Why Cottages are the Ideal Holiday Accommodation for Families

If you are planning a family holiday with your children, choosing where to stay is an important part of making sure that your holiday is a stress-free, enjoyable experience for the whole family. Wherever you are visiting, there is likely going to be a choice of accommodation options – whether that be hotels, apartments, holiday houses and cottages or even camping facilities. If you’re traveling with the kids in tow, you’ll want to choose somewhere to stay that is both comfortable and convenient for your needs. I’ve put together some of the top reasons why cottages are the perfect accommodation choice for families. 


Home from Home

One of the biggest reasons that moms and dads are increasingly opting to stay in a holiday cottage such as those offered at various destinations from awaywiththekids.co.uk is that they provide a more ‘home from home’ experience. Rather than simply being limited to a hotel room or a small self-catering apartment, a holiday cottage gives you fully-functioning rooms to utilize, such as a kitchen, dining room, living room, and separate bedrooms. Many holiday cottages are also fully family-friendly and will have a range of features to help make the stay easy and convenient for families with small children. 

More Space

Another great reason to choose a holiday cottage over a hotel room when looking for family holiday accommodation is that you’ll get more space. Even the most well-behaved of children can start to feel a bit cooped up and smothered whilst staying in a hotel room for a week, so parents are increasingly turning to booking a cottage to stay in so that their little ones will have more room to play and have fun. Many holiday cottages both in the UK and abroad will have facilities such as gardens and perhaps even play areas where children can let off some steam. 

Better Deals

Many parents mistakenly believe that holiday cottages are always more expensive than hotel rooms or apartments, but this is not always the case. In fact, there are plenty of great deals on holiday cottages both in the UK and abroad, and you may even end up paying less for your stay than you would had you opted for an alternative form of accommodation. Some holiday cottages are also run by their individual owners rather than large chains and corporations, which can also mean better prices. 

Support Local Communities

Opting for a holiday cottage for your next family holiday will also give you a great opportunity to support the local community in the area which you are staying. Many holiday cottages are owned by local landlords who use the property as a way of income from a small business. Paying local landlords, rather than large hotel companies, can be a great way to support the local economy and businesses. 

If you’re planning a family holiday in the near future, there are many great reasons to choose a holiday cottage over other popular forms of accommodation. Cottages are great for families because they are comfortable and more spacious.

Lullaby Collection and Lyrics


Lullaby and goodnight, right? Lullabies are a great way to soothe your child but did you know that they help with language development and even reading skills?

But do you know the words to those lullabies to be able to sing your baby to sleep? Now you can stop resorting to made-up lyrics and the dreaded hum because I've compiled a list of some of my kids' favorite songs for me to sing to them with lyrics. 

(Note: Not all of these are traditional lullabies, but these are the ones that my little ones have been known to request night after night. Just click through to get to the lyrics.)



Which lullabies do you sing to your little ones? 

Tips For Parents: Helping Kids to Cope With Stress

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with stressful situations. Even getting the kids ready and out of the door each morning can be a trial. But stress is not just an issue that affects adults. Children are also faced with struggles and stresses. If your kids are approaching exam time or you’ve moved house, for example, this can take its toll. Here are some useful tips to help you and them cope.

Identifying the cause

Stress affects us all, and there are hundreds of different triggers. For adults, stress usually arises from work pressures, financial problems, or relationship worries. For children, stress may be caused by tests or finding schoolwork difficult, changes at home, or bullying. Falling out with friends or worrying about keeping up with trends can also trigger anxiety.

If your child seems stressed, try and talk to them and identify the cause. If you know what’s troubling them, you can try and find a solution. Often, there will be a quick fix. In other cases, it may be an ongoing issue, which you may have to monitor. Encourage your child to talk to you. If they won’t, try another member of the family. If you have teenagers who are struggling with their emotions, it may be beneficial to research therapists.




