A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Saturday, 30 April 2016

40% of Brits Don't Brush Their Teeth At Least ONCE A Day?

Over 40% of Brits, over 24 million of us, don't brush our teeth at least once a day, according to research undertaken by White Glo toothpaste.

This goes some way to explaining why the guests of Jeremy Kyle's morning TV show are so dentally challenged.

A quarter of those surveyed admitted they are concerned about the colour and health of their teeth with a third saying that they notice discoloured teeth on others.

Although many of us don't bother to clean our teeth, we will admit to being too self-conscious to show our teeth.

Brits aged between 26-34 were found to be the worst at caring for their teeth, with over half not brushing at least once a day (50.87%) whilst the most conscious 'brushers' are the over 55 age group (68%).

The three counties with the best oral hygiene and the lowest number who don’t brush at least once a day were the North East (23%), South East (33%) and East Anglia (37%).

Surprisingly, the three worst offenders were London (47%), Northern Ireland (47%) and Wales (45%).

The research, based on a survey of 2,000 UK adults, was conducted to find out Brits’ feelings towards teeth, not just their own but also those of other people.

Nearly a quarter (23%) admit to be ashamed of their own teeth, with 40% admitting they would never show their teeth whilst smiling and 41% feeling too self-conscious to show their teeth in a photograph.

1 in 10 (10%) admitted to never showing their teeth in any photo.

Surely we all know that brushing your teeth at least twice a day is important to keep teeth and gums healthy?

I've made no secret of the issues I've had with mine but are we Brits really that atrocious at looking after our teeth?

Discolouration, which can be caused by smoking, coffee, tea and other strongly coloured foods and drinks was the biggest concern, with a third (33%) admitting that they noticed discoloured teeth on others and nearly a quarter (23%) admitting that they are concerned about the colour of their own teeth, according to the research.

I don't know about you but I really notice someone's teeth.

I also can't understand why we would take so much care with our skin and hair but neglect an aspect of our appearance so glaringly obvious to others.

If you lose your teeth your face sags.  There is less structure to support your complexion.

No amount of skincare products, luxury or otherwise, is going to help that.

It's the same logic as investing hundreds of pounds on expensive skin products whilst continuing to smoke or drink heavily.

The research says that there may be a glimmer of hope because the stars of programmes like TOWIE and celebrities like Simon Cowell and Rylan Clark flash such bright, white smiles.

There's a healthy, pearly white and then there's the sort of day glo brightness which ensures that you'll never be lost in a cave. I tend to prefer the latter.  When Stacie Soloman appears in those clothing adverts I am so dazzled I never remember what she's wearing.

Using a low abrasion, daily whitening toothpaste is a safe way to gently return teeth to their former glory and lift the teeth a few shades whiter.

As parents we surely spend hours drumming the importance of daily tooth brushing into our kids. We started to clean Caitlin's and Ieuan's teeth from the moment they appeared.

Why would we not invest the same care in our own mouths?

My teeth are still going after nearly 50 years
If you're a dental malingerer for heaven's sake get the toothpaste out and give yourself something to smile about.

Twice daily brushing or the lovely sound of the dentist's drill?

I know which I'd choose.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Fun In Wales This May Bank Holiday

If you're lost for something to do this on Monday, why not check out one of the great guides below.

You're sure to find an activity you'd like to try.

Just click on the links.

21 Things To Do This May Day Bank Holiday Weekend

As usual, Walesonline.co.uk have a great guide. From Dylan Thomas' poetry in Laugharne to falcolnry in the Black Mountains, there's something for everyone.

Dylan Thomas Boathouse Laugharne - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
Dylan Thomas' Boathouse At Laugharne
#FindYourEpic with VisitWales.com

Wales is such an amazing country.  Just click on the link about to find a wealth of events near you, from seeing archaeological treasures such as mummies and even Indiana Jones' hat and whip at Cardiff Museum, to learning about artillery warfare in Newport or what about a deep sea fishing trip in Ceredigion?  No excuse for spending another day buying bedding plants at your local DIY superstore....

Cwmcarn Forest - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Beautiful Cwmcarn Forest
Events in The Valleys

There's never a dull day in the Valleys.  What about going on the International Dawn Chorus Walk in Cwmcarn Forest on 1st May or the Annual Nantgarw China Works Antique Fair on the 2nd?


Cadw's bank holiday fun includes the Company of the Raven at Kidwelly Castle where you can try your hand at archery, or you can Dare To Meet The Dragon at Caerphilly Castle and be captured by this mythical monster.

Caerphilly Castle - things to do May Day Bank Holiday 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Majestic Caerphilly Castle
The National Trust

Why not learn to play croquet at Dyffryn Gardens,  walk through wildflower meadows at Lanlay or explore the 17th century beauty of Tredegar House with its wild and flamboyant history?

Or there's the Mother Distracted weekend guide for any time of year.

Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin & Ieuan at Dyffryn Gardens
Let me know if there are any events I should add!

Have fun!

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up 29 April 2016

It's Friday already - where has the week gone?  Whilst we're still waiting for some decent weather, a book and a mug of coffee seems to be the best way to pass the spare time.

I don't know about you but I like to make sure I have a good selection of books on my Kindle so that while I'm waiting for Caitlin and Ieuan to finish ballet or Tae Kwon-do I have something to occupy myself.

