Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fitness is a state of mind

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide results

Fitness has become an aspect of my life that I live, eat and sleep. If I cast my mind back 18 months and beyond, I have become a former shadow of the girl I used to be, but for all of the right reasons. I have found 'me' again, in a web of tangles that had kept me from thinking that it was ever possible to be 'just me' ever again.

Getting into fitness has opened up an entire new world to me. From different foods to try and discover that I enjoy, to stepping outside of the box that I had cornered myself into, afraid to try new things through fear of not succeeding, fear of being laughed at, fear of falling. This last year has shown me that I am more than capable. I just need to push my boundaries, stop caring about what anybody else thinks, and just do my thing, my way.

By doing this I have found that I can achieve the impossible. I can see results that I once thought were way out of my reach, I have made friends around the world. I have made friends in my local area, and it was just this evening that I was in the gym about to start my fitness class, when a lady approached me. I was a little taken a back as I wondered what on earth I had done, instantly fearing the worse. She apolagised for the random introduction and then asked if I was completing Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides and sharing my progress on Instagram. Of course.. I am! It turns out that this lady was following my account online, and she was so shocked to see me in her local gym! It was perhaps one of the most surreal moments of my life...

I love discovering new fitness classes or events that shake things up a little bit, because there is nothing worse than getting stuck in a routine that gets stagnant. It put's you off, you loose your glow and then your motivation staggers. Switching things up gives you a bit of diversity and keeps everything fresh and current.

One of the biggest lessons that I have stumbled upon on my fitness journey relates to my diet and what I eat. I never used to care about what I put in my body, I didn't look at the ingredients, if it tasted good and satisfied my hunger pangs it was a winner. These days I am so much more conscious about what I fuel my body with. I eat well and enjoy what I am eating. I use many different food groups within my meal plans, grains such as Quinoa, nuts and seeds such as Almonds and Chia Seeds. Everything I eat has a purpose to keep my body fueled and ticking over to help me achieve my goals. 

RPM are a creative agency who have helped put on some fantastic fitness events for some of the leading brands. In a world where everybody is now thinking more about how they fuel their bodies, and of course working out, it is an incredible area to be active in. 

Reebok Cross Fit

The Reebok CrossFit Championships were incredibly exciting, it saw 500 elite athletes competing at nigh high impact events across Europe, with the Berlin final being broadcast live on Eurosport! Cross Fit is something that I myself have heard so much about in recent months, and it is definitely something I would love to try out. Maybe I will look into it a little more over the next couple of months and jig my routine around somewhat for the 2016.

Then of course there was the Weetabix Ultimate Sports Day that you must have heard about! Weetabix wanted to encourage children aged 6 through to 11 to get active and eat a nutritious, health breakfast. I am a huge lover of Weetabix and enjoy them with Coconut Milk and Honey. 

The sports days saw 400 children taking part at the Queen Elizabeth Park's Copper Box Arena, where they got to enjoy a traditional sports day with races and obstacle course creations. It even went on to see Mo Farah achieving a Guiness World Record for the 100m Sack Race!

Weetabix Ultimate Sports Day

I think it is so important to get children active from a young age, as a child I hated sport with a passion. My two left feet and my very apparent lack of co-ordination made exercise embarrassing, and it was for that very reason that I found it a real chore. It is that memory of P.E at school that gave me such a phobia of the gym, I guess that I was still pretty raw about being hit in the head with a rounders ball... Even all of those years later. 

My experience in fitness over the last year really has shown me that we all have the opportunity to work out and enjoy what we are doing. Take yourself out of the box, and tell yourself that you can do it, and you will do it.

Then watch as you show yourself how right you are. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

4 Things That Will Make You More Organised At Work

Work can be stressful, and when things get a little too busy, it is very easy for your workspace to become very messy in a short period of time. A cluttered desk is the last thing you need when you’re trying to focus, so being organised can be a great help. If you aren't usually an organised person but you would like to learn, here are four things you might want to add to your arsenal that will help you stay on top of things at work.

