Parenting is hard. We all know that. But it only ever has to be really tough if you let your...

5 Ways To Help Your Kids Become The Best They Can Be

Parenting is hard. We all know that. But it only ever has to be really tough if you let yourself live in the difficulty. If you choose for it to be hard. Now, you may be thinking - why would I choose the hardship? And while that’s a very relevant question, asking it doesn’t mean that you don’t do it. In life, we all make choices. We decide the kind of lives we want to lead, how we think, and how we act. Even not making a choice is a choice. And so, if you let yourself live on autopilot and you find parenting difficult, it’s a choice. This means that we need to choose otherwise. Together, as women, we need to choose to live consciously and to be active parents. Then, we can become the very best versions of ourselves. This will then allow us to raise our kids to become the best versions of themselves too. And here’s how.

1. Be Firm, But Fair

First of all, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re firm. Yes, be a fair parent, but also make sure that you’re firm. because if you’re too soft or lenient, it can show in their attitude and behaviour.

2. Teach Your Kids

The next thing that you need to do here, is be a teacher. Because you’re not just a parent. A protector. A carer. You’re there to be a guide. To teach your kids. To show them right from wrong. To educate them and inspire them. To encourage them to learn and absorb and grow. If you want your kids to become the best they can be, you need to nurture them and encourage them to grow as much as they possibly can.

3. Encourage Them To Be Independent

But they also need to be independent. They need to find themselves. To understand their strengths. To know how to do things for themselves. To work, with jobs such as for themselves. So combine the teacher you with the adult you and show them, then give them space to learn other things for themselves too.

4. Support, Don’t Smother

But then also, you need to check in with your own actions and your approach your parenting. And this means that you need to be accountable for your actions. Do not smother your children. This is not going to help them in any way - nor you. Instead, you need to take on a supporting role here. Being supportive is important, but you just cannot smother them in place of that. It’s going to harm them more than you’ll know.

5. Focus On Fun

Now, we all know that discipline is important, but it’s really not the be all and end all of parenting. In fact, if all you do is discipline and be cold, you’re not going to have any kind of relationship with your children. Instead, you need to make sure that you’re all having fun together. That your family life is enjoyable. And that you all have a great bond. So don’t be afraid of doing things as a family, or really enjoying your lives together. Because this can help you to raise well-rounded kids.

We’re all super-busy, right? Working, caring for others, trying to fit in the big shop between taking the kids to ballet and football, maki...

Three ways to look after your mental health when you don’t have much time

We’re all super-busy, right? Working, caring for others, trying to fit in the big shop between taking the kids to ballet and football, making sure everyone has lunch for tomorrow and that there’s enough toothpaste to go around. Time is precious. But what happens when you’re also struggling with depression, or anxiety, or another mental health difficulty? How are you supposed to look after yourself when you just don’t seem to have the time? I’m going to talk about three ways to do just that in this blog post.

Accept that you’re not a superhero

Honestly, I think that this is the hardest thing on the list to actually do. We’re so convinced that everyone else can work harder, longer, faster and smarter than we do that we push ourselves to extremes to prove a point. Everyone thinks that everyone else has it all figured out. Nobody actually does. Those people who paint picture-perfect views of their lives on social media are probably struggling as well, but when you have a mental health difficulty you’re likely to focus on what you think you’re failing at rather than what’s reality. One of the best things you can do for your own mental health is to accept that you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to be good enough. And “good enough” is accepting that sometimes the kids might forget their PE kit, or there might not be enough cereal. Sometimes, you might have a panic attack in a supermarket and leave without the milk, or leave with nothing at all. Sometimes you might not be able to concentrate at work. It’s okay, and it has to be okay – you will survive it, and so will your loved ones.

