221 articles Articles posted in Family

How to Pet-Proof Your Home

Having an elderly dog is not wholly unlike having a puppy in the challenges that it throws up. Chuck is now 14, which is the equivalent of being 85 in human years, and much like an 85 year old human, his faculties aren’t what they used to be. We were told at the beginning of the year that his heart was starting to fail and this week we’ve discovered that, thanks to a few years of strong anti-inflammatories because of his arthritis, his kidneys are now struggling too, which means he’s starting to forget his house training.

Chuck

His quality of life is of the utmost importance, but adapting our home so that we can all exist peacefully is important too, so we’ve been thinking about ways to pet-proof our home for an elderly dog. Here’s some the things we’ve come up with:

Laminate Flooring

When a pet starts to lose continence, it’s usually a sign that they’re nearing the last portion of their lives, but if their quality of life is otherwise high, it needn’t be a reason to say goodbye. We’ve got laminate flooring in the downstairs of our house, so keeping Chuck confined to these areas when we’re out minimises the risk of coming home to find a puddle on the carpet and makes it significantly easier to clean up.

Stair Gates

As I mentioned earlier, Chuck has arthritis, and has actually had it since he was 7, but his mobility is more limited now as the disease advances, so stopping him from going up and down the stairs unnecessarily is important. We’ve installed a stair gate at the top and bottom and Husband tends to carry him up to bed in the evenings to minimise the impact on his joints.

Warm Sleeping Area

When he was younger, Chuck was more than happy to sleep in his bed in the living room, or flop down on the end of our bed! These days, he gets far too cold because he’s going bald in places, so we’ve actually made him a dog-cave! We have a huge cupboard on our landing which is about 8ft deep and 3ft high and wide, so we’ve put a doorless crate in there and insulated the whole cupboard by putting duvets and padding around his crate, as well as soft, warm bedding inside it for him to burrow into. He actually loves his bedroom and sleeps sounder in there than anywhere he’s ever slept. It’s also important for elderly dogs to have a space to retreat to if they feel like they need it, so this is perfect for him.

Raised Food Bowls

Raising a dog’s food bowls is important even before they’re elderly as it will reduce the strain put on their neck when they eat, and if they’re a deep-chested breed can reduce the risk of bloat. However, older dogs usually need even more help in this department, so making sure that both their food and water bowls are at a good height for them to eat and drink from without too much of a stoop is really important and can improve their quality of life by quite a lot.

Do you have an elderly dog? Have you adapted your home in some way to make their lives easier? Do leave me a comment below, and more more information about laminate flooring, head to Posh Flooring.

Planning for School Holidays

Planning for school holidays- the stress-free way

For kids, the six-week school holidays fly by in no time at all. For parents; they seem to drag on and on.

It can be hard to keep the kids entertained during the summer school holidays. Everything seems so expensive with days out costing a small fortune and if you have to fit work in too, finding childcare can be a nightmare. All in all, the school holidays can be a very stressful time for parents.

So here is a list of tips to help you plan a stress-free school holiday that everyone will enjoy.

Make a budget

Money is often one of the biggest stressors for parents and in the summer holidays money plays a huge role in just about every decision. The kids may be eating you out of house and home or wanting to go on days out and if you must take time off work or hire a babysitter, your costs are mounting day by day.

So, make a budget at the beginning of the holidays to help you manage your finances. Factor in any time off work or childcare costs and set aside extra money for the weekly shop. Once you have the essentials down you can plan how much money you have to spend on trips out or spending money for any holiday you have coming up. Writing it all down will mean you are not worrying and stressing about whether or not you can afford something as you will know exactly where you stand financially.

Plan ahead

Planning days out ahead of time can greatly help to relieve any stress. Last minute decisions or kids claiming boredom can be very stressful for parents but planning days in advance can give you and the kids something to look forward to. It will get any moaning kids off your back and booking in advance online often saves you money too. Looking at a long range weather forecast can give you a good idea when it is best to do outside trips like the zoo or beach and also gives you a heads up if you need to look at indoor day trips too.

Work with other parents

Parents up and down the country will be in the same boat as you this summer and it is a good idea to get your heads together with your kids’ friend’s parents to keep each other sane this school holiday. Arrange play dates to keep the kids entertained but also to give each set of parents a helping hand if they need to work or run errands. Work together to reduce each other’s stress levels- as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and working together will benefit you all.

Make the most of it

At the end of the day, kids aren’t kids for long. Try to shake off any stress and worry and just enjoy having your kids around more than usual. You don’t have to spend money to have fun- grab a picnic and head to the park. The kids will make friends to play with and you can enjoy the (hopefully) good weather as you watch them have fun being a kid before school starts again.

