Be The Back To School Queen

Be The Back To School Queen

Are you prepared for back to school ? Yes, I hear most of you say however there’s much more preparation than just buying school essentials. Be the Back to School Queen by organising yourself and your child for school. There are tips from preparing their mindset to knowing your school allowances and much more. Last but not least, how we can organise ourselves better to minimise stress for both parent and child. Let’s make both your and your child’s first day Back to School a memorable experience.

Back to School Preparation

Preparing Mindset

back to school anxiety 2

This is often overlooked but some kids suffer from back to school anxiety. Due to Covid, this may be more of an issue than previous years . I guess we need to be mindful of the stark contrast from being at home to suddenly being in totally different environment. This is especially true for small children.

Ever started a new job and feel anxious about what your first day will be like and whether you’ll fit into the team? Now imagine how a young child feels! There are many things we can do to combat this. For example, there are ‘meet the new teacher’ days before school breaks out which gives children an opportunity to meet their new teacher and get familiar with their new classroom.

Nurseries also have taster sessions which help mums and kids alike to get an idea about what a particular nursery is like and if their child fits in. Believe it or not but establishing routine also plays an important factor in reducing anxiety. Let’s chat about that next. 

Establishing Routine 

Summer holidays are for relaxing. On the other hand, it’s also an ideal time to prepare your child for school. Depending on your child’s age, they might be at the potty training stage before starting nursery. Older kids may need to to work on certain areas like doing their homework on time. A couple of weeks prior to starting school, set an earlier fixed bedtime routine. Limiting iPad exposure is also important. Tough huh?! I’m feeling your pain mums! Being a Back to School Queen takes a little work!

I have personally been using a Kids Weekly Planner. My eldest daughter loves following as it makes her feel independent . We all know how nine year olds hate being told what to do! Find out more about me and how I stay organised here. You too can be super organised by downloading this for FREE. Just laminate it and you can write on it each week. Saves on the printing! It’s EDITABLE so all you need to do is fill in the main task fields. Then print and GO!

KIds Weekly Planner
KIds Weekly Planner

Buying Essentials

back to school clothes 1

Sorry mums, in this blog I’m not going to tell you where to buy your school bags, shoes and other items. It’s not so much where, but what to buy, what sizes, how many!

This is just me but I tend to write a list of items we need to buy from school clothes to swimming caps. Some of these items need to have the school logo or be certain colours so watch out and read your school uniform list. Other items are just easier and cheaper to buy from the school office.

Especially with Covid, it may not be convenient for everyone to go out school uniform shopping. This year, I have bought quite a few items like school shoes online. You may not want to buy items where you’re unsure of the sizes so sometimes items like stationery or bags are easier. I bought a similar Smiggles bag for my eldest. We love these bags as they are good quality and smell great too!

In terms of the right size, its best to start school shopping after the first few weeks of the summer holidays and expect your child to grow by December! If this is just mind boggling as it can be first time then just buy one of each item. I actually remember calling my sister first time haha. On the other hand, not buying enough shirts for example is just another problem.

You want to have enough just to be able to not have to check every night if they have a clean shirt to wear the next day. With the Covid situation, be sure to ask your school, what changes if any they have made to school uniform.

Budgeting & Allowances

Being a Back to School Queen requires some planning ahead. You’ll be surprised how quickly the school issues their term calendar, most do this before the school term starts. We can’t plan for everything but we know of any upcoming school trips. Working mums may need to book leave from work or anticipate additional childcare costs. Find out if the school organises any free/paid clubs.

School meals is also another factor which we tend to overlook. Its universally free for all KS1 pupils (UK). I only wish I had known that I could be flexible with school meals and packed lunches for KS2 onwards. So in a nutshell, find out about any allowances according to your financial circumstances. 

Packed Lunches v School Dinners

Back to School for Mums


The more organised we are, the less we have to deal with on school days! For example, just planning out your meals on a weekly basis and packed lunch options makes life so much easier. Why not freeze some food items such as pies, flapjacks which freeze really well. Get imaginative and join in the kids. They will love both the baking AND the eating part!

I also tend to organise things like a few outfits that I can just whip out in the morning for the school run.  If it’s a new school or nursery you need to travel to by car/bus, just check it out in advance so you know how long it takes at rush hour and/or if there are parking spaces nearby. 

Don’t forget mum, YOU need breakfast too! So organise some quick and healthy brekkie options for those school runs and give yourself those extra ten minutes to avoid gulping it down! 

Wishing all mums and our little ones a great start to the new term.

