Friday, 2 December 2016

The Top 16 Ways To Bag You And Your Baby Freebies!

When it comes to baby gear, things can be pretty pricey. To keep your budget in check, here are 16 ways to get your hands on heaps of free baby stuff.

Your baby embraces everything that is adorable, but also everything that is expensive. Thank goodness there is plenty of free baby stuff ready and waiting to be used - all you need to know is how to get your hands on it. Lauren Happel, the maintainer of a website for baby and new mum freebies, notes that being a new mum entitles you to plenty of free things for your baby's needs, including formula samples, coupons and diapers.

Below you will find the top 16 ways to get yourself these great free deals:

1. Asking For Samples, Means Getting Samples
Hospitals and doctors get an abundance of free samples for patient use. Ask what samples are available or check the waiting room for displays. Lauren Happel suggests new mums aski for samples when they are at the hospital.

2. Make Use Of New Parent Packs
Lauren also suggests making direct calls to companies and asking for a new parent pack. As well as the pack, a lot of companies will also send out coupons for their products, hoping that you will become a new customer.

3. Sign-Up To Newsletters
Grastisfaction Freebies, which is a free stuff site, notes that high-value coupons, significant discounts and free samples are offered by many companies. Since a lot of the offers have limited numbers, signing up to newsletters lets you be one of the first to learn about a new deal, increasing your chance of getting your paws on it.

4. Look Out For Sales And Coupons
If there's a baby item that you simply must have, then collect email, website and paper coupons to make it yours. Look out for sales and, when possible, use a coupon-sale combination.

5. Make Use Of Rewards Programs
Diaper manufacturers, as well as other companies, have reward programs for people who shop often with them. Choose one brand and stick with them, making sure you register points as you shop for free diapers and other items.

6. Blog And Request
Amanda Vega, founder of 3 Peas Baby Marketing, recommends setting up a blog, then reaching out to companies directly and asking for samples in exchange for reviews. Amanda herself works with clients who are keen to spread the word about their new baby gear, food or bottles.

7. Go To Conventions And Shows
For new parents who want the latest in baby gear, baby expos are the place to be. In major cities there is usually a minimum of one baby expo a year so keep your eyes peeled for the closest one to you.

8. Take Part In Surveys
Getting free baby stuff is also possible by taking part in marketing surveys. Granted you may not have enough free time to participate in a long survey, but even one that takes just a couple of minutes may give you a free product at the end of it.

9. Help Out With Market Research
You can receive free baby items, or even cash, if you take part in market research. To get started, find a reputable firm and get your name registered on their database.

10. Recycle Everything Possible
Baby Earth, as well as other recycling companies, will often send gift certificates that you can use on their online store, if you send them your used baby gear.

11. Look Out For Sweepstakes And Contests
The majority of baby-focused websites have sweepstakes or contests running, usually with a great giveaway at the end of it. You do need to devote a little time to entering, but you can land yourself some really hip gear.

12. Do A Swap
Offer to swap baby items that your baby doesn't use, or uses rarely. You may be able to start an arrangement with other mums in your area who are also keen to swap baby gear and toys on a regular basis.

13. Subscribe To Magazines
When you subscribe to a magazine you are often treated to a tote bag, a coupon or a different magazine.

14. Say Yes To Hand Me Downs
It's time to make use of your social circle. Toddlers grow very fast in their first year, meaning some clothes may only have had a couple of wears, or none ta all, meaning you receive it in excellent condition.

15. Join Mum Groups
Fun activities for mum and baby are often sponsored by local groups. Use the opportunity to get you and baby away from home, meeting new people and possibly coming home with freebies.

16. Entertainment Freebies And Travel Deals
A lot of airlines will let your toddler of up to 2 years travel for free on your lap. 'Kids go free' promotions are also on offer by resorts and cruise lines. Disney World and other amusement parks offer free admission for under 3's, so try to plan your vacation for before your child's birthday.

