10 articles Articles posted in Guest Blogger

Guest Post: Mummy, Why are They Being so Mean to Me?

On the blog today, we have a guest post from Helen Neale, who writes at both kiddycharts.com, a parenting advice and tools site offering free personalised kids charts, and stickersstarsandsmiles.com, a much more personal blog where she promises to tidy up, but never quite gets around to it. She can be found far too much on social media, particularly Twitter.

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As the teacher passed, she could hear sobbing. She looked across the wooden hall floor, but couldn’t find where it was coming from. She tilted her head to try and concentrate. In the corner of the hall was a gym mat, positioned delicately against the climbing frames that the school children used in PE. She moved silently towards the sound, and as she approached the noise got louder. Leaning in, she peered behind the mat.

Standing pressed against the wall, tears streaming down her face, was a small girl.”

Thirty-five years ago, that was me.

Even after all this time, I can still remember vividly the teacher who found me, and helped me. But even now, I can sometimes still feel like that little girl, hiding from harsh and cutting words.

My time at school has shaped me into the woman I am today, I am sure of it. It has made me into someone who hates confrontation, so much that I will apologise for anything just to move on, and not create tension.

It has made me desperate to be liked. I turned to bribery in secondary school. Eventually, a close friend told me that I didn’t have to use my dinner money to buy her sweets to get her to speak to me. It was only then that I finally came to realise that I didn’t have to pay for friendship. Friendship was something that is freely given, and gratefully received.

Despite finally finding a wonderful friend, I was still singled out by some of the older girls as the weaker one; sensitive to criticism. I often wondered if I “just had the face for it” as I grew up.

I avoided catching the school bus home to my village if I could. When I did brave the ride on the first bus home, I would sit near the front away from the other children. I would then spend 45 minutes listening to the kids behind me, talking about me, calling me names, deliberately waking past, and flicking my hair, throwing my bag down the bus…anything to upset me. Never physical, but the constant niggles were enough to cut deep.

Suddenly though, it stopped.

The main culprit left the school; as simple as that.

The other players didn’t have their heart in it. Having finally told my mum, she helped too; giving me the confidence to stand up to them, to speak to the teachers and not to try and handle everything on my own. After the bully left, my bus trips started again. However, my anxiety and my wish to be liked has remained ever since.

If I had my time again, I do sincerely wish that it hadn’t happened, any of it. Of course I do. Thinking about those times, still stings my eyes.

But, the sensitivity it has instilled in my heart; how we should listen, and love, has made me into someone who has understood many of my friend’s darkest moments. Once, it helped save a life.

The determination to carry on despite being bullied lives on in me now too; that survival instinct has moulded me both personally and professionally.

I made it.

I was able to come out the other side. That has given me a confidence in myself that I didn’t think, as that little six-year old, hiding behind a gym mat, I would ever have. I am still desperate to seek approval from others, but it isn’t as all encompassing as it was when I was a child. It doesn’t choke me, it doesn’t mean I feel that every friend I have is just here for a while until they find someone else more exciting, funnier, or with more money for sweets….

However, I realised this week that I find myself seeking approval from my kids in a way that I wish I didn’t. Anything from the simple questions about whether their birthday party was any good, to whether they liked the dinner I made them. This even extends to the friends they invite to those parties, or sit down to have that dinner with them.

Despite all that I have achieved, there is still a wee six year old in there, desperate to be liked.

How have you overcome this need for approval if you have it too? Is there anyway to do so? Shall I just give up and have a biscuit?

If you or your children are experiencing bullying, please seek help. There are some wonderful organisations out there. Relevant sites in the UK include:

http://www.bullying.co.uk/

http://www.beatbullying.org/

http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/

It would be wonderful if we can lend a little support to these and other organisations supporting anti-bullying campaigns, including this campaign from fellow blogger, Gammon and Chips, in the memory of a wonderful 16-year old girl, Izzy.

Shaving Tips for the Man in Your Life

This post was written by my lovely husband!

mens electric shaverIn recent years the so-called art of shaving has made a comeback. More and more men are switching over to the time honoured ways; the hot towels, the luxurious lather, the hand-picked Japanese or Russian blades, and it has to be said, treating yourself to a good, old fashioned shave is a great experience and one which I enjoy on a regular basis.

Some followers of the arcane art are vociferous in their opposition to any other way. You’ll hear stories of people ripping their faces apart with sub-standard disposables and giving themselves a nasty shaving rash or even ingrown hairs, rushing the process with an electric shaver. You’ll be told that there isn’t a middle ground – but there is.

Using an electric shaver for convenience needn’t be a painful and destructive process. Of course, it requires a little attention from you, but with a few simple steps you can have your cake and eat it too; a quick, easy shave without any ill effects.