There seems to be an awful lot of waiting around when you're a parent, doesn't there?  Although I think I spent just as much time stuck on trains and buses when I was commuting to work in the days when I was child-free and could remember what a lie-in was.

If you're reading pile is dwindling, why not have a look at the fab books on offer this week?

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures | Bound 2 Escape
Beck Valley BooksA Library of Reviews | Cinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Taking Time for Mommy | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | A Bit Bookish | Mother Distracted | Colorimetry
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Creat Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeMy Bizzy World |  Deal Sharing Aunt 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

And don't forget you can always add some of your own!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Child Backless Booster Car Seats - New Rules From December 2016

Changes to the rules relating to the use of backless booster seats for children are coming into force at the end of 2016.

UK law currently states that children must use a child car seat until they're 12 years old or 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) tall, whichever comes sooner.

Little boy about to climb into a play wagon - child backless booster car seats new rules 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk

In Ireland and in some European countries such as Germany and France, this height limit is higher at 150 cm (4 ft 11 in).

Children under three must be in a child car seat.

If you don't have room for a third child seat in the back of your car, children aged three or under can use the front seat but they must be in a child car seat.

You can’t take children under three on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without a seat belt or the correct child car seat.

The only exception to this rule is if it's in a licensed taxi or minicab and the rear seats are separated from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats.

If you ignore the law you are liable to a fine of £500.

At present, children weighing as little as 15 kg (2 stone 5 lbs) can travel in backless booster seats

Under the new rules, backless booster seats must only be used for children taller than 125 cm (4 ft 1 in) and weighing more than 22 kg (3 stone 6 lbs).

Child Backless Booster Car Seat - new rules from Dec 2016 - motherdistracted.co.uk
The rules about using these are changing
Many child car seat experts feel that this type of seat is unsafe for young children and you can easily see why.

The only security these seats offer is via the adult seat belt and there is no protection for your child if you are involved in a crash sideways on.

You can easily pull a booster seat back and forward even when your child is sitting on it and there is a risk of them sliding forward on the seat.

The problem is that backless booster seats (or booster cushions) can be bought relatively cheaply, costing anywhere from £10 - £30.

If you have more than one car, or share the responsibility for driving your children about with other family members (such as grandparents), the costs of multiple car seats can really stack up and it is easy to see why booster cushions are relied on.

They can be thrown in the boot or swopped from one car to another in a matter of minutes.

Car safety experts, however, would prefer us to use high-backed booster seats because they guide the adult seat belt across the child's body properly and in crash tests carried out by Which?, they were found to offer much more protection in a side-impact crash than a backless booster seat.

These changes to the child car seat regulations are expected to come into effect in December 2016 but will only apply to new products on the market.

If you plan to buy a booster seat next year, you will have to check the height / weight limit on the seat you buy to ensure that it complies with the new rules.

You can still use the booster seats you have already bought but, given the warnings by safety experts it is worth reviewing the child seats you use to check your family travel is as safe as possible - even if that means investing in new, and potentially safer, child car seats.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Kids - Design A Health & Safety Poster & Win With The Accident Advice Helpline

In my days at 'The Law Firm', you would have expected the emphasis to be on ensuring all health and safety procedures were followed to the letter.

This was not always the case, although the basics were always adhered to.  We had fire alarm drills, kept the fire exits clear and knew where our fire assembly points were.

Caitlin working on her health and safety poster for Accident Advice Helpline - motherdistracted.co.uk
But using the office microwave and kettle or risking the lift was another matter.  Whilst we had 'ergonomically designed' office chairs (for our backs), wrist rests and foot supports for those of us who spent our days at a keyboard, we could easily put ourselves in traction by lifting heavy boxes of legal files.

In the marketing department, lugging exhibition stands, a projector, laptop and boxes of brochures was a regular occurrence. As was setting up rooms for presentations which meant moving tables and chairs, often unaided.

The Health & Safety Executive's report "Costs to Britain of workplace fatalities and self-reported injuries and ill health, 2013/14" states:-

"Latest estimates show that annually over 600,000 workers are injured in workplace accidents and a further 500,000 workers suffer a new case of ill health which they believe is caused or made worse by their work."

The cost of this was estimated to be £14.3 billion. Of this vast figure, £8.2 billion was borne by the individuals - workers like you and I.  And bear in mind that these are just the self-reported accidents.

Poor health and safety procedures affect all of us as individuals, employees, employers and tax payers and, frustratingly, most of the time work-based accidents can be avoided.

To raise awareness of this issue, the Accident Advice Helpline has put together a competition that aims to raise awareness of Health and Safety through the work of children.

They are asking children under the age of 16 to design a poster illustrating any aspect relating to health and safety, and in particular showing how accidents can be avoided.

Caitlin adores drawing and, like her mother, is more risk averse than Ieuan who goes everywhere head-first these days brandishing one of his extensive collection of light sabres.

I have explained to him that there is only so much "The Force" can do to prevent accidents but to little avail.

So Caitlin was happy to design a poster and chose to highlight accidents that might happen at school.

Caitlin designing her poster for the Accident Advice Helpline competition - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin working on her poster
I think she came up with a good list, don't you?  I must confess I can still hear my old headmistress bellowing "no running in the corridors" at me!

