Gadgets like smartphones, games consoles and tablets are swiftly taking over all aspects of children’s lives from listening to music to providing a handy distraction just when a parent needs it. I’m a big fan of the technology that’s available to our children these days but I’m very aware that the rise in the popularity of these gadgets definitely has some drawbacks. Yes, they’re a convenient device to have to hand and children increasingly want one.
Many children are now spending a large portion of their time using gadgets instead of being pro-active and interacting with parents, family and friends and I often see children so engrossed in their gadgets that they pay very little to no attention to what’s going on around them – wandering around supermarkets, at the local soft play (honestly!) and even at the skate park.
Playing with other children face to face and spending time with adults is essential for children’s development and allowing them to reach their full potential in life so whilst technology is brilliant, it’s vital that we make sure that we make sure that our children aren’t missing our on personal contact!
Here’s a few tips for getting your children away from gadgets:
While the rise of gadgets is unstoppable as a mum you can curb how often your children use them. Set boundaries and talk about the consequences to their health of staying a home playing gadgets, instead of playing outside. Don’t be too strict on this though as it can feel like a punishment to them, compromise is the name of the game!
Mix it up
It may not be feasible to assume children will give up their right to gadgets in favour of family activities all the time. Achieve the right mix by encouraging your child to take part in activities like swimming, cooking, walking etc, whilst allocating fixed slots of time that can be spent on their gadgets.
It can be difficult to constantly prize kids away from their gadgets and get them involved with something equally interesting. Use all your available resources both in and out of your home. Make use of the local leisure centre, library, parks and cafes. At home you can set up a book club or get your kids drawing or playing board games together as a family.
If you can’t beat them, join them
Electronics can be a great family activity as well so don’t be afraid to join in with them – you might be surprised at how much fun you can have.
Of course, lots of us will be buying at least one gadget of some form this Christmas so you need to make sure that you’re getting the best deal on what you’re buying. Make sure you shop around for the best deal, use cashback websites to make your purchase and also it is important to find the right credit card for your needs as some will offer you additional cashback on your purchases. The cashback amounts may not seem like a massive amount on paper but it quickly adds up and any amount of money is better in your pocket than anyone elses!
Oh, one last thing. If you do buy any gadgets for Christmas, I’d strongly recommend charging it (in secret) the day before as there’s nothing worse than not being able to play with something straight away!
The problem with trying to get Christmas organised in advance is finding somewhere to hide the presents!
Last year, I had some presents on top of the dresser in the kitchen, some on top of our wardrobe upstairs and the rest were hidden in the en suite bathroom that I locked from the outside – none of which are ideal hiding places when you live with Mini Miss Marple and little Sherlock Holmes.
We couldn’t put them in the garage, which would have been the ideal hiding place, because the garage was so full that there was barely even space to get in there ourselves to hunt out our old Christmas tree last year. Mr Frugal disappeared in there for at least half an hour and despite all of the banging noises we heard, he emerged without the tree and without some of my favourite decorations and Christmas lights.
We shut the door to the garage and like the old saying goes, the mess was out of sight, out of mind. We’ve said numerous times since then that we need to get it cleared out but until yesterday, we always found an excuse not to actually do it.
But yesterday, I got a great deal on the BMX bike that Master Frugal wants for Christmas – half price with an extra 10% off for the weekend which meant that it was only £53.00! Too good to pass up but we have to collect it today and I’m pretty sure that he’d notice a bike sitting on the wardrobe or in the kitchen so it was a case of having to clear out the garage so we had somewhere to put the bike.
We hired a skip for the afternoon and got to work and you wouldn’t believe the amount of junk we threw out! We filled a skip in an hour, then dropped off a car full of filled black bags to the charity shop and then took a car full of cardboard to the recycling plant! Exhausted doesn’t even cover how we felt!
But, we have space to store all the presents now and we even found our old Christmas tree, although it was looking rather worse for wear so it ended up going in the skip along with some old Christmas decorations that had definitely seen better days. I’m not sure what we’re going to do for a tree this year because the one we bought last year is HUGE and I don’t really think we have space for it in the living room now that we’ve got our sideboard in there! I know I don’t want to spend much on a new one though so I’ll have to have a good look around – there’s some great budget Christmas trees from Christmas lights etc online which I quite like the look of but the kids are after a real tree so I’ve got a fight on my hands at the minute. The one I’ve got my eye on is like a half tree that you push up against the wall which would be great for space!
I’m so pleased we finally have space again in the garage, I’ve got loads of stuff to go out there now that’s been cluttering up the house for ages – I’ll probably have it filled again in a week!
I know I’ve
moaned whinged mentioned that for a good few weeks now we’ve hat at least one ill person in the house but (touch wood) in the last day or so, the lurgy seems to have left the building taking all of it’s germs with it!
