How to Make your Budget Work After Having a Baby

Having a baby is an amazing experience, but it can also be pretty nerve-wracking too. After all, when you're a first-time parent, you not only have to think about developing strategies to look after your new youngster, but you also need a plan for how you're going to handle the costs of a new baby too. 

If you're earing less as a household because one parent is spending some time away from work with the baby, then you have even more of a budgetary issue to consider. The good news is that with some careful planning and plenty of communication, you should still be able to make your budget work after you've had your bundle of joy. 

Start by Finding Out Where You Can Get Help
Before you can start sitting down and working on your budget, it's important to make sure that you understand where you are in your financial situation. This means learning how much money you're going to get in paternity and maternity leave, and how much help you're eligible for from government schemes. 

In the UK, there are plenty of programmes out there designed to help new parents find their footing in a complex financial situation. Child tax credits and other benefits can make it much easier to manage your income when you're welcoming a new arrival into the world, so speak to an agency like the citizen's advice bureau to see what you might be able to collect. Once you know exactly how much income you can expect, you can begin to work on your family budget. 

Working on Your Family Budget
Often, having a child means making a few compromises. As you start to explore your budget, you'll need to look for ways that you can cut down on the money you've spent up to now. For instance, can you get rid of that rarely used gym membership that you keep promising yourself you're going to take advantage of? 

On the other hand, if you're signed up to several different streaming services, then it might be helpful to cut down to just one service at a time. Work as a family to find places where you can siphon a little extra cash out of your budget. 

Know When You Need Help 
Sometimes, you might find that no matter what you do, you still don't have enough cash for all the things you need to buy. If you didn't exactly plan your pregnancy, or you don't have a lot of savings in your bank account, then you might struggle to pay for all the big items that your baby needs, like a cot and a pushchair

If you need a little help spreading the cost of those expenses out over a longer period, you can always consider looking into a personal loan. A personal loan is a form of unsecured lending that provides you with money you can spend however you like. All you need to do is figure out how much you need, then compare providers to find out which one will give you the best deal on interest and APR. 

Remember to Talk Regularly about Money 
As partners with new responsibilities like a baby, couples need to know how to make decisions together about their future. This means that they'll need to learn how to talk frankly and honestly to each other about money issues. If everyone within a family knows how to talk about money freely, there's less chance that financial surprises and secrets will come back to bite you. 

Make time once a month to sit down and look at the family budget and discuss any changes that might need to be made. During this time, you can also set ground rules, like agreeing not to spend anything over £40 without discussing it with the rest of the family first. 

Find Your Preferred Way of Managing Money
Ultimately, making your budget work when a new child arrives is about finding the solution that works best for you. There are various ways to share a family budget, including: 

* Keeping both incomes separately and splitting the bills equally.
* Sharing everything and making sure that you both contribute to the expenses of your new child
* Divvying up cash into "yours, mine" and "ours".

Ultimately, the key is finding a money management solution that not only allows you to pay all your bills on time but also stops you from arguing about cash when you have more important things to focus on, like your new child.

Travel Hacks for an Easier Family Holiday*

Family holidays can be pretty costly and travelling with one or more children is not without its challenges, but they are so rewarding too. You get to spend uninterrupted time with the people you love the most, and you get to show your kid(s) some of the world when they are still young, and their brains are so absorbent.

So, family holidays are definitely worthwhile, and if you use the following travel hacks, they will be much easier and way more fun too...

Scan Your Travel Documents

Before you go, scan the whole family’s travel documents so that if they get lost in the chaos, you will have proof of your identity etc.

Book a Suite

If you’re travelling with your child(ren), it’s never a bad idea to book a decent suite like the ones you will find at the Quebec City Marriott Downtown and the Staybridge Suites London. Why? Because that way you will have more room and you and any other adults you are travelling with can have a little privacy from the kids. You’ll also be less likely to wake the kids up when they’re sleeping if you have more space and you can close the door between rooms.

Invest in Vacuum storage bags

When you’re travelling as a family, you usually need to take more stuff than you normally would because kids can get quite messy and they often need to change more often. So, investing in some travel vacuum storage bags that will make your bags less bulky and allow you to pack adequately makes sense.

Travel at Night

If you’re travelling long-haul, try to book your flights to coincide with your child’s bedtime, That way they will sleep through a good part of the flight, and you won’t have to worry about them making too much noise of throwing a tantrum.

