I’ve been a parent now for nearly 8 years, and can honestly say that my life now is nothing like it was back then.

So much has changed, in so many different ways.

Here are 3 ways my life has changes since I became a parent.

3 ways my life has changed since I became a parent

I have less time.

Or maybe it’s a case of having more to do and keep in top of in the same amount of time.

Either way, it feels like I have a lot more on my plate since having the children.  So I do find myself looking for short cuts and ways to save precious time where I can.  I tend to do my food shopping online rather than spend 2 hours on a round trip to the supermarket.  And I love finding sites like love catalogues that help you compare prices and availability on various items to save you time doing it all yourself.

 

I have less sleep.

Before the children came along I loved to sleep.

I would quite happily get into bed around 9pm and doze off for a whole blissful night of sleep.

Now, even though I’m lucky and Rhys and Nerys generally sleep well through the night, I don’t get anywhere near the amount of sleep I used to.  I think it’s due to that classic parent thing of working all day, then sorting the children out and then trying to fit your adult life into those few hours after they’ve gone to bed.

So I end up staying up much later that I should.  Just to be able to relax a bit and watch Game of Thrones episodes that I’ve seen several times before.  Or squeeze in a bit more work to feel like I’ll have a head start on the next day.

 

Putting those changes first makes it seem like everything has changed for the worse since becoming a parent.

But honestly, there are so many other things that have changed, in more subtle ways perhaps, that have made life so much better.

 

I have more love.

More patience, more understanding.

In a direct contradiction of what I’ve already written, I also have more time.  Children, especially when they’re young, force you to slow down.  To take life at their pace.  To stop every 2 minutes as you walk to the park, to look at a stone or a flower or a particularly sticky stick.

Before I had the children the seasons would change and I would almost miss it.  I remember one year looking up on the way home from work and realising that the trees were almost bare, and I hadn’t noticed.   I hadn’t seen the gorgeous reds and oranges of autumn.  I’d been in such a hurry to just get home each day, I’d missed it.

Now though, I feel like I notice so much more.  We have time to watch the seasons change.

And watching my children watch these things happen, fills me with even more love and joy than I could have imagined.

 

So yes, I have less time and less sleep now than I did in my pre-children days.

But I have so much more of so many other things.  Things I didn’t even know I was missing out on.

What changed the most for you when you had your children?

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Whenever I take the children into town on the bus I like to point out the block of flats that my husband and I used to live in before they came along.

They find it strange to imagine us there, and I suppose hard to think of us in a world without them in it!

We lived in those flat for quite a few years, but moved to the house we’re in now when I was about 8 months pregnant with Rhys.  Studies have found that moving house is one of the most stressful things we can do, so maybe doing it while heavily pregnant wasn’t the best idea.  Although, I don’t remember it feeling all that stressful when we did it.

I think we planned things quite well and were lucky enough to have a lot of support from friends and family.

If you’re pregnant and planning on moving house, then these 5 tips will hopefully help make it as easy and straightforward as possible for you too.

5 top tips for moving house when you're pregnant

 

1. Plan ahead and take your time

Start getting organised to move house as soon as possible so that you can take it slowly.

If you’re anything like me then making lists of everything you need to sort and get done will help you make sure you don’t forget anything important.

Sit down and write detailed lists including things like key dates for picking up keys and installing services like phone lines and broadband.  It’s also worth making a list of all the places you need to update with your new address once you’ve moved.

 

2. Pack carefully and strategically

Start packing up your belongings sooner rather than later.  You don’t want to be shoving things in random boxes and bin bags in a last minute rush.

Think about packing up room by room, and keeping like items together.  Then make sure you label boxes clearly with what’s in them and what room they need to go in at the new house.  Any boxes that contain delicate or breakable things should be really clearly marked as fragile so you know to handle them with care.

For real peace of mind pack up all your valuables and important documents together in a box that you can take with you in the car on moving day.

 

3. Accept all the help you can get

We were lucky when we moved house that my in-laws were able to give us a lot of help, along with a few good friends.

If you have a similar support network then don’t feel bad about accepting any offers of help they might give you.  It might be an offer to borrow a van for the day, or for them to physically help you move all your boxes or furniture.  It could be an offer to take care of any older children you may have for a few hours so you can pack or unpack in peace.  Or it could be a meal prepared and brought round for your first night in the new house.  Whatever it is, accept the offer graciously.

If you don’t have family nearby who can help, or if you’re moving to a completely new area then it’s worth looking at some removal companies who can help pack everything up and move it safely for you.  You can go online and find moving quotes to find the best deal and the service that best suits your needs.

