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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Problem Page Edition 25 2017

This week - when your precocious 5 year old wants to be a celebrity YouTuber, when you expect all your romances to be like Disney and when you fall for someone with a 'horrible and shady' past.

man alone about to enter the sea at the beach

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

QMy daughter is five & wants a YouTube channel; she says she wants to be a star. I think that five is definitely too young for that. What should I do?

A: Who is the parent here? Are you really taking instruction from a 5 year old? You are fully aware, I’m sure, of the risks exposing such a young child on the internet.

As a parenting blogger I write about my children and they occasionally appear on a short video which is uploaded to YouTube but it is MY channel and I carefully monitor what appears - obviously nothing suggestive and no nudity.

You have to be really careful these days.

Explain to your daughter that stars have to work hard to be discovered and they very often have talents other than singing, dancing or pretending to be a beauty queen.

In any case, I’m pretty sure YouTube’s community standards would be firmly against a 5 year old having their own channel. The minimum age for other socal media is around the 13 year old mark.

Time for you to put your foot down.

If you really think your child is a budding talent (and EVERY parent thinks that about their kids), then perhaps look in to modelling agencies or similar but I think you have to ask yourself who really wants your daughter to be a star? Is it possible that it’s really you?

Q: How do I apologize to a female friend for accusing her of cheating in a test?

A: Did you accuse her in private or did you denounce her as a cheat in front of a crowd of her friends.

Hopefully, you were relatively subtle about it in which case you should just say ‘sorry, the stress of the test got to me. I was an idiot, sorry for doubting you’.

If you have accused her publicly then you might have a bit more work to do - starting off with publicly apologising in front of the same crowd.

I’m curious though, what made you think she was cheating? And are you sure she definitely didn’t? If she’s mad at you then apologise but if she is quite quiet about it, I would be tempted to draw a veil over the whole incident and just move on without referring to it again.

Q: How can I emotionally break my childish Disney-esque romanticized view of true love & soul mates?

I understand, logically, that there are many compatible partners for me in the world. But, emotionally, when I meet someone, I long for the romanticized instant soul mate connection you only see in films and books. Then I unconsciously ruin what could be a great real connection with someone new.

A: Whilst you might not be hit by a ‘bolt from the blue’ when you meet the right person, very often I think things just ‘feel right’ if that person is for you.

So, whilst I agree that Disney has a lot to answer for in terms of its romantic notions of love, the world we currently live in can be so dull, so grey, so unpleasant that I don’t think holding on to that dream is so bad you know.

What you shouldn’t let yourself do is judge others too harshly, or dismiss them out of hand before you have got to know them, or given them a chance.

That’s not what happened in Beauty and the Beast, is it, after all.

I don’t think you are ‘unconsciously’ ruining things. I get the sense that, at present, you aren’t all that interested in being in a real relationship.

Q: What does it mean when your ex-girlfriend has a new boyfriend but doesn't delete your photos?

A: You have been a part of her life so why should she erase her history? I know that it may hurt but deleting your photos would make her look mean and spiteful, particularly on social media.

It may be there she still harbours some feelings for you but if she seems loved up with her new boyfriend it seems unlikely.

If I were you I’d stop looking at her social media accounts and concentrate on your life - and finding someone new to love.

Q: If he hasn't texted me in two weeks but is still liking my Instagram pictures, is he just playing with me?

We texted everyday for about a month and then in the middle of a conversation he just read it and stopped replying. This was 2 weeks ago now. There has been no further contact but he continues to like my Instagram pictures.

A: I never understand why people think texting and liking photos on Instagram is a real relationship.

The only way you will find out what is going on is to SPEAK to him.

If he hasn’t texted you in two weeks he doesn’t sound desperately interested and might just be liking your Instagram pictures to tease you or because he’s genuinely interested in your photos.

But really, in terms of a relationship it sounds as if he is wasting your time.

What was in that text that he didn’t reply to? Are you sure there isn’t another reason why he’s stopped texting.

