2019 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 12 September 2019

5 Ways To Help Your Kids Use Computers Safely

There’s no escaping the fact that kids these days want - and need - to use computers on a regular basis. As well as digital communications with their friends, tech plays a central role in their academic growth and also prepares them for the modern business world. Nevertheless, no parent wants to put their child in a potentially vulnerable position. Here are five simple steps to ensuring your tweens and teens are safe online.

#1. Help Them Play The Right Games 
Most kids will use their computers to play games. But some of the web-based titles can pose risks such as downloading viruses or being bullied by other players. Teach them how to play games on Mac through Stream and other platforms for far greater results. When your children are under 10, finding age-appropriate educational titles can be very useful too. When games actively support the development of key computer skills, the results are far greater. This can extend to programs that ease children into things like graphic design or music production.

#2. Find Alternatives To Social Media & Gaming 
Social media and gaming are the primary leisure activities enjoyed by youngsters on their computers and devices. However, these are the only options at their disposal. Whether it’s watching films on Amazon Prime, editing home videos, or another solution doesn’t matter. Mixing things up is a key step to helping children get the most out of their time on tech devices. They’ll develop various skills and passions rather than limiting themselves to one aspect.

#3. Monitor What They Do
As a parent, you have to place some trust in your child. Still, the dangers lurking on the internet are far too grand to ignore. Most broadband providers will offer parental controls. These allow you monitor what has been downloaded as well as activities. It’s even possible to have these developments sent to your smartphone as a notification, enabling real-time control even when you’re not at home. As a parent, this is arguably the best tool of all, not least for your peace of mind.

#4. Set A Computer Curfew 
The dangers of using computers aren’t limited to fraud, bullying, or bribery. Screen addiction has become a very common problem in modern society and harming children at younger ages than ever before. Therefore, it’s important to establish barriers at an early age too. Using computers right before bed can lead to damaged sleep patterns, so setting an early evening curfew is advised. The final hour or two before sleep should be dedicated to other tasks that help us prepare for bed. This could mean relaxing on the sofa, reading books or packing tomorrow’s school bag.

#5. Be In Control 
Letting your child use the computer is almost a necessity in modern life. However, this shouldn’t make you cave in to their demands. If you’re not comfortable with your child using Snapchat, don’t be afraid to say no. Your son or daughter needs to respect your decisions and rules while also feeling grateful for the computer time they are allowed. Only then will they truly maintain a positive relationship with computers and other forms of technology. Stay switched on at all times.


Friday, 6 September 2019

HOME // Five Easy Ways To Be More Comfortable In Your House

When it comes to your house, there’s nothing more important than feeling happy and comfortable. Here are some tips that will help you to feel just that in your house.

Fix Your Roof 
Winter isn’t that far away, which means that now is the time you need to check up on any home repairs and half-finished DIY projects, particularly on the outside of your home. If your roof has any missing slates or tiles, now is the time to repair those, before you get into the wetter and more windy months. Missing tiles can lead to leaks, which can be extortionately expensive to repair - and more than that, leaks can damage prized possessions and things with sentimental value. Water damage can also occur if your guttering is broken or if it’s full of old leaves and other debris. You can either get up on a ladder and check out that guttering yourself, or hire an expert to do it for you. If you don’t love heights, don’t be a hero - splash the cash and get in a roofer for your own peace of mind.

Invest In Your Bed 
If you don’t sleep well at night, it’s almost impossible to be happy during the day. Of course, there are times in your life when your sleep will be interrupted - particularly when you have a baby or young children - and if you’ve experienced that, then you’ll know that sleep deprivation can be incredibly difficult. If you suffer from poor sleeping or from insomnia, there are a few things you can do in your bedroom to try to help. First of all, invest in a white noise machine. This will cover up noises from outside - when garbage trucks come and rattle their way down your street, they won’t wake you up. It might also help if your partner has a snore that could blast its way through a wall. You should also invest in a pillow that supports your neck at the best angle for you. Everyone sleeps in a different way so you should experiment to try to find the best one that suits your body. If your pillow is wrong, you could get back aches and neck aches that can really affect you all through the day.

