resources and tools to manage your family finances

14 resources and tools to manage your family finances

Keeping on top of your family finances is no picnic!   With mounting bills and expenses, rising prices and debts, it’s easy to get stressed out.

To take the stress out of managing your family finances, what you need are the right tools and resources.

Whether you’re looking for apps, podcasts or websites, you’ll find all the great advice you need right here.

Apps to manage your finances 

1 . Spending Tracker 

Spending Tracker is a type of personal finance app, helping users to save money and create a workable budget. With the Spending Tracker app, you can monitor your budget on a yearly, monthly or weekly basis. It’s simple to check out your spending history, export transactions, and keep a log of your income. Users can organize transactions by the date, amount, or name. The app also offers interactive charts and reports to give you an overall picture of your spending habits. With a spending tracker, you can put a fixed budget in place, and carry extra funds over to the following period. If you’re looking to reduce monthly expenses for your family, Spending Tracker is a great tool. 

 

2. Mvelopes 

Mvelopes is a budget system based on the concept of ‘digital envelopes’. The envelopes represent different categories for your budgets. It’s easy to customize these envelopes, track your transactions, and assess how much you’re spending. With the Mvelopes app, you can manage your debts, and prevent yourself from overspending. It’s simple to sync transactions, view your accounts, and save. The app helps you to access an accurate budget, with info on exactly how much you have left to spend.

 

3. Mint 

Mint is one of the leading finance apps, and it’s just perfect for family finances.

With Mint, you can link all your accounts in one place, and even get your credit score. The app separates your spending, using various categories, supporting you to create a budget that works. If you happen to have an investment portfolio, you can also view this directly in the app. To start saving money, Mint is a fantastic tool; here you’ll get savings tips, helping you to improve your credit, budget and savings. With Mint it’s simple to reach your financial goals and keep track of your net worth too.

 

4. Clarity Money

Clarity Money is an excellent app for saving money and budgeting your family finances. Using this application users can track their spending, and manage their money with ease. Clarity Money also allows you to access your credit score, supporting you to visualize your finances. It’s a free tool which uses AI to assess your finances and make handy budgeting suggestions. With Clarity Money, you can make changes to your savings, investments, and savings. Budgeting is one of the most important aspects of improving your family finances. Without a proper budget in place it’s impossible to keep track of your finances and make savings.

 

5. Wally 

Wally is a budgeting application which can support you to make savings and monitor your spending. Using Wally, you can track your earnings, set up frequent payments, create groups, or organize your joint account. The app allows you to create personalized categories to design a budget that works for you. With Wally, you can access two years of history, to assess your spending patterns. Using the application, you can seek to improve your net worth, track your balances, and organize your foreign currency.

 

 

Podcasts for financial tips

6. It’s Your Money

Tune into the ‘It’s Your Money’ podcast to get all the latest info from financial journalists Sam Broadbeck and Laura Miller. The show includes plenty of interesting conversations about money, including improving your career, retirement, family finances and student loans. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to invest your money, yet you’re not sure where to start? If so, Laura and Sam have got all the investment tips you need. Whether you want a ‘non boring guide to insurance’ or money-saving travel hacks, you’ll learn plenty here!

 

7. So Money

Renowned financial strategist Farhoosh Torabi created the ‘So Money’ podcast. Be sure to check it out for some winning money strategies, brought to you by business minds, Influencers, and ordinary people. Expect to hear about a wide range of topics including saving money, passive cash flows, starting a business, or getting out of credit card debt. Each show includes plenty of inspirational stories, with insightful philosophies, failures and successes. Looking to get back on your feet after a financial setback? Want the lowdown on money and relationships? The ‘So Money’ podcast has got you covered!

 

8. The Dave Ramsey Show

The Dave Ramsey Show is a top financial podcast, helping listeners to take control of their money. Here you’ll get plenty of straight-talking advice on money and on life! Every week millions of people tune in, to get the financial tips they’ve been searching for. Dave helps people from all walks of life to improve their financial future, and reduce their debts. Recent episode themes have included ‘Don’t Carry More Weight Than Your Bank Account Allows You To,’ and ‘How To Weigh Up The Pros And Cons Of A Job Change.’

