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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Preparing For Baby: Breastfeeding

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby | Posted on 30-01-2014

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I’m now 24 weeks pregnant. Can you believe it? We found out at the start of this year that we’re having another little boy. Admittedly I did want a little girl – I’m sure all mums do – but I’m really excited to meet my new Little Dude in May, and we’re having a lot of fun getting things ready for him. Having a boy already, and being organised enough to keep a lot of things “Just in case…” our shopping list isn’t too long this time around. There’s a few new bits and pieces we want, but we’ve been lucky enough to dig out a lot of good stuff that we kept, and we’ve been sent a few key items for review. Obviously I can’t review any of them properly yet, but I can preview them now and do a proper review once we’ve used them in May.

I am hoping to breastfeed with Little Dude. Things didn’t entirely go to plan with Little Man – the fact that my breasts didn’t grow at all during pregnancy should have been my first indicator – and we struggled with a poor milk supply, a very hungry baby and a small appendicitis incident rather early on. We combination fed Little Man from day 3 and whilst I’m not going to get stressed if we end up doing that again with Little Dude, I am determined to give breastfeeding a go. Little Man was purely formula fed from 15 days old – I was a little busy in hospital having my appendix out at this point – so I hope to achieve at least two weeks breastfeeding with Little Dude, and any more than that will be a bonus.

We have a couple of bits of kit ready for breastfeeding. The main thing I was thrilled to find tucked away in the loft was my Tommee Tippee Electric Breast Pump. We bought this 10 days after Little Man was born after wrestling with a manual pump for a week. I wanted to try and encourage my milk flow and make it that Daddy could do some feeds. That’s really important to me – and to Daddy – again this time. I want Daddy to do some feeds during the week, especially when he goes back to work, so he has that important bonding time with his new son. Hopefully he’ll be feeding expressed breast milk – my breasts have certainly grown this time so fingers crossed – but if its formula so be it. I only got to use this pump for four days before being rushed down to A&E so I didn’t really get much experience using it, but I’m optimistic I’ll get to test it out properly this time.

cantaloop tank top tommee tippee breast pump sussex mummy

Something we’ve been sent to review for both during my remaining pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding is a Tank Top from Cantaloop. I have great plans to wear this top later in the spring when it gets a bit warmer, and then certainly during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and hopefully throughout a warm summer, but I did try it on when it arrived just to make sure I’d chosen the right size. The top has a built in bra for support, and adjustable straps to ensure the correct fit. Comfort is essential during pregnancy. The top fits really well and there is plenty of room around my bump for growth, as well as a bit more space in the cups for any extra growing my breasts do. The top has super easy clips that unfasten so make breastfeeding easy and discreet and overall it is very comfortable so far. I can see this being my go to outfit for most of the summer!

What other things do YOU think I need to make my breastfeeding experience easier? I’m considering a scarf or cover of some kind. What would you recommend?

Guest Post: Online Safety

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post | Posted on 25-10-2013

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As technology evolves so do privacy settings and controls meaning parents have a responsibility to ensure they are aware of the changes and the ways in which they can keep their children safe whilst surfing the Internet.

There is a great deal of pressure on parents to restrict the access children have to sites that may contain inappropriate content. With the importance of technology constantly growing, the younger generation are feeling the impact and they too express interest in using devices such as a smartphone or tablet computer.

With so many different forms of technology now being present in the household, there is a greater need to understand each item and the controls that are present which will prevent children from accessing adult material or being targeted by other Internet users in a negative way. 1 in 25 children have experienced online sexual solicitation, where another Internet user has contacted them inappropriately.

A recent survey determined that only 3 of the 15 top web-filtering services blocked 100% of pornographic sites meaning children are still able to see inappropriate content. There is now a greater need to establish as many of the privacy controls as possible.

The Steps to Take

Most Internet providers will offer privacy controls that can be put in place by parents keen to protect their children whilst allowing them to use modern technology.

Content Filters

Filters provide parents the opportunity to block and restrict certain sites they do not want their children to see. It reduces the chances of adult material being seen or pop ups from emerging while on certain sites. Filters can be set dependant on the age of the minor, with younger children needing stronger restrictions whilst older children can be trusted to have more freedom online.

Timed Access, Monitors and Locks

Children would happily spend a majority of their free time surfing the Internet and using devices. There is a setting that will turn off access for users during certain times such as homework or bedtime. Parents can also monitor a child’s online usage, including the sites they look at and any online movements. Locking inappropriate sites will prevent children from accessing adult material from any site so they only use and visit relevant and appropriate websites.

Be Responsible

Before taking steps to secure the Internet, parents must have a discussion with their children. An explanation of the dangers and why the controls are to be put in place will highlight the need to stay safe online and make children aware of the sites they should be looking at and the ones they should stay away from.

