The Greatest Loss of All

The loss of Milo cat

Love can come in many forms, sometimes it instantaneous, sometimes it creeps up on us without us knowing. There’s the love we feel for our friends, our family and that unexplainable, unconditional love when we becoming parents. Sometimes we love things, sometimes we love places, memories, smells and taste. Love is one of the greatest gifts we have been given as humans, but losing love, I believe is the greatest loss of anything, whatever form it came in.

For me, my first great love was that of my cat Milo. I was 21 when he came into my life a gangly, not so little, ginger kitten. Instantly I fell in love, a deep meaningful love. For all intense purposes, he was my baby, my fur baby. He was all I could ever ask for in a cat. Loving, gentle, docile. He was a doofus, but my gorgeous doofus and it made me love him even more. I never had a close friend, someone to confide in. Milo became my confidant, my shoulder to cry on over the years. His devotion to me never faltered. