24 June 2015

Why Are We Putting Up With The Impacts Of Urinary Incontinence? #WorldContinenceWeek

This week is World Continence Week (22nd - 28th June 2015) which is aiming to raise awareness about the taboo subject of bladder weakness issues and to mark to occasion, Femifree have surveyed 2000 women about this which reveals the true impact of Urinary Incontinence. 

Just under a third said they have suffered from bladder weakness for the last five years with 48% of them saying that they believed that pregnancy and child birth was the reason why they had bladder weakness. 35% said they are embarrassed by it yet  68% of those surveyed have never consulted their GP regarding their bladder weakness, just getting on and putting up with it. 

We all know that after having a child you need to exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Some of us (me!) were a bit blasé about this when I was told and didn't even really try when I first had Thomas 6 years ago but then paid the price when it came to having more children. 

You see because of where your pelvic floor muscles are (The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that help to keep your bladder, vagina, uterus and bowel in place, they also help you control bladder and bowel movements), it means that when pregnant, the baby basically sits on them for 9 whole months and pushes them down, stretching them and making them weak which can cause loss of bladder control. 

It isn't just pregnancy that causes this though, the pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscles in the body, if you don't exercise them they can lose tone and strength causing symptoms of urinary incontinence. The most common type, Stress Incontinence, is when the pelvic floor muscles are weakened so pressure on the bladder results in leakage which can happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, stretching, exercise and even have sex.

Two in five women say they are unaware of methods that can help them treat their UI/weak bladder, 46% have tried pelvic floor exercises/kegels but 32% find that this don't help with their bladder weakness and that they don’t feel like they make any difference.

Femifree is an innovative solution that treats the underlying cause of the problem which is clinically proven to gently strengthen the pelvic floor muscle for the effective treatment of urinary incontinence.

Other stimulation devices have to be used internally which puts off a lot of women but Femifree is placed around the upper thigh and buttock area and electrodes then stimulate the area to cause the pelvic floor muscle to contract, effectively exercising it.

It is recommended that you use the garment 30 minutes each day, 5 days per week for 12 weeks for full results but users will start to notice a real difference after around 4 weeks.

You can see how Femifree works by watching this video:

Using this treatment could give women such a better quality of life as the shocking stats that Femifree have revealed from their survey shows just how many women are affected by this on a daily basis.

According to the Femifree Lifestyle Report, 50% of the people surveyed worry about laughing in public because of this exact reason, they have no bladder control. I actually feel sad about this. I am such an advocate of talking out about your problems and speaking as much as possible to end the taboo around them. I try to write about these hard to talk about subjects as much as possible to help other women who feel embarrassed and maybe give them a little help and encouragement to do something about it.

It's not just about being afraid to laugh like I have mentioned above. Many women, 43% in fact, say it has affected the clothes they choose to wear with a fifth saying that they wear dark clothing to hide any leakage and worry that their work colleagues may notice how often they take toilet breaks.

Check out this Infographic from Femifree to see some of the stats that they collated together:

So if you are one of these people that have been suffering with urinary incontinence in silence, please seek help, there are many ways that you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscle and it's not uncommon so shouldn't be something that you embarrassed to talk about.

It's more common than you think and us women need to unite to make sure others don't feel uncomfortable about talking about this or talking about anything that affects them so badly. Get talking!

19 June 2015

Win The Kiqplan Goodbye Baby Bump App

Over the next few weeks I will be trying out and trialling the Goodbye Baby Bump app from Kiqplan and, to help one of you lovely readers to say Goodbye Baby Bump, I have also been given one copy of the app to give away too.

Kiqplan is a line of 12-week personalised training plans from Fitbug Ltd and the Goodbye Baby Bump fitness app has been tailored specifically for women looking to regain their pre-pregnancy body. This range of apps has been designed by personal trainers, dieticians and qualified fitness experts to provide you with a personalised training plan, including “how-to” workout videos, nutritional advice, healthy recipes, sleep and step targets, plus much more and has been designed to work in tandem with most smart phones and leading fitness-trackers, including Fitbug, Jawbone, Fitbit, Misfit, Nike+, iHealth and more.

The app itself uses real data it receives daily from your device and turns this into a 12-week personalised training programme that also provides lifestyle tracking of sleep, weight, and water intake, weekly schedules that include your workouts for the week, customised targets, tips, articles and recipes.

All the workouts have been divided into four phases starting out at the first phase which is all about light weight and gentle exercise and the second phase builds on from this with a gradual raise to heavier weights and more challenging exercises.

It then gets harder as the third phase is a total body circuit workout. Giving you help to get an overall body tone and to increase fitness levels. Phase four is a peripheral heart action circuit which will get the blood pumping around the body, maximising calorie burn, increasing fitness levels and help to shift some of that stored body fat to get you back to that pre-pregnancy fitness. 

The Kiqplan fitness apps are priced at £19.99 and the Goodbye Baby Bump app is available on Amazon and in Argos stores, or ready to download on the Apple app store and Google Play, as well as from the Kiqplan website.

Tracking everything every step of the way and helping you to gain peak fitness without exhausting yourself out. So, I have one copy of the Goodbye Baby bump app to giveaway. For your chance to win this fantastic prize, to fill in the Rafflecopter app below. 

Please remember to check our full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 6th July 2015

17 June 2015

5 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress

Let’s face it, raising a family can be tough and you might often feel as though your stress levels are soaring. The good news is, there are some simple ways to relieve the strain, and here are five of the best.

