How To Store Collectables To Keep Their Value And Quality

Have you ever thought of yourself as a collector? Is there a particular item that you have a strong passion for that you find yourself collecting? I remember having a brief flirtation with stamp collecting when I was younger and wish I still had that album now as it had quite a few first edition stamps.

How to store collectibles - woman in red dress with her hands full of gold coins

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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Many people have collectables that range in value, size, and even sentimental value. You only have to have a look at sites like eBay to see that one person’s trash is often someone else’s treasure! Collectables can be a fun hobby and something that you can take real pleasure in, but as your collection grows, so does the problem of storing it properly.

The whole purpose of collectables is that you’re collecting items of value or meaning, and you are doing what you can to preserve their quality. For lots of people, their collections are a form of financial investment that they hope will, in time, contribute significantly to their future security.

Proper storage is absolutely essential to preserve that quality, but it can often cause a lot of problems as the collection grows. How many of us already have garages filled to the rafters with stuff we haven’t got round to clearing out.  Finding somewhere to store a precious collection can often be quite a challenge!

How to store collectables

Here we’ll take a look at how to store collectables so that you can retain their value and quality.

Wine Collections

If you see yourself as a wine enthusiast and collector then you know better than anyone else how important proper storage is. This is what will ensure the wine’s integrity is preserved and that it doesn’t end up getting spoiled. If you have a particularly large collection, then storing it at home may not be ideal.

Octavian Vaults is a company that offers professional high-quality wine cellars where you can store your collection. The company currently serves 10,000 private collectors,  as well as wine merchants and investors. The wine is stored in cellars that are more than 100 feet below the ground at Wiltshire Hills. With this method of storage, you know your wine will be safe and well-preserved.

How to store collectibles - wine in wine racks

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Toy Collections

Another big collectable is toys. Depending on how much of a collector you are, you may still have all your toys in their original boxes to help increase their value and keep them safe. Dedicating a room to your toy collection may be necessary, complete with shelving and storage containers.

If you’re not willing to give up a whole room of your house, or your collection has become too big to fit in your house, then experts suggest looking into renting a storage unit. Make sure you pick one that features climate control and is an interior unit so you don’t have to worry about water damage. Even with a storage unit, you will still want to place your toys in storage bins or on storage shelves.

Coin Collections

Coins are another popular item that people end up collecting. One nice thing about a coin collection is that it takes up very little space, but because it can be quite high in value you need to be mindful of how you store it. There are a few things that can also cause damage to coins which are acids, heat and cold, humidity, air pollution, and chlorine. With that said you want to store it in a place that is not too cold or hot, doesn’t have much moisture, and where they aren’t exposed to the air. A coin holder or album is ideal. You can then go the extra mile and store the album in a safe.

Take the Time to Store Your Collections Properly

Taking the time to store your collections properly will ensure that they are well-preserved and retain their value.  Considering the cost of properly housing your collection should be one of the first things you think about if you know you’re going to invest not only your time but your money. Learning how to store collectables properly could help turn your collection into a gold mine.

Starting A Business? Why We Bloggers Already Run One.

With an uncertain political and economic climate at present, and what is being described as a ‘bloodbath’ for jobs in the retail sector, many busy working parents must be feeling the cool wind of uncertainty blowing across their bank accounts.

Turning your blog into a business - letters spelling out dream, notepage and woman's hand on laptop

Photo by on Unsplash

As a full time blogger and stay-at-home mum, I have always said that I am very lucky to no longer have the drudgery of the 9-5 (in Legal Services it’s more like 8-7) and the stress of the daily commute.

It is ironic, then, that I have had to learn more business skills when it comes to running Mother Distracted than I was ever offered training courses for whilst working.

It is a constant source of frustration for bloggers that many think blogging is typing up an odd article and then taking selfies in front of whitewashed walls or steaming cups of cappuccino with hearts emblazoned in the foam.

Actually, blogging is a full time job.  It comprises, among other things:-

  • Design
  • Photography
  • Pitching for work
  • Accounting / bookkeeping (all income has to be declared to HMRC even if below the current tax threshold)
  • Copywriting
  • PR
  • Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Advertising
  • Statistical Analysis

and probably several more my frazzled brain has forgotten.

Would I recommend blogging as a substitute job for those who find themselves suddenly unemployed or who struggle to find work via other channels?  Yes I wholeheartedly would.

There are some purists, of course, who will declare that blogging is all about the writing, the creativity, the connection with readers – and it is.  But blogs are also becoming the new magazines – frank, funny, fast-paced and, unlike a magazine, able to respond to its readers in almost real time.

Turning your blog into a business - blogger's desk with laptop, motivational print, glasses, pink notepad and flowers

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

The bigger blogs are, make no mistake about it, thriving businesses which, in their own turn eventually offer employment to design agencies, SEO companies and virtual assistants.

Why not consider turning your blog into a business?

As a potential career choice, to me, it is certainly as valid as many others if you have the skills.

There are practically no barriers to entry, other than a laptop and a smartphone and some of the bloggers I have had the pleasure of working with are very sharp business people indeed.

