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5 tips on juggling family life and your business

family

For some people the motivation for becoming self-employed is due to either starting a family or to have flexible time so you can spend time with loved ones. For me, the motivation was the excitement of creating a business whilst bringing up 5 children. However, it can sometimes be a test of will power to keep your business momentum up and ensure that your work doesn’t suffer when you are a mum. Here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of your working day whilst still being able to spend quality time with your family and friends.

Friends and family

For some reason family and friends (and in some cases clients) think that it is ok to call you up or visit you at any point during the day just because you work from home thinking you must be free to chat?! This can be a nice surprise on the rare occasion but when it becomes a daily occurrence it can be a big distraction, which ultimately takes your time away from your family and friends because you will need to catch up on work in your “free” time.

To help reduce these little distractions and prevent the embarrassment of asking people to leave so you can work, you can designate a time each day that is available for people to pop in or call you or tell them when your working hours are and ask to be visited around these times.

Time management

It has been proven that people work best in the morning and then the work rate and productivity is greatly decreased in the afternoon after lunch. Therefore, it is best to plan your working hours to be around 6 hours long where the main bulk is first thing in the morning so you essentially have a free afternoon. For example, if you aim to start work at 7am and work non-stop without distractions until 1pm you would have done a full day’s work in the morning giving you time to spend with loved ones and do those pesky chores etc. Equally, if you start first thing you can then do the school run both in the morning and afternoon in the knowledge that you have done your work for the day to spend the evening work-free. This way if the sun is shining outside you can still get a decent chunk of sun on your skin without skipping your work because you would have worked during the morning.

Reduce procrastination

Try to work away from the normal family or home hubbub by trying to avoid working at the kitchen table, unless you are disciplined or you will end up cleaning the whole house before sitting down to your business.

Emails and social media

Dedicate allotted times throughout the day that you can read your emails and go on social media. Don’t check emails when it is meant to be family time or when you are meant to be working. You will always get an email when you are supposed to focus on something unrelated but you will feel inclined to answer the email straight away because you have just read it – don’t open and read it until you have finished you task. It will only distract you and turn your attention from what you were currently working on!

Pencil in family activities in the same way as a business meeting.

By making family time a non-negotiable meeting in your business schedule means that you won’t miss out on spending time with your family or that important social activity – that is one of the points that you have become self-employed so you can have more free time to spend with loved ones.

Article written by Sally Hurst from The Old Bag Company – mum of five who designs award-winning, stylish and practical bags, such as oilcloth handbags and canvas beach bags, for busy women and mums.Sally loves all things business and has a passion for encouraging women to be more confident in their businesses!

3 Ways to Keep Your Family Safe

3 Ways to Keep Your Family SafeAfter watching the local news for a half hour, many parents will be afraid to let their kids leave the house. But even inside, there are plenty of dangers lurking. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a bodyguard or an IT professional to keep your family safe and be a great parent. Here are three key areas to focus on family security.

1. Keeping Intruders Out

There are lots of practical steps to secure your home front and protect against theft and criminals. Simple things like regularly checking your locks and bolts and making sure your house remains well lit can go a long way in deterring intruders. Small solar lights can light up walkways and steps to help light the house.

Today, most houses have armed security systems with burglar alarms. You can install a great surveillance system that allows you to check in on things from your mobile device when you are out. For finding more details about home security systems, click here.

2. Staying Safe Online

Perhaps the biggest threat comes from inside the home. The Internet is full of predators and hackers from around the world who want to get into your house to steal valuable information and do other malicious things through the web.

Regularly talking to kids and teens about computer use is one of the best ways to open up communication about safety on social networks, games and websites. A good rule is to place the computer in the living room or other high traffic area where parents can keep an eye on the screen. With mobile devices and laptops, it can become more difficult to monitor. Some families decide to rule out using devices in bedrooms. Others install browsing programs like Safe Eyes that protect against explicit content.

Some families meet together to sign a contract about how they will help protect each other from the unfriendly presences on the Internet. The Family Online Safety Institute offer its own family contract to clearly outline how parents can help protect kids and how kids can be wise with their computer use.

