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Mamma Musings

Mamma Musings

Easy ways to keep your dog entertained (that don’t cost a fortune)

It’s widely known that busy dogs are happy dogs. 

Just like us humans, a bit of stimulation and exercise goes a long way, benefiting your dog both physically and mentally. A healthy balance of variety and routine will keep your dog entertained, warding off boredom and the dreaded naughtiness that comes with it.

Here are some simple and cost-effective ways to ensure that your dog stays in high yet well-behaved spirits.

Check out those beauty spots

dog

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you have a car, becoming a member of the National Trust would be a great motivator for you to get out into the countryside with your dog, giving you free entry to more than 500 parks, woods, beaches, gardens and estates across the country – plus free parking at the vast majority.

Monthly membership costs £6 for individuals, £10 for couples, £10.50 for two-parent families and £10 for single-parent families. And you can pay that on a rolling basis if you want to, rather than paying for the full year in one go.

Different National Trust venues have different rules about short-lead, off-lead, etc., but all the information you need for any individual venue will be on the National Trust website.

Of course, there are plenty of non-N.T. beauty spots as well, and you’ll probably know some already. As long as it’s green and full of open space, your dog will love roaming around it.

Have a stash of dog toys – and keep it on rotation

Dog toys tend to be inexpensive but, as many owners know all too well, they can wear out quite quickly – especially the favourites!

As such, it pays to accumulate a variety of toys that your dog knows and loves, perhaps with a backup each. The key thing here is to keep these in regular rotation, storing away the ones not in use, so that your dog doesn’t just become bored by them all.

This will ensure the longevity of the toys and, more importantly, it will keep things lively – battling against monotony but also stimulating your dog mentally by reintroducing them to firm favourites that they haven’t seen in a while.

YouTube for dogs…

If your dog is the type who enjoys watching TV (not all are), there are entire YouTube channels dedicated to dog-friendly viewing, which are well worth exploring.

Let’s say you’re working from home, for example, and you need to keep your dog quietly entertained while you get on with your tasks for the day. Pop them in front of the telly or a tablet that’s playing a seven-hour wildlife video specifically for dog interaction, and you might just be on to a winner.

Hire a pro dog walker

dog walking

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Being a pooch parent can be exhausting, especially if you have a family and/or demanding job. There’s not always an hour or two to spare for taking your dog out, and even where there potentially is, it’s easy to forget.

That’s where professional dog walkers can help out massively: they take care of the outdoor exercise when you don’t have time. They’re well worth the fees, given how invigorated your dog will be as a result – not to mention better-behaved and more restful in the evenings.

Speaking to a reputable dog walking service provider like Rachel’s Dog Club will not,only put your mind at ease, but also ensure that your pooch is as happy and stimulated as possible in a welcoming environment.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Free time? What’s that? Your guide to putting your feet up

Free time is a precious commodity which is rare in our hectic house.  No matter how hard I try I am really bad at making the effort to make time for myself?

If you do happen to find yourself with some free time, what should you do with it? It may have been so long since you’ve had any you have no idea. But don’t worry – read on for a little inspiration of how you can spend your free time. Or you could just dream about it instead…?

Treat your face

With the kids seemingly under control and you’ve managed to become unstuck from the oven you might even be able to take a little time and put some makeup on. You could slip on some anti-aging eye cream  or play around with some new eye shadows or even sit with a face mask on for ten minutes. Just enjoy being able to hear your own inner thoughts!

Reading

It might be a little obvious. But sometimes we forget how good it feels to pick up a book and get pulled straight back into a story. Whether it’s a fantasy novel, an old childhood favourite or a celebrity tell-tale book. There’s nothing wrong with disappearing for a couple of hours and diving head first into a book. It is one of those things that becomes a great investment in your time because it’s not just watching TV, or half-watching a film. You can purchase high quality glasses, a reading lamp, and a few first-editions to make the experience a little extra special. It’s a lovely part of getting ready for bed, when the kids are asleep and you’re not that tired yet, getting into bed and unwinding with a great book is one of those things that’s good for the soul.