You still need the business basics of drive, enthusiasm, motivation and the willingness to work very long hours.

I read lots of posts about bloggers, however, who write two articles and then start moaning that they are making no money.

I would say that, for your blog to generate money, you need to get the basics right.  A clear topic for your blog, a fresh, recognisable brand, great photography and a website that is easy to navigate.  Content may be king but marketing and promotion of your posts is definitely queen.

Yes, you may need to invest eventually in something like a blog template, or a design app to help get the most professional look you can.  My philosophy has always been to plough any money I make back into the blog to keep it looking as competitive as possible. You have to play the long game.

As your blog gets bigger, you may want to officially turn your blog into a business and put it on a formal legal footing by creating a limited company for example.

You are certain to need advice on business finance, hiring staff or even finding company premises.  If your idea involves making clothes or ceramics, for example, eventually you are likely to at least need storage space.

Quality Company Formations is a great website which offers a whole host of information about starting a business.  They also offer a number of packages which will supply the documentation you will need to, for example, register your business or register for VAT, and they even 0ffer 18 months free business banking with Barclays or Lloyds if you use their service. There’s also a free or .com domain name for a year if you haven’t yet gone self-hosted.

I think there is so much red tape involved in starting a business, anything which takes the legwork (and the risk!) out of it is definitely worth checking out.

They also have a customer support team who are happy to answer any questions you may have.

The point, of course, about turning your blog into a business such as a limited company is that you will not be personally liable for any financial losses made by your business.  You may also pay less personal tax than a sole trader.

Each type of business comes with its own advantages and disadvantages but if you are at the stage where you are generating income over the tax threshold (this year £11,850 for earnings under £100,000 p.a.), it may well be worth investigating your options to ensure that you and yours are protected financially.  This is even more important, I think, if your blogging income is a significant proportion of your total household income.

Whilst the job market is rocky, blogging offers an excellent opportunity to create your own business – with all the benefits and entrepreneurship.  Two of these, for me, are flexible working hours and the joy of being my own boss.

As long as you are prepared to put the hours in, to continue learning and to accept that the rewards may not be immediate, you may well be in a stronger position than your current employment offers.

Life is all about risk, after all.  Just make sure you do your research but if you feel you have what it takes, go for it! Turning your blog into a business is entirely possible.


*pr collaboration

Is Your Attitude To Money Affecting Your Relationship?

There’s no doubt that whilst infidelity is an obvious cause of relationships biting the dust, it’s certainly not the only one.  Being aware of how money affects relationships can help you handle both your finances and your romances in a way that helps keep that interest generating!

money affects relationships - graffiti on an old stone wall saying "until debt tear us apart"

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Your attitude to money is imprinted pretty early on from your childhood experiences.  My parents were born in 1939 just in time for World War II and it’s safe to say that this experience has coloured their attitude to money right up until the present moment.  If you’ve experienced rationing,  running amok with a credit card is unlikely to happen – at least in our family.

Having spent many years as a happily single working girl in legal services, I quickly found that maintaining control over my finances was crucial.  With my family background of ‘save as much as possible for a rainy day’, I made sure I covered all the basics – mortgage, insurance, council tax, utilities etc.  I remember I had a couple of friends who could not for the life of them understand why I didn’t just plunder my savings and go off around Europe.  Adulting is often all about making serious choices, isn’t it?

As my earnings rose, however, a curious thing started to happen and I found several dates who were decidedly put off by the fact that I earned more than they did.

I also discovered that some of my girlfriends ranked a man’s earning capacity to be a primary factor in his attractiveness.  Needless to say, law firm partners were considered eminently desirable even if they had the personality of a sock.

It was becoming pretty clear that money affects relationships to an often greater extent than fidelity does.  In fact, just a few weeks ago in January, The Independent newspaper published an article stating that money worries are the number one reason for ending a marriage.  Given that the average cost of a UK marriage was £27,000 in 2017  I’d say that’s a pretty good reason for discussing finances as early on in a relationship as possible!

In fact, mutual Shepherds Friendly Society recently commissioned research to look at how money affects relationships and partnered up with psychologist and relationship expert, Dr Becky Spelman, a highly experienced counselling psychologist, to find out more about the power money can hold on relationships.

The survey asked respondents a few taboo questions, such as who should pay on date night and whether you would break up with your partner if they became bankrupt. Gender and age group differences were taken into account and then Dr Spelman analysed the data and offered her thoughts and advice on how to deal with the knotty issue of money in relationships.

You can read the research and advice here: and it’s worth checking out because there are one or two surprises.

One such surprising result was that more men than women think men should pay on date night but more women feel that men should split the bill.  Amongst same-sex couples, however, the consensus was that whoever initiated the date should pay the bill.

This is a regular issue amongst heterosexual couples on my problem page and whilst I agree that it’s a nice gesture for men to pay for the first date, it is only fair for future date-night bills to be shared, particularly if one of you earns far more than the other.

