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There are many good things about buying or renting a smaller home. For one, less square footage usually means lower heating bills and a smaller mortgage. There’s also less to clean and as no room is too far away you can probably hear your phone ringing from every part of the house. That said, storage space can be an issue if your property is a little on the cosier side, but thankfully there are many solutions which will help keep things in order – and here’s a selection:

 

1. Hire a storage facility
If the benefits of downsizing are just too hard to ignore, you might decide to go for it, but what happens if all your belongings from the larger house won’t fit into a more modest abode? Well, you could always check out cheap storage in Heathrow and other parts of the country as many of the units available are safe, secure, reasonably priced and great for keeping personal property out of the way until you decide what to do with it. While some people hire these for just a few months, others keep them for months if not years, and treat them simply as another garage or storage room.

 

2. Furniture with hidden storage
“A place for everything and everything in its place,” is the perfect mantra for a small home as too much mess can lead to disaster with people tripping over shoes and ornaments just to get to the kitchen. So, if you’re looking to keep things neat and tidy it might be worth investing in furniture with hidden storage. Beds with secret draws, to desks with lift up lids, and foot rests with plenty of room inside to keep papers, magazines, DVDs and CDs, will ensure your items stay in order.

 

 

3. Think vertical storage
When it comes to space saving, it’s also a good idea to make the most of vertical space.
This means investing in tall, narrow bookshelves and display cabinets rather than wider, bulkier items to help free up as much room as possible. Similarly, when buying storage boxes (which are great for keeping everything from children’s toys to sports equipment, stationary and odds and ends), opt for stackable designs which can be placed on top of one another and pushed up against a wall rather than clogging up floor space.

 

4. Use the space under the stairs
If you live in a house with a stairwell, be sure to use the space under the stairs carefully. There are many things you can do to transform this into a unique and quirky storage area from installing a pull out coat hanger or shoe rack to building in a miniature office. Filling that space with adequate shelving which you can decorate with family photos or artwork can also work or you might decide to build a mini library. The choice really is yours but be as creative as possible and use every centimetre of room you have.

 

Making the most of your small space might require a little careful thinking and imagination, but with dedication and persistence you’re sure to create the living environment of your dreams.

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We know what it’s like. You’ve barely got a minute to pop to the loo, let alone get yourself fit. With kids, work and housework to juggle, it can be a nightmare trying to get any seconds to yourself.

 

It is possible, however, to create a plan that works for you and your workout. Simply ask yourself the following questions… and the answers should point you in the right direction.

 

What do I do every week?

This is the most important question of the lot. Make a note of everything you do in a week on a calendar. Be honest and include everything – this will be an important starting point to make your plan work.

 

What could I do differently?

Once you’ve got a full account of your week mapped out you can go through your activities, line by line, and look for ways to save time. That could mean, for example, doing your weekly shop on a different day or online to avoid it eating into your time too much.

 

Where could I make better use of my time?

Do you have a random hour to kill in between picking up the kids and another task? These are the fleeting moments that you can build into valuable time for a workout – possibly by snapping up some equipment and getting your exercise at home.

 

What do my friends do?

How do they fit in a fitness regime? Maybe they don’t either. Working out with a friend can be a great way to ensure you find the time for a workout within your week as, together, you’ll spur each other on and not let the other down. Pick a club, class or gym that suits your needs – or maybe even alternate at each other’s houses – to make your workout an intrinsic part of your social life.

 

How can I make my workout more convenient?

If you are busy then you can’t afford for your workout to be long winded. Don’t be afraid to ditch the gym and take charge of your routine at home. You could also build in a jog with a practical task – such as a nip to the corner shop.

 

Is my diet easy to manage?

A workout needs to be supported by the right diet – with the right intake of nutrients to fuel your activity, growth and recovery. You can balance this up much more easily – and save time - by using supplements to top up items you are not consuming enough of.

 

What do I want to achieve?
Your workout need not be as daunting as it seems. Set small, achievable goals and you’ll realise that even short, sharp bursts of exercise can help you to succeed.

 

By asking and answering these questions you’ll find it is possible to squeeze in even the most basic of workout plans. When you have a busy life the only true way to keep fit is to make this a vital part of your week. It might be tough but with a bit of determination it is possible and will be well worth it in the long run.

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Your garden provides a space for your kids to enjoy the outdoors – from water fights on a hot summer’s day to playing fetch with the dog, or hours of fun on their personal playground. But had you considered that, aside from this, it can also be a space for learning outside the classroom?

 

What better way for children to learn about your garden than wildlife? Aside from getting them away from the TV and out into the fresh air, it will be a fun way for them to learn transferable skills and knowledge. As well, of course, as teaching them about why it’s important to work with wildlife and not against it.

 

1. Design a wildlife garden

Sit down at the garden table and give your child a large sheet of paper and colouring pens. Then get them to draw your garden! Once they have done this get them to add additions that will be of benefit to the garden wildlife. As they (hopefully) draw a source of food, water and shelter – get them to explain to you why they have added each one in. When they have finished go over anything they have missed and see if they work out why it should be included. This is a good time to explain that wildlife needs support in the winter months when food, shelter and water is harder to come by, and in summer months when they have extra mouths to feed.

 

2. Care for wildlife in the garden

Get them to help you ensure your garden is wildlife friendly by implementing the above into it. Sit down and check out this wholesale bird food supplier – as well as choosing food, they can also help you find feeders, homes and other accessories that will help to care for garden creatures. Explain how different birds, mammals and bugs have different requirements and why. Then give them the job of topping up the bird feeders with seed and baths with water – so they have to keep checking on it and thinking about when it needs doing – learning responsibility as a result.