17. Using Freebie Websites
I have been a fan of this method now for years, there are many freebie sites in the UK, but non that specialise in baby freebies, and a good one that offers free stuff and freebies is a site called FreeStuff Baby.

You need to put in time and effort to get your hands on free baby stuff, but it is out there for the taking. What you're going to pay for a particular item can vary greatly from one day to another, so make a habit of checking in regularly on your favourite spots for free baby gear.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

12 Travel Hacks to Make Family Flying a Doddle

If there is a way to really get my heart racing, it's telling me that I am taking Leo on a plane. It's not that he is naughty, it's more the keeping him entertained for however many hours the plane is in the air. When we flew back from Crete last year, we discovered that the entire families seating had been sat at entirely different areas on the plane, that was fine except for the fact that Leo's seat had been assigned to far away from my own. We did some seat shuffling and I managed to get one next to him with the aisle in between us, this meant that he was actually sat directly next to a young lady. Leo made himself very at home, he was soon trying to get her attention up from the book she was reading and peering over her shoulder as she used her smart phone. Of course the entire flight for me was then spent trying to get Leo to respect people's personal space. Thankfully the lady found Leo endearing and this definitely helped me to relax a little more.  

Leo has flown on a number of occasions from a young age, the first time was at 5 months and he decided to fill his nappy as soon as the plane left the runway in favour of the open sky. The second time was by far the hardest experience and I can confirm that flying with a 2 year old was a lot harder than flying with a baby in arms! The third experience was when we flew out to Tunisia back in 2015, and just as the plane began to take off, Leo announced how scared he was and announced that he thought it might crash (of all the things that someone could say when a plane is about to take off!).


The have a great post live featuring 12 top travel hacks that have the potential to take the stress out flying with your family, and turn it into an enjoyable experience. The infographic was put together by Schofields and it definitely has some great points. If I had sorted the seats on the plane ahead of time, then I would have eliminated any chance of Leo not being sat by me, and of course avoided Leo being cheeky (all the while charming) to the pretty girl he ended up sitting next to for four hours! 

Leo is a good little flyer really, he has his moments as do any child, but he sits as good as gold watching the on board entertainment or playing with the numerous activities we take along for him. The rule of thumb for us is to just make sure we have ample amounts of snacks and drinks to keep him going!

We are thinking about a long haul holiday next Summer, it is still all up in the clouds at this precise moment in time, but I know that Leo will be on his best behavior and we will definitely be pre booking our seats to make sure that we end up all together.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Finding a Work Life Balance as a Mum

Everyone wants to achieve that delicate equilibrium - where you give both work and home life the right amount of your attention and time. But perhaps more than anyone else, mums to young children can find it particularly challenging to strike the right balance.

Do the Pros of Working Post-Baby Outweigh the Cons?

You may have gone back to work because you had to, or because you wanted to. Either way, there’s always a cost for new mums. It can be a no-win situation: If you go to work, you have to sacrifice some of the time you could be spending with your kids. If you stay at home, there’s going to be less money for the household. Decide what is the best option for your family. Perhaps part-time work is the solution to give you some time fulfilling both roles of mum and provider.

If you decide you’re better off working, there are some practical steps you can take to achieve that work life balance.  But you’ve got to think about your mindset and your philosophical attitude towards it.

Let Go of Guilt

Some argue that maternal guilt kicks in from the day your baby is born. There’s always something to feel guilty about it seems. Am I doing everything wrong?

Are you feeling like a failure because you don’t have time to cook organic baby food? If so, remember that many kids are going hungry in the world. At least yours have food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in.

Don’t be too hard on yourself for not being supermum whilst holding down a job. Similarly, don’t feel guilty if you arrive at work a few minutes later than your colleagues as you have to fit the school run in. You can always make up the time over lunch. Instead of worrying about the things you don’t do perfectly, give yourself a pat on the back for the juggling that you do achieve.