What many men seem to dislike, however, is the sense of entitlement some women have that they should pay for everything.  I have even answered questions from ladies who wanted to dump their partners because the restaurants they were taken to weren’t posh enough!

And how about this finding from the Shepherds Friendly research? More women than men agree that individuals are not responsible for their partner’s debt.

You can just see that one coming back to bite somebody on the bottom, can’t you?!  If you don’t know what your partner is spending their money on (arguably your money too if you live together), then you may be in for a few shocks if they lose their job or the debts start to mount up.

Ironically, as Dr Spelman points out, the number of respondents who would leave their partner in the event of a bankruptcy, was very close to the number of respondents who didn’t believe in sharing financial information with them.  It’s clear that communication surrounding money has to be a priority for a healthy long-term relationship.

In these challenging economic times,  it seems that to keep the romance alive, more and more of us are having to use our heads when it comes to money – to protect our financial future – and our hearts!

Free & Bargain Books Linky – 26 March 2018

If you’re an avid reader on a budget, you’ll find loads of free and bargain books on this linky, plus all the new releases from Beck Valley Books.  Yes the weekly book linky has returned to Mother Distracted.

free and bargain books linky - pretty illustrated floral book

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

The Husband has returned from Canada and declared that a wet Saturday morning spent watching Ieuan on the football pitch in Penarth is colder.  I still have my cold and a cough which has left me with a bark like a seal and I’m really hoping the kids don’t get colds for Easter.

Suffice it to say I am hoping the threatened Beast From The East’s return doesn’t happen just in time for our trip to Butlins.  Minehead Beach can be pretty chilly in a Force 10 gale.

Happily now the Husband is back he’s taken charge of the cooking again.  Nobody makes a chicken curry like Mat but this is the slow cooker chicken curry version I do which is very passable.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re keeping warm and well and have some great things planned for Easter.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky – and don’t forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of book love.

Don’t forget that I still have plenty to be won on my giveaways page and don’t forget my weekly problem page here.

Happy hunting for your free and bargain books on this link.

Have a great week!

free and bargain books

Revamp Your Child’s Room For Spring With Reroom

It being spring, many of us will be planning a revamp of our homes to let in the sunlight and to add a bit of bright, cheerful colour. I even find myself inspired to do something other than languidly flicking a duster over the bookshelves.  But when it comes to Caitlin’s and Ieuan’s bedroom, I’ve found the best policy is to straighten their duvets and back hastily out.

Reroom Children's Interiors - Away With The Fairies Bedroom

Away With The Fairies Complete Bedroom

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Happily, I have just discovered Reroom Children’s Interiors – the brain-child of two hard-working mums with 6 kids between them who could show me a thing or two in the organisation and keeping of a respectable house with kids in it. Katy and Wendy have a background in interiors and their passion is to create rooms which are coordinated without being ‘matchy-matchy’.  Something I have never managed in any case.

Reroom’s website is full of meticulously hand-picked furnishings and accessories and, even better, it’s a British company where every effort is made to source the highest quality products from the best UK manufacturers.

You can buy an entire bedroom – for example “Away With The Fairies Complete Fairy Bedroom” or the “Whaley Good Complete Nautical Bedroom” where everything is curated for you to simply install at home.

Reroom children's interiors - Whaley Good Complete Nautical Bedroom

Whaley Good Complete Nautical Bedroom

Or you can just browse through the collections of gorgeous accessories, blinds, clocks, bedding, lighting, storage, paint and wall art.  The list is quite extensive and all the items are just that little bit more special than you’ll generally find on the high street.

Astronaut Bedding

My Deer Little Baby Sleeping Bag

There is something to suit every budget, whether you’re looking at a full overhaul or just want to inject a few special details into your child’s room.

Spaceman Glow In The Dark Clock

Sequinned Seahorse Cushion

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, Katy and Wendy are happy to receive suggestions for new pieces and designs.

Problem Page Edition 12 – 2018

In problem page edition 12 of 2018 from your online relationship coach – what to write in the birthday card of the son you haven’t seen for 2 years,  whether your boyfriend should send you goodnight texts and if you kissed someone else before you got together, is that cheating?

Problem page edition 12 - Love Heart Sweets and lollipops

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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 12.

Q What should I write on a birthday card for my son who is 8 years old and whom I haven’t seen in 2 years?

A: I am not sure why you are unable to see your son but the message your son will be looking for is “happy birthday son I’ll see you soon”.

Without knowing your exact situation it is difficult to advise but if you feel you have a legal right to see your child then you should do something about it.

If you have not seen your boy through your own misbehaviour, then now is the time to make amends.

Life is short and your boy is already 8.

Frankly, I wouldn’t waste time worrying about what to write on a birthday card. I’d get myself to him as soon as possible on his special day.

Q: Do you think your girlfriend or boyfriend should send you “good morning” texts? 

A: Frankly, I think it’s a little clingy. Relationships thrive on mystery not routine.

If you think your boy or girlfriend should send a goodnight text, that’s a little like wanting them to check in to reassure you that they are not with someone else.

And a little insecure.

Get to the point where you don’t care whether they send you a goodnight text or not and I guarantee they’ll be hooked.

But don’t waste YOUR life hanging around to see it. You’ve got better things to do.

Q: Should I contact my ex and tell him that I have forgiven him for whatever wrong he did with me and sorry if for once I wished anything bad for him?

A: The problem is that if you do that they will just assume you want them back.

If they treated you badly (and you do want them back), this will just give them carte blanche to treat you just as badly as they did before. They will know you’ll put up with any old thing.

If they want your forgiveness let them chase YOU.

This just sounds like trying to find an excuse to get back in touch.

You can’t change what happened in the past.

Time to let it go and move on.

If they are still interested they will find you. Hard though that is to hear, your dignity and self respect should count for more than placating someone who treated you badly – and who doesn’t deserve your time.

Q: What is the best way to develop apathy towards my ex borderline/narcissist? I was having a conversation that triggered an upset within me and I thought I was much further along.

A: I think you could do with some counselling and professional support.

It’s easy to apply psychological diagnoses to people who have treated us badly, whereas, most of the time, they are just normal people who may have ceased to love us or fallen in love with someone else.

You can’t develop ‘apathy’. You need to get it all out, shout, rage, scream and accept that the relationship is over.

I suspect your main problem is that you haven’t done that.

It takes time to heal but constantly obsessing about “how far along” you are is like picking the scab off a wound. It won’t heal.

Talk to friends, family, whoever you need to and take the focus off this relationship in the past and look to the future with someone who is worthy of your love.

Q: What should you do if your mum denounces you as an unfilial son because you heeded the advice of her doctors by refusing to give her what she wants to eat?

A: You simply tell her you love her and that the doctor knows best. You want her to get well and she can interpret your actions as she will – but you love her and want the best for her.

Those of us with elderly and infirm parents understand your struggle. If she is an older lady, understand that she may not be able to think as clearly as she used to.

Try not to take it personally. Decide in your heart what you must do to honour your love for her and do that.

You may just have to shut your ears to the complaints. It’s normal for us to rail against advice we KNOW we should take but don’t want to.

My dad has smoked a pipe for YEARS. He’s nearly 80. Do you think I can get him to give it up? No.

Will I keep on trying even if he moans and shouts?

Damn right.

Having my dad alive is far more important than pretending his poor health choices are doing him good.

Sometimes the roles of parent and child are reversed.

Hard though it is, I suspect it’s your turn to be the parent.

Q:  Would you date a 50-year-old man who looks 25 and who you don’t know is 50?

A: Firstly it’s highly unlikely the man looks as young as he thinks and secondly if he is that obsessed with his age I think many women would be turned off.

Lots of women VALUE maturity, a little grizzling round the edges because it suggests intellect, sensitivity and the ability to put their needs before his own.

That’s what’s sexy. Not looking like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey or a botoxed Ken doll.

In any case, surely at some point in a relationship, the question of true age would arise.

And I don’t think many women would be happy to discover they were dating someone who could not be honest about basic biological data.

It doesn’t exactly bode well for anything else, does it?

Q: Before my girlfriend and I officially got together I kissed someone else.  Is that cheating and do I need to tell her?

A: Good grief. This isn’t the 18th century. If you were dating your girlfriend but not ‘official’ (whatever that means) then possibly you were out of line but if a kiss was all it was then forget about it and certainly don’t tell her.

Some women may interpret a kiss as an infidelity but I think many would consider much more body contact than that as being unfaithful.

Make sure you are happy to be official with this girl though, lest you have the urge to kiss other girls.

THAT would be cheating.

How would you have responded to the questions on this week’s problem page? I’d love to know.

I hope you enjoyed Problem Page Edition 12. 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

Problem Page 10 - pink flowers and macaroons

How To Explain Cancer To A Child With The Help Of Nurse Ted

With it being estimated that one in two of us may suffer some form of cancer during our lifetime, how difficult must it be to have to explain cancer to a child?  It is, hopefully, something I will never have to do for Caitlin and Ieuan and yet it would be naive to blindly assume that it would never happen. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor whilst my maternal grandmother, Phyllis, died at just 60 from bowel cancer in 1976 when I was 12.

I don’t remember much about that time.  In those days cancer was talked about in hushed tones and, in our family, not really discussed.  I do remember my mother travelling up and down from Cardiff to Plymouth several times and being allowed to visit my grandmother once more in the downstairs drawing room where a bed had been made for her. Despite being close to the end, she had still done her hair and applied her make-up (Ponds Cold Cream, Bourjois Blusher and pink lipstick). My grandmother would not have dreamt of receiving visitors looking less than groomed.

explain cancer to a child with the help of Nurse Ted

I still think of her often and wish more could have been done for her but the fear I felt, the confusion, the not knowing and not understanding the reactions of the adults around me has never left me.

I have discovered a beautifully written book which helps parents and carers to explain cancer to a child in a way that takes the confusion and fear out of the situation for them.  A book, in fact, which would have helped if not me, at 12, then certainly my younger sister Sarah who was 9 at the time.

A guide that helps explain cancer to a child

Nurse Ted  – A Children’s Guide to Cancer by Ffion Jones and Kerry Foster-Mitchell tells the story of Ben, whose mum receives a cancer diagnosis and goes to the hospital for treatment.  The tale follows the family through Ben’s mum’s treatment and ends with her recovering at home after her treatment.

Nurse Ted explains to Ben what is happening, what cancer is and how it is treated.  This is done in a gentle, yet practical way.  For example:- “I told Ben that every cancer is different.  Cancer is an umbrella for more than 100 different illnesses where cells grow where they shouldn’t”.

explain cancer to a child - Ben's mum had become unwell

There is no sugar coating, however, and the story is realistic without being alarming.  We see Ben’s mum wearing a scarf over her head after chemotherapy-related hair loss.

And, at the end of the story, there is no automatic happy ending, rather we are shown a family who have grown together and who are determined to face the future no matter what it may bring.

At the back of the book, there is a glossary of terms aimed at children such as “Radiotherapy – a special cancer treatment using x-rays.  The x-rays are directed at cancer cells to try to stop them growing”.

And there is a list of the side effects of both radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as space for the child to note down their thoughts and feelings.

Lastly, there is a cut-out parent/carer guide to help you to tell your children and suggestions about how to support them through their parent’s treatment.

Nurse Ted – A Children’s Guide to Cancer is a really useful resource which may make a very difficult situation a little easier for the family.  Kerry Foster-Mitchell is a neuro-oncology clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, whilst Ffion Jones is the author and illustrator of seven children’s picture books.

You can find the book at RRP £7.99 where there is also a guide on how to explain brain tumours to children.

The Best Apps To Help Help Combat Chaos At Home

Now, without wishing to state the obvious, we all know how hectic family life can be. In between bedtimes, school runs, homework and careers, it’s very easy for it all to get on top of you. But the answer could be in easy reach because there are loads of great lifestyle mobile apps to give you help and inspiration with almost any problem you can think of.

lifestyle mobile apps - coffee, planner and fruit on a wooden background

Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

In this post I’ve listed some of my favourite smartphone apps to help you organise homelife, entertain the kids and even enjoy a little bit of ‘me time’.

Great lifestyle mobile apps to try


Meal times can be the most important time of day for any family. Maybe it’s when you all get together around the dinner table to catch up on the day’s events, or maybe it’s your time to chill out as a family with your favourite TV program. Either way there’s nothing more helpful than a handy little app that helps organise and prep meals, as well as your shopping lists, on a weekly basis.

Mealime does just that. With this fantastic app you can plan all of your meals day by day, and with over 200 personalization options, you can ensure that any allergies, intolerances or dietary preferences are easily taken care of. The app also automatically generates your shopping list based on your plans, so that your trip to the supermarket runs smoother than ever. Best of all, the majority of the recipes take around just 30 minutes, so you don’t need to worry about spending hours in the kitchen.


Feeling like all of that hard earned money that goes into your bank account at the end of the month disappears just as quickly? We know the feeling; it can cause so much stress and worry as well as affect relationships. So with that in mind, Chip is an absolute godsend.

Chip is a money saving app that connects to your current account and then uses its highly intelligent algorithm to work out what you can afford to save each month and automatically puts it away for you. That means that you can effortlessly save for that new car or family holiday without worrying about everything else you need to pay for.


Sometimes we all need a little bit of retail therapy; perhaps no more so than when you become a parent. Taking half an hour or so to have a browse on your favourite shopping app with a cup of tea or glass of wine can seem like the ultimate luxury.

The ASOS app is absolutely fantastic in terms of usability. It has all of your favourite brands in one place so you don’t to worry about switching through tabs or making multiple payments. Scroll easily through their different products, add to your basket or save to your wishlist, and then when you’re ready to pay you can use PayPal for a quick and easy checkout. Not only that but if you pay an annual £9.99 for their Premier Delivery service, you can take advantage of free next day delivery every time you shop. That means no getting the kids ready for a trip into town, no bundling them all into the car; just one easy, peaceful transaction and you can have your new outfit the very next day.

Pocket Yoga

If retail therapy doesn’t quite hit the spot when it comes to a little bit of rest and relaxation, then why not channel your inner yogi and check out Pocket Yoga. This handy little app takes you through a range of different yoga sequences with clear imagery and instructions to allow you a little time to just chill out. Whether it’s ten minutes or thirty, using this app to breathe it out will really help to relax your mind and allow you a little ‘me time’ away from the family.

Toca Nature

Finally, let’s talk about the kids. We’re all very much aware that nowadays we should encourage our children to be outside, engrossed in a book or hobby, and generally just limit ‘screen time’ as much as possible. That being said sometimes there are situations where a stimulating game or program on your phone or tablet does just the trick to keep the little ones quiet when out and about.

Enter Toca Nature. This visually stunning game is from one of our favourite developers Toca Boca. Through the app your children can build anything to do with nature – forests, mountains, jungles – and watch it grow. Let them collect food and feed the animals inhabiting their imagined habitats. Your kids will love capturing moments of their beautiful worlds and storing them away, and best of all it could keep them happily distracted for hours.

So whether you need a little assistance in the kitchen, you want to get back on top of your finances, keep the little ones quiet or just have a minute to relax, I hope I’ve offered up some helpful solutions to give you that little bit of reassurance to feel more in control at home. You can easily download any of these apps to your smartphone and you’ve got your very own at home survival kit at your fingertips.

Free & Bargain Books Linky – Keep Warm With A Great Read

If you’re an avid reader on a budget, you’ll find loads of free and bargain books on this linky, plus all the new releases from Beck Valley Books.  Yes the weekly book linky has returned to Mother Distracted.

free and bargain books linky - woman in pajamas reading

Photo by Emily Marie on Unsplash

I’ve been suffering with a terrible cold all week, probably due to my less than fabulous diet which has, typically, arrived when the Husband has gone to Vancouver for his company sales week.  Times like this always give me a real appreciation of how hard single parents work!

We’ve thankfully managed to avoid the worst of the return of the Beast From The East and I have to say that, pretty as it looks, I’ve had my fill of snow this year.  It never turns up for Christmas, does it?

Happily I’ve got the hang of the slow cooker so tea time cooking is a little more adventurous and we love to indulge in a warming winter pie or two this time of year.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re keeping warm and well.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky – and don’t forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of book love.

Don’t forget that I still have plenty to be won on my giveaways page and don’t forget my weekly problem page here.

Happy hunting for your free and bargain books on this link.

Have a great week!

free and bargain books

Problem Page Edition 11 – 2018

In problem page edition 11 of 2018 from your online relationship coach – living with a wife who hates you,  when your ex-husband’s new girlfriend hates you and when your abusive ex has taken to hanging around outside your home.

problem page edition 11 - blue wall painted with red and white love hearts

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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 11.

Q My wife hates me, but still lives with me. I’m tortured everyday emotionally. How do I make her go away?

A: I’m curious that there is no mention of divorce in your question. Are you unable to divorce for religious or cultural reasons?

If you feel that strongly then you must simply tell her the relationship is over and that you want to separate.

Then go and stay with a friend or family member for a while.

You also don’t say, interestingly, whether you have children. If you do then you need to discuss this with your wife urgently as you can be sure your children will be affected by living in such a toxic atmosphere.

I can tell that you are resisting making any kind of move, but I’m afraid the time has clearly come to ACT. And it will have to be you that does it.

There is no reason, by the way, for your wife to know that you have consulted a lawyer or advice bureau for legal and financial advice about your situation.

That, I think, should be your first step.

Then draw up a plan of action and consider carefully the best steps to take.

You’ll start to feel stronger emotionally and better able to copy once you know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

The other thing you should do immediately is, when your wife is unkind, tell her you are not prepared to put up with this treatment any more.

Be brave.

Q: I just had to spend the entire day with my ex at an event and he was with his new girlfriend who I once called my friend. I have tried everything to get over him. Throwing away items, avoiding him, got closure, blocked him on all social media. What do I do?

A: You simply tell yourself that you are clearing the decks to make space for the love you deserve in your life.

He clearly wasn’t it and, if he left you for the ‘friend’, then you can take some solace that she, in her turn, will probably find herself in the same position as you sooner or later.

The great motivational speaker Anthony Robbins says that to make a change in your life you need to hold yourself to a higher standard.

This man is not worthy of you. Stop obsessing over his social media and focus on yours.

That old cliche about time being a great healer is true, you know. One day you WILL look back and think “what on earth did I ever see in someone who treated me like that”.

Nobody escapes this life scot-free – he’ll get his come-uppance sooner or later.

But don’t waste YOUR life hanging around to see it. You’ve got better things to do.

Q: Why does my ex-husband’s girlfriend dislike me?

A: Because you were there FIRST. Because she knows you and he shared history and memories together.

You don’t say whether there are children in the picture.

But, rather than focus on the girlfriend, concentrate on making your relationship with your ex husband as pleasant and supportive as it needs to be for YOUR happiness.

She is irrelevant you know – she could be gone tomorrow.

And if she is being unpleasant to you, I suspect she knows that too.

Q: After the court’s decision for both parents to see their child (child lives with a narcissistic parent, and older siblings), the narcissist has texted me that the child doesn’t want to see me anymore. What is the best answer I could text back?

A: That the decision has been made by the court and needs to be upheld or you will be seeking further legal counsel.

I think you are better off keeping emotion out of this and sticking to the facts of the case.

It is likely that the child in question has said no such thing and is succumbing to pressure from the parent.

If you think this is the case, then the need for external assistance / advice is greater as you have the welfare of the child to consider.

Don’t get into petty squabbles. Simply state your case and try not to react. That is what your partner is looking for.

Think of the child in the middle of this mess and do what’s best for them.