Caitlin's finished poster - Accident Advice Helpline - motherdistracted.co.uk
The finished poster
Why not get your kids to enter?

The winner will be awarded a £100 Amazon Voucher and one runner up will receive a £25 Amazon voucher.

Enter your poster by posting it on Twitter using the hashtag #aahhealthandsafety or by emailing your poster to aahhealthandsafetyposter@gmail.com.  Note that the entry must be tweeted or emailed by a parent or guardian over the age of 18 and you must live in the UK.

All posters must be received by midnight on May 21st 2016 to be in with a chance of winning.

Click here for more information about the competition including the terms and conditions.

Good luck and stay safe!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Have You Budgeted For The Cost Of Looking After Elderly Parents?

As a ‘baby boomer’ (born in 1964) I knew that having children late in life meant I had to budget not only for my pension, but also for the costs of university fees for my children.

Hospital equipment for the elderly - costs of elder care - motherdistracted.co.uk
The costs of residential care are staggering
What I suspect many of us born in that era did NOT expect was that the costs of caring for our elderly parents would also fall to us.

This is not an issue whilst our parents remain well and able to live relatively unassisted in their own home.

But, once a care home is needed, the costs involved are staggering.

Currently the average cost of nursing home care in England and Wales is over £800 a week (or over £41,000 a year) per person.

This figure can be even higher in certain parts of the UK or where the elderly person’s needs are particularly severe or they need to go to a specialist Elderly Mentally Infirm home (for example if they have dementia)

Elderly lady - costs of elder care - motherdistracted.co.uk
There may come a time when we have to help our parents make some difficult decisions
As of April 2016, if a parent has assets which exceed the value of £23,250, they have to pay the full cost of their care and the family home will be included in the calculation of assets.

If their assets are below £23,250, they still have to contribute to the cost of their care from their capital until their assets fall to £17,000.

Once the £17,000 is reached, any extra income will be taken more or less in full to contribute towards ongoing care costs.

The total amount you may have to pay is currently capped at £72,000, but this amount is based on what your local health authority calculates the care is worth and does not include board and lodging costs.  You can find a good explanation here.

You can see that an individual’s entire life savings and assets can be spent in just a few months.

And what happens when the money runs out?

In the event that a parent suffers from a chronic, or life threatening illness, funding may be available from the NHS which currently offers Continuing Health Care Funding which will pay the full cost of care where the person’s need is primarily health based.

A second type of NHS funding called “funded nursing care” is available where the individual has nursing needs and is looked after in a registered care home that employs registered nurses.

Funded nursing care provides funding at a rate of £110.89 a week towards the person’s care costs which still leaves roughly £700 a week to pay.

Obtaining this funding depends, of course, on meeting stringent NHS criteria. 

For most of us, we are looking at the sale of the family property and relying on our parents' assets to be sufficient to give them the best quality care possible.

Once these assets have been used up, it is likely to be us who bear the financial burden, although some assistance may be available from your local authority.

You can see that if one of your parents needs to go into a care home but the other is well enough to stay put, there is a clear dilemma about whether or not the family home has to be sold.

Does the healthier parent come to live with you with all the extra costs that this would entail – extra heating, lighting and food costs, not to mention the cost involved in adapting parts of the home to make them safer for your mum or dad?

Balancing your monthly outgoings may be much more of a challenge and cut backs will probably have to be made. 

Should you need financial assistance to help your carry out these home improvements and adaptations, you can consider borrowing up to £7,500 with a guarantor loan from a credit company such as UK Credit loans.

A guarantor loan is a type of unsecured personal loan where you get a friend, colleague or family member to back up your application.  They must be someone who is willing to step in to pay your monthly repayments if you can’t pay.  You may find this additional safety net reassuring with so many demands on your purse from so many different directions!

We never know what is around the corner and I think it is sensible to have a conversation with your parents as early as you can about their wishes and the financial implications of requiring residential care.

Having looked into the funding of care home fees, I am aware that this is something I will need to research in much greater detail so that we can make some sensible financial decisions as a family. 

The information I have given here is the tip of the iceberg and, as we know from the 2016 Budget, schemes such as this are prone to be frequently changed and thesholds altered. 

This is a far better approach than having to deal with sudden illness or even a bereavement whilst trying to decide whether your parents’ home has to be sold or worrying where the extra money is going to come from. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

How to Pick a Custom Engagement Ring

If you think custom-made jewellery is only for superstars or couples with unique tastes, think again. You may have difficulty finding a ring that suits your and your partner's style or you may have something very specific in mind that you’d prefer to declare your love with.

Image by InspirationDC via Flickr
Considering a custom ring? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Pick a Reputable Jeweller 

This cannot be stressed enough. Talk to friends and family members or even other brides whose style you like and get their personal recommendations. If you’re going to be buying a diamond, be sure that it comes with a GIA report or some sort of other appraisal certified by a reputable jewellery institution. If you already have a diamond, a jeweller will be able to reset it in the setting you choose. If you’re stumped for ideas, visit the store and check their beautiful hand crafted jewellery.

2. Start Looking Early

It can take a while to get a custom-made ring ready. Typically, you start by consulting the jeweller who then creates a sketch based on your preferences. They then make a raw mould of the ring for you to review before adding any finishing touched. The mould won’t be polished and it won’t have any stones in it yet. So it takes a little imagination to picture what the final product will look like.

