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How To Make December Birthdays Special

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post

As you probably know Christmas starts showing up in stores from September and it's pretty hard to keep away from it especially when you start hearing Christmas songs as you're walking round doing your weekly shop. I always think birthdays that are in the last quarter of the year must be tough, especially December birthdays. You have to wait all year for your special day then Christmas is just around the corner too. It must also be hard as a parent or family member to come up with children's gift ideas for both birthday and Christmas in the same month. I think those that celebrate their birthdays in December should have lots of extra fuss and here are some ideas on how to make December birthdays special.

Happy Birthday sign


No Christmas Until The Birthday Is Over
This may be tough to do if the birthday is in the second half of the month but I think if the birthday is within the first two weeks of December there should be no Christmas until the birthday is over. Make sure you have lots of birthday banners, balloons and other party decorations for the birthday boy or girl. If the birthday falls in the last two weeks of December make sure you still put up lots of birthday decorations, banners and balloons as well as your Christmas decorations. 

Give The Same Amount Of Presents You Would For Any Birthday
Christmas time can be very expensive but it's important not to give the birthday boy or girl less than you would if the birthday was at another time of year. They have waited all year for their birthday and just because Christmas is in the same month they still want lots of presents. 

Keep The Birthday And Christmas Separate 
When buying birthday and Christmas presents make sure you keep the presents separate and use both Christmas and birthday wrapping paper for the gifts. Try to stay away from seasonal gifts too, keep them for Christmas. 

birthday party


Plan A Birthday Party
We all like people to make a fuss about us on our birthdays and what better way than to have a birthday party. The weather in December is likely to be cold so you can choose to throw a birthday party in the house, hire a party venue or if it's for the kids then there are lots of indoor play centres that have great party packages. 

Most Importantly Plan
Planning is the most important part of making a December birthday special. 

Presents become harder to buy in December as there is such a huge demand especially for the most popular items. Make sure you buy well in advance to prevent disappointment. 

Make sure you have birthday cards and wrapping paper bought in plenty of time before the shops are overrun with Christmas. 

Birthday cakes can also be hard to find, maybe decide to bake one instead. 

If you are planning on hosting a birthday party make sure you get your invites out super early as December is such a busy time for everyone, give people plenty of notice. 

I'm sure those that celebrate their birthdays in December don't mind as they are used to it but it's always nice to be made a fuss of no matter the month.

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways

Are you looking forward to celebrating any of the days above? Leave us a comment below and let us know. 

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Michelle
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4 Tips That Will Help You Pass Your MOT

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Disclosure - This a is a collaborative post.

If you are planning to go on a road trip with family, you need to make sure your vehicle is fully prepared to embark a long journey. Family safety and wellbeing comes as a main priority for everyone, hence one of the important things to check that will cover all your vehicle safety check is having an appropriate MOT certificate.

cleaning a tyre


What used to be called the Ministry of Transport test has now been shortened to the simple – but much more comprehensive – MOT test. The test looks at your vehicle with a view to ensuring that your car is roadworthy rather than in good condition. This distinction is subtle, but it is important, unless you always book a service concurrent with your MOT test, as servicing looks at the running condition of the car, while the MOT takes care of its roadworthiness.

To make the distinction clear: a car with a failed MOT but in good running order might be difficult for other drivers to see on the road; it might struggle to pull over to the side smoothly and stop promptly; or the number plate could be loose, not present or unreadable.

On the other side of the equation, a vehicle with passed MOT, but in sore need of mechanical repairs to the engine, will be able to activate warning lights, will be able to stop safely, and the stricken vehicle will be steerable while it is in motion. Furthermore if you are driving in London or a nearby area , you can also book an MOT in London by contacting DAT Tyres today.

With these fine distinctions in mind, let us take a look at four tips that will help you sail through your MOT without any issue. 

Brakes, Steering & Lights
These three items: brakes, steering and lights, were the only three checks on the very first MOT tests, back in 1960. The tests were performed on vehicles that were over ten years old, but so many of them failed the tests that the time limit was brought to just three years in fairly short order. Make sure your brakes, steering and lights are always in good condition, and not just to meet the criteria to pass your MOT! Being safe on the roads also means being able to react to other road users in a safe and timely fashion.

Good Visibility
As well as ensuring that you can be seen, you should make sure that you can see as well as possible too. This means fixing cracks and chips on your windscreen promptly, keeping all the windows clear and free from obstruction (no stickers, for example) and ensuring that your mirrors are clean, in good condition and positioned so as to give you the most comprehensive view of the road and the sides of your vehicle.

Solid Body
Having bits of your car falling off – bumpers, number plates, important chunks of the exhaust system – is never a good idea, and having these hanging loose or beginning to wear or fracture is a sure-fire way to fail your MOT and endanger other road users to boot.

Keep It Clean
Having a clean car is good for visibility – it is hard to see through clutter and treat packets blowing around – but it also helps you to keep an eye on the overall condition of your vehicle. Clean bodywork will show up signs of damage or wear much more readily than a car that is caked with mud. An MOT inspector will also fail you should you take your vehicle in for its test in such a grimy condition, so do try to get in the habit of keeping it clean.

Hopefully these tips will help you pass you MOT. Do you have any other tips you could share?

Michelle
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Our Top Tips For Moving House

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post. 

