Intempto Large Tube- perfecting the BBQ ambience

Sitting out in the garden on a warm summer evening with the BBQ fired is is a great end to the day, and one that can only be improved upon with some fat choons blasting out of a portable BT speaker. In this instance, in deference to our next door neighbours who have gone on holiday and left the builder laying a patio, with the cement mixer churning until 10 or 11pm on the hottest week of the year, we stuck the Bob the Builder album on loop, Bluetoothing to the Intempo Large Tube from Spotify on a mobile phone. The battery on the Large Tube lasted long enough to drive us mad, so hopefully it did the same to the inconsiderate builder next door. View Full Post

Why it is Important for Dads to Invest in Their Own Mental Well-Being

It was been found that men who are struggling with their mental health are not only less likely to seek professional support than women, but are also less likely to talk to friends and family about the problems they are facing. In fact, there is sadly a stigma in today’s society in regard to men being open about their emotions, and investing time in their mental well-being.

As a Dad, it is often a challenge to balance the responsibilities at work and at home. It can sometimes feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, and it is hard to deal with the guilt that comes from letting certain areas of your life dominate your focus. Consequently, it is even harder to imagine prioritizing yourself. Although this is difficult, it is also really important. In order to be the best husband, father, and employee you are capable of being, it is vital that you first take care of yourself. Here are some tips that any Dad can use to invest in his mental well-being.

Get more sleep

Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A lack of shut-eye can damage your health, reduce your job performance, and can even result in mood swings. For any dad these side-effects are a serious problem. Whilst it may be tempting to cram as much as possible into your day, it will be better in the long run if you go to bed. Depending on the sleeping habits of your kids, this may be more difficult for some parents than others, however this could always act as incentive to persevere in your attempts to get your kids to bed!

Massage therapy

If you have a hectic schedule, you may think that you don’t have time to indulge in a massage. However, this is actually a really great way to switch off. Instead of desperately trying to find rare moments of relaxation throughout the week, why not condense your time out into one intense experience. A Heaven and Earth massage works immediately to relieve your tension. It will provide an outlet from the demands of modern life, and even give you a boost of energy.

Exercise classes

Stereotypically, exercise classes are targeted at women, with most men encouraged to use the gym. Although the gym is an excellent way to keep fit and release endorphins, unlike the classes, it does not possess as much of a social element. Why not break down the stereotype and look for classes that interest you. It is a great way to meet new people or catch up with old friends who might also be interested. Not only this, but most gyms have crèches or children’s classes so that parents don’t have to worry about childcare.  This is a time effective solution as you can combine exercising with socialising.

Find someone to talk to

Sometimes a change in lifestyle is not enough to improve your outlook. In some situations it may help to reach out to a professional for advice and support. You could also try talking to other Dads, or lookout for online communities of people facing the same kind of demands as you.

Skates vs. Scooters – Which is the coolest?

Let’s be honest, anybody who can manage to skate or ride a scooter has already achieved a level of cool that many can only aspire to. However, with both activities becoming increasingly popular, it feels like the right time to assess which is the coolest – skates or scooters?

We’ll look through a number of key factors to help us to decide:

Stunts/tricks – Probably the coolest thing that you can do either on skates or a scooter is stunts. For both skaters and scooter riders, there is a wide range of stunts to master if you are going to be deemed as cool. YouTube is full of excellent stunts ranging from nearly impossible to absolutely dangerous, and it is fair to say that both activities have equally awesome stunts to showcase. To become like the best, invest in an Aussie Grit Scooter from skates.co.uk, and become more like two-times world champion, Jordan Clark who won on a Grit Scooter. Grit are making a grand statement and are perfect for serious extreme riders; made with modern technology, this brand has developed some of the most advanced scooters around, such as the Grit Extremist and Grit Elite models.

Popularity – A quick search on YouTube will show you that the skate-based ‘Best of Freestyle’ has racked up 1.7m views and scooter-based ‘World’s best and most epic scooter tricks’ has amassed 4.9m views. You can’t go purely off these figures, but from the first search using the obvious keywords, these are the two that come up for tricks and stunts. We’re going to say that Team Scooter won the popularity category as the figures are in favour of scooters.

Ease – When we talk about ease, we mean how easy is it to get equipment and have a go yourself. There is wide range of skates and scooters, and Grit Scooters offers both excellent quality and the ability to pull off advanced stunts. A pair of aggressive skates comes out at about the same cost. Regarding how easy it is to have a go yourself, the basic skills of riding a scooter are easier to pick up than using skates, particularly if you struggle with balance. So, for this category, we are saying you need to tackle more difficult skills when skating. Therefore, if you are not confident in your ability, maybe stick with the scooter at first.

