Mum Life - A Guide To Keeping Sane By Jenny Slack



How incredible is it to be a parent? The role can best be described as a curious mix of life-affirming, joyful, tiring, heartening, maddening, gratifying and, in short, pretty darn all-consuming. We adore our children. Their very existence enables us to experience a unique kind of love that we never even knew we were capable of feeling.



But, blimey - it truly is a relentless duty. The newborn stage alarmingly so, when you find yourself hastily thrust into the deep end of motherhood, rescued only by brief periodical windows of respite when the little one drops off to sleep. The decision of how to use this limited time most wisely is paramount - Do I give in to the ever-present temptation to sleep? Do I have my lunch, being that I have no idea when I last ate? Do I deal with the laundry pile (a.k.a. Everest), in light of the fact that today I am down to the last of my clean tops? Speaking of the pursuit of fresh clothing, perhaps you too know precisely how it feels to unwittingly transition from being someone who formerly took some semblance of pride in being well dressed, to a bedraggled soul who doesn’t think twice before pulling on yesterday’s sick-splattered jeans. The endeavour to always put the best version of one’s self out there becomes less of a focus and is replaced instead by something essentially more primal. Put simply; survival.

The peaceful haven that the home once served as has been substituted for the main setting in which the story of your parenthood plays out, looking increasingly like a bomb site as time progresses as opposed to a place capable of acting as any kind of sanctuary. Unavoidably, all manner of dubious substances make constant contact with our household possessions, and keeping the home clean and hygienic becomes an ever more difficult task. But, what’s the prime furnishing that suffers? The answer is indisputable: The flooring. Which so happens to be the most fundamental item of all furnishings, right?

Maybe you have already altered features of your home to suit the practicalities of having children. Ripping up the carpet and replacing it with hard flooring is an instinctive move for some, and one that’s often contrary to what many would actually choose for their abode otherwise. What would be your preference? Would you opt for the warmer, more comfortable option of a plush carpet if you knew that it was able to cope with the wear and tear unleashed upon it by our riotous children?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to have it all; kids and their ensuing chaos coupled with a well-maintained house and quality furnishings in which to dress it. Well, I just might have the answer for you, as far as your flooring is concerned, at least. A way you can keep the carpet, keep the child and keep your cool when that cup of milk is hurled across your timeless rug and suite. At the end of the day, when devoting all your efforts to the mammoth task of parenthood, I’d say you deserve to be able to have nice things of lasting quality. Afford yourself this luxury whilst keeping up with life’s daily balancing act. Allow me to tell you how…




Better Protect is the new best friend for clean-home enthusiasts up and down the country. Upon a simple spritz or two, its job is to:

        Build an invisible, resilient layer on the surface of soft furnishings, forming a barrier against dirt and stains
        Act quickly (an essential trait - it’s never very long before a small person or four-legged friend is at war with our carpets and sofas)
        Rescue your soft furnishings from rapid wear and potentially permanent damage from staining

I’ll let you in on a secret. Better Protect is, reputedly, more efficient than anti-stain treatments used by the vast majority of professionals in the carpet care industry. So grab yourself a bottle for the bargain sum of £9.99. Available to buy now from Barton Grange and eBay. Simpy spray it about your home, wherever is applicable, to your heart’s content. And in that once-precarious moment when you notice your child is about to spew some delightful substance over your favourite rug, enjoy the welcome relief that floods over you once you remember that your valuable anti-stain nectar is present and ready to assist.

Looks like your interiors will stand the test of time after all, eh? Just breathe - After all, all is well with your messy little world.

*Post contributed by Jenny Slack


Quit While You're Ahead - How To Dabble Sensibly*



*This is a collaborative post*


I'm going to be brutally honest with you all here, I've been partial to a bit of gambling in the past. Yes I've won money but I've also lost plenty too. I suppose with my addictive personality it was always going to be a tad dangerous. The thing is, it needn't have been so and it definitely needn't have got so out of hand. If only I'd known then what I know now... Hence why I'm writing this post. Hindsight and all that hey?

