Best Bits for 2014

This time last year I shared my most popular posts of the year, and I really enjoyed looking through what you, my readers, had appreciated the most. I decided to do the same again this year, so with the exclusion of giveaways and review posts, here are your top five of 2014.


Christmas 2014

I've just been looking back on the post I wrote at the same time last year, sharing our days before and over Christmas. It's lovely to look at all the photos and the times we had, so why not do the same this year? The last few days have flown by and I can't believe it's all over already and we are rapidly approaching 2015! Here's a quick snapshot of the best moments of the last two weeks.

Your Youtube #7

It's getting so close to Christmas and I am starting to really get into the festive spirit. I keep having those warm and fuzzy moments when I thin about the big day and seeing the childrens' faces when they come downstairs, I really cannot wait.

What Makes Our Perfect Holiday

When I was growing up I was fortunate to go on holiday almost every year. We mostly visited Spain where my parents fell in love with a small fishing village there and eventually bought their own villa. But we also visited far-off destinations such as America, Australia and Singapore. We even travelled to Pakistan for a wedding when I was fifteen.

Mr H and I love to travel, and have also holidayed most years. However since the children were born this has more often been in the UK, usually to his parents' caravan in Wales. We've been abroad a couple of times with the children and it has been a joy to spend quality time together and watch our two enjoy the sunshine and make the most of the experiences you can only have abroad.

So what makes a perfect family holiday for us? I have put together a video which will tell you in the best way we know how - by showing you!


*This is our application to become a Mark Warner Ambassador.


Little Tikes Cookin' Creations Kitchen Review


We have several Little Tikes products in our household - from the matching pairs puzzle game Miss H is currently obsessed with, to the Riga Swing we reviewed earlier in the year. We have always loved their products and they have lasted us for two boisterous and often heavy-handed toddlers. Little Tikes are known for their bright, fun toys, particular their Cozy Coupe, and sets that encourage role play and building imaginations.

Cosatto SS15 Preview

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will know how much I love kids brand Cosatto. I have worked with them for over a year now and tried out quite a few of their products and always enjoyed being part of their brand buddy ambassador scheme. Cosatto's message of 'saving the world from boring baby stuff' really resonates with me as I am a person who loves colour and have always dressed my two in bold and bright clothing and whilst I tend towards veer to safe greys and blacks for myself, I have been known to own a pair of bright pink cords in the past!

I was so excited to be invited to the Spring/Summer 2015 press day - when it's so dark and gloomy outside it was lovely to be able to think about next spring and brighter, warmer days. As expected, Cosatto did not disappoint with their new designs and I am thrilled to be able to share some of their newest patterns with you today.


The Lowry Giveaway

When my sister and I were young my mum and dad took us to the pantomime every Boxing Day. It was a bit of a tradition and I loved going to the theatre, sitting in those lovely big seats and laughing at whoever played the Dame that year. Since I've been with Mr H, it's not really something we've done and as yet the children aren't quite old enough to get the jokes or sit still long enough, so it will probably be another year or two before we give it a try.


Your Youtube #6

It's week six of Your Youtube and the countdown the Christmas has definitely begun. I really enjoyed watching all the videos last week and can't wait to see what you've all been up to for the start of December.

Protecting Our Children This Winter

T'is the season for coughs and colds. I have already heard of so many families affected by illness already this year and that's even before the real cold snap has hit us. With children starting school and nursery for the new term, viruses are brought into the family home and seem to go round and round in a never-ending cycle until we warm up in the Spring. One thing that we can help prevent is flu. This season sees the arrival of the flu vaccination for children, which is taken using a nasal spray and so is fuss and pain free.

Think of how you feel as an adult with flu - aches, pains, shivers, fever, vomiting. Now imagine how a child would feel with all these symptoms, but no understanding of why and how they can get through it. Surely it's worth avoiding this if we can.

With this in mind CBeebies' Dr Ranj has put together the video below on how to protect your child this winter. For more information you can also visit http://www.sharegoodtimesnotflu.co.uk.



*This is a featured post.

