The Frazzled Mum's Guide to Becoming an Art & Crafts Extraordinaire


Busy and frazzled mums and dads are having to use all of their reserves to try to get through this global pandemic in one piece, and ensure their kids get the nurture they need too! It looks set to be another hard few months with the announcement that Christmas is essentially cancelled. This is a huge bummer to anyone who had made plans with loved ones, and represents yet another setback in the battle against COVID-19.

But, it’s important to try to be positive, and this means working on coming up with ideas that are going to help you navigate lockdown and maintain your sanity! Finding things to do around the house, and to keep you and the kids occupied is crucial, and one of the best ways of doing that is to make sure you focus on art & crafts. Check out this guide for any mums out there looking to become art and crafts experts!

Choose What You Want to Create

The first and most important thing you need to do is to decide what you want to create by way of art and crafts. You have a lot of choice, but you need to narrow it down so you can get the right materials, and so you are able to focus on completing projects. You may wish to make stylish clocks with different themes, or perhaps you just want to paint a picture or create a sculpture. There is so much choice that it can sometimes be overwhelming, but it also gives you a nice and diverse range of options for you and the family to use to keep busy and entertain yourselves, and this is certainly something you should decide before you proceed with anything else. 

Gather the Right Materials

There are plenty of great places to start when it comes to improving and gathering the right art and crafts materials, and you should head to a craft shop to stock up. Once you know what you want to create you can hit the internet and find out what materials you might need in order to help you achieve this. Make sure you are focused on doing as much as possible to make the most of this right now, and there are a lot of things that can enhance any art and crafts session. For instance, essentials such as craft glue guns are a must for most projects, and you’re going to need stationery, tape, paper, card, and more besides. Make sure you think about what it takes to make the most of this right now, and try to think about the right ways of getting all the materials you require. 

Involve the Kids

You need to make sure you look at doing as much as possible to involve the kids in your art and crafts extravaganza. This is something that can make a massive difference to their enjoyment over lockdown, and it helps you to develop a creative bond with your family. Art and crafts are great for helping you and ther kids to stay occupied and focus on creating things, which is good for strengthening brain function. Make sure you think about the different types of art and crafts that would be the most suitable for kids, and even consider asking your children if there is anything specifically they would like to try to create. 

Make Some Money Off Of It

Now, if you find you’re pretty good and this art and crafts malarky, there could well be an opportunity to make some decent money from this. The first thing you need to make sure you get right is to ensure you have created enough quality pieces to be able to sell to people, and this is something that plays a major part in this process. You should also check out these tips for craft fayre selling in order to help you make the most of this. Setting up a stall is something that can go a long way towards helping you sell your crafts at a fayre, and trying to make as much money as you can.

There are so many great things you can do that are going to help you when it comes to improving your life over lockdown, and keeping busy is really important. The great thing is that art and crafts are a great way of being able to help you improve your creativity, as well as keeping the family occupied during this tough time. And, if you can make a bit of money from this in the long run, that’s even better!

This is a collaborative post 

How To Up Your Self-Care Game

When it comes to self-care, you may find that you’re always a little bit behind. Life can be incredibly busy and this means that we often neglect ourselves. Between work and family life, our interests and friendships, it’s not always that easy to prioritise our health and happiness. Sometimes, we find ourselves putting everything above ourselves. We think that there are things that are much more important that need doing – and sometimes, that can be the case. However, when you’re doing stuff that you feel is important, you can end up neglecting your own selfcare. So, when it comes to making sure that you’re enjoying your life and living it to the max, you need to make sure that you’re taking the best possible care of yourself.


So how do you do that? When you’re busy, trying to make sure that you are healthy and balanced, avoiding stress, and enjoying your life – how is it possible to make your own self-care a priority? In the world that we’re all living in at the moment, it’s always go, go, go. We find it really hard to be able to find a balance between being productive and successful and healthy and grounded. It can even be seen as a weakness. However, self-care is essential to your happiness and success. So here’s how to make sure that you nail it.

