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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

New Years Health & Fitness Routines – Why They Do Not Work and What We Should Be Doing

Why! Why do we do it to ourselves. With the beginning of every new year we all make these health and fitness goals that just are not sustainable. It is like we are stuck in a broken record making the same mistakes every year.

I mean, what is it about January that makes us all focus about our health and fitness anyway?

Is it that we have all over indulged too much at Christmas and start to feel guilty so once January hits we go on diets but surely calories don’t count in December, right.

Or it could be that come the 1st January everywhere you go they are selling gym equipment, food supplements and gym clothes, even Aldi best buys are taken over by the January get fit quick idea. Everywhere you look there is adverts for gym membership trying to pressures us to make the change and newspapers and magazines are packed full of articles on how to be super fit and healthy. 

I mean how many times have you bought a piece of equipment or gym membership with the best intentions and once January has ended it has gone to waist never to be used again? 

Well I can tell you now that you are not the only one! 

It turns out that the second Saturday of February is statistically known as ‘fall of the wagon day’ as identified by Citylab and Foursquare research. 

To be honest even that is good going we are only on the 4th January and I have already given in on eating healthy and finished a box of Lindt chocolates to myself.

Now I am all for getting healthy and sustaining a fitness routine and I do actively promote these but I feel that every January there is so much pressure put on us to change literally overnight from eating chocolates for breakfast still on 31st December to then be eating avocados and rye bread from the 1st January. 

I do want to be healthier and fitter and I do encourage everyone to else as well to take the steps towards living a healthier life. However it needs to be done slowly and over the course of the year so it is more sustainable. 

If we ease into it and implement small changes then it will be so much easier to keep. If you are going from doing no exercise at all and then all of a sudden you are doing 5 days a week of exercise I doubt you will be able to keep this going. It is better to start off with one day a week of exercise then as the weeks/months go on slowly increase to 2-3 days. 

The same with diet don’t go jumping in on the newest fad diet that you just won’t be able to keep up. Start by making small healthy changes like maybe eating a healthier breakfast, drinking more water and then slowly build on this. 

If we can all slowly build on small sustainable health & fitness steps then by next New Year we won’t need to make these radical New Years health resolutions as we will already be at are prime health and fitness levels.

My January small steps that I have made is to start ordering weekly fruit and veg boxes from our local green grocer to ensure we are all getting more in our diet and instead of signing up for gym membership I have signed the whole family back up to National Trust membership to get us back out visiting these beautiful places and going out for walks again around the grounds.  

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What small steps are you going to make to work on your long term health goals?

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Why not take a look at my other posts –

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Parenting Advice Product Reviews

Cool That Volcano – A self-help book for parents to help children achieve emotional intelligence

I had the pleasure of being asked to review Peter Black’s informative self – help book ‘Cool that Volcano‘. 

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Pete Black is a registered psychologist with over 16 years of experience working with troubled individuals. He has used his own professional experience and knowledge of emotional management skills, to create this self-help book for parents to help you achieve a emotionally intelligent children. 

Cool that Volcano’s core focus is on open communication between child and adult which Peter has then broken down into easy to follow sections explaining step by step how to achieve this and gain emotional intelligence. 

The book is broken down into the following sections – 

– Understanding Emotions

– Managing Emotions

– Processing Emotions

– Maintaining Emotional Balance

– Effective Modelling

Peter has used Metaphors to describe a child’s emotional state, hence the title of the book.  The Volcano is the child’s temperament and the Lava is when a child erupts spewing out negative emotions, he refers to these throughout the book and also uses icebergs as a metaphor for cooling your little volcano’s down. 

I found Cool that Volcano easy to read and understand. It is also packed full of helpful tips and advice that is broken down into small steps to help you follow and implement to effectively deal with your child’s emotional state. Peter has written the book in a understanding way that makes you feel at ease. He also sets realistic targets highlighting that changes won’t happen overnight but with a bit of time and practice emotional intelligence is achievable. As well as focusing on our children’s emotional intelligence Peter also talks about the importance of being a good role model by making sure we can control our emotions in difficult situations too and has included some tips to help parents with this. 

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If you are struggling to handle your child’s emotions then this book is definitely worth reading. 

Cool That Volcano is available on Amazon for £6.99 paperback or you can read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. 