 

3. Discover their natural artistic talent

Search the garden for all the different creatures you can find, then take a seat and start to draw them. This way your child will understand that creatures big and small can come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Once they have drawn the creatures, use the images to explain the food chain (and lifecycle) by getting them to arrange their drawings in order.

 

4. Save the bees!

Educate your kids on garden friends that need your help. Many kids (and grown ups) fear bees and wasps – not fully understanding the difference between them. They are grouped together and seen not only as a nuisance that will disrupt your summer BBQ but also feared, as they are able to cause pain. However, bees are essential to pollinating the crops that form our food as well as those that provide food to wildlife. Your kids can learn about this, whilst you make your garden a place for them to thrive – by making a bee house, for example.

 

5. Create a worm farm

The earthworm is another good example of how something small and seemingly insignificant can play a big role when it comes to protecting our natural environment and helping it thrive. Worms tunnel through the earth helping plant roots get greater access to water, air and nutrients – helping the plant to grow.

 

Plus, they are natural recyclers, converting food scraps from the kitchen into compost for the garden. Your kids can observe these wriggly creatures at work in their very own worm farm. Make the farm and then have fun searching the garden for worms to fill it.

 

 

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Are you fed up of your kids constantly asking to play on your iPad or iPhone? They don’t come cheap and all you can see is it being returned to you covered in sticky finger marks, a scratched screen, with deleted photos – and all that is the least of your worries when it won’t even turn on!

 

However, have you considered that allowing your child to play on your phone or tablet, if you set them up on the right apps, could actually provide them with a fun, but educational experience outside of the classroom?

 

Despite what we often hear about technology and staring at screens being ‘mind numbing’ – educational apps will keep your youngsters’ minds active outside of school – as well as keeping them quiet and entertained at the same time!

 

So, here are six apps you may want to download now:

 

1.    My First 101 Words - £1.49

This app is aimed at teaching toddlers their first words – 101 of them to be exact! A young boy and girl take the user through a series of videos that teach them different words. Each word has been carefully selected to include nouns and verbs found in resources supporting pre-school speech and language development. The words are either an object or action – that is demonstrated and spoken by the boy or girl, as well as being written on the screen.

 

2.    Justin’s World: Goldilocks and the Three Bears - £2.99

CBeebies star Justin Fletcher fronts this fairytale app – turning Goldilocks and the Three Bears into an entertaining fable about tidying up and being helpful. Packed with games, puzzles and activities to get your child laughing, thinking - and learning – including interactive activities to develop language, matching, sorting and counting skills. Plus there is also a video of Justin bringing the characters to life as he tells the story.

 

3.    DoodleMaths (Primary Maths) - Free

This app is perfect to improve 7-11 year olds’ confidence and ability in maths. Designed by leading teachers, DoodleMaths works by identifying your child's level, strengths and weaknesses, and gradually progressing them at the rate that's right for them. Kids will love the doodle book format and earning credits -who knew maths could be so fun?

 

4.    Comics in the Classroom – Free

*3 free demos – then 79p for each in-app purchase  

This app provides an exciting way to learn about history’s key figures and events. These digital comics don’t just let kids see how events unfolded – they enable them to get involved. Children fill in the speech bubbles to prove their understanding of subjects such as Pearl Harbour and Jack the Ripper.

 

5.    Kids learn Spanish with busuu – Free

* packs of lessons available as £1.49 in-app purchases

 

¿Cómo se dice ... en español? – with the help of this app your kids will be able to tell you! From online community busuu (which offers similar ones in Italian, French and other languages) this app teaches kids 150 Spanish words across 30 lessons. The mini-games and revision quizzes are aimed at 4 -7 year olds.

 

6.    Percy Parker – 79p

Do your kids know that learning times tables is fun? They will once they have been on this app! Children can join in with Percy Parker and his band as they sing entertaining and memorable songs for each times table.

 

Surely a potentially scratched screen is worth it, to further your child’s education? Especially when LoveFone can fix any problems you may encounter within an hour!

 

 

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Families are rather chaotic creations; sometimes the phrase nuclear is almost literal.

Parents are prone to have enough arguments and different ideas of their own, but it all becomes even more confusing when one throws in a brother or sister. And don’t even talk to us about grandparents and cousins…

 

How do you mobilise the troops into a solid unit, rather than a rag-tag outfit that misses important events and turns up late or inappropriately dressed when it does remember them? Here are four ideas to make family life flow a little more easily.

 

Practical ideas

Space is usually at a premium in the family household, especially when said space is cluttered with magazines, toys, gadgets, clothes and other items that could be tidied.

 

The key is using the space wisely, labelling, and teaching early in the process. If your child’s name adorns a cupboard compartment, for example, then there is little excuse for appropriate items not finding their way home.

 

Buzzfeed features a huge array of ideas in this piece, including creating a portable homework station, a ‘command centre’, and a plastic drawer set for board games.

 

Get a calendar

Whether you go for a printed version with pictures of your favourite people and memories – click here to find out more – or a 21st century digital delight that organises and streamlines everything in your life, it doesn’t really matter.

 

The important factor is that everything is saved, and that you use it! Look at it! Write ‘pre-reminders’ to tell you when something is coming up next month, rather than finding out that the event is cruelly imminent when you turn over the page.

 

Google Calendar is particularly effective as you can import weather predictions, sports fixtures, TV schedules and new Twitter followers, saving you the effort of writing or typing them out.

 

Foster a good relationship with the school

That doesn’t mean going out for coffee or hanging out at the same pubs. It means knowing roughly when events are taking place, or being part of the school’s social media network.