Take Time To Yourself

First of all, you need to make sure that you’re taking time for yourself. Keeping yourself away from work in the evenings and at weekends and actually prioritising your own interests and activities could be the best thing for your self-care.

Run A Bath

Mmmmm, bubbles! Even if you’re not someone that loves to run a bath, it can be so relaxing. When you’ve got some soaking hot water, a good old fashioned pamper routine, and time to kill, it can be the best thing for you. Add a bit of mood lighting with candles and before you know it, you should be feeling incredibly relaxed.

Look After Your Skin

Clease the skin, cleanse the mind! You could even take that one step further and give yourself a facial. It’s nice to make sure that you spend the time looking after your skin. Yet, this isn’t something that we always do. But investing in good products and quality relaxation time can help you feel great.

Stay Away From Screens

It's a toughy, I know, but one of the best things that you can do to make sure that you’re looking after yourself is to stay away from your screens. These days, we all spend so much time looking at and interacting with screens. Whether we’re watching TV, working, or scrolling through our phones, screens are such a big part of our lives. It can be one of those things that you enjoy but actually does more harm than good. So, wherever you can find yourself reducing your screen time, it’s going to benefit you. You may feel a lot calmer and relaxed. And not only that, but you might find that you actually sleep better too.

Focus On Feeling Good

From here, if you want to ensure that you’re feeling as relaxed and happy as possible, you’ll want to think about how you feel. As long as you’re feeling good, then you know that your self care is working. There are a range of things that you can try here to ensure you’re relaxed and calm, one of which could be with CBD gummies as a method. CBD can be a great addition to your wellness routine to help you to relax and feel better about yourself.

Distance Yourself

Another thing that you might want to do is to distance yourself from any negativity that you experience in your life. From toxic people to situations, staying away can be best for your mindset, so make that a priority. There's nothing worse than being dragged down by someone else. Life is too short, guys!

Focus On Your Needs

Finally, you’re then going to want to make sure that you’re focusing on your wants and needs. Sometimes, it’s really easy to find yourself putting others first and doing what is best for them or caring for their needs. But sometimes, this can be at your own expense, and when you do that continuously, you’ll soon find that it starts to drain you. It’s not going to do anyone any favours in the long run. So, remember number one - it's not a crime!

This is a collaborative post 

Robotic gifts for Christmas

 'Tis the season... almost! With lockdown continuing to play havoc on our usual Christmas preparations, I bet you're on first name terms with your Amazon delivery guy aren't you? I know I pretty much am! 

Yes, online shopping seems the only way to go in 2020 and when Sgile Toys got in touch to let me know they ship internationally, I was drawn in by their store on Amazon. I've been trying to think outside of the box for Christmas gifts this year, given that it's been an odd one it seemed only natural! Not only have I never purchased from an international Amazon store (usually a Prime girl), but I've also not thought about RC, or remote control, items much until now. Now that we spend our free time in parks and gardens instead of cinemas or trampoline complexes, its time to look for something that can really bring out the child in us all, whilst mastering our motor skills and concentration.

Here's a few items that Sgile Toys offer...

SGILE RC Stunt Car 

With rubber tyres, these 360° flip tumbling vehicles are perfect for lockdown play both indoor and outdoors. Any gender, any age, these bright action packed remote control toys will be sure to bring a smile to the driver's face. It comes with battery included (no mad dash on Christmas eve!) and is rechargeable too. With a top speed of 15 km/hr, the twists and turns you can create will be nothing short of impressive. 

Suitable from ages 6 years and up, you get around 20 minutes of playing time on these stunt cars. 

RC Racing car

If stunts and tumbles aren't your thing, try a remote control racing car instead. A whopping 18km/hr top speed and chunky tyres means great fun in all terrains. The beach, the park, your gravelled drive or even on your carpets at home: lockdown doesn't stop this bad boy! There's no battery included in the remote but there is a rechargeable battery included in the car itself which is a massive bonus.