3. What to Look for When Choosing a Diamond 

If you’re going to be buying a diamond, it’s important to understand the 4 C’s – colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. Your choice is really going to depend on budget and then personal taste. If you’re on a budget, try picking a diamond that has a carat weight a little smaller say, one or one and a half carat.

4. Try Different Settings On 

Many people prefer to choose engagement rings together these days and this is a pretty good idea. The jeweller will ask you some specific questions like the width of the ring you would prefer and whether you would like rounded corners, for instance. It’s worth taking along photos of rings that you like to help the jeweller get a good idea of what you envision. If you’d prefer to surprise your future bride, take a look in her jewellery box to get an idea of her style. Determine if she prefers warmer tones or white gold, and if her pieces are simple or more ornate. Don’t forget to consider her lifestyle. If her job is very hands-on, or she loves the outdoors, you’ll want a setting that has a lower profile.

5. It Is Usually Easier to Get the Engagement Ring and Wedding Band Together 

Visit their Melbourne store today and you will see that Simon West Fine Jewellery offers a fantastic range of ring sets. Going to the same jeweller for both the engagement and wedding ring means you will ensure the bands work well together. What’s more, it usually works out cheaper to get a set.

Custom-made engagement rings are a wonderful idea for brides and grooms who want a one-of-a-kind piece or really want to use stones that have been passed down to them by family members. Just take note of the tips discussed above whenever you’re planning to get a custom ring.

If you've any tips of your own for choosing the perfect ring, I'd love to hear them.

Lost Childhood: Wish You Could Give Your Child The Upbringing YOU Had?

As a parent, I often find myself trotting out those well worn phrases such as "we never had those in my day" or "money doesn't grow on trees" or "we had to make our own fun".

This whilst my two are impersonating couch potatoes with their tablets resisting every attempt I make to get them into the garden on their bikes.

Photo courtesy of Rodolfo Mari
As we get older, our positive childhood memories take on a golden haze and we remember simpler, happier times involving mud, fresh air and hours spent playing in woods, quarries or by rivers - places which, these days, would give most parents the vapours.

Yet, despite the fact that many children have toys and gadgets we could only dream of, we read that the pressures on our youngsters are, in fact, mounting.

Our children are being subjected to increased stress at school with longer hours and less time with their parents who are frazzled from juggling a work and home life.

A recent survey by My Voucher Codes asked parents whether they thought their children's upbringing is better or worse than their own.

And the results were very interesting.

A large proportion of parents (46%) said they wished their children's upbringing was more like their own. Some wished they had been stricter (28%).

57% of parents felt children are growing up too quickly, possibly because of technology such as smartphones and social media.

The sexualisation of children is another large concern with kids thinking about relationships and other activities much earlier than their parents ever did.

42% of parents thought that children have much higher expectations which leads to them putting more and more pressure on themselves.

32% of parents worried about their kids reliance on mobile technology although 59% felt that this offered them more opportunities.

Today stay at home parents, like myself, are in the minority and 31% of parents said they regretted not being able to be a stay at home parent.

On the other hand 54% felt that the extra income from two salaries allowed the kids to have more luxuries than they did and 48% thought their kids would find life much harder without the extra money.

Blaming technology is a little too easy though, isn't it?  And we have to be realistic.  Developments in the fields of science and technology are surely only going to get faster and most sophisticated.

Our challenge is to adapt our parenting to ensure that our children grow up knowing how to balance technology with good, old-fashioned childhood fun.

On the one hand we may moan that Social Media is turning our youngsters into screen obsessed, uncommunicative zombies but on the other, how many of us are guilty of letting our kids use social media under the age of 13 (this is Facebook's requirement)?

It is too easy to say "oh, but all their friends are on it".

We don't have to give in and buy our youngsters mobile phones either.

As parents we DO have a choice.  We hold the purse strings and we can say no.

Easier said than done, I know, but who said parenting was easy?

Whilst we are reliving our own childhoods in romantic flashback, we might consider how it was for our parents.

My parents were born in 1939,  In fact my dad was born on 4th September, the day after World War II broke out.  We like to remind him of that quite often.

Despite this, they remember their childhoods with equal amounts of affection and have happy memories of simpler,and much less affluent times, even whilst dashing to the air-raid shelter during night-time bombing raids on Plymouth.

Rather than beating ourselves up and wishing our kids could have the kind of childhood we did, we just need to balance our use of technology with quality time with our children.

And make sure that technology becomes our servant rather than letting our kids become its slave.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My Sunday Photo - 24/04/2016

Exploring at Bryn Garw Country Park


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Review: Vango Starwalker Junior Dragon Sleeping Bag - Camping Fun For Kids

Readers of this blog will know that, being ever-so-slightly 'outdoors averse', I am making a real effort to love all things camping, and, er, outdoorsy.

The Husband and kids, on the other hand, adore being outside and my days of demanding high thread count sheets and a mini bar are looking increasingly numbered.

I cannot claim to be quite ready to audition for the next series of Bear Gryll's "Mission Survive" but for the sake of Caitlin and Ieuan, I am willing to at least contemplate a lifestyle that doesn't necessarily include a hotel inspector.

