Author

mummyofthesuburbs

Last Summer when our Daughter started school for the first time we had a dilemma, both myself and my Husband were not finishing work until 5pm, so who would collect her from school? Should we send her to after school care or think about getting someone else to collect her from school instead? We looked at the various options and came to the conclusion that an Au Pair may be the answer to our needs. Luckily one of my friends had recently hosted two different Au Pairs. So I spent a bit of time quizzing her, then with a bit of insight and advice I was able to get on and start the search for someone who would fit into our family.

What is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is a young person between the ages of 18 to 30 years old. They are usually unmarried with no children. They are travelling abroad to live in another country on a temporary basis. Au Pair actually means “by mutual agreement” in French. They come and live in your family home free of charge and you also provide the food for their meals. In return they act like a ‘big Brother’ or ‘Sister’ within your family.

What does an Au Pair actually do?

Like any member of your family an Au Pair is expected to help out with the daily household tasks. For example this can include: taking your children to and from school or nursery, helping with homework and playing with them, assisting your children with tidying their rooms, preparing the children’s meals and washing and ironing their clothes.

How many hours should they be working?

30 hours per week including baby sitting. They are entitled to at least one day off a week.

How much do you have to pay them?

Au Pairs are not payed a salary, but instead you provide them with weekly pocket money. In the UK this is in the region of £70-£85 per week, however some families do pay more.

Where do you find one?

There are many agencies that will find an Au Pair for you, but they will charge a substantial fee, however this does take the hassle out of your search and checks.

Or you could like I did use one of the numerous search sites that connect you with various applicants for a a reasonable membership fee. However bear in mind that you will need to put in a lot of time and effort to find your perfect fit.

What sort of qualities or qualifications should you look for?

Firstly ensure that they have the relevant entry visa requirements to work in the UK or consider EU nationals only. Make sure that they do have some childcare experience. Talk to them either on the phone or ideally on Skpe and make sure that their English is up to scratch, especially if you have young children they are going to have to be able to communicate effectively. Check if they had done a paediatric first aid course.

What checks should you make on them?

Ideally you should do a Police Check on them from the country where they live. Also some sort of reference either from a previous employer or at least from a School or College they have attended. I also asked for proof of home address and birth certificate or ID card. It’s also a good idea to ask them for an emergency contact or who their next of kin is in case of emergencies.

Should they sign a contract?

Yes it is a good idea so you can get everything down in writing and then both parties know what is agreed. You can find examples of these online.

My top tips for helping your Au Pair settle in

  1. Before your Au Pair arrives send them some information about the local area you live in. Perhaps suggests websites they could visit to get more information to familiarise themselves with where they are going to be living and things they might want to do.
  2. If your Au Pair is going to attend college while in the UK to improve their English, suggest some reputable colleges they could attend?
  3. Start to draw up a timetable or make a spread sheet which outlines what the families daily routine looks like. For example what time does your child get dropped off or collected from school. Does you child attend after school activities? If so when and where? Make it easy for them to see what is expected of them.
  4. Explain to them how the local transport system works. As we are based in London I made sure our Au Pair had a fully loaded Oyster card and I explained how she could top it up.
  5. Think about providing them with a pay as you go mobile phone. I think most families I know have. Make sure you explain how they top it up.
  6. Try and find out if anyone else in your area has an Au Pair? That way they can be introduced to someone who is in a similar position to them.
  7. Make sure their room is welcoming and has all the essentials, bedding, towels ect..
  8. On the day they arrive try to put them at ease. It can be quite an overwhelming experience coming to live in a new country. We took our Au Pair out for a meal the first day she arrived. Why not think about asking your child to make a welcome card!
  9. Write a list of all the foods that your child like or dislikes and think about what sort of cooking you expect from your Au Pair.
  10. Do discuss how you expect your Au Pair to discipline your child, remember they come from a different culture and also may not have had this much responsibility before.
This is our lovely Au Pair Laurie with our Daughter

Our Experience

We were so lucky as this was our first experience of hosting an Au Pair. Laurie was 19 years old so I was a bit apprehensive that she was so young and was wondering about her level of experience. She came from the South of France and from the moment she arrived I could tell that she was a caring and mature person. She really connected with Amelia from the minute she arrived and would spend hours sitting on the floor playing with Amelia’s toys.