Competitions – Just like the best bands play at the best festivals, activities like skating and scooter riding are best showcased to an audience. A quick check of the different competitions that take place for each reveals some insight into how cool they should be deemed. NASS Festival currently features some of the best inline skaters in the world on the annual schedule while scooters are not yet invited to the big party. They do, however, have several scooter festivals such as Scootfest to keep their fans happy, where large cash prizes are up for grabs.

Overall it looks like scooters are coming out top based on our criteria but this could be down to the relatively recent emergence of freestyle scootering. Perhaps we will see a big shift in this in the very near future, either way, they are both very cool in their own right.

Daily Helpers: Handy Apps for Dads Who Want to Be in the Know

There are a lot of things a dad has to worry about: making sure the kids are doing good in school, taking care of all of his responsibilities at work and making mom happy are all just part of the job when you’re a father. Sometimes, it may seem as if you can’t get everything that needs doing done.

The good news is that there are some Android apps that can help dads keep track of everything they need to and still have a little fun. Here are some of the useful apps that any dad can download to help make life a little easier.

Family Locator

This app is great for dads, especially those with big families. Family Locator lets you keep track of the whereabouts of every family member, no matter where they are.

Not only can this give you peace of mind when your oldest child seems to be cutting it a little close to their curfew, but it also lets you know where everyone is in case there’s a reason you all need to meet up — that weekly family dinner perhaps.

The app helps you create “circles” that you can add anyone you like to, so you can also use it for friends and colleagues. It offers real-time data, so there’s no more guessing when someone will arrive at a destination and you can even set it to give you a heads up if someone is running late.

To get started, just have everyone download the app and soon you’ll know where everyone is.

Weather Live Free

Knowing what the weather has in store for you every day and every week is a concern that most people have. How can you plan anything if you don’t know what the weather’s going to be like?

This weather by Apalon Apps gives you everything you need to know about the conditions outside. It will tell you the temperature and the “feels like” temperature as well as the humidity levels. You can also check the wind speed and directions and find out when the sunrise and sunset are every day.

The app also features and up-to-the-minute weather radar so you can keep track of everything that’s going on around you.

Web MD

It’s always nice to know what to do when your child is sick or injured, and this medical app is one of the best out there for giving timely advice.

The app features a symptom checker so you can input all of the things working with your child to help narrow down the illness: the flu is very different from food poisoning, so having an app that can quickly let you know the difference can be comforting. You can also use voice search to find what you’re looking for quickly and the app has a built-in map to get you to the nearest medical facilities if they are needed.

If you’re a dad, try some of these apps to help you out!

A GUIDE TO GOOD SLEEP AS A PARENT

If you’ve ever raised a child (or two, or three), then you know how precious sleep can be (and how seldom the chances to grab some come along). It’s one of the biggest struggles about being a parent. Well, you know, if you don’t take into account the immense pressure of teaching your kids right from wrong, correct moral judgement, how not to be prejudiced and the great benefits of hard work and delayed gratification later on in life. Aside from that, getting sufficient sleep and the right quality of sleep is pretty difficult. But life is all about trial and error, and when the situation arises you adapt and learn a few things along the way.

Get some shut eye when your kids do

This might seem like pretty obvious advice, but I get the feeling it’s sometimes overlooked. If you put the kid down for a nap, have a nap at the same time. You might be tempted to squeeze in an hour of something from Netflix, but try refrain and catch a kip instead. Don’t worry about not waking up when they do; as a parent, you’re acutely tuned in to the screams of your children and have almost a preternatural sense of the state of their consciousness when the wailing begins. By doing this you’ll be getting some broken sleep, but at least you’re getting something.

Don’t skimp on the mattress

This is an important one. You’re not going to be getting an adequate amount of shut-eye and that means the sleep you are getting should be of the highest quality. Therefore, you should get your hands on a mattress that’s firm, supports your body and regulates heat so you stay cool during the night and don’t toss and turn. Rather than going to IKEA, you can actually just order a mattress online through a company like Eve. At the end of the day, you’ll feel more refreshed, less grumpy and much less likely to get into an argument with your significant other over whose turn it is to make the salad at dinner.

The old “one night on, one night off”

This one is foolproof and guarantees you get a good night’s sleep at least half the time. It’s also great for building a partnership with your SO. You take the first night’s shift staying up with the kid(s) and waking up when they do, soothing them and getting back to sleep while your partner gets to sleep. The next night you both switch. Think of it like a shift rotation, and generally just a very necessary survival tactic.

