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Have you ever wondered why children tip their chairs forward onto the front legs. It is not always because they are being naughty, in fact it very rarely is. It is more likely to be that they are uncomfortable. They have recently developed their ‘grown-up’ back curves and we are asking them to sit in chairs that slope backwards and cause their lower backs to bend in the wrong direction. All they are doing when they sit on the front of their chairs and tip them forwards is trying to get into a more comfortable position that doesn’t stretch ligaments and put increased pressure on their discs and joints.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Discipline-Your-Child.jpgIt is estimated that children spend 12,000 hours sitting at school and yet most chairs would be illegal in the office workplace. Add to that the propensity of most children to slouch and compounded on top of that the fact that they are going through some significant growth and you have a very significant ‘worse case scenario’ on your hands for the health of their backs in later life.

Recently research has placed a lot of focus on the effects of school bags on children’s backs, however more and more research is now focusing on the effect of prolonged sitting in children. Recent research published* has shown a significant link between sitting and upper and lower back pain in children and adolescents.

A few key elements were found to be critical in this link between back pain and sitting. These were: sitting duration, activities while sitting, dynamism and postural angles. It was found that that an increase in the time a child had to sit for as well as a lack of movement while sitting led to an increase in the incidence of back pain in children.

As a parent this raises a lot of concern with regard to your child’s health, but what can you do about it. Below are a few tips to help prevent the development of back problems for your child:

• Ensure a weekly clear out of your child’s bag takes place and remind your child to remove unnecessary books
• Provide a backpack style school back and check that it is properly adjusted, as well as ensuring that your child wears the straps over both shoulders. The bottom of the bag should be resting in the curve of the lower back
• Weigh the backpack regularly to ensure that it is within the safety weight range of 15% or less of your child’s body weight
• Try and win the function versus fashion battle with your child’s school shoes
• Lobby your child’s school to provide lockers
• Encourage some form of exercise after school, whatever it may be, to prevent your child from moving straight from sitting at school to sitting at home

If your child is already suffering with pain, it may be worth while having a spinal check up to make sure that there is nothing more serious going on. Surrey Osteopathic Care specialises in the treatment of children, so you know that your child will be in safe and knowledgeable hands. Please visit www.surreyosteopathiccare.co.uk for more information 

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Moving house is an extremely exciting time, but can also be one of the most stressful times of your life. In fact, a poll has shown that it can be more stressful than bankruptcy, divorce or even bereavement.

 

When moving house there is so much to plan and organise that it is easy to forget even some of the most important details. Here are five things that can often get overlooked:

 

Label Boxes

You will (hopefully) have booked a moving van, but have you thought of labeling boxes? It is so easy to just throw things into boxes in any old order for speed and ease but at the other end of the process you have no idea where anything is.
A few minutes of writing instructions on the box, such as a brief description of what is inside and which room the items need to go in, can make a big difference when unpacking.

 

However, also remember to pack a separate box of things you need just before you move out and as soon as you move in. No one wants to be searching through a houseful of boxes to find the kettle when they are gasping for a cup of tea on moving day!

 

Organise Storage

While most of your belongings may be coming with you to your new house, you might not be able to take everything straight away. Have you thought about where this will go? The best option is to organise storage, through a firm such as Kelly's Mobile Self Storage, which will pick it up from your current home, load your goods into storage pods and then store it safely until you would like it returned to your new address.

 

You will have already checked that all your furniture will fit in the doorway of your new home, but if you have miscalculated and find that when you get there you just can’t find any way of getting the sofa through the door, at least you know you have somewhere to store it.

 

Get your post re-directed

You may have told all your friends and family that you have a new address, but have you remembered to tell the important places such as your bank? Many people are moving home without telling their financial service provider their new address and as a result are putting themselves at risk of identity fraud. You may also want to inform any subscriptions you have; you don’t want your monthly gift box or magazine being delivered to your old address!

 

Ask questions

You probably feel as if you have constantly been asking questions since you decided to move house, but have you asked all of them? Use the outgoing tenants or homeowners while you can to find out answers that will make your life easier when you move in. This includes where the gas and electricity meters are (incidentally, it is important but easily forgotten to take down the readings at both your old house and new house on moving day!) Where is the stopcock? Where is the thermostat? Where are all the instructions for items such as the cooker, boiler and so on? All the way down to the smallest details such as what day are the bins collected.