In preparation for this year's sojourn into the great outdoors, we were given the opportunity to try the winner of "Best Family Product" in the Outdoor Industry Awards 2016 - the Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag.  This is a big year for Vango as they are also celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The Vango Starwalker Junior is a versatile sleeping bag, which gives children freedom of movement with the option to zip off sections at the legs and shoulders.

It comes in two designs, the dragon or the panda and, because the bottom zips off, the kids can easily run around the campsite in it to keep warm or, in Ieuan's case just because he enjoys being a dragon.

The Starwalker Junior is made from 210T microfibre polyester with single hole siliconised hollow fibre insulation to increase durability.

The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag in the Dragon Design
It has a hood for additional warmth and a large front zipper so the kids can get easily in and out.  It has a 9 Tog rating and is suitable for children up to 150cm tall.

The sleeping bag can be carried as a rucksack so that you can get the kids to help carry their own stuff.
The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag in the Panda Design
We got Ieuan to test it out for us on terrain which would make Bear Grylls proud (the beach at The Knap, Barry) and once into it, we had difficulty persuading him to take it off.  You can see from the photos that he was still wearing it at tea time and he is currently campaigning to take it bed with him.

It has some lovely little design touches, such as a dragon's tail and a dragon's face on the rucksack. We found the sleeping bag to be well made with sturdy zips and stitching.

The removable bottom section will be a great help on those occasions when there are frequent toilet trips and your child could certainly wear it on chilly evenings - perhaps for a bit of star-gazing.

We will certainly be taking it with us on our next camping trip.

The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag retails at £47.50 and is available from www.vango.co.uk.

You can also find Vango on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Questions I Have About Home Schooling

Just lately I am hearing more and more about parents who have pulled their kids out of mainstream education in order to teach them at home.

Little girl practising her handwriting - home schooling - motherdistracted.co.uk
Home schooling is not an easy option
Now I can fully understand this if there are medical and social reasons for doing so.  For example, if a parent is unwell and unable to take their child to school and is not receiving sufficient support in order to assist the child.  Or if the child is being bullied and the school refuses to deal with the situation.

If that happened to my children, I would not think twice about home schooling or "Elective Home Education" as the Government calls it.

But there seems to be a 'home schooling movement' whose rationale for adopting this form of education is about following a trend.

A few months back I read a blog post from a home schooling parent (the child was around 5 or 6) who listed their "learning outcomes" for the day as walking round a park, looking at daffodils and meeting friends for coffee.

Those, to me, are not learning outcomes - no matter how many rather fetching Instagram pictures it creates.

I wonder what teachers think about this new trend.  I imagine they feel incredibly frustrated by the fact that their training is considered almost irrelevant by some parents.

I worry that home schooled children are missing out.

I can hear the howls of indignation from here but surely there is more to a child's education than running barefoot in the park with a handful of other kids whilst their parents chat and play with their phones.

Early years education sets the scene for later learning - and academic performance.  Whilst the system is not perfect, at least it creates a roughly level playing field upon which our children's educational growth can be measured and, hopefully, improved.

I have to say at this point that the Government's latest plan to turn schools into 'academies' seems hopelessly out of touch with what schools must surely be wanting - better funding, better training, more support.  The academy approach seems to be an enormous sticking plaster for a system which would work a hell of a lot better if only the Government would stop meddling with it (and I'd apply the same argument to the NHS).

Currently the law states that all parents have a duty to ensure that their children receive an efficient, full time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise (under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996).

This means that parents may educate their children at home if they fulfil certain conditions.

You will also be offered regular appointments by your Local Education Authority to see how you are getting on but you do not have to accept these.

After that, you are on your own as regards the curriculum you set - and that includes all costs as well as examination fees, should you wish your child to sit them.  No grants will be made available.

I have previously worked as a Home Tutor for both Early Years and GCSE students and tutoring required an in-depth knowledge of the school curriculum and a great deal of lesson planning and reading around the subject.

And that was just for a few hours a week!

These are the questions I find myself asking.

Won't home schooled children miss out on social interaction?

Surely it's about mixing with a wide variety of children of different ages and backgrounds that teaches us valuable skills about fitting in when we go on to college, university, our first job.

School is the place where life-long friends can be made

Are all parents sufficiently able to teach their child the information on the 'mainstream' curriculum?

Would it be unreasonable to suggest that if you were a complete academic duffer yourself, you might not be the best teacher for your child?

How will you know how your children are progressing compared to their peers?

You may feel it doesn't matter but much of success in life depends on competition.

How do home schooled kids compare with those who have a mainstream education when it comes to university and jobs?

There are many stories about entrepreneurs who have been academically poor and gone on to create vast business empires.  Success is not impossible without an education but I reckon it takes an awful lot longer unless you have the business mind of Richard Branson or Steve Jobs.

How will home schooled kids feel about the educational opportunities they have missed out on?

None of us have a crystal ball of course but I'll bet some of the current home schooled children may well grow up wondering why they are excluded from well established school social networks and why their friends seem to be fitting in much better.

Choosing elective home schooling for your child is a very personal choice but the consequences of that choice if home schooling is ineffective, may have long-term consequences we parents might not be around to see.

As for me,  it's a case of "never say never".