Set Ground Rules

Parents need to be strict when it comes to home technology. Children need to know there are boundaries and restrictions on when they can use devices and how long for. For instance, no phones at bedtime or the use of a tablet only after homework has been completed.

The safety of children is the main priority for parents and online safety should not be ignored. There is a need to prevent children from being exposed to adult content, harassment and from receiving unwanted attention. Parents must understand technology and the controls they come with, gaining peace of mind about the content that can be seen, before allowing children to use them.

Debate: Can you be an entrepreneur and a parent?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 16-09-2013

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With the internet making it far easier for entrepreneurs to stay in control of their business ventures from home, an increasing number of people are juggling their working life with life at home.

Indeed, it’s this ability to juggle multiple tasks that can set the most successful of entrepreneurs apart from the rest. The simple answer to the question of whether you can be an entrepreneur and a parent is yes. Here, we look at a few tips to help you succeed in doing so.

 

Avoid having to multi-task

The balance of working at home does of course require you to juggle tasks but that needn’t mean doing things simultaneously. As a recent Guardian article points out, the best way to work from home is to separate your tasks. You might find it easier to set aside certain periods of time for certain tasks – so spend an hour working before taking another hour to take care of your kids.

Use good software

Part of being able to work successfully from home is the ability to make use of key tools. When it comes to your finances, for example, it can help to consider a sage accounting solution. This will allow you to manage things easily from one place, freeing up time to take care of the things that matter.

Create a dedicated work space

It can be easy for work and play to blend into one another, preventing you from dedicating yourself to either one fully. The simplest way to take care of this is to create a dedicated work space. Be sure to create this space away from other distractions, letting yourself know that the space is for one purpose and one purpose only.

Take steps to make your work space comfortable as well as distancing yourself from the rest of the house. Consider using room separators if you don’t have a spare room. It might also be useful to use headphones to block out any noises coming from the rest of the house.

Make a daily schedule

It’s easier to take care of your separate tasks if you have a clear idea of what exactly you need to do. Each day, you can begin by making a schedule which includes everyone of your tasks; relating both to the kids and to work. This schedule will not only help keep work and play separate but will also help you to stay on top of tasks.

Cold Wives Tales…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 22-02-2013

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Guest Post: Top 5 Natural Beauty Tips

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Information | Posted on 15-02-2013

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You don’t need a face full of makeup or a cupboard full of skincare products to look naturally beautiful. Natural beauty starts from the inside out, and it’s all about nurturing yourself – good health will always shine through. Follow our top 5 natural beauty tips for radiant, glowing, naturally beautiful skin, hair and nails.

1. Get Colourful

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables in a wide range of colours for the most nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Each colour generally signifies a different vitamin – for example, bright orange fruits and veggies such as carrots contain beta-carotene, a vitamin essential for eye health. The more vitamins and nutrients you can take in from your food, the healthier you’ll feel and the better you’ll look.

2. Drink and Douse

For naturally glowing skin and care, keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Hydration starts from within, so give your moisturiser a head start by drinking at least 2 litres of water everyday. As for your hair, a quick rinse in cold water once you’ve rinsed your shampoo and conditioner out will add lots of shine and will help to set your style. For extra-shiny hair, douse your hair in malt vinegar and rinse out with lukewarm water.

3. Healthy Fat

People have a bit of a tendency to shy away from every product containing fat for fear that they’ll gain weight – but if you include healthy fats in your diet, from healthy sources, they will literally make you glow from the inside out. Your skin, hair and nails will all thank you for it. Include plenty of omega-3 rich foods in your diet, like oily fish, nuts, seeds and healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil.

4. Go Organic

When choosing skin products, opt for organic products that will nourish your skin from the inside out. Companies like Ila Spa sell products that are chemical and paraben free, packed with naturally occurring ingredients that are designed to work with your body’s own systems. Organic beauty products generally get to work faster, sinking into the skin more quickly than non-organic products – meaning that you can get on with the business of being beautiful, without hanging around waiting for your moisturiser to sink into your skin.

5. Hot or Cold

Sometimes, all you need to do to boost your natural beauty is to use products that are a little cold, or that are a little warm. For example, if you use eye cream that has been kept in the fridge, it will tighten and brighten the eye area and will help to drain away any fluid. Moisturisers that are kept in the fridge will also have a similar effect. Work with the hot and steamy environment of your shower by applying a moisturising hair mask or conditioner, wrap your head in a towel and then sit in the bathroom for a little while. The heat will let the conditioner get right to the heart of each hair follicle. The warm of the shower will also open your pores – so use this time to pluck your eyebrows.