 

4. Be careful and don’t lift any heavy boxes or furniture

It can be really frustrating not to be able to help, but be sensible when it comes to lifting and carrying heavy boxes and furniture.

When we’re pregnant our ligaments loosen making it more likely that we’ll strain our backs or pelvis if we lift things that are too heavy.  There’s also the issue of a big bump shifting our centre of gravity and making us potentially more clumsy and off-balance.

If at all possible let other people do the real heavy lifting while you carry the lighter items.

 

5. Keep your hospital bag packed and accessible.

If you’re getting towards the end of your pregnancy make sure you have your hospital bag packed and accessible, along with your notes, just in case you go into labour.

It’s also worth packing a box of essential first day and night items that you can unpack first when you get to the new house.

This box might include a kettle, tea/coffee and toilet paper.

You could also pack any of your pregnancy must-haves in there too.  These might be your body pillow to sleep comfortably on the first night, any prenatal vitamins you’re taking, favourite snacks and drinks and medicine for things like acid reflux.

This box can then go in the car with you on moving day so you know you have all your essentials on hand.

 

Hopefully with these tips moving house will go as smoothly as possible and you can get on with nesting in  your new home and getting ready for your new baby to arrive.

Did you move home when you were pregnant?  Do you have any other bits of advice to help make it as stress-free as possible?

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

I think pretty much every parent, at some point, has had their child end up sleeping in bed with them.  Or they’ve climbed into their child’s bed to help settle them at night.

For a lot of families co-sleeping is a choice that works perfectly and everyone is happy and gets the rest they need.

Other families though might find that it’s not the ideal situation for them.

If you’re ready to reclaim your bed, and a good night’s sleep, then here are some things you can try to help your child happily go to sleep in their own bed.  And hopefully stay there all night long.

How to help your child happily sleep in their own bed

 

Encourage them to spend time in their bedroom during the day

Make your child’s bedroom a special place for them, full of their toys and books and special things.

Then let them play in there during the day, so the room becomes somewhere they enjoy being.  This way, when it comes to bedtime, their bedroom should be somewhere they feel safe, secure and happy.

 

Make their bed special

If you want your child to sleep in their own bed then do what you can to make it as appealing as possible for them.

You can get some amazing children’s beds these days, from fun cabin beds with room to play underneath to gorgeous teepee-covered beds to hide away in.  Children’s bed shop have a huge range of beds to get inspired by and to find something to suit your child.

Another way to make their bed more appealing is to let them pick out bedding in their favourite colours or with their favourite characters on.

 

Establish a good bedtime routine

If you’ve let the old bath, book, bed routine slip as your child has got a bit older, then now’s the time to bring it back.

About an hour before bedtime turn off the TV and other screens.  It’s been found that the blue light from screens can interfere with our sleep, so it’s a good idea to stop using them as you get closer to bedtime.

Then let them have a bit of wind down time in the bath, before heading to their bedroom to get pjs on and have a story.  A big part of this is to make sure that you get them ready in their room, not yours.

 

Talk to them before making changes

Let your child know during the daytime that things will be different that night.  Tell them that they’ll be going to sleep in their own bed and won’t be able to climb into bed with you in the middle of the night.

This way it won’t be a shock to them at bedtime and gives them a chance to talk it through with you.

 

Stand firm and stay consistent

Once you start, it’s really important to stay the course.

It’s almost guaranteed that your child will get upset about not being allowed in your bed, and there’ll be lots of tears.  Try not to just give in though.

Now, I’m not talking about leaving your child to cry and get in a state.

If they’re upset then stay with them in their room and give them the love and comfort that they need.  Once they’re calm keep going back in and checking on them and reassuring them, but stay firm in the fact that they won’t be coming into your bed.

You might need to go in, or put them back in their bed, a crazy number of times the first few nights, but if you stay consistent with it and don’t give in you should find that things will get better before long.

 

Try gradual retreat

If your child gets really upset and won’t settle without you in the room you might want to try a gradual retreat.

This is what we did with Rhys when he was younger.  It did take a while but it worked, and felt much gentler than leaving him to cry it out each night.

Basically, if you normally lie down with your child until they go to sleep, start sitting by the side of their bed with a hand on them.  Then after a night or two stop putting your hand on them.  Each night after that move a little bit further away, until you’re sitting just outside their room.

At this point you can start telling your child that you’re going to wash the dishes/tidy up/sort dinner downstairs for a few minutes, but you’ll be back to check on them soon.  Make sure you do come back when you say you will to reassure them.

