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 Designing a kid’s bedroom is not a cakewalk. You have to put in your heart and mind as well as time and effort to design something that will be convenient and at the same time will be loved by your kids.

But one thing that you must keep in mind at the time of designing your kid’s bedroom is that it needs to grow and evolve as the little ones gradually mature. Kids notoriously change their preferences from time to time. That is why you should endow on your child’s bedroom a timeless quality.

Here are some tips that will help you design such a bedroom for your child that will let your kids express themselves as they grow up. Just read on to reveal the mystery of achieving it.

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When the summer is here and the sun is shining, the temptation to get out and about feels stronger than ever. So many places to explore!

When you have a tight schedule and timetable to work with, driving can feel like a real chore - it really is a case of getting from A to B swiftly and safely, and with the kids in the back of the car you can feel like you're chasing around like a taxi driver. But when you have a day to play with, no reason to rush or need to watch the clock, driving is a real pleasure. 

We're lucky to live in a beautiful county, with plenty to see and do close by. If you have a free day on your hands there's so much within driveable distance - here are some suggestions. Before you set off, check you have everything you need in place. If you're hiring a car for a journey, borrowing a friends' car or sharing driving duties, make sure you've got short term car insurance. You'll also need plenty of drinks and snacks, and stuff to keep the kids entertained! 

The Surrey Hills
Right on our doorstep, the Surrey Hills is an area of outstanding beauty and superb countryside. You can either drive there and then spend a wonderful day walking, hiking and cycling, or take in the most picturesque of drives through the gorgeous villages en route - the views are stunning.

South Downs National Park

The South Downs are 20-30 miles away from Surrey so this is definitely more of a day trip than an afternoon out, but the longer drive is worth it. There is plenty to do here, including visits to Lewes and Eastbourne, and camping at Blackberry Wood. In fact, it might be a good idea for a weekend away!

A few years back, the Sunday Times nominated the 30-mile drive from Godalming - itself a lovely place to visit - to Chichester as one of its top UK driving roads. So, if your trip is as much as about the drive as the destination at the end of it, this could be for you.

Just over half an hour or away from Surrey is the beautiful city of Windsor - second home of the Royal Family. A fairly effortless drive takes you to a place of numerous attractions, including Windsor Castle and Royal Windsor Racecourse. Meanwhile, if you're travelling with kids, head straight to Legoland for an awesome day out.

What are your favourite driving days out in and around Surrey?

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Teaching your kids to cook from a young age is invaluable because they will have those skills for the rest of their lives. Especially if you teach them the core skills of preparing vegetables, meat, and fish as it will lead to them living a healthier lifestyle in the long run because they won’t feel the need to buy unhealthy ready meals.  However, there’s a right way to go about cookery school at home in order to get your kids to enjoy it and remember cooking as a good experience. Here are a few ideas as to how you can have fun in the kitchen with your little ones while teaching them the basic skills of cooking.


Go shopping

A sure way to get your children more involved in cooking is by letting them choose their own gear. Whether a personalised apron is enough to get them in the kitchen or their own set of cooking utensils, if it’s getting your kids enthusiastic about preparing meals then buy it (as long as it’s within a sensible budget.)


Have fun

Chef Claire Thomson (who speaks from experience) says to start easy, “start with simple, tactile stuff, such as guacamole,” she says. “ Little kids love the gross stuff. Ivy likes to squidge the marinade into a chicken.” Ivy is Claire Thomson’s daughter. So choose your foods wisely, boiling carrots isn’t going to cut it unless they’re being transformed into something more exciting.


Kids in control

Thomson also tells The Telegraph that “children feel much more comfortable if they feel in control of their food.” She recommends that you pass over a lot of the preparation to your children so that they feel like the overall dish is all their own work. Confidence is key so don’t be afraid to encourage them to keep making ‘their dish’ for family and friends until they get it spot on. The practise and delivery to an audience will give them a real sense of achievement and encourage most delicious dishes!


Take it to the garden

To make cooking, EVEN more exciting you can start growing vegetables in the garden. It’s remarkably easy to grow salad leaves, carrots, potatoes, spring onions, herbs, tomatoes and more – you just need a few seeds and a bit of soil. If you don’t have the space you can grow salad leaves and herbs on the windowsills in baskets or plastic tubs easily enough. Growing your own produce not only teaches your children where everything comes from but it makes the whole process a lot more exciting if they’re pulling up their own carrots and giving them a wash. If you’re lucky enough to have lots of space in your garden, you could even get a couple of chickens!


Make a day of it

If you’re really struggling to get things going in the kitchen with the children, make a day of it at the weekend and have their friends over to cause havoc too. Chances are that if their friends are involved, they’re likely to enjoy themselves a lot more. Be creative and plan a day where your kids and their friends prepare some picnic foods (scotch eggs, sandwiches, salads) and then go out for a bike ride and eat everything they’ve been busy making in the kitchen. Not only will they have learnt lots about cooking but they’ll be so worn out by the end of the day you can have a good relax.

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Unsecured loans are those loans against which you do not have to provide any collateral. Credit card loans, personal loans, educational loans etc. are some types of unsecured loans. As the lender is not authorised to foreclose any of your assets in case of non-repayment of unsecured loans hence they are considered to be high risk loans. This is the reason that both traditional and non-traditional lending agencies charge a higher rate of interest for these loans. While it is quite easy to get unsecured loans if you have a good credit score and decent monthly income, it can become practically impossible to get these loans from traditional lending agencies if you have bad credit.

