2019 | Modern Mummy

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Home // How an extension can add much-needed space to a family home

When you’re a parent, it can feel like you’re constantly craving more space, and making some big changes to your family home can be brilliant for the whole family!

Coincidentally, many homeowners in England are now temporarily free to build bigger extensions without planning permission, so if you’re in England, now could be the perfect time to expand. Even if you’re elsewhere in the UK, an extension is still a great idea anyway! Here’s some ideas for how a home extension can add much-needed space to a family home.

The conservatory extension 
A conservatory is a rest area, and because they’re typically built onto the back of a home, there’s a great view with lots of greenery around and open sky above. Because conservatories are less busy than other rooms in terms of functionality, they can be a perfect place to store things like paperwork, receipts and even food and drink. Or if you're me, plants. Lots of plants! A conservatory also makes a great place to eat, with doors opening out into your garden in the summer, and all that natural light makes it a great place to use as an art studio if that's your thing.

Above garage extension 
Many homes have a garage that juts out of their property, instead of being tucked away within. It functions fine, but there’s an awkward gap above that would do well to be filled. Well, above garage extensions make that possible, building rooms that can sit quite nicely above the space.

Providing the existing foundations can support a new room built on top of them, this option can also be more affordable than building a ground floor extension. There’s less work to do, so costs are lower, but of course, there’s no guarantees your garage will be able to take on a new room above it as it is. Still, a new upstairs room will always be beneficial for space, and professional builders will be able to make that happen for an affordable cost. 

Small side and rear extensions
It’s not always the case that an enormous additional room is needed, and a less taxing add-on will suffice instead. In that case, smaller side and rear extensions might be suitable, which can function as a small sitting room. Because of their size, they can feel discrete and closed-off from the rest of the house, giving the parents a space that feels more private and tailored to their personal tastes.

The size of an extension isn’t everything either, so long as you’re creative and strategic with the space you have. For example, a small side and rear extension could also be fashioned into a bigger-than-usual closet, filled with things like shoes, clothing racks, umbrella stands, coat hooks and more. This might well free up clutter in your entrances, remove mess and trip hazards, and just enable you to have a tidier house. A side extension can also be used to make the rooms you currently have larger.

Adding space can minimise mess and chaos elsewhere. When families get bigger and more hectic, an extra room can go a long way in calming things down and keeping the home clean and tidy. There’s a wide range of extensions that can be built on top, at the back or at the side of your house, so decide what works best for you and move forward from there.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Style // Changing Your Workout Wardrobe to Suit the Seasons

With every passing season, people make drastic changes to their wardrobes to suit the current weather and to embrace the current trends. Despite this, many people (me included) wear the same few outfits when exercising or playing sport even though the weather can have an enormous impact on how you feel while exercising.

It is a good idea to change up your workout gear with each passing season as this will help you to exercise comfortably, plus it gives the chance to freshen up your look and feel confident while you are exercising. Here are a few key changes that you could make.

Colourful Leggings 
Spring and summer is a time that is all about life, energy and colour. You can embrace this by switching out dull black leggings for something more fun, colourful and eye-catching. You can find a wide range of stylish and practical women’s leggings and breeches online which will look great during the warmer months of the year and allow you to workout comfortably.

Exercise Shorts 
Similarly, when the temperature begins to soar you will not want to feel restricted by leggings or workout trousers. Switching to exercise shorts can help you to stay cool and help you to feel confident whether this is in the gym, on a run or playing sport.

Training Tops 
It can be hard to know what to wear when you are exercising in the colder months especially if you are outdoors. You will be cold initially but likely to get warm once you get going so you will want something that will help you to stay warm but you can easily take off after a while. Training tops are ideal for this and they can look great and be paired with anything too.

Headwear is not always necessary but can be smart if you are exercising or playing sport outdoors. During winter something like a beanie will help to keep your ears warm, but when summer comes round you could opt for a baseball hat or a visor which can be helpful in keeping the sun out of your eyes.

Workout Tanks 
Working out can get sweaty and hot especially in the summer months. Workout tanks are ideal for the warmer weather because you get flexibility and freedom and if you opt for a breathable material they can feel light and won’t stick either.

It is a good idea to change up your workout gear with each season particularly if you will be exercising outdoors. In addition to being practical, this is also a good way to freshen up your look and give you a confidence boost. Buying new exercise clothing should also give you the extra incentive to exercise regularly and achieve your goals too.


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Create Your Own Sensory Garden

What exactly is a sensory garden? Well, a sensory garden is an outdoor space that's filled with a large variety of smells, textures, colours and sounds designed to interact with our senses. You can make a sensory garden to your taste and indulge your senses or to spark the interest of your children with the outside world. Whether you're after a peaceful shaded place to sit and read a book or your looking for the hustle and bustle of the vegetable patch creating a sensory styled garden is perfect.

Creating fun zones such as a games board made from different coloured slabs, having different smelling herbs and flowers, wind chimes in the background or berries to pick and eat are brilliant ways of creating a family-friendly sensory zone.

Have a look at these lovely ideas to help create a sensory garden for you and your family to enjoy:

Think About Sound 
The sound may not be one of the first things that you think about when it comes to your garden or gardening; however, it's a big part of the outside world. Of course, you have all the natural sounds such as leaves rustling in the wind, birds singing, water running and splashing on the ground in a thunderstorm but you also have the capability of adding in beautiful features such as trickling water into a fish pond or wind chimes that play a tune in the breeze. If you do install a pond into your garden, it's a good idea to research Pond Filters to prevent it from becoming dirty, and always make sure safety netting is used around small children. Listening to your garden can be relaxing and exciting at the same time, try sitting with the children and seeing what sounds they recognise.

Think About Taste 
There certainly is a lot that you can include when it comes to taste. You could get the children involved in choosing some vegetables, fruits and herbs to grow. Not only will they enjoy choosing what they're going to growing in their garden, but it also heightens the chance that they will want to taste them once they're ready. It's a good idea to have plants such as berries or herbs that you can also allow them to taste while you're outside. Once you've to grow a crop, it's also a brilliant way to involve them in the cooking.

