Monday, 27 February 2012

The loneliness of motherhood

Some women take to motherhood like ducks to water, but I wasn't one of them.  It doesn't matter how much you long for a child, it doesn't mean you won't feel the sense of loss for your old life. At times, it can seem like you are grieving, like your old life has gone and there is no way to get it back again.  I think that these days, with the perpetual childhood so many people in their twenties and thirties seem to enjoy, it has become particularly difficult to adapt to being a parent. 

One of the things a lot of people recommend, is going to these mum and baby groups. Now, I'm not against them per se, I know plenty of people who have met "friends for life" through these groups. Maybe it's because I'm not much of a joiner, but I have come to loathe those groups. I go to a select number very occasionally for the sake of my children. I always choose ones that are drop in, I never ever commit myself to groups that require a waiting list or where you HAVE to attend every week. I used to take my son to dance and music classes, but found the cost prohibitive, especially when I could attend my local children's centre for £1, he preferred going there anyway. The problem with these groups, as you might guess, is the cliquey-ness of them. The "in crowd" you thought you had left behind in school re-emerge as alpha mummies. That loud and brash breed who just take over wherever they go.

A few months ago I attended a post natal group at my local surgery. There were about 12 mums there with new babies. The idea was that we had a discussion about an issue, for example weaning. On this particular day, one alpha mummy completely took over, clearly loving the sound of her own voice. It got tiresome quickly so I started squeaking my son's sophie giraffe toy every time she piped up, made no difference though.  I sometimes strike up conversation with other mums at these groups, however that is the last time I hear my voice....I then get talked at mercilessly for at least 20 minutes before I make my excuses and escape. Is it me?! 

I guess what it comes down to is loneliness. I'm writing about it flippantly but quite clearly these mothers are horribly lonely. Motherhood IS lonely. Although of course you are never actually alone, the very nature of motherhood is very isolating as it is just so damn difficult to leave the house. And the thing is, these "friends for life" you make, you actually have nothing in common with, aside from giving birth at a similar time.

And I guess as well that this is also one of the reasons for the rise of the Mummy blogger.
As mums we are horribly horribly lonely.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Who needs sleep anyway?


Right.That’s it. I’ve had enough.  My son is now OVER  12 months and still insists on a little chat around midnight.  In fact, he also likes a little cuddle at 4am and a dribble at 5. What is it with this child, he must really love me to want to see me so much! Thing is, it’s getting a little old. Not sleeping that is.  Three months I could handle, then it got to six and now it’s twelve…hmm I sense a pattern here. Part of the problem was definitely the fact he would not take a bottle. I have a theory about formula fed and breast fed babies and I have a definite *hunch* that bottle fed babies sleep better. I have no proof of this, maybe it is just a fantasy that it is possible for babies to sleep. 

So far this is what we have tried –
·         More milk in the day.
·         Less milk in the day.
·         Snacks throughout the day.
·         No snacks throughout the day.
·         Naps.
·         No Naps.

You get the idea, we’ve tried everything.  Now this leads me nicely onto the old “leave him to cry” theory. I am against this approach for one reason – it stresses me out and makes me shout at my husband. I don’t like the idea of my child crying for me and me not going to him, it’s unnatural isn’t it? Anyway I’ve  tried it and it didn’t work.  I would like to think that when I am an old lady crying (in my senility) in an old peoples’ home that I won’t be left to cry alone in my room, “leave her, she’ll soon learn!”.  There’s an old mantra I quite like here, treat your children in their infancy how you would like to be treated in your old age. I hope mine don’t plonk me in front of the 2050’s equivalent of Jake and the Neverland Pirates and make me eat raisins.

Anyway, one of the things I definitely recommend is using a baby sleeping bag. We discovered with Son 1 that he would ALWAYS wake up at 4am (cold) if we didn’t use one. It is quite simply,  a must.  It’s also safer as there is no risk of loose covers going over baby’s head. On that note I want to showcase son 2’s most recent lovely gift from Vertbaudet. They were kind enough to send us a lovely sleeping bag as seen here (£33). I really like it and in my head I keep thinking he looks a bit like a Prince in it (have no idea why, it keeps coming into my mind but that could be because I’m obsessed with the Tudors at the moment.)