1. Pens

In a world populated by technology, pens can sometimes be hard to find, but they are still one of the most useful implements to have in the office. It is very easy to customise pens, so you can brand a batch of pens with your business name, or even your own name – the perfect solution if you are prone to losing things in the office! If this sounds like something you would like to do, specialists in personalising products, such as Adcall, can help you become just that little bit more organised with your stationery.

2. USBs

USBs are not only a quick and easy way to transfer files from one device to another; they can also be used to store and back-up important data. Set up a folder system through your USBs, or colour coordinate them so you don't get all your information confused. This is especially important if you move around or travel a fair amount for work. Alternatively, move all your local files into a cloud storage system so that you can access your important files from any internet-connected device.

3. Diary

A diary or a personal planner can work wonders for you – it will keep you focused and on task, and you won't forget important appointments or meetings. This can either be paper based or digital; choose whatever you think will be most effective for you and the way you operate. They are also great for writing out to-do lists, so you’ll know what tasks you have to do and when you have to finish them.

4. Filing Cabinets

If you deal with a lot of paper at your job, a filing cabinet and system will be very useful. It means you will be able to avoid piles of paper making a giant mess on your desk, and it also means you can find required documents with more ease.

There are a huge number of things you can use that will make you more organised at work, as well as a number of great strategies that you can employ to make these products even more effective for you. Industries can be quite different from one another, so what works in one office may not necessarily work for you. Keep this in mind if you are thinking about refining your organisational skills. It might be slow going at the beginning, but it will be worth it in the end.

Are you organised when you are at work? If so, what things do you think have made you more organised? If not, what have you seen others do that you think might work for you? Leave your thoughts and advice in the comments section down below.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

How to protect your kids during a relationship breakdown

Relationship breakdowns can be traumatic for couples, but often it’s the children who end up suffering the most. So, if you’re in the process of separating from your partner, you might be worried about the impact this will have on your youngsters. One thing’s for sure though, you’re not alone. In the UK, over four million kids now live in separated families. The good news is, there are ways that you can limit the negative effects of a relationship breakdown on your children. This brief guide talks you through the basics.

Keep conflict to a minimum
Firstly, it’s important to try to keep any anger between you and your partner under control. Kids can quickly become distressed if they see or hear their parents arguing. If possible, discuss your problems when your children aren’t around, and try to at least be civil to one another in front of your youngsters. If you need a legal separation from your partner, it’s useful if you can reach an agreement out of court, and family mediation can play an important role in this. This can be less stressful than going through the courts and it considers the needs of kids above the feelings of parents.

Make effective contact arrangements
However you decide to separate, it’s crucial that you make effective contact arrangements with your youngsters. Legal experts The Law House draw attention to the importance of gaining clarity on issues such as parental responsibility, custody and access. It’s much better if you and your partner can come to an amicable agreement over the care of your kids, focussing on issues like who they will normally live with and how much contact they will have with the other parent. If you’re struggling to come to an arrangement, try using a mediation service and only go to court as a last resort.

Also, it’s best to avoid asking your children who they would rather live with. This can put them under pressure and leave them feeling guilty.

Don't keep your children in the dark
Many parents think that keeping their children in the dark about their separations will protect them. However, childcare specialists agree that in fact it’s better to make sure kids are informed at each stage of breakups. Of course, they don’t need to know every detail and there may be some aspects of your relationship breakdown that your youngsters never need to know, but when it comes to the practical arrangements, children benefit from understanding what’s going on. With this in mind, it’s useful to encourage kids to ask questions and to ensure they feel listened to.  

Offer reassurance
Always be careful in the language you use with your children too. Often, kids feel parental separations are their fault, and it’s vital that you reassure them this is not the case. Also, make sure they know that both their parents still love them and that the breakup will not affect this.