Suitable for ages 6 years and up, this has a whopping 50 minute play time per charge.

RC Dinosaur

Perhaps your little one is into all things prehistoric? This remote controlled dino sings, dances, and comes complete with 5 bullets on his back to add a bit of action when you take him in a stroll around the house. He whips his tail too! With wheels under his feet this is an indoor toy, probably best on wooden or vinyl flooring. Once again, this robot is rechargeable!

Not suitable for under 3 years old due to the small parts, this toy has 60 mins of play time on a full charge.

Robot dog 

Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas. If you don't have the space or the time for a real puppy then a robot dog could be the very next best thing! He sings, he dances, he loves to play. No sharp edges and flexible legs mean even the most rough and tumbliest of kids can have fun with Robot Dog. 

Suitable for ages 6 and up, this comes complete with lithium battery and a USB charger to supplement energy!

RC Robot

I don't know why but I feel like this should be called Buddy. Anyway, with a gesture sensor and up to 50 programmable motion commands and a cool gesture sensor chest, it will really feel like playing with a friend. It's patrol ability means this little dude can walk around freely, observing its surroundings whilst detecting and avoiding obstacles thanks to the built in sensor. Sing and dance along with Buddy, using his bright led lights as a disco. 

Suitable for ages 8 and up, you get 60 min uses of solid play time off one charge. Added bonus is it only takes 2 hours to fully charge each time via USB too. 

All of the above from SGILE have over 4.5 out of 5 stars reviews on Amazon, each with hundreds of reviews. Why not take a look?

This is a collaborative post to showcase SGILE Toys range this Christmas.

Ace Ultra for Whites - The Review #AceIt

I've been testing the new Ace Ultra for Whites AND I have to be honest, I didn't actually have much faith that it could clean a mucky, smelly 12yr old boy's school shirt (soz Carson!) nor a messy-play covered 6yr old's SEN school polo shirt.  Yeah, sure, brightening up my work blouses or the husbands plain t-shirts but school clothes were a whole new dilemma. 

How to use.

I poured this into the fabric softener drawer instead of softener, as per the instructions. If you are wanting to use softener as well, make sure this goes into the pre-wash area rather than in the detergent compartment. For major stains, you can pre-treat if required which is handy to know.

The Before.

The less said about this mess the better ha!

Finley's polo shirt has felt tip marks, paint, bits of food, you name it. Carson's, I mean really... what on earth is with those cuffs? And it honks! 

The 12 year old boy's shirt 

The 6 year old boy's polo

The Claims.

It promises to be gentle on delicate clothes and is formulated to help brighten dull whites, whilst treating stains. It does contain bleach so literally only use this on whites. You can't say I've not warned you! Containing bleach though also means that your clothes don't only just smell clean, but they actually are clean as bacteria and viruses are specifically targeted.

Initial Reaction

Speaking of smelling clean, I didn't like how it made my house smell when the clothes were drying on the radiators. I couldn't smell the floral scent it claimed to have, rather just bleach. Granted, most people have airers or tumble driers but we don't, and needs must when it comes to getting 4-5 washes worth of clothes and bedding dry quickly in any one given day! So, you might not get that bleach smell when drying your own clothes after being washed in Ace Ultra for Whites. I couldn't not comment on it though considering this is a completely honest review. 

HOWEVER, when my whites had completely dried all I could smell was that fresh crisp clean cotton smell which was such a relief and a real pleasant surprise. To be absolutely honest, considering Finley's ASD and sensory processing disorder along with Carson's new-found obsession with aftershave, we preferred Ace's clean fresh smelling results. It is actually better than clothes being perfumed with softeners for these 2 lads. Winner!  

The Results.

Finley's polo is like new.  I mean literally. It's the brightest its been since taking the labels off in September and where those felt tip and paint marks have gone. Blown away by that result. Remarkable. 

