Things you learn when you become a parent

Things you find out when you become a parent

Becoming a parent is an exciting and scary time in your life, no matter what age you are when you find out you’re having a child, it can be quite overwhelming initially. However, this is often because becoming a parent is delving into the unknown and the unknown is what scares a lot of people. Even if you’re a grown adult who thinks they’ve got their life together, you still need to prepare yourself for life as a parent. 

Below we have listed some of the things you will find out when you become a parent, we hope that this list prepares you for what’s to come, both the good and the bad things included. Remember, no one is perfect so you’re going to have days when you don’t feel good enough.

It’s OK though, you can be strong for your new little one and be the best parent you can. Ultimately, no one is scoring points and they’re not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do when your baby arrives. For now, just prepare yourself for the future. 

 

 

Things aren’t always easy

 

Have you ever seen those TV shows that depict parenting as a breeze? Even just the adverts sometimes aren’t realistic at all. In reality, things aren’t always going to be easy. Even if you have a baby who is relatively calm and quiet most of the time, there will be times they cry and whine. Despite this, it’s the beauty of parenting. The sooner you get used to your new reality, the better. After all, when you’re a parent, you’re a parent forever so it might be time to get used to how things are.

Also, take advice from people who have been there before, things that aren’t easy will end soon, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re struggling with parenthood now, it’s not going to last forever. Keep this in mind, even during the more difficult days. 

 

 

Choosing clothes and accessories is difficult

 

Let’s be honest here, every parent wants their children to have the latest clothes and most beautiful accessories. Yet, this isn’t how it will work. There are hundreds of beautiful baby clothes out there and it’s difficult to choose something both you and the child love. Plus, when you enter any good pram shop, you will be overwhelmed with surprise at how great everything is. You will definitely want it all. This is especially true for new parents who have never experienced buying for their own baby before. You will want to buy the whole baby store as soon as you enter, but your bank balance simply won’t let you!

 

 

Your cooking skills don’t matter

 

Despite what people say, your cooking skills don’t have to be of a certain calibre, why? Babies and little ones will practically eat anything. You may spend your entire pregancy trying to read up on the best ways to boil or poach or cook an egg, but ultimately, if your child is going to eat it, they will eat it. The taste most likely doesn’t matter, if they’re hungry they will eat. However, it is key to remember that during the early stages of their life, you may find that your baby is very opposed to a certain food or drink, this may be because of an allergy, if this is the case, you may want to take them to the doctors/hospital to be assessed! 

 

 

Everyone will judge you

 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but some people will definitely display this opinion more than others. Whether you breast or bottle feed will be judged along with many other things.

It’s for this reason that you need to realise, what other people think and say doesn’t matter.

As long as you’re doing what you think is right by your child, then you will be fine. Simply do your own parenting style and just take every day as it comes because everyone has their own way of parenting and if you don’t do things the way they do, they will most likely judge you. 

 

 

It is possible to function on 4 hours sleep

 

This is something every parent is capable of! When you’re a new parent and only have a little baby, you will need to learn to function on as little sleep as possible. Those long 10 or 8 hours of sleep everyday will soon become a distant memory because your little one will most likely be awake for a lot of it.

However, despite the lack of sleep – you will still love them unconditionally and becoming a parent is just the start of your new life, it’s all very interesting and exciting!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Make the most of spring at home

Making the most of spring in your home

Although it’s always a little bit risky to welcome Spring in the UK, with the realistic possibility that wind and rain will follow before too long, the signs are definitely in evidence. Days are already getting longer, daffodils are appearing in ever greater numbers, and the mercury in the thermometer is edging upwards. 

As light begins to stream through our windows, then, there is no better time to make the most of the extra hours of sunlight by making our homes look all the better – there is a change afoot, and the parts of the house that suit warm light from a bulb don’t always benefit so well from natural light.

As the current situation dictates that we will be spending more of the Spring than usual indoors, now is an excellent time to embark upon making our homes ready for the new season.