Taking time out

Children are under a lot of pressure today, and they tend to get tired and overwhelmed. If they’ve been studying all hours of the day, or they’ve had deadlines, time out could make all the difference. Sometimes, you need to take a break, clear your head, and have a few hours where you’re not thinking about assignments. If the holidays are approaching, you could consider booking a few days away or taking a vacation. Try and go for something relaxing or a trip they will find really fun. Book an outdoor adventure in Yosemite National Park, or spread your wings and experience a different country. Theme parks are always a winner for children. Check out blackpoolpleasurebeach.com if you fancy exploring the thrills and spills of a UK theme park break.

It’s also essential for kids to take the time to relax and unwind during term time. If they’re revising or they’re behind at school, working all hours could cause them to burn out. Try and encourage time management. This way, they will have time to study, as well as socialize.




Exercising

Exercise is one of the best natural remedies for stress and anxiety. It causes your body to release happy hormones known as endorphins, and it distracts and clears your mind. You can also get rid of pent up aggression and frustration. Popular exercises for kids include team sports, swimming, and cycling. You’ll find some more suggestions at http://www.parenting.com/gallery/finding-the-right-team-sport-for-your-child.





Stress is an increasingly worrying problem for parents. Children today are under a lot of pressure, and it’s beneficial to understand the causes of stress in kids. Try and talk to your child, and encourage them to use coping mechanisms. Help them manage their time, encourage openness, and make an effort to do fun things together. Get active, embrace the outdoors, and make time for relaxation.

Cleaning Tips to Make Your House Tidy in Minutes Plus a Shark® Rotator® Powered Lift-Away™ Speed Review


With three kiddos running around making messes, my house is never clean for very long. Matt will come home from work, look around, and sigh because he thinks I haven't cleaned at all. 

Our normal mess consists of whatever snack the kids were eating crumbled into the carpet, cereal under the couch cushions, and dirt that's tracked in all over the hardwood floor. I sweep, vacuum, and mop every day but it seems like as soon as I step into the kitchen to start working on supper, these house-destroying elves take over or a tornado comes sweeping through or something - and the house is a disaster again.

To make the daily cleaning ritual a little easier (and not so hard on my back) I've found a few things that work great to tidy up the house before Matt gets home without having to spend all day cleaning.



Clean Less Frequently

I know what you're thinking: this is a post about cleaning tips and I'm telling you to clean less often. There's a method to my madness, though! My mom is one of those people that scrub her floor on her hands and knees every day, and she has her whole cleaning ritual that makes me tired just thinking about it. It just isn't necessary to clean every little thing in your house every day.

What do I do? I break it up. On Mondays and Thursdays, I focus on laundry - specifically, folding the laundry. It's my most daunting task since it seems like there's always a load running, so I let it pile up and take two days out of my week to sit down with my favorite show on and catch up on folding. That way, I'm not having to spend an hour in the laundry room every day, plus I've made it into almost a reward for myself. 

That chocolate stain is definitely NOT from me dropping a Reese's when season 3 had a cliffhanger...

Delegate Chores

We have a "You made the mess, you clean it up" rule around here that is designed to teach the kids responsibility - but it really does help me out, too. When the kids are done playing with a toy, they know to put it away. After a meal, they clean their plates and carry them to the sink. 

We've also been working on giving each child chores that I know they can handle. The ten-year-old helps wash dishes and starts laundry, the five-year-old will take laundry out of the washer and put it in the dryer, and the three-year-old loves to put the silverware away after we finish washing dishes. 

The trick is to make chores less like work and more like "helping mom so she doesn't have a breakdown." Really, though, I've turned housework into part of everyday life so it isn't like being punished. I'm teaching them life skills that they'll need when they leave the nest.

Have the Right Tools

This is probably my best tip of all. When you're cleaning, there's no need to break out extra cleaning tools just to get the job done. My old routine included using a broom, a vacuum, a mop, and a duster. Then, I would have to pull the couches out just to make sure I was able to get all the crumbs out from under there too. By the time I had the house clean, I was exhausted.

I recently had the chance to work with Shark® to review their Rotator® Powered Lift-Away™ Speed and this versatile vacuum definitely makes cleaning a lot easier.



Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed™ is a versatile vacuum providing uninterrupted floor to ceiling cleaning. Easily clean under furniture, above the floor, and all those other hard to reach places around your home.

Features
  • "Never Loses Suction" Technology
  • Powered Motorized Brush in all Modes
  • Bare floor cleaning with Dust-Away™ Hard Floor Attachment
  • Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology®
  • Rotator Technology With Enhanced Swivel Steering
  • Advanced Swivel Steering
  • LED Lights on Floor Nozzle to Illuminate Work Area
I love that this vacuum can do the work of all of my cleaning tools!



Things I love about the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed:

  • Powerful suction. In comparison to my other vacuum, the Shark is a total powerhouse. I was able to get dirt and dust that I didn't even know was trapped in the carpet, not to mention it picked up the bigger pieces like random Cheetos without breaking and scattering them.
  • Lightweight. The vacuum I reviewed was lighter than my old vacuum, weighing in at about ten pounds. This makes it easier for me to use every day and means the ten-year-old can help me out with the cleaning too.
  • Straight from carpet to hardwood. I love that all I have to do is flip a switch on the handle to go straight from carpet to the hardwood floors. No changing attachments or grabbing the broom; It works just as well on the wood floors as it does the rugs.

What I would like to see improved:

Really, I only have one complaint about the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed vacuum, and that is that the hose doesn't seem nearly long enough. If it was extended by about six inches, this would be the perfect vacuum. I'm short - about 5'2" so if i detach the wand to clean cobwebs or under the beds, the entire vacuum falls over unless it's right beside me. 

Where to find your own Shark® Rotator® Powered Lift-Away Speed™:

Visit Shark's website to compare models and learn more.

What are your favorite ways to cut corners to make your cleaning easier?

15 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read + Free Sight Word Printable Flash Cards

Learning to read isn't as simple as enrolling your child in a Dr. Suess boot camp where they come out flipping pages in Little Golden Books. It's a process that begins alongside language development and starts in the womb.

Fun fact: The phrase "mother tongue" comes from the fact that babies begin learning their native language from their mothers in the womb. - Washington.edu

Did you know that there are many ways you can help your child learn to read, beyond the book? Part of learning to read is the readiness, and the more ready your child is to learn to read, the easier it will come to them. Here are some simple ways you can help get your child ready to learn how to read.


  1. Read to them.
  2. Sing nursery rhymes.
  3. Sing the alphabet song with them.
  4. Label common items that they use.
  5. Tell them stories.
  6. Make sure books are available for them to "read" from an early age.
  7. Play rhyming games.
  8. Make letter shaped snacks.
  9. Show them pictures in books, and corresponding words.
  10. Make up silly songs with them.
  11. Read them simple poems, emphasizing the rhythm of the syllables.
  12. Send them mail.
  13. Watch kids' YouTube videos with them (we love KidsTV123).
  14. Read a chapter book with them, depending on their attention span.
  15. Help them memorize simple words with flash cards.

Flash cards are probably our favorite thing around my house right now. Sammy is just starting kindergarten and they will be using the mClass Reading 3D to assess literacy skills and reading comprehension. Now, I would prefer they teach reading for the love of books, but because everything is so standardized in our school system - this is the path they are taking.

As an avid reader myself, I want to make sure my kids see reading as something to love instead of just a duty they have to complete for school. That's why I've been working on teaching them and helping them recognize words since they were little. These flash cards have been a big help with teaching Sammy the words that may not always follow phonetic rules and the early little words that he'll have to memorize to make reading a little more fluid as he graduates to bigger books. 


Click the button below to download the free printable sight word flash cards to help your kindergartner learn to read.


Click the button below to download the free printable sight word flash cards in an OpenDyslexia font.


Do You Love Blogging Too?! Here's A Few Ways To Get Started...

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As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog here at Momma Without a Clue. Blogging is something that has opened up so many possibilities for people around the world. It allows us to share stories that would otherwise never be told. It has created jobs and inspired millions throughout its lifespan.

