Friday, 22 May 2015
Although I was expecting to have a C section due to a low lying placenta, the consultant sent me for an MRI scan which showed that in fact, the placenta was 3cm from the "exit route", with the magic number being 2.5cm. My waters broke last Friday night/early Saturday morning though unfortunately I didn't start having contractions naturally. The hospital told me to wait 24 hours to see if anything developed (it didn't) so I had to go in at midnight to be induced. The induction worked REALLY well for me (some might say too well!) and I went into active labour two hours after starting the Syntocin drip last Sunday morning. I was totally unprepared for how painful it was to be honest, bearing in mind that during my last labour I managed without any pain relief at all, even gas and air.
I managed to get to 2cm dilation with no contractions at all, then they started coming on thick and fast and I was totally unable to cope with the pain! After begging for an epidural I actually suddenly needed to push just as the anaesthetist was setting everything up. With only two pushes I gave birth and could hear everyone shouting, "it's a girl!" I definitely think that induced labours are more painful as last time I was in labour for two days and managed really well.
So here is my darling girl! 8lb 7oz and thriving.
Saturday, 16 May 2015
When you find out you're expecting a baby it is the most exciting time of your life, but after the bubble of finding out pops, you then realise that you've got a new person to pay for and you need to budget wisely.
Nobody really wants to think about finance when there’s a bundle of joy to get excited about, but being money savvy can ensure that you save essential pennies for the things that really matter. Following just a few simple steps will give you a helping hand in budgeting for your bundle of joy, and ensuring you don’t have any money worries in the most important months of pregnancy.
Childcare is the most expensive element in raising a child and its often the most essential too, but with the average parent spending an average of £30,000 over 3 years according to this Baby calculator , childcare is cost that not everyone can afford. You could try to ask family members if they are able to help out with childcare as this could reduce the cost of nursery fees or child minders. Luckily, as of autumn 2015 a new tax free childcare voucher scheme is coming into place saving you up to £1,200 a year. Do your research on these avenues and see what you’re able to save and the opportunities that are out there.
It’s lovely to have brand new clothing items and you should definitely buy a few things brand new but buying some itemssecond hand will save you a lot of money, especially in the early stages as babies grow out of clothing so quickly. This is also the same for items such as pushchairs, toys, furniture. If you’re a dab hand at DIY you could also try making it yourself!
Alternatively if you’ve had a child before and plan on having another keep your items and reuse them for your next baby asthis will reduce the cost next time around. You can also ask friends and family if they have anything that they no longer use that could be passed onto you.
Items to Buy
There are a few things that you should buy straight from a reputable retailer such as your baby’s car seat; you should never buy a second hand car seat as you have no idea if it has been in a car accident before or if it has certificated protection for your baby. There are many online Child Car Seat Guides available that can help you to find one that fits your budget as well as the safety precautions.
Also items such as sheets, duvets and other bedding accessories should be brought new so you know they are fresh and clean ready for baby’s arrival.
General Money Saving Tips
Do your grocery shopping online as this will stop you from impulse buying and therefore reduce how much you’re spending, allowing you to either save the money or spend the money you’ve saved on something useful for your little one.
You may end up spending a lot of money on parent and baby classes or just general socialising events, so why not bring that into your own home and create your own group filled with neighbours and friends.
Have a look into making your own baby food also with the help of a good blender and experiment with different vegetables and fruit to find out what your baby likes, you can then make batches and save money buying pots every week!
Track what you’re spending and each month reflect on what you have brought and see whether in the oncoming months you’re able to take it down anymore.
Having a look online and comparing brands and retailers will save you a lot of money rather than just walking into a shop and picking up the first thing you see, which we all do!
Research is the aim as you’ll see the incredible savings that can be made.
This is a guest post.
