Getting Autumn Ready…

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It may still be summer, but I am already preparing myself for Autumn. I think perhaps it is the grey, wet days we have had the last week. I’ve started thinking about the shorter days, longer nights and colder temperatures. There’s always the annual winter preparations, and ways to stay warm in winter, but this year I’m taking time to prepare a few Autumnal luxuries too.

Candles

Inspired by reading about the Danish concept Hygge, I’ve been carefully selecting candles to light the lounge. I’ve a few beautifully scented candles to pick and choose from each evening. I suppose you could say I can pick a fragrance to suit my mood!

Socks

After the a summer of wearing sandals, a new cosy pair of socks always feels like quite a luxury! Like buying the children school uniform, I always buy myself new socks. This year I’ve indulged in a pair of Cashmere socks, thanks to UKTights.com. They are super soft, and extremely indulgent. Perfect for those evenings curled up with a good book! You may ask why I want cosy socks rather than slippers, my answer is – I can’t cosy up in slippers! So, when I’m curled up on the sofa socks are essential!

Books

I have several books on my to read list. I try to chat to friends about books they have enjoyed as it helps me to find new authors. Autumn is a great time to get reading, and have gathered a few books ready to keep me busy as the weather turns cooler. It’s also a handy way to encourage my children to keep reading too- if they see me reading they are always keen to read themselves! By buying books now, I can build up a little collection so when I can’t get to the Library, I still have books to enjoy!

My walking routine…

The summer holidays have thrown me into chaos. Ignore the break in the children’s routine, my routine is lost! During term time, I try to make time to walk every day while the children are at school. It’s a good way to spend an hour, and N is quite happy as I either push him along in the pushchair or carry him. Yes, he could walk to but generally I’m wanting to walk briskly and he’s not quite up to keeping up yet! (Soon…)

The holidays have brought lots of fun of course. No school runs means less stress to the day, and no sudden realisation that all the uniform is dirty. The children wear what they like, and it’s only taken 3 weeks for my daughter to stop insisting on a change of outfit every couple of hours… The other thing the holidays has done is limit my walking time. My children do enjoy a walk, but there’s so many other things they want to do too! However…

Pokemon helped get us walking…

Well there’s a phrase I never thought I’d use. But seriously, Pokemon go has made the more reluctant child be quick to suggest a walk! Whether it is raining or not, Pokemon Go seems to encourage the got to catch em all mentality and the more walking you do, the more you can catch. So, actually the most reluctant walker has perhaps been the most enthusiastic this summer!

The Activity Tracker

Eldest has his own activity tracking watch, and being the competitive sort of family, he and I will always try to ‘out step’ each other. I confess I rarely win.

Walking is free and a great way to fill a few hours of the summer holidays. Inevitably you discover new places and see things you wouldn’t see if you weren’t walking e.g. along the woodland foot path! In the rain there’s the fun of puddle splashing. In the sunshine we will either aim for somewhere to buy an ice cream or pack up a picnic! (Read picnic as a couple of sandwiches and a drink..!)

So, while my walking routine has been thrown into chaos. I will miss my brood once they’re back at school and I am back to my brisk walks slotted into school hours.

How Couples Can Add More Romance to Life

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Being part of a couple that is in a secure and loving relationship can be great. However, when you are in a long-term relationship, it is easy to become complacent when it comes to matters such as romance. This then leads to all the romance side of things becoming virtually non-existent which can take some of the mafic away from your relationship.

As a loving couple, it is important to make an effort to keep the romance alive, as this is something that can impact on other areas of your relationship. If you find that the romance has already started to wane despite the fact you both still love one another, you can take steps to add more romance to your life. In this article, we will explore some of the ways in which you can do this.

Helpful Hints to Restore the Romance

These days, people go online to get all sorts of help with various aspects of their love lives from looking for the best sex toys to bring back some passion to finding advice on how to restore romance in their relationship. When it comes to the latter, there are various steps you can take in order to be more romantic and to add some of that original magic back into your relationship.

