Tech-Savvy Ways to Monitor Your Baby

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ll remember just how impossible it seems to get anything done around the house when you are caring for a newborn. While it may get easier as your baby grows, (you can leave them briefly in a play chair or on a mat and hello CBeebies!), you still have to make sure you can keep an eye on them at all times – especially when they start to roll and crawl.

In this way, you will be able to keep them safe from bumps and falls, or from putting whatever they touch in their mouth. Who hasn’t winced as their little one discovers electrical sockets (you can get safety covers!) or the cat’s food! Fortunately, the advancements in modern technology now mean that parents and carers can monitor their young ones even if they are in another room, or even out of the house, any time of the day.

Two-way Audio Monitor

If you want a baby monitor that can grow with your kid, then invest in one that can function as a night light and an alarm clock. Some can function as a sound machine. The great thing about this device is that you will be able to control all these features through an app installed on your smartphone. We used ours for years as they are a great way of checking that your kids have actually gone to sleep and they come into their own when your little ones are poorly at night.

Home Camera

If always seeing your baby is what brings you peace of mind, then invest in a smart home camera that you can control through your phone. This is made possible by the artificial intelligence (AI) which is integrated into the camera, together with Hubble or the smart platform that supports it. The latter can even support other devices such as audio products from the likes of headphones and speakers.

On the other hand, there are also multi-purpose monitoring systems that allow multiple users to stream and watch videos simultaneously. Other smart home cameras also feature night vision, as well as two-way audio. Still, there are also home camera systems with integrated control for room temperature and humidity.

Baby Feeding Monitor

As much as possible, you would want to keep your baby well-fed because in this case, he or she is more likely to be calm. For this, you need a baby feeding monitor that will keep you updated about your baby’s feedings through Bluetooth technology. This device takes one less off your checklist during your pediatrician visit as your baby’s feeding data is properly recorded.


There are already gadgets that allow you to monitor your baby’s temperature even if you are not in the same room. Your baby just needs to use a wearable device to allow you to do so. Aside from the temperature, the app you install on your phone to control the device can also send you notifications on when you need to give the next dose of medicine for your baby.

Leverage on technological innovations to make sure that you can keep an eye on your little one whenever you need to, wherever you are. You can invest in a two-way audio monitor that can also function as a night light or an alarm clock, or opt for a home camera that will allow you to see your baby through your mobile phone. In addition to this, you can also go for a high-tech baby feeding monitor or a smart thermometer that keeps you updated on their feeding or temperature through Bluetooth technology.

Dressing Mindfully: 5 Ways to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

As a society, we are more conscious than ever before of the damage that we humans are causing to our planet. From single-use plastic to the lasting effects of fast fashion, there are many ways in which our lifestyles are having a serious impact on the environment. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how the planet seems to be recovering during lockdown with reports of a dramatic reduction in city centre pollution, waters returning to their crystal clear state and the return of wildlife and fish.

Photo by BYØRK on Unsplash

Long may it continue and this is why more people are now interested in how they can make their lifestyle choices more sustainable and want to apply this to the clothes they wear. Many of us are guilty of buying the latest fashion trends as soon as they come out and at the cheapest price we can find. However, cheapest quite often does not mean the most environmentally friendly, nor ethical either when you consider the working conditions some clothing manufacturers inflict on their employees abroad.

So, here are 5 simple ways that you can make your wardrobe more sustainable.

Streamline Your Closet

Many people wrongly assume that when it comes to streamlining their closet, they should cast aside and throw away any clothes they no longer like or want. However, this is the opposite of a sustainable closet and instead encourages fast fashion habits. A better option is to go through the clothes that you have and take a few days to decide whether you are sure that you do not want to keep it.

Remember that just because you know that you will never wear an item of clothing again, does not mean that you should just throw it in the bin. Instead, you should donate them to charity or at the very least see if friends or family would like them.

Here in Dinas Powys, we have a local Facebook group where unwanted items are listed and donated free of charge to whoever wants them and can collect them (bearing in mind social distancing at the moment, of course).

And, once Lockdown is over, we are looking to the return of local jumble sales (always good for a bargain) which are a great way to recycle clothing and raise some much-needed funds for our local Scout Group.

Buy Locally

One of the best ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable is by sourcing your clothing from brands that make their clothes locally. Even if a brand is based within the same country as you, you should always check to see where they manufacturer their clothes as I mentioned earlier. You may be surprised at how many travel miles your items of clothing have done before you hang them in your closet.