How does a person land with bad credit?

Nowadays the situation of the business world is such that you can end up with bad credit even if it is not your fault. Sudden lay-offs and salary cuts have become common and unemployment is on the rise. This is the reason that while you had a decent job and income you made some financial plans which went haywire when suddenly you were laid off or had a salary cut. In this situation it may so happen that you fail to repay some instalments on your loans or your utility bills which can land you with bad credit. The other more obvious reason for bad credit is poor financial management, but most people who have bad credit do not fall into this category and land up with bad credit due to unavoidable and uncontrollable circumstances.

What do you do if you have bad credit?

If you have bad credit then you can approach any of the reputable loan brokers for unsecured loans for bad credit. These loan brokers are associated with a large number of specialist lenders who do not look at only your credit score while approving a loan. They will understand that you could have landed with bad credit due to no fault of your own and now have secured a decent source of income. This makes you perfectly able to repay any loan that you now take. These modern specialist lenders take such factors into consideration along with your monthly income to expenditure graph and approve the loan. However, it is true that they are taking a higher risk by giving you a loan if you have bad credit and hence may charge a higher rate of interest. In fact there are some unscrupulous lenders and loan sharks out there who take advantage of your bad situation and try to rob you. However, if you go through a reputable loan broker then you will be protected from these unethical elements because the good loan brokers are associated only with reputable and reliable lenders.

Instalment loans

These loans are just like any other loan in that you have to pay the principle amount along with interest. The only difference is that in some loans you have to make the repayment in a single lump sum of money, but with instalment loans you can make the repayment in several instalments. These loans are usually for tenures of 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months and so on. These loans make it easier to repay your loan because you can work the repayments into your monthly budget. It is also possible to get these loans if you have bad credit if you approach a good loan broker.



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With leases coming up for renewal and spring making homes look extra beautiful, now is the time for homeowners to either sell or look for somewhere different to rent.


In today’s market where there is a lack of property, the whole process can sometimes happen much faster than we’re ready for, leaving us with a last minute move to make and a huge amount of stress to deal with. But it doesn’t have to be this way - get prepared early and you’ll breeze through the move and come out the other side feeling refreshed and ready for new beginnings.


Make a lovely list

If you write down a list of what you need to do and in what time frame, it will seem much less daunting as you cross each task off the list. You’ll see what might have seemed a daunting list shrink down to not much hassle at all!


Things to consider:


·      At least three quotes from different removal companies (if you’re using one.)

·      The big declutter of your home.

·      A thorough clean of your home, using a professional such as Molly Maid or schedule the time in to do it yourself.

·      Collection of boxes for moving + tape + bubble wrap + airtight bags.  


The clear out

It’s a difficult job cutting down on your possessions but it’s got to be done. Use the method ‘take’ or ‘leave’ on items that you’ve either used lots or not used for the past year. Just think about the joy someone else could get from your stuff and bag it all up for a trip to the charity shop.


If you can’t be honest with yourself, get a couple of friends over and ask them what you should keep and chuck out, they’ll know what hasn’t left the wardrobe for the last few years.


Boxing up

Once you’ve sourced some sturdy boxes from somewhere, it’s easiest if you pack room by room. Remember to put the heaviest items in the bottom of the box and the lighter items on top. If you have some really heavy stuff, pack it in smaller boxes that are easier to carry.


When it comes to packing material goods such as your linen, clothing and soft furnishings, place them in airtight bags first so they avoid the damp or any accidental spillages.


Invest in strong tape and labels to finish your boxes off with; it will make things easier in the unpacking process. Also, keep a couple of boxes labelled separately that are immediate necessities for your new home. That way you won’t have to rifle through everything looking for those important bits and bobs.


Keep yourself energised

Moves are hard work; make sure you’re getting enough sleep and plenty of healthy food to fuel the move. You’ll notice your mood and energy levels drop as soon as you stop looking after yourself so make it your top priority.


As long as you’re prepared for the big move, you’ll be fine. But do expect to have a slight feeling of chaos about you. We’re creatures who like to create a home so sometimes moving out of our nest can be an emotional experience.


If you’re going to miss it, why not throw a leaving party before the cleaners come? That way you can say goodbye properly while having some therapeutic partying with friends.


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This beautiful and hundreds of miles stretched desert land makes Rajasthan the most sought-after destination in the world to explore. Planning selected Rajasthan tour packages is an ideal decision to known about the world of sand and become aware of the rich culture and historical heritage that comprises its inseparable parts.

This beautiful desert land attracts thousands of tourists from all walks of life and providing an amazing opportunity to enjoy its world famous camel safari. The Indian Desert holiday circuit is formed by covering three prime destinations of Rajasthan that include Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. These beautiful cities are known for architectural wonders, its tourism popularity and desert land. Camel safari and jeep safari along with camping on the sand in night to enjoy a wonderful time will surprise you and persuade you to visit the destination again and again.

Indian Desert Tours – Plan for Wonderful Rajasthan Tours to the Desert Land

Indian desert land tours are offered to cover three main cities that include Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer – the Wonderful City

You will get a variety of amazing Rajasthan tours that are sure to keep you busy in the fascinated world. Tours to Thar Deserts are incomparable that will provide you entirely different holiday experience. Jaisalmer is the main destination of enjoying holidays in Indian desert. The beautiful sand stretches of sand dunes covers area of around 40 km far from Jaisalmer. Here, the beauty of sunrise and sunset has a charisma of its own. Don’t miss the chance of taking a ride of camel back – camel safari. Folk dance, music, local cuisines, traditional villages and meeting with local people will be in your tour activities.