 

9. The Financial Well Being Podcast 

The Financial Well Being Podcast is brought to you by financial planners Chris Budd and David Lloyd. It’s a podcast about money and happiness, and how the two can work in harmony. Lately, the guys have explored topics such as ‘mental well being and money,’ ‘well being in retirement’, and ‘the personal brand’. Many of us have anxieties about money, especially when we are providing for a family. The Financial Well Being podcast will help you learn how to overcome those anxieties and make practical plans for the future.

 

10. Cash Chats

Cash Chats is a podcast by finance expert Andy Webb; if you’re looking for some great advice about how to get clever with your money, Andy’s got the tips that you need. Recent episodes have tackled ideas such as, ‘getting the best price when shopping online’, ‘helping food banks and fighting poverty’, and ‘slashing your energy bills’. Grab a pen and your notebook and get ready to learn some seriously savvy money tips. It’s not always easy to see how you can improve your financial situation; but sometimes, all you need are a few pointers to inspire you.

 

 

Websites for financial advice

11. The Mortgage Calculator 

The Mortgage Calculator UK website is a handy resource, including a mortgage borrowing calculator. Simply input your mortgage amount, interest rate and terms, and press calculate. You’ll access info on your full monthly repayment, interest-only, months, and total interest payable. The site also presents you with a ‘home mortgage repayment’ chart as well as a yearly capital and interest breakdown. Perhaps you’re buying a new home, or remortgaging your current property? If so, Mortgage Calculator UK is a fantastic tool.

 

12. Money-Saving Expert

Martin Lewis created the Money Saving Expert website; here you’ll find money-saving tips across a huge range of categories including household bills, cards and loans, bankings and savings, mortgages and loans and income and budgeting. There are plenty of great articles, covering a variety of topics from ‘Coronavirus Employee Help’, to ‘Cheap Energy Providers’. You can learn all about income tax, Christmas deals, and saving money on family days out. Next time you need a little bit of financial advice, be sure to head on over to Martin’s website.

 

13. Money Magpie

Money Magpie is a ‘self-help money site’, for those who want to improve their financial health. Here you’ll find a plethora of resources for making money, saving money, and managing your money. Find out where you can sell your stuff, and get plenty of ideas about making money online. Whether you’re looking to save money on holidays, travel or tech, Money Magpie has got plenty of ideas. There are lots  of articles to inspire, including, ‘When To Save And When To Splurge’ and ‘9 Things You Can Swap To Save Cash.’ With the Money Magpie website managing your finances no longer has to be complicated.

 

14. The Simple Dollar 

The Simple Dollar is a one-stop-shop for all the financial advice that you’ll ever need. Here you can research your best options in terms of credit cards, investing, banking, and insurance. Want to know which are the best Roth IRA accounts, or the best credit cards? Need advice on COVID-19 financial support, or debt management? Whatever your financial issues are, you can rest assured that The Simple Dollar has the answer. It can be challenging to know where to find the best deals, and with The Simple Dollar, you’ll no longer have to spend ages doing research.

 

To start managing your finances right, it can be helpful to set yourself a few goals. With a goal or two in place, you’ll improve your efforts and give yourself the motivation that you need. Your goals might involve saving, debt, investments or budgeting. Whatever your goals may be it’s useful to set a deadline, to stay on track.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Small changes to save you money

Small changes that can save you money

If you’re looking to save a bit of money, whether it’s because your income has dropped thanks to the coronavirus or because you want to be able to splurge a bit at Christmas, one of the best approaches is to look at all the different little changes you can make.

These little things on their own might not make a huge difference to your finances, but when you add them all up together they can really make an impact.

If you’re not sure where to start though, here are some ideas for small changes you make that can save you some money.

 

Make sure you need what you’re paying for

Spend a bit of time going through your bank account and looking at the direct debits that are going out each month.

It’s possible you’ll find that you’re still paying for something that you don’t really get your money’s worth out of, like a gym membership for example.  Cancelling these sorts of things can save you a nice bit of money each month.

You can then go a step further and look at things like your mobile phone contract.  If you’re nowhere near using up all your call time, messages and data each month then give your network a call and see if you can switch to a tariff that suits you better.

Make sure that you really need and get full use out of everything you pay for, and think about cancelling or reducing things that you don’t get your money’s worth from.

 

Shop around when your insurance is up for renewal

You most likely will have a few different insurance policies that you need to pay for each year.

