Do you have young children? Do you like telling people what you think?

This competition could be just for you…

Babyhuddle is offering two £100 Amazon vouchers to two lucky Slummy single mummy readers! Ideal for a spot of Christmas shopping or picking up some bargains in the January sales. (Or, if you’re like me, just buying yourself shed loads of books).

Babyhuddle is the UK’s number one social baby shop for parents to share their top tips on what products to get, when to use them and how to use them. They’re laying on this fantastic competition to help more parents discover Babyhuddle and to encourage parents to share their own views and experiences.

There are two ways to enter, both of which are based on earning as many points as possible.

You will get:

  • 1 point for creating an account on Babyhuddle with a user picture/avatar (this is the obligatory bit)
  • 2 points for every unique product review of at least 80 words

One £100 voucher will be awarded to the new member with the most points at the end of the competition.

Another £100 voucher will be awarded through a raffle system in which each point earned will count towards one raffle entry, so your chances of being selected for this voucher increase as you earn more points.

So long as you enter through the link below, Babyhuddle will automatically be able to add up your points for you, so you don’t have to worry about keeping count!

"Big shiny button"

P.S. Do you like my big shiny button? Can you tell I made it myself in Paint? No, I didn’t think so.

Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition is open to UK residents only
  2. Competition closes 11th December 2012
  3. Only one registration entry per person is allowed. Multiple, automated or bulk entries will result in immediate disqualification
  4. Users who have a profile picture will quality to win a £100 Amazon voucher
  5. The winners will be contacted by email using the email address provided during registration with Babyhuddle
  6. Entries will only be deemed valid if a valid email address is provided when signing up

As featured on Loquax Competitions

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I need your advice.

I’m helping the online pocket money website Roosterbank create a reward chart. They want to come up with something  that will be both useful for parents and fun for kids, and FREE for everyone, regardless of whether or not they use the Roosterbank site. (They’re nice like that). I have to confess though that I don’t have a great track record when it comes to reward charts.

I’ve tried reward charts a few times with Belle, but just haven’t been able to get it right.

Our last attempt a few months ago included around eight simple tasks to do every day, really easy things like ‘clean teeth’ and ‘go to bed without having a breakdown’, yet it was abandoned, (like the toothbrush), after only 10 days.

"Toothbrush"

The difficulty was deciding how exactly the thing should work. Should she have to get every single item ticked every day to claim her pocket money at the end of the week, or was there scope for error? We tried the first approach initially, but it did not go well. One bedtime tantrum on the first night, and that was it for the week – where was her incentive then to eat all her lunch on the other six days?

In the second week we discovered just how short-termist (and cunning) Belle can be.

“OK,” we’d say, “time to clean your teeth!”

“I don’t want to,” she would say.

“But if you don’t clean them, you can’t get the tick on your chart.”

“That’s alright,” she’d say, “I don’t want the money. I’m seeing Gran at the weekend and she’ll buy me my Jacqueline Wilson magazine.”

What can you say to that? The reward chart had been about handing over responsibility and control, and she’d grasped it firmly. With both hands. As far as reward systems go, it was a failure.

So you can see why I need your help.

If you were designing a flexible reward chart to be used by hundreds of parents, whether or not they give regular pocket money, what would it look like? What tasks would you include? What scope would there be for failure? Would it be completely positive, with ticks for good behaviour, or would there be negative marks for doing something naughty?

Have you tried reward charts with your children before? What has worked well? What’s gone not so well? Are your kids rewarded with money or specific treats?

I would love to get lots of ideas for Roosterbank, (and come up with a system that means Belle cleans her teeth every day), so please, please, please leave a comment with your thoughts!

Once it’s finished, you’ll be able to claim your very own FREE copy of the chart from Roosterbank to use at home, even if you’re not signed up to the site. Find out how here.

Finally, if you’re feeling extra helpful, I even have big ticks and stickers for people who share this post for me.

Here you go:

P.S. If you’re a blogger and Roosterbank use one of your ideas, your blog details can be included on the chart, meaning your blog could be stuck on the fridges of hundreds of parents throughout the country!

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Today I’m hosting a guest post from mum Lucy Cooper, a well-travelled writer working for Classic Cottages.

Choosing the best accommodation for a first family holiday

This year we’re planning our first family holiday with a one-year-old. We’ve opted for a holiday cottage as the best baby-friendly option that also allows the most scope for freedom and fun.

Comfort factor

I enjoy adventure, but even I have to admit that camping with a one-year-old is not top of my agenda. No hot running water, apart from the shower, which is usually located a distance away from your tent! No microwave to warm bottles/food quickly or to sterilise baby equipment.  For the purposes of the all-important first holiday together, I’m inclined to stick to the comfort of four walls.

Room to sprawl – and crawl

Space is top priority when you have got a little one in tow. A holiday cottage allows you a whole house to spread out. You are the mistress or master of your own domain. And you don’t need to worry about the disgruntled couple in the room next door when baby decides that 3am is wake up time.

"Bucket and spade"

Freedom and flexibility

You’re not dictated to when meal times are, as in a hotel, leaving you the freedom to eat what you want, when you want. There was a time when ‘self catering’ conjured up images of 1950s-style kitchenettes with a clapped out cooker and a dodgy toaster. Thankfully, those days are long gone. Now you can expect the kitchen in a holiday cottage to be just as well equipped as your kitchen back home, if not more so.

Convenience

Staying in a cottage enables you to make up picnics and food suitable for your baby to take out on day trips. Arranging a supermarket delivery on the first day will save you the chore of hunting around for the shops when you arrive. And it can save packing bulky packs of nappies, freeing up precious space in the car.