 

It means opening and carefully reading any letters that your little ones bring home, and immediately adding it to the diaries we’ve mentioned before. It means making sure that there’s always change somewhere in the home for Comic Relief or baking days or trips or anything else that needs cash at short notice.

If your children’s school sends out email newsletters, get yourself on the list. And whatever you do, make sure that Christmas plays and parents’ evenings are on that list and scribble out anything else at the same time.

 

Teamwork

No individual should be expected to do everything. If you’re not told about your other half’s works do or your son’s football practice, then how can you do anything about it in preparation?

 

If everyone fills in the calendars and uses their initiative the household order will be smooth and streamlined, with no room for excuses. Be assured that your teenagers will soon let you know if they need money, so it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll tell you about any upcoming trips or social events. As for your younger ones, get them in the habit of handing over notes, and try to teach them the art of give and take; if we do what your sister wants today, we’ll do what you want tomorrow. Yes, it’s not as easy as it sounds….

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Running out of space can be incredibly frustrating for homeowners. It means having to cram everything in together, throwing out items that you’d rather not part with and blushing every time a guest glances around at the masses of stocked clutter gathered in the corner of the room. Instead of fetching a black bin bag and parting with your precious possessions, there are certain things that you can do or incorporate into your home that will save space without sacrificing the limited floor space that you already have.

1. De-Clutter

The first step towards making more room in your home is to get rid of the clutter. Clutter can be anything from electronics to kitchen equipment or old magazines, for example. You must distinguish the clutter and decide which things are going in the bin and which things are better suited for storage rooms. Storage units are your answer to a more spacious home. You will have instant additional space in your home without having to permanently say goodbye to your cherished possessions, which means that you can easily take them in and out of storage however and whenever you please.

 

2. Stair Drawers

A fascinating method of ‘secret storage’ in the home is the invention of stair drawers. These are quite easy to install and work as a great space saving opportunity as you can store anything from towels to books inside your stairs, remaining virtually invisible to any guests or visitors that come to your home.

 

3. Shoe Racks

If your home is filled with random pairs of shoes dotted about the house, invest in a simple shoe rack which can be hung on the back of the wardrobe doors and used to store the family’s shoes in an orderly and easy-to-find fashion.

 

4. Magnetic Strips

Magnetic strips can be glued to your wall to keep smaller items in place. People regularly use these for their garages to hold onto nails, screws and other smaller magnetic items that are incredibly easy to misplace. They can even be used in the kitchen. Homes and Hues states that you can easily add a magnetic strip to the bottom of jars which can then be used to house spices or seeds etc. 

  

5. Under Bed Storage

The space under your bed usually provides a great source of additional bedroom storage. Use transparent boxes or vacuum bags to store out-of-season clothes, towels, bed linens and extra curtains, etc.

 

6. Windowsill Extension

According to Martha Stewart, a windowsill shelf extension is a ‘smart way to create a temporary extension for displaying arrangements, frames, and more’. They also add a great addition to your home décor, giving the room a more contemporary and modern design.

 

7. Velcro Tape

Organize your electronic cords with Velcro tape. This is especially useful if you have kids in your home who have a multitude of game consoles and remote controls in their room that tend to become tangled with each other. A Velcro tape will keep everything separate and well organized.

  

8. Shelving

Installing additional shelving in your home will provide you with more storage options. Shelves can be stored anywhere in the home, even above the doors and underneath windows, etc.

 

9. Dividers

If you find that the inside of your drawers are bustling with various items and gadgets, a simple dividing system will provide a more tidy space for storage. You can make DIY dividers with old cereal boxes and jewellery boxes, which work just as well as store-bought dividers.

 

10. Corner Bookshelves

People often forget about the corners of their home. A corner can have shelves or even a bookshelf installed to provide extra storage space for CDs, DVDs and books.

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Educators constantly have to use their imagination in order to create a welcoming and inspirational learning space. Teaching pupils of differing abilities in a single classroom means that rooms have to be divided or space has to be found elsewhere.

 

Tackling the space problem

With many schools across the UK dealing with overcrowded classrooms or a lack of space in general, an innovative solution has to be found. One way of tackling this problem is to divide a classroom with panels. For younger children, these screens can be used to construct an additional safe play area, and if they are built to resemble a moulded plastic train like those from Hope Education, they can provide a useful way of separating a play area from a learning space in the classroom. As an additional benefit, the screens can be folded away when not in use.

 

Imagination is essential

Schools with tight budgets often can’t afford to build a new classroom to cope with increased pupil numbers. Rather than erecting Portakabins, one school, Central First School in Ashington, Northumberland, has used a bus as an additional learning area. An article in The Daily Mail highlights the fact that one in five primary schools across the UK are over subscribed. The sums for transforming the Ashington’s double decker classroom, bought on eBay, only came to £8,000, a sum considerably less than constructing a new classroom. Mr Godfrey, the school’s headmaster, stated that the school had also converted toilets and cupboards into additional workspaces.

 

Brightening up the school library

In a bid to reintroduce children to the wonderful world of books, many school libraries across the UK have had to transform the appearance of their libraries. Forget dusty shelves filled with dull looking tomes that most children would simply ignore. Monochrome walls have also been abolished in a bid to make libraries look more enticing.

 

The Guardian recently featured school libraries from across the country where rooms have been divided by screens, decorated with brightly coloured art work and the actual book shelves come in different shapes and sizes. Many school libraries now ‘allow children to make discoveries, put technology to imaginative use, learn, perform and relax as well as read.’ The library has been reborn as an additional learning space.

