Family

Important Decisions for New Parents

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

There are many new decisions that new parents need to make when bringing baby home for the first time. Hopefully, you will have already decided on a name, so at least that is out of the way. However, there are many other things that need to be considered when planning how to raise your child in those early weeks and months of their life.

There are many, many different resources on the best way to raise your child online and so it can be overwhelming to look at a whole host of contradicting ideas. Luckily for you, the way you raise your child is entirely up to you. All babies are different, and while some methods may work for one child, they may not work for others.

Finding the right balance and understanding your child’s needs takes time, especially when they can’t speak or express themselves any other way than crying or laughing. There will be a teething period for you, as much as there will be for them later on in life, and so it is essential that you are not afraid to make mistakes, you are as new to this as anyone else, after all.

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Family

When’s the Right Time to Start a Family?

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

As you age, it’s normal to think about what the future holds. Most of us grow up with a template in our minds that we assume we’re going to follow at some point. The typical pattern involves falling in love, committing to each other and having a family. Now, this formula isn’t for everyone, but many people do want to become parents. If you don’t already have children, and you’re thinking about parenthood, you may be wondering if there’s ever a perfect time to welcome a new addition to the family. If you find yourself in this situation, hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful.

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Family, Self-Care

Ready for a Baby? Here are Some Things you Need to Know

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

So, you and your partner are thinking of starting a family? That’s a big deal, and it’s something that couples both fear and look forward to at the same time. To put your mind at ease, you need to take the right steps now rather than later. It’s the only way to make sure that you don’t start creating problems for yourself. There are so many areas of your life that can be improved in order to set the ground for the family you’re about to start. Read on to learn more about those key changes.


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General, Home Improvement

How to Keep Weeds Off Your Lawn

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

When it comes to family life, nothing beats a garden your kids can play in. Families in apartments and even in some homes would do anything for an outside space. And, those of us who have this benefit should remember how lucky we are. Every kid deserves the opportunity to play outside when they want to. Time spent outside is good for exercise, education, and a myriad of other things.

(Related post: 6 Things Every Kid Should Do Before They Grow Up)

But, if you don’t take proper care of your outside space, you’ll soon find that you can’t leave your kids to play there. The area will become overcome and riddled with weeds which you don’t want kids getting hold of. This is especially the case for those with toddlers. You don’t need us to tell you that your little one will put things in their mouth the moment they get hold of them. Certain garden weeds are toxic and could do real damage if ingested.

With that in mind, it’s essential to keep on top of the weed situation in your backyard. There is, of course, one small issue. Use of toxic weed agents can do just as much, if not more damage if your little one gets hold of them. So, you can hardly spray the garden in the same way you would have before. Instead, you need to turn to natural ways to whack weeds into shape. Luckily, we’re going to look at a few of the methods you might want to fall back on.

It’s getting hot out here

In truth, there’s no need to turn to toxic methods when you have a kettle and some water to put in it. Boiling water is a fantastic way of stopping weed growth in its tracks as it kills plant growth on contact. In no time, you’ll be able to rid yourself of those pesky weeds. All it takes is pouring water straight from the kettle onto the problem areas. This is especially useful for annual weeds at certain times of the year. It can be helpful in getting rid of perennial weeds as well. Even better, you should start to see results as little as an hour after use. The hot water will kill the plants if poured on the leaves and stem, and cause them to wilt. Then, you can pull them up easily.

Bear in mind, though, that this method is best left for weeds in pavements and oily areas of your garden. Boiling water will also kill your grass. So, pouring from the kettle straight onto those pesky lawn weeds would be a costly mistake for sure. Mud garden, anyone?

You’ve got the power

If hot water doesn’t heat up your weed battle, you could always attempt to overpower the weeds in question. This works exceptionally well on lawns, using a method called aeration. This service is offered by companies like Atkins and involves punching holes into the soil on your lawn. These holes then provide space and nutrients for your grass to grow strong and healthy. These, in turn, will help your lawn fight weeds. If you enjoy the results, it’s also possible to buy aeration tools of your own and keep the practice going. The method is especially useful in fall and spring. These are the times in which your lawn could do with a little helping hand for the coming season.

