How Do You Prioritise Your DIY Projects?

When you live in an old house, as we do, you take it on in the certain knowledge that there will come a day of reckoning when you’ll have to get to grips with large-scale renovation and rebuilding.  But how do you prioritise your DIY projects?

Many of us extend ourselves as far as we can to upscale our homes and make compromises about things such as internal decor, fittings and fixtures telling ourselves that we’ll worry about those later on.  We are just so keen to get the mortgage agreed and the exchange of contracts underway.

Our house is a semi-detached house in a quiet suburban road.  Built in 1929 it has the old lath and plaster ceilings, one of which has already fallen down creating clouds of dust.  In fact, I have never lived in a house which gets so dusty so quickly. It isn’t great if you suffer from dust allergies!

After nearly 10 years we have, so far, replaced the roof (both main and an extension), replaced worn-out carpet with wooden flooring and installed soundproofing in an extension.

When you are raising kids it’s always a toss-up between fixing the house, going on holiday or buying the kids the things they need.

We’ve never been keen to fund these projects by adding to our mortgage borrowings or loading up our credit cards with DIY expenditure.  I’m not sure I could sleep at night.

So we do it the old fashioned way – saving what we can in a savings account and doing as much as possible ourselves.  I say ourselves, I really mean the husband.  My DIY skills are woeful.

The trouble with leaving projects on the back burner though is that they all seem to ‘become due’ at the same time.  Remember that film, “The Money Pit”?!

Currently these are our projects:-

Replacement windows in our downstairs extension, including french doors out onto the garden which seem to have dropped.

Removal of suspended ceilings in our kitchen and bathroom – I have absolutely no idea why the previous owner installed these, other than he had a good deal on some 1980’s style suspended ceiling tiles!

Replacement of carpet upstairs and also the stair carpet.

New windows upstairs with double glazed windows of a much higher quality than the current ones in order to reduce traffic noise at night.

Do you find that the quieter the road, the greater the disturbance of an occasional car is in the small hours, or is that just me?

Installation of hot water in the downstairs toilet

The rebuilding of the garden wall which is a party wall.

We are also considering a loft extension to create a bigger bedroom for Ieuan and relocation of Mat’s home office (currently in the loft) to a garden log cabin – which would mean demolishing the garage.

If we have the funds, we might also install a conservatory but I think it’s fair to say that this will be some way off in the future.

If you have elderly parents, as we do, whose health isn’t too great, you may also find yourself asking “what if they need to come and live with us”?

Frankly, the thought of putting parents into care makes me shudder and I would far rather care for them at home if we are able.

This would mean lots of other home adaptations such as a walk-in bath or shower and handrails the length of our drive.

There’s so much to do it’s hard to know where to start so I’m asking for your advice.  Which would you prioritise first?  How do you prioritise your DIY projects?

And, more importantly, how do you budget for them?

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Tips For Balancing Study And Parenthood

Studying whilst parenting a child is a daunting prospect.

Parenthood is a tough enough task on its own, but lots of people rise to the challenge and combine it with lifelong learning. Here are some tips to help you.

Plan your studies

If you’re going to succeed, you need to be prepared. So take a thorough look at your course content, break it down into manageable tasks, create a study timetable – and then stick to it.

You should also set yourself short and long-term goals as a way of measuring your progress and staying motivated.

However, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve your aims for the day or week due to unforeseeable circumstances — simply take some time to evaluate what went wrong and what you can do to improve.

For more tips on how to timetable your studies, check out a student resource website such as The Student Room.

Be prepared

Every second counts when you’re both student and parent, so be prepared to study anywhere.

Study timetables are terrific, but if you find yourself with a spare five minutes while you’re waiting to pick your child up from school, why not crack out some flash cards and have a mini cramming session?

No one’s suggesting that every bit of spare time should be spent on study but doing a little bit extra here and there will give you a nice feeling of accomplishment that inspires you to push on through towards success.

Distance Learning

Distance learning is highly flexible and therefore a great option for those of you with children.

Being a parent comes first, so the flexibility of online learning is tailor made for your requirements. These online courses enable you to work at your own pace from the comfort of your home. Imagine — your child’s in bed and you’re sitting in your pyjamas, tapping away at your laptop to complete course modules. What a lovely way to learn.

There are plenty of courses to choose from — for instance, if you’re starting your own business, specialist provider Anglia Ruskin Distance Learning offers an online MBA aimed at entrepreneurs.


This might be counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to ensure you’ve enough energy for parenthood and learning is to block off time for activities unconnected to both — like hobbies, socialising and simply resting.

It’s important that you see yourself as more than just student and parent, so try to find an activity that allows you to let your hair down and chill.

Extra-curricular activities are a great way to meet new people, and as a parent/student, having a strong support network around you is key. Using the Mummy Social app is a great way to connect with fellow mothers online, then make in-person social arrangements once you get to know them — and dads won’t feel left out for too long as its makers have plans for an equivalent for them.

With preparation, focus and commitment, you’ll be able to effectively balance the demands of studying whilst being a parent – these tips will help you walk that tightrope with total confidence.

What advice do you have for parents who are studying? Share your tips in the comments section.

The Garden – Somewhere to Relax Or A Source Of Stress?

We’ve lived in our house now for almost 10 years and despite the fact we have a small, compact back garden, I must confess we’ve never really got to grips with it.  What should be a relaxing oasis of greenery has become a bit of a sore spot and a source of stress.

If you have a garden you’ll know that what you use it for changes year on year.

When the kids were small, it was somewhere safe and self-contained for them to sit on a rug in the sunshine and play with their toys.

Every summer the grass used to be sacrificed to the great god that was the inflatable swimming pool and the regular addition of chlorine and bug rescue via a battered old net.

Then there was the summer I briefly flirted with becoming an organic gardener and managed to produce a glut of home grown tomatoes, most of which never got eaten.

Next to the tumble-down garden wall there was once Forsythia, Geraniums and Fuchsia.  We even had a palm tree which, sadly, didn’t survive the less than balmy Welsh winters.

At the moment the husband is in the middle of another one of his schemes.  He has put down a layer of mulch upon which he plants to put potted plants – flowers and shrubs – so that we have a manageable garden.

Like all of the husband’s schemes, though, it does rather rely on him being here to carry out this grand plan. And, as with all Hobbis DIY and gardening enterprises, these activities usually come second to family commitments such as taking the kids out, football, ballet, visiting parents and, occasionally working at weekends.

Lest you think I am wafting about in a crinoline waiting for order to arrive out of chaos without lifting a finger, I should point out that he likes to oversee this stuff and finds it relaxing after the stress of a week in telecoms.

So, as you can see, the back garden is in rather a state of flux with a wall which needs rebuilding as it is now bowing outwards and falling down in places and a garage which we’d love to knock down completely and replace it with a log cabin to use as office space.

The husband occasionally mutters about turning it into a gym complete with treadmill and rowing machine but, personally,  I’d prefer some office space of my own so I can escape the battered blue armchair in which I currently spend far too long.

I have a huge admiration for those who create beautiful gardens and tend to them so that we all enjoy gorgeous displays of flowers come spring.  I do think some people are naturally green-fingered.  My dad is.  I am definitely not.

To be frank, I think it’s time to think about getting a gardener, not only to tend to our plot out the back but also to help my dad, for whom, their much larger garden is becoming difficult for him to manage.

There are loads of companies offering gardening services and you can hire someone to do anything from landscaping and paving to garden design and tree surgery.  We regularly get leaflets stuffed through the front door from small businesses and one-man-bands touting for the work but I’d recommend getting garden quotes from reputable firms.

That way you can get a quote or estimate in writing and you’ll know exactly what you are committing yourself to pay for.

As we head into summer it’s possible that there might be some progress in the garden, but given the number of DIY projects we have to do indoors, I suspect it’ll be a while before we have anything to make the Royal Horticultural Society proud!

I have high hopes that Caitlin has inherited her grandparents’ green fingers though.  Of all of us, she is the one who spends the most time there.

Do you have a garden?  Do you spend much time there?

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Adapting The Home For Elderly Care

I was recently commissioned by Premier Care to give my thoughts on home adaptations.

Those of us with elderly parents on the one hand and children at home on the other are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ and it is easy to see why. We have so many people relying on us, don’t we?

It is often difficult to address the challenges your parents may be facing without causing hurt feelings.  Nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that they are no longer coping but the thought of a care home is beyond the pale for many – and it is certainly I hope I don’t even have to contemplate for many years to come.

Mum fell and broke her hip last year which means she is decidedly less mobile these days.  Although her hip has healed and she did not need a hip replacement, she still requires some assistance around the house.

So we have started a gradual program of home renovations to make her life a little easier – and safer for my dad too as mum celebrated her 80th last January and dad has his in September.