From car insurance and home contents insurance to care insurance for your pets, these are all things we need but there are often ways to bring the cost down.

The best thing you can do is use a service like protect your family to compare prices when your insurance policy is up for renewal.  This way you can make sure you’re getting the best possible price for what you need.

 

Change the way you shop

I think most of us have already changed the way we shop in one way or another this year, either using online deliveries more or heading to the supermarkets alone where we normally go as a family.

When it comes to food shopping there are other changes you can make that will also help save you some money.

If you’re able to go to the shops yourself then think about switching to a supermarket like Aldi or Lidl that often come out cheaper than the other big supermarkets.

You can also save money by shifting down from brand name products to own-brand ones.

And while there’s no need for panic buying, if you have the space to store things at home you can save some money and build up a little stock of things by buying a few extra of your favourite items when they’re on a special offer.

 

Hopefully these tips will help get you started on saving some money that will soon start to add up.

Do you have any other great money saving tips?

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Light the spark of creativity in your little one

Lighting the spark of creativity in your little one

We all love to see our children find their passions, and we want them to excel at them or to at least explore them with as much energy and depth as their little hearts can muster. But how do you do it right?

Here, we’re going to look at tips to help encourage the spark of creativity in your child, to see what it might grow into with the right help.

 

Try new outlets for them

For a lot of children, they might have a natural creativity that they’re bursting to let out, but they might not have found the way that’s most comfortable for them yet.

As such, you can help them try out new types of art forms, whether it’s finding fun photography projects for them, having a storytelling and writing session with them, or preparing a crafty activity for them to get their hands on at home.

 

Give them room to explore

Sometimes, all you need to do is make sure that your child has the resources that they need, sit them at a desk, and watch them go. To that end, if your child loves drawing and writing, for instance, then little gifts like party bags can come with all of the art supplies they need to go under their own steam for weeks and months to come.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much more than that.

 

Ask if they would like lessons

Some art forms, such as music, are not as easy to get into alone, even with online tutorials and the like. In other cases, your child might already have an interest but want nothing more than to improve their abilities to turn it into a real passion.

Ask if your child would be interested in taking lessons to learn. Don’t pressure them into it and, if they change their mind, accept it. However, many will be glad to jump at the opportunity.

 

Give them what they need to be bored

There is a certain amount of ability to hold one’s attention that is necessary for pursuing any interest. If your child is bored, give them what they need to quell it themselves.

Giving them books to read, music to listen to, art to enjoy can help them explore a dimension within themselves that they haven’t before, which can deepen their appreciation of the arts.

 

Don’t force it

You can always encourage, but you should never force your child to engage creatively when they aren’t feeling it.

It simply doesn’t work that way. If they’re not interested in a certain activity, keep that in mind and try to find those that are closer to what they’re already interested in. There is no easier way to turn a child off a pursuit that they might be curious about

 

Encouraging your child is about being on the same page with them. Don’t try to push them too hard into creative pursuits, simply be there to help usher them along in the same direction they want to go.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

More tricks for a tidy home

5 more little tricks for a tidier house

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about 5 little tricks you can try to get a tidier house, if you’re not a naturally clean and tidy person.

If you liked that post, then hopefully you’ll enjoy this one too.

Here are 5 more things you can try to trick your way to a tidier house.

 

1. Create a cleaning playlist

There are two main reasons having a cleaning playlist can help you on your way to a tidier house.

Firstly, if you pick upbeat, cheery music it’ll help to get you moving and motivate you to start cleaning.  In fact, the first song on your playlist could quite quickly become your trigger to start tidying up, which is something I wrote about in the previous post on this topic.

The other great thing about having a set list of tracks that you listen to when you tidy is that it gives you a natural time limit.

You only need to clean for the duration of your playlist.  And that in itself can be enough to help get you going.

 

2. Bribe yourself

Ok, maybe bribe isn’t quite the right word.

But make a deal with yourself that if you get the washing all put away you can sit and have a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards.

Or if you get the lounge all picked up, dusted and hoovered then you can watch 2 episodes of the show you’re binge-watching later on.

The rewards don’t have to be much at all, but giving yourself something to look forward to once the tidying is done can help get you through it and get the job done.

 

3. Work with the way your life works

Stop fighting your habits and work around them instead.