Photo by J Williams on Unsplash

Mend the Clothes You Have

It’s so much easier, isn’t it to throw clothes out and buy new ones rather than, as our mothers would have done, ‘make do and mend’. These days you can pick up new clothes during your weekly supermarket shop and, of course, many retailers offer next day delivery when you order online. Instead, why not go through the clothes already hanging in your wardrobe and spend money on alterations instead of replacing them. This will help to reduce the items of clothing that end up in landfills decomposing for years and polluting the planet.

It may also help support a local business.  We have a local ironing shop where it is also possible to have your clothes altered.  And, if you’re handy with a needle, you might think of earning a few pounds by offering a similar service yourself!

Make Your Own Clothes

Not only can you take the time to mend your own clothes so that you can wear them for longer, but you can also make your wardrobe even more sustainable by making your own clothes! This is a great way to great creative, as well as save yourself money in the long term. By investing in a mannequin to help you fit and pin clothing, you can get a realistic idea of how a dress will fit during the making process.

Photo by James Hollingworth on Unsplash

Buy with Intention

While it can feel like there is nothing more exciting than a shopping spree and to treat ourselves to some new clothes, it can lead to unnecessary purchases. Buying with intention is a much better way to create a sustainable wardrobe, as once you know why you are buying a piece of clothing and the outfit that you are going to wear it with, then your shopping decisions become much smarter.

The concept of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ makes a great deal of sense and, in fact, allows you to invest in better quality and more sustainable garments if you buy on a ‘cost per wear’ basis rather than cheap, cheerful and poorer quality items.

Don’t forget to visit charity shops and larger charities such as Oxfam offer garments which have already been repurposed and redesigned to raise a little extra cash.

By making a few changes to your shopping decisions and lifestyle choices, you can make your wardrobe sustainable and environmentally friendly, while also saving yourself some money along the way!

Don’t Let the Fear of Falling Lead to Isolation

A wise lady in her late 80s once said with a laugh that getting older is “better than the alternative.” Still, there is no denying that with advancing years come new challenges, and some of these can have life-altering consequences. Reduced mobility and some deterioration of motor skills are inevitable as we get older. We all know that someone in their 80s is at greater risk of falling than someone in their 60s. In fact, my dear mum (now 81) fell and broke her hip over a year ago and is still struggling with her mobility. Indeed, it appears she had a narrow escape as the NHS has cited falling as the most common cause of injury-related death in over-75.

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Yet sometimes it is these statistics in themselves that present the biggest problem. For those who are feeling less steady on their feet than they used to be, the fear of becoming another NHS statistic can be more debilitating than any physical condition. That is particularly the case under current circumstances when we are all conscious of the existing pressure on NHS workers and emergency responders.

Mobility and mental wellbeing

It stands to reason that if an older adult is worried he or she might fall, they will be likely to go out less, and ultimately might be reluctant to leave the house at all. According to researchers from Bringham Young University, loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Clearly, maintaining mobility is as much a part of mental wellbeing as it is related to physical health. Fortunately, there are more resources available today to help maintain mobility than ever before.

Walking sticks

Most seniors who feel the need for a little extra stability and confidence start out with a cane or stick. There’s a huge choice of walking sticks on the market, in different styles and sizes. As a guideline, a stick can support around 25 per cent of a person’s weight. It is appropriate when balance impairment is minimal, or when there is a specific weakness in one leg. Using a stick requires moderate hand grip and strength.

Walking frames

 A walker is the perfect option if a stick does not provide sufficient support and, just as importantly, confidence. Again, walking frames require moderate grip and arm strength, but they can support up to 50 per cent of the user’s weight. The traditional walker is often known as a Zimmer frame after manufacturer Zimmer Holdings, in much the same way as we call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover. These feature four solid legs and are best suited for indoor surfaces such as carpets.

A wheeled walker is a better option for getting out and about. These have small wheels on the front legs, making them more convenient to move along as there is no need to lift the entire unit with each step, only its rear half. They are designed to aid balance as opposed to bearing a significant proportion of the user’s weight.

Tri-Walkers and rollators

These walking aids have three and four wheels respectively and provide stability and balance aid, but with more manoeuvrability than a walking frame. Each has its pros and cons – the tri walker is the more manoeuvrable, while the four wheels of the rollator provide better stability.

With these, and indeed with all walking aids, deciding which is right very much depends on personal circumstances. It is therefore vital to try out all the options to make the best possible choice.

Beauty Hacks for When You’re Really Short on Time

Being short on time when you are getting ready can be really stressful, and we have all been there. There are several quick hacks that will make your beauty routine easier and faster. Here are a number of ideas that will make your rushed routine a little bit simpler.