The first and most obvious thing is to ensure that you have a decent electric razor. Thankfully, they don’t cost an arm and a leg these days and you can easily order a decent model online (Tesco Direct has a wide range available). Do bear in mind though, while some affordable models are excellent, more often than not you get what you pay for. Do your research first. My personal favourite is the new Braun 7, which is bristling (pardon the pun) with tech and draws upon Braun’s years of experience to deliver a first-class electric shave.

Once you’ve got your shaver, you’ll need to prepare. Give your face a wash using glycerine soap and dry it thoroughly on a clean towel. Once you’re done, use a good alcohol-based (yes, alcohol based!) pre-shave to ensure your mug’s clean and free of oil. Use it twice if you’re prone to oily skin.

When you’re ready to get going, start with your neck and work your way up. Use light, deliberate strokes of the shaver – don’t press hard on your skin, that’s a sure-fire way of leaving yourself with red, raw skin.

Try and pay attention to where the whorls are in your facial hair. I have two on either side of my throat, and they’re a pain to get clean shaven. Work out what direction the hair’s growing in and go across the grain in either direction, then against it. You should find that delivers a good finish in difficult places.

Once you’re done with the neck and whorls, go over the rest of your face. You don’t have to drag your heels, modern shavers are made to be used quite briskly, but remember to go over each patch with the head of the shaver at the right angle (right angled to your face).

After you’re done, rinse your face with cold water and apply a liberal coating of alcohol-free aftershave balm or lotion. I swear by Geo F Trumper’s skin food myself, but you’ll find what’s right for you. You’ll want something which will rehydrate your skin, as this will help prevent irritation.

After that, you’ll want to clean your shaver and lubricate it. Yes, it takes a couple of moments, but a well maintained shaver is what you want coming into contact with the sensitive skin of your face, not some dirty, unlubed machine full of month-old bristles.

Don’t expect lightning fast times on your first couple of attempts. Take your time, dial-in your technique. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to get up in the morning and give yourself a fantastic shave in no more than 3 or 4 minutes!

Sponsor A Child: The Benefits For The Child And You

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Have you thought about sponsoring a child but stopped short because you’re not sure if your money really makes a difference? It’s not uncommon, but when you sponsor a child you really are having a direct impact on a child’s life.

By choosing to sponsor a child you’re doing so much more than just donating some money every month. You’re entering into a relationship with your sponsored child, one that brings many benefits for both the child and you.

The Benefits For The Child

Ultimately, when you sponsor a child you’re changing a child’s life in a very real way. These are just some of the benefits that the child enjoys when you sponsor a child.

  • Receiving An Education. One of the biggest drivers of child poverty is a lack of access to education. Child sponsorship programmes work hard to build schools, train teachers and raise awareness of the importance of education in communities. This means that children can have improved life chances and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. An amazing benefit that you enable when you sponsor a child.
  • Living A Healthy Life. In many of the world’s poorest countries access to adequate medical care is greatly restricted. This often means that children die from entirely preventable diseases. The money you give when you sponsor a child goes towards building medical centres and training staff, as well as funding educational programmes to raise awareness of specific illnesses and health problems. You’re also helping improve sanitation and access to clean water, which is one of the biggest factors in improving overall health and life expectancy.
  • Feeling Protected. Sadly, in many developing nations children have few rights and are often subjected to violence and exploitation. When you sponsor a child you’re helping train people on child rights and helping campaign to protect children at both the community and national level. It also helps strengthen disaster preparedness and risk management, because during crises children are particularly vulnerable.

The Benefits For You

When you sponsor a child you also experience some wonderful benefits.

  • Forming A Relationship With Your Sponsored Child. Don’t look on child sponsorship as simply a financial contribution. When you sponsor a child you will receive updates from them, including letters and photographs. You’ll get to see how you’re helping them directly. And you can and should write back to them, send photos of yourself and your family, and send them small gifts. Many child sponsors develop long lasting relationships with their sponsored child and some even visit them in their communities.
  • Knowing You’re Doing Something Amazing. Without your contribution and commitment life for your sponsored child would be very different. When you sponsor a child you’re enabling profound life changes for the child and their community. And that really is something to be proud of.
  • You’re Helping More Than One Person. Although you have a personal connection with your sponsored child, your donation goes into a fund that helps pay for projects in their community. So you end up helping dozens of other children too.

If you sponsor a child you’re committing to improving the lives of children who have few of the opportunities that we take for granted on a daily basis. You’ll be helping someone in desperate need and giving them a life they never dreamed of.

Sponsor a Child with Plan UK today.