Think About Colour And Texture 
Colour and texture can go hand in hand when it comes to creating an outside sensory space. They make a good mix when it comes to both building materials and plants. When you're looking to add colour into your garden a lovely way to create a personalised area for each of your children is to use an individual pot where they have space to add a few of the colours and textures that they enjoy. If you're unsure about the safety of some plants, speak to your local gardening centre for advice. For feel, there is an abundance of materials you can use to create exciting walkways, games zones or stepping stones. Why not have the children create their stepping stones using pebbles and glass beads for a good summer project?

These are just a few ideas to get the juices flowing with ideas for your sensory garden. Do you have any other ideas that you could share in the comments section below?

10 Top Tips For Moving To A New Country

If you’re thinking of moving to a new country and don’t know where to start then you’re in the right place. With so many different things to consider before stepping on your flight, you need to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be. Moving to a new country is incredibly complicated and if you miss out just one important step, you could end up delaying the process by at least a couple of weeks. To help ensure you’re as prepared as you can be, here are 10 top tips for moving to a new country:

Make Sure You Do Your Research Beforehand 
One of the best things you can do before moving to a new country is to ensure you do your research beforehand. Whether it’s researching the visa regulations or finding out the average cost of living, you need to be sure you’re making the best possible decision before you start to make arrangements. 

The best thing to do when it comes to your research is to separate it into the following sections - travel, accommodation, work, living, food and culture. If you research everything you can under each of those categories, you will have a clear idea of whether or not a location is for you. For tips and tricks when it comes to researching a location online, you can visit this site here.

Have A Number Of Locations In Mind To Begin With 
If you are still unsure where it is you want to move, having a number of different locations in mind is a great idea. Not only will it give you a chance to review the opportunities in each area, but it will allow you to make the best possible decision for you. If you have a number of different choices and you’re still finding it hard to make a choice, you might find the best option is to visit each place in person. Although it may eat into your budget and make take some time, you want to be sure you have the best impression of each location.

Think About Getting Your Visa Early
If you’re travelling to a country where you need to get a visa in order to work and live, you need to apply as soon as you possibly can. The best thing to do is make your appointment as soon as you know where you are moving to, as that is the only way to ensure you leave yourself enough contingency time. For guidance when it comes to applying for a visa, you can visit this site here. 

Look For Potential Jobs Before You Leave 
Another great thing to do if you know where you’re going to be moving to is to start looking for jobs. Depending on how long you have until you move, you may find that applying before you arrive is the best way to ensure you start your job as soon as you possibly can. If you are lucky, you may find that places are more than happy to interview you over Skype. Alternatively, you could always fly out to your new location for a couple of days to attend interviews. Not only will it give you a chance to get used to the area you’re going to be living in, but you may have the chance to secure work before you even step foot on the plane.

If you’re planning on having a couple of months to adjust before you start your job, you might want to think about research the types of jobs available to you in the meantime. Although you won’t be able to apply for anything, it will give you a clear idea about the salaries and positions that are available to you. After all, you need to be certain you’re making the right choice.

Find Temporary Accommodation For When You Arrive 
If you don’t plan on looking for permanent accommodation right away, finding a temporary place to live is important. Depending on where you’re moving to you may find that accommodation is much cheaper than your home country, however, it is still important to be aware of whether or not you’re getting a good deal. For an example of a great deal, you can view these Setia Alam houses here.

Let Your Friends And Family Know As Soon As Your Plans Are In Place 
One of the hardest things to do when you’re moving to a new country is to tell your friends and family that you’re leaving. Although they will be happy for you, it can be hard to accept that you’re going to be on the other side of the world. The best thing to do is to tell everyone as soon as you know for certain that you’re moving. If you want to involve them in the process of moving, you might want to consider telling them a little earlier.

Pack Lightly, You Don’t Need To Take Everything With You 
When it comes to packing for your big move you need to remember that you don’t have to take everything with you. You’re going to be able to find the essentials once you arrive in your new home, so don’t overpack.

Go To Events And Join Networking Groups To Make Friends 
If you think you’re going to struggle when it comes to making new friends, consider going to events and joining networking groups. The best thing you can do is find people that have a common interest, making clubs and groups one of the most effective ways to meet people in a new country. If you’re lucky, you may find a another expat just like you.

Most Importantly, Enjoy Yourself 
Finally, you need to be sure you’re going to enjoy the experience! Moving to a new country can be stressful and emotional, so you need to be sure you are making the right choice mentally.

Do you want to move abroad? What do you need to think about to ensure your move goes as smoothly as it possibly can? Let me know in the comments section below.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

How to Encourage Creativity in your Children

There are so many benefits to your children being creative, and I think the most important one is that it's a great way for them to be able to express themselves. This can have a hugely positive effect on a person’s life; it helps develop a good, strong sense of confidence, and creating or engaging in something expressive from time to time is great for your mental health. In this post I'm going to share some of the best ways that you can hope to foster creativity in your children.

Understand It’s Already There 
Kids are already creative; they already have a creativity that they need to bring out - it’s not a case of trying to force a quality they don’t have. Everyone has the ability to be creative in some way or another, although some people do seem to be more in tune with it naturally than others. By understanding that it is something that's already there and not trying to make them do something they’re not interested in, you will just need to provide the space in which they can express themselves.

Designate a Creative Space At Home 
One of the surest ways to ensure that your child gets creating is to designate a space just for that at home. If there is somewhere that your child knows they can always go to in order to start creating something, then they will be much more likely to do it, and will find it easier to make an actual habit out of it. My kids are lucky because we have the cabin which we built exactly for that purpose - it's full of all the art and craft supplies they could possibly want and I encourage them to use this space whenever they want to.

Keep It Simple 
It helps to understand the psychological side of creativity if you want to be the parent of a particularly creative child. Psychologists argue that you can make creativity more likely by keeping it simple, as it is the simplicity and fun of it that children really enjoy, and that is what leads to a much more creative outlook in general. That means playing little creative games with your child and ensuring that they are able to do so themselves. Activities which are kept simple are more likely to stick with them, and to allow their imagination to run wild in the way that you would probably hope too.

Find A Club 
If they start to express a real, genuine interest in one particular art, craft or activity, then you might want to seek out a local club for that exact act, so that you can start to encourage them much further in their newfound creative output. That can really be just about anything, ranging from painting and drawing classes to allowing them to join the Royal Academy of Dance and express themselves in that way. Similarly, if you think they might want to learn an instrument, there is nothing wrong with finding them a teacher or a local school band to play in, to see whether that is suitable for them. You might be surprised to discover there is one thing that your child seems to just naturally adore, and that is what you should ideally be focusing on most of all to encourage their creativity strongly.