The trick is, I think, to introduce changes slowly whilst allowing your relative to get used to each one.  This obviously depends on their level of health and how much help they have around the home.

Here’s what we have done so far.

Safety rails along the side of the drive

My parents have a sloped paved driveway which is dangerous in icy weather and steps down to the front door.

We have put metal railings down the length of the drive and the steps.

These were relatively quick and easy to install.

A ramp up to the front door

Steps at any level can be tricky for someone with limited mobility so a basic wooden ramp has been installed.

An additional bannister for the stairs

If you are unsteady on your feet, having a sturdy wooden bannister on both sides of the stairs can be reassuring.  Unfortunately, we don’t have enough room to install a stairlift and mum wouldn’t want one in any case.  It is important that she keeps moving as much as possible.

A lower bed

Climbing in and out of a high bed can be an ordeal and there is also the risk of falling out of bed and sustaining another fracture – the last thing we would want for mum.

When making adaptations to the house, it is just as important to consider the wishes of the carer – in this case, my dad.  It is a delicate balance because you don’t want to imply that things might be too much for the carer whilst acknowledging that they too may have their own health issues.

A walk-in bath

One of the biggest challenges, we found, was bathing and keeping clean in general.  After a hip operation or a hip replacement, the NHS advises that you avoid having a bath and shower for the first two weeks following your operation in order to keep the wound and dressing dry.

Thereafter, bathing can be a challenge because you will likely need assistance getting in and out of the water. We currently have an extra grab rail installed but this isn’t ideal.

Photo courtesy of Premier Care Bathrooms

One of the things next on our list is the installation of a walk-in bath.  These offer low-level entry (no high stepping required) and easy access for the carer, as well as grab rails, slip-resistant surfaces and thermostatic bath fillers.

The risk of getting into scalding hot water is very real, particularly where your relative suffers from occasional confusion.

Today’s walk-in baths are certainly not spartan affairs, boasting sleek design and some pretty nifty spa features and some styles combine both a bath and a shower in one unit.

Some have reclining seats and some have power-lifted seats for those with more limited mobility.

I particularly like the idea of the combined bath and shower as so many of us prefer to wash our hair in the shower, or at least use a shower attachment to rinse off the shampoo.

Of course, it is not just indoors that changes are needed.  Although there is a wide range of options for outdoor mobility, walking sticks are not always accepted and wheelchairs even less so.

Again, it is balancing the needs of your relative with that of the rest of the family.  On bright sunny days, it would be great to take the whole family out but if your relative can’t walk very far, this often does not happen.

The same thing applies to changes around the house.  Open communication and a gentle approach are needed, no matter how frustrating it can be to see how much of a difference for the better some simple adaptations can make.

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How to Help Your Child Perform Well in their Tests

Exam season is a tough time for children, whether they’re going through their GCSEs or they’re still in primary school. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that parents can do to help their kids manage exam stress to ensure they perform well on the day of the test. I have teamed up with Banstead Prep, an independent school in Surrey, to offer parents some helpful advice on how they can help their children perform well in their exams.

If you’re helping your child with their exam revision, try to make it as enjoyable as possible for them, and let them know that they’ll be a reward at the end of it.

Get them some fun stationery for revision

Think about your child’s preferred learning style and factor that in when you’re working together, or if you’re supplying revision tools. For example, visual learners will like lots of coloured pens and highlighters, as well as books with plenty of pictures and diagrams.

Set aside time for practice papers

It’s worth encouraging your child to do some practice papers and time them so they can get used to the exam environment.

You can download past papers for example, for SATS from the Gov.UK website.  Past papers for the National Tests in Wales can be found here.

If they know what to expect, they’ll feel far more in control on the day and will be less likely to panic.

Talking to them about the exam procedure will also be beneficial. However, make sure you’re positive and optimistic when discussing the upcoming exams, so as not to put additional pressure on your child.

Keep them healthy

Make sure your child is getting plenty of rest during the exam period, and encourage them to eat healthily and exercise.

The stress of their exams might affect their immune system, so it’s important to do everything else possible to ensure they remain healthy.

What’s more, a well-rested child is more attentive, so their revision will likely be more successful.

You’ll find more useful ideas in my revision guide and some ideas for managing exam-related stress here.

How Much Is A Stay At Home Mum Worth?