The whole point of this is to gradually help your child learn how to settle to sleep without you being next to them.  So when they wake in the night they’ll be able to fall back to sleep by themselves, instead of coming to find you in your bed.

 

Address their fears

Talk to your child to see if they have any particular fears that are adding to the issue.

It might be that they don’t want to sleep alone because they’re scared of the dark.   In this case you could get them a nightlight, or leave the landing light on and their door ajar.

If they don’t like the quiet at night, or hear noises that scare them, then think about playing some white noise for them to fall asleep too.

 

Praise them

Make sure your child knows how proud you are of them when they do stay in their own bed all night.

If sticker charts are your thing then try one of those.  Give them a sticker for each night they stay in their own bed, and then at the end of the week you can give them a treat to say well done.  If you’re not a fan of charts then make sure to still praise them for every night, or even every hour to start with, that they sleep in their own bed.

 

If your child is used to being allowed to sleep in your bed, or having you sleep in with them, it’ll probably take a while to make changes.

But with some time and perseverance you should all be able to sleep in your own beds, all night long, and get the proper rest you need.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

There are many reasons why you might want to purchase a second home.

For many people, it’s a chance to have a holiday home you can head to whenever you need to get away and spend some time in the sun. Or there might simply be a place in the world that you love but you don’t live there. If that’s the case, it makes sense to push ahead and start looking for a second home that’s going to meet your needs.

There are lots of things that you need to get right as you start the process of looking for a second home. It’s never a good idea to rush things because you’ll then risk making mistakes and spending a lot of money on a holiday home that’s not right for you. The tips below will help you move through the stages of buying a second home carefully and successfully, so read on.

Tips for purchasing a second home

Get the finances in order first

First of all, you should make sure that you have your finances in order and as organised as they can be. You need to do this before you start calculating how much you’re going to be able to spend on this second home. You should never stretch yourself too much or push your finances to a point at which they break. So be sure to assess things carefully and make sure this purchase is one that is actually going to be financially viable for you over the long-term.

 

Set a budget and don’t move from it

Next, you should set a strict budget for the second home purchase. This should be based on how much cash and spare income you have at your disposal. As I mentioned above, don’t try to spend more money than you can really afford to because it will come back and bite you in the end. Once you have a budget in place that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working out, try to set it in stone and don’t let it move or grow when you see an expensive place you like.

 

Think carefully about where in the world you want the second home to be

Arguably, the location of the second home you purchase is the most important people of all. You should look at the different options, consider the benefits of each location and decide which place you want to spend time in on a regular basis. If you decide you want to buy a property in Singapore, for example, you choose to buy a place in Singapore, look at the latest property news in Singapore and get to know the market. Knowing the local market will help you during the buying process.

 

Factor in things like travel time and costs

There are lots of things that have to be taken into account when you’re choosing a place to buy. You shouldn’t forget the amount of time and money aht will have to be spent getting to your location each time you want to spend time there. You might not want to be travelling for a whole day just to get to your second home. Then again, maybe that works for you and your lifestyle. Just make sure you take all of that stuff into account.

 

Decide what kind of space you want to buy

There are plenty of different options when it comes to choosing a holiday home. You might want a classic cottage, a cabin by the sea or an apartment in a modern city. It’s up to you to decide what kind of place you want to be spending your free time in. If you’re part of a family making this decision, be sure to listen to everyone’s point of view so no one gets ignored or left out of the whole process.

Buying a second home - essential tips

 

Ensure it’s accessible

It’s best to choose a second home that’s going to be accessible. If you’re going to have to fly to the location where it’s situated, for example, you will want it to be relatively easy to get to from the airport. If you choose a holiday home in the middle of nowhere, you will waste a lot more time and energy trying to get to it. That’s not what you want, especially when you consider that having a break at your second home is supposed to reduce stress not pile it on.

 

Make sure second homes are legally viable in the location you want to buy in

There are some areas in the world where it’s actually not legal to own second homes. These measures are usually put in place when the local area is suffering as a result of too many people buying up second properties, using them as holiday homes and depriving local people of decent housing. So before you decide for sure where you want to buy, make sure that the location you want to buy in allows second home ownership.

 

Do you want to let it out when you’re not there?

This is one option that can be considered if you’re going to be able to visit your second home a handful of times each year. By letting it out, you’re able to put the property to work and get it earning you some money when you’re not using it. With the rise of platforms like Airbnb, it’s now more possible to do this than ever before, so definitely look into it if you haven’t considered this option yet.