Laurie stayed with us for just over three months and this was always the plan as she wanted to go back to her family for Christmas, plus she had plans to Au Pair in Italy the following year. I feel that not only did Amelia benefit from having a ‘big Sister’, but myself and my Husband also gained by learning more about the French culture and way of life.

Laurie became part of our family and when she left we really missed her. We have stayed in touch and she is coming to visit us for a weekend soon.  We had a very positive experience and I would really recommend hosting an Au Pair if you are looking for extra help with your family!

If you are looking for more information then have a look at the  Gov UK Website.

 

 

 

Cuddle Fairy

What do you do on a rainy day in London? Well, visit one of the many wonderful Museums of course! We are so lucky to live so near to all that London has to offer children and one of my personal favourites is The London Transport Museum. It is situated just a short walk from Covent Garden Tube station. It is great value for two reasons, firstly children go free and the adult ticket entitles you to come back for free as many times as you like for the next twelve months.

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The Museum is an excellent choice for children aged two years and up, because there is so much for them to do and is really interactive. Along with all the wonderful vintage vehicles (many of which you can actually get into) I particularly liked the All Abroad Family Play Zone. Your child can really get involved from actually driving a simulated tube train, to helping out in the lost property office and even repairing a train as you can see Amelia really got into her roles below!

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Another part of the museum I thought was great is that they have a large wooden train track and London related landmarks models available for children to sit down on the floor and play. Amelia really enjoyed this and could have happily sat there for hours. The museum puts on special activities during school holiday, so be sure to check out the website for that.

After our visit to the Museum we were looking for somewhere family friendly to have a spot of lunch, when we stumbled across The Wildwood Restaurant. I would really recommend it as it was really set up for children. A good children’s menu, child sized cutlery and cups. Plus they provided colouring/puzzle sheets and pencils. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. They genuinely seemed to enjoying interacting with Amelia. All of these little touches make for a relaxing meal, as it can be stressful sometimes taking your child out in a central London restaurant. Wildwood is somewhere I would return to and look  out for other branches elsewhere in the country.

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Are you looking for other ideas for days out with kids in London? Then why not have a look at my review of KidZania.

Cuddle Fairy

I will never forget the trip to the supermarket on a day when I was feeling really low about not having a another baby. There I was loading all my usual shopping onto the conveyor belt. It was obvious I had a child, packs of wipes, fish fingers, rice crackers, ice lollies. I smiled at the lady on the till who was scanning them through. I’m sure it was her intention to just make a bit of polite conversation, but for me this was going to be one step too far today. The conversation started like this:

“So, you have children do you?”

“Yes.” I gave a curt one word answer hoping it would go no further.

“Oh how many do you have?”

“One.”

“Oh, only the one? Aren’t you going to have another one then?”

“No, not at the moment.”

“It’s such a shame, children need other little brothers and sisters to play with. You should do it, you have plenty of time”

Thankfully she had finished scanning all my shopping, so I grabbed my Tesco Clubcard,  and money-saving vouchers and got out of there as fast as my legs and trolley would carry me.

Back in the safety bubble of my car, tears rolled down my cheeks. It’s happening again the same old scenario, why do complete strangers feel they have the right to discuss with you in public your future family plans? I know many people are just making an innocent conversation, but could someone please teach supermarket cashiers or any other well-meaning person to keep their probing questions to themselves? They have no idea what so ever why I might not be having another child. I may have had fertility issues or my Husband may have just left me. Neither of which are true, but please a bit of sensitively could go a long way.

I will tell you why I am having one child and no more. Lets get it out in the open shall we? Firstly I am 41 years old and I do not honestly think my general health, mind or body could cope with another pregnancy or a newborn. I suffered with Post Natal Depression and it is only now four and half years later than I have finally managed to come off my antidepressants. Secondly my Husband really does not want another child, he is in his mid fifties and says the prospects of another newborn would finish him off! So despite still having a strong desire for another child I have decided against it.

It is a sad fact that my Daughter will never have a brother or sister and I can tell you the pain I feel when she asks, (which she does often), “please Mummy can I have a baby Sister” it goes through me like a knife. Or the time when I see her stoking the head of a newborn, which she does in such a caring and gentle way, another little piece of me dies.

However, I try to be positive and see how blessed I am to have a healthy happy little girl in the first place. In my work as a Nurse I often come across women who have fertility issues and will never conceive naturally or at all. So I am grateful every day for my gorgeous girl, but that doesn’t stop me wondering what it could have been like if I had more than one child.