 

It’s a great time to add little accents

Obviously it would get expensive if we were to change out our furniture every time the season changed, so that’s not what we’re going to recommend here. However, adding splashes of colour around the house is an excellent way to make the most out of the additional sunshine.

Getting some new cushions – or brighter covers for the ones you already have – is one way of achieving this, while framed prints of sun-drenched scenery are also a worthwhile step.

 

Time to brighten up the walls

Spring cleaning is, of course, synonymous with the season, and the longer hours of natural light can show up some of the negative impacts of winter – smudges in the paintwork that weren’t so noticeable when the days were darker can become evident now. As a minimum, it would be wise to wipe the walls down, but it may be an even better idea to repaint (or repaper if you’re feeling ambitious).

Take the chance to preserve the walls for longer, by picking washable paint – and if you’ve got a smoker in the house, persuade them to try a pod kit instead; cigarette smoke discolours walls and ceilings in a surprisingly short time.

 

Give your windows the chance to shine

The first thing to do with your windows as Spring dawns on us is very simple – wash them inside and out. Winter brings rain, rain brings splashes, and the accumulation of smudges can go unnoticed until the seasons change, but it will be inescapable by April, so take the chance to clean those windows.

Once that’s done, give them centre stage in your home; the additional light will draw attention to where it’s coming from, so add colourful blinds or light curtains (or both) and enjoy the fresh feeling it brings to the home.

 

The undeniable benefit of Spring is that it brings a bit more brightness to everything, and with a few simple steps you can make the most of that change to get an extra lease of life in your home. The above additions, and others, will give your home that added dynamism that comes from the season.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Working while teaching the children at home

Working and teaching the children at home

One of the first part time jobs I had as a teenager was as a tutor.

I helped children up to 11+ age with English and maths at a tuition centre that my mum ran.  It taught me so much about how different people learn, and helped me find different ways to think about and explain things.  It also had the fringe benefit of forcing me to relearn my times tables, although 20 years later I’m getting really quite rusty with them again!

I didn’t really think I’d use the skills I learnt doing that job all that much later on in life, so it’s quite interesting to find myself drawing on them again now with the children’s school being closed for the immediate future.

 

We’re not actually needing to do any school work at home yet, thanks to the children’s school bringing the Easter holidays forwards.

So at the moment we’re just getting used to working from home with the children around all the time.  In a few weeks though we’ll need to start organising some learning activities for them to be doing.

Their school will be sending them work to do which is great, we will just need to supervise, help them out when they need help and organise sending things back to the teachers for them to look over.  The message I got from the teachers though was not to feel pressured about any of it.  To do what we can, when we can, rather than trying to follow a school-day-type-routine.

We’ve also been given links to various websites and online resources for fun learning activities we can do with the children at home.

I’m quite confident that with the children only being 6 and 8 I can manage to teach them what I need to.

I just need to keep in mind what I learnt all those years ago about different children learning in different ways.  I know that I can explain something to Rhys one way and he’ll get it, but I might need to approach it from a completely different angle for it to make sense to Nerys.

 

I’m very aware of how lucky we are really that the children are so young.

If you have older children at home you might be worried about how much you can help them with work that might be completely unfamiliar to you.  In those situations, if you have the means to do it, finding an online tutor who can help them could really take the pressure off both you and your children.

You can find tutors who specialise in a whole range of subjects, from English to physics to French and Spanish.  So you can help keep your child on track with their learning, knowing they’re getting help from people who really know what they’re talking about.

 

I think we’ll end up doing a whole mix of things at home to keep our children learning while the school is shut.

There’ll be the more formal side of things, working through the bits and pieces that are sent to us from the school.  But I also love the idea of using this time to try out some new things and help them learn through life experiences.