Make Sure Your Home Is Warm 
At this time of year, it’s particularly important to make sure that your home is warm. If you don’t have much insulation, now is the time to get down to your local hardware shop so that you can purchase some. It’s also a good time to get your boiler checked to make sure that it’s going to last you through winter. A cold shower might be bearable during the summer, just about, but during the winter it wouldn’t just ruin your day - you’d probably have to have a lie down in a dark room under a pile of blankets for at least a week afterwards. A wall heater might be an idea if your home heating system needs a revamp. You can time them to come on whenever you want them to, and they also don’t take up too much space. If you don’t have carpets on your floors, you might want to consider investing in a rug or two for your colder rooms. Not only will they be much more pleasant on the toes, but they’ll also prevent coldness from coming up through your floors. Finally, if your doors and windows are draughty, it’s time to get them repaired, or to invest in a hefty draught excluder to put next to the door so the cold air doesn’t come in.

Improve Your Home Security 
One of the best ways to feel comfortable anywhere is to know that you’re safe, which means it could be time to upgrade your home security. Naturally, the best way to do this is through a home alarm system. Some of them go off if your house is broken into, while others send messages to your phone to alert you to intruders. No matter which you choose, it’s a good idea to make sure that it’s obvious from the outside of your home that you have an alarm and a home security system. A lot of break-ins are opportunistic, so anything that deters a potential thief is a great idea. Likewise, make sure that you keep your windows and doors closed - although this will be a lot less of a challenge over the upcoming months than it was over the summer! Finally, it might be a good idea to be careful with your use of social media. Because a lot of burglaries are crimes of opportunity, potential thieves can stake out houses to find that opportunity, and a great way to advertise when your house is empty is online. Don’t post pictures of your holiday on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until you’re home. 

Declutter Your Space 
Finally, now is the time to start to declutter your space. It’s said that a tidy desk leads to a tidy mind, and that’s true of the entirety of your home. If you get home to mess and clutter, you’ll find it hard to relax in the evenings. This is particularly true in your bedroom - if you can see the shadows of heaps of unwashed clothes on the floor, how are you supposed to sleep soundly? Marie Kondo, the queen of tidying, suggests that you declutter your possessions by category instead of by room, because it means you don’t just transfer things you’re unsure about from one room to the next - so one day you’ll do your clothes, another day your books, and so on. Throw out everything - or donate everything - that doesn’t either serve a purpose or give you a sense of joy. If you find it hard to get rid of things, Kondo suggests that you say thank you to those items for their role in your life before discarding them.

Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to feel comfortable at home! Living in a neat, safe, warm house will give you all the comfort you need.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

HOME // Important Things To Consider When Moving

So, you’ve finally signed all the paperwork and have a moving in date for your big move to your new home but where do you start with all the planning? It can be really easy to get caught up in all the excitement of buying a home and forget about the moving aspect. Moving is well known as one of the most stressful things that you can do in your life so it's imperative you spend some time thinking about how to prepare for it in order to make it have as minimal stress as possible.

There are often areas of moving that people forget to think about or don’t focus on so let's have a look at some of the things you should make sure you’re planning in advance:

The Boxes 
You may think that it’s silly to think about the boxes however there is a lot to cover when it comes to thinking about boxes. From the boxes, you use to how you pack them there is a lot that can go wrong. Some at the things that you should be thinking about include:
Type Of Boxes- When it comes to thinking about the boxes you use, you want to make sure you are using robust boxes that are fit for purpose. The last thing you want is for your moving company to be lifting your valuable item for the bottom of the box to fall through. If you don't want to spend a fortune try using boxes from the supermarket as often these have already proven they can carry heavy stock.
Labelling- It’s really important that you think about labelling your boxes as you're packing. It’s often something that is forgotten and it can spell disaster at the other end of the move, how are you supposed to know which rooms the boxes belong in if you haven’t labelled them properly? It’s also a good idea to use indicators such as heavy, fragile, unpack first to give you an idea of what may be in the box and when to unpack them.
The Amount- Another thing to think about is the number of boxes you may need and the range of sizes, you're not going to need massive boxes as this can make it difficult to lift.

