5 Tips To Combine Work and Family Life

We’re all looking for solutions and ‘hacks’ these days aren’t we – particularly when it comes to combining work and family life.  Most of the time we know what we need to do, we should don’t take the time to do it and our work life balance really suffers.

Why is work life balance important? As parents we are spending less and less time with our family due to the pressures of the current economic climate – as little as an hour a day with our children sometimes.

woman working from home at a Macbook - work life balance

Picture credit

It’s all about the right work life balance

Here are 5 simple reminders to prompt you into finally sitting down, putting some structure in place and hopefully reducing your stress.

Become an organisation ninja

Whether you decide to work for yourself and build your own business or you work from home, using your time wisely means using organisational tricks to streamline each element of your life. You simply cannot afford the wasted time and effort of looking for lost things, forgetting appointments and hunting down details.

You need to find organisational systems that work for you, be it a tabbed notebook or a series of apps. Have a place for everything and don’t tolerate clutter. Little and often is the key to keep things manageable.

Cup of coffee on a wooden board - work life balance

Have a Good Support Network

One of the main pillars to managing work and home life is having a back-up team who can support you when things get sticky, and also having access to the right information. Whether it’s your partner, family members or a trusted friend, someone you can call on in an emergency is essential.

You also need trusted sources of information – if your child has symptoms that need diagnosing when they’re ill, patient.info is good for looking up information quickly. Knowing that you can rely on certain things makes life easier.

Stay Ahead of the Game

Planning ahead is an important part of trying to balance work and home life. This can be really hard when you’re exhausted after a day’s work- but taking a few minutes to get things in order for the next day will save a lot of trouble – lay clothes out, pack lunches, get the washing up done so the kitchen isn’t chaos in the morning, clear your desk and file any papers.

Preparation pays off – find some delicious slow cooker recipes at www.thekitchn.com and have good food waiting as well! I recently discovered the joys of a slow cooker and can honestly say I wouldn’t be without one now.

Schedule in some family time

It’s important to ringfence time when work isn’t allowed to intrude, to spend with your family.  It may mean that you have to work a little more on other days, but try to keep at least one a day a week to spend quality time with your family, minus any interruptions.

It’s important to draw boundaries – find a great guide to time management here. With a little juggling you should be able to ensure you still have time for family commitments.

Change Your Timings

If you have the option to work from home, or you are an entrepreneur, aside from all the hard work, a benefit is meant to be flexibility, but many of us still try to slot around the office 9-to-5 routine.

Splitting your time differently, though, can pay off – could you fit in a hour before your family wakes up, and then be present for the morning rush before sitting down again mid-morning?

Can you time important work around younger children having a nap?

Some tasks that involve contact, such as meetings, telephone calls etc will undoubtedly have to be handled within traditional office hours, but other tasks such as report writing, accounting, filing, and emails can be timed to suit your personal schedule, or carried out in the evening when children are in bed. Businessnewsdaily.com has some great tips.

There are loads of ways to make improve your work life balance but you have to make it a priority.  If you do you’ll find you reap the benefits in both your work and your home life.

What tips would you add?

Our Oreo Cookie Quest At Dyffryn Gardens

There’s nothing like a family day out for making long-lasting memories and enjoying some special time together. These days, it’s often a challenge for busy working parents to find the time to dedicate to family fun and fresh air. Mat has been working abroad quite a bit since January, so extra time with dad is really important to Caitlin and Ieuan. This half term, we did something a little different and went on an Oreo Cookie Quest at one of our favourite places, Dyffryn Gardens.

Mat, Caitlin & Ieuan at National Trust Dyffryn Gardens on the Oreo Cookie Quest

The Great Oreo Cookie Quest!

Our adventure celebrated the launch of The Great Oreo Cookie Quest, an on-pack competition and interactive cookie quest activity with loads of wonder-filled prizes including a family trip to San Francisco.  The competition is now closed but you can still play along.

Oreo Cooke Quest - promotional packs

Glass of milk and 2 Oreo cookies - oreo cookie quest

So we challenged our readers…

Below you’ll find 10 photographs of our time at Dyffryn Gardens in which an Oreo has been hidden.  Not all of the pictures contain an Oreo treasure though, just to throw you off the scent!

All the photographs are numbered so to play along, you’ll need to make a note of the numbers of the photographs you found the Oreo in.  Remember, there should be 10 in all.

It’s time for your own Oreo Cookie Quest!

Dyffryn House

Photograph 1

At the heart of Dyffryn Gardens stands Dyffryn House. It was home to the Cory Family, industrialists who made their wealth through coal. The present house was built in 1892-3 and is an unusual mix of many different styles of decor.

Oreo Cooke Question: Dyffryn Gardens Welcome Board

Photograph 2

You’ll find a lovely little children’s play area outside the main entrance which is free to use. Entry to the House and Gardens is free for National Trust members, otherwise, there is an entrance fee in line with other National Trust properties.

Ieuan at the children's play area, Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 3

It was quite a busy Friday but no matter when we go it is never too crowded.  There is plenty of space for everyone to explore. The gardens at Dyffryn cover more than 55 acres and you’ll find intimate garden rooms, formal lawns and an extensive arboretum. You could easily spend a day here.

The entrance walk into Dyffryn Gardens approaching Dyffryn House

Photograph 4

Tree at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 5

Caitlin at Dyffryn

Photograph 6

Caitlin and Ieuan have been coming to Dyffryn ever since they were little.  Ieuan was usually dressed as Spiderman though – a fact he hates to be reminded of these days!

