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.

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!

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 ☀️

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game ⚽👶

Toddler vs Football: Surviving the First Game ⚽👶

You’ve been trying to ignore the other woman for a while, but now your partner wants your toddler to get to know that other love of his life… Football.

If your partner is a fan of the footie then you know how it is. If you yourself are a fan of the game too then good on you, that’s so great. But if you’re anything like me, then you probably have an ‘arrangement’. This ‘arrangement’ consists of allowing your partner to watch some of the games he wants. Though I’ve had to go one step further than this and limit it to strictly three games a week. This is simply because if there is a group of men, a ball and a grass pitch on a screen, then my partner will sure as hell be in front of it.

There then comes the time when your partner wants to go one step further and watch a game at [one of] his football club[s]. Great, I said… Except he wants to take our Duracell bunny of a daughter.

I wasn’t about to stop him but instead I anxiously awaited what was about to happen: an afternoon of hell. With no prams allowed, Arielle would be running around the stadium and pushing to play on the pitch. She would then freak out everytime the crowd became a little excited and we would come home looking like a pair of Edina Monsoons after a night out.

When it came down to it, we grabbed the reins (so she couldn’t go AWOL), and I anxiously searched for a pair of ear defenders in the club shop… And there were none. Fab start. At kick off she was smiling and happy – she saw the crowd clap and joined in. I started to think I’d given my partner a headache for no reason. I shuddered at the thought of his head turning with that silly look on his face as he said those loathsome words, “I told you so”.

But for better or worse, it wasn’t so. Within minutes of this, a goal was scored by the home team. The crowd went wild, but Arielle lost her s***. She started howling as fans all around celebrated. I face palmed. Then I face palmed again two minutes later… And then it all got too much.

Suddenly it was half time…Funnily enough, I had no recollection of the entire first half- like some sort of black out, yet I’d had not one drop to drink. Instead, my toddler had guzzled up all of my consciousness in a kind of attention Dyson; all of my energy was sucked out of me.

By the second half, I started to look the part of an extra on Absolutely Fabulous; my hair was all over the place and the sunglasses managed to secure themselves as a permanent fixture on my face. I was a mess. Arielle seemed to have more energy then ever, and when she wasn’t trying to run away, she was upset by the inconvenience of the seating.

By the end of the game, we were both exhausted. But it wasn’t all gloom- the atmosphere was fabulous and everyone was really accomodating. Despite our mishaps. The game might have been a rollercoaster of emotion for us but we’d still somehow managed to have fun- even if I’d managed to absorb none of the actual match.

Luckily for me, my partner has decided that football and toddlers don’t mix; she’ll have to be quite a bit older for the next game. For now, I can rest assured that football will be limited to the TV screens.

First Word Problems 🌎

First Word Problems 🌎

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…

Meanie Mummy

Meanie Mummy

You’re mean, nasty and a fur coat short of Cruella Devil. But you’re not out to steal anyone’s puppies. You’re a Mum who’s running out of patience.

We all go through numerous, countless times in our lives where we lose our temper. It could be a small snap remark; your colleague is doing your head in and it’s only 9.03 am. You haven’t had your morning coffee and you’re tripping HARD. It could also be a long term build up of bitter, bitter frustration that amounts to a spectacular outburst to the person at the recieving end. Usually someone close to you. I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to that. But when you’re a mum, all of that gets forgotten. Suddenly everyone is a spectator of your sport while you are prowling up and down in your enclosure. The ‘Angry Mum Museum’ is indeed open for all to see.

Before I get a torrent of crappy comments, I’d like to distinguish between letting off some steam verbally (appropriately, of course) and full on child abuse- hitting your child etc. This seems like a HUGE bridge to gap but people can be very quick to stick labels on things where they needn’t be. There have been numerous times at baby groups, shopping malls etc where I’ve seen Mothers losing their tempers with their children and you can actually cut the silence with a pair of scissors as people all around take a ‘moral’ high ground. I recently heard a Mum in an Asda car park screaming her head off at one of her children in the car. I judged immediately- how inappropriate, how could she?! But then I thought about bringing a Ford Galaxy full of kids to the supermarket on my own and I wanted to sit in the corner and cry. You’d sooner catch me hiding in the store cafe. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was on the ‘Heads’ side of things was an angry mum unnecessary losing her **** with her kids, and the ‘Tails’ of the situation was a poor woman with no control over at least six children in a car.

I have spent 25 years getting to know myself, and I know more than anything else that I have a fast fuse. I’m hot-headed- in a ‘British’ way and suffer with chronic impatience. Managing a class and dealing with kids in school was a whole different kettle of fish- you’d put your professional face on and keep your opinions to yourself. When it’s your own toddler who you’re with for the better part of 24/7 it’s tricky. Simply because I’m being myself the whole time.

I feel a huge sense of guilt when I feel like I’m losing my patience. It is almost definitely never my daughter’s fault, but she sure knows how to push my buttons. What no literature, only family members can tell you is that it would be weird and unnatural not to feel frustrated with your child at times. That’s because people are so quick to parent shame as soon as that smile turns upside down that it’s almost become a taboo.

On one of my more hormonal days I read a blog from a ‘Mom’ in America. She was honest enough to say that she was not naturally maternal and was never a ‘kid’ person until she had her own. She said that she had to work on her patience after the kids almost had her in tears at bedtime. This was probably the first honest blog piece I’d seen about dealing with ‘anger’.

We are all people with different personalities and undesirable traits. When we have children we don’t magically transform into Mother Theresa. The journey to patience is a long, dusty road for most of us and some of us will never get there. But at least we tried.

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…