My Tudor Prince

Anyway, no time to write anymore, I'm just going to rest my eyes....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Birthday Boy

Today my baby is 1 year(s?) old. I'm not nostalgic about it, I've never been one of those women who wants their children to stay dependent on them. To be honest I'm not really a baby person, I much prefer being a mum to a toddler who I can laugh with and talk to honestly.

Anyway, we had a bit of a present opening session this morning. I'm ashamed to say that due to room and money constraints he only got a few presents. However I was lucky enough to have a Brio Classic Wooden Car sent from the online nursery shop  Hello Baby.

He really loves the car and it is perfect for a 12 month old. The design is simplistic and there are no whistles and bells but it means he can use it independently.  It is also very well made as you might expect from Brio.

Son 2 still isn't sleeping through the night which is pretty annoying challenging. I don't think I have ever heard of a 1 year old who wakes up for a milk feed in the night.  Last night he woke up at midnight (hungry) and then again at 6am (hungry) for the day. I can't understand how this can be? I have thought and thought but I just cannot think of a way to get him to sleep through. We've tried giving him cereal before he goes to bed, giving him his tea early/later, giving more milk/less milk in the day. Nothing seems to work. I was hoping it would be something he would eventually grow out of but the big question is, when will he!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

I've gone and done it!

Well, after much deliberation I've finally gone and done it....I've changed the name of my blog and actually bought a domain name (don't worry Hubby it cost $7).  So in about three days time you will be redirected to PRET-A-MUMMY! I've been thinking about a new name for some time, something that encapsulates me and my writing.  I like Pret-A-Mummy for a few reasons: it suggests an interest in fashion, which I definitely have. I'm not really interested in London Fashion Week type stuff, more stuff that as a Mum I can wear, be comfortable in and look vaguely sophisticated (at a baby group). I also like the use of the word "Pret" - meaning ready. As Mums we always have to be ready - ready to mummy!  I do everything at breakneck speed before the screaming being a ready mummy reduces the stress (and heartburn).

Another thing I'm really interested in is cooking for my family and friends. I will only cook things that take up to ten minutes to prepare as the aforementioned screaming prevents any longer. So part of being Pret-A-Mummy is being ready to cook, such an integral part of motherhood.

So there you have it - fashion, mummy stuff, and cooking! And all three combined.

Please come and support me as I emerge from my cocoon....I need a bit of hand holding!

Friday, 24 February 2012

My blog needs a new name...

When I first started my blog, I really had no understanding of blogging. I was selfish about it, I didn't look at other people's blogs, I didn't get it, I thought it was all about me. Now I know the best part of blogging is other bloggers. I've "met" some great minds, inspirational writers and all round good eggs through the blogosphere who seem to know where I'm coming from and feel the same way about a lot of things.

Now I'm a bit more established, I want to change the name of my blog. I don't like the name, it makes me sound like someone who scrabbles on the floor for 1p pieces, the reality is quite different. In fact, in honesty I'm a bit of a snob  person who has high standards. I like luxury items and 5 star hotels, I can't help it!
I love fashion, cooking and saving money in a sensible way (so I can spend it on myself of course), but I'm not a person who shops in charity shops and pound shops, I can't stand the queues anyway.

So I'm looking for a new blog name, and I'm looking to buy a domain name! Big step for me, but will I lose my (two) readers! Well I suppose I can just tell me mum and friend Emma that I've changed the name.

Any ideas?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Mother's Work MeMe!

As promised, a MeMe, but thankfully I've got holding my hand to help me on my way.

I've been moaning thinking a lot recently about how mothers (and fathers for that matter) are just expected to "get on with it", fork out for extortionate childcare costs and work all hours in inflexible jobs, often with low pay and little or no career prospects.  There is a wasted and untapped resource desperate to make an impact and do a fair days work for a fair days pay. Think of all that lovely tax that the government is missing out on by overlooking mothers and actually creating a reasonable means for us to work AND bring up the next generation (of tax payers.)

A thought: Our society doesn’t value or support mothers as well as it could.

I’ve blogged a couple of times on this issue, as has So, we’ve decided we’d like to team up and make a bit more noise in the blogosphere about it.

Step one is to start a meme. So here it is:

A Mother’s Work Meme.

Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a
hashtag - #amothersworkmeme)


1. Did you work before becoming a mum?
2. What is your current situation?
3. Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s
your chance…

Oh and finally….Little Blue FeetJapanese Mummy UK A Mum and More, A Twenty Something Mum, Multi Layer Mummy you’re tagged!!

A Mother’s Work Meme Response from Bargain Mummy Buys

Did you work before becoming a mum?
Yes, I decided to build up my career before having children as I was aware it would not be easy afterwards. I got as many promotions as I could and made sure my salary was locked before I went on maternity leave.

What is your current situation?
I now work three days a week in a "professional job". I am constantly subject to derisive comments from others about being "part-time" despite the fact I am always a full time mum. We are lucky in that my parents look after our children three days a week although they are getting older and it is not easy for them.
To get my part time position was very difficult and I really had to jump through hoops, I felt there was nothing to really protect me from a flat refusal apart from my own wit.  I am constantly exhausted from trying to be the best worker and best mum and don't know how long I can sustain it for. I feel I am being pulled apart and every time I leave my children to go to work my heart breaks a little.

A lot of my friends have had their part time work request refused, so they have been forced to leave their jobs to seek (lower paid) temporary contracts.  A lot of people seem to sneer at the idea of a woman wanting to spend time with her children if she previously had a career, like it's some sort of consolation prize.  The fact is that I physically could not work full time and give 100%. As it stands, being part time has benefited my employer as I never take sick days and am much fresher coming to work for three days.
I don't want to leave work completely as in the current job market I fear I will never find work again.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Calling all Mums! (and Dads)...

A few weeks ago I had a bit of a rant (Guilt of a Working Mummy) about being generally fed up and annoyed with how hard it is to be a working mum in this country. I wasn't the only one, over at things were heating up and there was a lot of general, "yes why is it so hard?" sort of talk going on.

There are basically two choices: - work no or reduced hours and have no money. OR work all the hours god sends to pay for childcare, and still have no money at the end of it.

Childcare MUST become more affordable, jobs MUST become more flexible and part time positions should be as well paid (pro rata obviously) with the same career prospects as full time positions.

With this in mind, and I are starting a meme tomorrow about this very issue - our first! So please return tomorrow to join in and let's start a Mummy revolution!

Anyway, I will leave you with a picture of someone I know, a mother of two children, on her usual train home.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day out with Vertbaudet!

I love a good day out on a cold day, especially if a lovely lunch is involved. I have to admit, with children going out on a cold day is a bit of a mission, it's a hard slog trying to get them to wear, and stay in the warm clothes they need.  The other day we enjoyed a lovely day out at a local beauty spot called Bolton Abbey. It's a lovely place for a walk and there is even a pushchair friendly path. The cafe is a bit pricey but it just makes life easier, and nearby there is a lovely ice cream parlour with fifties style interiors AND a great adventure playground.

On this particular day we were lucky enough to try out some lovely Vertbaudet goodies that were kindly sent to us.  Son 1 was sent a very cosy convertible padded jacket  (£39) that can also be unzipped as a gilet. He was also sent some super cool wellies which actually had an internal sock to ensure they were very cosy and snug on his toes (£11.90).

He was also sent a really lovely roll neck jumper which you can just see peeking above his coat, anyway, a picture from the website is here.


Son 2 was sent a reversible all in one (£20.30)which was really warm and cosy. It has detachable booties and mittens so he can wear his shoes (unlike most snowsuits).

He was also sent a beautiful cream outfit that I am actually going to save for a special occasion (£16.10).

All in all it was a lovely day out especially with lovely new clothes, thank you Vertbaudet!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

What I wore today! Oasis polka dot top.

In my younger days I used to spend ALL my money on clothes. Then when I went to Japan for a year in 2002 my mum decided to have a good old clear out in my absence. She threw literally everything away, I was heartbroken. In truth the clothes were probably pretty much worn out and done for, but it was still a cruel blow.   For quite a while after that, I kind of lost interest in clothes and what I wore, in fact while I was pregnant, I didn't see the point in even thinking about trying to look good.