Ieuan at Dyffyrn

Photograph 7

Because the day was so cold and grey, we found that most of our favourite statues had all be carefully covered with tarpaulins to protect them from frost damage.

Chinese Farmer statue at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 8

Caitlin & Ieuan resting on a plinth at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 9

There are so many interesting nooks and crannies to explore.  Dyffryn Gardens is a fabulous place for picnics and games of hide ‘n’ seek.

Pathway at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 10

Dyffryn Gardens Walled Garden

Photograph 11

Our explorations took us to the glasshouse where you’ll find tropical rain forest, dry desert and grape-filled vinery. There are lots of unusual and interesting species of cacti, orchid and vine, making it a real treasure trove for the garden enthusiast.

Cacti in Dyffryn Gardens Glasshouse

Photograph 12

Cacti at Dyffryn Gardens - Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 13

Fearsome dragon creature in the glasshouse at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 14

Leaving the warmth of the glasshouse behind we continued on to find the new wooded children’s playground.

Caitlin exploring the paths of Dyffryn

Photograph 15

Caitlin in a tree spotting a giant Oreo

Photograph 16

Mat in one of the walled gardens at Dyffryn Gardens

Photograph 17

Dyffryn is a really different experience in summer when the fruit trees are budding and the roses start to bloom.  But I like the grey bleakness which I find makes me very philosophical.

New wooded play area at Dyffryn Gardens - Caitlin & Ieuan in conversation during the Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 18

The new play area features logs and cute animals carved into the wood.  There are wooden picnic benches and an obstacle course of logs and wooden stepping stones for kids to play on.  The logs are quite high so this play area is suitable for older children.  Otherwise, full supervision is needed.  Fun though!

New wooded play area at Dyffryn Garden. Caitlin explores on her Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 19

As you can see, the logs are quite high.

Carved owl in the new play area at Dyffryn Gardens on our Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 20

The carvings are amazing.  A lot of time and care obviously went into the making of the wooden benches.

Carved frog discovered on our Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 21

As the sky became more overcast we decided to head from home but we did notice that the bluebells, snowdrops and some daffodils are out.  Spring is trying to make an appearance!

Bluebells at Dyffryn Gardens on our Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 22

Luckily we are a short 15 minute drive away in Dinas Powys.  This means we get full value from our National Trust membership without even to visit other properties, although we certainly take full advantage of the opportunity where we can. There are so many amazing places to explore in the UK.

There are regular events and activities hosted at Dyffryn Gardens from botanical art courses to snowdrop planting and medieval music concerts. Something for every age and interest.

We are looking forward to the return of the sun when the Gardens are open a little later in the evenings, perfect for lazy after-school picnics and watching the sun go down.

Still, at least we had plenty of Oreos to help us on our quest this time.

Carved toadstool in the wooded play area at Dyffryn Gardens on our Oreo Cookie Quest

Photograph 23

Linda, Caitlin & Ieuan Hobbis

Photograph 24

So, did you find the hidden Oreos?  Let me know in the comments below!  Dyffryn Gardens is a fabulous place for an Oreo Cookie Quest!

Adagio Teas: Gourmet Tea From Around The World: Review

When I was a child, the teapot took pride of place on the dining table.  My father is a confirmed tea addict and he still likes his tea loose-leafed, served at the right temperature in a pot and strained into a decent china cup.  Using a tea-bag is ‘slumming it’ so these loose leaf teas from Adagio Teas are right up his street.

He inherited his love of a good brew from my grandmother, Jessie, who used to joke that it was actually tea, not blood, running through her veins and who, when she was a girl in late 1920’s worked for Typhoo.

Adagio Gourmet Tea - sample boxes - Orchard Oolong, Premium Teas of China, Teas of Japan and Earl Grey Teas

Now you may have tried other types of tea – Earl Grey, Assam, Darjeeling and a good old fashioned English breakfast tea but there are a wealth of other teas to try from all over the world.  It is truly possible to be as great a connoisseur of tea as it is of wine or coffee.

Many of us, of course, rely on the good old teabag dunked in a mug usually due to a lack of time or, for us parents, energy.  But I think this is a shame.

I’m not suggesting our tea preparation should be anywhere near as complex at the Japanese tea ceremony but there is an argument for taking time for ourselves and creating a little oasis of calm in our busy lives whilst we sup a tea which can transport us to Japan or China, an aristocratic stately home or an orchard filled with fruit.

Gourmet tea from Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas sent a positive cornucopia of loose teas to try, together with pots and cups in which to test them and their website is a great source of information about all things tea and you can read about the types of tea and how it is made.

Adagio makes it easy for you to try different teas with their sampler packs which have incredibly romantic names such as Orchard Herbals and Honeybush Teas.  There are Christmas teas and Berries teas as well as the names you will recognise, Red and Green Rooibos, Jasmine and Chai teas.

Tea is always a welcome gift, particularly for Mother’s Day.

No tea strainer required

They also offer ingenious ways to drink your loose tea without the faff of hunting around for a strainer or having to drain the pot afterwards.

For example, the glass mug and infuser is a ‘have tea anywhere’ set that combines a glass tea mug with a removable stainless steel infuser. When done, remove the infuser and have a perfect cup of tea wherever, whether at home or in the office. The cover doubles as a coaster!

Adagio gourmet tea: glass mug and infuser

Adagio also offer special paper filters which replace the need for a tea ball. You simply place the filter in your cup or teapot and fold over the edge.  They are made of taste-neutral wood and hemp fibres.