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Stick to a Morning and Evening Skincare Routine

Sticking to a reliable skincare routine will keep your skin smooth and radiant, meaning confidently going without a full face of makeup when you are short on time could work for you. Don’t skip out on your evening skincare routine as it is important to ensure your skin gets the full advantages of your products. This will save loads of time, as you can simply apply some concealer or a tinted moisturizer to achieve a radiant glow, or even skip the foundation completely. To obtain healthy looking skin, use products that brighten your skin like this rose water toner which will smooth and soften your skin and calm any unwanted redness and blemishes.

Use a Dry Shampoo

If you don’t have enough time to wash your hair when needed, dry shampoo is the way to go. It can be applied as soon as you wake up or before you go to sleep at night to let it work on your hair overnight. If you haven’t used dry shampoo and are unsure of how to use it correctly, tutorials of how to use dry shampoo can be found online.

Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

Quick Curls

Instead of waking up earlier to style your hair, you can get beautiful curly locks overnight by creating easy hairstyles. This is a particularly good style for summertime as it will create carefree beach waves. One way to do this is by plaiting your hair into multiple braids before bed. Look online to find easy overnight hairstyles that work for you.

Consider Getting Eyelash Extensions

Mascara may be a very important part of your makeup routine, many people even prefer applying false lashes every day. If you lead a busy lifestyle, it could be a good idea to invest in eyelash extensions, keeping your lashes long and thick for up to eight weeks. False lashes put your whole look together, minimizing your whole eye makeup routine entirely, as lash extensions usually limit how much eyeliner or eyeshadow you feel the need to apply.

Make Your Eyes Pop

To make your eyes appear bigger and brighter, apply white eyeliner to your lower lash line. This is a quick way to make your eyes pop and reduce the need for applying other makeup products.

Combination Cosmetics

Products that provide multiple uses such as three in one palettes make the process of applying your makeup much more straightforward. If you don’t want to go totally makeup-free, not having to use several different palettes will save time as you can apply eyeshadow, bronzer and blush using quick steps with the same palette.

Carry a Tinted Lip Balm

Tinted lip balm can normally be applied without a mirror, making it really easy to top up the colour in your lips throughout the day, as well as providing some TLC to your lips. Use a lip balm with SPF elements to ensure your lips get the care they need.

Pick a Dark Lip

A dark and bold lip colour will do all the talking for your finished look, making an effortless look seem like you have committed lots of time and effort into your appearance.

By following these quick steps when you are pressed for time, you will be able to hurry out still looking your best.

Creating a Positive Morning Routine as a Family

When you and your family wake up, how you handle the morning ahead can have a major influence on productivity levels. If your children are heading to school and you are going to work, getting the day off to a good start can help you feel positive and ready for anything.

Currently, of course, Lockdown has thrown us all off balance and we have had to adapt and create new routines and habits.  That said, structure is key for both parents and children, so here are a few ways to create a positive morning routine as a family.

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Make Sure Sleep is a Priority

For the morning routine to go well, it’s important that you all get a good night’s sleep beforehand. If any of you wake up feeling rundown and restless, tantrums and arguments can occur, which can set a bad tone for the day ahead. To wake up feeling energized and ready to jump into your morning routine, setting a firm bedtime for you and your family is key.

As an adult, you should aim for roughly seven hours of sleep per night. Children and toddlers will need more sleep, so make sure that you lay down ground rules from the start. To improve your quality of sleep, purchasing a new mattress may help. The larger size can help with sleep and get your day off to a good start.

Prepare the Night Before

Once everyone in your household is getting enough sleep, the next step is to try and reduce the number of tasks everyone has to complete in the morning. There are several actions that you can take, such as preparing breakfast and packing lunches the night before, choosing what clothes your child needs for school, as well as ironing your work attire so you can spend more time as a family.

Wake Up Before Your Kids

As a parent, being positive and in good spirits in the morning can rub off to your children. If your kids see you stressed and anxious, they may adopt the same mindset, which can hinder productivity levels at school, so make sure that you wake up before your kids and have some time for yourself to help you feel more relaxed and ready for whatever is on the agenda.

Just like children, parents benefit from a regular routine too, so creating your own morning ritual before you wake up the kids will add structure to your morning. You may benefit from practising relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga before starting your day.

Make a Morning Routine Chart

If you have younger children, try using pictures instead of words in your morning routine chart. There are several things that need to be completed before your kids head off to school, such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. Making things fun and exciting for your kids can help the morning routine run smoothly. Creating a morning routine chart will teach your children the importance of organisation, which will put them in good stead when heading into the working world.

Check in With One Another

If you haven’t got a morning routine in place, getting your children ready for school can be overwhelming. It’s important that you are all in the best mindset possible before heading out the door, so setting aside time to check in with one another can help. Eating breakfast together as a family and discussing what you all want to achieve for the day ahead can boost productivity and concentration levels. It can also be a good time to address any worries, fears, or concerns your children may have.

