November 2019 | Modern Mummy

Friday, 29 November 2019

Three Rooms You Can Update Without Breaking The Bank

When you want to complete updates to your home but are stuck to a tight budget it can be very frustrating. You may think that you’re unable to transform a home on a budget but you would be surprised how much you can actually get done with even a small amount of funds. Changing even the smallest of things in your home could change the way it feels and looks, even if it is just giving it a deep clean.

If you’re on a tight budget but still want to make a difference to your home, have a look these four rooms that you can update without the need to break the bank:

Your Bathroom 
Most people will presume that it’s going to cost a fortune to update your bathroom, this is because they automatically assume that it means that it needs to be replaced. This isn’t the case. It’s very easy to update your bathroom on a budget by doing things such as:

  • Re-grouting 
  • Deep cleaning 
  • Adding new lighting 
  • Changing the washers in taps 
  • Adding decals to your tiles 
  • Changing the toilet seat 
  • Replacing any broken tiles 
  • Removing limescale from the showerhead and screen such as those found at 
  • Change the fixture and fittings 
  • Add a feature mirror 
  • Add new under sink storage 
  • Add new accessories 

Your Kitchen 
Much like with the bathroom, people assume that updating your kitchen means that you need to completely replace it, again this isn’t the case. It is more than possible to update your kitchen on a budget, some of the things you could do include:

  • Replacing the worktops 
  • Replacing broken tiles 
  • Regrouting 
  • Adding a new backsplash 
  • Upgrade your appliances 
  • Have new accessories 
  • Change the handles on the cupboards 
  • Paint the cupboard doors or replace them 

Your Bedroom 
A room that often gets neglected when it comes to updates is the master bedroom. This is because people tend to put the kid’s rooms, guest rooms and rooms that are visible to the guests first. Your bedroom should be a place that you can retreat to at the end of the day to relax. Some easy low-cost improvements you could make include:

  • Deep cleaning the carpets 
  • Cleaning or replacing the mattress 
  • Adding in some house plants 
  • Updating your bedding 
  • Adding a throw 
  • Adding some throw pillows 
  • Bedside rugs 

Not only will these small improvements make a difference to how your home feels it can also add value to your home, especially in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and master also bedroom. These are areas that make it to the top of the list for most potential buyers so making improvements in these areas has more than just one benefit.

These are just three of the main areas in your home, you can of course still improve the rest of your home on a budget too. Why not try using some of these tips in other places such as your living room too. Do you have any other tips that you’ve tried that you can share in the comments section?

Holidaying in Portugal with Children

Portugal is a beautiful country with beautiful sightseeing locations and plenty of activities to take part in. It's also a really family-friendly country thanks to the culture and the wonderful locals.

The weather in Portugal is mild throughout the year, so there are no restrictions on which days you should visit and which ones you should not. Cities like Lisbon have beautiful streets with various trams whose primary purpose is to transport people from one location to another. It is so far one of the main reasons why people love visiting Portugal. 

What makes Portugal so special? 
Despite having a complex history, Portugal has grown to be one of the most admired countries on the planet. It boasts beautiful and colourful streets, impressive landscapes, spectacular beaches with turquoise waters, and mouthwatering cuisines. This European country also has opulent castles such as Palácio da Pena and Palácio Nacional de Sintra, which has the UNESCO world heritage status. As you walk through the cobbled streets, you will come across various restaurants that offer delicacies such as salted code, the national meal of Portugal.

The local’s slogan ‘No one is foreign’ makes you feel safe as you travel the country and make your way to some of the fancy hotels like Four Seasons Vilamoura. It is the place where you will find the Cascais, a picturesque town nicknamed the town of Kings and fishes. It is one place that gives you a different perspective of Portugal due to its architectural structures and impressive sceneries. Those are only a few of the many things that make Portugal a special country.

Advice for parents 
If you are a parent planning to visit Portugal, you need to make sure you prepare yourself adequately. The fact that you have kids requires you to be vigilant. Start by coming up with a list of places you plan to visit and, if possible, indicate the dates too.

It is also a good idea to learn a few phrases in Portuguese, enough o get around and have a basic conversation with a locals. Phrases such as Obrigado for “thank you”, Prazer em conhecê-lo for “nice to meet you” and Com licença for “excuse me”. A convenient (and cheap!) way to pick up a few terms is by using language apps, for example you can easily learn Portuguese online with platforms like Babbel.