3. Don’t Talk to Strangers and Other Rules

Finally, it is important to educate your children about safety when they leave home. A good guideline is to begin by fostering good channels of communication with your kids so that they talk to you about any questions they have or situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

Dr. Laura Markham recommends several rules for every family.

•Prioritize your child—one of the best ways to protect them from predators, bullies, drugs, etc.

•Teach kids how to swim

•Let your children know that their bodies belong to themselves only

•Help your kids develop healthy judgment about places and people

The world can be a scary place, but with these important guidelines to follow, you can help keep your family safe and happy.

Image from http://www.baystatehealth.com

Creating the dream bedroom for your child

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Image by MAZZALIARMADI.IT 

A child’s bedroom is a really important place for most children, and if you can decorate it in a way that they like, so much the better. Giving children their own personal space that they have some element of choice and control over can really encourage them to show their independence, in the way they use and look after that space.

Not every child can have their own room, but it’s still possible to personalise their space in a shared bedroom. There are so many beautiful items of furniture and accessories for children’s bedrooms that you could really go to town on decorating and furnishing the room just how they’d like it, but it’s also possible to achieve a lot through accessorising too.

How much input you allow your kids to have on how their bedrooms will look depends on how old they are. For babies and toddlers, you call the shots, obviously, but when kids get a little bit older, they might have quite strong views on how they’d like their bedroom to be. Of course, it’s up to you whether you allow them free rein in choices for their room, but you should always exercise the power of veto over any outlandish decisions that you don’t want in your house. Ideally you can strike a balance so that they have some freedom of choice which will make them feel important and know that their opinions are valued.

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Image by jingdianjiaju 

If you don’t know where to start, take a look at sites like http://www.gltc.co.uk where you’ll see a whole range of different room sets, with themes to suit children of all ages. You could choose bedroom furniture that will see a child from being a toddler through to their teenage years – opting for classic wooden beds and wardrobes, for example. But there are also sports car and princess beds, as well as high beds and bunks. If you go for the classic furniture choice, you can always change the accessories, fabrics and soft furnishings to change with your child’s taste over the years. It’s far easier to replace a rug and curtains than it is to buy a whole new set of furniture!

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Image by amy.gizienski 

Storage is always an important factor in a child’s bedroom –they accumulate a lot of stuff over the years. If you can provide them with good storage units, then there’s no excuse for a messy bedroom! The wooden shelving units that you can fill with canvas drawers are a really good idea, as some can be left empty and used as shelves for books or to display trophies and ornaments, while others can have coordinating canvas drawers in them to store clothes, toys, etc. These can also be replaced to match your child’s different tastes as they grow.

Whatever you decide to do to decorate a child’s bedroom, getting them involved in some way can make it a fun project that both you and they will enjoy.

7 Car Shopping Tips For New Parents

Going out car shopping is always a fun time as you get to check out all sorts of different car models from different car dealers and private sellers until you end up choosing ‘that’ car!

Just because you are a parent, or you are expecting a newborn soon, doesn’t mean that you still can’t have fun when you go out shopping for suitable family cars!

Image via Flickr

If you are in the process of looking around for a family car, here are 7 helpful tips to ensure that you choose the right car for you and your family, rather than a car the salesperson wants you to buy!

1. Don’t buy a car until you buy a baby seat first

This might sound a bit odd, but let me explain! A large number of people tend to buy a family car first and then a baby seat later on, but the trouble with this is you have no guarantees that the car seat you want to buy will fit your car correctly!

Consider taking the baby seat with you when you go to view cars, so that you can see whether the car is suitable for your baby seat or not.

2. Let your baby test the car out

Should you have a newborn in tow, it is the perfect opportunity for you to fit a car seat into the car you want to buy and strap your baby in so that you can check out whether the car is right for you and your baby.

3. Check out Euro NCAP safety test results

Safety is the top priority when it comes to buying a family car, so before you even head out to look at a particular car you should do some research online first and find out how well it has done in Euro NCAP safety tests.