Equally, simple lawn care tips, such as watering your grass and mowing, can help tackle weed worries. The healthier your grass, the more chance it has of beating weeds to all that nutritional lawn-packed goodness.

Weeds which can’t breathe

Smothering weeds also seems to be a favorite non-toxic option. You don’t need us to tell you that any plant needs water and light to survive. Without these conditions, it doesn’t stand a chance. The weeds will wither, much like your houseplants do when you don’t put them near enough to the window. Only, in this instance, that result would most definitely be desirable.

Again, you need to bear in mind that this isn’t a practical option for lawn weeds. You would only manage to smother your grass as well. But, for plants on the periphery or sprouting from bare soil, this could be the ideal solution. You can even make this work in your flower beds by making holes in the paper for your flowers. Then, all it takes to achieve the desired effect is some wet newspaper, and mulch to spread on top of it.

The long haul

And, of course, you could always remove those weeds by hand. Sometimes, you can’t beat getting down on your hands and knees and tackling the issue this way. It’s undoubtedly one of the most reliable means of addressing the problem. If you get to the root of the issue (pun intended), then you shouldn’t have to worry about those weeds again for some time. Tools such as weeders can make this task easier to tackle, as can softening the ground before you begin. Make sure you aren’t leaving anything behind which could lead to regrowth, too.

Aside from keeping your lawn healthy, this is one of the only ways to tackle lawn weeds. And, after you’ve done this one, you’ll find that it isn’t quite the task you’re expecting. Weeds may spread fast, but you can act more swiftly by checking your lawn each morning. That way, you can pull weeds as soon as they appear, and save yourself being out there tugging roots for hours on end.

A final word

In truth, few of these are long-term fixes for weed growth. But, the same can be said for toxic weed killer alternatives. Even so, returning to these methods whenever you spot an infestation can ensure your kids are safe to play whenever the mood takes them. Even better, you won’t have to wait until the area is safe to let them out again. With a method like the boiling water technique, they can head back out in a matter of hours.

Self-Care

Four Healthcare Products You Should Keep Stocked!

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Considering the majority of people will experience minor pain, problems, and cuts or grazes on a regular basis, it’s surprising how limited our knowledge and understanding of these things tends to be. So, it’s time to start brushing up on your knowledge. Here are a few healthcare products that you should always have easy access to, alongside added information on when is best to use them and in what way!

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are two of the most commonly taken painkillers. Acetaminophen helps to relieve pain and reduce high temperatures or fevers, while ibuprofen eases the pain as well as inflammation or swelling. What’s more? The two can be taken together, so they generally form the basis of people’s pain relief and most homes will have them within easy reach. While these tablets should be stored well out of the reach of children or pets, it’s best to ensure that you’re stocked up on them at any given time.

Surgical and Compression Stockings

Following any form of surgery, it is generally recommended that the patient wears surgical stockings, otherwise known as compressions stockings. These serve to place pressure on the lower part of your legs to improve your blood flow and circulation. So it’s always good to have some of these stored away at home just in case!

If you haven’t already, invest in Discount Surgical Stockings. As well as serving you after surgery, they can also come in handy if you fly regularly, or are booked onto a long distance flight. Staying still on a flight can increase your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and swollen legs. Wearing compression stockings can counteract the effects of stillness and changes in air pressure during your flight.

Band-aids

While it’s not every day that you will cut yourself, it’s good to have band-aids in your first aid kit should you experience a minor accident of some sort. While it may be tempting to leave small cuts alone, you should always clean them thoroughly and use a band-aid when there’s one available.