Bikaner – Presenting the Real Picture of Thar Desert

Bikaner is another city that provides the real sense of exploring Indian desert land. Here, sitting on the camel back, tramping through the yellow sand and weighing the unending sand land provide you the ways of enjoy adventure holidays in a different way. You will also see magnificent and historical complexes that make visitors fall into the deep impression of rich Indian architectural possessions.

Jodhpur – Second Largest City of Rajasthan

Jodhpur is another pillar of Indian desert tour. Your selected Rajasthan tour packages cover all the main attractions of Jodhpur along with sand dunes. It was once the capital city of Mewar state lies on the edge of Thar Desert. The beautiful city has been housing massive historical palace – Meharangarh Fort. Here, desert kite festival is also organized every year; while this city also houses different desert camps.

During your Rajasthan tours, you will also see a number of other India tours destinations and get a chance to know about its rich culture and traditions.

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1. Labrador

The Labrador is an incredibly popular breed for families and is one of the best dogs for children of all ages. They are gentle, patient, sociable and playful as well as being very intelligent and therefore easy to train.

They need plenty of exercise and love adventure although it is important to be aware that they do love to chew, so ensure you have plenty of toys for them to do this with instead of your belongings!

Their enthusiastic attitude towards life and cheerful nature means they are the perfect breed to bring joy to any family.


2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

You may be surprised to see this one in the list? Unfortunately for the breed they tend to get bad press. But, they are actually one of the only dogs to be named as a ‘Nanny Dog’ by The Kennel Club due to their tolerant nature and protectiveness. 

Despite their muscular appearance, they are one of the most loyal and loving breeds, always eager to please and incredibly easy going. They enjoy long walks and playtime just as much as they love to snuggle up for a cuddle.   

At any given time Battersea Dogs Home estimates that 80% of the dogs in their care are Staffies – so this may be a breed you want to consider rehoming.


3. Boxer

This is another breed that is named by the Kennel Club as being particularly suited to families with children because of their loyal and affectionate nature.

Boxers are a sociable breed, they love to be around people and particularly enjoy playing with children. In fact, their child-like playfulness and love of playing outdoors makes them the perfect playmate for your child while ensuring they get plenty of fresh air.

They are very energetic and excitable, particularly as puppies and require plenty of training and exercise – so they are best suited to very active families.


4. Bichon Frise  

This breed doesn’t need too much exercise, so is perfect for less active families. They are very intelligent, playful and happy dogs with a loving and affectionate nature.

Their gentle nature and natural tendency to like people, makes them the perfect family pet and ideal for children of any age. They are also incredibly good at learning new tricks which will surprise and delight youngsters.


5. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu craves human attention and loves to be in the company of humans. They are the perfect breed if you are looking for a smaller dog and again, don’t require too much exercise, so are perfect if you aren’t keen on walking long distances.

They are affectionate and loving making them perfect for children of all ages.

Think you are ready to add a furry four-legged companion to your family? Then click here to find a breed that will suit your family. But, remember a dog is for life - so it is important to make sure you are ready for one to avoid any heartache.  

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Take a virtual tour to the most exciting wildlife safaris of India. It's high time now, to throw away your stress, and plan a wildlife tour with your friends and family to enjoy a genuine wildlife gateway.

Far from the noise and pollution of the city, you can find a green heaven over here. Along with the chirping of the colorful birds, you will find a totally refreshing and relaxing environment to rejuvenate yourself. With 450 sanctuaries, 40 tiger parks and 99 national parks, India embraces a rich wildlife.

Sounds exciting? Then book your tickets and pay a visit to the famous wildlife sanctuaries of India.

Here are the lists of some popular wildlife safaris where you will have an unforgettable experience.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Ranthambore.jpgRanthambore National Park, Rajasthan
Tiger tours in the ranthambore national park are one of the popular tourist destinations. Enjoy a safari, and click photographs of the various other wild beings like Sloth Bears, Wild Boars, and Sambar.

If you are looking out for some adventurous tiger tours in India, then you must pay a visit to this park. The ideal time to have a view of the tigers is from March to May.
b2ap3_thumbnail_jim-corbett.jpgJim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
When it comes to north India tours, then you must plan out a day's visit to the Uttarkhand's adventurous Jim Corbett National Park.

Myriads of the people visit Corbett just to get a glance of the dangerous cats and tigers. You can also take a view of the Serow, Goral, and several other fascinating wild species.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Royal-Bengal-Tigers.jpgBandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
Want to have a spectacular view of the Royal Bengal Tigers?  Just bask in the backwoods of the Bandhavgarh National Park. Take a picturesque of the various other exotic fauna species, Bandhavgarh is counted among the best places for wildlife safari in India. Check out online, the different India tours and travel packages and plan out a journey to visit Bandhavgarh National park anytime between Octobers to June.
b2ap3_thumbnail_kanha-panther.jpgKanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh
We have read many stories about the Sher Khan in our story books.But to have a real view of the roaring tiger of Kanha you must definitely visit here. Bagheera (Black Panther), Baloo (Bear), Kaa (Python), Hathi (Elephant) or Sher Khan (Bengal Tiger), every character that we have read about in our story books, can be seen in Kanha National Park.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Sunderban.jpgSunderban National Park, West Bengal
 If you love thrilling and adventurous tour, then you must visit the Sunderban National Park. Being the world's largest forest cover of the Mangroves, the place boasts a rich wildlife sanctuary. People from different corners of the world, gets excited to travel to India, and carries unforgettable memories with them while returning back.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Kaziranga.jpgKaziranga National Park, Assam
Want to get a glance of one of the most exotic animals - The Rhinoceros? Then you must pay a visit to the Kaziranga National Park. Besides the giant Rhinos, you can have a look at the other beautiful wildlife such as Elephants, Bears, Panthers and various pretty birds also in the Kaziranga National Park.