Watching TV

One of the things I find really relaxing is loosing myself in a good documentary or series. I find it really helps me relax and forget what is bothering me. I recently saw Sam Haskell interviewed on his latest Netflix documentary series on Dolly Parton. It is exactly the kind of series I could wile away hours watching.

Go for a walk

Who says you have to stay cooped up indoors? You could really make a break for it and go for a walk around your favourite beauty spot, or even just around the block for some fresh air. Getting in a little cardio before you tackle that box of chocolates this evening will help you not feel as guilty.

Sleep

None of us are getting enough sleep, and the festive season can be both physically and mentally draining. So, if you get the chance try grabbing an extra forty winks and catching up on some much needed rest. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Rearrange your photos

If you have sleeves of photographs that are looking for homes, or you just haven’t gotten around to putting them into your albums yet, then why not do it now? You can even date them all and place them in chronological order. Looking back at the memories you’ve made over the year will certainly make you smile.

Listen

Why not try listening to a new audiobook? Or even a podcast on a subject your passionate about? Or how about a comedy set from your favourite comedian or just some of your favourite tunes that make you feel happy. You could even try listening to the nice, peaceful silence!

Have a bubble bath

Empty that whole bottle into the tub and have a nice long soak. You deserve it.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Purchases That Can Actually Help You Save Money in the Long Run

Not all purchases are made for consumptive reasons. Some of them are more valuable than you think because they help you save money in the long run. The real challenge is figuring out the best purchases to make so that they are the best investments for your future.

Fortunately, you can find these types of purchases in different forms, large and small. To help you start saving money right away, we are going to take a look at the purchases that will save you the most money.

A Coffee Machine

coffee cup

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you love coffee and you spend a lot of money buying coffee from shops on your way to work, investing in a coffee machine is a fantastic idea. You can stop buying coffee and start making your own before you leave the house, saving you a considerable amount over time.

A coffee machine also lets you explore your love for coffee even further. You can experiment with different blends, practice making espressos and lattes, and even get more serious with some latte art and your own coffee recipes.

A Scooter

For mums, making quick runs to the shops or other short trips is an inseparable part of our everyday activities. Unfortunately, making these runs in a car is costly. This is why a scooter makes a great investment.

Scooters are perfect for short trips, including school runs and other trips with your child. BMG Piaggio London has a selection of Vespa scooters ranging from electric ones to bigger scooters with a 300cc engine. Finding a scooter that matches your needs will not be a problem.

An Induction Stove

Induction stoves have gotten very energy-efficient over the years, making them a great investment to make right now. While you will consume a bit more electricity when you switch to an induction stove, you actually save money in the process.

Induction stoves are also getting smarter. If you leave a pan on by accident, you don’t have to worry about burns or the stove consuming electricity. Besides, induction stoves are safer when you have children in the house.

Smart Thermostat

thermostat

Pic Credit: Pixabay

While we are on a subject of home appliances becoming smarter, now is also the perfect time to turn your house into a smart one with an investment in a smart thermostat. Products like Nest can help regulate the interior climate of your house while boosting energy efficiency.

While you are at it, pick up a smart home hub like Amazon Echo and Google Home. You can start converting your appliances, including the lights around the house, into smart devices that can be controlled remotely. Imagine how much you can save!

Rechargeable Batteries

Lastly, we have rechargeable batteries. If you are still buying batteries and throwing away old ones, you are missing out on a chance to save for sure. Rechargeable batteries have gotten so affordable that there is no reason not to get some.

By making these purchases, you can start saving money. No amount is too small to save; you’ll be surprised by how much you actually set aside once you start using these purchases every day.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

What cool presents parents can buy their kids

Cool presents to buy for kids

We all know kids get super excited on special events and holidays. This is especially true if it is an event where they are expecting presents. Whether it is Christmas or their birthday, they just cannot wait to see what you have bought them.   While you can always ask your kids what they want for these occasions, it does take away the element of surprise. But are you struggling to think of the perfect present? 

In this post, we will walk through a few fun and stylish gift ideas that are sure to be a fantastic surprise present.