However since entering my 33rd year, I've had a bit of a change of heart. I have made a conscious decision to try and look a bit cooler and make more effort. I will no longer just throw on clothes in the morning like I used to. However being a bargain mummy, I'm going to look closely at the clothes I've already got and try to rejig them to create some new looks. This is what I wore today...

Oasis blouse, H&M skirt and M&S cardy.
I'm not saying I look wonderful, just that I'm trying! Anyway, I am wearing 1 baby aged 12 months, a red polka dot top from Oasis (bought for £10 in the sale).  A M&S grey grandad style cardy £25, a grey cord skirt from H&M £15, grey tights from White Stuff and BARGAIN boots from Sainsburys (bought on special offer at £10 - these are supposedly genuine sheepskin!).

I actually felt really warm and snug plus vaguely "trendy" (a word my dad uses).

Friday, 17 February 2012

My BARGAIN white chocolate and ginger cheesecake...

We had a lovely meal at Wagamamas last week and had the most delicious white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. Anyway, we have guests this weekend so I thought I would make my own, with a money saving twist of course!

2 x large bars of white choc (I bought smart price/saver was 35p)
ginger pieces in syrup
250g half fat creme fraiche
250g mascarpone
smart price/saver cookies (whole pack)
100g butter

1. Crush the whole pack of cookies like so!
 2. Melt 100g of butter in the microwave and stir in. Then put in the fridge to set.

3. Put the mascarpone and creme fraiche in a bowl and whisk until it forms peaks.

Melt the white chocolate in a bain marie (do not do this in the microwave! I did and look what happened!)
Chocolate does NOT like being micowaved!
4. Wait until the chocolate cools slightly then whisk it in.

5. Slice up a piece of ginger and place it in the cheese/creme fraiche mixture, then add as much ginger syrup from the jar as there is. Whisk for a few seconds.

6. Slice up some more ginger. Place on the base.

7. Spoon over the mixture, and all done! 

 Now - if you want toffee sauce over the top!

100 g butter
100g brown sugar
about 100ml of double cream
2 large spoonfuls of golden syrup
1. In a pan melt the butter, sugar and syrup together on a low heat.

A little trick I learned in school, heat the spoon before putting in the syrup.DO NOT lick the spoon afterwards, it really hurts!

2. When bubbling, take off the heat, add the cream and stir.

That's it! Easy as pie. AND the ingredients cost me less than £3 altogether (had the ginger and syrup in my store cupboard already.)

Can't wait to try it tonight!

You can find more great recipes and product reviews from our friends at The Village Bakery

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Guest Blog - Origami for toddlers.

A guest blog from a good friend of mine, originally from Japan...

I am very thrilled to be asked to write a guest blog here. I am from Japan and I have a son and a daughter. As a mum, I sometimes struggle to think of things to do, especially on rainy/lazy days. I try to keep my children occupied instead of letting them watch DVDs all day long. They love anything from cooking, baking, drawing, painting, handy-crafts to model making.

One of our favourite activities is making something with Origami - the traditional Japanese paper craft. I have this rather cute little carry case I bought in Japan, clearly saying ‘Origami Case’ in Japanese just in case you didn’t know.  As suggested, I keep my Origami paper in there.  Origami literally means ‘folding paper’.  
Origami carry case.
We decided to make two very easy animals on this occasion. The first one is a cat.
Here are the instructions:
1. Get a piece of Origami paper    
(Just any square paper is fine)     

2. Fold it to make a triangle.

 3. Fold the top outwards.

4. Fold the bottom two corners upwards.

5. Turn it over and draw a face, Meow!




The next one is a dog.
1.Get a piece of Origami paper.    

2. Make a triangle facing downwards.
3. Fold two corners downwards.

4. Turn over and fold two triangles top and bottom

5. Turn over again and draw a face.

These are very popular with children and you can make greeting cards, gift tags bookmarks etc
with different colours, sizes and faces of the animals. There are a lot of things you can make with Origami and it is actually quite easy and it keeps those little fingers busy.

Here are the finished works with my children proudly holding them. Just give it a go!

NB sorry about the formatting!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

H & M 50% off!

I got an email yesterday from H&M with a selection of 50% off stuff. I have to say, a lot of it looks pretty unflattering and not my cup of tea (though was annoyed to see something on there I have recently bought for full price!). However there are a few items I think are great value and perfect for spring.

