Introducing a pet to your family home…

After more than a year of threatening to wait until Daddy is away and bringing home a cat, Olivia and I finally managed to talk Daddy into letting us get one! I think he knew I was starting to get very serious about just moving one in while he was out one day…

So, off we went to our local RSPCA centre and found ourselves a lovely pet cat.

Meet Shadow:

Shadow is a black Domestic Shorthair cat, and she only has 3 legs!

When you adopt from the RSPCA you have to have a home visit from RSPCA staff. Ours came and went quite quickly and gave us a pack of helpful information and advice when introducing a pet to your home. It included tips like:

  • Isolate your cat to one room at first
  • Make a cat friendly room with a scratching post, their food and litter tray, and somewhere they can get up high
  • Keep their diet the same as what they’ve been eating in the RSPCA centre
  • Keep them indoors for 4 weeks

When we went to collect her, she came with her blanket and toys in order to help her settle. We were also given another pack of helpful information, and the RSPCA gave us 4 weeks free pet insurance, which was one less thing to worry about!

We moved her in and she was a bit nervous at first, but she has gotten used to Olivia’s pestering now.

Olivia was so excited to have a pet cat that she would not leave her alone (and she still doesn’t 2 months later). It was important for us to get a cat that was friendly with children, and Shadow was perfect – so chilled out, and a little older as well so she wouldn’t get too excitable around Olivia. She’s 7 in human years, which I think is around 44 in cat years, but she still has a lot of life left in her!

It’s also been really helpful having friends with cats to ask advice about things. For example, did you know that cats eat grass to help their digestion? Well, I didn’t! I am planning on getting her some cat grass that we can have in pots in the house, as Shadow mostly stays indoors.

What else have you found to help your pets settle in the first few months?

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30 things I want to do before I’m 30: Mum edition

Consider this my first proper go at a bucket list, having just celebrated my 24th birthday, I’m starting to feel a little more over the hill than I did before!

Can mums really have a bucket list of stuff that’s just for them? Probably not, but I’m willing to give it a go (bonus points for every item on the list that isn’t mum related?)

I plan on updating this list every time I tick an item off! And maybe I’ll review them as I go along too… Starting off with a VERY family friendly one, here it is, my 30 before 30 list:

  1. Go to Disneyworld Orlando, Florida with the kids
  2. Have a mother-daughter photoshoot
  3. Go on a girls’ spa weekend
  4. Do a cocktail making master class
  5. Go to the Gatsby Party event my husband and I planned to go to this year!
  6. See P!nk live in concert
  7. Go to a festival
  8. Visit Cadbury World in Birmingham
  9. FINALLY qualify as a registered barrister (or, failing that, transition to solicitor)
  10. Visit Hever Castle
  11. Write a book
  12. Do an ancestry DNA kit
  13. Go to Butlins
  14. Start doing yoga again
  15. Go to another country in the UK (not England!)
  16. Drive in a foreign country
  17. Go on holiday to the Lake District
  18. See The Lion King in theatre
  19. Take Olivia to see the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House
  20. Try a ‘Family Day Out Jar’ and see it through!
  21. Watch Trooping the Colour in person
  22. Run (or walk) a marathon
  23. Properly try at being vegan (goodbye cheese, I will miss you)
  24. Book a city break for me and the hubby
  25. Go to Alton Towers with the kids
  26. Go GLAMping with the kids
  27. Hike along the Yorkshire moors with Olivia
  28. Force my husband to do a dance class with me
  29. Get a sewing machine
  30. Learn how to crochet (I’m old now, that’s something I should learn to do, right?)

Only 8 kid-orientated items on the list! Not bad going, eh?

Have you done a list like this before? What would you be excited to try?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Date Night at Home…

Raise your hand if you can remember the last time you and your significant other had a date night?! Nope, me neither!

Never fear! Chrissy is on hand with her tips to get your date nights back on track in collaboration with Real Soy Candles

Creating the Ultimate At-Home Date Night

In the UK, the average parent gets only 48 minutes of free time each day, as reported by the Mirror. The same report revealed that mums and dads usually get to start unwinding at around 8:53 pm each evening. Despite the time constraints, scheduling regular date nights with your significant other is of top importance. It is common knowledge that taking time for yourself and for your partner is essential for the health of your relationship. Without regularly fostering your connection with each other, it is almost impossible for parents to have healthy communication and bonding. But with so little time, how can mums and dads keep the flame alive? Learn more about the top strategies for creating the ultimate at-home date night.

