Reviews, Guest and Featured Posts

Label Love: Itemising When Moving

Jen Walshaw : September 27, 2014 6:59 am : Featured and Guest

Labelling boxes may seem a little OCD to you more laid back, relaxed folk, but you may be surprised how handy they are. And when you can’t find your toothbrush the first morning you wake up in your new property you’ll wish you had marked the cardboard.

The boys

(image: Kandela)

Here’s how to create the perfect labelling system for your move:

Room by Room

Start off by labelling your boxes with what room they will need to be moved into. This will help distinguish what needs to be moved upstairs, downstairs and often who is responsible for unpacking a certain set of boxes. These sticky labels should be large and clear to read – so best handwriting please!

Stay away from just initialling these labels as this can cause confusion. For example, a ‘B’ could mean bathroom or bedroom, and ‘S’ could mean study or shed. If need-be, colour code boxes with dot stickers.

What’s Inside?

Okay, so we’re not suggesting you write a huge list on the side of each box, just a general idea, for example, toys, linens and kitchen appliances. This will tell you which box contains what, helping you find items more quickly and prioritise which boxes you need to unpack first.

Make an Inventory

This is a large list of exactly what is in which box, how each container is labelled and which room it belongs to. These items can be ticked off when they are loaded onto the back of the removal truck and ticked again when they are unloaded. You may also like to number your inventory lists.

This way you can ensure nothing gets left behind or lost in transit, and if it does, you can tell your insurance company exactly what it was.

Mark as Fragile

Do you have items made of glass or china that are valuable but easily breakable? Then make sure to wrap them up well in a protective layer of bubble wrap and newspaper, and mark the boxes with big, bold letters stating ‘FRAGILE’, and ‘THIS WAY UP’.

This way movers can take extra care with these items ensuring they stay safe, secure and damage free.

Make an ‘Open First Box’

‘Open first boxes’ contain your day-to-day necessities, things that you will need as soon as you move in to your new property. These boxes could contain your work clothes, children’s lunchboxes or something as simple as the kettle.

Making an ‘open first box’ can save you a lot of time trawling through your inventory list and hunting for that much needed box.

Where Do I Get Labels?

Labels can be picked up in most DIY stores, stationary shops and supermarkets. Or you could always make your own if you have a printer and software like Microsoft Publisher or Word.

If stickers aren’t for you, then grab a marker pen. It doesn’t matter how you mark the boxes up – just do it! And remember, next time you are looking for home removal companies, who gave you this fab advice.


Leave a response »

How to make your garden kid-safe

Jen Walshaw : August 15, 2014 5:06 pm : Featured and Guest

Gardens are a great addition to the home; they allow kids to enjoy the outdoors and get valuable fresh air without being exposed to the dangers of the outside world. They are also a great way to introduce kids to the world of nature and perhaps even horticulture.

Garden 2009

Gardens however can be a dangerous place for kids if the right precautions are not taken. From the dangers of falling into ponds to harmful and poisonous plants there are many potential perils lurking in the garden environment. Here are some helpful tips to ensure your kids can enjoy your outside space without succumbing to any harm.

Keep them from wandering off

Firstly make sure that your garden is well-contained and secured. Ensure that fences and gates are properly maintained. Walls can present a hazard in themselves as older walls can begin to crumble and potentially collapse, so make sure to deal with any cracks that appear before they get out of hand.

If your garden has a hedge around it, check it for gaps throughout. You should also keep your borders trimmed to prevent sharp leaves or thorns from becoming entangled in your children’s clothes.

garden 2013

Be aware of poisonous or harmful plants

Make sure that your children know good plants from bad ones and never allow them to eat any plant unless there is an adult supervising. As well as pointing out any poisonous plants it is also important to make your kids aware of any unsafe plants that may sting or prick them. Examples of which are rose bushes, holly and cactus plants and if you have young children it may be best to avoid these completely.

