Anyone Seen My Confidence?

I love my children and I love being a Mum. Like most parents I often doubt how good I am at it though. My confidence seems to have buggered off on holiday and is currently getting smashed in a bar in Ibiza, dancing to the Macarena & fending off pissed up admirers who’ve had a little too much Dutch courage.  Do I do enough? Am I bringing them up the right way? Am I ballsing it up? Do they eat enough fruit, get enough sleep?It’s easy to doubt yourself though, probably far easier than it is to convince yourself that actually you’re doing your best and that your best IS good enough. When I had children I think my confidence took a knock as also spoken about by the lovely Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures, whilst I’ve never been much of a gobby cow I’m sure I was never quite as reserved as a kid/teen and would speak up if I needed to.

Sometimes you find yourself watching ‘that parent’ the one who just seems to constantly have their shit together and wish you could be just like them. They just have that air of togetherness about them and you just can’t imagine them flapping about forgetting to rub their concealer in or leaving shaving foam all over their chin. Have they though? Are they showing a calm and collected exterior when in reality they’ve spent the morning scraping shit off the bathroom floor or wondering how the feck they’re meant to remove the Sharpie drawn poo emoji from the hallway wall.

There’s a work colleague that I’ve known for a good few years that I’d love to be more like. Absolute opposite of me, he oozes confidence and lives his life not giving two f**ks what anyone thinks of him, not in a ‘he’s a bit of an arrogant twat’ kind of way, just the take no shit kind of way. For the purpose of this post we’ll call him Dave, I would like to be like him.

But I’m not.

I’m actually an anxious and quite shy person. People who know me well would probably read this and think “huh?” forgetting that when they first met me I would have been the one sat in the corner, not saying a word. I hate being the centre of attention, having all eyes on me – one of the reasons I’d never want a big wedding. I hate being picked for role play scenarios during training at work, when my name is called I want to get up and run. Of course I can’t and don’t, mainly because my arse would wobble about way too much and draw even more attention to me but enough about that.

Some time ago I read a post by Amy Treasure about faking confidence and have kept it in mind ever since. In the post she talks about thinking of someone that you think of as really confident and do what you think they would. So I think of Dave and what he would do. I use it to stop myself from legging it away from something that makes me nervous.

I have started to force myself to be more confident even though I don’t really feel it. I find it quite easy to jump in and make myself heard when it’s anything to do with my children however if someone is upsetting me personally I tend to bite my tongue and fume inside. With age I’m finding I’m quicker to say my peace but I still go over things in my mind and wish I’d said this or that. I hope that in the years to come I’ll begin to feel more at ease with myself and find my long lost confidence.

Do you feel more or less confident after having children? Do you think you’re exactly the same as before or do you have ways of faking it til you make it too?

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Marigold Are 70!

When I hear the name Marigold I automatically think of the yellow gloves my Nan always wore to do the dishes. No matter how many times you offered to help, she’d say no and carry on. A few times though I did manage to get her to hand over those coveted gloves and let me wash a few cups even though they came up to my elbows! My Mum uses hers for all sorts of different things from doing some pottering round the garden to polishing her favourite Wedgewood plates.

We were sent some Marigold products to celebrate – would you believe – their 70th birthday? They’ve been around for all that time and are still as great today as they’ve always been.

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As well as the Extra-Life Kitchen gloves we also received Oops-Away cloths

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Cleaning Me Softly non scratch scourers and Thirsty Sponges

Extra Life Kitchen Gloves

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Bright yellow (just as I remember them all those years ago) these gloves are triple layered so they’re strong and tough which makes them ideal for lots of jobs not just the washing up. They can protect your hands during a whole host of jobs around the house including the dreaded toilet cleaning! They are very grippy,with a safe hold pattern to avoid that horrible feeling when a plate slips out of your hand and smashes into the other ones in the bowl! They are also fitted to the hand and go in at the wrist. If you’ve ever tried cheaper ones which fall down and come off you’ll know how important this is. These are now my go-to every time I do the dishes and it means my nail polish stays on a bit longer too!