  • A Scooter

One of the most requested gifts from a kid is a shiny, new bike. However, many children, especially younger ones, don’t have the balance to ride successfully.

red scooter

Pic Credit: Vulyplay

So, why not gift them a 3 wheel scooter and make your little one the happiest kid in the world! Scooters are great for those not old enough to ride a bike, and nothing is easier to balance on then a 3 wheel scooter variant. 

Today’s kids might be crazy about Netflix, iPhones, and video games, but stylish scooters are the perfect way to encourage your children to get active outdoors. Scooters (and bikes) give them the freedom they may be needing. It is a wonderful way to get your kids to go out, hang out with their friends, and enjoy an adventurous ride, rather than playing video games all day.

A scooter is all they need to explore new places, creating fun memories that they will remember for years. Gifting a scooter to your child might not be a unique idea at first, but with all the styles and types now available, a scooter may end up being a bigger surprise than you think!

  • Binoculars

A pair of binoculars is likely not a present you would associate with fun. However, toy binoculars can generate a lot of fun and are durable too. Your kid will love using binoculars in spy games, and other make believe. They play being the secret agent, using a pair of binoculars to investigate crimes. 

Additionally, they can use binoculars to track an airplane or watch the birds sing and play in your neighborhood. Being a rather unique present, they are also cost effective.

  • A Piggy Bank
piggy bank

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Do you want your child to know the value of savings? A piggy bank makes for a fantastic gift then. Piggy banks are available in a broad range of styles and colors, as well as shapes and sizes.  Choose a piggy bank that your kids can associate with and become their bedroom companion. 

  • A Personal Diary

Research suggests that girls are more expressive than boys. They love to share their opinions and emotions. Although, it can be hard for them to share their thoughts in front of people. So, why not give them the private space they need by gifting a personal diary? 

Choose a diary with your kid’s favorite cartoon theme or color. As kids grow up, they face a multitude of emotions that they might not be comfortable to share with their families or friends. This is why a diary can be an amazing tool in helping them cope with their feelings.

  • Streaming Subscription

In today’s internet-driven world, nothing could excite your kid more than the subscription to their favorite live streaming platforms. You can buy your kids a one-month subscription for any popular streaming subscription from Netflix to Disney+. 

Choose the genre they like to watch the most (most likely the cartoons channel) and help them find new favorite shows or movies. 

Just remember to enforce time to go outside and be active. While a streaming subscription is a popular gift, you do not want your kids spending all the time in front of a screen.

  • Musical Instrument
child playing music

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Not all children are interested in music. However, most kids love toy musical instruments, especially a piano. Whether you are celebrating their birthday or enjoying Christmas with your family, a musical instrument makes a wonderful gift idea for the young ones.

Buy them a toy piano and guitar and allow them to play their favorite song. Even if they are not interested in music, they will love to experiment with these instruments. 

Plus, it may foster them learning the real instrument later in life.

  • Room Décor Materials

A less-known fact about children is that they love to decorate their rooms. Haven’t you seen your little ones trying to paint their bedroom walls with their favorite sketch color?

 If you want to buy your kids something unique and interesting, then room décor materials can be a great idea.

Provide them with photo frames that they can hang on their room walls and help them find their favorite pictures. Other room décor ideas are wall stickers, cute mugs, fridge magnet, Disney characters, and more. Let them decorate the room the way they want to make it truly theirs (but do not forget to still supervise!)

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

How to Improve The Image Of Your Company

Perception is everything. That’s true for life and true for business. If the public has a favourable view of your business, then you’ll find that it’s much easier to find success. If they don’t, then there’ll be little trust, and in general, they may be less inclined to give you their custom. The bad news is that the image of your business is something you always need to work on; you can’t take it for granted. The good news is that it’s always possible to nudge things in the right direction. We’ll take a look at some tried and tested methods for improving things below. 

Pic Credit: Pexels

Review Your Operations 

If you’re going to move in the right direction, then you need to know where you are. So the first step should be to take a look at how you’re currently working, and scrutinising which aspects of your operations are contributing to a positive image, and which are not. We often get so stuck in a specific way of doing things that we don’t always realise as quickly as we should are detrimental to our company. So take a look — what could be improved, and what should be scrapped entirely? You might just find that you can improve the image of your company just by making a couple of changes. 

