247 articles Articles posted in Family

Saving for a family holiday? Read this first!

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re already dreaming about your summer holiday. It might be the first of many or it might just be the one family treat that you all look forward to every year. We all deserve a summer holiday but saving and paying for one isn’t always as straightforward as we might like. From being bamboozled with deals and last minute options to choosing the location and how you’ll get there, to having enough money to spend when you get there, and not forgetting the whole new wardrobe the kids seem to need and all the other bits and bobs that you’ll end up paying for too…

I thought holidays were supposed to be relaxing! Well, if you’re already pondering how you can save a little extra money before your family holiday, look no further. You’ll find 4 of the simplest ways you can put a little money aside in the lead up to your well deserved break.

Look at your energy supplier

It’s amazing how many of us still haven’t switched to a cheaper tariff! Whether you’re on domestic oil – for the latest oil prices check out emo oil – or gas an electricity, head online and see if you can get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Most energy providers do all the hard work for you and contact your current supplier too. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll be able to put away just by switching. Try it now!

Stop your spending

No one deserves that new pair of shoes more than you, but if you’re saving for a family holiday then you need to kerb your spending a little. Try to avoid spending on additional purchases for about 2 months and you’ll notice a big difference in your bank balance. Things like takeaways, meals out, those jeans you really want or a new eyeshadow palette. Put them all on the backburner until after your holiday.

Learn to say no

It’s not easy to say no to the kids – especially when they’re being extra good. But learning to say no will certainly save you a bit of money. Saying no to those sweets or magazines that you usually treat them to, going out for tea – whether that’s at a fast food chain or a nice restaurant – even going out for the day. Instead of paying high prices for an afternoon at a theme park, look for places with free admission, or places of interest that ask for a donation rather than a fixed fee. They might not like it, but they’ll understand!

Don’t forget to set a budget

Make a list of everything you might need to save for. From the holiday itself, to the holiday clothes, toiletries, car hire, fuel money (if travelling in the UK), and anything else you can think of. Make a list and try to budget as best you can. You’ll find that you’re in more control when you’re heading around the clothes shops looking for holiday outfits!

Helping an Elderly Relative to Stay Independent

There comes a time in a lot of people’s lives where they need to start making arrangements to help their elderly relatives. A lot of people get older but want to remain in the home they’ve known for decades, and that means making their environment safe and suitable for their additional needs, if they have limited mobility, sight or memory problems. There are lots of ways that you can make a home suitable again, and today we’re looking at five of them.

Stairlift

If your elderly relative lives in a house with more than one storey, getting up and down the stairs can be really daunting. As well as the physical effort needed to climb the stairs, the risk of a fall gets worse as they get older. This is where a stairlift could really help. It allows people to travel safely between floors without the risk of falling, or needing to expend a lot of energy to make the climb.

Alarm System

A lot of elderly people worry about having a fall in their home and not being able to call for help, so personal alarm systems can give a lot of peace of mind. They allow people to call for help in an emergency and an ambulance to be sent remotely so that they aren’t left by themselves in an emergency.

Walk-in Bath

Although showers can be built on floor level so that you don’t need to step up to get into them, many elderly people prefer the security of sitting down in a bath, although getting into one can be very tricky. A walk-in bath has a sealed door which opens and closes and allows people to sit comfortably to wash, reducing the risk of slipping and falling when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Video Doorbells

Many elderly people fear opening the door to an unknown person, especially once the sun has gone down, and this can leave them very isolated, especially in the winter. There are lots of video doorbells on the market now which allow people to see who’s at the door without needing to answer it, and this could give your elderly relative the freedom to know when it’s safe to answer the door.

Remove Obstacles

This is the simplest, and cheapest way, to make surroundings safer for your elderly relative. Thousands of accidents happen every year when elderly people, especially those with limited eyesight, trip and fall because of things like rug edges, electrical cords and low items of furniture. It could be a good idea to get an expert to come in to assess the house as they’ll spot hazards that you might miss.

Why Nitrile Gloves are a Home Essential #GloveIsAllYouNeed

Nitrile GlovesAs you’ll know if you read my blog on the regular, I’m far from a domestic goddess. Housework is not massively high on my list of priorities, however we do like to maintain a good standard of cleanliness even if tidiness isn’t our forte! One thing that I do like to keep a stash of at home to help me with my domestic duties is disposable nitrile gloves – they’re something that I find absolutely essential for so many things, so I thought I’d share a few uses for them with you here:

Oven Cleaning

This is one that I learned the hard way – oven cleaner is VERY caustic and if it gets on your skin can cause blistering and irritation. I once got oven cleaner on my hands and my skin was in a bad way for days afterwards, so now I make a point of never even going near oven cleaner without wearing a good pair of thick nitrile gloves.