Arranging Storage And Movers 
These tend to go hand in hand together. You want to make sure that you’re are organizing all the finer details such as your storage requirements and arranging movers if you plan to use them within plenty of time. It’s no good packing all your stuff up and then realizing you could have done with a handy storage unit for the items that you're unsure will fit in your new home. The same applies to arrange a moving service, they will want to make sure that they are able to provide the correct and adequate service for your needs and sit down to sort of a plan of action for each end of the move, If you leave this to last minute you may find it difficult to secure a decent service.

These are only a few areas that you should be considering when moving, there are others. Do you have any that you can share in the comments section below?


Tuesday, 20 August 2019

INTERIORS // How To Update Your Home On A Budget

Is your house looking a bit tired? Do you want to give it a new lease of life? Updating your home can be expensive and can take forever (especially when you want to give your whole house a makeover). It can also feel like a never-ending cycle as by the time you’re on the last room, the first one you did needs doing again. So, what can you do to give your whole house a quick, cheap makeover in one go?

Refresh Your Rooms 
Give your drab, washed-out walls a burst of color and a new lease of life just by picking up a tin of paint and a brush. You don’t have to be a pro to re-paint your house but it can make your home look like a pro has been at work because of the power of a coat of paint: If you’re not sure what to do then have a look online for some DIY tutorials to make sure you get the best out of your colour and your brush. My walls are all white and I regularly give them a fresh coat to make them look super clean and bright.

Have A Move Around 
This is something I do regularly; moving furniture around can make your house look completely different. I usually take the opportunity to have a bit of a de-clutter at the same time. Rearrange each room, for a change and a new perspective, you can always move it back again or try a different position if you don’t like it, but every once in a while, it’s definitely worth doing.

If you don’t want to update your whole house and get brand new furniture, get a few bits and bobs to add to what you have already. I would also definitely recommend getting acquainted with your local antique shopnot only will you be able to pick up some great buys but antique furniture in modern interiors is on-trend right now. Also don’t forget about throws, rugs, cushions and wall art all of which can be purchased (or created!!) pretty cheaply and you can change them as often as you like.

Give Cabinets A New Finish 
As well as your walls, give your cabinets a bit of love. Either paint them an entirely new colour, which will transform your kitchen or bathroom, or just provide them with a bit of a finish and make them sparkle again.

Update Handles 
Handles on doors and cupboards may be subtle, but you’ll be surprised what a difference they make once you start changing them. Don’t forget the handle (and the knocker) on your front door too. 

Make It Sparkle 
Giving your home a good clean can make all the difference. Scrub floors, surfaces, and cabinets to make them look new again. Once you have done that if they still look old and tired then definitely update them even with a finish that can make them gleam again and protect them for that bit longer.


Friday, 16 August 2019

INTERIORS // Optimising Your Bedroom For Sleep

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in incorporating all your favourite decor ideas in a room as personal and cosy as the bedroom. However, you might find that it’s often easy to forget that the bedroom is a room with a purpose. It’s for sleeping (most of the time), yet rarely do we ask “is this design choice suitable for sleeping?” Well, it’s time to change that - and this post is all about optimising the sleepiness of your bedroom!

A clear bedroom is a clear mind 
A cluttered bedroom is more than just something of an eyesore. It legitimately has the effect of upping our stress levels a little. When we’re more stressed, our body tends to tense up and our mind becomes more active, making it harder for us to get to sleep. Ensuring an effective clean for the bedroom is, naturally, important. But we also choose clutter of our own creation, too. Finding a few finishing pieces for your bedroom is all well and good, but if it’s starting to feel a little claustrophobic, you might want to think against making any more decorative additions.