I have learnt to accept my position as a Mother of one. I am not going to be part of the baby number two club. No, I won’t be able to join in the conversation at the school gates about how you entertain two children at the same time. I know I will never again feel that strange butterfly feeling when your baby kicks for the first time. However, I still need to get rid of that newborn car seat that I was hanging on to just in case. I am almost at peace with my situation, if only people would just not have to ask ‘that’ question, “is it just the one child you have then?”

Mummy Times Two

 

Blogging Your Way To Riches is the new book by Emma Bradley (Emma & 3) and Lynn James (Mrs MummyPenny), both are Mothers who have successfully managed to turn blogging into a full time career. I am proud to know Emma, as not only am I related to her by marriage (I am her Aunt, which makes me sound very old!), but she is also a friend and the person who inspired me to take the plunge and start blogging myself.

This book is for all bloggers out there, even if you are experienced or a newbie you will be able to learn something valuable from this book. The basic skills you need to set up your own blog are set out in an easy to read format. If you are looking to monetise your blog and take it to the next level you will find plenty of information and tips on this topic too. I really like the space in the book where you can write your own notes.
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Questions & Answers with Emma Bradley & Lynn James

Tell me a little bit about you

Lynn James writes the blog Mrs Mummypenny. She has been blogging for 3 years, starting the blog  whilst on maternity leave with her third child. She writes about all things personal finance and lifestyle and loves sharing ways to get the best value for your money. Mrs Mummypenny is run on a full-time basis, prior to writing she was an accountant working for EE, Tesco and HSBC.

Emma has been blogging for seven years and has two successful blogs Emma and 3 and Mums Savvy Savings.  Emma started blogging on a whim never anticipating that it would lead to a change of career!  Emma left teaching where she was Head of Sociology two years ago to work as a full time blogger.  Emma also has three children and is often found writing about parenting teens and empowering young people.

Why Blog?

Blogging gives you a voice where you can talk about anything you want. Whether that be your favourite hobby, your passion, documenting your life or helping people, the subject area can be blogged about. With time and dedication blogging can make you income. Do not underestimate the amount of time and hard work it takes but Emma and Lynn tell you in the book ‘Blogging Your Way To Riches’ how to achieve it.

Why are you working together?

Working in a partnership is such an amazing way to work, particularly after being used to single blogger life. You can motivate each other, bounce ideas off each other and share the workload. They found that their skills complemented each other perfectly for a book project. Emma is an expert at pitching to brands with a huge wealth of experience in the blogging world. Lynn is an expert at negotiation, pricing and goal setting. The split of chapters for the book was perfect matched to their expert areas.

Lynn was great at organising and keeping to a schedule and sorting out the admin from getting book onto Amazon to the commercials. Emma gathered the quotes from her network of amazing bloggers and oversees the sales and PR program. We already have around 40 guest posts planned and all the blogger networks interested in content.

Most importantly we have the similar outlook on work, family, life, a great basis for a working relationship.

Why write a book?

Writing a book felt like the right thing to do. There hasn’t been a book written by leading UK bloggers and at that perfect time of meeting Emma and Lynn decided writing a book was what they wanted to do. The knowledge was in their heads and the timing was perfect to turn it into a book. The paperback is just £14.99 and gives you all the tips you will need to start a blog, improve a blog or make a living from your blog. A great point of reference that isn’t going to break the bank but will give you much food for thought. This must be said from two personal finance bloggers!

And if we didn’t do it, well someone else would have done it some, and probably will publish soon.

What are your 3 top tips for blogging?

  • Write lots of great content that people want to read. Post regularly and get into a posting routine.
  • Network as much as possible. Meet other bloggers, brands, PR agencies. Go to events and meet people in person.
  • Engage in collaborations, linkys, guest posts, blogger Q&A’s. Collaborations will get you different readers to your content, more social following and back links that will help your web authority DA. Plus collaborations feel good, it’s great to help each other out.

What’s your biggest lesson learnt in blogging?

For Lynn, it is to go in high on negotiations, there is nothing worse than feeling like you have sold yourself short and done some work for less than the agency or brand would have paid. What’s the worse that can happen, maybe they say no your fee is too high? Well then you negotiate to the right level.

