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4 tips for taking control of your busy schedule

Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 in Blog, Featured Articles | 0 comments

4 tips for taking control of your busy schedule

4 tips for taking control of your busy schedule

As a working mother, it may feel as though you never have a moment for yourself. When you’re not working, you’re taking care of your kids, and when you’re not taking care of your kids, you’re back at work. This approach to life will only last for a short period of time. Eventually, something will have to give. Now is your chance to break the cycle. If you are going to enjoy a lifetime of health and happiness, you will need to take control of your busy schedule. Below are four tips that will help you to do this.

 

Share your burdens

In order to cope with your many responsibilities, you will need to learn how to delegate. Whatever you do, don’t shoulder the burden alone. You need to share your duties with others. One of the best ways for you to do this is by creating a chore chart for your household. This will allow you to share out the household duties fairly, and to free up your schedule. It is also the perfect opportunity for you to teach your children life lessons such as the value of hard work. Another important step is to invest in your social circle and to make sure that you always have a strong friendship group to fall back on. This will come in handy if you are faced with a last-minute meeting or unexpected pickup. It is never too late to make new friends, so you should always be open to this possibility.

Always give yourself extra time

In order to avoid falling behind your hectic schedule, you should remember to factor in extra time for completing your tasks. Even an extra five minutes could make all the difference. This could give you a chance to get back on track if you are really struggling. Or, you could save up all of your extra moments to create longer break times.

Protect your energy levels

When you do decide to take a break, you need to find an activity that is truly diverting and entertaining. It is important that you listen to your body and mind, and don’t just power through your day. Every hour you should indulge in at least ten minutes of fun. You could use this time to take a walk outside, watch a YouTube video, or read a chapter from your favourite book. Alternatively, you could take a look through Unibet casino games. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to momentarily escape your duties and to enjoy a rush of excitement.

Make the most of your time 

When you get back to work, it is important that you are being as productive as possible. You need to make sure that you aren’t wasting a single second. You can do this by effectively managing your time and breaking your work into palatable chunks. You should also try to organise your workload so that it fits into relevant categories. This will give you the chance to multi-task and save even more time.

 

 

Top tips to Saving Energy at home

Posted by on Jan 5, 2018 in Blog, Money Saving MumsClub | 0 comments

Top tips to Saving Energy at home

Energy saving in your home

After moving house recently, we’ve been in overdrive with energy saving. There’s been a new system to get used to, we’re now on electric only so no gas usage at all, and as it’s known that that gas is generally cheaper I’ve insisted on everyone in the family keeping an eye on their own use of electric.

 

So here’s some ideas to help you create the best energy effective household too.

 

Lighting

Energy efficient lighting is generally accepted as norm nowadays. We only use the low energy lightbulbs, yes they can take a few seconds to warm up but really the savings you can make are more motivating that a few moments of mellow lighting to “endure”. Yes I say endure because of the way my kids reacted to them at first. My retort? “When you pay the bills you get to choose the bulbs.” But there are some that are instant too – they happen to be in my room but the kids haven’t yet sussed that out…

In case you don’t already know, you basically have Halogen and LED bulbs. EU regulations have already seen Halogen spotlights being phased out, next will be the remaining halogens to go. So it’s a good idea to go for the LED’s from now on but its have a look at the differences:

As an example you could replace a 50 Watt halogen spotlight with a 5 Watt LED bulb and get the same level of lighting. According to the Energy Saving Trust, The 50 Watt Halogen will cost roughly £7 per year as opposed to around 70p for the 5 Watt LED.

A 75 Watt incandescent bulb will cost around £1.60 a year, whilst it could be around £7.31 for a halogen alternative.

You will generally pay more for LED’s but they will last for up to 25 years, compared to around 2 years for halogens. So your savings will really mount up over time. Plus as Halogens are phased out I think we can expect up front costs to reduce too.

Keep that heat in

With us being mid-winter and having had a nationwide blast of cold, its a great time to look into dealing with draughts and energy waste to make it cosy as the temperature drops, ideally we want energy efficient windows which keep you warmer, keep the bills down and can give you much better noise-proofing, you can find more tips on The Roof Window Store‘s website.