You also need to know what to pack, depending on the weather in Portugal. You don’t want to travel with heavy clothes only to find out that the weather in the country is too hot for that.

Lastly, book your hotels early and call to confirm. You don’t want to get stranded in a foreign country with your young ones.

Where to go and what to do with children in tow 
There are plenty of fantastic recreational activities for you and your children to take part in. You can take a walk to the beach and see locals having a wonderful time soaking in the sun. If your kids are little, you should head over to Martinhal Quinta family resort or the shack, where there is a manmade beach that is not only clean but perfect for little kids.

You can also go sightseeing on the rigid-hulled inflatable boat, which gives you the best view of Lisbon from a different angle. You can travel to Baroque Convento dos Cardaes where nuns make jam with a secret recipe and supply it throughout the world. It is quite a great place to take your kids since they are going to learn a lot about jam making. Finish off at the Timeout market where you are going to enjoy remarkable Portugal gastronomy at low prices.

Portugal has so much to offer in terms of locations and activities. It is a dream destination for every parent with kids. Have you ever been to Portugal, if so, do you have any advice to spare?

Written in collaboration with Emily Jones.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

How To Survive A Caravan Holiday With Children

The idea of travelling with children is certainly daunting, but the rewards are more than worth it. Travel is the perfect opportunity for your younger ones to explore the world and make lasting memories. Experiencing new places will also open small minds and inspire adventure and curiosity in them. Although Airbnb and similar platforms have revolutionised the travel world, caravan holidays are still popular among families. Unfortunately, taking a trip like this can often be stressful too. With that in mind, here are sixteen ways to survive a caravan holiday with children.

1. Buy The Right Caravan 
Unless you already own a caravan, the first thing you need to do is buy one. While this might seem like a simple process, there are countless caravans to choose from, all with unique benefits and drawbacks. You must make sure that whatever caravan you pick meets your requirements. A two-berth caravan would work well for couples, but families need a much larger model. If you require even more living space than provided, you can always add an awning.

2. Stay Close To Home 
An ideal caravan site will depend on what you want from your holiday. All caravan sites vary in both size and the facilities available. Almost all offer electrical hookups and Wi-Fi, but you will come across some that don’t. Before picking your caravan site, you will first have to choose a location. While it’s tempting to travel far away, you should consider staying close to home for your first trip. Driving any more than a couple of hundred miles could frustrate the children, after all.

3. Book That Pitch Early 
Once you’ve chosen your caravan site, make sure you book a pitch fairly early. During the summer, reservations at most caravan sites will fill up fast. Unless you’re prepared, you could be left without a place to stay when you need it. Many modern caravan sites allow you to make reservations online, but you might have to call up instead. Regardless, make sure that you do this at least one month before going away, so you have time to find another site if you need to.

4. Have A Route Planned 
When driving to somewhere you’ve never visited before, you’ll likely use a satnav. Although this tool can be incredibly helpful, you shouldn’t rely on it too heavily. After all, the satnav won’t automatically know if there are certain attractions you want to pass or service stations you want to stop at. Because of this, you must think ahead and plan a route before heading off. Make sure that you program this into the satnav, as well as mark it down on a map you carry in the car.

5. Plan Your Trip Together 
Regardless of their age, most children hate being told what to do. That is why it helps to plan holidays together. There are many ways to get little ones involved, such as having them suggest things to do and places to eat. They could even pick certain facilities they want the caravan site to have. If a swimming pool or crazy golf course were non-negotiable, then a location like Fir View Caravan Park Welshpool would work. Having control over the trip will give the kids less to complain about.

6. Research Any Driving Restrictions 
Any driver should know any restrictions that typically apply to them. However, if you’ve never towed a caravan before, you might not be aware of their restrictions too. Speed limits for caravans are different than cars on some UK roads. On a dual carriageway, where the National Speed Limit is usually 70mph, for example, the speed limit is 60mph when towing a caravan. Unless you know the law, you could get in serious legal trouble before your holiday even begins.

7. Pack All Bags Yourself 
Planning a family holiday definitely isn’t the most straightforward endeavour. With so much to do and very little time to get it done, no one would blame you for delegating certain travel tasks. That being said, there are a few you should complete yourself. Although your children might want to do it, you shouldn’t let them pack their own bags. This will likely cause more work for yourself in the long run. Instead, ask them to write a list of anything they want to bring on holiday with them.