You’ll find plenty of clever filters in their teapots such as the gorgeous Nagoya teapot from Japan. It’s a cast iron teapots which are traditionally favoured for their elegant design, heartiness and ability to retain heat for long periods of time.

Each tetsubin teapot is moulded, painted and glazed by hand and comes with a stainless steel infuser to make steeping and removing leaves easy.

Adagio gourmet tea: Nagoya Hand Forged Cast Iron Teapot

If only teabags will do…

You can find a selection of lovely teabag gift sets such as the Comfort Collection which includes six different varieties of gourmet tea bags in a pyramid shape which gives leaves plenty of room to unfurl and fully infuse. In this gourmet tea collection, you’ll find Golden Yunnan tea, Dragonwell tea, Wuyi Oolong tea, Oolong Goddess tea, Silver Needle tea and Jasmine Pearls tea.  Don’t they sound absolutely beautiful?

To find out more about Adagio Teas visit their website at www.adagiotea.co.uk. There’s 20% off your first order and deliveries over £30 are free.

Quick & Easy Money Saving Tips For Busy Parents

There’s no denying it, the cost of living is going up. Whether it’s our energy bills, the weekly shop or just putting fuel in the car, it can often feel like a bit of a balancing act when it comes to spending our money well. Often, all it takes is just one unexpected inconvenience; like the fridge or washing machine breakdown for our monthly finances to come tumbling down.

Some look at furniture rental or pay monthly credit plans on household appliances but there are lots of other options too!

So, here you’ll find a few money-saving tips and ideas that will not only provide a quick fix, but a long-term solution to helping you and your family save money, so in turn you can enjoy the finer things in life, like days out, ice cream at the beach and even that holiday you’ve been dreaming of!

Switching your accounts

Have you ever changed banks? Many of us are still with the same bank that we opened our very first account with – many moons ago! Shopping around for a bank account sounds odd, but many offer great rates for new customers, with some current accounts even offering cash back on certain purchases. In addition, most banks even offer a cash gift for those that switch to them! Putting money straight into your pocket!

Haggle, haggle, haggle!

Haggling isn’t just for the market place! Our energy suppliers, mobile phone and broadband providers and, of course, home and car insurance companies aren’t just going to hand over their best rate or deals.  If you’re an existing customer make sure you push for the juiciest deals which seem to be reserved for new customers!

Haggling is a great way to save money, and it’s not as aggressive or pushy as it might seem. Often, just being polite and confident in what you’re asking for is enough to provide a little wiggle room. Even if the person you’re speaking to can’t give you a monetary discount, they may be able to get you add-ons or additional services added to your plan instead. You can find haggling scripts online to give you an idea of what to say or consult a website like Moneysavingexpert.com, the brain-child of ITV finance expert Martin Lewis.

Selling

When was the last time you wore that top? Or that dress you bought two years ago which still has the label on it? It’s time to be brutal with your items and sell them online!

Whether your wardrobe is overflowing, or you have some collectables or old knick-knacks stuffed at the back of the cupboard. Head to eBay, Shpock (a boot sale app), or Gumtree and start earning money!

You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Just make sure you don’t accidentally throw away something of sentimental value that you might regret losing later.

TV Licence

Ask yourself this, do you really need a  TV Licence? The BBC has just announced that it will be increasing the annual fee for a colour licence by another £3.50 to £150.50 from 1 April 2018. So many of us stream our TV and films now, scheduled TV is becoming a thing of the past.

If you can live with watching on-demand and catch-up TV channels such as ITV, C4 and 5, then maybe it’s time to ditch that costly monthly expense? Remember you’ll still need a licence to view any catch-up BBC channels!

 

Review: Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

When I was in school, science was taught in a lab complete with bunsen burners and the heady pong of phosphorus. The Periodic Table was tacked to the wall and we were frequently tested on formulae which I can confidently state I have never used since, with the possible exception of some unfortunate experimental cooking. Caitlin was recently sent the Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit to test so I was obviously the natural choice of assistant.

Caitlin with the Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

If you caught our recent review of the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse, you’ll know that we are new to the Netflix series Project Mc2 and particularly enjoying the growth in interest in STEM-based projects for kids and the recognition that science is for everyone, not just boys.

Caitlin holding the red Project mc2 ultimate lab kit bag

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) is all about building a love for learning and a solid base for understanding key concepts later on as your children work through the Key Stages in school.

The Project Mc2 series is set in the fictional city of Maywood Glen in California and is about STEAM activities (STEM plus Art!).

Heroine McKeyla McAlister and her friends work for a secret government organisation called NOV8 (“innovate”) and they protect the world using their science and technology skills.

What’s in the Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit?

The Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit is a great asset for any new NOV8 recruit.  The kit comes in a sturdy red case designed like a bag which, when opened reveals a great selection of toy science equipment and a mini booklet which contains over 30 experiments you can try using ingredients you are likely to already have at home, or which you can easily find in your local supermarket.

The Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit contains a real working microscope with 4x power (batteries required). Inside you’ll also find 30+ additional pieces including 3 glass slides, 2 test tubes with a stand, a funnel, a beaker jar, 3 lab flasks, 15 pH strips, a pipette dropper, a petri dish, safety goggles, a Project Mc² ring, and 2 sticker sheets to examine and decorate.

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit - test tubes and bottles

The microscope does work but don’t expect miracles.  It does allow you to demonstrate how one works and the principle of examining things on slides.

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit microscope

There is enough contained within to keep even the most curious budding scientist occupied for hours, particularly if mum and dad join in the experimentation.

Loads of experiments to try

We tried 3 of the experiments with, it has to be said, varying success.