Look Professional

The professionalism of a company runs deeper than the surface presentation that they portray. It’s about having all aspects of the company tight. Things like your email address, for example. If you’re using something like ‘[yourbusinessname]@yahoo.com,’ then you won’t look as professional as you would if you were using ‘contact@[yourbusinessname].com.’ Everything can be changed to look more professional. If you’re working from your home, then click here and sign up for a virtual office. That’ll give you all the benefits of having an enviable address, without the high price tag associated with actually renting it (or travelling to work there). 

Tell Your Story

Every company has a story, and it should be kept quiet (providing it’s not an evil story!). People like to know the human factor behind the business, so shout it loud. It might not be all that interesting to you, but it is unique, and people will be interested. As well as helping people to develop a connection to your business, you can also use your story as a way to build your credibility and establish your expertise. 

Solving Problems

You can’t present a positive image when everything is going well. It’s when things go wrong that your image will be tested. So take a look at how you’re currently responding to problems; could things be better? Every company in the world makes mistakes. That’s not the issue. It’s how you handle those mistakes that count.

Delivering Quality 

Finally, there’s the most important factor — delivering quality. Ultimately, there’s no hiding when it comes to the quality of your products or services. Focus on always improving, and you’ll be on the right track. 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

How to Work Effectively from Home

working from home

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Working from home seems like the dream. You can get up when you want, work in your pyjamas, take as many breaks as you like and do your work in your own time. In theory, it sounds fantastic, but in practice, it is rarely as idyllic as it seems.

Although some thrive in a home-working environment, many people struggle to muster up the necessary motivation required to be sufficiently productive. When you’re not subject to the rules and deadlines of the office and the watchful eye of management, what’s there to keep you working as hard as you should be?

Whether you’re a permanent home worker, or temporarily telecommuting in light of the coronavirus pandemic, you may find it a struggle to be productive when working from home. If this sounds like you, the following tips are designed to help you work as effectively as possible, while still enjoying the freedom and flexibility that home working can offer.

Establish some rules

One of the main reasons it is so hard to work well from home is that the boundary between your home life and your work life is blurred. When you have to commute to an office, you instantly snap into work mode the minute you sit down at your desk. But when you are compiling spreadsheets from underneath your duvet, it’s a little more challenging to get into the right mindset. Make an effort to establish a workday routine. Set a scheduled time that you must wake up and start work each day, and an absolute cut off point to stop working in the afternoon. Although it may seem like an effort to put clothes on, changing out of your pyjamas will put you in the right frame of mind to get the job done.

Create the right environment

If you’re lying in bed with your laptop on your knees, it’s no wonder you can’t be productive. The quality of your work environment is crucial to your productivity, so make sure you set the scene before you start work. Sit at a desk or the kitchen table, and make sure your surface is neat and tidy. An organised workspace creates an organised mind and will enable you to think more clearly as well as find everything you need for work. Remove all distractions like phones or the TV on in the background, and if you live with other people, make sure they respect the fact that you have to work.

Talk to your employer

One of the reasons you might find it hard to work effectively from home is that your employer has not set you up to do so. Regular communication with your manager and other members of your team is likely essential, so make sure you have the tools to do so effectively. Are your communications systems up to the task? Do you need more guidance in completing your work or organising your schedule? Talk to your employer and make sure you have everything you need. If you don’t have an effective communications tool to interact with other members of the team, then you will fall at the first hurdle. You may need to suggest to your boss that they invest in a better system. Many companies, such as Unified Communications Provider Gamma, offer solutions to improve the communications processes within various businesses. This may be just what your company needs.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Neon Funding – holiday money saving tips

aeroplane wing

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We have always loved travelling and had so many plans for 2020 however earlier this year the world has been turned on its head.  No one of us could have foreseen a global pandemic of this magnitude.  I am consoled by the fact we are all facing this together and doing our best to get through it.   I am however living for the day when we get to travel again. I really cannot wait.  That feeling of going through the airport is something kind of magical – the excitement amongst our kids is so evident.  What I thought I would do is set out some of the ways in which we save for our holidays. We travel a lot and the only way we can do that is careful saving, budgeting and deal shopping.