One of the simplest things you can do, which is also a very effective romantic gesture, is to simply whisk your partner off for an afternoon picnic to an attractive part of local beach. You can enjoy strolling together and taking in the surrounding beauty, you can sit and enjoy your picnic with some wine or beers to wash it down, and best of all, you get to jut sit back, relax, and spend time with one another. This is something that is ideal for those that cannot afford to take a lot of time off from other commitments and those who are on a limited budget.

Another thing you can do without spending a fortune is cook up a surprise romantic meal for your partner and really go to town with the setting. If is the height of summer, you can enjoy taking the meal outside to the patio, putting up some fairy lights, setting up a bistro table, and creating an enchanting outdoor space where you can dine al fresco. If the weather is cooler, create a romantic ambiance indoors with soft music, candles, and a beautifully laid table with fresh flowers.

For those that can afford to take a couple of days off, you could always look at taking your partner away for a weekend or a mid-week break to a romantic destination where you can enjoy spending time together along with a change of scenery. You can spend quality time together during your break and forget about the stress and routine of everyday life for a short while.

So, if you want to get some romance back into your life, try out some of these methods for yourself.

Looking after yourself.

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For years I’ve tried to be careful with my diet. I try to look after myself by exercising and always turning up to routine medical appointments. But sometimes I forget that I need to look after my mental health too. It’s not something anyone talked about when I was growing up. But, with day to day life getting busier and busier, it is sometimes hard to find time to relax.

Breathe

I’ve noticed on the days when I take things a little slower, I am more able to deal with stress. It’s not always easy to go slower though! But I make time to just breathe in and out slowly, I use RELAX on my fitbit for guided breathing! It felt a bit strange when I first started using it, but I’ve found it really does help centre me. I try to find a little time to just pause each day. Taking a few minutes to focus on my breathing and not think about the stress of the day really helps me relax.

Talk

Talking about worries I think is the most important thing I can do. It’s also often the hardest. If I’m feeling upset by something, or stressed, I sometimes just want to sit and try and work it out by myself. But I was always told that a problem shared is a problem halved. I’m lucky to have a couple of really close friends to turn too for a chat when I need it most. But I have in the past spoken to my GP and she has pointed me in the direction of where to look for help. Some people find talking therapy really helps.

Get Outdoors

Spending time outdoors really helps me especially in the winter months. If I’m stressed heading out for a walk in the woods or the seaside really helps me. There’s actually some research going into the thought that being near the sea is actually good for your health. I have to say, I really believe that the sea does have healing powers for me.

Self-Care

I think self-care is a bit of a strange term, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it? I don’t mean taking a long bubble bath, or making time to read – although those are vital too. I mean, I think it’s really important to learn to say no, to people who make a bad situation worse. When you have stressful things to deal with in your own life, you can’t always be there for everyone else. Someone once described me as trying to be a lighthouse, i.e. always there trying to shine the way while weathering the storm alone. I hadn’t noticed that it was always the same people who made me feel like I was weighted down while trying to deal with stress. It’s hard to say “no, you are making a situation worse”, but sometimes I think it’s important too. I’ve also found that pointing them in the direction of someone else to talk to, and even whether maybe a therapist could help?

BIC YOUNG ARTIST Award 2019!

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I’m not sure about you but my kitchen is covered in artwork! Whether painted at school, or drawn at home, pictures multiply daily!

According to research on behalf of BIC, “three quarters of parents have kept the first arts and crafts item their child ever created for them and 70 per cent are keeping a box of their children’s arts and crafts items to give to them when they are older.” So if you’re a hoarder of your children’s art you are not alone!

If you have a budding artist aged between 5 and 11, why not encourage them to enter the BIC Young Artist award 2019! But hurry as entries close 4th August!

To enter, grab your child an A4 piece of paper – in landscape! Get them to draw using pencils, crayons and felt tip pens. Encourage your child to use plenty of colour and make sure that they show off their skill! Once they’re done you need to enter via www.BICKIDS.co.uk/YoungArtist – (You can learn about the great prizes there too!).

Just imagine, if your child won you may even get to see their work of art up on a billboard!

Do I have too much screen time?

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I was posed the question by Vizulize eye care, do you think you have too much screen time? I hadn’t really thought about this before, but it made me think! My children would say – yes. Every quiet minute I am using my phone to capture photos, or staying in touch with texts. And thinking about it, maybe I could use my phone less?