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit experiment booklet

Make a cloud in a jar

You need:

  • an aerosol can such as hairspray
  • a jar with a lid
  • boiling water
  • ice cubes
  • an adult

Fill the jar with a little boiling water and then spritz some hairspray into the jar. Flip the lid over and put some ice cubes on top of the lid. After a few moments lift the lid.

This shows you that the cloud forms because the boiling water creates a lot of warm water vapour which is cooled by the ice forming loads of tiny water droplets – in other words, a cloud.

You are supposed to remove the lid to let the cloud escape but we found keeping the cloud jar-bound gave a better result.

We then tried to make giant gummy bears.  You place two gummy bears in the test-tubes, add a little water and wait for them to grow.  This demonstrates the process of osmosis where the water is completely absorbed by the sweet.  In our case, however, the gummy bears dissolved completely!

Our best success was at making foam dough.  This is a mixture of cornflour, shaving cream and food colouring which, when mixed together, creates a very oddly textured type of dough.  Just be aware that coloured dough can equal a bit of mess and the smell of the shaving cream does tend to linger so don’t use your best mixing bowl!

Despite the fact that our results were patchy, this is a great kit which offers endless opportunities for experimentation.  Other experiments include things like “make Fake Boogers”, “make a red cabbage PH indicator” and “make a rainbow in a jar”.

The experiments are a great starting point for explaining the basic scientific theory and, of course, time spent with your kids away from tablets and PCs has a particularly special value these days.

Caitlin wearing the safety goggles from the Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

There is no reason why you couldn’t then go on to devise your own experiments, whether you use the kit or not.

We thought the Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit was, like the Pixel Purse, a well made, well thought out toy which offers a gentle introduction to science.  The experiments break down various scientific topics in a way which is easy to grasp and fun to explore.

The Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit is suitable for ages 6+ and is available from Amazon, Argos and Tesco.

You can find out more at the website at www.projectmc2.com for new experiments, videos and updates.

Read our other Project Mc2 Reviews

Project Mc2 A.D.I.S.N. Electronic (Spy) Journal

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse

Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister Doll with Cocoa Bronzer

 

*post contains an affiliate link

Are You Underestimating Yourself and Your Potential?

Many people underestimate themselves and their potential when it comes to progressing in their career. Self-doubt is hardly uncommon, but it can stop you from getting to where you want to be in your career. That’s something that you can’t allow to happen because you’ll only look back later in life and regret the approach you took.

Woman working at a laptop with a cup of coffee - make sure you're not underestimating yourself

Now is the time to stop underestimating yourself and selling yourself short. It’s something that will help you make forward steps in your career, so don’t wait around before making these changes.

Each of the tips below will help you to get back on track and achieve better outcomes going forward.

Stop Mistaking Complacency For Inability

Just because your career is not taking off in the way you want it to right now, that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of achieving all the things you want to achieve. It’s more than likely the case that you are experiencing complacency or boredom in your current role; and that’s a sign that you’ve outgrown it.

What you should never do is simply assume that because things aren’t perfect right now, it’s down to inability because that’s probably not true.

Surround Yourself With the Right People

The people who you’ve got around you will definitely have an impact on how you perform in life and how successful you are generally. If you surround yourself with the wrong kinds of people, they will hold you back and stop you from being as successful as you can be. Surround yourself instead with supportive people who don’t drag you away from the things that are important to you. It can be hard to move away from old friends, but sometimes it has to happen.

Get Your CV Assessed and Improved

Your CV is the most important document you have. It’s this that employers will judge you on, so it makes sense to make your CV as strong as it can be. Get it assessed by a professional and then upgrade it for future use. Places like Adzuna can then tell you how much your CV is worth, which will help you decide whether you’re earning what you actually deserve to earn. That’s really important, so make sure that you get this covered ASAP.

Display Confidence in Yourself and Others Will Have Confidence in You

Sometimes, all it takes for people to have confidence in yourself and your abilities, is a willingness to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. People respond to confidence, so if you display your own confidence, people will be more likely to believe in you. This is something that probably doesn’t come to you naturally, but it’s still worth putting in the effort to make it happen. When you do, you will experience the difference.

Woman in a boardroom speaking out - underestimating yourself can put a serious block on your career development

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Boast About Your Unique Skills

Everyone has a set of skills that other people don’t have, so why should you be shy to boast about those skills? If there’s something you’re good at, let people know it. That’s when new opportunities will start to present themselves to you, and you’ll start to go further in life and in your career than you would ever have imagined. It’s not easy to boast about things if you’re not used to doing that, but everyone else is doing it, so if you don’t, you’ll be left behind.

When an Opportunity Arises, Grab It

Failing to grab hold of opportunities when they present themselves to you can really hold you back. Be sure to make the most of chances for promotion and things like that. If you tell yourself that you’re not good enough and then don’t even bother to apply or put yourself forward, you’ll never have the chance to progress, so stop holding yourself back and grab those opportunities instead.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparing yourself to other people is almost always a mistake. You don’t need to think of yourself and your success in relation to other people. That’s not the way to do it. Instead, you should focus on yourself and what’s right for you. No one else’s business has to affect yours, and don’t let yourself forget that. It’s unhealthy way to measure your own personal success.

You shouldn’t let yourself too bogged down in the negative things that you see in yourself. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and the key thing is to play up to your strengths if you want to see positive results and outcomes in your career and life in general.  Underestimating yourself can seriously affect your potential.