With Mother’s Day approaching (Sunday 31 March), it’s a great time of year to reflect on all the things our mums do for us and an opportunity to show our appreciation and say thanks. But have you ever asked yourself the question “how much is a stay at home mum worth?” Or, conversely, what would a stay at home dad be paid if he were an employee?

And let’s not forget the hours of unpaid childcare grandparents offer to support working parents or given by carers to look after the elderly, ill and infirm.

For us mums, Mother’s Day is often a special day of treats from our adored ones who value us endlessly following the constant picking up of socks, school runs, homework proofing and best friend fallouts that we embrace and support our children with.

The kids usually bring me my favourite breakfast of a mug of tea and a hot cross bun to my bed.  Sometimes I even get to eat the bun.

But have you ever stopped to think how many roles you assume on a daily basis?  And, if you gave up your job to be a stay at home mum like I did, what the job you are now doing would be worth in the marketplace?

It is often a bone of contention at home that, whilst I am holding the Hobbis fort, the husband is pursuing his career and travelling the world with his company.

Whilst I certainly don’t miss the grind of commuting, I fully admit I miss being able to leave the humdrum routine and responsibilities behind to travel to New York or Singapore.

The husband assures me he rarely has time for any sightseeing and generally goes from station or airport terminal straight to meetings and workshops.

Nevertheless, on my more grumpy days (any day with a y in it), I can’t help but wonder what being the Chief Operating Officer of Hobbis towers is actually worth, finance-wise.

There’s a calculator that’s been designed to give you a ‘parents salary’ of all of the duties that are taken on by parents around the world, should we be paid for our roles.

Funky Pigeon have looked into eight ‘jobs’ that are embraced when one enters the world of parenting; cooking, cleaning, taxi-ing, caring, nursing, organising, educating and mentoring.

With these eight roles taken on by a mother or father, the potential earnings a stay-at-home parent could make should they be paid for each has been explored.

The differences in regions across the UK are this:

If in London, a parent can earn a potential £263,587pa for undergoing the eight roles analysed, whereas, in Bristol, you’d only look to be earning £185,607pa.

In the city of Cardiff, a chef could be earning £44,749pa, though in Glasgow, you’d only look to be earning £22,310pa, so where might it be worth being the chef of the household for your family?

Nurses in Nottingham will earn an average of £50,828pa compared to the UK’s capital where the average salary of a nurse is £32,534 – a competitive price for grazed knees and Calpol administration!

A psychologist in London, however, has the potential to take home £61,312pa. Across the UK this dips; Leeds £30,709, Manchester £40,958, Liverpool £29,591, Edinburgh £33,640.

A cleaner’s salary is somewhat consistent across these top UK cities ranging from £13,385 in Glasgow to over £17,000 in other regions.

According to LinkedIn, 14,536 men have the Stay at Home Dad title, and surprisingly 5,062 fewer women are advertising themselves as Stay at Home Mums. 23,956 are listed as a Stay at Home Parent.

To find out how much you could be making as a parent in your town or region, see the #ParentsSalary calculator to find out how much you could bill:

According to the calculator, I’m worth £34,033 (a conservative estimate)!

I’m not sure the husband will be coughing up much extra, although I think I’m due several spa days and an enormous bunch of flowers.

I’m an absolute bargain!

The Best Maternity Clothes For A Comfortable Pregnancy

Pregnancy is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. Your body is creating life, which is miraculous and amazing. However, you’re off-balance, tired, hungry, and moody. Toward the end, there’s just not a lot you can do to get comfortable, and you’re ready for it to be over.

Once you’ve bought ALL the pregnancy books, there is one thing you can do to lift your spirits a bit. Buy maternity clothes! No, you won’t wear them forever, but if you’re selective about what you buy, you could. Plus, if you purchase comfortable maternity clothes, this will go a long way to making you feel just a tad better.

Comfortable maternity clothes ideas


Maternity dresses are some of the most comfortable things you can buy. Forget pants with that secret belly that’s supposed to be comfortable. It’s itchy, it rides down, and it’s just plain annoying.

Maternity dresses are loose, allowing you to expand as your baby grows. If you choose maternity dresses that are ruched on the side and provide a little bit tighter fit, they give your belly extra support and may still fit after you have the baby!


Sweatpants are so versatile. If you buy the right kind, you can definitely still wear them comfortably after the baby comes. Find sweatpants in cute colours that have an elastic waist meant to ride below your belly. That way you won’t experience the itching that comes from high-waisted pants.

