Categories
Children's Crafts and Activities

How to make Decoupage hearts

I love making handmade decorations, I just love sitting down with my girls and creating beautiful handmade items we can be proud of. 

We have made flower pots before using the decoupage technique a few years ago as Christmas presents where we covered the pots in pictures. When I heard about making decoupage Wooden hearts using napkins I just had to give it a go. 

After a lot of trial and error we finally know how to make them and have made some beautiful hanging decorations ready to hang around the house. 

How to make decoupage wooden heart Decorations! 

To make decoupage Wooden hearts you will need – 

Method

  • First you need to prepare your wooden heart surface and make sure it is smooth. You can use sandpaper to give it a light rub down. If you do sand the heart first make sure you remove all the wood dust before moving on to the next step.
  • We then painted our wooden hearts white as having this background colour helps bring out the details of the napkin but this step is optional and depends on how you want your heart to look. You could experiment and do one of each and see what one you prefer.
  • Cut out the pattern you want from your napkin.
  • You then need to separate the ply from the napkins. This step is very important as we found out the hard way. If you don’t separate the ply the napkin will crease and start to separate on the heart. The first sheet of ply will come off easy and with a bit of rubbing and pulling you can then separate it again until you are left with a very thin napkin layer. 
  • Next cover the heart in a thin layer of Mod Podge
  • The carefully place your napkin on the heart making sure it is right side up. When smoothing the napkin down don’t rub it to hard as it will rip. I found that tapping it works better than rubbing. You can also use a sheet of cling film and place over the top before pressing the napkin down this will also help to stop it ripping.
  • Leave to dry.
  • Once dry cover the whole of the heart in Mod Podge. Repeat this step 3-5 times until you have a nice smooth finish. 

To make your heart feel super smooth you can then use your sandpaper to give it a light rub over to erase all the bumps. If you have any overhang of napkin you can also use the sandpaper to take this off.

Tie your string to the top and find somewhere to hang your new beautiful decoration.

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

How to make a pompom rug

Window Sticker Activity for Children

Children’s Halloween Craft Ideas

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

Children’s Christmas Decoration Craft Ideas

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

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.

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week – I Share the Struggles I Have Had This Week

As you may well know this week is mental health awareness week which is so important. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the last week would have experienced a mental health problem, that is an alarming number of people and unfortunately it is a growing issue. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-uk-and-worldwide

I have written a number of posts in the past on self-care and ways to help with mental health issues for both children and adults but today I had to put my own advice to good use as today I had a little breakdown.

It was caused by a build up of lots of little things that all together ended up breaking me.

Today started with me struggling to get out of bed, rushing to write a blog post while eating my breakfast and getting my girls ready for school. Then my computer at work played up most of the day, I ended up with a headache and also in the back of my mind I was worrying about my impending redundancy when our office closes next March and what the hell I am going to do with my life. 

To top it all off when I got home my girls were just on my case moaning and arguing that in the end I just burst into tears while trying to hang out the washing.

After having a sob I did feel a little better but I decided to make a cup of tea and go and sit on my own in the garden with my feet in the grass for a bit. I did feel so much better and calmer afterwards but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to sit there any longer as I had dinner to make, children to drop at Brownies and shopping to do so I had to get a move on.

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Somehow I had managed to do everything in record time that after I had finished shopping there was still some time left before my girls were bought back from Brownies so I decided to go for a quick run. If I am honest I didn’t really want to go and at that point I would have preferred to sit down and eat a big bar of chocolate but I knew deep down I would regret it later so I pushed myself to go.

I am so glad I did as my mind is so much clearer now and I feel like a different person. Although some of my troubles are still there I am in a much better frame of mind to tackle them and they don’t feel as daunting as they did a few hours ago.

When you are feeling down and stressed exercise is probably the last thing that you want to do but if you can just get over the initial hurdle of getting yourself up, as soon as you start exercising you will feel 10 x better, it definitely works for me.

Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-benefits-of-exercise/

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Looking back I don’t think I have been in the right frame of mind for a couple of days. When I was thinking of ideas of what to write as a blog post for mental health awareness week I wrote this in my notebook last night ‘To me mental health awareness week is about accepting that life is hard and can be shit at times. At some point these times will affect us as there is only so much we can take’. I should have realised when I wrote this that something was up and that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. However it is so true there is only so much we can take until we break so it is important to implement self-care and take time out when possible. Hopefully next time I will take my advice before I start feeling down.

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.

Categories
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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Categories
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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Categories
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.

Categories
Inspirational People

Interview with the Catherine Greer from the wonderful Cats Creation

I am privileged to be interviewing the lovely Catherine Greer from Somerset who runs her own business called Cats Creation, where she makes the most amazing arm and hand knitted items as well as stone art decorations. She also runs classes to teach others how to arm knit and does all of this around her young son.

