Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Keeping Safe As A New Driver

You might not know this, but last month I passed my driving test. I absolutely hated learning to drive, but since being out on the road by myself I've got to say I'm a fan of my newfound freedom. I've only stuck to routes I would have travelled on when learning - so this means no motorways just yet - but I've got to say I'm doing pretty well so far. When I rang my dad to let him know that I passed, instead of immediately offering up his congratulations to me, his first comment was that now I needed to know what to do in an emergency. And he's right!

Not long after Joe and I moved to Somerset, we were on the motorway heading along to Bristol. Out of nowhere, we heard a magnificent bang and the car was visibly lower on one side. Joe safely pulled us over onto the hard shoulder and got out to find that one of the tyres had completely burst open. We hadn't owned the car for very long, and had neglected to really check the tyres frequently enough. It turned out that while the front tyres looked brand new, the back tyres were completely threadbare. Not only is this pretty illegal - you could face up to 12 points on your license and a possible ban! - but dangerous too! If Joe had lost the control of the car, we would have been in a very scary situation. 
As neither of us had really anticipated this sort of thing, we didn't know what to do. Did our insurance include roadside assistance? Did we need to let the traffic maintenance people know? Did we phone a tyre service near to where we lived or near to where we situated along the M5? It really made us realise that we needed a plan of action if anything like this - or potentially worse - happened again. We've since created a nifty little folder that lives in the glovebox. It has all our insurance information, including if we have roadside assistance, our emergency contacts and even when we last changed our tyres - if yours might need replacing soon, check out DAT Tyres online to buy new ones. 
Of course, while it's a good idea to know what to do if you crash, you need to be able to relax enough and enjoy the drive. Although I was technically able to drive on the motorway as soon as I was insured on our car, I want to make sure I am properly used to our car - it's a lot older than my instructors shiny new one! - before I try anything new. I'm even considering taking up the Pass Plus scheme that instructors offer, which includes driving on the motorway and in bad weather conditions. But we'll see! For now, I'm enjoying being able to grab some sneaky chicken nuggets whenever I fancy it! 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with DAT Tyres. Content written by myself.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spending Quality Time with Your Partner*

Spending quality time with your partner is important for many reasons, and is even more important when you have a family. Things like looking after the kids, visiting friends and family, and work, take up so much of our lives. It is always good to remember that your other relationship needs some care and attention to. Many parents feel bad about leaving their children and spending some quality time with their partners, but it is essential to happy marriage, and will even benefit your children too. Seeing their parents happy and supportive is a great example for your children. Not to mention having a rest from everyday life and having to be on constant guard when the toddler is wandering around, is something everyone needs! Read on to find some ideas that parents could use to spend some quality time with their partner, you definitely deserve it!

The Classic

Going out to dinner, or going for a drink is the classic date night most couples go on, and is the good old faithful. No doubt there are restaurants you have your eye on, but have not been able to go because of the kids, this is your chance to go there. Book a baby sitter, or invite a family member to come look after them while you go out and relax. Many restaurants are not child friendly, or don’t have a family vibe, so consider this your chance to explore these places. Check out stylish venues and get on the Montezuma guestlist, for example. Even going out for a few drinks is something to take advantage of, and get cab home afterwards. Take this time to switch off, relax, enjoy yourself, and check in with your partner. You would be surprised how one evening can revitalize your relationship.

Be Adventurous

Why not try out something adventurous with your partner, and get some adrenaline pumping through your body. Are there some activities or sports you really wanted to try but haven’t been able to because of the kids? This could be jet skiing, rock climbing maybe, or perhaps zip wiring takes your fancy? There are plenty of activities like these that you can do for a day, or an afternoon. Experiencing and taking part in something new with your partner can be a great way to reconnect, and even learn new things about someone you have known for a long time. Relaxing, having fun, and even learning some new skills, can be a refreshing and revitalizing experience as well. Try out some new activities that could be lots of fun for your to try, or even take this time to pick up something you used to do.