Keep your area tidy

It might sound obvious but you should never leave any tools lying around that your child may be tempted to play with. If you are using power tools make sure your children don’t play near you especially if you are using a step ladder that can be easily knocked over. Check that paving is properly fitted and replace if any cracks appear. This could make for a trip hazard resulting in a nasty head injury. It is important to take care of your trees and trim any loose branches hanging over paths that may potentially fall off again causing potential head injuries.

make your garden kid safe

Using chemicals

Make sure that chemicals such as pesticides are locked in cabinets in their original containers. It is also important to ensure that children do not play near any plants that have been sprayed with chemicals as they may touch them resulting in them getting toxins in their eyes or mouth.

Wash your hands

Finally, you should always encourage children to wash their hands after being the garden. Germs are the number one cause of many illnesses.



Leave a response »

Crafting Eco-friendly Pet Toys with Your Kids

Jen Walshaw : July 28, 2014 4:21 pm : Featured and Guest

It’s such a wonderful thing that more and more people are taking the time to craft eco-friendly pet toys with their kids. Considering the crazy costs involved with buying pet toys, people generally have no option other than to create their own eco-friendly pet toys. The prices of nearly everything have skyrocketed over the past few years and in all honesty, many great pet parents simply cannot afford to spend the same hundreds of dollars a year they have in the past. It makes sense for people to experiment with crafting eco-friendly pet toys with kids.


Every parent wants to find new and innovative ways to spend quality time with their kids. There is no better way that to help their children learn more about saving the planet by crafting eco-friendly pet toys with your kids. Teaching children to look at things that they would normally discard in a different light will help to keep tons of items out of landfills. Repurposing items that were destined for the trash barrel is a great way to teach the children about caring for and respecting the environment. Crafting eco-friendly pet toys with your children is a great educational experience.

Tuff Tugging Toy

Gather the following items:

  • Old clothing made of durable fabric
  • Different colored fabric paint
  • Paintbrushes with natural hair brushes
  • Lots of newspapers
  • Cup of water
  • Paper towels

The Crafting Process

  1. Find a work area that will be big enough for you and your children to comfortably craft the tugging toy. Completely cover the area with thick layers of newspapers. This will protect the finish of the table.
  2. Lay the old clothing out on the table, and cut three strips of fabric that are about three or four inches wide by one and a half feet long. The strips needn’t be exactly the same sizes. You’re making a pet toy, not a prom dress.
  3. Put the remaining fabric away for creating other pet toys and lay the three strips out on top of the newspapers. Be sure that all of the children can reach the strips.
  4. Open up the fabric paints (eco-friendly and non-toxic) and give each child a paintbrush. Encourage them to be as creative as they’d like by painting pictures, shapes, etc. all over the fabric. Be sure to allow the paint to completely dry.
  5. Flip the strips of fabric over and let the children decorate that side. Once the painting is completed, let the paint dry and clean the paintbrushes in the cup of water. Dry them with paper towels to preserve them for future use.
  6. Make double knots in the ends of each piece of fabric. Then lay two strips vertically, with about six inches between them. Place the remaining strip on top of the others in a horizontal position. Double knot the vertical strips to the horizontal one.

You see, crafting eco-friendly pet toys with your children is a fun and inexpensive way to make your dog happy. Now that the project is complete, you can bring your dog out into the yard to test his new tug toy. Of course, the pooch should only be loose if the yard has a secure pet fence or invisible fence that doesn’t restrict the view.

Throw the tug toy and your dog will gladly run after it. You can also use it to play tug of war, if the dog’s temperament and breed allow. Bring the whole family outside to play. You are all bound to have a blast.



How To Pack A Suitcase Perfectly And Efficiently

Jen Walshaw : July 22, 2014 4:48 pm : Featured and Guest

How to pack a

Suitcases are great investments, especially for those who travel a lot because they are durable and lighter compared to hard-sided luggage bags. Thanks to their flexibility, they also tend to hold more stuff than hard-sided bags. Packing a suitcase perfectly, however, is more art than science. Fortunately for you (and every traveller), this skill can be mastered quite easily!