Set aside a specific evening for your date night

Before planning the details of your next at-home date night, it is an absolute necessity to commit a specific date and time to your partner. Why? If you don’t set aside a particular time for your date night, you are more likely to cancel it. Remove all barriers that could prevent you from having your at-home date night, such as last-minute work and appointments. If necessary, leave work an hour or two early, hire a babysitter for the night, and complete housework in the days before your date night. If your plans are tentative, you are much more likely not to take your evening of romance seriously.  

Take your dining experience to the next level

Think that the only quality dining is available outside of your home? Think again! Whether you are a skilled chef, or even if you can only cook the basics, there are numerous ways to serve a 5-star dinner. If you enjoy cooking, prepare a meal of your favourite and your partner’s favourite foods. Plan multiple courses, and research the best recipes for each food online. Since you are not purchasing an expensive dinner out, give yourself permission to splurge on quality ingredients. Alternatively, if you do not know how to cook, there are other creative options you can utilise. Depending on your budget, you can hire a private chef, order a step-by-step subscription box meal, or get takeaway from a favorite restaurant. In addition to putting effort into your cuisine, make your environment as romantic as possible. For instance, choosing cozy and fragrant candles can completely change the ambiance of any room. Not only can the scent and low lighting help improve the mood, but a long-lasting candle can be re-used for multiple at-home date nights.

Get creative with your activities

Rather than planning a simple evening in, get creative with the activities that you plan. Want to watch a movie with your partner? Skip the family room television for a more unique set up. Use a projector and outdoor screen to watch the movie under the stars. Did you have a particularly memorable first date? Challenge yourself to recreate the events of that date as much as possible at home. No matter what you choose, plan activities that are meaningful to you both. Since date nights are few and far between for parents, make the most of your time together.

Having an incredible date night with your significant other doesn’t require hundreds of pounds and a special location. Instead, your home can be the perfect place for a convenient, yet romantic evening together.

Do you have any other tips for date nights at home? How have you managed to plan a romantic evening for your partner ?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

25 easy candy free Easter gift ideas for kids

Everyone loves gift-giving, and there is something especially magical about giving gifts to children. But have you ever considered the sugar content in those sugary treats?

A Dairy Milk buttons easter egg fits in the palm of your hand and also comes with a small pack of chocolate buttons. While that may seem ideal for a child, the egg itself contains 40g (10 teaspoons) of sugar, and the buttons contain a further 8.1g (2 teaspoons). To put that into perspective, a child aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g of sugar a day, and this increases to 24g in children aged 7-10.

What are the alternatives? Well, anything that isn’t super sugary chocolatey treats, basically. So, in the spirit of Easter, here is a list of alternatives.

Outside fun

  • Pavement chalk
  • Bubbles
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimming costumes
  • Ride on toys
  • Scooters and rollerblades
  • Tickets to amusement parks, zoos and other attractions
  • Hula hoop
  • Frisbee
  • Plant seeds

Inside fun

  • Easter themed movies
  • Play dough
  • Finger paints
  • Fridge magnets
  • Lego
  • Colouring books and crayons/pens (age dependent)
  • Puzzles
  • Books (Easter themed)
  • Dolls/ toy figures
  • Bath toys
  • Educational playing cards such as wild cards
  • Stickers
  • Child’s first Bible
  • Board games to play as a family
  • Dressing up clothes

As a child, we had an easter egg hunt every year, complete with a treasure map. While I won’t be giving my daughter excessive amounts of chocolate this year, you could still recreate the classic easter egg hunt, just with other, healthier gifts which will enrich your kids for much longer than the 10 seconds it takes them to scoff that egg!

What are your plans for Easter this year?

Why I’m glad I had my child at 20

I fell pregnant with my daughter at the ripe old age of 20, and gave birth to my daughter exactly 1 month before my 21st birthday.

Now, there are lots of pros and cons to having your children at certain ages, and the topic is apparently the business of the (predominantly) old men running our country, resulting in drives to lower the amount of teen pregnancies – not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but the trends do show that women are starting to have babies after they’ve become settled in their careers.

The average age of first-time mothers in the UK in 2016 was 28.8 years old, with only 3.2% of mothers having their first child under the age of 20.

However, although these figures have dropped significantly, the stigma around being a young mum is by no means a new thing.

When I was 14, I took my 3 year old brother to the park, only to be spoken about by 2 older ladies in the most demeaning way. I took a lot of delight in correcting them, and thanking them for their snap (and completely, utterly wrong) judgements.