It is so important to reconnect with your partner, and it is great to make spending quality time together a regular part of your lives. Anything from going out for a drink, a romantic candlelit dinner, or trying out a fun new activity, can be fun with with your other half. Take the time out of family life, to spend time with your other half.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Beauty School Dropout: How To Get The Best From Your Beauty Recruitment*

When you decide that it is time to expand your new beauty business, you will need to start thinking about recruiting some new hires. When it comes to looking for new recruits, it is absolutely crucial that you pick the best of all the applicants. After all, these new hires will become the face of your business since they will be face-to-face with all of your customers. Not only that, though, but they have to be experts at what they are hired to do - your customers won’t be happy at all if someone messes up their eyebrow wax or manicure! So, there is no room for any beauty school dropouts on your team!

Ready to get out there and find the best recruits for your beauty business? Here is everything you need to know.

Figure Out The Expertise You Need

How do you want to expand your business? In order to answer this, you will need to think about the new services that you want to offer all of your customers. For instance, maybe you want to start to offer some hair services along with your usual beauty treatments. Or perhaps you just want to add another beauty service to your company’s bow. In order to add some new expertise, though, you will need to find the right beauty therapist to bring their knowledge and experience to the team. Now that you know the expertise you need, it will be easier to narrow down all of your applicants to a shortlist.

Be Prepared To Offer Some Training

You will need to offer some onboarding training to all your new hires. As long as you hire some experienced professionals, then this shouldn’t need to include any beauty training. They’ll already know what to do when it comes to that! But you will need to show them the ropes of your salon and business. Any high-tech equipment that isn’t related to their job but you have in the salon, such as an IP camera or high-tech burglar alarm. You will also need to include some training that covers your company culture and expected customer service standard.

Always Check References

When your applicants send in their resumes, they should include the contact details of a couple of referees at the bottom. In some cases, they may simply put that references are available upon request. It’s always important that you get in touch with the referees for references. They will be able to give you a good idea of what the applicant is like in the workplace and how much of a team player they are. Most recruitment guides will tell you to get in touch for references after you have interviewed your candidates, but you can get references whenever you want in the recruitment process-  it’s completely up to you; there is no right or wrong way to do it!

Recruiting for a beauty business can be a big challenge, but the tips above should help you out and make it a whole lot easier!

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Getting The Help You Need With HMRCTalk

If you're a new reader around here, you might not know that in May last year I was elected to be a local councillor. As a local councillor, I represent the residents in my 'ward' and have committed myself to helping them get the best outcome in every way possible. Whether this is ensuring our roads aren't being used by unruly speedsters, or getting a 20MPH sign outside our local school - your local councillor is elected by you, and therefore works for you. Of course, there are limits to what I councillors can do - I can't wipe off anyone's council tax bill, for example - but generally councillors are a pretty helpful bunch. Where I live, the government have been trialing Universal Credit and since this rollout the vast majority of the problems brought to my attention are UC-related.  

And it's tough to help people when this is a completely new system that I'm unfamiliar with. It's even tougher when the UC system is completely online-based any my actual town is struggling to get decent internet across to every resident. Of course, as I want to help people, I need to first educate myself - it would really put people's income and potentially their lives at risk if I just gave them my best presumption. That's where HMRCTalk come in. Their website is made purely to provide helpful information to people who may be struggling on the HMRC website or with submitting a claim. 

It could be ensuring you don't miss the self-assessment tax return date or even trying to find information on maternity allowance - pretty much every aspect of HMRC is covered. When I had Robin, I actually went on maternity allowance (instead of Statuary Maternity Pay from my employer) as I hadn't been employed long enough to be entitled to their payment. I found the information I received over the phone differed from person to person, so if I'd have had HMRCTalk to hand, it would have really helped. Let me tell you, an annoyed pregnant woman quickly becomes a crying pregnant women! 

I am happily going to recommend HMRCTalk to any members of my ward who might like a bit more information, as I've found it incredibly helpful. 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with HMRCTalk. Content written by myself.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Knowing When Nap Time Stops*

When you first have a baby you might be very shocked at the amount of sleep they need during the day and the night. Rather like a cat,  abates spend most of their time sleeping, eating and crying. It is an endless cycle and for the first year or so it can be difficult for you to get any sleep at all.