I think we’ve all dreamed of a loft conversion at some point, never more so in our case now we’ve moved so we are looking seriously into it. But it’s created an opportunity to ensure it’s properly insulated up there and the rest of the house to keep all those pesky draughts out.

Create an energy efficient kitchen 

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting replacing all your appliances! But there are some steps you can take to be  a better you. However should any appliances need replacing, just look for those more energy efficient models.

If you use a dishwasher daily, try reducing a cycle each week. You’ll save on both energy and water usage, just once less cycle a week could save you £5 a year and £8 I water.

A dirty grease encased oven uses more energy so keep it clean and grease free!

Possibly the most obvious energy gobbling appliance is our washing machines. So lets all pledge to make instant saving to turn the temperature down to 30 degrees. This will reduce an impressive 40% less electricity.

You could save £30 by not using the dryer. Find a clothes rail that will sit over your radiators and used that warmth instead. It may take longer to dry but it’s far more efficient. Especially in bedrooms too, you can keep the ironed clothes over the radiator on the drying rack so clothes are warm in the morning. We all have them in our bedrooms throughout winter so pyjamas and clothes are warm, plus it dries our towels by the next time we need them.

Getting dry after a shower

This is a tip I picked up years ago and it’s great for keeping your washing down, and therefore your energy bills down. Since we started this, I realised I was washing a whole lot less and doing it on holiday keeps those tiny bathrooms less cluttered and less dirty washing to bring home…

Keep a flannel for each person for using after a shower or bath. First wipe the heavy excess water off your body with your hands and then dab the remainder off with the flannel, then scrunch your hair too to stop it dripping, before wrapping your bath towel around you.

Your flannel will be sodden but it’ll dry fairly quickly ready for tomorrow, or you can throw it in the wash. You’ll find that your bath towel will last a couple of weeks before needing to be washed because it’ll only be used to wrap a damp body. Get a family of 4 doing this and it’s 4 less bath towels in the washing machine twice a week!

Try it! See how you get on.

Engage the kids

You know, the kids whatever their age don’t always get it. I’m sick of shouting who left this light on! So I’ve started making the kids involved too. One will read the meter every month and is charged with taking a photo of the reading (for me to check) and then inputting the figure into a spreadsheet, he’s actually quite interested to see how our usage as a family goes up and down throughout the year and I use it as an excuse to talk about what uses up the most electric. He’ll then input it into our customer portal which instantly tells us how much that last month cost. And from doing this, he has become more aware, doesn’t always turn the light off but he’ll run to turn it off when he hears me moaning. That’s progress!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips, good luck with your own energy saving!

 

 

Returning to work

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Returning to work

Returning to work 

If you’ve ever had to take some time off work for reasons including maternity leave, illness, redundancy or for mental health reasons then you may have already had to go through the process involved. It can be a tough time as there can be a lot to manage both at work and home so making sure you do what you can to help ease yourself back into work is worth doing.

There’s plenty of advice surrounding getting back to work as you may have some concerns. We’ve included some tips below to help make the process a lot smoother and enjoyable.

 

Communicate your concerns 

If you are concerned in any way about returning to work, then it’s always best to communicate this to your manager or HR. The earlier that you address any concerns or issues you might have, the more time you’ll have to settle them before your return to work. It might be that you’re worried about your role when you return or any changes that have happened whilst you’ve been away, so it might be best to address these with your manager to talk through them. If you’re open and honest then it will help with communication and help ease you back into your workplace.

Plan ahead

Planning is always a good idea, it allows you to really think about when you want to go back and what you’ll be doing when you do return. It also allows time for your manager and you to discuss any changes or targets you might want to put into place, giving you time to plan for these. You want to make sure you plan with plenty of time as you don’t want to rush your return or leave it too late in case there are any changes you need to account for. Also it’s worth remembering that just because you’re planning ahead doesn’t mean you have to set a return date in stone, there should be flexibility around the return date depending on how you’re feeling.