The band-aid will protect the wound from external influences, keeping it clean of bacteria or dirt. This helps to speed up the healing process. Band-aids also have the added benefit of creating a barrier between the wound and friction caused by contact with clothes.

Eye Rinses

Whether you have direct contact with your eyes on a daily basis (perhaps you put contact lenses in and take them out regularly), or you barely touch them at all, you can experience tired, sore, dry, or irritated eyes at any given time. This can be triggered by allergies, debris or foreign substances touching the surface of the eye or excessive rubbing. An eye rinse or eyewash can help to cleanse, soothe, and protect the eye’s surface should needs be. This will almost always prove more effective than water alone. So take a look at the different brands and options available to you and keep a bottle nearby.

These are just a few different products that you should always have in your home to help secure your health and wellbeing!

Family, Self-Care

Finding a Balance Between Careers and Motherhood

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Trying to make your career work alongside being a parent is hard. Being a mother comes with a side order of guilt. We feel guilty if we are working and contributing to the family because that takes us away from time with our children. We feel guilty if we don’t work at all, believing that we aren’t putting enough into our home and our bank balances. Guilt is the ingredient of motherhood that often traps tired mothers into a decision about their career that they do not want to make.

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When you’ve had a baby, you get two choices, but they aren’t really choices as they depend on your income. You can choose to stay at home and be a parent, or you can go back to work.

There’s a secret third option, in that you can choose to retrain and find a career that suits you better around your children and family. Whether you have decided to stay at home, retrain or go back to your job, you have taken on double the responsibility: you’re a parent and you are an employee.

Trying to find a balance between your career and your newfound responsibility as a mother is tough. It’s not going to be easy to retrain, either, because even if you find a job with flexible shifts like nursing, it’s a long road and not all about Greys Anatomy pants and McDreamy!

You have to try and find the balance between the challenges of shift work and the responsibility of the children at home. It’s important not to compare yourself to other moms out there. It may look like everyone has their act together, but it’s more likely that they don’t, and comparing yourself is only going to make you feel bad about the way that you balance things.

To find more of a balance between home life and work life, you have to treat your home life as important as your career. Family events shouldn’t be flexible because work events wouldn’t be. There is no guilt toward your job because family comes first. Your job may pay the bills at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to live and breathe it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your schedule changes, but make it clear to your employer that you must be balanced at work. If you choose to retrain into another profession, find out whether your new career path offers flexible working hours or fixed shifts. Your family will rely on you to be there for them and yet you may still need your job for independence. If your job isn’t going to feed into your success, then a change is necessary.

Balancing motherhood and a career isn’t easy, but it can be done with perseverance and patience. It’s a struggle that happens to more than just moms, too, as it’s a human thing to struggle with finding a life balance with work. Give yourself a break – you are human and you matter, too.

Finding a Balance Between Careers and Motherhood - The Southern Smiths: Make sure your kids don't get lost in the hustle and bustle!
Family, Self-Care

First Trimester Mini Survival Guide

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You’ve tried for the perfect little bundle of joy, and here you are in the beginning stages of your first trimester. There’s a mighty oak the size of a poppy seed burrowing down in your womb, and other than feeling excited, frightened and happy, you’re probably feeling all the joys that the first trimester brings. The first trimester of pregnancy is arguably the toughest trimester of them all, and not just physically. You’re dealing with the emotional side of praying that your little poppy seed will root and stick, and you’re hoping and praying the first ultrasound provides that comfort of a healthy little heartbeat flickering away.

Image source whether this is your first baby or your fourth, you need to know that every single pregnancy is different. I’ve learned this from experience! I’ll be having my third child in the next 17 days! Different symptoms, aches, pains, and emotions happen with each baby, and dealing with those is tough! When your head is hanging down the toilet bowl and you are revisiting your breakfast, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be thinking about your prenatal fitness, but you are still thinking about your health. The thing is, the first trimester can bring you so many quirky symptoms that managing to stay healthy when fruit and vegetables make you vomit is hard! So, what is it about first trimester that you need to know the most?