Choice of locations

Holiday cottages are dotted all over the place, in unusual settings and quirky little places to explore, so you needn’t feel like one of the herd. You can get out and explore new places knowing that you’ve got a comfy house waiting for you at the end of the day.

Finding a baby-friendly holiday cottage

Choosing a baby friendly property that provides some of the essentials for little ones, such as a cot, high chair, stair-gate and baby bath, makes life easier and cuts down on the baby paraphernalia on the list of things to pack. If you find a property you would like to holiday in but are unsure about its suitability for your party, contact the team at Classic, many of us in the Booking Office are mothers ourselves and appreciate how important it is to get the right family holiday location and accommodation.

Planning your first family holiday? Or are you a seasoned mum or dad traveller? What are your experiences of first family holidays and tips on where to stay with the little ones?

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That’s right readers, you heard me, scourers.

I know. Sexy right? Hold onto your hat and prepare for a rollercoaster of a blog post.

"Scourers in the post"

Now obviously I’m not really interested in cleaning things, but boyfriend is always up for a bit of scourer action, so it was with him in mind that I accepted Scotch-Brite‘s challenge to put their cloths and scourers to the test against a couple of other leading brands. In fact, so keen was he to help me out, that he devised a series of tests to give each product a fair trial.*

To keep any personal scourer preferences out of the equation, we weren’t told which other brands we had been sent, products were simply labelled A and B. In each case, the Scotch-Brite products were a bit more expensive, but they believe they are worth paying that little extra for.

Here’s what our tests found:

The product: Heavy duty scourer

What Scotch-Brite say: “this scourer easily shifts grease and burnt food. What’s great about it is it contains natural fibres of cellulose which are super absorbent, which is ideal for mopping up or wiping down surfaces”

"Heavy Duty Scourer"

The test: How clean can you make a baked on casserole dish in 15 seconds? (We deliberately left a casserole dish in the over after dinner to make sure it was good and baked on)

"Dirty dishes"

The results: They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

"Scourers"

OK, so the left hand third was cleaned with scourer A, the middle with scourer B and the right hand third with the Scotch Brite scourer. Scotch Brite was definitely the winner on this one.

The product: Multi-purpose cellulose scourer

What Scotch-Brite say: “This product is non-scratch, super absorbent and it has a unique ‘wave’ shape which makes it much easier to hold and use.”

"Sponge"

The test: Washing a casserole encrusted dinner plate

The results: There wasn’t much in this one, although we found the Scotch-Brite scourer was a bit quicker on the tough bits. Boyfriend questionned a lack of finger grips, but as he said himself ‘who uses them anyway?’ (Not me. I didn’t even know finger grips on scourers were a thing.)

The product: Sponge cloth

What Scotch-Brite say: “Scotch-Brite’s Sponge cloths are ultra-absorbent (they can hold up to ten times their own weight!). It’s also soft and flexible for mopping up all kinds of spills.”

The test: To test absorbency – how much water can you pout onto each cloth before it starts to leak out of the sides?

The results: Well, a bit of an intersting result here. Cloth A came out worst, only being able to hold 100ml. Both the Scotch-Brite cloth and cloth B held 125ml, but when you picked the Scotch-Brite cloth up to take it to the sink loads of water ran out. Cloth B held the liquid much better.

However, wiping round the surfaces with the Scotch-Brite cloth left things looking and feeling generally drier. The cloth moved more smoothly, and wiping with it felt like less effort than with the competing brands.

So there you go, that’s our Scotch-Brite tests. I told you it was going to be exciting didn’t I? I will leave you to judge whether you think Scotch-Brite is worth the extra money.

*It is at moments like these that I come over all funny and love him even more than usual. I’m not even kidding. I find this sort of thing adorable.

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This morning I went to the hospital. Not, as Boyfriend likes to believe, for a psychological assessment, but to see a physiotherapist about this annoying back pain I get at night. It’s very dull, and not mentioned in the rest of the story I promise.

"Hospital curtains"Now I love listening to other people’s conversations, and the hospital is ideal for a spot of eavesdropping, as everyone gets fooled by the fake privacy of having a curtain pulled round them. It’s a bit like when very small children play hide and seek and just stand in the middle of the room with their eyes covered, thinking that no one can see them.

While I was changing into some sexy hospital shorts, ready to be poked and prodded, a man came into the cubical next to mine. He couldn’t see me in my pants but I could certainly hear him. I didn’t see him before or after, so have no idea what he looked like, but within minutes I had painted a wonderful picture of him in my head.

“So,” said the physiotherapist, “what do you do for a living?”

“Well it’s funny,” said the man, in a voice which for some reason immediately made me picture him with a beard, “but I’m actually redundant at the moment.”

(Is that funny? I guess you have to laugh.)

“OK,” she continued, “and how long have you had a problem with your back?”

“Well,” said the bearded, unemployed man, “I’ve had niggles with it for a few years now, but I think it may have been triggered by one particular event.”

“Go on…”

“Well, I was at home, and had just come out of the shower,” beard man began. “My wife and children where downstairs, and I was upstairs getting dry.”

My shorts were on by this stage, so I just perched on the edge of the bed, legs dangling, waiting for my physiotherapist to come back and listening.

“I went to the top of the stairs,” he said, “and did a sort of provocative dance.”

Silence from the other side of the curtain.

“I had pants on and everything,” he added, although I was doubtful.

“I must still have been a bit wet, and my feet sort of slipped from underneath me and I fell down the stairs.”

It was at this point that I laughed a little bit.

Thank goodness he couldn’t hear me though – I was behind the curtain.

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