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teaching kids about charity

Children have a natural desire to help others.  Charity does not have to be formalised but can be as simple as a kindly act, a helping hand or a friendly smile to someone in need.

 At around the age of three or four, young children begin to grasp the concept of sharing and become aware of others around them and their needs.  They can also experience the joy of giving for the first time. Becoming alive to and accommodating the desires of others in their household is the earliest point at which the concept of helping others will begin to make sense to a small child.

 Charity begins at home

Many children become interested in helping others because they see their parents doing it.  It is all part of the natural desire to imitate. It may be as simple as putting aside a couple of tins of food each week for the local food bank or sorting out old clothes for homeless people.  Baking cakes for a fund raising coffee morning like the famous Macmillan coffee morning initiative is a great way to involve all the members of the family in a charitable act.

Many homes have rituals surrounding their charitable giving.  The predictability and regularity of routines give children security and comfort and a sense of belonging.  Children relate best to charities which have some connection with their lives. So linking up to a charity and actually sponsoring another child in a different country is a great way to connect your child to something they will understand. 

What character traits can charitable acts develop in your child?

Thinking of others instils in children empathy and compassion for their fellow man.  This is likely to be something they carry with them into adulthood if charitable acts are engrained in their daily life during childhood.  They are far more likely to get involved in volunteering projects as an adult. As children grow into teenagers, charitable giving needs to be relevant to their fast-paced digital world.  CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation stresses that it is important to make charitable involvement appealing and portable so that it can adapt to different stages in their lives.

 It’s not all about money

Charity does not have to be about giving money, it can include spending time collecting items to donate, volunteering some hours for a community project or taking turns running the cake stall at a local fete or fundraiser.

Sponsoring a child

Charity mostly needs to be relevant to children.  Raising money for a cause they don’t understand will have little impact but involving them in something relevant to their world encourages interest and engagement.

For example, sponsoring a child with Compassion UK allows a child to connect with another child across the world, the simplest and most fundamental link.  Children are always interested in one another and are refreshingly open-minded. Linking with another child in a community far away fosters links with the wider world.  The digital age makes this connection real and immediate. The impact on a child in poverty is inestimable and the connection made by one child to another across the globe, simple and powerful.

Tangible and real

For many children, the key to successful involvement in charitable schemes is something tangible that acts as a reward for their efforts.  This can be an outcome that they are physically involved in within their community or school but it can also involve remote schemes which they can see online or in hard copy format in their hand.

 

 

 

 

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Taunton (where I live) has a toad trail going on at the moment. It’s one of those things that’s meant to get kids excited about being outdoors and walking further than the toy shop to McDonald’s. There’s a trail map, an app and colourful painted toads dotted in and around Taunton.

(I just had a look at the website to find out exactly how many toads, and it says ‘over 22’, which seems weird to me. ‘Over 20’ maybe, but ‘over 22’? What does that mean? Are there 23?)

We lived in Bristol when the original Gromit trail took place and honestly, we got a bit obsessed with it. I say ‘we’, but I don’t remember Bee being exactly cock-a-hoop about it. Bee is adamant though that in a picture we have of her with a ball, not even two years old, (which I can’t find), she was thinking to herself ‘this is boring, I wonder when I’m allowed to stop?’ I told her she seemed to be enjoying it at the time but she says she was just pretending because that’s what she thought she was meant to like.

Belle got on board with the Gromits though, and we found all 80, although on reflection she may have been humouring me. She even let me have fridge magnets made of the photos.

Where am I going with this? Oh yes. At the time, wandering all over Bristol, following a map and looking for giant dog statues, I thought I was doing it for the kids. Ditto years of crazy golf, murder mystery trailers, organising stationery drawers, watching animated films at the cinema, that sort of thing. Oh the sacrifices I made! So selfless! Of course I’d have rather been at the opera or reading the news or whatever it is grown ups like to do.

Only it turns out it’s not true.