Time to get on the phone to find out once and for all.
Q: Is it possible to get over someone for one month?
There is a guy who had a strong feelings for me at least 1 month ago. Now he acts like he doesn't care anymore and like I don't exist. How can I know if he is pretending or if he has really forgotten me? But if he has, is it possible to get over someone so fast?
A: Is it possible that you misinterpreted his feelings for you? Have you confused friendship for romantic interest? 
Sometimes it’s easy enough to do when we are not feeling very confident about ourselves. We read so much more into an innocent smile or gesture.
How do you know he had strong feelings for you? It does seem odd that he could have had a complete change of heart in just a month.

I can’t see why he would be pretending and although I don’t think he has forgotten you, it sounds like he is not interested in a relationship.

Rather than chase after him, your best bet is to quietly get on with your life with dignity and grace. If he’s interested he’ll soon come running - and then you will need to think very carefully about what he needs to do to earn your trust.

Because, if he has truly dumped you after only a month, he has quite a few bridges to build.

Q: If I’m falling for a woman with a horrible and shady past, should I even be thinking about that?

A: It depends what’s in her ‘horrible and shady past’.

If she’s a criminal, possibly not. If you are judging her for having had, for example, a lot of sexual partners, then that’s a different issue. Only you know what your definition of a horrible and shady past is!

It sounds like there is a complete mismatch of morals and values here though which doesn’t bode well for the relationship.

I would steer clear.


How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 
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Win Summertime Natural Healthcare Essentials From Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury

There are lots of common health conditions that can pop up unwanted and ruin your summer fun, but from sunburn, to tummy bugs, skin irritations and travel sickness, Mother Nature has a cure for everything.

Women on the beach at an art festival

Taking a natural approach to your health during the summer means you can reduced unwanted side effects, feel empowered and treat your body and your environment with the gentle kindness it deserves. 

I've recently discovered Indigo Herbs, based in one of my favourite places, Glastonbury. They offer a wide range of premium quality nutritionally rich organic superfoods, herbal powders, aromatherapy oils and loose herbal teas - all ethically and sustainably sourced.

Here are just some of their products worth adding to your summer medicine chest - and read on because you can win the lot, worth over £25.

Organic Spirulina Tablets x 100 £4.99 – COMPLETE MULTI VITAMIN & MINERAL ALL ROUNDER

Blue-green edible algae Spirulina is packed with complete nutrition covering all the essential amino acids, all the B vitamins and anti-oxidants and it is also detoxifying. These tablets can work wonders to prevent ill health along your travels and keep you on top form. They are also great for lining the digestive tract and alkalising the whole system so are also helpful at guarding against holiday tummy.

Organic Coconut Oil 500ml £7.99 – SUMMER SKIN & HAIR CARE 

This 100% pure cold pressed oil is not only the best oil to cook with in the kitchen but it’s also a precious ingredient for hair and skin care. It’s naturally anti-bacterial so can aid the healing of any skin sore or wound. It can also be very protective against sun damage for the hair and skin, and it has achieved popularity as an oral hygiene agent by the method of oil pulling. It’s well worth having a jar of this around to take care of your natural health needs. 

Tea Tree Oil 10ml £3.99 – ANTI-BACTERIAL 

This essential oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and this makes it a No 1 first aid kit must have. It can be used in place of an anti-bacterial agent for cuts, sores, fungal infections and more. Can be used when needed.

Lavender Oil 10ml £4.99 – HEALING SUNBURN 

This essential oil is a No 1 healer for burns, including sunburn. It is also extremely calming and can aid a good night’s sleep or help control anxiety. Again this little oil is a must for the first aid kit. Can be used when needed.

Peppermint Oil 10ml £4.49 – CALMING TO NAUSEA 

This essential oil is very good for calming nausea and indigestion. It can be used to relieve travel sickness. A third must have for the first aid kit both at home and when travelling. Can be used when needed.

You can find more on the Indigo Herbs website where you'll find a natural health guide, healthy recipes and even a directory of alternative therapy practitioners.