I have mentioned it before on our blog that last year we had a full home and garden makeover. It was long overdue and although it took almost a year to complete if was definitely worth it. We did think about moving house first as we knew it would be quite costly to have a complete makeover but we also had to consider the cost of moving house. We made a Pro's and Con's list for staying and moving but in the end we decided we wanted to stay where we are. If you are in the process of moving or just even thinking about it, I have created a top tips list for Moving House I thought I would share with you.

Keys on a house keyring


Top Tips For Moving House

1. Start to gather lots of boxes, sellotape, bubble wrap etc as soon as possible. You will need to pack up everything you own so having enough supplies will make the job a lot easier.

2. Declutter your house before you begin to pack. Getting rid of old stuff that you don't want or need before the move saves unnecessary packing. You don't want to take stuff to your new house that will end up in the bin anyway.

3. Start packing early. It can take up to two months to pack up a 3 bedroom house so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

4. Pack up one room at a time. Once you have chosen a room, pack everything that is not needed first then leave empty boxes to pack up the remainder of the stuff at a later date. Keep all the boxes from each room together until removal day. It will make it so much easier when the boxes arrive at your new home.

5. Label everything

6. Have a large clear tub with items you will need when you arrive at your new home. Think about items such as your kettle, milk, sugar, mugs, paper towels, toiletries, toilet paper etc.

7. Number your boxes or create an inventory. This is probably more for the super organised person but I would definitely create an inventory of everything I've packed so I know if anything has gone missing in the move. If that is too organised for you just clearly number the boxes.

8. Take photos. This is something we have done in the past mainly of different wires and cables that go in and out of the TV, Sky Box etc. It really does help. There is nothing worse than a bunch of loose cables and you have no idea what goes where.

9. Updating your address can be done as early as two weeks for places such as your bank, your doctors or dentist. Also make sure you contact Royal Mail for their redirect of mail service.

10. When it comes to moving day make sure you look for cheap, affordable home removals as some can be quite costly. Also let the house removals company you have chosen do all the lifting and moving for you. You may think it's cheaper hiring a van or getting family or friends to help but it's a big job and I would let the professionals do all the hard work.

Do you have any other tips for moving house?

Michelle

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Stop The Signs Of Ageing With Botox

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People have been searching for means to stay young and look their best irrespective of their ages for years. Although it is still not possible for you to stop your body from ageing, you can still minimise the signs of ageing with a very effective Botox treatment. Botox is a treatment that is very popular on areas around the face.

Doctors clinic


Lose The Bunny Lines With BOTOX
Bunny lines are those fine lines that appear on the skin around your nose when you wrinkle it. These lines can often extend from the bridge of your nose to your lower eyelid. Botox injections can put an end to this but make sure that the doctor administering the injection has had experience treating this particular sign of ageing, for the best results.

It Can Be Used To Eradicate Crow’s Feet From The Corner Of Your Eyes
Crow’s feet are the fine lines that appear on the skin present at the corner of your eyes at times when you smile or laugh really hard. These are some of the worst signs of ageing that can give way to the fact that you are getting old!

Say Goodbye To Frown Lines
Frown lines are fine lines on your skin that make an appearance on the skin on your forehead when you furrow your eyebrows as you get upset, tired or angry. These lines take up a prominent space as your facial feature with age and Botox injections in this region of your body can help reduce the prominence of frown lines by many folds.

Smoker’s Lines Can Be Reduced As Well
As you age, you can develop perioral or popularly known as smoker’s lines. These will appear when you fan out the skin surrounding your lips.

Neck Cords Or Neck Bands Are Also Reduced Using Botox
As you age, the skin on your neck may start showing cords or simply saggy skin that results in the formation of lines. You can get Botox injected into the platysma muscles of your neck and say goodbye to neckbands. It also relaxes the muscles of your jawline thus giving you a non-invasive neck lift easily!

Botox is a safe treatment and it is recognised by the apex authorities of countless countries including the UK. The trick lies in the fact that you are getting the treatment from a revered skin clinic. Hence, when you search for ‘Botox clinics near me’ on the internet, make sure you are booking your Botox treatment appointment at a clinic that has been operating for a while and has a stellar online and offline reputation, for the best results.

Disclosure - this is a collaborative post 

Michelle
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Celebrate Summer And The BBQ Season With Jack's | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Jack's. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

We are finished for the Summer now and looking forward to a much needed break from work and school. We have a few things planned which we are looking forward to including weekends away, days out and play dates. We are praying that the weather is kind to us too so we can fill up the paddling pool and enjoy a BBQ in the sun. Jack's have stocked up their chillers with lots of BBQ essentials so I popped in to have a look and see what I could find. 

bbq food


The chillers had a mixture of Jack's own products and the Fire Pit range. Jack's also sell big brand names however the Jack's products are great value for money and as a regular shopper I know they are quality products that taste great. 

When it comes to tastes we are all different here so I decided to get a wide selection of products for us to sample ahead of our Summer BBQ's. 

sausage on a finger roll with sauces


BBQ's have come a long way over the years and although sausages and burgers are still a family favourite there are plenty more products to choose from. The Jack's prime pork sausages looked amazing and include prime British pork. We teamed it up with Jack's finger rolls and a choice of Jack's sauces. We can also rely on the Jack's 1/4lb burgers to be 100% British beef and tasted great on the Jack's brioche burger bun. 

kebabs

kebabs


Kebabs from the Fire Pit range seem to be popular. We went for the garlic and herb chicken kebabs, chicken and chorizo, sweet and smoky bbq beef kebabs and grilling cheese and vegetable kebabs. Like I said earlier we all have different tastes so the choice of kebabs are perfect for those who have fussy eaters. The range is also perfect when you are having a get together over the Summer and catering for more people. 