With the athleisure trend seeming like it’s here to stay, you can get away with rocking sweatpants, even out of the house. You’ll fit in with all of the other mums who wear their yoga pants to the store.

Nursing Bras

Believe me; you can start wearing nursing bras now. You’ll need them later anyway, but as your breasts grow more tender, you will find the softness and lack of underwire a huge blessing. Stock up on nursing bras and tops that you continue to wear and get good use out of.

There are a lot of other maternity clothes you may find comfortable, and if you stick to things you can still wear after the baby gets here, you’ll get plenty of use out of your maternity wardrobe.

Lessons I Learned From Hiring A Removal Company

As anyone who has bought and sold a property knows, there are plenty of financial surprises along the way, and plenty of things you might forget to budget for.  One of the most important things to consider when you’re about to up sticks is finding the best removal companies for a stress-free relocation.

As with any service these days, you really need to do your research, whether you are looking for removals in London or in the depths of the countryside because your requirements are likely to be quite different.

We’ve been in our current property since 2009, leaving my old 2 bedroom semi just down the road to move, well, a few roads further along.  By this stage, I had managed to accumulate a husband and two children so the house was a little cramped!

We booked a local removal company and even paid the extra to have the packing done for us since it seemed like a worthwhile investment given that we had two little ones.  Ieuan was only 3 months old at this stage so a ‘man with a van’ really wasn’t an option.

What was supposed to be a stress-free experience turned out to be rather an education.

Here’s what we will remember for the next time we move.

Get everything in writing

Make sure that the removal company is clear about how much property there is to shift and that the company representative who comes to give you a quote has not over, or underestimated the amount. This is especially true if you are hiring long distance movers, as the distance and the number of trips required can greatly increase the price of the move.

You need to see a typed schedule which itemises, at the very least, the correct number of rooms and the more valuable items of furniture.

At the time, Mat worked from a log cabin at the bottom of the garden which was full of telecoms equipment and paperwork.  As a home office, it was certainly an unusual place to work.

Even though we told the company about the need to include it, the removal men on the day had no idea of its existence and had to go back for another van.

Not only that, but having to pack a home office added considerably to the time taken.

Ask how many removal staff will be attending on the day

You need the reassurance that there will be sufficient staff to move your property.  Two staff are unlikely to cope with a full house of contents!

You will have to help with the packing

Even though we paid for the company to do the packing, we still had to sort out those items that needed to travel ahead – for example, all the kids’ stuff – changing mats, bottle sterilisers, prams, kettle, wine, corkscrew!  Moving house with kids in tow can make things even more challenging.

So these all had to be packed separately, as did any particularly fragile items that wouldn’t travel well.

We also had to mark all the packing boxes with the room they were supposed to be unloaded into – all the kitchen stuff together, for example.

Sort out babysitters and petsitters well in advance

Luckily my parents live up the road from the old house so they were able to look after Caitlin and Ieuan whilst Mat and I cleaned up as the removal staff cleared out the furniture.

Our beloved moggie, Samson, had passed away a while since but I am pretty sure he would not have enjoyed the move.  It was enough of an ordeal to persuade him to get into his basket for a trip to the vets.

If you’ve got pets, you may want to get someone to look after them for you or put them in a kennel or cattery close to your new property until you can collect them – especially if they are nervous or don’t travel well.

Leave time for cleaning

This may well be a personal thing but we didn’t want to leave the house less than spotless for the new owners so as the removal staff were packing, we were cleaning up and hoovering.

Make sure you’ve plenty of refuse sacks on hand for a last-ditch sweep of rubbish and for chucking anything that has been missed into.

Take meter readings

Don’t forget, too, to take electricity and gas meter readings as you head out the door so that you don’t end up paying the new owners’ utility bills.  Let your utility companies have the final readings as soon as you can.

Make sure you can get access to the property on your removal day and that you have collected the keys from the estate agent

I used to work for a law firm who handled conveyancing and it was not an infrequent occurrence to find that something had gone wrong along the chain leaving a family stuck in a van waiting to get into their new property.

This might have been because the exchange of contracts had been delayed and the bank hadn’t received the mortgage funds or because the previous owners were still …. desperately packing and cleaning!  There were often plenty of unforeseen financial surprises!

Generally, you wouldn’t get the new property keys unless you were able to move in but it’s always worth checking these things.

Stay in touch with the agent on moving day – which is very often a Friday – and make sure you have their mobile number in case they are out and about showing prospective buyers around other properties when you call.

