The 2020 Guide For Parents Whose Kids Are Learning To Drive



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We love road trips and when we travel we always opt for alternatives to flying (although this cannot always be avoided). Driving can be a real pleasure and a lovely slow way to explore and discover a new place and it's a skill I want my kids to have in the future.

Despite my eldest only being 9 I am all to aware of how quickly the years are flying by and I know in the blink of an eye one day your children will grow old enough to drive. This will be their first true challenge in life. Before they start paying bills, taxes and start working for a living, they will need to learn how to drive. This gives them a lot of personal freedom. They can go to work by themselves, live an independent life, and never be too far away from any location in the world. As long as they have a driver’s license the world is their oyster. But, cars have dramatically changed. Technology in the automotive sector is in the midst of a rapid shift and that brings along new challenges for first-time drivers. What can you do to better prepare your kids?

YouTube for education

Think back to the time when you learned how to drive. Wouldn’t it have been easier if you knew how the car worked? It would have made the instructor’s orders much simpler to understand and quicker to execute. Thankfully, there is a wealth of knowledge on YouTube. There are videos of how cars work. You and your child can learn how the gearbox works, how steering columns react to input, and how the engine responds to your throttle demands. Look for videos from prominent engineering channels and search for any videos they have done on cars and car design. You and your children could spend around 20-30 minutes a day watching videos about the basics of driving. Checking mirrors, how to know when someone is in your blind spot, what is countersteering, etc, are all topics you can cover.

In trusted hands

If you’re going to book your children a first driving lesson, be sure you have looked at all your options. Before you choose a driving instructor, check their background. If you’re not going private research the company’s history. If you spot bad reviews, it's time to move on to another. This company has a 100-year old history of giving driving lessons with certified instructors. They only use people who have passed their own test, therefore they have a firm grasp of the standards. This means that instead of the usual 30-40 hours it takes on average to pass the driving test, they can bring that number down to 20. Your child will be in trusted hands and thanks to their approach to the relationship between pupil and instructor, around 84% of students stay with one instructor all the way to the finish line.

Quality role-playing time

We are currently in lockdown, but that’s no reason why you can’t have a session of role-playing with your kids every day. If they’re close to the age where they can learn how to drive, get them mentally ready by sitting alongside them and going over basic car functioning. Close your eyes and imagine you’re reverse parking. See if they look over their shoulder and check the mirrors in one smooth motion. If they cross their arms, correct them.

The right protection

When it comes to learning how to drive it's very important to make sure you and your child have the right insurance and that you are fully protected. You want to make sure your insurance covers the costs of personal injury legal professionals should an accident happen. 

Preparation and more preparation, that’s how your children can pass their driving test for the first time. While you have time in the lockdown, watch YouTube videos with your kids and show them how cars mechanically function.

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What socialising may look like post-lockdown

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As the UK slowly starts to ease the lockdown measures that have been in place for the past 2 months, I know many of us are keen to start seeing friends and family so it may be time to start looking ahead at what that may mean for safely socialising in the future post-lockdown. I personally will remain cautious until there is proven to be less of a risk or either an effective treatment or vaccine has been discovered to combat Covid-19 by adhering to the social distancing advice of keeping a 2m distance with those outside of your household at all times. 

Saying that we all know how important spending time with friends and family is for our mental wellbeing and personal support system. The same can be said for new connections and blossoming friendships and it's a fact that humans are social creatures and we crave the company of others. 

At the moment in Wales we can only visit members of one other household within 5miles of our home and has to be in an outdoor setting at a 2m distance, which may not seem like a lot but after weeks of lockdown the prospect of being able to talk face to face with another adult is appealing. 

social distancing

So at the moment what does that mean for the future of socialising as we move forward in 2020? 

For one it means spending more time outdoors with the ones we care about as it's proven to be less likely to contract Covid-19 in outdoor settings. I'm seeing this as a real positive as it means the chance of being more active, maybe even getting a little fitter with great company to spend it with (at a 2m distance).  Of course for the older generation or less mobile, enjoying sitting in a garden or park, having a conversation at a safe distance can do a lot to help reduce things like loneliness especially as they are less likely to use digital and online spaces as much as younger people. The Conversation did a really great article about reconnecting after lockdown to reduce loneliness and anxiety and is worth a read.  

For children, this time is going to be harder, especially for younger ones who don't fully understand the concept of social distancing but something is better than nothing and encouraging keeping a safe distance is something we can try instil in children from a young age and hopefully, this will only be a temporary measure we have to take. 