Take it slow 

There may be the temptation to rush back into work and try to take on as much as you had before, but remember it’s best not to take on too much to begin with. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone and you need to make sure you don’t burn out trying to juggle it all. Some workplaces might offer a flexible return to work benefit which might be worth considering as it allows you to arrange hours that suit your commitments at home. If you can speak to your manager about organising some alternative working hours or days, then it might help when it comes to arranging child care or appointments. If returning to work full time at first is stressing you out then you can slow things down and talk to your manager, also make sure you take some time out at home to help manage the stress.

Remember your rights

Take some time before and during your maternity leave to look up your rights when it comes to maternity leave and returning to work. Things to clue yourself up on include amount of leave, returning to work, support on offer and if there’s any additional help available when it comes to childcare or benefits. Making sure you know your rights will help you when putting together your return to work plan so it’s really worth taking the time out to see what you’re entitled too.

 

 

Save 33% at Toby Carvery

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in Blog, Making Mum’s Life Easier, Money Saving MumsClub | 0 comments

Save 33% at Toby Carvery

Save 33% at Toby Carvery

We use our local Toby Carvery quite often and using our AA membership card have always got a useful 20% off. However last week we were made aware of the Toby Carvery App that gives you an impressive 33% off when you spend over £15 on food. The only downside is that it’s not available on Sunday. But it does give you other benefits like sporadic free desserts and the like so it’s worthwhile.

Just download the app, for free and show the waiter the code and it comes straight off your bill.

It’s really useful!

The voucher is valid for up to four people, so don’t miss out on this chance to bring the kids to Toby and give the whole family a treat. Simply sign up for the app here.

Free books to download

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in Blog, Making Mum’s Life Easier, Money Saving MumsClub | 0 comments

Free books to download

Did you know that by using a clever app you can download library books and audio books for free?

It’s been possible for some time using a service called Overdrive but in all honesty it’s not been hugely user friendly. I consider myself to be moderately tech savvy and I have to admit whenever I’ve used it I’ve scratched my head trying to remember how.

I have always persevered though because the audio books in particular are great for long journeys, the last one we had on a 4 hour-that-turned-into-an-8-hour trip to Cornwall was Chomp by Karl Hiaasen which was a fun listen. But I now quite like the idea of playing a language cd in the car too, not so sue the fam will agree on our next 8 hour journey.

 

So, the beginning of a new school year is upon us and armed with the new school reading list we had a look at Overdrive to see what they had, and I was delighted, yes delighted to spot the new app that has made life so much easier!

It’s called Libby and it’s more like a Kindle now. If you have a Kindle you’ll know how easy it is to click to download a book to your tablet.

You login with your local library card and PIN and then have access to that Library’s books. You won’t get 100% of the books but you do great a great deal. You can borrow up to 5 books, and as you would from your local brick-built library you can have them for 20 days before you have to release it back. But you can renew it if there’s nobody waiting. And if there’s a book you want want but its on loan, you can place a hold on it so you’ll get it when available.

It’s been great for us, both me and my secondary school pre-teen now have the app on our iPads, and I have both our library cards registered so that I can download a book on his behalf so that it appears on both of our accounts, which is handy. Plus it means you can borrow up to 10 books at a time if you wish.

And when you’ve finished with one, you can return it at any time within those 20 days, thus saving you a huge amount of space on your shelves, because if your pre-teen is anything like mine, reading books over and over again is (thankfully) a thing of the past, honestly I don’t think I could take any more readings of Biff and the gang. These days it’s a case of read it and leave it…to gather dust.

Libby is user friendly too so you’ll figure it out easily, and your kids can search and download books easily too.

We fully recommend it.

Let us know in the comments if it’s made your life easier too!

 

 

 

Ways to Deal with Stress

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 in Blog, Featured Articles | 0 comments

Ways to Deal with Stress

How to deal with stress

Everyone undergoes stress at one point or the other. It is a mechanism to help our bodies meet with the pressures of life. Stress has been a key mechanism of survival for the human species, but we have now evolved to a position where we can be constantly under stress – sometimes, for no reason. If stress is taking over your life and hurting you, then you ought to see a doctor to prevent long-term harm.

