A charming hotel in Paris or the Cote d’Azur for the whole family

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A trip to Paris or the Cote d’Azur is something everyone should experience. There are many activities for the whole family to enjoy in these unique destinations. Here are some reasons why you should consider staying in Paris or the Cote d’Azur for your next holiday:

The art and architecture of Paris

Paris is home to the Louvre and has countless examples of old world art that cannot be seen anywhere else in Europe. Seeing the works of the masters will leave you awestruck. In the evening, you can take in a play or live music and experience the outstanding nightlife at venues such as the Comédie Française and the Opéra Garnier. If you stay at the charming Hôtel des Tuileries, in Paris you will be just a short walk away from these exciting venues. When you return you can relax in your spacious room in a building dating back to the 18th century – this allows you to immerse yourself in old world Paris charm your entire trip. Childcare with activities is available for those that need it, but many things can be done together with your children. The architecture and artwork of Paris is something a child will always remember. They will learn so much about the arts and culture that their vacation will be an educational trip as well. The Eiffel Tower is a vital destination – climb to the top or take an elevator for a view of Paris that is unbeatable.

Family friendly accommodations

Hotel room sizing can vary throughout the region; there are however, many hotels that offer spacious rooms for those traveling with children. The Hôtel des Tuileries has rooms that accommodate up to three people with a high level of comfort. Private baths with tubs, refrigerators for keeping snacks and favorite foods, a minibar, television, phone, and internet service will ensure that your family is as comfortable as possible for your entire holiday.

Cote d’Azur

The Cote d’Azur is also commonly known as the French Riviera. Long known as a fantastic luxury vacation destination, the Cote d’Azur is not just for couples, but also offers exciting activities such as water skiing, boating, parasailing, kayaking, and more. The French Riviera has more than 300 sunny days per year, making it a destination to visit all year round. The Cote d’Azur is an excellent place to take sailing lessons with children and explore the local towns on foot. There are shuttle buses and various tours for those who want to minimize walking. Make sure to try the local seafood and enjoy the large selection of French wine at the many cafes and restaurants that offer patio service so you can enjoy the view.

Great value for families

Paris and the Cote d’Azur are great value for families. Booking a hotel three weeks in advance offers significant savings of up to 15% at a charming hotel in the Cote D’Azure or Paris. This makes luxury accommodations and service a more affordable option than many other holiday destinations.

After School Child Care

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After school programs can be a great way for kids to explore their interests. It provides them with a sense of independence while still maintaining a safe, nurturing atmosphere. Often, when parents have to work longer than their child is in school, the child ends up sitting around at home with little guided activity. Left to their own devices, many children end up spending far too much time with the television or computer, never developing their interests or building a sense of independence.

What are after school programs for?

Generally, the point of an after-school program is to help children develop some skill or ability that is neglected by traditional schooling. This could be anything from karate or soccer, to music and theater. Even those activities/programs with a more recreational focus, offer children opportunities that they simply would not have in the course of a normal school day. This includes the opportunity for socializing in an environment that is less formal than a normal school, while surrounded by peers who share some common interest in the activity at hand.

How do they help kids?

An after-school program can help children in a number of ways. For a start, it can put them in connection with peers who share their interests. This is an important motivator for children to continue exploring their interest in something. Furthermore, by creating a space where children are able to explore their interests without the pressure to perform that they often feel in school, after-school programs allow children to build their confidence. When doing things that interest them, without the pressure to perform, children are more likely to become fully engaged in their activities, and therefore more likely to succeed. This success builds confidence.

Additionally, children love interactive activities. After-school programs are often able to offer children far more interactivity than the average day in school, not only with the adults present, but with the other children as well. Interacting more with their peers helps children to form strong friendships, and can create a network of support and encouragement that will help them later in life.

Keeping minds active.

Too much TV is not good for kids. Many children are left with little else to do in the afternoons when they get home from school. When they are not provided opportunities for stimulating activity, children, just like adults, will happily glue themselves to the tube for hours on end. After-school programs are a good way for a busy parent to offer their child just such engaging activities.

Keeping children safe.

After school programs also help to keep children safe. By offering engaging activities and a safe space in which to play, after-school programs keep children from spending too much time alone. They also lower rates of risky behavior. This isn’t just a question of keeping kids off the streets as middle-schoolers either. The research suggests that children who have access to after-school programs in elementary school are less likely to engage in risky behavior later on.

If you’re a working parent, it can be easy to feel like you don’t have enough time to make sure that your child is getting enough mental stimulation. If this is the case, consider signing your child up for after-school programs. These programs help kids become more engaged and independent, as well as keep them safe.

