Featured Post

Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

The Rise of the Cleaning Bloggers

I may have been a bit docile and not noticed that it has been going on for ages or has cleaning taken over the Instagram, blogging and vlogging world this last few weeks? This isn't a post to slate that or bring any negativity to it, I just wonder what it is that the nation loves so much about it? I mean the jist of it is that you watch someone cleaning their house. As simple as that. According to tubefilter.com in 2017, views of videos with “clean with me” in the description got close to 50 million on March 4. This year on March 15, there were over 100 million views of such videos. Which just shows how fast this is growing!

So if you haven't come across it yet you basically watch someone clean their home until it is pristine like a show home and they show you any hacks they use and the products they're loving. Simple right, but weird at the same time. Speed cleans have been around on YouTube for a while and I may have dabbled in it a little from time to time and viewers do seem to like them. I mean if you look at the likes of Emily Norris her YouTube channel really took off and I think a lot of that was to do with her cleaning hacks and speed cleans.

This last few weeks I have been watching MrsHinchhome on Instagram grow like you wouldn't believe, she is growing by over 2k viewers some days! How insane is that? People have gone Hinch crazy! I admit I follow her, more out of curiosity than anything, it just blows my tiny little mind! But what is it that people love so much? I asked my Instagram followers what they thought and I was really interested to see their reactions. I had a range of answers from them and it was anything from the videos giving motivation to people to get them cleaning their own homes, satisfaction from seeing the end result and picking up tips and hacks that they can use in their busy lives. I mean we all want an easier life, especially when you are busy with work, parenthood and maybe even a social life, if you're lucky!

I can understand the motivation and also the tips. I too have picked up a product because it has been show on a video and thought that could work for us too. You just have to look at the Zoflora phenomena where everybody and their dog goes mad for it, finding new scents and new ways of using it. That came from the same type of thing, cleaning videos! And I am sure Zoflora are reeping in the benefits of that! Even if my hands do not like it, I find it pretty useful and had I not have seen it online I would never have picked it up because lets face it the packaging doesn't exactly scream pick me up and I would never have spotted it on the shelf in Tesco!

The reactions to my questions were a mixed bag though and I wasn't surprised to see that not everyone likes the cleaning craze that has hit social media lately. People have said its boring, mundane and it is people just pushing affiliate links. There is certainly an element of that with some accounts but then I am all for links of I would be purchasing that product anyway, it isn't going to cost me any extra money if I buy it through the link, so why wouldn't I click that link. Another response was that they made a person feel guilty for not cleaning more, and who needs more guilt in their life? And Yeah I feel this response too, I get enough mum guilt when I don't do enough with the kids, don't think out of the box and get creative enough, don't save enough, don't make enough effort and now for not cleaning? Or on the other hand is it something we could be aspiring to be like?

They're boring. That was what a lot of people had to say about it. And I agree to an extent. I can perhaps watch one or two videos when Is it down to watch my subscriptions but then I am done, all cleaned out. They all appear very samey and I wonder how long the fad will last. If I watch them then they are on in the background whilst I am working or tidying myself, ironic huh? So they do have a purpose to me.

What do you think about it all? Interesting or bore you to death?

Hayley x

The Simple Things: Camping with Children

When I started this blog it was to capture memories from my pregnancies and my children's adventures so I could look back like a diary with photos, so I could reminisce over the times we had when they were growing up. I still do an element of that but I don't just seem to share the simple things anymore. The camping trips where we just arrive at a campsite in wales and camp out for a few days, hoping for some dry, warm weather so we can just explore the beach all day long and let the kids do what they do best, roam about and get mucky.

It is no secret that we love a camping session, and usually in the same spot, Barmouth way (Mid Wales). Camping gives us an excuse to get out as a family away from the day to day jobs and chores at a weekend, otherwise we find ourselves whizzing about here, there and everywhere and not really spending much time together.

camping near barmouth

wetsuits for kids, childrens wetsuits, konfidence swimwear

We recently went to stay where we have been many times before, Caer Daniel, which is close to Barmouth if you know Wales at all. It is a simple site that has sea views and has loads of room for the little ones to run about, they never pack in the pitches so you always feel like you have space to let them play and sit out.

Sadly the British summer has already peaked the month before and August hasn't been all that good for sunshine. We had one afternoon and evening of warm, beautiful sunsets but then it was a bleurgh! It was okay but it did mean we cut our trip short by a day as we just couldn't face packing everything down in the pouring rain that was forecast for the next day.

We have got a tent that we bought last year from Go Outdoors, Voyager Elite 6 Person Tent. We used it a few times last year but really wanted to get some use out of it this summer but sadly the weather has been far too hot to camp (I know, ridiculous to say about the UK) or just miserable. Hopefully we will get plenty more use out of it over the next month!

Go outdoors tent review

If you want to read a post I wrote about our top camping essentials then you find that here too.

Hayley x

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