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.

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder🤰🤷

Swiping Right on Mum Tinder🤰🤷

You’ve been to the baby groups but you’re still on the hunt. Time to let technology do the talking. So you hit up the app store and stop swiping left: it’s Mum Tinder.

It’s really no surprise that becoming a First time mum is the most alienating and lonely thing that can happen to you; it is also the most brilliant. But like a snake sheds it’s skin, you will inevitably shed friends. You might also not be able to fit into your old skin for a while…

Losing friends is painful, you’ve just destroyed your body to squeeze out a human being and now suddenly your satuday night drinking buddies are running fast back into the woodwork. Ouch. You have also lost a big part of yourself; Your identity.

All this is necessary, however. Your life has naturally moved on. Rather than mourn friendships based on sambuca-fuelled Saturday nights, its time to buddy up with the most sassy and sarcastic mums you can find within a 5 mile radius.

Its hard to make mum friends, and you could well end up with some deja vu in the process. Just like anyone can get drunk after too many drinks, mums come in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life. On the flip side, there is something wonderful about this. But being ‘a mum’ alone is not enough to cement a friendship. Having a baby is not enough to keep the chat going- there’s only so much you can rattle on about teething.

I’m lucky that I do have some mum friends that I’ve made along the way- and I can safely say that having kids the same age is not the only thing that anchors our friendship. But I thought I’d give the apps a go.

I downloaded an app – it’s like Tinder but for mums. You can decide based on appearance and a short bio whether you want to ‘swipe right’ and connect or left and leave it. It felt weird treating other mums like a commodity but it definitely cut out the BS.

I bit the bullet and decided to arrange a local meet up. It was nice- but it was very clear that we all had absolutely nothing in common, all of our children were completely different ages. My daughter also made at least one of their babies cry by shouting ‘star’ too loudly. Not a great start.

I then went to another but I forgot to bring my scarlet letter; I got told repeatedly by one mum just how ‘young’ I looked. She then went on to ignore me for the remaining time. This was not the first time that I had been made to feel like I was a teen mum at 26.

Luckily since that debacle I have met and am talking to some lovely mums from all walks of life who are friendly, funny and not catfish[es?]. I have also spoken to some people who I just have not gelled with, and others that I can’t relate to at all. That’s just life.

Breaking The Spell 🦄

Breaking The Spell 🦄

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 cliché 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 🛸

We Need To Talk 🛸

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!

Post Summer Survival 🚑

Post Summer Survival 🚑

It is now that time. Ten or so years ago you would be reeling. But now the dog days are over and it is the end of a long and incredibly hot summer.

Baby and Toddler groups are back on and holiday is now a thing of the past. ‘Life’ with a toddler begins again after a long and barren period of nothingness… But what now?

You are tired and weary- you’ve had numerous hits to your routines, little personal space and limited time on your own together as a family. You might’ve swapped your summer dress for a pair of cool trousers but you look anything but rested. Those bags under your eyes are shouting out for some concealer TLC and probably time away from Mr Tumble.

Its now time to think about going forward. You know what has worked for you and what hasn’t; staying anywhere for large periods of time is a no no. Staying at home alot can make you feel cut off from the rest of civilisation. It’s time to make a few changes:

1. Cut yourself some goddamn slack

It’s so easy to lay into yourself. It’s also so bloody easy to look at others- other mums, other women and think about how much more successful they are, how much skinnier they are, more patient.. whatever. There’s always going to be people doing more than you and those doing way less: fact. Being kind to yourself is HARD- but just like your kids, you need love too. Time for a sassy quote from Ru Paul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else”. True talk, Ru.

2. Set time aside for your goals

Whatever you want to do, set time aside for it. I know for a fact that doing freelance writing work in the middle of the day while my daughter is more interested in the backspace button than anything else is not a great time. Plan a proper time and stick to it like gorilla glue.

3. Think about your relationship

As it’s easy to forget about yourself, it’s also too easy to see your partner as ‘daddy’ to your child and forget about your relationship. Before you know it, you will be putting each other in the friend zone. ‘Thrown’ together through circumstance- like in a naff sitcom. Except believe it or not you actually chose eachother. For god’s sake make an effort. Partners are like plants: if you don’t give them water, good sun intake and a bit of love then they will probably turn away from you. Your plant may also die.

4. Remember that everyday is completely different

So yesterday you were crying into your pillow and today you are singing starships into your TV remote while your child is running around in circles. No you are not bat****, you’re a parent. In fact every hour is different. Go with it or be prepared to be on mood stabilisers by the end of the month.

5. Do what’s right for you and your family

You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone out there other than to yourself and your family. They are the people that you are going to have to come back to at the end of the day, after all. If you want to stay in eating cake all day in yor PJs then do it. If you want to go back to work or change your hours then do that too. There is nothing wrong with making a bold decision. At the risk of sounding like a crap rapper (crapper) the haters are going to keep hating any way.

The Holiday From: [insert here]

The Holiday From: [insert here]

I love a good holiday, who doesn’t. I love that infectious summer feeling that reverberates through me before we head off. I love ordering the clothes- sassy styles that don’t at all suit my body shape. I love that old worn out summer playlist that- yeah, you get it my stick. It’s pretty easy to enjoy a holiday, but when that plus one is your angry toddler you have to work for your fun.

Having a child has helped me appreciate The Staycation. Going far is a faff so staying somewhere where a Tesco is somewhere in the middle distance is very attractive. Plus, England is great.

So here we are in Suffolk. The weather is great- not too hot. Spirits are high, and the seaside is on our doorstep (10 minute walk). But going away with a toddler is hard. Last year we took a cute 3 month old away with us, now we have a temperamental toddler who just wants to run away from us all the time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learnt about going away with a toddler:

1. DO NOT forego nap time… But don’t be a rigid robot either

No one likes a routine-reveller on holiday. But sacrificing your toddler’s nap time could mean hours of screaming. Your choice.

2. Cut your toddler some slack.

Taking stuff off of your toddler all day can mean coming home with a headache. If you don’t want your ears to ring at the end of the day: if it’s not going to hurt them then it’s probably fine. Here is a picture of my toddler’s idea of fun ie throwing stones down the drains outside:

3. Expect to be a pillar of sand

If your toddler decides they enjoy the whole beach experience then be prepared to bring half of the seaside back with you. For me, this meant picking sand out of my hair for days… And days. The thick layer of sand on my face has acted as a natural exfoliant which is an added bonus. Go me.

4. You will soak up some rays but not in the way you thought

Fear not- you shall have that golden tan that you wanted. But you won’t be sunbathing. You will be chasing after your child on the beach making sure they don’t ruin some other child’s sandcastle masterpiece. A sun tent always helps.

5. Those silly windmills they always sell on the beachfront will become your new BFF

Remember those windmills that you forgot about? Yes. Those will become your best friend. Give one to your toddler and you’re guarunteed at least 5 minutes of mess-free entertainment.

FINALLY: enjoy your bloody holiday.

For god’s sake, enjoy your holiday. It’s all too easy to become a holiday buzzkill when you have a toddler. But don’t do it. I have learnt to leave my quibbles after the first G&T.

Ps. I’ve had a great time ☀️