Keeping it in Your Wallet πŸ‘›

Keeping it in Your Wallet πŸ‘›

So it’s that time of year already. With festive season just a little more than a stone throw away, it’s the time to start your Christmas hustle- and to destroy your bank account in the process. Most of us won’t go unscathed by the Christmas shopping dragon, but you don’t have to feel the BURN. The secret? Cheaping out. But this doesn’t just apply to the festive season- it’s actually an all-year round philosophy. It’s a way of life.

A few years back, I managed to tank my credit score to a socially unacceptable level- I overspent in practically every area and lived WAY over my means. Since then, I have made it my mission to scrimp and save. I saved thousands during university and this eventually helped pay towards my maternity leave and the costs of having a child.

Now as a mother, I really feel the burn . But it’s not just my daughter burning a hole in my pocket- it’s rising bills, prescriptions and other hidden costs that just love to jump out and shout ‘BOO’ whenever they can, even though Halloween has been and gone. Here are some ideas to keep your financials in the 100.

1. Shop around

If You’re impatient, you could land yourself with one hell of a hefty transaction leaving your bank account. I recently bought a storage cube unit (riveting, I know) from B&M and could have paid double elsewhere if I wasn’t careful.

2. Charity Shop Haul

People get very funny about this one. ‘being proud’ can be the most damaging thing; not just to your bank account but as a way of thinking. Some charity shops are better than others, you don’t have to look like Beryl in the ’70s. You just need to look carefully. Top tip: go to a charity shop in a ‘better’ area. You might find some hidden gems- especially when it comes to toys and kids’ books. Just give them a good wash.

3. Don’t be a brand brat

If you have a thing for brands then you might land yourself in a rather big, chanel- shaped ditch. Buying own brand nappies can save you a small fortune. This also applies to clothes by the way. Brands for you is an investment if you’re into that sort of thing. Dressing your small person in brands is the same as throwing money down a well. End of.

4. Save up

Want something specific? Save up. This doesn’t have to be in lump sums- we’re not rich. This is as and when. It could take a while but you will get there. Alternatively, think about ditching your daily sugar fix or your hardcore coffee habit. Micro saving is also quite cool. Get yourself a pot and put in any loose change and it can pay for all sorts of funky things.

5. Make festive/birthday list

Make a list of things you think your child could benefit from from for celebrations. This is a great way to get help with things for your child and reduce waste. Don’t be afraid to ask for clothes!

6. Get on social media

There are tonnes of groups in which people sell their things for no cost or next to nothing. Be tech-savvy , get clicking and see what you can get. This can be great for clothes, toys, household appliances and storage.

7. Think about your buggy

Would a range rover style pram be the best and most practical option? Think about heaving that huge ass thing all over transport and in the boot of the car. So many people I know have ditched their fancy pram for a lightweight affordable option on Argos. You could save yourself thousands.

8. Alternative shops

This is my favourite one. There are plenty of trendy apps/sites out there that sell near new or brand new and unworn clothes without tags. You can spend a quarter of the price someone else has paid and no one will know. You might not be dripping in finesse but you’ll look decent and have a healthy bank balance.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t let your debit card go for a slippery sleigh ride this Christmas. Being ‘proud’ can be so damaging. When things are tight financially it is important to remind yourself what’s important. Showering your kids (and you) with love is so very important- showering them with expense isn’t.

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

Stay at Home Bums: “but what do you do all day?”

You’ve put your career on hold for a 24/7 parenting haul, but the full-timers just don’t get it. Instead of understanding you get judgement and opinions stuck to you: “but what do you do all day?”, “It’s good some can afford to stay at home with their children”. Yes Karen, thanks for your unwanted opinion.

It’s fair to say we all have an opinion on something, and it would be even more accurate to say that mums are some of the best ‘judgers’ judges. I’m guilty of it- I’ll put my hands up to that, but I recognise that everyone’s situations are different.Since using ‘Mum’ tinder, I’ve realised just how much your occupation can draw battlelines between you and other mums. Sometimes there’s resentment, anger, jealousy, disgust and also admiration, but always judgement.