Oops Away Cloths

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These pretty pink cloths come as a pack of 6 and can be used for lots of different jobs, including mopping up spills. Kitchen roll can be handy for this but also works out expensive when you can use these clothes again, they stay strong when they’re wet and don’t fall apart. They were also great for cleaning the kitchen work surfaces and wiping round the bathroom tiles.

Cleaning Me Softly

These non-scratch scourers come as a pack of 2, they are Teflon tested and approved. One side foam and the other rougher for those tough dishes. Casserole dishes can be a nightmare with burnt on sauces but these made quick work of removing it. I was really impressed with how easy it was to scrub away dirt without taking the coating off the non-stick pans, as well as cleaning glasses without marking.

Thirsty Sponge

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Come as a pack of 2 extra absorbent sponges. They’re nice and thick, made from 100% natural absorbent sponge, are strong and can be washed up to 60° (can be popped in the dishwasher/washing machine) which means its perfect for those dirty jobs, it means you can be sure they are clean again ready for the next job. We used ours to clean over the plastic patio furniture which had been in storage for a while and even though they were dusty the sponges cleaned them up no problem.

As you can see my daughter got her hands on some of the products to help out (i’m not complaining) and wiped over the kitchen table with the Oops Away cloths while wearing the gloves!

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More information about Marigold products can be found on their Website and Facebook page. What is your favourite Marigold product?

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*We were gifted the products for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Is Moving Out All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

Moving out. Not all it’s cracked up to be is it? Listening to my 18 year old  chatter about how great it will be when he moves out makes me think back *cough* 20 years ago to the times when I thought i was young and free. Yeah….

The first place I shared with a friend was an absolute dive. Oh dear lord it was horrific. Think of that place in your town or city that no-one wants to live in. That really horrible arsehole end of town that people make a face at when you mention it. People grip their handbags for dear life when even just walking around the outskirts of it. That’s where we lived.

The day we moved in (myself and another girl) we had already had a right day of it. Picture it. We’d gone to a local property management bloke who had been recommended because he didn’t ask for thousands up front and as we both had jobs but didn’t earn a mint it sounded ideal to us young, naive girls. Not sure what he was recommended for as he had no more knowledge of being a professional landlord  than I have of astro physics. He told us he had the perfect property for us. Oh how excited we were. Two 18 year olds moving their suitcases of, well… basically shoes, into a new place of our own. It was gorgeous, spacious and clean with a fantastic view. We’d only just started putting our clobber away when in through the door comes a couple. “What the f**k are you doing in our flat?” they spit at us. “Um, Mr X rented it to us” “well he can bloody well unrent it then it’s ours we’ve signed for it, get him on the phone”. This was back in the day when mobiles had only just come out. I picked up my brick to ring him. “I’m ever so sorry I’ve made a mistake” he says. “I’ll come and pick you up, I have just the place for you”. Shoes get bunged back into suitcases and off we go in the back of his Mcdonald’s wrappered car. He took us through the door and the wonder awaited us.

Just the place. JUST THE PLACE?

The excited giggles didn’t last long. They soon turned to shock. Then horror. The bright blue carpet in the front room had hundreds of pine needles stuck in it – I would later find myself on hands and knees with a pair of tweezers attempting to remove them. Hours of my life wasted. Half the floorboards were pulled up. Mr X told us this was because the electrics were being looked at. Speculation later from other friends was that there had been a drugs bust and we were living in some kind of Heroin hidey hole. Gawd. Although there was a handyman type guy who came around and disappeared down under the floor several times a day and once stood on a ladder to ‘fix the boiler’, I heard a spark and I kid you not he flew halfway across the room. Up he gets and starts jumping up and down on the spot stammering “I’m fine”.

Mr X told us the place was fully furnished. Bit economical with the truth there. It was to a degree but on looking at the bedrooms we realised they were full of stuff. Not just furniture but piles and piles of crap. We were told we couldn’t throw anything away as they belonged to the homeowner and as we were both about to go to work we felt we had no choice but to sign or find ourselves homeless. Pride stopped us from running back home after making such a big deal about leaving. When I got to work someone asked me if I was ok and I burst out crying. They thought someone had died. I put them right of course and told them that I’d just moved into the biggest sh*thole of a house known to man.