Here’s the thing, with email, social media and text messages, keeping in touch has never been easier. Information is easy to get on the go, and there’s a temptation to stand and read the news or even play a game on my phone while standing waiting for a bus – or to collect the children from an after school club.

Then there’s another dimension to this, being able to use your phone for keeping in touch with work. Yes, how many people send work related emails from their mobile phone? More than even I’m imagining no doubt! I know that much of my screen time is spent looking at Instagram – I can lose an hour scrolling through pictures of peoples homes or fashion posts. Yes, I really do love Instagram!

I try to limit my screen time, but if I don’t, I find myself with tired eyes. Vizulize recommends practising screen mindfulness:

Attending sight tests, taking steps to reduce blue light and minimising device usage before bed are all effective ways to prioritise your eye health without sacrificing your lifestyle – just make sure you let your optician know if you notice any changes.

I have recently had my eyes tested and I’ve ordered new glasses. I’m trying to make sure I limit my phone time over the summer holidays, that means turning off alerts from my emails and apps! And making sure I make time to relax my eyes!

Keep organised at home.

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The end of the school year is here and we are at the peak of excitement about the summer holidays! The end of the school year always makes me look ahead to what the new school year will bring. September is always the time for new starts. Whether it is new classes, teachers or places of learning. I always found myself keen for a fresh subject learn or a new job!

With new starts comes new paperwork, and lots to remember. As a household of six, this means a lot to organise at home! And, unfortunately I’m not the best at organising paperwork!

Home organisation.

This year I’ve got plans to start organising myself a little better. I need to have a better filing system for our family paperwork. Currently all the important documents are housed in a box. It’s not the best filing system as it takes ages to sort through! I quite like the idea of getting office lockers and allocating one for every one! An elaborate but easily workable way to keep all the important stuff organised – and safe for each of us! Plus I have to confess I quite like the industrial look and adding lockers may allow me to really explore that trend in my home office!

Keep on track

I used to keep track of calender events with a simple calender on the wall. However, I’ve discovered it is easier to work with a large whiteboard instead! A whiteboard enables me to update any changes to the weeks plans quickly and easily. It’s my top tip to helping stay organised!

Make time to plan.

Every week, I make time to organise myself. So even though my calendar is busy and hectic, I keep control by allowing myself half an hour planning for the week on a Sunday afternoon. This means I don’t miss that dentist appointment which has been in the diary for months but slipped under the radar! It also means Monday morning is as calm as it can be, no matter how busy my day is!

Do you have any ways you like to keep organised?

Hape Sand Toys Review

Summer holidays are coming! We love time at the beach, paddling and building sandcastles! We always try to pack our sand toys to take with us as I don’t want to waste money on plastic toys which will break easily. My children have several beach toys which I remember buying with my parents in France as a child. So, buying with care means any toys we do buy, can be handed down.

I was asked if we’d like to review some sand toys from Hape, we already own a couple of their wooden toys, so I was keen to see what their sand toys would be like.

The sand toys we received are made from thick plastic, and they look very durable. As well as feeling quite comfortable to hold.

Robust sand toys.

We were sent a bundle of three toys to try out. Initially we tried the Hape dune buggy in the sitting room.

It was an instant hit, the handle makes it easy to manoeuvre for my 17month old. He loves being able to take charge of steering it around the house. It’s been very cleverly designed so it is very easy to steer. The large wheels make it easy to push through uneven surfaces – e.g. sand!

The Power Paw was popular with my 4 year old, she said it was easy to hold and spent ages digging with it. It is easier to use than a conventional spade so great for younger children.

My favourite item was the rain shovel. This is versatile for play in sand or water. It could be used to dig with or create a shower with water poured into the handle. It has been hours of fun! Cleverly designed so it fits comfortably in little hands, it is great for use in the sand pit too.

We can’t wait to take our Hape sand toys to the beach this summer!

8 Ways to have fun this summer without spending a fortune!

The summer holidays, can be a stressful time, how to keep the children busy and happy without spending a fortune!