Cleaning Up After Pets

Even though we have a long poop-scooper, I always wear a pair of gloves when I’m cleaning up after Maureen, just for an added layer of protection. Animal droppings can cause myriad health problems and ensuring there’s no bacteria transfer is really important. We have also now added two budgies to the family, so gloves are worn when cleaning out their cage.

First Aid

This one, thankfully, is a much ‘fewer and farther between’ use for gloves, but nitrile gloves are so important when doing first aid. As well as ensuring that my hands are sterile when dealing with cuts and scrapes, it gives me an added layer of protection too, as I’m a bit rubbish with blood!

Car Maintenance

Another thing I’ve blogged about in the past is that I try to do as much car maintenance myself as I can. This means that changing batteries and bulbs, filling up oil and water and even changing wheels and spark plugs are all within my remit, and it it MESSY work! I discovered, after too many times of ending up with ground-in grease on my hands, wearing nitrile gloves while doing car stuff protects me from dirt and grease.

Hair Dying

Although I don’t tend to dye my own hair anymore (TOO risky!), Sausage has had pink, blue and purple dip-dyes for the last three years running, and gloves are absolutely essential for this. The ones that come in the box dyes are worse than useless, so I always end up raiding my own stash of gloves instead, so that I don’t end up with multi-coloured hands.

Get The House In Order Before Christmas

Get The House In Order Before ChristmasIt’s that time of year when our thoughts are filled with festive plans; where we’re going for Christmas dinner, what’s happening on Boxing Day, who will we see the New Year in with? If you’re someone who likes to host, you may also be thinking about getting your house into shape before the masses descend upon you for eating, drinking and general merriment. But what can you do to spruce the place up without spending a fortune? Here are some ideas:

Flooring

It doesn’t matter how perfect your paintwork is, if your flooring is worn or dated it can ruin the whole look of a house. One of the most economical and hardwearing ways to improve things is by putting down some laminate flooring. It won’t cost a fortune, it will last for decades and you won’t have to worry about someone spilling a glass of Christmas mulled wine on it (which you KNOW will happen if you put a new carpet down instead!)

De-Cluttering

Another thing which can massively improve the look of a house is de-cluttering. If you get rid of stuff you don’t want and keep surfaces as clear as possible, it can even make your rooms look bigger and improve your health because of the reduction in collected dust. If you sell anything of value, you could even make yourself a few quid in the process!

Woodwork

Sprucing up things like skirting boards and dado rails can give the room a much fresher look, and sometimes they simply need a wipe down with a wet cloth or Magic Sponge to get them looking nice again. Look at the bottoms of doors and the areas around handles which can often get grubby over time, especially if you’ve got kids or pets.

Sofas and Cushions

If your sofa cushion covers and throw cushion covers are washable, taking time to stick them through a wash cycle will have two positive benefits – as well as looking cleaner, they’ll smell nice too, which can make your whole living room smell nicer. If they’re compatible with fabric softener, opt for one of the strong smelling concentrated ones for maximum effect.

Carpet Cleaning

If you don’t have the option of ripping up your carpets and laying laminate (if you live in a rented property, for instance), hiring a carpet cleaner is a good alternative. It won’t cost much and will revive the carpets, leaving them looking cleaner and smelling much fresher. You can get spot stain removers and even anti-pet smell solutions which can get your carpet looking and smelling as good as new.

Unlocking Netflix Content From Across the Globe

Unlocking Netflix with a VPNPhoto by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Despite the fact that we have a Sky box, I would guess that at least 75% of what gets watched in our house is through on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The kids love being able to watch what they want, when they want (although that’s usually a strict rotation of Full House, Sam and Cat and Victorious!) and Husband and I get really tired of the usual ‘flicking through Sky before announcing there’s nothing on’ routine that we get sucked into almost every evening.

However, despite the fact that Netflix adds a lot of new content all the time, we’re starting to get to a point where we feel like we’re exhausting all of the films and shows that are available to us. There’s no doubt that Netflix still offers great value for money – as of 2016, statistics showed that the average user pays around $0.20 per hour of viewing and managed to avoid a massive 160 hours of adverts per year by watching on-demand. But, hey, we’re greedy and want more from the service!

