217 articles Articles posted in Family

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!

Off to Uni with Free the Fresher

Free the Fresher2017 is quite a landmark year for our family because not one but FOUR of us are starting University! I’ll be working on my English Lit and Language degree from home with Open University but Husband, my sister-in-law and our cousin are all doing the proper Uni thing and going to school to get their degrees. My little (or, not so little because he’s actually A GIANT) brother will be going in 2018 too,  so it’s fabulous that we’re all doing it at the same time and knowing that in a few years there will be several people with degrees in our family.

Just recently, I heard about a service called Free the Fresher and it struck me as something which would be amazingly useful for people who are striking out and leaving home for the first time. It was created by former Uni students as a way to help first year students to make their lives a little easier while they’re getting used to a completely new way of life.

You pay a one-off fee to Free the Freshers and they send you everything you’ll need for living in halls, including bedding towels, kitchen stuff, loo roll and even stuff like pens and planners for, you know, the actual studying part! You receive three packages throughout the year and at the moment, membership is reduced to just £50 for the year. It takes a massive load of stress out of the pre-Uni period where you’re worrying about buying everything you need and enables you to just settle into your new digs, get on with your studies and meet a load of new people.

Another awesome feature is the Christmas and Summer upgrades – for an extra £5 per pack you can include Christmas cards, ornaments and January exam prep material, plus in Summer you’ll get moving boxes to help you pack up after your first year of study. It’s a really innovative and unique service which I can imagine would be a huge help to anyone starting Uni.

From the point of view of a parent, even though my girls are still WAY off the Uni stage, it would be really good knowing that there’s a service like this out there, where people have been able to apply their real-life experience to knowing exactly what a Fresher needs. Delivery is free, and Free the Fresher have also teamed up with a whole bunch of brands, such as Nandos and Poundland to give you discounts which last your entire first year.

The testimonials on the site are really impressive, too:

“Finding FTF was a God sent, my freshers pack was waiting for me the day I moved in, saved so much time, money and effort” – Abbey Miller- Bristol UWE

“I knew coming to University would be expensive , and surprise, surprise my student finance was late, I honestly don’t know what I would have done had I not signed up for Free The Freshers in the summer, I had everything I needed for class and accommodation , had I not done so the notes from my first 3 weeks in lectures would have been on my hand” – JJ Smith – KINGS COLLEGE

“If you want to get the most out of Freshers week , sign up and save some money , that’s what I did- and had more money for snakebites (beer, cider , blackcurrent) lol” – Justin Green -Cardiff

” Was very impressed by this service  I thought there would be some hidden cost when I signed up, but I honestly only paid £50,  the quality  of my stuff was good and came on time” – Ian Stammers – UCL

Do you have a child going off to Uni (or are YOU going to Uni for the first time this year, like us?!) and would you find this service useful? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A New Family Car for Us

It’s a sad fact that our old jalopy just isn’t going to cut the mustard for much longer. It’s 20 years old now and although it’s still working just fine, I’m not convinced it’ll go through the next MOT and there are lots of bits which seem to have just given up the ghost – the door lining is peeling off (although I DID use my new glue gun to mend it, which I was most pleased about!), the wiring has seen better days and the fumes that the exhaust blow out absolutely STINK! Our budget isn’t huge, although we might consider getting a car loan  to help us afford something a little better, but here are the things which will be the most important factors when choosing:

Safety

The main reason we have our current car is that it’s made by a manufacturer which is known to be super safe. Whenever we look at second-hand cars, we always check the safety rating and if it’s less than satisfactory then the model doesn’t make it onto our list.

Economy

As much as I’d probably have great fun driving around in some huge tank of a car, it’s really not an economically sound choice for us. We’re looking for something with a mid-sized engine, decent fuel consumption because I do a fair amount of miles, something which isn’t going to be in the higher Road Tax bracket and also a car which is cheap to fix if something goes wrong!

Size

Our current car is an estate, and while it’s been handy (like when my tumble drier broke in the middle of winter and I went and collected a replacement in the boot of the car!) to have the extra boot space, we probably don’t need it. More seats would come in handy though, so I suppose we’d consider a 7-seater, if there is such a thing as an economical 7-seater!