Learning Phonics With The Alphablocks

Miss H is at the stage of learning letters and sounds and so I am trying to find ways to introduce these into our life at home, as it is something that will not be properly introduced into her education until she is at school next September. She is very keen to learn to write and often asks me to write words out for her so she can copy them. I often show her how to say each letter and she can often understand the names of her classmates from the letter it begins with.

Vlogmas!

As some of you may know I have been heavily focused on my videos recently, and I am absolutely loving filming and joining in with the Youtube community. As a part of this I have decided to set myself the challenge of taking part in Vlogmas!

Vlogmas is where you film every day in the run up to Christmas, sort of like an advent of videos. So each day I will be uploading the day before's video meaning today (the 2nd) I have uploaded the footage from the first of December.

So here it is, the beginning of Vlogmas and my vlogging challenge! I hope you stay with me throughout December and enjoy some festive cheer form the Hollybobbs family!



Do subscribe to make sure you don't miss a video and I would love to hear from you if you are partaking in Vlogmas!

My Youtube Top Tips

I have been vlogging now for over a year. When I first started I didn't really know what I was doing and those videos are pretty cringey.

Cut to a year later and I am definitely still learning. I have attended every Youtube session I could at various conferences, as well as following the Youtube Academy master classes, and trying to keep up with as many channels and videos as I can.

I thought today I would share a few tips I have picked up along the way, and maybe help those who are starting out with their channels to jump a few hurdles.

1. Turn your phone on its side. It's something that took a while for me to get into the habit of doing, but now when I watch videos with those black lines down the side, I want to scream at the screen!

An early video

2. Lighting. You don't need fancy s'mancy lighting right at the start. If your house is particularly dark or you don't have time to film in good daylight hours then you can get a basic light from B&Q (as recommended at BlogCamp), but do bear in mind when you are filming that you should sit with the light on your face not behind your head, otherwise we won't be able to see you.

3. Be self critical. As much as you are interested in you and your children, remember that you are trying to get new subscribers. Will a stranger really be that interested in what you are talking about, enough to push that subscribe button? Trying and edit your conversation so you're not rambling on too much and focus on what you are really wanting to share.

4. Be personable. Make mistakes, laugh at yourself, show those genuine little moments of yourself. Let people fall in love with you and want to watch you more.

5. Use annotations. Once you've uploaded your video, set it to private. Go into Video Manager and select annotations. Use this section to add clickable links to your channel, other videos, to ask people to subscribe or refer them to another channel or site. I generally use the Spotlight annotation to do this. Annotations give your audience even more reason to stay on your channel and hopefully become a regular viewer.



6. Add a description. In the box under your title, there is a huge space to give your viewers more information. If nothing else you should put links to your blog, twitter, Facebook etc in this space, but it is great to also add some more information about your video and also any links to things you discuss in it, as well as acknowledgment of music used for copywriter purposes.

7. Network. Just like your blog when you first started, nobody is going to find your channel without you doing some legwork to start with. Comment on other videos, subscribe to channels that are relevant to you and share the love! Obviously there are the bigger Youtube stars who are a great for learning how to do it right, but find others like yourself and create a community where everyone can support one another. I run a video linky every week where you can share your videos and do just that - be part of a community.

8. Playlists. It took me a while to bother doing this, and now I'm so glad I did. Channels are so much easier to navigate with playlists and it means your viewers can focus on topics relevant to them and watch more within that playlist.

9. Create an introduction video. Curently mine is my Draw My Life video, but I do have an idea in mind for a proper introduction. Think of this like your About Me page on your blog. It's something we all put off doing, but it is the first thing people see when they come to your channel. Make it concise, make people want to watch more and be memorable.

10. Collaborations. Whilst I wouldn't suggest doing one if you only have a handful of subscribers, once you get more into the swing of it then definitely try collaborating with someone who is similar to you. It's a great way to open yourself up to a new section of viewers and again strengthen the community. If you can't get out to meet and do a face to face collar, why not try a Skype or FaceTime chat? Have a search on Youtube, there are some great ideas out there.


These are just a few tips I've picked up along the way - do you have any of your own to add?