Guest Post: Heating Your House On The Cheap

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Information | Posted on 11-02-2013

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For many families, one of the main concerns at this time of year is the thought of running up an expensive gas or electricity bill. This is a significant problem, particularly at a time when it seems that the costs seem to be rising.

You may have real fears about how you will be able to afford to heat your home this winter. It’s important that you should keep warm and it’s vital to note that there are real hazards associated with failing to do so when the temperature starts to drop outside.

The best solution will involve a creative approach to staying warm. Although you may be tempted to imagine that your central heating system offers the only solution in this respect, it’s likely that you have a number of other options available to you.

Don’t heat every room

One of the big mistakes that some people make is to believe that they need to heat every room of the house. Although you may well have a radiator in each room of the home, keeping all radiators on will lead to a significantly higher energy bill.

A far better solution is to concentrate on only heating the rooms that you’ll actually be using. This can be achieved in a number of ways and you may take the approach of switching off radiators in particular rooms.

An alternative approach would be to use a small heater than can be transferred from one room to the next. There are plenty of mobile solutions available, including oil filled radiators and electric fan heaters.

Such heaters can be extremely cost-effective, particularly when you’re looking for a relatively short burst of heating within a room of your home.

Think about insulation

It’s also important to think about the heat that you may be losing. Since you are paying to heat the air, your spending levels will be higher if that warm air continues to escape from your home.

There are some significant steps that you can take to reduce heat loss, including the use of cavity wall insulation, modern double glazing and loft insulation. There may even be grants available to assist with the installation of some of these improvements.

There are also some simple actions that you can take to ensure that you are making the most of the heat that’s already within the home. Ensure that doors are closed, for example, so that the warm air doesn’t escape from rooms that you want to stay warm. Make sure that curtains are drawn too, in order to limit heat loss via windows.

Wear more layers

By wearing more layers of clothing you may find that you can avoid using other heating solutions to the same degree. This may make it possible for you to turn the thermostat down, allowing you to save a little more money.

Although you may feel that it’s uncomfortable to wear too many layers, the reality is that it’s good news for your finances.

Summary

The key to keeping heating bills low is to ensure that you use as little energy as possible. That means avoiding heating rooms that you won’t be using. It also means ensuring that you don’t turn up the thermostat higher than you really need to.

If you can make use of layers of clothing and ensure that there is sufficient insulation within the home, then you’ll find that your energy bills will remain under control.

BIO: This is a guest post on behalf of HSS Hire. If you can’t afford to purchase a new energy efficient heater, why not consider hiring one from a tool hire company like HSS Hire.

New Year, New You: Job Seeking Advice

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, New Year New You | Posted on 09-01-2013

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Looking for a new job, especially after an absence from the workplace, can be a challenging task. The feeling of ‘going it alone’ can make finding employment stressful, with job searches, CVs and interview preparation to consider. As anyone who has been job seeking for a substantial amount of time is aware, all these areas demand time and dedication to master. However, there are numerous resources you can take advantage of in order to make your job search easier.

Parents who have been working hard looking after their children, but who have reached a point where they are able to carry out paid work again, can also find the jobs market a bewildering place to be, mainly because it is likely to have changed substantially since they last worked. But as with all job seekers, resources and assistance is available.

Local job centres often have special schemes set up specifically to help parents back into work, sometimes run in conjunction with other organisations. These groups cover important aspects of job seeking such as finding vacancies, filling in forms and writing CVs. Job centre schemes such as these will also provide advice and information on educational courses that can be taken, some of which may be provided free of charge. If there has been a long absence from the workplace, then new skills may be required. The way businesses operate changes all the time, so it is natural that job seekers may need to brush up on certain skills. Doing so can make a jobseeker much more attractive to a potential employer.

New types of job

If a job seeker has spent a lot of time way from the jobs market, they may not be aware of new job types that have developed. Many of these will have occurred within the Information Technology sector. And overall, there are a great many vacancies related to IT. But while these jobs are often placed under the umbrella of ‘IT’, they are often very diverse, ranging from administration roles, to computer programming and website maintenance positions. Some of these might require specialist courses to be taken, while others may offer on-the-job training, so long as certain computer skills already exist.

Fortunately, there are many specialist employment agencies that can assist in finding these kinds of jobs – right across the UK. Whether you are looking for IT recruitment in Sussex or in Southampton, you will find these dedicated agencies in all parts of the country. By signing up to one of them, you may have a better chance of finding out about new IT jobs than someone who searches using only newspapers and the Internet. This is because of the relationships such recruitment firms have built up with employers, which gives them fore-knowledge about new roles. In addition, they will be well placed to give advice on how to approach targeted CV writing, and interviews – if one is offered. And finally, they can take the pressure off job seekers, since they find jobs for a living.