More information about Elective Home Education can be found at www.gov.uk/home-education.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-Up 22 April 2016

It's that time of the week again and, given the strange weather we seem to be having, settling down with a good book is probably the safest option.

This week I've been considering Rosemary Conley's lastest 3-2-1 diet and reading up about Japanese skincare.  Variety is the spice of the literary life!

It was also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte this week so I may well return to my favourite novel by Charlotte, Villette.

If you're reading pile is dwindling, why not have a look at the fab books on offer this week?

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures | Bound 2 Escape
Beck Valley BooksA Library of Reviews | Cinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Taking Time for Mommy | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | A Bit Bookish | Mother Distracted | Colorimetry
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Creat Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeMy Bizzy World |  Deal Sharing Aunt 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

And don't forget you can always add some of your own!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

How to Make your Move to a New Home Easy

If you can do anything to help reduce the amount of stress you are under when moving home, then it could be a wise decision to do so. One of the best ways to reduce stress and aggravation when moving home is to use the professional services of a removal company. A removals company can take care of all of the packing up, loading the truck, and unpacking at your new home, which will save you a lot of time and energy.

Image by Kansas Sebastian via Flickr
Getting a Quote

A search on the internet will show that there are many professional companies such as Reads Removals Company in Peterborough that offer a high quality service at a competitive rate. Always make sure that you get as many quotes as you can. You may be able to get a rough quote over the telephone or the internet, but to give you an accurate quote, the company will need to send someone to survey your house. The company representative will visit each room of your home and gauge how much space of a container or truck will be needed to transport your belongings. The quote is generally based on the square footage required to transport your things, and when the company representative is there, it is a good time to ask all of your questions directly, such as:

1. What is included in the quote?

2. What level of insurance do you offer?

3. How long have you been in business?

4. What level of training do your employees undertake?

5. Are there any extras on top of what you quote?

Judging a Company by their Representative

As well as the contact you have with any company in the initial stages, the best way that you can judge a company is by the representative that they send to your home. When we trust someone with all of our worldly possessions, we want to be safe in the knowledge that they are going to be well looked after, and look for such reassurance. The way a company can do this is by sending a personable employee that has excellent communication skills and is easily approachable. Knowledge is also important so that they have the ability to answer any of the hundreds of questions that you may have, and trust me they have heard them all before.

Whether you are looking for companies offering removals in Cambridge, or any other county, you will want the representative to be able to answer any question in an assuring manner, and be able to explain the process that they use.

Making a Decision

You should take into account all factors before choosing which company you are going to use to move your belongings to your new home. The price is important, and so is your impression of the company, along with the quality of their vehicles and also the level of insurance coverage you receive.

All of these factors are very important to consider, with no single one outweighing any of the others. You will need to choose a company that ticks as many of your boxes as possible, even if they might be a little bit more expensive. It is also a good idea to look online for reviews of people’s experiences with your potential moving company. It is good to get an insight into how they operate, and the level of service that they offer.

When you are putting all of your possessions in the hands of someone else, it is reassuring to know that they are being well looked after. Before you know it, you will be settled in your new home, having experienced a stress-free move. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Caring For Elderly Parents When They Still Live At Home

Watching the people that brought you into the world age isn’t nice. It is even worse when you have to care for them, but they want to stay at home. Everyone has the right to their opinion, and most of the elderly are of the opinion that they want to keep their independence. That is their right, but it makes your life much harder. The only thing you can do is respect their decision and try and care for them as effectively as possible.

Elderly Person's Hands - caring for elderly parents at home - motherdistracted.co.uk
Doing that while you live in a separate house is never easy. In fact, it is a difficult process full of stress and jangled nerves. But, it is possible to achieve if you have the know-how. And, it is worth the effort. After all, they dedicated their lives for you – now it is your turn.

Modify Their House

One thing you should insist on is that the house needs modifying to their needs. If they want to stay at home, they need to compromise, and this is the first compromise. Again, the elderly don’t like making these changes because it is like admitting they are getting old. But, they are essential to their health. A stair lift or an adapted bathroom will improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of injury. When you visit sites like https://www.terrylifts.co.uk, you can see how easy it is to make it happen. There is a range of lifts and platforms for adapted homes, most of which are affordable too.

Regular Visits 

Even with all of the newest mod cons, they are still likely to have a trip or a fall. That isn’t meant to alarm you, but you should be aware that there is still a risk. If they do have an accident, they will need physical help. If you visit them on a regular basis, you will be there for them when they need you the most. Plus, you can take the strain off their shoulders and make their everyday life easier. For example, you can bring them their groceries so that they don’t have to leave the house. Little things like that reduce the need for them to take risks which lead to injury.

Split Duties 

Still, you can’t do everything on your own because you are only one person. And, you have a family and a life to live too. If you have siblings, you need to make sure that they pull their weight when it comes to caring for your parents. They have a responsibility just like you, and they need to fulfil their duties. It is amazing having brothers and sisters that do their bit because you can balance your life with your parents. Some families even create plans so that they have every day covered. For example, you can see them on Mondays and Wednesdays, and your siblings split the rest of the week.