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Getting outdoors as a family can be a tricky thing to do at this time of year. The mornings are dark, the evenings are darker, and it’s bone-chillingly cold, too! But that doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time outside. All you need to do is pick a day where the whole family is available (a Sunday, perhaps), before wrapping up warm and trying on of these activities.


Bracing bike rides

A bike ride is just as much fun in the winter as it is the summer, so head to your nearest woodland trail or lake, don your helmets and get pedalling. It’s an excellent form of exercise, it’s easy on the joints, and very young family members can be safely strapped into seats on the back of grown up’s bikes. This makes it a perfect outdoor activity for a family with children of all ages, but be sure that everyone’s wrapped up warmly first: that cold air will bite at fingers and faces if you’re not wearing suitable clothing!


Family walks

If you don’t own bicycles (or you don’t fancy hiring any), why not go for a long walk? Family walks are a great way of spending quality time together as you can talk while you’re walking. And, it’s a fantastic form of exercise too: it lowers blood pressure, can help to maintain a healthy weight, and offers a chance to top up on vitamin D. Look out for muddy puddles to jump in, explore a wintery woodland, and perhaps even consider doing some orienteering on the way around too. Just don’t forget to check everyone has appropriate footwear first. The kids will need to be wearing children’s wellies that are waterproof, durable and with adequate grip on the soles if they’re going to be traipsing through mud and wading through puddles!


Stargazing on a clear night

The National Trust lists stargazing as one of the top 50 things kids should do before they’re 11 ¾. So, why not go stargazing as a family? You’ll need to make sure you have a clear sky with a full moon (if possible), and it’ll be more fun if you’ve downloaded a stargazing app to help you identify the stars you’re spotting. Some parents even suggest that their children have slept better after a spot of stargazing – perhaps it has something to do with that lovely cool air before bed?


Collect wood and construct a bonfire

Another fun activity for everyone to do as a family is to make a bonfire. Work together to gather twigs, logs and sticks, leaves and larger pieces of wood, and then ask the children to help you dig a shallow pit, surrounding it with stones. You’ll need to supervise children carefully around a bonfire, and the lighting and maintenance should obviously be left to the adults, but it’s great fun and a good opportunity to spend some quality time together. Here are some tips on how to make a safe bonfire.


So, which of these activities will you be trying with your family? And do you have any to recommend?

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When the kids went back to school at the beginning of autumn, you probably had quite a job on your hands packing everything they were going to need. As well as sorting out brand new school uniforms and sewing name labels onto PE kits, you had to fill up their pencil cases and school bags. If your kids have lost their things already and you’re heading to the shops for more supplies, or you want to make packing that little bit easier for the next term and the coming years, use this handy guide on school stationery you need to be packing…


Key Stage 1 (year 1 and year 2 in England and Wales)

Children are only 5, 6 or 7 years old when they’re in key stage 1. As a result, the kind of work they do tends to be very hands-on, creating visual pieces of work, displays, taking part in group activities and having discussions about their work. As a result, it’s not really necessary for children to take a pencil case to school. Classrooms will buy stationery equipment for children to use from a supplier such as this one, but it’s well worth asking your child’s teacher if there’s anything you should be stocking up on at home. Pens, pencils, arts and crafts materials and paper are worth having for a rainy day, and will mean your children can complete the occasional piece of homework they’ve been set.


Key Stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 and 6 in England and Wales)

Things get a bit more ‘academic’ when children get a bit higher up the school. Aged 8 to 11, children take part in lessons that involve independent work as well as group activities. Your children will need a pencil case and it will need to contain colouring pencils, colouring pens, a handwriting pen, a rubber, a ruler and a calculator. Their classroom may supply things such as exercise books, maths sets, glue, scissors and notebooks, but check with their teacher, or refer to a stationery list that you may have been sent, to make sure you’ve not missed anything.


Key Stage 3 (years 7, 8 and 9 in England and Wales)

When children reach secondary school, the nature of their lessons change and they’ll be expected to complete a lot more homework. So, stock up on the basic stationery listed in the previous two key stages, as well as these extra items: highlighter pens, fountain pens, fountain pen ink cartridges, a pencil sharpener, a maths set, a notebook, a scientific calculator, Post-It notes, a dictionary and a USB stick. Your child’s school is likely to provide all the exercise books they need, as well as a homework planner.


Key Stage 4 (years 10 and 11 in England and Wales)

Key stage four sees children taking their final exams, as well as completing coursework. So, you’ll need to make sure they have all the necessary tools for effective revision, as well as everything they need to ensure their coursework is well presented. Invest in ring binders, plastic wallets, Post-It notes and labels, paper clips, highlighters and page markers. They may also need additional materials depending on the subjects they’ve elected to take, so you’ll need to stock up on art supplies if they’re taking art for GCSE for example, with items such as sketch books and large portfolio folders required.