For those not familiar with Jack's, Jack's is a supermarket that was founded and named after Jack Cohen who is also the founder of Tesco. As well as Jack's own branded products you can also find a selection of Tesco and Britain's favourite brands in store. It's a go to supermarket that is very popular as you can shop quality products that are great value for money. 

As well as selling food and drink you can also browse the toys, games and homeware. 

Jack's has twelve  stores in the UK and they can be found at St Helen's, Sheffield, Edge Hill, Barnsley, Immingham, Wakefield, Liverpool North, Walton, Rubery, Castle Bromwich, Chatteris and Middlewich. A full store locator is available on the Jack's website.

kebabs

bbq food

bbq food


Jack's is outstanding value for money and we are regular shoppers at the store and have really enjoyed sampling their BBQ bundle. Unfortunately the Great British weather wasn't kind to us so we had to move our BBQ indoors but that wasn't a problem at all. All the products we chose are suitable for BBQs but can also be cooked either on the grill, in the oven or both. 

Are you looking forward to the Summer? Do you have any family BBQ's planned?

Michelle
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Elegear Cooling Blanket and Pillowcases

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post and compensated for our time. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

I am the type of person who is always hot yet I like to snuggle under a blanket on the sofa if I am watching TV or if I am in the garden in the evening. I would even take a blanket to the cinema if John would let me. As you can imagine finding the right blanket has always been tough. They are either too heavy, too fluffy or too hot so I usually end up with one or two legs out of the blanket or it just draped over my feet. 

woman in the garden with a blanket around her


When I heard about the Elegear Cooling blanket I was keen to give it a try as it sounds perfect for me. The idea behind the Elegear cooling blanket is it can absorb heat and sweat from your body, absorbing the heat helps to keep you cool. It does this by using special Japanese Q-Max 0.4 Cooling fibres. 

The Japanese Arc-Chill Cool Technology Fabric can quickly absorb human body heat. It does this when the human body touches the fabric. The body surface temperature immediately drops by about 2 to 5 degrees, so that the body feels cool.

elegear cooling blanket


The blanket is lightweight which surprised me at first as I thought it looked heavy when I took it out the packaging. There are different 'feels' on each side of the blanket and one side felt more clingy than the other. When I checked one side is made of 80% mica nylon and 20% polyethylene cool fabric which makes this side perfect for hot summers. The other side is 100% cotton so perfect for keeping cool on a Spring or Autumn evening. 

I have been using the cooling blanket on the sofa however it would be ideal as a throw over the bed as the range also features matching cooling pillowcases. The pillowcases work exactly like the cooling blanket, perfect to keep you cool during the hot evenings. 

Unfortunately I haven't been the only one using the blanket, I have had to share with the kids. This means that the cooling blanket has had to deal with sticky fingers and muddy hands. Luckily the Elegear Cooling blanket is machine washable. Wash on a gentle heat of up to 30° and then hang out in the shade. It's recommended that you do not iron, tumble dry, bleach or dry clean. 

We also found that the blanket felt warm after a few days so I would recommend popping the blanket near air conditioning or a fan if you have one. This will help to absorb the cooler temperature in to the blanket. If you don't have a/c or a fan then it can take a while for the cooling blanket to release the absorbed heat. 

However you choose to use the cooling blanket it will definitely keep you cool. It's perfect for the sofa, out on the patio, as a throw for the bed or even for travelling. 

elegear cooling blanket


The Elegear Cooling Blanket and Pillowcases are available to buy online at Amazon and come in a range of colours and sizes including blue, pink and grey. We chose 200x220cm in grey and it's a perfect size for the sofa or our bed. 

Michelle
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Why Bookkeeping Needs To Be Done By Someone Qualified

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post. 

Running your business is a task that can mix between interesting, challenging and rewarding instances on a day to day basis. However, when it comes to bookkeeping, most business owners find it a negative experience to have to sit and do it alone, preferring not to be bothered by anyone.

Bookkeeping


Bookkeeping is vital to the success of a business, where the responsibility lies in everything from sales invoicing to managing accounts to VAT returns to keep your business not just afloat, but feeling the benefits of daily operation.

Many business owners are not good when it comes to numbers and filing, and opt to have someone take care of it for them. This means either employing someone specifically for the task or outsourcing professional bookkeeping services.

Tasks at Hand
Dealing with business finances involves much more than filing a few receipts here and there - most of the time a bookkeeper will be on hand to offer support and advice, as well as managing cash flow and payroll processing.

When you pull in a bookkeeper to handle these areas as your business begins to grow, you are gaining a very valuable asset. However, you need to be sure that those responsible for your bookkeeping are qualified to do so, otherwise, you could stand to lose a lot of money very quickly.

In choosing someone not qualified, you may find that you have little to no feedback on debtors, creditors and reporting regularly, which means you will not have a grasp on how well or how bad your business is performing.

bookkeeping


Trust Issue
In working with professional bookkeeping services in Manchester, you need to feel that there is a position of trust and communication, understanding what is going on at all times with regards to customers, suppliers and bank accounts. 