Whether you have a long day at the office ahead, your kids are heading off to school or you are still all rattling around the home, all the suggestions listed above can help you create a positive morning routine as a family.

Great Children’s Books For Lockdown Reading

Whilst we’re all still stuck at home with our little ones, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some reading.  In this post, you’ll find 10 great suggestions to keep your little ones entertained – and to hopefully help them keep up with their reading and English development whilst the schools are closed.  Heads up – this post does contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small payment to help run Mother Distracted.

All our family are avid readers – and I have to confess that my Amazon wishlist is currently of epic proportions.  Thankfully, Caitlin and Ieuan take after their parents and, once removed from the Wi-Fi, will happily delve into the pages of a book – albeit now they are into young adult and adult fiction (carefully vetted of course).  They are great late night readers too.  I am a firm believer that a book at bedtime helps you sleep.

Here are my suggestions for younger children:

Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes and James Mayhew

Meet Gaspard the Fox as he sets out one summer evening in search of adventure and something to eat. This charming and humorous picture book celebrates urban foxes and their relationship with the humans and animals they share the city with. With stunning original illustrations by award-winning children’s book author James Mayhew, this is the first in a series of collaborations between Zeb and James following the adventures of Gaspard and his friends.

The Very Silly Dog by Nick Cope

Loved by listeners around the UK and internationally, children’s singer-songwriter Nick Cope’s work takes on a new form in this series of illustrated books, with original artwork from Nick and his son, Burt.

The Very Silly Dog begins with an inevitable mishap by its titular character, with some very amusing consequences…

Includes song lyrics and guitar chords at the back of the book for children and adults to play and sing along

Why is the sky blue? by Nick Cope

Why is the Sky Blue? is an entertaining take on the inquisitiveness of young children, featuring Joe and his dad and all the weird and wonderful questions Joe has about the world.

No I don’t wanna do that! by Nick Cope

No I Don t Wanna Do That is the story of young Joe, who, put off all the range of activities his mum suggests, would rather have fun at home instead. How endearing a choice this is, in the end, is really down to any parents reading!

Thimble Holiday Havoc by Jon Blake

Jams lives with his mum, dad and his best friend Thimble, a hugely clever monkey who isn’t exactly one of Dad’s biggest fans. (Don’t tell anyone what Thimble did with the superglue…) When Mum organises a house-swap holiday to France, what can possibly go wrong? Then Thimble and Dad find the keys to a speedboat, a drill and a makeshift burglar outfit…

Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake

Life is never boring now that Jams and his family have a monkey to look after. Jams and his mum love Thimble, but Dad is determined to get rid of him – to a zoo, a school, even a demolition site. But when Jams and his dad are in mortal danger, Thimble proves once and for all why he is a Monkey Superstar! Thimble is very clever and very naughty – and just the best friend Jams has been waiting for.

Steve and the singing pirates by Dan Anthony

Life is tough for nine-year-old Steve and no one understands him, least of all his family or his piano teacher. But when the call comes from the Library of Dreams Steve takes charge of the baton in an eighteenth-century sing-off complete with pirates, wigs and a rascally cut-throat edge. Second in the Steve’s Dreams series about lovable loser Steve.

Steve’s Dreams – Steve and the sabre-toothed tiger by Dan Anthony

It’s the summer holidays, but for nine-year-old Steve life in his home town is full of hidden menace. He believes he must protect his family from a dangerous, unpredictable world. But he can’t solve all the problems on his own. He’s just not quite big enough.

Alex Sparrow And The Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick

Catching the school’s runaway guinea pigs is not giving Alex job satisfaction, but how can he find a bigger test for his and Jess’s awkward superpowers? Jess is more worried about the bullied new boy, whose Mum runs the animal sanctuary. She volunteers at the sanctuary, but soon realises that something is very wrong; the animals are terrified. People report strange events: things missing, property destroyed, and the local squirrels have turned mean. The police have no suspects. It looks more and more like a job for Agent Alex…

Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires by Malachy Doyle

Pete and his faithful companion, Blob, love to go wandering in the pitch-dark night, then stumble over a van-load of vampires… And end up at the most frightful fancy dress party ever!

There are plenty of other children’s favourites of course, David Walliams and Roald Dahl, for example, or why not consider some real children’s classics?

Happy reading!

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Best Family Days Out During Lockdown

With the COVID-19 outbreak making travelling and getting the kids out of the house a difficult task, here are some ways you can still have a great day out with the family during lockdown. Now, please note, I am not suggesting for a moment that you ignore Government guidelines and remember that the rules differ widely between England, Scotland and, where I live, in Wales.  And where ‘family’ is referred to, this means the family who share your household.

Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

Sadly we can’t include grandparents, relatives who live away or friends just yet.   The ‘social bubble’ idea is on its way apparently where you can spend time with 10 ‘selected’ friends and family but, as yet, we’ve no idea where that one is going to go or even when.

That said, if you’ve got kids are who going stir crazy, like mine, the remedy is fresh air, exercise and mental stimulation other than the XBox.

Cycling treks

You can drive to places with your family so long as it is local, so you should have no problems getting a bike out and about. No travelling from England to Wales to cycle at the moment though!

There are loads of treks and trails across the UK, wherever it is that you are based. If you and your kids are not comfortable on a bike, then you should look at tricycles. Experts over at Jorvik Tricycles say that tricycles are one of the most popular alternatives to bicycles. As they have three wheels they offer you a bit more safety and stability than a regular bicycle. You can also get tricycles with child carriers in case you have young children and still want to get out into the countryside. There are also folding tricycles which are transportable.

More stable they may be, but don’t forget protective gear such as cycle helmets and take plenty of water while the temperatures continue to climb.

It’s worth taking a look at the National Trust website to see if there are any days out locally to you.  Make sure you check before you travel as many sites are still shut.  The same applies to English Heritage and Cadw sites.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Round Walks

There are some great round walks that you can find. Round walks are essentially trails starting from a car park or other location where you leave your car and return to it at the end of your walk. There are usually directions and signs that guide you along the way, with different and shorter routes if you fancy a shorter walk or have younger children. It’s a great way to burn off some of that excess energy that your kids will have, particularly being locked in at home with no school! You can also take your dog if you have one, so they can also burn off a bit of energy.

You can find plenty of local guidebooks with walks in your locality on Amazon.  Also consider stout footwear like walking boots, a raincoat and make sure your mobile is charged – just in case you get lost!

Ieuan in local meadows surrounding Dinas Powys

Keep it local

It is recommended you try and stay around your local area where possible. If you’re lucky enough to have great walking places around your local area, then why not keep it local? Here in Dinas Powys we are surrounded by beautiful woodland and meadows, as well as being close to rugged coastline and sandy beaches. Of course, not everyone is fortunate to have walking spots on their doorstep. Take a look on Google maps to see what is in your local area and take the kids out whether it be for a walk or out on their bikes.

Rainy days?

If the weather is bad, which let’s face it, in the UK, is expected, you can still stay fit and healthy at home. There are some great home workouts you can do with your kids with fitness gurus like Joe Wicks on YouTube. They are free of charge so there really is no excuse! These videos can also be used as P.E lessons whilst they are out of school.

It’s really important, particularly whilst schools are shut that you and your children stay active. If you have any more suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below with any ideas or examples of how you and your children have been staying active, it’s always interesting to see what everyone is up to!

All we can do is hope that restrictions lift soon for everyone once COVID-19 is under control and the risk of a ‘second wave’ is minimised.  In the meantime, observing Government advice and practising social distancing is the way forward.  This won’t last forever.

5 Ways We Can Share More Quality Time with Grandparents After Lockdown

It’s tough at the moment isn’t it?  I’m sure we are all longing to see our loved ones face to face.  It’s not quite the same on Facetime or Zoom, is it?  In particular, my kids are really missing their grandparents – and vice versa.

A child or adult’s relationship with their grandparents is an important one. Grandparents have the ability to provide a warm place and a safe environment for stressed individuals, and they also teach us things that have a positive impact on our lives. The love, patience, comfort, and kindness they have to offer is unconditional. They also know how to spoil their grandchildren, no matter how old they may be.

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

As you can see, grandparents are important, and they play many roles in child growth and development. We know that they won’t be with us forever and these strange times have certainly reinforced the need for us to spend as much quality time with them as we can.  Here are five ways you can make the most of this special relationship.

Go Out Exploring

People love getting out and discovering new places, and, in many cases, seniors may struggle to do so alone or without help and support from a loved one or care worker. This makes exploring with your grandparents a great way to spend quality time with them and gives them an opportunity to go somewhere new. If they struggle to walk and want to travel a long distance, it’s worth considering an electric chair. To find the most suitable one, you can research the various EWheels models here.

Learn Something New

Learning a new skill or craft with your grandparents is a great way to spend some quality time together – whether it’s playing a musical instrument, sewing or even gardening. You could learn something new altogether, you could teach your grandparents something, or they could teach you. I’m sure many grandparents are now far more internet savvy thanks to their grandchildren!

Whatever it may be, learning gives you all a chance to find out more about each other, such as your likes and dislikes and your natural talents. Whatever you learn from your grandparents can be passed on through generations. It allows their memory to live on in not just your life, but others too!