Pros:

  1. I can still keep up with my daughter. Yes, she runs me ragged 24/7, but it would be a lot harder if I was that bit older.
  2. I haven’t had to interrupt a career. The timing wasn’t ideal, me still being at uni, but I had Olivia before I had an established career as a barrister. If I’d had to take time off during my self-employment as a barrister, I’d be coming back to work at a disadvantage having not worked for 6 or 9 months, and not having any maternity pay! I also believe that if I hadn’t had Olivia when I did, I wouldn’t have children at all!
  3. I get to share all of my successes with her as we both grow older.
  4. You’re less likely to have fertility problems when you’re young. We weren’t really trying to get pregnant, but it was the first month of not being careful with contraception that we fell pregnant with Olivia! We women are ticking time bombs when it comes to our fertility…
  5. Pregnancy is lower risk under 35. At the age of 35 you are considered a geriatric mother, and, no matter how healthy the pregnancy, you’re considered higher risk and you’re then less likely to have the birth plan you wanted!

Cons:

  1. You don’t qualify to have a screening test for cervical cancer, despite there being a link between childbirth and an increased risk of cervical cancer. So, unless I paid privately for a screening, I would go 5 years post-birth without being tested.
  2. I don’t know if this is a normal experience for everyone, but when I first went to the GP I was asked if I was keeping it… I’m just speculating here, but I bet that doesn’t happen for women in their late 20s onwards!
  3. I am judged on a daily basis by those older than me, patronised and told what to do with my child. She’s my child, not yours. Butt out.
  4. Until I moved to Aldershot, I was the only one of my friends that had a child, and as lovely as those friends are, they just don’t get it sometimes.
Do you have any more you’d add to the lists? How old were you when you had your first child?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

How to Deal with the Stress of Raising Two Kids

A big thank you to Murris from familyhype.com for sharing this piece with us! We all know how stressful one child can be, and these tips for coping with two are great!

Having a second child on the way can be amazing, but it can also be the most stressful time of your life if you’re not prepared. Here are some ways you can deal with the stress and have the best time of your life.

Tell Your Child About the Sibling

Sibling rivalry is a trope that doesn’t have to exist. Inform the sibling to be about what is going to happen. You can show them books, videos, or other information about the child, and perhaps they can think of what the child’s name is and help with the room for the new baby.

For more information on how to tell your child about it, go to familyhype.com.

Obviously, they may be jealous, and their feelings are valid. Just make sure that they realize they will be loved just as much, too. If they express jealousy, don’t guilt trip them, but ensure them that everything is gonna be okay.

Also, the firstborn’s opinions may change. At first, they may love their baby brother or sister.

However, whenever the baby grows older and becomes more independent, there may be some challenges. For example, the toddler may take toys or mess with the sibling in different ways. Be vigilant.

Teach Your Firstborn to Be More Independent

Preparing the food and making the beds of two kids can be a challenge. If your firstborn is old enough to be in school, they can learn to dress themselves, prepare snacks, and be more independent. Teaching your child about adult tasks is always a good idea, but besides that, it can help make everything so much more easier.

You as a mom need to make sure that your mental health is also at the forefront too.

Teach The Sibling to Be Protective, Not Jealous

As the older sibling, they should learn how to protect their baby sibling against any danger.

The child is now the caretaker too, and they can help feed, burp, rock to sleep, and take care of the baby in general. Don’t let the child feel like they aren’t being treated equally.

Budget

Laying out a budget is a good idea for any situation, but especially for having a second kid.

One kid is costly enough, so when you have two, that is a bit of problem. Think about the cost of everything and set aside even more money to cover it. Make sure you have all expenses paid. Eliminate any unneeded expenses. Cook more at home. It doesn’t take long for you to set up a good budget that works for you. Find that budget, and you’ll feel much better afterwards.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

With the firstborn, there is often overprotection and perfectionism. Everything has to be completely safe for the baby, and there shouldn’t be anything that goes wrong. However, as you give birth to the second baby, some parents realize that they can be more lax on their second born. You don’t have to worry as much. With that said, you shouldn’t be lazy, but you can relax a little more.

Make Sure to Take Care of Yourself as Well

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to take care of yourself. No one is going to take care of you, after all. Stressing is natural, but too much stress can hurt you. Instead, take some time to wind down. Work out a little. Get outside and take a walk. Make sure you’re sleeping and perhaps have someone else help with the chores. Take some time to yourself too and work out any stress you may have.
Perhaps you can go out for the weekend and have your parents watch the kids. This may seem like a cop-out, but not only do the grandparents love watching their grandkids, but you need time to recover from the stress. While some stress is good, too much can hurt you in the long run, and it’s something you should avoid at all times.

Enjoy Parenting

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to take care of yourself. No one is going to take care of you, after all. Stressing is natural, but too much stress can hurt you. Instead, take some time to wind down. Work out a little. Get outside and take a walk. Make sure you’re sleeping and perhaps have someone else help with the chores. Take some time to yourself too and work out any stress you may have.

