Keeping it in Your Wallet 👛

Keeping it in Your Wallet 👛

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 £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.

Memoirs of A Slug

Memoirs of A Slug

I’ve shared my fitness story quite a few times on my blog so I shall not bore you for another second with testimony. But needless to say I have spent weeks and months figuring out how to get myself back in shape since having Arielle.

Every mum as old as time will tell you and it’s pitifully obvious that you can’t just push out a baby and be fit as a fiddle the next day. Unless you’re Kate Middleton, or Kylie Jenner, apparently. Your body has been DESTROYED by an imposter who has eaten up all your nutrients. You are so anaemic that Edward Cullen is proud. Your body is also Area 51. Unidentifiable, but not in the long term.

To try and ‘tackle’ the ‘problem’ I first went to the gym and am now doing various workouts from home. slowly but surely, the weight started to drop off pound by stubborn pound. I never ‘bounced back’ and I’m still the biggest I’ve ever been if I’m honest. Ontop of my regular workouts, I’ve been doing daily press ups and sit ups. I even recovered the old Zumba workouts I used to do on the Wii fit. Thank you, YouTube.

I thought all was well and assumed that because I’d been following reputable fitness channels with reputable workouts that my body was piecing together after delivery day. The jigsaw was not complete; I started to suffer with lower back pain that was sometimes nothing more than a minor nuisance but also worthy of time out at others.

One physio session and 4 NHS sheets of exercises later, I have been told that I am effectively back at square one. Yes I have lost some weight but despite all the strength training I’d been doing, my back had somehow managed to slip away into the ether and escaped conditioning. In basic terms, I had NO BACK MUSCLES. I had somehow managed to neglect them for months. I was a whelk with strong arms and legs.

I suppose the point I’m now trying to make is to not to trust these workouts/fitness channels/influencers too readily. I had followed them religiously and thought that I had been exercising my back muscles significantly. I knew how important it is to work on your back after pregnancy but failed to heed my own advice.

The workouts I was doing kept banging on about the importance of not only working your “show” muscles but also the ones we can’t see ( ie your back) but how did I go from “show” muscles to “no” muscles?!

I now have an arson of more NHS print exercises for me to do, but that is nothing compared the embarrassment that I felt at the appointment when I was told I might as well be an invertabrate.

Here’s to three weeks of printouts…

You Can’t Sit With Us

You Can’t Sit With Us

Picture this: you walk into the canteen and you see the tiny tight-knit clans of people who are all sat in their groups as if clinging to eachother for dear life. There are the goths in one corner, the jocks in the other and the plastics in the centre. You are the Cady Heron but not of North Shore High School – the local baby & toddler group that runs every Tuesday. And now everyone is staring at you.

I’ve always been warned that baby groups can be cliquey and suffice to say that that was one of the BIG reasons why I’d been putting off attending one until my daughter was one. Whoops. But it was only when I went to one did I really experience just how cliquey they can be. You sit down and then all of a sudden mums seem to come out of the woodwork and make a bee line for eachother as if they were born friends (not only their babies). Someone might make the odd comment on the cuteness of your daughter and then resort back to their conversation about how their husband left the Dyson in the wrong place. (Now who’s the b*tchy one).

I never realised how terrifying it is. Baby groups can really feel like a jungle and it can be really brutal. David Attenborough will be only a stone’s throw away mocking you as you skitter away into the corner. You’ll be an un-cute 25-year old Bambi. You might not be dead but will indeed be dying on the inside. Ouch.

In all seriousness, baby groups can be pretty intimidating and what should be remembered is that most of these people individually are nice people. It’s just when they’re altogether that you stand no chance. They might not say “you can’t sit with us” but all social cues might be pointing in that direction.

The best thing you can do, I genuinely believe is to occupy space. I don’t mean in an ‘anonymous’ sort of way but just move beyond it and sit there like that ‘done with life’ type who’s in other corner and for God sake don’t let them make you walk away. You are there for you and your baby. You will find someone like minded eventually.

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 28°. 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.

H.E.L.P

H.E.L.P

When your love for children’s paraphernalia spirals out of control

I remember once walking down the kids aisle in Sainsbury’s and glancing at the toys wondering what sort of substances the creators of these atrocities were on. I remember thinking that I’d never seen such a pointless and bizarre array of plush creatures.

Two years later and I’m sat in a room full of children’s merchandise. Just to be clear that room is my living room. I said I’d stop at the second Teletubby- but didn’t think it would be fair to exclude Tinky Winky from the set. I said no more after my daughter’s first birthday; I didn’t want her to become “spoilt”. Now here I am costing up the entire cast of ‘In the night garden’ on Argos. “But Arielle likes the Ninky Nonk”- yeah she also likes the tea coasters and bits of leftover wrapping paper.

I’ve thrown around the words “no more toys” so many times to family members but really I’m the guiltiest culprit. What’s worse is I’m starting to feel like I’m buying these toys for myself. Arielle only really loves Po and kicks Dipsy around the flat like a crap football. Are these toys really for me? Well the thought of watching Teletubbies by myself makes me want to die of boredom so probably not.

How did I get here? I think I have become so obsessed with making my daughter happy that I feel a huge, overwhelming urge to “give her everything”. I don’t even think it’s the material value of the toy just the love and magic that toys can bring. I remember adoring all my toys as a kid, giving each and everyone a name and sometimes even a job. I want my daughter to experience this sort of vibe. I also want to get invited to a tea party with Iggle Piggle and Stitch.

Am I nuts? Yeah, for sure. But sue me for wanting my daughter to love toys as much as I did as a child (don’t sue please I’m broke). It’s not really about the toy itself but what it represents.

On International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day

Today is a celebration of just how far we have come as women. A year ago the #metoo campaign and we have finally got the ball rolling when it comes to issues of diversity, gender and sexual relationships. Infact Aleshia Dixon put it to Lorraine this morning that the uncertainty of now means that anything can be brought to the table and opened up from discussion. That is why I wanted to talk about how we haven’t come far enough and why I believe we still live in a society that is structurally biased.

We have come along way since the bra burning era but we haven’t come far enough. If anything we’ve arrived in a sticky space where ‘toxic femininity’ thrives (yes there is a toxic femininity too). Toxic feminity is defined by women today trying to be superwomen. They have a strong career, their make up is ‘on fleek’ and they have the perfect body, as well as an immaculate home and are a pristine parent with moves like Jo Frost. Our idols are women like Kim Kardashian West who seemingly has it all- but also has all the money to pay her way. Infact let’s use all of the Kardashians as an example of this unattainable womanhood that women today are dying for. This to me is toxic. They say you can’t have it all and you really can’t. You can have a great career and struggle to balance your home life, you could have quality time with your children but have to sacrifice your career and spend loads of time in the gym and have to sacrifice both. And have wonky make up, or a messy home. But you truly can’t have it all.

The NHS have now linked women’s declining mental health with this ‘superwoman’ ideal. Back in the ’50s women were expected to be domesticated. Today women are expected to be domesticated and have the perfect career and ontop of it be beautiful. Clearly feminism has not gone far enough. Rather than shaming women who focus on their career or mums that stay at home, we should focus on us women achieving a balance in our lives and above all celebrate being real.

Peace out.