1) Learn a musical instrument
It’s never too late to start learning a musical instrument, and this can be a great stress buster. As well as the pleasure of the music itself, picking up a new skill like this can give you a sense of achievement and it can increase your confidence. In turn, this can make it easier to cope with life’s pressures. Don’t worry if you’re not sure which instrument to choose. Specialist suppliers like Caswell’s Strings offer rental services, meaning you don’t have to commit to buying a particular instrument until you’re sure it’s right for you.

Photo by tiverylucky from freedigitalphotos.net
2) Get active

Exercise is another effective way to lower stress levels. Research shows that physical activity can reduce the risk of stress and depression, and it can help to increase self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. Then there are the added health benefits of exercise. For example, it can cut your risk of serious conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes by up to 50 percent. The key is to find activities that you actually enjoy and can keep up. Whether it’s jogging, cycling, working up a sweat in the gym or playing your favourite sport, there’s no shortage of options.

3) Try yoga
Yoga is another tried and tested way to combat stress. As well as being a good form of exercise, it helps you to improve your breathing and it teaches you effective relaxation techniques. In turn, this can ensure you’re better equipped to deal with the challenges life throws at you. Don’t be put off if you find it difficult to relax at first. Yoga is a skill and you’ll need to practice it before you start to reap the full rewards.
Photo by photostock from freedigitalphotos.net
4) Get a pet
Getting a pet could also help you to relax. Studies have revealed that owning dogs or cats can be an effective way to bring stress levels down. One piece of research conducted by a team from the State University of New York found that stock brokers who owned pets had lower blood pressure in stressful situations than their counterparts who didn't have animals. Of course, if you do decide to get a pet, you’ll need to make sure you choose one that fits in with your lifestyle and household.

5) Take some you time
Last but not least, it’s helpful if you can set aside some you time every once in a while. Having a break from childcare duties is a great way to relax and recharge. Whether you go for a pamper session at a spa, hit the shops or simply enjoy a soak in the bath, being able to take a little time for yourself can do wonders to reduce your stress levels.

16 June 2015

Win A Meat Cuts Apron With Qwerkity

Father’s Day is coming up soon on Sunday 21st June and it's so easy to get stuck in a rut, not knowing what to buy and just going for the boring slippers, or even worse, money in a card. That's where Qwerkity comes in...

Qwerkity offer, practical, fun and unusual gifts for men, many of which are perfect for Father's Day. Ranging from quirky, traditional and unusual gifts you won’t have seen anywhere else. They also offer a range of personalised items so you can gift something truly unique.

The easy to navigate website offers something to suit every dad and every budget with their quirky style to give something different on Father's Day. Such as this cool Meat Cuts Apron which no doubt any BBQ mad dad would love.

This Meat Cuts Apron will make a fun and practical present for any carnivorous cook who doesn't know his flank from his rump and I have been given one to give away on my blog. For your chance to win, just enter below...

Please remember to check our full T&C's here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. 

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 30th June 2015

14 June 2015

Dr Brown's Wide Necked Baby Bottles

Over the past few years, I have tried only one certain range of bottles with the boys and never really had to change them with either Thomas or Charlie but Joseph has been different. He has been windy, fidgety when feeding and a very sicky baby. If you've ever had a very windy baby, you will know my problem and just how much it effected Joseph. 

He would fidget so much after a bottle, you could tell he was in pain from the trapped wind. It came as a bit of a shock as the older 2 never really had a problem in this department so I did some reading up as to what could help me combat this issue. That's when I came across Dr Brown's and their bottles which some have hailed as 'life savers' when it comes to feeding time. 

Dr Brown's Natural Flow baby bottles feature a patented internal vent which is designed to create no vacuum in the bottle and reduce air bubbles in formula which helps to reduce colic, burping and wind. And because there is no vacuum in the bottle, it also stops teats collapsing in too.

According to Dr Brown's, babies will feed more comfortably as the vent allows the baby to feed from the bottle without having to fight again a vacuum and the force it creates and also stopping babies ingesting discomforting air bubbles. 

We were sent a pack of 2 Dr Brown's Wide Necked Bottles to try out with Joseph and give our feedback as to how they worked for him. This pack included:

240ml Dr Brown's Wide Necked Bottles x2
Dr Brown's Level One Silicone Teats x2
Two-piece patented vent x2
Cleaning brush

The day they arrived, I sterilised them and then waited till feeding time to get one ready. Making the bottle up was easy as usual although I did notice that you couldn't shake the bottle without it leaking. After having a read up as I thought there was something wrong, I learned that you aren't actually supposed to shake bottles as that can cause more air bubbles in the milk and are instead supposed to mix or swirl the bottle to dissolve the formula. 

I set the bottle up, left it to cool a little and Joseph was ready to try his new bottle...

After getting over the initial shock of trying a new bottle, Joseph took to it well. I noticed that whilst feeding, I didn't need to remove the bottle from his mouth to let it fill back up with air and that the teat was staying in shape without being sucked in. 

I as a bit worried after the first bottle as he seems to drain it so quickly. I did wonder if the teat hole was too big but it didn't seem to affect him at all. In fact, I think that because he wasn't struggling with trying to swallow air bubbles, like he did when using other bottles, that his milk just seemed to go down better and he'd finish it fairly quickly. 

To say that I was shocked was an understatement. No crying when his bottle had gone, no wriggling in pain. Instead, as I sat him on my knee to rub his back, out popped a burp, follow by another, without any discomfort for Joseph. 

It was great to finally feed him without worrying out windy and sickliness afterwards. The only annoying part was cleaning it afterwards. It comes with a cleaning brush for the vent but trying to scrub inside it and make sure any milk residue is gone can be quite annoying and fiddly but I guess it's a small price to pay for a smiley, happy baby. 

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with Dr Brown's bottles and can now see why so many parents swear by them. You too can help your baby to be wind-free as Dr Brown's bottles are available from Boots and many other retailers. 

11 June 2015

A birthday Haul Fit For A 6 Year Old!

A fortnight ago it was Thomas' 6th birthday. 6th... his 6th birthday... how has that happened?! I really don't know how time has flown so quick. In the blink of an eye he is growing into his own unique individual person and it's great to see how he grows and learns each day, exploring the world. 

But our oldest son, Thomas, no longer likes the toys that he already has, growing up and now preferring toys for older boys but still having the ultimate love for all things wheeled. For that reason, we obviously went for some new cars and trucks. Being obsessed with the emergency services, I knew that he would love a new fire and rescue command centre and some bikes to go with it. 

To match Thomas' Fireman Sam set, we finished his collection by getting him the quad bike which he had been wanting for ages. He had spent so long saving up and collecting the whole Fireman Sam toy set and this was the last piece to complete it. 

As a May baby, he is lucky as survey of 1,000 UK adults by the Post Office gift card, One4all, has revealed that May is the month Brits would most prefer to be born in as not only does the sun shine most of the month but there are 2 Bank Holidays which gives those extra days off to celebrate. This is opposite to December which has been voted the worst month to have a birthday in as, being so close to Christmas people don't have as much money for presents and it's usually rubbish weather too. 

Within the survey there were some results that stood out to me as odd. Apparently, 1 in 4 people feel having a birthday outside of the school holidays makes celebrations more enjoyable. I don't know who that 25% of people are, but for me, the school holidays is so much better as it means you have more options, no school run to get up for and those extra special days with family. 

So it looks like Thomas has landed on his feet by being born in May, especially since his birthday falls just before the 2nd Bank holiday, as he grows older he gets the extra long weekend to celebrate his birthday (we usually go away that weekend as a surprise) and when he's a grown man, he'll be able to celebrate his birthday and then have a few days to re-cooperate before going back to work. 

But for now, lets get back to him being 6 year old and show what else he got for his birthday...

Thomas has a new love for anything Marvel, it is something he talks about all the time and so I knew that he'd love a fab Spider-Man web shooter. I don't usually like him having guns and things like that, but this shoots foam webs which fly around the air rather than being able to hurt anyone and so I didn't mind. 

We then got to work finding the Avengers figure collection for him. Unfortunately, we couldn't find Captain America anywhere on the websites we were ordering from and knew that Thomas, although be pleased what he had received, he would be a bit sad that he didn't have his favourite character. 

Then we were saved by One4all who sent me a gift card to spend for Thomas' birthday and so I was on a mission to scour the stores to find the elusive Captain America. Luckily, One4all gift cards can be spent is a whole range of stores and after some searching, I eventually found Captain America in ToysRUs and quickly purchased him, knowing that Thomas would be delighted with this present. 

Captain America sit proudly in place with the rest of his Avengers co-stars that Thomas also got for his birthday, the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. What's more, they all have buttons on their chests and when pressed, will talk to each other.

To finish off the toys that he received from us if Thor's hammer. Again, like the Spider-Man shooter, I was apprehensive about getting this as I imagined Thomas thinking he was Thor and beating people with it. Luckily, the hammer has soft foam edges and is light weight so he couldn't actually hurt anyone with it. 

When Thomas opened his presents from us, to say he was excited was an understatement. He couldn't believe just how much he'd received and has not stopped playing with it all, having adventures with Charlie and the Avengers figures and saving people with the rescue vehicles. 

What's more, he then got to open presents off everyone else which has left his bedroom packed full of fun new toys. 

Now we just need to start looking for what to get Charlie for his birthday...

9 June 2015

A Bedroom To Grow In To - My Ryobi Revamp

For the past couple of weeks, Ryobi have challenged us to try and revamp and existing room of ours and see if we can improve its use with a couple of their products to help. I decided to choose the boys bedroom.

Before The Revamp
Ever since we moved in to this house 6 years ago, the boys bedroom has been the same. A bit bright in the paint stakes, one wall being dark green, one blue and the others light yellow and green. Back then, my non style conscious self, thought this was fine. I didn't need to decorate because these are all colours that would suit Thomas and grow with him.

Well wasn't I wrong. Now, 6 years down the line, the green has faded, the dark blue is looking tatty, not mentioning the fact that Charlie has used the walls as his own personal race course for his cars, they are now also covered in scratched off paint and lines where the wheels have scraped the walls. 

Then we go to the bed situation. Thomas was fine and had a gorgeous solid pine single bed which cost us a fortune. I loved this bed and thought it would last years. This became a problem though when Charlie moved into the room too. Realising that this single bed was so bulky with the solid wood, that it took up most of the room and therefore, Charlie has been sleeping in a junior bed since he went into the room.

There is not enough room to fit 2 singles in there and have room to move around and bunk beds are just too high for Charlie at the moment, so we got a bit stuck as to what to do.

