shopping for an almost-nine year old is so much harder than it was to shop for an 8-year old. She’s less interested in toys and more interested in Dr. Martens and ear piercings (she’s just had her second lobe piercing and now is basically the coolest kid in her whole school!).

We’ve been wracking our brains about what to buy for her and, aside from consulting BannerExperts for her birthday banner, have come up with a few suggestions so far, and I thought I’d share a few of them with you here:

Converse

She’s already got a leather black-on-black pair which she wears as school shoes, as well as a silver pair, but she’s definitely her mother’s daughter in her love of Converse so I reckon another pair in a super colour or print would go down really well. Clothes become a much more viable gift when they’re this age, so this is definitely on the list for this year.

Perfume

Okay, so this is much a present for me as it is for Sausage – she’s suddenly developed a bit of a fascination with my perfume collection, which is fine, but my bottles aren’t cheap and hey seem to be running out FAR too quickly! Vivienne Westwood make scents which smell incredible but are also a little bit edgy – she’s quite into her punky stuff at the moment, so a perfume made by the woman to styled the Sex Pistols will definitely go down well!

Jewellery

Sausage is a major accessoriser; no outfit is complete for her without co-ordinating earrings, a few bracelets and a necklace, not to mention the hair bows! She’s got such a gorgeous, unique style that I’m always in awe of, and Husband and I love encouraging her individuality. As I mentioned above, she’s now got her ears pierced twice on each lobe so the potential for new earrings has doubled! She’s already got her eye on some which are specific for double piercings, which a little chain between the two and they definitely fit her new punky look.

Roller Skates

She’s not massively into toys anymore but one thing that she has mentioned wanting is a pair of roller skates. Full disclosure: I HATE the idea of roller skates!! For me, they’re a one-way ticket to fractured wrists and bruised coccyges, but I can’t wrap her up in cotton wool forever…as much as I’d love to!

A Keyboard

She’s mentioned wanting to learn an instrument for a while now and although we don’t have space in our house for a full piano, we DO have room for a decent electric keyboard. She already owns a little one that she got a few Christmases ago, but that’s more of a toy, so we want to get her one with a full set of keys so that she can learn to play properly. It’ll fit in our dining room nicely with a proper stand and a stool.

Do you have a nine year old? What did they want for their birthday? Leave me a comment below!

Kids · Safety · Technology

Keeping Kids Safe Online in the Holidays

In previous years, the summer holidays have meant that Sausage mostly just sees her friends on her birthday (which is in August) or if I manage to arrange playdates with her friends, by contacting their parents. This year, however, seems to be a whole different kettle of fish. Sausage is going into year 5 in September and seems to be growing up before our very eyes. She has her own iPhone, iPad, laptop etc, and so do many of her friends, which means that she’s able to communicate with them as and when she likes, within the bounds of when she’s allowed device time. We aren’t MEGA strict with her when it comes to devices, but we do try to get her to put them down for at least an hour before bed so that the blue light from screens doesn’t interfere with her sleep.

The communication versus online safety thing has been playing on our minds, however. She’s not allowed a Facebook account because she’s too young, although we do know kids of her age who are on there. Snapchat’s recent update has left us with security worries and we’ve got her account locked down because it’s a site which is well known for being an avenue for grooming. She currently uses WhatsApp or iMessage to speak to her friends, but we still worry about the lack of security with these; it would only take one of her friends to give someone her phone number or leave their own device unlocked for someone to be able to attempt to contact her and it’s something that is a constant source of worry for us.

Just recently, Azoomee got in contact with us to let us know about their new chat features and it seems like something which could be the answer to all of our worries. Azoomee Chat was built for children. It’s not an adult platform re-designed for kids! Key features which make Azoomee Chat best practice are:

  • Communication between two children only takes place if a parent for each child has verified the connection
  • There is no geo-tracking data
  • There are no group chats (which is where cyber-bullying begins) opnly one-to-one communication
  • There are no photos or face-time (we use personalised avatars instead)
  • There are lots of pointers in case a child needs advice
  • Parents have full visibility of all communication
  • Only pre-verified friends can see your posts

Every child has their own Kid Code; it looks like this: GF6D7XS2. You’ll find your child’s Kid Code in the Azoomee Settings screen. Your child can give their Kid Code to their friends, or you can give it directly to their parents. They need to add your child’s Kid Code in their Azoomee Settings. Finally, for an extra layer of security, you’ll need to verify the friendship – you’ll receive a notification to do this in Settings.

We’ll be trialling Azoomee over the next few weeks and are really hopeful that it is something which could work for our family and give us the peace of mind we need to be able to allow Sausage to use her devices without the need for us to be constantly looking over their shoulder. I strongly feel that schools should be offering kids an Azoomee membership and teaching them safe communication as part of the national curriculum as we’re only going to be MORE reliant on technology as the years go by.

Keep your eyes peeled here for an update so you can see how we get along with Azoomee’s new chat functions or head over to their site to get your free trial of the services.

 

Fashion and Style

Styling the New Me

I’m still nowhere near the end of my weightloss journey, but I have lost enough now to notice that many of my clothes are now miles too big. This was okay when the weather was cold and I could just wear belts on the jeans and chuck a hoody on, but now it’s summer again (or at least pretending to be!) I’m finding it a lot harder. A few weeks ago, I decided to get my summer dresses out and all but one of them hung off of me like a potato sack! I’m not keen to to go and spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe but I think there are probably a few key items that I can buy which won’t look outrageous once I’ve gone down another dress-size or two.