Comfort

One thing that can be said about our current car is that it’s pretty comfy. The seats are decent and the car feels like our little home from home. Before we had this car, we briefly had a little Fiesta which we drove to Liverpool in a few years ago and the seats were so uncomfortable that I was numb down one side by the time we got back!! I don’t expect Rolls Royce-level comfort but seats which don’t hurt my ass are pretty important.

Entertainment

I know that the girls would absolutely love a car with screens in the back of the headrests for them to watch on our journeys and we do spend a lot of time in the car so I certainly don’t begrudge them that. For me, a radio and decent speakers are super important – I’ve never liked driving in silence and I NEED to be able to listed to Pop Master on BBC Radio 2 every morning!

What family car do you have? Do you love it? Would you recommend it? Do leave me a comment below, all inspiration is more than welcome!

Thinking of Foreign Lands

Just recently, Husband and I have decided that we really need a holiday. It’s been over a decade since we’ve left the UK and the girls have never been away, so it’s definitely time to get packing! We’ve got a few ideas of where we’d like to go as a family, and I thought I’d share some of them with you:

Malta

I’ve been to Malta twice myself, before marriage and kids, and I think it’s basically the perfect short-haul destination for families. There are cities, beaches, historical relics, brilliant shops, restaurants, activities, and everything is family friendly.

Paris

Before Husband and I ever met, we actually both went to Paris at the exact same time without even knowing it, and it’s somewhere we’d both love to revisit. I think we could make a really great family break out of it, combining time in the city to see all of the sights, as well as a couple of days at Disneyland! Agoda is a great place to look for good deals on accommodation around Disneyland Paris.

Iceland

Iceland is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and there are SO many things I want to see there, from the Blue Lagoon to the rugged volcanic landscapes. Polar bear spotting and Northern Lights trips would be such an amazing experience for the girls and taking there somewhere which isn;t one of the ‘ordinary’ destinations really appeals.

Ibiza

I never made it to Ibiza in my clubbing days, but I’ve heard and read a lot about it as a family destination and it actually sounds perfect. There’s LOADS to do and apparently the northern side of the island is much quieter and more family-oriented. I’d still be tempted to watch sunrise at Cafe Del Mar, though 😉

Lake Garda

Another place which seems perfect for families is Lake Garda. There’s loads to do for families, like watersports and sightseeing, and there’s a real edge of luxury cool which would appeal to most grown ups. Mediterranean countries always have a real acceptance of kids in restaurants and public places too, which makes eating out as a family so much easier!

Where is your favourite place to go as a family? Do you have any destinations on your family bucket list? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear all about it.

Bubble ball suit, Body bubble ball

Bubble ball suit is available in different sizes. You can wear the small bubble ball suits to play Bubble ball game, and the bigger ones can be used to roll down the hill. Bubble ball game is a game which is safe from the real soccer game. It is even more enjoyable than the soccer game. When a person wears it, then he/she will turn into a Body bubble ball. The Bubble ball suit is easy to wear, and it contains strips and handles. When a person wears it, then he/she can have a grip on it through the handles and strips. Some people assume that a person can have breathing problem while wearing bubble ball suits. Well, it is a false thing completely.
There are holes present in these bubble ball suits which are specially designed for the transfer of air. If you are a sports lover or love to spend time with your family, then you can get a couple of bubble ball suits for yourself and family members to play bubble ball game. You can also play bubble ball game at the birthday party of your friends or family or a special occasion or festival. Bubble ball game is an activity which every child or adult would enjoy.
The player can easily put his/her upper body into the plastic orb and would be easy to move his/her legs while playing soccer bubble ball game. Bubble ball suit is very light in weight so you would not face any difficulty while playing the soccer bubble ball game. www.inflatable-zone.com is one of the best online stores from where you can purchase different types of bubble ball suits. You can also give us details about what type of bubble ball suit you need, and we will surely personalize it according to your needs.

Bubble Soccer Ball – inflatable-zone.com