Pack for the Weather

Packing the right outerwear for the weather is the number one way to save space. Study local climate patterns and go through weather forecasts thoroughly before you pack. Nights in deserts, for instance, tend to be quite cold. So if you’re heading out to Cairo to see the pyramids, it’s best to stow away the thick jacket and choose a light cardigan instead. Similarly, summers in Iceland are very pleasant. Choose a light sweatshirt over a heavy jacket instead.

Make a Checklist

How many times have you reached your destination, booked into the hotel, and opened your luggage only to find that you’re missing a favorite pair of jeans or an essential medication? To avoid packing disasters like these, make a detailed checklist of every essential item. As you pack away each item, cross it off your list. This way, you’re far less likely to forget the important stuff.

Buy Things in Travel Sizes

The thing that separates experienced travellers from amateurs is travel gear. Experienced travellers usually buy essential items, from toothbrushes to shampoo, in travel sizes. Think of an item like a hair dryer. Your regular sized dryer takes up substantial space. A travel-specific mini hair dryer, on the other hand, takes up only a fraction of that space. Whenever possible, buy things in travel sizes. This will end up saving you a lot of space.

Be a Folding Master

Master your folding technique and you master suitcase packing. You can save a lot of space by folding your clothes into a neat, tight bundle. T-shirts, for example, occupy least space when rolled into a tight, cylindrical fold. Similarly, undergarments should be folded together to save space. Jeans, trousers and dresses, on the other hand, should be laid out flat to occupy as little space as possible.

Packing is never easy, but by mastering these four tips, you can save a lot of time, space, and hassle on your travels.

Leave a response »

How to survive your child’s first sleepover

Jen Walshaw : May 30, 2014 11:40 am : Featured and Guest

If you’ve asked your child what they’d like to do this weekend, then a likely response is ‘sleepover!’ This can be a request that parents dread— doesn’t it mean hyper children, a sleepless night and the potential for tears and arguments in the early hours? It’s understandable that you might be a little nervous, especially if this is the first sleepover you’ve hosted. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to ensure a stress-free experience, so get that sofa bed out and give your child the go ahead.


Image by Jolante van Hemert, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

The invites

It makes things much easier for you if you set the numbers and stick to it. If this is the first sleepover you’ve hosted then it’s especially helpful to keep numbers low. A sleepover with one or two close friends can be just as exciting, and will help to avoid some of the problems that can crop up in larger groups. Choose your number and stick to it!

It’s also worth considering your child’s choice of friends. Do they all know each other? Get on well? It’s best not to take any chances with kids falling out or clashing.

Communicating with other parents

It’s a good idea to have a chat with each parent before arrangements are confirmed. Has their child been to a sleepover before? Were there any problems? If they’re prone to wetting the bed or afraid of the dark then you need to know this.

There are also things like allergies and bed time routines to take into consideration. Find out what time each child usually goes to bed, for example. It’s worth checking that parents are happy for kids to phone if they get a little anxious, or pick them up if they’re really not happy.

The fun parts

Now you’ve got the invites and arrangements with parents sorted it’s time to focus on the fun. Set aside a room in the house for the sleepover and clear floor space for places to sleep where the guests can use sleeping bags or sofa beds. Perhaps your child will want to watch movies, or play board games. It’s best to arrange activities before hand and stick to a plan. If a movie is on the cards, set a start time so that it doesn’t finish too late, and limit sweet treats to the first part of the film only.

It’s a good idea to go through things with the kids at the start of the sleepover, including when they’ll eat, what activities are laid on and when it will be time to sleep. Outline what kind of behaviour is expected and what they can do if they do start to feel a little scared or upset. It’s important that kids feel safe and reassured. By keeping it small and structured you should have no problems surviving your child’s first sleepover.