Friday, 15 May 2015
I spotted these little lovelies in Joules the other day, and managed to negotiate a 15% discount at the til, so what the hey. What do you think? (click on the caption under each photo to take you to the website!)
|Joules Striped Dress £29.95|
|Joules Blue Dress £29.95|
|Joules Pink Dress £29.95|
Speaking of footwear, I bought these very sparkly sandals in George the other day, and I'm really pleased with them. Super cheap and super comfy also. Winner!
|George Footbed Sandals, Gold, £10|
|Oasis Culotte £28.50|
|Pink Plain Dip Back Cami £22|
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Summer is finally coming around which means BBQ season is almost here!
The warm weather will bring back those memories from wonderful past BBQ’s with family and friends, which are just going to leave you wanting more.
One problem though. You remember you haven’t paid any attention to your garden since that last BBQ, probably of September last year. Most likely you’ve left the chairs and table out all winter which have now gone rusty, and are also now looking a bit tatty. The grass is looking like its seen better days and there isn’t a section of that once beautiful garden that isn’t swamped with weeds.
Don’t fear. There are a few simple steps to get your garden looking in tip top condition for those BBQ’s, ensuring your family and friends will leave feeling in awe of your garden.
Before you do anything, have a tidy up of the garden. Cut the grass, pull the weeds out and go down to the local garden centre and pick up some beautiful flowers to plant around the garden, this will liven up the space by spreading some colour. Try buying some more soil or overturn what you already have to make those flower beds look really fresh and new, also putting lawn edging down around flower beds to make it look neat and tidy. Just doing these few simple things will give you the basics of a beautiful garden again, just a little more to go until its perfect.
Having somewhere to store the lawnmower and other garden devices is really handy but having somewhere that’s big enough to also store children’s garden toys when they’re not being played with is a great idea. Especially if your BBQ is an adult’s only event, you don’t want your kids’ push bike, tennis rackets and balls scattered all over the lawn. Take a look at investing in either a shed or a garage, both are really good storage options and give you a lot of space; I’m sure there are plenty of good offers out there this summer too so have a shop around.
Furniture is a really important part of making your garden BBQ ready, there is no way you can attempt to host a BBQ without having anywhere for your guests to sit. Try looking online at a new table and chairs; as I’m sure last yearsfurniture that has been left out for most of the winter is no longer in its best condition. To avoid buying new furniture every year which is far too expensive and very excessive; store it during the winter in a garage or shed and place a waterproof sheet over it for extra protection.
It’s the little things that matter at BBQs to make it feel more special and personal. Ideas such as hanging bunting around the garden, putting candles out around the tables, adding extra lighting for when the evening goes on a little later than planned. For more inspiration and ideas have a nose around on Pinterest and you’ll be sure to find some really creative ideas for your BBQ and for your garden.
This is a guest post.
Sunday, 10 May 2015
Sunday, 29 March 2015
A few years ago when I was on maternity leave with our second child, we suddenly had a whopping big tax bill - my husband worked for a bank at the time and we'd been using his staff discount to get a good mortgage rate, but what we didn't know is that we were supposed to be taxed on that as a benefit in kind. Thousands of people were hit with thousands of pounds to pay in one go, it was pretty horrendous. Ever the adapter, I suddenly went into famine mode and did everything I could to save money on our weekly bills, from changing energy supplier, cutting back on our sky subscription, limiting lunches and lattes out and changing car insurance companies.
Thankfully we're no longer in that position, though obviously with a third child on the way things will probably be a bit tight for a while. Last month, we made the decision to get rid of my car, so we are now a one car family. Hubby now gets the train to work and I drop him off and pick him up every day. We've been doing this for a month now and I can honestly say there have only been a few occasions where it's been a bit of a pain. We are saving on car insurance, the lease fee of the car and all the other costs that go along with car ownership. I feel strangely liberated from car ownership since our remaining car is a company one, so we have no responsibility for servicing and the like, it's just one less hassle in my life as far as I'm concerned.