New Year, New You: Picking The Perfect Eyewear

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post, Information, New Year New You | Posted on 01-01-2013

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Glasses can make a huge impact on your image.

It’s no coincidence that when costume designers want to add intelligent gravitas to a character in movies they always equip them with a thick set of frames. Similarly, the amount of specs-wearing action heroes found in Hollywood blockbusters can be counted on the fingers of one fist.

With the amount of time we spend staring at a screen every day increasing rapidly for many of us the need for corrective eyewear is growing alongside it. Picking the perfect pair of glasses for you, or even deciding not to become bespectacled, is a big choice that will quite literally stay with you for months, or even years, to come.

So before you head to the opticians use the tips in this post to get an idea of the perfect frames for you.

Fashion

Buying frames because they’re fashionable is a risky business; by definition fashion is a fickle thing and you can quickly find yourself falling from the top to the bottom of the style spectrum. Think of all those big, brightly-coloured glasses frames which were incredibly popular in the 1980s and yet today wouldn’t be seen outside of a circus.

The current trend is for thicker frames, resembling the old NHS prescription style, to the point where some ‘hipsters’ wear them even without lenses in. However, this could all change in the blink of an eye, so it’s much better to pick eyewear that you’re comfortable with and which you think suits you personally.

Similarly, it is good to pick a frame colour that works with several outfits; classic black or chrome frames will match with nearly every look. If you want to go for a bolder colour be particularly mindful of how it works with your hair tone, as this is something that will likely remain constant.

Face Shape

Your face shape is an important consideration when picking a style of glasses to suit you. What looks great on one person may have a completely different effect on another. Opticians split people into four basic face shape groups:

Square

An angular hard jaw and high square forehead can be offset with rounded frames that soften the angular shape of the face.

Rectangle

Longer faces with high cheekbones and foreheads can use a thicker, wider frame to round out their face shape. A solid upper part to the frame is particularly effective.

Oval

If you have an oval face you can consider yourself particularly fortunate when it comes to eyewear – as nearly every glasses style will suit you. Why not take the opportunity to be a bit experimental until you find a pair that you really love?

Round

Shorter than an oval face, rounded face shapes benefit from angular frames which draw attention to your eyes and give your face height.

Ask the Experts

Whatever style you’re looking for you nobody will be able to help you more than a qualified optician. You can even get advice online with glasses guides to help you pick the perfect frames.

Remember that in the end the only person who has to like your glasses is you, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with them. So be sure before you buy.

Picture by Evil Erin

 

National Eczema Week September 15-23rd

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 19-09-2012

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Eczema affects one in five children in the UK, with the majority of cases occurring before the age of 5. I had eczema as a child, and now at 30 it is still a condition that I suffer with, on a much smaller scale. With both my mother and her mother suffering too within their lives I am always on the lookout for any trace on Little Man. Rashes are common on children, especially at his age, but as parents we need to know what they are, whether they be chicken pox, the ever popular “its a virus”, or if its eczema.

Managing eczema is tricky. Flare ups recur time and time again, particularly if you are unsure as to what is the specific cause. Its important to get good support and help from your GP, but sadly almost half of parents of child suffers want better help from their doctor. As part of National Eczema Week the National Eczema Society (NES) has teamed up with skincare brand E45 to launch a new 3-step action plan and online resource to help parents and provide much needed advice easily.

The new guidelines, which were developed in association with NICE, begin with this 3-step action plan:

1. Apply emollient creams and ointments all over your child’s body 2 or 3 times a day – not just to the visibly affected areas.
2. When applying emollients use gentle strokes in the direction of hair growth to avoid irritating skin.
3. Use soap substitutes and an emollient bath oil to cleanse your child’s skin.

There is also a free online support programme – www.eczemaadvice.co.uk. This online resource gives parents advice on the use of emollients and how to apply them effectively, as well as providing tools to help parents monitor their child’s eczema. Online leaflets, videos and testimonials are also provided along with direct access to the NES Facebook page where parents can get advice, support and help from other parents in the same position.

Whilst the NES doesn’t endorse or promote any specific brands, E45 has long been a trusted brand for treating skin conditions. I remember my Gran using it and I’m pretty sure my Mum has a tub in her bathroom too. As well as offering products for adults the E45 Junior range is great for use with children. We have both the Foaming Bath Milk and the Moisturising Lotion. Little Man currently doesn’t suffer from eczema, but we use these products when he has particularly sensitive skin, such as nappy rash or one of those vague “its a virus” moments. Should he develop eczema we will certainly use them all the time, and I think the Eczema Advice website will be a fantastic and invaluable resource.

The E45 skincare range is available from most high street chemists and supermarkets.