Include a Stopover

If you’re travelling with young children long-haul, it is probably a good idea to also include a stopover just to give them a break and let them stretch their legs. Booking a hotel nearby that has a pool or a children’s play area is a good idea as it will allow them to blow off some steam without you having to travel too far away from the airport.

Rent Kids Stuff

Did you know that, when you’re travelling, you can usually rent things like high chairs, buggies and cots, so that you don’t have to bother packing it all and taking it with you? If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler this can be a godsend, and most travel companies will be able to advise you on companies who offer rental services, so do your homework before you pack.

Pack Fun Activities

Want to prevent your child from getting bored on the plane and crying for causing a fuss? It’s pretty simple really, pack them a small carry-on with lots of toys, stickers, colouring books and puzzles to keep them busy. If you aren’t opposed to it, you might even want to load up a tablet with games and let that keep their attention until you reach your destination.

What are your best hacks for easier family travel?

Celebrating National Pet Day with LOL Surprise Pets

April 11th 2018 was National Pet Day and to celebrate Darcy was gifted a LOL Surprise Pet, some cookie cutters and yummy paw print chocolate lollies to get in the spirit of the day.

If your child loves collectible toys and Youtube, then you will definitely know all about the LOL Surprise! craze. If not, where have you been? 

These super fun toys include 7 layers of surprises. Stickers, Shoes, accessories and a baby bottle! Like the Lol Surprise dolls these pets can either spit, cry or wee when they drink from their bottle! Some either colour change.The new LOL Pets include puppy dogs, kitten cats and limited edition ultra rare hamsters.

I love that the sand box was in fact kinetic sand, so it can be reused, and that the accessories can be swapped between the LOL dolls and pets. I have been informed by Darcy that the pets also matches the dolls.

So ladies and gentleman, we would love to introduce the new addition of Darcy's LOL growing family......  Dollmatian! look at her little face she's soo cute. Darcy couldn't wait to dress her and then dip her into cold water to see if she was a colour changer.

After all the excitement of opening her surprise pet, we got stuck into some baking, and the final results didn't turn out too bad at all, if I say so myself

There are 35+ Pets to collect and they cost £9.99 each and can be brought in the usual retail shops. Is your kid LOL surprise mad?

Kids Spring Favourites from Fashion World*

Spring has sprung and so has all the super cute outfits. If one thing is for sure, I love to shop, but I especially love shopping for Darcy. I am a huge fan of kids fashion, being able to dress her up is so much fun and I am going to make the most of it whilst I can.

So obviously I was thrilled when Fashion World got in touch to offer us some clothing to review. Fashion World have release so many new items for spring, and all the outfits you are going to see, Darcy actually picked out herself. I (sometimes) love that she is starting to tell me her likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing.

One thing that I like about Fashion World kids fashion is how I am able to mix and match them. 

So let's see Darcy's fashion picks for Spring/Summer 2018;

This tracksuit ticks all Darcy's boxes, pink, comfortable with a hint of gold.Oh and the bottoms have pockets, she loves pockets. I am impressed with the quality of the material, and it washes really well after a chocolate accident.

You cannot beat a t-shirt and a pair of leggings can you. The leggings actually come in a pack of two. These Henleys pumps are only £10, what a bargain. I've sprayed them with Crep Protect to make them waterproof and protect them from stains.

This floral cagool is so and lightweight for the spring time. it’s also a great length which comes in handy for those April showers. It is also the perfect size to fold up and put in my handbag on those warmer days when it might rain.

Can we all take a moment to appreciate these poses, I haven't a clue where she gets them from!! The sleeveless shirt and skirt go really well together. I wish these sandals came in my size they are so cute, it also has a moulded sole so I know her feet will be supported.

I found ordering from Fashion World really easy, the items arrived quickly and there is also an option for next day delivery. Darcy and I were spoilt for choice, as there was so much to pick from. I will definitely be ordering some more bits for her in the future.

5 Reasons Why You Should Swap Natural Grass For Artificial Grass

Firstly, I know, I know there has been a lot of garden related posts likely. However, with Spring finally here, I cannot help but be inspired to get into the garden. If you are not green fingered I know the thought of gardening won't appeal to you.

However, have you thought about getting fake grass? artificial grass has come a long way from the bright green rough turf that we know. Plus there's now an artificial grass to suit all budgets. Today I am sharing with you some reasons why you should swap your lawn for the fake stuff.

It saves water, with the amount of water it takes to maintain a lawn, replacing natural grass with artificial is one way to cut water usage.

It will save you time, Don't get me wrong natural grass is beautiful. But the up keep doesn't come easy. You have to set aside time to mow and fertilise the grass. With fake grass you no longer have to mow and you can leave your lawnmower back in the shed. 

It will save you money, no longer will you have to buy fertiliser which means not only will you be saving money, you will be able to spend more time in your garden relaxing and enjoying the weather and your brand new artificial turf instead.

It is child friendly, your children can play until their hearts content and you can be safe in the knowledge that your grass isn’t going to suffer unsightly muddy patches,  and they will not come back inside covered in mud all over your carpets or flooring.

It's hard-wearing, fake grass is very durable and can withstand a lot. In addition your lawn will always look it's best at all times no matter what the weather or activities you do on it. Most importantly, you will have lush green grass 365 days of the year.

So those where my 5 reasons why you should swap natural grass for artifical grass. Do you have fake grass in your garden?

Bringing Spring into Your Home All Year Round*

When the clocks go forward, we all start to get excited for spring – the pleasant warm weather, lighter mornings and evenings and the colourful array of flowers coming into blossom. 

If you want to emulate this warm and fresh feeling all year round, here’s a few ways you can bring some lovely springtime vibes to your home: 

Flowers and Plants
One of our favourite things about spring is all the beautiful flowers– there’s nothing quite like their fresh scent and the pop of colour that makes everything brighter and happier! Well, you can add spring vibes to your home all year round, simply by adding a vase of your favourite flowers to your living room or dining table. 

If you’re looking for something that lasts a bit longer than a bunch of flowers, try looking for a house plant. They’ll not only purify the air, giving it a bit of springtime freshness, but it’ll add some colour and personality to the room too. Try an elegant orchid or a bold monstera plant! 

Floral and Tropical Prints
If you’re someone who struggles to keep house plants alive, don’t worry – we’ve all been there! You can always go for floral and tropical prints in your furnishings instead…
Floral bedding and cushions, statement plant prints and curtains in bold colours can make a big difference in adding some springtime joy to your home. For example, the cute toucan print curtains from Direct Blinds inject some fun into your interiors and they’re a simple way to make a style statement. 

Introduce Colour
If you’re feeling brave and want a bolder way to add some colour to your home, get the paint brush out and liven up your rooms with some fresh and vibrant colours. Pick a statement wall and roll up your sleeves to instantly transform your home into a spring haven.
An alternative (and subtler) way to introduce pops of colour to your rooms is by painting the door frames, windowsills or shelves, whilst keeping the white walls that make the room feel light and airy. 

Spring Clean
Why wait until spring to have a proper spring clean? If you do it bit by bit throughout the year, you can live in a tidy and harmonious space all year round. It means you won’t have as big of a job to do when you embark on the annual declutter at the beginning of the season! Plus, there’s plenty of benefits of spring cleaning, including reduced stress and increased productivity, so it makes sense to do it more than just once a year.

Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine (RUHM) At The Roundhouse

CircusFest is back – and this year it's extra special, as the festival coincides with Circus 250, the 250th anniversary of the invention of modern circus. 

Founded in 2009, the programme brings together a raft of international circus talent, with shows performed in venues across London over the course of April 2018.

First thing first, the show is beautiful. We were gripped from the moment it started.  There are no custard pies or red nose clowns, instead you have trapeze, hoops, lots of rope and even some roller skating

Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine is amazing. It is very visual, it's a cross between gymnastics, ballet and the circus. The combination of phenomenal lighting,  and stunning music which captures the mood of each performance perfectly. The performances are incredible and multi talented, they make it look so effortless.

We fell in love with Shaena Bandel on the aerial hoop, she was simply stunning, and as for Ellis Grover aka as Darcy calls him the funny man with the yellow trousers. His tight rope routine was playful and funny and he also balanced himself on a couple of chairs perched on four wine bottles

The show is aimed at children aged 5+, however, Darcy is only 4 and truly enjoyed it. I only had to shush her twice. I cannot recommend this show enough, I mean if my 4-year-old with zero concentration span was engrossed for 2 hours you are bound to love it too. (Don't worry there is a 20 minute interval)

Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine (RUHM) is at The Roundhouse until 15th April 2018.

Gardening Tips & Hacks That Will Change Your Life!!

Recently I shared with you 6 tips to get your garden spring ready, however I know sometimes it's hard to find time to garden if you have a busy lifestyle. So today I am sharing with you some of my favourite gardening tips and hacks to make it a little easier for you. 

And best of all, all the tips you are going to see involved items you have at home and can do with the kids over the half term.
  • Find out the PH of your soil by using baking soda and vinegar. Take two soil samples from different areas of your garden. Add vinegar to one sample and stir, if it bubbles – then its alkaline soil. Do the other sample by add baking soda and water and stir – if it bubbles then the soil is acidic.
  • Do not throw away pencil shaving from your kids – use them for Mulching which also prevents weed growth and repels insects
  • make your own Plastic bottle slow water feeding. Easiest one is make small holes in the cork and invert the bottom and insert in soil
  • Make your own biodegradable seeds starting cups using used tissue paper roll card board
  • Do not throw away egg shells – crumple or powder them and sprinkle around your plants to give them a source of calcium. Also repels certain insects like slugs and snails
  • You can make your own labels with ice lolly sticks or large stones,
  • Add used tea waste or coffee grounds into your compost bin for faster composting because earth worms digest them very fast
  • Make your own Seedling watering can, Using a bottle, you can make this in two ways, first by popping out a nozzle by heating the cap
With all these garden tips and hacks you are now ready to start getting your garden spring ready. Sloane & Sons have produced a spring your garden to life with this gardening guide  full of garden inspirations and handy tips. Your garden will be up to standard in no time at all and will you be able to enjoy all your hard work whilst sitting on your garden bench.

Planning the Perfect Bedroom Layout*

Not many of us are lucky enough to have a large and roomy bedroom. While we can dream, in reality, the majority of us have a bedroom that is a little on the small side. While there is nothing wrong with a smaller bedroom, it does require extra planning. This is because if the layout is lacking and there are storage issues, it can feel cramped and turn into a stressful environment.
To resolve this, here is how you can plan the perfect layout to make the most of your bedroom.
Draw the Eye
When dealing with a little bedroom, it is essential to create a focal point. This will help to draw the eye out and up, which could make the room flow better.
There are many ways to do this. You could add a mirror wall behind your bed, to create a new line of sight while also making the space feel larger. Or showcase your windows with floor-to-ceiling curtains, which can highlight the height and make it appear bigger.
Consider Flow
How you move around your bedroom is important. If the space contains too much furniture or is laid out in a way that you have to step over or around things, it will not be the ideal place to unwind.
Your bedroom should not be an obstacle course, so consider how well it flows. For example, is the walkway around the bed substantial? And how easy can you access your wardrobe?
Size and Scale
While you want to make your bedroom feel luxurious and add statement pieces, if the furniture is too large, it could the space appear more confined.
When furnishing your bedroom and choosing accessories, make sure they fit the scale of the room. Choose items that are sleek and make an impact, without taking over. This includes small bedside cabinets to frame your bed or built-in wardrobes to maximise space.
Increase Light
In any room of your home, the amount of light is crucial to the overall look and feel. This is true in the bedroom because creating an environment that is ambient, warm and welcoming creates a tranquil and relaxing space.
Increase the light in your bedroom by choosing pale curtains, placing lamps in dark corners, and adding dimmer switches to control light levels.
Planning the perfect bedroom can be difficult, but hopefully these tips will help. Follow this advice to create a bedroom that is relaxing, beautiful and functional.

Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids in the City This Summer*

Spring and summer are the best seasons for encouraging your kids to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather and fresh air. However, for those of us who live in cities, even one as large as London, opportunities can be somewhat limited. Don’t let the busy roads and concrete jungle put off your children from spending more time outdoors in spring and summer though. There are various activities which can encourage putting down the Xbox controller and stepping out the front door. 

Pretty much every city has at least one skate park, usually found in one of the main parks. If your home doesn’t, think about where there’s an open patch of preferably flat land that would be good for skateboarding, scooters or roller blading. This could be good for practising before your young ones tackle any ramps or jumps too. Quad roller skates from Skate Hut are a good way to start too, as the four wheels and brake make it easier to balance. 

Nature Walks
Cities are full of nature, just it may not be in the conventional sense that you associate with the countryside. Walking to the local park, down by the canal or river can be a good idea. Increase the fun by creating an eye-spy type card that includes things like a fox, hedgehog, spiders, oak tree or dandelions, to keep youngsters engaged. 