4. Sit in the back of the car

Rob from http://www.cardealwarehouse.co.uk/ recommends that any parent should sit in the back of a car that they are thinking of buying so that they can see whether there is enough space for parent and baby to sit in the back of the car.

5. Consider 4×4 cars

Most families will end up buying estate cars or people carriers, but you should also consider 4×4 cars such as the Land Rover Discovery and the BMW X5. Generally, taller cars are easier to get babies, children and cargo in and out of than ‘lower’ cars like estates, for example.

6. Try to fit your pram or stroller in the boot

Some people opt for buying smaller hatchbacks due to budget constraints or parking limitations where they live. It is important that you buy a car that you, your baby and children, and your pram or stroller can all fit into simultaneously!

7. Check out online reviews from the motoring press

Before you buy any car, you need to determine how reliable it is going to be. Websites such as Parkers are a great free resource for information pertaining to reliability and cost details on a number of popular car models.

Achieving A Happy And Healthy Family

Achieving A Happy And Healthy Family

A parent’s greatest wish is for their children to receive everything they have ever wanted. Even though it is a part of life, parents hate seeing their children hurt, be in pain, or suffer from sickness.

Creating a healthy family atmosphere can provide children with a happy, healthy life.

Family Physician

A key to maintaining a healthy family is to have a family physician. Because a child’s health is extremely important to their growth and health later on in life, having a personal family physician ensures parents that their children are being taken care of. Furthermore, concierge medicine doctors, because of the personal relationship, allow parents to feel at ease when the doctors are giving a check up to their children, for it feels like a family member is looking after them.

The Importance Of Nutrition

Kids can be picky making mealtimes difficult with their stubborn attitudes. With guidance and creativity from their parents, children will find healthy foods they absolutely love—and can’t get enough of.

First and foremost is breakfast. It truly is the most important meal of the day because it dictates the rest of the day. Children and adults need a high fiber breakfast in the morning to give them the energy and nutrients to complete the rest of the day. Even if it is a mad dash to be on time to school, it is essential to take the time to grab a healthy breakfast. Skip the Pop-Tarts and instead stock the kitchen with whole-grain waffles, bananas, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. All of these items can be quickly cooked and eaten on the go to school.

For dinner, involve children in the cooking process. Whether it is simply asking them to choose from a few healthy recipes to giving them tasks to complete in the cooking process, children will be more likely to eat something they have had a hand in.

When it comes to dessert, children should learn about moderation. Instead of allowing children free reign to sweets all of the time, create designated times when sweets are allowed. Whether it is a weekend special or a Wednesday after school treat, having a set time will teach children to choose sweets in moderation.

Being Active

With all of the technology available to kids today, natural outdoor activity is not so natural anymore. Whereas children used to spend hours outside playing and using their imagination, many times they stay inside to play video games.

Involve children in sports or plan family time to take evening walks, hikes, or bike rides. Go to the park and play baseball, soccer, or spend time on the swing set. Children learn by example, thus spending family time in activity together will teach children how much being active is and will carry on with them as they grow.

Time

Apart from physical health, children need to nurture their emotional health. Children adore their parents and need time with their parents. No matter how busy and hectic life gets, time with children should never be cut short.

Having a healthy environment will teach children how to have healthy, happy life.

Image Source: http://www.kidspot.com.au

Treat Your Mom: 6 Gifts to Show You Care

The lovely lady that gave life to you, otherwise known as ‘mom’, took care of you for at least 16 years (and probably still does). She carried you in her belly for around 9 months, and went through all kinds of horrible feelings and sensations in order to get you out into the world. What better reason to treat her to show her you care? You shouldn’t need a reason to treat your mother! Here are 6 gifts to get your message across:

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Comfy Pyjamas

All mom’s love comfy pyjamas. Make sure you know the size she likes by checking the label in some of her current pyjamas, and take yourself down to Peacocks or New look to choose her a shiny new pair. You could even throw in a dressing gown, some slippers, and a hot water bottle to ensure she’s extra cosy. A box of chocolates to enjoy while wearing the pyjamas wouldn’t go amiss either!