Bookkeepers tend to earn that level of trust by always being accessible and providing insight and support not just to how the company is doing but also strategizing with you to help the company financially prosper. Without the knowledge and training that professional bookkeepers have, there is bound to be difficulty in solving any issues in accounting and recording that could end up to a way too late stage to fix.

Working With You
Professional bookkeepers work for many different kinds of clients, utilising many different structures and tools to help them keep on track. They also work well with other divisions helping to guide and support your business such as your accountant.

Whilst an accountant will work with you on tax planning and compliance, bookkeeping services work alongside both of you on your records and VAT. This makes for complete stability for your business where everyone's job aids the others.

Bookkeeping is a qualified profession and one that is tailored to helping businesses grow. Also as an individual bookkeeping is also a great way to save for holidays.

Michelle
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Is Luvanto Flooring a Reliable Investment?

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post.

 It's been a few years now since we had a huge makeover although last year we did add and update some of our old furnishing due to not having a Summer holiday due to covid-19. Everyone loves to undertake some home renovation over the year but find themselves constricted by a budget, having them source cheaper options to stay within its confines.

luvanto flooring


This can either result in choosing something subpar or discovering a real bargain. Knowing what is reliable and will not need a regular amount of repairs and touch-ups over time is a prime focus for those wanting long-lasting solutions, so it's no surprise that Luvanto luxury vinyl flooring has reaped the benefits for those looking to keep on budget.

Low Maintenance 
When it comes to enjoying your home, you want to be able to sit and enjoy the time without the constant worry of needing to clean up.

One of the main reasons people are turned on to vinyl is the ability to switch off from worrying about the floor. The many manufactured properties vinyl provides include anti-scratch and anti-slip functions which is a relief if you have kids or animals running through your room. The floor has the durability to withstand any potential accidents.

With the added durability and extra cushioned texture, vinyl can withstand much more than other household flooring options which adds further peace of mind.

Inexpensive 
Above all of the style and protection that luxury vinyl flooring presents, you want to know that what you will spend on your flooring is worth the money.

People who invest in vinyl flooring discover it is a much cheaper option over the carpet, laminate or wood/stone featured flooring. What you also can take into consideration is the relative savings in several areas.

Should an individual piece of flooring need to be replaced, it can be done without disrupting your floor by taking out the offending piece and replacing it with another. With the individual planks or tiles being very cheap to buy, you will find that it does not leave you out of pocket or have your budget stretched. Also, when you consider the savings on not requiring a professional fitter for the floor, you can treat it as a DIY project for that person in the house who likes to undertake a challenge.

luvanto flooring


Easy Clean
Everyone fears embarrassing situations where you may need to hide sections of your floor due to spillages from drink or sauces.

Instead of paying out for every kind of expensive chemical to clean up blotches on your floor, vinyl offers a simple solution - warm soapy water, a sponge, or a mop. There are other ways people have taken to cleaning their vinyl with ease to retain its original gloss, and with the benefit of anti-moisture properties, you are ensured that there is no leaking to the subfloor and ruining the long-term prospects of your floor.

Luvanto is perfect for a kitchen where heavy activity requires a floor that can take the heat. When working within a set budget for renovation, luxury vinyl tile flooring is a firm favourite for keeping money, style, and security under your feet.

Michelle
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Changing Our Colour Scheme To Match The Seasons

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Last October we decided that we would start to change our colour scheme in our living room to match the seasons. We bought lots of oranges and browns for Autumn, red was the perfect colour for Christmas and for Spring we chose yellow. Supermarkets and other shops that have a homeware department are the perfect place to look and you can usually buy most of the items in one place. When it came to Summer I wasn't too sure what colour to choose but we went for pink and grey. 

living room


There are two main focus points in our living room, the fireplace and the walls. We have a rug in front of the fireplace so that sets the tone for the room. Our walls are quite big so we need large pictures or art to fill the spaces so they don't look bare. We found some lovely prints online at Desenio that not only matched our new Summer colour scheme but are personal to us too. 

Desenio was founded in 2010 and has grown over the years to now have an online presence in 33 countries. The idea behind the brand is to offer stylish wall art at affordable prices. 

As well as wall art you can also add Desenio frames, hangars, picture ledges and clips to suit your needs.

Whilst browsing Desenio I looked through the maps and cities section. There are a few places that are special to us and I was hoping that I could find a print of New York and Paris. New York is where we got married and Paris is one of our favourite cities as it's home to Disneyland Paris the most magical place on Earth

Paris in Bloom



New York in Bloom

When I found the New York in Bloom picture it was just a perfect fit. It has a lovely Summer feel, it's pink and it's New York. I then found Blooming Paris which is a similar colour scheme with the Eiffel Tower in the background. 

gallery wall tool from Desenio


These were perfect and I knew they would go together well and match our colour scheme. If I was unsure I could use the Gallery Walls tool. This is perfect for those who don't have an eye for what things may look like. You start the by choosing a background. Our pictures are going above the sofa so I chose the sofa background. You can then choose how many pictures you wish to hang in the space and the sizes. I could then added my chosen prints and the tool showed me how it would look. You then have the choice to add frames to your order giving you a choice of colours. You can select the different colour frames to see which suits your print better. Once you are ready you can add to cart ready for you to purchase. 