Perhaps you can go out for the weekend and have your parents watch the kids. This may seem like a cop-out, but not only do the grandparents love watching their grandkids, but you need time to recover from the stress. While some stress is good, too much can hurt you in the long run, and it’s something you should avoid at all times.

Parenting is a part of life, so why not make it fun? Show new places to your children. Play games. Make memories. Don’t spend most of your life stressed if you don’t need to. Parenting with two kids doesn’t have to be a challenge; it can be the start of an even bigger family that can go on many adventures.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Schooling in the UK and Denmark…

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This is a topic that has always fascinated me…
The UK, for all of its strict, formalised education system, isn’t doing as well as it should be. In fact, the UK’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results demonstrate that we have fallen behind to 26 other countries in Maths, and to 21 other countries in Reading. The UK fell out of the top 20 for Reading back in 2006.
By contrast, Scandinavian countries such as Finland, Norway and Denmark consistently achieve high results. As of 2013, Finland was the only non-Asian country among the top-5s in any of the categories!
PISA test results from 2016
So what is it that makes them so different?

“Teachers in Finland are given a great deal of responsibility and are allowed unfettered flexibility in what and how they teach. Performance isn’t observed and graded.”– The Guardian

The same can be said for the school system in Denmark, with no compulsory testing until the child reaches the age of 15.
In Denmark, children do not go to school until 6 years old, and complete their compulsory education at 15 years old. Compared to the UK, that is 5 years fewer in compulsory formal education. Children begin school aged 4, and since the recent (or now, not-so-recent) reforms to our education system, they cannot leave formal education, employment or vocational training until they reach the age of 18.
This has its own criticisms, most valid being that this practice only serves to reduce the government’s unemployment figures post-16, however, is our approach to education fundamentally wrong?
The highest achieving countries in the PISA league tables are, unsurprisingly, China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, however, South Korea has also been found to have the unhappiest students, whereas Indonesia (though at the lower end of the table and a relative 6 years behind those at the top) boasted the happiest students in 2013.
Is the secret to a good education a happier education?
Clare’s children will be attending school in Denmark, however she and her other family members attended school in the UK. Clare knows the differences in education and the whole system first-hand, with Denmark being a far more equity-based education system than the UK and similar to Finland’s education system in many ways.
Denmark in 2016 ranked more highly than the UK at Maths, making it into the top 12 of participating countries, so perhaps the UK could learn a thing or two from the Danish education system?
Thank you Clare for sharing this informative post with us!
 
Schooling in the UK and Denmark
1.     Tell us a bit about yourself and your family
I’m 31 years old from Runcorn, England and my husband is 26. He is Danish, and we met online at the end of 2012. I am a student, doing a Bachelor of Education and he is a mechanic. We have 1 boy and 1 girl. Jakob is 4 years old and Skye is 2 years old. We live in the south of the mainland part of Denmark, close to the German border.
      2.     How did you come to live in Denmark and how old were your children when you moved there?
I moved to Denmark in August 2013 and we now have 2 children. I found out that I was pregnant while getting ready to move here. I was working my last shift at Warrington Hospital when I got the positive test. When I moved here, I was 6 weeks’ pregnant.
      3.     How different is the school system in Denmark to the UK? Have you made any school applications yet?

There are a lot of differences between the school system in the UK and Denmark…
School in Denmark starts in the August after a child turns 6 years old when they start in grade 0 (reception class) and they stay in school until 9th grade (age 15). After that they can choose to stay on for 10th grade or go to ‘gymnasium’, which is a similar idea to sixth form in the UK.School days are shorter for younger children, starting at 25 hours a week for the youngest and going up to 35 hours a week for the older students.

School is separated into subject classes from the first year at school, so each class will have a different teacher for each subject.The basic subjects in school are Danish, Maths, English (as a foreign language), Nature and Technology, Sport and Social Studies for 0 – 6th  grade. German is taught from 3rdgrade, then instead of Nature and Technology, from 7th grade, they include Science, Geography, History and some optional subjects that vary depending on the school. These are things like Art, Music, Drama, Home Economics, Woodwork, other languages etc.