Accept you Can’t Have it All

The concept of being able to ‘have it all’ is one that leads to frustration. Why? Because it’s a total myth. A myth that, for most of us, is unattainable. The sooner you accept that you’re a human being with limitations, not some demi-god, the happier you’ll be. Forget about what’s missing in your life and focus on the positives. Think about what you have - those fantastic kids and a job that means that you can support them.

Give Yourself a Break

It’s all very well making time for both your family and for work, but work-life balance won’t be complete unless you make some time for yourself too. Many mums feel that having ‘me’ time is a selfish idea, so they do without it. But, if you spend all your time thinking about everyone else, you’ll end up feeling too frazzled to do anything at all. Even if you only have an hour to yourself once or twice a week, you’ll feel the benefit and be a calmer and more relaxed mum.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Being a woman in 2016

Being a woman in 2016 is hard, men have expectations of how women should look, so does the media and to make the matter even sadder, so do other women.

Every where you look there are publications of the new top models that are pretty much telling us that this is how we should all look, but the reality is size 0 is not a sustainable or healthy body weight, we should all be able to feel great in the skin that we are in. It's high time we look past the mass photoshopped persona that the media dangle like a carrot in our faces at every possible opportunity. It quite simply is not real and we all need to stop beating ourselves up emotionally and physically over something that even these models have not achieved once you take away the air brushing and touch ups.

You only need to look to the media and the celebrities that get splashed all over the television and magazines to see that even these ladies are a far cry from happy. They put there bodies through the mill in the favour of their next big gig, but can you imagine having the pressure to look a certain way on that kind of scale? I know that I would absolutely hate it, I like to be able to rock out on the school run in my gym kit and my hair scraped back in a pony tail, I have absolutely no time for anything else first thing in the morning, nor would want to (aside from that very first cup of coffee!).

Have you ever stopped to think about the  beauty regimes that these ladies have and do carry out on a regular basis? I can easily go a year without even getting a hair cut, and I can't remember the last time I booked in to get my nails done, so to think about what the celebrities of 2016 have done in the name of beauty on a monthly basis is alien to me.

I picked the top 5 regimes that really made my eyes water and thought it would be fun to share them with you here:

Anal bleaching - Ok seriously, I didn't even know this was a thing? Basically this fancy number is a beauty trend in which both men and women 'bleach' the skin around their anus to create a lighter and more even skin tone. Why? I have no idea!

Colonic Irragation - This is one I have heard of but can't say it appeals to me any more now than it did then... Colonic Irrigation is where waste material is flushed out of the bowel using water that is suirted through a tube that has been inserted up your bum...

Bikini Waxing - Would you believe that in my 27 years I have never endured a bikini wax? It's something that I have always thought I should give a go, after all I have had a baby... It can't be that bad... Right?

Liposuction - I have never really considered any form of plastic surgery. I feel like if you want to loose a few inches or shed a few pounds then you should definitely get more active and eat well. Liposuction is of course a medical procedure that removes unwanted body fat...

Breast Implants - Ok so this is a step further than just a beauty regime (unless your Katie Price and it's comparable to an outfit change), but the fact is it happens. I have always had a small chest, and it's something that I am ok with, something that really I am actually happy about. I can wear what I want, I can even go bra less which makes outfit choices that much easier!

There are so many different procedures and regimes out there, and so many ladies (and men in cases) are being driven to 'better' themselves. Self acceptance is a wonderful thing and I truly believe that we all have the potential to be happy in the skin that we are in. It has taken me years to finally feel as confident on the inside as I appear on the outside, but it's something that I want other ladies to feel.

Don't be afraid to just be yourself, your worth your weight in gold and no one has the power to make you feel inferior unless you give them the consent.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Win a 60 Minute Phone Reading with Psychic Readings Worth £90!

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there are some things that cannot be explained away. I have to admit that I have always been on the fence about these sorts of things, but there have been instances where I have been left completely open mouthed.