Me & Mine: November

Ok, it's a few months since I joined in with Me and Mine - I just never seem to get around to taking a family photo of us all, which is really the point of this linky! Well we managed to get one this month, so I am back again!

Your Youtube #5

Welcome to Your Youtube week five! Thanks again to everyone who has joined in so far, it's you who are making this work and growing our vlogging community so let's keep it up!


Decision Time

I was recently asked by TheCircle.com about decisions. We all have to make decisions in every moment of our lives - from when to get out of bed in a morning, what to wear, eat or drink and which route to take to work. It is these decisions that create the path we follow in our lives and ultimately shape our destinies. So I had a look back at some of my decisions in the past, the best and worst. Whilst I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, there are some I definitely look on as probably to the wisest at the time. And of course there are those that I reflect on with joy, those that brought us the best moments of our lives.

So here's a video all about the decisions on my life, good and bad.





In collaboration with TheCircle.com, featured post.

All Too Much

Just lately it has been getting all too much in our house. Mr H has been working away a lot and has gotten really run down and so been ill, meaning I've had to cover the majority of the childcare and take on more in the house. Even with the help of family and friends it has been hard and there doesn't feel like there is an end in sight. It is affecting our sanity and our relationship, but above all it is affecting our little lady.


Should You Choose Your Career Over Having A Baby?

This is a really difficult question to answer because of the fact that the question is subjective by nature. There are some women that will want to have a child, no matter what. Others will be focused on their careers and will not care about anything else. Although the subjective nature of the choice is obvious, we cannot deny the fact that facts can influence this decision. Gumtree have put together an info graphic below for those who are struggling with this decision themselves.

Your Youtube #4


It's week four and Your Youtube has been going for a whole month! I am loving watching everyone's videos and have found so many new channels to subscribe to, I hope it's the same for you! This week's featured video is from Free From Farmhouse who shared her time at the BBC Good Food and even got me wantng some of the products she picked up!

This Week's Story - Youtube Sneak Peek #2

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have noticed some sleepy time photos being shared of J in his new bed. As part of our role as ambassadors, we have been sent the Story bed from the lovely team at Cosatto and I have been so excited to share loads of photos of this beauty!
A photo posted by Hollybobbs (@hollybobbs) on

The First Taste Of Christmas

Last week mum and I were invited to return to The Ideal Home Show at Evencity in Manchester, only this time it was the Christmas show. We had a great time at the event in the summer and both being Christmas fans we couldn't wait for this show!


Your Youtube #3

Welcome to week three of Your Youtube! I'm really enjoying watching everyone's videos and have already come across some great vloggers that I wouldn't have seen without this linky, I hope it's the same for you.

The featured video from last week is The Mother Geek and her vlog on her journey getting an early autism diagnosis for her son and how it has affected her family. It is a very open and genuine video and I'm sure will help lots of people out there going through similar situations.



As always, please make sure you visit the host video at least one other from the linky and like, comment and subscribe to their channels. I will be watching, liking and subscribing to everyone that joins in, and will also be sharing all videos on twitter. All I ask is you tweet and use the hashtag #YourYoutube when you've linked up.

Link you videos here:




My Top Buys This Week

Over the last couple of months I have shared my top purchases so here is what I've been buying over the last few weeks.

The Collar Necklace



I recently purchased this for £4.88 from Amazon and I am really pleased with it, and looking forward to giving it a try to jazz up those plain tees.

Sealife Centre With The Octonauts

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to visit Sealife Centre at the Trafford Centre and say hello to the Octonauts. Whilst the children have occasionally watched the show, we are more Disney Jr fans so it was interesting to see what they would make of the characters.


A New Direction?

This weekend I attended Blogfest, the blogger conference run by Mumsnet. I spent my time with some incredible and inspirational bloggers and had such a great time, laughing and chatting away, in fact we spent more time doing that then attending the sessions!


Your Youtube #2

I was thrilled to have so many of you link up last week, thanks to all those who joined in, shared and commented on others' videos. It's great to see so much support for each other. Each week I'll be picking a favourite and this week I have chosen Coco Mama Style's video Get Yourself Out Of A Jeans Style Rut. Helen shares some great tips for mums out there to update their wardrobe without too much effort and I found her style recommendations really helpful, as I definitely guilty of sticking to what I know and in need of a change.