Applying to school is very different, the child is registered with a social security number as soon as they are born, instead of waiting until they are 16 to receive their National Insurance number in the UK. They are automatically given a place at the closest school to their address and there is no need to apply. You can get this changed to a different school, all you have to do is speak to them at the education department in the local council building.
4.     Are your children aware of when they are starting school?
My son knows that he will start school after he turns 6 and knows which school he will be going to. My daughter doesn’t understand yet, but she will be told about it when she is older.
5.     What has your experience of the school system in the UK been like compared to the system your children will experience in Denmark?
I prefer the schooling system in Denmark. There is a lot less stress on the children. The motto of the Danish school system is “learn through play” and they do not have any important tests or exams to worry about until their final year at school when they are 15 years old.
The Danish schools have a lot of focus on group work and team building and I have seen how well classes can work together on anything from presentations to experiments to workbooks. Also, it is illegal to separate children based on their abilities, so there are no classes full of only the smartest students. Instead, teachers are trained to incorporate mixed learning levels into the work and classes are quite varied in skill levels.
Photo by Ian on Unsplash
Children call their teachers by their first names which helps them to feel more secure and comfortable when talking to them. There are no school uniforms here but the “bullying culture” isn’t really present here so, no, children don’t get bullied for what clothes they are wearing.All added together, it makes a school, a more relaxing and comforting place to be and children learn better because of this. This leads to a very high level of children going on to higher education and there is a very low percentage of people that don’t go onto the next level after they leave school.

6.     Do you think you will keep your children in Denmark until secondary school age (11+)?
We have no plan to leave Denmark. I am hoping to get dual nationality soon and we would like the children to complete school in Denmark.

Schools here do not have the secondary school age, they simply have “folkeskole” which goes right through from grades 0-9.
7.     What kind of school/pre-school provision is there for under-6s in Denmark? Is it normal to have children at a nursery-like setting for childcare?
Children can attend a nursery setting from 6 months old. They are separated into two parts, 0-3 years (nursery) and 3-6 years (kindergarten). Smaller daycare settings are also very popular here, where someone is licenced and paid by the council to run a small daycare with 3-4 children in their own home. This is usually only 0-3 years old though. These small daycares also have the option to take children before 6 months old if needed, but it is unusual for children to start before they are about 9-10 months old anyway.
All childcare is subsidised by the council and the price you pay is based on how much you earn. The maximum amount you would pay, if you earned over the highest wage, is 2700 Danish krowns, or about £315 per month. This would give access to childcare up to 48 hours per week.
8.     Do you find that parents’ attitudes are different in Denmark from those in the UK?
I think it varies depending on the parent. But in general, I think that the school system allows for a difference in attitude.
In Denmark, homework is unusual, so parents feel less stressed and less strict when it comes to school work.
It is difficult to judge parents’ attitudes when the system is so different. I think for a parent from the UK or America, the Danish school system would require quite a big adjustment in attitude, a few examples being:

  • Young children sleeping outside at naptime. They each have a large pram with a duvet and rain cover and children sleep a lot better outside. Weather doesn’t change anything, and children sleep outside in snow and ice. Only being brought inside during extreme weather, thunderstorms etc.
  • Campfires. It is quite normal for a kindergarten to have a firepit where they will (with adult supervision) make a campfire and sit around and sing or cook.
  • Day trips. They regularly take trips out to the lake, the forest, the playground etc. These are normal trips that don’t require signed consent from the parents for each trip. Consent is given for trips when they start at a nursery, but it is only needed once.
9.     What are you most looking forward to with your children’s schooling in Denmark?
I am looking forward to seeing them start their language classes most. They are both already fluent in both English and Danish so they will not have any problems with their English lessons, but they will start to learn German as well and it is so good to see how important language learning is.
From my own experience, learning French in school in the UK, there is no real importance to the learning, the main goal of language learning (and most other school subjects as well) is to learn what is needed to pass an exam. However, here in Denmark, there is a large focus on learning and connecting the learning to real life.Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Clare! This is so interesting. Good luck to you and your family in Denmark over the years to come!Have you ever been educated abroad? What was your experience like?

5 top tips to reduce your household plastic wastage

Many of us have been made more aware of our plastic usage since Blue Planet II was aired, and due to the ‘blue planet effect’ many people have begun to attempt to reduce their plastic wastage. I’m a big believer in looking after the environment and trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, so here are some top tips on reducing the waste and use of plastic in your home.

1. Try plastic free cleaning

White vinegar diluted with 3 parts water makes for a great surface cleaner. You can buy it in bulk to avoid buying cleaner in unnecessarily small cleaning bottles, plus buying in bulk means there’s always some around and you’re unlikely to be caught out with nothing to clean up with. Plus, if you’re not keen on the vinegar smell, here’s a tip – pop some vinegar in a big glass jar, and fill with citrus peels. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the stronger the citrus smell. Big efficiency, small cost.

2. Switch up your bathroom supplies

Ditching toiletries which won’t biodegrade will reduce your plastic waste massively. This includes disposable razors and toothbrushes (3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used each year, and 80% of these end up in the ocean). Instead, try a bamboo toothbrush which will biodegrade in 2 years. You can also make a big impact by switching to naked toiletries – use bar soap instead of soap from a plastic dispenser, shampoo bars  and try soap instead of shower gel to minimise your use of plastic bottles. Avoiding face washes with microbeads will also help reduce your impact on the environment. A tube of facewash can contain 330,000 microbeads, most of which will end up in the ocean (and eventually you, if you eat fish).