Networking and being nice is the best way to get on in the blogging community.  Having a good reputation is your biggest asset and by always being professional you will be remembered and PR’s will want to work with you time and time again.

Who are your favourite bloggers/social stars?

Lynn’s favourite blogger is Cash Carraway The Comeback mum. Her posts are always thought provoking and insightful and her writing style is simply amazing. Brummy Mummyof2 is fabulous for vlog content, she is so funny and makes her feel happy about life and its troubles.

Emma has so many favourites but the blog she has to read is More Than Toast by Alice Talbot Judge.

If could start your blog again is there anything you would do differently?

Lynn would have Search Engine Optimised her posts correctly from the very first post. Her traffic would be far higher now if this had been done properly. It is so time consuming to now repair the 110 badly SEO’d posts from the past.

Emma wishes she knew to categorise her blog posts by topic from the start.  This would have made it easier for readers to find other related posts.  She still hasn’t managed to go back and correct this rookie error as it would take so long.

What is the best thing you have spent money on with your blog?

Lynn’s best investment was the logo and photoshoots from the early says of the blog. This cost £150 but the self-hosted blog (another great idea to self-host from day 1) looked professional and welcoming.

Having a blog redesign is the best money Emma has spent. Over the years Emma has kept the blog fresh by having various headers that have grown with the blog.

Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time?

Lynn would love to be running a successful Mrs Mummypenny business with turnover more than £200k (yes aiming high, and it will happen!). With flexibility to continue to spend as much time as possible with the boys and keep going to all their football matches.

Future plans for Emma include more public speaking and media opportunities where she can empower and educate others.  Emma remains passionate about young people and wants to raise the image of teenagers through her blog.

Where can you get a copy?

The book Blogging Your Way To Riches is available from Amazon in paperback  (£14.99) and Kindle (£9.99). It can also be purchased from Blogging Your Way To Riches Website .

 

Amelia has now completed her first full term at primary school and has settled into the daily routine, so when I came across Education Quizzes I thought that this would be an ideal time to start some extra learning to support the curriculum taught at school. Quizzes are written by teachers and are designed for children of all ages and abilities. The objective is for children to be successful at school and this can be achieved by having a suite of quizzes accessible at home.

I plan to take the opportunity of the Christmas Holidays to start reinforcing many of the things Amelia has learned in the Autumn term. I’m lucky that she is very keen to learn about new topics and improve her numeracy and literacy skills. This subscription is something that can be easily accessed on a tablet or out and about on my phone. I also took the time to research the site from an older child’s perspective and found that the material is very extensive and would support a child up to GCSE level. There is the option to purchase test papers at an additional cost, which I think would be a great help in the preparation for exams.

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Amelia is in Reception at the moment so we have focused on KS1 quizzes. We found the quizzes really interactive and fun to complete.The multiple choice answers makes it a lot more likely that Amelia will be able to give a correct answer, this in turn builds on her confidence. When a correct answer is given, this leads on to another talking point or topic for discussion with your child. I think this is a great feature, as it gives you the opportunity to interact more in depth with your child on this topic.

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The subscription has a Parenting Section, which focuses on particular issues that your child may face at school such as bullying, body image, self-esteem and discipline. You can read through the various sections, plus take quizzes yourself to learn more. I think this is a very helpful section especially for parents who have children that have recently started school.

One last useful part of the website I would like to mention is the reports section. This is a really great resource as it allows to you to see which quizzes your child has completed and what scores they achieved. You can adjust this to a particular date range to monitor your child’s progress.

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The cost of the monthly subscription is £9.95 and can be cancelled at any time. For the amount of resources you get I think this is excellent value for money. There is also the option for the School your child attends to purchase the monthly subscription. The cost per child could be as little as £2.00 per child depending on the number of sign ups. Maybe this is something that you could approach your child’s school with as a potential to improve learning at home?

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Disclosure: I have been compensated for my time in writing this review and was given access to the site. All opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of what I thought.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you might like to read my review on Furry Friends Watches .

My Daughter will be turning five in May next year, so I am starting to introduce her to the concept of telling the time. She has been asking to have her own watch, so when I came across Furry Friends I thought this would be the perfect first watch for her to learn to tell the time. Not only is the fun design really eye-catching and bright, but the watch is durable too. It is aimed at children from three years old and upwards.