One thing I don't think we have got right though, is making our children see the value of money. It seems that every other weekend they are bought a toy, and every outing seems to involve them getting bought a cupcake or comic to keep them quiet! We don't really do pocket money at the moment, maybe we should?
What I decided to do then, was to give them a budget for the day to see what they came up with, and how they spent it, to see whether they understood that money does not grow on trees.
There's a new book out for families - The Rough Guide to Family Finance which has loads of good ideas for families to save money, and there's a great quote that fits in nicely here, "Though it may be convenient for one person to be in control of the family budget and pay the bills, it’s a good idea if everyone is involved, including the youngest members. Encouraging a sense of financial responsibility in children helps them to be aware of the importance of budgeting as they grow up"
I gave them £25 for the day between them to spend, which had to involve paying for an activity and ensuring there was enough money left over for tea. Immediately they decided to head for Toys R Us which I immediately had to veto, this wasn't going to be easy!
We sat down and talked about the cost of going to various places - bowling, cinema, museum - and how much they would be left with at the end of the day.
They both immediately decided on visiting Eureka in Halifax, we already had a yearly pass for this so it seemed to make sense, so off we went! Arriving at Eureka they were dismayed to discover that there is a £3.50 parking charge, which they had never been aware of before. Dutifully they dipped into their £25 budget and paid it, Son 1 commented that it seemed unfair that we had to pay it since it wasn't in the middle of a town or near anything else - haha! I also factored in £5 for petrol so they now had £16.50 left.
|Eureka in Halifax - total crowd pleaser and you only have to pay once for the whole year!|
Once in there they immediately wanted a drink, I gave them the option of drinking from their water bottles or buying a carton for £1.50 each. Again, they sensibly opted for their water bottle, maybe we were getting somewhere!
We had a good time at the museum and as it edged towards lunchtime, they started to talk about being hungry. I reminded them that they had £16.50 left to spend, and asked what they wanted to do. They agreed that a picnic would be cheaper but we didn't have one with us, so I pointed out a nearby Pizza Express or a Morrisons Cafe. We looked at the different prices and they soon realised that Pizza Express was unaffordable, so we headed to Morrisons. We all had lunch for under £10 which is pretty reasonable, though now they only had £6.50 left!
They were pretty fed up of money saving by this point, so we had a quick look round for something for tea, and we decided to make our own pizzas. We already had bread flour and semolina at home so we bought some cheese, ham and tomato puree as a topping. When we got home, we actually had a great time rolling out the dough and making our own pizzas - we had a grand total of £1.50 which I said we could save for buying sweets as a well done for thinking so carefully about our budget.
Afterwards I asked the boys what they had learned from their budgeting day and they responded, "I didn't realise things were so expensive", and "saving money is really boring, you can't do what you want". I explained that although it's boring in the short term, being careful with money is actually a good way of ensuring that you can do more exciting things in the long term. We don't waste money on things like smoking and going out loads, as to me that's not the behaviour of a responsible adult. If you want good things in your life, sometimes you need to deny yourself in the short term, to achieve your long term goals. I think this delayed gratification is a really important lesson to learn, and it's those people who can't seem to delay gratification that always seem to end up being unhappy. Lecture over!
My top tips for budgeting:
1) Be organised - if you leave things until the last minute you will always pay over the odds. This is true for holidays, Christmas, travel and lots more!
2) Shop around. Ring around insurance companies and energy suppliers. Lazy people always pay more!
3) Before you buy something, e.g. clothing, online, sleep on it. When you wake up the next day reassess whether you actually need it.
4) Buy season tickets and yearly passes and use them! It gives you a reason for getting out and about at the weekend and means you don't have to keep paying out.
5) Buy a coffee machine and save on your latte costs! We paid £35 for ours in a sale and we use it every single day.
What are your top tips?
This post was written in association with Legal and General.