3. Say no to plastic straws and other single use ‘fast food’ items

This is the obvious one. More than half a million plastic straws are used every day globally, and they take around 500 years to decompose. Further, while single use coffee cups are technically recyclable, they use plastic polyethylene to make them able to hold liquid, and are contaminated with drink. This makes them harder to recycle, and in the UK alone there are only 3 recycling plants able to do this. How can you help? If you like drinking with a straw, you can buy loads of great reusable ones online. They don’t take up much room in your bag, and you’ll always be prepared. Likewise, pick up a reusable coffee cup – most coffee shops will fill it for you with no questions asked, and some will even give you a discount for using your own cup.

4. Make a few swaps in the kitchen

Let’s face it, we’ve all been frustrated with the whole ‘I’ve stuck the cling film together and now I can’t use it’ scenario. If you purchase beeswax wraps, you’ll never have this issue again, plus you’ll be doing the environment a favour. The wraps come as a pre-cut square, and mould to the surface you’re putting it on by using the heat of your hands. When you’re done with it, simply remove it, wash it and leave to dry. You could also try swapping your tea bags for loose leaf tea. Unfortunately, tea bags are made using plastic particles, which means that while the tea inside will biodegrade, the bag itself will be left in landfill for years. While we’re at it, you could also try giving chewing gum a miss – like tea bags, it includes plastic and will never biodegrade.


5. Try reusable nappies and sanitary products

The products we use to keep ourselves clean have a huge impact on both the environment, and our bank accounts. The best solution for both is to buy reusable nappies and sanitary products. Did you know that disposable nappies will take over 200 years to break down? And given that the average household uses 5,000 nappies per baby, that’s a lot of waste. Likewise, the average woman uses 11,000 disposable menstrual products in her life. Ouch. Using reusable products like nappies and menstrual products is not as daunting as it might first seem, and is a lot friendlier to you and the environment – they don’t use harsh chemicals, and are less likely to end up in the ocean.  There are so many different types of reusable nappies available which are just as easy as using disposables, and reusable sanitary products don’t have to be scary either. See Maria’s post for more info.

Whether you try all these tips, just one, or something totally different, any changes you make are for the better!

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

How my menstrual cup changed my life

Deciding to use cloth nappies

Mental Health Monday: Struggling With Depression or Anxiety?



Today’s blog post is a special contribution from Anna Kucirkova. Anna speaks 3 languages has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and South East Asia she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

Struggling with depression or anxiety? Here’s what you need to know!

Anxiety and depression are broad terms that can induce some anxiety just by researching and thinking about them. Oftentimes the two conditions overlap, which creates a confusing set of symptoms that both overwhelms and causes you to feel extremely low. 

If you believe that you may be affected by anxiety and/or depression, take a deep breath–you are not alone. The effects are serious but also fully manageable with the right tactics.


In this article, we’re going to examine the vicious combination of anxiety and depression to understand how they are related and how the latest research helps us understand the connection between them.

What Are Anxiety and Depression?

depression
Anxiety disorders cover a broad spectrum, in large part because doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have created multiple categories of anxiety based on their triggers or causes. 
However, all anxiety  disorders are primarily characterized by a sense of excessive fear or tension. This is usually understood as a heightened response to a real or oftentimes perceived threat, or anticipation of a future threat that is often not based on situational reality. There are some exceptions to this, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which often creates a sense of anxiety without any connection to specific events. 

People suffering from anxiety experience disruptions in their behavior and ability to function normally. Many times, the heightened fear and anxiety responses associated  with anxiety disorders manifest themselves in panic attacks, which are a psychological and physiological response to a generalized sense of fear. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, rapid heart beat, a sense of tightness in the chest, difficulty concentrating, etc. 
Essentially, when the body is in the grip of anxiety, it has unnecessarily entered into fight-or-flight mode. The body thinks a threat is present and unleashes a host of chemicals that prepare the body to either fight or run from the perceived threat. 
Like anxiety, there are multiple types of depression which are typically categorized by causality or frequency of depressive episodes. General depression (often referred to as “clinical depression”) is diagnosed by a list of symptoms that range from the familiar to somewhat surprising. 
The primary and most well-known symptom is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest and enjoyment in most usual activities. The other symptoms associated with major depression include changes (decrease or increase) in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, changes in motor skills and cognition (either increased activity like fidgeting or decreased activity which results in a generalized lethargic state), constant fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation with or without specific plans for committing suicide, and changes in cognition. 