Carve out space for you
I know, I know, you’re busy and you’re reading this blog post to find out how to cheat time and be even more busy, but here’s the thing: you only have 24 hours in a day, the same as everyone else. You need to focus on your mental health because you can’t drink from an empty cup – meaning, you can’t look after other people if you’re not looking after yourself. By finding some space for yourself even if it’s only ten minutes a day, and really prioritising it, you’re showing the people around you that you value your own mental health. If you have children, you’re teaching them to value their own mental health. And that’s really important. Start by taking ten minutes on an evening to wind down properly from the day before going to bed, and see where that takes you.

Practice what works

It’s a boring answer, but the things that work are basic and practical. They include things like learning how to use relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety, having a good sleep routine, making lists and being organised, and if needed, taking time to see a therapist. When you’re struggling to find time to look after yourself, it can feel like it’s not a good time to start practicing things that are new, and if you start too quickly you’re likely to get overwhelmed very quickly and feel even worse. But if you really need to do something new, like start meditating, start for two minutes at a time and build it up slowly. If you need to change your sleep routine, start by drinking less caffeine, and then by going to bed slightly earlier.  Change is possible, but you need to go slow. By prioritising your own mental health, accepting that life is difficult and you can’t do everything, and starting out small, you can make things easier for yourself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and big thanks to Vicki for letting me write it – if you like what you’ve read, check out my other blogs on my website.

My name is Dr Sarah Blackshaw; I’m a clinical psychologist working in Manchester, UK. I work in the area of physical health, with a special interest in chronic pain. Outside of work, I’m a keen runner, a terrible karaoke enthusiast, and President of my local WI.

Twitter: @academiablues

4 Weeks ago I started the Exante diet, a low-calorie meal replacement system that helps you lose weight while still being totally d...

Exante 4 week review: The Pros And Cons


4 Weeks ago I started the Exante diet, a low-calorie meal replacement system that helps you lose weight while still being totally delicious.
I was so excited to start and if you been watching on Instagram stories I got started quite quickly. I was so eager to shed the winter pounds and get back to a healthy weight because my BMI had been so high.

I started by deciding what plan of the diet I was going to follow so I chose to have 3 meal replacements a day and a small 200 calorie meal/snack. Day 1 was simple but the bar I had for breakfast (double chocolate) was awful! I then drank my coffee and had a glass of water with the orange and pineapple enhancer in it.
Lunchtime came around and I tried the vanilla shake, the flavour was beautiful but a little sweet. 

For dinner, I had the Butternut squash and sweet potato soup and it was honestly to die for! It was the best soup I've had in a long time! (definitely on the top of my list) with the soup, I had 1 slice of plain bread to dip (cause who doesn't love a bit of bread with soup) and a pint of water, then for a late supper I made 100g of plain pasta.

So concluding the first day I really didn't drink enough water, that being said I wasn't overly thirsty, but overall was a really easy day and I didn't really think too much about eating anything else.
The next few days were harder, I was out shopping surrounded by food I wanted so it was hard and I didn't drink enough again so got a bad headache (you'd think I'd learn!)
Notes from the next few days were that the Chocolate caramel bar was delicious, the chocolate orange bar tasted just like a toffee crisp and the strawberry shake tasted just like a McDonald's thick shake (without the thickness) the rest of the week went relatively easy apart from the Thursday where it was my daughters birthday and the cake was just calling me and we had dominos pizza too! trust me it was such a regret after! on Sunday I had my first weigh in and lost 5lb so I was over the moon!

The week after went relatively the same but with drinking more water and I lost 3lb that week so I was happy again!

I got a little bored and was really craving normal food in week 3, all the free stuff really didn't appeal to me so I decided to change it up and do half a day with 2 meal replacements and 1 full meal at dinner time, it was working perfectly and I lost another 3lb that week too!

In the last week, I was really struggling with what to choose from the box of shakes etc and there were a few things didn't want to try like the Red Thai chicken soup, I opened it and it smelt disgusting so instead, I just had another shake. Also, I wouldn't try the curry (some people love it but I'm just not for spice at all) so again that afternoon I went for another shake but overall with the shakes and eating a meal I lost 1lb that week but a loss is a win!!