Managing your child’s nap time is something which can’t really be taught because every child is different, however in general your child will nap for a few hours during the day until they are around 3-4 years old.

During this time you may want to look into day beds to help your child make the most of nap time in the afternoon and let them develop a nap routine. There Will of course come a time when naps are no longer needed, and 12 hours in bed at night is sufficient, but how do you know when your child is ready to stop napping in the day?

Every child is different and you may have noticed that the average times for a child to transition to no naps is a rather large window, so it is down to you to decide when the right time is to halt the naps altogether.

Your child takes a while to fall asleep

If your child seems to take a long time to fall asleep at nap time, or they don’t seem tired at all, this can be a telltale sign that they don’t need a nap anymore. Bear in mind that children develop very quickly at a young age and because of this you will see a huge change in a short amount of time with your child. For example if they were struggling to stay awake for 10 hours in the day a few weeks ago and now they can handle it with no issues, you might start to transition away from naps. As we get older we need less sleep, so your child will become used to staying awake for longer hours as they grow.

You child isn’t tired at bedtime

It can become somewhat of an ordeal to get your child to fall asleep at their bedtime, and you could end up spending an hour trying to get them to settle down and sleep. This is a sign that your child has become accustomed to staying awake for longer in the day, and is a sign that nap time needs to go. It might also be a snowball effect from your child taking longer to fall asleep during nap time. If you think about it, the later your child has a nap, the harder it will be for them to be tired enough to sleep at bedtime. So if you are trying to put them for a nap at 1 and they don’t fall asleep until 2, this is making it harder for them to fall asleep at night.

Your child skips the nap with no issues

If those child doesn’t have a nap one day and they seem to handle staying awake perfectly well, this could be a sign that you no longer need to send them for a nap in the afternoon. If you are unsure just try it for a week and see if it has any effect on your child’s energy levels. If it does not, napping days are over and the race to adulthood has truly begun.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Let’s Talk Baby Brain: The Things That You Don’t Want To Forget*

It is a well-known fact that during pregnancy your whole body changes, and as does your mental state. For many mums, pregnancy has a huge impact on their mental health. For some this leads to anxiety and depression, for others, it simply causes baby brain. Believe it or not, baby brain - AKA being super forgetful - is a real thing.

The thing about baby brain is that there is a common misconception that it only affects pregnant women, not new mothers but this is not the case. According to experts, baby brain is closely linked to all of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, as well as after child birth. However, the reason that baby brain tends to get worse after child birth is simply due to a lack of sleep. The fact is that sleep deprivation adds to baby brain, making it more prominent than ever.

Those first few weeks of motherhood are never going to be easy, in fact, they will most probably be some of the most stressful (and happiest) weeks of your life. Of course, the issue with baby brain is that it can make you incredibly forgetful, meaning that you may end up forgetting some important things.

As a new mum, you have a lot to remember, and forgetting things is not ideal, so to help make life that little bit easier for you, below is a list of the things that you don’t want to forget to do after giving birth to your little one.

Book a baby photoshoot

Those first few weeks of parenthood are going to go by in a flash, which is why it is so important to capture them. Don’t leave it too long to book that newborn baby photo shoot. Otherwise, your little bundle won’t be a newborn anymore. If you leave it too long, you will miss out on capturing some of the most precious moments of all with your new addition, which is why this should be at the very top of your post-birth list. Don’t have time to deal with finding and booking a photographer? Ask your partner or a family member to deal with it for you - they should be more than happy to help.

Write down your birth story

When it comes to how you gave birth, you may not want to remember it. This is particularly true if it was a traumatic birth. However, the fact is that you may want to remember how you brought your little bundle of joy into the world, and writing it down is a great way to do that. Sit down while he or she naps and spend some time getting all of the most important details down, so that should you want to reminisce in the future, or tell your child about how they came into the world, you can do.