If there’s a chance something valuable might get damaged, take it yourself

No matter how much care is taken loading property on to a huge removals van, there is always the chance that accidental damage may occur.

Check where you stand in terms of insurance with the removal company and if you are worried then the most sensible thing to do is move it yourself – I am thinking of things like antique mirrors or paintings, family heirlooms or anything of sentimental value that cannot be replaced.

Make sure you’ve forwarded your post and notified everyone of any new telephone numbers

We have lived at our new property of 10 years in October and we are still getting mail for the previous owner.  There comes a point at which you get a bit fed up re-addressing it and putting it back in the postbox!

Make sure you get your mail redirected by Royal Mail.  I really don’t want your pension statements or your seed catalogue for a fabulous spring garden.

Moving house is a stressful enough process as it is but with a lot of planning and asking the right questions, you can at least making moving day a little more enjoyable.

Have you used a removal company or do you prefer to hire a van and do it all yourself?

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A Guide to Preparing Your Home for a Surprise New Pet

Some people believe that a family is never complete until they take a pet into their loving homes. For mums who are preparing to surprise their kids with a family dog or an adorable kitten, there is a lot of work to be done first.

As with bringing home a new baby, there are outlets to cover up, instructions to give the older children, and routines to change around.

Thankfully, if you do an excellent job of preparing for your new pet ahead of time, the transition will be extra smooth for your family.

Next up, learn how to get your home and your heart ready to introduce a pet into your family’s lives forever.

Getting the logistics sorted

So, when a mum decides that now is the right time to bring a new furry addition into the fold, there are lots of things that have to be added to her agenda.

Will it be a male or a female, a cat or a dog, an adoption or hand-picked from a high pedigree litter of dogs with royal blood?

Some things will sort themselves out in time but experienced mums know best that preparation is absolutely key.

For households that already own an assortment of pets, adding a new one might not be met with much fanfare.

On the other hand, families who currently own no pets might find their worlds turned upside down at the announcement of a new addition. So, go over the logistics, figure out when to purchase pet insurance, and get your home ready for your new four-legged bundle of joy.

Choosing the Perfect Pet for Your Family

If you have had a revelation and just know that your family would benefit from owning a new pet, you also need to consider what that pet is going to be.

Families with small children might be delighted to take on a large dog, who could snuggle up with the kids at night and keep them safe during the daytime.

That same large breed dog is also going to eat a lot of food, take up a lot of space, and could be difficult to cope with when you want to go on a nice family outing.

This part of the process may cause you to pause and rethink your plans quite a bit. Try picturing how the perfect pet would fit into your home as well as your lifestyle before you make your decision final.

Keeping a tight lid on your plans

With as much excitement as you will feel while working on your plan to bring home a new family pet, you are going to need to keep a pretty tight lid on things if you want it to be a surprise.

That means no telling your friends or your chatty aunts and uncles about your amazing plans.

Keep your cat insurance paperwork out of sight, don’t let your spouse see that new leash you purchased and are hiding under the bed, and prevent yourself from blurting everything out.

Checking the details before bringing a pet home

Before you can open your front door and let your new pet get used to its surroundings you have to go through the fine print to ensure that everything is okay.

You will need food and water dishes for your pet, and more than likely a pet bed as well.

There are collars and leashes, treats and toys, scratching posts and pet gymnasiums.

Another big thing is insurance for pets. This is basically just an insurance plan for pets that helps to offset the cost of medical bills, injuries, preventative care and the like. If you wish to find a comprehensive selection of cat and dog insurance plans, visit Everypaw offers you a range of cover types so you can choose the coverage that suits you and your pet.

Bringing your new pet home

The last and best part of the process is when you actually get to bring your pet home and introduce them to your family.

That first pet meeting will be heart-warming to everyone as a lasting bond is created.

Smaller children might clamour at the chance to stroke and cuddle with their new pets while older kids will likely want to name it right away.

You will get to stand back with pride as your work pays off. Most of all, you will be able to take credit for being the one to have such a swell idea.

As you prepare your home for a new pet, don’t forget about all of the other details. You will need to buy some supplies, make your home safe, and get a pet insurance policy.

Decide if you want to bring your pet home at the start of a weekend so your family can get acclimated or after school one day for an extra big surprise.

No matter what, your entire family will be thrilled.

When might you need a personal loan?

As summer looms, the household bills seem to increase, don’t they?  The spring sunlight has a way of showing up gaps in your roof tiles and the desperate state of your home’s exterior paint.