 

Decorate the home and keep it easy to maintain

Finally, you should make sure that you leave time to decorate the property, and when you’re still in the buying process, you should try to look for a home that seems relatively easy to maintain. You don’t want it to cause you even more headaches and problems than it needs to.

 

Purchasing a second home can be great for your family because it gives you all a place to escape to when you want to relax and spend time together in a location you love away from home. Just make sure that you don’t rush into any decisions and make sure you find the time to locate the ideal second home for your family.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Sadly, as much as you may try to avoid it, there will be times when you’ll have to carry out some DIY work around your home.

As a result, although you may not need to stock the latest and greatest power tools, there are several essential tools that you’ll need around the home.

Here are a few of the essentials you won’t be able to live without.

Tools you can't go without around the house

 

  • Hammer

Simple, versatile and often cheap, a hammer can be used for many jobs around the home, for straightening things out to helping put pictures up for decorations. Plus, you can select a type of hammer to suit your needs. Wooden handled hammers are the traditional form, and these remain lightweight and comfortable. However, for larger tasks in need of a bit more power, the newer rubber style grip may be more appropriate, as this provides more weight and power.

 

  • Adjustable Wrench

Got a small drip, something that needs tightening, or a radiator to bleed? Then an adjustable wrench or spanner is perfect for the task at hand. In days gone by, many people would buy wrench sets for every possible task around the home, but an adjustable wrench is cheap, functional and allows you to take on any problem. Plus, by having a drawer full of wrenches in one tool, you can save valuable space.

 

  • Screwdriver Set

From building flatpack furniture to assembling purchases and disassembling things to move around the home, screwdriver sets are perfect. Make sure your selection includes a range of different heads, such as phillips-head, flat-head, etc. If you’re looking to save on space, you can buy a multi-bit screwdriver set where you have one body and multiple and interchangeable heads. If you don’t like the idea of manually removing screws, then you could consider a battery powered screwdriver. The opportunities are endless and they’re all available from online providers.

 

  • Needle Nose Pliers

Has something gone wrong while you’ve put a nail into a wall? Or do you need help removing something from a tight space? Needle nose pliers are the perfect tool to help you. The thing with pliers is that you never realise you need them until you make a mistake or spot a problem, and then you need to stop mid-task. Prepare yourself in advance by adding some to your toolkit.

 

With these simple and cost-effective tools, you should be able to take on any minor DIY job around the home.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Christmas is coming.

It may still be several weeks away but it is coming and now is the time to start getting organised to avoid last minute stresses and rushing around.

If you want to go into the festive period feeling calmer and more on top of things, these 13 tips should help you get organised and save time this Christmas.

13 ways to get organised and save time at Christmas

 

1. Get a family calendar

If you already have a big family calendar up on the wall then use that, if not get a special one up for December.

Anything and everything that you need to do, go to or remember goes on that calendar.

As soon as you get the letters home from school about the Christmas concert, non-uniform days, and class parties put the dates on the calendar.  While you’re at it add a note with each event as necessary with the things you/your child needs to take along with them.

 

2. Arrange a childcare swap

If you need to get bits of Christmas shopping done in town, and could do with some peace to do it, then arrange a childcare swap with one of your friends.

Basically, you take care of their children for a few hours one day so they can crack on with their shopping by themselves, and they then return the favour.  This is also a great idea for when you need to get other Christmas-related jobs done in peace.

Just imagine, you could wrap a whole pile of presents in front of Love Actually completely undisturbed while your friend watches your children.  As long as you make sure to do the same for them to keep things fair!

 

3. Start shopping early

You can avoid some of the stress of Christmas shopping by getting started with it as soon as possible.

This way you’ll avoid the big crowds and the queues and have more time to find the perfect present for everyone on  your list.

You can make the whole experience even less stressful by doing as much of your shopping as possible online.  If you’re not already a member then think about getting an Amazon Prime account to get next day delivery on loads of items.  There’s normally a free trial period so you can test it out and see if it works for you and your family.

 

4. Phone ahead

If there are some presents that you can’t get online then you can still save yourself some time by phoning the shops before you head out to make sure they have what you need in stock.

A few phone calls could save you from hours of traipsing from shop to shop looking for the presents you’re after.

 

5. If in doubt go for a voucher

Some people are just really hard to buy presents for.

For these people you could spend hours searching for a gift that you think they might like, or you could save yourself a lot of time and just get them a gift voucher.

It might not feel as personal as you’d like, but pretty much everyone is happy to receive one and then get to choose something they’d actually really like.

You can save yourself even more time by ordering gift vouchers online.  A good safe option is an Amazon gift card as there is something for everyone on there.

