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

17 July 2021

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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

7 July 2021

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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

5 July 2021

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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?

21 June 2021

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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

14 June 2021

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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. 

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

10 June 2021

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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

9 June 2021

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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

2 June 2021

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Disclosure - this is collaborative post 

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

24 May 2021

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration

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

22 May 2021

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration

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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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration and contains affiliate links.

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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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration

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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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration

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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Big Little Tent Festival This Easter | AD

30 March 2021

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with The Little Big Tent Festival 

The clocks have sprung forward so the nights are getting lighter and for us that means more time in our garden. We spent so much time in our garden last year due to being in lockdown and staying at home. The weather was kind to us and we had lots of fun playing garden games, playing in the pool and also making tents and camping outside. 

The little big tent festival bunting

While we were safe at home last year we were introduced to the Big Little Tent Festival. The Caravan Club created the idea of Big Little Tent Festival during lockdown. It was an idea that meant we could still enjoy all the fun of the great outdoors but from our own home. 

Big Little Tent Festival is back again this year and is taking place over the Easter weekend which falls on the 3rd and 4th April. Restrictions in the UK are still in place so this is the perfect way to get outdoors, pitch a tent, and enjoy nature all from your own garden. 

There are lots of festival fun and activities to join in with across the weekend including a Zoom party to meet The Mermaid Princess and The Friendly Neighbourhood Hero for games, superhero training, and a campfire song! You can take part in their facebook love children's quiz, enjoy bushcraft and so much more. 

You’ll find all the information you need on their Facebook page - Big Little Tent Festival

To get you in the festival and camping mood the Caravan Club have created a free downloadable pack which contains everything your and your family will need for a home camping festival experience. 

Little big Tent Festival wristband


Create your own festival wristbands. Use the wristband templates in the pack to make them as colourful as you like. 

Decorate your garden or home with The Big Little Tent festival colour your own bunting. 

Create a To Do list. Everything you need to make the festival fun.

Whether you're camping indoors or outside there is a packing list perfect for you. 

Boy colouring in


Lots of fun activities for the kids to enjoy, word search, garden bingo, spot the difference and much more, 

When you download the pack you will be entered in to a draw for a chance to win with Raleigh. Raleigh are offering the chance to win one of two amazing bikes. 

Raleigh's Pop and Molli children's bikes are worth up to £350 each. Perfect for exploring the great outdoors and getting some exercise too. 

Make sure you join in with The Big Little Tent Festival Twitter party on Wednesday 31st March between 7-8pm to find out lots more about the Caravan Club and The Big Little Tent Festival. There will be chances to win prizes too. Make sure you follow @BigLittleTent and use the hashtag #BLTF21 in your tweets. 

boys in a tent


Not matter whether you have a tent or have to improvise, camp indoors or out, the Little Big Tent Festival is fun for all and the perfect way to spend an Easter Weekend

Michelle
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Snacks and Lunch Bag Fillers From Jack's | AD

16 March 2021

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

We have successful completed the first week back at school and it went really well. I think we all had the same idea that it was time for our children to get back to some kind of normality and routine. Staying at home for a short period is okay but it is no good for our little ones long term as they need to be with children their own age and little J was ready to be back in his social circle. 

boy holding a pack lunch bag
I knew once little J was back to school he would adapt well to being up and out before 9am , however I was worried about how he would cope during the day just having a snack and his lunch. There has been lots of posts on socials from parents joking how will their kids survive during the day without their second breakfast, 52 snacks before lunch and it's true. While at home our children have definitely snacked more. Little J has a packed lunch at school so I need to make sure I provide him with a healthy but filling lunch each day whilst not denting the bank balance too much. 

At Christmas we headed to Jacks to shop festive treats on a budget so we decided to pop to our local Jacks again to stock up on lunch box fillers and snacks.

Jacks Supermarket
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 at outstanding value. 

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

sandwich, apple and crisps


Packed Lunch Ideas
Little J is a very fussy eater and is often unsure about trying anything new so his lunches each week are usually a variety of sandwiches, pasta and chicken. 

Packed lunch bag filled with food
Jacks Supermarket Sandwich fillers

Sandwich fillers are little J's favourite sandwich choice so we popped a choice of egg and tuna in our trolley. Each pack makes up to 4 sandwiches. I will usually use the Tuna filler on a sandwich one day and then add it to cold pasta the next day so it covers two different lunches. 

Lunchbox filled with food

Another lunch choice is another of little J's favourite chicken fillet and a small cheese block. I love that as well as Jack's own brand I can also shop brands that we also love too under one roof. 

Lunch box extras are usually one or two pieces of fruit. Jack's fruit is always really fresh with reasonable expiry dates. You can also shop their fresh five with offers on fruit and veg every two weeks. 

I will then add a packet or crisps or crackers, a small treat such as a biscuit and a drink. 

Where Can I Find A Jack's Store?
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.

a variety of shopping from Jack's
As you may know from previous posts we do like to shop with a budget in mind so we don't get carried away whilst in store. Our break time snacks and lunch box fillers cost less than £20 and lasted us beyond the school week. Having the choice of Jack's and other brands all in one place allows you to add  a variety of items to suit your family tastes and budget. 

Michelle
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Have Parental Control With Star On Disney+ | AD

25 February 2021

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Disclosure - This post is in collaboration with Disney+ however we are subscribers of the service already so any thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

We have been subscribers to Disney+ since it was DisneyLife and have watched it grow over the years to include Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and The Simpsons. Just when we thought it couldn't get any bigger, Disney+ also now includes Star and also new easy to use parental controls.