Sunday, 15 March 2015
I've already spotted some lovely bits in All Saints - their clothes are pretty expensive considering the thin material, but the cut is great and they also do really good sales, so I've picked these two bits out in advance...
|All Saints Relian Dress £78|
|All Saints Rivieria Stripe Dress £98|
I'm a bit of a Baukjen fan (and Isabella Oliver maternity stuff too) but not too keen on their longer length tops, as someone who is all legs and no body it makes me look a bit bottom heavy. But for those of us with narrow shoulders, this Ashby off the shoulder top is great at balancing things out - it reminds me of a few slash neck tops I bought in Warehouse many many years ago that I lived in (and sadly had to bin because they were worn out). At £59 it's not the cheapest but there are plenty of offer codes for Baukjen if you look around, though I'm not sure this one will go into the Summer sale.
|Baukjen off the shoulder top £59|
Speaking of Baukjen, and getting back to my point about breastfeeding, I think this wrap dress is great, and good value in the outlet store as well at £49. Comes in grey, black and dark pink.
|Baukjen wrap dress £49|
Have you spotted any clothes that would work well post baby and for breastfeeding?
Saturday, 7 March 2015
A copper penny
This is a guest post.
Friday, 6 March 2015
The other thing is that the food I usually enjoy when I have a meal out seems to be sort of off limits now - no point in having a steak as I can't have it rare. No point in having anything spicy as it gives me heartburn! Argh! Of course it will all be worth it in the end etc etc.
I've also sort of given up on going out in the evening now as I'm just SO tired, and I seem to have lost my sense of taste, weird?!
We did go out to see a band a few weeks ago which was fun, though I did find it quite hard to fit in the seats, so I think I might pass on going out in the future!
There is one way to kill two birds with one stone though, with the recent trend of funky pop up restaurants! One such pop up recently took place in London at Jones and Sons. The idea is that you can offset your winnings in the casino against an awesome meal, which means you can have a £50 meal for as little as £10! Good eh?
You can choose from queen scallops (yum), lamb chops and pear tatin, which to me sounds like pretty awesome food that I can actually eat!
This post was written in collaboration with Pokerstars.
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Friday, 23 January 2015
1) I will NOT be buying baby cuddle towels. Babies don't know what towels you dry them in, and also they don't really care. Normal nice towels are fine. Tiny bear shaped towels they will soon grow out of are a total waste of money and will clog up your airing cupboard.
2) Babies will sleep anywhere. Actually some won't - mine especially. But they don't care where their cot comes from, they just want it to be warm, comfortable and safe. Go straight to Ikea or Asda, those cots are fine and cost about £50, a snip of a price of the £600 cot we bought from Mamas and Papas all those years ago...
|Asda Cot - perfectly fine|
3) Bedding bales - again, these will probably never be used. Babies only need a sleep bag and a fitted sheet underneath them don't they? So why bother with all that stuff? It's just more stuff to wash, and who needs the hassle?
4) Muslin clothes are much much cheaper on ebay - buy in bulk, you know you want to. Also plain muslins are a lot cheaper and as everyone knows, babies are not bothered about cute patterns.
5) Baby clothes - babies don't care what they look like, in fact they aren't even that bothered about nice clothes as otherwise why would they be constantly sick on them? Drop unsubtle hints to friends about outgrown baby clothes and they will soon start flooding in. Or buy on ebay or gumtree. I recently paid £16 for a zip up jumper for my three year old that now looks like a limp rag.
6) Baby chairs etc can be helpful but again, you will no doubt have a kind neighbour who is desperate to get rid of theirs. Baby beans bags, bumbos and the rest, leave it, they are space eater uppers and you will be constantly tripping over them.
7) Pushchairs. You will be tempted to buy a super pricey Bugaboo or Quinny then spend three years breaking your back lifting them in and out of the car in the pouring rain. Micralites are by far the best pushchairs and are small and easy to fold. Buy one on ebay!