Desenio Wall Art


The Desenio prints arrived swiftly and match the colour scheme perfectly. We have ordered some different prints too so we can swap after a few months but for now I love seeing our two favourite cities in bloom in our living room. 

There are lots of simple ways to improve your homes interior. Do you change your colour scheme to match the seasons?

Michelle
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5 Screen-Free Activities to Explore with Your Child | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. 

It's undeniably difficult for us to get away from technology, especially our smartphones. The same applies to children and lots of parents have concerns about their child’s screen-time. The question is: Are children using their phones and games consoles at a detriment to their physical and/or mental health? 

boys in the woods


Of course, there are lots of benefits to technology. It allows us to stay connected with friends and family all around the world, and the internet is a great source of information. We have also used technology over the last year to help us make homeschooling fun. There are also downsides to technology and parents should try and find some alternative activities to get their kids into so that they’re not staring at a screen every waking moment.  A prep school in Lincolnshire have the following suggestions for some screen-free activities.

Yoga
If you’re looking for something different for your child, and perhaps a way to help them relax, yoga might be a good option. It can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, and all you’ll need is a mat. Yoga improves strength, endurance, balance, and aerobic capacity, so it’s also great for their physical health.

Scrapbooking
Ask your child to keep an eye out for pictures and words that have meaning to them in newspapers, magazines, or books. They could even print some out and stick them into their scrapbook. Scrapbooking is a great way for children to express themselves and get their creative juices flowing. In school, children are often told they are right or wrong during lessons and are restricted to a timetable. Creative activities like scrapbooking make a nice change because there are no rules, no right or wrong, and no time constraints. 

Cooking/Baking
If there’s promise of a tasty treat at the end, most kids love to get involved with the cooking or baking. It’s actually a very education activity for them, because they learn how to use utensils safely, how to follow instructions in a recipe book and how to calculate oven times and measurements. 

Gardening 
Lots of kids love hands-on activities, so getting them to help you out in the garden might be a good option. Watching plants grow from seeds is a rewarding activity and teaches important life skills, like patience and determination. Gardening is also a chance for children to get some fresh air and exercise. 

Survival Skills
Another way to get your kids outside is to teach them some fun survival skills, like water purification or building a fire. Perhaps it could be turned into a screen-free family camping trip, during which time you get to bond, make memories and teach your child some valuable skills.

One of our favourites isn't mentioned above but we love searching for places to visit in the North West and heading out on a day out. It's such a lovely way to spend a morning, an afternoon or even the whole day. There is nothing better than exploring in the woods, riding a rollercoaster or having a picnic in the park. 

Do you have any screen free activities you enjoy?

Michelle
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Why Are School Trips Important for Children? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. 

One of the things little J is most looking forward to when restrictions lessen is going on a school trip. It's been well over 18 months now since he last hopped on a coach and headed out for the day with his class mates. Big J is always telling him stories about the time he went to Wales, France and his favourite a skiing holiday with his school friends. First-hand experiences for children are one of the best ways for them to learn, which is why school trips are so important. They can form some of a child’s fondest memories and generally just give youngsters a well-deserved break from a traditional classroom environment. I have teamed up with a private school in Hertfordshire to discuss the benefits of school trips in further detail. 

children wearing wellies


Improves Academic Performance
There’s a unique sense of excitement that comes with bringing a subject to life outside of a classroom. This interactive learning helps students develop a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. It often easier to remember information when it is attached to a fond memory, so students might find it easier to recall facts and figures that they have learnt on a trip, as opposed to from a textbook. As a result, students who attend school trips are likely to have improved academic performance. This is especially true for kinaesthetic learners who are better at absorbing information when they are moving around and engaging their senses. 

Classroom learning is obviously crucial, but without a break from time to time, students can find it tedious and lose their momentum. School trips are great for re-capturing a child’s attention and interest in a particular topic and may even inspire new passions and pursuits at home. 

Builds Relationships
School trips provide an opportunity for students to bond with their peers and teachers. They are often asked to work in pairs or groups during their trips, helping with their interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team. In addition, they will be able to see their teacher in a different light – someone who can have fun too. As a result, students are more likely to feel a sense of belonging within the school community, helping them with their confidence and feeling of security. What’s more, they may be more comfortable engaging in group discussions and collaborative tasks back in the classroom, again contributing to better progression in lessons. 

A New Challenge
For students who are a little shy and don’t feel comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone, a school trip can force them to face new challenges. They might have to ask for directions or order food without their parents there to help them, which will ultimately help them with their self-assurance. It’s even important for adults to challenge themselves from time to time and try something new.

I am guessing little J's first trip after restrictions may just be a short visit to the park, farm or cinema but he cannot wait.

Michelle
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What are the Three Main Learning Styles for Children? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid post. 

Did you know that different people process and absorb information in different ways? In other words, we don’t all learn in the same way. There are three main learning styles and it’s important for parents to try and understand which one is most suited to their child so that they are in a better position to help them succeed in school. For instance, you will be able to change the way you explain things or invest in some more appropriate learning tools. A private nursery in London has put together the following information on the three main learning styles.

play dough and tools


Visual Learners
Visual learners like to read, write, and draw to help them absorb information and they often like to doodle. They typically find graphs and diagrams helpful when interpreting data and tend to enjoy the use of lots of colours and visual cues when studying. They also tend to have a good sense of direction. 