 

Innovation leads the way

Some schools are suffering such pressure on their classrooms that they are literally ‘crammed to the rafters.’ In 2014 the Local Government Association found a one billion pound shortfall in funding to create more spaces. Schools in both Liverpool and East London have had to create play areas on the roofs of their schools as the playgrounds were increasingly filling up with temporary classrooms. 

 

With a government restriction of only 30 places to a class and increasing pupil numbers, schools are going to have to dream up novel ways of approaching the problems of overcrowding. The days of separate classrooms for every academic activity will become a memory of the past. 

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If you fancy whisking the little ones off for a trip of a lifetime, you won’t be short of spectacular places to go. From luxurious seaside resorts offering everything you and your family will need to retreats nestled in the mountains, you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy but if you’re in need of some inspiration, here are five standout locations to experience with the kids.

 

1. Canary Islands

A Spanish archipelago located off the southern coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands make for a spectacular holiday destination. From the black sands of Lanzarote to the quaint coastlines of La Palma, the Canaries offer something different around every turn with the accommodation being as equally diverse and exciting.

While many resorts are located by the sea, the Ritz-Carlton Abama resort here is positioned high on a cliff top commanding wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean and La Gomera Island. There’s something for everyone, so why not experience the delights of this part of the world for yourself?

 

2. Cyprus

As a parent, you might be slightly anxious about travelling with the kids, especially if it’s your first holiday as a family – but there’s really no need to worry. Countries like Cyprus will welcome your entire brood with open arms and as many of the top hotels cater for babies, young children, teenagers and adults alike, everyone will be able to enjoy their stay on this sunshine island. Cyprus is great for many reasons thanks to its fascinating ruins, incredible mountain ranges and delicious food but it’s the beaches which make this place a must-see. Fig Tree Bay in Protoras has even been voted the sixth best beach in Europe and is well worth a visit.

 

3. Italy

From one Mediterranean gem to another, Italy is also a country with strong family values that will happily entertain you and your little cherubs for a week or two. Aside from the delicious food, with pasta, pizza and seafood appearing on many menus, you can also soak up the exquisite views of Venice and Verona or suss out the tourist hot spots of Rome including the world-renowned Colosseum. Italy is quite literally a feast of fascinating ruins, famed sculptures and memorable architecture making it a great country to explore.

 

4. Maldives

If your idea of paradise is glistening white sands, turquoise waters, tropical fish and wonderfully rustic sea huts, The Maldives won’t disappoint. It really is as beautiful as it looks on postcards offering children their very own Treasure Island to explore. The food is to die for, the locals are smiley and welcoming and resorts, some set within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, are second to none.

 

5. Dubai

Just because you’re a parent now does not mean you can’t consider a Middle Eastern adventure. From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the hustle and bustle of the souk there’s something for every taste and due to the large amount of family-family hotels on offer you won’t have trouble finding somewhere safe to stay. Travel is a fantastic form of education, so if you want to give your child an experience they’ll remember for a lifetime and submerge them into a different culture, this is the place to be.

 

There are many exotic countries worldwide that will add a bit of luxury to your life, but these are five of the best.

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As parents today, we often experience high levels of pressure and stress to make sure our children become well rounded individuals. We pack their lives with a variety of activities and sports clubs to keep them fit, sociable and confident, encourage them to do well at school, make the right friends and painstakingly pore over every decision about their education.

The daily routine of family life with all its chores and demands and our own feelings of responsibility to ensure our children are confident, independent, responsible and happy can all make for very stressed and exhausted parents. Basically what I am saying is that if we are not physically on the go, we are mentally on the go; thinking about what to do and where to be next.

It's no wonder that 90% of parents describe themselves as frantic rather than fun. It's no wonder that parents today have become DOers rather than BEers.

It's not helped by the fact that we're always having to take calls, check texts and emails and feel that we need to respond and to be reached 24/7. Our children quickly realise they don't have our full attention when we're attached to our iPhones, which can create huge challenges when we then try to tackle the issue of their screen time too.

The effect of this 'full on all the time' way of life is that we are never really in the moment or mindfully there for ourselves or our children. And this can have a negative effect on both of us!

For us, it can cause stress/irritability and exhaustion and we can start to react to situations in a much more negative way. We stop listening properly to our children; we are just too busy thinking about other things. We forget to enjoy the small moments with them and sadly miss out on opportunities to praise them.

We then often start to feel guilty as, deep down, we know that this is not the parent we want to be and we can start to lose our confidence as a parent. This can encourage self-doubt in our children too as they start to think that we don't want to be with them. They start playing up to get our full attention as they know we always react when they are fighting or misbehaving. They feel that we are not listening and start not listening to us and each other. They start mimicking our behaviour and becoming like us!! Our stress is being passed on to them.

The good news...mindfulness can be achieved by anyone, anywhere.

Mindfulness aims for you to fully focus on each moment you are with your children. Mindfulness helps you to find the balance between being a DOer and a BEer. When we do become 'mindfully there', we become a great role model for our children based on respect, care and deep love. Since we are fully aware of what they say, do and feel we really get to know our children better and re-connect with them. We feel proud of ourselves at the end of each day as we feel we are doing the right thing, even if things haven't gone to plan and they aren't!

We gain energy and motivation as a parent as we start to see the same emotions and feelings manifesting themselves in our children. we will have a positive and dynamic focus on problem-solving in stressful situations and become more open-minded to positive discipline. Our children develop healthy social skills based on listening and respect for other people. They become like us (and in a good way!) and we start to have fun together again.