With all this information, you are a Back to School Queen. You Rock!!

Tiabah x x 

Pregnancy Bag Checklist

Pregnancy Bag Checklist

Ever wondered why there are so many blog posts about packing a bag for hospital?

Let me rephrase that, a pregnancy bag for hospital. Yes, this is no ordinary bag ladies, simply because it’s a major event and preparation is needed! Read my blog to work out what items are essential for you whilst other things are nice to have. Then we can all sit back in anticipation and excitement of your new baby’s arrival.

On a personal level, this is a great blog for me to write about. I gave birth to my third child Raza, back in October last year so I know how to pack a hospital pregnancy bag for sure! Find out more About Me.

Now, let’s get your bag packed…

Your Pregnancy Bag

Notice, I said ‘your’ because if we each packed our bag, some basic contents would be the same but others totally different. One thing we can agree on is that some people do have bigger pregnancy bags and that’s really OK but we do not have to take the kitchen sink! I have seen ladies with rather large trolley dolly’s when I went to the hospital for my first child and remember feeling inferior to them when actually, I ended up having exactly what I needed. I don’t remember thinking afterwords that ‘Oh I forgot this thing’ or ‘I should have brought…’. Seriously trolley dolly’s are fine. I took  a small one with me. The point is that it’s not the size of the bag or the number of items but more specifically what items you personally need. Once you have that sorted, work on what items you would like to have. Let’s talk more about that next. 

Pregnancy Bag


Packing your pregnancy bag is almost like a ritual and prepares the mind for the fact that you ARE going to give birth to this baby! It helps to prepare you for the event that will happen. It also gives a sense of satisfaction and an element of control over the situation. 

Pregnancy Checklist – Items You’re Likely to Need

Items Needed v Items You May Like to Have

Here’s a list of the items that I believe that we ladies need:

  • Slippers, gown, at least 2 pairs of pyjamas, socks, a towel (for baby & mum)
  • Basic personal items & toiletries – deodorant, few make up items, comb, hair tie, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner.
  • Medication you normally take
  • Maternity record (should include your birth plan)
  • Outfit for mum to go home in – loose ones please
  • Outfit for baby – at least 3 baby vests, Babygro, mitts, hat, blanket / sleeper bag
  • Newborn nappies, wipes
  • Large sanitary pads and breast pads, underwear, nursing bra – comfy large ones please 😉
  • Car seat for baby (hospitals do not allow you to take baby home in the car without one).
  • Phone charger
  • Spare change for the phone
  • Written list of emergency contacts e.g mum, other half, sibling, friend etc – sometimes the phone runs out of charge or there isn’t a place to charge it
  • Snacks e.g small cartons of juice, energy bar. Keep spare change for the vending machine.

 Items You May Like to Have

Now that we have the essentials out the way, let’s list the possible wants. You can be as crazy/inventive as you want! Just check with your selected hospital and mid-wife that you are actually allowed these items or that the hospital facilitates them.  I have watched some YouTube videos  from Doulas based in the US that pack lamps and fairy lights for a dimmed atmosphere. Other examples are essential oils and pressure point pads. Some of these may be essentials for you in which case just add them to your list!

Here’s some other things which I view as ‘nice to have items’

  • A gift for your newborn and / or their sibling
    Gift / Thank You card for the nurses – they do a fabulous job and I can’t thank them enough.
  • Sleeping mask, that is if you’re a lucky mum to be and manage to squeeze in some shut eye.
  • Entertainment as for some ladies it’s going to be a long day!! Magazines/ books, downloaded playlist on your iPhone.
  • Fan / water spray
  • Your own pillow
  • Your own birth ball or check if your hospital provides one
  • Items for your birthing partner – e.g. they may need spare change of clothes, snacks

When to Pack

You can pack as early as you want and that’s just my view. Though its probably best to start gathering basic items at about 30 weeks plus. We all know that some babies like to surprise us and arrive early! Also, it gives you a chance to shop around in the sales for items that you’re not likely to use again. For me, in the later stages of pregnancy, it’s more difficult to shop around when carrying extra weight!

Where to Leave Your Bag

Should we discuss this? Yes, I do think its important as if I didn’t leave my bag in an obvious place, I don’t personally think my other half would ever have found it. It’s always advised to leave your bag near the door. Just in case you can’t take it yourself to hospital, leave it in an obvious accessible place. 

Wishing all mums to be good luck. I hope you feel better prepared as I did. 


Tiabah x x

Sofa to Gym – Home Exercise

Sofa to Gym – Home Exercise

Why Home Exercise?