My favourite shake has to be the strawberry one and cookies and cream they're both so delicious and are made for me being such a sweet tooth! My favourite bar has to be the chocolate caramel or the lemon ones cause they're delicious.

Anyway, I'm really happy with all the progress and I lost a total of 12lb so nearly a stone with really minimal effort!! And although I didn't measure my waist I certainly feel slimmer as my jeans are falling down so I'm really happy! 

I get that this diet really isn't for everyone but me being sceptical at first of things like this and just trying it, I've proved that it does work and yes I didn't lose as much as I planned but I still lost and it's still a win!!

So if you want to know how it works or how I got started, follow the link to my first post HERE!

The Pros And Cons:
Pros: You can choose single items from the website and make up your own 'package' if you like.
Cons: Not everyone is going to like everything in the 4-week plan Package.

Pros: The shakes are really tasty and so easy to prepare.
Cons: Some of them taste very artificial.

Pros: Its really good quality for the money.
Cons: Some can't afford to pay out in one large sum. (but you can buy single items as a when you like!)

If you want to give the Exante diet a go use my codes to get discounts now! The Results really are worth it and it definitely is worth the money...So go save some pounds with my code and GO GET THAT BEACH BOD!

VICKI5 will expire 31/03/2019 for 5% off the 2 and 4-week plan:

VICKI35 will expire 31/12/2019 for 35% off meal replacements:


Disclosure: This is a collaborative post that includes affiliate links, meaning if you purchase the products I get a percentage of the takings at no extra cost to you.

Picture Source They say there’s no rulebook to parenting, and this is true in a sense. After all, no two children are the same. Still...

Overcoming Hurdles To Bring Up Your Kids Well

They say there’s no rulebook to parenting, and this is true in a sense. After all, no two children are the same. Still, there are certain pieces of advice that universally apply to every child. Let’s look at how you could start overcoming hurdles to bring up your kids well.

Create a lovely home environment.
Obviously, the first step to bringing up your kids well is to give them a lovely home environment. Our surroundings have such a big impact on our mental health, and this is hugely influential for growing children. Showing them love and affection in a pleasant household will aid their development. You should keep your home neat, tidy, clean, and colourful. It has a big effect on your kids. Simply creating a fun little playroom can really make your home special for your little ones; it gives them somewhere to escape. Again, make sure it’s colourful and that there are plenty of storage options to reduce clutter. This isn’t just about creating a safe environment but also a visually pleasing environment. You want to bring your kids up to understand how a home should be maintained.

Give them the necessary educational tools for success.
Education is a massive part of any child’s development, but every child is different. That’s why it can be difficult to find the right academic strategy for your kid. If they learn things in a different way to other children then you might want to look into a special needs school. For children on the autistic spectrum, in particular, this can provide a setting that really supports their specific requirements. Rather than trying to help your child meet an educational institution’s needs, you should make sure the education institution meets the needs of your child. Learning happens at varying rates and in varying ways for all children, so you just need to give your little one the best opportunity for success.

Help them grow into independent adults.
Your children are little now, but (as you’ve probably heard from millions of parents) they grow up in the blink of an eye. The best way to bring up your kids well is to prepare them for the adult world. That way, you’re not just overcoming hurdles in the present day but ensuring that your children are ready to overcome hurdles in the future too. You don’t have to sit them down at a desk and make them fill out your taxes, but you can start to instil the right sort of values in them and help them to understand how to socialise in the big wide world. Maybe you could give them some pocket money for helping out with chores around the house. This will give them an understanding of financial responsibility; they’ll work hard for their money, so they’ll want to spend it wisely.