 

Freezers

Eat the contents of your freezer and then defrost it. If you leave it until moving day and open your freezer to find it is still packed full of food, this is not only a waste of money because you have nowhere to store it, but there also won’t be enough time for it to be defrosted. Whether it is yours or a landlord’s it is important to do this. If it is yours it must be dry so it doesn’t leak and damage your items during the move. If it is your landlord’s, you will have to turn it off as you leave and you can’t risk it creating a mess or damage in your absence.

 

If you are worried about forgetting anything in the whirlwind of moving house, write it down next to the date it needs doing and tick it off as you go!

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The summer holidays are here, along with a gaping six weeks of ‘I’m bored’ and exasperated sighs from your children every five minutes while you attempt to keep them entertained and ban the iPad so they’ll actually go out into the garden and get some fresh air.

 

Sing along Frozen

Yes, yes, we know Frozen has been done to death now but your kids are still not over it. So, a Frozen sing along event is the perfect thing to do with your kids during the long summer break. Dress them up in some really affordable Frozen clothing and head down to an event near you to sing about making snowmen and letting things go. Check the website for details.

Price: £7 - £16

 

Plant sunflowers

A fun experiment and game to play with kids is to take some sunflower seeds, give your children a pot and some soil and plant them. The game is to care for the seedlings and compete to see whose grows the tallest over the summer. If you only have one child you can be the competitor.

Price: £1.99 for seeds, 60p for plant pots, £3.99 for potting soil

 

Free tennis coaching session

If your kids loved Wimbledon this year you can sign them up for free coaching sessions with the Lawn Tennis Association. There are 360 events going on in August so book a place quick to take advantage!

Price: FREE

 

Head to the cinema

Don’t recoil in horror yet as you think back on your last trip to the cinema and how much it cost. Lots of UK cinemas are offering discount tickets; Cineworld have a child ticket for £1.60 on Saturday and Sunday mornings offer while Vue cinema had £1.99 tickets for selected morning movies throughout the holidays.

 

Check your local cinema’s website to see what is on offer. Alternatively, you could opt for the Compare the Market 2for1 offer – your car/home/travel insurance is probably due soon, right?

Price: £1.60 - £2.50

 

Get a free craft project box

Toucan Box is a subscription box that sends children an amazing project to complete every two weeks to a month - and you can get your first box for free! Use the code 59NTR32 to receive your free surprise box and set up an account. The boxes usually cost £3.95 plus 98p postage but get in there quickly with this deal because there are a limited number of boxes available (8,000 in total)!

 

Price: FREE

 

Visit a London Show

Kids Week has teamed up with theatre companies in London to offer free child showings for certain shows. The Gruffalo, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Matilda are all available to book for free, for children under 16.

Price: FREE

 

So what are you waiting for? Get that diary out, get planning and never hear the words ‘I’m bored!’ until that last week of the holiday when you’ve really run out of ideas.

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A great way to entertain the kids (and the whole family!) is by arranging bouncy castle hire. It's no secret that kids love bouncy castles - who doesn't have fond memories of bouncing around with their friends when they were younger? 

Summer is a key time for inflatables, too. The heat of the season for bouncy castle companies comes in the midst of the warmest months, when schools host summer fairs or sports days, and when the obvious place to hold a party is the back garden. There is usually a second, smaller spike around the festive period - especially among companies that offer special Christmas products such as Rodeo Reindeer - and the occasional booking throughout the rest of the year, but many firms in the sector operate for 18 hours a day throughout the summer months, and are almost fully-booked weeks in advance.

This means, if you want to entertain your kids with bouncy castles, hoping for success with a last-minute booking might be a recipe for disaster! It is certainly more sensible to make a booking well in advance - this is the only way to avoid disappointment, especially over the summer.

What should I look for when I'm hiring a bouncy castle?

puzzled smiley

There are plenty of companies in the sector, and choosing the right one for you might seem like a bit of a challenge. The following tips should help you get the most out of your bouncy castle.