Many people want to be bloggers, but they don’t necessarily know how to go about it. It has become a much more accessible option in recent years, so now’s the time to get started. Who knows, we might be stumbling upon your amazing stories before long!

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  1. It All Starts With An Idea…

Before you go starting a new blog, you need to have an idea. There has to be some kind of angle that you’re hoping to tackle. If you don’t have that, you’ll get lost in a mess of articles that don’t capture an audience. What do you enjoy? Are you a big video gamer, for example? Why not write about video games, and capture the gaming audience? If you suddenly start writing about gardening, they’re going to disappear. Make sure you’ve got an angle in mind.

  1. Domains, Hosts & Designs

If you’re happy to keep this blog as private as possible, there are free options out there for your domains and hosting. However, if you want to reach an audience, you’re going to have to invest a little money. Firstly, there’s the domain, which needs to be catchy. Once you’ve paid for the domain, you’ll find that certain sites like 2MHost.com offer web hosting and web building, too. This is important - it will ensure that your site gets up and running quickly.

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  1. Write Because You Love To Do It

I’ve got some bad news for you - most blogs don’t succeed in the early stages. You’ll probably be spending weeks and months writing your blogs with single digit numbers of views. This is where the passionate bloggers are separated from the glory-hunters. If you’re really dedicated, you’ll keep going. Success doesn’t come overnight. In time, your blog will become more recognized.

  1. Consistency Is Key

It’s no good setting up a blog and writing multiple posts, followed by a month-long silence. Consistency means that your readers will keep coming back for more. Scheduling apps like doodle.com can help you to remind yourself about when to write. Don’t fall by the wayside, or you’ll be starting from scratch all over again.

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  1. More Is Less

Take a look at this post I’m writing for you today. Do you think I’m covering all the tips I could give about blogging? No way! Unfortunately, we haven’t got the time to go through 200+ tips, and you haven’t got the time to read them. Blogging is all about summing up your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In many cases, condensing a 5000-word piece into a 1000-word piece is much more beneficial. Less is more - don’t forget that!

If you’ve been inspired by Momma Without a Clue, let me know! I always love to hear your feedback.

ALDI is Helping Parents Save with Little Journey


Having a new baby can be expensive, especially if you don't know the tips and tricks to saving as much as possible. I partnered with ALDI to show you how they're helping relieve some of that cost to make parenting a little easier.


Everyone loves ALDI, right? I mean, according to a survey of US consumers conducted in 2016 by Market Force Information, ALDI is one of America's favorite grocery stores - and for good reason! Not only do they pride themselves on being able to provide low prices on high-quality items, they understand the joy, love, and excitement of being a parent - and how action-packed our days are with little ones. That's why they rolled out their brand-new Little Journey line - more than 50 baby items available at the grocery store you were going to stop by anyway!


The Little Journey product line features high-quality affordably-priced feeding and changing essentials parents and little ones need. ALDI is known for bringing shoppers the highest quality products at the lowest prices possible, and that holds true for their new Little Journey brand, too. Like all ALDI exclusive brands, every Little Journey product is at least the same quality as the national name brands, if not better, and the prices are usually more affordable.

We love the Little Journey diapers. They have a soft feel that is easy on baby's skin, and they stretch to make sure they fit completely. I love that they have the little wetness indicator line so you know exactly when your little one needs a new diaper just by looking.


The new Little Journey product line has all the things your little ones need – from infants to toddlers.

ALDI now offers: 
  • Diaper time: The dirty truth: parenting and stinky diapers go hand in hand. ALDI has parents and little ones covered with the Little Journey full line of diapering products: from their gentle Little Journey Wipes, diapers and training pants.
  • Formula: Every little tummy is different and a baby's nutritional needs evolve over time. That's why Little Journey includes four different baby powder formulas and one toddler formula to provide expert-recommended nutrition for little tummies, comparable to the big brand names.
  • Toddler nummies: The Little Journey infant-to-toddler snacks make healthy eating easy with yummy foods that little ones will love, made from ingredients parents will feel good about, including infant cereals, organic puree pouches, Little Munchers® baked whole grain corn snacks, Yogurt Bites and whole grain Puffs.
(Price and availability may vary from store to store)

My bigger kiddos are 3 and 5 and they loved the Little Journey snacks. Kaya's absolute favorite was the Little Journey Organic Apple and Sweet Potato Puree Pouch. "This is my new favorite snack, mama!" she told me, as she thought she was going to sneak a second one. Because they're good for her and organic, I didn't mind letting her grab another!