A few years ago I went along to a medium evening hosted at a local arts centre, not for one second did I think that he was going to come and talk to me, but no sooner had it started, the spotlight was upon us and we were there talking to Derek Accorah. He was talking to my Mum and the more he said, the more we realised that he was talking about my Mum's late Aunt. I never met her as she moved to the states long before I was born, but over the years we have got to know my second cousin and that's where the jigsaw pieced together. My Mum was completely blown away by the experience and I was left a little red faced after facing an entire audience of people!

There was another instance where I visited a Tarot night at a local bar, I knew that I would be walking away with a reading, but not for one second did I expect this guy to know everything about me. He asked me to shuffle the cards and take out a few. I did just that and in the mean time he has asked me for the ring that I am wearing. I oblige and hand it over to him, and it was then that things started to get interesting.

I had gone along with my Mum and my sister, just for a giggle and to get out of the house for an hour or so. But then this guy starts telling me all sorts, it was as though he had my mobile phone in front of him and he was reading my messages! I of course went bright red and laughed (I laughed a lot but he was completely spot on about all of it), and then he told me that I had a spirit guide. An older man that I wasn't directly related to, but someone that cared for me. Someone that had a fantastic and cheeky sense of humour, and someone that had passed over only a few short years ago. He mentioned my fitness journey and the weight that I had lost, and they told me that this spirit guide of mine approved! I knew straight away who he was talking about and it put a big smile on my face.

Whether you believe or not, or whether you are just curious like I was, you might be interested to know that Psychic Readings currently have a competition running for one lucky winner to win a 60 minute phone reading worth £90.00!

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to fill out the Rafflecopter form on their entry page. You can go back each day and Tweet about the competition to gain additional entires. The giveaway closes on the 19th December 2016.

Win a £100 Argos Voucher with Nomow

If there is one thing that has become apparent since I moved into my new home, it's that I am not very good at mowing the lawn. When I say I am not very good, I mean that the only time it has been mowed is when the Father comes over and see's just how abysmal it is looking.

It's a new lawn that was only laid a few short months ago, just before I moved in to be precise. It constantly has weeds growing through that the builders neglected to remove before they laid the turf right over it, and having a puppy who has taken to peeing in one precise area of the lawn is not helping matters!

I have seen so many people talking about artificial grass, and having seeing how their personal results have come out, I know that one day it is something that I would absolutely love to do for myself. 

Nomow are Europe's market leading manufactures and installers of artificial grass. They provide it for schools, nurseries and gardens just like yours and mine. They also provide it for safety surfaces and golf courses, and they now have over 20 years knowledge and experience under their belt.

If providing a fantastic alternative to traditional grass is not enough, Nomow have launched a giveaway for one lucky winner this Autumn to win a Argos Voucher worth £100.00 in time for Christmas. Now who can tell me that winning a voucher like this wouldn't help relieve the stress of the upcoming Christmas period?

I know that it would be a huge blessing for me at this time of year, and I am sure that I am not alone in feeling the pressure that comes with making sure you have catered to everyone come December 25th.

You can enter the Nomow Competition right here, and all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is fill out the Rafflecopter form on their entry page (link above) and then if you want to, you can check back each day and gain an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway! 

It really is that simple! 
Who wants to give it a go!?

Christmas Around the World

If there is one time of year I absolutely love being at home in the UK, it's Christmas. I adore the festive feeling that comes along with the chill in the air and Jack Frost coating everything in that glittery sparkle. Being tucked away at home with the Christmas tree twinkling in a dark room with a Christmas movie on the television, makes everything feel so magical, and that is exactly why I couldn't imagine being anywhere else at this time of year (Although my recent visit to New York did make me second guess this!).

Of course Christmas does take place around the entire world and not everybody's traditions reflect our own (That's what makes it fun right?), as long as I have my nearest and dearest around me come Christmas Day and I know that I have a Turkey dinner coming my way, I am always a very happy lady. 

It did get me thinking about how different Christmas can be in different countries, what food do they eat? What are there Christmas Traditions? Do they vary much from our own? Bright Horizons Nursery in Manchester have put together the below infographic that might just enlighten you the way it did me...