Ideas for a Great Girls’ Weekend Away

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A weekend away with the girls can be just what the doctor ordered after a stressful or busy period. Keeping it simple is usually best to allow for extreme amounts of relaxation and quality girl-talk. Whether your preference is a good book or a busy planned schedule, here are a few ideas to get the most out of your downtime away with the girls.

A Staycation in the City

It might be the city you live in, but have you ever really had the chance to explore it like a tourist or just relax and be pampered? Don’t be too quick to dismiss a holiday in your very own city. You might live there, but chances are life has you too busy to really enjoy your surroundings. Did you even know about that new bar or restaurant that just opened up in town? You were too busy at work to notice!

You can often find great last minute deals and enjoy your home city from a luxurious hotel. Spend your days sipping cocktails by the pool, doing some shopping, seeing the galleries you never got a chance to get to, and getting pampered by the in-house beautician and masseuse.

All of this and without the hassle of getting plane tickets or driving for hours! What could be better than that? Well, keep reading to find out…

A Health Retreat

When life gets busy, it’s easy to neglect your body and put wellness as a last priority. While this might get you through that stressful month at work, it can sometimes come with long-term impacts. Use a weekend away with the girls as an excuse to get back on track and start looking after yourself again.

Enjoy some downtime while treating your body to some TLC. Try a wellness or health retreat and come away feeling a million dollars. You can finally start working on some of those much delayed new year’s resolutions. Health retreats like Chi of Life are a perfect way to lose some weight, cleanse the soul, and feel rejuvenated. What woman doesn’t want to feel healthier and more energised after a weekend away?

Hitting the Wineries

Dreaming about days of drinking wine and eating cheese? Who isn’t? Leave the boys at home and try a winery experience. Wineries are a forced relaxing vacation. There isn’t a lot of hustle and bustle and you’ve got no choice but to chill out with a good book, good food, and a delectable glass of local wine.

If you’re after a more structured weekend, wineries are a great way to go. You can participate in tours and even non-wine related activities like hot air balloon rides.

Taking some time out is essential every now and then, and what better way to do it than with your girlfriends in a relaxing environment with good food and conversation? Have you had a particularly great weekend away somewhere? If you have any recommendations you could share with other readers, don’t be shy – comment below and help your fellow women relax.

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Are You Ready to Adopt a Cat?

Are you thinking of introducing a kitten or cat to your life? It’s so important that you make sure this is the right decision for you. A cat must suit your lifestyle, otherwise it isn’t fair on the animal. You don’t want to end up having to rehome them or put them in a shelter, as this can be bad for their health. Avoid doing this by ensuring you make the right decision right from the start. So, let’s answer that all important question: are you ready to adopt a cat?

Do You Have the Finances?

You don’t just have to worry about the initial cost of your cat. You must pay for checkups, medical treatment, toys, food, and other things regularly. You should be able to allocate some of your income to your cat every week or month. If you don’t have these finances and will struggle to make sure your cat has all of the things it needs, you aren’t ready to adopt one.

Will You Be a Family to Your Cat?

Some people think that cats don’t need a lot of attention and that they like to be alone. While different cats have different personalities, they are still sociable creatures and enjoy a fuss/playtime. You should allocate at least 15 minutes of your day to playing with your cat and giving them some attention. You need to be a family to your cat and keep them happy, otherwise you’ll find they like to cause mischief in other ways to stay occupied.

Will You Keep Your Cat Indoors?

Having an outdoor cat is unbelievably dangerous, but many people refuse to listen. They think letting a cat roam outside alone is the right thing to do, and that keeping them inside is cruel. This is false. Providing you have everything your cat needs indoors, and perhaps an outdoor enclosure, your cat does not need to roam outside alone. Letting them do this means they can get all kinds of diseases from other animals, end up fighting or dead. The amount of cats that get hit by cars or attacked is horrible. Keep yours safe by keeping it indoors. You’ll need a scratching post indoors, toys, a litter box from scoopfreedom.com, and more.

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image from Flickr

Are You Thinking to the Future?

Cats can live for up to 18 years if they’re looked after well enough. Make sure you’re thinking ahead. If you plan on moving or taking another job, will you take your cat with you? If you won’t, then you shouldn’t get a cat. Your cat needs to be in your future as far as you can see for this to be a good relationship.

Who Will Care for Your Cat While You’re Away?

There will be times when you must go away and have somebody care for your cat. Will you take them to a shelter, or have somebody you trust look after them? You can’t leave them alone or ask a child to take care of them.

Well, are you ready to adopt a cat? Answer these questions honestly and you’ll have your answer!

