What Value Would You Put on Your World?

*This is a collaborative post

Before having children the thought of having any kind of insurance in place didn’t occur to me. I took out car insurance because I had to have it and didn’t even usually get travel insurance when I went on holiday. It was only really when we bought our first home that we started to think about the long term and how much value we put on our home, lifestyle and quality of life.

But since having children this has all been ramped up a notch. I’m not very aware of my own mortality and know that if anything happened to Hubby or I that I would like the children well looked after, in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. I’d also like to make sure that Hubby or I were financially secure if anything happened to the other one of us, meaning that we wouldn’t have to worry about work and childcare on top of the grief of losing our spouse.

But, having recently increased our mortgage to do an extension over the coming months, life insurance is something that I have been looking to review. Zurich have put together the Value Your World tool – and it couldn’t have been better timing.

The Value your World tool is so easy to use and asks you questions to put a value on everything in your life – whether you have a partner to support, children to take care of and a mortgage to pay.

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It then goes into more detail, asking if you’d like to add any extra funds into the insurance for anything not covered by the tool, whether you would like to subtract any savings, investments or assets that you already hold and whether you privately educate the children and are planning to pay for them to go to university.

The Zurich Value Your World Tool goes into a lot more detail than I’ve experienced when looking for life insurance in the past and it really makes you feel like everything is being considered and taken care of and at the end it comes out with a figure for how much life insurance you need – the value it has put on your world from the answers you have given.

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At the end, the tool deducts any existing life insurance policies and then gives you the option of getting a quote for life insurance, using the information from the tool. You just have to add a few more details in – like your name, age and whether you smoke as well as whether you want the level of insurance to decrease over the term and the amount of years you want the insurance to run for before you’re shown details of life insurance premiums tailored to you.

The insurance quote system is fantastic – and completely flexible so you can have the perfect insurance for you. I played around to look at the monthly cost for insurance including critical illness cover and also for having both a level or decreasing term policy.

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The quote also gives you an idea of how much insurance would cost if you were to reduce the amount insured or increase it and throughout I thought it looked really competitively priced and, most importantly, affordable.

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It’s really important with these things to read the key facts and small print. In reading mine I was reassured that the premium is guaranteed – meaning I could have £400k of life cover, over a level term of 30 years and would be able to pay under £20 a month all the time I had the insurance with no fear of the premium suddenly being increased. It was also interesting to see that having the insurance stay in line with inflation over the 30 years wouldn’t actually add anything to my premium – so definitely worth doing in my case.

Insurance is such a personal thing, and so important too. The Zurich Value Your World Tool opened my eyes to the fact that we don’t just need insurance to cover our mortgage but to cover our lifestyle too. It’s so important to me that if anything happens to either Hubby or I that the children are well cared for and don’t have to worry about money – the Value Your World Tool knows about these concerns and really helps you prepare for any eventuality – even the ones that are hardest to think about.

Making Healthier Lunchboxes with Flora

*This is a collaborative post

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that children’s lunch boxes across the country are failing to meet healthy food standards. It’s so easy, as parents, to pick up snacks and treats for a lunchbox and pack the same things day after day.

But, new research from Flora shows that just 1.6% of packed lunch boxes are meeting healthy food based standards amongst primary school children in England and only 17% of lunch boxes contains any vegetables or salad.

With that in mind I have really been focusing on the lunches that I make for LP and Little Man, using Flora’s Lunchbox Guide to make balanced and nutritious lunches that the children love to eat. We had got into a bit of a lunch rut, eating the same things or ending up with a lunchbox full of beige. The guide has definitely helped us get more colour, and variety, into our lives as far as food is concerned.

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The process is simple, creating a main using four different food groups – adding a side or two and then adding a couple of fruit or vegetable choices too. It’s a great guide to help you make their lunch as balanced as possible and not make it too focused on one main food group.

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We often have snacky lunches, and they’ll be very much focused on the carbs and fruit sections so this has really made me think about alternatives to include in lunches – with more protein, different types of vegetables and just a lot more variety.

The children have been loving their new lunches too – they get to try new things and often ask for something from the chart to include in their lunches. I try to plan lunches in advance now too, incorporating leftovers and adding options to our weekly meal plan. It’s actually saving us money and reducing waste too. It’s also inspiring Hubby and I to think outside the box for our own lunches – and include more fruit and vegetables in them too – it’s a big hit all round!