Indigo Herbs Summer Healthcare Essentials giveaway bundle
Indigo Herbs Summer Healthcare Essentials Prize Bundle

Entry to the giveaway is via the Rafflecopter widget and the usual terms and conditions apply, which you can find on my competitions page.  UK entrants only.  

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday 16th July.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

8 Quick & Easy Summer Salads You'll Want To Try

It's too darn hot and frankly who feels like cooking?  My blogger friends have come to the rescue with some quick, easy and delicious salads.

There's plenty of ideas here so why not indulge in some fresh seasonal produce which will do you - and the family - good.

Just click the link to be taken straight to the recipe....

Smoked Salmon Nicoise with Marks & Spencer  - Leanne at A Slice Of My Life
Smoked Salmon Nicoise Salad from Leanne Cornelius, A Slice Of My Life
Image credit:  Leanne Cornelius, A Slice Of My Life
Smoked Salmon fillet combined with olives, tomatoes, Cannellini beans, fine french beans, Pembrokeshire Early potatoes and a honey and mustard based dressing, all whipped up in around 15 minutes.  Less, if you've got a couple of already boiled eggs in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

For the salad:

50g fine French beans
80g Santa tomatoes cut in half
20g olives
2g fresh parsley roughly chopped
150g smoked salmon fillet
50g tinned washed cannelini beans
2 fresh medium eggs
280g Pembrokeshire Early potatoes, washed and sliced
200g mixed leaf salad

For the dressing:

1tbsp olive oil
1tsp wholegrain mustard
Squeeze lemon juice
pinch salt
1tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch cracked black pepper
2g fresh basil
1tbsp clear honey

METHOD:

Whisk dressing ingredients and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch fine beans for three minutes before refreshing in ice cold water.

Cook potatoes until tender and allow to cool before slicing.

Soft boil an egg and cool in a saucepan under cold running water.

Once chilled peel egg and cut into half.

In a large mixing bowl gently toss tomatoes, the cannelini beans and the French beans, olives, potatoes, parsley & dressing.

Divide tossed leaves between two large bowls.

Flake peppered salmon on top and carefully place soft boiled egg on top.

Leanne is a photographer, blogger and first time mother from the South Wales Valleys, blogging about her family's loves, likes and life in general at www.asliceofmylifewales.com.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad - Cathryn at Cardiff Mummy Says
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad from A Cardiff Mummy Says
Image credit: Cathryn Scott, Cardiff Mummy Says
As Cathryn says, this recipe features super healthy butternut squash full of protein, iron and vitamin C.  It also has plenty of feta, olives and pine nuts.

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of dried sage, or a handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bag of baby spinach leaves
1 block of feta cheese, either cut into chunks or crumbled
handful of pine nuts
handful of black olives, sliced
extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to drizzle

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4.

Put the butternut squash chunks into a large roasting dish, drizzle with the olive oil, crushed garlic and sage, and roast for about 45 minutes, turning once mid-way through.

When the squash is almost done, steam the spinach leaves for a couple of minutes. You want them to be warm, not wilted, so be careful not to over do it. Alternatively, place them in the microwave for around 30 seconds.

Put the leaves into bowls, add in the roasted squash and a handful of pine nuts (toasted if you wish, by dry frying them for a minute or so), the cheese, the sliced olives, the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cathryn writes Cardiff Mummy Says is a lifestyle blog for parents living in Cardiff and beyond. She is mother of three children aged six and under and a journalist and editor with more than 15 years of experience.

Cool Citrus Coleslaw - Debbie at My Boys Club.co.uk
Cool Citrus Coleslaw from My Boys Club.co.uk
Image credit: Debbie Sharratt
I suspect the eating is a bit more adventurous in Debbie's household as she says they have already enjoyed this summer’s slaw with jackfruit burgers, carrot and chickpea burgers, aubergine katsu curry, with mushroom quesadillas and as part of a family pizza night.

This Cool Citrus Coleslaw would be a great accompaniment to a traditional green salad or indeed any main dish.

Ieuan's 'fear of green' is going to have to be conquered!