Awareness is the first key to mindfulness. Our daily tasks and challenges are not going to go away but when you become aware that you are not 'in the moment' and are just too busy thinking about other things or multi-tasking, remind yourself why you need to focus now.

Relax your body, breathe slowly and look at your children and smile. Try to think more calmly and remember that Mindful parents become essentially better able to manage difficult situations and issues arising in the family and within themselves.

"I started to enjoy every moment with my family. good and bad, instead of always being on my way to doing something else or thinking about doing it." Suzanne, Berks

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Buying a home online is now big business. Once technologically savvy estate agents realised that the old traditional high street estate agents and newspapers can be overtaken by the might of the digital world to the satisfaction of potential customers, the balance was always likely to change in favour of the Internet of Things.

 

A Google search of the term ‘buying a home online’ leads to 366,000,000 results, for a market that’s booming from Manchester to Mumbai. For the Millennial, imagining the logistics of looking for a home in another country or even county without the Internet or a mobile phone is mind-boggling.

 

The numbers are clear; your next, perfect home is surely out there, somewhere.
The flip side of the burgeoning online property market is that the process could almost be too swift and simple, meaning that an interested party might miss out without acting fast.

 

As a point of reference, online estate agent House Simple states that it saves the average customer £5,077, but perhaps more pertinently for buyers in this context, a full 48 days faster than the 68 day average sale time of a high street agent (go to the website to find out more). Other online agents might boast similarly impressive stats, so if you do find an intriguing property act fast.

 

Setting up accounts with a number of portals will help a number of buyers to find a selection of properties based on a number of criteria. Zoopla, Rightmove and other giants dominate the online market but other alternatives exist. Whitehot Property exists purely for the repossessions market, while Unmodernised does what it suggests and concentrates on those eager for a challenge through offering properties that need refurbishment. Other online agents and portals can be found here.

 

If you’re looking for something a little special take heed: ‘dream homes’ are often owned by people who are a little different, who possess a bit more imagination and business sense than the average, and therefore may want to save money on the sale should they decide to move. These people include Steve Phillips, who is aiming to save almost £100,000 by buying and marketing his Bray home by constructing and monitoring his own site (as well as placing it on The Telegraph’s finance section).

 

Limiting oneself to the property giants might preclude you from finding a property that could be ‘the one’ so keep a beady eye on social media. For example, #houseforsale, #realestate or other similarly-themed hashtags can be used by sellers to place their properties on Twitter so that searchers can find them from across the globe. Equally, a hashtag such as #movingtolondon might tempt someone with a property for sale in The Capital to get in touch.

 

As an overall plan, these could be the steps to take to find your ideal home online. Set up a new email account purely for receiving property news. Set your parameters  - number of bedrooms and bathrooms, price (and remember to factor in stamp duty and other possible extra costs) – and spend time each day looking at the alternatives. If one grabs you, arrange a visit, and if it then really grabs you – go for it!

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The last academic year saw the compulsory introduction of Computing into the British National Curriculum. Pupils as young as five are being taught the language of computers, learning topics from debugging to app creation.

This much-needed modern shake up to the UK education system received a huge thumbs up from the technology industry, who say that this move will help close the gap between jobs available in the sector and the number of qualified candidates able to fill them. Schools have felt this change with the number of computing teacher vacancies on sites such as EduStaff shooting up.

Although this is good news for our children’s future, the coding initiative also has wonderful benefits for pupils whilst they are still in school. Experts claim that being taught how a computer thinks directly complements the subjects of mathematics, science and languages.

There’s a lot more to it than this, however. The benefits of coding are often discussed in the context of employment and academic success, usually with reference to STEM-related subjects. Rarely are the personal skills learnt from computing highlighted and championed; ones that are applicable to all elements of life.

Learning to code quite literally enables you to create virtual worlds where the only limit is your imagination. Computing lessons include the activities of creating games and animations, with many involving group work. Collaboration and creativity go hand in hand, having a positive effect on both the academic and social skills of our children. A Europe-wide competition held by Microsoft in October saw three British pupils triumph the 12-16 year old category with their game creation using a visual programming language.

Pupils attainment in literacy can also increase when properly taught how to code. Certain programmes that allow users to create animations have been used in creative writing classes, suggesting that the study of algorithms can directly assist the comprehension of sentence structure.

Understanding how computers work means understanding how the world around us works. Our children are brought up surrounded by technology, so not learning the language of technology will surely pose a major challenge. This incredible skill will empower learners to not only grasp how our world works, but how to create it.

Aside from the obvious benefits, teaching our children how to think computationally builds upon their creative, social, problem-solving and awareness abilities. These transferable, important skills will give them a head start on whichever way their path goes. 

 

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As reported in the media a few days ago, a radical shake up at the BBC could see CBBC and CBeebies channels, amongst others, facing the axe.

Digital Spy reports "A kid-friendly version of BBC iPlayer called iPlay is among the new proposals, along with a music discovery service based on Playlister.

BBC Director General Tony Hall describes iPlay as a "single, online front-door for children to the wealth of the whole BBC and our trusted partners".

The service will offer a broader range of content than CBeebies and CBBC, with programming geared towards pre-schoolers and young adolescents alike.

Hall has promised that all content will be free of commercial elements and their "pester-power", a term he uses to describe kids being compelled to beg their parents for official mechanise they've seen on screen."
We'd be very interested to hear your views on development. If you feel passionately about saving these channels then you may wish to sign this petition at change.org, Save the CBeebies TV Channel! 

Or you may think that the app based portal for kids to use on an tablet or similar is the best way forward now.

Whatever your views, please do comment below and let's see if we can get a discussion going about this.