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Review: Real Baking Cookie Kit #RealBaking

The children love to bake so when Vivid sent us some products from their new Real Baking range to try out LP and Little Man couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen.

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The Real Baking Cookie Kit includes a rolling pin, dough holder, baking sheet, piping bag and cookie cutters. It really works from the point of having already made cookie dough rather than from the start of the baking process.

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The idea is that you roll dough out on the baking sheet inside the dough holder and on the baking sheet. You can then cut shapes from the dough before baking it on the baking sheet. This is such a great concept although the baking sheet was really small and more suited to children helping in the kitchen rather than making a full batch of cookies themselves.

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LP loved making cookie. We used shop bought cookie dough but could have made biscuits using the kit ourselves. It would have been good if there was more to the kit – a mixing bowl and spatula to make the dough and maybe some ingredients too. The instructions do state that no ingredients or recipes are included but it would be good to mention on the box that a recipe isn’t included – or, include one. It would be lovely to have a simple biscuit recipe included with the instructions.

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As the baking sheet was small, and our cookies dough was the kind that spreads, the cookies didn’t turn out as expected but they were still pretty tasty and the children didn’t mind at all. This would be a great set for children wanting some independence when cooking with their parents and would be a great introduction to the world of cookie making.

The Real Baking Cookie Kit has an RRP of £14.99

Disclosure: We were sent the above product for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.

Creating the Perfect Packed Lunch with BEAR

*This is a collaborative post

It’s that time of year again – the children are back at school and many parents are making packed lunches every evening, ready to be taken to school the following day. At the moment LP has free school dinners but I know that her time will come, in a couple of years, where she will be looking forward to her packed lunch each day.

We have packed lunches a lot at home – on days out, weekends away and to have as a simple carpet picnic. The contents vary each day – sometimes sandwiches, sometimes fruit loaf and sometimes brioche – spread with jam for a special treat.

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We usually include crisps, breadsticks or some other savoury snack and then fill the rest of the lunchbox up with fruit. Bananas, grapes, apples – we really love variety when it comes to fruit. We’re lucky that the children love eating fruit and will eat it all day if given the chance but if your children are fussier where fruit is concerned we find BEAR Yoyos are a great lunchbox staple.

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BEAR Yoyos are made from 100% pure fruit which is gently baked for a tasty snack that’s high in fibre, one of your children’s five a day and free from added sugar, preservatives or concentrates. It’s as good as eating a piece of fruit – with no added nonsense – and so much more exciting for children – it feels like such a special treat when they find one in their lunchbox!

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Little Man and LP love BEAR Yoyos and they are available in a range of flavours; Strawberry, Apple, Blackcurrant, Mango, Raspberry and Pineapple. We haven’t found any flavours the children don’t like – and they’re just so easy to eat, perfect for lunchboxes.

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So if you are looking to add variety to your children’s lunchboxes now that they’re settled into their school routine, add a BEAR Yoyo for a lovely naturally sweet surprise in their lunch break. Plus, they get the added bonus of fun BEAR Time Travel cards in every pack.

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To find out more visit http://www.bearnibbles.co.uk/ or follow @Follow_the_bear

Blogger Behind The Blog {Real Mum Reviews}

Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Lucy from Real Mum Reviews.

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Here’s Lucy sharing more about her blog:

Where did your blog name come from?

When I started maternity leave with my first child, I found the wealth of products and services available for mums, parents and babies a bit of a minefield, and the different opinions on the right and wrong way of doing things was a tad stressful! I found that I was most comfortable with recommendations from my friends and family, and people I could trust, so decided to start a blog where a real mum (aka me!) shared her experiences and opinions, warts and all. Hence, Real Mum Reviews was born.

When did you start your blog and why?

I am not the kind of person that can sit still, and have always led a very academic life, having gone to university and completed a masters. As such, I found the first few months of maternity leave quite hard, in that I didn’t have anything for me, and my whole life seemed to resolve around babies! 🙂 I set up the blog to keep my mind active, and thought I could teach myself some new skills in the process. I am really proud of how much I have learnt! I am not technical but am able to do some basic CSS and HTML coding, and edit my theme by myself, as well as having learnt a significant amount about social media and promotion.