The Top 4 Reasons To Invest In A Knee Scooter

Ever since time immemorial, crutches were the only tools to help people who had mobility issues due to an injury to the legs, a disease or even old age. They are cheap, durable and easy to use. However, using crutches requires a lot of upper body strength and there are also cases where people experienced irritation on the skin in the underarm area due to prolonged use of crutches.

Woman holding old man's hand - a knee scooter can give mobility back

Knee scooters are an alternative to crutches

Furthermore, turning and navigating through a crowd of people in walkways and sidewalks can prove to be a difficult hurdle with crutches aside from the large walk space it demands.

Fortunately, with the emergence of knee scooters or knee walkers, people now have a better alternative to the crutches and be free from the hardships that come along with crutches.

What is a knee scooter?

Knee scooters are basically wheeled devices that assist a person in moving around. It consists of a padded leg cushion for the injured leg, a handlebar that will serve as steerer for controlling directions and maneuvering around, and of course, a set of front wheels and rear wheels.

To explain the benefits and advantages of a knee scooter, here are the top 4 reasons on why people should opt for a knee walker instead of the traditional crutches brought to us by the mobility experts at www.UpliftingMobility.com.

A knee scooter

The benefits of knee scooters

Comfort

We all know how uncomfortable crutches can be even with padding. The pressure of our body’s weight is focused on our underarms and shoulders resting on the top bar of the crutches, so no amount of padding will be able to relieve that pressure.

Furthermore, over time, it is normal for extensive use of crutches to cause irritation to our underarms and even great fatigue to the arm muscles, especially on our shoulders.

Fortunately, with a knee scooter, all of these problems are removed. You can easily move around by just applying a soft push similar to using a kids’ scooter. And with the handlebar, you can easily manoeuver and control the direction you are going in.

Fast recovery

Another great benefit of the knee scooter is it aids the recovery of an injured leg. Doctors and therapists agree that having a padded seat that will allow the injured leg to rest and remain stationary whilst moving will speed up recovery.

No need for upper body strength

Everybody knows that using crutches requires upper body strength. While this can be a minor issue to young people, they are actually a big issue to the elderly or to children who don’t yet have well developed muscles.

Fortunately, with a knee walker, upper body strength isn’t a requirement, with the wheels, anyone can easily move around without the help of an assistant.

Frees the hand

A great disadvantage of the crutches is that it requires both hands to support the crutches. Whether walking or just standing still, crutches still require the hands to hold them to keep them in place.

On the other hand, with a knee walker, people will have their hands free. They will be able to use their mobile phones or reach into their pockets even while moving. This makes a knee scooter a great choice of walking aid.

With these 4 advantages, even with a more expensive price tag, getting a knee scooter instead of crutches is surely a better option.

Reasons To Visit The Alps That Don’t Involve Skiing

With the Winter Olympics currently ongoing, ski-fans everywhere will be considering their next skiing holiday and the Alps are naturally one of the key destinations they’ll consider. But did you know that the Alps are an ideal destination for a great family holiday all year round?  Here are some great reasons to visit the Alps for an activity holiday all the family will enjoy.

The Alpine Region

In case your geography is as rusty as mine, the Alps are the highest mountain range in Europe, stretching around 750 miles across eight Alpine countries from west to east – France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, German and Slovenia.

Two of the best-known mountains are Mont Blanc, the highest mountain which spans the French – Italian border and the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

But the Alps also offer national parks, gardens, castles and spas, as well as the traditional yodelling, cowbells and schuplattein dancing.

Summer weather in the Alps

You might be wondering what the weather will be like in the Alps in summer.  Seasoned travellers advise that, in general, the temperature at snowy peaks will be around freezing. At a height of below 1000m, it will be warm and very pleasant if the sun’s out. Early mornings and evenings could be chilly.  No matter what the weather, don’t forget your sun protection!

The temperature will vary according to altitude so pack lots of layers for everybody – fleeces, trousers, shorts, t-shirts and good walking shoes.  Children would need long-sleeved tops when the sun’s out to protect their skin.

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Beautiful Alpine towns to visit

Why not visit Interlaken in Switzerland, a popular destination for artists in the 19th century.  It has a number of Victorian hotels some of which are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. Interlaken today is frequented by backpackers and travellers keen on skydiving and paragliding.

Or then there’s Lucerne, situated on the shore of Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland. It has wonderful views of Mount Pilatus and Rigi and has a number of historic bridges. Chapel Bridge dates back to the 14th Century when it was made from wood and is said to be one of the oldest covered bridges in Europe. Lucerne also hosts a number of annual art and music festivals.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc was the host of the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924 and is a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. Situated at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps, it’s renowned for its skiing but all year round visitors can take cable-cars up to several nearby peaks with fantastic views. These include Aiguille du Midi above the town, and Pointe Helbronner, across vast glacier fields on the Italian border.

alpine town in summer - reasons to visit the alps

By Endlessride (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Morzine, on the French-Swiss border, is one of the prettiest Alpine villages with plenty of quaint chalet-style architecture, lots of bars and cafes and excellent shopping.  The most established Alpine summer resort, there are plenty of fun activities to be had in the surrounding mountains, forests and lakes. Morzine has the largest network of lifts in the Alps, allowing visitors to reach hundreds of miles of biking and walking trails on the same lift pass.

Twinned with Morzine is the pretty mountain village of Les Gets, situated high up in the heart of the Portes du Soleil. It offers a huge variety of both sporting and cultural activities with plenty of chalet-style architecture to see and lots of bars, cafes and shops. The town is surrounded by mountains, rivers, forests, waterfalls and has its own lake. You can discover world-class bike trails, whitewater pursuits, rock climbing, canyoning and adventure parks for all the family.