Why not take a look at my other book review posts –

Playgroups and Prosecco

Escape from Nettle Farm

I am your Friend, A book of hope

The girl who refused to quit

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Parenting Advice

It is OK to have a lazy day every now and then.

I always feel that on weekends and especially on Bank holiday weekends our family should be doing something special like visiting a new place, going on a beautiful walk, making something or doing an activity.

I often feel that if we haven’t done something that day then it has been wasted and I have let everyone down. Today was one of those days, I wanted for us all to go out and make some memories but no one really wanted to move. All of us were knackered, the weather was cold, we don’t have a lot of money as we are going on holiday in 2 weeks and we just couldn’t be bothered.

I think social media plays a huge part in making us feel like we should be doing more as you only really see post when people/families have done something or gone somewhere exciting you don’t see people posting that they spent the day watching telly and doing the washing. However the real-life truth is we can’t do all these things all the time we have to have the boring days of doing nothing to be able to enjoy and look forward to the fun days.

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At first I was worried that my girls were missing out on an opportunity to do something over the bank holiday but then I looked at them chilled out playing on the computers and I then realised that they need days like these, they are happy and not moaning and we could all do with a down day there is nothing wrong with having one every now and again..

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So instead the girls all played computer games, I did the housework and then we did a bit of roller skating. Even though we didn’t go anywhere we still all had a good day. It also means we were able to save money so we will now have a bit more to spend and enjoy our holiday with.

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Parenting Advice

Alternatives to Chocolate this Easter

This Easter I will be looking at getting my children something other than chocolate as a gift. They still will end up with chocolate from Easter trails and I am sure from other family members so they are not missing out completely but I don’t want to contribute to the hoards of chocolate they normally end up with. Instead I am getting my girls a book each and a cushion which I have shared below. I have also added some other gift ideas instead of chocolate.

Books

Books make a great gift for children for Easter, these can be Easter related stories, activity books, picture books or just a book from a series/author they are interested in. Books are  great way to inspire children to read from a young age it will also be something new for the children to read over the Easter holidays.

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My children’s book Pete The Cheeky Parakeet would make a lovely gift for children 3-7 years olds.

Craft Activity Packs

Craft activity packs also make great gifts for Easter, they are fun, engaging and also give children something to do when they are on half term.

Some of our favourite activities are Hama Beads, sand art, Window sticker pens, painting sets.

Clothes

This is a good gift idea if your children are slightly older and appreciate getting clothes. A new top, dress, football kit, jumper, new shoes or even a pair of pyjamas all make a lovely gift that are also practical.

A useful gift

I have chosen to get all my girls cushions for their rooms this year. I have ordered them from the lovely Lili’s Boutique who hand makes them and can also add in a little pocket at the front for keeping a cuddly toy or book in. She has a range of different fabrics that you can choose from.

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An example of the cushion I have ordered for my girls

A jewellery/keepsake box, a new rucksack or even a lunch box all make good gifts for Easter that are also useful.

An activity

Why not book a family activity for you all to try something new like climbing, high ropes, laser tag, horse riding, tobogganing ect. There is lots of activities available and this will also be a gift you can all enjoy together.

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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Finding the balance for children between screen time and playing outside

As modern day parents we are facing a new dilemma with our children and the boom of electronics. In this day and age it is important for our children to be familiar with electronics and how they work. By having a good knowledge of electronics will help them in the future.

However it is also important for them to be outside playing, interacting with other children and being imaginative by thinking up their own games. This will help keep them fit, healthy, develop motor skills and also help improve their well-being and happiness. Read my post on the Benefits of nature and how to enjoy them post for more info on the importance of people outside.

It is so hard to find the balance or even to know what the balance should be. How much is too much time on their tablets? I have looked into it and all the advice I can find is that appropriate time limits should be set however some places say no more than 2 hours a day and some say less than 2 hours a day. My girls are early risers so they could do this before I even get out of bed especially on the weekend.

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If I let them they would happily spend all day zombified to their tablets/computers and although they may moan once they are outside playing they are happy children climbing trees and playing with each other in the park like we used to do as children.

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They even got their uncle into playing Roblox with them

Although I still don’t think I have the balance right here are something I have found that help.

1. In the weekday mornings they are not allowed to touch electronics until they are completely ready for school they are normally slow at getting ready so most mornings they never even get to go on their tablets. This is also a great way to get them ready for school on time.