8. Kit Out The Caravan 
Going away in a caravan is a truly unique experience. As well as packing typical holiday essentials, you must remember everything you need to make the caravan a home away from home. Most modern caravans have smart storage solutions, so you have plenty of space for extra things. Kitchen equipment, food, drinks, bedsheets, and toiletries are just a few things that you’ll need while you’re away. Just remember to put everything away securely before setting off.

9. Take Lots Of Entertainment 
While not a traditional holiday essential, you must pack plenty of entertainment for your trip. This is especially important if you plan on driving hundreds of miles to your campsite. Young people get cranky very quickly, especially when they’re bored. Having board games, books, and small toys should keep them occupied. Unless you have a television in the caravan, make sure you pack a laptop too. This means that you can watch a movie as a family during any downtime.

10. Establish Some Holiday Rules 
A holiday doesn’t mean that all rules should fly out the window. In fact, you must create a few new ones. A caravan is much easier to leave than a hotel, and there are many more dangers lurking about. For this reason, your children should understand that they aren’t allowed to wander off by themselves. Make sure they also know when to be quiet and what happens if they break a rule. Having these rules will keep your children safe and avoid disturbing any other travellers.

11. Bring First Aid Supplies 
Even a long list of restrictions won’t always keep your children from getting hurt. Young people are curious and clumsy creatures who are prone to having accidents. While you can educate your kids on potential dangers, you must also prepare for the unexpected to happen. Carrying a first aid kit will allow you to treat your little one until you can find professional medical help. Make sure that this kit is stocked with items like bandages, plasters, antiseptic cream, and wipes.

12. Think About Family Meals 
A huge benefit of caravan holidays is the kitchen. Having access to a full working kitchen means that you can prepare meals for your family every night. While you might choose to eat out now and then, cooking yourself will cut costs significantly. For this reason, you should make a meal plan before going away. Doing so will allow you to prepare for those meals. You could either take the ingredients you need with you from home or cook and freeze entire meals to heat up later.

13. Carry Out Safety Checks 
Before departing on your first caravan holiday, you must carry out basic safety checks. Make sure that a well-stocked first aid kit is kept on board, along with fire extinguishers and fire blankets. You should also check the requirements of the caravan relating to your car’s tow ball. The registration number of the vehicle should also be displayed at the rear of the caravan. Most people need to inform their car insurance provider that they want to tow a caravan too.

14. Try A Practice Run 
Towing a caravan for the first time can be a difficult experience. There are many driving changes you will have to make. Ensure that you take corners more widely than usual to keep the caravan from clipping the kerb. You must also give yourself a little extra time when braking and remember that accelerating will take longer. Before driving a long journey, you should drive your caravan around locally. Taking a practice run like this will settle any nerves and put your mind at ease.

15. Stick To Usual Routines 
Routines make children feel happy and secure. As tempting as it might be to throw any usual routines out the window, you should do your best to stick to them. Try to wake up around the same time, eat meals at the same time, and head to bed at the same time. This should keep any hungry and overtired children from having a meltdown. When planning your itinerary, make sure that any activities don’t conflict with what your children expect to be happening.

16. Give Yourself Extra Days 
A holiday is supposed to be a chance to relax and refresh. However, with children in tow, there is much more planning involved. That is why you should give yourself an extra day before and after your break away. The day before will allow you to make any last-minute preparations, while the day after is for unwinding. If you head straight to work once you come home, you’ll find it difficult to get back into the swing of things and might feel burnt out.

Caravan holidays are popular among families but can be stressful at times. Hopefully, with the tips above, you will have a more enjoyable break away.

Things That Go Bump In The Night: What Those Noises Really Are

It’s never nice being woken up, especially if you were in a lovely deep sleep. But for one reason or another, you could be woken up to many sounds within your home, especially if it's an old one like mine is. Our homes are built with a combination of glass, wood, brick and concrete so it’s understandable that things are going to be going “bump” in the night every now and again. Sometimes you may even hear strange noises throughout the day. With that in mind, here are what some of them could be.

Any knocking or clunking of pipes? 
Many homes will struggle with the sounds of knocking and clunking of pipes. It may sound unusual and strange, but it’s common during the winter and fall. These sounds tend to occur because of the added pressure some of your pipework might be facing, especially if they are exposed. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it could be down to the freezing and expansion of those pipes. Make sure you check them over to ensure there are no imminent leaks. This is when you may want to get a plumber to ensure all is working as it should be. A great tip is to cover any exposed pipework with a foam layer during the colder months. This prevents them reaching that freezing temperature that will cause this problem in the first place.