We’ll bake and draw, read and practice writing.  Maths can be learnt with board games and playing shops, alongside sitting and doing sums.  The science kits that have been sat in the cupboard can come out for some practical, hands-on learning alongside watching videos of experiments on YouTube.

 

However old your children are I hope you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself to replicate the school system at home.

This situation we’re finding ourselves in now is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before, so be kind to yourself.  Slow things down where you can.  Take your time to find the best way of balancing everything for your family.  And ask for help if you’re finding it a struggle, there’s so much out there if you need it.

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

7 most important black box insurance rules

The 7 most important black box insurance rules

Black box insurance is one of the most popular types of car insurance policies for younger drivers. There are a lot of reasons for its popularity as well. Black box insurance is very versatile as it is designed to reward drivers who drive safely and maintain safe driving habits.

Younger drivers will have little road experience so they will often face higher premiums when it comes to getting their insurance. While black box insurance policies can be expensive at first after some time on the road you could see your premiums drop in price quite heavily.

 

Black box insurance is also seeing popularity with people who have faced driving/ motoring offences in the past as well. A black box policy gives insurers some extra-guarantee and peace of mind while you’re on the road and offers a good trade-off to people as well.

If you drive safely over time you will see the price of your premiums drop so it’s a win-win situation for you. However, black box policies have faced criticism in some circles because they are believed to be overly rigid in what they class has safe driving. 

Or people simply haven’t been able to benefit from them because they don’t know what they really need to do to show they are driving safely. Well to help with this problem below we have outlined 7 rules you should always follow when on a black box insurance policy. If you follow these rules you can better ensure your premiums drop in price.

 

Watch your speed 

Well, this is something you should do even if you don’t have a black box installed in your vehicle. However, when you have a black box insurance policy one of the things they will monitor is your speed so always stick to the speed limit.

 

Avoid driving at night 

This can sometimes be unavoidable but if you have black box insurance you should try to avoid driving at night whenever possible. A little driving at night won’t have a huge impact but the more time you spend driving late the bigger the impact it will have.

 

Brake early 

A black box will monitor your braking response time but it will also measure how hard you hit the brakes. Hitting the brakes too hard could be seen as you approaching too fast so slow down and hit the brakes early. 

 

Leave the black box alone 

Black boxes are very small and usually installed out of the way so they can’t easily be seen. However, some people might still be tempted to examine the box or play with it. But don’t do this, it will be monitored and will almost certainly impact your premiums.

 

Watch your mileage 

How many miles you travel each year will be tracked with black box insurance and you will want to keep things as low as possible. If you go over your set mileage your insurance premiums will almost definitely go up. So, try to plan out the fastest route to ensure you keep your mileage low. 

 

Watch your acceleration 

Just like your braking you also need to watch your acceleration as well. Don’t put your foot down too much when accelerating like with braking make it gradual to ensure your black box doesn’t read anything as speeding. 

 

Always stay behind the wheel  

Okay, you can let others drive if they are experienced and insured but you should try to drive yourself whenever possible. You should never let uninsured drivers behind the wheel not only is this illegal it will also impact your premiums as well. If they drive poorly then the black box will register it and it will impact your premiums.

 

So, that is 7 rules to remember if you have or are thinking of getting black box insurance.

Yes, it might seem a little more restrictive but let’s be honest aren’t these things you should be doing anyway? Think of a black box as a way of ensuring you always drive safely and being rewarded for when you do.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Find the right childcare for your family

The easy way to find the right childcare for your family

I think if there’s one thing that all parents can agree on it’s that family life is a juggling act.

And just when you think you’ve got everything kind of under control, a new ball will come along that you have to figure out how to keep in the air with all the others!  A lot of the time the stress we feel as parents is down to needing to find childcare for our families.

It might be that both parents will be going out to work so you need to find a long-term childcare solution.  Or it could be that you find out that the wedding you’re really looking forward to going to is adult-only, so you need to find a babysitter for the evening.