  • Find the right inflatable for you. If you're hosting a pirate-themed party, or throwing a birthday celebration for a Batman fanatic, take a look around and see if you can find an inflatable with a decor that suits your occasion. If you expect adults to use the bouncy castle, make sure you get an adult bouncy castle - grown-ups' additional weight can damage inflatables, and if you've been informed that a product is for children only, you could be liable to pay for any repairs or replacements should you ignore this warning.
  • Make sure the company adheres to health and safety regulations. There are a number of organisations in the sector, membership of which suggest that an inflatable rental company achieves good health and safety standards and that it takes its responsibilities seriously. These include The Inflatable Play Enterprise (TIPE) and the British Inflatable Hirers' Alliance (BIHA). Inflatables should also be regularly subjected to PIPA tests.  
  • On a related note, check the insurance credentials of the company. Bouncy castle firms ought to have public liability insurance of at least £5 million. This will ensure that if you or anyone else is injured due to the negligence of the company, the victim will receive compensation that should adequately cover them for their pain, suffering and losses.
  • Do you really want a bouncy castle? There are plenty of other products available from many inflatable companies - a very popular choice is the rodeo bull

Booking out a bouncy castle is easy - many companies nowadays use online bouncy castle booking and calendar systems - so you can be confident that you will receive the product you expect on the date you want it, and that you are paying a fair price for the hire.

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Finding the perfect holiday to suit the entire family can be a tricky task with prices growing exceedingly higher towards the summer months. To avoid steep prices, book your family vacation as early as possible and make sure that you do enough research to find the best deal. Portugal is one of the most popular holiday destinations and with over 300 long days of glorious sunshine each year, it is clear to see why.

1. Porto

Situated in central Portugal rests the city of Porto, often known as ‘Oporto’ to the locals of the city. Porto is a fantastic family destination as it offers tons of lively culture, architecture and compelling tourist attractions. Take a day trip to Coimbra to visit the birthplace of six kings or take a walk around the majestic 14th century Sao Francisco Church which is the main attraction of Porto. For the adults in the family, a delicious wine tasting will be a unique (and delicious) experience to enjoy. To find the perfect accommodation here and in other locations across Portugal, click here.

2. Lisbon

The big capital city of Lisbon remains a constant tourist attraction all year round. With a beautiful Mediterranean climate and lots of excitement bustling in the city centre, Lisbon is a great choice for a family holiday. Some of the main attractions include The Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can take the kids for a once in a lifetime adventure and enjoy some spectacular views. Art lovers will appreciate collections by Picasso and Dali on display in this gorgeous city. For the more out-going families, a short drive to wooded Sintra will provide the perfect day-out. According to the Telegraph, Byron described Sintra as being the ‘most beautiful village in the world’, so you can guarantee it is well worth a visit.

3. Funchal

Funchal is a more laid-back holiday destination and is suited for the family who want to go sightseeing and don’t mind getting tired feet on the way. Some of the hottest attractions include the open Workers Market, Blandy’s Wine Lodge and the Sacred Art Museum. Set foot in the captivating wilderness of Portugal with some of their superb safari trips or take a stroll through the enchanting Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, which boast some of the most picturesque views in all of Portugal.

4. Albufeira

This historical coastal city is situated in the southern Algarve region. A former fishing village, it offers some of the best activities for kids such as dolphin watching and the Parque Adventura game and entertainment centre. If you really want to put a smile on their faces, take them to Crazy Paintball, which will guarantee that your kids will have a great time and will give you and your partner a chance to sit back and relax.

5. Cascais

Just 20 miles from Lisbon is the coastal town of Cascais. This town was once a fishing village, famous for its catches and exquisite wines. According to Trip Advisor, Cascais often attracted the attention of ‘artists, writers and expelled European nobility in the 20th century’, and is somewhat famous for its glorious beaches and crashing waves which are perfect for sailing and surfing. Other main attractions include the Conde de Castro Guimaraes Museum and the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum. Cascais is also a great location for golf courses and nature guided tours.

 

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Most of us would love to have the money to splash out on the dream house, car or holiday that we see others enjoy. And even if the Caribbean villa and the Bentley are beyond us, with a little diligent saving we should all be able to strive for a lifestyle to enjoy.

But in the ‘21st century, reality TV, I-want-it-now celebrity culture’ it seems too many of us aren’t willing to put away a few pounds every month for a long-term plan. With unemployment at a seven-year-low there’s ample opportunity for those who do have a job to concentrate on making a plan for their future, in the short or long-term, by squirreling away a little each month.