 

Cool Grandparents Rule!

When it comes to ‘cool’ grandparents, my girls really do know a thing or two. Husband and I both had really close relationships with our Nans and having the same thing for our girls is really important to us, which is why we’re so lucky to have Husband’s Mum just round the corner from us.

Nanny L is the best Nanny ever! The girls absolutely adore her and she’s basically a cross between Willy Wonka and the Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty – she’s the kindest, most caring Nan with cupboards which look like a branch of Thorntons! The girls love spending time with her and I think they prefer her house to ours at times!

My Dad, Grandad P, is cool in a very different way – we don’t get to see him as often as we’d like because we live a little ways away and all have busy lives, but it doesn’t get much cooler than a motorbike riding Grandad! He’s popped over a few times without ringing first and I absolutely LOVE seeing the girls faces when they hear Grandad’s bike on the drive and run out shouting “GRANDAD’S HERE!”.

Husband’s Dad and his wife live in the States so we haven’t seen them for some time, and we miss them like crazy. They lived here for a while and the girls used to love going to their house for dinner on a Friday evening – their stash of craft supplies was second to none and we used to spend a lot of time laughing together and enjoying music (and a glass of wine or two!).

Did you know that you can save for the future of your grandchildren tax efficiently, in a Young Savers Plan from Shepherds Friendly? They’ve done some research into what makes a cool grandparent and put together this awesome infographic – take a look!cool grandparents

 

Do your kids have cool grandparents? Are you a cool grandparent yourself? Do leave me a comment below!

Soccer for Children: A Guide to Getting Started at Different Ages

One of the very best things about soccer for kids is that they really can start at any age. It’s a very inclusive sport and is suitable for anyone regardless of height, strength or speed. Soccer is a relatively easy sport to learn when you’re just starting out, and it involves a lot of continuous action and running, which means it’s a great way for kids to exercise. Communication and cooperation are key skills on the field, which makes it a really nice way for kids to learn about teamwork.

In fact, soccer is officially the most played sport in Australia, so they’ll always have friends to play with. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission, 1,104,815 Australians participated in soccer in 2016. That’s over 400,000 more participants than AFL, and four times that of Rugby League.

There’s no ‘right’ age to start soccer, but here you’ll find some of the basics in terms of what you can expect in each age bracket, from 5 years old to 12 years old. Take a look…

5 – 7 Year-Olds

It’s really all about getting out and having fun at this age. Teams will be smaller, with usually only four players on the field, and each half of a game will only go for around 15 minutes. They also probably won’t have a goalkeeper. While they’ll start to learn the rules, they probably won’t be very strictly enforced – it’s more about getting familiar with the basics and giving them a chance to develop a love of playing.

Starting at this age can set up a great foundation for building skills and understanding the fun that can come from exercise. It also gives them an opportunity to develop strong friendships across their years of playing.

8 – 9 year-olds

By this age, there’ll be more players on the field, and there’ll be a goalkeeper too. The length of each half will probably be more like 20-25 minutes. Of course, it’s still mainly about having fun, but with more of an emphasis on preparing them for higher levels of the sport. Additional rules will be introduced, and some of that earlier leniency with enforcing them will start to reduce, giving them a chance to fully understand the details of the game. Some experts believe that 8 years old is the ideal age for kids to start playing soccer in a competitive team environment.

10-12 Year-Olds

This is when coaches will really start to focus on skills in order to provide them with a solid foundation of technical competence. At this age, children are ready for a more structured approach to training too. The number of players allowed on the field increases to 9 a side (at 10 years old) and then to 11 a side (at 12 years old). The length of the game also increases, with 12-year-olds playing full 30 minute halves.

While things are more focussed at this stage, the emphasis will still be on having fun and building positive experiences.

All children are different and it’s hard to say whether there is an ideal age to start soccer. But, whatever their age, there are many benefits of choosing soccer. It is a contact sport, but it’s not a collision sport, which means its relatively safe compared to a lot of other team sports (especially other forms of football).

Beyond that, it’s well known that there are a lot of benefits for kids who play sport – it contributes positively to their physical health, can give them a great range of social experiences and can give them a great sense of achievement as they build their skills. If your child is interested in sports, soccer may well be a great place to start.

A sports camp can be a great entry point and there are many soccer school holiday programs in Sydney or your local surrounding area that your kids can get involved with.