Turns out IT WAS ME ALL ALONG.

‘Do you want to see if we can find all the toads?’ I keep asking Belle. I want her to ask me how many there are so that I can say ‘over 22’ but she has yet to show that level of interest.

‘No,’ is always the disappointing answer, which makes me sad because IS a 41 year old woman allowed to look for giant painted toads on her own??

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How to improve your credit score

A credit score is a precise measurement of an individual’s creditworthiness. In simpler terms, it’s a three-digit number used by money lenders to determine how likely borrowers are to repay their loans on time. People with higher credit scores are more likely to qualify for high-limit credit cards and favourable loans than individuals with poor scores. Maintaining a high credit score requires immense financial discipline. For instance, you ought to pay back all your loans on time. 

Repaying the full loan amount is essential if you desire to maintain an impeccable credit score. If you currently have a poor score, all is not lost – it’s still possible to improve your dwindling score.

Here are 4 ways you could improve your credit score:

 

  • Query any irregularities within your credit report

 

Whenever you notice some inaccuracies within your personal credit report, it’s important to check with one of the three credit bureaus. According to Simon Sule, the Managing Director and Founder of Credit Cards Comparison NZ, query any inconsistencies in your credit report. Credit bureaus are required by law to investigate errors brought to their attention. This means if the creditor fails to respond to a request from the credit bureau within a reasonable time the item will be removed from your record.

 

  • Pay your bills and loans in time

 

Creditors play such an important role in society, particularly because they promote money circulation and foster development both at a personal and business level. But for their immense generosity, they require one thing in return: that borrowers stick to the agreed terms and conditions of their loan. Repaying your loans on time helps to boost your credit score significantly. Rather than abandoning your previous loans, it’s important to make partial payments until they’re all cleared. Bad credit scores are not permanent. You can improve them by paying bills before the deadline arrives and avoiding missed payments.

 

  • Reduce your overall debt

 

Too much debt is bad for a variety of reasons. First, it puts you at loggerheads with your creditors. Your credit score also starts dropping gradually once you fail you pay off your debt on time. To improve this score, it’s vital to clear your debt completely instead of postponing payment. In fact, paying off your outstanding debt is the most effective method of strengthening your credit score. Some individuals love getting new credit cards in an attempt to raise their available credit and pay off older debts. Avoid this approach at all costs. It could easily backfire and worsen your credit score.

 

  • Keep your credit card balance low

 

You ought to maintain a low credit utilisation ratio. This ratio generally proves that you’re a good credit manager and that you don’t let your credit cards max out. It’s best to preserve a 30% or less credit utilisation ratio. But how can this be achieved? Apart from adapting a strict financial discipline, you also need to reduce your credit card balance and keep it low. Rebuilding your credit score is a lengthy process that could take upwards of seven years. However, this time-length will also depend on what caused the negative change in the first place.

You can improve your credit score by adapting these few effective strategies.

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Advertisement feature in association with Love Fresh Cherries

Is there any nicer way to start the day than with pudding? No is the answer, especially on a Monday, as I proved to myself conclusively this Monday morning by making a cherry and dark chocolate clafoutis and eating it for breakfast.

I’ve never eaten a cherry clafoutis before, let alone cooked one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect – something cakey maybe? In pictures it looks a bit like a sponge? It wasn’t like that at all. It was much lighter and more delicious and gave me that happy face when something is so good that you scrunch up your shoulders a little bit, and your eyes, and do a contented sigh.

I’d say a cherry clafoutis is a bit more like a baked egg custard (which I love) but with a teeny bit more texture. Because Bee became severely gluten intolerant while she was pregnant, I always try to think about how I can make my recipes gluten free and with the cherry clafoutis it’s simple – just switch regular flour for ground almonds. Almonds and cherries always work brilliantly together, and to be honest even if you’re not particularly wanting to make a gluten free clafoutis, it’s worth making the switch anyway.