We recently discovered that if you watch Netflix through a VPN, you can access WAAAY more content – if you don’t know what a VPN is, it’s an app that you can utilise on your phone, computer or pretty much anything that connects to the internet to secure your internet connection through another server.

When you connect to a server, you can connect to most places in the world (depending on the VPN provider) so your IP Address will appear as if you are in that location. What’s great about this is that in doing this you can access content from that country – so say you’re based in the UK, you can access US Netflix – which has almost double the content the UK Netflix has!

The best part is, a VPN doesn’t have to be pricey, with some just costing a couple of dollars per month, which means that you’ll still be paying very little for absolutely loads more content than you’d usually be able to access.

With estimates that Netflix will spend a mind-boggling $13 BILLION on content this year alone, it’s well worth using a VPN to allow yourself to get access to as much of this content as possible, especially if foreign film and TV is your thing! Husband and I are big fans of Scandinavian crime dramas, of which there seems to be very few on UK Netflix, but unlocking our subscription with a VPN would allow us to enjoy more of what we like.

According to The Motley Fool “The results speak for themselves. Netflix added over 26 million subscribers in the trailing 12 months ending in March, nearly 6 million of those in the “saturated” U.S. market. As long as Netflix continues to add subscribers at that kind of pace, the content spending is working. At some point, the company will hit an equilibrium where increased spending doesn’t result in a meaningful increase in subscribers, but that day still seems far away.”

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at school

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at schoolThere is no “right” way to bring up children, and sometimes the more advice and opinions you hear, the tougher it can seem. Even the views of the greatest teachers and psychologists always differ to a certain extent.

Still, there is one thing on which everyone is in broad agreement: if you give your children freedom and value their individuality, they will grow up confident and happy. Another basic truth is that parents have as important a role in educating their kids as schoolteachers. With that in mind, here are five lessons that will be of value to every child, which you can help them to learn:

Independence

Before doing something for your children, step back and ask yourself whether they can do it themselves. Everyone needs freedom, but keep in mind that freedom and permissiveness are not the same thing. Let them try to do their own shoelaces, for example. Encourage, guide and most of all be patient. They will get there in the end.

Housework 

Here’s a secret: Kids love to help out with things. The only reason they get lazy and reluctant is through habit if you don’t let them get in on the act from a young age. The sooner children learn to perform ordinary household chores, the more confident and self-sufficient they will be in future. Aside from that, it’s always nice to have an additional pair of hands to help with cleaning or washing up, and it’s a great time to chat without the intrusion of a TV screen or games console.

Of course, kids don’t become skilled in domestic chores overnight, and role play games are highly valuable here. Those toy kitchens and toolkits are the perfect start, and you will see how much they love preparing pretend meals or repairing their toy cars.

Choosing and analysing

Your children will ultimately live their own lives, not the ones that you or the teachers in school have in mind. Where you can make a difference is to coach them on how to make wise decisions. Provide your child with the opportunity to choose as often as possible. For example, what to wear or what colour backpack to buy.

Beyond that, get the kids involved in broader family decisions, so that they can see how to research options and make the right choice. Whether it’s booking a family holiday or choosing the right printer cartridge, there is research to be done. Using the latter example as a case in point, show them the price of cartridges on the high street, then search online for Canon MG5750 and decide which is better!

Outdoor activities

Children need to spend time in the wide world. This is where they learn to observe, see the beauty of nature and live in harmony with the world. That doesn’t mean throwing them out in the morning and hoping they come back in the evening, as some generations maintain they spent their childhoods. In truth, it’s a great opportunity for us, as parents to spend more time outside too, not to interfere, but just to be around.

Caring For Elderly Parents: Ready For The Responsibility?

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It’s important that we all face up to the fact that one day our parents won’t be able to do much for themselves anymore. As they age, they will start to get quite frail and weak, which will make some tasks quite a bit harder for them. They might not be able to drive anymore or do something that we take for granted, such as climb the stairs. It’s always best to be prepared in life, so you might want to think about how you and your family will cope when the time comes to start taking care of your elderly parents.

You will need to think about the responsibility involved with caring for aging parents, and how you can give them all the care and attention that they will need. Read on to find out more!

Hold A Family Meeting

If you have one, two, or even more siblings, it’s important that you share the responsibility of looking after your parents and thinking about their future. So, it’s worth holding a family meeting. This gives you all the chance to sit down together and consider the pros and cons of all the options available to your parents. It’s essential that you have your parents at this meeting too as they should have a say in their own care.