Here are some common judgements about stay at home mums, and how you can verbally slay these bitter mother fudgers.

1.”So you’re a housewife”

A wonderful woman said this to me recently. The vision of me with rollers in my hair, wearing a cutesy little apron and treating the day effectively as one big preparation for my partner coming home made me reel. She looked at me like some dusty old artefact from the 1950s. No. My role is to look after my children, not the house. Let’s be clear, if my children weren’t here I’d be in work. Housework isn’t my job, running after my children is.

The slay: agree and tell her you’re a kept woman. Your husband pays for spa days every week and for you to get your hair and nails done. Watch her face screw up in jealousy.

2.”I’ve worked all my life”

Yes Karen, you were born working. That’s right, I sit on my bum all day watching Dickinson’s Real Deal drinking Pina coladas. I don’t at all run about after my daughter all day wearing sportswear and drinking the strongest and most disgusting instant coffee I can find. Doing the childcare yourself is working. Some people get paid to do it but instead you do it for free.

The slay: Tell her if she was better at her job she wouldn’t have to work all her life. Only joking. Or am I…

3.” It’s good you can afford to be a stay at home mum”

Yeah, because paying approximately Β£1400 a month on childcare is an affordable option for most: not. I cried when I realised the price of childcare, and for alot of people the cost of it wipes out what they’d be earning. So whats the point? Working has become a luxury for alot of mums.

The slay: go with it and tell her how you won’t have to ever work because you inherited a small fortune. Even though it’s a bald-faced lie.

4. “Don’t you have a relative who can look after you child ?”

Okay, firstly: it’s none of their business. Secondly, not everyone has that luxury. As well as the divide between working mums and those who don’t, there seems to be a big divide between those who have relatives who can do the childcare for free, and those who don’t. It seems unfair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. But that’s life… And luck.

The slay: just tell them that everyone in your entire family is willing to drop their careers at the drop of a hat to do your childcare. Again, a lie but it will infuriate them knowing that you’ve chosen this path for yourself and your child.

The bottom line:

People will always have an opinion- tale as old as time. I’ve always been brought up to believe that not spending enough time with your child is worse than too much. When I worked in schools, the most damaged kids I met were those whose parents were hardly there for them. Enough said.

Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Breaking The Spell πŸ¦„

Its a crashingly average Wednesday afternoon. It is raining- yes. It is also hot- but that unsexy kind that creeps up on you when you’re wearing 3/4 length sleeves. My mood: irritated.

It’s one of those days- I am destined to have a collision with spider man; she is currently bouncing across my new sofa with no care for my new cushions. It’s going to be a long day, I will probably spill a few tears but I will for sure be going to bed with a jarring headache.

But despite the constant clanging of toys against furniture, and the racket coming from kid’s television, I am completely at peace with myself. No, I haven’t lost my mind just yet. Its just that I’m now free from the shackles of caring what other people think about me.

It’s such a clichΓ© thing to say, except this isn’t ripped straight from some ‘life hack’ podcast. Caring what other people think when you have a toddler absolutely sucks- you are always going to be doing the ‘wrong thing’ in others’ eyes. You’re either a soft touch or you’re a control freak. You really can go from Jo Frost to Britney Spears circa 2008 (sorry Britney) real quick.

Sometimes you have to shut the windows when the draught gets in to your ridiculously small london home- and that’s exactly what you have to do with other people’s thoughts and opinions: crush them in-between the double glazing panels just shut them out.

In a very British way, I have always aimed to do the ‘right thing’. Since having a child, I have realised this is the most exhausting thing to achieve. People always have negative things to say. When I was pregnant, I was constantly wracked with anxieties because people were always bursting with ‘warning’ messages. It got me nowhere.

Remember: There are always going to people doing better than us, and those who are doing WAY, way worse. We are all just pretty average tiny fish in a big, big sea.

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

We Need To Talk πŸ›Έ

Having a decent holiday is a good respite from a full-time job. But what happens when your full-time job is an all-demanding 24/7 set up. But this job doesn’t demand time on your phone or emails, just your forever undivided attention.