Before and after on a polo top

Carson's no longer smells of BO, old deodorant or aftershave... and check out those cuffs. I would say 95% of that gross grime has been completely eradicated. Seriously like, just look.  And this is after just one, quick, 28 minute wash on a 30C wash. 

Before and after on a shirt

Where to buy.



I give this a 4.5 / 5. The only thing I can find to mark this down on is my inability to fit a dryer in my kitchen, meaning radiator drying have a bleach smell in the house. I'm not even sure if that's fair to mark down on! 

Got kids?  Get this. 

Make-up on your work shirt? Get this. 

Deodorant stains? Get this. 

Dull or greying sheets or delicates? Seriously, get this. 

Big hit for us! 

This post is an entry for the #Aceit Challenge, sponsored by Ace. Get ideas in how to wash whites, treat stains and laundry like a boss with tips from the ACE site

Why You Don't Have To Move When You Want Kids


This Image Is From Pexels - CC0 Licence

Soooo you love your home, but you want kids... Unfortunately, it just doesn't feel big enough to raise children in your current flat or house, so you start searching for new places. A big percentage of parents-to-be do this as soon as they find out they're pregnant, which means you're not alone. Although the initial buzz of moving is exciting, it doesn't mean you're doing the right thing. In many ways, you could be rushing into something you assume is the correct move when, in fact, staying put would be beneficial.

How do you tell what the best option is? Check out these reasons not to move when you want children.

House Prices

If you thought the pandemic might have slowed the housing market, you were mistaken. According to forecasts, the market has grown since the end of the summer, even if only by a small amount. Throw into the mix the average cost of having a baby - £74,333 in the UK for a child up to eighteen - and the fact your job could be less secure, and it might not be the smartest time to up sticks and leave to a new property at the moment.

Space Savers

What's the main reason you feel as if you must move? It's the lack of space. Attempting to raise a kid in a property that's barely big enough for two is a daunting task. However, when your resources are limited, moving isn't always an option. Plus, it's amazing how much space you can save if you're creative. There are tonnes of ways to make your home less cluttered, from kids bunk beds to multipurpose furniture. Let's face it - new furniture is cheaper than a new mortgage!

The Stress

Moving is a stressful experience for all the family. Whether it's you or your child, you're bound to suffer from high cortisol levels. For pregnant women, this is incredibly dangerous as you need to be as relaxed and calm as possible to ensure your unborn baby's health. Therefore, moving before giving birth could be an unnecessary gamble. This is particularly true if you can manage to get by until you have the funds to move and the right mindset. There are ways to limit the exposure if you already have children, yet you won't eliminate all the drama.

The Nesting Instinct

The "nesting instinct" is a scientific theory that pregnant women require control over their environment. Without it, it might be harder to get through pregnancy and labour trauma because you don't feel as if you are in charge. Research suggests the behaviour is tough to stop as it's genetic, making it almost impossible to curb. Therefore, it's smarter to be in an environment you understand and trust, such as your current home, since it'll make you feel safer and more secure.

Moving is a necessary evil for many parents. However, there are several reasons to stay put, including not having the money and avoiding needless stress.

This is a collaborative post.

Reorganising Your Household Budget During Difficult Times

A lot of people are struggling at the moment financially, partly because of a period of downturn caused by the fallout from the pandemic. It looks as though things are not going to turn around again for many years to come, so that means that we have a lot of potential uncertainty ahead of us as individuals and as a society. With that in mind, there might be many times when you need to reorganise or reappraise your household budget, to ensure that it is as strong and secure as it should be. When you need to do that, there are a few things you will want to bear in mind.

Image Credit - CCO Licence

When To Change Your Budget

One of the most important things that you need to know is when you should actually change your household budget in the first place, and when you should simply leave it alone. While there is no one rule that applies to everyone at all times, you should be aware of some basic signs that you can look out for. These signs are likely to indicate that you should change your budget as soon as possible, to help avoid getting into any serious trouble financially.

