Top Tips
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Tips To Help You Prepare For Christmas

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post. The idea for this post, thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year. Everything builds up to Christmas day and if you are not prepared it can make Christmas the most stressful time of year too. There is plenty you can do to help you prepare for Christmas day and make it as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Here are our tips to help you prepare for Christmas. 

merry christmas sign
dinner table set


Decide Who Is Hosting
If you have a family Christmas it is wise to decide who is hosting as soon as possible. Making Christmas dinner is a big task and if it falls on you to host you will want to know sooner rather than later. 

Buy Christmas Food Early And Book A Home Delivery Shop Just Before Christmas
In December we start adding a few food items and treats to our weekly shops. It helps spread the cost of Christmas and it saves panic buying a few days before when all the shops are running low on stock levels. We always make sure we book a supermarket home delivery a few days before Christmas too as supermarkets are always so busy stressful on the days before Christmas. A home delivery takes the stress away all you need to do is order online and wait for it to arrive. 

christmas presents


Christmas Present Shopping Early
Hopefully by now you will have started your Christmas shopping but if you still have some Christmas gifts to buy start browsing online now. It's so much easier to shop online as you can find lots of gift ideas and inspiration from the comfort of your sofa. A great way to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the high street shops. 

Watch and Wrap
I actually like wrapping presents but when you have a lot of wrapping to do it can become a huge chore. We always pop on a Christmas movie that we have seen many times before and have it playing while we wrap. It makes the time go so much quicker.

christmas planner


Fill In Your Calendar, Planner Or Diary
December is a busy month and you may be out an about more than usual. Make sure you use a planner or calendar to fill in your social events, school activities, days out and get togethers. There is nothing worse than double booking.

Stock Up On Batteries
Buy extra batteries so you have spares in case any friends or family members give your children battery powered toys. Most small to medium children’s toys will require AA or AAA batteries. Larger toys may require C or D batteries. Having spares to hand will also mean that there are no tears if batteries do end up running dry before the end of the day. There are some toys can drain batteries very quickly too if played with continuously.

Enjoy The Day 
We all spend so much time preparing, planning and waiting for the big day to arrive that its easy to get to the point where you actually miss the entire day through trying to make sure that everything runs perfectly. Remember that Christmas is about spending time with family and friends so make sure that is what you do. If you have children then these will be the days they remember the most. They will remember the time you spent with them more than the present they forgot about years ago. 

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Are you looking forward to celebrating Christmas? Are you Prepared? Leave us a comment below and let us know. 

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Michelle
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Teaching Your Child How To Ride A Bike

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boy riding a bike

You may have seen in our earlier post that Little J has learnt to ride his bike during lockdown. During the time teaching him I have noted down the most useful things  I learnt while teaching him. Here are my nine tips to help teach your child
how to ride a bike.

Start As Early As You Can
The younger you start teaching, the better.  We started quite late with little J and he was scared of falling off.  If we had have started earlier then the fear of injury isn't there as much and can help progress quicker.

Be Prepared To Be Patient
You need to set time aside every day to practice, practice and practice some more.  Praise after every try, even if no progress was made that day as this will make the next days practice easier.

Set Small Goals
Make use of safe spaces to start with. We started in the garden, on artificial grass. Although its harder to pedal on than road, Little J felt safer knowing he would land on the soft floor if he fell.

Start With Balance and Basic Control
We started with stabilisers on to get used to getting on and off the bike,  and general control, steering and pedal movement.  Even stabilisers can be hard to balance so make sure you explain this and don't expect too much on the first go!

Continue With Balance
Take the stabilisers off as soon as they have mastered the basics.  Then focus on helping them get the balance of the bike.  No need to use pedals (and maybe take them off - we did this to help Little J) Make sure they can push themselves off and then glide along with feet off the floor as much as possible.

Re - Attach The Pedals
Begin by holding your child, not the handlebars, or the bike. Hold onto then from the side and help them start off. Keep hold of them while they get used to the pedals and combining with balance.  This is the part that took the longest for us, maybe as the space we used wasn't big.  Keep going forward and back, and start to let go of them for seconds at a time so they start to get used to riding alone.

Move outside
We moved to the road outside next.  Here there is much more space, the road is easier to ride on than the grass, and here is where you will make the most progress. Continue to hold on to your child to get them started and then follow the same pattern as before. Stay alongside them, not in front or behind and when you hold on, hold on to the child only.

Let Go
As you repeat this, let go for longer periods of time, encourage turning, be prepared to start running alongside if your child is still scared of falling.

On Their Own
As confidence grows you will be able to stop running alongside and let them go. Well done - they have now learned a skill they will never forget.

I hope this short guide will help you with the challenge fo helping your child learn to ride their bike. Remember to be patient, as not all children will learn at the same pace, and it times you will think they will never get it, but they will and they will be over the moon when they do.

John
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Ways To Make Bath Time More Fun

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Disclosure - We were sent a selection of Kids Stuff Crazy products which have been included below and this post also mentions products previously gifted and contains affiliate links. 

boy in the bath smelling soap

I'm not sure whether it's a boy thing or just a little J thing but recently having a bath has been a no go area for little J. He has started to prefer just to jump in and out of the shower. Firstly I am grateful that he actually wants to get a wash but I do like him to have a bath at least once or twice a week as not only is it nice to have a soak but it's relaxing and sometimes he needs that 'calm down' just before bed. Apparently bath times are boring when you are a seven year old so we have decided to come up with ways to make bath time more fun again. 

boy holding up a ball in the bath

Water Basketball

It's not actually a basketball and a hoop, it's a small ball and a jug but little J loves trying to score points throwing the ball in to the jug. We pretend he is in a fairground and he can win 'pretend prizes'.

Making Potions

Using empty and clean toiletry bottles little J enjoys making potions. I will let him squirt a few drops of different body washes (the more colourful the better) in to the bottles and then he fills them up with water and mixes the colours. 

Slime Bath

Creating a gooey bath is so much fun. We use Gelli Bath products. They come in a variety of colours and textures such as slime or gelli. They are really fun and it just adds a little bit of fun to bath time. 

Hide and Seek

When the bath is full of bubbles we will drop in a few of small items while he has his eyes closed. He then has to keep his eyes closed and use his hands to feel for items and try and guess what he has found.

boy squeezing shaping foam soap

Sensory Play

Adding textures and smells to bath time can really help relax a child. We have been using Kids Stuff Crazy soap and not only does it smell amazing (especially purple grape) but the soap can actually be moulded and shaped to add to the fun. 

Music Time

Whether it's chill out music or the latest pop songs adding music to our bath time routine has definitely helped get him in the tub. 

Extra Screen Time

We bought a very cheap tray that goes across the bath. It was actually meant for me but sometimes little J will use it to finish off a you tube video he has been watching. It's a great way to get a resilient child in to the tub by offering an extra ten minutes of screen time.


Hopefully these ideas will help make bath time more exciting for your little one and if you have any different ideas we would love to hear them so pop them in the comments below. 

Michelle
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Is Social Media Dangerous For Our Children?

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Disclosure | This is a collaborative post

Boy lying in bed holding an ipad
The internet is an incredible tool and can provide children with a huge amount of helpful information, however many parents worry about their children using social media channels and the dangers they can bring. There are risks involved and there is always the worry whether our children are safe online as we let them explore the internet and use social media networks, however by talking about these dangers with your child, you can help to keep them safe online.

Explain that talking to strangers online isn't safe and sometimes people aren't who they say they are. It is important to stress to your child that they should always be careful about what they share with strangers on social media and they should never give out any personal information.

It is important to discuss appropriate image sharing and help your child to understand which photographs are inappropriate or could cause offence to others. They should also never share any images showing their school uniform as this can allow predators to identify their location.

Make your child aware of ‘Cyberbullying’ and ‘Trolling’ and what this can involve. Help them to understand that sending upsetting messages on social networks is a form of bullying and they should always talk to you if this is happening to them.

It is also really important that you keep an eye on what social networks, chat rooms or games your child is using and ensure that you have the right parental controls in place. Some online games have the option to switch off the ‘chat’ function so that your children can not make contact with others.

