Staging Your Home for Agent Photoshoots: Ten Simple Tips

In case you decided to sell your home and move on, you want to get your house sold as soon as possible. The first step of getting people through the door is making sure that the photos created by your agent or their photographer show the best features of the property. Leave the technical details to the experts, but make sure you stage your home in a way that the photos help you sell it.

Get the Lighting Right

For a good photo, you will need to have enough natural light. Look at the weather forecast, and schedule your appointment for a day when the sun is likely to shine. Make sure that the photographer turns up when you get the sun shining through the front windows, as this way your home will appear to be lighter and larger on the pictures. You might also want to check with the photographer whether or not they need some lights on or off, to make the most out of your pictures. Get Gorgeous Ready Made Curtains | Montgomery designs to control the light in every room and create a matching style before the photos are taken. The more natural light you can use, the better your home will look on the brochure.

Declutter

If you have an office in the corner of the living room, it is time to hide the computer and the files. Make sure that your potential buyers or tenants can see plenty of empty space on the photo and put their imagination into work, thinking about arranging their own furniture. If you have old unsightly items in the house, it might be time to pay a visit to the local recycling centre or the charity shop. Don’t display old personal mugs in the kitchen either, and consider removing your kids’ paintings from the fridge temporarily too. Create a sterile and fresh look for the brochure, without your footsteps being visible on the images.

Get Rid of Personal Items

You don’t want your letters, certificates, diploma, or anything else displayed on the walls that gives out too much about you. People generally make judgments about the homeowner, and you don’t want people to know your true identity, unless they are signing the agreement. Keep your own and your children’s information safe. Not all people who will turn up on viewings or look at photos are potential buyers. Some of them are simply other homeowners looking for ideas or comparing your home to theirs. Stay out of the pictures as much as you can.

Absolutely No Pet Beds

Most buyers and potential tenants are discouraged by seeing a dog bed or a cat tree in the middle of the picture. Even if they are animal lovers, displaying these items can look unprofessional for them. If someone has pet hair allergies, they will simply not turn up, even if you clean your home thoroughly before viewings. Try to make all the reminders of current residents disappear before the pictures are taken, including the four-legged family members.

Tidy Up Your Kitchen

Stock image. Uncluttered spotless kitchen.

You will need to make your kitchen look organized and new. If you have to, move some of your small electricals into the garage or the garden shed to make your kitchen look bigger, do so. If you display your utensils and cups on the counter, and have a knife stand, you can move it somewhere else while the photos are being taken. Don’t move your larger appliances, such as your fridge, microwave, kettle, and toaster, but make sure that you are not giving the images the impression that the cupboards are not large enough to hold everything.

Clean and Empty Your Bathroom

Make your tiles in the kitchen and bathroom shiny, and remove any mats, blinds, and personal items. Your potential buyers or tenants would like to see the house in the state they will move in, and the fewer items you have on display the bigger your rooms will look. Get rid of the towels and the bathrobes, along with the cosmetic products, toothpaste, and toothbrush, so you can show the bathroom as an empty canvas. Pay attention to the grouts, as they can go grey or black in the bathroom, and if this shows in the pictures, your potential buyers will assume you have a mould problem and will not consider booking a viewing.

Take Furniture Away

In case you have too much furniture, your rooms will look smaller than they really are. Anything that looks out of place should be stored in the garage, or even in a self storage facility until the viewings are over, and you can get moving. Anything that is too old or looks tired can be removed. Even if you got an armchair from your grandmother and you don’t want to part from it, you can still relocate it temporarily. Look through the colour scheme of each room and search for items that don’t look right. Keep the design simple, and don’t distract your potential buyers or tenants by too many details, as this will make it harder for them to think clearly about their plans and future interior design.

Add Plants

Plants make your house look homely, and they are portable, so people looking at your property’s brochure will not think that they are going to take their space away. Adding a bit of greenery makes the pictures seem brighter and friendlier. Have a flower bouquet displayed in the window and decorate your mantelpiece with small green plants, such as cactuses. Anything that is small and has a decorative value can be a positive addition to the picture, and anything that looks out of place, too big, or old should go. As a general rule, try to have one plant in each room; either by the window, the sideboard, or the table.