Ask Questions 
When your children do start creating things, it’s important that you spend some time with them engaging with them about their creations. Ask them loads of questions about their creations and see what they say about them. Although at first they might not be able to say much, this process will actually prove hugely important for encouraging them to learn how to think about creativity, in a way which will help them to improve it in the future. By asking them more and more complex questions as they get older, you will be aiding and participating in their development as a creative individual, and that is one of the most important things you can possibly do.

Be A Role Model 
As with anything, you can encourage your child by actively being a good role model in that area for them. If they are getting frustrated with not being able to draw, show them how you used to think that too, until you realized it was just a matter of practice. These stories and the way that you place yourself in their minds really make a difference to how they are going to approach their creativity, and your goal basically should be to encourage them to develop a confidence which will allow them to try their hand at everything, even if they don’t always succeed in the way that they would like. You want to make sure that they at least feel good trying something out, even if it means that they are going to fail occasionally. In fact, learning to fail might be one of the most important lessons there are in life, as it is from creative failures that creative splendours usually arise like a phoenix.

Work With Materials 
One good way to encourage a practical artistry in your children is to take a material or an art supply of some kind and challenge them to come up with a number of different potential uses for that material. The process of doing so is one of the best creative things that a mind can do, and if you can start your children doing this early on, you will find that you are really helping them to develop their creative sense well. The more ideas they can come up with for a particular material, the more that they are exercising their creative muscle, and that is absolutely something that they are going to find useful in later life in a variety of settings, not least anything that they need to do which might be seen as creative.

Allow Them Free Time 
Much of a person’s best creative work arises from their time spent alone, and that’s why you should aim to allow your children to have plenty of free time by themselves if you want them to be more creative in general. Actually the process of being alone from time to time is a very important one, and one that remains important throughout life for a number of reasons.

Allow For Messiness 
Creativity shines when you are allowed to forget about the normal rules for a while. That doesn’t mean you should have no rules - but you should allow for some messiness during those times you have specifically set aside for being creative. By allowing your children to be messy, they will be much more likely to freely create, and that produces better work and is more enjoyable than having to literally colour in the lines all the time. Colouring in the lines in a useful skill, but so is being able to know what to do with the space outside of the lines - and in many cases, that is where the real creativity seems to lie.

Celebrate Creativity 
Finally, if you raise your children in a household where they see you actively and openly celebrating creativity every day, they are only ever going to assume that it is something to be cherished, admired, and practised. That will make for more creative children, which will in turn bring about many different benefits throughout their life. Celebrating creativity will show them that it is okay to express themselves as they wish, and there are few things more important than that.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Fun Tips For Getting Your Kids Into DIY

Last month a fluffy little piece of news did the rounds about how millennials have terrible DIY skills in comparison to their baby-boomer parents who learned their craft from their own parents, the “make do and mend” generation. A number of articles did the rounds in digital media, scathing millennial Dads (curiously, there was no mention of Mums) for not owning a cordless drill or a stepladder or being able to carry out basic home and vehicle maintenance. The articles all cited the same source; a survey from alarm.com. Needless to say, it was shared, discussed and criticised on social media in what has become the 21st century news cycle. Many millennials say they’ve never had the chance to practice their DIY skills because for their generation, owning their own property is an unattainable pipe dream.

Still, while the articles themselves admit that they should be taken with a grain of salt, they got many parents thinking about the practical skills they need to teach their children. After all, we all want our kids to grow up as independent and self-reliant as possible. With that in mind, here are some fun and engaging ways to get even the youngest of kids into DIY and set them on the path to independence

Choose a project that will benefit them 
Kids can struggle to engage with tasks if they don’t understand the point of it or what they stand to gain from it. With this in mind, choose one that benefits them. This might be making changes to their bedroom like putting up shelves or sewing a new blanket. It could be constructing a fun piece of furniture or even painting and decorating their bedroom in the colour of their choice.

This will help them to understand how building their skills can help them to realise what they see in their imaginations.

Let them get their hands dirty 
99.9% of the time, we do what we can to avoid our kids getting dirty. After all, the last thing we need is to spend half an hour cleaning mucky hand prints off the curtains or hand washing muck-splattered delicates.

DIY allows kids the opportunity to get their hands dirty for a good cause, so let them go for it.

Teach them to use tools 
From a kid’s perspective, tools are just toys for grownups. And, let’s be honest, they kind of are. But instead of letting young kids play with pretend tools rendered in soft plastic, let them get a feel for the real thing. Of course, we don’t recommend letting your four year old go crazy with the Black & Decker drill. But they should at least be taught the rudiments of how to use tools properly and safely. 

Let them know, there’s no shame in deferring to an expert 
Even the most confident and assured DIYer knows when it’s best to defer to an expert. There are some circumstances where attempting a job yourself could either do more damage than good or even be dangerous. Kids need to know when it’s the right time to call the folks at Drainboss, or your local roofer or electrician. It’s perhaps the surest form of accident prevention.

Start to sow the seeds of skill building now, and you can help ensure that your kids grow up as independent problem solvers who won’t get lambasted by older generations on social media (whatever that’ll look like in 25 years).

Monday, 24 June 2019

STYLE // Birkenstocks & Socks?

This time last year we were a month into our epic summer heatwave.

Today I've been working at my kitchen table with the heating on full blast and my dressing gown on over my clothes.

Earlier this year, when we had those few days of freakishly warm February weather, I treated myself to a pair of Birkenstocks. I'd wanted some since the end of last summer and seeing as they're a little on the pricey side I figured I'd do well to get them at the beginning of spring to make sure I got the most wear out of them. I must have angered the weather gods with my presumptuousness because now its nearly the end of June and I've only been able to wear them twice!

I'm crossing my fingers that the current weather reports are right (for once) and that this never ending rain will stop and the temperature will reach the 20s by July. With that in mind, I've been very prepared and have been putting together heaps of summer outfits that will go with my trusty new Birks. They're easy to wear, incredibly comfortable (so perfect if you do a lot of walking or are on your feet a lot, like me) and look great with the simplest of outfits... I've been thinking about loose fitting jeans or denim cut offs and crisp white shirts, lightweight linen overalls with the legs rolled up, and short black t-shirt dresses. Accessorise with a pair of oversized sunnies, gold hoop earrings and a straw bag and you're good to go.