Of course there's nothing wrong with having a dabble here and there. Indeed some people make a fair bit of extra cash via gambling, especially with the now popular Matched Betting and so it's highly tempting to give it a go. But for some it can prove hugely problematic. The key is to be sensible and to play carefully. Below you'll find a few tips before you take the plunge.

Firstly think about your personality. Do you have addictive or obsessive tendencies? If so think very carefully before you gamble any money. The slope can get altogether more slippery once you start sliding down it and it can be hard to know when to stop. Before you know it, you might just have blown your entire months wage on just one betting site. And yes I've been there and done that, lesson learned the hard and expensive way. 

If you are going to gamble then do a bit of research first and find trustworthy online gambling sites. Read reviews and check out the reputation of each betting site. Make sure that each has tools in line with gambling responsibly. 

Know your limits and set your limits. Oh how I wish I'd done this in the beginning. I'd have saved myself a fair bit of money and heartache. Most gambling sites have a reality check feature and the option to set your deposit limits and I'd highly recommend you take advantage of this. 

Sites should offer a time out or cool off feature which means you'll be blocked and won't be able to gamble on the relevant site for a short period of time, usually up to a maximum of six weeks. 

Finally, if you think you have a serious problem then you should probably consider self exclusion. Once activated you won't be able to gamble for at least six months. I'd also suggest you seek help from a support group or treatment centre. Some worth mentioning are the National Problem Gambling Clinic, GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous UK. If you're not sure if you have a problem or you don't know where to start, try this questionnaire via NHS Choices.

Remember that gambling should be just a bit of fun, the key is to be sensible and always quit while you're ahead! 


*Header photo via Pexels


An Affordable Way Of Getting Onto The Property Ladder*



*This is a collaborative post*


As many other millennials will know, trying to get your foot on the property ladder seems damn near impossible these days. After browsing for hours on RightMove, it would appear that all of the decent sized houses in reasonably nice areas are indeed way over my budget. So unless I can muster one heck of a deposit, there'll be no chance of me landing my dream house anytime soon. Unfortunately, just one wage is rarely enough for a decent mortgage. Sure I could plump for a dirt cheap flat in - how can I put this politely? - a more rundown area, but I don't want to be forced into that position. Is it really any surprise that many of us, myself included, are choosing to live with our parents whilst we save up for a decent deposit? What's a girl to do?


Shared Ownership - An Affordable Solution

Alas have no fear! Believe it or not there are solutions out there and no it doesn't involve buying a winning lottery ticket. You may have heard of the government's Help to Buy scheme but what about shared ownership with Property Booking? Shared ownership is relatively straight forward. You simply buy part or a percentage of a property and then pay rent on the remaining share. It's a much more affordable and realistic way of getting your foot on the property ladder and because you won't be buying 100% of a property, your mortgage will be significantly smaller which means you also won't need a whopping huge deposit. In actual fact deposits are usually extremely low. Bonus! As an added plus, in the future - obviously as and when you can afford it, - you can increase the percentage of property you own. 

Obviously I recommend doing your own thorough research before making any sort of financial commitment but it has to be said that shared ownership seems like a viable option for many of us. It's something that I'll definitely be looking into it. 


Who Are Property Booking?

Property Booking are actually the UK's leading national shared ownership property portal and are the preferred online listing site for affordable home ownership providers. You'll find a vast choice of properties from counties all across the UK. 
If you're a first time buyer then you might want to also check out their help group via Facebook, and iyou live in the capital then it's worth looking into shared ownership in London as this particularly helps to get individuals onto the property ladder in the London area. 
Property Booking also developed and power the Mayor of London's affordable housing portal; 'Homes for Londoners.'



*Photos via Pexels       

Keep Your Outdoor Space Welcoming, Whatever The Weather*


*This is a collaborative post*


If you’ve spent the time and money adding a patio or decking to the garden, and decorating it with gorgeous outdoor furniture, you'll want to make sure it gets some use. However, from outside interference to bad weather, your social gatherings could be spoiled pretty quickly if you’re not careful. In this post we’re going to look at how you can keep the peace in your garden so you, your friends and family can get more use out of it.

Warmth

Everyone who has tried to host a party outdoors will be aware that a little chill can suddenly make things much more uncomfortable. Rather than calling it an early night however, a fire pit can help serve not just to add a little heat, but also gives a warm glow and a sense of comfort and security that can make those outside gatherings feel even more special. It can even make for the perfect way to roast some marshmallows on a lingering summer night.

Image via Pixabay

Light

Naturally, you’re not going to be having a great evening out in the garden if you’re not able to see your guests or where you’re putting your feet. Some choose to use large patio doors that can help light up the area from the indoors, but you can create a much more peaceful ambiance by using outdoor lights instead. Choosing the right fixtures can even add a touch more personality to the space. Make sure that there’s a little lighting for paths through the garden, especially if they lead to the gate. You don’t need anyone tripping on your watch.

Image via Pixabay

Protection

Spending time out in the elements can get to be a little uncomfortable even if you have all the heat and light you need. In particular, you should think about exposure to the sun, particularly on really sunny days. Much of this can be avoided by ensuring that you know how sunlight is distributed through the garden and choosing a spot with a little shade. When that’s not an option, however, installing an awning can be just as effective. Besides the sun, it can even keep you and your guests safe from a little rain.

Image via Pixabay

Privacy

It’s not quite as weather-related as the other concerns, but you and your guests will have trouble feeling comfortable if just about anyone can see into your party or overhear your conversations. When adding some privacy to the garden, make sure that you’re taking sound into consideration just as much as you’re blocking nosy neighbours from snooping in. For instance, adding a green wall to your fence serves not only to further block out peering eyes, but it serves as a method of sound insulation. People will be less likely to hear what you’re saying and you’re also getting a little protection from noise pollution from the outside.
Don’t let your social gatherings be spoiled by a little cold or by eyes peeping in on your fun. Follow the tips above and you can relax without worry in your wonderful outdoor living space.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image via Pixabay.


Gift Ideas For Dad From The Kids*




*This is a collaborative post*

Is Dad’s birthday coming up in the next few weeks or months? If so and if you have young children, you might be trying to think of what you can buy for their Dad which will be from them. There are so many different gifts that you can buy for Dads and what you choose will all depend on their loves and hobbies. Here are some simple ideas to give you some inspiration and get you started.

A tie

If you are really struggling with ideas to get for Dad this year, you can start simple and go for something you know that he can wear every day for work. If he works in an office, you can visit a site such as John Henric and take a look at the ties they have on offer. You can either choose something plain and simple, or go for something a little more fun to reflect the fact it is a gift from the kids. You can get them to choose one if you like and this can be even more funny when he opens it on the day!

A day out

If you don’t know what you can physically buy your man from the kids, you can always decide to go out somewhere for the day as a family instead. You could visit a theme park together, take a trip to the museum, or whatever else your partner will love to do with the kids for the day. Make sure to bring snacks and bring a card with you from the kids which he can open when you get there.

A meal cooked by the kids

If you trust your children in the kitchen even just a little bit, you can have some fun on the day of his birthday and let them choose a meal that they want to cook for him. You will of course be in there to supervise, but you can give your kids a little bit of freedom to play around with food and come up with great ideas. You can stay on hand to make sure that the meal is edible and it can be a cute gesture from the kids to their Dad.

Something unique

If you want to have a little bit of fun with the kids one afternoon while their dad is out shopping or at the pub, you can lay out all of your arts and crafts supplies and spend the afternoon watching your kids make something for their dad. It could be a painting, a clay cup holder, a sculpture or pretty much anything else. It can be fun watching them concentrating on their projects and when their Dad opens it up on his birthday you can tell him that they had no help at all making the gifts.

A keepsake

For a special birthday, you can always go out to get something which he can keep forever. It could be a pair of cufflinks, a ring, or a jewellery box which says best Dad on the lid. Anything like this is incredibly thoughtful and it will be something he can treasure for years to come.

*Contributed by Sam Jones. Header image via Pixabay


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