Deals, Deals, Deals

The Queen of the deal…that is me! I do really love a good bargain. I sign up for all the airline newsletters so I can be the first to hear about deals, sales etc. I also make use of Sky Scanner alerts to keep track of flight prices. I make use of sites like Groupon to search for deals on meals and attractions in the country or city im going to.  I have had lots of success with this all over the world.

Neon Funding – financial tips

money jar

Pic Credit: Pixabay

One of the things I always do is keep a loose change jar and cash it in just before we head away. I have been pleasantly surprised many times on how much I have had heading away for example a recent trip to Toronto the money jar had the equivalent of almost CAD$300. I really didn’t expect it to be that much, I was thrilled.

I know this sounds simple and but it is a lot easier said than done. Budget your total requirements for the trip including spending money and start putting a small bit away each month or week whichever suits. It can be so easy to get tempted by high interest credit cards but try to avoid them they are so costly in the long run. If you do find yourself in a position with some high interest debt do look at companies like Neon Funding  can help with this.  One thing I vow to myself is to try not to get into debt for a holiday as it can be so hard paying it back when the holiday is long over.

Practical tips

Some practical tips to conclude:

  • Consider travel insurance and look at the small print
  • Be aware of the cancellation policies on the booking you just never know
  • Look at what your mobile phone providers date usage policy is – I have heard of people coming back from holidays to massive bills as they hadn’t checked their providers policy on roaming.
  • It heading to far flung remote destinations factor in the cost of any jabs you might need. These can actually be quite expensive so do some research on it.
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Mamma Musings

Fixing Up the Family Home or Make the Move

How far should you go when fixing up your home? Should you just get the basics done and leave it at that? Or should you take a more long-term approach and try to add as much value to your home as possible? These are questions most homeowners ask themselves, and there are arguments to be made for each of the options open to you. Or you could you turn it on its head and move home!

There is Always Room for Improvement

The fact of the matter is, there’s always room for improvement. No matter how great your home is, there will always be things that you can or even will want to improve. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, though. On the one hand, it means that there will always be new ways in which you can add value to your home and make it more appealing to future buyers. On the other hand, it might mean that you keep doing more and more, and the task eventually overwhelms you. You don’t want to spend all your time and money on home upgrades.

Your Home Should be Unique to You

On a basic level, you want your home to be unique to you. No one wants to live in a dull drab home that they don’t feel suits them and their personal preferences. And that’s the main reason why people spend money on improving their home. If this is the mentality that you’re bringing to the table, you will probably not be thinking about the value that can be added to the home or what future buyers might want. This applies to the vast majority of people who fix up their homes and make changes.

However, a Unique Style Might Put Off Future Buyers

On the other hand, making your home unique to you can be risky. When you create a home design that is specific to your own preferences, you could put off other people. You might be wondering why this matters. You don’t want to sell your home, so why does it matter what other people think of it? Well, you might not want to sell your home now, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t want to at some point in the future. When that time comes, you don’t want people to be put off by design choices that are a little out of the box.

It’s Going to Cost You Money

If you want to make changes to your home, you’re going to have to spend money on it. This is just the way it is, and you should try to make sure that you improve your home in an affordable way. Remember, if you can make positive changes, the value of the home will rise. But it may be worth considering if moving house would give you the requirements at a lower cost.  People are often surprised that the cost of moving can often be cheaper than undertaking major renovation work. One thing you could do is take a real estate education course. Doing a course like this from for example AstroFlipping can pay off hugely in the long run. By educating yourself in the area of real estate you can really make a very good long term investment. 