Scratching in the walls 
Scratching in the walls or around your home can be one of the most annoying sounds. Often this is because it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where that scratching is coming from. However, scratching is one of those things that can be a serious problem if not resolved. This is because what you are likely to be hearing is a rodent scratching, and eating, turning your insulation into their home. If you suspect you have an issue, it will be worth seeking help from the rat control to ensure you deal with the situation as quickly as possible. Before it gets out of hand.

Gurgles and bubbles 
Bubbling and gurgles in the pipework could be quite a serious problem. This could be down to something being wrong with your heating system or boiler. Many people think things like this are intermittent, but it may be a serious problem that could need a plumber to help you resolve. It can be the type of sound that won’t be easy to identify, so it could end up driving you a little crazy. If in doubt always call someone in to help investigate further.

Whistling throughout the day and night 
Can you hear some strange whistling? The likelihood is it isn’t some friendly ghost, and it’s an unhappy boiler or furnace. This is down to something causing an inhibiting airflow. Another suggestion could be something to do with drafts. The whistling could be down to gaps or issues with your windows or doors. Maybe even problems within your foundations or walls. If there is any sign of a draft try and identify as quickly as possible where it could be coming from. Make sure all windows are sealed tightly.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Spoiling The Mum-To-Be In Your Life

With a new baby on the way, life can feel overwhelming for a mum-to-be. It’s a lot of work being pregnant, which is why a bit of spoiling can be good to lift her spirits and ease what can be a stressful time.

If there’s a mum-to-be in your life who could do with some TLC, why not plan something special for her? Here are some simple suggestions for ways you can spoil your mum-to-be and make her feel great.

Book a spa day 
All expectant mothers need to relax - stress isn’t good for the baby! So what better way to help her relax than a spa day? A spa day can be the perfect way for you to catch up with your friend before her life gets a little bit busier, and it will help her enjoy doing something for herself before the baby comes. Make sure you check which spa treatments are best for pregnant women before you book so that you know your friend is going to have the best time.

Go see a show 
A night on the town might be out of the question for your mum-to-be, but a night at the theatre doesn’t have to be! Going to see a play or musical can be a wonderful way to have fun together, as well as being a great excuse to get dressed up and glam for the evening. Take a look at what’s on at your local theatre and get ready for a night you will both enjoy. If you really want to make a night of it, you could book an overnight stay too!

Throw her a baby shower 
Baby showers are becoming more common in the UK. It’s a good way for mums-to-be to catch up with friends and family before they have the baby, as well as a fun way to begin welcoming the baby into your lives. There are all kinds of baby shower ideas to help you plan the best afternoon for your mum-to-be. From games to decorations, get some ideas together to throw a memorable baby shower that shows her just how loved she is by those she’s close to.

Take her for afternoon tea 
You can’t beat afternoon tea for relaxing and catching up with friends. Sandwiches and cake make the perfect lunch, and you’ll find afternoon tea deals in some amazing settings. Don’t forget you can also bring afternoon tea to your home, thanks to afternoon tea boxes that make it even easier to host in your own home. Get baking or head to your nearest patisserie to pick up some tasty treats for you and your mum-to-be.

Pregnancy can be tough on mums, which is why a nice treat is always appreciated. There are so many great ways you can spoil a mum-to-be and make her feel special, so why not get some plans in place to help make her pregnancy a fun and enjoyable time!

Sending Christmas presents to loved Ones abroad in time for Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, sending presents and cards is always something we have to think about. Heaven knows we’ve heard the stories of all those undelivered gifts year after year. There’s even been talk of a strike this year. But what if you send aboard? We’ve put all the information you need to know about sending a gift to a loved one aboard, below.

Use a courier 
Rather than simply posting something and hoping for the best, whether it’s a card or a gift, it’s best to use a parcel delivery service, aka a courier. These will ensure you’ll get the gift to the other person in a more orderly and quicker manner, and you’ll even be able to track it from your end too. If it’s for Christmas, make sure you check out when the gifts need to be collected for specific places throughout the world – you’ll also need to take public holidays in each country into consideration too.

How to ship 
Once you’ve chosen the courier that suits your requirements, and the budget, you have it’s quite straight forward. You can usually get in touch with a courier and arrange for a parcel to be picked up, if it’s a little too large for you to carry, or if it’s easy to carry you’ll often be able to find places where you can take them for collection – which should be available on their website.