One of the most common signs is that you are starting to eat through your savings. If you are doing this, it can be tempting to think that it will probably be okay for a while yet. But if you act now, before things get worse, you could actually be in a much better position overall, and perhaps even stop things from developing into a much more dire situation. So the moment you notice yourself dipping into savings for things which you would normally have paid for outright, you should ask yourself whether it’s time to look at your budget again.

Alternatively, you might have noticed that you simply have less expendable cash at the end of the month. If this seems to be getting less and less each month, it could indicate that there is a leakage somewhere, and that is something you will want to patch up as soon as possible. Or you might simply be expecting a big change, or had one happen to you recently, in which case you should consider whether you are going to want to make a change now. As long as you keep your wits about you, you are more likely to change your budget at the right time.

Image Credit - CCO Licence

The Number One Concern

As you do start to reorganise your budget, there is one thing in particular that you are going to want to focus on, and that is reducing your spending. Keeping your spending low is the main point of a budget, so as long as you are doing that you should find that you are doing the right thing. Everything that you will change is likely going to be associated in some way, directly or indirectly, to that act of keeping your spending as low as possible.

With that in mind, one of the first steps you should take will be looking into where you are overspending, and what you can do about reducing it as best as you can. How can you tell if something is an overspend? Mostly, this is a matter of instinct, but it is a glaring sign if it happens to be something that is particularly inessential, for instance, or something which has no bearing on your life. Cutting those out first is always a good step to take.

Beyond that, you just need to make sure that the budget makes sense, and that it is operating in the way you need it to.

Getting The Essentials Down

After you have looked into that, you can start thinking about what the essentials are that you simply can’t strip out of your budget. This would generally include items such as housing costs - rent or mortgage, and utilities - and food, as well as educational costs for your children and transport for you to get to work and so on. It is always worth thinking outside of the box when you are looking at your list of essentials - with the right frame of mind, you might be able to determine whether something you considered essential might actually be avoidable, or changeable in some way. Often that can make a profound difference to how much money you can save.

Image Credit - CCO Licence

Bringing In More Money

Of course, the single best way to make a household budget easier is to introduce more money into the equation in the first place. But if everyone could simply increase their income at will, that would make all of this irrelevant. You can’t wave a magic wand, but you should consider whether there might be things you can do to improve your income status. That might include getting homeowner loans, if applicable, or it could simply be a case of working longer hours. In some cases, you might be able to ask for a raise. Whatever options are open to you personally, be sure to exhaust them when you need to look at your budget, as it could make all the difference.

Sticking To The New Budget

Once you have worked out your new family household budget, you then need to make sure that you are actually going to stick to it. If you fail to do that, it’s as good as not having a budget, so that is something that you are going to want to think about. Sticking to your new budget might be easier if you remind yourself about the consequences of not doing so, which in many cases could be quite extreme. Do that, and you should find it much easier to stick to it, and to keep your family from being in financial trouble at any time in the near future.

These tips should enable you to reorganise your household budget in no time, so make sure that you are considering them each in turn. You should have a new budget in no time.

Good luck!

This is a collaborative post 

Looking after your family's eye health

If you are keen to ensure that you are taking care of your family in all the ways that are important, then eye care is going to be one of the major things to look into. It can be all too easy to overlook your family’s eyes, but these are always an important part of their overall health, and something that actually takes a great deal of care and patience too. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the most important ways to look after your family’s eye health, starting today. Oh, and it doesn't involve a trip to Barnard Castle!

Understanding Your Family History

If you have ever had to get your eyes tested thoroughly for some specific ailment, you will know that it is incredibly important to know a little something about your family history. You might be asked whether there are any particular or severe eye problems in your family’s past, such as glaucoma. If there are, this can impact what issues you and your family are likely to have today, and that is going to be something you need to be aware of on the whole. So it’s often important to first take a dive into your family history and see whether you can discover anything important there.