This last symptom is one which is often overlooked in the popular understa
nding of depression, which can lead to a further spiral as a person feels sad or “low” and subsequently struggles to complete tasks they previously found easy. Symptoms of depression last for two or more weeks and typically represent a substantial change from a person’s functionality and personality prior to the onset.

How Anxiety and Depression Affect You

Dealing with either or both sets of anxiety and depression symptoms can prove severely disruptive to daily activities, both because of anxiety-related heightened responses to relatively normal external inputs and because of depression-related suppression of energy, cognition, and general satisfaction. 
Psychologists are increasingly noting a correlation between anxiety and depression, which may be structural or psychological. Feeling anxious can lead to depression and feeling depressed can lead to anxiety, as in either case the mind starts to fixate on the recent change in mood, which further affects mood. 
depressed guy

Both disorders have widespread physiological effects, from changes in brain activity and energy level to reduced ability to function at the typical level for a given patient. Stress, anxiety, and depression all create vicious cycles that affect your immune system, digestive system, and adrenal responses, all of which have widespread trickle-down effects that can cause other medical issues. 

The most significant effects of anxiety and depression are widespread impacts on quality of life, including happiness, ability to complete basic self-care and educational or professional obligations, and mental and physical wellbeing. It’s not uncommon for people crippled by anxiety or depression to be unable to leave the house, go to work, or even perform simple tasks. The energy required to overcome the symptoms is simply too much. 

The combination of disorders can dramatically impact mood and even the ability to make it through the day without major setbacks like panic attacks or depressive episodes. The potential debilitating effects of these disorders underscore the need for accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plans that allow you to resume life without the fear or weight of anxiety and depression.

How to Control Anxiety and Depression

depressed woman
The good news is that anxiety and depression can be effectively managed and treated. This sometimes feels impossible for those who are in the grips of either or both disorders, which is exactly why it is so important to seek help professionally and support from friends and family. 
The causes of anxiety and depression are widespread, and range from structural and chemical to situational and trauma-induced. Even though the symptoms may be similar, the diffuse causes and disorders require different treatments. 
Virtually all cases of anxiety and depression benefit from talking therapy, which allows patients to discuss their feelings with professionals who help externally process underlying thought patterns or experiences which contribute to depression and anxiety. 
Counselling (or therapy) is an important component of every treatment plan, because it provides consistency, accountability, and an objective external monitor of relative mental health who can assist in recommending further therapeutic practices and/or medications. 
Additional treatment plans include medication to balance serotonin levels or to calm hyperactive and anxious brains. Oftentimes, depression medications provide comprehensive benefits including improved cognition, renewed interest in preferred activities, and a more ‘normal’ function of neurological pathways, which can alleviate depression-related anxiety, too. 
Anxiety medications can come in both daily dosages for management and ‘emergency’ doses to calm down gripping panic attacks which bring physical and mental effects and can be potentially life threatening.
In addition to medications, supplements such as St. John’s Wort, Lavender, and SAM-e have proven successful in mitigating some of the most crippling side effects. 
Virtually every form of anxiety and depression benefits from natural lifestyle changes that improve holistic health and provid
e natural relief for many of the stressors and symptoms associated with each or both disorders. 


Regular exercise is a proven mood booster that actually changes your body chemistry. Even a vigorous walk releases endorphins that may not otherwise be activated, and the associated health benefits are known to improve self-confidence and provide a healthier, more targeted outlet for many of the latent emotions that manifest in anxiety/depression. 
Higher-intensity exercise is universally regarded as one of the most effective treatments for mild depression or anxiety, and meditative pursuits like yoga or certain hobbies are also considered to be effective ways to redirect mental energy and provide you with a sense of calm and ‘control’ that is often lacking when anxiety grips your mindset. 
Mental illnesses can be frustrating and overwhelming because they seem so vague and deep-set within your mind, but they also are unique in that they can be treated through mindfulness, conversation-based therapy, and small lifestyle changes that can radically alter your overall outlook and well-being.

Conclusion: Don’t Let Anxiety Or Depression Destroy You

Mental health is inextricably linked to physical health. Just as mental illness can have negative effects on your physical well-being, physical health problems can affect your mental health. These include poor diet, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, and social isolation. By focusing on sustainable, healthy daily routines, you can set yourself up for success in battling anxiety and depression. 
And with professional counselling and potentially medication, what seems like an insurmountable battle may actually be treated with great success. If you feel anxious or depressed, don’t let it overwhelm you. 
Instead, start with the most important step of all: pick someone to start talking to about your feelings. When you are in the throes of mental health issues, it can be impossible  to make the small-but-necessary first steps in treating them. But once you commit to starting, it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.