But what about the younger generation who are off to University when time allows or are keen to go travelling or those who are on the dating scene? We all want that sense of normality back and being able to socialise with friends or go on dates is key and there are ways to do this safely.

For one social media is a great tool, ever since I moved from South Africa to Europe it's allowed me to keep in touch with dear friends despite being on different continents and it's even easier than ever with instant messaging through platforms like facebook and Instagram or even free video calls on WhatsApp whenever we like. 


Most of us by now have got to grips with Zoom and other video calling platforms and most reputable dating apps will offer some advice on how to dip your toe in the dating pool again even if it's just no strings dating, although now is the time to really work on getting to know someone beforehand. For once no matter, if it's dating or making new friends now, is the time to build on conversations and taking things slow. 

Despite many being keen to get back out there do remember not to settle out of loneliness, which can be harder said than done, we are all adults here and while some of us lean more towards an introvert lifestyle (me included) there are many who are really craving the touch of someone else, being intimate and having sex dating sites can be useful but do take things slow as I said before and put your physical safety first and wait until it's safe to meet up with people closer than 2m. If your looking for more advice on love life post-lockdown than the Metro has a really good article with some helpful and practical ways to stay safe as we navigate this new normal. 

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My life-long battle with allergies


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As long as I can remember I have had to deal with, at times, debilitating allergies and hayfever, despite being a fit, active and very out-going. My mother has pictures of me, around 5yrs old with puffy swollen eyes after being stung by a mosquito and memories of me sneezing for days on end due to hayfever and going back and forth to the Doctor to work out what I was allergic too and how best to deal with it.

I've tried everything from traditional medicine to homoeopathy, acupuncture and Chinese medicine and after years of slowly working out what my triggers are and what I'm allergic to and how best to avoid them, I finally feel like I have some kind of grasp on it. For me avoiding my triggers is key although it's something's that isn't always possible, I have a terrible dust allergy so anytime I spring clean the home within minutes my eyes start to itch and I know taking antihistamines at the first signs of my allergies flaring up is key but these can take a good 24hrs to kick in and get on top of them.

What many people don't understand is how draining it can be having to deal with allergies almost on a daily basis as it can be exhausting, especially as they can come on really quickly and if I get a bad bought my sinuses go into overdrive along with a headache, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and just feeling rather rotten it can really make simple tasks much harder, especially with your also a parent. There have even been times over the past few years when I have had to cancel work meetings or planned social dates with friends as my allergies have been so bad.

lie in

My main triggers seem to be pet hair and dust mites as well as insect bites and one or two kinds of food, well that's what I know for sure. When I was around 10yrs old I did a prick test at my GP and I know quite a few things came up as positive but neither my mother or I can remember them all and I would love to re-do a test now to know exactly what is best to avoid especially as you can develop new sensitivities.

What is great about having allergies in 2020 (yes there are some positives) is that technology has moved on and we don't even have to wait for an appointment with a GP and can undertake allergy testing safely right from the comfort of our own home which can save a whole lot of time and stress as well as being in a more comfortable environment.

The important thing when it comes to testing of any kind is to go with a trustworthy, professional and reputable company so research is key and you want to factor in things such as the reliability of their tests, ease of use, turn around time and customer reviews. I am really impressed with home allergy test and it's exactly the kind of thing I would and want to do. It tests for over 280 different allergens from pollen to pets and food, using sophisticated technology and will help give insight to what to avoid and how to move forward in your own allergy journey.

The tests are super simple and use a small blood sample which you send off to test for allergies. you are then provided with comprehensive and reliable results within 3 weeks which you can then take to your GP and talk through your options.

hayfever also have their own app to help my your life even more allergy-free as it helps you track your hay fever symptoms as well as get daily pollen, weather and air quality data from any UK location along with personalised allergy insights and daily tips and for people who have to deal with allergy induce sinus congestion regularly this is a pretty neat feature to have and help.

I know I will always have to deal with allergies but I do feel I can be more prepared these days, through trial and error I have found things that do and do not work as well as being aware that my symptoms can change and adapting to those changes. I feel in general I have made some real improvements over the past few years to reduce my symptoms and hope to carry on with that in the future.


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Essential Items to Bring on Your Local Outings



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While we are still on lockdown here in Wales, the restrictions have slowly started to ease, one being able to enjoy the outdoors again, safety of course. Unlike England, in Wales, we cannot drive to beauty spots and our outdoor time has to be taken from our front door, saying that a lot of Wales is rural or semi-rural and even our cities have plenty of green spaces so most have access to quiet outdoor spaces.