Freelance Family Finances

Living in a family with one freelance parent must be a bit tricky at times, with one person’s contribution being potentially unstable, but having TWO freelancers in the house? Let me tell you, it definitely has it’s pros and cons! We love the fact that we’re able to choose our own hours which means we’re able to work around school holidays, go to the gym during the day when it’s less busy (because we’re both usually working in the evening!) and be flexible when it comes to meeting deadlines, however the uncertainty with freelance work can also be a worry.

It also means that we have to keep two sets of accounts throughout the year, which should be easy given that I’m an ex-bookkeeper, but it’s not always simple. We’re lucky in the respect that neither of us really has any expenses related to materials needed to work (as long as I have a laptop and an internet connection, I’m usually good), but we can factor in using our home as an office as well as writing off a small portion of our utilities because we work from home, as well as other little things to be remembered. Last year, we bit the bullet and invested in some accounting software to help us keep a track of everything, but stuff like this is only accurate if you remember to add everything so it’s still not a perfect solution!

If you’re a freelancer and struggle with the admin side of things, here’s some tips to help keep on top of it all:

Folders

Filing might seem like a massive pain in the bum, but both virtual and physical folders can be a real help. Create a folder within your email inbox which allows you to file emails for work related purchases, as well as an actual ring-binder in which you can keep paper receipts and invoices. If you leave your accounts til the end of the year, you’ll likely forget a few things so keeping records is super important.

Keep It Simple

Probably the single most important thing for keeping on top of freelance finances is to KEEP. IT. SIMPLE! Setting up complicated proceses will just create you more work in the long run and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Try to keep things as easy as possible in order to make things run more smoothly.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

There is absolutely no shame in admitting that doing accounts just isn’t your forte. You might be the best writer/marketing manager/social media consultant/whatever on the planet but it doesn’t mean that you’re good at doing accounts. Even entry-level bookkeepers usually have some form of training or qualification and starting your own business doesn’t automatically mean have the skills for the money side of things. Finding a good accountancy firm who can take care of things for you will usually cost far less than you think and will free up time for you to concentrate on doing the thing you love!

Do you have any tips for freelance families like mine? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear them.

Sudocrem – Getting Kids to Play Outdoors

Hands up who’s relieved to have seen a little bit of nice weather this week? In a week full of terrible news and nasty political tactics, sometimes something as simple as feeling the sun on your face is enough to bolster your mood a little. It’s really nice that a little less rain means that we’re able to spend more time outside, taking advantage of our lovely surroundings and blowing away some of the cobwebs of what felt like the longest winter in living memory.

Now that Chuck isn’t as able to go on long walks, we limit his walking time by allowing him to take us on shorter walks and let him dictate the length and pace, and this newly relaxed attitude from him makes it a lot easier for me to take both girls along with me while I walk him. Spending time walking with all three of them (and even better when Husband is with us, too) is one of my simplest, happiest pleasures in life.

Getting Outside with Sudocrem

Last year, I teamed up with Sudocrem to tell you all about the Play More campaign they’d launched which was intended to get our kids outside more, by donating funds to schools and nurseries for updating their outdoor play areas. The project was such a huge success that they’re doing it all again this year and they’ve asked me to tell my readers about it.

“With stories of childhood obesity never far from the headlines, it’s easy to believe that each generation of children is lazier than the last. But a new survey of 6 – 11 year olds suggests that British children believe they’re wrapped in cotton wool by their parents and would like more freedom to play outside.

The research by family skincare brand Sudocrem found that almost 3 in 5 children (57%) said their parents worried too much about their safety and almost two-thirds of those aged 8 – 11 (64%) thought they should be able to go to the park with their friends, unaccompanied by an adult.Sudocrem Play More for schools and nurseries

 Encouragingly, the study also revealed a generation of children who recognise they don’t play out in the fresh air often enough, with 52% of those questioned admitting they spend too much time on games consoles and a further 60% saying there should be more games to encourage kids to play outside, like Pokemon Go.”

Sudocrem’s Brand Manager, Georgina Fotopoulou said, “Children love outdoor play but they’re bound to scrape their knees. This is all part of the learning process. A cuddle and a tub of Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can make a lot of things better. We’ve been healing skin for generations and we’re proud to promote the spirit of adventure with Play More.”

If you think your child’s nursery* could do with improving their outdoor facilities, go to www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub and nominate.