The overall décor was a mixture of old things that Thomas used to like. Fireman Sam curtains, a canvas each of Fireman Sam and Baby Loony Toons which are personalised with their names and a Winnie The Pooh clock. As you can see, no real theme going on. And the cupboards didn't make it any better.

When purchased them, I assumed that the fabric style cupboards would be perfect as it meant that I could easily locate and find whatever item of clothing of theirs without having to search drawers. That was all well and good, but they don't half make the bedroom look tatty with all the clothes being on show. 

Design Stage
So now was the time to come up with a new design for the room. The boys love the Avengers at the moment, so I was tempted to buy a huge wall mural for the main wall and use that as the base, but then I got to thinking, what happens when they go off Avengers and I then need to redo the whole room once again. 

So I changed my mind, instead going for a cream base to the room. This would not only give a blank canvas to work from, but it makes the room look bigger and clean and tidy. Plus, if Charlie decides to drive his cars along the walls, it is easy to touch up. Buying plain blue curtains and bedding to give the room a boyish colour and means that they will never grow out of them. 

There was one aspect of the room that I was dreading doing, the drawers. I knew that we were going to use some gorgeous pine drawers that had been put in the spare room, I just didn't know how we were going to fix them up as they were wobbly where screws had come loose and they had gloss paint marks on the top from when we'd painted the spare room.

Thankfully Ryobi were on hand to give us some help and sent us some tools from their One+ range. The One+ range is the number 1 tool and battery system. You see, it's one collection that can fit together. All the tools in the range feature the same battery and charger so there is no need to purchase different ones and fill your tool shed up with different chargers. You can buy any tool (with over 20 in the range) then expand your family without the need for additional batteries and chargers.

First up, they sent us the Ryobi 18V Cordless Drill/Driver for all our drilling and screwing needs. This really did come in handy as the drawers that we had were really old and worn. all the screws needed to come out and new ones went in to tighten and hold it together solid.

The drill was super easy to use as, after the battery has been charged you can just get to work. It has a magnetic plate which holds the screws until you need them so you don't have to worry about having to hold extra screws in your hands.

Having a drill will now come in handy, especially from my husbands point of view, as he's no good at DIY at all. In fact, he once tried to fix our cabinet by hammering the screws in. Yes, as you'd imagine, that didn't work. It means that he can now use screws without a hammer in sight!

After all the screws were in, the drawers were sanded with the help of the Ryobi 18V Cordless Random Orbit Sander. This came with 3 sanding pads which attached to the sander easily with the help of heavy-duty Velcro to hold them in place.

The Ryobi Orbit sander is so quick to use, just click the battery into place, press the switch and off you go. I started off slowly, in circular motions, going around the top of the drawers and focusing more on the marks that were worse than others. I was actually surprised how quickly the paint stains came off as I was sure that they wouldn't be fully removed.

Using the sander has brought them up looking clean, actually looking brand new, with a neat finish to them as you can see below from the before, during and after photo.

- Please note that whilst using a sander, you must wear a mask to stop dust from getting into your system and make sure you are in a well ventilated area, preferably outside if possible. 

What's more, the battery that fits all the tools has a little button, which when pressed, shows how much battery is left so you know when it needs charging and you just simply need to slot it into the 18V One+ Charger and within 1 hour it will be fully charged which is great if working to a tight schedule.

I then had to combat the bed situation. After research and searching loads, I came up with an idea which I thought was genius...

Instead of trying to squeeze in 2 single beds or having bunk beds which are just too high for a 3 year old, I bought a midi bed. Just the one, and thought of a creative way of making the boys own, lower down bunk beds. This was simple as midi beds have a lot of space underneath so this meant that we put one mattress on the top, which became Thomas' bed and the other mattress underneath, at floor level, which became Charlie's bed.

A perfect way to get 2 beds into one room and save space at the same time. And it worked! There is enough space between the bunks and will last the boys years to come without the fear of them outgrowing the room now there is only one bed taking up space.

After - The Results
The midi bed was fixed together with the help of the Ryobi drill and the new curtains, duvets and a light fitting were put up too which gave us our boys bedroom base for them to grow into throug the years.

As the boys love the Avengers, we decided to finish with this theme but wanted to make sure that it could be interchangeable for if the boys then start liking something else. To make it easier to change, we bought a huge canvas to go across the main wall with a matching Avengers wall decal and clock. Some neatly placed out Avengers figures that Thomas got for his birthday were placed out to finish the room off.

That's it,we are done. One bedroom, designed to be easily changeable as the boys grow and with a great space saving idea from the bed, whilst reusing old furniture which had been fixed up with thanks to Ryobi. 

8 June 2015

Let Us Women Unite To #EndEmbarrassment

I think as a nation, we are probably the most easily embarrassed. We don't talk about personal things much and if you do mention anything like that, people seem to clam up and want to change the subject as they're feeling embarrassed. 

That's why I'm not shocked by the results of The Vagisil Blush Index that reveals the shocking levels of embarrassment that exist amongst British women about something that’s so important, intimate health.

Vagisil spoke to 2,000 British women about their attitudes and embarrassment towards the subject and nearly half (47% in fact) felt embarrassed when the word ‘vagina’ came up in day-to-day conversation. In fact, more than half (53%) said that they replace the word ‘vagina’ with another word so as to not feel embarrassed having to say it. 