If you want complete safety you can always invest in the best vpn or to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings you can contact your network provider for support. You can also contact the NSPCC or your child’s school for online safety advice.

Michelle

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Top Tips for Marketing Your Business at Christmas | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Shout PM

merry christmas sign
When it comes to marketing your business at Christmas time, there are countless things you could do. Of course, the earlier you start the better, but it’s never too late to get into the Christmas spirit. If you have a store, restaurant or other retail location, don’t be afraid to go all out and decorate the place from head to toe. This will attract more attention and boost your profits. You could also hand out little chocolate Santas to passers-by to make a good impression. In fact, promotional Christmas gifts are a great method for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
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How To Find Love | AD

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Disclosure - this is a paid post

a couple standing in front of the disney castle
John and I have been together for almost 20 years now and will be celebrating our ten year anniversary next year and whilst I don’t think we will need any dating advice soon, some of our friends relationships didn’t work out and they have had to go and find love again. Here are some ideas on How to Find Love.

More Than Just A Work Colleague
When John and I first started dating the most common way to meet someone would be at work because that is where you spend most of your time. I don't think that this ha changed at all in the last twenty years and I think it’s a good place to start when looking for a new relationship.

I met John at work and although we didn't work in the same location we met once, exchanged numbers and our relationship was just talking on the phone at first, which then led to us going on our first date.

Finding love in work does have is it advantages. You may already know the person, whether they are single, married and if they have any children. You may already be friends with them and have just not been able to take the next step due to already being in a relationship. Dating colleagues also has its disadvantages, if you have an argument or even split up there is no getting away from them as you work together. This can cause problems and can make a person want to leave their current job.

Get Online
When John and I first met we spoke on and offline for months before we actually went on a date. I knew John already so it wasn’t like an online date but nowadays it seems to be a popular choice. It’s quite easy to sign up to free dating sites such as We Love Dates. All you need to do is set up a profile, write about yourself and you’re good to go. As well as others finding you online you can also search the online dating site for a partner that takes your fancy.

Today we live in a world where everything can be done online, banking, ordering food so why not  dating too.

Challenge Yourself
If you have just come out of a relationship and are newly single you may want to find a new hobby that will not only occupy you but also give you the opportunity to meet new people and potential partners.

Sometimes when we are on our own without a partner we find new interests especially if you have just come out of a relationship. You may want to challenge yourself and do things that you would not have done before. Finding a new hobby can be anything from signing up to the gym, joining local groups, volunteering or even going on a solo holiday.

Socialise More
It’s a lot easier to meet new people if you go out socialising. Agree to meeting up with friends for lunch, dinner or a night out on the town and you never know you might just meet the partner of your dreams.

Ask your friends if they know anybody that they could introduce you to. Going on a double date is  a great way to meet someone new but also have someone there with you that you know, so it's not as frightening.

Be Yourself
The best piece of advice is just to be yourself. Do you what you want to do and you never know when love will happen, but it will and sometimes in the most unusual of ways.

Michelle
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Top Tips for Leaving Your Kids Home Alone | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with St Chris 

boy looking out of the window
As a parent there are different stages of your child's life that can cause worry and stress. For me one of those stages was when big J asked me if he could be left at home alone. My heart sank and to be honest I froze. I had never thought of leaving him home alone even just to pop to the local shop because I honestly didn't feel he was old enough. I instantly googled and I found that there isn't actually a set age you just need to be sure that the child you are leaving at home is not at risk.

prep school in Hertfordshire has some pointers on how to help you prepare for leaving your child at home without you.

Before leaving your child at home alone, make sure you know that they are ready and that they feel comfortable. Don’t leave them if they are showing signs of distress about it. You know your child better than anyone and how well they can handle certain situations or deal with problems. Ask them if they have any concerns about being left alone and if they do, address them appropriately.

Discuss potential emergencies with your child, such as power cuts, a fire or a stranger at the door. Make sure that they know what to do in each of these situations and leave them with the phone numbers of several responsible adults that they can call if any of these things happen. It’s also important to let them know where you are going to be and what time you’ll be back.