And we’re taking full advantage that we’re all well again by booking a cheeky weekend away this weekend. To be fair, Mr Frugal and I had actually booked in time off work over the next week to take the kids on holiday abroad but the new school rules that say we’re not allowed to take them our of school mean that we having to cram a week’s worth of holiday into a weekend!
So we’re all packed and ready to go and straight after school tomorrow we’ll be off to a holiday park for the weekend. I only booked it this afternoon so we got a fantastic deal and we’re staying in a caravan with full kitchen so we’re not planning on spending much at all.
We’ve got a car boot full of board games and books along with everything from wellies and raincoats to Converse and Summer cardigans because we have no idea what the weather is going to be like – it seems to vary over the weekend between sunny
spells and torrential rain.
We also have some warm hoodies, thick socks, onesies and cosy blankets because the only caravan they had left was one with no central heating so it could get cold in there – they must have some form of heating though surely!
And, I only noticed after I booked it that it doesn’t say WiFi anywhere in the description. This must be a mistake ;-)
I hope you all have as lovely a weekend as we’re planning to – see you on the other side!
It’s been a tough old time since the economy started to flounder and then sank to an all-time low. With soaring prices, wage freezes and interest rates at historic lows, anyone that says they have managed to completely dodge the financial bullet is either stretching the truth or extremely lucky!
Moving house is one area where you need to make sure that you not only buy the right house for you and your family but you also need to make sure that you save money at every stage of the house buying process right from start. To start you off on the right foot, here’s a few tips on what you should be looking for when it comes to viewing a property.
House viewing checklist
A comprehensive house viewing checklist can save you hassle and money later down the line by ensuring you put the time in at the beginning of the process to make sure everything is in good working order. There are so many things to look for that it’s all too easy to miss something important without the help of a good checklist, like this one by Everest:
In addition to noticeably mouldy ceilings or sloping floors, a full checklist also reminds you to check for accessible power points, good garden drainage, loose curtain rails and a whole host of other things you might otherwise forget. Remember to check whether the windows are doubled glazed and if doors are draught proofed for both comfort and ‘green’ points.
Don’t let your love of a house blind you to it’s faults.
Is the owner in a hurry?
Whether they’re in a chain or in a rush to exchange contracts, experiencing financial difficulties or they’ve taken out a bridging loan on their next home, you have an excellent footing with regards to price negotiations if the owner is seeking a quick sale. Of course, you have to be in a position to move properties fast too.
Another key question to ask is whether the house has been on the market for long. Good value houses are snapped up fast, so if the property has been on the market for a while, there may be a problem either with market conditions or the property itself. Don’t be afraid to let the owner and agent know you’re aware of this as it could put you in prime position when it comes to making an offer.
I’ve written before about why I started blogging but it’s so much more than that now. Now I blog, not only to record our family memories as was my original intention when I started out, but also because it’s something that I genuinely enjoy doing.
If ever I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop blogging. Simple.
I started blogging using Blogger which is a free blogging platform and is great for someone who’s not sure if they are going to stick with it. When I was sure that it was something I wanted to do, I moved over to self hosted by buying my domain name and getting web hosting by 1&1. From there I discovered the online blogging community and things have gone from strength to strength for me.
Through blogging I’ve made some lovely real life friends like Jen and Becky and some friends like MumReinvented who I’ve never met but always love a good Twitter DM session with. I’ve discovered supportive communities who are there for each other day in and day out even though the majority of people haven’t ever even met.
I’ve found a love for photography and through blogging on a regular basis my photography and presentation skills have improved so much from the first photos I took to the ones I take now. I now want to learn more and have the confidence to do it!
This is the first photo I ever posted on here:
It was my back garden just after we moved into this house – no grass, no fence and we were still in the middle of a building site.
This is a more recent photo of Miss Frugal at Alnwick Castle and I think that it really shows the amount that I’ve learned about photography – most of which is from other bloggers.
We’ve had so many opportunities as a family – everything from trying new things to days out and holidays. Things that I could have never done without blogging and things made much more fun because we’ve done them with our blogging friends. Blogging helped me to record my memories, it’s given me the opportunity to make many more.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy to run and maintain a blog and everything that goes along with it. I do spend quite a lot of time on this but as I said, it’s something I enjoy doing so I don’t mind the hard work.
This post if for you lovely readers who have emailed me recently to ask about how to start a blog and wondering whether to start a blog of their own. I’d say ‘Go on, give it a go.’
Most of us would rather go out to eat than cook at home, and probably more often than we would like to admit! When it comes to weighing up whether to eat in out out, there are a few key facts to consider before you take yourselves out for a tasty meal.
Could you cook something similar yourself? Are you going to spend a small fortune you can’t really afford just to eat out? Could you cook it yourself for much less? And the most important question of all … are you going to be comfortable?