In fact, when I wrote a recent post about pelvic floor muscles and incontinence after pregnancy, one of my friends messaged me to ask how I could write about things like that as it's too embarrassing and that although she hated to admit it, she had been suffering and was glad to read that it was normal. 

It doesn't surprise me though as I know loads of people who wont even speak about anything intimate health related. What does surprise me is that 31% of those surveyed said that they have never spoken to their GP about an intimate health problem with 15% saying that a problem then became worse because they didn't talk to their GP about it. 

When it comes to the media, it seems a bit of both side from the results with 70% saying that the way the media portrays women’s bodies makes them feel less confident about their own body but on the flip side nearly a third of those surveyed said they feel that TV programs such as Embarrassing Bodies have made them feel more confident about discussing their own private health issues. 

I can definitely relate to this. You can't switch on the TV, read a paper or magazine without seeing a beautiful woman telling us that we need to 'lose weigh for summer' or which celebrity has the 'perfect bikini body' which you can clearly tell has been the work of surgery and air brushing. It doesn't give a clear reflection of true women and it does make, even me, feel self-conscious at times. 

I think for me personally though, I like to talk about the things that most people find embarrassing. Especially after going through pregnancy and everything that happens during and after, there isn't much information on the embarrassing parts such as bleeding, pelvic floor muscles and incontinence, and so that is why I write about them on my blog. To put new mums at ease that everything they are going through is normal. 

So I am glad that Vagisil is on a mission to end the embarrassment that exists around intimate health, and do something about this issue with the #EndEmbarrassment Campaign. It’s about time embarrassment was tackled to make sure that every woman feels confident enough to pay attention to their intimate health and do something about it when needed.

Women should be able to ask for help and advise when needed without fear of embarrassment. Those 11% of women that have an embarrassing question that they want to ask but have never done so shouldn't feel ashamed about bladder control, itching or any other problem that affects them. 

For more information about the campaign, or if you need any intimate advise or products, you can visit the Vagisil website who are running the #EndEmbarrassment and if you are suffering in silence with a problem that you find embarrassing, please do visit your doctor for advice. 

6 June 2015

Mum Tries | Miraclesuit Tankini & Skirt

When it comes to swimwear Miraclesuit need no introduction. They are the market leader in the shaping arena for both swimwear and shape-wear with the tagline "Look 10lbs Lighter in 10 Seconds" and are guaranteed to flatter, shape and streamline your silhouette.

For a new mum like me, it is a dream come true as it has three times the "holding power" of the average swimsuit and accomplishes this without the conventional girdle control linings, simply engineered like no other swimsuit in the world. making us mums look and feel beautiful. 

Patricia Eve are the sole UK distributor for Miraclesuit swimwear and feature all the new season and latest styles on their website as well as listing stockists for the brand. They were lovely enough to send me out a lovely Miraclesuit tankini and skirt set to try out for myself.

Wearing swimwear can be quite daunting after giving birth as, not only can you have stretch-marks and the like, but your body will have also changed and it is a lot to get used to. Miraclesuit make this process easier as their suits hug to your body and hold you in to give you back that shape without having to ditch the doughnuts.

One of my main concerns when first wearing the Miraclesuit, was that I would feel as though I couldn't breathe when wearing it because of all the sucking in control. That was far from the case though and it is not only comfortable but it also gave me a much more flattering silhouette.

I chose a tankini set as I much prefer these rather than a regular swimsuit. Opting for a skirt bottom to cover up hips and the tops of my legs. It's weird but after 3 pregnancies, the part of my body that I am most self-conscious about is the tops of my legs.

The tankini top is black and white with an animal print design which not only looks stylish but also takes the eye away from the figure and on to the design instead whilst the skirt is black and matches the edging on the tankini top without looking too in your face, as you would if the whole set was animal print.

The side ruching helps to disguise those pesky muffin-tops and the padded bra lining gives the bust support whilst smoothing out curves. The tummy control is great and the suit is really flattering to wear. It shapes, hugs and slims the body to give you a really nice figure and it doesn't feel too tight or restrictive whilst on.

Overall, I love the Miraclesuit tankini and skirt set as not only does it fit perfectly whilst hugging to my body and giving my comfort and piece of mind whilst out in the sun, but it does actually do exactly what it says, making me look 10lb light, if not more, without having to diet or worry.

And that is something that all new mums like me just want to do, to be able to feel comfortable whilst at the beach, swimming or just chilling in the hot weather, without having to worry about our figure, our lumps and bumps and just having fun instead. 

5 June 2015

Babycademy Music Time Programme

The first 12 months of a baby’s life are such an important time when it comes to physical, sensory, intellectual and social development and it's a great help if you set a range of experiences for your baby to respond to during this time which will promote optimal brain development and support these key development areas in their first year.

That's exactly why Babycademy was created. Babycademy is an award winning Music Time package which has been developed as a learning programme to help encourage babies physical, emotional and mental development focusing on 6 areas, language skills, intelligence, sensory development, fine motor skills, large motor skills, and social skills. It helps babies to understand and learn in their environment whilst giving you and your child a chance to bond and spend fun, quality time together. 

The Music Time kit is made up of music-themed classes for you to enjoy with your baby whilst at home and at your own pace. Containing over 10 hours of original songs, activities and stories, along with a set of educational toys for a fun way to help your baby to practise new skills as they grow. 