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Tell us a bit about you?

I always loved making things at school and was often the only girl in the woodwork classes. This didn’t put me off though and I was often much better than the boys.

I wasn’t sure what to do after sixth form so I went to college to study my other love, horses. I spent three years studying equine studies and completed a animal science degree at Plymouth university.

After uni I still wasn’t sure which direction to go in so I ended up driving HGV lorries for a international horse transport company based in Wiltshire. I spent a year on the road, attending races, stud farms and equine events all over the UK and Europe. This took its toll on me so I left. Skipping ahead a few years I decided to apply and join Hampshire Constabulary as a PCSO. I worked here for four years and loved it but I really missed being in the country and wanted my life to slow down a bit. Working shifts meant that if I wasn’t working I was sleeping. I decided with my now husband that I wanted to move back to Somerset and live the ‘good’ life! We bought a house, renovated it and now live in it. We try and produce all our own vegetables in our garden and recently got some chickens. I love taking part in the local flower and vegetable shows with our produce and have sometimes brought home some metal.

I’m very keen to show my son how to grow his own vegetables and would love to see more people growing their own too. You can follow all my adventures on my Facebook page.

What inspired you to get into making hand knitted items and what made you decide to start a business selling them?

I got into arm knitting after trying to use knitting needles once. I got very frustrated with how long it took to make anything so I googled how to knit quickly (or something similar) and up popped a video demonstrating arm knitting. Let’s just say the rest is history! That was 6 years ago!

I’d always been involved in my friends Christmas fair and every year I used to find a product to make for it. One year I took snoods and sold out on the first day. This gave me the fuel to think I could make more and sell them properly.

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If you had to pick one what would you say your favourite item you make is?

Snoods are definitely my favourite items to make. Even though I now make hundreds every year I still get great pleasure in knitting them and seeing people enjoy wearing them. I get very excited when I find a new wool too.  

Don’t get me wrong I love knitting the luxury giant blankets and cushions too but snoods hold a special place  in my heart.

Where do you get the inspiration from for new creations?

Most of the things I’ve ever made, I’ve made them because I either couldn’t find them on the market to buy or I couldn’t afford to buy them, So I’ve often just given them a go. Sometimes my mind gets a bit carried away with ideas but I love experimenting with different materials and products to see what happens.

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Where do you want to see your business in the future?

I’ve only recently gone self employed and taken my business on full time. I would love to be able to continue to work from home to fit in around my son. In the future I would like to see my items and products in more shops across the country. I want to keep the handmade feel to my items so I want to keep sales at a manageable level without sourcing more staff. Hopefully I can achieve this and maintain it.

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How do you manage your business around your son?

Up until recently I’ve only managed to work when my husband is around to look after our son or when my son is asleep in the evenings. He’s never allowed me to work during the day when it’s just the two of us so I gave up trying. I would spend the few hours in the evening knitting as much as I can whilst also promoting my items on social media. He has now started nursery a couple times a week so I’m using these periods to spend quality time in the HQ producing stock and completing orders.

Catherine is offering all readers a 10% discount on her products if you buy via her Facebook page using code simple1.

You can find Catherine’s beautiful handmade products by using the below links –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Catscreation/

Etsy – CatsCreationSomerset

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Why not take a look other inspirational interviews –

Interview with award winning glass engraver Steven Lee

Interview with Cat at Cat Creation

Interview with children’s publisher Justin Davis

Lisa Norman shares her story of the premature birth of her son Neil

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

Categories
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.

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing

The benefits of Journaling for children and adults – with Heather Rose of Mindset & Me

Journaling is an unsung hero on the fight against mental health for both children and adults. It is a simple activity but writing down your feelings can have a huge effect on your mental health and well being. The power of journaling needs to be utilised more especially for children.

My eldest daughter suffers from anxiety and can get stressed quite easily but since she has started writing in her journal everyday I have noticed a difference in her. She is a lot calmer, is more open with me and talks more about how she is feeling and her confidence has started to grow. She loves to sit down in bed every night and write down the events of the day before she goes to bed.

How Journaling can help with our mental health

Heather Rose from Mindset and Me has developed her own range of journals for both children and adults. She shares with us the benefits of journaling and the ways it can help with our mental health  –

“Journaling can be very effective for many different reasons and help you reach a wide range of goals whether that is personal, lifestyle, family or work.

It can help clear your head and make important connections between thoughts , feelings and behaviours.

It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. And if you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.”

Heather’s business Mindset and Me has a wide range of affirmation and mindset products which can help with confidence boosting, teaching the importance of self-love and helping to give inspiration. Her journals have received amazing reviews from lots of parents that have seen the benefits of their children using a journal.

If you are your child is struggling why not give journaling a try and see the benefits for yourself. After seeing how it has helped my daughter I recommend Journaling.   

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Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Self-care tips for busy parents

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.