It’s also an opportunity to give them life skills. Chores could involve laying the table, hoovering, or even doing the laundry. Obviously, it depends on the age of your children. As they get older, you can give them more responsibility around the house. Once they’re big enough, you should definitely encourage them to help you with the cooking. Being able to prepare their own dinner will be helpful once they go off to uni or get a house of their own. You don’t want them to rely on supermarket ready meals or takeaways for sustenance. Teach your kids how to cook nutritional food. Turn it into a fun family activity if they’re still young. Children love getting involved with anything the adults are doing. Remember to validate their feelings too. An important part of being a well-rounded adult is being emotionally stable. In order to achieve this, we can’t suppress our feelings; we have to address them. Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Are you sick of paying extortionate bills for your energy? well, look no further because I've found Look After My Bills. Look A...

Look After My Bills....What are the benefits?

look after my bills

Are you sick of paying extortionate bills for your energy? well, look no further because I've found Look After My Bills.

Look After My Bills is quickly becoming one of the best auto-switching services around, I've heard so many great things about it recently.
The auto-switching service that launched in January 2018 and automatically switches people to the best energy deal every year so you don't have to do the messing about!

The benefits of joining are great! On average people save up to £251 and some up to £400! You sign up once that takes about 2 minutes and you don't have to fill in a form ever again plus no searching every year for the best deals because they do it all for you!

Look After My Bills works by emailing you when they are about to compare the market, then once they find a perfect deal, saving at least £50 then they switch automatically and email you everything, you always have 14 days to review/cancel so its all gravy!!

How Simple is that right? Easy Peasy! Plus if you don't like how things work you can step out at any time by contacting the team!

Want to know if paying a year up front is a good idea? click HERE to find out...

Look after my bills were on Dragons Den! Check out their clip HERE where they got the best deal by selling only 3% of the company for £120,000. Now That's Impressive!

So now you know how to switch you need to give your meter's how:

Digital Meter:
  • These meters are one of the easiest to read.
  • This type of meter has several black numbers, which show the amount of electricity or gas you’ve used.
  • To read the meter simply read the numbers and round down any numbers that are not whole, ignore any red numbers or numbers after a decimal point.
  • Sometimes these meters have an LCD display, again the principle is the same, read any numbers in black and ignore any numbers in red or after a decimal point.
Analogue/Dial Meter:
  • These are slightly older meters and are a little trickier to read, but hopefully, we should be able to help.
  • A dial meter has four or five black dials, which show the amount of electricity or gas you’ve used. Each dial moves the opposite way, for example, in the image above, the first dial moves clockwise, the second anticlockwise and so on.
  • To read this meter look at the numbers the arrows point to on each black dial, round down any arrows that are not pointing at a number, ignore any red dials.
Smart Meter:
  • To read a smart meter start by pressing the number “9” on the keypad on the meter itself. This will mean the meter run through options which will include a meter reading.
  • For electricity meters, you will see ‘IMP kWh’ and a reading with ‘kWh’ on the side. For gas meters, you will see ‘VOLUME’ and a reading with ‘m3’ on the side.
  • If you're still with the same supplier, don't worry your reading will get sent automatically.

Now, how easy was that?! A simple and effective way of saving you money!
To find out more about the auto-switching service click the link.

So switch and save now! or find out more on their website

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

As a busy mum, you are always looking for ways to create a happy, cosy and fun environment for your little ones to grow up in. Although you...