Customs requirements 
These are really important. Once you have your customs documents to attach to your parcel, make sure you fill them out correctly, otherwise it could result in your paying more than you need to. These documents also need to be clearly attached to the parcel in question, on the outside packaging, alongside a copy inside for added safety. Most of this information will be provided by the courier company too, so don’t worry too much.

What you can and can’t send 
Finally, if you are sending a gift overseas for a loved one to mark an occasion, you’ll probably want to send them lots of things they love. But, can you send them? Some countries don’t allow certain items through customs, so it’s better to double check before sending anything. For example, food products are restricted around the world and no courier will take alcohol, whereas items like perfume or lighters fall into the restricted shipping category.

If you’re sending a gift overseas this year, do a little research beforehand and use a courier to ensure the gift gets there quickly and safely.

How to spend a week in London with the whole family

When it comes to getting away, you don’t always need to jump on a plane and speed off to a land far, far away. Instead, take a look around you and think of all the amazing places in the UK you’ve never explored properly. In fact, it was recently found that staycations were on the rise in the UK, with 72% of Brits surveyed saying they’d expect to take a domestic holiday going into 2020. If you’ve got kids it’s even better as there’s no need to run to the airport and deal with the luggage issues. But where to go, well, what about the capital? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Before you even get to London, the first thing you need to think about is how you’re going to get there, and how you’ll be getting around while you’re there. With driving around London known to be a little stressful, you should maybe opt for public transport. Trains are a great way to get you there as you’ll be able to get the train from a number of major places around the country, such as Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol in just a few hours (great for stopping backseat arguments). When you’re there, the train opens up lots of places with the train to London Kings Cross to Kings Lynn or even Kent being great highlights and days out (more of that later). However, the tube is probably your best bet while getting around attractions in the city and adds fun for the kids too. 

Places to stay 
With so much to do in London, there’s no point paying above what you need to when getting a hotel. Sticking to ones such as a Travelodge or Premier Inn will suffice as they do what they need to do and can be relatively cheap at specific times and depending on where you get them. However, if you’re going to be eating in a lot, try and AirB&B, where you’ll get the use of a house for the same price, or cheaper, than a hotel for the week.

What to see 
Perfect for the little ones, the big sights are always the best for them, and they’re usually free. From Buckingham Palace to Big Ben and the Tower of London, they’ll love it. Oh and let’s not forget the Thames. Of course, you can always pay to go on the London Eye and even an open-top bus ride for that extra special memory.

So don’t fret about the airport this year, go to London and show the kids the fun that’s right on their doorstep.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Why Caravanning Is So Popular With Families

Even in a time when boutique hotels and Airbnb have revolutionised the accommodation options available to travelling families, caravanning is still incredibly popular. There is just something about caravanning that has an enduring appeal - and in this post, I'm looking at exactly why this is the case…

Improved road trips 
Road trips are an eternally popular holiday choice for families, but with a caravan, the classic road trip becomes even better - and definitely far more convenient. You won’t have to worry about planning your route to align with towns or cities that can provide hotels; you’ll never have to worry about finding a bathroom en route as you’ll always have one with you; and if the driver wants to take a nap, then they can stretch out and do so. Caravans make road tripping an absolute joy from start to finish.

Frequent holidays are more accessible 
If your family wants to enjoy regular weekends away throughout the year, then travel costs and the cost of staying in hotels quickly add up. Investing in a caravan, however, is a great cost-effective solution, especially if you choose a second hand caravan to save you money. When you have bought your caravan, accommodation costs are no longer an issue, so you should find that your travel budget will stretch to far more individual holidays per year!

Endless different holiday experiences 
There are campsites spread across the length and breadth of the UK (and Europe, if you wish to travel further afield), which means there unlimited holiday options: there are campsites that offer high-end facilities, those that focus on providing kid-friendly amenities, some which place you close to a favoured seaside resorts and others that are located in tranquil, isolated forests. So, while “caravanning” is often used as a catch-all term, the sheer variety of different experiences a caravan can offer is immense, so no two holidays will ever be alike.

Spontaneity is far simpler 
Caravans lend themselves to spontaneous holidays incredibly well; a quick visit to a supermarket to restock supplies, locate a destination campsite, and then you’ve got almost everything you need - meals, transportation, a place to sleep - ready to go. In contrast, conventional holidays tend to require a huge amount of planning, as you try to bring together each part of the puzzle - where to stay, how to get to your chosen destination etc into one cohesive trip, which means that spontaneity will always be difficult. If you like the idea of being able to head off an adventure on the spur of the moment, then caravanning should suit your family very well indeed.
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