INGREDIENTS:

For the salad:

1/2 red cabbage
1 red onion
4 carrots
1 clove of garlic chopped
pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

Finely slice the onion, shred the cabbage, grate the carrot and mix all these together

Add the chopped garlic and chilli flakes to the oil and lemon juice together and shake before pouring over the vegetables.  Mix gently, but well.

Place in fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavours combine before serving.

Debbie's blog www.myboysclub.co.uk  is a family lifestyle, food and travel blog about enjoying life with her family of boys in North East England and on their travels.

Strawberry & Feta Salad - Wendy at Daisies & Pie
Strawberry & Feta Salad from Daisies & Pie
Image credit: Wendy Mallins
I recently posted about making the most of the strawberry season and Wendy's salad certainly fits the bill nicely. This one looks as good as it tastes.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 bag mixed salad leaves (such as rocket, watercress and spinach)
200g strawberries sliced into quarters
60g feta cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

METHOD:

Scatter the salad leaves onto the plates

Scatter over the strawberries and crumble over the feta cheese

Make up a quick salad dressing by mixing the balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over a little dressing and serve.

Wendy's blog www.daisiesandpie.co.uk is a family food, home and lifestyle guide for real people, offering lots of easy tips, cheats and timesaving ideas.

Avocado, Bacon & Chickpea Salad - Charlotte at Charlotte's Lively Kitchen
Avocado, Bacon & Chickpea Salad from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen
Image credit: Charlotte Oates, Charlotte's Lively Kitchen
The UK has apparently gone 'avocado mad' so it only seemed right to include this gem of a recipe from Charlotte.  Plus we always stock up on Chickpeas when we go to Costco so the Husband will be pleased that we can make a small dent in my slight over-stocking.

Charlotte describes this as "a lovely combination of sweet cherry tomatoes, salty bacon, sharp lime and slightly bitter toasted sesame seeds, all pulled together by the super nutritious chickpeas.

It also has the benefit of being high in fibre keeping you fuller for longer and less likely to snack. Might keep me away from the Welshcakes!

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

400g chickpeas
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 rashers streaky bacon
60g cherry tomatoes (roughly 6)
1 avocado
juice of half a lime
salt

METHOD:

Drain and rinse the chickpeas (1 can) and place into a large bowl. Season with salt.

Roughly chop the avocado into bite-size chunks.  Chop the streaky bacon (2 rashers) into thin strips and cut the cherry tomatoes (60g) in half. Add the chopped avocado to the bowl of chickpeas.

Heat a small frying pan on a medium heat, add the sesame seeds (1 tbsp) and cook for a couple of minutes until they have just turned light brown, occasionally shake the pan to help them cook evenly (do not overcook the sesame seeds as it will give them a bitter flavour).

Once browned, remove the sesame seeds from the heat and add to the chickpeas and avocado.

Add the streaky bacon (2 rashers) to the pan and fry until cooked and crisp around the edges.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the cherry tomatoes and fry for about 30 seconds to soften slightly.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the bacon and tomatoes to the chickpeas, avocado and sesame seeds.

Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and toss to thoroughly mix.

Serve immediately.

Charlotte's blog www.charlotteslivelykitchen.com is a blog dedicated to her experiments with food, recipe creation and cooking delicious and (mostly) healthy food for her family.

Low Cal Chicken Salad Made In Minutes - Nicole at The Mum Reviews.co.uk
Low cal chicken salad made in minutes from The Mum Reviews
Image credit: Nicole Edmondson
A simple but tasty low cal salad you can put together in minutes.  Ideal for those weekend teas when you're rushing to sort out homework and ironing and have forgotten to get something out of the freezer again!

INGREDIENTS: 

1 skinless chicken breast, pre-cooked
A large handful of broccoli or other leftover green vegetables
5 cherry tomatoes or half a normal tomato
1 spring onion or a sprinkling of normal onion
About 2 inches of cucumber
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
A sprinkling of chilli sauce to taste

METHOD:

Use your hands to pull the chicken breast into thin strips, then throw it in your salad bowl.