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3 Activities For Quality Family Time

You spend a lot of time with your partner and children, but how much of this can you really call quality time? Unfortunately, while juggling the many and competing pressures of everyday life, quality family time is not that easy to come by. Additionally, if you have teenagers, you might feel quite distant from them as they go through this often challenging time of their lives.

It is important to be organised and plan for at least one family activity a month (although more often if you can manage). You could sit down as a family and choose an activity to do each month then put it in the calendar, so no one forgets. This doesn’t have to be a complicated occasion; the emphasis should be on quality rather than quantity. Read on for some ideas for great activities that will help your family to bond.

  1. Weekend away

A couple of days away somewhere new or to a location your family loves could be an excellent and memorable experience. You could pick a destination where there are plenty of activities you could do as a family like going for nature walks or visiting museums. My family have had many brilliant holidays in Blackpool where there are so many family fun things to do. We spend time at the beach, go on the iconic (and often terrifying) rides and enjoy a fantastic show in the evening. Camping is another great way to spend a family weekend away. Not only is it a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city but it also encourages your kids to spend less time in front of the television.

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  1. Games night

This is such an easy way to spend quality time with your family and is also loads of fun! Games nights can happen with very little props, so you even start this fun family activity tonight. Cards and charades don’t require much equipment. However, do stock up on your favourite board games if your family takes a liking to this activity. To make your games nights even more fun, you may wish to start a leaderboard and throw in some pizza and popcorn.

  1. Bike ride

Another way to enjoy some quality time with your family is with a bicycle ride. Not only will it be an enjoyable thing to do together, but it also get’s you outside and being active. By doing a simple search online you can find information on all the beautiful and manageable cycle routes in your local area. Your family bike ride can be as long or as short as you like, so it fits in well with the rest of your commitments. For a day bike ride, consider packing a picnic and riding to a nearby park. You may even wish to bring along some outdoor games.

Spending quality time with your family is important. If you can manage a weekend away together here and there, that’s great. However, a walk, bike ride or evening in all together are all excellent ways to come together as a family. Enjoy!

 

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Why Your Kids Will Change And What You Can Do About It

Kids are wonderful to have around. They seem so naturally cheerful and playful, and exhibit the very best of human nature. They love a cuddle and find everything so fascinating and fun. It’s great to get down on the floor and join in with their games, and examine up close every little nook and cranny in your home. To be a child again would be wonderful, but to get to be a parent of one is a great experience too.

The best thing about having kids is being able to buy them all the things we never got to have as children. It is a different time now, and many toys are more affordable. Clothing too is much cheaper than it used to be. Best of all, there is so much more choice. If you visit jackandjillkidswear.com you’ll see what we mean! There are hundreds of different items, and no two kids ever need to be dressed alike. The same can be said for toys. There is such a wide choice, you may soon have more than your home can store!

Kids have always been expensive, but these days, we tend to have fewer of them. This means we can spoil the ones we’ve got a little more than our grandparents could. Taking kids out to theme parks or just to the swing park is so exhilarating for them. They love every second. We may be shivering on the sidelines, but children somehow manage to maximize every activity they undertake. Yes, they may have emotional meltdowns for no reason, but, on the whole, most kids are really happy people.

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Thanks to Flickr.com for this photo

Of course, our kids grow up and get older. They become teenagers. Suddenly they are riddled with angst and moodiness, and our relationship with them seems to completely change overnight. Some teens want nothing to do with their parents for no particular reason while others go out of their way to seek attention. No two teenagers are alike, and all will cause their fair share of trouble for you. Maintaining open lines of communication can be tricky. Your teen is fiercely independent and even secretive about where they are and what they are doing. This can be heartbreaking for you as a parent.

Nurturing this independence is important, but letting your teen know you are always there for them no matter what is key. The second they feel you are not paying attention to their telepathic cries for help, is the moment they can choose to go off the rails. None of us is telepathic, but all teens will expect us to automatically know how they are feeling and why. They also demand you fix their problems and run errands for them, but these phases will pass. They usually know they are being unreasonable, but perhaps miss a little of the old relationship where you did have to do everything for them. Your kids will always delight you, whatever age they are, but maybe your teen is just a little worried he doesn’t make the grade in your books anymore. Unconditional love is a given, so hand out a few hugs to bring him around.

How to Spend Less Time Cleaning and More Time with Your Family

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Housework is a massive time drain. Nobody likes scrubbing the bathroom or vacuuming the carpets. It’s boring and can often feel like a pointless exercise if the room looks like a disaster zone within ten minutes of you packing your cleaning equipment away. Unfortunately cleaning is not something we should avoid doing. People who never clean their house end up living in squalor surrounded by stray cats and ten years’ worth of junk. So if you would quite like to spend more quality time with your family without neglecting your household chores, here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

Learn to Multitask

Multitasking is an art form. Most of us multitask without thinking twice about it – we read emails whilst chatting on the phone a million times a day – so there is no reason why you can’t use this skill when cleaning the house.