Auditory Learners
While a visual learner might like to read for pleasure, auditory learners prefer to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. They are better at understanding information when it is verbally explained to them rather than read from a textbook. They are also great communicators because they are good at listening and also engaging in discussions. If your child is an auditory learner, you may notice them reading aloud while studying to help them process the material at hand. 

Kinaesthetic Learners
If your child is a kinaesthetic learner, they will be drawn to hands-on subjects like drama, art, or sport. They are better at processing information through sensory cues so like to move around and feel things. Kinaesthetic learners typically struggle to sit still for long periods of time and often like to fiddle with something. 

To determine which type of learner your child seems to be, you will need to observe them and consider what sparks their interests. Do they like to get their hands dirty and play outside or are they quite happy curling up with a book for hours on end? There is a chance your child might fall into more than one of the above categories, so that’s also something to bear in mind.

Once you have established what type of learner your child is, you should have a greater understanding of how you can aid their learning. For instance, if you think your child is a visual learner, you can buy them lots of coloured pens and paper to use when they’re studying.

Michelle
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How to Raise an Inquisitive Child | AD

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When our children are being inquisitive, they are constantly learning. They ask lots of questions about the world around them and like to explore and uncover new information. Although their relentless questions can be exhausting for parents, it’s important to encourage this sense of curiosity to help aid their overall progression. Here are some tips from a prep school in Surrey to help you raise an inquisitive child.

boy chatting to woman



Try New Things
The more you expose your child to new experiences, the more curious they will be. Try and mix up your routine from time to time to spark their imaginations. This doesn’t have to be anything major, just a new recipe or a trip somewhere you haven’t been before. 

When people ask you what they can get for your child for their birthday or Christmas, encourage them to give experiences rather than gifts. This will open your child’s world up to a range of new encounters that they will always remember.

Wonder Aloud
Voicing your thoughts out loud for your child to hear will show them that it’s perfectly normal to be inquisitive. Say things like “I wonder where this banana was grown” or “why do you think the leaves on this tree are green?”. Ask open-ended questions so that your child has to think about their answers. As a result, your child will feel more comfortable voicing their own thoughts and questions and will encourage them to think more deeply about things that are seemingly pretty boring.

Encourage Your Child’s Interests
If your child has demonstrated a natural interest in something, try and help them pursue it. For instance, if they seem interested in gardening and nature, buy them some seeds to plant and some gardening tools so that they can turn their interest in a hobby. Take them on walks through the woods and show them how to take cuttings. Your child will be more inquisitive about things that they’re interested in.

You should also try and promote their sense of discovery by allowing them to play and explore in an unstructured way. Supply them plenty of toys and tools that stimulate their learning.

Ask Your Child for their Own Thoughts
If your child comes to you with curious thoughts and questions, ask them what they think before you answer. Encourage them to do their own research using the internet and books, so that they don’t have to rely on you to answer their questions. 

Michelle
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Finding A New Hobby

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I don’t think any of us were prepared for  2020 and what the year brought. We started the year with an idea of what our year was going to look like, holiday plans, special events and birthdays however none of that went ahead and instead we spent most of the year safe at home. I know for most, 2020 was the year of trying new things, exploring your local area, and trying to keep your mental well-being and health a priority. In between working from home, homeschooling, and our daily exercise walks we found that we needed to keep ourselves busy and decided to each take up a new hobby. Lockdown was the perfect time for us to explore new hobbies and try new things that we may not have tried before. 

painting


Chums had an idea and wanted to delve into the most creative past times that Britons have been loving over the last year. They decided to research creative hobbies that Britain is loving the most according to Google search. The results are really interesting and two of our hobbies that we decided to try and still continue to enjoy are within the top 10 searches. The top ten searches were jigsaw puzzles, knitting, sewing, creative writing, painting, sudoku, baking, embroidery, crochet and scrapbooking.


jigsaw puzzle pieces


I'm not sure when I decided to buy myself a jigsaw but it was quite early on in lockdown. I ordered one from Amazon and started as soon as it arrived. I had no idea how calm and relaxing completing a jigsaw puzzle could be. It helped me focus on something, took my mind off the outside world and refreshing the news and it was really fun to do. There are so many different jigsaws to choose from depending on your likes and also how many pieces you want to try and complete. I decided to choose a Disney puzzle because that is something I love and makes me happy and I went for a 1000 piece jigsaw which kept me busy. I got myself into a little routine, taking a hour in the afternoon to complete my jigsaw puzzle while the boys were busy. It really helped with my stress levels and actually helped me maintain a healthy well-being. It seems I wasn’t the only one, as the search team jigsaw puzzles on average collected 362,000 monthly searches according to Chums research.

baked cookies


Another hobby that we took up was baking. Finding baking recipes online was really fun however trying to get ingredients during lockdown wasn’t easy but we did our best. Baking was something that we could do as a family and it especially helped with homeschooling little J. It was such a fun activity and he didn’t realise he was learning at the same time. We incorporated maths, physical development, communication and problem-solving. Using google search for baking recipes on average had 64,000 searches on Google and like jigsaw puzzles came in the top 10 most searched.


It's never too late to start up a new hobby. I have found my stress levels have decreased since completing jigsaws. It really has helped be focus on something and reduces boredom too. Baking together has also helped this too. There is no better feeling than sitting down to eat something you have created, it definitely gives you a sense of achievement. If you are looking for inspiration check out Chums for more creative hobby ideas and let them know by using #CreativeBritain on socials.