Firstly I really like these beige cotton trousers which are now £12.49.  

I recommend sizing up if you are pear shaped.
Though with these I would wear a white to to balance your top half as I have a feeling these may not be to flattering on pear shapes.

Next I really like this dress, and a bargain at only £3.99! There are lot of colours available in this dress, but I think this colour looks the most expensive looking.

Pair with gold sandals and dark blue cardigan.
I also love this checked shirt, I think it might go quite nicely with the dark beige trousers, maybe over a white vest.  It also comes in blue check, but I prefer the pink style - £7.49.

For a lovely layered look, try pairing this shirt with this brightly coloured pink cardy at £7.49.

There is a blue one as well which might look nice with the blue jersery dress, above.
All together this little lot comes to just over £30! What a bargain, and perfect as a weekend away capsule!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Day out at the National Railway Museum - Wizard's Week!

Son 1 is obsessed with trains; all trains, steamies, smelly old diesels (his words) and of course the enormously appealing bullet train. For that reason, he is constantly nagging us to take him to the National Railway Museum in York. We love going as a family, it's free which is one thing definitely in its favour, so when I was asked to go as a blogger with a VIP pack, I was only too glad to accept!

This week is actually Wizard's week, complete with best dressed Wizard contest on facebook. My son, however, refuses to dress up as anything, so I knew I was onto a loser with that one.

The event is on from the 11th - 19th February (basically all half term week) so is perfect for a rainy day, or in fact, any day! There is ample parking outside for £9 or of course you can catch the train to York as the museum is right next to the train station.

Simulator ride - we chose the Time Travel theme!
The first thing we made a beeline for when we got there was the simulator, I've been meaning to go on that for ages.  It costs £3 each (though free for us) and you have a choice of various "scenes" - we chose Time Travel as boringly I thought it would be the most "educational". We really enjoyed it and best of all both boys were able to have a ride.

I could already see the queues at the restaurant building up so after having a long look at the model railway...
Very popular with little boys and girls!
...we were ready for lunch! NRM had thoughtfully included lunch for all of us in the VIP pack, so we headed to the restaurant. There are hot meals as well as sandwiches and salads. I had the sweet potato chilli with rice and the boys all chose sausages and mash (but in a posh way).
Lovely lunch!

A view of the restaurant, on a platform!
After that, we headed for the star of the show - the Hogwarts Express complete with carriages actually used in the film! There was quite a big queue to have a ride but it didn't take long (although I had a bit of an altercation in the queue with a woman and her family trying to push in! My husband turned his back and pretended he didn't know me). £2 but free for us.
LOTS of people eager to board the Howarts Express!
Here is a little clip of the train steaming in (you can actually hear me describing the argument with the "pusher".) 

We were lucky enough to be offered a free broomstick riding journey (normally £5) by full frame events complete with fan and background for realistic effect! Here is the finished product!
Slightly worrying was a full grown man getting a picture on his own.
Lastly we went to make a wizard's ID badge (normally £1.50 but free for us) which my son really enjoyed. He coloured in his picture and we wrote his name together. He then got a special pouch to wear it round his neck (again, there were a worrying number of adults wearing the badges! Still, whatever makes you happy!).
Proud badge wearer.
There were lots of other things to do which we didn't have time to do (son 2 was having a meltdown by this point) like go on the miniature railway or get the landtrain into the town centre and back but we will definitely do that next time we visit (there is a small charge for these).  There are also daily events which you don't have to pay for, for example owl displays, Derek the Dragon, The Magic Hatter and All Action Wizard Duels. The times for these are on the programme you are given when you go in and I advise to get to each thing a bit early as they get very crowded which makes it difficult for little ones to see.

There are also the usual things to see like the Royal Carriages and lots and lots of steam trains. In terms of child friendliness it is brilliant; cafes all have plenty of high chairs as well as microwaves to heat (free!) baby food. There are also plenty of baby changing facilities.  The only thing I found slightly annoying was the amount of stairs between The Great Hall and The Station Hall (though there are two lifts) but won't affect you unless you have a pushchair or mobility problems.

All in all we really enjoyed ourselves and I would definitely recommend this as something to do over half term. I would recommend it for children age 3 or over with no upper age limit!