Explore Local Parks
London parks offer a great free day out. Along with regular activities such as playing football, cycling and other games, all parks differ with specific features offering great opportunities. The fountains at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are great for splashing around in on a hot day, while Crystal Palace Park has a brilliant maze and playground too. 

Play GPS Games

Use some of the latest technology to keep kids entertained with one of the many GPS smartphone games. Pokemon Go remains popular and requires walking around outside, while there are a range of geocaching games that can encourage outside exploration. Provide a guiding hand to avoid any potentially dangerous situations arising.  

Outdoor Painting
A less active yet simple way to get outside is with some simple outdoor painting. Set up an easel in your back garden and let your kids loose with the paints, or even take it down to the local park. Other items such as rocks or pottery could be a good thing to paint too, letting them get out in the fresh air and be creative. 

What other fun outdoor activities that are good for city kids would you suggest?

5 Ways To Destress At Home*

Today I wanted to speak about something that affects all of us, but we all react totally differently to and that is stress. It can be the smallest thing or the biggest thing but it can affect every single person in a totally different way and it can be really hard to know how to deal  with that stress which be caused by anything from work or finances to relationships, friends and family. 

Sometimes the smallest thing that might seem like nothing to anyone else can really affect you  and caused you to feel really uptight and just generally feel quite stress. 

Stress and anxiety is something that I suffer from. When I start to feel stress my chest starts to feel really heavy, I find it hard to breathe and I just cannot talk to anyone and totally shut myself off from everything and I know in the past I haven't dealt with it well and I just let everything get on top of me.

One of the best things I did was to see a therapist not only did i get everything out. I also learnt ways to deal with stress when I find it creeping up on me. So today I thought I would share some ways I de stress at home and
achieve the expected results of a relaxed zen life.

Breathe, most probably one of the most simplest things to do but it is also one of the most effective. When you are stressed you tend to shallow breath so don't breathe the correct way. And it just makes matters worse. Take a moment, sit down and breathe in through your nose and slowly out of your mouth for a few minutes you will notice you feel a lot calmer.

Listen to music, it may sound like an obviously thing to do but it really does help to listen to music and calm down. It doesn't matter that type you listen to as long as it calms you down. I like to listen to really calming relaxing music or some old school R&B.

Find a hobby, if you have a hobby try to find time when you are feeling stressed to just do that whatever it is. It doesn't really matter as long as you enjoy doing it. I know a lot of us don't actually have a hobby as life takes over. If that's the case try and go out and try new things untill you find that thing that you love doing.

Clean, I don't know about you but I love to clean as a way to relax and de stress. I find I totally zone out when I get stuck in to some household chores. It is one of the best stress busters that you can ever imagine. And with the added bonus of a clean house afterwards.

Have a bath, a warm bath can help tensed muscles and improve your health and potentially your mental well-being too. I try to have an hour bath at least once a week, just sitting there and enjoying the moment really helps me de stress.

So those are some of my tips to de stress at home, if you are in need of some more tips and hints Rattan Direct have produce their own guide on why it is important to de stress at home which you can find here.

6 Tips to Get Your Garden Spring Ready*

Now spring is here, it is the perfect time to start planning and planting your spring garden projects. Before you start, here are some hints and tricks to help you get your garden spring ready.

1. Check your tools, are they up to standard. Tools will need to oiled and sharpened, if they have been left out over the winter without protection they will more than likely be rusty and need replacing. 

2.Check your soil, with all that rain and snow we had over winter. It is most likely a lot of important nutrients have been washed away.  Add some much need compost, peat or manure to your soil to balance its pH levels which will encourage strong plant growth
3.  De weed your garden, weeds steal water and nutrients from your garden. Use a special weeding tool to dig down and pull the weeds up by the roots or use your gloves if you want a more rustic feel.

4.  Work out what you want to plant April is the perfect time to plant wildflowers, carrots, peas and leeks seeds. Do not forget your patio containers; nothing says Spring than a container full of Pansies and Violas.

5. Sort out your lawn, grass grow quickly in the spring. Invest in some decent Garden Machinery to make mowing your lawn easier. Make sure you edge your flower beds with a sharp hoe or an easy maintenance add permanent edging such as paving stones, wooden fencing or willow.

 6. Source your garden furniture, before you know it summer will be here and you will not have anywhere to sit to enjoy it. Make sure you shop around and find yourself the perfect garden set. It doesn't even have to be expensive, you know I am massive fan on Groupon and they have some great patio and garden deals.

And don't forget to look at local garden centres and parks for more inspiration