You need a good support system.

It goes without saying, pregnancy is hard. You’re a hormone casserole and you need people to tell you that how you feel is valid – even when you are overreacting. Always seek advice from a doctor if you are concerned about any pains or symptoms that are extreme, such as constant sickness. However, your family and friends should be around you and support you as much as possible.

You need to sleep.

If this is your first baby, the one thing that you should spend as much time doing before the third-trimester kicks in is sleeping. Once you hit the home stretch before labor, insomnia and restless legs kick in. Alongside this, your bladder seems to shrink to the size of a walnut. Sleep is hard to come by beyond the second trimester, and then there’s a baby keeping you up. Relax. This is your pregnancy and your time to bloom. Let it happen in peace.

Learn to combat sickness.

You may not have full of vomit drama throughout your pregnancy, but nausea and food aversions could still factor for you. Read here some cool tips and tricks to hold off nausea and the vomit and use trial and error to see what could work for you.

Prenatal vitamins are not a joke.

Forgetting your vitamins could make the difference between a healthy baby or not. Don’t miss out on yours and set an alarm every morning so that you don’t forget to take them. Make it the evening if the morning sickness is too much.

Your pregnancy is a time of joy, as it should be. You should do what you can to make your pregnancy happy, relaxed and calm. A storm in a teacup is coming, and it’s a cute one!

Family, Self-Care

Four Essential Health Checks For The Entire Family

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

While many people spend January searching for New Year’s resolutions to stick to, you might be wiser opting for a bit of lifestyle checkup. As a responsible parent, you want the best for your kids in every shape and form. There’s no better place to start than with their health.

Running to the doctor when they have a rough cough or a persistent earache is one thing, but what about heeding the edict that prevention is better than cure. Take a look at these four essential health checks that the whole family should undergo so that you’re ready to start 2018 fit, healthy and happy.

Teeth

Although the dentist may not be everyone’s favorite medical professional, the health of your teeth and in particular, your children’s teeth, is paramount. Sugary sweets, drinks, and candy can contribute to a range of dental issues including cavities, enamel reduction, and gum disease.

The best way to prevent these problems becoming painful and widespread is for a regular checkup with your local dentist. It may take a while to find an individual that your little darlings are comfortable with. That’s ok. You should locate a professional who has experience working with children and has a pleasant demeanor. By getting your cherubs opening their mouths wide at an early age, the dentist phobia won’t have a chance to embed.

Eyes

It pays to visit an optometrist nearby to monitor the vision of your nearest and dearest. From an early age, eye exams are crucial to the health of our eyes. While it’s rare for there to be any serious issues, a qualified optometrist can pick up on any early signs of short-sightedness or astigmatism that may need correcting with glasses. If you have a family history of vision issues or you or your little ones are diabetic, it’s even more crucial that you keep up with your eye exams.

Ears

Ear infections are less common in adults than in children. Often pain from the inner ear isn’t caused by a bacteria but by a buildup of wax. Although it doesn’t sound the most pleasant examination in the world, taking your kids to an ear clinic could prevent them from getting a condition such as glue ear which can cause hearing loss for a short time. The nurse will be able to pick up on infections, prescribe antibiotics if needed and also clear wax by syringing if this is the appropriate course of action. If ear problems are persistent, the clinician will also discuss a further course of action with you.

BMI

Although weight shouldn’t be made an enormous focus for children growing up as we want them to have a healthy relationship with food, it’s important that you monitor their weight on the sly to ensure they are remaining within a healthy range. In the USA around 20% of children are obese. It’s vital that your child doesn’t become a statistic.

Getting a health overhaul at the beginning of the year can set you on the right course for 2018. Happy New Year!

Family, General, Self-Care

6 Ways To Deal With Empty Nest Syndrome

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Most parents dread the same thing, and that is the day when their children move out. Even though it is exciting to see kids move off to start their own lives in the world of work or at college, it can still be quite upsetting for the majority of parents. After all, your babies have left after a lot of time together!