Add your green veg. It’s best to have smallish bite-sized pieces so you don’t have to make much effort once you’re eating.

Halve the cherry tomatoes (or dice your larger tomato) and throw that in. Dice up the spring onion – chuck it in. Dice your cucumber.

In a little bowl, vigorously stir together your fish sauce, lime juice and sesame oil. Then pour it over your salad and toss it up.

Sprinkle your chilli sauce on top if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also add salt & pepper, but fish sauce is already salty, so taste it first.

Nicole's blog www.themumreviews.co.uk is a blog about doing stuff as a mum and then writing about it!

Stilton Cheese & Red Cabbage Salad With Apple from Captainbobcat.com
Image credit: Eva Katona
This looks fantastic, doesn't it?  Not everyone likes the pungent aroma and strong taste of Stilton but the crunch of the cabbage and the sweetness of the apple combine wonderfully.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 red cabbage shredded

2 sweet apples cored and chopped

150g Stilton cheese crumbled

2 sticks of celery sliced

100g walnuts roughly chopped and toasted

3 tbsp of olive oil

freshly ground pepper to taste

METHOD:

Remove the outer layer of the cabbage before cutting and shredding it. 

Slice everything and add them to a bowl. Chop the apples the last, so they don’t go brown. (Once they are covered in olive oil they won’t.) 

Eva says that she never adds salt to this salad as the cheese gives a salty taste. 

Serve with wholemeal toast and butter.

www.captainbobcat.com is written by former hotelier and travel expert Eva Katona.  She writes about her journeys with her son, nicknamed Captain Bobcat and offers great advice on baby, toddler and family friendly travel.

Super Summer Salad - Hayley at Devon Mama
Super Summer Salad from Hayley Jones at Devonmama.com
Image credit: Hayley Jones
Another gorgeous summer salad which is so much of a meal Hayley even suggests substituting it for your Sunday roast if you want to feel particularly virtuous.

INGREDIENTS:

For the salad
Sun-dried tomatoes (a handful)
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber
Mixed lettuce leaves (whichever you have in the fridge!)
Half a red capsicum pepper
Half a yellow capsicum pepper
Feta (cubed)
Garden cress

For the croutons
1 slice of white bread (slightly stale suits this to perfection!)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
Sea salt to taste

For the dressing
50ml olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I prefer white but regular is fine)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

METHOD:

Making the croutons
Remove the crusts from your slice of bread and cube the bread into roughly 1cm cubes
Place your cubes into a container (I prefer a freezer bag for ease but anything with a lid is fine)
Add the oil and shake well to ensure complete coverage
Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle sea salt over them

Bake at 180º for approximately 10 minutes, checking and shaking regularly to ensure even coverage.

Remove, allow to cool and store for up to 1 week.

Assembling your salad

Rinse and tear the lettuce into small pieces and place in the bowl
Quarter your cucumber slices, halve the cherry tomatoes and thinly slice the capsicum peppers before mixing them together and adding them to the lettuce.
Place all your dressing ingredients into a bowl and stir well to mix.
Add your dressing to taste (you won’t need all of it) and using your hands mix with the salad to ensure even coverage.
Scatter feta cubes and garden cress over your mixed salad
Pat the sun-dried tomatoes lightly with kitchen towel to remove excess oil and arrange these on the top
Finally add your croutons and serve!

Hayley's blog, Devon Mama is a parenting, food and lifestyle blog and Hayley describes herself as "a thirty year old mama, wife and recovering sleep addict". Hayley worked as a company director prior to maternity leave but gave it all up after maternity leave to concentrate on raising her son - and blogging.

So there you have it - some wonderful quick and easy summer salads - and check out the girls' blogs for more recipes and great advice by the ton. 
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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tips To Help Kids Sleep In Hot Weather

It's been so hot of late that the kids have really been struggling to get to sleep.  Ieuan can't quite believe how hot it is and keeps demanding that I turn the heating off!

sleeping child with toy rabbit
Image credit: Pixabay
It's not so bad at the weekend because the kids can sleep in.  I say can but obviously they're still up early and then dissolve into a major grump around lunchtime. But on school nights, I really want to help them to get some sleep so that they can cope with their busy day.

I don't think altering their sleep schedule is a good idea, tempting though it is to let them stay up a bit longer to make the most of the lighter evenings.

Having worked so hard to get our kids into a regular sleep schedule, I would rather try to make their sleeping environment more comfortable.

Here are some tips you might find useful.

- let your kids sleep in the coolest room in the house and make sure that air can circulate around them, for example by removing any padding around a cot

- don't leave babies to sleep in a pram - they can be hot and airless.

- don't use a pillow or mattress that your baby sinks down into and put them to bed in just a nappy.

- keep curtains closed during the day and, if at home, keep the windows ajar.

- cover mattresses and waterproof sheets with thick layers of cotton sheets to absorb perspiration and prevent prickly heat rash.

- take duvets out of duvet covers and let kids sleep under these or just use a plan cotton flat sheet. If you still use a duvet make sure it is a low tog.

- or you could try letting them sleep under a very thin sleeping bag liner or under a damp towel while keeping the mattress protected with a washable mattress protection pad.

- close windows and stick blackout material on them during the hottest hours; you can open them again when it's cooler.

- consider investing in a small portable air conditioner unit

- some mums recommend letting their kids sleep with a wet tea towel on their chest or you could try a cool flannel on their feet if they won't kick it off!


- give kids a cool bath before bed.

- some advise spraying with a plant mister

- place a fan at a low level near a window to circulate the cooler air at night but keep it well away from little fingers.

- swop to light cotton nightwear which is excellent absorbing sweat and may actually keep you cooler than sleeping naked.

-  hang wet towels over chairs or windows to cool the air.

- put your child’s pillowcase or favourite toy in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge for a few hours before bed. When you take it out and put it in their bed, they’ll have a nice cool pillow to help them drift off with, or a cool toy to hug themselves to sleep with.

- you could also try wrapping the ice packs used for picnics in tea towels or filling a hot water bottle from the cold tap and placing it in the fridge.

It 's important to remember that sweating makes you lose both water with the risk of dehydration. This can be compounded if you have excessive and unprotected sun exposure.

Make sure you keep your water levels topped up and are using a suitable sunscreen for both you and the kids.

Have you any 'keep cool' tips to share?
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Monday, 19 June 2017

Step Back On To The Career Ladder By Becoming A Legal Secretary.

As readers of this blog know, I spent over 13 years working as in marketing and PR for various law firms, rising to Marketing Director in the last post I held before leaving to have Caitlin and Ieuan.

I have to admit, with hindsight, leaving my job entirely was possibly not the best thing to do because, after nearly 10 years out of the workplace, it seems as if it would be a real challenge to return - at least to the level where I once was.

woman at a desk typing on a MacBook

I'm not complaining and I am now a full time blogger and perfectly happy with my lot but I do know other mums who feel as if their career has stalled or, if like me, they've given up work, feel stepping back on the career ladder would be a Herculean task.  And what about those of us who are 'empty nesters', looking for a new phase of life now that the kids have left for university or to start jobs?

There are, however, ways to do it but it requires grit, determination and the frequent need to retrain or adopt some self study.  Of course there are costs involved which you may have to fund yourself but, in general, I firmly believe any investment in education is always going to be worth the money.

To give you an example from the profession I left, becoming a legal secretary is a great route back into the job market place and one which, if you work hard and are diligent about learning as much as possible, can take you to the top - partnership in law firm terms.  

It's a great way to develop your career - particularly where law firms offer services such as conveyancing or private client work such as family law (wills, probate, divorce, child issues).

Not only can you find jobs at solicitors' offices and barristers' chambers, there are job opportunities at law courts, local authorities, government bodies, the police or even estate agents.

woman's hand signing a legal document with a fountain pen

So what does a legal secretary actually do?