We shop at ALDI for our groceries, and I can't tell you how excited I am that I don't have to make special stops anywhere else for the baby and toddler stuff that we'll need. This means more time with my little guys and less time doing the shopping. Thanks ALDI!

For more information about the complete line of Little Journey products and pricing, visit ALDI on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest or the ALDI website.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by ALDI via Momtrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of ALDI or Momtrends. 

Back to School with Five Star®

I received the following products solely for review purposes.

Two more weeks until school starts back here. Two more long, boring, whining-filled weeks. Little Miss Priss, the 10-year-old, goes into 5th grade this year and has just decided that she needs to be this trendy fashion-forward popular kid this year. Thanks to Mead and Five Star, she'll at least be armed with some pretty cool back-to-school supplies to help her focus on her education while she's trying out her newly-discovered sense of self.

The Five Star® Big Mouth Backpack with silver and berry accents is Lexi's new favorite thing in the world. She loves that the main compartment is big enough to carry her zipper binder and her 2-inch ring binders, and with the new patent-pending "big mouth" zipper, she's able to find all her supplies without having to basically crawl into her backpack and dig at the bottom. 

Features:
• Dual zippers for easy open and close.
• Handle on the top to hang backpack in a locker.
• Patent-pending main compartment opens wide to quickly and easily find supplies
• Padded front panel provides extra protection for tablets or other digital devices
• Super big main compartment can hold textbooks, binders, notebooks and more
• Interior pockets provide convenient storage for smaller items to keep pens, pencils and more easily accessible
• Side, exterior pocket is perfect for holding a water bottle
• Padded backpack back and straps provide better support when carrying heavy loads. Adjustable for comfort
• Backpack overall dimensions: 13" x 18" x 8"

We also received a couple of their Five Star Flex® Hybrid NoteBinder® notebooks. These are easily the coolest notebooks I've ever used. That's right, I had to swipe one for my own personal use. One thing that has always bothered me about binders is that there's really no way to bend the front back to make it easier to take notes. This new design has the flexibility of a notebook, but the rings of a binder. Even better, their patented TechLock® rings won't break or misalign - another huge pet peeve of mine.


Features:
• Patented TechLock® ring won't break or misalign
• Rings open easily to add paper and dividers (like a binder)
• Durable plastic cover folds over to lie flat (like a notebook)
• Includes: NotePocket® dividers, NoteProtector® dividers and 8.5” x 11" paper (college and quad ruled)
• 6 color options

Five Star® also offers Reinforced Filler Paper, which we tested out too. The triangle-shaped holes and stronger reinforcement tape help to resist tearing, perfect in the Flex Notebinder.


This year, Lexi may be worrying about boys and making friends, but I know she won't worry about staying organized and on top of her school work with these awesome Five Star® products.

Can Stretching Help to Relieve Back Pain?

You have probably heard that staying active can help you relieve your back pain while maintaining good flexibility and mobility. But can stretching, in particular, help to relieve your back pain? The simple answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’. Check out the information below to learn more about how stretching can help you feel better, particularly when done consistently. 


The Facts on the Benefits of Stretching


Just about anyone can truly benefit from regularly stretching out the body, with particular focus on the back. When you stretch out the backs of the legs, the buttocks, and the muscles surrounding the spine, you’re essentially stretching out all of the soft tissues, which include the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, that can tense up without enough movement. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle as a result of having a desk job, stretching is imperative. This is because all of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles along the spinal column are designed to move. Limitations in movement will result in back pain, but stretching will help undo that pain while increasing range of motion, particularly when combined with a product like the Spinal Back Rack, which you can use right at home to further increase mobility and flexibility while relieving pain naturally.  