What To Look For When Moving to a Rented Property

rented propertyI’ve mentioned before that Husband and I have lived in rented property for our whole adult lives and in fact, since we’ve been together we’ve actually lived in EIGHT different properties in 11 and a half years! We’ve seen a LOT of properties, ranging from flats to houses to bungalows, both old and new, when searching for properties to move to and I think it’s given us a pretty good level of expertise when it comes to weeding out the bad ones. Here’s a few of the things we look out for when viewing a property:

Damp

It’s a fact that lots of properties have a problem with damp and it can be really tricky to live with. Husband and I have moved out of a home we LOVED before because the damp was up to the dado rail in one room and the walls were totally black. The landlord was unwilling to deal with it, so we had no choice but to move. Signs of damp when you view a house are obviously the smell, which is usually the first thing to hit you. Bubbling wallpaper and black marks in corners or behind furniture are also a sure sign. Some landlords try to hide damp by painting over it but it will ALWAYS come back through and will not only look bad but can cause lung complaints and illness.

Appliances

Before we moved into the house we’re in now, we moved to a house which boasted fitted appliance, so we sold all of our high-quality appliances and used the fitted ones. Within a matter of weeks, the cooker, dishwasher and washing machine ALL broke and we hadn’t realised that it was our responsibility to replace them. Check first whether the landlord is retaining ownership of any fitted appliances or you could end up with a lot of expense on your hands right after moving.

Electrics

Okay, this is obviously a tough one because you probably aren’t an electrician and won’t be doing a detailed check, however, somethings are obvious. Husband and I once viewed a flat which has no plug sockets in the bedroom, so the owner had drilled the whole way through the wall, plugged a hopper into the loung and routed it through the wall to be used in the bedroom. I cannot even begin to imagine how much of a fire hazard that must have been!

Noise

Letting agents are really clever about when they will show a house which is in a potentially noisy spot. Our last house was on a bus route and after moving in we discovered that the “double glazing” was totally shot and didn’t keep out any sound at all, but we viewed the property early on a Saturday morning when no buses were due and traffic was at a minimum. If you’re concerned about noise, always try to book a viewing when the surrounding area is at it’s busiest.

Neighbours

Listen, I don’t mean to sound like a snob because quite frankly, I don’t give a hoot what anyone else does in their own home. However, if you’re the sort of person who values quiet and solitude above all else then moving in a house where you’re flanked by young families, sharers or students probably isn’t the best bet for you. Try to assess the neighbourhood because even if you fall in love with a house, the surrounding area just might not suit you.

 

Why Bermuda is a Top Family Holiday Destination

Usually when we think of Bermuda we think of Honeymooners and young couples soaking up some quality R&R time. However Bermuda is much more than just sun, sea and sand so today we are taking you through the activities and things to do in Bermuda that make it a top holiday destination for families.

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Exploration

There is so much to explore in Bermuda and so much to do that will keep the kids happy and entertained. Heading to the Bermuda Aquarium, museum and zoo promises a top day out for kids and parents alike. It showcases over 200 species of indigenous fish in both open ocean environments and coral. The zoo also offers the children to get up close and personal with with weird and wonderful creatures and animals from all corners of the World.

The crystal caves of Bermuda are one of the most impressive things you’ll ever show your children. The crystal caves are one of the largest caves on the island and can be accessed by walking across a pontoon bridge over Cahow Lake, which is a 60-foot deep lake surrounded by breath-taking stalactites and stalagmites that have been forming over the last 30 million years.

Get Those Bathers On

With so many water activities available in Bermuda there’ll barely be a moment when your kids aren’t out of their bathers. Aside from just beach and pool activity, there is actually an opportunity for you and your kids to swim with dolphins. Dolphin quest allows children to swim, play and touch with beautiful bottlenose dolphins, whilst the highly-trained dolphin trainers will educate your family all about the crucial roles humans play in maintaining and improving their marine home.

Snorkel Park Beach is one of the top destinations in Bermuda for snorkelling and there are many different snorkelling schools down there that can take children off in groups to explore the underwater part of the island.

Knowing which are the best beaches is crucial when heading to Bermuda. Horseshoe Bay Beach is most certainly one of the most beautiful, with its long sweeping white beaches. It’s a family favourite for its long stretches of beach and peaceful nature.

Heading to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse for an afternoon is a great idea also, as it offers breath-taking, panoramic views. You have to climb 185 steps to get to the top but the incredible vantage point the lighthouse offers is well worth the climb.

Get Caught Up in the History of Bermuda

Bermuda has a rich history and is a fascinating place to explore all the wonderful monuments and interesting buildings and museums.

Make sure you check out the St. Catherines Fort, which dates back to 1612. It’s a really fun place to take the kids as it’s one enormous real life fort that they can play in and explore.

If your children are interested in weaponry, there is a fantastic weaponry museum showcasing historical artefacts of British military operations. If the children get a little hot and bothered seeing the sights, then luckily Tobacco Bay Beach is a mere five minutes walk away where there is some fantastic snorkelling for the family to cool off.

So, as you can see Bermuda is much more than it seems, and has so much to offer for families travelling to the beautiful island for their family holiday.