If only it were true. According to a Scottish Widows study reported in the Guardian eight million people in the UK have no savings at all, while another 15 million make no effort to save. That’s at least eight million people who have no safety net should disaster strike, but also unable to put money towards their dreams without diving into credit and debts. 

Let’s take a real feasible example of something to which to aspire, not so much a rainy day but a statement of growing up: a deposit for a home. The average deposit for a new house is around £27,000, which sounds horrendous for most aspiring home owners. The average household saves 5% of its income (if at all), so someone with a salary of £23,000 would need to save for 22 years to get the deposit they need. 

There are two ways of looking at this; it’s either an unattainable aim that should be put to the back of one’s mind, or a real, long-term project that will become easier and ideally not even noticed. Investing in a long-term ISA should build up a good level of interest, meaning that the full 22 years may not be necessary. 

What’s more, saving £2-300 a month gives you the flexibility to dip into an emergency fund that won’t cost you (as a loan or credit card would), for the odd treat. Perhaps you decide to treat yourself one weekend to a short break, or a new outfit, or something for a child. Perhaps a glut of birthdays are approaching, or Christmas.

Of course, rainy days don’t always end in sunshine. Traumatic experiences such as illness, accidents, redundancy or suffering as a victim of crime can be especially devastating to those without a monetary safety net. Financial coping mechanisms could include taking on extra work, borrowing, and in an emergency a so-called ‘payday loan’ might bridge the gap. 

It’s not the perfect scenario, but one can at least take some solace from the fact that complaints about the practice have almost halved in the past year following regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority. Other helping hands may come through benefits such as universal credit, introduced to help those on low income or out of work. The Money Advice Service has more information.

Ultimately the decision on how much to save, if at all, could be dictated by fate and other decisions outside your control. If, however, you do have provision to place some of your cash in a little nest egg then it makes sense to do so, and enjoy the fruits of prudent spending some day in a happy future.

 

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Before you head to the Continent, be sure you are aware of the French rules of the road - both new and old.

NEW STUFF:

1. The use of hands-free sets is now BANNED when driving a car. This means all hands-free usage, not just phones. (However, the small print says you can still use your phone when the hands-free system is dashboard-based or bluetooth). 

TIP: Let your passenger make the "We're lost and can't find the Gite" call!

2. Un-marked police cars are now roaming the French highways fitted with speed cameras. All very secretive! They can even detect and photograph speedsters in the opposite lane.

TIP: The unmarked police cars are pretty much guaranteed to be French marques - Renault, Peugeot or Citreon. So that means 95% of the cars on the road!

3. If you're new to driving (under 3 years experience), the drink drive limit is now 0.02%.

TIP: Don't even have the one if you're a novice driver.

SAME OLD:

4. Usage of speed camera detectors is NOT allowed. All such radars should be switched off from sat navs before entering France.

TIP: Not worth the risk. You can drive faster on the toll roads than British motorways anyway so best to not go speed-silly and just keep an eye out for the little boxes. Remember - they don't have to warn you of upcoming cameras in France.

5. Breathalysers, reflective jackets and a warning triangle must be carried in all cars.

TIP: There doesn't seem to be any reinforcement of this law and no fines are made so don't panic too much if you're without and leaving tomorrow!

6. Headlamp converters (otherwise known as stickers) must be fitted to all cars for driving on the right.

TIP: Get them on Amazon now to avoid expensive ferry/train terminal shops

7. Children should be 10 or older to legally sit in the front seat of a car (with the exception of rear-facing baby seats).

TIP: Just keep your little royalty in the back where they should be.

The general message is to just keep alert and remember you're in a different country - different rules apply. The ease of getting to France and being in the comfort of your own car does make it easier to forget. 

And who wants to get stopped by the scary Gendarmes? Not me!

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This weekend, GoFest permeated my being. Just as any good festival should, it gave me a feeling of anticipation on Friday, excitement on Saturday and fatigue on Sunday. But in each case, no sooner had I waved my wrist band to whoever cared, I was carried into that parallel existence that any weekend festival goer will relate to.

GoFest 2015 was billed as ‘the sporting Glastonbury’ and it didn’t disappoint. A mixture of warm weather, live music, celebrity spots and good vibes combined with a chance to try out every sport imaginable under one roof, meant that we had a thoroughly exhausted but happy family on our hands by the end of the weekend.