Author Bio

Tracy Emily is a busy mother of three and survivor of many, many sleepovers. When not recovering from hosting kids parties, she can be found relaxing with her dog, Vince.


Leave a response »

888 Ladies Terms and Conditions

Jen Walshaw : April 25, 2014 2:41 pm : Featured and Guest
The promoter is 888 Holdings Bingo 85A Medinat Hayehudim st. Herzliya Pituach 46140, Israel (“The Promoter”)

The competition is a prize draw and is open to all UK residents aged 18 and over. Employees of  The Promoter, and its associated agencies are not eligible to enter.

To take part in this competition, you must submit a blog post. “This is my entry for the 888Ladies Bingo Competition” linking (NOFOLLOW)

The competition closes at 11.55pm GMT on 2 May 2014. Entries received after this date will not be eligible to win the prize.

No purchase necessary.

Winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries received before the closing date.

Prize winners will be notified within 14 days of the closing date by email or Twitter DM.

If the prize winner can not be contacted despite the promoter’s best efforts, winners will forego the right to claim the prize and an alternative winning entry will be selected.

There is first prize of a £250 Amazon gift voucher and a second prize of a Kindle Paperwhite, valued at £109. Prizes are not transferable and there is no cash alternative. The prize consists only of the elements detailed.

At all times the promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

The names of the competition winners will be announced on Mum the Madhouse website within 28 days of the closing date.

By entering this competition you confirm that your entry complies with all copyright requirements where relevant, and you own the image submitted as an entry. WE reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to reject any entry which is deemed to contain objectionable or offensive content.

Entry to this competition confirms participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. The Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in connection with these terms and conditions. Any personal data supplied to the Promoters in connection with the competition will only be used for the purpose of this competition and as otherwise provided for in these Terms & Conditions.

Leave a response »

Outdoor Fun: Five Child-Friendly Festivals across the UK

Jen Walshaw : April 14, 2014 12:32 pm : Featured and Guest

Hopefully, we’ve seen the back of the worst of the weather, and while we are still in the middle of springtime, summer is just around the corner. Apparently, we can expect one of the best summers in a long time, with bright sunny days making regular appearances, and what better way to enjoy them than with a festival or two?

Five Child-Friendly Festivals across the UK

Festivals aren’t just for grownups who love a good booze up and a funky pair of wellies – there are loads of fantastic festivals across the UK that appeal to families, too. Whether you wish to take your children along to a predominantly adult festival, or you’d prefer to ease them in gently with a family-orientated one is completely up to you – if you opt for the latter, here are some great options for you to choose from.

LolliBop – 15th until 17th August

Located in the heart of London, LolliBop is a child-orientated festival that will almost certainly provide your little ones with plenty of entertainment, fun and laughter to last them the whole day. While it’s not a camping festival, you and the family can enjoy a myriad of activities, live shows and entertainment that runs throughout the day – the jam-packed schedule for 2014 is yet to be announced, but you can expect a super line-up!

All the entertainment is aimed at children under the age of 10 and they’ll be sure to love it! Make the most out of the weekend and book a hotel in Southbank so that you can appreciate what else London has to offer!

Glastonbury – 25th until 29th June  

No festival list would be complete without this iconic one that continues to be a massive sell-out year after year. With two family camping zones and plenty of activities available to keep the little ones entertained away from the music, including the dedicated Kidz Field, Glasto will provide a completely different view of what festivals are all about and should be appreciated at least once during your lifetime.

Standon Calling – 1st until 3rd August

Located in the heart of Herts, Standon Calling has an impressive line-up this year, with headliners including Maximo Park and folk rock star, Frank Turner, taking to the stage to wow the audience. The festival has dedicated areas for children, with plenty of activities available to keep them out of mischief. Plus, children under 13 go free!