Q: How can I break up with an immature, childish girlfriend who is also emotionally sensitive without making her more depressed?

A: It’s a hard truth that we are all responsible for our own happiness and while it is commendable that you are considering her feelings should you leave, you really aren’t helping the situation.

It is not kind to stay with someone out of pity and to give them false hope.

Are you sure you are not using her emotional state as an excuse not to come clean?

The quicker you fess up and are honest (which is the respectful thing to do by the way), the quicker you can both move on and she can find the support she needs and a boyfriend who can cope with her moods.

Q:  How do I text my girlfriend when she is angry with me?

A: You don’t text. You do the adult thing and pick up the phone. If you have done something wrong you apologise.

If you haven’t done anything wrong you still need to talk to her to understand why she is angry.

Hiding behind texts is for teenagers.

Q: What should I do if my abusive ex boyfriend keeps showing up unannounced at my house? He also waits in his car on my block at 1 a.m. until he sees me come out of my house. I broke up with him 2 months ago.

A: You tell the police so that, hopefully, they will give him a warning to stay away. At least his behaviour will be on file. You tell your family and friends. This is stalking. If you can go and stay with someone else for a while.

I am sorry you are going through this but you need to take steps to ensure your own safety and make his behaviour known to the authorities.

I wouldn’t bother making contact with him because this is clearly something he is looking for.

If you have a father, brother or male work colleague who will confront him this may send a strong message to him to back off.

But I seriously think that the police need to have a word with him.

Prioritise your safety over his feelings. This behaviour is not normal.

How would you have responded to the questions on this week’s problem page? I’d love to know.

I hope you enjoyed Problem Page Edition 11. 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

Problem Page 10 - pink flowers and macaroons

Four Home Improvements To Give Your Property Market Appeal

Home improvements are often seen as unnecessary luxuries that we only consider when we’ve put together a decently sized sum of disposable income. They might also be considered a treat we reward ourselves with after a stressful period of work or making it through some tough times with our business.

However, there are some home improvements that break the mould and should be seen as investments that are worth it for your comfort and happiness – particularly if you want to maintain or even increase the value of your property.

Home improvements - four types to consider - lounge area with grey pendant lamp and table and chairs

Photo by Carlos Diaz from Pexels

Easy home improvements to consider

Caring For Your Garden

Who wouldn’t love to have a beautiful garden to retreat to or a stunning backyard to host a summer barbeque? But let’s face it, how many of us really take care of our gardens? Whether it’s just mowing the lawn to keep it trimmed or planting a few seasonal flowers to add some much-needed colour to the backyard, consider putting some effort into your garden.

You might want to hire a garden-savvy friend or even look for a gardener to give you some assistance here. After all, if you try to do the gardening yourself without any advice or help, then you could end up wasting your time and feeling horrible about it.  Don’t forget – if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market ‘kerb appeal’ could improve your chances of a sale.

Interior Design Touches

You’d be surprised at just how effective investing in interior design can be. Whether it’s changing the pictures you hang from the walls, adding some personal touches or even repainting the walls, there are plenty of interior design touches that you can add to your home in order to make it feel more personal and comfortable. These may not be as expensive as the other ideas on this list, but sprucing up your space with new accessories will definitely be worth your time and impress any viewers.

The Right Flooring

The floors in our home take a beating every single day. They need to hold up our furniture, they need to sustain our weight and we occasionally drop things on our floors that can chip them and make them look unpleasant over a long period of time.

Whether you’re a fan of lush carpeting or prefer the clean look of hardwood, it’s important to take care of your flooring and even consider replacing it depending on the style that you want to incorporate into your home. You might even want to consider electric underfloor heating if you’re going to strip your existing flooring. While it might not be as cold as it was a few months ago, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead with something difficult to replace such as your floors.

Banishing Useless Space

Minimalism is a popular style choice nowadays because it frees up your home and gives you a more open and airy feel. It’s a surprisingly good use of empty space, but there are some places in your home that will likely be in need of a desperate renovation to get rid of useless space.

Two good examples are your basement and your garage. Unless you use your entire garage for your vehicle, you can never go wrong with upgrading it to accommodate a home gym or even extra storage.

Your basement can be renovated completely to add an extra living room, more bedrooms or even just a playroom for your kids. These sound expensive but they’re worth every penny you invest for the extra freedom and flexibility you gain.  Just remember to double check whether you need planning permission before you start to make any changes.

Tips For Parenting Tweens

We all know how fast our kids grow up – and they seem to mature earlier and earlier. Caitlin, at 10 is well in the throws of tween-dom with Ieuan, at 8, not so far behind. Don’t you find the younger children seem to race to catch the oldest up?  It’s a far cry from the days when they could be kept happy with CBeebies and an extra large ice-cream (although the ice-cream still works sometimes). Yes, parenting tweens certainly brings its share of unique challenges.

Parenting tweens - young girl picking daisies in a meadow

Parenting tweens brings its own challenges

The challenge of parenting tweens

It can be hard to cope as you see your kids becoming their own person and challenging your views and opinions. Here are some tips you might find useful for parenting tweens.