2. After school we have the rule of no electronics until after dinner although annoyingly they do still get round this sometimes as they have homework that needs to be done on a computer, but generally this works really well. They will go out to play burn off some energy and then after dinner they can have a chill time on their electronics before heading to bed. On days with bad weather they play games or do some drawing.

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3. Weekends however are a lot harder as I want to be more relaxed with them but they would easily spend the whole day looking at the screen if I let them. They are on their electronics from the point of waking up until I decide they have been on them to long and send them out to the park. Some of the games they play or YouTube videos they watch are good and they can learn from them but others are just a load of rubbish that I am pretty sure has no benefit to them at all.

I have to admit that they probably do spend more than the 2 hours a day on their electronics over the weekend. After having breakfast they are normally on them until about 10/11am when we then take them out or I send them out to play with their friends. Unless the weather is really bad they will stay outside for most of the day just playing and being children. Then they will go back on their tablets in the evening sometimes for another 2 hours. In the summer however we are pretty much out for the whole weekend and they barely even look at their electronics. On the weekends I try to again limit their electronic use to just morning and evenings.

What tips do you have for finding a balance please comment below.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Self-care tips for busy parents

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Parenting Advice

A Poem for An Amazing Mum

Mum you will always be by my side,

With the unconditional love that you provide,

Millions of kisses you have showered upon me,

To your family you are a true devotee,

You are my saviour through dark times,

That is why I love you longtime.

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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Self-care tips for busy parents

As busy parent’s we can often find our days are like a never ending to do list, as soon as we have finished one thing it is straight on to the next.

As well as looking after our children, there is cleaning, chores and for some of us work to fit in as well. With life being so busy it is hard to remember to take time out for ourselves to ensure that we have some me time and do not become run down.

As parents we tend to put our self-care last and focus more on our children’s care when in fact taking care of ourselves should be number 1 priority as when we our burnt out we are unable to care for the rest of the family.

As they say in the airplane safety briefing before the plane takes off, ‘always put your breathing mask on first before helping others’, they say this for the simple fact that if you take care of yourself first you are then in a better position to help others afterwards. The same goes for self-care, look after yourself first then you will be in a better position to give your children the best care.

I have to admit I have not been the best at self-care and often put myself last but I have been making more of an effort lately and have noticed the improvement in family life, when I am chilled and happy so is the rest of the family.

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How to factor in self-care?

Take 10

With our busy lives, time is always an issue when trying to fit in self-care and we can’t take a few hours off every day to refresh. This is where we need to ensure that we take at least 10 mins to ourselves a day. I have incorporated this into my everyday routine with a tea break. Everyday after finishing work and getting back from school run I will make a cup of tea and sit down on the sofa and drink it slowly. If anyone wants anything from me they are going to have to wait until I have finished. It is amazing what just a 10 minute refresh can do for your mind and body.

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Exercise

Exercise is a great way to clear our heads and help us stay focused. If you are feeling stressed then a great way to unwind is yoga. Yoga has the unique ability to help melt away stress and help your mind to focus on what is important. It will leave you feeling calm and relaxed and after doing it regularly you will feel healthier and stronger. (For more on yoga take a look at my post Why parents need yoga)

Going for a walk or a run is also a great way to get some you time because as well as getting exercise you are also getting fresh air.  

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Taking time out to go to the gym, an exercise class or any type of exercise that you enjoy will leave you feeling energised and invigorated and ready to take on the challenges life throws at us.

Planning

I know planning can seem an odd thing to put for self-care but sometimes if we really look at our busy lives and take the time to sit down and plan out our week you will find that you can slot in a few hours here and there for ourselves. Whether that would be in the morning before the children wake up, a little time while they are at school/nursery or when they have gone to bed. If you usually spend this time filled with chores plan in that one day a week you are going to forget all about the chores and take some time for yourself.

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If you are looking for a good planner take a look at my

post on The ultimate Diary Planner.

Hobbies

Find a hobby that you enjoy doing and set yourself some time during the week to carry it out. I love to read so every night before I go to sleep I sit up and read a bit of my book, some nights I can only manage a page or two as I am so tired and other days I can read for hours. There are lots of hobbies out there like knitting, drawing, baking, listening to music the list is endless you just need to find something you enjoy and try to set some time aside to do it.