Check with your child’s school if you’re not sure about what you need to provide for every stage of their education, but rest assured that you can top up their supplies if there’s something you’ve forgotten or they’ve misplaced throughout the year!

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As a child, your bedroom is a special place. It’s where you dream up fantastic adventures – and is a safe place to curl up and sleep after a busy day. As a parent you’ll want to do all you can to make sure your child has a room fit to be their own special place. So, how do you kit out your child’s room with the right furniture?


Think long-term

Before you even think about any items, there’s one thing you need to bear in mind. Your kids will grow up fast. It’s the thing that you need to consider with clothes – and it should come into your head with their room too. Unless you’ve got a bottomless pit of a budget you’re unlikely to want to keep buying new beds and furniture every five minutes. You can redecorate – with wallpaper and paint – to change the look of the room as your child grows up, but try to look for furniture that can last.



Top of your list, then, should be the bed. You want something practical – that your child can easily clamber in and out of – and comfortable. You might also want to think about storage here – having drawers underneath the bed can provide somewhere for them to tidy away toys or even store bedding. Check out for some inspiration. A good solid bed is probably preferable over a quirky one shaped like a car.



It’s unlikely that the bed will provide enough storage to keep all of your child’s toys and clothes on its own – so you might want to consider shelves, baskets, drawers, racks and a wardrobe. House Beautiful shows some creative ways that you can use a pegboard or wooden crates as creative ways to provide storage. Just remember to consider the safety aspect. You wouldn’t want your child causing themselves an injury by yanking a toy, book or items of clothing from a shelf or drawer that they can’t quite reach. Get this right and you might even – if you’re lucky – be able to get your children to take responsibility for tidying up.



In time, your child will need somewhere free of distractions where they can do their school work. That’s where a good desk will come in handy. These can be great for younger children too – somewhere to test their creative talents by colouring, drawing and writing to their heart’s content. As Houzz suggests, you could look to invest in some ‘multi-tasking’ furniture to meet this need – with bunk beds available that allow you to convert the bottom bunk into a desk when required. This is great for small rooms and could also solve your hunt for a bed and storage too.


Those are the essentials – get these right and you’re on to a winner and your child will have somewhere special to play, study and sleep.

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Women who give birth or adopt a baby are entitled to maternity leave and pay. However, men are also entitled to take some time off and get paid, and this is known as ‘paternity’ leave. But, what you might not have heard of is shared parental leave. It’s an incentive that allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of their leave and 37 weeks of their pay with one another. (You can find more information about how shared parental leave works and whether or not you’re eligible on the Money Advice Service’s website).


Shared parental leave has only recently been made available, and at the moment, very few dads are actually taking advantage of it. The reason for this is that many couples feel that shared paternity leave isn’t really all that it’s hyped up to be. So, let’s take a look at whether or not it’s actually a good idea…


The biggest problem with shared parental leave is that it demands that both parents experience a reduction in their salaries. This means that both adults have to rely on statutory maternity pay (something that is currently only a maximum of £139.98 a week), or their employer’s enhanced paid leave allowance. If both are earning the same amount of money or are entitled to the same benefits it works perfectly, but if one partner earns more, it makes little financial sense to sacrifice the more generous wage.


Things are different in countries like Sweden where both parents are entitled to an allowance of 80% of their normal salary for the first 390 of the 480 days available. This is the reason that 85% of Swedish couples share responsibility for the care of their newborn baby, with both mums and dads taking extended periods of time off work. And, it’s also the reason that Swedish women are able to stay in work, develop their careers and not have to ‘start all over again’ once their children are in school, unlike British mothers right now.


However, shared parental leave is undoubtedly good news from an emotional perspective. Couples who can afford to take the hit financially will find that new dads get to spend much needed quality time with their children, enabling them to really get to know their baby.


Steve Marshall took shared parental leave and says it was a great decision. Aside from being tired and stressed (inevitably the way with a new baby!), Steve says “The first few months are an amazing time and I feel very lucky to have had the pleasure of seeing my son change day by day”.


“Being home for an extended period meant I was able to take care of my partner while she recovered from the birth, freeing her from the day-to-day things (like cooking for herself) that might be more difficult under the pressure of looking after our son on her own. And, because we have equal experience looking after him, each of us is confident we can leave him with the other without worry or stress”.


So while shared parental leave might not be the most desirable option from a financial perspective, if you can do some careful calculations and make ends meet on a reduced salary (or are lucky enough to have an employed with a good paternity package). It could be a great option for the wellbeing of you are your family. Will you consider it? 


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The sand between your toes, a picnic full of fresh fruit and wine and the lull of the ocean to enjoy with loved ones, there’s nothing better than a day spent at the beach. And what better beach could you ask for than one located in Portugal, with a coastline that boasts white sand, blue waters and plenty of bars and restaurants to sample nearby.


That’s why if you are considering purchasing property in Portugal, it’s a good idea to choose one located near the coastline, and here are some of the best spots by the sea to choose from:


Algarve region

One of the hottest tourist destinations in the country, you should find everything you need in the Algarve including beautiful beaches. Sites such as feature numerous properties available on the Algarve’s coastlines, also located to the area’s popular golf resorts. Praia dos Olhos de Agua beach is one of the most popular sandy locations, perfect for romantic walks in the evening or spending the day topping up the tan – find a property within walking distance and enjoy this tranquil spot every day.