After work we got home and had a really good look around. On the plus side (the only one really) it had a gorgeous bathroom huge and really tidy. There was an attic type hatch in there, I never did find out where it led as the only time I put my hand in to feel around I pulled out a pile of dirty magazines, hastily shoved them back in and closed it forever. I would later be found on the loo, pants round my ankles in a cider induced slumber in that bathroom. Good job there were no camera phones then I can tell you. Got a lot of ribbing for that one from the group of friends stood in the doorway to laugh at my misfortune. The sods.

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My brother in our stylish living area.Yes that is an upturned coffee table.No I don’t know why.

There were 3 bedrooms. 1 of which had a random red lightbulb. It was from then on known as ‘the red room’. It was one of those rooms that gave you the heebie jeebies. It was floor to ceiling full of ‘things’ I say things because I actually have no real idea what was in there as I scarpered a bit quick. That room just wasn’t right. We ended up sharing a bed in the main bedroom because we didn’t want to move all the stuff off the middle bed. Lord only knows what you might find in there. People, dogs, whole family of rabbits. Who knows?

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A teenage me in my luxurious bedroom.

Mr X also turned out to be a right weirdo who entered the house whenever he felt like it especially if the rent was more than 3 minutes late. Once I caught him coming through the door having leapt out of bed and down the stairs and he said in a leary fashion “oh that nightie is really see through” (it wasn’t) and that was actually an occasion where I told him to “knob off out of my house.”

I eventually moved from there to a much tidier flat in a nice part of town and life was much different. Maybe doing it the way I did was a learning curve, did me good. Or maybe I should have just admitted to my Mum the place was a dive and gone home. C’est La Vie.

Did you move out into a sensible place or did you too live in a craphole?

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Monday Stumble Linky

Shall we naff off then?

My Mum and I went to a restaurant today. I use the term ‘went’ loosely because by ‘went’ i mean we attended said establishment however after we were shown to our table in a corner in the busiest, noisiest place I have ever set foot in and my Mum had to wait to sit down because the girl at the table 6 inches away from us decided to take her time removing her coat with elbows all over the shop like a dancing toddler, my Mum started doing her signature ‘getting her hair off face’. Not a good start. We picked up a menu and shouted “what do you fancy” like literally shouted. She looked at me. I looked at her. “This isn’t for us is it?” I said. “Not quite what I was expecting no” she said. “Shall we naff off then?” I said. The relief literally jumped out of her and did a jig. Only we had to get out of there.

Now a few years ago I would have run out, phone clamped to my ear shouting “what do you mean she’s vomiting so much it’s like a Nanny Plum jelly flood? I’ll be right there” grimace at the dude on the door and run.

Not this time however. I am finally one of them there adults. I didn’t rush. I didn’t lie. I looked him straight in the eye and said “mate it’s too busy in here and the noise is doing my head in.” And left. He just looked on flabberghasted. Did I feel bad? Nope. It wasn’t like we were the only people in a bar full of tumbleweed, they were busy. Did I feel all smug that I’d done it rather than being all British and smiling and telling them how great it was despite dying slightly inside? Too bloody right. This of course wasn’t their fault. They want the place to be busy that’s the whole point, this was my personal opinion.

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It reminds me of the time back when I met my partner. He painted my house, a mutual friend of ours that worked with him kept telling me how “his butty was single” (if you’re not Welsh I’m NOT talking about his sandwich here) and how I should go out with him. I sniggered but eventually handed over my number. Which I found out years later he’d promptly chucked in the bin thinking his mate was joking.

We did eventually go on a date though to a local pub. It was lovely. For our 2nd date I got to choose where we went and I picked a local hotel that had a nice restaurant. I got dressed up and we went. Only the look on his face said it all as the guy at the door looked him up and down took my coat.

“This is a bit f**king fancy isn’t it?” he said as he eyed up the cutlery set up on the table. The tinkly piano music in the background. My brain started screaming ‘Oh God, I HAVE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE’.

‘How can I get out of this?’I started panicking. He hates it. It’s too posh. The b**tard is common as muck. Egg on his chips kind of guy. What the hell was I thinking?