3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Start a DIY Project

While many people’s first questions about DIY are how much money they will save, the time involved and the difficulty, there are other questions you should ask before you try to tackle home repairs or home improvement projects. Here are three questions you should ask before you DIY.

Do I Know How to Do It Right?

It doesn’t matter if you can replace some wires and screw in new pipes as per the plumbing how-to video you saw online. Ask yourself if you know how to do it right. Taking an old door off the hinges and installing a new one is routinely DIY. More advanced projects like electrical, plumbing and foundation work need to be done by a professional because you cannot afford for it to be done wrong.

For some projects, the real question is – am I installing new functionality or replacing something that already exists? Replacing an existing toilet or tap is DIY, whereas installing the plumbing to put in a second shower head or new bathroom should be done by the pros.

Installing a vertical radiator from a store like Warm Rooms where an existing one stands is a minor job you can do yourself, whereas trying to add a radiator to a room that didn’t already have one should be left to the plumber.

If I Mess Up, Will People Notice? And Would I Care If They Did?

Yes, you could save money painting a room yourself. However, would it look good or not so good after you were done? Another question is whether or not other people would notice, and whether or not you’d care if they did notice the imperfections. This is why parents are more willing to patch and paint the drywall damaged by a toddler’s stunt when it’s hidden by a relocated bed, but pay the professionals to fix the punched out hole in the hallway. This is why replacing cracked tiles in the shower is often a do it yourself job whereas the kitchen tiles others see is often left to the professionals.

Is Doing It Myself the Most Effective Use of My Time?

Too many people rush into DIY work to try to save money. What they forget is the cost of renting tools, buying materials and investing their time to do the job, time that could be spent on other things. This is why you hear jokes about do it DIY enthusiasts never getting out of the house because they still aren’t done fixing it yet, spending every weekend fixing something themselves when a pro could finish it the first weekend. If the project is time sensitive, like fixing an air conditioner correctly, call in a pro. If the project will take up all your free time for weeks, it is more effective to hire a professional so that your house isn’t your life.

DIY is fun, but only if you have the skills to do a good job. Bear this in mind before you rip out the bathroom or knock down a supporting wall.

Diary of the Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

The original three Wimpy Kid movies are firm favourites in our house, so the news of a belated fourth (I won’t call it a reboot, it’s just a new film with a different cast; the original kids all probably have hipster beards now) movie was met with a mixture of glee and trepidation in our house.

Glee, because Wimpy Kid books and movies and fun, trepidation because we don’t like change, and a whole new cast is a lot to handle.

Fortunately from the moment we sat down in the cinema, looking at the movie poster up on the screen, we knew we were in safe hands. The Heffley’s car even had the license plate DWK 04- a nod to the fact there had been three previous Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies and this was the fourth. View Full Post

The Challenges Of Being A Parent

Being a parent is rewarding, but often challenging with lots of responsibilities to handle. It’s a full-time job with constant ups and downs, with many parents exhausted by the end of each day, and who could really use a break.

There are particular difficulties that come with raising children, with well-known trials and tribulations most parents will all relate to pretty easily. See the challenges of being a parent and the tips for overcoming these obstacles.

Siblings

Raising one child is hard, but additional children bring it to an entirely new level. Dealing with siblings isn’t easy. This is especially true depending on the different ages you’re juggling and their maturity levels. Try to spend time apart with each child on an individual basis so you can get to know them. Also, make time for the family to be together. It’s about letting each person’s personality shine without judgement and too much parenting.

Schedules

It’s very challenging to raise children when they have different schedules. One child is heading to baseball practice one night, while the next is going to dance class another. They’re usually not on the same schedule, and that makes it hard on the parents. See if there’s a team car pool you can join or switch nights with your spouse. Not that you want to limit their activities, but maybe help them find one or two they’d like to focus on instead of a bunch.

Expenses

Let’s be honest, kids are expensive. There’s always a bill to pay or a fundraiser to fund, and it seems neverending. Don’t get frustrated. Lay out a budget for what you’ll be able to spend for the year and stick to it. The expenses will get away from you quickly if you don’t put boundaries in place and write it down. Also, don’t be afraid to say no.

Bedtime

Bedtime is always a struggle. The kids want to stay up while the parents have been ready to go to bed for hours. Sleep is important to their development and well-being, so this is one area it’s okay to be strict. A consistent bedtime will help them function better at school and help you function better at work. They’ll try to fight you on it, but you need to be strong.

Cars

If your kids are old enough to drive, then this will be a constant battle. A Mini Edinburgh is a great car for getting around in, and it’s also extremely easy on the eyes, beating all those ugly family car stereotypes. Purchasing another car for the family will be an investment but may help you out in the long-run. It’s also an excellent way to teach your kids responsibility if you allow them to drive the vehicle. Let them know they need to keep the car in proper shape and clean inside and out. It’s difficult having a big family with few cars, so you may enjoy the flexibility it brings to the household.