Breathe in that air 
The air quality of your bedroom matters a lot more than you think. You don’t have to be asthmatic or have allergies for dust, dander, and other allergens to get in the way of your life. The truth is that without effective cleaning, your bedroom is likely to be full of the stuff, because it tends to hide in the mattress. Vacuum your mattress at least once a month, so that you don’t worsen the air quality in the room every time you lie down. You may also want to consider getting yourself a dehumidifier to keep it cool and clean in the air. I'm also a sucker for a houseplant (or twelve) - peace lilies, devils ivy and philodendrons are three of my favourites, and all are known for their air purifying qualities. Poor air quality is known to make it harder to drift to sleep!

Switch up for the season 
It’s important to ensure that you’re always equipped with the bedclothes that are best suited to the season and the conditions within the bedroom. In the summer, moisture wicking, light fabrics like wool fill can help you stay cool and avoid being trapped in a sweaty, humid bed. In the winter, down might be a little more expensive, but it’s one of the warmest options around. Buying the best bedding to meet your needs, and ensuring that you have a selection, is going to drastically improve the quality of your sleep, especially in the hottest and the coldest of months.

Put your foot down on technology 
Some people simply aren’t going to listen this piece of advice. I don't mean to come across all holier than thou, but I've never had a TV in my bedroom and never will! We’re so tied to phones, PCs, and TVs these days that to many it’s only natural that they should have a screen or three in their bedroom. If you’re having trouble sleeping, however, then that could be precisely why. The blue light that’s emitted by modern electronic device screens is hugely disruptive to your sleep. Limiting your screen time so that you have none for up to 20 minutes before hitting the hay can help you drift off faster and have a less-interrupted sleep. For that reason, amongst others, you should try and keep the technology out of the bedroom. Try to remember that this zone is for sleep first and foremost. If you need to, put your phone on the opposite side of the room until you wake up.

Seal off your environment 
Some people are lighter sleepers than others. However, even if you can get to sleep with sirens wailing outside and flashlights being strobed in your face, those interruptions are still going to affect the quality of your sleep. You may sleep a whole 8 hours, but it might not be as restful. Trying to seal off the bedroom from outside noise and light is still the best strategy. Blackout blinds can help you shut off a dark room even when the light is outside. Soundproofing a room can be harder, but ensuring you have modern, double-glazed windows is a great start and you can use draft excluders to muffle sounds from within the home, as well.

The next time that you’re giving your bedroom a redesign or a spring clean, make sure that you try to make the changes that can greatly improve both the duration and quality of your sleep at night. Every aspect of your health, from energy levels to mood to weight management, will thank you for it.


INTERIORS // Clay Shell Style

Most interior design enthusiasts will already know what the current popular contemporary style is all about.... Plenty of neutrals around the house, a drenching of sheer white and lots of natural metals and glass. Another variation of this style is called the clay shell. As you can probably imagine, it's a more beach or stone oriented design for the decor where your whites are mixed with sand, rose gold and a subtle earth tone. You’re never too far away from being at the beach but also never too far away from being in an opulent villa home in the Meditteranean. It's a style that is classy, contemporary and above all else chic. Here are some suggestions for adding a shell clay interior to your home decor.


Soft stone tiling 
This may be out there for most people, but a living room in the clay shell style will be made out of soft stone. Soft sandstone tiles in a faux marble white or a pearl silver are fantastic choices. They allow the floor to be completely flat but because they are soft stone tiles, they don’t have sharp edges. The tiles should also be large so there aren’t that many gaps that you have to feel with your bare feet. These kinds of tiles are also easy to clean and they don’t stain easily. Cement tiles are also something you may want to consider as they are cheaper but look almost as good. Rather than polished, go with the matte finish on all the tiles so it's stays in that classic clay shell dullness.

A chevron of style 
The living and lounge rooms are the best rooms to demonstrate clay shell interiors. They're the most creative points of the home so you really can make some interesting choices in your decor decisions. For example look at these stylish drinks cabinets and sideboards, particularly the Cheron sideboard. Made by hand, this artisan craftsmanship has a natural feel, with a bleached mango wood and stylish chevron pattern. It also has a lot of storage space and can be used to stash albums, books, laptops, and iPads; sideboards are a great way to get rid of clutter and perfect that minimalist look.