7 Happy Home Projects to Create a Fun Environment for the Kids

As a busy mum, you are always looking for ways to create a happy, cosy and fun environment for your little ones to grow up in. Although you don’t always have much spare time on your hands there will always be time to find new ideas to brighten up your humble abode. Your creative side always likes to come out to play when you have projects like this on your hands, however, you want to avoid DIY disasters at all costs. Make sure you carefully plan any big changes you’re going to make in and around the home and hire some help if possible. There are so many potential ideas you could explore when it comes to building a bright and bubbly atmosphere in your home, so start discovering your options right now.
1. DIY Duties
You love getting your hands dirty and trying out new DIY projects around the house. What better time to start something new right now such as decking outside or a homemade playhouse for the garden? You could purchase all of your supplies from George Hill Timber and know that you are getting the highest quality wood and timber on the market. Hire a handyman to give you some help if you think you might struggle to get it all done by yourself!
2. Perfect Playroom
Revamping the playroom can seem like a huge mission, especially when they are always accumulating new toys every day. You might want to rethink the décor in the room and the storage solutions so that you can make the most of the space. Stackable boxes and in built shelving units are a great way to stash away toys and books without causing complete chaos.
3. Cool Kitchen Cupboards
Every mother knows the feeling of trying to hide the sweet treats and breakable objects in the higher cupboards and shelves in the kitchen; it’s only natural. Why don’t you take the opposite approach and create a couple of kid-friendly cupboards that the children are allowed to go in anytime they want. Plastic cups, bowls and healthy snacks could be easily accessible to them and it might just save you a lot of time when they want a drink or treat; they can simply help themselves and gain independence.
4. Getting Crafty
Every happy home needs a creative place for the children to relax and unwind. A craft table in the kitchen or playroom is the perfect way to keep them quiet when they seem to be running amok. Fill a plastic box with paper, card, glue, glitter and stickers so that they can dip into it whenever they want. It will be a lifesaver when you’re busy in the kitchen and they have already had too much TV time that day.
5. Great Garden
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, this is the perfect space for your kids to run off their energy and let off steam. Toys in the garden are always going to be a hit as they will be begging to play outside whenever they can.
6. Blissful Bedrooms
Your bedroom and the kid’s bedrooms need to be a super safe and soothing place for them to be at all times, otherwise you aren’t all going to get a decent night’s sleep. Invest in blackout blinds so that you can all get a peaceful night’s sleep without any blaring lights from outside on the streets. Come up with a relaxing routine that get everybody in the mood to sleep too. Bath time, story time and then bedtime is the most popular amongst most parents.

two toddler pillow fighting
7. Luxury Living
There are many ways in which you can make your living room cosier so that the kids always feel safe and relaxed. Why not add a couple of bean bags into your living space so that the kids have somewhere fun and comfy to sit? They will love it and you can get some really chic colours nowadays too!
You have always wanted your kids to grow up in a healthy, safe and enjoyable environment, so you want to do your best to support their childhood as much as you can. Exploring these different projects will bring you an excitable buzz that truly can’t be beaten. Watching your little ones thrive and flourish in a lively and loving atmosphere is one of the best feelings you could possibly have. Get creative at home right now and you will soon open up a whole load of doors for your kids in the future.

If you liked this post why not check out my friend Michelle's blog HERE!

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post 

This article contains affiliate links which means If you purchase the products shown I may receive a share of your payment for at no ex...


This article contains affiliate links which means If you purchase the products shown I may receive a share of your payment for at no extra cost to you.

Are you struggling for ideas for days out this February half term that will keep the whole family happy as well as your bank balance? For just £1 you can sign up for a trial Kids Pass membership and gain instant access to 1000’s of family-friendly offers on the Kids Pass app!

This really is the best £1 you’ll spend this half term, as you could potentially save over £90* in just a week…
  • Planning a trip to the cinema? You’d save on average £10.34 on your cinema tickets
  • Fancy a meal out? You can cut £15.90 off your food bill
  • Taking your tot for a sensory day at the aquarium? Average savings of £24.00 on aquarium tickets for the whole family
  • Off to see furry friends at the zoo? You can save your family £40.00 on zoo tickets
*based on a family of four (2 adults, 2 children)

How does it work?
You pay £1 for a 30-day trial membership, after this, you can cancel or continue your subscription for £3.99 per month. For these 30 days, you have full access to all the offers on the Kids Pass app and website.