Sticking solely to one task is not time efficient. You will be able to get a lot more done in less time if you do two things at once. For example, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, empty the dishwasher. Or, disinfect kitchen surfaces once the dinner is in the oven. There are lots of ways to combine two or more chores, but you do need to make sure you finish everything you start or you’ll end up in a bit of a pickle.

Create a Cleaning Schedule

Schedules are useful for creating a degree of semblance to your busy week. A schedule will also help to break down housework into smaller, bite sized tasks, which should enable you to get more done. How you create a schedule is up to you, but if you want other people to participate, stick it on the kitchen wall in plain view – a white board is useful in this regard. Alternatively, use a smartphone calendar to assign tasks for each day of the week. That way you can change things if unexpected commitments arise.

Short and Sweet

When time is in short supply, you can achieve a lot by doing housework in ten-minute slots. It only takes ten minutes to vacuum a room, load up the dishwasher, put some washing on, or empty the tumble drier. Keep things short and sweet and you will get a lot more done.

Invest in Cool Gadgets

Vacuum cleaners are essential for keeping on top of dust and grime, but there are a whole host of tools that can help make cleaning the home much easier. For example, a multi-tasking steam cleaner from Karcher can be invaluable if you have hard floors to maintain and windows to wash. Investing in versatile gadgets like this can save you both time and space in the home as they can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks.

Assign Tasks to Family Members

There is no law that says you have to do all of the housework on your own. If you share your home with other people, they also need to take some responsibility for helping out. The more everyone chips in, the more quality time you can spend together as a family. So if they refuse to lift a finger, remind them of this!

If you have zero free time and some spare cash, consider hiring a cleaner to tackle the main tasks on a weekly basis. It could be a worthwhile investment.

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The Wish List: Everything You Need For Your Children’s Bedroom

I am no interior designer, but I do know a thing or two about decorating kids’ bedrooms. Making a bedroom that your children will love is harder than it first sounds. If you don’t plan what you need in the room, you could find that the project becomes expensive fast. Whenever I am about to start a new project like this one, I like to make a list. I believe that writing down everything I need, helps me to figure out what to do first. Here is a quick wish list of things you need in your children’s bedroom.

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Phil Manker

Extra storage space

If you are a mother, you know how much stuff children have. You can always do with extra storage space for your children’s things, and so you need to design a room that will let you have just that. You could get a bed that lifts up to reveal a storage unit or just get some built-in wardrobes for the walls. Remember, the more storage space you have, the easier it will be to clean the bedroom. Look for unique ways in which you can store things in the room.

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Phil Manker

Playthings and toys

Every child needs toys and things to entertain them. I like to choose traditional toys for my kids’ room because it means that they will play with them all the time. If you want to take things one step further, you could consider installing climbing toys in the bedroom. For example, you could put ladders on the walls or hang them from the ceiling. When you were a child, you probably dreamed about all the cool stuff you’d like in your bedroom. Well, now is your chance to give that dream room to your kids.

A cosy bed area

If you want your children to get a good nights’ rest each night, you need to make them the perfect cosy bed. You should ensure that there is a separate area for the bed so that your kids can relax. If your children have loads of games around them, they will find it difficult to sleep. You should choose a comfortable bed (or bunk bed) and cover it with some beautiful duvet covers. You could get a curtain to go around the bed so that your children can block out any light and have a place in which to chill out.

Educational toys

I think that education is super important for young children, and so I try to do everything I can to ensure that my kids learn new things. There are loads of educational toys out there on the market. You should look for games that your children will enjoy without even knowing that they are learning things along the way. If you put these toys in your kids’ room, they will play them when you are not there. It is vital that you engage your children’s minds at an early age so that they are super smart later.

Books and a bookshelf

While we are on the subject of being smart, let’s talk about books. Kids learn about entertainment from their parents. If you teach your children that the best entertainment is cartoons, they will only ever watch TV. Instead, you want to teach your little ones to love the written word so that they adore reading. Buy a bookcase and fill it with children’s literature. You need to take the time to help your kids learn to read so that they can enjoy doing so.

Once you have decorated and kitted out your kids’ room, they will never want to leave it! I hope that you follow my advice and include some of these excellent things in the room. Thanks for reading my wish list – see you next time!