Tips for Mummies on Frugal Car Maintenance

car maintenance Copyrights (Chandra Marsono) on Flickr

Forking out for a mechanic every time that a simple bit of maintenance to your car is needed is an expensive way of running a vehicle. Of course, if you simply do not have any knowledge when it comes to car maintenance, then this is what you have to do. Nonetheless, maintaining a car does not require a great deal of engineering skill or mechanical know how. For the more advanced jobs, then you will need a trained mechanic, but for simpler jobs you can do it yourself. Remember that the more of these little maintenance jobs that you do for yourself, the more you will save.

Spark Plugs

An essential maintenance job to keep your car going is to change its spark plugs once in a while. This is because the metal on the plugs’ electrodes can wear away over time and suffer from carbon deposits which coat them. Spark plugs that are in poor condition tend to have problems igniting the fuel and air mixture in the engine. As a result you will notice a drop in power and the fuel efficiency of the car. Fitting new ones can be done by anyone. Installation of new plugs is as easy. Just remove the ignition wires from the old spark plugs so you can work safely. Then pull the old spark plugs out of their sockets. Before installing new plugs, coat the inside of the ignition wire boots with a little grease to get a good connection.

Tyre Maintenance

Check your own tyres every few thousand miles. This is cheaper than having them inspected professionally each time. Keep your tyres fully inflated to the car maker’s specification because this will lower the amount you spend on fuel. Check your tyres’ tread with a twenty pence coin. If the rim goes in fully, then you have enough tread. However, if it does not, then you’ll need to have new ones fitted by an expert like Point S to remain street legal. Remember to check all over the tyre – not just in one place.

Lights

Check all the lights on your car once every few months. You can do this yourself and – if you don’t have someone to help you with the rear lights – place a mirror behind the car so you can see them. Don’t forget the side lights, reversing light, fog light and even the number plate light. Car owners’ manuals tend to not be that helpful when it comes to changing bulbs and – as a result – tend to encourage you to take the car to dealer. Look for advice on your specific model online, because many car owners post instructional videos which can help you do the job for yourself. You seldom need anything more than a screwdriver.

Air Filter Replacement

With the majority of cars, switching the air filter is nothing more than flipping a few clips or undoing a couple of screws to remove the filter box. Then you simply take out the old filter and place the new one in. It should take no longer than a couple of minutes and be conducted about once every 15,000 miles depending on your model.

Guest Post: I’m a parenting expert…

Yesterday, I put out a call for help. My blogging mojo is having a week off and I asked my blogging chums if they’d like to step in and write some posts for me and gawd bless ‘em, I had lots of offers, which made me love our little community even more. Today, I’ve got a post from the lovely Fi who blogs at Childcare is Fun, who I must confess is one of my secret blogging crushes, I totally want to be her and have her hair and have her be my best friend, all at the same time :-) So, here it is: 

Parenting. The minefield of mothers and fathers doing their best in a conflicting world of advice. Hands on parenting, comfort parenting, practical parenting, attachment parenting, oh the hokeycokey parenting. It’s a headache before you’ve even popped out your first baby isn’t it?

Having the opportunity to guest write here on the lovely Jayne’s blog, I decided to open up, take off my professional cap, and talk frankly.

“You must have it so easy” someone once said to me, “you know everything and anything parenting, it must be a breeze!”

No. It’s really not…

I’ve 21 years experience working in childcare, I have a degree in Childhood and Youth studies, a diploma in Childhood studies, I’m a qualified Nursery nurse, I’ve a gazzillion training certificates from baby signing to special needs practicals, and I’ve a few awards for my work with children, but I’m also just a mum.

I wake up tired. I go to bed tired. I often feel like hiding under the duvet when my two under 3 are wrestling on the bedroom floor over a postman pat van. I cry when things seem too much, I hurt when they tell me I’m ‘horrid for turning off Cbeebies so we can go do something creative’ and I sigh when I have to do mundane household chores daily.

I eat too much cake, drink wine, gossip, moan, sometimes lose my patience and wear baggies and no make-up on days when nobody is coming over and we are having a home day.

Daily I advise parents who ask for my advice through the FREE email service via my website (www.childcareisfun.co.uk) based on all those years of experience, and qualifications, and I love putting my professional head on to help them. I love writing my ‘Top Tips’ and guest appearing as a ‘parenting expert’ on BBC radio and local stations, I’ve even done the odd TV appearance which is so exciting and something I’d like to pursue one day, but above everything, I’m a stay-at-homemum. A mum to a 2 and 3 years old born 364 days apart who rock my world and wipe bogies on my jeans.

I clean up sick, wipes snotty noses, scrub spaghetti sauce off the walls, do the washing, shopping and cleaning. So when you hear the word ‘parenting expert’ and you roll your eyes and think “Oh, another know-it-all” remember I’m actually just a parent like you. I’m still learning all these years later.

I’m a parenting expert. I’m a housewife. I’m a domestic engineer. I’m a mother. I’m me.