Clear The Decks! Getting Ready For Guests

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There’s a funny site which lists all of the things that British people do, say or hear that represent the essence of this country. Quotes, phrases and odd quirks are all listed, and most are totally relatable to our own lives. Recently, it has published a list of the top terrifying 2 words that we hate to hear, that chill us to our very core. The one that topped that list?

“They’re here!”

Making room for guests, no matter how expected, and providing them with a safe space to stay, entertainment during their visit, food and drink to keep them going throughout the duration and hopefully being good enough hosts to ensure a positive review amongst peers, is daunting. It feels like no matter how much you prepare, you’ll still be making excuses as you pass through every room in your house, apologising for menial things like paint choices, dust that exists only in your mind and clutter which they thought was an art project …or at the very least, intended to be there. With children around, no matter how much you clean, it’s going to get undone very quickly.

Stay Elsewhere … If You Want …

The easiest thing to do is put your guests up in another location, like Homestay Accommodation or, if they’re family members, passing on to another relative. Obviously this isn’t really a doable choice if they’ve come to see you specifically, but it’s an option to think about. It saves panicking about bedspace and where they’re going to sleep. Investing in a couple of inflatable mattresses to use is definitely not a bad idea; they can be packed away quite tightly and fold down slim enough to store without really realising that they’re there until they’re needed. They definitely provide a more grown-up alternative to sleeping on the floor

Chef For The Weekend

Another thing that makes us unnecessarily anxious as Brits is having to cook for people outside of our immediate family. We either love the challenge and try to exceed ourselves in our culinary presentation, or shy away from it and mumble something about restaurants being good around the area and the takeaways not being too shabby.  Whatever you do, find out what your visitors like and if they have any allergies or intolerances. It’s best to be in the know beforehand than to spend a load on ingredients that you’ll never be able to use.

Plan Their Visit Well

Don’t leave anything to chance. Getting guests to decide what they want to do throws stuff into the air and wastes time. The best thing that you can do is get a list of activities, three at the most, and give them the option of picking one that they’d enjoy above all of the others. If they can’t choose, save some for another day if they’re staying that long. Especially if they are bringing children with them, you need to make sure that this is a family-orientated activity list. If you think that kids are indecisive, try getting an adult to make a simple decision once you’ve presented them with choice. Narrowing it down definitely helps.

Car Travel with Baby: Priceless Pointers for Hitting the Road with a Little One

With some parents feeling scared or anxious about driving with their baby in the car, the thought of a road trip can be extremely daunting for some however, many parents have clearly risen above this initial fear. It is estimated parents drive an average of 27,000 miles just driving their kids around. Whilst this statistic includes driving teens, most parents become content with driving their babies and younger children around in the long-run.

But if you are still feeling a little apprehensive about a long drive with your baby, it’s totally normal! Every parent moves at their own pace and it’s no secret that accidents do happen on the roads. So if you’re looking for some top tips and extra reassurance for hitting the road with a little one, here are some important pointers to take on board!

Make sure you have enough space

Especially for long journeys that require hours, if not days, of driving, being comfortable and having the right amount of space is essential for both you and your baby. You’ll likely have luggage with you so make sure to pack efficiently instead of just throwing everything in at the last minute.

And, where your baby is concerned, you’ll probably have a plethora of diapers, wipes and changes of clothes that need space too – not to mention the car seat! The most obvious solution for this would be to invest in a large, family-friendly vehicle like the Dodge Journey which is ideal for long road trips.

But, if your current finances won’t stretch to a new car, make sure to take whatever space you have and don’t over-pack, as being uncomfortable and cramped for hours on end won’t be good for your baby (or you!).

Take snacks

There’s nothing worse than a hungry child screaming in the backseat when you’ve got no food in the car. And, as the driver, it’s vital that you keep your energy levels up as you don’t want to feel lethargic behind the wheel for safety reasons.

Make sure to pack plenty of snack options for both yourself and your child. If your child is too young to eat solid foods, ensure you have plenty of pre-prepared bottles ready to go as the last thing you want is to make your baby uncomfortably hungry just because you didn’t plan ahead.

Bring toys or blankets

Being stuck in a car for hours on end is likely to be somewhat distressing for your baby no matter how much you plan ahead. But, if you bring some of their favourite cuddly toys or soft blankets along, this will create a sense of familiarity for them and will likely calm them down if a tantrum arises.

Road trips can be stressful at the best of times, especially if you have a baby on board and have never driven long distances with them in the car before. But as long as you plan ahead and ensure everyone is as comfortable as possible, your journey won’t seem half as daunting!