However, for the stress that accumulates during daily life, you can easily handle. Some things you can do to deal with daily stress are described below:

Get proper sleep: Sleep is very important to battle stress. Switch off the electronics and go to bed early. Get seven to nine hours of sleep at night for best results. An afternoon nap can also help in relaxing you.

Listen to music: Music is food for the soul. Listening to music will calm you and relax you. It is better to go in for soothing music. Nature sounds also have the same kind of effect on the body and mind.

 

 

Do something Adrenaline fuelled: Taking up activities which are adrenaline packed such as a driving experience can help channel your stress into more positive forms. As they may be a bit scary to you, they are likely to make you feel like you’ve achieved something. This will make you start to think with a more positive mindset, as well as taking your mind off the things which are causing stress on your life.

Reduce caffeine: If you are consuming multiple cups of coffee, tea, or soft drinks per day, then it is time to reduce. Large amounts of caffeine induce stimulation to the body and the brain, keeping you stressed. Lay off the caffeine, and switch to green tea instead!

Visit new places: Taking in new experiences is fun and makes you forget your problems for a while. Take up travelling solo or with a group. Explore new places and get new experiences. It is guaranteed to make you sleep better.

Take up meditation: There are many ways in which you can meditate. From yoga to tai-chi, there are myriad options for you to choose for disciplining your mind and body.

Take up hobbies: Whether you like to paint or woodwork, collect stamps or coins, or write, or play sports, taking up a hobby is good for you. It will redirect your focus to something that you love and which is soothing to you whenever you are in times of stress.

Get some exercise: Get off the couch and go for a walk. Exercise doesn’t have to mean strenuous training in the gym. Just going for a short run or a walk in the park has major beneficial effects when it comes to stress reduction.

 

 

Meet people: Go out and meet people as spending time with others can help reduce stress. The flip side is that you need to stay away from negative people who can drag you down while you are yourself stressed. Talking, laughing, and having fun with people is otherwise a great stress-buster.

There are hence many ways to reduce stress. You will have to choose one which works for you!

 

 

What to do when the kids are away

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

What to do when the kids are away

What to do when the kids are away

This week, I have the displeasure of a week long school trip. Years ago I thought weeks like this would be shangri-la, I’d be able to do anything I like, go anywhere, have a night out with friends and not be worried about getting back for school run, or babysitters and getting the kids ready for bath and bedtime. But it’s not like that at all, it’s more moping and looking at the clock, counting down the days, watching twitter for updates from teachers who sporadically tweet photos home.

 

I’m not the only one either, one mum has set up a Facebook group for us all to console each other…

But it shouldn’t be like this. My clubbing days are behind me now so I won’t be advocating a trip to the Hacienda or anything but I have come up with a list of workable activities that us parents can do until our little ones come home.

1. Blog about it

Yes, you’re reading it. If you don’t already have a blog then this is a great time to start one, who knows you could make money from it too. It’s really not that difficult, getting started with a website and hosting is the easy part, keeping a momentum with fresh regular content can be the tricky part. Focus on ways to keep traffic coming to your site which will help your site grow, this is the key.

2. Spa day!

Oh how we love pampering, get some other mums together and book a day at a spa. Get a massage, have a swim, a manicure and all this other wonderful pampering activities you don’t normally get time to do. Make time, see this week as your Me Time and make the most of it. You can get lots of deals too, just look out for those deal of the day coupon websites that offer great offers.

3. On your Bike!

What’s the weather like? Get online and find a cycle route, disused railways lines are the best, because there’s no roads to navigate and they’re generally flat terrain. You’ll find them all over the country, but have a search for cycle routes, get your bike out, a rucksack with lunch and drinks and go for it.

4. An overnight trip to a concert or the theatre.

You don’t have to go far but booking into a hotel even if it’s a half hour drive away can feel like a holiday. Go see a concert, a comedy show, or show at your local theatre, or better still a west end show. You’ll totally forget about everything that’s on your mind!