Sofa to Gym is exactly about home exercise. One thing I know, is it brings results.

Facts from a study shows a direct correlation between people exercising regularly three times a week and exercising at home. That’s got to be good news. There’s no excuse for not exercising. It’s not for the elite. Exercise is for everyone and yes that includes YOU. That’s why I’m here writing this for the ordinary Joe Blogs. That could be the one with the busy lifestyle, or the mum with small children; the shy and body conscious; the ones that can’t afford. Don’t think if you’re ‘skinny’ that you can just skip this blog. Exercise is for you too! The results for exercise are almost endless. In fact here’s a few to give you food for thought:

  • Avoidance / limitation of diseases
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Weight control
  • Longevity of life

Just remember, we don’t all go about wearing the exact same clothes. Why should exercise be any different? Exercise should be tailored for YOU.

So let’s get ready. Your class starts now…

Do Home Workouts Really Work?

Yes! Home Exercise is just as effective as a gym workout. It’s less daunting because you have privacy and besides, you can carve out time when YOU want. There is no excuse! Don’t limit yourself to the living room. You can use the garden too.

How do I get started? – The What’s and Where’s

Firstly, you need to ‘make’ your gym space. If you’re one of the lucky ones to have your own gym room then skip this paragraph. Over the years I have built my gym using a mix of equipment and organising my living space to fit it in. It’s amazing what some nice lights (ambience) and a mat can do! Here’s a few other things you could use.

  • Posters / paintings (e.g. your favourite quote)
  • Exercise Machines (Treadmill, Exercise bike)
  • Playlist (Spotify / Alexa / YouTube / Apple Music)

So, What’s the Plan?

Make a personalised plan around the space and equipment you have. You will need to plan:

  • What day and time you will exercise?
  • How long you will exercise each day
  • What specific types of exercises you need to do and how many reps in each session.

Don’t forget to measure your progress. Decide how you’re going to do this. Examples are using a tracker sheet plan. There are also some free apps. Whatever activity you choose be it a running or yoga plan. Therefore, you should definitely have one. It’s half the work in achieving your goal. I will be writing a future blog post on some of the apps I have tried and tested.

The Rise of the Machines

You’re moving up in the world! You’re really catching onto this exercise malarkey and ready to purchase some great equipment. Stop there for a moment. Have a good think about what type of exercise you want to do and what machine you need. We’ve all heard of the treadmill serving as a coat holder. These things are not cheap! Besides, they take some room and you don’t want to clutter up the house.

Tips to Get Going and Keep Going

Let’s face it. We’re all really busy and don’t necessarily want to be shackled to the gym. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could squeeze in 10 to 15 minutes of exercise before you start work? If that’s not your cup of tea then there’s other ways to get you moving.

  • Exercise in the commercial breaks. God knows some of these are long enough!
  • Keep yourself motivated by writing sticky notes to yourself.
  • Track your progress in a fitness app. There are some great free ones.
  • Listen to your favourite fitness podcasts.
  • Partner up with a buddy.

Home Exercise Routines – The Moves

So, you don’t have the fancy equipment or gym space? Don’t worry, YOU are enough! I have tried and tested this. It’s safe to say especially if you’re starting off that you can exercise using home furniture. Here’s how:

  • Step Ups – Use the stairs
  • Bench Dips – Use the sofa (don’t just sit on it, get moving!)
  • Jog on the spot / skipping ropes
  • Arm weights – Tins of beans / roll of wallpaper
  • Standing up plank/push up – Use the wall

My Story – How I Started Exercising at Home

I’ll let you in on a secret. You’ll laugh but I’ll tell you anyway because it’s true. It’s not some zero to hero story, but a real one from the heart about me.

I first got into exercising when I graduated. I was never really chubby but knew I was awfully unfit. Exercise was going to help me be more toned and fitter. I couldn’t afford a gym membership and remember watching some old YouTube video about how you could exercise at home. Yeah, at home by just using home furniture. My parents were retired so I was rarely home alone. I was too self-conscious to exercise in front of anyone! I remember sneaking into the kitchen and taking two tins of economy kidney beans. Those were my arm weights.

How I Started Home Exercise – Slowly but Surely

Every evening, I did about 10 minutes of exercise doing various plunges, squats. You name it, I did it. I listened to my favourite playlist. It’s all ‘Alexa play this’ or Spotify but several years ago, I had a mini disk. Remember those? Even now I use simple things like YouTube on my iPhone and a pair of wireless apple ear pods that I stole from my other half! My exercise routine sometimes ended up being thirty minutes to an hour because I actually started to enjoy it. It wasn’t a secret from anyone but it was my space. The little carpet space in my room became my gym.