So if you always plonk your keys down on the table when you get home, instead of hanging them on the key hook, then make a point of actually designating the table as your ‘key spot’.  Get a nice little bowl or dish that can live on the table where your keys, small change, hand sanitizer and so on can all go when you get home at the end of the day.

Spend a bit of time thinking about the things that always get left out in your home, and then work out if there are better homes for these things that would work better for you and your habits than the homes you’ve currently designated for them that hardly ever actually get used.

 

4. Light a lemon-scented candle

This is an interesting one based on a study carried out in 2005.

A group of Dutch researchers gave people really crumbly cookies to eat, either in an unscented room or a room that smelt lemony.  They found that the people in the citrus-smelling room stopped eating the cookie several times to clean up the crumbs they’d made, while the people in the unscented room, on average, only did this once.

What’s really interesting is that only one person actually mentioned noticing the lemon smell in the room, the others seemed unaware of it, and none of the people in the study said that they were concerned about tidying while they were eating the cookies.

So it seems like the decision they made to clean up the crumbs was completely subconscious.

Behavioural scientist Paul Dolan explains this by saying, “the brain looks to make associations to assist in decision-making.  So the smell of cleanliness primes the desire to be clean.”

Most of us do associate a fresh lemon scent with cleanliness, so lighting a lemon-scented candle or using a lemon wax melt to fill your home with that scent may well prompt you to start cleaning.

 

5. Create a sense of urgency

If all else fails and you still can’t get motivated to tidy and clean, then find something to create a sense of urgency for yourself.

Normally this would be something like inviting someone over to your house who you wouldn’t want to see the state it’s in at the moment.  With all the lockdowns and restrictions this year though, this might not be an option.

So see what else you can do to create that motivation to tidy up.  Having a zoom meeting might be enough, if you don’t want your cluttered lounge to be in the background of the call.

 

What do you find motivates you to get up and tidy up, when you really don’t want to?

Which of these tips do you think will help you the most in keeping on top of the tidying when you’re not a naturally tidy person?

Simple and tasty white rolls

Easy soft white rolls recipe

 

I could never follow a low-carb diet – I love bread way too much.

The smell of freshly baked bread is one of my favourite smells in the world, and I could happily eat bread in one form or another with every meal of the day.

I always thought it was quite hard to make though, so most of our bread came from the supermarket until quite recently.

Then we started trying to really limit our trips to the shops during the first lockdown, and decided to try making our own bread to keep us going between visits.

This recipe for beautifully soft white bread rolls is one Steve has perfected over the last few months.  We’ve used it time and time again and it hasn’t failed us yet.

 

The main thing we’ve learnt about making any kind of bread is that it’s really not hard, but it does generally take time.  You have to know in advance that you want to make it, so the dough has plenty of time to do its thing before baking.

These rolls need proving twice, so the whole thing from start to finish takes a few hours, but it is so worth it!

If you want to give them a go yourself, here’s what you need to know:

 

Ingredients

  • 450g plain flour
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 35g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 42g butter (melted)
  • 1 egg
  • 240ml warm water

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl and stir together.
  2. Add in the melted butter, egg and water and mix.
  3. Bring the dough together in the bowl and then tip it out onto a floured surface.
  4. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it’s soft and elastic.  The dough will be a little bit sticky but shouldn’t get stuck all over your hands.  If it feels too sticky then add a little more flour.
  5. Gather the dough up into a loose ball and pop it back in the bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or some cling film and leave it somewhere warm to rise.  You want it to double in size which generally takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on how warm the room is.
  7. When the dough has doubled in size tip it out again onto a floured surface.
  8. Gently pat it down to knock some of the air out of it, and then divide it into 8 equal-sized portions.
  9. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat.
  10. Form each of the portions of dough into bun shapes, gently tucking the ends underneath so the tops look nice and smooth, then place them spaced out on the baking tray.
  11. Dust them lightly with flour and cover loosely with a piece of cling film.
  12. Leave to rise again, for about an hour.
  13. Pop the oven on at 190° (170° fan oven)
  14. Sprinkle the buns with a little more flour and then bake for 13-15 minutes.
  15. Once they’re baked and lightly browned on top, take them out of the over and leave them to cool slightly on the baking tray.
  16. Gently separate the buns if they’ve joined together during baking and move them to a rack to finish cooling.

 

 

I know this looks like quite a few steps but honestly it is so easy.