“Right lets go” spills out of my mouth without meaning to. He nods. We get up. Half walk, half run to the door. I grab my coat. We shout “sorry gotta go” over our shoulders and leg it to the car.

Then drove to a Harvester instead. And we laughed and laughed. That’s how we knew we were meant to be.

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#Blogtober17
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

Num Noms Wacky Bakers

When we were asked if we fancied joining in with Num Noms #WackyBakers I thought it sounded like good fun. If you haven’t heard of Num Noms they’re really cute little scented collectibles which stack together.

They come as a set with Nums and Noms with Nums being shaped for going on top of Noms to make a flavour combo. The packet we received was a Series 2 set called the ‘Freezie Pops family’. Which contained 5 Nums 2 moving ‘Go-Go’ Noms , a surprise packet, a mini dish and a dinky icecream scoop.

The Num Noms we had with ours were:

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  1. Sushi Num – Oni Girl (from the surprise packet)
  2. Kiwi Freezie
  3. Creamy Pop
  4. Wild Berry Pop
  5. OJ Pop
  6. Nana Pop
  7. Icy Pina Go-Go
  8. Icy Peach Go-Go

When the button is pressed on the Go-Go Noms they move along with the Num sat on top, the kids loved this and kept swapping them around to see which one looked the best!

Once we’d had a little play we moved onto our #WackyBakers recipe.Since we had the ‘Freezie Pops’ set our first idea was to do some lollies only silly Mummy couldn’t find the mould so we had another think about it and came up with a stackable sorbet concoction instead. We decided to call a ‘Freezie Fancy’. Our ingredients were:

  • Sponge Icecream Cookies
  • Lemon Sorbet
  • Strawberry Sorbet
  • Orange & Lemon Jelly Slice Decorations
  • Wafer Curls
  • Raspberry Sauce

 

The kids donned their special Num Noms chef hats and got all their ingredients together. We used an sponge icecream cookie for the base so it had something to sit on otherwise we would have ended up with a bit of a mess! We put a scoop of strawberry them lemon sorbet on top before using the wafer curls, jelly slices (soo reminded me of baking with my Nan when I was little) and raspberry sauce as decoration.

 

I was totally expecting to have a huge mess to clear up at the end but their genuinely wasn’t any, the kids had really great fun making their ‘Freezie Fancy’ so much so that when their cousin came round the next afternoon they made it again with her! After showing off the Num Noms first of course!

 

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*We received the Num Noms pack free for the purposes of this review however all opinions remain honest and our own*

Caseapp Review

Caseapp are a Swedish brand who make custom phone cases and laptop skins. They asked me if I fancied trying out their site to make a phone case and a laptop skin and after having a look round their site it wasn’t difficult to say ‘yes please’.

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The landing page is easy to navigate to the product you want. I chose a case for my Iphone 6 first, I always keep a case on my phone – unlike my teen who’s managed to smash the front and back of his – as I’m worried about dropping it. You can either design your own from scratch as a collage or just some of your favourite photographs or you can use one of the premade ones available.

 I chose to use Golden Dreams and Marble as my background for both my phone case and laptop skin as I thought it was very pretty. I then looked through the clipart options to add to it and picked ‘don’t forget to wear your smile’ as I thought it was lovely and positive. You can fiddle around with where you want the clipart to go and it also shows you guidelines of where it should go so that you get the best finished article.

 

The case is made from thick sturdy plastic and does feel like it will keep your phone safe. The printing is high quality and all over. The case snaps onto the phone easily and fits just right. I really like the new case and it gives my phone a little glamour whilst protecting it.

The laptop skin I chose to match came as a ‘giant sticker’ to be placed on the top of the laptop lid. It had backing paper so you can just peel it off before sticking to your laptop.

 

The skin was really easy to apply, it didn’t scrunch up or bubble and it was done in seconds. I really like it as it takes my laptop from being a bit boring to being far more appealing to look at. It has high quality printing and looks just as good as the phone case.

I was really pleased with my Caseapp experience as the ordering and delivery were really simple and quick and so too was adding them to my phone and laptop. If you’re looking to jazz up your phone/laptop/ipad I’d definitely recommend having a look at their site.