Once there’s a chance of less rainfall, garden projects are renewed.  Further down our street, someone is having a large shed installed surrounded by an extensive patio.  To the rear of our house, the groaning of a hedge cutter has been heard for several hours.

If it’s not sprucing up the old homestead with something like a kitchen renovation, it’s repairing equipment that has gone on the fritz like the boiler (a decent new one costs in the thousands), or things which no longer work in the car.  The air conditioning in my beloved Skoda has gone kaput and now blows hot, instead of cold air.

I wrote last week about the additional costs of education – whether that be replacing school shoes or shelling out for school trips.

And, not forgetting upcoming holidays.  If like us, you’re a fan of self-catering, it’s easy to pay the deposit at the point of booking and less easy to remember exactly when you have to pay the balance.  It is, to be fair, usually around 6 weeks before your holiday but boy, does it come around quick.

Other reasons you might need funds quickly include:

  • Consolidating or refinancing high-interest debt
  • Making a large purchase like a washing machine or laptop
  • Financing a small business purchase or expansion
  • Paying for a medical procedure or expense
  • Paying for a wedding or engagement ring

If you’re not much of a budgeter, you may occasionally find yourself strapped for cash and, whilst dipping into your savings is the most sensible way to avoid getting into debt, that is not always possible.

Many of us do not save or if we do have funds tied up in ISAs or pension pots which we would be loathed to touch.

A personal loan, then, is often a practical solution to getting your hands on much-needed cash, as long as you are sensible about it.

In addition, this may make more sense than loading any extra expense on your credit cards which are likely to have a higher interest rate which will quickly rack up your debt, even if you are meeting the minimum monthly repayment.

Make sure you research loans online to make sure that you are getting the best deal in terms of the interest rate you will have to pay on the loan sum and the time you’ll have to pay it back.

The longer the term of the loan, the greater the overall amount you’ll have to pay back will be.

Other ways to raise the cash include lending from the “Bank of Mum & Dad” or a relative but be sure to write down all the terms of your agreement and how much you will pay back and when.  Relationships can quickly sour when it comes to money!

You could also see if there is any treasure in your trash and finally clear out the garage.  You can list items to sell on eBay and Gumtree but be aware of sellers’ fees and other transactional costs, for example, the fee to receive money from Paypal.

The Husband and I have a ‘slush fund ISA’ where we put windfalls and bonuses to fund our household bills but that wouldn’t cover, say putting in a wetroom should one of our elderly parents come to stay.

Since we are both in our 50s I’d prefer to take out a personal loan rather than add any more to our mortgage.

And if we finally get around to having a honeymoon (8 years and counting), I’m hoping it will be to a destination a little further afield than our beloved Devon – which wouldn’t be covered by our existing savings.

Whatever the reason you need to get your hands on some extra cash, make sure you look at all the options, write everything down and make sure you file away any emails and documentation in one place.

With some sensible management and plenty of research, a personal loan may stack up as the best option for lower to middle-range expenses.

The only other option is the one often quoted by my mum.  “Well you’ll just have to do without, won’t you”?  Bless.

Win £75 To Spend At Bean Bag Bazaar

Gifted:  We were sent a gaming bean bag for the purpose of this post.

When you have kids, lots of visiting relatives and a lounge suite that you inherited from the previous owner of your house (you know me, waste not want not), there are times when you just don’t have enough room for everyone to sit.

Bean bags are a brilliant way of flexing your seating arrangements and cost a fraction of the amount you would need to spend to add another chair.

They are easy to move from room to room and, let’s be honest, they are pretty fun to sit on too, aren’t they?

Read on because I have a fabulous £75 voucher code for one lucky winner to spend on the beanbag (or product) of their choice in my latest giveaway.

Bean Bag Bazaar recently sent us a gaming beanbag to try which Caitlin and Ieuan are now squabbling over. To be fair they squabble over anything, but that’s tweens for you.

Gaming Bean Bag Recliner Indoor-Outdoor

This is a decent size bean bag that will take an adult.  It has a high supportive back and a deep bucket seat for comfort.

You do have to give it a good shake to shape it so that it is comfortable but once you’ve got it just right it is a perfectly acceptable seat.

Sitting into the bean bag creates raised armrests either side of you and sends some of the FreeFlow bead inside up into the tall back creating a chair shape.

Ieuan is sitting on it to play Fortnite as I type (Tilted Towers apparently).