Friday’s highlight was skiing on the freshly imported snow, trucked down the A3 each day to create a mini ski slope in the Snow Zone. Definitely one of the most popular activities, our kids who have never been skiing before embraced it wholeheartedly. Uh oh, looks like the pressure could be on for a skiing holiday. Darn you, GoFest!

There were plenty of other activities to try, from bouncy obstacle courses to Segway, via tightropes and trampolining. There was much excitement as we bumped into Ian Waite in the Surrey Sports Park foyer. Charming as ever, he agreed to pose for a photo with our avid Strictly fans and this really did make their day.

We stayed on for the evening entertainment. It was such a treat to get a close view of Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe performing their jive then rumba. And yes, these genial people willingly posed for a photo again. Following them on stage were the energetic and catchy Only One Direction, which went down very well with the children. OK, we admit it, we could be spotted having a cheeky bop too. 

Due to other commitments we returned only briefly on Saturday but we did have a chance to try the Sokka zone, run by Kevin Keegan. This zone focused on speed and agility games and was great fun.

We were back with intent early on Sunday morning, ready to give GoFest our all. The children wanted to have a try at climbing, but unfortunately it was fully booked for the day. 

So we popped down the corridor to see what was going on at the Squash Zone. I was mad on squash as a teenager but haven’t dared enter a court for at least twenty five years for fear of leaving it on a stretcher. But it was fantastic fun and really nice to teach the kids a few of the basics. And I was still standing afterwards, bonus!

Some of us joined the Family Fun Run 1 mile and they had the chance to test their mettle against Olympic athlete Roger Black. If you look carefully amongst the pack you may spot him. All finished credibly and it was the perfect warm down after squash as my husband remarked through gritted teeth.

But there was no rest for the wicked. Next we were off to the Cricket Zone and got some top coaching tips from Surrey cricketers. The gymnasts amongst us took to bowling quickly after being told to bowl as if you are doing a cartwheel. One in particular got carried away and actually followed through with the cartwheel. We didn’t manage to capture this on camera so her blushes are spared for now.

After some batting tuition we were asked if we wanted to play ‘blind cricket’. Yes, with real blindfolds and not being able to see a thing! It was as difficult as it sounds and a real ‘eye opener’ into how sport can be accessible to all and open up a world of opportunities to those with disabilities.

And later in the afternoon we discovered that our eldest daughter has a talent for fly-fishing after she successfully learnt four techniques in 10 minutes, something that usually takes grown men hours of tuition apparently. I’m not sure whether we will be following this up, living in land-locked Surrey, but what it does demonstrate is the ethos of GoFest, which is to open as many doors as possible and create new opportunities for kids and adults alike.

GoFest organisers should be praised for believing in an idea and executing their vision to such an effect. GoFest was other worldly once you got stuck in and embraced what was on offer. We look forward to GoFest 2016 as there were so many sports and activities that we didn’t have time to try.

The only negative about GoFest 2015 was that more families didn't sign up for the experience. So we hope that your curiosity has been piqued enough to encourage you to grab some tickets next year and have your own very unique experience, just as we did.

View our Facebook GoFest 2015 album for more photos and videos.

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So the breastfeeding debate is ignited again (#bressure on Twitter) just as I attend my refresher breastfeeding session prior to having baby number 2...  My general view is that midwives etc shouldn't put pressure on us to breastfeed and it doesn't work for everyone.  But I'm not convinced that the pressure always comes from external sources.

Truth be told, I had an awful time breastfeeding with number 1.  After a good start, her latching on became difficult which I suspect was caused by the fact that we were both diagnosed with thrush and I seemed to have a low milk supply.  Amongst the tears, I painstakingly plodded away at expressing milk, sometimes spending over an hour getting not much more than a tablespoon.  To us it was clear that as the stress increased and her weight dropped, we had to supplement and I eventually stopped when she was around 3 weeks.

At the time, I felt dreadful about it.  How would we survive in countries without formula?, how could such a natural thing be so difficult for us? and what terrible impact would this have on her development?  I didn't want to speak to some of my best friends who had been able to do it, for fear that they would judge me.  I was pretty miserable, despite family and a lactation consultant telling me that stopping was probably the best thing for me.

