Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog

Friday, 29 April 2016

Why I Publish Sponsored Content


I received a comment yesterday on a sponsored article, basically questioning why I publish sponsored content on this blog...so I thought I would address it.

The commenter's own words were that they "didn't understand" why I post articles that are clearly sponsored when my blog posts that are from the heart and honest are more engaging to read.

Well I suppose I should try to take something of a compliment from that, but it bothered me a little.

I realise that as a blogger I should be someone who has grown a thick skin to opinionated people and their comments, but I'm not that kind of person and I never will be - I've blogged a lot on the topic of my social anxiety and to be honest it can be quite difficult as a sufferer to put myself out there on this blog as part of the issue I have is that confrontation (in any form at all)  upsets me and sends me into panic mode - most people can probably read a negative comment on their blog and never think of it again, but with me they play on my mind for a long time and even have me second guessing myself and what I do.

You could argue that if the comments can bother me so much, then I shouldn't be putting myself out there with an online presence and that might be true...but I think that sufferers of anxiety blogging about their issues is very important to fellow sufferers, so I choose to stick with it despite the fact that what can seem like a simple harmless comment to somebody else can be something that deeply upsets me. 

First of all...yes I absolutely do publish sponsored content on this blog and will be continuing to do so for as long as those opportunities present themselves to me, so if you have an issue with that you might as well find yourself that unfollow button right now because it won't be changing any time soon.

So WHY do I publish it?

The Benefits Of Online Education



It won't be long until it's time for us to start applying for school places for my oldest son, but lately I've noticed that more and more of my peers are opting to home educate their children.

I was intrigued by this, and so I've spent a bit of time looking into how home and online education works and whether it's something that we should be considering ourselves.

I have to admit that school wasn't a fun time for me and I'm left with no positive memories or experiences of it, which gives me a lot of concern when it comes to sending my own children.

Home education seems to offer a lot of benefits, here are what I believe are the biggest selling points.

*Individual interests can be followed and learning style can be adapted to - I believe that all children learn in a different way and thrive in different environments. Not every child is a "classroom" child who will do well in a traditional environments - many children will learn more with a hands-on approach, a more relaxed schedule and more freedom to decide the topics which interest them. I believe that children's interests should be followed and encouraged wherever possible, and school curriculums can't always allow for that.

*Flexibility - It's a fact of life that different people function best at different times of the day. Some of us are morning people, some of us are not. My oldest son is the farthest thing from a morning people and although he gets up at around 8 am most days, he doesn't really come to life until after 10 am - this sometimes worries me when I think of him going to school as would he really be open to learning to his maximum potential at 9am every day? Home schooling allows far more freedom to decide which hours will be used for education, and also offers more freedom when it comes to family trips and holidays too.

*Greater social possibilities - It's often stated that home education results in children not knowing how to socialise or interact with other children, but actually the opposite could be the case. When children are home educated, it's important to ensure that they are given the opportunity to socialise with their peers in other ways such as by attending various "after school" clubs or groups - this means that they are more likely to be exposed to children of varying ages rather than being put into a class with only people in their age range. It also means that the time they spent with their peers is in a more social environment, rather than during a time where the focus is on learning. 

All in all, home education and ELearning is something that does interest me and something I'd like to give more consideration to.

I do have my concerns of course, my partner & I like to think of ourselves as reasonably intelligent people, but would we really have what it takes to educate our children to a decent standard and help them to reach their full potential? If this was an avenue that we were to explore, we'd be sure to enlist the help of home education specialists such as Future School to ensure we had all the necessary tools at hand to the best job possible.



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Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Words I Hate to Hear


"Make sure you savour these moments...they're over too quickly"

"Oh how I miss those baby days, they're grown up and gone before you know it...enjoy every moment while it lasts!"

These are the kind of statements mums of young children hear on a regular basis.

Personally I'd say I hear these things at least every few days.

My eldest son is 3 now and it feels like that has happened in the blink of an eye, so I get it to some extent...and I can only imagine how quickly it seems like the time has passed for mums whose children are in their 20s, 30s or even 50s.

And so, when a mum whose children are grown up see's a mum who's in the thick of it struggling a little...or seemingly taking it all for granted...or perhaps just not relishing it all as much as she ought to be...she passes on that warning.

"Enjoy every moment, they're over too soon"

With the best intentions of course.

They just want to make sure we're savouring this precious time - I get it. And I appreciate their intentions, I really do.

But...and maybe its just me... sometimes I can't help but feel really panicked by these words.

How to Look for A Reliable Dentist in Your New Neighbourhood


So you’ve already moved into your new home. It could be across town or across the country but wherever it is, you know you will have to create a new network of friends and professionals in this area.

One of them is the dentist. This is especially important if you have kids that you regularly have to take to the dental clinic for cleanings, fillings, and emergencies. The task of finding a reliable one won’t be easy since you’ll have to consider your and your kid’s needs as well as phobias.

Don’t worry though. I’ve had enough moves in my life to know what it feels like to start all over again and look for a bunch of professionals who can help me such as accountants/carpenters/dentists/babysitters/gynaecologist.

This post is pretty special since we’ll only be talking about dentists. Dental health is important than you realize. Your smile can make a big difference to how you look and many of the most serious conditions can be detected simply by looking at your dental health.

So don’t settle for the nearest dentist in your new home just yet. We give you tips to looking for a reliable dentist in your new neighbourhood.