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*I was sent the items free of charge for the purposes of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Feel Stress Free App Review

Feel Stress Free  is an app created by Thrive which:

  • Keeps track of your mood over time
  • Enables you to train your thoughts so you can manage how you feel about different situations
  • Trains you in 4 relaxation techniques that give you control over your stress

which can help over time to make sure you some time out, de-stress and forget about the world for a little while. I was offered a months trial to see what I thought of it.

I downloaded the app from the App store and it’s a very user friendly appealing app with a lovely beach theme aptly named ‘Calm Isle’ which immediately makes you think of a relaxing holiday with waves lapping on the shore and some calming music complete with sounds of water and seagulls. All you need to use it is sound headphones and a quiet room somewhere.

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There are options which are open and some that unlock as you go along. My favourite was the breathing because it made me sit in a room by myself without distractions and just relax whilst the main focus was on my breathing instead of worrying about everything just for a little while. I felt refreshed and ready to take on anything ( usually the kids pummeling the hell out of each other).

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You can choose how long you want to do each activity for, which is great if you don’t have an awful lot of time or if you do have a bit of ‘me time’ you can use it for longer. The little dude you can see in the top left breathes along with you so it’s visual as well as being able to hear the instructions from a very calm sounding voice. It did take a bit of getting used to as I felt a bit daft to start with but then I realised I was doing this for me and no one else could even see me anyway so it didn’t actually matter!

There are lots of options if you move around the Isle by swiping left or right including:

  • Breathing
  • Meditation
  • Deep Muscle
  • Self Hypnosis
  • Message
  • Progress
  • Mood Meter
  • Zen Garden

The mood meter is handy as it can suggest activities based on how you’re feeling, the more you use it the better it gets at suggestions. The Zen garden lets you make your own little garden on the beach. It just makes you relax and forget about the days stresses for a while.

I found that this app worked well for me after a long day either with the kids or at work as it just gave me a chance to stop, relax and chill out a bit. Something I wouldn’t really have done before.

Each time you use the app you need to log in so your progress is saved and there’s a subscription fee of £4.99 a month for full use and cheaper options if you sign up for longer periods.

Thrive also do an ‘Arachnophobia Free’ App which I’m sure many people (including myself) would benefit from. Been finding the mini beasts all over the place lately!

 

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*I was given a month subscription for free for the purpose of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*

 

 

Back To School with Hartley’s Jelly Pots

We’re all excited and excited in equal mix about ‘Back  to School’ for me my littlest one is started Reception, proper school. I have no idea where on earth the last 4 years have gone but it’s time for her to take that HUGE step.

As part of the back to school preparations there are lots of purchases to be made, goodness I realise now why my Mum used to look so disappointed when I scuffed yet another pair of shoes! We always had new lunchboxes too – mine was My Little Pony and my brother’s Mask! Hartley’s offered to send us a very cute bright yellow lunchbox and some yummy jelly to try as part of their Back To School campaign we excitedly said “yes please!” My little ones are massive jelly fans and I was delighted to see they were the Sugar Free variety. Hartley’s have been making jams and jellies for 140 years. The little jelly pots come in standard and no added sugar varieties.

 

The lunchbox is the perfect size for my little lady to take her lunch in and we were also sent a great pack of stickers so she could decorate the box with. The first thing she did was to spell out her full name on the back, something we’ve been working on lots over the summer holidays!

Our school has a reasonably strict policy on not taking sweets etc for lunch and they ask us to send the children with more healthy options where possible. We tend to give a sandwich, in triangles – always triangles! A piece of fruit, some cheese and a yoghurt. We now have the great idea of being able to send jelly pots instead of yoghurts though!

The jelly pots we received were Strawberry flavour and went down a storm with the kids. I’d like to say there are some left to go in said lunchbox however they disappeared so we need to buy more before they go back to school.

The Hartley’s No Added Sugar jelly pots have no artificial colours and flavours and are fat and gluten free. Stocked in all major retailers from only 49p, they are a tasty treat that will be sure to raise a smile. Selected retailers will also be offering the pots at 25p throughout September so an additional reason to give them a try.