After their kids grow up and leave, most parents develop empty nest syndrome. This is when you experience extreme emotions and feelings, such as grief and loneliness. Thankfully, though, there are many ways you can prevent this syndrome from setting in once your children do move out.

So, are you expecting to say goodbye to your little ones over the next year? Here are some tips that can help you stay well away from any symptoms of empty nest syndrome!

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Downsize

When the kids move out of your family home, you will be left with their empty bedrooms and a lot of extra space in your house. Many people find that all of this excess space reminds them that their children no longer live with them, and this can worsen their feelings of loss and grief. There is one solution to this, though.

Home downsizing involves moving into a smaller home. When you and your partner find a house that is big enough for you and all your belongings, you will find that the home doesn’t feel quite so empty and you won’t rattle around in it so much. It’s still a good idea to get a new house with a spare bedroom, though – your kids will want to come back to stay sometime!

Talk To Your Partner About Your Feelings

I’m sure that your partner will be going through the exact same emotions and feelings as you are once your children move out of your family home. I’m sure that you will both benefit from being open and honest about what you are going through right now. Plus, talking about any issues will help you feel like you’ve let a weight go from your shoulders. You might even be able to come up with ways each of you can try and take your minds off things for a while.

Get A New Hobby

Now that you don’t have to spend so much time caring for and looking after your kids, you will have a lot more spare time to yourself in the evenings and on the weekends. So, why not do something useful with your time and get a new hobby?

Not only is this a great way to spend all your new free time, but it will also take your mind away from the loneliness and sadness that might have been getting you down since the kids moved out. If you have been meaning to get in shape for a while, now is your chance to do it by taking up a new sport for a hobby.

For example, you might want to look into joining a local running club so that you can start running and meet some new people. There are lots of hobbies that don’t involve sports if you don’t like getting active. For instance, how about joining a book club or taking part in a cooking course?

Get A Pet

Some couples like to fill their empty nest by bringing a new pet into their home. Your kids might be jealous of this new pet and they might even threaten to move back home! Joking aside, though, this is a good idea as it provides you and your partner with a brand new companion.

You’ll find that a new dog or a cat can bring a lot of joy into your home, and you won’t be quite so lonely anymore. Another benefit that comes with getting a dog is that it will help you stay fit as you will have to take it for a walk each and every day. If you and your partner are at work every day, you should try and get a peaceful breed that won’t be too bothered about being left alone all day.

(Related post: Don’t Forget Your Dog This Christmas!)

Keep In Touch With Your Children Regularly

Just because your kids have moved out doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch with them! In fact, if they have moved quite far away from you and you will no longer see them on a regular basis anymore, there is, even more, reason for you to try and keep in regular contact with one another. And you will find that keeping in touch can help to alleviate any loneliness or sadness that you might have been feeling. So, if you are ever feeling a bit down and miss your kids, pick up the phone for a quick chat with them!

Make Some Plans

Quite a few parents find that making plans helps to take their mind off their empty nest syndrome. So, it’s worth taking a look at your calendar for the coming months to see if you have any time to plan some days out or vacations. You and your partner might like the idea of going away to an adults-only resort, for example. Or perhaps you want to book a weekend away with some of your friends.

In fact, why don’t you visit your child and his or her new town or city for a weekend? You will, hopefully, find that packing your calendar with plenty of plans can help you to stay busy and can turn all your thoughts of sadness to excitement instead! If you do book some holidays, it’s a nice idea to see if your kids want to join you on a few of them as well. You will find that they will never be too old to accept a free trip away with their parents!

Hopefully, you won’t end up suffering from the empty nest syndrome for far too long. The ideas above should help you change your sadness to happiness!