Annecy in France is located on the northern side of Lake Annecy and hosts the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.  It is surrounded by wooded and snow capped mountains and is one of the world’s favourite locations of paragliding. The Paragliding World Cup was held there in 2012.  The town also boasts a castle, Palais de l’Isle and the  Château d’Annecy.

Alpine activities

From December to April, winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tobogganing are extremely popular.

In summer people come to sight-see the picturesque mountains and enjoy activities such as hiking, mountaineering and paragliding. You can also swim in the alpine lakes if you are willing to brave the cold. Families can also try caving, canyoning and canoeing, and pony-trekking.

alpine lake - reasons to visit the alps

Apart from the more traditional sporting activities, you will find newer ones such as mountain biking, carbon-fibre bikes, e-bikes and there are even bike hotels.  Everything you could possibly want for a family activity holiday.

You could try white water rafting, kayaking or paddle boarding and, pick the right resort and you will find kids’ clubs, guided walks and aquatic centres, as well as activities such as ice-skating, volleyball and tennis. There are also plenty of festivals for opera, jazz, reggae and film for culture lovers.

mountain biker resting looking at a lake - reasons to visit the alps

Tasty Alpine Food

There are plenty of richly flavoured mountain cheeses and local meats to try, as well as the famous communal dishes of fondue and raclette.

A fondue is a pot full of melted cheese into which you dip crusty bread. The fondue is usually made from a selection of local cheeses and mixed with flour to thicken, garlic and a good slug of alcohol (usually white wine).

Raclette cheese is a semi-firm, salted cheese made with cow’s milk and is eaten warmed from a grill and served with small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meats.

If you have a sweet tooth you might like to try tarte aux myrtilles (blueberries), brioche de Saint-Genix (a brioche with red coloured pralines and sugar) or the cake of Savoy served with icing sugar on top and apple jam.

For the grown-ups, there are plenty of drinks to try, such as schnapps, glühwein and local wines and beers.

Great places to stay

Accommodation in the alps ranges from hotels of all standards to gîtes, ski chalets, self-catering apartments and campsites and you are certain to find something to suit everyone’s tastes.

When you book be sure to look out for additional benefits such as free lift passes, walking guides and activities such as white water rafting, and kids clubs run by properly qualified instructors.  You may find you need to book these when you make your reservation as they are very popular and places will go fast.

Alpine Fun For the kids

An Alpine summer activity holiday for the family makes a great change from just sitting on the beach.

You’ll find kids’ clubs will offer a wide range of things to do depending on the age of your children.

Little ones will enjoy activities such as scavenger hunts, arts & crafts, den building and swimming pool games.  There may also be family excursions to local adventure parks, aquatic centres or rock climbing so that the parents can come too.

Older children will enjoy things like raft building and GPS treasure hunts whilst teens will gain confidence and make friends with activities such as volleyball, football and guided activities like hikes, kayaking, white water rafting, paddle boarding or ice-skating.

The other huge benefit of this, of course, being that mum and dad will get a little peace and quiet and downtime!

There truly is something for everyone on an Alpine summer activity holiday and if, like us, you find yourself getting bored very quickly on a beach, there are certainly plenty of options to keep everyone happy in the fresh air of the mountains.

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to visit the Alps. Would you like to try an Alpine activity holiday in the summer?




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Problem Page Edition 8 2018

In problem page edition 8 of 2018 from your online relationship coach – when your girlfriend asks you about your will, whether you should befriend his new girlfriend, when you want your ex back but your current girlfriend thinks you love her and whether narcissists like to talk about themselves.

Mother Distracted Problem Page Edition 8 - bunch of beautiful pink roses

If you would like any advice, just message me or add a comment at the end of this post and I will answer selected questions on this problem page.

Here are the questions for problem page edition 8.

Q How can you be friends with your ex-boyfriends new girlfriend?

A: Do you really need to be? It’s a really mature attitude if you are still friends with him and you are asking how to incorporate her into your life too.

Or is it really the case that you want to befriend her to get HIM back?

I would expect her to be very wary about befriending her current boyfriend’s ex so it’s going to be tricky.

If you are genuinely interested in getting to know her then show an interest in the things she is interested in. Ask about her, rather than focus on her relationship with him.

If it’s her relationship with your ex you’re really interested in, you can bet she’ll spot it a mile off – and avoid you.

And I think you would be happier finding new friends to go out and have fun with – without the shadow of your ex looming nearby.

Q: A year after my narc ex left for her new supply, married him within a month, and emigrated to stay with him, they are still love bombing each other. Could it be that she has found her soulmate or can love bombing go on for years? He seems oblivious.

A: Your ex is happy with her new husband – whether or not she is truly a ‘narc’ as you put it.

It does seem as if the relationship happened very quickly, but sometimes, unfortunately, that’s life.

I never understand why those who speak of their ‘narc’ exes are always so keen to get them back – because you are, aren’t you?

I have no idea what ‘love bombing’ is – I’m guessing that heightened state of affection we naturally show to a new partner. And yet, people truly in love can show that amount of love and affection until their dying day.

You have no idea how their relationship will turn out but she is presumably living in another country.

Your obsession with this isn’t doing you any good and will certainly not bring her back.

It would be far healthier for you to grieve the loss of your relationship properly – get some counselling if you are struggling to move on – and then focus on finding someone ‘new’ for you.

And seek a ‘real’ relationship not one couched in the pop psychology terminology of narcissism and ‘love bombing’.