Hartley’s are running an on pack collector scheme offer for their  consumers. By collecting 12 promotional green Hartley’s Jelly Pot lids , you can redeem for a special edition Hartley’s lunchbox along with an assortment of fabulously fun stickers on their website .

Julie x (2)

*We were sent the items for free for the purposes of this post however all opinions remain honest and my own*

Home Learning with NCC

Having my family young meant that I was limited to the kinds of jobs and hours that I was able to take. I have been thinking for some time about furthering my education but have been unable to do this whilst still earning money to feed the little ones. My partner and I both work so without paying for childcare going back to college would be nigh on impossible and all the money we earned would go straight back out again which is then totally pointless.

Then an opportunity came up with NCC Home Learning who asked if I’d like to study a home learning course and it was a lightbulb moment as it means I can learn from the comfort of my own home without the need for juggling childcare, the kids, my job and a college course.

I chose the Human Resources Diploma Level 3 as my current job is office/admin based I thought this would be a great course to compliment the skills I have already gained from the jobs I have had over the last 20 odd years.Showing my age there!! This covers modules including Recruitment, Selection and Induction of Staff Producing and Maintaining Personnel Records Staff Management and Relations Staff Support and Development Disciplinaries, Grievances and Disputes Staff Terminations.

I’m actually very excited to find out what it’s like to go back to learning and see how I get on with it as it’s been a long time since I’m done anything as formal as this aside from various in house training courses for work.

I will update later on when I have completed the course to let you know how I got on, I’m confident that I will thoroughly enjoy it though. Who could want more than to better your learning whilst sitting on the sofa with your feet up?

Startup Stock Photos

Julie x (2)

Haymax Kids Allergen Barrier Balm Review

More children than adults suffer from hay fever; around 30% of all children in the UK suffer from the allergy, compared to 20% of adults. HayMax allergen barrier balms provide an effective defence against grass pollen; they can be used by children from birth and are proven in independent studies to trap pollen grains before they enter the body.

With the warmer weather (well sometimes) comes the dreaded hayfever season which we are right in now. My daughter always starts the day around this time of year coughing and sneezing and rubbing her eyes. Anyone who suffers hayfever knows how miserable it can be so when I saw Haymax Allergen Barrier Balm I asked if they would send me some to review as I thought it sounded great for my 4 year old daughter. I hate having to dose her up with medicine every morning which makes her feel a bit sleepy.

Haymax Kids Balm is an award winning organic drug-free allergen barrier balm based on beeswax and sunflower oil which is designed to trap pollen before it gets into the body and causes the allergic reaction. People who suffer from hayfever can only tolerate a certain amount of pollen before they start to react. All you have to do is apply the balm around the rim of the nostrils and the bones of your eyes and it helps trap the pollen.

HayMax is drug-free and the ingredients have been chosen to be suitable for children of all ages, and pregnant and breast-feeding women which is ideal – I wish it had been around when I was pregnant the first time I suffered horribly with it then and felt it would never end when I couldn’t take my usual anti – histamine.

It comes in a little 5ml pot which looks and feels very much like a lip balm. You might think ‘well that’s so small it won’t last long!’ But you only need a small amount to rub on which means the pot will last ages – up to 6 months. It can be reapplied as many times as you like to make sure you have all day/evening coverage. I applied it at night too if the window was open just in case. It didn’t sting or upset my daughter’s skin and she didn’t get any kind of reaction to it. It also doesn’t have a noticeable smell.

I am very pleased with it as it does help to stop the symptoms of the hayfever for my daughter. She’s quite happy ( alright nagged me) to do it for herself so I showed her how to and she does it easily so with her starting reception in September, come next Summer she can pop one in her school bag to use if she needs to.

HayMax organic drug-free allergen barrier balms retail at £6.99 per pot and are available from Holland & Barrett, selected Morrisons, Waitrose and Boots, independent health stores, chemists and pharmacies, on 01525 406600 and on-line at haymax.biz.

Julie x (2)

*we were sent the Haymax Kids for free for the purposes of this review however all opinions remain honest and my own*