A Few Helpful Pointers


Before you start a stretching routine for your back, you should know how to do so in a safe and effective manner. After all, you don’t want to go about it incorrectly and cause more pain than you’re already dealing with. 

Always wear clothing that is comfortable and non-restrictive so that you can move your body freely as you stretch. Also, whenever you perform a stretch, don’t go past your limits, as that could result in injuries. Every stretch should be pain-free. Never force your body into a position. 

Also, always move into every stretch slowly and steadily, and breathe through the process. Avoid bouncing while you stretch, as that could cause tears in the muscles. Perform your stretches on a flat and clean surface, and hold your stretches for about 20 seconds to let the joints and muscles loosen. 

The Stretches That Work Best


When stretching to relieve back pain, focus on stretching various muscle groups, rather than just folding forward to stretch your spine. For example, stretch your hamstrings because, when they become tight, they can cause back pain. Also focus on stretching the hips, which help to keep the spine in proper alignment, and stretch out your neck and shoulders to help release tension throughout the upper back. 

You can perform a variety of stretches every day, but consistency will be the key to your success in relieving your back pain. You may even decide to start a yoga practice, which includes various poses that are designed to lengthen the spine and release tension from the body. 

Stretching for a few minutes every day will allow your body to open up gradually. Over time, you should notice that your back is more mobile and you suffer from less pain.

5 Places Where Bacteria Commonly Thrive In Your Kitchen



You’ve got a little one running around the house now, and you don’t want them to be picking up bacteria! However, the kitchen is a place that we commonly associate with rotting food and dirty hands. So, we need to protect against bacteria by being proactive and learning where germs love to live. Take a gander at the following tips for a few helpful hints.

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Kitchen Sink

We’ll start with the most obvious one of them all. We use the kitchen sink for all sorts of reasons, from cleaning to washing our hands. It’s inevitable that they’ll get coated with bacteria, and the kitchen sink is a great place for them to thrive. Believe it or not, the kitchen sink is even worse than the toilet for this! Every now and again, make sure you give your sink a thorough clean to get rid of those nasty germs.

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Coffee Maker

Wait...what did I just say?! The coffee maker?! You might think that coffee makers would be prone to bacteria and kill it off with their high heat levels. Unfortunately, it’s actually the heat and humidity that are inside it that help it to thrive. The best way to protect against this is to follow your coffee maker’s manual correctly. You can find these online at websites like www.krupsusa.com. Find out how to carry out regular maintenance, and make sure you’re cleaning on a regular basis. That’s all you need to do.

Cutting Board

You’re using your cutting board to handle raw food, so it makes sense that it will harbor bacteria. Still, it’s amazing how many of us don’t take the time to wash it regularly. As mentioned at www.knifeista.com, “the boards should be properly sanitized to eliminate the growth of bacteria in it.” Also, be careful to prevent against cross-contamination when handling different foods. Buy separate cutting boards for different uses.

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Dish Sponge & Towels

Many, many studies have found that the dish sponge is the dirtiest, grimiest thing in the entire home. Yes, it’s even worse than your toilet and your kitchen sink! Does it come as a surprise to anyone?! This IS the thing we’re using to clean all of our dirty stuff. You want to be changing that sponge every week-or-two. If you want to wash your sponge, put it in the dishwasher. For dish towels, put them in the washing machine.

Knobs & Buttons

There are a variety of knobs and buttons in the kitchen that will undoubtedly get coated with bacteria. Unfortunately, the risk is even worse in the kitchen, where you might have been handling raw food in the process. Firstly, you want to watch out for switches. Give them a gentle clean every now and again. Also, stove knobs are a common place for bacteria to thrive. Normally, you can pop this right off to give them a thorough clean. Be careful with any buttons and knobs in your kitchen - clean them as regularly as you can.



It’s unrealistic to think that you can live in a totally germ-free home. With my tips, however, you’ll hopefully be able to reduce them on a grand scale!