Get on birth control

Did you know that after giving birth you become super fertile? All those hormones buzzing around your body increase your fertility by a large amount, which means that unless you want to get pregnant anytime soon, you need to get on birth control as soon as possible. There are lots of options to choose from, from the implant and IUD to birth control pills, for example, Microgynon is a common combined contraceptive pill that a lot of women choose to use. It’s important to think about what would work best for you - this is something that you can discuss with your doctor. If you used a certain form of birth control before getting pregnant, you might want to go back on this one again - it is totally up to you. You may not be thinking of being intimate with your partner anytime soon - doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks anyhow - but just in case you are, remember to take birth control seriously.

Send birth announcements

The chances are that everyone who you know is waiting patiently for their birth announcement. You might have already posted on Facebook about the arrival of your little one, but it’s still nice to send out little keepsakes in the form of announcements to family and friends. You can choose to create these yourself, or if time it tight, which it most probably is, you can order them online.

Register the birth

You have to register your little one’s birth within a set period of time. In the UK you have 42 days - six weeks - to register your child’s birth. So make sure to put this on your to-do list, as the last thing that you want is to fail to register their birth in time. After the 42 days are up, the whole process becomes much more expensive and costly, so make sure to register them within six weeks of their birth.

Give yourself time to adjust

The fact is that motherhood is not something that you glide seamlessly into, despite what you might have seen on the TV and in movies. Life as a parent is not always easy, and it can take a lot of adjusting too. Everything changes the moment that you become a parent, but that doesn’t mean that you are ready for those changes. The fact is that you need to give yourself and your partner time to adjust to becoming parents. It may be a slow adjustment, but don’t worry, you will get there.

Becoming a parent is totally and completely amazing, it is also very stressful and tiring, which is why baby brain is so common. The chances are that for the first 18-25 weeks of your little one’s life you will be quite forgetful, but that is totally normal. However, that being said, you don’t want to forget to do important things, do you? So it is a good idea to make a list of everything that you need to do so that nothing gets forgotten. Hopefully, the suggestions above will help to get you started. You will love being a parent; it may just take a little time to adjust fully to all the changes.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Monday, 22 January 2018

How To Become Your Own Nest Guru

I am obsessed with my sleeping habits, there I said it. I even posted about my ideal bedroom setting a few days ago! Over the years, I think I've covered pretty much every extreme when it comes to sleep. I've gone whole hog and played around with dream journals or tracked my sleep using apps to being completely blasé about using my phone in bed or binging Come Dine With Me at 3am when I should have been snoozing. Don't judge me on that last one, Dave Lamb's witty commentary pretty much got me through my final year of college.
Now that I'm getting older and perhaps wiser, I've realised that you don't need fancy gadgets or apps to help your sleep. You just need a decent, dedicated sleeping space. That means a mattress that works to your sleeping habits, the right sleeping environment and ensuring that you keep the bed for it's rightful purpose - sleeping! Of course you may do a whole load of other activities there *sniggers* but you shouldn't be using your bed as an office or cinema. 
My commitment to my sleeping - or perhaps lack of, with a troublesome toddler who enjoys waking me up at 4am - has brought my attention to the Bed Guru #NestGuru campaign and their lovely mattresses. Bed Guru are sleep specialists and they understand that we're all different - and that includes our sleeping habits. I'm a devoted back-sleeper, whereas Joe is a full-on side-sleeper. I'm a very light sleeper, and will wake up if Joe moves around too much. Which, you'll be glad to know he does. A lot. As working parents to two pretty active kiddos, we need a mattress that will ensure we fall asleep instantly, because sleep is precious, yo! In short, we need a mattress that is going to keep us both happy, one that distributes our weight evenly and eases the pressure on our knackered bodies as we rest. 
For this reason, I'm loving their range of Latex mattresses. They're a great alternative to the ever-popular memory foam mattress, with the added bonus of keeping allergies at bay. Although this is a mattress for Joe and myself, keeping allergies away is something I'm really concerned about for our family. I used to have pretty bad allergies as a nipper so anything to ensure the kids don't follow suit are more than welcome. Much like a memory foam mattress, the Latex mattress is super responsive and will mould to your bod to ensure the perfect sleep. 
So, there we have it. Nobody has any reason now to have a bad night's sleep. In fact, I'm hoping to finally twist Joe's arm and upgrade our mattress this month - wish me luck! 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Bed Guru. Content written by myself.
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