Move Your Lamps

You might want to move your temporary lights and lamps when you have your picture taken for a better lighting solution. You need to consult with your agent or photographer about the optimum locations. You might be asked to move the bedside lights away, so the room looks larger. Bedroom sizes matter for potential buyers, so you have to do anything you can to make the space appear larger. You will also have to potentially change the direction of your spotlights in the kitchen and the landing, depending on where your photographer is taking the pictures from.

Make the Beds

Stock image. Tidy bedroom with made bed.

There is nothing more disappointing for potential buyers than a messy bed. You will need to make your bedroom look as if it was a hotel room designed to impress visitors. Get rid of hair, cat hair, and don’t leave any clothes out. Open the curtains and make them look symmetrical, allow natural light to enter. Leave some soft furnishing in the room, to make it look comfortable and cosy.

In Summary…

The secret to staging your home for the sales or rental brochure is to know and understand your target market. Talk to your agent or research the market to make sure you are not focusing on the wrong audience. Remove unnecessary clutter from the house, as less is more. Add some greenery and light, and do the spring cleaning. Take your personality out of the house, and allow your potential buyers to imagine their own designs in your space. Focus on soft furnishing, and make your home look bigger by removing furniture. Make sure that you don’t leave any sign of pets in the house when your photographer turns up.

* This is a collaborative post.

PalmistryHD: Review of Palm Reading and Horoscope App

Are you a fan of reading your horoscope or do you think it’s a load of nonsense? What about other forms of fortune telling? I have to say, I am abit of a sceptic about such things!

Don’t get me wrong, I am very spiritual and believe that our universe has amazing mystical powers. I also realise that humans only use a small percentage of our brains, so we do not even begin to fulfill the potential of what we could achieve with our minds. Therefore, I firmly believe that some individuals are capable of things that others aren’t – or, more accurately, are more tuned into certain abilities that we all possess but do not access – such as telepathy and psychic awareness for example, as well as the more basic sixth sense that comes from a strong intuition. But I feel that some types of fortune telling, such as horoscopes, are just too generalised and gimicky.

However, I do find the whole subject fascinating. And I am definitely open- minded and curious about it all. So when I found out about the new PalmistryHD app I must admit I was quite intrigued and wanted to give it a try!

The app can be downloaded on both IOS and android. It does a basic palm reading for free and for a charge of £11.99 it can go into more detail. It also has a daily horoscope section too.

Screenshot of Palmistry HD app showing palm reading and daily horoscope options.

I tried out the free palmistry feature of the app (android version). It was very quick and easy to use, it literally only took a few seconds. The instructions were very straightforward and easy to follow too.

A screenshot of the palm reading app

I found the results an interesting read. I think some of the reading rang quite true but I do also remain somewhat cynical to be honest, as I suspect that perhaps alot of things stated are vague and general enough that they can be interpreted in whatever context the reader chooses and can relate it to. Here is a short excerpt from my personal palm reading…

Screenshot of an excerpt from my personal palm reading results.

I have only tried out the app on myself and, to be honest, I do also wonder how unique my reading is. In other words, if a handful of people tested all it out, would we all get entirely different results? I don’t know the answer to this but I would be keen to find out. However, the app is abit of fun and some people might find it insightful potentially. Why not download the free version of the app and decide for yourself!

Here is a YouTube video that explains more about how palmistry works:

What do you think about it? I would love to hear your opinions!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Five Fabulous Reasons To Go Skiing

I have a confession. I am 38 and have never been skiing. It was never high on my list of my priorities to be honest. (Although I suspect this might be because my parents tried to convince me I wouldn’t like it when I was growing up, due to the expense!) However, Squiggle has asked me several times to go skiing and it has got me thinking… am I missing out? More to the point, I don’t want her to miss out; surely I should provide her with the opportunity to try it out if she desires? So I asked some friends and fellow bloggers why they love skiing and what the benefits are. And it would appear there are several great reasons to go skiing…

5 fabulous reasons to go skiing title with beautiful scenic picture of skiing underneath.

THE VIEWS!!!!