Michelle
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Helping Your Child Become More Resilient | AD

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Resilience is a skill that helps children to adapt well to challenging situations. Children who are encouraged to have a resilient attitude will not only feel more confident, but they will also be better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs. So how do you help your child to become more resilient? Here are some great tips from an independent school for girls in Surrey.

resilience spelt out in scrabble letters



Always Look For The Positives
Children are always watching their parents, so it is essential for you to think about how you react to stressful situations. Try not to complain in front of your children. The more you complain, the more likely it is that your children will too. Always try to look for the positives, even when you are frustrated. For example, “I know it is disappointing that the shop was closed, but at least we discovered this new park”.

Encourage A Growth Mind-Set
Discuss what ‘resilience’ means with your child and help them to understand how they can practice a ‘growth mind-set’. A growth mind-set is really useful for children because it will support them through many challenges and setbacks. Children with a growth mind-set believe that their abilities will improve over time, which motivates them to keep trying. 

person spraying a work top


Give Your Child More Responsibility
To help your child cultivate a resilient attitude, you will need to give them more responsibility. Letting your child do more things on their own will not only help them to learn, but it will also make them feel more confident. You could allocate household jobs to your son or daughter, such as feeding a pet or doing the washing up. This will increase their feelings of competency and give you a helping hand around the house.

Allow Your Children To Learn From Mistakes
As a parent, it is tempting to protect our children from failure, however sometimes they need to be allowed to make mistakes. Letting your child make mistakes will help them to learn where they went wrong and it will also help to build resilience and confidence when doing the same task again.

Help Your Child To Manage Their Emotions
Sometimes the key to calming your child’s emotional outbursts is simply acknowledging their feelings. Let your child know that you understand how they feel. You can also help your child to recognise these feelings by labelling their emotions. For example, “I know you are disappointed that you can’t go to your friend’s house” or “I can see you are angry that your brother took your toy”. This will help your child to learn that all emotions, even the bad ones, are okay.

We have always tried to help the boys be resilient. Do you have any other tips?

Michelle
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How to Motivate Your Child To Do Their Homework | AD

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It can be a battle for parents to motivate their children to do their homework; but homework doesn’t always have to cause a war at home! In fact, there are lots of ways you can make homework feel fun and less of a chore. Follow these helpful tips from a Nursery & Pre-Prep School in Romsey to help motivate your child to do their homework.

boy doing homework
Make A Routine
As parents, we understand the importance of helping children to develop a routine. That applies to homework, too. Teachers recommend that children should try and do their homework at the same time, in the same place and on a regular basis, so that starting homework becomes a part of their daily routine.

Create A Desk Space
To help motivate your child to learn, you could create a special desk space for homework, reading or art and crafts. Add some storage, new stationary and books to make the idea of homework seem much more organised and fun. You could even stick some educational posters to the wall and decorate the area in your child’s favourite theme.

Learn With Your Child
You could try sharing homework time with your son or daughter. Sit together in the same space as your child while they complete their homework and use the time to enjoy a favourite creative hobby or take an online learning class. This will not only mean that you are close by if they need your help, but it will also make homework time feel special.

Visit A Museum
If your child is studying a particular topic at school, you could help to make their homework more exciting by organising an educational day out to a museum. Museums allow children to engage more in what they are learning about. Furthermore, a fun family day out will create many lasting memories.

Show Your Support
It is important for parents to remember that the more supported a child feels at home, the better they will perform at school. Help your child to value their education by taking an interest in what they are learning about. Ask questions about their school topics and show your support by helping to gather information for their homework. 

boy on his scooter


Finally, don’t forget to make time for fun family activities when they have completed their homework! Rewarding your children with a much-needed break from their studies will help them to do better academically in the long run.

Michelle
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The Benefits of School Uniform for Children | AD

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Most schools require children to wear a uniform. The school uniform usually includes the school emblem or particular colours that represent the school. Some schools insist on a formal uniform, where a blazer and tie must be worn at all times, however most schools adopt a more casual approach; like a T-shirt with the school logo. There are many reasons why a uniform is important at school and you may be surprised to learn that a school uniform offers a number of benefits too. I have collaborated with an independent school in Taunton to explore some of these benefits.

children running in to school


School Uniform Improves Safety
One of the main reasons that schools require children to wear uniform is student safety. A uniform helps teachers to easily identify their students on a school trip or spot an intruder on the school premises. In addition, school uniform reduces the risk of students becoming victims of crime when wearing expensive designer clothing or jewellery.

School Uniform Supports Learning
Many educational experts and studies agree that having a school uniform policy helps to create a better educational environment. This is because it helps students to focus on what they are learning, instead of being distracted by what others are wearing or bringing into school.

School Uniform Reduces Bullying
Allowing children to wear their own clothing to school can lead to bullying. However, when all children are dressed in the same uniform, there is less competition about who has the best outfit or who is wearing the most expensive brand. School uniform helps children to focus on character rather than appearance.

School Uniform is Cost Effective
School uniform helps parents to save money by not having to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Families typically purchase uniform for their children at the beginning of each school year. This is because school uniforms are made to last, using durable materials that can withstand daily wear and tear.

School Uniform is Time Saving
Having a school uniform helps to reduce the time it takes for your children to get ready for school. If they had to choose a different outfit every day, you would have a lot of late mornings! A uniform not only reduces stress for parents, but it also helps to reduce the pile of washing you have at the end of the week.