It’s basically a case of mixing the dough together, leaving it in a blob for a few hours, dividing it into 8 buns, leaving them to rise again for an hour, and then baking.

So don’t let the number of steps or the length of time needed to make these put you off.  It might take a few hours for them to be ready, but you’re only actually doing something with them for about 20 minutes of that.

And these buns are so worth the wait.

They’re perfect to use at lunchtime instead of sandwiches and are also sturdy enough to dip in a bowl of soup.

The fact that they’re slightly sweet also means they’re amazing split in half and toasted the day after you make them.  They taste like english muffins to me and are so good with proper butter and marmite.

We use these buns for burgers too, and if you want to make them into more classic burger buns you can brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top before baking, instead of dusting them with flour.

Easy soft white rolls

These rolls are perfectly soft and great for sandwiches, dipping in soup or to have with burgers for tea.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Proving time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 35 mins
Keyword: Easy dinner rolls, Floury rolls, Rolls, Simple rolls, Soft white rolls, white rolls
Servings: 8 rolls

Equipment

  • Big mixing bowl
  • Big baking tray
  • Greaseproof paper or silicone baking mat
  • Tea towel or cling film
  • Weighing scales
  • Measuring jug

Ingredients

  • 450 g plain flour You can use strong bread flour if you like, but these work really well with simple plain flour
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 35 g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 240 ml warm water

Instructions

  • Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl and stir together.
  • Add in the melted butter, egg, and water and mix together.
  • Bring the dough together in the bowl and then tip it out onto a floured surface.
  • Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it's soft and elastic.  The dough will be a little bit sticky but shouldn't get stuck all over your hands.  If it feels too sticky then add a little more flour.
  • Gather the dough up into a loose ball and pop it back in the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel or some cling film and leave it somewhere warm to rise.  You want it to double in size which generally takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on how warm the room is.
  • When the dough has doubled in size tip it out again onto a floured surface.
  • Gently pat it down to knock some of the air out of it, and then divide it into 8 equal-sized portions.
  • Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Form each of the portions of dough into bun shapes, gently tucking the ends underneath so the tops look nice and smooth, then place them spaced out on the baking tray.
  • Dust them lightly with flour and cover loosely with a piece of cling film.
  • Leave to rise again, for about an hour.
  • Pop the oven on at 190° (170° fan oven).
  • Sprinkle the buns with a little more flour and then bake for 13-15 minutes.
  • Once they're baked and lightly browned on top, take them out of the over and leave them to cool slightly on the baking tray.
  • Gently separate the buns if they've joined together during baking and move them to a rack to finish cooling.

Notes

Don't be put off by the number of steps in this recipe - it's really not as complicated as it might look at first!
It's basically just mix the ingredients and knead the dough, leave it to double in size, split the dough into 8 equal pieces and form them into bun shapes, leave them to rise again on the baking tray and then bake.
You can make these into more classic burger buns by skipping the part about dusting them with flour before baking, and instead brush them with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of milk) and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
make working from home work for you

How to make working from home work for you

When the government announced back in March that, wherever possible, we should all work from home, I really thought it would be a temporary thing.

I thought that it would be a few weeks, then everyone would be back in their offices and official work places.

But we’re still here.  And I’m not sure things will ever go back to quite the way they were before.

So many companies are planning for a future where working from home, at least for part of the week, will be the standard thing.  And in so many ways I think it’s great.  There’s so much flexibility with working at home, and it potentially saves a lot of people so much time and money now they don’t have to commute each day.

It’s not always easy though.

It’s been a big adjustment for me and Steve to have both of us at home working during the day.

I think we’re in this for the long haul though; so it’s about time to embrace it, make some changes, and set a few things up to make working from home work for us as best we can.

 

If you’re still adjusting to working from home, then hopefully some of the tips in this post will help you find ways to make it work for you and your family.

There’ll always be things that aren’t perfect and you might have to find a few workarounds, and some days accept that some things will just have to slide, but here are some things you can try to make it as stress-free as possible.

 

Set up your workspace

If you’re still working from the sofa or a makeshift spot at the kitchen table every day then it’s probably time to set up a more permanent workspace for yourself.

If you have room in your home for a desk then it’s worth getting one, especially if it looks like you will be working from home for a fair while.

Try and make your desk area as clutter-free as possible so you can focus on work.