What did you do before you blogged?

I worked (and still work part time) in Human Resources. I love my job. I get to work with some great colleagues and help young people into the world of work – including apprentices, undergraduates and graduates. I am responsible for a graduate development programme at my current employer, and I get real pride from seeing a graduate develop their career over the 2 year programme. It’s my other baby! 🙂

What was your first post?

From memory (as a lot of my first posts got lost when my original web host went awol), one of my first posts was reviewing some of the products I already owned, including Infacol – which was a life saver when my daughter was very little. I also shared a post about breast feeding friendly locations in my local area.

What inspires you to blog?

I just really enjoy it. Sounds like a cliché I know, but I find it a form of escapism and enjoy writing down my feelings. I have also made some great friends and contacts through both the blogging community and also my social media followers. You certainly never feel alone! 🙂

What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?

The posts of mine that tend to have the best response are those that other mums can relate to – I recently shared some posts regarding my miscarriage, and the day that my daughter made me cry – both of which got a wealth of support and helpful comments from my followers.

The posts I am most proud of are the ones that make people laugh – most recently these have included the Threenager post and one about a Mum’s Character reference. I enjoy writing all of them to be honest, but ones that come from the heart are usually my favourites.

Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?

I’m always surprised at how much interest there is in relatively ‘normal’ posts, like my pregnancy updates, but I guess people like to read what others are going through at similar stages of their pregnancy.

Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?

I really want to grow my blog over the next 12 months, particularly as I am on maternity leave now and expecting my 2nd child any day now! I would love to host more features, linkies and work with other bloggers more, as well as attend more events and work more closely with brands.

What is your favourite thing about blogging? 

I love going to new product launches and hearing about new products hitting the market. I always feel that my friends ask me about recommendations as they know I understand the market well, and it’s nice to feel useful! 🙂 I love working with brands and getting the opportunity to road test products that other parents may want to consider for their children.

…and your least favourite?

Sometimes you get writers block, or lose a bit of motivation to write. I also don’t like it when people write hurtful comments or troll on bloggers’ pages. Thankfully that hasn’t happened to me (yet!) although it is something I particularly fear.

What’s the best blog post you have ever read? 

This is a really hard question as there are so so many. I read a LOT of blogs, and to make one stand out is really hard. What I love about blogging is that there can be such variety on such similar topics!

What blog do you love to read and why?

I love reading about Brummy Mummy of 2 – she’s a local mum blogger who loves to keep it real.

Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?

I put less pressure on myself, and concentrate more on the writing than I do on the stats. its very easy to get caught up and obsessed with the data side of blogging, and that can detract from the enjoyment!

Is blogging what you expected it to be?

More than I expected it to be, I expected it to be a little hobby, but it has become a bit of a way of life! 🙂

What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?

I have loved working with the Gro Company, as have enjoyed every single one of their products, particularly their Gro to Bed set which has officially changed bed time routine for good!

Are there any brands you would love to work with, why? 

I would love to be a brand ambassador and work with a brand on a long term basis. Some of my dream brand link ups would include Stokke, Snuz Pod and Bloom, because I quite simply love their products and how modern and stylish they look in the home. With my second daughter’s imminent arrival, I also feel it would be a great time for me to get involved! 🙂

Have you had any blogging fails so far?

I am sure I have had many, although wouldn’t have always known them at the time! 🙂

What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?

To become a recognised Birmingham based parenting blogger that people specifically recommend to their friends! 🙂 – I’d also love to feature on Huffington Post! 🙂

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

I have a three year old daughter, so we spend a lot of time playing together, particularly doing craft which she absolutely loves. The last few months of pregnancy have been hard, so I have also spent a lot of time sleeping!! 🙂

and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself

I have a sick phobia, not ideal with a toddler and a baby on the way. I’ve had it since I was about 14, and it can be so bad at times that I can’t even watch a film if it has sick in it (I have been known to leave a cinema!!) – its got much better since having children (as it kind of had to!) but I am hopeless when my daughter is ill. Thank god I have a supportive partner and a strong stomach!!

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Now that you know all about Lucy from Real Mum Reviews, make sure you go and read her blog. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – thanks so much Lucy for being involved!

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