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The watch we have is the Zany design. There are six other designs to choose from and I think they would make a great stocking filler this Christmas. The watch has the following features:

– Quartz Movement
– Soft PVC Strap
– Splash Proof Only (1ATM)
– Size: 21cm x 3cm
– Packaged in attractive PVC case
– 12 month guarantee

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Learning to tell the time is such an important skill for your child to learn. It can improve their independence by recognising when it is the right time to get up in the morning or go to bed! We are starting to introduce Amelia to the concept of time telling with an analogue wooden clock. This simple wooden toy has been really helpful to start conversations about what time it is? Moving the arms allows Amelia to try and show us what time it is and simulates lots of discussion about what activities we do at particular times of the day.

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Furry Friends watches are currently priced at £12.99, however for a limited time only if you enter the code: monster1 at the check out, you will receive the offer price of £8.99. With free delivery too you still have time to get one for Christmas!

For all the latest offers you can visit their online shop via their website or follow them on Facebook .

We recieved the Furry Friends watch for the purpose of this post, however all opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of what I thought of the product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body confidence can mean different things to different people. To some people it would be being able to wear a bikini on holiday or looking great in skinny jeans. Too others it might mean being able to stand tall and having pride in yourself.

To me body confidence is a lot more than how a person physically looks. I believe it is more  about how we feel inside and how we reflect this to the outside world. I was really surprised and sad that the other day my Daughter came home from school and told me that one of her peers had called her ‘tubby’. I of course gave her lots of reassurance and she has not mentioned it again since. But it is shocking at this young age that other children are already making personal and hurtful comments about another child’s appearance.

I was bullied as a child at school because I was overweight. This started at an early age I was only eight years old. I remember feeling excluded and that I didn’t fit in. I was a child of the 1980’s and the schools that I attended did very little to help me. It is not like now where pastoral care seems to be high on the agenda in education. Recently at my Daughter’s school every child was sent home with a booklet on bullying. This made me realise just how far we have come, that we are actually trying to prepare our children and make them aware that this is a common problem. The booklet gave helpful advice for both parents and children, so is something that I am definately going to read with my Daughter.

When I was at school in the 80’s and 90’s of course social media didn’t exist in the way it does now. We had very little in comparison to what children have now, but there was still expectations on how you felt you were meant to look. Now children and young adults are constantly bombarded with images on social media. So it is no wonder that many of our children are concerned with the way they look. As parents I think we need to be reassuring them that this is not how they have to look and make sure that they know that some images are airbrushed and are not even real!

The way I would like to make a difference as a Mother, Friend and Health Professional is to educate others that it is ok to be different. This is my pledge, I would like people to do three things when they engage with other people:

  •  Try and look further than the a person’s physical appearance, there is always something more to that person.
  • Talk and really listen to people, gave them the opportunity to let their personality shine through.
  • Don’t be so quick to judge and gave everyone you meet a chance.

I have been inspired to write this post because of Dove’s #PledgeToBeReal campaign. I met the Dove team at the Mumsnet Blogfest and took the below photo.

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I just had to write this post, as I really need to get it off my chest. Over the last seven days I have seriously been considering packing in blogging and just giving up. I’m sure many bloggers go through these sorts of emotions, but maybe not many admit to these feelings of self-doubt.

It all started last week when I attended Blogfest . I came away from my first ever big blogging event with mixed emotions. Part of me was inspired by some of the amazing people I met and heard speak. But another part of me felt totally overwhelmed by the amount of hard work that is in front of me to be any sort of successful blogger.

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The award ceremony at the end of Blogfest was an important part of the day, as this recognises bloggers who are successful. When I got home from the event I was keen to sit down and read some of the blogs who either won the awards or who were nominated. After I had done this bit of research I realised that of course, blogging isn’t just about writing reviews and having sponsored posts. What it is really about is connecting with your audience. It seems to me that the way this is done is by either writing in a humourous and connecting way. Or by writing about issues that are engaging or personal to you. Opening up and being honest about the realities of life.

While I was at Blogfest I attended a Round Table session on Mental Health hosted by Aby Moore from You Baby Me Mummy . I really admire Aby because I know how hard she has worked on her blog. She has built a very successful blog up in only eighteen months. Now she uses her expertise and knowledge to help other bloggers. Aby did a critique and blog coaching session for me a few weeks back. She gave me lots of ideas on improvements I could make and how to make my blog more professional.