On a related point, don’t fall into the trap of putting your kids in the middle of disputes. Asking them to take messages for you, keep secrets or give you information about your partner can put your children in an awkward position and it can harm your relationship with them.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Glasses are making a comeback

To all the yummy mummies out there, don’t ever think that your glasses are just for your lazy days. Maybe you wear contact lenses usually but keep a pair of prescription glasses for when you’re relaxing at home. Well now prescription glasses don’t have to be something you’re embarrassed of.

I’ve found a whole range of prescription glasses that look great and there’s something to suit every face shape. They even have a face shape guide if you’re not sure which style suits you best. Some are designer brands I’d heard of, but others were brand new to me.

More and more celebs are showing off the glasses look too. Showing off all different styles for all different occasions, glasses are definitely making a comeback.

And now that all these styles are in my price range, they’ve become another accessory to really set off each outfit. With winter coming up I really love the combination of thick chunky Fendi frames like the ones below and a big woolly scarf wrapped around you. 

Or maybe combining a tortoise shell frame from the wonderful Michael Kors with some warm cowboy boots and jeans, all topped off with a thick winter coat.

Or finally, I’m loving seeing all the rose gold on the high street from jewelry to even hairstyles now. So why not go for glasses too. I’ve fallen in love with these Givenchy rose gold pair from Tesco Optician. I could either pair with some more rose gold pieces or go for the all black look with just the touch of rose gold in the glasses.

Buying glasses can be hard and it’s definitely hard to know what suits you. That’s why I’ve really enjoyed using the ‘Frames on me’ tool on Tesco Optician’s site. It means I can try on as many glasses as I like without moving away from my laptop. This is great for me, who could spend all day trying on glasses and sunglasses. Plus it means I can pout to my heart’s content. Check it out!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Fisher Price Car Bed


Space is something that I find myself searching for in every sense of the word since becoming a parent. In past years I have searched high and low for a space where I could have time just for me, space to let my hair down and remember that I am more than just Leo's Mother. Space where I can escape work, and mundane day to day life in dreams of something more exciting 

In times of muddle I have searched for space to store the accumulations of material objects that life likes to bring to your front door. Nick nacks, books, old clothes and DVDs, everyday items that need a home, but seem to take refuge in every nook. space and cranny. 

Leo's bedroom for instance is the absolute perfect example of this, that boy has toys coming out of his ears, that refuse to stay in the allocated toy boxes, he has clothes a plenty and more 'stuff' than you can shake a stick at. What he doesn't have is space. Space that can be used productively, space that can be used actively. Space that can be enjoyed, space where he can learn.

I have been thinking recently about giving his entire room an over haul now that he is at school, because the space is there to be made the most of, it just means that we need to make a few investments in order to harness the reigns and achieve what we want to achieve with what's available. 

With Leo being at school it means that really I need to take a look at a quiet space where he has the room to sit down at a desk, where he can keep his books, where he can practice his reading and where he can write out those very first shaky words so that they can grow and flourish into sentences, stories and experiences. 

I need to provide Leo with his very own room to grow. A space that is practical and clear of clutter for the time that he is learning. 

One of the storage solutions I have been considering over the last few months, is something that Leo has been very excited about. A brand new mid sleeper bed that boasts a pull out desk. This would provide my little man with the best of both worlds, he would gain more floor space thanks to the built in storage solutions. He would have that space I long to give him for his studies, space that is only going to become even more necessary as the years roll by and his studies continue.

Of course for Leo those benefits are nothing, what he is excited about is the ladder, the ladder going up to his bed in the sky. It's a conversation that we have had many times before, and now that he is 4 and at school, I think he might be ready for his very first full size bed. It might be time to bid farewell to his Car Bed that he has loved since he was 2 years old. 

Space is so many things to so many different people, 
What is it to you? 

Fisher Price Car Bed

Tips and Tricks for Getting Children to Tidy Their Room

Parents will likely be familiar with the weekly battle to get the kids to tidy their rooms. Sometimes the stress this causes doesn't feel worth the end result, so why bother? In short, as parents, teaching our children how to keep their space and possessions calm and tidy is about far more than ending the day with a clean house. It is about organisation, discipline, establishing routines and taking responsibility.