Thank you National Railway Museum we will be back soon!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lovely versatile H&M Dress only £14.99!!

I have a new favourite's called Bargainista Fashionista. It's a blog about fashion bargains, and I am TOTALLY addicted. I can't actually afford to buy any of the things (yet!) recommended on this blog, even though some of them are utterly bargainous. The photography is also beautiful and vibrant, I love it.

Anyway, on the recommendation of Bargainista Fashionista I saw the most beautiful jumper in Urban Outfitters (which is a place I never thought I would look at!) for £10 was £48. It is called Cooperative strawberry yoke pullover

Full credit to Bargainista Fashionista - her post is here.
 Alright, I admit it, I bought it! Happy? Yes it's handwash only, yes it contains no wool, but I love it and I don't feels lovely to the touch. I am going to wear it with skinny jeans, it is absolutely adorable...what more can I say?

 Anyway on this note I wanted to showcase a lovely lovely dress in H&M at the moment at only £14.99. I love it because it looks like the sort of thing you could wear anywhere and look really styling. Plus it looks expensive, when it isn't, sure fire winner in my opinion. Anyway, after all that, here it is

There are other colours but I don't see why you would want a different one...I see myself wearing it over a black polo neck and black tights/boots in the day. In the evening I envisage lots of chunky silver bangles and high heels (this is a fantasy, I never go out in the evening). BEST of all I have a £5 code for H&M which is 1304.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Guilt of a working Mummy....

There was once a Mummy who loved her children, but couldn't afford to stay at home with them every day. In fact, she didn't want to stay at home with them, as her brain would become frazzled and she would shout at her husband a lot the second he walked through the door.  The problem was, it was a bit tricky trying to be a good Mummy and trying to be a good worker. The Mummy and Daddy did not live in a huge house or have extravagant tastes, they did not buy lots of things or go on big holidays. In fact they never did anything for themselves at all. They both had good jobs but were finding it very hard to make ends meet.

Then one day the Mummy found that both her children were very poorly, she had no sleep for three nights in a row and had to go to work for ten hours each day. When she got home after the third day the first thing her son did was puke all over her work clothes. It was a sign.

The Mummy is desperately trying to find a way she can be at home with her two little boys and not lose her mind (or her house). The Daddy works really long hours and hardly ever gets to see his children.  When the Mummy is not at work she is so exhausted and drained she hardly has any energy to do anything. 

Something has got to give.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

New baby? What to buy and what to borrow....

New babies are expensive. Fact. Actually in today's world they seem to be expensive for grandparents, as they are the only ones who actually have any spare money. Anyway, I like lists, so here is my latest one!


  • A pram/pushchair. With this you definitely get what you pay for. Buy one for £100 and you will soon be buying another one. The other thing is that if you go for a more luxurious brand, e.g. Bugaboo, Quinny, I Candy, it will be sell-on-able which is better for the environment and better for your pocket. Sure it might cost you (or Grandma) £600 initially but if you get £350 when you want to sell then actually it cost less than a Mamas and Papas Pliko Pramette (which no-one wants second hand believe me).
  • Mattress. Save on the cot but splurge on the mattress. Think of it selfishly, the better the mattress, the more your little darling will want to sleep on it. Zzzzzzzzz. I wish we had bought a small Ikea cot. You will soon be thinking small when you see the amount of rubbish   useful stuff you have accumulated. This one  at £59.99 is adequate.
  • Bedding. I actually like Babies R Us for this. They do some good deals too and if you register with them they send you loads of money off vouchers.
  • Nursing bras. Might sound obvious but do NOT accept an offer of one from a friend. You will be wearing these probably through pregnancy and beyond if you decide to b-feed. Buy at least three, and it might sound grim but again if you buy branded you can sell them on ebay. I bought Hotmilk bras and sold them on ebay for half what I paid so they only actually cost me £10 each. You will be hard pushed to find a nursing bra in Mothercare for £10.
  • Weaning stuff. Get cheap and colourful bowls and spoons either from Ikea if you have one locally or from Asda. In Asda bowls/spoons are about £1 a set especially if you go during their baby week.
  • Car seat. The best one is Maxi Cosi. If you bide your time and look for discounts it is possible to get one for £70. Amazon and Boots seem to have the best deals.

