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How to Save Money on Holiday | Travel Tips | AD

We all know how pricey family holidays can be, if it isn't the actual flights and accommodation costing the earth then it is the food you need to buy, the drinks that don't stop flowing and all the other expenses that come with travel. Over the years (since having children mainly) we have found ways to become that little bit more thrifty when we are away from home.

cheap family holiday

(1) Be organised when it comes to food. We like to eat out most nights because that is just something we look forward to on holiday. But in the day we often head to a supermarket for some bread, cheese or meat and make up our own sandwiches on the beach or back at our accommodation. Along with a big bag of crisps and a bag of bananas or apples it suits us just fine. It works out much cheaper than lunch out and often it is so much easier with young children because you can just go with the flow rather than forcing them to sit nicely in a cafe/ restaurant when in reality they want to be free roaming about.

(2) If you are bed and breakfast think about what you can do to make the most of that package. What can you do to make it last throughout the day? A little sneaky perhaps but needs must sometimes!

(3) Look into car hire. It may be that you want to get about on holiday and the thought of taxis makes you squirm, they sure know how to rip off a tourist in some places. It is worth looking at car hire well before you go. We have had two weeks car hire in Cyprus before for less than £100. Which just meant it was much easier for us as we could come and go as we pleased but also meant we didn't reply on taxis or transfers from the airport etc. The other tip with this is take your own car seat, airlines will allow you to do this for no extra cost and sometimes to hire a car seat is more expensive than the car hire itself!

(4) This sounds super obvious but don't open that minibar, those prices are often extortionate! Take your own bottled water etc and really save on those un-necessary charges.

(5) Shop around for holidays don't just accept the closest package price you stumble across. There are lots of sites out there available to scour if you have the time such as Holiday Gems' cheap holidays or Travel supermarket.

how to make holidays cheaper

*This is a PR collaboration but all opinions are my own. 

How do I stop my child coughing? | Tips

We have all been there, when our child will not stop coughing. Especially at night when we all need some sleep, you find yourself scouring the internet in the early hours for as many tips as you can find! I thought I would share some of my top tips:

how to stop baby coughing

  • Prop them up. So don't let them lie flat on their back. If they are just babies then a pillow is not advisable so instead I used to roll up towels or pop a pillow under their mattress to elevate them slightly. 
  • A fan. I find my little ones get super hot when they have a cough, which then means they get even hotter when they cough and its a vicious circle because the hotter you are, the more likely you will cough. I tend to pop a fan on them, on a low setting which usually allows them to drop off to sleep. Sometimes if they have stopped coughing once asleep I will switch it off, otherwise I leave it on a low setting away from their bed. 
  • Snuffle babe/ Vicks vapour rub. Depending on their age one of these rubs works really well. You can't use Vicks until they're quite a bit older so always worth checking the ages on the labels. I pop this on their back, chest and the soles of their feet. 
  • A Humidifier. I swear by these things they are absolute god sends! I pop in either some olbas oil or some eucalyptus oil and have it going in their bedroom at night. It means the room isn't dry and the oils help with congestion. It also makes the rest of the house smell like a spa! 
  • Steam helps! I try to get my babies to have steamy showers or sit in the shower room with the hot shower running so they can inhale the steam. It just means their airways can be opened slightly and mean sleeping is a little easier. 
  • Fluids! The more you drink the thinner your mucus will be, or so a doctor told me once! It also keeps the throat nice and moist and prevents that tickly sensation that makes you cough! 

Hope at least one of these helps!

Hayley x

How To Take Photographs of your Children | Blog & Photography Tips

If you have seen my previous posts on blog tips then you will know I am passionate about helping others, I often get asked how I started my blog or why? How do I set one up and now more so than ever I get asked questions about my photography. I thought I would start to share some tips to give you a little insight.

I should put in a disclaimer and say out right that I am not a pro, I don't claim to be but I do think I have some good tips to share.

So children. The trickiest subjects to take a photo of ever. Worse than pets, for sure! However, I have 2 so have had lots of practice...

how to take a childs photo

Here are my top tips!

(1) Only approach at Happy Hour! And no I don't mean down at the local pub. Time your photograph taking at the right time, don't even think about attempting to bribe them before bed time or when they are felling a little under the weather, you will get no where! If you are in the winter make sure they are warm etc, just think about what makes them happy and is it really the right time to be directing them about to get that perfect shot!