Everyone likes to relax once they have eaten and sometimes nothing beats relaxing on the sofa after a lovely dinner.
Going out: for and against
The experience of dining out is something which has plenty of benefits. You get to spend some time with your partner, friends or family outside of the house and enjoy a meal that doesn’t rely on your own skills of preparation and you get to try new and possibly adventurous foods that you probably would never make at home.
Better than that, there’s no washing up at the end of it and it can be very, very tasty….
Unfortunately, all these positives are matched with a few negatives. Cost is the number one deterrent to eating out but there’s also the chance of not enjoying your meal or leaving a restaurant underfed – something which will only prompt you to raid the cupboards back at home.
Another negative for some is the need to dress up. Eating at home requires no airs and graces or finery – which after a long day at work can be the last thing you want to deal with!
Eating in: for and against
If you opt for eating in then once again you’ll find numerous benefits. Comfort is high as you can sit down and tuck into a fantastic portion of home cooked chips from the comfort of your living room. There’s no need to get dressed up and chances are the experience will be considerably cheaper too! It’s also much easier to budget when you’re eating at home because if you meal plan in advance, you’ll be able to buy only the food you need.
While preparation time and the need to wash up may be something that you see as a major downside, many homemade meals are easy to prepare and don’t take long at all to make. The only thing I struggle with is peeling potatoes because I hate doing it but seeing as companies like McCain stock a great range of products, I can get a tasty meal in no time at all without having to do the hard part.
Another benefit is that you get to have delicious random pudding like this one….
Then all you have to contend with is the washing up … well, it’s what dishwashers were invented for isn’t it?
Keeping well managed finances is never easy. Personal accounts can be quite difficult, as many people are constantly in a state of fluctuation when it comes to their finances, making it difficult to keep track of what’s going in and out at all times. Of course, it often helps to break down the overall problem into smaller details and here are a few things to consider when dealing with your accounts.
It is important to remember that professional help and advice can always prove useful when things seem difficult or complicated – especially with your finances. Ensors accountancy in Bury St Edmunds, for instance, can offer plenty of advise on taxes and other financial matters. We found their website when searching for local advisory services and were really impressed by the information and advice they offered.
Dealing with money can be complicated and sometimes a professional opinion can make all the difference.
First and foremost, it’s always important to document everything as much as possible. When dealing with financial history or other forms that require such information, being able to find what you need is only possible if you have complete records.
Likewise, it can also help with budgeting and other factors. Recording and documenting your income and expenses can give you an idea of where your money is going. Should you need to budget or simply want to open up more money, this breakdown of expenses will make the process easier.
Prepare and expect annual costs
One of the biggest problems many people seem to face is the larger annual costs. This includes most forms of taxes and as easy as it is to wait for these to show up, it puts a larger strain on the income received during that month.
As such, you should aim to work out a rough idea of how much you can expect for each annual cost (such as insurance or tax). Adding these expenses up and dividing by 12 will give you a monthly amount to save and will ensure that you’re making some contributions in advance. Remember some services can be paid for monthly rather than annually but the overall premium is usually higher. You must therefore decide whether it is worth paying extra to have the convenience and security of making regular monthly payments rather than settling the fee with one lump sum.
Finally, never forget the importance of saving. It never hurts to save money where possible. Even if you know what major costs to expect, there’s no accounting for unexpected surprises. Having some savings for a rainy day will ensure these costs are easier to accommodate when and if they occur and earning interest on invested money can also mean your finances are doing something in the meantime.
Getting the right vitamins in your daily diet can make a huge difference to your energy levels and your general health. Vitamins help to prevent diseases, keep us healthy and protect our organs from damage – but what are the most important vitamins when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and how can you ensure that you’re getting enough of them?
All of the vitamins listed below are vital for maintaining healthy eyes and good eyesight and whilst they are available in natural forms, vitamin supplements can be found for those struggling to get their recommended daily intake.
Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins involved in keeping our eyes healthy. It helps to protect the cornea, which is essential for maintaining good vision.
Good levels of Vitamin A have been shown to improve night blindness and reduce the risk of cataracts. A lack of Vitamin A however, can result in corneal ulcers and even blindness, so ensuring that you get enough is crucial in order to keep your eyes healthy.
Where to find it: carrots, sweet potatoes and liver.
Vitamin C isn’t just good for your immune system; it also helps your body to form connective tissues such as collagen, which is found in the cornea of the eye.
Vitamin C can also help your body maintain the small, delicate capillaries that serve the eye and can help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Where to find it: most fruits and vegetables.
The most important role that vitamin E plays in our bodies is as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. Taken in combination with other vitamins and minerals, Vitamin E can also help prevent macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision.
Like Vitamin C, it can also help protect your eyes from cataracts.
Where to find it: nuts and grains.
Though we’re constantly told that fatty foods are bad for us, there are some fats that are essential to our diets – and Omega three is one such compound.
Omega three is most important to our vision during the early stages of our life and helps to develop and stimulate vision in infants and babies. However, it is also important to adult eyes and can help to prevent dry-eye syndrome and macular degeneration.
Where to find it: fish, wild rice, walnuts, beans and treated dairy products.
Though vitamins, minerals and fatty acids are important for maintaining the health of our eyes, they can only prevent, not cure, damaged vision. If your eyesight has already deteriorated, you may want to look into Intralase Lasik Laser eye surgery to get your sight back on track without the constant need for glasses or vision aids.
It is the dream of many families to go to Florida’s Walt Disney World, with the destination being a magical place for youngsters and parents alike. As there are four theme parks, two water parks, 20 resort hotels and a plethora of other exciting things to see and do, it is important that you plan your trip in order to get the most out of it.
The Orlando weather is likely to be hot, which means that you will want to try and organise your time so that you are not queuing for long periods when the sun is at its hottest, while the kids are also unlikely to enjoy things if they spend hours waiting for rides during the busiest periods of the week.
Here are a few tips for planning your time at Walt Disney World, so that you can make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime Florida holiday.
Stay in a Disney resort
By staying in a Walt Disney World resort you are guaranteed to be based close to all the action – not forgetting all the themed fun which can be had by staying in one of these hotels.
There are a number of other benefits to this, such as the fact that each day one of the parks opens early or stays open later, which gives guests more time to enjoy their favourite attractions. You will also be able to use resort transportation – no messing around with car parks – which connects parks, resorts, hotels and other Disney areas.
Don’t over schedule
There is so much to enjoy at Walt Disney World, but it is important not to over schedule. Try and decide on a number of must-dos so that you and your family know what you will be getting up to, and then you can leave the rest of your time for discovering new things and surprises which are around each corner.
Prepare for your day out
The parks are vast and large, so it is important that comfortable footwear is used by both the kids and the parents. You will spend a lot of time walking around or queuing up for rides, and the last thing you will want are blisters or whining children. Because of the hot, sunny weather in Florida, sun hats, sunscreen and even hand-held fans should be taken on your day out, while bottles of water are imperative to keep hydrated.
Arrive early and include a break for lunch
In order to make the most of your day it is important to get up early and get out and about in the park of your choice. This means that you can get on some rides or see attractions before the park gets really busy.
Schedule in a good break for lunch so that you can get out of the sun for an hour or two. Rest up for a little bit and then return to the park for an afternoon full of fun. You might also want to look at getting a Fastpass so that you can enjoy the benefits of reduced waiting times to get onto rides.
Pick up a guide book
There are a number of books out there which have been written to advise you on planning your trip to Walt Disney World and it is a good idea to pick one of these up. Give it a good read before you set off for the States so that you can prepare and pack accordingly in advance.
Toys are more than just play things to entertain your child; at best they can help your little one develop their cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills and give them memories they’ll treasure forever. By choosing the right toys and interacting with your son or daughter you should help them to grow in each of these areas.
Puzzles, science kits and board games are often designed to help build a child’s cognitive skills, but what many forget is that by sharing these toys with friends and family, children are learning to develop their social skills as well.
It can be really hard trying to choose things that you think will benefit your child, but if you think of them in terms of what your young one will get out of them, it might be easier to pick the right things.
Magic kits, for instance, can really help to develop a child’s social skills and it is well documented that this will improve their self-esteem and encourages them to interact with their environment.
Although your little one may need a bit of supervision to start with, it’s important to remember that once your child has started playing with his or her friends, it’s probably time to take a back seat. After all, they will always let you know if they need your help.
Make-believe toys are probably the best way to build your child’s social skills. They fire up the imagination and encourage children to create imaginary scenarios.
Everyone no doubt remembers wanting to be older and imitating their parents when they were little.
For most, wanting to imitate adults is a happy memory and getting your child a vet set or doctor’s kit, toy oven or Djeco Party tea set encourages make-believe play. For some, this kind of thing comes naturally, while others may need a little encouragement.
Anyone with children will have seen them fighting with one another but this is a normal part of interacting with others, as long as you then show your child how to play without being aggressive.
If you have more than one child you will probably have seen them interacting with their siblings first, and this is common as children learn to interact socially with their family first. Later on, they will learn to play with others.
This will help them develop their cognitive skills but it will also encourage them to learn to communicate effectively.
It’s important to recognise that arguments will occur. Sometimes these disagreements are a necessary part of children working things out for themselves, so don’t be too quick to dive in to stop these interactions.
In the long run, play will help them to respect other peoples’ things, co-operate with one another, and share.
These are all important skills that will help them in later life. Any parent knows how important the early years are in teaching children to be respectful of one another, and if they can learn these things at a young age, it will only benefit them as they get older.