Thank you so much to Fi, I love Childcare is Fun and think you should all go and subscribe to her email service immediately! Oh and show some comment love, yeah?!

Think Twice Before Touching ‘Abandoned’ Wildlife.

As Spring seems to have truly SPRUNG, I thought now would be the perfect time to get the lovely Jacq, who blogs over at Mymumdom and The Visiting Vet to gives us a few hints and tips about how to safely interact with wild animals during this time.

If you go down to the woods today, or even just out into your garden or local park, chances are you may have a close encounter of the wild kind.

Spring can be a wonderful time to spot wildlife, as it’s the breeding season for most wild creatures, and those who hibernate are waking up and starting to feed. It’s not unusual to see foxes, rabbits,deer, hares, hedgehogs or perhaps a snake if you get lucky. And there is plenty of bird life around as well.

A lot of the animals you spot in the spring will be young, and the rule here is WATCH, BUT DON’T TOUCH. Those fox cubs you spot playing in your garden in broad daylight are not unsupervised. An adult will be close by, watching them.

The RSPCA says that admissions into their Wildlife Centres rose by over 400% from March to June last year. And many of these animals are babies, particularly fledglings, who well-meaning members of the public have picked up and handed in.

The sad thing is that the majority of these young ones were not actually abandoned or orphaned. Their parents were probably waiting close by. Hares, for example, give birth above ground and the leverets are left as soon as they are born. Mum returns to feed them once a day, around dusk. Baby hares are terribly hard to rear in captivity and should be left, untouched, as found.

Obviously, if the animal is injured, then you should take it to a local vet. Vets do not charge to treat wildlife and can arrange for the patient to be transferred to the closest Wildlife Hospital once they are stable.

If you discover a young animal that seems to be alone, click here to find out what to do with it.

Remember, most baby animals have a much better chance of survival if left in the wild so be sure to keep your distance and monitor the situation. The chances are its parents are close by, just waiting for you to leave so they can return to their youngster.

Twitter: @mymumdom

Real Parenting Guest Post

Check out my guest post about why I’m not planning on having any more babies, over at Real Parenting.

Guest Post.

My lovely friend Elle from This is Mommyhood is finally having her much-needed sinus surgery today and she asked me to help her out by writing a guest post for her. Please go over there and check it out, as well as keeping her in your thoughts today. Thanks!

Guest Blogger: Elle from This is Mommyhood

They say there’s no such thing as a selfless good deed. Today, I stepped in to help out my new friend, Elle, at This is Mommyhood, but in the bargain I managed to wangle an awesome guest post from her, which may seem cruel in her current sickly state, but as it turns out she’s just as awesome when she’s ill! So, without further ado, I hand my blog over to Elle and hope to delight and entertain with:

When I First Got Married I Thought Couples Who Had Separate Bedrooms Were Crazy. Several Years Later, I Think It’s The Best Idea Ever!

Time: 10 pm-ish

Place: Bedroom

And…Action!

My hubby likes to lie in bed and have quiet time. He’ll read his Mother Jones or Popular Science magazine with our cat laying on his chest. I’ll be watching a Friends repeat and occasionally the hubby will point something out in his magazine. I’ll nod, pretend I’m paying attention, and say something like “uh huh” or “oh cool”. After awhile he’ll put down his magazine, give the cat a few treats that she’ll puke up later, and turn off the light. Now this is where the fun starts.

Within ten minutes he’s snoring….loudly. Then he’ll start grinding his teeth. Ree Ree Ree Ree.

He hurt his leg awhile ago which can cause twitchy spasms. Maybe it’s because I keep my toenails so short but I think his toenails can rival Freddy Krueger. So his twitchy leg spasms trigger his Freddy Krueger toenails and he starts scratching the shit out of the sheets. Riiip Riiip Riiip.

Oh and did I mention that he likes to hang his feet over the end of the bed. So let’s recap.

He’s snoring away like a bear. Teeth grinding. Ree Ree Ree Ree. Leg twitching all over the place. Toenails slashing away at the sheets Riiip Riiip Riiip. And his feet are constantly pulling the covers down while I continually grab at them and pull up, grab and pull up.

I’m usually not asleep at this point, I mean how would that even be possible? By this time I’m reading OK! Magazine or watching an old episode of Sex And The City. Every now and then I punch him in the arm or jab his twitchy leg with my foot lightly tap him to stop his snoring.

A few hours later I’ll still be wide awake, reading or on the computer. His snoring will be so loud that it will usually wake him up. He’ll look at the clock and see how late it is. Then he’ll tell me he can’t sleep and that I’m keeping him up. He’s lucky that I love him so much.

Thanks Elle, here’s to a beautiful friendship.

Guest post.

Don’t forget to go over to This is Mommyhood and read the guest post I did for Elle, who is suffering from the dreaded ills.

Get well soon, Elle!