Home Exercise – My Friend Over the Years

Over the years, exercise served many purposes, from gaining better physical physique and fitness in my 20s, to my 30s, it saved my life. I suffered terrible oedema following a bad flare up with eczema that left me hospitalised for a week. The dermatologist told me to ‘run’ to combat stress and that’s when I bought my Reebok treadmill. Now in my 40s it’s my ‘go to friend’ again in an attempt to combat the C-section pouch. It’s also the ‘me time’ amongst the daily chaos of being a mother of three young children. And of course, it’s my one-way ticket to better health in my 50s and beyond. So now you can understand why home exercise is a passion for me. I want others to jump on the bandwagon too.

Mental Health – How Home Exercise Can Help

One of the benefits I mentioned is that exercise helps our mental wellbeing. Although I have been fortunate not to suffer from this, there are many who do and I hope that specifically home exercise will help catch those that have not stepped into the gym for some reason or other.

Home Exercise – Know the Facts

So, you’ve been reading about home exercise and you’re getting all warmed up about the idea. Don’t forget to actually warm up AND consult your doctor. Come on, you know the drill. Be practical and consult your doctor to avoid injury. There, I’ve said it. I can now breath! Seriously, I know it’s boring and texbookish but it’s so super important which is why I’ve dedicated a whole paragraph.

The Fitness Fridge

Nearly all the gyms have a fridge that is brimming with all those protein shakes and energy bars and drinks. My local one even has a little canteen!

Why can’t we stock up? You’ve probably got everything for starters. I’m really into raw foods so here’s what I’m thinking you should use to boost performance so you’re fitter and faster. Even if no one is watching! These foods are proven to boost performance.

  • Peanut butter
  • Coffee
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts e.g. almonds
  • Blueberries – to aid muscle pain

Types of Exercise – Decisions Decisions

If you’re anything like me and you’re mad on running then my advice is to invest in a treadmill. Ones that have an incline are the most useful as they are better at mimicking natural terrain. If you’re a Yoga fan like me…you’ll need a basic yoga mat and a couple of blocks. There are countless YouTube videos that you can subscribe to and follow a session on your Smart TV. My favourite sport is running. I’ve never tried Hip Hop, Salsa or Ballet. Nor am I ashamed to say I’m a novice at Zumba. I’m pretty sure you can try almost every sport with some equipment at home except for swimming! I’m genuinely curious about how you would try some of these types of activities so please do comment below.

The Perfect Session – Not!

I believe the most difficult thing about exercise is actually getting started. Very quickly excuses come to mind. I like to apply a little tactic recommended widely by @jonacuff , author of Finish. Jon says that the day after ‘day perfect’, is the day that we tend to ditch our plan. Instead, we should make our goals more realistic by cutting them in half or allocate more time. I like to make realistic goals, ones that I can possibly achieve! So, the trick is to understand and accept WHERE you are in your journey and improve on that rather than trying to be perfect on day 1. So, say your goal is a marathon. If you haven’t ever exercised, you can’t expect to run 5k on day 1. If you gradually build on it in small achievable goals, you will reach your goal.

A Little Game for You

My strategy which I call ‘3 songs’ is for the beginner, the procrastinator and the perfectionist. You don’t need anything. YOU are enough. Reasons causing you not to exercise should be thrown out the window. You don’t need those perfect trainers, the weight machine, the yoga blocks etc. You just need YOU. I like to put on 3 of my favourite tracks and just ‘move’. There are no set moves, you just move how you like. Do this for a few days and you will establish routine, better fitness and mood. I hope with any luck it will give you the desire to start some routine. You don’t have to do exactly the same exercise as me to start off a regime. Try something that YOU might like. Personally, I always finish off feeling I’ve achieved something and happy I’ve Done My Bit.

Ready Steady. Your Time Starts Now

Don’t wait for tomorrow. Live for today. Especially with what’s been happening recently with the Coronavirus, home exercise has never been more practical. You can do this. It’s so much easier when you know where to start.

I’ve got a little prezzie for you. I’ve created a FREE Cheat Sheet to help build YOUR regime because this has got to work for YOU.

Join the 5 Minute, 5 Day Home Exercise Challenge. It’s easy. Just go to my homepage and say ‘Yes, gimme this’! I’m mega excited about this. On a personal level, I feel that if I change even one person’s life by writing this blog, that I have achieved something great because in my eyes, exercise plays such an important role in our EVERYDAY lives.