Just because you are heading off somewhere local it's still important to be prepared. I have some mountain and woodland paths near my home and on one outing two weeks ago we came across a couple where the woman had fallen and broken her ankle coming down a steep path - certainly not the ideal thing to do during lockdown (or at anytime).

The best way to prepare for an enjoyable, comfortable, and safe outing is to do a little planning in advance. Planning an outing with your family or members of your household is not only exciting but also relaxing despite having to stay local. By using things like the Ordnance Survey you can find local walks and trails and it's given myself lots of ideas for local hikes and adventures.

What to Bring on a local outing

1. Water Bottles

Whether you are going to the beach or just a picnic in the park, the sun might cause dehydration. Always ensure that you carry a bottle of water and put half of it as ice so that the water does not become too hot under the sun. This will not only save you money, but it will also keep your family hydrated.

2. Hand Sanitiser or Soap

It's really important to keep our hands clean at the moment and having a small hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes (please dispose of these properly at home) or even soap which you can use with water is always a good idea especially with children as you never know when you may accidentally touch something such gate or stile on a woodland walk.

3. Basic First-Aid Kit

It's always a good idea to have some basic first aid kit on you whenever you are going on an outing such as plasters, antibacterial cream and even some painkillers. It is still good to be prepared for small injuries or emergencies. Always have a first-aid kit in your car and a smaller one in your bag, whether it is a day out at the beach or just a picnic at the park. You can get some items for your first-aid kit from US Med. US Med is known for procuring and distributing the highest quality, brand name medical equipment and supplies at reasonable prices.

If your going on a longer forest hike packing some extra emergency supplies such as maps, warm clothing, high energy foods, whistles, compasses, and flashlight will mean your always prepared

get outdoors

4. Sunscreen
As we are starting to head towards summer it's important to consider popping a small sunscreen into your bag. You never know when you may get caught out especially with the ever-changing weather in the UK and you don't want to be on the side of a mountain or running around in a field in the midday sun without sunscreen

5. Pack extra layers

Always ensure that you bring some extra clothes with you, including warm clothes. The weather might abruptly turn wet, windy, or wet and getting caught out especially if you have kids isn't an enjoyable experience. Things to bring could include a sun hat, sunglasses, extra socks, light waterproof jackets.

6. Light Picnic blanket

As we are now allowed to spend a little more time outdoors and if you are heading off on a trail it's worth considering a small picnic blanket for a pit stop. Going with a lightweight material means it can dry up quickly should it get wet as well as be less heavy to carry. 


Outing Safety Tips during the lockdown

1. Head out during off-peak times to avoid other people
2. Do not meet up with others outside of your household
3. Research for local quiet spots, bridleways, woodland and mountain paths
4. Always be prepared and check the weather report for the day before you leave
5. Always pack foods in tight waterproof bags or containers and, if possible, keep them in an insulated cooler
6. If it is a hot day, keep hydrated by drinking water and avoid alcohol and sugary fluids
Protect yourself from direct sun by seeking shade, especially in midday hours

Getting outdoors to a park, forest or mountain walk is among the top relaxing places to be. They are often beautiful, breezy, and they offer a lot of activities for young and old as well. These are the places that provide a great escape from day-to-day activities. According to this article at, it is essential to bring the right items to ensure you are well prepared for a day out.
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Gratitude during lockdown


lockdown life

Every 3 months or so I like to put together a Gratitude list, a simple reflection on things that we are grateful for and now seems like the most appropriate time as the world has pretty much turned upside down over this year. 

The lockdown in Wales has been extended for another 3 weeks which brings it to over 2 months and the boys and I have been trying to ride this wave as best we can. I don't for a second realise how lucky we are to have a home that is warm and safe, to have a small garden to relax in, to have each other and our health. 

At the same time, food is put on the table by my freelance self-employed income and nothing else and while I've managed to keep work going around having the kids at home all day my income has still been impacted a lot as many of my clients review their budgets and workflow has been less. 

This is the reality of most people right now, there are struggles but there are also quite a few positives and that's what I want to focus on. 

1. The simple things really are the best and going back to basics such as only exploring what is on our doorstep and not driving as well as enjoying quality time with each other are such a blessing. 

2. Discovering our local area - I'm really lucky to live just outside of the city between two mountains which has meant plenty of quiet mountain paths, woodlands and rivers to explore. 