Keep things simple…

Grab the face paints and eco glitter and have a festival in your garden. If you’ve space put up a tent, or make a den with sheets a chairs! You could even decorate your tent with pom poms and paper flowers- or even daisy chains! Then turn on your favourite songs and enjoy!

Splash about!

Eva from Captain Bobcat Blog suggests getting the paddling pool out;

Paddling pools and splash pads are great, you can kill quite a few hours there!

We love splashing about, and if you don’t have a paddling pool – improvise! An old baby bath or even a plastic storage box can be hours of fun to splash about in. (Do remember to always supervise children near water!)

Use that National Trust Membership!

We took out a membership when we were on holiday as it meant it was cheaper than the day visits to two places we wanted to see. If you already have a membership, grab a picnic and head off to a local property! Also remember to investigate your local garden centres as many offer special events or Maria from Suburban Mum reminded me that some even have a soft play area!

Get Outdoors with the family!

My children love going on walks, but I know some hate it! So, make walks fun by either planning where you’ll go – perhaps you will walk to a picnic spot? Or maybe write a simple scavenger hunt list? Shel from The Willow Tree suggest Geo-Caching;

” Download the app for free and go on a search to hunt for hidden treasure! It may be a little time capsule or a box with a message in. You can even leave a message for the next person!  “

Go camping!

If you have a tent lurking in the shed, what’s stopping you from taking it away for the weekend? Use a site like pitchup.com to find a campsite pack up your basics and take a weekend away! Can’t afford the pitch fees but have a garden? Pitch your tent in the garden! No tent? Check out camping pods, not quite as cheap as pitch fees but still a cheap option for a night away.

Kids Summer Courses!

One of my fondest memories of my own summer holidays as a child was going on a ballet course for a week. I loved having an intensive dance week, and making new friends! Emma from Fashion Mommy suggests keeping your eye out on local events, especially sports clubs;

Most football clubs run weekly soccer camps over the Summer. My son does WBA one, and it costs £60 for 5 days, which is basically cheaper than childcare. For that he gets qualified coaching, a certificate and trophy at the end of the week and loads of fun. Perfect for boys and girls and totally enjoyable.”

 

Bake Off!

Rainy afternoon? Get baking! Maybe organise a bake off with other families? Or perfect your favourite cake? If you aren’t keem on baking keep it simple! Cornflake cakes and flap jacks are easy to make and require minimal equipment.

Kids crafts

So one of our favourite holiday activities is to get crafting. Funcraftskids.com is full of some great ideas for all the family. Perfect to keep everyone busy!

If you’re not into complicated craft projects, grab an old roll of wall paper and roll it out on the kitchen floor or in the garden. It’s perfect to draw or paint on!

8 Man Tent Camping

I posted a while ago about the problems I was having deciding on which 8 man tent. I finally made the decision to opt for the Arpenaz 8.4 XL from Decathlon, as I think it offers value for money as well as ample space. But while I was clearing the garage, I remembered something which has been stored there for years. Unloved and forgotten about, but the solution to our camping conundrum!

Back in 2010 we purchased a second hand Cabanon Espace 8 man tent. We had one child and the tent was a ludicrous purchase as it was huge! It filled the entire boot of the car, and we felt we may get lost inside it. It is HUGE! So, it went on one holiday and was stored. Until today. Today it has been dragged out of hiding, and is about to be put into use. Yes, it really could be the answer to our camping conundrum!

Cabanon 8 Man Tent

However, it does bring its own problems. Primarily, how to transport the tent! It’s a canvas frame tent, so it comes in several bags, and is heavy! (It is the same tent you might use if you go to stay in a ready pitched tent in Europe.) Unfortunately this means it doesn’t actually fit in our car. (Or it might, but we wouldn’t be able to fit anything else in.) A roof rack wouldn’t work as I have no plans to be lifting the weight of the frame and canvas onto the roof of the car. Which leaves a trailer as the most sensible solution to taking our tent anywhere!

Camping Trailer

I’ve avoided thoughts of trailer tents and caravans, so I’m slightly amazed by my own decision to invest in a trailer just to transport our camping stuff. I also worry that it will make ferry crossings more expensive, plus keeping the trailer secure whilst we are away from camp – how easy is that? So, I’ve lots that I need to think about still – and plan!