As the name implies, legal secretaries carry out secretarial tasks that are specific to law.  For example, they may help with the writing of legal documents, conduct research and read legal articles, as well as general secretarial duties such as answering the phone and dealing with correspondence.

You might also deal with clients and go out and about delivering documents or accompanying solicitors to courts or police stations - depending on the field of law you are employed to assist with.

As a legal secretary you can expect to earn anywhere from £18,000 as a starting salary (starting around £25,000 in London) up to £45,000 as an experienced legal secretary and, as mentioned previously, it is possible to use the legal secretary role as a launch pad to higher paid and related careers.

If this is for you, you will need a training course where the qualification is recognised by The Law Society and the Solicitors' Regulation Authority - ideally Legal Secretary Training which is CPD accredited.

CPD is a type of ongoing study which is a requirement for solicitors and other professionals to ensure that their knowledge basis is kept current so that they can offer the best service and client care.

The key skills you need to make sure your course covers are:-

*MS Office (especially Word).  You will be doing a lot of typing and possibly also audio typing.
*A thorough grounding in the legal system 
*Customer care
*The various kinds of legal forms
*Contracts - types and how they may be formed and breached.

Ideally you also want to make sure that your course is taught by a qualified lawyer in a hands-on, practical classroom environment.  The law is continually changing and it is vital that you are taught by someone who is up to speed with this.

You can find a good intensive course where you can cover the basics in a one week (with home assignments) or assisted learning with in house tutor sessions supported by home assignments over one month.

woman wearing an ear piece taking a telephone call sat by a laptop

Before you sign up for a course though, you should make sure that you have a good general level of education with good written and spoken English.  You will also need previous PA or secretarial experience or, if you have none, starting off with a general secretarial / PA course will give you the necessary grounding.

The beauty of private courses too, is that you are not relying on fitting your study around the academic year - you can start at any time.

As a way back into the work place, becoming a legal secretary is certainly worth considering and the rewards are certainly there for those who are determined to rise to the top.
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Sunday, 18 June 2017

How To Help Your Dog Cope With The Heat

We've been blessed with a mini heat wave and whilst most of us know what to do to cope with the rising temperatures, we need to remember to help our pets.

cute fluffy puppy

Every summer there are reports of dogs who die because their owners thoughtlessly left them in cars in the heat of the day.

We don't yet have a dog but the kids are campaigning heavily. And if we do take in a new furry friend, I'll certainly be mindful of the useful advice below when it comes to taking care of Fido in the heat.

Just click on the link to be taken straight to the article.

6 Ways To Protect Your Dog From Summer Heat And Heatstroke - dogtime.com

Useful advice includes keeping walks to a minimum and giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut to prevent overheating.  Don't forget that animals suffer sunburn too.

5 Ways To Protect Your Dogs From The Heat This Summer - dogsmonthly.co.uk

Did you know that dogs do not have sweat glands on their skin so they lower their body temperature by drinking plenty of water. When they are allowed to lie down and play in water, they get some relief from the heat.

And do you know how to protect your dog's paws - particularly if he's a puppy?

How Hot Is Too Hot For Dogs? - thespruce.com

Have you ever wondered how hot is too hot in your home for your dog? This post might have the answer, along with lots of other great doggy-related advice.

10 Neat DIY Ways To Help Your Dog Beat The Heat - iheartdogs.com

A collection of cool tips you can try at home - for example #4 Mini Pool - don't splash out on an expensive doggy pool - you can use a kiddie pool for your dog to cool off in. 

To stop them slipping, simply add some non-slip bathroom decals to the bottom of the pool. Cheap, cheerful and effective for your pet.

pug in the front seat of a car

Dog Tips For The Summer - dfordog.co.uk

Common sense advice including this on the subject of leaving dogs in cars:-

"Never leave your dog in the car on even just a slightly warm day. Leaving the window open a few inches for them, parking in the shade, or leaving them a bowl of water in the car is NOT adequate. A dog left in a car on a hot or even warm day can suffer heat stress and ultimately fatal heat stroke within just 10 minutes.