Hire A Carer

Sometimes, caring for your parents is too much even with the help of the whole family. After all, you family doesn’t slow down just because your mum and dad are getting old. That is when you need to consider hiring a carer. A care assistant will visit your parent’s home when you don’t have the time. And, they are trustworthy people because they are industry professionals. This link will provide you more information www.agingcare.com. A good caregiver will make everyone’s life much easier. If you are worried about the money, you can get a grant or a government loan to subsidise the cost.

Move In With Them 

When the situation gets that bad, you need to consider moving home. They won’t move because they want their independence. But, they might let you move in with them for a while. Most parents see it as their kids coming back home, not as you helping them out. Plus, no parent will stop their children from coming home because it is part of their DNA. It is a viable option as long as the house is big enough because you need enough space for everyone. The kids might not like it, and your partner might feel the same, but they will understand. You can do it for a year and rent out your home to see how it works. If it doesn’t, you can move home and think of a new plan. If it does, you should consider making it permanent.

Create An Emergency Plan 

You can’t be there for them all of the time, and that is when they tend to have an accident. When that happens, you need a plan of action. Everyone needs to know their job and what they should do if possible. For example, you should tell your parents they need to ring an ambulance and then ring you straight away. Or, tell them to press the emergency button (see modify home) to alert the emergency services. A plan is vital because it can be the difference between life and death.

Suggest They Consider Moving 

They will only get worse as they get older. That is also true if they have a bad incident and need to visit the hospital. When that happens, you have no other choice but to make them see sense. No one wants to force their parents into a decision, but you do need to have a stern word. They need to know that caring for them while they are at home alone isn’t feasible anymore. They need to understand that they need permanent help, whether they like it or hate it. Only then can you start to give them the care they deserve. No one is saying that they have to move into a care home because they can move into your home. Then, you don’t have to disrupt your family’s life. A care home might be the option, but that is the final straw. Sometimes, assisted living quarters are available and they mix the independence and around the clock care.

Caring for elderly parents is never easy. But, you have to do what is best for their health.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mintycoco - Oil Pulling For Healthier, Whiter Teeth

I'm a big fan of natural ways to replace the chemical laden products that tend to fill our bathroom and a while ago I read about the new (old) craze for oil pulling.
Linda Hobbis about to try Minty Coco Oil Pulling Sachets - review - motherdistracted.co.uk
Prior to my second attempt at oil pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Indian method of cleaning your mouth and teeth by swishing a tablespoon of various oils around your mouth for anywhere between 5-15 minutes - and then spitting it out.

The theory is that the oil will take with it any nasty bacteria lurking which will not only improve your oral hygiene but will also help prevent a range of illness that may go on to affect your body too.

Having had dodgy gums for quite a while, I thought I'd give it a go and started off by using sesame oil.

The sensation of having a mouthful of oil does feel a bit odd but after a few days I noticed that my teeth were cleaner and my gums a little more pink.

Then I tried pure coconut oil which was a little more difficult because it is solid at room temperature and, surprisingly, doesn't taste all that coconut-y.

But I had read that coconut oil has a range of additional benefits to some of the other oils, so I persisted with my new routine.

It is quite difficult spending 15 minutes with a mouthful of oil whilst trying to get the kids ready for school and having to gesticulate wildly that "mummy can't speak for the next 15 minutes"!

The downside was that I found my facial muscles ached.  And the ache would last for several hours.

I have problems with my jaw joint - a condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome  (or TMJS) which means that over exertion of the joint can lead to facial pain.  My TMJS is mild compared to some of my fellow sufferers whose lives are made extremely difficult by this very painful condition.

So,  I gave the oil pulling a miss.

Recently I started to read about Mintycoco - who make a product which combines virgin coconut oil and peppermint essence specifically for oil pulling.

The product comes in individual sachets pre-measured which is a great help because the books I have on oil pulling specify anywhere between a teaspoon or two up to 1-2 tablespoons of oil.  It was difficult to get the right quantity.

I thought I'd give oil pulling another go.

You simply pull the top of the individual sachet and push the oil into your mouth.  Because it's been quite cold, the coconut oil was solid and I found you have to mash it a bit between your teeth until the oil liquifies and you can start slooshing it around your mouth.

Rather than the typically bland taste of the pure coconut oil, Mintycoco has a pleasant, although slight, minty taste.

It is recommended that you swish for between 5-15 minutes, although I'm not convinced 5 minutes will do much.

After you have finished you have to spit the oil into the bin, not down the sink where it will block the drains.  I have to say this is the least appealing aspect of the process for me.

Mintycoco also suggest that you use the product before cleaning your teeth in the morning or evening, although the books I have read on the subject suggest that oil pulling replaces the traditional brush / paste.

Unfortunately, after my second attempt, my jaw started to play up and it was back to the toothbrush for me.

I am really disappointed about this because Mintycoco is a good quality, pleasant tasting and very convenient product.  You could easily take a few sachets on holiday with you for example - whereas lugging a huge jar of coconut oil would be a bit of a pain!

As Mintycoco say, the natural lauric acid found in coconut oil has been proven to be antibacterial and can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi in your mouth.  It can also help reduce plaque and freshen breath.  Devotees also report brighter, whiter teeth after longer term use.

If you have read about oil pulling and fancy giving it a try, that I'd recommend you give Mintycoco a go.  It's a very easy way to start and to see if you can work oil-pulling into your daily routine.