This has to be at the top of the list. It was an almost unanimous response from everyone who was asked what they love most about skiing. And I can understand why. You only have to google the word skiing to see a whole mass of phenomenal scenic photos. Who could resist those glorious picturesque views?

“The views are incredible, the air is so incredibly fresh, the sound of skis on fresh powdery snow is one of a kind and I love how skiing makes you feel so free and exhilarated!” ~ Hello Baby Blog

It’s An All- Inclusive Sport

I am sure we all know why doing any sport is good for us and carries a range of benefits; certainly I have written before about why sports are so important. Skiing however, as a sport has its own unique benefits. As Blissful Domestication points out, it is a sport you can take part in just once a year and still improve on!

It is also good for SEND children (and adults), as Tickets, Passports, Kids explains: “I believe it’s rather sensory… I believe the snow takes the edge off the sounds he hears, plus the helmet makes everything quieter. I believe he hears the world so loudly, that the snow makes it easier for him to hear. Plus, it’s not a team sport.” Indeed, I can see exactly why it might be so beneficial for some autistic people for these reasons.

As I read and speak to people about it more, I do notice that whilst skiing and other snow sports might not seem like obviously the most SEND-friendly sport to take part in by nature, in reality it is quite advanced in its level of awareness and is therefore very accomodating; alot of effort has been made to make adjustments and adapt the sport to meet a wide range of needs and disabilities. (This is a generalisation of course, as with anything, individual’s experiences will vary greatly).

In summary, skiing is an inclusive sport that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Awesome!

Skiier skiing down mountain slope with beautiful scenic snow mountains in background.

The Recreational Side of Skiing

Another popular reason to go skiing is actually not about the activity itself; people often value the recreational aspect of it just as much. Cosy evenings in together, sharing a bottle of wine whilst surrounded by breathtaking views or enjoying a hot chocolate in the open air – there is far more to skiing than just… skiing! It is even a good opportunity to make new friends too!

Travel Opportunities

Having a passion for skiing also then sparks the desire to travel to ski resorts in beautiful new locations that you might otherwise not have a chance to visit. Travelling for a specific purpose, such as skiing, offers a great incentive to get saving for the next trip!

Life is an Adventure

Last but not least, skiing is an adventure! Discovering new places, trying new activities, exploring new locations… it is all part of the wonder and excitement of living life to the full! And there is no better reason to give it a try than that!

A close up picture of a skiier skiing on snow

Things To Consider

Skiing can be expensive but even if you can’t afford to go to a fancy ski resort, there are lots of indoor snow centres around where you can still take part in the activity on real snow. Some people like to try it out or have a few lessons before their first ski trip, so it might be worth checking if there is one near you. Of course, there are still dry ski slopes around too as another alternative. I hear some people say this doesn’t quite compare to skiing on real snow, which I can imagine is very true. But it is another option nonetheless.

In most places there is equipment available to hire. But even if it doesn’t become a serious hobby, you will still need some essentials in order to be dressed for the weather, so of course you will need to invest in the right gear! If you are looking to buy ski clothes and accessories, Simply Hike have a lovely range of ski wear and accessories, including some gorgeous womens ski jackets. Don’t forget those googles too!

A lady (blogger Kiki Blah Blah) standing outside in the snow in her ski outfit.
Kiki Blah Blah

Happy skiing!

Thanks to The Money Whisperer, All About A Mummy, Pink Pear Bear, Kiki Blah Blah and Truly Madly Kids for your helpful insights and contributions to this post.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What’s So Amazing About Menstrual Cups? A Guest Post by Jackie Bolen

Here’s something that I have some serious regret about…

Not knowing about menstrual cups until I was in my early 30’s. I’m not sure how I didn’t figure it out until then. Maybe I wasn’t hanging around the eco-friendly crowd, or maybe it was that menstrual cups weren’t so popular back then. Whatever it was, I’m happy that I did eventually hear about them from a friend of mine. I went out and immediately bought a Diva Cup, and have been using it ever since.

I do regret all those wasted year though. Imagine how much money I could have saved, and how much trash I could have not thrown out?