I love fresh British cherries at the best of times – so juicy and sweet and such a delicate flavour – but I can’t think that I’ve ever done anything with them other than scoff them straight from the box. (I stuck glace cherries on top of my piña colada cupcakes but that hardly counts).

Cooked cherries were a revelation – warm from the oven, plump and delicious and oozing with flavour, an absolute joy. British cherry season is currently in full swing, and cherries are full of good things like antioxidants and melatonin, which helps promote better sleep, so there’s very little reason not to make a cherry clafoutis really.

In fact, although the whole ‘pudding for breakfast’ thing might seem rather decadent, the cherries in one quarter of my cherry clafoutis count as one of your five a day and will give you 25% of your RDA of vitamin C. Then it’s basically eggs, milk, nuts – a kind of hearty pancake if you will.

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New parents with messy hair and huge bags under their eyes is more than a cliche from sitcoms. Having a baby is exhausting. For that reason, many of them turn to sleep training, so both they and their child can rest.

What is Sleep Training?

As the name suggests, sleep training is a process of teaching your baby to fall asleep and maintain sleep throughout the night. The success of this training depends on the baby – some find it easy, while others need a little help. 

baby

Sleep training can help everyone at home get some much-needed sleep View Post

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holiday packing

If you and your little ones (or not so little ones) are heading off on holiday this summer, there are certain things you’ll absolutely need to remember. Many of us find packing overwhelming, especially when you’ve got the added pressure of packing for yourself and your kids!

Whether you’re heading on a short-haul flight to Spain or Italy or a longer trip to the USA, this complete summer holiday checklist will help you remember everything for your family summer holiday. Take a look!

Holiday clothing

How many items of clothing you’ll need to pack depends on how long you’re going away for, but this should be enough to cover you for a 7 night holiday. If you’re going for any longer, consider taking a few more of each.

  • Daytime outfits e.g. shorts, dresses, t shirts. If you’re going for a week, pack one for every day.
  • Evening outfits. If you’re planning on having some evening meals out, or perhaps going for a glass of wine or two, you’ll want to plan enough evening outfits.
  • Bikinis or swimming costume.
  • Beach towel.
  • Underwear.
  • Socks.
  • Shoes to pair with outfits.
  • Sun hats/caps.
  • Pyjamas. Make sure they’ll keep you cool at night!
  • Sunglasses. You definitely won’t want to forget these! You could even grab yourself a new pair of ​women’s sunglasses​ from Arlo Wolf for your trip.

Toiletries

Along with your every-day toiletries, such as makeup and cleanser, there are a few extras you’ll need to pack for your family holiday.

  • Shampoo and conditioner.
  • Kids shampoo/conditioner.
  • Shower gel.
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Deodorant.
  • Lip balm.
  • Moisturiser.
  • Sun cream for you and the kids.
  • After sun.
  • Razors.
  • Shaving gel.
  • Hairbrushes.
  • Hair products.
  • Hair straighteners/curlers.

Travel-friendly accessories

Having the right equipment can make a huge difference to your holiday. These travel-friendly accessories will help you make some everlasting memories with your family.

  • Travel adapters.
  • Cameras or phone for those memories.
  • Reusable water bottles.
  • Chargers for any electronics.
  • Travel iron if your hotel doesn’t have one.

Important documents

You’ll need these important travel documents to pass through security and catch your flight.

  • All passports.
  • Visas if required.
  • Boarding passes.
  • Travel currency or cards.
  • Travel insurance documents.
  • Travel guides could come in handy, too!

Extras for the children

Of course, you’ll need to pack clothes, toiletries and any accessories for the kids too (such as nappies, prams or formula) but these added extras should definitely be on your packing list if they’re not already.

  • Toys and games to keep them entertained. These can come in handy on the plane!
  • Books and colouring books.
  • Water and snacks.
  • Tablet and headphones.
  • Plasters. You never know when you’re travelling with little ones!