Now I do realise that not everyone has people they can borrow from. I was in this position as I was the first of my friends to have children.  However that is what ebay is for....use it to the fullest.

  • Baby clothes. Buy them in bundles from ebay and go to advanced listings to find some locally to avoid paying the postage costs. I sold my bundles for £15 each and there were clothes in there that had never been worn. I estimate there was over £200 worth of clothes in each bundle. Bargain!
  • Maternity clothes. I bought my maternity clothes from Topshop, Dotperk, H&M, Jojo and Isabella Oliver. The Isabella Oliver stuff I got on a 20% off day. I then sold it for nearly what I paid for it (on ebay) as it is desirable. Therefore it actually cost me in real terms less then the H&M stuff. I sold some M&S maternity jeans on ebay for £1.20. Lesson - buy cheap stuff (or borrow it) on ebay and treat yourself to a few nice bits from Isabella Oliver.
  • Toys. Baby toys are expensive and pointless. Borrow from friends or go to nearly new sales. 
  • Baby mats/gyms. Again expensive and used for limited periods. But they are useful so get one. Again, borrow, use ebay or go to nearly new sales (NCT ones are best, use google). TK Maxx are also worth trying for this.
  • Baby sleeping bags. A must especially in winter. Try TK Maxx for good deals or borrow/buy second hand. Everything can be washed!
  • Breast pump. Some people are sniffy about this but bear in mind the best one to get is the Avent Isis electric one which is usually £80 (£60 in a sale if you are lucky). Your baby might not breast feed at all, or might not take a bottle, so you don't really know whether you will need one, it's a lot of money for something you might not use. Things like this can be easily sterilised and the Avent ones come with spare parts so they can be changed. I sold mine for £20 to a local lady. Bargain.
  • Moses basket. Again your baby may refuse to sleep in this. Mine both did. Lots of people have these spare so ask a friend if you can borrow. You can always give it back.
  • Nappies. It is more cost effective and environmentally friendly to use the cloth ones. These are easily available on ebay and I've also seen lots at the nearly new sales. Having said that, I used disposables, bad I know but I could barely cope as it was!
  • Cosy toe for your pushchair. Buy a second hand sheepskin one. It will look stylish, be lovely and warm and best of all have resale value!
  • Baby chair/swing. Ask a friend as these are always cluttering up houses. I would be glad if someone asked for ours, I'm sick of it!
  • Highchair. Again ask around, people are always desperate to get rid of space stealers like these. Alternatively buy a nice small one in Ikea for £10.99. Bargain. 
  • Baby carrier. We bought a Baby Bjorn new and a Moby Wrap second hand. I bought the Moby Wrap for £18 and sold it for £15 so it cost me £3. The Baby Bjorn was £40 and sold it for £10. We also foolishly bought one of those huge baby/toddler backpacks for £100 brand new. These are extensively used by "jolly hockey sticks with a knapsack on my back, tra la li, tra la la!" mother types but not me in my heels. We have used it once in winter (baby cried as too cold) and once in summer (baby cried as too hot). It has since been in the cupboard under the stairs. I think it needs to be sold on!
I hope this helps you to save some money! Spend it on a much deserved spa treatment.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

When to save and when to splurge!