I'm looking forward to seeing what you link up this week, as before please make sure you visit the host video at least one other from the linky and like, comment and subscribe to their channels. I will be watching, liking and subscribing to everyone that joins in, and will also be sharing all videos on twitter. All I ask is you tweet and use the hashtag #YourYoutube when you've linked up.




Youtube Sneak Peek #1

As some of you may know, I have been focusing a lot more on my Youtube channel recently and am really enjoying filming and creating the videos, much to my surprise. I don't often post the videos over here unless I am writing a related post, so I wanted to share a couple of my recent videos just to give you an idea of what I've been talking about.



Days With Daddy

I am very fortunate that my husband is a very hands-on dad. Over the weekend when I am having a bad day or am feeling particularly tired, he will look aft her children and let me have a rest. Most Saturdays he takes the children to the supermarket to do the 'big shop' whilst I stay at home and he spends lots of time just taking care of them.

Planning A Birthday Party

Like many parents, I look forward to my children's' birthdays tremendously, but also slightly anxious about the preparation these celebrations take to put together, especially as the children get older and the requests more demanding.

It is good to know I'm not alone as a recent survey revealed 42% of parents also feel this pressure. Steve Duggan, party planner to the stars including Elton John, has shared his top tips for throwing a stress-free and budget friendly party for your little treasure.

Fisher Price Little People Skyway Giveaway With Tesco

A few weeks ago I reviewed the Skyway from Fisher Price's Little People range. My children absolutely loved it and still play with it regularly and we have adapted it so you can use smaller cars on it too.

Today I have a giveaway to win one of your very own - perfect in time for Christmas! Worth £29.99 this huge ramp will keep your little ones entertained for hours. Simply follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Create something special by upcycling this Christmas!



Now that the clocks have gone back, whether we like it or not, it's time to admit that Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas can be a great time for parents and children alike, but for those of us who have to shell out it can also be a great source of stress. Every year the Internet is awash with ideas of how to cut back on spending for Christmas. One that's very much on trend The process of “re-using discarded objects or material to make something of higher quality or value than the original.” 

When I first heard about the trend I was a little dubious, but after reading up on it a little and indulging my creative side, I now can't get enough! You can take any ordinary household item that you may have cast aside for a charity shop and turn it into something fabulous. One of my first projects, I'll admit, was a little ambitious. After years of staring at mine and my husband's lacklustre bed, we both knew it was time for a change. I just never had the heart to throw it out; after all, this was the bed that signalled the start of our marriage. When I discovered upcycling however, I realised that all I needed to do was make a few little changes! I found a great selection of headboards online and took off the old and tired looking headboard and replaced it with another. Wham. Good as new.

I soon realised that if I could do something so big, I could easily transform my creative talents into something smaller, such as a Christmas gift. There are plenty of upcycling Christmas gift ideas on Pinterest, and while some of these can look a little dated in their current state, there's nothing that a little TLC or lick of paint can't do.

DIY Chalkboard Mug
It's also perfect for Christmas decorations – how many years have you been holding on to those tired old baubles? With a little help from your children, you can breathe new life into your baubles by adding a little glitter and glue. You can change colours, designs and patterns, and the best part is, it'll cost a fraction of what it would have cost to nip to the shop and buy a whole other box-load!

Turn old CD's into decorations

Happy up cycling!


*In collaboration with Slap Up Media

Your Youtube #1

Over the last few months I have been slowly and steadily growing my Youtube channel. Inspired by the success of blogger such as Zoella and Sprinkle of Glitter, I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed filming and sharing my videos.

It has occurred to me, though, that the parenting vloggers are few and far between and whilst the community is growing it is extremely slow to do so. I can probably count on one hand how many I am aware of and regularly visit and yet I know there must be more of us out there.

So I have decided to create a place where parent vloggers can share their videos and content and find one another. There is a huge gaping void in the Youtube market for us parents, yet we happen to know a thing or two about what we are talking about and definitely have something interesting to say.