3. The boys bond is slowly growing, they have at times over the years been quite fractious with each other but they are really starting to see the worth in each others company right now. 

4. The NHS and Frontline staff - well we really cannot express our gratitude to the frontline staff who are doing an incredible job to keep everyone safe right now, not only Doctors and Nurses but Care staff, delivery drivers, shopping assistants and everyone who has to go to work right now. 

5. Our health - so far we have all been well and trying to make sure we eat properly, get outdoors and stay active and fit - this really is a privilege right now as many people have obstacles in their way.

What are the things you are grateful for at the moment? 
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The Importance of Using a Professional


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Situations Where You Really Need a Pro

Throughout life, we are told over and over that we should handle our business ourselves. Yet, there are always situations that are better left relegated to the professionals. For instance, if your looking to sell or move home or need to do some equity stripping, this is one of the many real estate tasks that are better left to the pros.

In today’s world, it is necessary to remind people of the vital importance a working professional plays in our lives. Many aspects of the modern world depend on these people and their dedicated work. Not to mention that in some situations, you do not want to go through them without the guidance of a paid professional. They will be the steady hand that guides you through some of life’s rough patches.

Top Situations When You Should Always Hire a Pro

There are four main areas in life that you will always want to keep a professional on standby. The first and most common is medical. There are plenty of illnesses that you can take care of by yourself, but if you are seriously injured, then you should always seek out the help of a medical professional.

The second area is construction work. Building a new home is a significant investment. As tempting as it may be to cut costs by building it yourself, there are too many risks involved. A general contractor has spent years handling all of the ins and outs of construction. If you do not know what to do when a problem occurs, you could end up wasting not only time but your hard-earned money as well. That’s why you should always find a qualified, licensed general contractor to help with construction projects.

Some situations are more like taxes. It is not too hard to file your taxes without any outside help. The only thing is that mistakes are costly. A qualified professional will make sure that you are protected from any liability by filing your taxes properly. You could save some money in the short run and handle your taxes on your own. You do not want to end up owing massive penalties to the IRS, so having a professional do your taxes is a smart idea.

The last area of life that is always best approached with professional guidance is mechanical issues, such as cars. Your vehicle is likely the second most expensive purchase that you have ever made. That is why reputation is so important across industries and you should get recommendations when looking for a mechanic. You do not want to mess your car up by skipping out on maintenance; however, you also want to avoid being taken advantage of. The only tool that you have is the reputation of the business owner. Find a good professional with a solid reputation and you will never be disappointed.

Top Benefits of Working With a Professional

Professionals are people who you can trust to get the job done right the first time. Even though many will still try to save money by doing the work themselves, it is still important to consider the benefits of working with professionals.

You Get the Confidence of Expertise

Perhaps the biggest single reason to work with a professional is their expertise. That is why they get the honour of being called a professional. They dedicate years to honing their craft to best serve their customers. You can be confident that a professional will be able to handle business for you confidently. 

You Get to Buy Based Off Reputation

If a professional has been working for any appreciable amount of time, they will have earned a reputation. You get the great honour of choosing between all of them based on who has the best reputation.

You Are Satisfied With a Job Done Well

When you try to do something that you are not familiar with, mistakes will be made. It is almost a law of nature at this point. When you work with a professional, you can rest easy knowing that the job will be done properly the first time around.
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Being resourceful with what you have during lockdown



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For many of us, lockdown and the pandemic, in general, has been a story of two halves. On the one hand (and most pressingly,) we’ve faced changes to our daily routines, disruptions to schooling, and worries for our loved ones. As if that weren’t enough, though, many of us have also had to deal with the problematic reality of panic buying and supply issues entirely unravelling our weekly shops.

In the grand scheme of things, this latter point isn’t such a big issue. If we have our health, it really shouldn’t matter if we can’t do a big shop during lockdown. But, when you consider how much we’ve got going on already, a lack of supplies does still deserve a look-in.

Luckily, supply chains are mostly back up to pre-pandemic levels, and bulk buying has undoubtedly calmed down at least a little. Still, shoppers are finding that essential items like flour and cleaning supplies are still in high demand. That’s why we’re going to look at a few things that you can do to make sure you no longer need to go without for as long as lockdown lasts.

Reassess what you truly need

Reassessing our needs and consumption on occasion is always a good thing, and never has there been a better time to do so. After all, the more things you attempt to get, the less you’re going to feel as though you’ve managed to stock up properly. That’s forever going to lead you to the ‘what can I cook?’ conundrum.