A Big Bunch of Flowers

A huge bunch of colourful flowers will definitely put a smile on your mom’s face. How much you spend on the flowers is up to you, as you can find bouquet’s for anything from £2 to £200! If you know what her favourite flower is, treat her to a bouquet. Better yet for those with bigger budgets, why not treat her to a gold rose from goldgenie.com? You could even buy her a new pretty vase to keep her flowers in!

Fancy Perfume

Fancy perfume is usually a real treat for hard working mom’s, so she’ll be overjoyed with a bottle of Chanel, Dior, or something similar. Why not take a look at her current collection and see if she’s running out of one of her faves? Or you could note down the scents that she already owns and ask a perfume counter assistant for advice.

A Charm Bracelet

Charm bracelets from Chamilia and Pandora are very popular with ladies of all ages. If your mom doesn’t have one, why not treat her to a bracelet and charm to start off her collection? Charms are great presents for special occasions, so you won’t be stuck on what to get her for a while.

A Pamper Day

If your budget allows it, you could book your mom a lovely pamper day in at a spa. However, you could even bring the spa home and pamper her from home! Cook her breakfast, give her a pedicure and a facial, and run her a hot bath.

A Makeover Photoshoot

If your mom feels a little down in the dumps, a makeover photoshoot could be just the thing she needs to give her back her confidence. You can usually find great deals on Groupon and Wowcher, so take a look to see if there’s anything there your mom will like. Some moms don’t like fuss, so make sure this will be your mom’s thing before buying.

You don’t need a reason to show your mom you care, so treat her to something nice and make her smile!

Walks in Winter with Kids

HunterThe colourful wellies worn by both kids and adults today date back to the 18th Century and the clever Duke of Wellington, who was weary of having his own feet, as well as those of his soldiers, rendered cold and soggy. The Duke, Arthur Wellesley, commissioned his shoemaker to design a new boot from sturdy calfskin, and treated with wax to make it waterproof. This revolutionized the boot industry, and helped keep the soldiers dry to battle another day.

Colourful Wellies are High Fashion

Today, kids’ wellies come in almost every colour in the rainbow as well as a wide range of patterns. Those with a fleece lining are especially warm for walking and playing in the snow. Wellies with a handy drawstring at the top prevent water and mud from getting inside the boots when children stomp around and jump in mud puddles. Many have a strong tread that grips the ground and helps keep people from falling. Not only are wellies practical in wet weather, but they are attractive too, and some even come with matching raincoats and hats. Both children and adults can stay dry and look fashionable at the same time with today’s wellies.

Keeping Tiny Feet Dry and Comfortable

Small children seem to have boundless energy, and want to play outside in any kind of weather. Toddler wellies are ideal for youngsters who are unhappy staying indoors just because the ground is wet. They can run and jump to their hearts’ content, regardless of the wet ground, when wellies are snuggly hugging their tiny feet. Some kids’ wellies come with nifty handles that enable small children to pull the boots on with no assistance from adults. This can give them a sense of self-reliance and independence. Some children can even find wellies that feature their favourite cartoon or literary characters. Wellies are not only practical, but extremely comfortable as well.

Trendy Prints and Designs

There are numerous designs available in kids wellies, from animal prints to neon colours. Many girls are fond of the floral print wellies or others in bright combinations of pinks, reds and purples. Boys often enjoy wellies that look like reptile or dinosaur skins, camouflage designs or wellies with pictures of race cars. Animal prints are popular among both boys and girls. Wellies with leopard or zebra prints and tiger stripes are particular popular with children of all ages. Wellies with lightweight, flexible soles are especially good for toddlers who are just learning to walk, as well as for older children who enjoy hikes over rugged terrain.

Parents do not have to let cold, wet weather keep them trapped in the house with antsy children who are bored and in need of an outlet for their pent up energy. All they have to do is pull on the kids’ wellies, and head outside for an afternoon of running, jumping and skipping over the wet ground. The wellies will keep kids’ feet toasty warm regardless of the snow, ice and water soaking the ground in gardens and parks.