But Your Investment Might Pay Off

The investment you make in your home might pay off if you make the right decisions and do the right things. This will help you to get the most from your home when it comes to selling because you will have made the most of your asset. You should definitely try to make sure that the upgrades you make to the home are all things that add overall value to your property. Not all changes you can make allow that, but many do. Think about what matters to real estate agents and buyers.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Homeschooling resources we love

The current normal if you could even call it that is almost surreal. If you told me this time last year in a years time I would be working from home full time, home schooling my kids as the schools are closed and delivering my lectures all online. I probably would have either laughed or fainted or both. Covid has turned the world as we know it upside down. We have had to quickly adapt to this new world and to be honest I have to hand it to my kids they are the unsung heroes of the moment. Not a moan or groan. They are getting on with life and homeschooling. Not every day is full of enthusiasm for it but we are all doing the very best with it.

I thought it might be handy to compile our favourite home school resources and share them in a post as they have proved invaluable for us in helping our kids continue with their learning in these strange times. Back in 2018 we did a huge renovation and I insisted on a home office which was fully kitted out including a HP Deskjet 3720 printer which may have been little used up to now but not lately!! It is quite literally in every day use. One of the things I will say is bookmark a link to your reputable ink cartridge site like Cartridge Save trust me you will thank me later.  Ink has been a very much used and loved commodity in this house.  We buy the HP Ink cartridges and on average get around 300 pages per cartridge. My printer has a double sided print function which we use all the time. Its very handy to to save on paper.

Our current favourites are below, but if you do know more leave them in the comments below and I can add them later:

Twinkl

I cannot speak highly enough of this resource. We use it every day and it is suitable for the whole school ranging from pre school upwards covering the entire spectrum of  subjects.  There are many options from printable’s to power points on certain topics. There has also been themed resources such as Easter or summer packs which cover a range of activities from colouring sheets, to word searches to quizzes. I would literally be lost without it.

The Gruffalo

My little man loves the Julia Donaldson books, I think I can quote many of her books off by heart at this stage.  Particular favourites are The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.  The above link is a treasure trove of themed material so if you have a fan in your house this is a fantastic resource for printing themed worksheets. We have downloaded The Gruffalos 20th Anniversary worksheets to work on this week.

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Mamma Musings

Cobalt Advisors – Getting your financial affairs in order

When people use the term “getting your financial affairs in order” it is often thought what is meant is sorting your affairs in older age or a palliative care situation but its so much more than that and people need to be thinking of it as an ongoing thing not just a one off.  This is something that comes up often and over the years of financial services experience I have gleaned some tips in this area.

General tips

Pic Credit: Pixabay

This is going to sound like I am stating the obvious but keeping your documents such as policy documents, insurance details, mortgage and loan contracts all in an easily accessible place kept together is very important.  There is nothing worse than in a total panic trying to locate a policy documents or mortgage contract or statement. Its no harm to tell somebody you trust too as you just never know the circumstances you might need to locate them in a panic and it such circumstances remaining calm can be challenging.

Perhaps its the accountant in me but I do love lists and spreadsheets!! I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to know how much a typical month or week costs in your household. For example knowing the nice to haves versus the essentials. This really helps with planning.

Another thing I often do is keep a note of when my utility contract renewal dates are.  I do spend time researching to see if there is a good deal out there for example by switching provider or by signing up again getting a loyalty discount. I have been known to haggle too! With mixed success im afraid.

Cobalt Advisors

It is always important to seek the help of experts. They are experts for a reason, they have spent likely years learning their trade and can provide more advice and guidance than google ever could!  One thing that comes up time and time again is to be careful of high interest debt.  This type of debt can generally be accessed easily but the problem being it is often very costly as a result.  The general consensus is to pay off your  high interest bearing debts first, this is highlighted too by investor.gov. By removing your most expensive forms of debt it will pay off in the long run. Companies such as Cobalt Advisors  have dedicated phone lines where you can seek advice and assistance.

The importance of taking control and maintaining control of your financial affairs can’t be stressed enough. It will enable you to have such peace of mind.  Its not always easy and it can be hard not to get stressed in the face of mounting debts however taking a deep breath and taking time to seek expert advice and guidance will certainly help.  There tends not to be a quick fix when it comes to finances but patience yields rewards and in the long run you will be happy you did it.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post