5. Place your bets!

How about this for a little fun and indulgence? This maybe something you’ve not thought of before but especially if the weather isn’t ideal for an evening walk to the pub, how about getting online and playing some big, exciting jackpot lottery games?

Over 90% of Brits partake in at least one lottery draw a week, I do! And worldwide it’s one of the most popular games in the world. Why do we do it? Because simply,  the lottery has turned ordinary people like us, into millionaires and there’s no reason why it couldn’t be any one of us next.

Lottoz is a great example of a new and exciting online lottery brand. Fully regulated to the highest standard by the UK Gaming Commission, it’s an easy to use, highly secure and innovative website that removes geographical barriers and provides people from all around the world the chance to bet on the results of the world’s most incredible and biggest jackpot lotteries. If you bet on the right numbers you will win the same prizes as you would have won should you have bought a lottery ticket in that country. And better still, you don’t have to buy a ticket and wait till Friday or Saturday, you can see what’s available that day and place your bet there and then.

 

 

3 cups of coffee is the key to longer life

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

3 cups of coffee is the key to longer life

Drinking coffee boosts your health. And, decaf has a similar effect too!

OK so being a mum in business, juggling business with the kid’s antics, coffee is often a saviour, some may even say it’s a guilty pleasure. And last night we had NO SLEEP due to an anxious pre-teen not sleeping so today coffee really is my saviour so after seeing this news, I was delighted to be able to abandon the lifelong quest to drink lemon water first thing in the morning and reach for the coffee.

A landmark study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London has found that People who drink around three cups of coffee a day may live longer than non-coffee drinkers.

It’s the largest study of its kind, in which scientists analysed data from over half a million people across 10 European countries, including the UK, France, Denmark and Italy, to explore the effect of coffee consumption on risk of mortality.

They found that higher levels of coffee consumption were associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, especially from circulatory diseases and diseases related to the digestive tract. Women are 7% more likely to live longer.

An estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world each day. Coffee contains a number of compounds including caffeine and antioxidants, which can positively interact with the body.

“We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases”

said lead author Dr Marc Gunter of the IARC and formerly at Imperial’s School of Public Health.

“Importantly, these results were similar across all of the 10 European countries, with variable coffee drinking habits and customs. Our study also offers important insights into the possible mechanisms for the beneficial health effects of coffee.”

Using data from the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), the group analysed data from 521,330 people from over the age of 35 from 10 EU countries. Their diets were assessed using questionnaires and interviews, with the highest level of coffee consumption (by volume) reported in Denmark (900 mL per day) and lowest in Italy (approximately 92 mL per day). Those who drank more coffee were also more likely to be younger, to be smokers, drinkers, eat more meat and less fruit and veg.

After 16 years of follow up, almost 42,000 people in the study had died from a range of conditions including cancer, circulatory diseases, heart failure and stroke. Following careful statistical adjustments for lifestyle factors such as diet and smoking, the researchers found that the group with the highest consumption of coffee had a lower risk for all-causes of death, compared to those who did not drink coffee.

They found that decaffeinated coffee had a similar effect, although consumption of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee is not simple to separate, as they could not exclude that decaffeinated coffee drinkers may have been consuming caffeinated coffee as well in different periods of their life.

In a subset of 14,000 people, they also analysed metabolic biomarkers, and found that coffee drinkers may have healthier livers overall and better glucose control than non-coffee drinkers. Dr Gunter explained:

“We found that drinking more coffee was associated with a more favourable liver function profile and immune response, this, along with the consistency of the results with other studies in the U.S. and Japan gives us greater confidence that coffee may have beneficial health effects.”

Professor Elio Riboli, head of the School of Public Health at Imperial, who established the EPIC study, said:

“These findings add to a growing body of evidence which indicates that drinking coffee not only is safe, but it may actually have a protective health effect for people. While further research is needed, we can be confident that the results from a large European study confirm previous findings seen around the world.”