I Want My Baby Back…RIGHT NOW!

Flickr

Aired by BBC1 on Monday 13th January, ‘I Want My Baby Back – A panorama Special’, may give us all pause for thought.

As a father and grandfather, I have seen many times, children in my care to become over excited or playing roughly and bouncing off the floor and walls. It is part of everyday play, whether they are cowboys fighting indians, or saving the universe from intergalactic robots, they will sometimes hurt themselves. Only when they get changed, are the bruises revealed. How many of you out there have felt people will think you are abusing your child if they see the bruises? I was a tree climber, a good one. My legs were always black and blue and my mother, on occasion, wondered if people would ponder what went on in our house.

Here in the United Kingdom we have a comprehensive social services system, essential it is too! It is a fact that some children are abused, and they desperately need protection. Our Social Services department though seem to hit the headlines in a big way when they get it wrong.

If any of you out there are going through this dreadful process, it is essential that you consult expert child custody solicitors. You cannot defend yourself in these circumstances.

Panorama addressed several specific cases where children were removed from their families for, what may be considered, as dubious circumstances. At a glance, these cases seem outrageous. ‘There but for the grace of god go I’ is the thought that many parents must feel when learning of these cases.

I fear that the featured family’s stories though, are just a drop in the ocean. For all of the good work they do, Social Services may be making mistakes every day and destroying families. Taking away from parents, their entire reason for living and permanently damaging the child’s feeling of security at home.

Take the case of Amy’s son who had multiple fractures. Taken into care along with his elder sister only to be returned home after several weeks. Were it not for expert representation, Amy’s children would never have been returned to her. She was powerless and railroaded by the system.

Now we need Social Services; they do an essential job. The do help and protect abused children. They are, however, only human, and if they suspect harm even without evidence then they must investigate. Sometimes this can lead to overzealous mistakes.

Then comes what, seems to me, to be a horrible flaw in the system; time. From an outsider’s point of view, it makes my blood boil. The time it takes to get a simple decision. Waiting another week to speak to someone. Another assessment that can’t be carried out until next month. All the time more harm is being done. It is quite shameful. All the stops should be pulled to find out whether that child is genuinely at risk as quickly as is humanly possible, not so it fits in with the directors diary. If mistakes have been made by the social worker, or abuse disproved, get that child home where they belong without delay.

Maybe it is time that the whole system is looked at again. Yes, remove a child if abuse is suspected, of course it is the right thing to do. Then, in that child’s interests, keep the parents informed and represented from day one. Set the machine swiftly in motion and give these cases the urgency that the children need. Provide the parents with a valid avenue of appeal to go down when they know they are innocent.

Panorama has shown that for some of us, the citizens of this country, the system is faulty. Thank heavens for the people who go to court in defense of such miscarriages.

This may be a simplistic view as I am an outsider but then again, most of us in this country are outsiders. So the director of Social Services would do well to cut short that business lunch and get back to work, before the British people hold him/her to account. This simply cannot go on any longer.

3 Ways to Create a Healthier Family this Year

3 Ways to Create a Healthier Family this YearWhere is the solution to creating healthier family and home? Often, parents believe that a dog may bring structure, discipline, and activity to family life. Yet as a new member of the family, dogs create more responsibility and issues than you anticipate.

Rather than taking a drastic step with an animal addition, find other solutions that encourage health, productivity, and more active lifestyles for every member of the family no matter what age. When wracking your brain for ideas to raise healthy eating and exercise awareness, follow these suggestions.

1. The Art of Gardening

Have you seen the bumper stickers, “Will Garden for Food”? The popularity behind gardening, especially communal all natural gardens, has risen dramatically over the last few years. As lawmakers, health professionals, and parents become more aware of terrible foods and unhealthy habits, they have turned to change their family’s eating habits.

This transition involves gardening. Often gardeners are more aware of the food they eat. They prefer all natural and organic produce that’s untainted by distant mass producing farmers. Children and parents alike take more of an active interest in what goes into creating food. Therefore, they tend to read more of the ingredient labels on products at grocery stores. Why would you eat ingredients that seem foreign and artificial?