Mintycoco are currently offering a 3 day trial at a reduced price of £7, otherwise a 14 day supply will cost £23.99.

I would say, though, that if you are prone to having jaw problems, oil pulling might not be for you.

You can find out more about Mintycoco and oil pulling on their website at www.mintycoco.com, on Facebook or Instagram.

"The Aha! Factor - The Intuitive Guide For Getting What You Desire & Deserve" & Giveaway

As readers of this blog know, the self-help / personal development book genre is one of my all-time favourites and I fear the unstable mounds of books by the side of my bed are about to get even bigger now that I have discovered Watkins Publishing who specialise in precisely this type of book.

The Aha! Factor by Mariana Cooper - review & giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Aha! Factor by Mariana Cooper

They very kindly sent me a copy of a fascinating book by Mariana Cooper entitled "The Aha! Factor - The Intuitive Guide For Getting What You Desire & Deserve".

Mariana Cooper is a 3rd generation intuitive, thought leader and visionary mentor who has her own radio and TV shows, as well as hosting telesummits that reach over 85 countries across the world.

She has also been an Angel Therapy Practitioner and certified Advanced Medium with Dr. Doreen Virtue for over 10 years and has performed thousands of readings and coaching sessions.

In "The Aha! Factor", Mariana shows us how we use those random, momentary experiences of knowing to get in touch with our "Aha! Factor" - that force which gives us the true direction we want to follow and which is best for us.

We've all had those "gut feelings" where something doesn't feel right.  Haven't you sometimes met somebody and just known they were either a friend for life or someone to avoid at all costs?  It would be very handy if we could tune into these feelings and come up with a strategy to use this inner knowledge to benefit us.

Mariana clearly outlines the tools we have at our disposal to do just this.  She teaches us how to tap into our own Energetic System of Communication (ESC).

This consists of

- our intention
- our intuition
- our telepathic ability to both send and receive
- our channelling ability to both send and receive


- our capacities to receive and perceive both physical and energetic information in combination with each other so that we can navigate our world with greater ease.

One of the most chapters I found most interesting was one of 50 easily recognisable signs and symbols which help you to know that you are in touch with your Aha! Factor.

For example:-

* receiving a phone call or text message from someone you were only just thinking about

* seeing the same numbers over and over - for example if you keep seeing 888 abundance and prosperity are yours now  (I'm looking for that one, believe me!)

* smelling the scent of a loved one's scent or cologne when they are not there

* turning on a movie just when a line of dialogue is spoken that is applicable to your situation

The world whispers to us in many ways if only we would tune in - and that is what this book teaches us to do.

I really enjoyed it and you can buy a copy at Amazon.co.uk.  I also have one copy to give away.  Just enter via the Rafflecopter in the usual way.  UK entrants only and terms and conditions apply.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 13th May 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Is Commenting On Our Baby Bump Unacceptable?

There have been quite a few articles lately along the lines of "things not to say to a pregnant woman".

Pregnant Woman with her hands on her bump - pregnancy - motherdistracted.co.uk
Your baby bump will attract interest
Why is it, having spent months and sometimes years trying to conceive and at a time when surely there should be celebration and congratulations, some expectant mums seems to join the ranks of the professionally offended and regard any casual comment or glance at their baby bump as a social faux pas of such magnitude that it borders on an insult?

I remember being about 4-5 months pregnant with Caitlin, having spent a good year or so trying to conceive after a miscarriage.  The Husband took me to a local Italian restaurant and we asked for a table for 2.  "3, surely" said the waitress with a smile.  I was absolutely delighted.

There's no denying that pregnancy, and particularly the early stages, can be a rough time for lots of us.  Your hormones are all over the place.  You are too big for your old clothes and too small for maternity wear.  You're still in the "intensive research phase" of working out what you can and can't eat and are totally enthralled by the changes appearing in your body on an almost daily basis.

When you get to that blooming, glowing phase where your baby is developing fine, your scans are OK, you are happily nesting and putting plans in place for your new arrival, then others may notice and comment on your contentment.  It's human nature, surely, to be fascinated by the most wonderful thing our bodies can do.

I do understand that, for some, any intrusion into their personal space may make them feel uncomfortable.  And to have your bump clumsily prodded without asking you is a little rude.  But an interest in pregnancy is surely the most natural thing in the world.

Of course some will want to touch your bump and see the baby kicking.  Seeing a foot push out of your belly is amazing.  Ieuan used to move about so much it looked like he was doing a Mexican wave.

Yes, you will be inundated with advice, much of it based on old wives' tales, but most of the time, people are just showing an interest and for the rest of it, they are not sure what to say.

But to be offended by questions like "have you chosen names, what are they?" or advice such as "sleep when the baby sleeps" seems a little extreme.  Questions such as "are you going to breast-feed?" and "will you be having a natural birth", on the other hand are going too far.

Pregnancy is a stressful time but I think you have to let others in a little.

Having had my kids so late, I was well aware that both my natural pregnancies were miraculous and that I was extremely lucky to have the experience of motherhood.

There are thousands of women struggling to conceive, and some you probably know quite well, who would give anything for someone to comment on their growing baby-bump.

And if you think some of the things said to an expectant mum are beyond the pale, trust me, the some of the things said to us older mums are far worse!
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