Do Some Cooking

As we age, we can struggle to look after ourselves as well as we used to, and this can include cooking for ourselves. If your grandparents love cooking and struggle to do so, cooking a meal together could be a lovely way to spend quality time with them. It will allow them to make their favourite recipes and to teach you an heirloom or family favourite. In our family it’s Taid’s buns and potato cakes! At the end of it all, your grandparents will be able to enjoy a tasty homecooked meal or snack that they made with their grandchildren, which is irreplaceable.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Interview Each Other

You and your grandparents will have lived very different lives. They will have stories that will be gone forever when they pass away, so interviewing them and getting to know them will be extremely interesting and will make your bond stronger. They may have some equally curious questions about your life. Obviously, this can be as casual as you want it to be. You could have a comfortable chat in their home, or you could make a day of it and take them to the park for a picnic or out for food at a family restaurant.

Play Games Together

Playing games is a great way to spend quality time with grandparents. You could play board games, card games like Whist or Rummy, or even teach them how to play on a games console. They can also teach you games from their childhood. If your grandparents are fairly mobile, you could play a safe, low-impact outdoor game. This will get them outdoors and gives them an opportunity to exercise, which is great for their health. Playing games helps to keep the mind young and are is also great fun!

Spending quality time with your grandparents is something that should be taken advantage of. The time spent together will boost your relationship and you may even learn some valuable skills along the way.

How to Create a Fabulous 18th Birthday Party

It’s such a special birthday, the 18th, isn’t it?  I’m sure we can all remember our own. Selecting the concept, decoration, and design of an 18th birthday party to remember, though, can be a daunting task. They might still be a kid to you but this is their grand debut into adult life and a more ‘adult’ party is required.  No more party bags and ‘Pin The Tail On The Donkey’!

Of course, while we are in Lockdown, the only party venues open to us in the UK are Facebook and Zoom but there’s no harm in planning for a fabulous ‘do’ for our teen once we are finally set free!

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Listed below are some ideas to help you organise the best 18th birthday party.

Get them involved

Whilst it’s tempting to organise a surprise party and catch the birthday boy or girl off guard, it’s probably wiser to get them involved with the party planning.  It is, after all, a pretty special occasion and you wouldn’t want to arrange something that failed to hit the mark. Let’s be honest – there’s an element of competition involved too, isn’t there?  You wouldn’t want to arrange a party which falls flat in comparison with their best mate’s do.

Reserve a great venue

House parties are OK, of course, but frankly who wants the stress, the mess and the cleaning-up afterwards?  For a special 18th birthday party, why not check our external venues to book or hire?

Stay calm but be careful

In the UK, of course, 18 is the age at which one can legally consume alcohol but if their friends have not yet reached this milestone birthday, they, of course, cannot – and you might find yourself in trouble if you allow it.

You might not need to go so far as ID inspections on the door but a quiet word with their parents to check their age would be wise.  And it will be up to you to keep a close eye on everyone at the party.

Life being what it is, though, teen parties will usually feature one or two who drink too much so there should be at least one or two responsible adults present.  The trick is to be there without cramping the birthday boy’s or girl’s style.  Ultimately, the decision to allow alcohol at the party is yours but do make an effort to make everybody enjoy the fun or manage the risk of becoming a killjoy parent!

Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash

Go for exciting activities

Even if it’s just putting together a great playlist and plugging an iPod into your audio system, try your best to create a party atmosphere. Why not have a theme and link your activities to that – for example a James Bond theme with a casino wheel (no money involved of course!) or get everyone involved in a game of Super Mario on the XBox or a Fortnite shoot-out?

If the party guests want to party the night away, you could hire a professional disc jockey or band for some live music. You can also hire smoke machines, disco balls and laser lights.

Another option might be to hire a magician or cartoonist – or even a comedian – assuming their humour isn’t too ‘blue’ of course. The entertainment you choose should match the type of people who will be coming so choose your entertainer judiciously.

Have some adult treat totes

Now, having said ‘no more party bags’, you could consider an ‘adult treat tote’ – depending on your budget of course. With appropriate contents, these can be quite a novel idea. Mix things up with a few funny items like face masks or a pair of glasses for everybody to put on at the ‘do, and light sticks are often popular too.

Based on your alcohol consumption policy, you may start adding some little alcoholic goodies, just like jello shots but you are probably safer including things like retro sweets and disposable cameras. Match your tote bag gifts to your party theme for an extra cool effect.

Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash

5 Unique 18th Birthday Celebration Tips

  • Surprise Celebration. An unexpected party is an exciting and comparatively simple option. The key is, it has to be surprising! Work with some help from two or three of your teenager’s close friends to gather a great list of guests, select a place, and have your youngster to go to the chosen location in the assigned time. You can maintain it simple but might need to toss along a taco bar or buffet to help make the party a bit more extraordinary. 
  • Film Night by the Pool. An outdoor video film night offers an 18th birthday celebration or school get together an additional twist. Include a swimming pool plus some goofy shark movies together with special birthday treats and have a menu for a good time. In case sharks are not your son or daughter’s thing, pick a theme that suits their most favourite movie.
  • Food Preparation Class. If your guest of honour is a Masterchef or 5-star baker in the making, why not throw a food preparation class party? Choose from ideas such as preparing sushi or pasta-making and take relatives and buddies along. Now you have a very yummy idea, and no one will be starving; also, you may send your guests home a personalized plate as a memento.
  • Hunter/ Scavenger. A scavenger party hunt for the celebrant is another idea to consider for some pre-party fun which leads them right to the venue. Personalise the clues so they are all about the party boy or girl for an extra special touch. These are exciting, lively, and cheap to set-up.
  • Adventure Party. If your teen is the adventurous type, then choose an outdoor or high octane activity for an adrenalin rush – anything exciting and enjoyable, such as water-skiing, trekking or perhaps skydiving. The sky’s the limit with this party theme but make sure you choose a professional outfit with full insurance and obtain your guests’ parents’ permission.

What was your 18th birthday party like?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.

How To Make The Perfect Bathroom Without Breaking The Bank

When we redecorate our homes, we often overlook one of the most important rooms in our homes, our bathrooms! For lot’s of people their bathroom will look exactly the same as the day they moved into their homes, this is for a few reasons, people often think that bathrooms will be expensive to decorate or that any renovations will be hard to undertake.

So today, we’ll be looking at a few cheap and easy ways you can revamp your bathroom that you can do by yourself at home, so let’s get into it!

Co-Ordinate Small Fittings And Towels

Starting off with probably the easiest change to make, colour co-ordination, now for the sake of simplicity we’ll be sticking to things we can just order from IKEA or any other good homeware store, so for your bathroom that will include: bathroom bin, towels, soap dish, toilet brush holder, floor mats, etc.

You’ll need to decide on a colour theme for this, as most bathrooms tend to be painted with neutral tones, you can highlight your style using a nice vibrant colour like Coral or Baby Blue then get all the bathroom bits you need in that colour (usually homeware stores will have different items in the same colour or even a bundle of different bits in the same colour). Once you’ve done this, your bathroom will have a much more cohesive look to it.

Photo by LumenSoft Technologies on Unsplash

Get A Set Of Bathroom Blinds

Lot’s of people don’t have any window dressing on their bathroom windows, most of the time bathroom windows are frosted so you can’t see in or out, but the look of an undressed window isn’t really a good look for a bathroom and light coming in through the window can still get in your eye and distract you.

If you look for some Bathroom Blinds on the internet, you’ll find yourself with plenty of choices to pick from, just be sure to get a blind designed for bathroom use as some normal blinds will be damaged by the general wetness of a bathroom. Once you’ve found a set of blinds that will function well for you, find a colour you want for them, you should either pick the colour of your bathroom walls or match to the rest of your bathroom accessories.

Photo by Chastity Cortijo on Unsplash

Organise Your Bathroom Products

Most of us take the same approach to our bathroom supplies, shower gels, shampoos and hair conditioners are usually just strewn about on a countertop or along the edge of the bath, while this is easy, it’s not very aesthetically pleasing.

So we recommend to get some form of organising tool for your bathroom, whether it’s a shower caddy or a simple plastic tun to keep everything together, you’ll notice that your bathroom looks better and is easier to clean just off of that, leaving you with a lovely neat bathroom.

How To Juggle Family Finances And Retirement Savings

Maintaining a family and still having money to spend can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. There is a lot to manage when it comes to expenses and savings when you have to take care of your loved ones, but it is worth it. While it might feel like such a struggle to balance all of these financial matters and making sure your loved ones are taken care of, it does get easier – if you learn some money management skills.

Finding the right help for this can really improve your life and that is why you are here. These tips will help you manage your money like a pro.

Making a Budget

Budgeting is one of the most effective methods of managing your money. Knowing what expenses are a must in your budget include; rent/mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, car/life/medical insurance. Of course, these are only a few but they represent large amounts of payments that people usually make on a monthly basis. They take up a lot of your money but it is important to budget around the necessary payments.

Budgeting also includes spending on non-necessities. Things like entertainment (movies, dinner, events) as well as buying clothes or personal items. Being able to properly track these expenditures will give you a better picture of how much you have to spend or how much you can put away in savings for retirement or even college for your children.