1.    Do a local search online

The amazing thing about Google is that it just keeps on getting better every year. Their goal is to provide users, such as you, with the most relevant results possible and relevant results you shall get if you type the words “dentist + ‘your area’” on the search bar. For example, if you live in the Gold Coast area of Australia, you can type in Dentist Gold Coast and relevant results will show up.

Google will list down the dentists in your area and even show reviews, ratings, and other details about the dental clinic such as the name, address, phone number, and business hours.

Be careful though. You want to do a deep, thorough research of your own and not rely on search engine results alone. Remember that search results can be manipulated.

2.    Check their office

I recommend listing down the list of prospective dentists you see that you like and pay them a visit within the week. Their office should be a good enough indicator of whether they are qualified or not.

The office should have policies on infection control. Ask questions to their staff. If they seem uncomfortable answering your questions, it could be that they are hiding something or are guilty of dental practices that are not allowed. Whatever it is, if you smell something fishy, don’t hesitate to look for another dentist.

3.    Gauge your children’s personal comfort

This is an important factor to consider since dental phobia is not only common in kids but also adults. So if you don’t feel comfortable with the dentist, there’s a great chance your kids might not be too.

Look for a dentist who genuinely listens to what you have to say, like queries or symptoms. They should understand your concern and provide you with a solution that is just right for you.

You can also take your kids with you during the search. Not everyone is great with kids but the right dentist should be able to handle kids decently without evoking even more fear that they already feel just by lying down helplessly on the dentist’s chair.

Monterey Keys Dental Surgery operations are often administered in a way where they gauge a child’s level of comfort first and if it doesn’t meet the level that’s safe enough for the dentist to operate, then the appointment can be rescheduled at another time.

4.    Ask if they have emergency care

A good dentist should be able to address your needs during emergencies and not just refer you to a hospital emergency room. If they aren’t available at the moment, they should be able to provide you with a substitute.

Just follow these tips and you should be on your way to finding a dentist in your neighbourhood who’ll be able to take care of your needs.


Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Top 5 Beauty Products For The Busy Mum

Motherhood isn't the most glamorous of callings. As rewarding as being a mom can be, we all know that reducing the extensive beauty regimens of our child-free days are just one of the many sacrifices we've made for our little ones. Of course, the inner goddess part of you still wants to look amazing 24/7, but what mother has the time? Here's the good news — you don't need to spend much time at all on your look when you have the right products. That's why we've selected the top five beauty products for all you busy moms out there.

The Ultimate Time-Saver: Dry Shampoo

Mornings with kids tend to be a hectic whirlwind of backpacks, breakfasts, carpools, and lunch-packing. How many mornings have you awakened with every intention to wash your hair that day only to have a crisis pop up? Rather than hoping the greasy grunge look comes back in style sometime soon, try working a dry shampoo through your hair. You can get it in aerosol or powder form. You kill so many birds with this stone — the dry shampoo will soak up oil, save you time, help prevent over-washing, and add a fresh scent to your locks. 

Multi-Task with Tinted Moisturizer

Remember before kids when you'd cleanse and moisturize your skin every morning then apply a base, a foundation, a powder, and maybe even a bronzer? Now, we're guessing you feel lucky to have the time to brush your teeth before you rush out the door. You should still moisturize your skin while you shower, then apply makeup when you have a little more time.
But you don't need an elaborate makeup ritual to look put together; you just have to know how to multi-task with your products. Try a tinted moisturizer to combine the benefits of a foundation and moisturizer in one. You'll get a smooth, hydrated finish from a product that's easy to apply and very portable for those days when you have to do your face in the rearview mirror of the minivan!

Hydration Products



Image via Flickr by aqua.mech

An easy way to get around having to spend so much time on your makeup is to minimize the need for makeup in the first place. Well-hydrated skin shows fewer fine lines and wrinkles, appears firmer, and has that fresh glow we all want.
In addition to moisturizing once or twice daily, consider adding a few intensive hydration creams, gels, or sprays to your regimen. We've seen the best results from Amway's new Artistry Hydra-V collection, which offers everything from hydrating eye gels to cleansers and toners. Using these products consistently will give your skin that unmistakable healthy glow.

Mascara Wands Do All the Heavy Lifting (and Curling)

Curled lashes are wonderful, but moms know those few minutes spent curling are precious and probably better spent elsewhere. In keeping with our beauty multi-tasking theme, we have a solution that eliminates the need to curl before you apply mascara: the right wand. Some mascaras come with a special wand that lifts and curls your eyelashes as you apply, saving you much-needed time. Plus, to a kid, an eyelash curler probably looks like some kind of strange torture device. We say put it away!

Fake a Well-Rested Look with White Eyeliner

Sleep deprivation is as much a part of motherhood as diapers, crayons, and bedtime stories. Getting a natural well-rested look might not be in the cards for a few more years, but you can fake it until then. Strategically placed white or light pink eyeliner can do wonders for tired, dull-looking, and weary mom eyes.
Lightly line — the key word is "lightly"; you want to be subtle — the inner corners of your eyes to look more awake than you have in years. If you want to look even more refreshed, brush a little shimmery white eye shadow above the inner corners of your eyes and the area along the bridge of your nose. Hello, bright eyes!

The beauty of motherhood doesn't always translate into how we look every day. These five practical, time-saving products will help you look as wonderful as being a mom makes you feel.

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