Before spring rolls around, look to join a community garden or start an elevated herb and vegetable garden in the backyard. This home project keeps the children outside and active. Teach someone to garden, they’ll never go hungry as long as there is enough water, sunshine, and you keep the animals away.

2. Use TV Time to Learn How to Cook

Take the time to teach your children how to cook. Maybe you didn’t benefit from parents who cooked all time growing up. It’s not late to learn as a parent. There are various culinary education resources available. For example, you can enroll in cooking classes together. Weekend cooking classes won’t take much time, you’ll have a blast, and there’s no better quality time to spend with your kids.

If you don’t have the time or local cooking classes that fit into your schedule, watch PBS or the Food Network. The Food Network offers endless opportunities to learn how to cook basic and complicated meals. Practice new dinners, side dishes, and desserts together with the kids. Use the television for educational purposes that the kids will love. When looking to purchase good cable or satellite TV, you can find great deals to save money. For example, see what is available online for Kansas Direct TV offers

3. Teach Children How to Shop for Groceries

Parents must take a similar approach that local restaurants do when focusing on farm-to-table policies. After you’ve taught your children about gardening and growing their own produce, given them a chance to cook, and then educate them on healthy and intelligent grocery shopping.

It’s not only important to teach them how to save money when comparing prices at stores, but make them aware of reading ingredient labels. Educated them about the negative artificial ingredients often used in processed and boxed foods. Smart shoppers make healthier decisions.

Image Source – carolinaparent.com

Awesome Ways To Ensure Your Family Stays Happy In 2014

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You’ve probably seen all the news articles recently written by top psychologists claiming that January is the most depressing month of the year for most people. Well, I saw those too, and so I thought maybe it was time for me to write and post a short article highlighting some of the most effective ways of ensuring your entire family remains positive and happy this year. Let’s face it; some people are just more prone to getting the blues, and it’s those people I’m trying to reach out to. I know all too well how terrible you can feel from time to time, indeed, my medical records will show a heavy usage of antidepressants to prove it, but if I can stop one single parent from visiting their doctor for “happy pills” this year, then writing this post will have been worth it.

So, the first thing you really need to think about is your diet. It might be fine eating takeaways and food high in sugar most of the time, but in a month when people are bound to start feeling a little down, this should be avoided like the plague. Instead, try buying some fresh fruit and veg, as this is certain to lift your mood considerably. Here are some other suggestions for making sure the whole family stay happy all year round.

Arrange Educational Trips Together

Over ten years ago now, our previous Labour government made all the state-run museums in the UK waive their admission charges, and so it’s possible for anyone to visit them without having to break the bank. You might consider a trip to London if you really want to make your kids smile, as there’s more museums there packed tightly together than anywhere else in the country. Make sure you at least try the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum if you don’t plan on visiting anywhere else. You’ll want to set a full day aside though, because those places are pretty large.

Visit A Psychic Medium Together

Unless you’re a total skeptic, booking a family session with your local psychic medium or clairvoyant could provide some rather encouraging results. During a family session, they’re unlikely to give you any negative information, and instead, should provide you with some useful tips for the near future. Your kids will love the experience, and you too could benefit from the information you receive. If you’re not too sure about this one, why not give TheCircle.com Psychics a call for a taster of what’s in store.

Exercise Together & Get Fit

Every doctor worth his salt will tell you that exercise in by far the best way of lifting yourself from a low mood, and so arranging something fun with the whole family could be perfect. Sure, you probably do want to stay away from gyms, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a truly fantastic time on long walks around your local woodland or dedicated area of outstanding natural beauty. Plus, you could even take a ball along and turn it into a game if the kids don’t seem too enthusiastic about walking long distances.

If you give at least two of those suggestions a try, I guarantee you’ll all feel much better over the coming months. 2014 is going to be incredibly busy for most, so making plans now and setting time aside for stuff like this really is essential.

I wish you the best of luck folks!