A soft vase 
If you’re going to have a clay shell interior, you may as well have clay shell vase that symbolizes the entire theme. A handcrafted clay shell vase would be great as an ornament piece.

Not many people have heard of the clay shell style by name, but they have definitely seen it around. It's more subtle and softer than the postmodern contemporary of styles today.


Friday, 2 August 2019

FESTIVALS // Nozstock 2019

This time a fortnight ago we had just got back from our first ever Noztock festival. I may have finally caught up with all the post camping laundry, and the layer of glitter that covered EVERYTHING for the first few days after our return has just about disappeared, but the memories live on!

We've been festivalling as a family for seven summers now so I like to think of my self as a bit of a pro. I've mastered the art of solo parent camping trips; packing light is key, as is being chilled out and not worrying about itineraries or routines. That's one of the things I've grown to dislike about the bigger festivals we've frequented in the past - you pay a small fortune for tickets and want to get your money's worth so you really put yourself under pressure to see ALL the bands and visit every single area on site. Turns out that's not fun in the slightest, you're on holiday! You want to relax and enjoy yourself rather than racking up 30,000 steps a day traipsing all over a massive festival!

And that's exactly why I loved Nozstock so much. As a festival that started off as a party in the Nosworthy family's back garden, it's grown entirely organically and really does still feel like that small personal family gathering, despite selling every single one of its 5000 tickets this summer!

The girls and I were incredibly lucky this year; not only were we offered press tickets in order to be able to review this new (to us) festival, we were also given pre-pitched tents which has honestly opened my eyes to the concept of boutique camping in the future. It doesn't half make a different when it comes to lugging all your gear to camp - especially when you're the only grown up there to do it.

As is festival tradition for us, we camped with our pals Cookie, Ruth from RocknRoller Baby and Carolynne from Mummy Endeavours and their gangs. Over the years we've learnt to share the packing, distributing responsibility for breakfasts/lunches/snacks/boxes of wine/cocktail decorations/glitter/facepaint etc. I'd totally recommend getting a likeminded group together and doing the same if you're thinking of heading to a festival for the first time.

Our tents had been pitched in the family camping field (as well as the general camping fields, there were also quiet and camper van fields). This was located perfectly; close enough to the main area for the walks there and back to be entirely painless and far enough away that the music didn't keep you awake if you wanted an early-ish night. The family field also had showers, incredibly well maintained portaloos and smaller purpose built compost toilets for the kids which seemed to be kept extra clean and also had the added benefit of light at night! There was also a playground built for the event which was lovely, and baby changing facilities including free nappies, wipes and suncream. The guys at Nozstock really had thought of everything to make family camping easier.

The thing I loved most about Nozstock was that it was so small compared to other festivals I've been to. As a parent it made me feel so much more relaxed and it meant I could give the kids that little bit more freedom than I usually would which they absolutely loved. I described it earlier as being like a small, personal, family gathering - and things like the handmade signs everywhere added to this. That, and the fact people (other campers and the artists wandering around) chatted to me quite happily, made me feel really at home and really welcome.

I loved that the festival was so eco conscious - I'm talking entirely solar powered fields, smoothies made by pedal power, reclaimed and repurposed materials used to build stages and sets - and so affordable too. Meals weren't overpriced, beer was only £4 a pint and there were water stations everywhere so no need to shell out for rounds of cans of water three or four times a day. There was also picnic tables and plenty of space to lay down a picnic blanket if you wanted to bring your own food from camp.

The food was excellent. There was a huge selection to choose from; pizza, burgers, bangers & mash, curries, wraps, caribbean, chips, churros and ice cream. Next to the family camping field was a little wooden truck called Cosy Rosie's, which sold great coffee, hot chocolate and crepes which we had for breakfast every day!

There were eleven stages in total, all of which were absolutely amazing works of art in themselves. We loved the incredible neon Coppice and dancing to reggae at the Elephant's Grave. Nothing was too far away from each other so it was super easy to move around and see different acts.