Now, 6 years later, I have no regret over my decision.  My daughter thrives and eats well; we have a fantastic relationship and no-one questions the bond we have.  Bottle feeding enabled us to go out and about pretty freely from about 4 weeks, as calm as can be (with a newborn!).  The main downside was the preparation involved in having enough sterilised bottles and milk available and, mainly, feeling like I had to constantly justify myself to others.

So, as I'm about to have number 2, I was feeling quite pleased with my mindset of "right, well I'll give it a go this time but if it doesn't work out, we'll quickly move on".  However, after 3 hours of discussing the subject yesterday, I was left a little despondent thinking that (a) it was highly unlikely to work out (I need to have antibiotics during labour and have PCOS so might well have a low milk supply again); and (b) once the hormones kick in, am I really going to be thinking so rationally about it?  Although the counsellor running the session wasn't pushy at all, I could sense those feelings of failure creeping back if it wasn't going to work again this time...and this just raises a host of questions:  Should I be proactive and find someone to help me in a fairly dedicated way from the outset (which will cost money)?  Should I just go with the flow (no pun intended!), but be better informed about dealing with/avoiding thrush and boosting milk supply at the outset?  Should I invest in a hi-tec expressing machine or is that, given my previous experience, really a waste of money?

Unfortunately, as a mother already, my guilt now has an added dimension: should I be spending the first part of my daughter's summer holidays dragging her (and the baby) around BF clinics trying to ensure that this experience is better than the last, or should I stick with my original plan of quickly moving on at the first sign of difficulty (thus making family life a bit less stressful for everyone)?

Suffice to say that a big bit of me hopes that I'm just luckier this time and it's all a bit easier, but I also know that, being a perfectionist and a try-er, I am unlikely to give in without a fight.  I will want to feel that I tried everything to make it work, but that is probably equal part external pressures and my own expectations of myself.

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I’ve known for sometime that video blogs (or vlogs) would become an essential medium for a website such as ours to use to reach readers. So last week I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go and make a vlog based around our ‘What’s on in Surrey this week’ listings.

We chose Loseley Park as our location as we were there anyway for a review. It’s a lovely place with gorgeous parkland (do I say this enough in the vlog!) and a great environment for a relaxing afternoon out with the family.

Luckily we managed to find a fairly secluded spot to vlog from, as I was suddenly overcome with self consciousness from the stares from passers by. But I got into it eventually and we recorded from three or four locations to give ourselves more variety.

We experienced a couple of technical hitches, the main one being that the microphone picked up the sound of the wind rather than my voice at certain parts, so we’ll be investing in a small microphone for next time.

I felt that I could have done with an autocue as well. I was reading my notes and then looking up and trying to remember what I had just read! It seems that you can buy some kind of autocue for your ipad for under £50 so we may well be investing in that too.

I hope you enjoy watching it and find it useful (and maybe entertaining!!). It was fun and I’m determined to streamline my presenting skills; something I know I will only do with practice. Watch this space!

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Some of you may be aware of changes that Google has made to its algorithms this week. I won’t bore you with the technical detail of this (not sure if I quite understand it myself anyway!) but suffice to say that we at Surrey Mummy completed the redesign of our website just in the nick of time.

Having analysed our website visitor statistics over the past couple of years, we realised that two thirds of you either use a mobile or tablet device to browse Surrey Mummy. It was a no-brainer to set about making sure that our website was faster, clearer and better for mobile users.

So it is sort of a happy accident that, as the last six weeks of redesigning the website draws to a close, we are right on time to sit back and hopefully enjoy an increase in our Google search rankings.

On the subject of the new website design, as well as retaining the essence of what we are about in terms of what’s on events and things to do listings, we have introduced a couple of new features.

The first is the Mum’s blog, which we have started as a point of discussion on all sorts of issues, topics, happenings and ideas that we come across as we go about our business. Most things go here and we are hoping to have a team of bloggers contributing on a regular basis. If you’d like to join us as a blogger then do get in touch.

Secondly, we have better advertising spaces for more prominent advertising opportunities, with a wider banner space at the top and bottom of all pages as well as a larger promotional feature slot. So do contact us about advertising if your target audience is parents in Surrey and you have a business you would like to promote via Surrey Mummy. We can also offer banner advertising on the newsletter now as well as the usual editorial spot.