The temperature inside the car might not seem excessive when you first stop but the temperature inside a stationary car can rapidly increase to double the outside temperature - phew. This can happen very quickly, within six to ten minutes.

If you come across a dog that has been left in the car on a warm day, call the Police. They will be able to take appropriate action, if necessary breaking into the car to release the dog."


This advice comes from an Australian website and they are surely better at coping with the heat than we are here in the UK! They explain how to spot when your dog may be in distress due to the heat - for example vomiting, drooling, heaving panting, diarrhea or seizures.

Even if you think your pet has only suffered a mild case of heatstroke, the internal damage can be lasting so you should always take your dog to the vet for a check up.

What do you do to ensure your dog stays cool?  
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Saturday, 17 June 2017

4 Easy Ways To Make £1500 A Month Extra From Home.

When you're a stay at home mum, especially one who has given up a good job, your mind quickly turns to ways in which you can boost the family's income.  

There are so many get rich quick schemes out there waiting to trap the unwary (and usually getting you to part with cash into the bargain), so here's some sensible advice from Jon who runs The Money Shed, a great website dedicated to earning money from home.

The Money Shed Logo


Over to Jon....

Who wouldn’t want an extra £1500 each month? What would you do with that money? An extra holiday or maybe a house repair that needs doing. No matter what getting that money is easier than you might think and I’m going to show you 3 easy ways to earn an extra £1000 from home without any trouble.

Just before we get going I better introduce myself. My name is Jon and I run The Money Shed which is the UK’s largest community website dedicated to earning money from home so I spend my time helping others (ESPECIALLY stay at home parents) earn money from home so they can look after their little ones and not have to return to work. With that in mind here are 4 easy ways to earn an extra £1000 form home

Web Search Evaluator - £500+ a month

Ever wondered how search engines give you the results that they do? There’s actually a human element attached to it all and you can get PAID to help out!. Leapforce are a company who offer you the chance to work as a Web Search Evaluator. The job is paid BY THE HOUR and you just login to work whenever you want so there are no set hours or anything. The role basically involves you helping to critique the results that you get when you search for something when when someone searched for ‘Pictures of Cats’ they don’t get presented with a page full of Dog photos! 

Racing at Arlington Park:  Paul Kehrer
Risk Free Matched Betting - £1000+ a month

Betting in NAME ONLY, Risk Free Matched Betting is a fantastic way to earn a HUGE amount of money for very little work. In a nutshell Matched Betting is where you take advantage of the endless amount of bookie offers along the lines of ‘Bet £10 get £20 free’ using a systematic and mathematical approach which is why it’s RISK FREE and you make money endlessly no matter what the outcome.

I’ve made over £25,000 from it so far over the last 18 months and have had 2 trips to Florida, a new conservatory and a car so far so it’s WELL WORTH doing.

If you fancy giving it a go I’ve written a VERY EASY TO FOLLOW Beginners guide to it here on Slummy Single Mummy.

Evaluating Websites - £60-£100+ a month

Ever used a website and though it could look better. There are companies out there which will pay to hear you opinion on websites. WhatUsersdo and uTest are two such companies which will pay you £15 a time and more to record your experience on some BIG NAME retailer websites. They use some clever software to record your screen and Mic as you narrate using a particular website. What works well? What could be improved? You can let them know! The reviews take around 15 minutes to do and payment is very quick so if you have an eye for detail you have nothing to lose by applying!

Image credit: Jason Howie
Smartphone Apps - £200+ a month

These ‘task’ based smartphone apps have exploded in the last few years and you can earn more money than ever on them now. The main players are Task360, Field Agent, Roamler, BeMyEye and StreetSpotr. All are available to download from the App Store / Play Store on your phone. A basic task usually involves going into a store taking a photo or two of a display, answering a question and then submitting all that via the app. It takes a few minutes to do and best of all your can loop the task together if you can see a load all near you on the app.

I hope this post has helped you out. If you ever fancy earning even more than please pop over to The Money Shed as we’d love to have you on our forum and help get you earning the most you can for the time you have available!
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