Camp Bestival – 31st July until 3rd August

Found in the midst of the Dorset countryside, on the grounds of Lulworth Castle, Camp Bestival is one of the main contenders when it comes to family festivals. Providing the perfect excuse for a camping weekend with the kids, Camp Bestival has an impressive line-up for 2014, as always, including Basement Jaxx, Chas and Dave, James and Sinead O’Connor. The Upper and Lower Kids Gardens will surely provide plenty of activities and fun-filled moments for the children, too.

Make the most out of our summer and get outside to enjoy the sunshine! Whether you opt for a trip to a festival, or you make your own fun, get the family together for some quality time – these early years won’t last forever!


Leave a response »

How to keep your pooch happy in the summer

Jen Walshaw : March 26, 2014 10:39 am : Featured and Guest

alvin summer

Everyone looks forward to a nice warm summer, particularly in the UK where dismal, rainy weather is all too common for the rest of the year. However, if you have a pet dog, the season brings with it a few extra challenges. There are a few risks that summer poses to your pooch’s health that you should bear in mind.

First, and most importantly, the importance of not leaving dogs in cars cannot be overstated. Cars can heat up extremely quickly in the sun, and leaving the window open a crack will make little to no difference. Leaving dogs in hot cars is one of the leading causes of heatstroke in pets, which can be fatal in some cases, so avoid it if possible.

Dehydration is another problem dogs face in the summer, just like humans. They need to have access to fresh and cool water as much as possible. It is also a good idea to switch to wet dog food in the summer, as this can help to increase a dog’s fluid intake.


One good idea is to get into the habit of buying frozen dog food. Put a portion in your dog’s bowl before you go to bed, cover it, and leave it to defrost overnight. That way your dog can benefit from a nice cold morning meal containing plenty of fluid to keep them hydrated.

Do the same when you wake up for a cooling meal in the evening. You can add to this by using an ice cube tray to freeze cubes of frozen chicken or beef broth. Add one or two of these to your dog’s bowl for an additional treat.

Of course, it is not just water that your dog loses through dehydration. Nutrients will also be lost to the heat, so it is more important than ever to make sure that you are feeding your pooch a nutritionally-balanced, high-quality dog food.

Dry dog food is often recommended, as wet food can go off in the heat, however low-quality kibble can add to your dog’s dehydration. Frozen dog food is much better for your dog’s health, and keeping it in the freezer removes the issues with it going off.

Although your dog is covered in fur, you might find that sunburn is an issue. This can be especially common in breeds with light or short fur, as they have little protection from the suns rays. You should be able to find suncream that is suitable for pets, so it is definitely worth applying this to your dog before they spend any extended periods outside.

It is not just the sun that can cause your dog to become burned, however. The heat of the sun can make certain surfaces incredibly hot, and it can be easy to forget that dogs do not have the luxury of shoes to prevent their feet from becoming burned.

Tarmac surfaces can get extremely hot during the summer, as can sand and certain types of stone, and your dog’s footpads can easily burn. This can cause a great deal of pain. You should use your hand to check the temperature of such surfaces before you take your dog for a walk.

If you keep these safety issues in mind, you should have no problem spending an enjoyable and happy summer with your dog. For products that can help you with this, click here.


Leave a response »

Post-divorce families – getting it right

Jen Walshaw : March 24, 2014 6:27 pm : Featured and Guest

Pre-divorce is full of the very problems and reasons that the divorce became necessary. This might involve arguing, shouting and other forms of conflict; thus divorce can be traumatic, emotive, complicated and expensive.

Divorce can have devastating effects on children if it is not handled sensitively and maturely – we all know these facts. So surely the post-divorce situation is the point in which things can look forward to a workable and sustainable future.


The first stage of the post-divorce family is the re-organisation period and involves settling down to the changes. Adults can find this very difficult and children more so, meaning that support is very important during this stage. It is also common at this stage for children to desperately wish for their parents to reconcile and they may mention it to both parents. It is important that they are told the truth in the matter and it is equally important that they are not ridiculed – it is a healthy and normal fantasy simply born from love and respect for both parents.