 

6. Pick up some extra presents

While you’re doing your shopping thing about picking up a few extra presents to put aside for those people who unexpectedly get you something.

A few boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine are always good options, and are also handy to take along to any parties you might be invited to.

get organised and save time this Christmas

 

7. Do your food shopping online

Instead of battling the crowded aisles of the supermarket (after spending ages looking for a parking space) do your big food shop online.

Try and book your slot as early as possible and then you can keep adding items to your basket as you think of them up until the day before your delivery slot.

 

8. Sort out presents for teachers

If you have school-age children then you’ll know how tricky it can be to sort out presents for their teachers and classroom assistants.

As tempting as it might be to buy a ‘world’s best teacher’ mug, I have a better option for you.

Make a batch of something really easy but really tasty, like some chocolate bark or truffles, package them up nicely and give some to each teacher and assistant.  You’ll have everyone sorted with something they’ll love in no time at all.

 

9. Pick up stamps

Stock up on stamps next time you’re in town.

You don’t have to go to the post office to get them, you can a book of stamps from most supermarkets while you’re doing your weekly food shop.

Then when it comes to sending out your Christmas cards you won’t have to do an extra trip to the post office.

 

10. Knock out those Christmas cards

Get your list of everyone you want to send a card to and your address book.  Then go through and address all the envelopes first, instead of writing the cards and the envelopes one by one.

To make life even easier for yourself next year you can type up all your addresses and make labels that you can just print and stick on the envelopes.

 

11. Check your batteries

To save any frustration or disappointment over Christmas stock up on AA and AAA batteries in advance.

Make sure your camera batteries are charged too, and that you have enough space on your memory card for all the photos you’ll want to take.

 

12. Organise your wrapping

When you stock up on wrapping paper think about getting a different design for each member of the family.

This makes wrapping presents for stockings in particular much easier.  You won’t be worried about working out which presents need to go in which stocking once you’ve wrapped them all.

If you carry on using the same paper for the presents under the tree you can save time by skipping the gift tags.  Just tell your family that their presents will be wrapped in the same paper as their stocking presents.

 

13. Keep on top of your thank you notes

Have a piece of paper or your phone handy on Christmas day as presents are being opened so that you can note down who was given what by whom.

It might not be the most fun job in the world but will make things so much easier when it comes to writing thank you letters.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you get organised and save a fair bit of time this Christmas, so you can go into the festive season feeling full of cheer rather than stress.

Do you have any other tips or advice to help get organised for Christmas?

 

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This post is linked up with Blogger Club UK.

Moving house can be an incredibly stressful time, putting you through a lot of emotional and physical strain. In one poll, two-thirds of people voted moving house at the top of their stress list, with many claiming it caused greater anxiety than starting a new job or relationship breakdowns.

But it doesn’t have to be this way; there are many things you can do to easily reduce stress when moving to a new home.  

Easy ways to reduce stress when moving house

Have a Second Viewing

In many ways, your second house viewing is more important than the first. For the initial viewing you will get a good feel for the house and probably make a decision that you want to buy it. The second or third time you need to be prepared with a range of questions about the practicalities. This can reassure you about any worries that may crop up later, such as where the fuse box is found, how the boiler works, when the bins are collected and more.  

 

Label All Boxes

When it comes to packing up all your stuff, labelling the boxes clearly and using a coding system is a real stress-buster. Colours or numbers should be used to show how urgent the items in each box are, along with writing on their contents where possible and even using a different code for the room they’re needed in. This should make it simpler to know which boxes have to go where.

 

Use a Removal Firm

After buying your new property it can be tempting to try and cut further costs, especially if you’ve bought close to your budget. However, trying to transport all your belongings from your old home to new can be highly stressful and time consuming, going back and forth for ages. Even though it may cost a bit more, the benefits to your mental and physical health will be worth it if you just use a removal firm instead.

 

Move on a Friday

It makes sense to move house on a Friday if you can get the day off work, as this way you have the whole weekend to unpack and sort out any delays. If there’s a bank holiday on the Monday, then you’ll get even more time. Otherwise moving on a Saturday is the next best option as you won’t be stressing as much with more time to play with.

 

Create a Moving Day Survival Kit

You won’t have access to much of your stuff in the process of moving, so create a moving day survival kit. This should include food, cutlery, toiletries, baby supplies and pet food if necessary, phone, laptop, first aid kit and anything else you will need during the day.

 

Reduce the stress of moving house by following these tips and hopefully everything will run smoothly.  

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post