Cleaning, General, Home Improvement

5 Tips for Freshening Up Your Home

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

There’s nothing more disappointing that feeling as though you’ve lost some of the passion and excitement that you once had for your home. However, it is a pretty natural thing. After all, you’re never going to be able to live in one place for years at a time without becoming so familiar with it that it loses some of its excitement. Of course, that’s not the way that things have to be!

Before you decide that your only option is to pack your bags and move somewhere else, why not try a few of these simple ideas to help bring you home back to life?

(Related post: Thinking of Moving to a New Country?)

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A new coat of paint

You would be shocked at how much of a difference a simple coat of paint can make the way that your home feels. Without even having to change a single structural element of it, you’re able to create a new and fresh atmosphere all throughout your home.

The kinds of colors that you choose are going to be down to you, but it’s worth taking some time to consider which ones you want. A lot of people tend to avoid using too much color on their walls for fear of it turning out garish and ugly. And while that’s a sensible idea, in theory, people often take it much too far. Having every single wall in your home be either white or magnolia is going to make the place feel dull and uninspired. Why not embrace color and go for some splashes of vibrancy throughout the house?

Of course, painting your entire home can be something of a chore, like there are companies like this painting company who you can hire to handle that side of things for you. You get to be in charge of the creative stuff while leaving the legwork to the professionals.

Rearrange the rooms

Sometimes the issue that a lot of people have in their homes is that the way the rooms are arranged are either inconvenient or uninspired. Moving things around can make a room feel like a new space. A lot of people make the assumption that there’s a single “right” way to arrange any given room and it’s usually the most obvious and boring way possible.

Why not break out of that mode of thinking and try something a little bit different? Be a little bit creative with how you arrange the rooms in your home; you might end up finding something that’s unusual, but incredibly effective.

Of course, if you do decide that you actually preferred things the way that they were, you can just move things back to the way they were. And that kind of change in your home isn’t going to cost you anything more than the time it takes to move some pieces of furniture around!

Refurnish

Speaking of furniture, it can often have an even bigger impact on the way a room feels than the room itself. After all, most homes are little more than blank canvases for people to use things like furniture to decorate upon.

Now, you might be thinking that the idea of refurnishing rooms in your home is going to be expensive but that’s not the case. For one thing, if you’re willing to look around places like thrift shops and second-hand stores, you can often find some incredible deals on beautiful pieces of furniture.

Not only that but you don’t have to replace every single piece of furniture in your house. Sometimes finding a couple of attractive statement pieces for your home can create a much greater degree of visual interest in the rooms that there had been before.

Create more space

One of the biggest complaints that many people have about their homes is that they don’t have as much space as they would like. The thing that a lot of people fail to realize is that creating space in their home is much easier than you might think. Many people assume that you need to fully renovate and extend your home in order to make more space but in reality, a few subtle changes can make all the difference.

For one thing, the arrangement of the rooms can help you to create a much better sense of space. If you’ve got things sitting in the middle of the room, then you’re not using the floor space as well as you could be.

Not only that but if your home is cluttered, then it’s never going to feel especially spacious. Make sure to use your storage areas effectively so that you don’t end up with things spilling out and taking up areas that you’re actually trying to use.

Don’t forget the outdoor spaces

People have a tendency to exclusively focus on the interiors of their home since that’s the part of it where they spend most of their time, but if you want your home to feel as full of life as possible, you can’t neglect the outdoor spaces.

For one thing, the front of your property is the first thing you’ll see when you come home every day, by making sure that it’s well presented you’ve always got something pleasant to look at the moment you arrive home.

Not only that but an overgrown garden is enough to make anyone feel stressed so many sure that you put garden maintenance on your list of regular chores so that it’s not something that’s  hanging over your head.

A lot of people assume that the kinds of changes that you need to make in order to improve and revitalize their home are going to be expensive and therefore not worth the effort. Hopefully looking at these simple tips has shown you that that’s not the case. The reality is that if you want to improve your home, there are plenty of options out there that are effective but that aren’t going to cost you the earth.