The Little Wonderland for the kids was another of our favourite places to hang out. All activities in there were free, including willow weaving, clay model making and painting, learning circus skills and face painting. The kids loved the clowns that wandered around including them in their acts!

As well as the music and crafts some other highlights of our first Nozstock were the human jukebox (genius!) the henna tattoo and hair wraps stalls (the girls were in heaven) and the absolute abundance of reasonably priced vintage clothes stalls (I was in heaven).

But most of all we just loved the chance to hang out as a family, spend some time with our favourite people and to be able let our hair down for the weekend, in a perfectly curated festival.

Some of my other best bits were the girls sleeping in until gone 8:30 every morning (they are usually VERY early risers, so this was a real treat), plus celebrating Nozstock's 21st birthday at the Cabinet of Lost Secrets was another highlight - accessed down a tunnel and via a mirror maze and with dancers, punch, birthday cake and even party bags once you got inside, the kids and grown ups all had an incredible time.

My favourite act of the weekend had to be Elvana (Elvis fronted Nirvana). What a front man! I laughed, I danced, I sang along, the girls thought I was totally crackers but I didn't care. Showing up your kids is all part of this parenting lark, is it not?

There's no doubt whatsoever that we will be back to Nozstock next year, and we're looking forward to it already!

Super early bird 2020 tickets on sale here now! Adult weekend tickets start at just £100 and children under 12 are free! The festival sold out this year so make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment.

We were gifted tickets and pre-pitched tent accommodation in exchange for this entirely honest review.


HOME // Seven Decor Ideas For A Fun Child's Bedroom

Photo credit: Josh Hemsley

All kids want to have an amazing space to call their own. A fun bedroom that offers them somewhere to relax, play, study and sleep will be a space they’ll love. A room they’re proud of might even encourage them to keep it clean and tidy themselves (ha! Who am I kidding!).

Here are some ideas to decorate your kids’ bedrooms in a fun way that they are sure to enjoy.

1. Add interesting storage. Storage space is always important for any kids’ bedroom, as they need somewhere to store their clothes, toys and school supplies. Get creative and create fun toy storage on a budget. Buy a set of plain canvas tote bags, and print them with the letters to spell ‘toys’, and hang them on a row of hooks somewhere in the room. Boxes, baskets, wall organisers and hangers also make great, but interesting, storage features.

2. Children outgrow their bedroom furniture quickly, so it’s often not worth investing in expensive pieces. Instead, give a fresh look to an old piece of furniture with a coat of paint. This can be a great way to create personalised, fun pieces, like a funky desk or chest of drawers.

3. Wall stickers are a great decoration that can be easily peeled off without damaging the paintwork when your child grows out of the childhood room. Buy something related to their hobbies, like a footballer wall sticker.

4. If your kids are artistically inclined, frame some of their own artwork or creations and hang them in their room. Display things they have made to add some personal touches to the room. Create a gallery wall with their own work, and they’ll be proud of seeing their art displayed like its in a gallery.

5. Create different zones within the room that can be changed as your child grows and their needs change. For example, smaller children need plenty of space to play, but once they get to school, kids need somewhere for homework. Add a small desk for study time, and add some cool storage for books and stationery. Leave some room to play and relax too. For bookworms, a cosy reading corner is sure to be a hit, whereas other children may appreciate room for a dollhouse or a space to play computer games.

6. Get kids involved in crafts that can then be used as decoration. Paper chains or fabric bunting are both easy to make, and look cute when displayed in a bedroom. Let the children help you make them, and string them over their bed for a feature they can feel proud of. Washi tape is a really fun way to add some decor. Create beautiful patterns on the walls, or on pieces of furniture. Add stripes to dresser drawers, or make jazzy shapes on wardrobe doors.

7. Washi tape can also be used on the wall as a fun alternative to photo frames. Washi tape can be peeled off the wall without leaving any sticky residue behind or damaging the paint, so you can let the kids go wild without worrying about your walls.


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.

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