Dr Gunter added:

“Due to the limitations of observational research, we are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee. That said, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking – up to around three cups per day – is not detrimental to your health, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits.”

The study was funded by the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers and the IARC.

I’ve had two cups so far, ready for another?

 

 

Mums in business we want your story

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Blog, Member Profiles, Mumpreneur | 0 comments

Mums in business we want your story

We are looking for interesting real life stories from real women who have juggled starting a business around family life.

You don’t have to be a super success (yet), we simply want to know your journey, your experience, and/or the lessons you’ve learnt for us to pass on to the next generation of mums in business. So think about what’s interesting about you, what’s worked for you, and what hasn’t and let us know.

Simply fill in this form; any or all of the questions.

 

The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry! But it only takes a few seconds to become one, and it's free (mostly).

JOIN OR UPGRADE HERE!

   

Sally Hall of Dorothy & Theodore

Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in Blog, Member Profiles | 0 comments

Sally Hall of Dorothy & Theodore

Dorothy & Theodore is an online shopping boutique (www.dorothyandtheodore.com) created specifically for parents who do not wish to wholly compromise on style in order to accommodate the needs and wishes of their children.  It is the 5th ‘baby’ of co-owners Sally & Emma who, from the day that we agreed it was a good idea to jump out of an aeroplane together at 13,000 feet, realised they had found a like-minded life-long friend in each other, both willing to take calculated risks if the rewards justified it.

They met over 8 years ago at law school where they were both pursuing second careers as solicitors, and have been friends ever since, supporting each other through their legal qualifications and training, engagements, weddings, pregnancies, babies and everything else which becoming a ‘grown up’ brings.

As parents, (Sally is mummy to 3 year old Dalton and the newest member of the D & T team, 17 week old Belle, and Emma is mummy to 3 year old Sophie and the other new D & T addition, 6 month old Joshua) they realised first hand that there was no one place which offered a one stop shopping solution where parents, relatives and friends can purchase beautiful products with children in mind.

They spent hours trawling the internet for child-friendly yet stylish products for their own homes and unique gifts which had not been mass produced.  Sharing frustrations over coffee and cake one afternoon led Sally and Emma to the idea for Dorothy & Theodore; a new e-commerce website created specifically to address that gap in the market, and in spite of the old adage; “don’t mix business with pleasure” we both felt strongly enough about our concept for Dorothy & Theodore that we decided to take the plunge together once more.

In terms of backgrounds, after college, Sally undertook a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies which included a scholarship at the University of South Florida.  On completing studies she successfully pursued a career as a singer and entertainer working for, amongst others, the Walt Disney Company in Paris, Toronto and the US.  Whilst abroad, she began studying for a second degree, and eventually put away the greasepaint to pursue a career in law.  Sally is now a qualified solicitor and has now completed a Masters in Advanced Legal Practice.

Emma studied International Business and Modern Languages at Aston University which included a year abroad (her main reason for choosing the course) during which she studied at Université Laval in Québec and completed a work placement at consultancy firm Thasos AG in Munich.  Following her degree, she completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Law and then spent two years gaining commercial experience (and some finances!) before completing the Legal Practice Course part-time whilst working at Canon Europe as a Legal Assistant.  Upon qualification as a solicitor Emma worked in private practice as a corporate lawyer before joining an in-house legal team.

Not content with all the above, Emma taught herself website design in her free time and launched her own baby development website last year.  She now has primary responsibility for the design of the Dorothy & Theodore website.

Emma wrote the website and we pressed the ‘on’ switch on 15 September 2011 – just one week before Sally gave birth and 5 weeks after Emma had.  Dorothy & Theodore launched at the Earls Court Baby Show.

Sally says “Our children are our real source of motivation.  We hope that Dorothy & Theodore will eventually enable us to work around the school day to enable us to spend as much time with them as possible.  We are also determined to show our children that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it, and of course, we simply want to make them proud.

We hope that Dorothy & Theodore will become a market leader in the e-commerce industry and will gain a reputation for not only the quality and style of the products we represent but also our conduct as a company in terms of both business and customer relations.”