First Impressions Count

A few years ago, I found I was really struggling to get my head around being a wife and a mother and having a house to keep in order whilst holding down a full time teaching job. I only had two children then, and thought that life was so busy I needed help and I needed it fast. Ah, if only I’d known then how busy life could really be! I spent some time researching how to get organised, and in doing so I stumbled across a site called Fly Lady. It was filled with tips and ideas for keeping a house straight 24/7 and to be honest so much of it really was not for me- but there was one thing that has struck a chord and has been a house rule ever since. The Fly Lady insisted that first impressions of your home were the most important, and not just to visitors but to yourself too. And all these years later, I still agree with her. The way I feel when I walk into my home sets my mood up in so many ways, and if I walk into a tip I cannot help but feel agitated and annoyed. First impressions count, and in so many ways.

First Impressions’m about to spend a weekend away working with a client at The Baby Show, and as always I’m a little apprehensive about what I’ll return to on Sunday evening. It’s not that I don’t trust Ghostwriterdaddy to keep things in order, it’s more about the fact that we have four children who demand attention in different ways and when we’re forced to solo parent for any length of time there are certain things we have to allow to slide. Housework is usually the first thing that goes when I’m not there, and that’s just the way it is. So while I know that the house will need some TLC when I return, I’m hoping that the Fly Lady’s number one tip will help a little. Here are three ways that you can make that first impression a good one.

Tidy the porch/ entrance area

For years our porch has been the source of grief. SO. MANY. SHOES. And coats. And scooters. And bags. And… you get the idea. Seriously, how do people store these things? We now have pegs and pegs and pegs, and a nice new storage shelf for shoes but we still have other bits and pieces in the porch that drive me mad. That said, I always make sure that porch is tidy before I leave the house, because there is really nothing worse than getting home and not even being able to open the door to come in. Tidy that entrance area and you’re most of the way there.

Create a hallway that invites you in

Another area of the house that tends to be used as a general dumping ground is the hallway just inside the house. Why, oh why do my family feel the need to just leave things in the hallway? Hats, shoes (that should be tidily away in the porch, grrr!) and other bits and pieces that just don’t seem to have a home. The hallway just invites clutter, but if you allow it to build up your first impression is never going to be great. We recently discovered the joy that is a nice, clean and tidy hallway with just a couple of additions. We placed a beautiful console table against the wall with drawers to hide miscellaneous paraphanlia, and I always have fresh flowers on the top to make sure I always have something pretty to look at when I come in. I’ve also added some new plants to the hallway and another set of pegs beside the door for those coats that just won’t fit. It’s working for us.

Always make sure downstairs is tidy before you leave

So if you were to look upstairs, you will see the chaos that is living with four very energetic and playful children. But downstairs is always tidy. I do this for me, and for visitors too. I like to walk into a tidy house when I’ve been out, and if that means dumping everything upstairs on my bed (which is does, every single day) then so be it. I can sort all of that later, but I cannot get back that first impression when I walk into the house. Likewise, if we get impromptu visitors, its nice not to a have to run around apologising for the mess!

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Three Reasons Why my Star Sign Motivates me To Succeed

When I was younger, my sisters and I literally devoted the horoscope pages on our favourite magazines. It was the one feature we always flipped straight to as soon as the latest issue of Just 17 or LookIn was released- and to say we held those snippets in the highest of regards is putting it lightly! We then spent the next week trying our best to make our horoscopes work for us- the stars told us x,y,z would happen this week and guess what? It came true! We were particularly interested in the love element of our weekly horoscopes, seeing as career and life were just that little bit out of reach for us. It was love we were really interested in. And throughout this lengthy obsession with horoscopes, I admit to being secretly proud of my straddling a couple of signs. In some magazines I would be Scorpio, and in others Sagittarius. I felt this made me more mysterious than my sisters, and the greedy side of me loved to interpret two readings each week, gathering the bits I liked from each to contrast my own predictions for the week ahead. Looking back, I know that these weekly horoscopes have always been a bit of fun, but I’m actually still really fascinated by it all.