Sometimes I think my desire to find bargain items actually stems from the thrill of the chase, rather than the actual need to save money.  Having said that, there is nothing more annoying that feeling you have either paid too much for an item, or bought something unnecessarily. I'm much more careful about that than I used to be. In fact I never pay full price for anything if I can help it. If I see a nice pair of jeans I always use my head rather than my heart. If I really *need* them, I just bide my time until a 20% off day (I always subscribe to mailing lists of my fav shops) or I keep checking on hotukdeals. Usually a Friday is a good day to get a bargain and quite often these are announced on the facebook pages of various shops. Anyway, back to save versus splurge, here is my definitive list:
  • Beauty products. I have tried nearly all the "high end" brands of beauty products now and have yet to be really impressed. Obviously I have never tried anything mega expensive like Creme De La Mer but then who has? My latest beauty product of choice is Superdrug own brand vitamin E stuff. This is my fav one at £2.99. It goes well under make up for a smooth base. 
  • Shampoo. I have literally tried nearly every shampoo on the market to make my hair look big. There is no such shampoo, it is simply down to the way you blow dry it (that is where my Big Hair Styler has come up trumps!). I actually quite like Dove shampoo, yes it has a few nasties in it but don't they all. Don't bother with the expensive ones you get in the hairdressers, a waste of money.
  • Summer clothes. I never buy expensive summer clothes as the material is so thin I don't see why I should pay top whack. I get all my summer stuff from H&M. Last year in the sale I bought 5 dresses for £29 including delivery and they were all lovely. Best to buy online, in store is a nightmare with a pushchair. Primark also does nice long "hippy" skirts and general summer wear. I bought a lovely cropped light denim jacket last summer for £14.99 and it goes with everything.
  • Pyjamas. Get them in the supermarket - Sainsburys do some nice ones. The M&S ones always need ironing and are cheaply made anyway which is not reflected in the price!
  • Kids clothes. Honestly it's going to get ruined anyway so way pay £££. I get most of mine in H&M and Sainsburys. Same quality as other places but much cheaper. 

  • Shoes. Now this might just be me as I have huge feet so cheap shoes do me no favours, plus they don't fit. I get everything from either Dune or Clarks as they are the only ones that fit me! Occasionally the shoes in Oasis will squeeze on my giant canoes. Likewise children's shoes. For ease we usually get Clarks for our son though I do like those continental shoe places occasionally too.
  • Washing powder. I have tried the supermarket own brand stuff but it doesn't clean clothes properly and has a horrid smell. Buy Persil or Ariel.
  • Underwear: Now most people swear by M&S but I think their undies are cheap and nasty and also uncomfortable. They soon start looking sorry for themselves. I really don't know where else to recommend though as places like Bravissimo which look quite good are only for those with a large bust. Someone please recommend somewhere please!
  • Winter clothes. Buy knitwear from somewhere posh. If you look after it properly it will last longer thus be better for the environment and also more cost effective than buying cheap stuff every year. Isabella Oliver is nice and also Coast. M&S does some nice knitwear but check the label so that you are not inadvertantly buying cotton rather than wool.  The cotton stuff does not last. Places like Hobbs, Jaegar and TM Lewin all do nice knitwear too.
  • Coats. This is something you and your children will wear every day so it needs to last and it needs to keep you warm. I get son 1's coats in Gap and JoJo. Son 2 so far has had Jaspar Conran at Debenhams. It was actually less than £20 in the sale which I thought was reasonable. I wear things like North Face and Berghaus on a Sunday but got a nice one in Oasis for best which has feather and down in it. I bought a cheap one last year when I was pregnant. Never again.
  • Haircuts. Develop a good relationship with your hairdresser and tip well. Go regularly to try to look as good as you can despite the tiredness! I sometimes go in the evenings after my husband gets home.
  • Pushchair! Very important. Do some research and obviously look in sales and for discontinued stock but don't buy one of those £30 ones in Argos. You will soon despise it. I favour Micralite and Phil&Teds.   
  • Micralite Pushchair
  • Make up. Though I favour skin care from Superdrug, I would never buy actual make up from there. I go through stages, sometimes I like Mac because of the nice shiny foundation, but sometimes I go for Clinique as it's nice and simple. More recently I've been wearing Bare Minerals but I do find it rather drying and aging though it does last all day and no-one ever says, "you look shattered", like they used to.
  • Handbag/changing bag. Again, everything you will be using on a regular basis needs to last and be something you are proud of. I like Pink Lining Bags because they are really well made and look gorgeous plus the strap is well designed and doesn't dig in. Having said that plenty of people seem fine with the free Boots one you get when you join the parenting club. In terms of handbags I have quite a few Radley ones but sometimes I wonder if they are a tad naff. I've recently started looking at Suzy Smith ones which are also good quality. I can't bring myself to spend £500+ on one, I don't look after my stuff well enough for that.
    Pink Lining Changing Bag

    NB I've not put any links on this like I usually do. I am not paid or anything by any of these companies so don't see why I should, and also everyone knows how to use Google now!

    This blog post is part of the Thrifty families blog carnival over at Family Budgeting.


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