If they have social media, let them know the importance of cyber safety and that they shouldn’t tell anyone online that they are home alone. Talk to them about what they are going to do when you’re gone to fill the time. You must ensure that they know how to safely operate equipment in the kitchen, such as the kettle and the microwave.

It is recommended that you call your child every now again when you’re gone, just to see how they’re getting on. Alternatively, you could ask a neighbour or someone else you trust to pop in and check on them.

Leaving your child home alone for the first time is enough to make any parent feel nervous or for me physically ill. However I know that the time will come that Big J will be left home alone and with some planning I am hoping that it makes us both feel more at ease about the situation.

Michelle
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5 Ways To Make Some Extra Money | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. If you chose to sign up to Shopmium using my Referral code please note that I may receive a referral credit. 

hands holding a piggy bank
Those who know me know I like to find ways to make a little bit of extra money each month. It helps pay for days out with the kids or a meal out. Once the Summer is over and the boys are back at school I start thinking about Christmas and how using Cashback Apps, Coupons or finding the latest deals can help save some pennies for my most favourite time of year. I've popped below 5 ways to make some extra money before Christmas.

Food and Drink Cashback Apps
I have mentioned this very briefly on my blog but using apps such as Checkout Smart, Shopmium and Click Snap save me so much money each month. The apps have lists of food and drink items which you can earn cashback on.

For example at the moment Checkout Smart are offering £1.60 cashback on 12 Richmond Thick Sausages if you buy at Asda.

If I want to buy these I pop along to Asda purchase them for £3.20 (that's how much they are in store right now), come home, load up my app, snap a photo of my receipt and a few hours later I will receive £1.20 in my Checkout Smart Account. It really is that simple.

They also offer lots of free items too so you get 100% cashback. Shopmium has an offer on at the moment giving you the opportunity to try Maggi Fusian Pots for free. All you need to do is pop along to Tesco, buy a flavour of your choice, upload your receipt and Shopmium will refund you the full amount straight to your bank or paypal address.

I like to save the money I receive during the month from cashbacks. You will be surprised how quickly it banks up.

If you would like to try Shopmium you can download the app and if you pop in my referral code KFYYKYGQ we can both receive increased offers plus you will get a FREE tube of Pringles.

Latest Deals
When I need to buy anything whether it is just something I need at the time or whether I'm browsing for presents I always check for the latest deals.


I have found so many amazing offers over the years through using websites and forums. Everyone loves a bargain and you would be a fool to pay full price for something in one shop if you can get it half price in another. Also you can use these type of sites to find items that you may not of thought of, at a great price. Finding offers can help you afford other gifts or you can pop the money you've saved away in your savings pot.

Sell Your Stuff

I like to have a clear out a few times a year of old toys, old clothes and basically anything I don't use anymore. Over the years I have donated so much to charity shops but I do like to try and sell some of my old stuff using sites like eBay or Gumtree. What's no good to you anymore could be perfect for someone else. eBay is a great way to sell unwanted items especially this time of year when people are browsing for gift ideas for Christmas. eBay gives you the chance to auction your items or you can give potential buyers the chance to buy it now. You will be surprised how much money you can make by selling items that you don't use anymore.

Check Your Direct Debits
This is something I try and do every now and then. I go through all our outgoings that come out of our bills account and see if there are any I don't need anymore. Sometimes I sign up for things like little insurances for appliances that only cost a couple of pounds a month but when you haven't had the appliance for over a year yet still paying you are wasting money.


Finding Help Elsewhere
You may have tried all of the above and you still need a few extra pennies or an emergency may have cropped up. I think we have all been in that situation and it can make you panic especially when you just don't have any spare cash to hand. cashlady can offer small loans to those that need that extra cash quickly. John and I needed a small loan when we first started living together and I remember thinking it was a bad idea however as it was only a small amount we were able to pay it back within a few months but it really did help help us in a sticky situation and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if needed. Quick loans like the one we needed tend to be smaller amounts and over shorter periods, for example a few months.