Tips for travelling with kids

Spending time with your kids on holiday is one of the most rewarding experiences a single mum can have. If you’re a single mum heading off on holiday with your little ones, take a look at our ​top tips to take the stress out of travelling​.

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uses for umbilical cord

When most mums give birth, the umbilical cord goes straight in the bin. Sure, some might choose to turn it into a decoration or plant their placenta in the garden but for the most part, it’s simply discarded.

That is, until recently. Now, parents have started to do something different… they’re choosing cord blood banking.

Just what exactly is cord blood banking though?

It’s the process of collecting blood from the umbilical cord, freezing it and then storing it for your child’s entire lifetime.

You might wonder why you’d want to do this, but the answer is actually quite simple. Scientists have shown that the umbilical cord contains millions of powerful stem cells, and those cells can do all sorts of incredible things like regrow tissue, repair the body and regenerate wounds.

You’ve probably heard about stem cells already. They’re the building blocks of life. Your baby started as a single stem cell in your womb and even after birth, it’s stem cells that fix your body if you scratch your arm or break a bone. 

Here are 5 ways your umbilical cord could change someone’s life:

Treatments for over 80 conditions

If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, you might be surprised to know that umbilical cord stem cells have been around in science since the ‘80s.

The first transplant, for a condition called Fanconi Anaemia, was way back in 1988 and since then, cord blood stem cells have been routinely used for over 80 different diseases and disorders… things like leukaemia and anaemia.

Access to ‘regenerative medicine’

More importantly, stem cells are making waves in certain circles. They’re a big part of what’s called regenerative medicine, which is a new branch of science that looks to cure conditions like arthritis.

At the moment, regenerative medicine studies are using cord blood to treat things like cerebral palsy, diabetes and stroke.

When your child reaches your age, they might be able to use their own stem cells to treat all sorts of conditions which can’t even be treated today. They could even get a new organ grown entirely from a stem cell sample.

Therapy for autism and more

Some aspects of stem cell science might sound like science fiction but in some cases, they’re actually already fact.

One little boy received his cord blood to treat autism and one year after his therapy, his mum says the improvements are significant. Apparently, the effort his parents spent managing his autism went from 8 out of 10 before his stem cell transplant, to 3 in the months after.

Other parents have also reported that stem cells have reduced the symptoms of their children’s cerebral palsy.

It’s really exciting to think what they could do once they become more widely available.

The bottomline

Expectant parents have the choice to donate their baby’s umbilical cord or, if they want to have access to it for their own family, to store it privately with a cord blood bank.

The second option means that your child has access to all these cutting-edge stem cell therapies throughout their life, and that your family have the freedom to use the umbilical cord sample however you want.

If you’re interested in private storage, there are lots of options, including Cells4Life, which stores more UK stem cells than any other private bank. They have stored more than 140,000 samples and their CellsPlus system is optimised for delayed cord clamping. Find out more about stem cell storage here.

 

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

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In collaboration with PayPlan

Let’s think about the cost of single parenting shall we? There’s the relentless pressure of being solely responsible for bringing up children, self-neglect, money spent on treats to alleviate guilt over them not having two decent parents, helping them become independent, ultimate loss of sanity

I jest!

(Sort of.)

This post is actually more about the financial cost of being a single parent, inspired by research from PayPlan, a debt advice service, into the unfair costs of activities and days out for single parent families.

Generally you might think that being a single parent would be cheaper – there is only one of you after all – but the reality is that it’s anything but. For starters you still need pretty much the same sized house, and your bills are basically the same, save for the 25% discount on council tax. Your children need all the same stuff. The difference is though that you’re paying for it ALL BY YOURSELF.*

In my case I did save a fair bit of money after my last partner moved out, but that was more about his slapdash approach to his own (and therefore my) finances. He also wasn’t the father of either of my children (the scandal!) so probably not quite the same anyway.