Financial Tools

Thanks to the internet there is an enormous growth in how many financial planning tools are available. With the ease of access to these tools on your computer or on your mobile phone it is much easier to keep on top of finances and planning than it ever has been.

Just think of how little effort takes you to visit the site to consult your financial planning needs, compared to going to the bank and waiting in seemingly endless lines. Moreover, the security standards of budgeting apps are improving greatly and allowing a much more reliable service for users.

The ability to consolidate your financial budgeting into one area is a very attractive feature because it cuts down on the mess of paperwork or organizational work. It simply is all in one convenient location that can be accessed at any time.

Setting Goals

A problem that many people have when it comes to saving money for retirement or simply controlling their finances is that they feel lost and are not entirely sure what they are trying to accomplish. Setting goals is a good way to alleviate this issue.

When it comes to retirement, goal setting is definitely something that needs to be implemented. Whether you are planning for 10, 20, 30 or more years in advance, you need to have a solid understanding of how much money you are putting away to reach these time frames in a reasonable manner.

This means that you have a belief that you want to retire at 50 versus 65. In a sense, it is similar to budgeting in that you are comparing the amount of money you need to have put away or invested against your usual expenses like those listed earlier. In any case, setting goals and writing them down is a good way to visualize what you plan on achieving.

Unexpected Issues

Planning for retirement and having the financial freedom to provide for your family does not come without its own bumps in the roads. There are a lot of potential issues that may arise in your life that can be totally unexpected and really hurt your chances at early retirement or going on that family trip.

The use of planning tools and budgeting, or setting goals, is only as good as your ability to handle those unexpected problems.

Medical issues, deaths in the family, and economic downturn that can result in job loss are all issues that pose a threat to a straightforward retirement or living that financially free life for you and your family.

Setting up an emergency fund that can help provide a few months of relief is a smart idea in the unfortunate event something like this happens. It is also good to be realistic in knowing that sometimes life is not always fair, but it is possible to overcome it with the right planning.

Juggling the family finances and retirement savings can be hard, everyone struggles with it at some point, but it is not impossible. With the useful advice provided to you here, you can help make sure that your goals of achieving financial independence, providing a good life for your family, and having long term goals for your retirement are well within reach.

Review: L’Oreal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray

I spend quite a bit each year on disguising my grey roots.  I always joke that I’ve no idea what my true hair colour is because nobody’s seen it for years!

When I was young, it was the lovely reddy gold colour that Ieuan has now but I actually think my real colour now is a dark brown, almost black with the odd grey.

A while ago I had the chance to try L’Oreal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray and I chose the brown shade to test. If I had to choose again, I’d select a colour that matches my hair dye rather than my natural hair colour for a better match.

root concealer spray - L'Oreal Paris Magic Retouch in brown

The product comes in a little spray can which promises enough contents for up to 30 applications. The product is also supposed to last until you wash it out.

The size of the can makes it ideal to slip into your makeup bag or handbag.

I got the husband to apply the spray for me down my centre parting (cue much shouting of “keep still”) and it took two good blasts of the spray to cover the roots.

The greys are also a lot less visible with just those couple of sprays.

As I’ve already mentioned, the only issue I have is that I chose the shade to match my roots but this does not blend in with my dyed hair.  I would have been better off selecting the dark blonde shade and plan to give this a try.

If the dark blonde shade gives as good a coverage as the brown one I tested then I think I could extend the time between salon colour appointments by a good couple of weeks.

My usual salon offers a root touch up service where your roots can be dyed literally down your centre parting and you have the choice of either paying for a wash and blow-dry or going home and washing it off yourself.

The charge for this is around the £10-£15 mark (the wash & blow-dry is extra of course) but you do have to find the time to get to the salon.  Not so easy with the kids in tow – and impossible now we’re still in Lockdown thanks to COVID-19!

This does, of course, hide all the roots and the greys but, aside from the expense, not everyone enjoys going to the hairdresser, do they?

The Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray, on the other hand, retails at £5.99 for 75 ml in Boots or on Amazon and comes in 5 shades – Light Blonde, Dark Blonde, Brown, Dark Brown and Black. You can also buy a 150 ml bottle – the XL version for around £9.30.

And, as you can see, it does a pretty respectable job with, if not total grey/root coverage, almost total.

If you want to eek out your salon colour and possibly save yourself some money into the bargain, I think this particular root concealer product is well worth a try.  Even if you don’t get quite the right shade the first time around, even buying a second can of Magic Retouch means you’re likely to be quids in on what your hair salon would charge.

That said, I’d still rate L’Oreal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray as an ’emergency’ product for those times when you want to look groomed and you just haven’t got the time or cash to go to the salon.

I’d certainly class Lockdown as an emergency scenario when it comes to hiding those grey hairs!