If stunning beaches set against even more stunning cliff tops and rugged landscapes is what you prefer then Lagos is a great spot for your property purchase by the sea in Portugal. If you prefer to live in a built up area, with everything nearby, look for a property located near Praia da Batata which is known as Lagos’s town beach. This beach features a magnificent fortress, created to protect the location from outside attack, which is great for history buffs who fancy taking a look around.



Another municipality located in the Algarve, Faro offers small but accommodating beaches that are popular with the locals. There are also sandspit island beaches located around Faro, which can be reached by ferry but are perfect for when the main beach gets crowded and you fancy something new. Ilha Deserta beach is uninhabited but if you purchase a property in Faro itself it’s easily accessible and features a very popular restaurant serving up fresh catches – it’s recommended you book a table though because it is very popular all year round!


Praia do Guincho

Located on the Estoril coast, this small town boasts a beautiful beach where the Portuguese National Surfing and Body Boarding Championships take place each year, which means the beach is perfect for those who want to regularly get out on the waves and seek a property close by that can accommodate their boards or equipment. It’s a quiet location, that many would consider a struggle to reach via public transport so some days you could enjoy the beach to yourself.


If you’re looking for you very own spot by the sea, consider these beautiful locations and head out to Portugal to take a look around. It’s important you scope the area out first and view properties before you make any offers but there should be something waiting for you in the stunning sunshine kissed country.


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Some children experience difficulties with their gross and fine motor skills in a way that other children don’t. There can be a number of reasons for this, and if you have any concerns about your child’s health you should contact a professional. Here are five tips for developing motor skills:


1. Give children activities to do

One of the most effective ways to develop a child’s motor skills is to give them specific activities to do. You’ll need equipment and materials in order to help children who struggle with their motor skills, so think about what you’ll need to invest in (coordination skill games are available to buy at LDA, as well as resources and pieces of equipment too). Here are some activity ideas for developing fine motor skills:


·      Get to grips with play dough. Squeezing and stretching, moulding and separating help to strengthen finger muscles and improve coordination, and it’s a great sensory experience too.


·      Cut out paper bunting. Supervise children while they’re using scissors and encourage them to carefully cut around lines, fold tabs and unfold the bunting at the end. Larger shapes are easiest to start with, whereas smaller pieces can be cut once if they become comfortable using scissors.


·      Make necklaces. Start with a thick piece of string and large shapes with large holes. As children grow in confidence and ability, gradually make the string thinner or give them smaller beads or shapes to thread in more complex patterns.


2. Use everyday tasks as an opportunity to work on skills

As much as specific activities are great fun and are very effective, many daily activities are an opportunity to strengthen motor skills. You can set tasks such as setting the table, pouring water into a cup, opening and closing containers with lids and wiping the table with a cloth.


3. Encourage children to spend time outdoors

Gross motor skills such as running, catching a ball, balancing and jumping on a trampoline can be performed in almost any environment, but a dedicated space designed for enabling it is worth visiting regularly. Take children to activity play centres and parks so that they have plenty of opportunities for balancing, climbing and pedalling. It won’t be easy, and it may occasionally be frustrating for them, but the opportunity to keep practicing is key.


4. Intensify the challenge, but start easy

If a child struggles with fine and gross motor skills, presenting them with insurmountable challenges are only going to cause frustration, apprehension and low self esteem. For that reason, it’s important that you present new tasks at a level of difficulty that’s suitable for their stage of development, pacing the tasks and intensifying the challenge appropriately. Consult an occupational therapist if you need some help to do this.


5. Offer praise and consistence

All children respond well to praise and encouragement, so although it might seem like an obvious point to make, it’s worth celebrating every small achievement and major milestone. Display the things they produce, thank them for their contributions around the house, watch them when they’re playing outdoors and be consistent if you’re following a programme. 


Above all else, be patient – try to resist the temptation to always perform tasks on behalf of a child, such as tying shoelaces, getting dressed or cutting food – instead, be there to assist them if such a level of intervention is possible.

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Reading is important at any time of your life; for children it enables them to widen their vocabulary and for adults it is a means to relax and escape the stress and strains of everyday life.


But, what about when you head into later life? Of course reading is still an opportunity to relax and a lovely way to spend all that extra time you have in retirement. But, there is a far more important reason for reading in later life – and that is to keep your mind active as well as reaping other health benefits that come with it – including aiding sleep and alleviating stress.


Neurological researchers have spent years studying the impact of books on the brain and have identified a compelling link between reading a novel and enhanced cognitive ability. Reading has a profound effect on mental agility, the memory and our aptitude for imagination.


It enhances mental agility in old age:

According to research published in a 2013 edition of the journal Neurology, keeping mentally active by reading books will help to protect the brain in old age. The study measured memory and thinking in over 200 participants aged over 55, every year for about six years. It found that those who had kept their brains busy had a rate of cognitive decline about 15% slower than those who didn’t.

Brain-teasing activities such as reading have also been linked to the delay of Alzheimer’s disease in old age.


It helps your memory:

Reading helps your brain to retain information over time, which in turn means you read better – making you sharper and smarter. In her paper ‘What Reading Does For The Mind’, psychologist Dr. Anne Cunningham states that every time you read, you create a new memory – so, the process of reading will flex your memory reflexes over time.