I use the main family computer for most of my work and do find it frustrating when the desk is covered in children’s drawings (Rhys likes to doodle when he’s watching YouTube!), cookie crumbs and random small toys.  So I try and clear everything off the desk before I go to bed so it’s at least clear for me to use in the morning once the children are at school.

You don’t have to go completely minimalist though.

Hang up some of your favourite family photos on the wall above your desk.  Or get some happy, inspirational quote prints from Etsy and stick those up.  I love these prints from BeguimaStudio on Etsy, but there are so many styles you could pick to make your work space somewhere you enjoy spending time.

 

If you don’t have room for a permanent desk set up in your home, then you need to get a bit more creative.

You can get a simple folding table and chair that you can put up in the morning and fold away again when you’ve finished work for the day.  Or pick an end of the kitchen table that will be your workspace each day, and then tidied away again in the evenings.

With both of these options it’s worth getting a storage box or magazine file that you can put all your papers, notebooks, pens and so on into so they’re all kept together safely in one place.

 

Wherever you decide to create your main work space, it’s also worth picking out a few other options for spots in your house that you can work from if you need a change of scenery.

You might organise it so that the desk is your main work space, but some days you might choose to work from the breakfast bar in your kitchen or the comfort of your sofa.

If you’ll be working from the sofa you might want to get a lap tray or a little laptop desk that you can use instead of balancing your laptop on  your knees.

 

Set some boundaries

When you’re working from home it can be really hard to maintain a good work/life balance, so it’s important to put some boundaries in place.

Here are some things you might want to do:

  • Set a firm time that you’ll finish work for the day and make sure you stick to it.  Set an alarm if you need to, to remind yourself to shut down your laptop.
  • Make sure you take a proper lunch break and move away from your desk while you eat.
  • Learn to say no.  If you still have to work strict hours at home, then make it clear to family members that you’re not available for tasks that aren’t work related during the day.
  • If you’re trying to work at home when your partner or children are around then let them when you’re going to be busy and can’t be disturbed.  You could even go so far as putting a sign up or setting a timer to let children know when it’s ok to come to you again.  I know this will only work with older children who can be left to entertain themselves though, so if you have younger children at home with you keep reading!

Find ways to work around your children

This has been one of the biggest struggles we’ve faced this year.

Working from home is one thing, but trying to do it with the children around is something completely different.

Whether you have school-age children at home due to a lockdown or them needing to isolate for a while, or you have younger children with you because your childcare arrangements have had to change, you need to find ways to work around them being there.

Here are some things that might help:

  • Be flexible with your hours if you can.  Speak to your boss and ask if you can work non-traditional hours while you’re all at home.  You might be able to get up and fit in an hour’s work before your children wake up (depending on how old they are).  Or you could do an hour or two in the evening.
  • Work out a way to take childcare in turns with your partner.  If you’re both working from home then you can set up a system where maybe you focus more on the childcare in the mornings so they can work undisturbed, and then swap for the afternoon.
  • Set up activities that the children can do alongside you.  Get a pile of sticker books, colouring books, and/or activity books and let your child do them while sitting next to you.  This way they’re still close by, you can help them if they get stuck, but you can also get some work done.
  • Use technology to your advantage.  If you have to be away from your desk for a while, say to sit out in the kitchen while your child has a loooong lunch, then see what bits of work you can do from your phone.  And don’t worry about using technology to keep the children entertained for a while.  Sometimes you have to let them have a  bit more screentime than you’d like so you can crack on with important tasks.
  • Create a schedule.  Work out what things need to be done each day and set up a simple schedule that everyone can follow.  If everyone knows that 10-11 is work time for you and quiet reading time for children, and that lunch is at 12 each day, it can help things run more smoothly as everyone knows what to expect each day.
  • Don’t create a schedule.  On the other hand, a schedule might not work at all for your family.  So don’t feel you need to recreate the school day at home, for example.  You might find that your family is happier when everything is more flexible.

Take care of yourself

When you’re working from home, struggling to juggle your work life and your family life, you need to make sure you’re looking after yourself as well as you can.

You might find that you’re not getting as much exercise as you normally would, if you’re not walking around town on your lunchbreak, or heading to the gym for a class after you leave the office.

So find a way to start fitting some physical activity into your day.