Q: What do you do when your girlfriend ask you about your WILL? Especially when the question came after a heated debate about my ex-wife and two kids. I’m not on my death bed yet and we are not even engaged. Clearly it’s inappropriate. Right?

A: Yes I think it is. This is a girl who is clearly angling for commitment and, depending on your financial circumstances, a comfortable lifestyle.

My answer to her would have been a swift “I’m leaving everything to my kids” – she can’t really argue with that.

In any case it is absolutely none of her business and in your shoes, I think I’d be so put off, I’d be asking myself whether I seriously wanted to take the relationship any further.

Q: How can I get back with my ex because she is also in love with me, but the problem is that she thinks I’m so in love with my current girlfriend when I am not?

A: If you want to prove you are not in love with your current girlfriend, you have to leave your current girlfriend.

Actions speak louder than words.

Besides you are being incredibly unfair to your current girl if you don’t love her.

I also wonder whether your ex is still in love with you or whether she is just jealous. Will she rush to your side again when she sees there is no longer any competition?

There is only one way to sort this out. Leave your current girlfriend and ask your ex back out.

Just make sure you are clear where your affections really lie and don’t continue messing two women around.

Q In a relationship where your guy keeps telling you “do you know I love you”, what does he want you to know by constantly saying it?

A: He is asking, in a round about way, if you love him too. If you do, it sounds as if you need to tell him, clearly, and start being more affectionate before he assumes you don’t care and finds someone else.

If you don’t love him, then the kindest thing to do is to let him go anyway.

Q: Thinking about school demotivates me to do the things I love doing. How can I change this? Am I doing something wrong?

A: Part of growing up, unfortunately, is doing what you have to do. In an ideal world you would choose to do whatever you like but life’s not like that.

It’s concentrating AT school and getting good grades that will give you the eventual freedom to choose what you want to do and get well paid for it.

Let THAT be your motivation.

Q: Do all narcissists love to talk about themselves?

A: Narcissism is a recognised psychological disorder, not, as it seems to be used by those unhappy in love, a term for someone who has been unkind to them.

The chances of you having met a true narcissist are remote but if you did then narcissism is an unhealthy love for the self, so they probably would.

In any case, everyone loves to talk about themselves – so that is hardly a diagnosis – just a relatively normal behaviour.

I hope you enjoyed Problem Page Edition 8. You can find more dating advice from your online relationship coach in these posts:-

Dating:  11 Ways To Tell They’re Really Into You

 6 Signs Your Dating Buddy Isn’t On Your Side

32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not That Into You

Review: Adexe Meek Grande Rosegold Watch

GIFTED: There’s something special about a really stylish watch, isn’t there?  I know most of us rely on our mobiles to tell the time these days but it’s not quite as romantic and you can’t really use a mobile phone to accessorize an outfit! I recently discovered Adexe London watches and they kindly sent one of their signature watches to review – the Adexe Meek Grande Rosegold watch.

Meek Grande Rosegold watch from Adexe London

Meek Grande Rosegold watch from Adexe London

About Adexe London

Adexe have a different philosophy which sets them apart from lots of other mass-market watch retailers and manufacturers.  Their non-conformist approach involves providing contemporary but traditionally crafted watches combined with an element of minimalism. Their prices are very affordable too. You can read about the design and manufacturing process on their website.

Adexe London Meek Grande Rosegold watch

You might wonder what’s behind the name “Meek” and it is intended to reflect the values of serenity, simplicity and security for all.

The Meek Grande Rosegold watch is a new addition to the Meek range and includes a subtle date indicator and oversized Roman numerals. It has a 40.5mm dial and a 20mm wide handmade stainless steel strap which can be adjusted to fit by means of an open spring bar.

It comes with a 5-year battery and also has a 3ATM water rating, making it rain- and splash-proof but it is not suitable for the shower or pool.

It is a striking timepiece with a vintage feel.

My thoughts on the Meek Grande Rosegold

This is a beautiful and elegant watch which really stands out on your wrist. It is light and comfortable to wear and I was really impressed that it came with an adjustable strap.  Other watches I have been sent to review have required a trip to the jewellers to get them adjusted which, of course, adds to the expense!

Once you have adjusted the watch strap using the open spring bar, you simply slide the watch on and off as required by unclipping it. As a left-hander, I can’t bear fiddly straps but this is fine for me.

The watch is blissfully easy to set up by simply pulling out the toggle on the side to adjust the time and date.  A little instruction card is to be found in the presentation box.

I loved that I could easily read the time on the large watch face.  When I wear my contact lenses I still need a pair of reading glasses and if I haven’t got them with me, much squinting is required – but not in this case.

The black watch face and the rose gold casing and strap go really well together and I think the Meek Grande could be worn on a glam night out as well as casually from day-to-day.

Where to buy the Adexe Meek Grande Rosegold

The Adexe Meek Grande Rosegold watch is just one of a wide range of watches for men and women on the Adexe website.

Sick At Work? Tips To Get You Through The Day

What do you do when you’re sick at work?  Let’s be honest, there are times when you just can’t go home, no matter how loudly your bed is calling you.

Sick at work? Tips to help. Woman blowing her nose.

You might have a presentation to put together or an important client meeting to attend. There may simply be nobody else who can cover your shift, or you work for yourself and have absolutely nobody to delegate to!

What should you do when you are sick at work?

If you are employed then your first port of call should be your manager or HR Department (if you have one) to explain that you aren’t well, but be prepared for them to advise that you should seek medical advice.