Boys watching TV


What Is Disney+
Disney+ is the streaming home for entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more. Disney+ brings you exclusive originals with new feature films, shows, short-form content, including the world's first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian - streaming only on Disney+. You can also watch the new Marvel mini series WandaVision. 

As a Disney+ subscriber you have unlimited access to thousands of the Disney movies and shows that are completely advert free offering you a high-quality viewing experience with unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices.

What's New?
As mentioned Star on Disney+ was launched on 23rd February alongside a new feature for parental controls. 

Parental Controls on Disney+


Parental Controls
Disney+ offers robust parental controls to ensure that Disney+ remains a suitable viewing experience for everyone in the family. We have three adults at home and little J who will be turning 8 soon so I was eager to find out how subscribers can set access limits on mature content and also create PIN-protected profiles to give us parents and guardians peace of mind.

Easy To Use
When opening Disney+ for the first time after the launch of Star on Disney+, subscribers will be asked
if they want to opt in to access mature content. This will change the content rating on their profile from 14+ to 18+. Opting in as an 18+ subscriber will give you the full content catalogue available within Star on Disney+. If you choose 'Not Now' your content will set to a rating of 14+, which gives you limited access to the Star catalogue on Disney+. 

Once you decide to make the change and have full access to the Star catalogue on Disney+ you enter your password to confirm the change.
 
As I said earlier we are a household of 3 adults and 1 child and as every household is different Disney+ allows you to create up to seven profiles per account. This allows each profile to have a viewing experience tailored to their age. 

When you click on the main account avatar there is an option to edit profiles. You can click on each profile to edit the content rating for each member of your family. 

It was really easy to turn on parental controls, however this could not be done on our TV we had to do it from a mobile device or desktop. If you do need any help setting up the parental controls there is a short 1 minute video 

Parental Controls on Disney+


The content rating options are 0+, 6+, 9+, 12+, 14+, 16+ and 18+. Content ratings provide guidance for parents and children on all TV series and movies. Each TV series and movie on Disney+ has been given a specific rating to offer a recommendation on its suitability. 

I thought it would be a good idea to give an example of movies and series for each content rating.

0+ Disney Junior series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Sound oO Music
6+ Disney Pixar movie - Soul
9+ Disney Tim Burton movie Alice in Wonderland, We Bought A Zoo
12+ Marvel Series WandaVision
14+ Star on Disney+ original Big Sky
16+ Comedy movie Borat
18+ Drama Crime Series Sons of Anarchy

Kids Profiles
Kids profiles are also an option that can be selected on Disney+. These profiles are specifically designed to be used by a younger audience and feature a unique design and user experience. All content available in this profile has a content rating of 7 and below, and will not include any content that features a content advisory warning.

Kid Proof Exit
If your child decides to click to exit their kids profile the kids proof exit feature makes it harder to leave a kids profile with the addition of an exit question. This feature can be found under a new Parental Controls menu, within Settings and account verification will be required to turn this feature on.

Profile Pin
An extra feature to provide parents with peace of mind that their child will not access mature content now available with Star on Disney+ is a profile pin. Account holders can secure profiles set to an 18+ content rating with a profile pin. 

After we had set up our Star on Disney+ access to 18+ it did ask us if we wanted to create a profile pin then however account holders can set a pin at any time under profile settings.

Star tile on Disney+


Star On Disney+
Now that you have set up your parental controls you can explore the whole new world of entertainment. Star is now fully integrated in to Disney+ and offers over 75 TV series, 280 movies and four Star Originals plus new content will be uploaded every week too.

Star has its own tile on the Disney+ home page. When you click it, it will bring up a choice of movies and series based on genre, featured or our favourite bingeable series

TV Series
When I saw the list of TV series that will be available my eye instantly went to Grey's Anatomy. Grey's is a favourite of mine and I know how popular the show is so I think this will be a very popular choice with the first 15 full series available to watch. 

John is looking forward to X Files. He has been wanting to binge watch the series for years but never got round to it so that will definitely be on our 'to watch' list. 

Grey's Anatomy and X Files are just 2 of over 75 series available including Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Modern Family, Glee and How I Met Your Mother to name a few. 

Movies
280 new movies are available to with Star on Disney+ so you will never be stuck for something to watch. I have checked the whole list and there are so many to look forward to including Pretty Woman, Shallow Hal, Moulin Rogue, The Devil Wears Prada, Die Hard 2 and 275 more!

Originals
One of my favourite features of Disney+ is the originals available. Originals are exclusive to Disney+ and I am pleased to say that Star has an initial four originals of their own. 

Crime thriller Big Sky
Love, Simon spin-off series Love,Victor 
Adult animated sitcom Solar Opposites
Drama series Helstrom

How Much Does Star On Disney+ Cost?
Star on Disney+ is included in your Disney+ subscription. If you are already a subscriber, the Star on Disney+ content will be available from 23rd February 2021. 

If you do not subscribe to Disney+, UK customers can subscribe for £7.99 per month, or £79.90 annually (annual price available at most retailers). 

Full details on how to subscribe will be available on Disneyplus.com. Current prices for existing subscribers (prior to 23 February) will be honoured for six months, with the price change taking effect on the monthly or annual renewal date following 23rd August 2021.

Disney+ is a service that offers so much entertainment in our home and the addition of Star on Disney+ has given us a whole new range of entertainment to enjoy.

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

Are you a Disney+ subscriber? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you have been watching recently.

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Michelle
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