1.  Set an Example

It might seem obvious to adults, but unless children are taught to tidy up after themselves, it simply won’t cross their minds. One way to instil this from an early age is by example. If your children see you taking pride in your home, it will become the norm. That doesn't mean that we should place a huge emphasis on material things, but creating a peaceful, safe and comfortable haven is an important part of surviving the tougher times that might come.

2. Pride of Place

If children have their own space - whether it’s their own room, a corner of a room, or even just a shelf - they are likely to want to keep it looking nice. Encourage them to personalise the space and they will take pride in it. For example, let them choose a certain shade of paint, put up pictures or decorate storage boxes.

3. Expectations

Unless the have a clear definition of what a clean and tidy room means, most children will struggle with the concept. Sometimes it helps to provide them with a visual checklist they can follow. For younger children, using pictures is useful. Older children can usually cope with a list of simple steps to follow, such as:

1. Rubbish in bin.
2. Dirty washing in laundry basket.
3. Make bed.
4. Stack books.
5. Toys in toy box.

It really helps if you have agreed in advance where everything goes. The old saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” really rings true when it comes to making it easier for children to tidy up after themselves. Spend time with your child labelling boxes and choosing homes for each toy. Thuka cabin beds are great for storage.

4. Too much stuff for your closets?

The more your children have, the more difficult they will find it to keep things tidy. If you find that your children are collecting an unmanageable amount of possessions, why not implement a “one in, one out” rule? When a new toy is acquired, an old one should be given away to charity or recycled. This is also a great way to teach children about giving to those less fortunate than themselves.

5. Working Together

Initially, children might find the task of tidying a whole room overwhelming. Working together through the steps will enable them to become more confident about the process. It can also provide some much-needed quality time together.

6. Setting some standards

There are some areas where you can reach a compromise, but others where you just can’t. For example, leaving toys out on the floor overnight so a game can be continued the next day is completely acceptable, but leaving dirty mugs or festering laundry under the bed for weeks on end is clearly not okay.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Life and Times of the Working Mum: Firework Buying Guide

It's that time of year again, and if you haven't already seen those sparkles in the sky, then it won't be long before you hear the first explosions of fireworks as they light up the darkness. We have taken Leo along to a display multiple times a year since he was a baby, and he has grown up to adore them. Not once has he been worried of scared as they explode into the most beautiful of colours and shapes, and he has always looked forward to attending displays whether they are for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas or New Year. 

As a nation we love fireworks but with this love comes great responsibility. This responsibility is something that we have tried to instill in Leo from a young age. No matter how fun and beautiful fireworks are, they aren't toys and should be treated accordingly. Fireworks are dangerous, they have the power to damage and destroy, but of course they are enjoyable and we want the occasions that fireworks are involved to be special, but we want them first and foremost, be safe.

As the start of the season is upon us, I thought now was a great time to run through some points on how to make the very most of firework displays and of course enjoy them in a safe environment. Especially if you are putting on your very own firework display from home.

The Life and Times of the Working Mum's Firework Buying Guide

First things first...
Choose which type of fireworks you want
Always sore fireworks safely, away from naked flames and water. Always read the instructions carefully before using them.

There are such a wide variety of different fireworks and it is important to be familiar with what you are purchasing:
- Sparklers: A firm favourite with the young and the young at heart. Supervision is required at all ties and really shouldn't be used by a child under the age of five, and even then gloves should be worn to protect their hands, as sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2000°C.

Fountain: A ground-based firework, which emits showers of crackling, glittering sparks and light effects that can reach up to 6 metres (20ft).

- Mine: A spectacular explosion of colours and effects, starting with a ground level fountain, which builds up to a sudden, unexpected burst of aerial plumes and stars.

- Roman candle: Roman candle fireworks shoot out a brilliant array of stars, coloured balls, bangs and flashes.