If you are off for less than 7 days you will be required to fill in a form stating that you have been ill (self certification) and if you are subsequently off work for longer than 7 days you have to produce a sick note (‘fit note’) from your doctor.

If what you have is infectious then it will be in your employer’s best interests to send you home – for example vomiting and diarrhea – and, if you are really bad then HR may be able to find temporary cover.

If, though, the buck for a particular work project rests with you, that may not be an option. You may simply have to deal with your symptoms and carry on.

Self care strategies when you’re sick at work

If you are just feeling generally under the weather then here are some tried and tested ideas from my fellow parenting bloggers who are all used to having to ‘get on with it’ both at home and and work!

Note:  lots of us use painkillers but make sure you take them responsibly and in consultation with your doctor if need be!

Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures advises taking painkillers every 2 hours, making sure you alternate between two different types (e.g. paracetemol and ibuprofen), drink lots of water and stock up on fresh fruit.

Mel at Le Coin De Mel recommends taking a painkiller and making yourself a strong cup of coffee.  She suggests wearing an outfit that makes you feel good, putting your best makeup on and going home as early as possible to recover.

Kelly at The Best Version of Kelly takes a similar approach – “make up, caffeine, alternate paracetamol and ibuprofen, Sudafed nasal spray for a blocked nose, cough sweets to hand in case of a coughing fit and I keep picturing my bed and telling myself I will be there soon.”

Helen at Welsh Mum Writing sensibly advises setting a timer on your phone so you don’t skip or forget meds, taking a refillable water bottle and making sure that keep drinking. Have a coffee when you’re beginning to flag, she suggests, and put off anything that needs your 100% that doesn’t have to be done that day.

Pete at Household Money Saving says “energy drinks always help. Plus, I make sure I take short breaks every 30 minutes or so. It’s not ideal, but means I make it through without collapsing.”

Amy at All About Mummy  suggests switching your mind-frame to coping with just what is in front of you at the time. “If you try and think about the whole day it feels mammoth but if you just think about the challenges of the next hour it feels just about manageable”, she says.

Folakemi at Peacocks Can Fly takes a more spiritual approach.  She says “I’m a Christian so I pray to God to give me strength to get through the day and it usually works for me. Last time I was ill, my key client meetings got rescheduled.”

Janet at Falcondale Life takes a practical approach. “Plead for help online. I used to not do this but then one time I was really laid out with flu and it was so hard. I learned afterwards how much my friends would have helped me if they had known how bad it was. People do love to be helpful. I have been ill recently and been open about it. I have been bombarded with offers of help. Of people can do my errands, I can manage a bit more work.”

And for sufferers of chronic illnesses, there is often no other choice but to accept your symptoms and carry on working.

Angela at The Inspiration Edit says “I have chronic illness and need to work despite feeling unwell 90% of the time. My main way of coping is by writing a list each day and when it get’s really hard and tough, I simply pace myself and slowly work through my list knowing that I can have a good rest at the end of it. It’s also great to take breaks if you can. When working in an office environment I would lay down on the sofa in the break room and just give my body a 5 minute break. That really helped.”

Did your job cause your illness?

Of course there may be occasions when your illness has actually been caused by your job in the first place.  Common examples of work-related illnesses can be anything from repetitive strain injury, to noise-induced hearing loss.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that you are not injured in the course of carrying out your employment and any good employer will have stringent health & safety policies to comply with government legislation.

If you think you are suffering from a work-related illness then you will need to raise the matter with your HR Department or Manager but you may have to seek independent legal advice to protect your employment rights and benefits.

How do you cope at work when you are feeling poorly?




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What to do if You are Worried About Your Relationship

A long-lasting relationship isn’t just about meeting the right person, you both need to understand each other’s needs, figure out how to change and keep the romance alive. Though you might not spend the rest of your life together, any long term relationship is a serious dedication to one person.

Unlike in the movies where lovers come together at the end, your relationship is the start of a new chapter. There are no set rules and no specific paths to follow, but there are a few things you should be doing, or willing to do, to keep your romance going. If you are worried about your relationship, here is some advice for you both to think about.

Listen to Each Other

The best relationships are always built on a foundation of trust and friendship but this is completely impossible if you don’t listen to each other. Talking is easy but listening, and listening properly, takes more effort. You need to be willing to listen to your partner’s needs and issues, even when it’s difficult to understand or you have conflicting opinions. Listening is always the first step to a resolution.

 Disagreement is a normal part of any relationship, but you need to remember that in order for you to find a resolution, you need to listen to what is being said and be clear about what your intentions and needs are yourself. Shouting and accusing each other won’t work, instead, be calm, and tackle any issues before they explode. Be open and kind and you will almost certainly argue less.

Be Willing to Change

While you should never go into a relationship thinking that you can change someone, you do need to be realistic about the way that people mature and change. You might have aligned ideas and principles now, but in the future that could change.

For example, let’s say you are a smoker and this isn’t an issue to begin with. But, as the months go on and you start talking more seriously about your relationship and where you are going, the smoking does become a problem for your partner. Are you willing to consider quitting? Would you think about the benefits of smoking vs vaping?

Being willing to change and develop in your relationship is a healthy thing, but you should also be aware of what is going too far and demanding too much. But only you can decide where to draw that line.

Work on Your Romance

In the beginning, when it’s all dates, chocolates and roses, the romance is easy and tangible in your relationship. But, as time goes on and you settle down, this honeymoon period elapses. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as this is the time you are likely to think about a family, but you still need to put your relationship first – at least every so often.

Try setting date nights or surprising each other with a treat to keep your romance alive. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, just a gesture that says I love you is enough.