Communicating with your child

There is no golden rule as to when a child feels ready to talk about things. It will depend on their age, maturity and knowledge of the situation. It is important to keep communication channels open at all times even when they are not ready to talk. Never force a discussion; children will speak when they are ready.

It is common that after a while a child might develop favouritism for one parent over another– you should not read too much into this but should instead reiterate that both parents love them unconditionally.

Sometimes during this period of re-organisation you might notice a deterioration in your child’s behavior such as acting out or misbehaving. It is a common mistake to make allowances for the stress of of the divorce and simply write it off as inevitable. It is vital to maintain the same levels of discipline as before.


The specialist divorce lawyers you used for the divorce such as Brookman family law solicitors will know of support networks, but take advantage of all possible avenues such as the wider extended family who may be able to provide the most valuable support network. Remember that your ex-partner’s mother is your child’s grandparent and that every child needs their grandparents. After a divorce you must never deny your child access to their extended family.


Leave a response »

What are the benefits from buying local?

Jen Walshaw : March 20, 2014 2:43 pm : Featured and Guest

Although similar assurances are available in other countries, there are added benefits to changing your attitude and buying local.

cliff view


We’re all aware of the economic uncertainty that the UK has faced in the past few years or so, but despite a recent improvement in figures – many are unaware of just how badly people in some areas are struggling.

That’s where you come in! Simply supporting local products like cheese, wines, beer or cider could give your region the edge it needs to grow.

You see, the more we invest in our local economies by buying products, the less subsidies are needed and the more jobs can be created. Who knew eating Lancashire cheese, or Melton Mowbray pork pies could be so beneficial (and delicious!).


But even though the economic benefits of buying local are clear, environmentalism remains one of – if not the most – popular reasons for people to choose nearby suppliers for their foods rather than foreign companies.

As has been well documented in recent years, flying goods from one end of the planet to the other is terrible for the environment and has been implicated in recent spikes in global warming and climate change.

But that’s not all the bad news that comes when products are being moved from continent to continent. Shipping over long distances requires the use of tonnes and tonnes of plastics, which cannot be easily recycled. What are the benefits of buying local?

These days we’re all becoming more and more aware of the quality of our food. No longer is that slop from the chippy down the road acceptable – such has been the rise of gourmet dining in the UK.

But despite the rise of the celebrity chef, gastro pub and posh burger, most of us are simply clueless as to where our food comes from.

Sure, we see that our strawberries sometimes come from the Netherlands and that our coffee comes from Ethiopia – but beyond that, are we really any the wiser about what processes went into making our ingredients?


That’s the magic of buying local. Fact is, in the UK, we’re pretty good about animal safety and have some of the strictest guidelines around in terms of animal welfare.

Take the Red Tractor badge, for example, which tells consumers that the supply chain involved to produce the food you’re buying is above board, environmental and fair to animals.

This is a massive waste of money and reinforces just how much better it is if you end up buying that shampoo from a fellow called Steve down in Devon rather than a faceless chemical and cosmetic company based in northern Italy.


But while the benefits of buying local are clear, there has always been the argument from the uninitiated that it is expensive and leaves household budgets looking emptier than a glass of Pimms in the summer.

This might have been true in the past, but with the recent move of supermarkets to the world wide web, there are more bargains on offer than ever before.

Take the Ethical Superstore, for example, which offers fantastic products made in the UK at rock-bottom prices that even larger chains in retail parks across the country can’t compete with.

Staying at home on your laptop has never been so environmentally friendly!


Leave a response »
« Page 1, 2, 3 ... 14, »

Follow Mum In The Madhouse

Subscribe to our newsletter




My other sites


Read all of my Reviews here



mumsnet bloggers network