There are a range of conditions which you are more likely to suffer from if someone in your family’s past suffered from it. Glaucoma, as we have seen, is one. The same applies to myopia, hyperopia, macular degeneration and astigmatism. It is therefore important to look in detail at your family’s past, and to provide this information to your optometrist where possible, so that they have all the information they need when they are testing your eyes and the eyes of your family. If you can do that, you might find that these issues are found quicker.

Types Of Eye Problem

It can be helpful to know about some of the major types of eye problems which can occur, so that you know what to look out for and prepare for. There are a few major and common issues that can arise with anyone’s eyes, including numerous different ways in which you might find yourself struggling to see perfectly. Let’s take a look at some of the common types of eye problems, so that you can hopefully get to grips with it as soon as possible.

One of the more serious eye conditions is glaucoma, which is actually the leading cause of blindness all over the world. This condition is essentially a build-up of pressure behind the eye, which in turn damages the optic nerves that you need to be intact in order to see properly. This condition can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor, and there are a number of things you can do at home to help prevent it in yourself and in the eyes of your children.

First up, you could consider eating as healthy a diet as possible. Not only does eating right help with most other health issues, it also helps in keeping you from developing glaucoma, so it really does work and is worth thinking about. In particular, if you have a diet that is rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc, you will find that you are much less likely to end up with this terrible disease. That means eating more oranges, strawberries, broccoli, eggs, and spinach. If you are finding it difficult to get all of that into your diet, you could always consider a vitamin supplement too, to make it a little easier.

But it’s not just glaucoma that we all need to be worried about when we are trying to take care of our family’s eyes. There are also other common issues, such as myopia. This is what is otherwise known as nearsightedness, and it essentially means that the individual in question can see perfectly up close, but not so well for far-off things. Myopia has strong links to familial history, so if someone in your family has had it before, it is more likely one of your current family will get it too.

The main way to ensure that you avoid getting myopia, or at least reduce your chances, is to rest your eyes regularly. This might be especially important if you do any work that requires that your eyes look at anything for long periods of time, such as a screen, a book, or really anything else at all. Again, you can also improve myopia through an improved diet - which is also true of the next problem that can strike anyone: hyperopia, or farsightedness. That is, obviously enough, the exact opposite of myopia, and again it has a strong genetic component to it, meaning you are much more likely to have it if someone in your family does or did have it in the past.

Good Practice

Enough on what can go wrong with your eyes - what can you actually do, individually and as a family unit, to keep your eyes in good health? We have seen one major step that you can take already, which is to eat a healthy diet, and that is something that might be worth considering. On top of that, there are also a range of good practices which you might like to follow, and which are likely to help you and your family retain good sight, and make the most of the eyesight quality that you have been blessed with.

Arguably the most important of all of these practices is to simply go to the optometrist regularly. Ideally, we would all go to have our eyes checked at least once every two years, and if your optometrist finds anything wrong there they might argue that it is time to increase this regularity to once every year or even once every six months. Of course, your optometrist will also be able to tell you whether you are likely to benefit from having glasses, and if you are then you can either shop with them for those or go here to look at some of the options you have online.

As well as regular visits to the optometrist and a good diet, you could think about trying out some other commonly recommended health changes. For instance, if you are a smoker, you might like to know that giving up smoking has been proven to improve your eye health, for the simple fact that smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Likewise, keeping the alcohol consumption within the recommended limits can help to avoid the same.

Another important concern is the sun, which can cause damage to your eyes as a result of the UVA and UVB rays. It is therefore a wise move to cover up in the sun, so as to ensure that your eyes do not get damaged in this way, and that they are going to last for much longer on the whole.

Finally, we can all take a little more care when it comes to health and safety, as it is of course going to be a problem if you cause physical damage to your eye in some way or another, whether you are at work or at home, or somewhere else.

If you take all this on board, it’s likely that you and your family are going to have better eye health in no time, and be much less likely to experience any kind of eyesight problems later on in life too.

This is a collaborative post.