Consider What Your Parents Need And Want

Of course, you always need to put your parents’ needs and wants first when you are coming to a decision. If one of them has a long-term health condition, then you need to give that priority. It might require you to find some extra care for your parents so that they can enjoy their later years in comfort. It’s also important that you ask your parents about what they want from their care and support. They deserve an input in this after all!

Think About How Much Money Is Available

If you are considering moving your parents into a care home, it’s necessary to think about how much money there is to put towards this. If you can’t afford this, you might have to move in with them and care for them yourself. Don’t worry if this is the case, though, as there are plenty of benefits to home care that will be really advantageous for your parents.

Are You Prepared To Be A Caregiver?

If you and your siblings do decide to care for your parents yourselves and share the responsibility between all of you, you need to make sure you are all prepared for the role of caregiver. It will be a big change for everyone, especially as you will all undergo a role reversal. You will now be responsible for your parents, and they might need to take some time to adjust to this change in your relationship. After a while, though, you should all settle into your new roles and will all benefit from them.

Hopefully, these tips make it easier for your family to care for your elderly parents.

Host the Perfect Halloween Garden Party for Kids

Halloween Garden PartyHalloween is fast approaching and more and more people in the UK are celebrating, especially families with young children. For American families, trick or treating plays a huge part in Halloween but parents in UK can be a little more reluctant to let their children take part in the door to door tradition. Instead of trick or treating, parents can avoid stranger danger by hosting their very own outdoor Halloween parties instead. Find out how to host the perfect Halloween garden party for kids with advice from the garden specialists at Artificial Grass Direct.

Step One: Party-Proof the Garden

Children + face paint + copious amounts of sweets = carnage. A Halloween garden party is a lot more forgiving on the home than a house party but there are still steps you can take to ensure easy clean up. Re-home all breakables (including ornaments and potted plants) for the night and cover furniture to protect it from spills. If you have natural grass in your garden, we recommend covering it with blankets or tarp otherwise you could run the risk of little monsters tearing up the turf. If you have artificial grass, this will require less maintenance as it is much more durable and can easily be wiped clean!

It’s important to keep guests warm and dry so double check the weather on party night and consider using a gazebo or similar cover if it looks like it might rain. You can also use a patio heater or fire pit to regulate your garden temperature but make sure to protect your garden and your guests (especially if there are young children attending) from the heat.

Set the Scene

Now you’ve party-proofed your garden you can focus on making it look the part. A quick and easy way to set the scene is to pick up a couple of cheap Halloween themed fairy lights and decorations. You can save money on these by buying at local pound shops and discount stores as opposed to name-brand supermarkets. From fake cobwebs and spider decorations, all the way through to bat bunting and life-size plastic skeletons, these decorations might look a tacky but that’s the spirit of Halloween! You can even go all out and carve a couple of pumpkins, if you have time, as a fun pre-party activity to do with the kids.

Spooky Snacks

Bring the trick or treating tradition to your own back garden by setting up sweetie stations with a variety of treats. You can buy plenty of themed sweets this around time of year including gummy worms and eyeball candy or you can make your own. We recommend cake pops since they are simple to make, fun to decorate, and easy for little ones to hold.

Halloween doesn’t have to be unhealthy, though. If you’re worried about the sugar content of store-bought sweets swap them out for healthy alternatives. A couple of chocolate chips can turn a regular banana into a ghostly ‘Boonana’. Another option is to sandwich apple slices together with peanut butter before adding mini marshmallows to make mutant mouths with terrifying teeth. There are plenty of healthy Halloween snack recipes out there on the internet, a quick search will yield plenty of ideas and inspiration!

Gruesome Games

Finally, no party is complete without a little entertainment. Depending on the age of your audience you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned horror story but there are plenty of other options if you’re worried about giving your guests nightmares. Bobbing for apples is a classic Halloween party game (just make sure to supervise at all times) and little kids will enjoy activities such as scavenger hunts or cupcake decorating. You can even host pumpkin carving contests for older children.

How And Why You Should Increase Your Family’s Probiotic Intake

If you’ve been researching healthier lifestyles, you’ve probably run across the term “probiotics.” But what are they, and why are they important?

How can they help your family live better?

The Basics

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that live in your gut. They play an integral role in our overall wellness by influencing our digestion, mental health, immunity, skin and other facets of our health.

Your body makes probiotics on its own, but there are several reasons why you might want to increase your intake:

– You have an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. This could be due to illness, injury, poor diet, lactose intolerance or any number of medical issues.