Incorporating touch, sight and sound in to each part, the kit focuses on repetition to support memory development and concentration. And by focusing on the repetition of these routines in the kit it helps babies to build their knowledge particularly in terms of thinking processes and problem-solving abilities.

It has customised singing and reading activities that link sound and movement with routines to encourage the development of motor coordination, a sense of rhythm, and listening skills. All allowing your baby to engage and learn early on in their life to help and give them a head start in the future years.

During the Music Time kit, there is a tummy time activity which is perfect for young babies and tummy time is so important for a growing baby. All babies should have a bit of tummy time each day as it helps them gain control of their body as they learn how to hold their head up straight and move about to engage with their environment, developing their large motor skills and fine motor skills in turn. 

The Music Time programme is made up three phases which become more complex as your baby develops. Each phase is made up of various interactive lessons that create rich sensory experiences for your baby, and that also allow parents to relax and have fun while enjoying this structured quality time. Starting at just five minutes, and going up to 20 minutes, lessons and activities can be tailored to suit your baby’s needs and unique development.

We started using the kit as soon as it arrived and what's great is that there is no fixing together or batteries required and the the instructions are simple and straightforward to follow throughout. The music introduces them to the world around them, tummy time and themselves and Joseph loved it. Even though he is now still only young at 16 weeks old, his eyes light up when the music comes on and he's even started kicking his legs to it too.

I have tried to include the boys in with the play also, getting them to do the actions and control Wilson (which Thomas loves to do) whilst Joseph is watching. It's nice to see the bond between them grow as they play together with the kit, the older boys both singing along and doing actions which Joseph seems to find hilarious.

Overall, I am impressed with the Babycademy music time kit and how, in these few weeks that we've been using it, Joseph has started recognising it and the music when it starts. It will be great to see how Joseph progresses over the coming months with the kit as he becomes more mobile and gains his motor skills to be able to join in more.

You can find more information about the Music Time kit and purchase it from the Babycademy website.

Online Bingo - My Favourite Pastime

On a typical weekend, once you are done with your work, ever wondered what to do next? To combat boredom and monotony, try playing bingo online and you never know when you hit one of those big jackpots!

Online bingo is quite an unpredictable game. Sometimes your luck may support you and at times it may not. I have been an ardent bingo fan for more than 2 years now and I would say there’s nothing like it.

Back in the days, before I started playing bingo, I didn’t know much about it. That was until one day a conversation struck between two women which seemed rather interesting to me. Online bingo was suggested to me by one of them. I took a look at it and in no time got hooked on to the game. The best part about online bingo which I particularly loved was its social factor. You get to socialize with hundreds and thousands of people from around the globe.
Photo by Salvatore Vuono from freedigitalphotos.net
Now I don’t feel lonely anymore at home. The moment I am free I log in to a popular bingo site, New Look Bingo being my favourite. I like this site particularly for all its interesting bonuses, promotions and loyalty schemes.

They also have offer first three deposit bonuses. On my first deposit I got 500% bonus, while on my second and third deposit got a whopping 350% and 300% bonus respectively. For those who don’t understand what bonus is, it’s like free money. So you can play games with it and even withdraw your wins. Good deal, huh? In case you are still lost, the way I was initially, you can reach out to the customer service reps with any queries. I have been playing on this particular site for over three months now, and have made quite a few friends who are also equally active on the site.

New Look Bingo has this amazing community feel and is well designed with an extremely user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. Apart from bingo games, the site also has a wide selection of other games which include tournaments, slots, casino, scratch cards and freebets.

So come play here at New Look Bingo today and grab all the benefits the site has has in store for you.

3 June 2015

How To Stay Healthy During Exam Period

Examination time for many students may seem quite nervous and restless, especially if you study abroad. Sometimes parents are more nervous than the students themselves. They are always talking about this topic and frightening their child with stories of terrible failures. Meanwhile, at this time all the students need the most relaxed friendly atmosphere, understanding and love from both parents and their student flat London colleagues.

It’s just the right time to lower passions and moderate parental ambitions. It is much more important to maintain physical and mental health of a student than to get good mark. It is important to firmly know that no matter what you receive on the exam, the love and faith of your parents will always remain the same.

Here are some tips that can help to stay healthy, make life easier and increase productivity during exam period.

Deep sleep
Healthy sleep schedule is one of the most essential things to survive before an exam. Lack of sleep is extremely bad, so it is good to set a target of getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Working at night instead of sleeping can lead to opposite results.

Photo by tiverylucky from freedigitalphotos.net
Healthy diet
Food is incredibly important. Maintaining a healthy diet will help students feel better and give the body healthy ingredients that will enhance productivity. Rich in amino acids, fish (such as tuna and salmon) will improve the chemical balance of the brain and the ability to understand educational material better. Walnuts and flax seed are also strongly recommended, being popular in the struggle for the maintenance of concentration. Wholegrain food slowly releases glucose into the bloodstream and allows you to stay longer in excellent working condition. Interestingly, blueberries may also improve short-term memory.

Keeping a clean workplace, making lists and storing the documents in order - all these little things help in preparing for exams. It is also helpful to schedule each day to avoid spending too much time on one subject over another. It would be also nice to know how much time you usually spend on each topic to organize your time effectively.

Physical exercise
Physical activity before exams or during the preparation improves memory and the ability to force the brain activity. Walks in the fresh air won’t damage your health. Go to the gym, meet up with friends - pleasant emotions will add strength. Even a small joy may help you stay healthy and reduce stress before exam.