You could go for a 20 minute walk in the morning before you sit down to start work, and again at the end of your working day.  The great thing with doing this is that it acts like a commute substitute, in that it gets you away from your desk and can help you make the transition from home life to work life, and back again.

If you don’t fancy a walk then try doing a home workout during your lunchbreak, or as a way of burning off some steam in the evenings when you’ve finished work for the day.

Make sure you take care of your mental wellbeing as well as your physical health.

Working from home can be really isolating.  Even if your partner and children are there with you it can still be strangely lonely.

So make a point of chatting with someone outside of your household every day.

Keep in touch with your colleagues throughout the day, but don’t just talk about work.  Have a chat in the morning about how you all are, what you watched on tv the night before, and so on.

And try and have a quick video call or phone conversation with a friend or family member a few times a week, if you’re not able to get out and see them in person.

 

Get organised

One of the best things you can do to make working from home work well, is get organised.

On a Sunday sit down and work out what needs to be done over the next week.  Include everything from both your work life and your home life.  You can then split the tasks into ‘work’ and ‘home’ to do lists.

Use these lists to make a simplified to do list each evening for the next day so when you sit down in the morning you know exactly what you need to tackle.

If you find that keeping a firm distinction between home and work life doesn’t really work for you, then try flipping some things to your advantage.

Being home during the day means that you can put a load of washing on at 10am.  Rather than letting this disturb your working day, you can use the wash cycle as a sort of timer for getting a work task completed.  Tell yourself that you’ll work on one work project until the washing machine cycle finishes, and then you can take a break to hang it to dry and scroll social media with a cuppa for ten minutes.

 

Working from home can have so many benefits, but when you’re trying to do it in these weird circumstances, potentially with children of various ages at home with you, it can be a real challenge.

Hopefully there’ve been some ideas and tips in this post that will help make the whole thing easier and more enjoyable.

Do you have any other tips for making working from home less of a challenge?

supplements you should start feeding your dog

5 supplements you should start feeding your dog

Pets can’t tell us what they need and even if we feed them the best diet possible, there is a chance that they could be missing out on important nutrients that would benefit their health.

Before you choose to feed your dog supplements, you need to consider whether they are something that they actually need and if they are already receiving a sufficient amount in their diet.

However, there are some natural herbs and supplements that you can add to your dog’s food without giving them too much of a certain vitamin. Remember, you should discuss all changes to your dog’s diet with your vet. 

To help you improve your dog’s health, here are the 5 supplements you should start feeding them. 

Glucosamine

As our canine companions grow old, they become more at risk of developing issues with their joints. In order to maintain healthy joints, you should look for glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs.

A highly recommended supplement is YuMove. YuMove contains glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs, which can reduce stiffness in older or large dogs, by lubricating the joints and maintaining cartilage structure. 

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as fish oil, can help reduce inflammation and improve the health of your dog’s skin. Some dogs are very prone to allergies, which can be triggered by their diet and the environment.

If your dog has a good diet that has been supported by your vet and they still suffer from sore, itchy skin, then introducing fatty acids will support optimal dermatological health

Probiotics

Probiotics can be fed to a dog to help maintain a healthy intestinal tract.

If your dog experiences loose stools or an upset stomach fairly often, and your vet can’t find anything wrong with them and has agreed that you should change your dog’s diet, then you should add probiotics to their dinner bowl.

Probiotics restore the proper balance of the gut, as it adds healthy bacteria into the digestive system. 

L-carnitine 

L-carnitine is a great supplement for overweight and senior dogs. The correct dose can aid weight loss, prevent heart disease and it can also support brain function in older pets.

Before you start feeding your dog this supplement, you need to make sure that they have been checked for hypothyroidism. This is because L-carnitine has the potential to weaken the function of the thyroid hormone. 

Goldenseal

We have all seen a pooch that looks emotional due to watery eyes. However, this dog isn’t upset or crying; they just have watery eyes. Goldenseal is an herb and a strong antibiotic. It helps to prevent watery eyes by stopping harmful bacteria from hanging onto the cell walls.

Before you use this to treat your dog’s water eyes, you should arrange a vet appointment to check for anything more serious. 

There are many factors that will determine what supplements are best for your dog and you should always get them checked for underlying health conditions.

Before you start adding extras to your dog’s diet, you should speak to your vet for expert advice and recommendations.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post