So to help bridge that gap, I bring you Your YouTube! This will be a weekly linky each Friday for you to share your posts from the last week (although for the first few weeks feel free to link up any of your past videos until your content grows). Please make sure you visit at least two videos from the linky and like, comment and subscribe to their channels. I will be watching, liking and subscribing to everyone that joins in, and will also be sharing all videos on twitter. All I ask is you tweet and use the hashtag #YourYoutube when you've linked up. Let's help each other grow our channels and our audience and hopefully encourage others out there to do the same!


If you are struggling to think of things to vlog about then do visit Nickie at I Am Typecast, as herself and Kate from Wit Wit Woo co-host #vlogchallenge every week where they set a theme to get your creative juices flowing!


Pregnancy & Birth UK vs USA: The Birth


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my experiences of antenatal care in both the UK and the USA. Today I will be talking about

The Birth

Collecting Pumpkins


Halloween is a tradition we never really celebrated in my family when I was growing up. My parents felt it was an American concept that they weren't keen on and in fact today they still won't answer the door to Trick or Treaters. As I have grown up for the most part I have agreed with them. I do think the Americans go overboard with their festivities. However on the other side of things I always think their decorations and candy collecting looks like so much fun and they do put us to shame.

Wooden Toys For Christmas

Over the last couple of years the availability of wooden toys has grown massively and the range of toys on offer is huge. We have always bought a selection of different toys and I have to say that whilst I love wooden toys, I haven't bought a huge amount of them as they can be very expensive and I end up not wanting the kids to play with them for fear of them being damaged!


It now seems that more accessible brands are finally coming on board with the slow toy movement, one of those being Asda. When I discovered their new wooden toy range I was really surprised at not only the selection, but also the prices.

Is Zoella A Positive Role Model?


A couple of days ago I was involved in a really interesting conversation on Twitter, following the recent article on Zoella in The Independent. This article questions whether this Youtube sensation is a suitable role model for children, given that she talks about beauty and make up, and therefore the benefits of altering our appearances. A few of us shared our thoughts on whether a young girl who is now a Youtube phenomenon should be using her platform to encourage young girls to celebrate their natural beauty rather than her usual beauty videos.

Why America Will Always Hold A Piece Of Our Hearts


Growing up my parents took my sister and I abroad every year, since we were born. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world - America, Australia, Singapore and even Pakistan are just some of the countries I have visited. Back then it was just the norm for us to fly overseas every year, sometimes twice a year, and my sister and I really thought nothing of it, in fact learnt to expect it. Most years we stayed in a private villa with its own pool in Spain and the big trips would be over Easter, flying long distance for many hours to stunning destinations.

Meet The Midwife With Cussons



Last week myself and a few bloggers enjoyed a lovely afternoon at PZ Cussons HQ. It was a special day for the brand and one special lady in particular, Kerry Evans, who is their chosen midwife to receive the financial support of £60,000 to enable her to undertake a PhD, starting this month. Working with the Royal College of Midwives and Wellbeing of Women, the sponsorship is the first of its kind to enable research for a PhD whilst allowing the midwife to continue working in the field.

My Holiday With Mark Warner


Last month I was lucky enough to visit Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes with Mark Warner. I wrote up all about our trip not long after I returned home, however after a few weeks of reflection and the post-holiday glow well and truly dampened by the English autumn, I wanted to write up my thoughts on the resort and what you can expect from your stay.

Giveaway: The Ideal Home Show At Christmas


Earlier in the year my mum and I attended The Ideal Home Show at Event City in Manchester. We had never been before and weren't really sure what to expect but we ended up having a great day, helped greatly by a sighting of George Clarke!

Our Family Photo Shoot

Last week my lovely friend and photographer, Jemma Lambert, came all the way from Yorkshire to take some beautiful autumnal photos of us. If you have read my previous post you will know I was really looking forward to the shoot and had even been planning our outfits.

I love to have regular photos taken of the family as I love photos and I want to look back and see the children growing through each picture. The last family photo shoot we had was in February this year and taken by Amy Russell, who created some gorgeous images.