Easy Ways to Make Your Backyard More Liveable

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It’s easy for people to go on and on about their outdoor rooms and backyard kitchens when they have yards that are the right size and were properly designed for such modern conveniences. Yours, unfortunately, is far from your favourite thing about the house, but here’s the good news: it doesn’t take a lot of work to turn your yard into a place you love spending time in. Here’s how.

Decorate

One particularly good idea is to bring in some new furniture. Organise a nice, comfy suite of outdoor furniture from somewhere like Super Amart Australia and your yard is already much more comfortable to be in and far more pleasing to the eye. Add a number of large potted plants throughout the area and, if you haven’t got a pool, then consider a water feature. The sound of slowly trickling water is extremely relaxing.

Privacy

It can be hard to relax when you know there’s a chance you’re being watched but, at the same time, you aren’t wild about erecting a 6-foot fence around the whole block either. Use trees, vines or hedges in gardens around the fence line to block the view into the yard and create a little more privacy. If you’re antsy and can’t wait for a bunch of trees to hurry up and grow, then add trellis or bamboo panels to speed things up.

Lose the Junk

Every yard has a certain amount of garbage that doesn’t need to be there. Old or broken yard furniture? Rusted gardening equipment? Old toys and play equipment the kids haven’t touched in years? Either store it all in the shed if you can’t bear to part with it or, if they’re in relatively good shape, consider donating them to a local charity or second-hand goods store.

Light It Up

You’d be surprised how many yards don’t have adequate lighting, yet this is crucial to making any backyard more liveable. Lighting is perfect for creating atmosphere. Simple things like citronella candles and torches will go a long way to keeping mosquitos and other flying insects at bay while you relax. Solar lights are another great option for shedding some light on a pathway too.

Weather-Proofing

You’re not going to be able to enjoy your highly-liveable backyard if it all starts falling apart within a few months, are you? It’s so important to protect everything in your yard from the elements. Sunlight, rain and wind can all damage your furniture and equipment. Shade sails and portable gazebos are a great way to keep your things sheltered without having to build anything permanent, and they can be made to your exact specifications.

And, with that, most of the hard work is done. You’ve now got a much more inviting, relaxing area of your home where you can take a moment to enjoy some well-deserved solitude or an area to entertain friends and family during the holidays. The best part? You did it all yourself. Now there’s something you can be proud of! What are your favourite ways to liven up a backyard? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Looking for free mobile apps to use for sat nav?

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The average smartphone today takes on a lot of responsibilities, ranging from calculations, to acting as the daily alarm clock. In recent years, they have gradually started taking the place of traditional car sat navs as more people use free apps downloadable on smartphones to find their way to their destinations.  We take a look at some of the best free apps; ones that you can rely on.

Waze

This is a community app where users contribute information about traffic, accidents and other pertinent road factors. It does a decent job, but the interface is somewhat lacking when compared to the others on this list. Also, there is the possibility that there aren’t any users contributing from around the area you are driving. Downloaded maps are available offline.

Google Maps

In the smartphone maps world, Google is the biggest.  Google maps have been in use for years now and are available on Android and Apple devices.

The Android version of Google maps features a custom built navigation option, which makes turn by turn driving straightforward. The standard navigation option also works relatively well. This app features strong search ability and a wonderful street view function. It can also be activated by voice and has regular free updates and live traffic updates in 220 countries.

The disadvantage of using this app is that it requires an active internet connection to work. Maps can only be accessed online and can guzzle a lot of data. This makes it almost unequivocally the wrong choice if you are abroad, as you will have to pay expensive data roaming fees. Also, it is not the best to take along on an adventure where you will move out of network coverage. You can choose to download a 50 mile radius, but misery be unto you if you stray outside your boundary line. Here are some interesting tricks for Google maps.

Navfree

This popular app is free on the major mobile platforms as well. Boasting millions of users, it is not hard to see that it is good at its job. You can buy maps separately if you are travelling and everything is downloaded onto the phone. This means all you need for it to work is a GPS signal. It is not without its downside though, as there are no spoken street names and the search functionality is less than stellar. You will also have to live with intrusive adverts unless you are willing to go premium.

Nokia Here Maps

In a bid to avoid being left behind, Nokia came up with their own navigation system. The app is available on Windows devices but it can also be downloaded free of charge on iOS and Android devices. It features real time updates, information on public transportation, and more. Interestingly, the map data can be downloaded offline.

Apple Maps

In the early days of this app, it had lots of challenges, but, these days, it offers good navigation.  The instructions are clear and easy to understand, but as is the case with Google Maps, you can’t use it without a data plan, except for through a bit of automatic caching.

With any of these apps, you can get by on day to day drives. However for a more complete navigation solution, a standalone car sat nav is almost certainly what you need.