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Your pet is part of the family, so when you go on holiday the last thing you want to do is leave them behind. Not only will kennels add to the cost of your holiday, no one really wants to watch those puppy dog eyes looking up at them as they leave their beloved pooch in a cage while they jet off to enjoy some sun, sea and sand.

 So, rather than leaving your pet to pine for you, take them with you and have a whole new holiday experience that both you and the kids will enjoy! Whether that holiday is a staycation in a country cottage or a beachfront villa in the sun, there are plenty of options open to you and your pet!  

 1. England

More Britons are holidaying at home than ever before and is it any surprise when the UK has so much to offer? Whether you choose the palm tree lined golden sandy beaches of Cornwall, the enchanting woodland of the New Forest, or the changing scenery of our waterways, there is a wealth of dog-friendly accommodation and attractions across the country.

 2. Scotland

There are plenty of attractions and hotels that welcome pets in Scotland. Explore ancient forests, shaded glens, award-winning beaches and discover rich history, all with your dog in tow!

 3. Wales

A cottage break with your pooch in Wales will provide you with plenty of beautiful walks, from costal paths to countryside. With an abundance of pet-friendly accommodation you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to stay!

 4. Ireland

Ireland is a truly dog-friendly destination and there is plenty of pet-friendly accommodation to choose from. From five star hotels rolling out the red carpet, to a large selection of pet-friendly cottages, situated both deep in the countryside and on the coast near to dog-friendly beaches.

 5. France

Pets can move far more freely across borders than they used to be able to, as long as they have a passport and up-to-date vaccinations. France is an ideal location, as it offers all you could want from a summer break within easy travel distance from your home.

 6. Spain

Another sunny hotspot that can be easily reached with your pooch, is Spain. Although dogs are banned from many Costa del Sol beaches, there are several that welcome man’s best friend so your pet will be able to enjoy the sand between his paws.

 7. Greece

Entertain your four-legged friend and two-legged offspring with a holiday in Greece - although you may want to avoid going in the height as summer, as the conditions could make it an uncomfortable experience for your pet. Temperatures in the spring will be far lower, and the air-conditioned accommodation and a dip in the sea will keep them extra cool.

 8. Switzerland

Although not actually a member of the EU, Switzerland has adopted the same rules and regulations regarding pets crossing the border. Here your dog can travel on public transport (for free if they are small enough) and join you for your evening meal at most restaurants! 

If you don’t have a dog, but after reading this would love one to make your holiday extra special, then take a look at the puppies for sale from Freeads. But remember, a dog is for life not just for a holiday!

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Every little girl dreams of becoming a princess and this dream can usually be traced back to the first time that they ever laid their eyes on a Disney princess. Who doesn’t want a handsome prince to search night and day for the girl whose foot can fit into a beautiful glass slipper? If your kid’s birthday is around the corner or perhaps they themselves want to make a homemade birthday card for a sibling or a friend, there is no reason why you can’t make their dream come true and create the perfect Disney princess birthday card.

Every little girl dreams of becoming a princess and this dream can usually be traced back to the first time that they ever laid their eyes on a Disney princess. Who doesn’t want a handsome prince to search night and day for the girl whose foot can fit into a beautiful glass slipper? If your kid’s birthday is around the corner or perhaps they themselves want to make a homemade birthday card for a sibling or a friend, there is no reason why you can’t make their dream come true and create the perfect Disney princess birthday card.

 Creative Tools

 The first step towards making the perfect birthday card, no matter what the theme, is to gather all of your essential card-making tools. Home Crafts houses all the essentials you can think of, including coloured card, glue, pens, ink, paints, stickers and lots more. Once you have all of these creative wonder workers in one place, you can start planning the design of your birthday card. You may want to get your hands on some orange felt to create a giant pumpkin to replicate Cinderella’s pumpkin coach. According to Ranker the actual Cinderella movie cost almost £3,000,000 to create, it became a huge success and remains so today, which is why so many young girls would adore a Cinderella themed birthday card.

Choose a Princess

There are many different Disney princesses to choose from, including Elsa, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel and Belle etc. If the birthday girl has a favourite princess then make sure to incorporate this into the card. For example, if she adores Frozen like so many kids do, it may be a good idea to choose a Frozen based theme that includes characters from the movie such as Elsa, Anna, Sven and Olaf etc. Elsa is quite an easy princess to replicate because of her distinguishing look. You can easily make your own version of her dress for your birthday card by either drawing it out yourself and painting it with the appropriate colours, or you could spruce it up a notch and add glitter to give the dress that glowing ‘Elsa dress’ effect.

Incorporate Photographs

You can transform your own little girl into a Disney princess by simply printing out the original image of her favourite princess or an image of a gorgeous dress design and sticking it onto the cover of the card. You can then add a picture of your daughters face, making it seem as though she is a real life Disney princess. You can make the experience even more real for her by throwing her a Disney princess themed birthday party, complete with glitter cupcakes and sparkling ball gowns. If you have drawn your own image onto the front of the card and want to make the dress seem as real as possible, Martha Stewart suggests using 3-D fabric paint, which will give texture and life to the front of your card.

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It’s something we don’t even think about as adults, but telling the time is a tricky concept for children to master. It’s hard enough to kids to start comprehending what the numbers on a digital watch actually mean - but ask them to look at an analogue clock and it’s a whole new world of confusion. One means five? Six is 30? Eleven is five-to?

 

As soon as your children get a good grasp of numbers, you might want to think about teaching them about time. A good way to help them understand the concept is to buy them their first watch (let them choose their own from a retailer such as Tic Watches) and then talk about the different routines that occur at particular times throughout the day, such as heading off to school, lunchtime and getting ready for bed.