You can check out my Birkenstock Style Pinterest board for more inspiration here:

In the meantime, while the weather's still a little on the chilly side, is it acceptable to wear socks with Birkenstocks?

Keep Kids Active: 5 Ways to Get Them Moving More

We hear over and over from health professionals that we all need to be moving more- but it really is so beneficial for people of all ages. For children, an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity will help them to burn off energy and give them the stimulation they need, and if you can get involved as much as possible then it will do wonders for your health too! But what exactly can you do to get kids up and moving more? Here are some ideas.

Limit screen time 
Too much time sat on screens such as phones, tablets, computers and tvs is one of the reasons that kids are less active than they used to be. It’s not to say you need to ban these things altogether since that’s not realistic, but just be sure to limit their usage. There’s nothing wrong with a family movie night or a rainy day sat indoors playing on the computer from time to time, but it shouldn’t replace exercise or socialising in real life. There are apps you can install which give you parental controls meaning you can disconnect the internet when needed, or you could resort to unplugging the wifi if you need to.

Make exercise fun 
Exercise for kids never has to feel like a chore. Since they’re so naturally energetic and curious when it comes to learning new things, there’s so much you can do to make it a genuinely enjoyable experience. Go to a trampolining park or hire a bouncy castle one weekend and let them burn off energy as they bounce. Have a water fight on a hot day and chase each other around with the hose. Go on family bike rides, or nature walks. You can print activity sheets from sites like Pinterest to grab their interest further. Everything can be a game when you’re young, so utilise this mindset and really have fun with it. Think about silly competitions like who can hop for the longest on one foot to who can score the most goals with the football at the park. Even who can pull the most weeds out in the garden (it helps you out too!) Get creative and see the world through a child’s eyes again.

Work exercise into your routine 
Kids are very adaptable, and if you make something part of their everyday routine then it becomes normal to them. Instead of driving to school or the shops, make it a tradition to walk- it’s a chance to chat to your child as you go. At the weekends, go on days out that involve a lot of walking and activity, and set time aside each day for fun play such as out in the garden or at the park. Make it so integrated to your routine that you’re all up and moving around without even thinking about it.

Try lots of new things 
There are so many different kinds of sports and activities that kids can get involved in. Many they will enjoy but some they won’t. While kids often need a bit of a push at times to stay committed to a hobby, know when they’re really not enjoying it and try something else instead. It can be tempting as a parent to sign them up to a new class with the hopes they’ll become a superstar in the skill but it’s not always meant to be. If they’re not enjoying martial arts, you could try a team sport like rugby or football. If they’re not a fan of gymnastics, maybe they’ll enjoy dance better? Giving them the opportunity to try out lots of different classes and skills helps them to understand what kinds of activities they like and want to stick with. As time goes on and they improve, they could get involved in tournaments, sports tours and more. But if it turns out that they’re really not enjoying one particular thing then forcing them isn’t the best option.

Be a role model 
Parents who are fit and active are much more likely to have fit and active children. Be a role model, let kids see you exercising and having fun it could be anything from a trampette in the garden to skipping, following exercise DVDs or going out running and biking. In time, they will want to follow the example you have set.

Friday, 21 June 2019

FAMILY // First Steps Towards Independence

Watching your family grow and gain independence is both a rewarding and terrifying experience. You want your children to learn, think and act for themselves, making great decisions and experiencing all that life has to offer, but at the same time you’re terrified to let them make mistakes, get hurt and learn hard lessons from those bad times.

While childhood is fleeting it doesn’t mean you need to let go of the reins completely; a gradual move towards independence is the best way, one step at a time. In this article I've explored some ideas of how to instil independence in your child, while at the same time offering a safety net to catch them should they fall.

Set Clear Boundaries 
Your child wants to walk to the shops or school by themselves? It might not be an unreasonable request but you need to let them know what’s required of them in order to let that happen. These first steps are all built on trust, trust on both sides. You need to make sure you can trust them to follow the basic rules of road safety, not to talk to strangers and so on. If you feel your child is mature enough and ready, then let them.

If you think another six months would be preferable, then that’s fine too. Make your boundaries clear for each adventurous step they take. Yes they can walk to school but only with one or two friends and never on their own. Yes they can go to the shops for you but they need to cross at the pedestrian crossing and not chance the busy road.

Be Consistent 
Your child will grow in confidence when they know how you react, time and time again. Your yes and no is to be believed first time and no amount of wheedling will get you to change your mind. A confident, secure child will mimic your straightforward approach and allow you to trust them with an honest response when they ask to push boundaries a little further.

Use technology 
While childhood experts regularly warn parents about the danger of letting children have too much screen time, there are times when technology provides a level of safety that you just can’t get from anywhere else.

When, for example, your older child is meeting friends regularly you might want to buy a family phone tracker so you’ll be able to make sure your child is where they say are and be able to get to them quickly, should there be a problem. Not just for children, the phone tracker is also great for when you’re working late or travelling and want your family to know your progress.

For children given their own phones for the first time, you’ll be able to install smart apps that send you a notification every time your child hops online and attempts to open up a web page. You’ll be able to refuse access if you find the page inappropriate. By allowing supervised access, your child will relish the freedom of having a phone while also knowing they are being cared for by you.

Get Them Involved 
For children to feel they have a voice and that their voice is valid within their family, they need to be heard and involved. This might mean something simple like helping you plan the week’s meals. It might also mean discussing where to go on holiday or what they would do about a situation where you work.

It’s not enough though to just listen, to validate your child you will need to act on some of the decisions they make. Knowing you trust them to make the right call is a sure fire way of building independence and confidence into your child.

Actively Build Resilience
As tempting as it is to act as a helicopter parent, in the long term it does your child no good. They will have to learn how to deal with difficult people and difficult situations in life, so learning how to do that from a younger age is beneficial.

Of course, this learning curve must be age appropriate and you should always step in for something as serious as online bullying for example. But where possible try not to solve your child’s problems, instead have them suggest strategies to you and run through some role play situations.

