Which Baby Change Facility would you use? #ad

I know, baby change facilities is not the most exciting of topics, is it? But when you have a little baby – they are kind of a big deal! I often think it’s clear that shops/restaurants have not put much thought into them when installing a quick table into their disabled toilet and calling it a ‘baby change‘ – as usually it will be totally illogical and installed by someone who clearly hasn’t had a baby, or unclean – so I wish more of us would speak up about how rubbish most facilities really are.

We’ve all had that awful moment where we have to change our babies nappies in the worst conditions. Usually, just to make things worse that’ll be the day they’ve done a poonami too – it happens to the best of us! The other day I had to change Violet’s nappy on a window ledge whilst she clutched at a painting of the Mona Lisa (!) that she’d pulled down in a mad scrabble to pull leggings off a wriggly baby who decided to twist around in circles like a tornado. I let her hold the painting until I was done as at least then she’d have something to distract her from rolling off the precarious window ledge! Yep, that really happened. You’d think they’d just be helpful and install a pull-down table, wouldn’t you!

So, I was recently asked by Direct365 to ‘go undercover‘ to secretly film and suss out two very different baby change facilities in a mission to find out what makes a good facility and what makes it bad. On this ‘mission’ were 9 other parents from around the country, so hopefully together can start to spread the word on what we need to take care of our little babies bums whilst on the move! We were asked to look at each facility and mark it for things like – cleanliness, space to move about, extra chairs for feeding, nappy bins, supplies and everything you’d expect from a good baby change facility.

This is all part of Direct365’s latest campaign to improve baby change facilities across the UK –  they have recently launched these funny baby videos too.

So, I’m sure you are waiting to see my video now…. here it is!

How do you think this compares to your local change facilities?

Want A Family Holiday When You’re A New Family?

Family days out are a great time for everyone involved, but what about taking a bona fide family holiday? You have to plan until your hair falls out just in case of an emergency, and then there’s all the extra packing you think you have to do for your children; it only makes sense that a lot of families go out of term time just because they’re ready to do so then. Yet, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it first seems. There’s quite a few things to think about first of course, so here’s a bit of a checklist to help you plan. When you have a little one in the back, the world of travel is going to revolve around them, so here’s a few ideas on what you can to make the process easier.

Image Source

Keep the Suitcase Light

You’re never going to need as much clothing or cleaning items as you think. Often enough, you can pick up more at the airport if you need to, or if you can’t stop worrying. Wear your heaviest clothes upon arrival, and roll the rest of your outfits instead of folding them.

Know How to Navigate the Airport

So the big restaurants, like that of Pret a Manger, are always going to be a popular destination for anyone heading to an airport early. They offer great breakfasts at an affordable rate we’re prepared to pay for. However, they can get packed very early on, and joining the queue when you wish you were still in your pjs, and clutching your kid’s hand, is going to be an absolute nightmare.

Whilst the duty free section can also be hell to get through, it has some hidden secrets for to try out for a more peaceful experience. Try the pre packaged sandwiches in the fridge at the convenience stores in the back of the airport, like WHSmiths and it’s ilk. You’re seen to a lot quicker, and you can even package the food away safely and cleanly when you have to quickly rush off.

Try and sit close to the gate you need to go through, and be ready for the boarding announcement. Be as nifty as you can to avoid speeders with wheely suitcases, and get to the front of the queue first. It’s good preparation for getting on plane as soon as possible, and makes you more ready for any 5 miles treks you may have to get on with.

Try a Smaller Island or Tourist Area

So taking a trip to Thailand to get acquainted with the culture and religion is all well and good, but there’s a lot of jeopardy involved for new families. There’s a reason it’s a gap year hotspot: there’s plenty of hostels and attraction for the student life.

Try somewhere like Ireland or Sri Lanka for a more contained area that still has plenty of variance and life to it. There’s an incredible amount of magic in both of these locations, and you’ll be up to your eyeballs in culture to revel in. Similarly, both of these countries have plenty of cave systems and rivers to explore and go boating on, and you’ll never lose track of where your family is.