Three Reasons Why my Star Sign Motivates me To SucceedOver the years I’ve tended to regard myself as a Scorpio and have really only thought of myself in this way if asked. Weekly horoscopes are a thing of a past, and something I haven’t really considered in such a long time. Recently, Furniture At Work (home of amazing office desks) asked me to consider how my star sign has affected my progress at work, and how being a Scorpio has impacted me during my career. Since I never out much importance on the ‘career’ section of my horoscope as a teenager, I decided to do some digging to see what traits the average Scorpio has when it comes to success in the workplace. The results were quite surprising! Here are my top reasons reasons why my star sign motivates me to succeed. (more…)

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Why Kids Need to Know About Sun Safety

As a child I experienced sun burn more than once on holiday, and I can still remember how painful it was. Looking back, I’m slightly horrified that it even happened; if one of my own kids were to catch the sun in such a way I’d be devastated! These days, education surrounding sun protection and the dangers of being exposed to UV rays (for all ages, not just children) is so much more sophisticated than it used to be, and there are so many more options around for parents too. That said, there are still some alarming figures when it comes to sun damage and skin cancer in the UK. This is why kids need to know about sun safety.

Why Kids Need to Know About Sun SafetyAccording to Boots Soltan, England has the world’s fastest growing melanoma rates. It’s now the UK’s most common cancer for 15-35 year olds, rising by a staggering 345% in the last 30 years! Knowing that there are  proven links between cases of childhood sun exposure and skin cancer, I feel more strongly than ever that we need to reinforce sun safety messaging from an early age. Yes, it’s a pain each year when the sun appears to get that text from school to say we MUST bring hats and suncream to school, but what’s the alternative? Sun burn? Heat stroke? Worse? This summer Boots Soltan are working hard with schools to carry on driving home the message that children need to be protected in the sunshine. Even in the UK with ‘poor summers’ we’re exposed to UV rays, which are responsible for 86% melanoma cases in the UK- and it’s our duty to make sure our kids understand not only how to stay safe, but why it’s so important to do so. (more…)

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How to Contest a Will

When a loved one passes away, the last thing on your mind is dealing with the will and other arrangements that need to be done.The thing is though, that these are the tasks nobody particularly wants to deal with, but they’re also the tasks that are ultimately the most important for many. Elderly relatives may have made a will with little to no assistance, and in cases such as these, as much as it is painful or difficult to do, sometimes it needs to be contested. But how do you know if this is the right thing to do? How can you be sure that you even have the right to contest your relative’s final wishes. It’s an unenviable situation and one that nobody really wants to find themselves in, for sure. Here are three tips on how to contest a will without losing your sanity.

How to Contest a advice from a professional before you make any decisions

If you suspect that you may need to challenge an estate, it really does make sense to seek as much professional advice as possible. You may feel that your relative’s will has been made in error or that it’s inappropriate, but don’t forget that your own feelings may have a significant impact on this. Losing a loved one is never easy, and suspecting that their will is unfair or incorrect is not a great position to be in. Write down all of your concerns and issues and talk them through with someone who knows what they’re doing and who can give you honest advice on whether or not you have a case. You need someone who is not emotionally involved to be able to give you impartial adice

Be prepared for legal proceedings

It’s never going to be an easy process, but it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into if your lawyer agrees that you can contest a will. The legal process may be completely unknown to you and quite stressful too. Add this on top of grief, and the other necessary practicalities that need to be dealt with and the entire situation can be very distressing for some. Make sure you ask as many questions as you can to ensure you understand the process and that you are ready for what’s required of you. Remember that your lawyer should be able to answer your questions, advise you on the best course of action and keep you informed on the legal processes throughout the entire case.

Be prepared for an emotional challenge

Losing a loved one can be a difficult time. There’s no disputing that at all. But when you believe that their last will and testament needs to be contested things can take a different turn quite quickly. Nobody wants to have the task of challenging a will, and nobody is going to enjoy the process at all. Contesting a will can bring up so many emotions and can affect relationships, so it’s really important you recognise when you may need some extra support. Be prepared for an emotional challenge and surround yourself with people who care, and who understand. Sometimes families can be divided when a will is contested, so it’s always a good idea to keep the channels of communication as open as possible. Remember why you’re contesting the will and stay strong- but don’t feel you cannot call on others for support. Above all, ensure you’re doing this for the right reasons and that you have the best advice available.

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