If your toddler is anything like mine then they nap for all of half an hour in any given day. So what? You might think. But a rookie stay at home parent will tell you that naps are like gold dust. Oh No Hun, they are gold dust. They might be fair and few, but you grab hold of that napping opportunity with both hands as soon as you see those eyes dancing around the room.

Toddler naps are your friend. Your best friend in fact. They can help you get through the rest of the day without turning to stronger substances. You won’t have to worry what the neighbours will think with this one. But beware- naps are like Tinkerbell- catch them while you can!

Your toddler’s nap schedule is a more NHS friendly way of saying “my bloody time for ME “. They are your only natural break. Technically so is your toddler’s bedtime- but whoever says that they consider their sleep time a ‘break’ from work needs psychological help, fast.

There comes a time when suddenly your child’s naps are simply not enough anymore. Picture this: Your eyes are red, your hair looks like it’s caught some sort of infection- unbeknownst to science- and you have made a shrine of nappies because you have changed your kid’s nappy five consecutive times. FIVE! Your partner walks in and you are crawling out of your well like Samara from ‘The Ring’ and fill his shoes and laptop cables with water.

When this happens, you need a DAY OFF- yes, just like you would in a 9 to 5. So go stand on the rooftop and scream this from the bottom of your lungs- or alternatively ask your partner to look after their child for a day/weekend.

The trouble is so many of us feel guilty about needing the time off. After all, it’s your child you’re needing a break from. Doing the full time childcare is a job- a job that some get paid for but you don’t. It’s not natural to be glued to your child for weeks/months on end. Mentally, yes. But when your toddler is hanging off the end of your skirt in a bid for twinkle twinkle for the 57th time, it can get a bit much.

I love my toddler more than anything in the entire world, like most normal, competent parents. But we are humans. All this time I have felt guilty but also shackled with anxiety about needing my own space. But I’m learning that if I’m tired, cranky and on the brink of insanity that my daughter isn’t going to get the best out of me. I want her to see the fun mum who runs around with her, not a Taylor Swift impersonator from ‘Blank Space’.

Time to have a day off!

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

First Word Problems πŸŒŽ

You’ve waited a long time. But it’s not what you think it’s going to be..

.It’s been no secret that I have been anticipating the arrival of the first word for a while now. As a first timer, I had no idea what to expect. However, after hearing other babies of the same age piping up, I knew it was on the cards.

I’d been talking to Arielle since birth, but I really upped the ante at 1 when the chance of a word really was lingering on the horizon. I saw potential in any object within reaching distance: cup, shoes, ball… And then the not so cutesy things- remote, table, filofax, council tax… Only joking. But I wasn’t going to rule anything out.

In the park, I’d point to the trees and shout “tree” to spark a response. In Tesco’s I would shout out the names of a variety of objects- putting me in the vulnerable position of looking like a complete and utter weirdo. And I did. Everywhere we went I did this, and all that happened was that I looked like a crazy. Responseless and disillusioned I suspended my efforts. There was no point in trying to force the issue.

It’s an incredibly hot Monday night and after putting Arielle down to sleep, the silence coming from the room means the coast is clear- let the Love Island final commence. After a few minutes, I can hear what can only be described as a stampede of elephants coming from her room. I walk in to Arielle doing laps around her cot. After 20 minutes of deluding myself that she will settle down, I cave in and she joins us for the final. She suddenly runs over the her knitted bear in the corner and says “beh”. Coincidence, I thought. But then she continues to do it a couple more times, each time becoming clearer until we get to…”bear”.

I couldn’t believe it… This is it! Her first word. But why bear? I had no clue. As any mother would be, I was just glad it wasn’t a profanity that got let slip. But bear was quite low down on the list of exposed-to words.

Next thing, bears popped up everywhere. Bears in books, bears in the living room…bears in my coffee. Even if it wasn’t a physical bear, it would still be “beh”. Great, I thought. This is going to be fun…

Regrets.