Music

Music for me is one of the best ways for me to de-stress and go into my own little world. Even if I am still doing the housework putting my headphones on and dancing around the kitchen whilst mopping is the perfect way to forget your troubles. I also quite often put the radio on in the morning while we are all getting ready as I feel it motivates us more and I also listen to my i-pod on my walk to and from work which helps me relax and switch off for a few minutes. (For more on how music can benefit families read my post on how music brings families together)

Baths

Now this maybe a lot higher on some peoples list but for me baths are very rare. I am a shower person as they are quick, easy and get the job done and I don’t have much time for baths. That being said when I am feeling run down taking the time to have a nice warm relaxing bath can really help.

We are all different and all have our own unique ways to help us relax and unwind, whatever they maybe we all need to ensure that we are setting aside some time no matter how big or small in our busy lives to take care of ourselves.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Parenting Advice Product Reviews

Why the Olympus TG-5 Tough is a great camera for parents that love to take pictures!

I love photography. It is my other passion along side writing.

I like to have pictures of our family days out and activities so we can have them as lasting memories. I have my Nikon D3330 which I love and use a lot for my photography however it is not the type of camera you can take with you on a beach day when you have children to run around after. I also worry when the kids ask to use it as they want to take some pictures that they may drop it.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to get an action camera so I would never miss a family moment at the beach or of the kids playing in the water. I searched for ages and looked through so many different cameras I was baffled. I wanted something that was water proof but that also took great pictures but not with an extortionate price tag.

It was when a very talented photographer Paul Williams recommended on his page the Olympus Tough 5 as it has an amazing macro function as well as being fully waterproof and drop proof.

I am fascinated with macro and underwater photography so that was it I was sold and ordered my new camera. That was over a year ago and I still love my Olympus TG-5 Tough and now I wanted to share with you why it makes a great camera for parents. I have managed to take so many amazing photos from it and capture family moments that otherwise would have been lost in time.

At £420 (the price when I bought mine) it is by no means a cheap camera but for me it was so worth the money and I have never regretted it. The camera is lightweight and small so it can fit in your pocket or bag making it easy to carry around with you.

It claims to be drop proof up to 2.1m drop height although I can not verify this as I am not brave enough to test it out but it makes it the perfect camera to let little ones use knowing that if they did accidentally drop the camera it won’t break.

It is fully waterproof up to 15m deep without the need of any specialist case so you can run in the sea with it and take pictures of your little ones and come away with beautiful pictures to remember the day. It is also perfect for snorkeling and capturing the amazing creatures that you encountered lurking under the water.

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The Olympus  TG-5 Tough is also freeze proof up to -10C so you can take it out in the snow without any worries and capture the fun you all had on those rare snowdays (if you live in the UK).

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It has a brilliant macro feature on the camera allowing you to really get up close and come away with stunning detailed images.

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It has a good 12mp camera that you can use to capture images of days out, family photos and landscapes. The camera has lots of functions to help you take photos in different light conditions however from using my DSLR I like to shoot on manual mode to get the most out of my pictures and light condition which you can’t do with this camera but for a point and shoot camera the images are decent enough quality.

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It has wifi so you can easily connect it up to your phone to either use remotely or to download photos with ease.

Take a look at the Olympus Tough T5 (aff link).

If for you feel that this is too much to spend on a camera take a look at my post on cheap action cameras instead.

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Parenting Advice

Why I don’t force my children to read!

My girls get given the task of reading for 15 minutes every night as part of their school homework which I am sure is the same for nearly every primary school in the UK.

When my girls were younger and I was new to motherhood I wanted to make sure I did the right thing for my children and followed the schools advice and made them do their reading homework every night.

To start with it was fine my girls have always loved reading and I have bought them up with books. After the novelty of homework had worn off sitting down to do reading every night was met with tears, arguments and when they did read it was very forced and they weren’t getting any enjoyment from it.

I couldn’t understand why, as they had always enjoyed books, loved going to the library and would happily pick up a book on their own accord and read so why was it such a big deal when it came to sitting down reading their school books for homework??

In the end they broke me and I gave up caring about whether or not they did their reading homework and left them to decide when to read.

This turned out to be the best thing I had ever done. At first they were excited to rebel and missing reading but after their initial reaction they all realised that it wasn’t the reading they didn’t like it was being told when to read that they had a problem with (typical child response to anything you want them to do).

By giving them the choice they rekindled their love of books and started reading again and would then be asking me if they could do their reading.