I’m going to share with you what’s so amazing about menstrual cups, and offer some advice if you’d like to make the switch yourself.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What's So Amazing About Mooncups? Image of 4 confident womens silhouettes against a sunset background.

More Money in the Bank at the End of the Month

I’m sure you know this already, but disposable pads and tampons are expensive! I know that I always feel a bit of sticker shock every single time I walk down that aisle at the drugstore. According to the Huffington Post, people spend an average of 13 pounds a month on feminine hygiene products. That’s a lot, especially considering that it’s an expense we incur every single month for around 40 years.

In the UK, tampons and sanitary towels are taxed at a rate of 5%. This has changed a few times during the last 40 years, but it’s currently at the lowest rate possible. It’s still too much.

Although menstrual cups cost around 20 pounds, they can last for years with proper care and cleaning. The best news is that you’ll recoup your costs in only a couple of months, when compared to disposable pads or tampons.

Less Waste Going to the Landfill

Estimates vary, but it’s thought that the average person uses between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons during their lifetime, resulting in 100-200 kg of waste from sanitary products. A portion of this waste is plastic which is not biodegradable. Although tampons and pads are not a big part of the larger waste problem, this is waste that can be avoided by making the switch to a menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups generally last for 5-10 years, so over a lifetime, a person will need only 4-8 of them. This is significantly less waste than thousands of pads and tampons. And there’s more good news—depending on where you live, menstrual cups can often be recycled.

Reduce your Exposure to Chemicals

Pads and tampons often contain trace amounts of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Manufacturing companies aren’t exactly upfront about what’s in their products, and legislators have been slow to require this. Although there are no long-term studies about what effects these chemicals have, it’s thought that exposure to them might be linked to things as serious as cancer.

I hope that governments will pass legislation that requires companies to disclose what’s in pads or tampons, and/or companies will work to eliminate these harmful things. In the meantime, it makes sense to use a menstrual cup instead.

As long as you get a top-quality cup (avoid the cheap ones from China), it’s made from medical grade silicone that is safe to use inside your body. It will not leak chemicals into your bloodstream and you’ll be able to have a safer period experience.

No Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

To date, there has been one reported case of Toxic Shock Syndrome that resulted from using a menstrual cup. With tampons, there are thousands of cases every year. Menstrual cups are not without risks, but it seem that the risk of this very serious condition is far lower than when using tampons.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Are you ready to have a cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly period? Then it’s time to consider choosing menstrual cups instead of disposable pads or tampons.

If you live in the UK, an excellent place to start is the MoonCup. It’s a company based in Brighton that makes one of the most popular menstrual cups in the world. MoonCup has been around for years, and people that try the cup really seem to love it.

You can buy the MoonCup directly from the cup for around 20 pounds, and shipping is free in the UK. Check it out here: MoonCup’s Website.

Image of hand holding mooncup with box and bag also in photo. Photo by Dylan and Me.Image Credit: Dylan and Me

Author Bio

Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found on top of a mountain, paddling the rivers, or drinking coffee around Vancouver, Canada. She hopes that one day, a menstrual cup will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. This has the potential to make it a much better place.

*This is a guest post.

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Rainwater Harvesting: Advantages for Your Home and Garden

It need not be said that water is an essential resource for all of us. We can live without a day of electricity, and there are many undeveloped places in the world that make do without its convenience; but everyone in the world, regardless of where they are, needs water. It is a necessity to all life.

Some of us are privileged to have instant and convenient access to water anytime we want. But not all of us appreciate this privilege; in fact, a lot of us take it for granted. We think all the water that we have at our fingertips -literally – is unlimited. But it’s not. Already, certain parts of the world are experiencing drought, and if we remain heedless about how we consume our water supply, this drought will become a global problem.

It becomes crucial then that we find ways on how to save on our water usage. For one thing, we should fix leaks around the house, as leaks are one of the top causes of wastefulness in the home. You might think all those drips don’t amount to anything, but over time, they accumulate to a sizable quantity of water. How sizable? Approximately ten thousand gallons per year. So get in touch with a professional plumber and stop those leaks before they give you problems.

Another thing you can do is to upgrade the faucets and showerheads in your household to more modern and more efficient ones. For instance, when brushing your teeth, do you really need a faucet with a really strong, pressurized flow? You are much better off with a low-pressure flow for these activities.