Try a Cruise

Want to go away but have a laidback time whilst soaking in the sun and sea like any other tourist? A cruise might be just the trip for you. It’s good for families as there’s plenty of facilities on a boat to keep the little ones clean and taken care of, and the creature comfort of having a proper bed won’t go amiss either. Try looking at deals at places like the Bolsover Cruise Club for trips that take a few weeks or just a few days, and settle yourself into the idea gently but with an intense experience you’re never going to forget. You can relax on the high seas with some slight swaying that can rock any baby to sleep, and any sea sickness can be quickly done away with with a bit of orange juice and lemonade from the bar.

As a new family, you can do a lot to experiment with your holiday experiences, and learn by doing when it comes to finding something everyone in your family wants to enjoy. Try some test runs first, by just having two or three days away, and then do the whole two weeks once you know how easy travelling with a baby or young child can be.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Oh, I do love a trip to the SeaLife Centre Brighton! We’ve been meaning to take Violet for a couple of months now although had been holding on as we wanted to take her once we knew she’d actually be interested in the fish and have a bit more of an understanding on what is going on so we could all enjoy the experience.

I think we timed it just right as now Violet is just about to turn 8 months (I know, WHAT!) and she absolutely loves animals of all kinds. From previous trips to the farm we’ve seen that she is clearly watching the animals as her eyes will follow them around their enclosures – so we knew she’d just love the SeaLife Centre. She had never seen fish like this before, so it was going to be a real treat!

Also, this October, Sea Life Brighton has a spooky Halloween theme going on in the ‘Fear Forest’ which is the rainforest section – with decorations, scary creatures (and handling sessions of creatures like hissing cockroaches and african land snails!), a ‘Yucky Dip’ and face painting so we thought it would be fun added extra to check that out too!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

From the moment we stepped through the doors, Violet was just mesmerised by the beautiful aquariums, lights and colours. In fact in the first picture, she is literally trying to break out of my arms to get back to the fish tanks as she was just in awe. I just thought maybe she liked the lights but holding her up to each tank, you could see she would be staring intently at the creatures inside, her little mind visibly taking it all in. She also loved the bright rainbow colours of the Victorian Arcade, although who doesn’t! It’s so pretty in there.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

We headed into the Fear Forest, where some Halloween decorations have added to the experience – although I have to say the decorations were a little on the sparse side for what I was expecting, but we didn’t come for the Halloween bits really and Violet was too mesmerised by the aquariums to really notice any other bits of decoration. I’m sure the Halloween activities would be fun for slightly older children though!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

My favourite part of the SeaLife Centre (and I’m sure Violet’s too!) was the Ocean Tunnel –  with giant sea turtles, sharks, rays and tropical fish there is so much to see!  We spent quite a while in here, watching the ginormous turtle gliding so close over our heads, so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

We’ve always enjoyed going to the SeaLife Centre and have been a few times now, but this was our first trip as a family and honestly, it makes all the difference! It was such a lovely feeling watching Violet’s face as she stared in astonishment at the creatures, squeaking and kicking her legs in excitement as they came closer to her! There was so much for her to see, even at the tender age of (almost) 8 months she was taking it all in and I know when we come back when she’s a little older, she’ll love getting involved with the activities like face painting, animal handling and treasure hunts too, so this is a place we can keep returning to over time too.

I’d highly recommend a trip if you are looking for something to do this Half Term, plus kids in Halloween costumes will receive free entry too!

Sea Life Brighton is open from 10 am every day apart from Christmas Day. Visitors can save up to 40% by booking in advance online. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.visitsealife.com/brighton or call 01273 604234.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Grab a Bargain For Your Next Family Holiday

One of the biggest things that puts people off travel is the cost of it all. From travel insurance to flights, there are several expenses when it comes to planning a family holiday. Plus, when you’re paying for multiple people, the cost can really add up. But there are many ways that you can cut down the costs of a family holiday. And I don’t know many people that want to pay more for something if they don’t have to.

Even if you’re tied down by the constraints of school holidays for a family getaway, you might be surprised that you still can get some cheap holiday deals. The key is to know where to look and to time it all right. So before you book your next trip, have a read through this list of tips, and hopefully, you’ll be able to get yourself a bargain. Winning.

image

Avoid Using High Street Travel Agents

Let’s face it; high street travel agents are there to make money. They have all of the costs of a physical premises to pay for, as well as staff wages. So although it can be a simpler process (someone plans the whole thing for you), you are rarely going to walk out of there thinking that you’ve bagged yourself a bargain. So look online or do it all independently. It can take some planning to book separate flights, transfers, and accommodation. But it will no doubt save you quite a lot of cash.