If they can trust themselves to find solutions then they’ll draw on that skill as they grow older. It’s an investment well worth making at a young age.

Learn With Your Child 
While you are clearly the adult and you do make the rules, listening to new ideas and new ways of doing things is going to help both your relationship with your child but also encourage them to explore new ideas.

Yes, it might not work out but showing your child that it’s ok to try and fail is a valuable life lesson. Fear of failure very often leaves children and adults afraid to even try in the first place, so demonstrating that there is value in learning from failure is helpful. If their plans work out then you also have the benefit of having learnt and tried something new.

Watching your baby try out walking for the first time, exploring their environment and growing into a young adult, is an emotional rollercoaster. Without letting them try and fail, that resilience that has become a crucial part of life will be lost, so loose the reins a little and let them take their first steps towards independence.

You’re not letting go completely, this is a phased period of transition but letting them see you trust them will produce a confident young person who knows they always have you to fall back on should they hit any bumps along the way.

Take a deep breath and start saying yes as your baby grows towards adulthood and give them the chance to spread their wings and explore the world as confident, secure members of society.


Thursday, 13 June 2019


Everyone knows that festival season is the highlight of our year. As soon as the sun comes out and the bands start playing al fresco we are there with bells (and glitter) on!

This year we'll be visiting a new festival to add and I'm ridiculously excited about it. On 19th July we will be making our way to Nozstock as one of their ambassadors along with our blogging pals from RocknRollerBaby, Mummy Endeavours, Mummy Matters and That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles.

It might be our first year going but it's the 21st anniversary of this independent, family run festival set on a beautiful working farm in Herefordshire and I can't wait to go to a small, gloriously eccentric festival, that's nothing like the other big, commercial events happening across the UK this summer.

There are lots of things I'm looking forward to experiencing - the theme is The Wizard of Noz, and I'm assuming that's the green light for a spot of fancy dress (it goes without saying we'll be dressing up either way). The line up is also incredible - I'm talking Soul 2 Soul, The Skatalites, Sleaford Mods and a DJ set from Rudimental plus many, many, many more.

Something else that I know is going to be brilliant is the Kids Wonderland - workshops and dancing and yoga and crafting and storytelling - everything a child could ever wish for, and the best thing is that everything is free (everything a parent could ever wish for). Yes once you're in, there's no hidden extra costs. No "please can I have £5 to have my face painted" or "please can I have £3 for a go on the helter skelter".    

Onto the more serious stuff, I'm really excited that Nozstock are part of the Association of Independent Festival’s Drastic on Plastic campaign and aims to eliminate single use plastics at their events by 2021. Nozstock also work closely with gocarshare to encourage car sharing to the site, promote the love your tent campaign to stop tents being abandoned at festivals and also support the grown in Britain ethos when sourcing their wood. 2019 is going to be the first year that there's a solar powered stage on site (in the craft area). On top of all that, Nozstock are working with Energy Revolution, a not-for-profit organisation that invests all donations into generating clean, renewable energy. You can use a calculator on the booking page to work out the impact of your travel to the festival and add a donation to your payment replace and balance it (my car travelling from Haslemere will release approximately 40kg of carbon into the environment so it was recommended that I donate £2).

I can't wait to spend a weekend relaxing, drinking rum in the afternoon, listening to music, letting the kids run wild and hanging out with our favourite blogging buddies. That's what festivals are all about if you ask me. And I think I'm on totally the same wavelength as Noz, Rob and Ella, the organisers, who I was lucky enough to have a chance to ask a few questions last month!

Noz, Did you ever imagine Nozstock would grow to become the hugely successful festival it is today?

No, I never did! It’s still incredible really to think of how far we have all come. Also it depends on how you measure success, too. For me it’s seeing everyone having a fantastic time at the festival, bringing some brilliant bands and DJs to the farm and trying to stay true to our roots. We have always shied away from advertising, drowning the site in hoardings etc.

Noz, How do you manage to keep that small, rural party atmosphere which Nozstock is renowned for?

We have always stuck to our principals and what we believe in. Festival promoting is never really easy, yet we have got a great team, from the family through to everyone who helps make Nozstock wat it is, and a lot of that comes from the festival’s intimacy. The farm itself is pretty small really, there’s loads going on across a compact site, and again that creates the sense of it just being a lovely small-ish party. We are independent as well, which means a lot to us, so the whole festival is on us really, all of the time. We want the festival to feel like one big family. It’s a great mix of people from across the UK.

Ella, Has the way you think and organise the festival changed since having your children?

Absolutely. If anything having my kids has made the festival better. Knowing now what it's like to actually have a family and the practicalities of that (not to mention the 17 bags you seem to cart everywhere you go!) has made me much more aware of what families really want, not just in terms of entertainment, obviously we want to keep the children busy throughout the day, but to make everything as smooth as possible. The experience of camping and having everything you need for the weekend. That's why we have a breastfeeding space now, a changing mat and a bottle warming service. Little tweaks like that which mean a little bit less for parents to pack into the car but can make a big difference once they are on site. We have always allowed 12 and unders to come to the festival for free, but it's reinforced to me how important it is to keep all activities free and make sure families don't foot the bill for festivals. Once you have paid for your ticket that's it. No more hidden extras if your child wants to get involved. The older my girls get the more I realise where we can develop and what families would appreciate. We have some teenage focused workshops this year including a graffiti workshop and a beat box workshop, plus some smaller kiddie sized toilets in family camping. Something I'm just beginning to realise are a godsend!

Rob, as a family you must be incredibly proud of what you have achieved, are there any standout highlight/s over the years?

For me growing up with a group of open minded and talented people has made me the man I’ve become. We were so lucky to have such a vibrant experience right on our doorstep repeated every year, from Ella and I being youngsters really all the way to the present.  Of course we had no idea of what a humble BBQ in our backyard would become. Long may it continue.  
Ella, what’s your favourite act that’s ever played at Nozstock and why?
It’s hard to pick just one! A personal favourite for me would always be Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer because I’m a huge fan. But for the festival overall I think the first year Andy C played will always be a special memory. Partly because he was late and had to get petrol off a local to arrive here (local just happened to be a big fan and couldn’t believe who was on his doorstep!) but also because having Andy C was so exciting for the whole crew. It was the first time we felt like a ‘proper festival’ like we had really achieved what we had been working towards for years and had finally ‘made it’ as a legitimate boutique festival who could attract that level of artist.
Nozstock runs from Thursday 18th – Sunday 21st July 2019. It's £135 for an adult weekend ticket, 
- kids under 12 are free - and that includes all kids activities while you're there! 