Finally, the practice of harvesting rainwater can help to cut down your monthly water consumption as well as your bills. Rainwater harvesting is the habit of making use of one of nature’s free resources – rain – and harnessing it for our own various household uses. This practice can bring about several advantages for your home and garden…

Rainwater Harvesting: Advantages for Your Home and Garden title with image

It reduces the risks of soil erosion and flooding.

This sustainable habit can benefit the environment in a lot of ways. For one, it can help to prevent erosion around your property as well as reduce storm water runoff. It can also decrease incidences of flooding in your area. In incidents of a torrential downpour, there’s a lot of excess rainwater that doesn’t get soaked into the ground and only ends up flooding your area. It would be much better if you made use of this water instead.

It reduces your water bills.

Harvesting rainwater can also help you reduce your monthly water consumption. Imagine if you were to use rainwater for your various household needs and tasks like doing the laundry and washing your car. You would not need to consume that much water from your tap like you normally do. Ultimately, you get to save on your water bills each month.

It can give you a backup supply.

There may come a time when your water supply gets cut off due to various reasons, like when the water company is doing major repairs or when there is simply a drought in your area and your community needs to ration their water use. In these instances, the rainwater you harvested can serve as a useful and necessary backup supply.

It eases the demand for ground water.

Although the Earth is covered with water for about 71 percent of its surface, more than 96 percent of that water is ocean-based and thus is unusable. Disregarding inaccesible fresh water found in icecaps and glaciers, we thus only have access to 1 percent ground water. Consider the fact that entire Earth population relies on this 1 percent and you can realize the extreme demand that is continually put on our limited supply. Once we start harnessing the power of rain, we can greatly reduce the demand that our population exacts on ground water.

Rainwater can be used for a variety of purposes.

We use water in our household for a variety of purposes, such as doing the laundry, washing the dishes, bathing and showering, flushing the toilets, washing the car, watering our plants, among many. All these tasks require a large amount of water in total every single day. While rainwater is the softest kind of water there is, it is also versatile in that you can use it for all these different purposes. Because it has no chemicals, it is better for your hair and skin and your plants and it also requires lesser amounts of detergents when washing clothes and dishes.

Now that you know all about the advantages that rainwater harvesting can bring about for your home and garden, you might want to invest in quality containers that a reputable company like Rain Water Tanks provides. Just a little cost upfront will help you save a lot on your water consumption and bills in the future.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post.

Fun Ways to Get Children Active Outdoors

In this day and age, children have grown up with technology. Smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and instant access to the internet is completely normal to them – meaning it’s a different world from when we grew up. While technology is fantastic, it does mean it can be difficult to get kids outdoors. When they have the world at their fingertips they’re less interested in running around outdoors than previous generations have been. But it’s so important to get them away from their devices and outside, learning about the real world and what matters. Here’s how you can go about it…

 Fun Ways to Get Children Active Outdoors title with image of child throwing leaves

Get Them Involved in the Garden

Gardening is an active hobby, and also teaches children patience. It shows if you work hard now, something fantastic will grow later on. It shows them the importance of daily care and nurturing of the garden, helping to develop empathy for the natural world around them. They will also learn about things like soils, types of crops, fertiliser and much more.

Since the growing season is relatively short in most places, it’s worth investing in a greenhouse to stretch this out as long as possible. If you have an old dilapidated one in your back garden, you could bring it back to life with some new sheeting for your greenhouse and a good clean. Choose some crops that are easy to grow in your climate zone, and then work your way up to more difficult ones. Children are more likely to try foods that they’ve grown too, so could be a good way to encourage healthier eating.

Take Them Camping

Camping is a cheap and cheerful vacation that all the family can enjoy, and is a great way to get kids outdoors. From putting up tents to building dens, and generally running around and having fun, it’s a great way to get kids outdoors and away from their screens without it feeling like a chore. You could stay in a tent, an RV or more of a glamping experience in a ‘pod’- check out local campsites and see what kind of things are available. If you go away with friends and their children it could be a fun bonding experience too.