- Rocket: An aerial firework, which is propelled into the sky by a rocket motor, leaving a trail of stars and finishing with a delightful burst.

- Shot tube: Single shot Roman candles that create big starbursts and crackles with a glittering tail.

- Cake: cake fireworks are essentially a group of multi-shot Roman Candles fused together, making them fire in rapid succession to create a vibrant aerial firework display by lighting a single fuse.

- Single Ignition: A very large cake, single ignition fireworks produce massive aerial bursts, a choreographed barrage of light and sound.

What to consider when buying your fireworks:
- Only buy from a licensed retailer. It's illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18.
- Only buy fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114 or its European equivalent. Instructions should be in English
- Only buy fireworks in full packs. Don't buy loose fireworks or packs with fireworks taken out of them.

Firework Code (As per the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework, using a torch (never a flame) if necessary.
- Light the firework at arm's length with a long taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
- Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
- Children and young people should stand at a distance from fireworks and only handle sparklers, when they should wear gloves and extinguish used sparklers in a bucket of sand or water. Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. Adults should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.
Of course all of this is so that the experience can be an enjoyable one, and the back drop to create some fantastic memories that will be cherished for many years to come. Leo and I intend to enjoy as many shows as we can this year, and it all starts at the end of this month! 
Have you got any booked in the diary yet?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Fun Halloween Ideas To Keep Kids Busy All Month

Inclement weather and the turn of the seasons can be an incredibly expensive time for many parents. With outdoors activities limited – and spending too much time out in the wet and cold being as detrimental to your child’s health as not spending any time outside at all – the cost of keeping your children occupied can be expensive.

Tickets to the cinema, bowling, video games, DVDs etc. can soon mount up and are short-term solutions to boredom. Halloween is fast approaching and with it an opportunity to keep the children occupied and enjoying themselves.

If you are planning a Halloween party – or even if you’re not – these fun, crafty ideas will keep the children busy for weekends at a time and will help build the anticipation of what is fast becoming a family favourite UK festivity. Decorate your child’s bedroom, and the rest of the house, with these fun ‘spooky’ decorations that can be reused year after year.

Your recycling box is a treasure trove of materials for Halloween decorations so before you throw it out, think about what can be repurposed with a little bit of creative attention.

Egg boxes make wonderful bats that you can hang from pretty much anywhere. Three cups will make the body and two wings. Shape the outer two cups into wings by cutting a ‘w’ shape out of them. Paint the whole thing black and stick two googly eyes on them, or paint two eyes on, and two dots of paint or glued on triangles of paper to make the teeth. Thread them with string or ribbon and hand them around the house.

Create a ghostly wall mural in your child’s bedroom by painting dried fallen leaves white and using a black marker pen to draw two eyes and a spooky ‘oooh’ mouth and stick them to the wall with blu-tack.

Halloween Kids

Decorate your child’s bed with fake webbing, or cheese cloth, and use a dry paint or make-up brush to dab it with baby powder to give it an aged, haunted house look – the baby power will vacuum right off or lift when wiped with a damp cloth. You could visit Bedstar to get a playful novelty bed that would last beyond Halloween and become a feature of your child’s bedroom for years to come. A Princess carriage, fire engine, London bus or racing car will provide hours of make believe play when the rain is pouring down.

Make gruesome illusions of heads in jars with a little bit of food colouring, water and a photo. Get a headshot with a plain white background, place it inside a jar and fill it with water coloured with a few drops of green or yellow food colouring. Use smaller jam jars for a ‘shrunken head’ look.

Paint old glass jars or bottles to make them look like Halloween characters and use them as themed desk-tidies.

Use plain black bin bags to create dramatic and super cheap spider’s webs by following these instructions.

Value orange tissue-paper balls from a craft shop can easily be made into a variety of pumpkins with some black card, scissors and glue. Just cut out the eye, nose and mouth shapes and glue them to your paper balls. Hang them around the house or use drawing pins to suspend them from the ceiling in your child’s room.

Halloween Kids