What does it get me? 
Instant access to 1,000’s of offers, including up to 40% off cinemas nationwide (7 days a week, adult and child), kids eat free at 1000’s of restaurants, up to 65% off family days out including leading theme parks, and up to 10% off UK family breaks and up to 50% off Eurocamp holidays.

Does one membership cover the whole family?
Yes! Your Kids Pass covers the entire household, that’s Mum, Dad, the kids (whether you have one or ten!) - and Granny and Grandad too!

How do I use it?
You can download the free Kids Pass app from all major app stores, which is easy to navigate, or you can use the Kids Pass website to search for offers.

How do I redeem offers?
Most of the offers are completely digital meaning that tickets or promo codes can be sent straight to your phone, however, some tickets are still paper and will be posted to you via Royal Mail.

What’s the catch?
There isn’t one! You can cancel your monthly subscription at any time.

Want to try Kids Pass for yourself? Start a £1 trial for 30 days CLICK HERE!

So, we’ve teamed up with Kids Pass, the UK’s No.1 Family Discounts App for your chance to win a FREE Kids Pass annual membership.

Enter here through the gleam app and come back for daily entries the competition closes at 11:59pm on Monday the 24th February 2019...GOOD LUCK!


FREE annual Kids Pass Membership

Conversations are key to checking in on your children and their emotional wellbeing. A child who feels a connection to their parents ...

Mental Health Guest Post

Conversations are key to checking in on your children
and their emotional wellbeing. A child who feels a
connection to their parents is more likely to feel happy.
By engaging your child and talking about the little things
in life, they are a lot more likely to open up about the
bigger things. We often hear from parents after asking
their child questions only to receive monosyllabic
answers. “My kids don’t tell me anything.” The concern
is if your child can’t or won’t tell you about their day, how
can you be sure they’ll talk to you about their feelings.

The solution is simple. Conversations make

connections. You can also use conversations to help
address key issues they might have such as a lack of
self-esteem or self-confidence. By making the time to sit
with your child and asking them really open-ended
questions, it might surprise you what they say:

Conversation starters for self-confidence include:

- Is being scared a good thing or a bad thing?
- What is the best compliment you’ve ever had?
- What are you most proud of yourself for?

Conversation starters for self-esteem include:

- What makes someone clever?
- What is your favourite subject at school?
- Do you think you need other people to tell you your
good at something to feel good about yourself?

There are no right or wrong answers, these are just

conversation starters which will give you the chance to
talk and reassure. Helping children to identify their
strengths and talk about their fears, whilst reinforcing
their self-belief is always a positive step.
The benefits of encouraging your kids to talk are
far-reaching. Through improved conversations, they can
be building skills such as:
- Imagination
- Positivity
- Empathy
- Mental strength
- Ethical thinking
- Cognitive thinking
- Confidence
- Ambition

It sounds straightforward, but if you don’t know where to

start here are just three simple steps to follow:

1. Set time to talk. A teacher once said to me, there’s

no such thing as not having time, you can always
make time. I soon realised he was right and it’s
stood me in a good sense ever since. Carving out
time at key moments rather than trying to create
extra time is a pragmatic approach for the time
poor. These occasions could include:

- Long car rides/trips

- At the dinner table
- On the school run

2. Listen. Kids will register your body language and

involvement. They won’t miss a thing being especially
quick to disengage if they think you’re not paying
attention. So listen. Actively. Ask questions and extend
their stream of thought. Try not to correct them,
whatever you’re talking about, whatever they say, if their
train of thought is provocative help steer them in the
right direction.

3. Be prepared. Think about what you want to talk about.

If it helps, use a game or prompts such as our
Conversation Cards for kids. These can give you a fun, engaging way that enables your child to own the conversation in a structured way. We’ll finish with two words: Start Today.

Sarah is co-founder at Together Equal, specialising in producing conversation cards

which raise money for charities while having a social impact by creating conversations
which challenge social stereotypes. Follow Sarah and Together Equal @betogetherequal