School Uniform Builds Team Spirit
Finally, when students go on school trips or visit other schools, they are representing the school they belong to with their uniform. This creates a sense of pride. By encouraging children to wear a school uniform it will help to build a strong team spirit.

I actually can't believe we will be buying September uniform soon. I feel like they haven't even been back that long.

Michelle
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How to Be More Efficient at Work | AD

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If you want to be more efficient at work you don't need to make huge adjustments to your routine. There are ways to get more done by simply cutting out distractions and making small changes to your work space. Sometimes, even the smallest changes can make the biggest impact. For example, turning off social media notifications on your phone or simply having a tidy up. Here are some tips to help you be more efficient at work.

tidy desk space


Prioritise Your Work
Start each morning prioritising your work load. This may sound really simple, but we all know how easy it can be to do the things you enjoy first and put off the more complicated tasks. Try and categorise each task and sort them into high, medium and low levels of urgency. Start with the tasks that need to be done by the end of the day, and once these are completed you can focus on the less important ones. This will help you to feel less stressed about meeting important deadlines and boost your productivity.

Tidy Up Your Work Space
One of the easiest ways to improve your efficiency at work is to tidy up your desk. Clear your workspace and get yourself organised. A clean work space will not only improve your productivity, but it will also help to clear your mind. Give your computer files a clear out too. Delete old files and create new folders to organise your files more effectively. You should also try to get into a routine of putting your work away and cleaning up your desk at the end of the day.


tidy desk space


Limit Those Distractions
Smart phones are one of the biggest work distractions. So be sure to switch off your phone, or at least your notifications during work hours. This will prevent you from checking your phone and help you to stay focused on your to-do list. The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media channels on your work desktop, you should stay logged out of your personal account to avoid those distracting little ‘pings’.

Update Your Office Technology
Updating your office technology can really have an impact on the way you work. For example, investing in a faster computer or getting the help of managed print services can make a huge difference to your business. This is because managed print services allow you to create a bespoke printing strategy that fits around your business. This will not only help to save you money, but it will also improve productivity.

Do you have any tips on how you have been more efficient at work?

Michelle
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Bookkeeping Tips To Help You Save for Holidays | AD

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Accounting and bookkeeping rightly belong in the realms of business, but not exclusively. The skills and applications needed cross into personal finance too. Whether you’re in business or not, money management plays a big role in financial wellbeing, so we’ve put together some solid tips for everyone trying to save money. 

beach



Take Your Cue from Business
Just as business owners might make financial decisions after collaboration with staff or advice from an accountant, personal financial decisions are stronger if all the family is on board and can have a say. Saving for holidays is a great way to introduce children to budgeting, for instance. 

Budgeting means informed planning of your expenses balanced against your income, and preferably putting some kind of time frame on the plan. Having a time frame gives your goal some structure and helps keep you focused, especially if temptations to overspend crop up, which can happen in business just as easily as in family finances.

Informed planning comes from understanding spending patterns and trends. You might think you know exactly how you spend money, but until you break it down and study it a bit you can’t be sure you’re not missing savings opportunities.

Here’s how to dig into your spending habits.

Track Your Expenses
If you do any kind of business operation you should be doing this anyway, but it’s just as important for personal finances. Similar skills and methods apply to small business accounting, just on a deeper, more complex level. If it can work for business, it can surely work for families.

Tracking your household spending is relatively easy with nothing more complex than a notebook or simple spreadsheet. If you take the spreadsheet route, remember to get a receipt for everything so you don’t forget a purchase when you’re at the computer. Once you’ve recorded the information on the receipt, you can get rid of it - unless you want to save it as a proof of purchase.

Create your tracker with just four columns, giving them the headings of ‘Date, ‘Cost’, ‘Item’ and ‘Balance’. Start the balance off by jotting down the amount currently in your bank account. Remember to include direct debits so your personal records tally with what’s going out of your bank.

Start a new page at least every month and keep your records up to date so it only takes a few minutes now and then. It doesn’t have to be a daily task unless you have a lot of daily expenses to track.

bookkeeping


Delve Into the Numbers
Once you’ve got a few weeks of records, you can start figuring out where you can make the most savings. The mistake many people make when they’re trying to increase savings is to start by cutting out leisure or pleasure purchases. This isn’t the best way of cutting down on spending as you’ll soon give up if you start feeling deprived.

A better way is to figure out ways of spending less on necessities. You’ll find categories of spending in your ‘Item’ column, and that will tell you where you’re spending most money. You can shop around for better deals, switch to zero interest credit cards, or look for better terms on utilities. 

It might also throw up some surprises. Maybe you didn’t realise how much take-aways were costing each month, or how much you were spending online if all your purchases were small ones. It can be shocking to see how little spends add up over a month.

Seeing the amounts in black and white can be a bit startling, but they also empower you to take control.

This isn’t a complicated system, and just about anybody can put it into action. It’s a far better way of figuring out how to save than randomly trying to cut back.  One of the reasons there’s sometimes more month than money is because the thought of tracking spending can feel overwhelming. 

Maybe like us, you’re saving for something special like a big holiday, or maybe you just want to manage money better so you can have a few luxuries or days out. Keeping a close eye on your spending in a simplified accounting system means you always know what’s going on with your money, and you can choose to some extent how you spend or save it.

Michelle
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