The Gaming Bean Bag Recliner comes in 13 different colours (ours is slate grey) and you can even take it outdoors.

It is made in 100% water resistant Aqua-TX fabric so is ideal for extra seating for a summer BBQ, picnic or garden party and at £39.99 is much cheaper than lots of garden chairs.

Luckily it is wipe clean with a mild detergent too.

I love to support British companies and Bean Bag Bazaar is a small business based in Northumberland who design, make and sell soft furniture and furnishings. Bean bags are their speciality.

ICON™ Luxury Faux Fur Classic Bean Bag, Ostrich

They have a huge range of bean bags and, as well as a wide range of bean bags for grownups they have lots of great trend-focused children’s products too.

Teen Bean Bag Chair, Indoor & Outdoor

There’s a cover to match any type of decor and a style to fit in every room.  You’ll find velvet and faux fur covered beanbags, as well as real leather ones and even ones for babies.

ICON® Milano Classic Velvet Bean Bag

The company also supplies cushions, throws, footstools and gifts and there are plenty of special offers to be found, plus free next day delivery.

The giveaway

Bean Bag Bazaar is offering a £75 voucher off the product of your choice.  Entry is via the GLEAM widget and is open to UK entrants over the age of 18 only.  Please note that any email addresses supplied will only be used to contact the lucky winner.  All terms and conditions can be viewed on my giveaways page.

Voucher details: The voucher is £75 off any product. This discount code is valid for 3 months. This discount code can only be used in one transaction  any balance will be lost if not spent in one transaction. The voucher is non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for cash.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday 14th April.

Bean Bag Bazaar Voucher worth £75

Good luck!


4 Benefits to Relationship-Centred Treatment

In relationship-centred treatment, the caregiver or doctor goes an extra mile to establish a long-lasting bond with the patient. You might be interested to know that this approach is nowadays being implemented in rehabilitation centres and home care facilities.

Before the discovery of the new approach, the doctors could only treat their patients and be done with it. However, this new method of treatment has changed the way patients interact with caregivers.

In the past, patients regarded caregivers and doctors as people who are paid to attend to them. But now the doctors and caregivers are viewed as professionals who offer emotional support in a patient’s greatest hour of need.

At the end of the day, relationship centred treatment creates a win-win scenario for all.

Here is a list of the major benefits seen to have been achieved by embracing relationship centred treatment.

Instils a sense of belonging

Patients usually feel like they don’t belong anywhere. Sadly, many of them feel rejected by the people they love. The doctors and caregivers, on the other hand, feel that patients seek them when they need medical attention. When relationship centred treatment is embraced, both parties get a sense of belonging.

Whilst creating relationships like this can be demanding, all a patient really needs is someone who can listen to him without judging his actions.

A sense of belonging is also fostered when both parties respect each other. For instance,  caregivers or doctors don’t make a decision about treatment without first consulting the patient. This means that the caregivers can’t force a patient to accept their decision. This eventually leads to mutual respect. In fact, respect is one of the building blocks that help in groups such as Peace Club intact.

High Rate of Success

When caregivers open up to patients and vice versa, there is likely to be a higher rate of success in administering treatments, not least because the patient is given ample time to talk about the issues that are bothering them.

Offering one on one sessions also allows the caregiver to understand the underlying problem rather than generalizing issues. In fact, research shows that every medical problem has an underlying problem that must be solved to guarantee that it doesn’t happen again in future.

The other advantage of these open and frank relationships is that the caregiver can tailor a more effective solution without leaving any room for mistakes. The overall result of this is that greater numbers of patients are healed and the caregivers are satisfied with their results.

Photo by Jair Lázaro on Unsplash

Personalized Care

In situations where patients are given the same care, the rate of success tends to be low. This is because there are many patients who will not respond well to one treatment.

In relationship centred treatment, every patient is treated differently even if their condition is not unique. Doctors and caregivers know only too well that everyone is different and will not necessarily respond to treatment in the same way. Solutions are tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual patient.

Reduced Cost of Treatment

There are many cases where patients have been misdiagnosed or in other words, treated for a condition that they didn’t have. This usually happens when the caregivers don’t listen to what the patient is saying.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of their symptoms, the patient may end up seeking treatment from different facilities in vain, which in return can incur a lot of extra costs.

When caregivers interact more often with patients, they are able to know exactly what’s ailing them. This helps in cutting back on the cost of treatment.

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