 

You could also try the following:

 

      Teach your kids about the passage of time by setting them tasks to complete within a certain period. Get an egg timer or a stopwatch - or any timer that allows them to see time passing - and ask them to see if they can complete a jigsaw or wordsearch puzzle within, say, five minutes.

      Build up an association between time and events. This will help your child see that many things happen according to what time it is, and that it’s helpful to look at a clock to judge when something might be about to happen. It’ll help them to start with events that occur on the hour so that they can recognise the ‘o’clocks’, and with each one, the position of the hour and minute hands.

      A large analogue clock with the minutes between each number clearly marked will help them understand how a clock face is split up into hours and minutes.

      Explain that the short hand tells the hour, while the long hand shows minutes past the hour. Avoid clocks with a seconds hand, as this might be confusing to begin with.

      This is where things might start to get confusing. Explain that there are 60 minutes in an hour and count up to 60 in fives: five-past, 10-past, 15-past (explaining that this is ‘quarter-past’) and so on. Don’t switch to ‘25-to’ and so on until this foundation has been established. When you get to 60, and the minute hand lands on 12, point out that the hour hand moves onto the next number.

      Next you can move onto practising various times - this is half-past, this is quarter-past. As you go about your day together, continue to point out things happening at certain times. ‘The bus leaves at 20 past three’, ‘the shop closes at five o’clock’, and point out the time on their own watch.

 

Once your child has stopped puzzling over the basics, you can reinforce things occurring at particular times. You can say, ‘It’s eight o’clock, time to brush your teeth’ or you can switch it so that you say, ‘It’s eight o’clock - what happens now?’ or ‘When do you brush your teeth?’

 

It’s a real milestone for a child to learn to tell the time, and you’ll both get a real sense of achievement from it.

 

For more tips, this Guardian teacher’s guide is a good place to look, as is this WikiHow article on how to tell the time.

 

 

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Gardening is a great way of encouraging your children to spend time outside the house (away from the lure of the TV or iPad) and get fit and healthy – because all that digging can be hard work!

 

But how do you convince your little one that gardening is fun? After all, the seeds they plant aren’t going to shoot out immediately for them to enjoy!

 

1. Kit them out

Start off by picking them up a small, kids gardening set featuring a little spade, trowel and gloves, you could also pick them up a small watering can. Having their own tools will make them feel special while they’re out there in the dirt beside you. Choose a set with their favourite character featured on it or in a colour they like.

 

2. Don’t worry about the dirt

Gardening is messy and a parent who gets upset, because their child is covered in mud, is not going to make the experience an enjoyable one for kids. Let them pick up the dirt with their hands, rub it on their clothes and just get messy.

 

3. Choose exciting flowers

Sure you need to get those seeds in the ground but your children won’t be interested in them until they flower. Mix up your gardening plans and let them pick out some bright, partially grown plants to pop in the ground; marigolds, pansies and daisies are great for kids.

 

4. For wet days

If your child can’t go outside, or if you want to garden on a wet and windy day, then you can still plant while inside the house. Simply pick up some pots, pop a wipeable tablecloth on the table and get your kids transferring plants into bigger pots, to be placed around the house.

 

Amaryllis is a firm favourite for children, who enjoy their tropical appearance and multiple colours, you can purchase planters and full-grown plants from Bakker

 

5. Inspire them with insects

Gardening isn’t of course just about planting seeds, there’s so much more to see in your back yard and insects are a great way of getting your kids interested in the great outdoors.

 

Spend some time finding insects in the garden to carefully capture, in see through tubs, that you can then study with magnifying glasses and draw together. Ladybirds, worms, crickets, butterflies and woodlice are great insects to find under rocks, on plants and in soil.

 

6. Get them growing their own

Gardening and eating healthy go hand in hand and getting your kids to help you grow their very own fruit and veg should also encourage them to enjoy healthier snacks.

 

Strawberries, tomatoes and peas are so quick and easy to grow and you can head outside every week to check how their plants are doing and enjoy watching them get excited when they start to produce fruit.

 

Children will always be enthusiastic about gardening if they feel involved but you can also set them little tasks to complete themselves while you get on with a bigger job alongside them. Encourage them to get messy, show them lots of new things, praise them and let them feel like they’re contributing to your outdoor space.  

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Safety, reliability and efficiency are the key considerations for any new parent when it comes to buying a car to transport their new family in. Where once these would be features you’d get only with a larger vehicle, canny design and clever tech has meant that much smaller cars are now more viable. And given today’s busy roads and high fuel prices, a small car makes perfect sense.

 

Below are five small cars perfect for shuttling around a brand new family, for even more options, check this site.

 

Ford Fiesta

Still going strong after more than three decades, Ford’s mighty mini, the Fiesta, continues to be hugely popular. With sharp styling, tidy handling and built-in technology belying its small size, it’s easy to see why. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine allows for plenty of zip in tight city spaces, and its latest redesign has eked out even more boot space – a 295-litre capacity means plenty of room for pushchairs.

 

Honda Jazz

Honda’s legendary reliability comes to the fore in the Honda Jazz. It offers such peace of mind that it will hold its price well – unusual in a super-mini – when it comes to trade-in time. It’s now only available as a five-door option, which, combined with a surprising amount of interior space, means that it’s incredibly accessible despite its diminutive stature.

 

Ford B-Max

Another Ford effort, the B-Max has a couple of clever tricks up its sleeve to make it a very attractive option for new parents. First, the absence of a central B pillar means there’s nothing to obstruct lifting a baby into and out of the car. And the slick sliding rear doors makes access easy even in the tightest parking spots. Just like the Fiesta, the B-Max looks great, packs the feature list, feels comfortable inside and handles well.