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Me with the lovely Aby Moore

The Round Table session was really helpful for me as it was a space for fellow bloggers to open up about their mental health issues. Aby did an amazing job at creating a safe and supported environment for bloggers to discuss how their mental health impacts their daily life. Some of the blogger told their personal stories and also explained how writing their blogs also provides an outlet for what they are going through.

My point is that attending this discussion stirred up a lot of emotions in me. This is because four years ago I suffered with post natal depression following the birth of my Daughter. Thankfully now I am well on the road to recovery. Ever since I started writing my blog I have wanted to write a post about what I went through, but because I feel that there is a stigma attached to a health professional suffering with a mental health condition I have held back.

I have heard a lot of bloggers say that have a burning desire to write and that is definitely in me. So my feelings of self-doubt this week were definitely triggered by attending Blogfest and this is not what I was expecting to happen at all. This week I even wrote my post detailing my story of post natal depression, but for now it is going to stay in my draft folder, as I am not ready to publish it just yet.

I have had a good long hard look at what I have done so far with my blog. I have put a great deal of time and effort into it. Newbie bloggers have so much to learn, especially if you have spent your working life in a sector that is so far away from this sort of social media world. After all I work in health care so the whole concept of building your own brand and marketing yourself is a totally new thing to me.

After much soul-searching I have decided to continue with my blog. I am definitely not giving up because I know I have so much more to say. So I am pleased to say this is not the last you will hear from me after all!


Candyfloss & Dreams

How many times have you suffered with a health issue and thought I really should see a Doctor about that, but because of the busy and hectic life you are leading you don’t manage to make that appointment? I know this feeling well and as a working parent there have been many occasions over the last four years that I have perhaps not taken my health as seriously as I should. We are all too busy running around looking after everyone else in our lives. Our children are our main focus, so we rarely have time to stop and think about ourselves.

It is obvious that your own health should be your priority, because if you are not mentally and physically fit to look after your own family then who will? In today’s society it is often the case that we no longer live near our immediate family. In my case both my parents live more than 100 miles away, so are not in a position to help if things go wrong. So now is the time to start looking at what you can do to improve your health. Why leave it to the New Year to start?

First of all, are there any outstanding tests or investigations that you have been putting off? Are you up to date with your cervical smear test? You should be having a test every three years. In my job as a Practice Nurse I perform numerous smears on a daily basis. One of the things I hear nearly every day is “I know I should have come sooner, I have been putting it off”. Please don’t put this test off, it really does just take a couple of minutes and it could save your life. So if you have had a letter recently reminding you your test is due, pick up the phone and book your appointment at your GP surgery today. For more information about cervical screening have a look at NHS Choices .

My next question to you is are you over forty? If so did you know that the NHS offers a free health check? This is something that not everyone seems to be aware of and doesn’t always take up. It is a check up of your overall health and it can tell you if you are more at risk of: heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke. First you need to attend your surgery to have blood tests taken and then you will be invited back to discuss the results. At the appointment you will also have your blood pressure and weight taken. This is usually done by the Practice Nurse or Health Care Assistant. Once completed it will be able to give you an overall picture of your health and the areas you need to improve upon.

You might wonder if having a health check actually makes any difference? The NHS latest research suggests that,
“For every 27 people having an NHS Health Check, one person is diagnosed with high blood pressure, for every 110 people having a Health Check, one person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and for every 265 people having a Health Check, one person is diagnosed with kidney disease”.

Getting this check done could be the first step to ensuring you get the correct treatment for a condition, that you might have otherwise not known you had.

Don’t forget about your mental health either. 1 in 4 people will have suffered with some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime. Stop for a second and think about how your mental health may be effecting your daily life?

  • Are you eating, drinking or smoking too much?
  • Are you short tempered with your children or partner?
  • Do you lack energy or always feel tied or run down?

All of these things could be related to your mental health. Not all of us want to or need to go for counselling, but have you considered it? You will be able to get help via your GP. For more information about mental health see the Mind website .

Finally, I would like to draw to your attention to that health niggle that you might have had for some time. Whether it be the mole on your back that you have noticed has been getting bigger, or perhaps you have suffered with heart burn/acid indigestion for a long time or you have had a change in bowel habit, but have done nothing about it. Make the time now to speak to your GP. Our health is so precious and you should never under estimate the benefits of an early diagnosis.