(2) Expect nothing and anything else is a bonus. I never go in with an exact idea in my mind that I would like to achieve. You will be left disappointed most of the time. I like to go with the flow and usually my most used photos are those that were spontaneous and in the moment rather than staged. If you often have your camera out you will find your children get used to it and it isn't such a big deal. Ah the joys of being a bloggers child!

candid photos of a child

(3) Distractions are key. Think bubbles, water, food, things they can explore like nature. Anything to keep their minds off you and your camera. Children don't tend to have much of an attention span either so asking them  to do a certain task such as crafting for a photo could leave you with a very small time frame to get that photo you need. Think outside of the box with this one! Music is often a winner here, get them to sing and dance and this often shows their happy sides too, making it a bit more fun!

(4) Fun! Make sure it is fun for them. Then are children after all and it isn't in their job description to provide you with the perfect image that you want or need! Take them somewhere they love, do something they enjoy, don't make it feel like something they have to do! It also relieves the pressure from you a little too.

tips for photographing children

(5) Set your camera to quick fire! Ensure it is firing shots as quick as it can, that way you may take 100 photos and surely one or two of them will be up to the standard you were after. Children move super fast so making sure your shutter speed is fast enough really is key here too! Continuous mode really is the star of the show here.

(6) Get down to their level. This really does bring a different perspective to your photos, it means you aren't constantly looking down at them and it also means you get their engagement as they wonder what on earth you are doing! If you want to give them impression of them looking bigger than they are then get even lower as if you are looking up at them.

(7) You will no doubt need to crop your images. Don't worry about the fussy clutter around you, you can sort that out at a later date. Just focus on your child and capturing that moment. Also when cropping don’t be afraid to cut part of your child's body off with your framing if it helps the viewer’s eye to focus on what’s important in the photograph, what is it that you are trying to capture?

(8) Don't be worried if they aren't smiling. Some of my best shots are not where my child is smiling. Think candid and natural! You can really capture a personality or a moment that way.

Hayley x

More useful posts:

Blogging tips: 10 tips for photographing children by Surrey Mama

Honest Review of the Leesa Mattress*

When we were contacted about trying out a new Leesa Mattress I couldn't stop myself from replying in an instant. Anything to do with my bed or sleep and I am there! I absolutely love my bed and sleeping, I don't know many people who don't?

We have been testing the Leesa mattress now for just over a month and so wanted to share my thoughts on it with you all.

Mattress collection
When the mattress arrived I was quite surprised to find it in a pretty small box, I quickly was searching the box for labels with kind sized written on. I was thinking perhaps I had ordered a small one by mistake! I knew mattresses could be delivered in a box but was shocked at how small the packaging was, how on earth did it fit in there? It turns out pretty easily! 

We opened it up and put the mattress on to the bed to unravel and within seconds it was starting to expand. The Leesa mattress has been designed with three really soft foam layers that adjust to your body to give you the best support  possible without leaving those awful long-lasting dips in the mattress like traditional memory foam mattresses can. I know first hand from putting a mattress through two pregnancies that it can happen!! 

Mattress Reviews

It has been designed with the three premium foams for cooling, body contouring and pressure-relieving core support. The 2" Avena® foam top layer provides airflow for a cooler night's sleep whilst allowing enough movement for it to remain comfortable. The 2" memory foam layer delivers the body contouring and pressure relief you would expect from any memory foam mattress. The 6" base foam layer adds strength, durability and structure to support sleepers of all sizes, without feeling too firm. Our last mattress was classed as firm, the new Leesa one is definitely softer but is very supportive at the same time.

I have to say the one thing that I have noticed is the smell of the mattress when you open it. Only 2 weeks in did I notice the smell vanish completely. It is not a disgusting smell but there is a smell none the less. I remembered having the same thing with our previous mattress though. It soon disappears and really is worth it.

Honest Review of the Leesa Mattress*

One thing that really impressed me was that Leesa mattresses are made in the UK and they come with a 100 night risk-free trial which means that if the mattress isn't working for you. Which means you can at any point within the first 100 nights of having it arrange for the mattress to be collected and then donated to a charitable organisation.

Overall we have really enjoyed this mattress and found the transition for our old one a pleasure. It was easy to receive via delivery, to unpack and to set up on the bed. It took no time at all to expand and be usable and it really is comfortable.

I have a discount code for you THELITTLETHINGS which will give you £100 off at the checkout. You can find Leesa here.

*This is a PR Collaboration, we were gifted this mattress in return for our own, honest opinions. 

A Free Day Out In Shropshire at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust

This week we decided to go and have a look at the Shropshire Wildlife centre in Shrewsbury, I had been told about the children's area and how it was a great way to spend a few hours on a nice day. And to top it off it a free day out!

I had no idea where it was until I looked, it is nestled away off the big Abbey Foregate Carpark, so great for parking too.