Cycling Tips For Every Beginner

The lockdown rules of 2020 meant exercise outdoors suddenly became a thing for those who never had the time, nor the desire in the "normal world" of society. So many new hobbies enjoyed by those of all ages, are plain to see with every passing day. It's truly lovely to see.

Entering the world of cycling is so rewarding. There is no greater feeling than whizzing down the road, the wind rushing by you, enjoying nature and getting that major endorphin rush. Cycling is a great activity to help you get in shape, boost your mental health and, since there’s so many group rides, charity races and more in virtually every city, a great opportunity to make friends and bond with other bike enthusiasts. Cycling communities usually have members and rides at every level, from beginner to pro, so even if you’re just starting out, you can find a group to fit into easily, which is a great idea - they’ll show you the ropes! 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Cycling is very much a “club”, but it’s an easy one to join. Avid cyclists are always thrilled to bring new folks into their ranks. And it’s also a very much learn-as-you-go activity; you’ll pick up all sorts of things as you’re out on a ride. But if you’re wanting to start off on the right foot, we’ve got a few handy tips below on how to get the most out of cycling as a beginner. 

Get the Right Accessories
As we mentioned above, cycling is a bit of a club - some might even call it a religion. Cyclists are very proud of their bikes, their accessories, and their kit. Many prefer to wear branded accessories and kit that correspond with their bike, and others choose these items solely for being lightweight (if you’re a speed junkie). Whatever brands you choose are up to you, but you definitely want to have the proper accessories when you start out. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, but you do want to buy good quality stuff that’s designed and made by an actual cycling gear company. These items include a Cycling Kit (kit refers to your cycling clothes - chamois, a jersey, and sometimes cycling socks), proper cycling shoes/cleats that clip in to whatever type of pedal you choose, cycling gloves, a properly fitted helmet, sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris, and a water bottle. No, a water bottle isn’t technically part of your kit, but you need one - never forget water when you go out cycling! 

You also want to have a small pack big enough to contain a safety kit (materials to change a tire/tubes, your ID, a few dollars for emergencies and mace are always a good idea), as well as having lights both on the front AND back of your bike. You need lights that are bright and have multiple flashing options. Many cyclists also have a Garmin on their bike or a similar app installed on their phone. 

Follow the Rules/Etiquette
Naturally, when going out on the road, you want to follow all local state laws as it pertains to riding your bike. For instance, in the state of Georgia, riders may ride two to a lane, with drivers required to give them at least 3 feet distance when passing. Laws for turning, signalling and so on are very much the same as they would be for a driver. But every state is different and for your own safety and compliance, brush up on these laws before you get on the bike. 

There are also rules of etiquette to follow when riding in large groups or with others. These include the infamous “on your left!” when passing a cyclist (never pass on the right; that’s dangerous), the rules of drafting (everyone takes a turn), and so on. You’ll learn these as you go, too. These aren’t just nitpicky rules; they keep everyone safe and add to the collective “club” or “family” feeling of cycling. 

Start Small, but Practice Makes Perfect
It can be tempting to immediately jump into the big rings and start trying for very long distance rides. Save that 50 mile charity ride or 35 mile solo-cruise for when you’ve got a little experience under your belt. While you may have the stamina for it, it’s best to get used to the bike and have some experience cycling on the road (getting used to cars, learning how to change a flat, and so on) before going out on long distances. This is for your own safety. 

Once you’ve got a few miles under your belt, you’ll be stomping up those hills with ease, and clocking 50 miles every Saturday afternoon. 

Take Care of your Bike
Bike care is a whole college course unto itself. It pays off to actually check out some videos online, or better yet, take an actual class to learn bike maintenance. You’re going to need to learn how to change tires, adjust fittings, replace chains, and more. Better to do it yourself than take the bike to the shop every few days.  If you're a tinkerer at heart, this is right up your street (or cycle lane!)

So, have you taken up cycling? If you have, I hope you continue to enjoy it when the pandemic eases off. Perhaps you'll ditch the car and start commuting on your bike!

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