In terms of days out specifically, it has definitely been my experience that you miss out on discounts as a single parent family, as ‘family tickets’ for things tend to be based on a family of two adults and multiple children. The research from Payplan, which is summarised in the infographic below, backs up my own experiences.

Now you might look at the results and think ‘Okay, fair enough though, if you’re going on ‘cost per adult’ then obviously it’s going to be more for single parents as you don’t have anyone to split it with’, but if you have a look further down in the infographic you’ll see that PayPlan has also worked it out on a cost per head basis. Under this way of working, single parents are STILL getting a raw deal – in every example the cost PER PERSON works out higher for single parents, because they don’t get to enjoy the discounts that result simply from being in a relationship.

It hardly seems fair does it? View Post

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You’re here, which means you’re serious enough to research before finalizing your plan to move your child’s school. Perhaps you’re a parent who have already spent a considerable amount of time researching and checking out schools in an effort to find the school that best fits your child’s needs. A few months after school began, you might have realized that something’s not right. Your child is troubled. This is just one of the many reasons why you need to consider moving schools. Here are other possible reasons.

Your financial circumstances have changed. This reason for school transfer is common. You may have thought you are set financially when suddenly your picture has changed significantly. If you’re unable to pay school fees, swallow your pride and tackle your circumstances by talking with school authorities. If your child is doing well, they might be able to aid you. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If this fails, it’s time to explore your options in the private school world.

Your child got expelled. Finding a new school for a child who has been expelled can be a difficult task. Being expelled from public school or private school can be covered by the contract which you and the school signed. The net result for both schools is similar. Expect to have lots of questions when enrolling. So, have your answers well thought out.

Don’t be too positive to spin the situation. The admissions can see through that. Answer truthfully. The school will need to know if your child learned his lesson. Don’t speak ill of the previous school. Contrition is the key here. What are the chances of getting into another school? Assuming that your child’s academics are good and all the other items admissions profile indicate a positive trend, you still stand a good chance at a school which has open places.

Your child is unhappy. An unhappy child is tragic for parent. You need to find out whatever is causing the unhappiness. If your child is unhappy due to an issue at home, then it helps to get professional help to deal with this. Parents can also get divorced and financial situations can also happen. Skilled professionals can help with the child to emerge on the other side a much happier person.

This scenario isn’t exclusive to any particular grade, but the important thing is not to ignore the symptoms.

The school doesn’t satisfy your requirements. This isn’t common but happen anyways. Expectations are sometimes not being met in one way or another. You might have thought the program was something other than it is or have discovered that the school doesn’t offer the activities you feel your child requires.

Before finding a new school, meet with the school authorities and find a resolution to the situation. Don’t be difficult or threatening. Explain the issues and concerns and listen carefully to their response. If it can’t be resolved, then fold your tent and find a new school.

End Note

Changing schools need to be done carefully. You’d want to make changes at the common entry points, which is grades 6/7 for middle school and 9/10 for high school. However, if you have no other choice, it is doable.

Whatever you do, you should find an institution that while affordable, can still offer IB programme Singapore is known for. Don’t forget to consult your kid before deciding to change schools as this will affect him or her the most. Best of luck!

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I had a message this morning from a friend who is currently on holiday with her partner in France. They’ve gone off for two weeks in a camper van, bikes strapped to the back. I assumed then, as you would, that she was an accomplished cyclist and that they would be whizzing all over the place sightseeing, their bike baskets filled with fresh batons, wine and cheese.

Not so.

‘Steve is trying to teach me to cycle again,’ she wrote, ‘but it’s very slow going and not sure I can manage more than a few minutes, plus don’t want to waste a day learning. I’m an awful pupil!’

A few minutes later I had another message.

‘We’ve given up and gone to the beach!’

It turns out that although she learned to ride a bike as a child, she never actually owned one and has never cycled on the roads. I was actually reassured by this, because I’ve always thought that my lack of confidence on a bike was a rarity. I learnt too when I was little, but don’t really remember having a bike much, or my parents having bikes, and so I’ve never gained that confidence as an adult that you need to be a decent cyclist.