Whatever your situation is though, there is a brilliant website that can help you find the right childcare for your family.  Childcare.co.uk has been designed to be really easy to use, to help take some of the stress of juggling family life away.

 

The site launched back in 2009 and over 2 million people have registered to use them since then, so they’re clearly doing something right.

I think one of the best things for me about childcare.co.uk is that they have so many different childcare options listed.  So whether you’re looking for a nursery, a babysitter, a nanny or a childminder you’ll be able to find them there.

What’s really great is that you can even find tutors on there, so if your child needs any extra help with their schoolwork you can find someone locally who can help.  I did a quick search for tutors within 1 mile of my house and found 10 people, which is amazing for such a small search area.

Each childcare provider on the site has their own personal profile that tells you a little bit about them and lists their experience, qualifications, rates and availability.  Most people also have a photo attached to their profile which I really like to be able to get to know them that little bit more before you make contact.

 

If you’re just doing some initial looking around to see what options are available for you, then you don’t need to sign up or anything.

Just put your postcode in the search box on the homepage and select what type of childcare you’re looking for then click the ‘search now’ button and you’ll get a list of all the available options.

If that first search is too broad for you then you’ll find more search options at the top of that results page.

So say you’re looking for a babysitter.

You pick that option from the first dropdown menu.

Then put in your postcode and the search area you want included.  You can leave it at that, or you can filter even further for things like babysitters with first aid training, weekend babysitters or even Montessori trained babysitters.

I love how you have the option to do a big, broad search so you can see all the options, but also how easy it is to narrow the search right down if you do have specific requirements.

When I searched for a babysitter within 5 miles of my home in the first search I found 171 options, within seconds.

On the one hand, that is quite incredible.  I had no idea there were that many possible babysitters near me!

But on the other hand, that list is quite overwhelming and I wouldn’t really know where to start picking someone out of all those choices.  So I had some fun narrowing things down by picking different options.

If I wanted someone who could babysit in the evening, then there were 138 people to choose from.  And there are 82 within 5 miles of me who could babysit overnight if we needed them to.  And if I wanted someone to look after my children for an hour or two so I could go for a smear test there is even someone in my area who offers that very specific service.

So, basically, whatever I needed in a babysitter I could find in a matter of minutes on Childcare.co.uk.

If you find someone that you would like to get in touch with then you do need to sign up for an account before you can message them.  But this is completely free to do and really simple.  Then once you have your account you can start to message people and take the next steps to setting up the childcare arrangements that best suit you and your family.

 

What I love about this website, apart from the huge amount of childcare options available, is how easy it is to see what each option has to offer.

The design is lovely and clean, with all the information you need for each option laid out really clearly, so you can quickly find out what you need to know about a person’s experience and availability.

When you’re a busy parent, anything that saves you time is worth looking in to, and Childcare.co.uk is a great time-saving tool for anyone looking to find the right childcare solution for their family.

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

Open up a new world with theatre

Open up new worlds by taking your children to the theatre

At the end of last year we did something as a family that we hadn’t done before.

We all went to the theatre to watch a pantomime.

It was a performance of Snow White and it was absolutely brilliant.  I’m not sure who enjoyed it most, the grown ups or the children.  There were jokes that worked on different levels, with just the right level of innuendo and slapstick humour.

What I really loved though was watching my children watching the performance.

They were so engaged by what was happening on the stage.

There is a real magic in taking children to the theatre, no matter what type of performance they’ll be watching.

 

I was really lucky growing up, in that my parents took me and my siblings to see all sorts of shows at our local theatre.

My dad in particular is a big Shakespeare fan, so we saw a few of his plays over the years.  I studied Shakespeare at school, like most people probably did, and I remember being told that the best way to get your head around his work is to actually go and see it performed.

And that is so true.  The language can be really hard to make sense of at times, when you try to just read his plays.  But when the words are brought to life in front of you it all makes sense.