It refines brain function:

Reading fiction improves your ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and to use your imagination. Scientists found that this causes changes in the left temporal cortex – the area of the brain associated with language comprehension. This allows neurons to trick the mind into thinking it is doing something it isn’t.


Plus, reading for just six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by up to 68%!


These benefits, however, don’t just come from reading the likes of Wuthering Heights or Girl on the Train - you could also read magazines as well. Why not treat yourself to a Magazines Direct subscription and get your favourite title delivered direct to your door? This could be anything from ‘Woman and Home’ or ‘Home and Gardens’ to ‘Knitting’ or ‘Country Life’ - whatever your interest or hobby, you will find a magazine for it. Then each week or month, when it lands on the doorstep, you can take time to sit down and relax with a cup of tea, as you read through it.


There are of course other ways to keep your mind active as you head into later life; such as playing games, writing letters, doing crosswords. Ultimately, it is a win-win situation, because these are incredibly enjoyable ways to spend your free time, but you get huge benefits from them, without too much effort on your part.

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Messy play is an important part of their development, helping children to learn important life skills. 

When you’re looking for activities for your children, it is important that parents look for ways to aid growth in terms of physical, communicative, social, intellectual and creative development and messy play can help immensely! has created a fun and informative resource offering some great ideas for outdoor and messy play! ‘Life is Messy’, it is an interactive piece challenging us to put away the technology for a little while and take part in 30 fun activities to get kids outside and dirty.


Each idea is supported by extra information and inspiration to make sure you can create the activity.


Examples include:


  • ·      Home-made play dough – Let their imaginations run wild, what will they sculpt today!? A bright green dinosaur or a series of buildings for a much bigger project? It also lasts a lot longer than shop bought play dough too.


  • ·      Glass Paint – why restrict the kids to just paper? Let them loose on a window or a pane of glass with some homemade glass paint. It’s easy to make and easy to clean off. The kids will love admiring their creations, especially when the sun is shining through.


  • ·      Papier Mache – a classic favourite with all the kids! You can pretty much make anything, and the children can get really creative with the paints and the decorating of the sculptures they design.


The messy play challenge was created after carried out a survey revealing the nation’s attitude to play, with rather surprising results:


  • ·      29% of parents worry their child’s development is negatively affected by TV, games consoles and other technology.


  • ·      The two main areas of development highlighted by parents as being the most negatively affected were social skills (44%) and attention span (31%).


  • ·      41% of parents discourage their children from getting dirty or messy when playing outside for fear of extra housework or germs.


With children’s development potential being affected through lack of play in the home and a dependency on technology as a whole, it has never been more important for parents to incorporate messy play in their daily activities.


Andrew Kirkcaldy, group brand director at stated: 


“We carried out the survey to understand parent’s attitudes towards children’s play, and more specifically messy play. We know that children are becoming more and more used to technology, and although this has its benefits, we wanted to challenge families and teachers to put aside the iPads for a short while and get the children out and messy! Helping children’s development is so important, and so we created the Life is Messy campaign to help inspire parents and teachers.”


The Life is Messy campaign includes the 30 day messy play challenge and the survey data, along with lots of other fun information. You can take a look at it here:

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Large families cost money and there’s no hiding from the fact. If you want to bring a small army of children into the world, then you’ll need to juggle your finances – and a few other things – accordingly. And that’s fine, as long as you are prepared.


Managing your money with a large family can be tricky but it’s not impossible. Here are some ways to keep on top of the money…


Budget planner

The internet is awash with free resources that can make our daily lives a little easier, and that’s certainly true of family budgeting. Budget planners offer a simple and effective template for you to be able to map out all of your regular expenses and be fully aware of what you spend. This one from Frugal Family is a useful template.


Plan out big purchases

By knowing what you need to spend you’ll have a clearer idea of what you can afford and be able to properly plan out any big ticket purchases that you need to make. AvantCredit personal loans can be used for anything from home improvements to holidays, helping you to afford such things by breaking the cost down into manageable chunks.


Reuse what you’ve got

Big families often include children at different ages and stages and that presents opportunities for managing your money smartly. Pass down clothes, toys, pushchairs and any other items that you can to avoid needing to pay for the same thing over and over again.


Switch the bills

Busy family households use plenty of energy. That means you need to be even more careful about your bills. Run regular price comparison checks to ensure you are on the best tariff available and avoid the costs spiraling out of control. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal from your providers if they put their prices up; a small rise in tariff can make a big difference to a big family.


Food planning

As Money Crashers points out, it’s important to get your grocery shop right. Ideally you want to get everything in one go – avoiding a number of extra small spends throughout the week that add to the cost – and write and stick to a list of items. Smart families will be able to cook up meals in advance in batches using ingredients that can be bulk-bought at a low cost. It can also be cost effective to hunt out reduced items, looking for expensive things such as joints of meat that can be frozen on purchase and used further down the line.



Birthday and, particularly, Christmas presents can be a big headache for parents in big families. It pays to set a consistent price limit for your children, that way they know what to expect and you can budget properly for it, maybe even saving up across the year so that Christmas doesn’t come as a big shock? There’s nothing wrong with joint presents either, especially when it comes to expensive things such as games consoles that could easily be shared by several siblings.

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Juggling life as a busy Mum more often than not means whipping the credit card out regularly and ensuring the kids have everything they need, as well as encouraging them to try their hand at new activities or taking them out for the day. It can all get pretty exhausting – and expensive – but of course you wouldn’t have it any other way.