I hope these help you save a little extra money before the Christmas period. Do you have any other 'saving' tips?
 Michelle
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AD | 5 Money Saving Tips

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Disclosure - This is a paid post in collaboration with Cashlady

We have just returned from two weeks at Walt Disney World in Florida and already I am planning our next holiday. I am one of those people that starts looking at deals for their next trip before we even get home. The reality is that we could never afford to head back there straight away as it is such an expensive holiday but it won't stop me planning ways to make some extra cash to put in our holiday fund pot.
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AD | How To Get A Perfect Nights Sleep

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Disclosure - This is a paid post in collaboration with Julian Charles

As a parent I am always talking about routines and how they are important for children especially a bedtime routine. We mastered the bedroom routine with little J and he is a really good sleeper, enjoying up to 12 hours a night. So if we know routines are good then why as adults do we not practice what we preach? I know I don't have a good bedtime routine, neither does John and that can sometimes cause us to have less than the recommend 8 hours sleep a night. This obviously effects us massively the next day with us often feeling tired and wanting to head back to bed rather than go to work. I've been thinking about ways that I can get the perfect nights sleep so I thought I would share my tips.
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AD | How To Beat A Cold

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Disclosure - This is a paid post in collaboration with Coldzyme

You many have read recently that I was struck down last week with cold/flu symptoms and it completely wiped me out. I felt so ill and although I did need antibiotics in the end there are ways that you can try and beat cold / flu symptoms at home. Here are our top tips on how to beat the common cold.
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Parenting | When Your Child Doesn't Want To Eat

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It's okay to let children eat with their hands

I recently went on a course all about children and their eating habits or lack of them. It really did open my eyes to just how many children out there either refuse to eat or will only eat certain things. I suppose we have been lucky that both our children are good eaters, I can't imagine what it must be like for parents whose children don't. Hopefully the tips below will help you deal with 'when your child doesn't want to eat'.
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Collaboration | How To Keep Your Home Safe

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There's been a chill in the air the past few weeks and we've already noticed that it's getting darker much earlier than it was before our Summer holiday. It's always this time of year I start to feel a little anxious and probably more aware of keeping our home safe. We are very good at making sure our home is secure and we still use our Piper camera however darker nights and mornings attract opportunists so I've created a list of top tips for keeping your home safe.

1. Keep All Your Windows And Doors Locked. 
So this may seem obvious but I am almost certain that we have all left the house in a rush and maybe not locked the door behind us or we've left a top window open. Any unlocked windows or doors attract burglars and if they can gain easy access then they will take it. If any of your windows are damaged or do not lock properly now is the time to think about getting replacement windows.

2. Keep All Valuables Out Of Sight.
Again obvious but most people will start thinking about Christmas around this time of year, maybe picking up little bits here and there. It's normal to leave shopping bags or boxes on the floor by the door or on the sofa until you've found a place to store them. If these are on show when you are out the house anyone could look through your window and see exactly where you've been shopping.

3. If You Are Unsure About A Knock At The Door, Don't Open It. 
Whenever someone is at the door that I am not expecting or don't know, I don't open it. I pop upstairs and open a top window. If they tell me who they are and I'm happy to open the door to them I will. If it's someone I'm unsure about then I speak from the window. Make an excuse, tell them you're putting the baby down to nap or you're in the middle of ironing.

4. Use Timers For Your Lights
As the darker nights creep in, its always obvious in our road who is home and who is not. Even if you only work till 5 or 6pm it's dark then so more than likely if you haven't left a timer on your lights, your home will be in darkness when you return.

5. Avoid Putting Plans On Social Media
This applies all year round, you should never put where you are planning to go or where you are on public social media. You are basically telling anyone who wants to know that your house is empty. Lots of people talk about holidays, days out, concerts etc they are going to online and this is an easy way for an opportunist to know you aren't home.

Do you have any tips on how to keep your home safe?