 

Volkswagen Up

One of the best small options around, the Up scores big on some of the things you’d expect little cars to fall down on. Its cleverly designed interior feels like the inside of Mary Poppins’ handbag compared to its external size. And while it’s ideally suited to nipping about the city, it’s no slouch on country roads either. Add in Volkswagen’s renowned build quality and competitive pricing and the Up is hard to ignore.

 

Fiat Panda

The latest version of the Panda may be something of an acquired taste given its high roof and tall, straight-up stance. But what it lacks in visual cool it makes up for in great visibility while driving and a roomy, airy-seeming interior with lots of handy storage space. Its big draw is its fuel economy. You’ll get just over 67mpg from the TwinAir petrol engine – and its low CO2 emissions make it exempt from road tax. That changes should you plump for the four-wheel-drive model, but the boost to handling inside and out of the city makes up for that.

 

Need more tips? Which.co.uk has some great advice on choosing a family car, while CarBuyer.co.uk has listed some alternatives here.

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One of the most important things you should do to keep you and your family safe is to ensure your home is secure and protected. There are many ways to carry this out using either high-tech security, or by just having good locks and smoke alarms.

 

Securing your home

 

If you are all away from home for long periods at a time it will be worth investing in one of the many grilles or shutters as supplied by Security Direct. These can be fitted internally or externally and are very affective at keeping out unwanted guests. Fitting one of the many types of roller shutters can also protect the garage. Specialist remote-controlled electronic doors on your garage will not only protect your car, but will also deter burglars.

 

Pretend you’re the burglar

 

One way to start your security DIY is to approach your house as if you were going to break in. This may be difficult for some people, but if you follow an article in the Mirror online; you’ll see that it will give you an idea of what type of jobs you’ll need to carry out. Looking for any old unsecured side doors or windows and checking that any perimeter fencing is secure and sound should be done first. These areas are what someone would look for if trying to enter your home. Think like a thief and you’ll see where your home security needs enhancing.

 

Fitting an alarm and lighting

 

You might walk down the street and see that lots of houses have burglar alarms fitted, but do you ever wonder how many actually work? You can now buy DIY alarm systems from most large stores, and fitting them has been made much easier since the advent of the mobile phone and the internet. Once the alarm is fitted you can set it so that if there is an incident you will be alerted straight away via your mobile phone or laptop. Another good type of protection is a motion sensitive lighting system. These lights will automatically come on if someone or something moves outside your house.

 

Hi-Tech security

 

Once you have secured the doors and windows on your house the next step is to make sure you and your family are safe inside the building. An article in the Daily Mail online explains the advantages of using technology to monitor your surroundings. Every home should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to alert you to any problems you may have with your heating system, or a gas fire. You can’t smell carbon monoxide fumes so investing in one of these detectors is important. These gadgets can now be connected directly to your phone via a transmitter. You can fit them yourself.

 

Specialist locks and safety glass

 

Doors and windows are a vulnerable part of any home or business so fitting the correct locks can make all the difference. It is also a condition of your insurance that you have at least a five-lever mortise lock on each door as well as a deadlock. If you have glass doors or low windows and have young children you should either put bars across them or get strengthened glass.    

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Hearing is one of the most important of all our body’s senses. Just imagine a day when you can’t hear your friends, listen to the birds or even communicate effectively with the outside world. It’s important to learn how to improve your hearing health.

 

Regular tests are vital

If you want to get an expert opinion on the state of your hearing, even if you think that there’s nothing wrong with you, then regular hearing tests are essential. During the course of the test your examining specialist will be able to pick up any potential problems that you may experience as well as assess your ears’ general health.

 

Most people lose their hearing gradually, and a test will give you a precise measurement of the state of your hearing loss. The test will also help you learn how to look after your hearing in the future.

 

You are what you eat – well, maybe…

Scientists claim that improving your diet can help prevent hearing loss. A recent American study looking at the body’s absorption of omega 3 and vitamin D has showed that those who eat more oily fish, for example, tuna, sardines or salmon, had a ‘42% lower chance of facing age related hearing loss than non-fish eaters.’ These promising results are related to benefits of this type of food on the blood circulation to the ear.

 

Broccoli also can help your auditory health by increasing the supply of antioxidants to the brain. A healthy diet can help all aspects of your body’s health, so keep up with the banana, nuts and oranges and cut down on the grease and sugars.

 

Loud music will damage your ears

Anyone who has left a club or festival with the sounds of music still reverberating through their ears could be experiencing warning signs that you might have damaged your hearing. If this ‘ringing’ sound persists than you have definitely harmed your ears. An article on the BBC website, taken from data gathered by the World Health Organisation (WHO), suggests that ‘1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of permanently damaging their hearing by listening to too much too loudly.’

 

The report urges that people keep ‘the volume down, (and) limit the use of personal audio devices to less than an hour a day.’ Anyone who is planning to indulge themselves in a summer of festival music should take some party plugs to protect their ears.

 

Re-assess your lifestyle

If you work in a noisy environment, then your employer has a legal requirement to provide you with ear protectors. Always insist that your ears are protected at work. It’s not just those who work in industrial settings or on construction sites that need to be aware of potential ear damage. Even call centres or visiting a football pitch can cause hearing discomfort. The important thing is to not surround yourself with this degree of noise on a constant basis. After the football match, and the customary post match drinks, retreat to a calmer environment.

 

No one is suggesting that you can’t enjoy yourself, simply be aware that once you’ve lost your hearing, it’s gone forever.

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