But… have you actually taken some time to break down what you are spending each year? Well, debt management experts PayPlan have and their results might come as a surprise, such as the cost of keeping a baby in nappies for a year amounts to £451. That’s a lot of changing!


The Centre for Economics and Business Research reckons the cost of raising a child amounts to £231,843 for children born in 2016, from the day they are born until they turn 21. Take some time to scroll through PayPlan’s guide, it’s interesting to discover what the average cost is each year and if you compare it to what you spend you might feel pretty pleased with yourself if you’re the thrifty sort!


However, there are always ways to save yourself some money and still keep the kids happy. From cutting back on brands at the supermarket to mending clothes instead of buying new to taking your own snacks in your bag for when you head out for the day – no more impromptu orders at the cafe at lunchtime – you can save a fair few pennies and justify the costs that come with raising kids.



When you finally get a minute have a scroll through the guide, and if you have older children you can have a nice chuckle to yourself about not having to spend money on nappies anymore – although be prepared for the expense of driving lessons and university in the future.

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A pest infestation in your home is horrible at the best of times, but when you have small children in the house, this situation can become a hundred times more stressful.

Your home could be infested from anything from mice or rats to wasps or fleas – these won’t only cause damage to your property, they could also cause hygiene issues, particularly for your young children.

Then you have to try and get rid of them

Picture the scene: You have set up a trap to catch the mouse you saw run across the lounge floor and instead of catching the pest, it ends up squashing little fingers, as your two-year-old reaches for the piece of cheese you were using as bait. Or, even worse, your small children find the dead pests before you do, touching them and putting their little fingers in their mouths afterwards.

Of course there are other traditional methods you could use, but these could be incredibly dangerous for young children if they were to accidentally consume any of it.

So, how do you manage the pest infestation and keep your children safe at the same time?

Humane traps

Live traps are a more humane way to get rid of pests and are safe to use around food, water, children and pets. You simply have to set and bait them, and then you can get rid of up to 30 mice at a time without ever having to see or touch them. Check out Victorpest to find out more and order the right one for you.

Natural methods

You could make your own insect spray! This combines the repellent effects of garlic, onion and hot pepper with the insecticide of soap – just as effective at removing pests, while being a lot less dangerous for your small children.

Call in the experts

If the infestation has got to the point where you don’t know how to deal with it anymore, or you simply don’t want to deal with it yourself, why not call in the experts? Simply enter your postcode into the ‘Report a Pest Problem’ page on the government site and you will be taken to the correct page of your local council, where you can find and book the right service for you area. 

This way you can take the children out of the house while the experts deal with the issue! If it is a day, great - a trip to the park with the kids should be all it takes to get it sorted, if this issue is ongoing you may want to stay with friends or family for a few days. 

If you already experienced pests in your home or want to avoid ending up in the above situation, then you should make sure you are always looking out for them. Keep an eye out for signs that they could have taken up residence in your home, such as droppings, nests, insects and so on.

Also, do everything you can to keep them away; lids on bins, all food put away, don’t leave dirty dishes on the side, etc. If you have been considering getting a pet, then it might be time to add a cat to your family. Their litter tray can be left in any potential problem areas, as their urine alone will scare off any pests.

The sooner you tackle the situation, should it arise, the sooner it can be sorted and the less damage it can do to your home or your young children.


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Image Source: Auto Express


Whether you are leasing a car or purchasing one outright, it’s important you find the right one for your family’s needs. Perhaps you need a reliable car for the school run to come in a couple of years or a motor big enough for those family trips to the beach at the weekend.


You’re definitely going to need five doors for those moments when your toddler doesn’t want to be strapped into their seat and throws a tantrum as well as a large boot for all the ‘just in case’ stuff you need to take with you when out of the house. Here are six of the best cars for young families to choose from:


1. Skoda Octavia

Named the What Car? Family Car of the Year in January 2016, this vehicle comes with a recommendation from one of the most trusted car reviewers in the UK. They claim it’s down to its exceptionally sized interior space as well as its economic engine which saves money in the long run on fuel. The Octavia also scores highly when it comes to safety, with seven airbags and a post collision braking system.


2. Ford Focus

Roomy, comfortable and great to drive, it’s no wonder the Ford Focus comes up top when it comes to family cars. It’s a great vehicle if you aren’t looking for all the gadgetry that comes with newer cars, its console is simple, easy to use and offers everything you need. Available in both manual and automatic, diesel and petrol and a variety of engine sizes there is a Ford Focus out there to fit every family situation.


3. Vauxhall Astra

This hatchback is perfect for those families that want something that looks great but also offers plenty of practical features. The interior is high quality and there’s plenty of room inside, 35mm more knee room in the rear – great if one of you still needs to sit in the back with the kids - and the boot offers 350-litres of space to fill up for days out.


4. Hyundai i30

Looks good, drives great, plenty of room; the Hyundai i30 is Korea’s answer to popular car choices such as the Ford Focus. Opt for a five door option for maximum access to the rear of the car, especially if you have little ones in car seats. Great for school runs and nipping around town with the kids, it’s a cheap car to run and looks great.


5. Audi A3

For those young families looking for style and comfort when it comes to a family vehicle, the Audi A3 offers both. The Audi A3 Sportback is a preferable choice when it comes to this model as it comes with five doors and a decent sized boot. This is the family car to choose if you regularly venture out on long trips, with a 2.0-litre engine you should have no problem reaching your destination in good time.


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