By comparison, a shorter list gets you back in the house sooner, and can also lead to a more satisfying shopping experience all around. So, next time you come to write out your list, ask yourself whether you honestly need all that stuff. Things like crisps, yoghurts, and chocolate can probably all fall by the wayside, for example. Then, you might be able to narrow down by heading to local shops who are more likely to have what you want. 

Seek alternative outlets

Speaking of shopping local, it also pays to seek alternative outlets for those things that you really can’t do without. Independent shops and suppliers are already struggling during this time, and many of them are working hard to fill gaps that are evident elsewhere. For instance, your corner shop is more likely to have flour than your supermarket. Equally, your local baker (if still open) could prove the ideal place to get your bread.

You could even look outside the box for essentials that you’ve never thought of before. For instance, ‘Who Gives a Crap’ provides a door-to-door recycled toilet roll delivery. Equally, searching for pet supplies online by companies like Time for Paws ensures that your furry friends don’t have to go without. There may even be a local organic box scheme worth looking into and, all the while, you get the feel-good knowledge that you’re supporting companies who need a boost right now.

homemade cookies

Get creative in the kitchen

It’s also worth noting that, if you can’t find critical ingredients, you could always get creative with your recipes. Most often, there are viable replacements out there if you’re willing to look for them. Let’s say that you can’t find kidney beans or similar for the casserole you’re planning. Buying a tin of baked beans and rinsing the juice can still see you with the perfect pinto beans for the job. Equally, if you can’t find flour to thicken your sauce, why not try cornflour or a ready-made sauce thickener? While they’ll never be quite as good as the real thing, alternatives like these should certainly be enough to see you through the lockdown.

And that isn’t the only way you might need to get creative when cooking. Others are finding that they’re having to make previously shop-bought items from scratch. Bread is perhaps the leading contender here, though other households are also making their own pizza dough, chips, and more. Instead of going into meltdown when you can’t find the ready-made option, then, ask yourself what you could do to recreate it from scratch? You never know; these attempts could even become part of your homeschooling efforts with the kids!

A final word

When times get tough, we all want to turn to home comforts and familiarity. Sadly, those are few and far between at the moment, especially where shopping excursions are concerned. But, by thinking outside the box in these ways, you should still find that you’re able to stock your shelves and your hearts with the foods and supplies you know and love.
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Screen Free learning with TIMIO



Kids learning

*AD I was kindly sent a TIMIO to review

With children being at home, the days feeling that little bit longer than normal and parents searching for ideas and ways to encourage learning that doesn't involve staring at a screen or frees up a little bit of time so they can catch up on other things is a struggle.

My youngest recently turned 5, he hasn't attended school, instead, he has been doing a few mornings at a nature-based Kindergarten which doesn't do "formal" learning (although plenty of intrinsic learning) at his age so I've been using this lockdown to introduce him slowly and gently to things like the alphabet, written numbers, telling the time and basic musical notes. I always try and avoid screens as much as possible especially with young children so when TIMIO got in touch to review their screen-free educational audio and music player for kids, I knew this was something of genuine interest and could be useful for our daily routine at the moment.

screen-free learning


Finding a good balance between something being educational, interactive and fun can be quite hard, despite the claims of many products and on top of that easy for young children to use. The TIMIO is super easy for little ones to get to grips with as it uses magnetic discs to unlike a large library of well thought out curated content from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to games and to numbers, colours and shapes.

My son's personal favourites are the fairy tales which are all traditional stories along with the ABC discs and he can easily change between the disc without any help and I think that is what is so appealing to him is the independence of it as well as choice and the TIMIO comes with 20 different discs each with a different theme so plenty of activities and educational moments to be had.


TIMIO which has been designed in Europe has been made with kids in mind and is robust, practical and stylish, with rounded edges so it can't get caught on anything, a quality speaker with 3 volume settings and is easy to carry, plus its auto shut's off after 5 minutes of non-use making it low consumption on batteries which is always a good thing in my books.

The major plus of the TIMIO is it's completely safe as it obviously doesn't connect to the internet or wifi or any of the negative effects associated with too much screen time. The TIMIO is said to be suitable for ages 3-8yrs although I would say it's more on the younger side so perfect for my 5yr old and it's provided him with lots of extra learning activities as well as a bit of free time for myself and no screens involved which is a win-win all around.


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