For full festival info and to book tickets go to: www.nozstock.comI currently have a giveaway for a family ticket over on my instagram - check it out here.

We have received complimentary tickets in exchange for this post and a review after the event. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

How to Transform Your Conservatory into a Year-Round Room

Modern day conservatories are a lot different to how they used to be. They’re designed to be warmer, offer great sound reduction properties, and there’s a lot of additional features you can add to improve their comfort. While they were once only really suitable to be used during the hot summer months, these days they can easily be used all year-round.

If you’d like to transform your conservatory into a year-round room, here are a few suggestions of how to do it.

Ensure it has top quality windows 
One of the most crucial parts of modern conservatory design is the windows. Ideally, you’ll want to invest in double, or even triple glazed windows. This will provide fantastic sound reduction properties, as well as help to insulate the room, keeping it warmer during winter. You’ll also be able to open the windows if it gets too hot in the summer.

While single glazing may be cheaper, it’s not going to offer the same level of quiet and comfort as double or triple glazing. You could even consider adding a skylight which can be opened in the summer too, allowing maximum light into the conservatory.

Consider adding underfloor heating 
Even with insulation and triple-glazed windows, your conservatory is still going to get cold in the winter months. While it is possible to add radiators, underfloor heating is a much better solution. You can use it on those chillier days, ensuring you can enjoy the conservatory no matter what time of year it is.

If you’re worried about budget, you could always use portable heaters instead. However, you do need to keep an eye on portable heaters to ensure they don’t pose a fire risk.

Add blinds to the roof and windows 
While adding lots of windows is great, it can cause issues with visibility during the summer. The sun will easily reflect off the glass into your eyes, making it difficult to read or watch TV in the conservatory so it’s a good idea to add blinds to the roof and windows. You can pick up affordable yet stylish conservatory blinds, that help to block out the sun when needed, and also add privacy to the conservatory.

It’s really not as hard as you might think to turn your conservatory into a room that can be enjoyed all year round. These are some of the best ways to ensure you can comfortably use the conservatory no matter what the weather.


Monday, 10 June 2019

Summer Jewellery Must-Haves

As we all know, it's jewellery that completes an outfit. You can even turn the simplest of outfits into something super dressy with the right pieces; I'm a fan of wearing a very plain, one colour dress or jumpsuit for ease, but then teaming it with a couple of striking cocktail rings and a gold chain or bracelet to dress it up a bit and give the impression I've made a real effort (when you all know its a mad rush in the morning and I don't have the time to think about anything except getting the kids off to school on time).

Of course, when the summer season arrives, fashion trends change. This year people even have opinions on summer drinks, so it’s no surprise that jewellery options are no exception! It's all about shells, layering and logos this year, although there some more traditional styles have been seen on the catwalk too.

Here are some of this year's summer jewellery must-haves to style and enhance your wardrobe.

Hoop earrings 
Hoop earrings come in an array of different sizes and styles; some are incredible elegant, others a bit more bold, but all are pretty easy and comfortable to wear. They draw attention to your face, catch the light perfectly, and overall celebrate your beauty in ways other jewellery pieces can’t. They can also be worn casually or formally, making them compatible with lots of different outfits you might throw together. Got your wellies on in the fields? Hoop earrings will work! Birthday dinner with the girls? Whip them out again! You simply can’t go wrong, especially if you pick up your own set from F Hinds, with quality and colour being in no short supply!

Medallion necklace 
I absolutely love a necklace, and wear more than one most days. Medallion necklaces are a trend that has been around for a few summers now, and it’s easy to see why. They're very eye catching and can look a lot more expensive than they really are. They often look like a precious artefact rather than something picked up from a shop, and they look especially great when layered with other chains and pendants.

Beaded stretch bracelet 
The beaded stretch bracelet has been go-to summer jewellery for what feels like an age. They’re causal, light to wear, colourful, varied in design, and genuinely just fun to wear and see! Another big plus is that they’re very affordable and can even be homemade easily enough.

Typically, summer jewellery is light, pretty, interesting to look at and wearable by all. There’s no need to wear tons of diamonds and gems – go for something kooky and casual, and you’ll be more in keeping with this season’s trends!


Friday, 7 June 2019

Fantastic facts about Warner Brother Studio Tours

When it comes to the magic of cinema, it doesn’t get much better than Harry Potter. Transferring JK Rowling's incredible books to the big screen has created the most successful film series of all time. Luckily, once filming wrapped, many of the sets, props and costumes were saved, so today fans from all over the world can experience the magic of the eight films.

As we delve into the the history of Warner Brothers Studio Tour, we’ll unearth the facts about this award-winning tour that will inspire even the most die-hard Muggle.

Iconic sets faithfully recreated 
One of the most fascinating aspects of the films is the 588 sets created in the 10 years of production. Many of these, you can see on the tour. The Great Hall, which seats more than 400 children, is impressively recreated. Check out the intricate detail and the wall-mounted flambeaux that still work. The house-point counter contains tens of thousands of Indian glass beads and allegedly caused a national bead shortage. And the biggest surprise of all is the ceiling. Look closely and you’ll realise there isn’t one – just a small model with some digital trickery.

A world of props 
There’s a host of amazing props on the tour. The cupboard under the stairs, where the story of Harry Potter begins, is filled with treasures from his life before Hogwarts, many taken from the set designer’s own basement. Spot Harry’s spectacles on the side, just one of the 160 pairs he used during film making. You’ll find more than 900 peculiar jars and bottles of ingredients in the potions classroom. They’re filled with all kinds of dried plants, herbs, bones, even plastic animal toys from Regents’ Park Zoo gift shop. And, of course, no wizard is complete without a wand, and you’ll see all the main characters’ wands magnificently displayed here.

Finding your own Potter magic 
Immerse yourself in the magic, becoming a champion Quidditch seeker. There are 15 golden snitches hidden in the studios, often in the most unlikely of places. While you’re here, grab the chance to learn wand moves from an expert. You’ll soon be feeling like a true wizard before taking your OWL (Ordinary Wizarding Level).