Book Using the Local Currency

If you’re looking to go abroad, then booking things like accommodation or excursions before you go, look to pay for them in the local currency. The pound is getting higher at the moment, so take advantage of using it against the Euro or US Dollar, for example. When you do so, it will make what you are paying for just that little bit cheaper.

Be Flexible With Airports

This is both the airport that you fly to and the airport that you fly from. When you have some flexibility, then it is going to get you the cheapest flights possible. If you’re flying from London area, then it does give you a variety of options. Often London City airport flights are going to be cheaper than London Heathrow, for example. It all depends on what airlines fly from where, and often more budget airlines fly from the smaller airports.

Avoid Weekend Travel

Many people look to maximise time off by going on their holiday on a Friday or Saturday, then returning the following Sunday. Travel companies know that people do this as it saves days off work. But if you’re able to take a couple more days off work, then travel on a Tuesday, or a Wednesday has often been cheaper in my experience. Using comparison sites for flights can be a really good way to check on this.

Have you got any other tips that have helped you to find a great deal in the past? Would love to hear what you think.

 

5 Ways You Can Prepare For Next Years Holiday

It’s an ambitious to think about next year’s holiday already, but did you know that being super prepared will actually save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run? This article is going to show you exactly how you can prepare right now, for your vacation next year and save yourself a lot of rushing and more importantly, money.

Picture

Location

First and foremost, deciding where you’re going to visit now will save you having to rush into a decision when the time comes to book a holiday. Either browse online or head to your local travel agents and see what countries look the most appealing to you. Not only will you save yourself from rushing, but you will also be able to give yourselves an idea on how much your holiday is going to cost you.

Think about what you love doing and find a location that fits that perfectly. Or you could take the alternative option and go for something that’s completely out of the ordinary for a super exciting trip away!

Clothes

Clothing is something that many people leave until the last minute to buy, because they want to catch the summer sales. Did you know, that many stores and companies actually offer their best deals after the summer has ended because they are trying to get rid of stock? Why not find the perfect sundress now ready for next year, rather than pacing the shops and not being able to find anything you like?

Picking up clothes as you see them will be less of a blow to your bank account too. Also, if you need any alterations making to your clothes, then you’ve got more than enough time to arrange it. The same goes for swimsuits, shoes and any other attire you’d typically take away with you.

Renew passports and travel insurance

Another thing that many people forget to do until it’s almost too late, is to renew their passports and travel insurance. Take a look at the expiry date on your passport, and if it will expire before you go away next year, get it renewed now so that it’s done, and you don’t have to make a large payment out last minute.

 

Make sure that your travel insurance is also up to date so that you’re not left stuck if anything does happen while you’re away. Check out any dangers that may arise where you’re travelling and add it to the policy of your insurance to make sure you’re covered from every angle.

Book now

If you find the holiday that you want to settle for right away, then why not book it now to save the worry of that particular hotel being fully booked, or that price being changed when the holiday season comes back around.

Booking now will also give you a much longer time period to save and pay your holiday off, and you will be able to head into work and be the first to book the time you want off without having to worry about someone else already having it booked off.

Another great reason to book now, is also what’s already been mentioned in this article. There’s no need to rush to find somewhere you like, you can take your time to buy clothes and other essentials for your holiday, and it will also give you something to look forward to for a long time.

Save gradually

Finally, saving gradually for your holiday will make the expense of it seem greatly smaller than it actually is. This includes other costs like food, drinks, spending money, putting the dogs into a kennel, parking at the airport etc. Sit down and figure out a budget that you want to reach by the time you go on holiday, and put the right amount of money away each week so that when it comes to it, everything is paid for and you don’t have to worry about a thing!

So there we have it, 5 ways of preparing for next year’s holiday, today! Doing all of these things will make sure that you’re avoiding any last minute panic, and also making sure that you’ve got plenty of time to book everything you need. Remember that having time on your side is one of the best things you can do, and to hit those sales now rather than later for your summer attire! Lastly, enjoy your holiday!