Michelle

This is a collaboration
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Travel | Planning A Ski Trip

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Before big J left primary school he was offered the chance to go Skiing with the school to the French Alps. I remember being shocked at first because our little boy wanted to go somewhere he had never been before doing something so different than he had ever experienced, without us. It took a lot of persuading and tears before we said yes, but looking back now I am so glad we did. As expected he had an amazing time with his friends and recently we have spoken about maybe going skiing as a family.
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Ways To Keep The Costs Down

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Around this time of year I start thinking about cutting down on our spends in preparation for Christmas. I know it is still 6 months away but I feel once the school Summer holidays start, Christmas creeps up very fast and I like to be prepared and sure that we have enough money to enjoy Christmas. There is also a time every year when we seem to have lots of unexpected expenses that like to crop up at once. So now is the time for us to try and keep our spending to a minimum, here are some tips to keeping the costs down.
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5 Tips When Booking A Holiday

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As soon as Christmas is over I usually start thinking about a Summer holiday. It always seems the best time to start researching and gathering some costs for the Summer ahead. Planning a holiday abroad takes a lot of time so I have gathered some top tips when booking a holiday.

Hotel in Majorca


Do Your Research
When we have gone abroad in the past I find it quite stressful to actually find a suitable holiday for all of us. Our first holiday with big J was when he was just 1 year old. We researched for months before we settled on a destination. It had to be suitable for families, not too hot, plenty to do, clean and with amenities for a baby. It was hard work but it's worth it because holidays cost thousands and thousands of pounds and it has to be right. 

Does It Suit ALL The Family?
When it comes to booking a holiday you have to ask yourself does it suit everyone? If you have kids a beach holiday might be just what you want but is there enough to keep the kids entertained? Having a hotel, villa or apartment with a pool is fantastic but the kids will probably get bored or tired after a few hours and will want more. A play area, kids daytime activity programme or kids club are ideal for little ones and now most resorts offer this up to the age of 16 with teen clubs to keep them busy. 

Check TripAdvisor But Don't Get Hung Up On The Negatives
Over the past few weeks we have talked ourselves out of some fantastic hotels and resorts because of TripAdvisor. I love TripAdvisor but it is very easy to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. We found an amazing hotel through Thomson and overall on TripAdvisor it scored 82% on excellent and very good, but 3% of the 3,000+ reviews were negative. We focused on the negative and decided not to go which is crazy but we couldn't focus on all the positives after that. Some negative reviews will be genuine,  but most of the time it is usually down to personal reasons for example they didn't like the food or they found the entertainment boring. Don't get hung up on the negatives.

Ask Family and Friends For Recommendations
Knowing someone has been to a hotel or resort and is happy to recommend it to you is usually a sign it's good. I wouldn't like to recommend anywhere to my family or friends unless I was 100% sure they would love it. There would be nothing worse than recommending somewhere and they hate it.

It's OK To Visit Somewhere You Have Been Before
I was determined this year to try and find somewhere that we haven't been before but as we love Cyprus and Majorca so much, I am guessing we will probably visit the same hotel we have enjoyed in the past. At first I thought if we visit the same place we are being boring and not seeing what else the world has to offer but like I said earlier holidays cost thousands of pounds so if there is a holiday, hotel or resort you love and it has everything you need, why visit somewhere else? Why risk spending all that money for it to be not as good as a place you have visited before it's not you being boring its you being sensible. 

Have you booked your holiday this year? Leave us a comment below and let us know where you are going. 

You can always keep up to date with us on our socials, give us a like on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or if this post has helped you you can Buy Us A Virtual Coffee to say thanks.

Michelle
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Our Top Tips For Staying Safe In The Sun

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You may have read our recent post about our favourite places to go on holiday, one of the things that we always plan very well for when going abroad is the heat.  Whether it be Florida, Majorca, or even at home in the UK, its always important to stay safe when the sun is out.  The last thing you want to happen on holiday to either yourself or your little ones is Sunburn.  You can lose a good few days from your holiday to the effects of sunburn and it can be easily avoided.  

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Toddler Tantrum In Public

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little boy crying
Although little J is a toddler this post isn't about him as he hasn't hit the terrible two's yet although I am waiting for the day that my little cheeky monkey turns into a little monster. No, this is a post about another child that I just so happened to see outside a supermarket recently.
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