Find out the secret behind green-screen technology used in all the films, climbing aboard your very own Nimbus 2000 or Firebolt and soaring over the Hogwarts Express, the River Thames and the streets of London just like the cast did during filming. Armed with your complimentary activity passport collecting stamps at key points, such as Platform 9¾ and Gringotts Bank, you’ll soon feel part of the action.

Get close to the people and the costumes 
Personally welcoming you to the tour are the three main stars of the show in a short film, and many of their costumes are on display. Hermione’s iconic Yule Ball gown took three months to create, using 12 metres of chiffon. Ron Weasley’s outfit, on the other hand, was made from old carpet fabric! The iconic pointed hat worn by the students of Beauxbatons was designed and produced by renowned milliner Philip Treacy. Cast and crew feature heavily on the tour. All the boxes in Ollivander’s are labelled, and even the magical wizard portraits lining the walls of Hogwarts are paintings of those who worked on the films, as a thank-you for their hard work. 

Discover the secret behind the effects 
See animatronic versions of all the key characters. Taking inspiration from the Golden eagle, Buckbeak the Hippogriff was painstakingly created feather by feather. Similarly, each of Aragog’s hairs – created by broom bristles to pieces of coconut – were inserted by hand using a special needle, across the model's 18-foot legspan.

Many characters, from Gringotts Goblins to Hagrid, used prosthetics. Hagrid's prosthetic head is unnervingly real and was used whenever Hagrid needed to look really tall. And the fantastic model of Hogwarts at the end of the tour really is something to be seen. A team of 86 artists took 74 years of work hours to create it. Walk around it and you’ll really appreciate the level of breathtaking detail used to such a great effect on screen.

Wizardly refreshments 
After all that, relax with the film’s famous drink, Butterbeer. This popular beverage was served at numerous locations in the wizarding world, with Hogwarts students often buying it in Hogsmeade. For us mere mortals, this is one of only three places in the world we can drink it. Savour its sweet, butterscotchy taste served in decorative tankards that you can take home.

Don’t miss the amazing graphic design of all the sweets and tricks from Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Taste the best and worst of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans here, too. You’ve every taste, including some you definitely wouldn’t want to try, such as earwax and rotten egg.

You visit to Warner Bros Studios Tour really is a magical treat for the senses, loaded with fascinating experiences you'll never forget.


Tuesday, 28 May 2019

HOME // A Parent’s Guide To Home Renovation

Whether you’re moving house or just redecorating, building work - and other any renovation jobs - can be difficult to complete hassle-free at the best of times. When you throw in a few crazy, screaming children into the mix, it can become an even more impossible task to get done. Unfortunately your home can’t fix or improve itself, so here are a few helpful tips and tricks that will set you on the right road to creating a beautiful family home without losing the will to live!

Contact The Professionals 
You may think your DIY skills are up to carrying out some (or all!) of the work on your own, but it's probably unlikely you can do everything yourself unless you've had some kind of formal training or previous experience. Getting a professional do the more difficult tasks will keep you and your family out of harm’s way, and ensure that the job is done to a better quality or standard than if you would have watched a video online and attempted to do it yourself. If you don't believe you have the relevant experience to have the right opinion on the more important matter, it’s better to contact a project manager at a place like the The Stable Workshop, as they can take over all responsibilities and arrange every thing on your behalf. Utilising more professional services may cost you a little extra than giving it a go yourself, but it will ensure you and your family have the most beautiful home possible, and that you’re safe and secure when throughout the whole process, from the initial build to the years and years that follow.

Explain Every Detail 
Depending on the age of your little ones, the renovations taking place harbour the potential of making them frightened or distressed. Especially with the unfamiliar sounds and equipment, it can be a very difficult time for more sensitive children and the home then becomes a negative environment. To avoid this happening, explain each step of your decoration or renovation process to your children in as much detail as you can in the simplest of terms, so you can answer any of their questions and get rid of the worries they may have. Introduce to them to any builders or tradesmen that will be carrying out any work whilst they’re in the house so they feel more at ease, as they’re able to put the familiar face in front of the banging hammer sounds and it will then seem less frightening.

Make It Safe 
One of the most important things to consider during your work is the safety of your children (and yourself too). There are so many dangers that can come with renovating your home, and it’s up to you to ensure your kids are always out of harm’s way. Make them aware of the risks in the house, including warning them against touching any electrical equipment or sharp tools. Tell them which areas are completely out of bounds, like any ladders or rooms that are being treated with chemicals or having floorboards changed. Encourage them to look out for one another, and practice safe playtime by not running around the house or making an excess of noise whilst any work is being done.

Fuel Their Inspiration 
It’s quite likely that your little ones will see the work being done in your home and want to take part somehow themselves. However, this isn’t always a safe or practical thing to do, so there are some more reasonable measures you can take to feed their curiosity. If your house is being painted or undergoing some other design related work, consider letting your kids loose in the garden with a big sheet of paper and some paint of their own. This way they will release their need to throw some colour around and the paint will land either on them or on the ground, rather than all over your beautiful new walls or flooring. If they’re attention is caught on a more practical task in the house, look for a mini toy version of the piece of equipment that is being used. They will really enjoy the present and may be inspired to pick up the skill in their future, and as a result of receiving the toy they will simply be more content whilst pottering around your house and mimicking the builders movements.

Ask For Their Input 
Of course there isn’t much point in asking a toddler for design advice, but your older children may actually have some good ideas about your renovation work. Children and young adults have a much wilder and more vivid imagination and sense of creativity than their parents, so it’s great to give them a chance to get their voices heard. Encourage them to get involved and show you their ideas, and remember that after all they do spend just as much time at home as you, so they need to be comfortable with the home environment as well. Mood boards are a brilliant way to be creative and will allow your kids to show you what they would like to include. By asking for their input you will make them feel more involved with the whole process, and by giving them some responsibility they will act more respectfully towards the work being done as they will be excited to see the final product that they helped to create.

Hopefully these tips will help you survive your home renovation, even with a house full of kids. You may not expect it, but involving your little ones in the process actually has the potential of relieving some of the stress of the experience. Let them get involved and enjoy it all together!