Two children outdoors studying something on the ground next to a pond.

Go on Hikes

Hiking is a great way to keep your family fit; even if you have younger children you could simply pick an easier hiking trail. You get to observe nature, you could print out fun worksheets from Pinterest and do a fun nature trail, take photos or look at birds and wildlife through binoculars. You could collect items such as feathers, pine cones and interesting pebbles, then use them to craft with later on. Or see if your local area does rock hunting even!

Make these walks fun, keep the conversation light and upbeat, and encourage them to really get into it. Even during the colder months, simply wrap up warm and wear wellies to keep your feet dry. If you have a dog you could take them along too, or alternatively you could all take your bikes out and follow biking trails instead.

Find An Outdoor Sport Or Hobby

There are lots of outdoor sports and hobbies that encourage children to have fun outdoors. From water sports and team games, to geogaching or traditional orienteering, there are many examples of lovely activities that will inspire children to spend time outside.

Another example is fishing; this isn’t just a fun hobby, there’s plenty that it can teach children. One of the main being patience, this isn’t a skill many children (or adults for that matter) are blessed with, and it’s something that could come in useful to them throughout their lives. Learning that good things come to those who wait and practicing calm and patience during uncertainty is a fantastic lesson.

*This is a collaborative post.

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety

This post has been written at the request of Squiggle. She specifically asked for advice from other children, for dealing with stress and anxiety, and strategies to help her to relax. We do alot of work on this already and have lots of strategies in our toolkit. But sometimes you just need fresh ideas, or to hear them from someone else! So here are some tips for kids, by kids…

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety. Title written on image of child smelling flowers in a sunny field.

Keep a gratitude jar or list where you write positives, achievements and things you are grateful for to look at when you feel low. ~ Nomipalony

Kids self-help books can be really useful. As can therapy apps. I have written about these here.

My nine year old said a spa day – I feel I’ve taught him well! ~ Twinderelmo

My 3.5 yo just said going outside makes him happy – so guess he’s right, everyone in our family loves to be outside, being close to nature. It’s also proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels. No wonder all kids love to be outside! ~ Captainbobcat

Writing and drawing her own stories helps to alleviate anxiety.

My six year old daughter says spending time with loved ones and her animals makes her happy, relaxed and feel lucky and appreciated. Particularly dog walking and exploring new countryside areas. ~ Family Travel With Ellie

My twelve year-old suggests putting a nice film on and then fall asleep with a blanket. ~ Edinburgh With Kids

My son says to do some mindful breathing! ~ Pink Pear Bear

Music – whether it is singing, dancing, listening to it or playing it – is very therapeutic.

My children have both said reading, they like to read before bed and I have found them with books in their hands while fast asleep… they are 7 and 6. ~ Mummy Cat Notes

I write a reasons to be cheerful post everyday on my Facebook page ~ Monkey Footed Mummy

Yoga with the kids! I have 5 and 7 year old boys and even though their attention span on yoga is about ten minutes, it is ten minutes of calm and recentering before we’re onto the next crazy activity. Well worth giving it a shot. ~ Motherhood Diaries

My 5 year old said to eat lots of chocolate! ~ Five Little Doves

Treating yourself can really help, as long as the child understands the need for balance and to moderate.

My 8 year old suggests going to your room and finding your favourite music. Then dance until you feel better! ~ Household Money Saving

My nearly 7 year old has struggled with anxiety over the last few months. We’ve introduced a ‘worry bag’. Every day, she takes a few minutes to write down any of her anxieties on pieces of paper. The paper goes into the worry bag at bedtime and we put the worry bag away. Then once every few days (can be more or less frequent depending on how she’s feeling) we open up the worry bag, and go through all the worries, and work out how to manage each worry. We throw each worry away once we’ve tackled it.

She’s found this really helpful, and is sleeping better and is happier at school as a result. I think the symbolism of writing the worries down, putting them away / throwing them away once we’ve tackled them really seems to help. ~ The Mum Conundrum

Incase anyone else relates to this or finds this information useful, my daughter finds writing down her problems distinctly unhelpful. She described it as making them even more concrete and real. I included the advice anyway because I think it is generally a great strategy for the majority of children and her reaction/ way of looking at it is very rare!