Conclusion

Parenting is a tough job. It comes with a lot of obligations and duties. There are ways to make life easier on yourself. The challenges of being a parent are real, but you don’t have to let them consume you.  

When I was young motoring was more fun

When I was younger and driving was less about transporting three children about without any of them being sick or needing to go to the toilet, things were a lot more fun and I often used to go out for a drive just for the fun of it. Although it took me unti my third car to get to something resembling a hot hatch (okay, it was a warm hatch, even then in 2000- a Seat Ibiza sport with a 100BHP under the bright yellow bonnet), I sill managed to have some epic fun in my first car.

C207 VCT- they say you always remember the registration of your first car and I certainly do. It was a one litre Vauxhall Nova that had 77,000 miles on the clock when I got it (when I traded it in, I was up to 119,000 and would have kept it but I was driving 70 miles a day and the ignition had just caught fire). It had a manual choke too. Most people today won’t have experienced one of those and many of us that did have probably forgotten all about them!

We went on adventures though, my Nova and I. Perhaps the most epic one involved me and three mates driving from Lancaster university over into the Yorkshire Dales for a night sleeping under the stars. The trip was epic for a number of reasons, 50BHP in an ageing car and four lads over 6ft made for some exciting hills. In fact we needed a good run up for most of them and when we didn’t, notably at Snake Pass, I actually had to make the passengers get out while I drove up! Cars lose power with age and I’m guessing mine was somewhere in the low 40s BHP when we attempted all this.

Still, we slept in our sleeping bags at the side of a single track road that was more grass than road, enjoying the dog days of the university summer term. It was beautiful and serene up there, the tranquiity only being interrupted by Matt’s terrible puns and Dave’s snoring.

Driving a small light car around stunning country roads is exciting and whilst it might not offer the exact same thrills as driving a Jaguar F-Type like the Top Gear lads might, it’s still good fun, and eminently within the reach of younger drivers, especially given you could check out something like the young driver insurance from RAC.

The other most memorable trip in my Nova was memorable for perhaps the wrong reasons. You have to bear in mind I did this before the days of satnav and I hadn’t done a great deal of distance driving. Five of us were in the Nova heading from Lancaster to south Wales for a long weekend with one of the university societies. We passed the sign on the M6 for North Wales and I thought, “Not us, we want south Wales!”. Yes, I didn’t realise that the M6/M1 swung in easterly, and by the time I did we were almost at Northampton. We got to the backpackers lodge about 5 hours later than everyone else, having driven about 3 times the distance. Oddly enough the girls I’d given a lift down to both made alternative arrangements for the return trip! That is the sort of mistake you only make once though!

3 Ways to Decorate Your Kid’s Bedroom

Decorating your kid’s bedroom doesn’t need to be an arduous affair. There are simple, fun and cheap ways to get the job done. Although if you do have the time and energy for an elongated project then, by all means, go ahead and there are options for that as well. Anyway, without further ado here are some great ways to decorate your kid’s bedroom.
Painting

Kicking things off with a larger more involved project, you could use a stencil and paint part or all of the room. This is a great excuse to get you children involved and it will make the whole room mean more to them. It is probably best not to pick something overly specific like The Avengers or Disney because you run the risk of the youngsters outgrowing them. Instead focus on something broader than they also like such as forests, under the sea or mountains. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated and a little love an attention goes a long way. Also, the fact that the kids are involved in the painting will mean they’ll appreciate the room even more.

New Bed
One easy way to change the feel of a bedroom is to just change the bed. Be careful though and plan ahead. You don’t want to be buying a new bed each year because your kid has gotten too tall or no longer like their car bed. Bunk beds generally go down well. Especially if the lower half can be used as a sofa and as a spare bed for friends. If you do go down the new bed route, then places like Bedstar have a great range and have next day mattress delivery. Either way be sure to measure the room first because you don’t want to get a bed home and find out it won’t fit for one reason or another.

Wall prints
Wall prints are fantastic. They come in nearly every size, shape and design. If your kids love Batman or Barbie then there are wall prints that they’ll get a real kick from. Whatever their interests you are bound to find somewhere that makes a wall print they’ll like. Parents might also find plenty of wall prints that go great in their bedroom, too. The other great thing about wall prints is that they can easily be replaced or removed should your child outgrow that specific interest. They don’t cost as much as wallpapering and can be put up and taken down in a fraction of the time, what’s not to love.