Regrets.

It’s almost been 5 months since I decided to throw a curve ball at my career and end my journey as as trainee Teacher.

As I go about decluttering my daughter’s room I find a bag with all my teaching gear: numerous teaching folders, a pencil case (of course), more ringbinders and a trusty lanyard. It would be easy to look back in a rose-tinted fondness about what could have been but I am pleased to be looking at this paraphernalia with a sigh of relief.

Yes, I love teaching and still teach on the weekends, but I’m NOT cut out for a career in it- at least not right now. I admire other teachers so much but for me I just felt dread at the prospect of pursuing it any further. The thought of having 31 children in my life and my daughter being the ’31st’ scared me, and I’m afraid to say that I just didn’t have the passion or the whim there to justify the career choice.

It’s been bloody difficult to figure out who I am since having my daughter, and quitting the course plunged me into a whirlwind of uncertainty- but a necessary one. At first I thought I could be a stay at home mum- I still am technically. I imagined some beautiful existence, with my daughter and I running around in matching dresses; but it was not so. Yes, it’s been amazing spending time with her and watching her develop into a little person. I’m so glad I’m here for her like that. But it hasn’t been all roses and sonnets.

When I finally plucked up the courage to start going to toddler groups, I realised something was missing. By that, I don’t mean my daughter wasn’t enough because she’s perfect. I meant something was missing from me. I realised I needed something to stop myself from going off of my rocker.

It was that which that led me to start writing, and now here I am… Still writing. I would be lying if I said that my progress hasn’t been slow and sludge-like. It would also be untrue if I were to tell you that my inbox hasn’t blown up with torrents upon torrents of rejection emails: “we regret to inform you…blah blah”. Yeah, I’ve heard it all now. It’s not easy starting back at square one; it’s also not easy sucking it up everyday in a job that you don’t enjoy anymore.

Tears and Fears

Tears and Fears

So I had a million and one things I wanted to talk about this week but I’ve decided to divert from all of that to talk about facing my fears. Before I start, I want to thank everyone who takes any time out to read this blog. I really didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading this at all so I am grateful for anything. Even if you’re a robot offshore.

This week has been filled with different challenges and I have tried to do everything I can to tackle the usual ones but also the ones that have crept up on me. Firstly, on Friday night my daughter got sick. With hindsight I now think it might have been from the MMR but nevertheless it caught us unawares. Arielle was up all night with a high fever and crying. It was only at 5 am that the vomiting started but luckily ended there and then. She then lay in mine and her dad’s arms limp and lethargic. Even In The Night Garden couldn’t work its usual magic. The whole sorry thing seemed to get better after traipsing all the way to the hospital in 28Β°. Upon arrival her appetite came back – as if by magic and things started to get back better slowly. Arielle is fine and will never remember this episode but for me it’s a first. As silly as it sounds, for months I had avoiding taking Arielle to groups etc because it was flu season, then it was chicken pox season and blah blah season. I was so worried about her catching a tummy bug because all these Guardian articles had suddenly appeared on my news feed about DEHYDRATION and I out 2 + 2 together and got 10 and suddenly everything resulted in death. Now we have been through it and have come out with a whole new level of sleep deficit but we’ve survived it.

Sort of leading on from that, I decided to stop making excuses for not going to baby groups. I buckled up, got us ready for 9.30 am sharp and took us to a local group. I seemed to have developed social anxiety around meeting other mums. This probably wasn’t helped by the time that I went to the baby feeding cafe and the group leader kept calling me ‘sweetheart’ but no one else. To be clear, she wasn’t coming on to me- just thought I was a teenager. Anyhow, I got over my baby group fear and we are both better off for it. This time no one thought I was 12, and Arielle got to have a proper run around. Smiles all round.

This week I have both been pushed and pushed myself to the limits anxiety wise. I have faced up to my fears and realised that Arielle would bounce back after being ill and that no one thought I was ‘too young’ to attend a baby group. I have also applied for some jobs and haven’t been told to F off yet. All is good.