Sometimes they would read the books they had picked at school but other times when the school books weren’t interesting them they would pick a book from home to read. Most of the time they would read to me and other times when they just didn’t feel like reading out loud I  would let them quietly read a book to themselves.

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I know when they are young it is important for them to read out loud so we can ensure they are reading the words right but when they are tired or in a funny mood I feel it is better to let them chill out and read a book quietly than to force them to read out loud.

I am a believer that if you force a child to read then by doing this you will never install a love for reading in them, you have to encourage, be patient and let them discover reading themselves. All children are different you can’t expect to do the same thing with every child and get the same results. Some children may love to do their reading homework every night without argument but there are other children like mine who will find it difficult.

Ahaparenting.com states the following with regards to reading, ‘Children who choose to read independently become better readers, they score higher on achievement tests and have greater content knowledge than those who don’t.’ 

Reading material is also a key part, if your child is not enjoying the book then let them read something else don’t make them finish it. There are so many amazing children’s books available now which cover a wide range of topics that I am sure you can find a book your child is interested in. Libraries are always a great place to look for a book that your child will enjoy and they can look through them first.

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I think reading is so important there is so much that can be learnt from books both fiction and non-fiction but I am a strong believer that to be a long term reader you have to find the love of reading on your own and not be forced to do so.

I am currently working on my new children’s book ‘The Silly Book of Rhymes‘ that will be printed in a special font designed to help children with dyslexia read the words easier. It is also packed full of short rhymes so children can read in small bursts and read the book in any order this will help children who struggle to stay focused when reading a full book, the rhymes are also funny and a little bit rude so they will add laughter to reading time and keep children engaged. Sign up to my newsletter via the pink sign up box below to be kept up to date on the progress of my next book.

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Parenting Advice Product Reviews

Managing the Mayhem of Meltdowns’ Parenting course review

If you haven’t heard of Growth & Grit as a parent then you really should take a look at their website. It is packed full of resources and advice for parents and the owner Eloise is so knowledgeable. She has almost 20 years experience working with children who have various needs. She is a teacher, with a specialist focus on emotional intelligence, Autism and different behaviour approaches not to mention she is a certified parent educator, relax kids coach and certified MHFA.

I have been trying out her new course ‘Managing the Mayhem of Meltdowns’. This is an online course that takes around an hour and half to complete, it is broken down into handy sections so if you are short on time you can do a section at a time.

At the beginning there is a handy resource pack that you can download and use during the course which has space for you to fill in and answer questions about your own experiences.  It is also full of helpful information and resources that you can take away with you after finishing the online part and use again and again.

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The first thing that I found with this course is that is very well researched, it hasn’t just been thrown together with what you should and shouldn’t do. It is clear that Eloise has put a lot of time and effort into it, the videos are packed full of knowledge and she has put a lot of research into it so as to give parents the best advice possible to manage children’s meltdowns.

The first section of the course is all about the science behind meltdowns in children and an insight into what is happening in their little brains that got them to this point. It also covers the different types of meltdowns in children and gives you an explanation to why and also what is happening to them during these meltdowns.

What I think sets this course apart from others is the understanding that Eloise has with parents, there is no judgement at all and she recognises how hard parenting can be and  shares some of her own experiences. The course focuses just as much on why tantrums happen, as it does on ways to best deal with a meltdown.

All the videos in this course are clear and easy to follow. Everything is explained in a simple to understand way including the science part. Eloise has such a caring and relaxed manner about her that really shows through in the videos that helps you to stay focused.

I am a note taker and find writing things down as I watch helps me take everything in and the speed and pace of the course works perfectly.

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Since taking this course I do feel better equipped to helping and understanding my children’s emotions and how best to try an avoid or guide them through any meltdowns they may have. I have also been implementing her mind, body and soul section and spending at least 10 mins a day with my children, uninterrupted, with no smart phones or tablets just doing what they want to do and it has had amazing effects on us as a family already.

The cost of the course is £120 (it will be on sale from 24th January 2019 – 1st February 2019) , this shouldn’t be looked at as a cost but as an investment. When you break it down in terms of will it better my family life, will it help with stress associated with my child’s behaviour, will it help me manage my children better, will it help me to feel less anxious when on an outing with my child, will it help my child’s future? When the answer to all of these are yes then the £120 seems like a great investment.

For more information on this course please take a look at the Growth and Grit website.

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I have been given free access to this course in order to write a review.