– You’re struggling with something like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and your symptoms could be eased with better digestive habits.

– You’re taking antibiotics that are interfering with the natural balance of bacteria in your body.

Getting Enough Probiotics

There are many ways to increase the probiotics in your gut. You’re probably most familiar with supplements, but you can also eat certain foods that have been cultivated to contain them.

You might prefer a more natural method if you’re trying to help your entire family with their digestive health. While kid-friendly supplements exist, a lot of parents are simply more comfortable with the organic path. It’s also a lot more fun to prepare a meal together rather than popping probiotic tablets!

Here are just a few foods that are rich in probiotics:

1. Yogurt

You’re probably already familiar with yogurt because of how delicious it is but are you aware that it is one of the best dietary sources of probiotics?

It is made by the bacterial fermentation of milk and has many of the benefits of dairy while also helping to boost the friendly bacteria in your stomach.

Just be sure to avoid sugary yogurts with lots of additives.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is similar to yogurt in function but has a more fluid consistency.

It’s also a bit on the sour side you may need to flavor it with some fruits.

3. Tempeh

If you’ve never heard of tempeh, you’re in for a treat. It’s a soybean product that originated in Indonesia but is currently enjoyed all around the world.

The fermentation process makes it bind together in a solid, cake-like form, and it’s popular with vegetarians, health food enthusiasts and anyone who wants more protein or probiotics in their diet. Consider experimenting a little with your next family dinner.

4. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a kind of shredded cabbage that’s been fermented with lactic acid bacteria. It’s known for its white appearance and sour flavor, and it’s frequently used as a topping on sausages and hot dogs to give them a bit of a kick.

In addition to its taste, sauerkraut is also a great source of probiotics, so it can improve your health and expand your horizons at the same time.

5. Pickles

In terms of probiotics, pickles are cucumbers which have been placed in a salt and water solution and left to ferment for some time. This fermentation process is what creates the healthy bacteria that are beneficial to our health.

The drawback to pickles is that they are high in sodium due to the amount of salt used in the fermentation.

Pickles created using vinegar do not have probiotics.

Practical ways to help make school transferring easier

Changing schools is occasionally required for children who will benefit from it. It does present a difficult situation both for parents and students. This makes your child a “new kid” amid a classroom of strangers and he’ll need to navigate a new building, catch up on new lessons, as well as make new friends.

Regardless, changing school mid-year doesn’t need to be a bad experience for kids. Oftentimes they can be simply happier in their new school environment. What you need is a little preparation and thought. Here are a couple of practical ways to help make school transferring easier.

Check out the school 

Take your child to visit the school before school starts by arranging a private tour. This will allow the both of you to have a sense of what it will be like walking into the first day of class. Knowing in advance where everything is, including the library, classroom, cafeteria, and lockers are located can reduce first-day anxieties.

Young children may also benefit from visiting his class for just a bit while you stay with him, so when he attends on his own, the experience will be easier. You may also try having a meeting with your child’s teacher to make sure that a desk and any necessary supplies are already prepared before the first day. You may also inquire about any paperwork on policies or homework guidelines.

Assess the included advantages 

There are always some things that could be better even though your child might love his previous school so much. Talk to your child about the advantages of going to the new school. Maybe your child has been labelled by the other kids and find it hard to break away from that. Perhaps the coursework isn’t at the right level or the teacher isn’t spending enough time explaining the homework. A new school means a new start, making those negatives a problem of the past. It’s quick for kids to just see the negatives of a situation and forget that there can be benefits as well.

Get yourself involved

See what organizations or groups exist in the neighbourhood as well as your child’s school. Connect with the school’s local Parent Teacher Association. These organisations have great resources and can inform you about the issues and events that happen at school. You may also meet other members who have kids in your child’s class, which can help them make friends faster

Seek out extracurricular activities

Joining outside programs is a fantastic way for new students to easily make new friends as well as feel accepted by their new school. It also gives students the chance to learn new skills and it is helpful for college admission as well. Local clubs outside of the school also be a nice place to make new friends.

Considering a new school for your child

If your child needs to change schools, you need to weigh your school choices. Choosing One World International School (OWIS), one of the top international schools in Singapore, is an excellent way to start off your kid’s new educational journey.

The OWIS campus is filled with adaptable learning environments that allow students to work together and to think creatively. They provide the latest technology that improves the learning process for students they encourage outdoor learning prospects that invite students to connect with the world around them.

There you have it. Make use of these practical ways to help make school transferring painless for you and your child. Best of luck!