Don’t take it personally

It’s only human nature to take what your tweens say to heart when they lash out or are after something. They know you well enough to be able to push your buttons and aim that arrow right to the heart for full effect!

Try not to take what they are saying personally.  The best approach is to calmly acknowledge what they are saying by feeding it back to them. Say what you observe.  “I can see that my saying no to the party has upset you”.  “I can see that you feel my banning Roblox is unfair”.

Acknowledging that you recognise what they are saying and feelings does not mean you are letting them off the hook when it comes to treating you with respect.

You need to stay firmly in your role as an adult and, if they are shouting at you or being disrespectful, then you should point this out. It’s that fine line between being a parent and being a friend.

That means you need to watch your reactions and not have an ‘adult tantrum’ – so easy to do when you are tired. Don’t load on the guilt – “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you”. Try to judge the behaviour as a momentary lapse, rather than a permanent stain on their character. “That behaviour is unacceptable” rather than, “you are a pain in the backside and your behaviour is getting worse!”.  Big difference.

Ask the grandparents or a family friend

If it all gets too much, just say “I’m really not able to deal with this right now.  Let’s take a break and we’ll discuss it later”.  Sometimes it helps to talk about the problem with another adult first – their other parent, a grandparent or a good friend.  Incidentally, grandparents are great sounding boards because they know you and how you react to situations.  It may be that you are over-reacting or that there’s a simple solution you just haven’t considered.

Lead by example

Often easier said than done, but rather than just telling them what they should be doing, demonstrate the behaviour you want them to adopt. Kids are like sponges and they miss nothing. You can be sure every slip-up, swear word, momentary rudeness and less than sparkling attitude has been duly noted and stored.

Show them what to do by setting a great example.  It’s normal for kids to try on different behaviours and particularly to see which behaviour gets the most attention.  You can be sure that your bad behaviours will appear at some point – usually in the most embarrassing situation possible.

If you do slip up, explain that you are not happy with how you just behaved and the reasons why that behaviour was inappropriate.  If I shout and am grumpy, I will explain to the kids that I am sorry, I am tired and whilst this doesn’t excuse my behaviour, everyone is human and slips up sometimes.

Impose appropriate punishments

I’m not even sure that ‘punishment’ is the right word but when you are pushed to the limit, it’s certainly the word that springs most readily to mind.  Discipline is a better word because it implies strong, yet more gentle guidance. However you choose to phrase it, it’s a case of ‘the punishment should fit the crime’.  I don’t believe you should allow your children to grow up believing bad behaviour has no consequences because, in the wider world, it most certainly does.

The challenge is to make your point without exacting physical or psychological harm to your child.  The most popular one I hear many parents talk about is withdrawing Wi-Fi privileges or cutting pocket money. As kids get older the threat of an early bedtime has less of an effect, whilst ‘grounding’ them and refusing to taxi them to parties and after-school clubs just might.

But talking may be far more effective

Far better to sit down with them and talk about what happened to see if they understand why there’s an issue and whether there are wider implications you haven’t thought of.  Is the bad behaviour a reaction to a new partner?  Is it sibling jealousy?  Are they being picked on in school?  Is it just hormones?

Parenting tweens - young girl looking at a a mobile phone

Photo by from Pexels

Keeping them safe is even more of a priority

Tweenagers are at that tricky stage where they still need lots of support and attention.  Because they start spending more and more time in their inner worlds, it is often difficult to gauge what is going on with them. For example, knowing who their friends are, or how well they are doing academically.  Of course, you can talk to their teachers at parents’ evening but that doesn’t always give you the bigger picture.

When children are spending lots of time playing games online, it is even more difficult to know who is in their social circle and whether their safety is being compromised.  Lots of Caitlin and Ieuan’s friends already have mobile phones which are used to organise sleepovers and parties and which can easily cause rifts in friendships and that hideous bugbear of ‘peer pressure’ and feeling left out.

We used software to monitor our kids’ Wi-Fi access and the type of sites they are allowed to use but, of course, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they can potentially get their hands on.  As parents, you need to be extremely vigilant.  The contentious Logan Paul video had actually been viewed by my two.  You can be sure we tightened up internet access after that! Cyberbullying is something every parent needs to be vigilant about.

The challenge of being a parenting blogger

As parenting bloggers, we often post pictures of our children in our blog-posts and on social media.  Now is the time that children may start to actively object to having their image promoted, particularly when they are doing things they consider embarrassing.  Asking your kids permission to use their image will demonstrate respect and acknowledge that they have a right to privacy. It’s a two-way street.  If you want respect as a parent, you need to show it to your children.

Since most social platforms recommend a minimum age of around 13 before you are allowed an account, teaching them a sensible approach to using social media will stand them in good stead later and allow more open discussions about why the minimum age has been set the way it has by YouTube and Instagram etc.

There’s no doubt that parenting tweens is challenging – particularly if you have children close in age, as I do. Hopefully, you will find these tips helpful.

What are your best tips for parenting tweens?

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