My favourite Shakespeare experience though was going to see the reduced Shakespeare company.  They perform all 37 of his plays in 97 minutes and it is just brilliant.

 

It wasn’t all highbrow experiences though.

We also saw some comedians who visited our local theatre as they toured the country.  I remember Jack Dee in particular being really funny but not all that appropriate at times to be watching as a teenager with my parents!

There were a few shows that we saw on more than one occasion.

Buddy – the Buddy Holly story was one of these shows that we all absolutely loved.  There’s a scene in the show where the band record ‘Every day’, and the drummer is playing his part with his hands, tapping them on his legs, and I still find myself doing it to this day whenever I hear that song.

The one show that will always make me smile the most though is Return to the Forbidden Planet.

I actually bought the soundtrack about a year ago to listen to on the school run and I love belting out all the tracks.

 

What I love so much about all these experiences that I had with my family, going to the theatre, is all the worlds that they opened up to me.

All the music that I got to experience; performed live and with such joy and passion.  The history of classic Shakespeare plays.  The breathtakingly immersive experience of shows like Les Miserable.

My children are possibly a bit too young still for most of these kinds of shows but there are more and more child-friendly productions being put on now.

I actually went to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my sister a few years ago at the Bristol Hippodrome and that’s definitely a show I would take my children to now if I saw it touring again.  We’re quite lucky living where we do because we have the Grand Theatre here in Swansea but are also close enough to Cardiff and Bristol that we could take the family to the beautiful theatres there too, depending on what productions are on.

There is so much possiblity when it comes to taking the children to the theatre.

From the big West End shows like The Lion King and Matilda, to productions aimed at really little children like The Very Hungry Caterpillar show and The Snail and The Whale, there is something for all ages and all interests.  And they’ll all open up a whole new world of entertainment for the family.

If you want to find out if a particular show is on in your area you can find out here.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Great photos of your children less stress

Take the stress out of getting great photos of your children

I love taking photos of my children.

It’s one of my favourite things to do; capturing their childhoods on camera.  But that’s not to say it’s not stressful at times.  You can bet that when I really want to get some great photos of them they just won’t be in the mood.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds it stressful at times to get great photos of their children, so hopefully these tips will help both me and you to make the process easier and more fun for everyone.

 

Let your children feel in control

One of the reasons that our children don’t cooperate with our plans is that they don’t feel like they have any say in what’s happening.

We all like to feel in control, and when it comes to have their photo taken then it’s only fair really to let our children have some say in things.

So lets say you’re planning on having a little photo session with your children.

Give them choices for what they’ll wear that day.  Let them show you some poses they want to do, before you ask them to sit or stand a certain way.  Make them creative directors for the day and work with them to get the photos you really want.

 

Make it a fun adventure and let them play

Things will be much easier for everyone if you make your photo session into a little adventure.

Pick somewhere not too far from home like the park, local wood or beach if you live by the coast and get your children to do something like see what natural treasures they can find.  Let them run, jump and explore.

You can photograph these adventures and capture some really lovely memories.

Direct your children gently

When it comes to photographing children you really need to let go of any ideas of perfection.

Don’t get hung up on perfect poses and perfect smiles.

Instead try to focus on capturing your children as they play and talk and laugh.  You’ll get far more natural results that ultimately will make you much happier when you look back at the photos in a few years.

What you can do though is gently direct your children to get the best possible results.

If you’re taking photos outside in bright sunlight, then you can encourage them to go and play in an area of open shade where the lighting will be best for pictures.  Sit them together on a blanket and direct them to tell each other the silliest jokes they can think of to get them giggling.

 

The main thing to remember is to take the pressure of yourself and your children.

When you’re focused on getting that one perfect photo then everyone will feel the stress of it.

Let go.  Relax.  Let everyone have fun.

And I promise you the photos you get when you do this will be so much more natural, and capture so much more of how your children really are right now, you’ll love them so much more than the ‘perfect’ ones you were picturing before.