Finally, we have exciting plans for the future. We want to kick start our for sale section again, this time allowing sellers to list for free. We’ve had feedback from local mums that this would be a real draw to the website. We are also planning to experiment with the world of video blogs (or Vlogs as I’m told they are called!), so watch this space.

Inevitably we are experiencing glitches here and there as we get the website working as it should, for example we haven’t quite got the listings looking as they should yet, but please bear with us. And do feel free to feedback your experiences with the website and any thoughts and ideas. You may well have spotted something that we have missed.

 

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Most families who applied for primary school places in Surrey will have heard this week about which school their child has been offered a place at. Most will feel elated or relieved, but for a few their anxieties and worst fears over this process will have been realised.

If you are one of those whose child has not been offered their first choice of primary school, it is worth looking into whether you can appeal against the decision.

The appeal needs to be made to the school that was your first choice ie. the school that you wanted but didn’t get offered.  The first port of call is the Surrey County Council school admissions appeals web page. This contains details of the criteria for appeal, the timetable involved and information about contacting the school.

Do bear in mind before you start the appeal process that there may be an insurmountable reason for you not getting your first choice place. The ruling on limiting infant class sizes to 30 means that, unless a genuine mistake has been made, you are unlikely to make a successful appeal.

However, don’t despair. There are other resources available to help. Truth Education, based in Surrey, aim to help parents with all matters arising on education and schooling.  Their article, Not got your primary school place? Keep calm and carry on… is highly relevant to the process this year too.

Of have a read of 'How to Win Your School Appeal: Getting Your Child into the School of Your Choice' by Ben Rooney, which comes highly recommended for helping you make sure that you appeal in the most effective way.

We have further information in our feature, What to do if you don’t get your first choice school, as we discuss many of the options available.

Over the years we have known many people who, with patience, have managed to get the school of their choice at some point as others decline places or move away from the area. Whatever happens, we wish our Surrey Mummy members every success in this sometimes difficult and painful process.

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I've just finished a conversation with the umpteenth person to ask me whether my pregnancy was planned and it's made me wonder why so many people think that this question is acceptable.  

What really baffles me is that, once someone is pregnant and clearly planning to keep the baby, how can the answer to that question possibly be relevant to anything.  So it was planned... well that's nice.  So it wasn't planned... well, oh dear, but that's nice anyway.  If someone is willing to volunteer that they're delighted as they've been trying for ages, or that it was a pleasant "surprise", then fine, but why feel the need to ask? 

I asked my husband about this and he offered two solutions.  One was that men don't really know what sort of questions are appropriate to ask.  Well, I have been asked it by more women than men, so that blows that theory out of the water.  The other is that it is my age (thanks, darling!)  Apparently at the wrong side of 35 (I've just turned 39) and with a 6 year old child already, unless I've been unlucky, it would be an unusual choice to have another child now.  To that I would say that, if that is the rationale, then perhaps people should assume that the person has been unlucky and, if they haven't told you any of the details of their "bad luck", then they clearly don't want to talk about it with you.  But anyway, it might not be such an unusual choice - whilst most people aim for a smaller age gap, there are some benefits to having a bigger age gap and perhaps for that person those benefits are significant.

So I've concluded that it must be symptomatic of the age we live in.  With some people sharing every detail of their lives on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, perhaps we feel that we can freely ask a number of personal questions?  Well, it's not the way I roll, but maybe I'm just different? I'm off to see what Debretts Guide to Modern Manners has to say on the subject...

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We would love to have mums contributing to our blog on a variety of topics. Most things go,  but you have to be a genuine mum and please keep it clean.

So, how to go about it in 6 easy steps.

1. You need to be logged in first (Login box at the bottom of the homepage).

2. Once you are logged in, go to the BLOG section, at the far right of the top menu. Then click on the icon on the black menu bar which is a box with a small pen inside. When you hover over this icon you see 'New blog post. Start creating your new blog post'.

3. You are then ready to fill in the form and complete the details with your blog. Please make sure you give it a title and select a category.

4.Photos and images can be inserted, but the leading one should be 1150 pixels wide by 200 pixels high.

5. Click the blue button Publish Now when you are happy with it.

6. We will be notified that you have uploaded a blog and we will review and approve it, after which it will be published.

Many thanks for contributing to our Mum's blog. We are sure that these will prove a great resource to Surrey parents.

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