8) Baby baths - total waste of money. Just put a few centimetres of water in the bath and keep hold of your baby and sponge them down while they have a splash around. Baby baths also get quite mouldy and black before long. Honestly, you'll thank me.
9) Baby changing bags. Some companies get away with charging a ridiculous amount for canvas "changing bags" (naming no names PINK LINING). Totally over priced! Just get a normal large bag with longish handles. It'll get trashed anyway being dumped on wet floors while you're folding up your Bugaboo (!).
10) High chairs will soon be the bane of your life and will need constant wiping. My preference is Ikea again as their white chair is small and easy to wipe. Do NOT get one with lots of nooks and crannies as food will ALWAYS find its way down there and you will be forced to get a very sharp knife to attempt to get it out before it turns green..
|Ikea highchair - total crowd pleaser|
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Friday, 16 January 2015
I used to get all my voucher codes over at hotukdeals, but these days I find things move to quickly that not every website can keep up. I now literally seek everywhere! Google is certainly my friend and even sites like Mumsnet can have helpful discounts when you're least expecting it.
For hubby's Christmas present I got an epic deal on a Jack Wolfskin coat. I found one in the sale at Blacks, then I found a 15% off code online, then I got 10% cashback using quidco, bonza! A £150 coat cost me less than £100.
|Jack Wolfskin BARGAIN! Got this for under £100 by using a 15% off discount code and 10% cashback with quidco!|
1) If you find something you like online it's definitely worth googling the exact product name to see if it's cheaper elsewhere. Even if it's not cheaper, sites like ASOS sell other brands e.g. Whistles and often have no delivery charge.So you get the same product without the risk!
2) Check out voucher code sites (click here for an example) before you even THINK about buying anything. My rule of thumb now is just to wait it out until a code becomes available, as they usually do. September and April are a good time for codes, e.g. at the start of the season Winter/Summer seasons.
3) If a shop has a sale on, wait until the very end if you possibly can! Most sites now offer staggered discounting which are usually two weeks apart. E.g. they start with 50% off then two weeks later it goes to 60% off etc. It's definitely worth holding out if you can.
4) Keep an eye on the facebook page of your favourite shops as there are often offers and deals on there that are not advertised on the main website. Sneaky but true!
5) If you're a blogger, sign up as an affiliate which means you can earn money back on linking to products, but more importantly you get notified usually a day before the sale starts. Which means you can be super prepared!
What are your top bargain hunting tips?
Friday, 9 January 2015
If you’ve been suffering with cabin fever whilst you try in vain to keep the children entertained perhaps it’s time to go outdoors. Even in the cold winter months, the Garden can be a great place to escape with kids.
Wrapped up warm with hot chocolates at the ready, let them get messy with some outside fun and help ignite their imagination.
Take a walk outside and find some nice big rocks to paint.The bigger the better!
Making funny faces or painting them pretty colours to display in the garden will give them a real sense of achievement.
Gather some goodies and set them off on an adventure.
Making them explore the garden is a great opportunity to learn more about nature and their surroundings.
A Witches’ Potion
If you’ve got a few spare pots and pans lying around and you don’t mind the mess, get them to make some disgustingly fun combinations from the garden. Just ensure the tiny ones aren’t tempted to put any of the non-edible ingredients in their mouths.
Investing in some coloured chalks such as these, is a great way to release their creative side.
Why not let them create their own little garden?
Have the little ones pick out their favourite flowers at the garden centre.
They could pick out some fruit or veg to have their own mini allotment to look after or some beautiful flowers for a potted plant garden like this one.
Renovate the Play House
If the play house has stood neglected for a while encourage them to have a spring clean.
Dust off the cobwebs and give them some paints for them to decorate it.
You could even use up any of the old fairy lights from Christmas to give it a sense of magic.
Enjoying the great outdoors is the best part of childhood, and with all the steam they’ll be burning off it might give you a well-earned break.