The thing I’m really struggling with though, is HOW to dress. Since gaining weight, I tend to opt for The Mum Uniform which consists of a selection of t-shirts, skinny jeans and cardigans. Every single outfit I wear is some variation on this theme and while I’m not planning to get to a size 10 and suddenly start going out in hotpants, I don’t really know what my style even is anymore. The last time I enjoyed shopping and was even ABLE to shop in non-plus-size shops, I was in my very early twenties, newly married and child-free. Now that I’m a mother of two and in my thirties, I feel quite stumped.

For summer, I reckon maxi dresses are a good bet. Any that I buy now will hopefully be too big by next summer, but I’ve seen lots of people styling maxi dresses with a big belt, or even wearing ones which are really baggy, so I think that could be an investment worth making. They’re ‘girlie’ and summery but don’t bare loads of flesh which makes them ideal for school runs on a hot day.

I have noticed already that shopping is significantly easier JUST from loosing one dress size. Previously, shopping for an 18 meant that there were lots of places I couldn’t shop at all and my body shape made it impossible to find things which suited me. A few weeks ago, I went to a wedding reception and needed a dress. I was DREADING going shopping because it’s usually such an ordeal. I go from shop to shop, getting more upset and frustrated that I either can’t find anything I like or nothing fits me properly.

This time, however, I went to ONE department store, picked up about 5 dresses, tried them on and managed to find something I loved with just one trip to the changing rooms. It was probably the happiest shopping experience I’ve had in over a decade.

From now on, I’m going to try to keep a positive head on when I go shopping as I think it makes it much easier to find something I like, instead of getting into a funk in my head and not wanting to look any further. I may even take the liberty of using a personal shopper to help me find some items that I love at some point in the future!

What’s your shopping style? Have you had a body overhaul which has meant that you’ve needed a new wardrobe? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

 

Health · Kids · labour

Top 5 Tips on Managing Incontinence after Childbirth

Top 5 Tips on Managing Incontinence after ChildbirthChildbirth is an exciting time and there are many news skills to master – and for some women, managing incontinence may be one of them.

It is a common problem that many women suffer from, mainly in the short term. In rare cases, it may be a long-term issue that requires further medical help to alleviate the systems. Being informed means being prepared and so check out these five top tips for managing incontinence after childbirth.

Tip 1 – Use appropriate pads and products

There is a range of incontinence pads in various absorbency levels that make managing incontinence on a daily basis much easier. Unlike sanitary towels, they trap odour as well as urine. They absorb the urine away from the skin, preventing soreness a common complaint alongside urinary incontinence.

They can be worn day and night, and are the ideal solution for catching accidental leaks of urine post childbirth. They allow you a sense of confidence in that embarrassing leaks are stopped in their tracks, great for when you go to post-natal exercises class or enjoy activities with your family.

Tip 2 – Pelvic floor exercises

Alongside incontinence pads, performing pelvic floor exercises several times a day help to combat a weak bladder. These exercises are discreet but incredibly powerful as they tone the pelvic floor muscles, meaning you gain control of your bladder.

The great news is that you can do these exercises anywhere, they are free and require no complicated or expensive equipment.

The pelvic muscle runs from the front of your pubic, across your body to the base of your spine. It is a sling like muscle and during pregnancy, is under pressure not only from the weight of your growing baby but also from a cascade of pregnancy hormones. It is under further pressure during labour and clearly, all that pushing during childbirth also impact on it.

To strengthen it, you need to tighten and hold the muscle for a few seconds and then perform a controlled release. Some people also suggest ‘forcing’ the muscle to relax as the final step. Doing this means that the muscles go through its full movement.

Not sure where your pelvic muscle is or which part to clench? Find out more here.

Tip 3 – Yoga

Incontinence pads and pelvic floor muscles are fantastic just after giving birth mainly because the pelvic floor exercises help you heal and the pads make incontinence much easier to manage.

Now that you have fully recovered you may decide you want to try something that strengthens your pelvic floor in the longer-term. Yoga is having some great results for people who suffered from stress incontinence – in other words, an accidental leak of urine when they cough, sneeze, exercise and so on.

Yoga strengthens and tones a variety of muscles groups, including those in the abdomen, the lower back and the pelvic floor muscle itself. There are various yoga poses that can help manage incontinence better and your qualified yoga instructor will be able to help.

Tip 4 – Train your bladder

Some people find that bladder training helps them too. This works with stress incontinence but with urge incontinence too. The latter is when the bladder has a sudden urge to empty, making it difficult to get to the toilet in time. If you can’t make it to the bathroom in time, an embarrassing leak could ensue.

Training your bladder means holding on between toilet breaks for a certain length of time. For example, when you get the urge to visit the toilet, override this urge by clenching your pelvic floor muscles and resist visiting the bathroom for a length of time, such as 10 minutes. Over time, you increase this amount of time from 10 to 20 minutes and so on. If you need help with this, your doctor may be able to refer you to an incontinence specialist.

Tip 5 – See your doctor

Incontinence can be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and so if it continues, becomes worse or you are in pain when you pass urine, seeing your doctor is essential. It is common for women to suffer from incontinence immediately after birth. For some women, it soon disappears but for others, it can carry on for some weeks. However, if you are still struggling to control your bladder several months after birth, see your GP or have a chat with your health visitor.

Incontinence, on one hand, is to be expected after birth but it should right itself within a few weeks. If not, follow these tips – which ones worked for you.

HARTMANN Direct stock a range of incontinence products, ideal for use during and after pregnancy, helping you to manage accidental leaks.