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Travelling with a toddler… How bad can it be?

When I’m out in the car with my daughter for a bit longer than she has the patience for being stuck in a car seat for, then I’ll get the high pitched screaming alarm or a frustrated hissy fit. She doesn’t hold on to her toys in the car for longer than five seconds before hurling them somewhere. With that in mind, she does pretty well to keep herself entertained most of the time on our car journeys, but it doesn’t stop me feeling a little anxious if I’m stuck out for longer than I intended, especially after I had a particularly bad car drive on the motorway… I will admit I haven’t really ventured away too far from home with Imogen and I do try to stick to some sort of daily routine. So when we decided to go abroad, I was left thinking how on earth we would cope with a toddler on a plane trip.

It seems silly now in hindsight of our holiday that I was a bit worried, but it’s because toddlers are so unpredictable, as you all know!

Perhaps you’re waiting to go away somewhere or you’re unsure of how you would cope… Please don’t let it put you off!

Think of when you need to leave for the airport and then add extra time! You just know that with kids, that something is going to happen… a last minute stinky nappy or a refusal to get ready. I never get out of the door on time anymore anyway, so despite feeling super prepared we didn’t leave home until later than our plan to.

On the motorway we were diverted off course due to road works and the sat nav took us through town after town. Watching the time ticking by, I’m not going to lie, I thought we weren’t going to be leaving the country at all, but in an attempt to keep my partner calm I kept saying just drive safe, it will be fine. At the end of the day, it’s not worth putting our lives at risk to catch a flight. Imogen slept the whole car journey and I’m glad we picked an early flight for this reason. At least she wasn’t adding to our stress.

Once we got to the airport there was no time to shop, we were racing through the airport and got to the boarding gate with 20 minutes to spare before it shut! We could finally sit and relax we thought. Imogen had other plans though, she wanted to run around. She most definitely did not want to sit nicely Mummy! So we had squealing and tantrums. At this point I noticed some panic stricken faces from people knowing that they were about to share a flight with a screaming toddler. This was one of the things I was a bit worried about but I thought ah yes, I’ll get her bottle ready for the flight. The milk will make everything better…

… Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t picked up the cartons of milk from the bag check. Eeek!

We were keeping Imogen as entertained and calm as possible, with my partner’s brilliant idea to download some Peppa Pig from Netflix onto his phone before we left home. This helped while the flight was delayed for almost an hour on the runway before take off.

Imogen was a bit squawky by this point on the flight and wanted to get off my lap to run around but the whole experience for her was new, exciting and strange! There was very little we could do, other than try to keep her occupied with the toys we’d packed for the flight, (one of them being a new toy that we thought she would be excited about), and once we could, we bought some snacks from the on flight drinks trolley. There were other babies and toddlers on the flight and they all did really well. Yes there was a bit of noise but if other people have a problem with that then I’m sure it’s nothing that a pair of earphones wouldn’t help with. Don’t let this worry you. Kids have as much right to travel as anyone else!

We found out once we reached our holiday destination that our relatives with a small child had to wait hours for a delayed flight the day before. I suddenly felt that our experience could have been a lot worse!

We had a lovely week with family and we were all feeling pretty sombre about the holiday ending.

When we were headed back to the airport we were stuck in traffic and I think the constant stopping and starting was what caused Imogen to be very sick all over herself. I was cleaning her up and once we got to the airport I was able to change her into fresh clothes. So I think in future I will remember to keep a spare change in our cabin bag.

We then had a forgotten Toot Toot dog set off the scanner for our hand luggage, which caused us a bit of delay but at least it gave the staff a few giggles! We again got to the boarding gate with very little time to spare… 10 minutes this time! But the strange thing is, we were so much more relaxed. When we were queueing to board the plane we were told our cabin bags would have to go into the hold! So on the flight back we didn’t have all the toys and entertainment that we had on the trip there. This time though we had the trusty milk and Imogen fell asleep for the whole flight home.

When we returned to the car, thinking all had gone pretty well and feeling eager to get home, we found our car had a flat tyre in the airport car park! We wouldn’t be home for another 5 hours! Instead of worrying though, we took it in our stride and managed to get it sorted, despite having no phone, (the battery died) and being somewhere unknown.

What I learned from our trip was that we coped. We could have spent ages planning for the trip and things still wouldn’t have gone to plan. What happened though wasn’t really so bad! I’m so glad we went abroad with Imogen and now I know I won’t worry so much about travelling again. Perhaps we’ll go further away next time. Maybe I will try doing longer car journeys or a train trip on my own? I feel far more confident for next time.