Who's The Boss?



As some of you may be aware I have worked with online baby boutique, The Essential One, many times over the last couple of years. They sponsored me for my first ever Britmums event and we have tried out many of their beautiful baby clothes when Little J arrived.


This week we have teamed up once more to offer one lucky reader the chance to win one of their super cute 'I'm The Boss' rompers.


As with all of The Essential One's clothing, this romper is made of 100% superfine cotton and extremely soft and comfortable on your baby's skin. It features an embroidered patch saying 'I'm the Boss' and is fully poppered including down each leg for easy nappy changing. The romper is made in lovely neutral tones so perfect for either sex or for those parents-to-be who are wanting to keep the gender a surprise.

If you want to win this gorgeous first outfit, available in either newborn or 0-3 months, you can enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pregnancy & Birth USA Vs UK: Antenatal


Some of you may be aware that Miss H was actually born in America and is technically an American citizen. We were living out there for Mr H's work, and it is there that I began blogging. I have been wanting to share my thoughts on my experience of having her out there compared to Little J's birth in the UK for a while now, and I have finally got around to getting these thoughts down.

Our Doc McStuffins Party

Last week we took part in our second party in the last few weeks, this time a Doc McStuffins one! My two both love this show and already H has several Doc figures and a dress-up outfit. We were thrilled to be invite to party and really grateful for the toys and goodies we received for the party.


Review: Fisher Price Little People Skyway

My little man has been a car fan, pretty much as soon as he could move. Last Christmas the majority of his toys were on wheels and his collection is pretty vast now. I wasn't sure there was much else we could get him at this stage that would spark his interest, until we received the Fisher Price Little People Skyway to try.


#What2Buy4Kids Twitter Party


I'm really excited to let you know about another Twitter party we will be taking part in, with a brand I have just recently come across and who I am so happy to support - What2Buy4Kids. Started five years ago, when the owner, Lisa, failed to find somewhere to buy special and unique birthday presents for kids. Using her experience as a primary school teacher, Lisa is able to select fun toys and games and also encourage development and learning.

My Top Buys This Week

Last month I wrote a post on my top buys of the week, and thought I would share them again this month. As usual I have been hitting the high street - both virtually and in person - much to Mr H's concern.

Got To Love A T-Bar


When I saw these shoes on ASOS I absolutely fell in love. They are so cute and I've always wanted a pair of dolly shoes. I'm still trying to figure out what to wear them with without looking a complete idiot, but they are definitely a favourite.

An Autumn Family Photoshoot


This week we are having a family photo session. Since the children were born we have tried to have relatively regular photoshoots as a family, as we both love photographs and it is important to us to capture those memories with the children as they grow.

Our Sofia The First Party

A few days ago we took part in a Sofia The First twitter party. Ran to celebrate the launch of the new Sofia The First Micro Sets, we had some of our friends over to help with the celebrations.

Within my friend group there are two sets of twins - one set are one year old and the other two years old. It's always fun when we get together and we are certainly outnumbered by children - between us there were three mummies and seven children under five! It was great fun though.

The twin mummies with one set of twins

Doc Mcstuffins Carry Along Clinic Review


For the past week we have been trying out the new Doc McStuffins Carry Along Clinic from Flair, so today I am sharing our thoughts on it.

Sofia The First Giveaway


Last week we took part in a Sofia The First Microworld party on twitter and enjoyed a lovely afternoon of pass the parcel, egg hunting and colouring.

Today I am continuing those celebrations with a Sofia The First giveaway! We have one of the Sofia bracelet's to giveaway along with the latest Sofia magazine, two DVD's and a lovely poster, all worth £30.

To be in with a chance of winning simply follow the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Doc Mcstuffins Twitter Party #doctober


After the success of the Sofia The First twitter party we are really excited to be taking part in a Doc Mcstuffins party on October 2nd from 4-6pm. Doc is a huge favourite in our house with both the children and we have several of the figures and toys.

Join us on twitter using the hashtag #doctober and be with in a chance to win lots of prizes as well as taking in part of fun and games during the party. Don't forget to follow @UKmumsTV too!