We went with my two little ones and my sister and niece, it is free entry and the site is beautiful. You walk through the gift shop and mini cafe to get to the gardens and then to the play area. There is a large covered sand pit (I am thinking this could be a great rainy day option!) with tunnels leading to different areas, a big muddy area with a mud kitchen and a water play area. And then also just as you enter the fenced off area there is a mini, raised (so it is safe, unless you have a climber!) pond where the children can pond dip with some nets. It really is well equipped with pots, pans, spades, rakes and fishing nets.

free day out in shrewsbury

It was super mucky when we got there as there had been an organised session just before us that must have had lots of fun with the water getting the mud very muddy (is that even possible?) but that made it even more fun for our wild children who didn't hold back getting extra mucky!

They also have some lovely garden areas to wander around in and some picnic areas, so we sat on a bench and some chopped logs and had our sandwiches in the shade.

messy play in shropshire

It isn't often you come across an activity to do which has so much to offer for nothing. It is a voluntary organisation that is dedicated to educating people about wildlife. Shropshire Wildlife Trust is part of The Wildlife Trusts, the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK's habitats and species.

wildlife trust shropshire

With the summer holidays creeping up on us it may well be worth having a look at if you are local,

Hayley x

A Sunny Day at the Eisteddford*

If you read my post or maybe even entered my competition then you will know we were invited to the Llangollen Eisteddfod. The  Eisteddfod is a music festival which takes place every year during the second week of July in Llangollen, North Wales We went on Friday and honestly, we loved it.

llangollen eisteddfod for kids?

I knew it would be bright and colourful and that the children would love seeing all the costumes and performances but other than that I didn't know what to expect from the day. They were really geared up for families with things such as the picnic area (in a huge marquee thank goodness, it was so hot!), the circus tent where they could get involved and try things out and all the space they could tear around in.

There was something going on all day for us to watch and do, and if not then we just ate and drank sitting in the sunshine. What more could you ask for?

owl rescue shropshire

At the end of the Friday all of the nationalities joined and did a parade into the town of Llangollen and then back to the showground. We would have liked to have followed it in to see them all playing their music in the streets but Alex had just dropped off to sleep in his pram so we decided to make the most of the quiet and have ice creams in the shade. We waited for them all to come back and watched them enter back into the pavillion. This was my favourite part of the whole day. Some of the teams stopped in the middle of the pathway and just started playing and dancing and basically having fun! Then lots of the other just joined in, it was like one big dance off or street festival! It was like nothing  I have seen before, so much fun!

We will certainly be going back next year!

kids festival shropshire

*We were gifted tickets but all opinions are my own

5 Top Tips for Keeping Your Baby Cool In the Summer

I think we all have questions when it gets super hot here in the UK, it doesn't happen very often so when it does it throws us in to a bit of a panic and we all start questioning what we should be doing with our little ones! I thought I would note down a few of my top tips so hopefully it can help at least one of you relax a little more or maybe even a sleep a bit more during this heatwave.

5 Top Tips for Keeping Your Baby Cool In the Summer

(1) STRIP THEM OFF! I honestly don't think you need to worry about your baby being chilly, especially in the evening. It is very easy to add a layer on later on when it cools down a little than to try and cool a flustered, sweaty baby down. I tend to stick to putting my two to bed in vests or just their nappies and knickers, depending on how warm it is that evening. Then instead of putting on their usual bed quilts/ sacs etc, I use a light, muslin style sheet to cover them if they need it. Then when I go to check on them a little while later I can add a layer on if needs be or leave them be!

(2) NICE COOL BATH! We all love a paddling pool but sometimes it just isn't practical when your babies are little and well we can't live out in the paddling pool all day long, especially if it is still very warm outside. I fill the bath with tepid water, more on the chilly side, and let them play and splash about until they are ready to get out. They are out of the sun, cooling down and happy that way usually. I always do this before bed when it is especially hot, just allows them to cool down and be comfortable before jumping into bed.

(3) GET THE HOUSE FEELING BREEZY! I usually have all of the curtains drawn upstairs in the day to protect it from getting ridiculously sweaty and clammy up there. But all of the windows will be open to keep the air moving about and feeling a little breezy, just watch out for slamming doors!

(4) PUTTING ICE IN FRONT OF THE FAN! We have all been there before, noticing that a fan does next to nothing when it is particularly sticky outside. It just pushes the hot air about not being all too helpful. I often get a big bowl of ice and stick it in front of the fan, so when it is pushing air around, it is wafting the cooler air into the room. I have known of other people freezing bottles of water and doing essentially the same thing, placing it in front of the fan.