About a year ago I actually got a bike for the first time in years, and I’ve been building myself up to the point that I will now happily cycle into town from my house. It IS only ten minutes though and all of it is through a park – I avoid the roads as much as possible because I just don’t trust myself.

I see people cycling along, no hands, on their phones, and have literally no idea how they do it. I sometimes wonder if I should look into adult tricycles, as I can barely take one hand off to signal a turn without wobbling all over the place.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I’m not so sure. For now I guess I just have to keep on practising, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to go in a straight line.

adult tricycles

Photo by Rodolfo Mari on Unsplash

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This post is in collaboration with Poki – the ultimate playground for kids of all ages

As a mum, I’m often asked about the best way to entertain kids. (I’m an expert don’t you know.) Every child is, of course, different; your kids might thrill to a good movie or they might be bored stiff by Toy Story (honestly, it’s unlikely, but it does happen). How exactly you can keep your little ones entertained and enraptured through a wet and wild Sunday afternoon is the question asked by desperate parents everywhere.

If your kid is partial to the odd online game, then you might want to check out Poki. Poki.com is a gaming portal and website billing itself as an “online playground” for kids and adults alike. It’s designed to be inclusive, with something for everyone, whether you consider yourself a gamer or not. There is so much to choose from, you’re sure to find a game that your kids (or you) enjoy.

Bee and Belle are basically both grown ups now, but they both still enjoy playing games on their phones. They particularly love the games where you have to move people through a series of spa treatments or run a cafe, although I think Belle’s favourite aspect of this is getting me to have a go and then laughing when I burn all the burgers and all my customers walk out without paying.

To make playing online games a little easier, Poki have generously offered me a 32GB Fire HD 8 Tablet, worth £99, to giveaway. The Fire tablet is ideal for playing games – read on for more details of how to win!

Win a Fire tablet competition View Post

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Advertisement feature in collaboration with Chums

How much do you think you spend on clothes? Does where you live impact your clothes budget? Clothing brand Chums has recently conducted research to investigate spending habits across the UK, to see which parts of the country are spending the most on their wardrobes.

In my mind, I don’t spend much money on clothes. ‘Oh yeah, stuff like clothes and shoes just isn’t important to me,’ I say in a smug voice that implies I’m better than you. And then I look in my built-in wardrobe, which I realise takes up basically a whole wall in my bedroom, and it’s full of clothes and shoes.

Whoops. #fashionspend for me apparently.

(Out of everything in my wardrobe, these boots are still going strong and are an absolute favourite. Red AND animal print – what’s not to love? Also some quality videography in that post.)

Looking at the infographic that Chums has put together, I might be able to get away with blaming my location. Although Birmingham came out top, Bristol people are also big spenders, and that’s one of my closest cities AND I lived there for a few years. How can I possibly be blamed for the contents of my wardrobe? It’s just a question of geography. I’m helpless in the face of science.

What I will say in my defence is that I do tend to wear pretty much everything I own on a regular basis and I don’t hoard things – I do a regular clear out and give things I don’t wear to charity, so really, I’m being a good person aren’t I? I also buy quite a few bits in charity shops, so I’m being green about it too!

My most extravagant clothing spend, (apart from my wedding dress, which I actually tried on last week as it’s still sat in my mum’s wardrobe, never having been used), was probably a floor length gold silk skirt. It cost me £250 20 years ago as part of an outfit for a black tie Christmas party I was arranging at the company I worked for fresh out of university. I’d never had a proper full-time salary before and although I wasn’t exactly raking it in, it was a massive change from being a full-time student and single parent of a toddler. £250 still felt like an awful lot of money mind, especially when I woke up the next morning, hungover, to find I’d spilt red wine all down the front of it…

How much do you think you spend on clothes and how does it stack up against the findings from Chums? Check out the infographic and see how your spending compares. View Post

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