Our 8 year old says, “music, reading and being with her pets” helps her to relax and chill out. ~ Virtually Allsorts

Child sat outside on the grass in sunshine reading a book.

My daughter (10) likes to read her favourite books and escape into imaginary worlds through them. ~ Starlight and Stories

My son likes to draw and paint so he takes the pen or paint brush whenever he feels stressed. It let him pour out his emotions through art expression. ~ My Parenting Journey

Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy mind.

Playing outside or going for a walk. Great for kids and grown ups alike. In my teens I always put on headphones and laid in bed listening to music to relax. Always slept with my headphones on. Also, hugging someone you love. ~ Mum of 2 point 5

My son gets very anxious alot due to his autism. When he is like that, he loves to organise his train collection! Anything to feel he is in control and it relaxes him. Also, we read books about different feelings to help him understand why he is feeling how he is. Lastly, he says playing football in the park helps him alot! ~ Mother Gets Lippy

When you feel like it’s bubbling up inside, try and stop yourself, close your eyes, take a very deep breath (or two) and see if that changes your immediate response to a situation. If you manage to do it often in the day, you find yourself being more positive or receptive to life’s everyday situations. Hard to do at first, but it can become a (good) habit! ~ Mind Your Mamma

Self-care, including healthy eating and plenty of exercise, really helps.

I just asked my five year old and he suggested Netflix and a duvet with chocolate fingers! From Mammys perspective I find his interest in sports is which causes him to be less stressed, that coupled with minimal screen time; I find it drives them wild! ~ The Mamma Fairy

My 7 year old daughter says bubble bath and quiet time. She loves being by herself to block out noise and just chill out! ~ Country Heart and Home

Totally immerse yourself into a hobby. It can be absolutely anything, from crafts to music, to baking or sports. Getting better at something and seeing the results of your efforts help gain perspective and a more positive outlook on life overall. ~ How To Rock At Parenting

Thank you to all the children who contributed to this post!

Blog Self – Assessment: Blog Highs and Lows of 2017

Happy 2018 everybody! I am a little late writing this post now, as it is a reflection of 2017 that I intended to write just before the new year began. However I took a much needed rest from blogging this past week so I am just catching up on this now!

I was tagged by Rambling Through Parenthood to complete this blog self- assessment; a fun way to reflect on my blogging achievements from the past year. Here it is…

Blog Self - Assessment: Blog Highs and Lows of 2017

Posts Published

I published 270 posts last year. That is actually more than I thought, not bad going!

Top-performing Post

My Sylvanian Families Cake Shop Review went down extremely well – I suspect that is also because there was a lovely giveaway involved too!

Post That was Difficult to Write

I tend to find posts more difficult to write generally if I haven’t posted in a few days. Also when I am sleep deprived, and Squiggle is finding life difficult, it is hard to find the motivation. So for me personally, it tends to be other factors that make writing difficult at times, rather than the post itself!

Post I Hope Will Make A Difference

I would say any of my mental health posts, but in particular the one I wrote for Mental Health Awareness Week about anxiety.

Post That Struck a Chord

Aside from the anxiety post that I mentioned above, I really enjoyed finding out about Grace’s Scuba Diving story. I also loved writing the #RefuseTheStraw campaign post, because it is something I feel passionate about.

Post That Fell Flat On Its Face

I wouldn’t say any posts really fell flat (well, hopefully not anyway!) because it isn’t always just about numbers – if the post was read by someone who found it useful or it struck a chord with, then that has made a difference and served a purpose.

Surprise of the Year

I have had several lovely opportunities this past year that came as a very welcome nice surprise!

Have you done a blog self- assessment for 2017?

Over to you Tantrums To Smiles, Jaki Jellz, Dot Makes 4, Mrs Mummy Harris, Bumps Babies Tots and Teens Mummy Diaries, Mummy Cat Notes, Better Together Home and The Growing Mum.

Happy New Year 2018 everyone!

Christmas Tag #2

Wow… Christmas is done for another year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas; whether it was fun-filled and chaotic, or quiet and peaceful – I hope it was whatever type you wished for!