(5) DO AS LITTLE AS YOU CAN! So instead of rushing about trying to do chores, planning in activities and getting out in the car just stop and go with the flow of the day. That could be reading books indoors, watching a bit of TV (don't judge, we all do what we can to keep everyone happy when it is hot!) or just pottering about in the shade. I find it far too stressful to do much when it is hot with the children, the last thing they want is to be moved into car seats, in to pushchairs etc when they are hot.

Family Friendly Hotels in Skiathos | Morfia Aparthotel

We recently went to Skiathos on a two week holiday, with the 2 children. We actually went there for a family wedding but decided to stay on for a second week as a family. When we were looking for holidays I have to say we found the island to be quite pricey, although it is difficult to say as we were going within half term which always bumps up the prices massively, so perhaps out of term time it could be completely different.

kids hotel skiathos

Although I have to say it is absolutely beautiful and worth every penny in my opinion. We will go back one day I am sure, it is quite unusual for me to say that as I love to explore new places but maybe in a few years time we will be back!

Thomas Cook Image

I will do a post all about Skiathos; what we got up to, how to get around etc another day, but for today I wanted to tell you all about where we stayed. We stayed at the Morfia Aparthotel which is in Troulos and booked with Thomas Cook. Most of the bridal party were able to book here, it was more on the budget side of the hotels available but honestly, we struck lucky. It was beautiful. It is a little family run hotel and well kept.

They are really set up as a typical greek hotel, basic but completely geared up for families.

We had a maisonette which essentially has like a little mezzanine, with 1 double bed upstairs and twin beds in the living area. We also had the travel cot put downstairs too. We had every intention of us sleeping upstairs and the children downstairs, but I have to be honest and say I didn't like the stairs. We had a kind of make shift stair gate we could have put up but the thought of rushing down them to tend to Alex in the night, to stop him disturbing Daisy filled me with dread so I ended up sleeping in the bed next to Daisy. Which actually was fine really. I missed Ben a little but we survived!

It had a little kitchenette but it was basic, we didn't need to use it at all though really, we pretty much just used the fridge for our water and milk etc, it was absolutely fine and exactly as we would expect in a  hotel.

The pool was perfect. There was a big pool which had gradual depth and then like a paddling pool area which was raised for the little ones. That was perfect for them to splash about in, deep enough for them to swim in but shallow enough to play safely. With it being raised though and up steps we had to be in it with them at all times, which of course we would do anyway. But Daisy is at the age where she could swim and as long as we were watching her would be fine on her own but we couldn't risk her being in there on her own. Which is absolutely fine but worth pointing out.

family friendly skiathos

There was a restaurant on site called Ratatouille and it is had a really good reputation in the area for being great food. We had a couple of good meals in there so it is worth going there, they also have a childrens menu which is a bonus.

But overall the pool area and bar are very clean and the attached restaurant is good. But it’s the staff that really make this place, friendly and welcoming, they always took the time to speak to us and the children. They really did make us feel welcome and content.

P20 Suncream - Is it worth the hefty price tag?

So I got drawn into buying some P20 sun cream before our latest holiday to Greece. I have always been a little curious about it but have always been a bit scared off by the price tag, I mean its more then double the price of a lot of other options on offer.

suncream for kids

These days we know how sunshine is important for our intake of vitamin D, contributing to our overall health. When we do actually see some sun (living in the UK are time slots are limited!!),  it’s easy to make mistakes and get burnt to crisps. As parents this is something we are slightly psychotic about. Our kids have to be smothered and completely protected as often as we can. This means chasing them around the beach or pool reapplying at every opportunity.

We travel fairly often and so most of the time the two children will stand and be covered but you can still see the anger in their face at the inconvenience of being chased about all day! But we all know how important it is to protect our children's skin for their own future.

P20 by Riemann offers all day (up to 10 hours) protection: which can only be a positive. I purchased their continuous spray which basically means you can work quickly and spray from every angle, chasing the kids around the room if needs be! It dries instantly as well so no slippery bodies running about the place. I bought the SPF50 for us all but also the SPF20 for my husband and I too. For those with sensitive skin it’s also great to know that there are no added colourants, fragrance or preservatives, we saw no reaction with Alex's eczema either which is great.

Is p20 worth the price?

So P20. Will I buy it again? Absolutely. I would apply it first thing in the morning (before they got dressed, that stuff can stain anything yellow so watch out!) and then be confident that they would be protected for the next 10 hours. As a mum who desperately didn't want them to burn I have to admit i did top up their little faces a couple of times as well as sensitive spots like their shoulders when they were out of their swim suits etc.

But we had no burns at all, no rosy streaks across their faces and no nasty heat rashes either.

Their skin was beautifully smooth and it didn't have a nasty smell which some creams can come with.

I really do recommend it!