Thursday, 23 May 2019

HOME // A Colourful Kitchen On The Cheap

If you've ever tried to renovate or redecorate your kitchen, you'll know that it can be one of the most expensive rooms in a house to do. All those built-in units, appliances, and white good to deal with, and that's before you even get to the floors, walls and other decorative bits! When I moved into the cottage, I had a really tiny budget to work with when it came to installing an entire fully functioning kitchen - and today I'm going to share some workarounds that can help you create the kitchen of your dreams, a super colourful one in this case, without spending a fortune.

Get the basics right. 
Before you can start to decorate your kitchen space, you really need to get your basics sorted. This means that you need your sink picked out and plumbed in, as well as all the all appliances and white goods you will need. These items usually cost the most when it comes to budgeting for a new kitchen space, and that's why it's crucial to look for things like fridge freezer sales that can help you get the pieces you want and save you some money too. After all.... the more you save on the basics, the more you have to spend on the fun stuff!

Try freestanding units. 
Something I did to save money when fitting my kitchen was to buy freestanding units rather than a traditional, fully fitted kitchen. Even new these often work out cheaper than a built in kitchen, but if the cost is a priority then going for vintage and retro preloved pieces can save you a fortune. Older pieces often don't come in the best condition, but this does provide you with the perfect excuse to paint such units a range of gorgeous colours and really make your mark on your kitchen (and save money at the same time).

DIY your textiles. 
I actually can't believe how much a decent tea towel in a funky design cost these days! It's crazy, and that's without getting coordinating oven gloves, curtains, or blinds and the like. Its a good job I'm a fan of mis-matched fabrics in the kitchen, and I'm not fussed about getting involved in a bit of DIY either. Making your own tea towels out of fabric scraps or vintage material is something I've done in the past and is much easier than you'd imagine, especially if you have access to a sewing machine (which I don't!!).


Thrift your decorative items.
Last but my no means least, when it comes to decorative items in the kitchen, there are two ways to save money.... firstly, buy practical items that are also decorative, so they fulfil a dual purpose while you only pay out once. Secondly, if you can get to a car boot sale, charity shop, or vintage store / junk shop to get these items, you can save a considerable amount of what they would cost new. Vintage pieces are often super colourful too, so they're a great way to inject a bit of personality into your kitchen. My favourite old stoneware jug came from a junk shop and only cost me 20p! The best thing about buying vintage is that they are likely to be one of a kind and there's very little chance of you seeing the same bits and pieces anywhere else!


Wednesday, 24 April 2019

STYLE // Perfect Footwear for April Showers

I don't think I've ever been as excited to see rain as I was this morning - because it meant I'd finally have the chance to properly road test my new Napton leather boots which the brilliant, family run outdoor clothing company, Rydale, very kindly sent to me earlier this month.

I love a pair of wellies. Living in the countryside they are an absolute essential when it comes to footwear. They have their uses all year round of course, but they really are perfect for this time of year, when you have zero idea what the weather is going to do each day and the chances are you'll find yourself caught in a rainstorm on a muddy track somewhere or another. I genuinely love the look of a floral dress, chunky knit, thick socks and a pair of wellies - think Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller wrapped up warm on a blustery beach in The Edge of Love. Bare legs and big boots has always been my favourite combo come spring.

I've worn the same pair of rubber wellingtons for almost a decade and, as much as I've loved them, they've always been a little too high on the calf for me, making it hard for me to sit down / bend my legs comfortably when I'm wearing them. They're also a bit of a pain to get off, especially when they're muddy. So I'm very pleased to announce that they have finally been washed and donated to the charity shop, and replaced by these beautiful, waterproof, leather knee high boots from Rydale.

They have full length, sturdy zips at the back making them much easier to get off than normal wellies, and they're lined with soft felt, so they're ridiculously cosy and comfortable too. They're certainly the nicest outdoor boots I've ever worn!

Aside from during the bank holiday heatwave, I've worn them pretty much constantly since they arrived. I've already said they're super comfy but today they encountered their first (torrential) April shower and I can happily confirm that they truly are waterproof too.

They retail at £99.95 and are available online here.

Thanks so much to Rydale for gifting me my pair!


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

DAYS OUT IN LONDON // Zog at the Rose Theatre, Kingston

And just like that, half term is over and the kids are back at school. Is it just me or do these holidays feel like they're getting shorter and shorter?

We had a brilliant week that was the perfect mix of lazy mornings at home and out-and-about fun; the highlight of which definitely had to be the press performance of Zog - the stage adaptation of the book by Julia Donaldson - at the Rose Theatre in Kingston (the stomping ground of my youth, no less - and what a joy it was to be back!).

We're regular kids theatre goers; I love watching the girls get immersed in the magic of a live stage show. There's something so special about seeing your favourite stories come to life in front of you, especially when there are real life people in it - and puppets, and lights, and music, and special effects.

Up until last week I would have said Stick Man was our favourite out of all the kids shows we'd seen (funnily enough, also a Freckle Production), but since seeing Zog, I think we might have a new entry at the top spot!

I'm not sure whether that's because I feel like its aimed at slightly older children than Stick Man is (which mine now are, at 6 and 9) or whether its because the musical score was written by none other than the legendary Johnny Flynn (more on him later) but it was utterly, utterly brilliant from start to finish.

We loved the puppetry, we loved the clever costume changes and we loved the simple but effective set. The cast were brilliant and engaging and hilarious, and the show had lots of audience participation which is always a winner. The girls and I all agreed that it was just a lovely, lovely show.

I realise lovely is a bit of a strange word to use in a theatre review but if you've read the book I think you'll agree that it's just the loveliest story about friendship - and this production of it has been put together perfectly. It's an ideal show for all the family; it kind of bridges the gap between really young kids theatre and stuff for tweens and I can't think of any other show that does the same.

As I already mentioned, the music was written by Johnny Flynn who is one of my favourite musicians of all time. It was brilliant, and must definitely be used as a selling point for any older family members that might be reluctant to go. In actual fact Johnny and his wife and family were sat in front of us at the press performance.... and I was completely and utterly star struck!

Zog is now on a six month tour around the UK - detailed listings here - and ticket prices start at just £12.50.

We invited to the Rose Theatre as guests of Freckle Productions in exchange for this review. All words are honest and my own.

Fancy production photographs courtesy of Helen Maybanks.
Photo of two ratbags in front of the Zog poster taken by me.
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