I have been tagged in the Christmas Tag post again, this time by The Pram Shed. I have copied my answers from last year, as there is no point in rewriting the same responses obviously. But let’s see if anything has changed! Here we go…

Christmas Tag #2 title on a Christmas themed background with candy canes and sweets.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Last year: Love Actually. I have already watched it several times this month! I used to love Santa Claus: The Movie when I was a child. The bit where the reindeer finally does the super duper looper to save the kid always made me cry bucket loads. Every. Single. Time.

This year: Same answer but I have just watched The Holiday and I love that too!

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Last year: Not that I can remember. Perhaps when I was a child, maybe? I’m not sure.

This year: I had a quick google at old data and it would appear I might well have had a white Christmas in the early 80s when I was a young child.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?

Last year: At home. I have never been away for Christmas. When I was a child we used to go round to visit my grandparents on Christmas day but they were local (well, same county anyway!) But that’s the furthest I have ever been for Christmas lol!

This year: Same answer. I am not sure how I feel about being away for Christmas – part of me suspects it wouldn’t feel quite right but part of me would love to! I don’t think it would suit Squiggle though to be honest.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Last year: Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

This year: Yup. That’s the one!

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Last year: Of course not, how could we? Santa won’t have been yet! 😉

This year: No, but we did buy some wish list items ahead of Christmas this time because Squiggle finds the anticipation challenging (to put it mildly!)

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Last year: In a word… no! Erm, Rudolph obviously. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Blitzen…  How many are there? Oops, I think I just failed the parent test. Oh dear….

This year: As above then there is also Donna, Comet and erm… argh!!!

Which holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

Last year: Making our gingerbread house together on Christmas eve.

This year: As above. But I miss my own childhood traditions to be honest. Visiting my grandparent’s on Christmas day afternoon – a home filled with all our family – happily surrounded by many cousins of different ages, all playing games and opening presents together. Memories filled with so much life, laughter and love. They were a stark contrast to the very quiet, low key Christmas we have now, to try to make it work better for Squiggle. Times change and we grow older, of course. But I do look back on those days with both fond memories and a wistful longing too.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

Last year: Fake. It’s child size, blue and decorated by an 8 year old. What could be better than that? (Do not answer that! 😂)

This year: Same tree. This time decorated by a 9 year old!

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?

Last year: I can’t think of a specific answer to this really. But I loved the vegan meal we had last night for our Christmas do, it was delicious!

This year: I haven’t really had any. I do keep meaning to buy some vegan Baileys though, that used to be my Christmas tipple.

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?

Last year: Giving. Honest answer.

This year: Still giving.

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?

Last year: Anything from my daughter!

This year: Not a Christmas present, but my daughter making me a cuddly toy version of herself definitely has to be the absolute cutest gift ever!

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

Last year: New York would be high on my list, definitely.

This year: I would still love to visit New York. But I am also going to say Iceland.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

Last year: Terrible, I fail miserably. I hate it and I suck at it. Fact.

This year: Yeah, same answer!

Most memorable Christmas moment?

Last year: There are lots of memorable moments! My daughter spotting ‘Santa’s sleigh’ in the sky for the first time a few years back, that was magical!

This year: I think memories from my own childhood are up there too. But yes, as I said last year, lots of memories with Squiggle.

What made you realise the truth about Santa?

Last year: I have no idea what you’re talking about… 😉

This year: 

What makes the holidays special for you?

Last year: Spending time with family.

This year: This is a weird one. Because actually I enjoy spending time with my family anytime and haven’t done so any more, or differently, over the holidays. So I am finding it hard to relate now to my own answer from a year ago. But that’s ok. I guess I was feeling differently then!

My answer this time is going to different places to see all the Christmassy-ness. (Nope probably not a word! But anyway!!!)

So there you have it! Whilst most answers are pretty much the same, I have tried to do my homework abit more this year lol! And I am feeling somewhat nostalgic over my own childhood Christmas memories too.

Now over to ISABLOG, Peacocks Can Fly, Tantrums To Smiles, All About A Mummy and Spinnin’ Plates to tell us your answers! I look forward to reading them…

Merry Christmas, everyone! xxx