Scottish Friendly Takes Over Britain's Oldest Company

Before having children, I worked at a legal firm, a job which I loved. A job that kept my brain ticking in such a fast paced environment. Nowadays, when I'm drowning in baby milk and washing, I keep my head in the game by keeping up to date with current news and was keen to find out more about Scottish Friendly and their bid to take over Britain's oldest company.

Can you imagine owning a piece of British history, well Scottish Friendly, one of the UK’s biggest financial mutuals, has taken over the business of the oldest registered company still actively trading in the UK, Marine & General Mutual.

The deal to take over the UK's oldest active registered company is Scottish Friendly's largest takeover to date and will double its assets under management to roughly £2 billion. At the end of April the deal was unanimously approved on behalf of Scottish Friendly members and was also backed by an overwhelming 96% in the vote from M&GM members. Final approval was received on the 22nd May from the High Court in London.

The takeover of Marine & General Mutual by Scottish Friendly is such a mark in history as M&GM is Britain’s oldest company with a registration number 00000006. The five firms that were registered with lower numbers than M&GM no longer exist. 

Marine & General Mutual was founded in 1852 as UK Temperance & General Provident Association to insure Victorian teetotallers. Some early customers include several passengers on the Titanic back in 1912

Fiona McBain, Scottish Friendly’s chief executive said:
"We are delighted to welcome M&GM policyholders and members to Scottish Friendly. The addition of M&GM business to Scottish Friendly is a tangible outcome of our strategy to diversify and grow the business for the benefit of all our policyholders. The takeover of M&GM has doubled Scottish Friendly’s assets under management to over £2 billion and will give us additional economies of scale that can drive further efficiencies and increased value to all of our policyholders, including those transferring from M&GM."

If you want to find out more information about the companies and the takeover, you can read this Daily Record article.

- This is a sponsored post

2 June 2015

Stylish Summer Baby Fashion

I am obsessed with baby and kids clothing, in fact I think Joseph has enough 3-6 month clothing that he could wear a new outfit every day. I just can't stop buying things, especially when I come across the designer baby brands. 

It's just something I do. Some people buy shoes and bags, I accumulate children's clothes, even sometimes months in advance, just to beat the sales and stock up.

I had never bought branded clothing when the older boys were babies, but after coming across the Pumpkin Patch brand whilst I was in House Of Fraser, I have made sure to stock up on their new designs and quirky outfits for Joseph. At the moment, sticking with their summer range which has a mix of cool summer looks to stylish sets all perfect for a cute little boy. 

This week we got 2 new pieces for his collection. The Pumpkin Patch Baby Boys Polo Bodysuit is made from 100% cotton and it is super comfortable and breathable. The khaki green stands out from the usual blue colours for boys and the polo top design makes it great for formal-wear if you have an event you're attending but want your baby to be comfortable in soft clothing.

Even though it looks like a polo top, it is actually like a vest as it covers right over the Joseph's nappy and fastens underneath which is fab for those warm days where we are going somewhere nice so want to dress him up, but don't want him being over warm in a top and vest. Because of its style, it can be paired with virtually any bottoms. Jeans, joggers and shorts would work well with it.

My favourite outfit has to be the Pumpkin Patch Baby Boys Check Shortie which is just adorable. Again, made from 100% cotton it is a must have in your little ones wardrobe. An all-in-one outfit with a super stylish kick, perfect for summer.

This outfit comes with poppers between the legs for ease of access during nappy changes and means that, with the help of the side buttons, it is easy to get on and off. A white base with red, black and grey checks and little pocket detail on the front, it just stands out and oozes baby cuteness. The one thing I love about this outfit is that it is very generous in size, giving breathing space between the skin and material to keep Joseph cool during the warm days. It also means that this will fit him for months to come.  

I am now a lover of Pumpkin Patch kids clothing and their styles. Just the sheer quality of their clothing ranges and different styles they choose that just show that all babies don't need to wear boring clothes, they can be stylish too!  

Which Family Occasions Are Worth Saving For?‏

Something you take for granted when you have children is just how often you'll be saving for something or another. Not only do you have to focus on Christmas and Birthdays, but holidays and then occasions such as Christenings and Mother's/Father's Day. It's safe to say that throughout the year, we are probably always saving for some event, even more so now we have 3 children.

I think there has got to be a point where you stop though and think that there are just too many occasions to save for and instead choose the ones that are worth saving for and stick with them. For me, this is anything family based, so birthdays, Mother's/Father's Day and then things way off in the future that need to be in the back of your mind from the get go. 

Photo by nokhoog_buchachon from freedigitalphotos.net
We were lucky as the boys were all born at different times of the year, Thomas in May, Charlie in September and Joseph in February which means that we have a few months between each to do some saving up for them.

Working out how we could afford them all, I decided to start putting £10 a week away into a savings account. This means that each year, we save £520 which is more than enough to cover the 3 birthdays, maybe just a little needs adding to if we decide to throw a party, but other than that, it covers all their toys, cake and days out for their birthdays without skinting us at the time. 

Mother's and Father's Day
Personally, I find these days very important. I don't do celebrating our birthdays, it's just another year for me, but celebrating our parents and everything they have done for us, and what we do for our children, I think that is important. Just to say thanks for being there really. 

Every year we do something special. Take our parents out for a meal or even, like last year, take my husbands mum away to the coast for the day, just something on that one day of the year, just to let them know how much you love and thank them. Although letting the boys get crafty for gifts is just priceless!
Future Occasions
Who knows what will happen in the future. Our children might leave school and go to university, they might want to travel the world or they might even have a baby of their own, all of these things cost, and cost a lot. What I want to make sure is that they have a start in life when they get to adult age whatever they decide to do.

Ever since the boys were born they have had a savings account of some sort, either a Child Trust Fund or a Junior ISA. These were very important for me as they are investments in their futures. Each month, money goes into their accounts which adds up over the years until they're 18 and can get access to the money which, by then will be around £4,000 (give or take a little depending on interest and inflation etc) which will give them that start to do whatever they want. 

Right now, I don't have a clue what my children will be when they're older, but I know that they'll have that helping hand when they enter adulthood. Whether they use it for further education, a lads holiday or any other special occasion, I don't care as long as they enjoy doing it!

Which occasions are worth saving for in your family?‏

1 June 2015

Vaping: A Better World

We all have bad habits in life that we’d like to change and there are few worse habits than smoking. Anybody that smokes knows it is killing them slowly and there aren't too many of us who could actually say we love it. 

To be honest, it’s the same with almost every bad habit. Overeating, heavy drinking and even nail-biting: none of them serve us particularly well. Smoking, however, is perhaps one of the greatest vices and the one that will undoubtedly hurt us the most. 

People can save a fortune when they start vaping - at least 60% of the money they spent on cigarettes. Plus, they won’t smell like an ashtray anymore! There are other benefits to vaping, including potential health benefits, no burn marks on the sofa and a variety of tasty flavours to choose from. 

Vaping is a great alternative to smoking and has created a number of converts, including a few big name celebrities. There are definite advantages to vaping, rather than smoking traditional cigarettes; indeed, most health organisations have come out in support of e-cigarettes, such as the Vapouriz e-cigs. People who are in favour of e-cigarettes include: 

Leonardo DiCaprio 
The star of The Beach, Inception and Romeo & Juliet created a real stir at The Golden Globes when he and Julia Louis-Dreyfus vaped inside the awards ceremony last year. 

Katherine Heigl 
Heigl is another big name celebrity who openly vapes. The star of Grey’s Anatomy has appeared on The Letterman Show with an e-cigarette on the go and is a long-standing supporter of the vaping movement. 

Charlie Sheen 
Sheen really needed to kick a few bad habits. The actor endured a public meltdown that led to him being fired from the most popular sitcom on TV – Two and a Half Men. On the comeback trail, Sheen was regularly seen vaping on an e-cigarette. He liked it so much, he decided to launch his own. 

Snoop Dogg 
Lots of other celebrities have jumped on the vaping train, including legendary smoker Snoop Dogg. Like Sheen, the legendary rapper has signed his own deal to create an e-cigarette of his own: The G Pen. 

These celebrities have kicked the worst habit of all, now you can too. It's just a case of researching and finding out which e-cigarette is best for you. You can pick up some fairly great e-cig starter kits which have everything included so you can give vaping a go straight away.

So, what are you waiting for. Put those cigarettes down and get vaping to help kick the habit!

5 Tips to a Clutter Free House

Household clutter often seems to have a life of its own. Slowly growing and taking over cupboards, corners, table-tops and pretty much any space that'll have it - the rising tide of clutter is the bane of the modern world.

Clutter doesn't just make your home feel over-crowded and messy, it makes it harder for you to relax and think straight. Clutter is essentially a pile of unmade decisions, or jobs you've put off until a later date.

So, let's look at 5 simple ways to start de-cluttering right now.

Get Rid of the Things You Don't Need or Use
Go through your house from top to bottom, weeding out anything that you can do without. Be ruthless. If you haven't used something in the last six months, chances are you're not going to use it in the next six months either. Throw it out or give it away. You'll be surprised at how much junk you're hoarding! Be totally honest with yourself. Half the stuff you're holding on to 'just in case' will never be used.

Use Simple Storage Solutions that Save Space
Have a look around for clever ways to store your things. Plastic bag holders, shoe organisers, pan lid racks, filing trays, key hooks - a small investment in this type of thing can go a long way to help keep your home more organised.

A Place for Everything....
If something has a proper home, it's less likely to end up hanging around where it isn't welcome! Set up a simple filing system for your bills and paperwork. Organise your draws and cupboards so you know exactly what goes where. Make sure the things you use regularly have a dedicated space where you can get to them easily.

This extra level of day-to-day organisation will save you time as well as money. No more rushing round trying to find things when you've forgotten where you put them, or buying something you already have three of!

Get a Storage Locker
Storage lockers are a fantastic way of freeing up space in your house while still keeping hold of things that are valuable to you. There are many good self-storage units that you can hire for the short or long term. They come in a range of sizes, so you can store anything from ornaments and jewellery to larger things like furniture. You'll have no trouble finding something that's right for you.

Have Regular De-Clutter Sessions
Once you have your home looking and feeling calm, peaceful and organised, the next step is to keep it like that. Schedule 30 minutes once or twice a week to do a quick run through your house, clearing things away and getting rid of anything you no longer need.

Although clutter gathers quickly, it really doesn't take much to keep on top of it once you've organised things and had a good clear out. The benefits of living 'clutter-free' are too numerous to count and you may even find that de-cluttering your house leads to striking improvements in other areas of your life too. Try it and see!