For more fun, Sofia activities and more games visit DisneyJunior.co.uk

Eleven Bloggers and I


In early September eleven bloggers and myself were treated to a holiday with Mark Warner at their Rhodes hotel, Levante Beach. Apart from the odd hello at events, most of us hardly knew one another nor had most of us been on a Mark Warner holiday before. To say I was nervous was a understatement and I don't any of us really knew what to expect.

Balancing the Financial Scales as Parents


We all know that having a family is one of the most joyous times in our lives, but it is also one of the most expensive. It is averaged that the cost to have one child is around £218,000 by the time they reach 21! With this in mind, here are ten tips to help you make sure this wonderful time isn’t overshadowed by money worries.

Maternity or paternity?
If you work, you’ve probably looked at maternity leave and pay, but from April 2015 there will be a new system of sharing parental leave with your partner. You’ll be able to share up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay, and even take the leave in up to three separate blocks allowing for much greater flexibility. The Money Advice Service has loads of information on how to access maternity, paternity and shared parental leave.

Access to essential services
Just as during pregnancy, you’re still entitled to free NHS and dental services for a year after the birth of your baby. Children also get free prescriptions, eye tests and dental care. Make the most of the free health services available to you. Find out more from your GP, pharmacist or health visitor.

Free entertainment
Getting out of the house and meeting other people is important as a new parent, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Children’s Centres all over the UK offer a range of groups, classes and activities at a low cost or even free. Find your local centre at www.gov.uk 

4 - Re-work that budget
Everybody’s life changes after having a family. Financial priorities change and making a new budget will help you stay in control of your money, balancing the new pressures on your household income. Online budgeting tools are quick and easy to use.

5 – Make the most of pre-loved
There’s a temptation to buy brand new for your precious little one, but most baby stuff is used for a short time and second hand can be as good as new – check out eBay or local selling sites on Facebook for pre-loved equipment and clothes.

6 – Make the most of pre-loved (part two!)
 …and, of course, make the best of pre-loved at both ends of the scale, by selling your good quality baby goods when you’ve finished with it. Myself and my friends sell our old baby clothes on eBay and use the money from them to buy the next size up - it can be extra work but it saves a lot in new clothes.

7 – Help with childcare costs
When you go back to work, you may be entitled to support with childcare costs, through tax credits or childcare vouchers. You can find details from your employer or from the Government website.

8 – Cook Clever
Planning meals ahead, cooking larger batches and freezing portions all help to keep the costs of feeding your family down. Look out for supermarket own brand products and deals on fresh fruit and vegetables. The BBC Food website has a range of inspiring meals for £1 to get you started.

9 – Search out the deals
Most of the larger supermarkets have ‘baby weeks’ – don’t be tempted to buy what you don’t need, but it could be a good time to stock up on essentials like nappies and wipes!

10 – Keep an eye on your benefits
As your family grows and your circumstances change, keep checking your benefits to make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to. Benefits checkers are widely available online, including at www.turn2us.org.uk.

*this is a featured post

The #markwarnermum Blogger Trip Video

Last week myself and eleven other bloggers spent a fantastic five days at Levante Beach, Rhodes courtesy of Mark Warner. I filmed the trip on my iPhone and after many hours of editing it is finished and uploaded.


There will be more posts next week talking more about trip and fantastic resort we stayed at.

*A huge thanks to Mark Warner and in particular Emilia and Polly who managed to get us all there and back in one piece, as well as make the trip as memorable as it was.

A Right Royal Giveaway

So last week it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting baby number two. Of course I was excited to hear the news and so decided to have a little celebration here.


Review: Works of Heart


I love pictures and canvasses that display our lives, I especially love customised ones. I have purchased various wall art over the years and there are always pieces I look at as I roam around our house and make me smile.

Are Women Better Parents Than Men?

This is a subject I have been meaning in to touch on for a while. Every day, usually on Facebook, I see pictures, quotes and the like being passed around stating how women do so much and men do so little, how women know so much and men don't etc etc. I may be a women myself, but these images make me seethe.


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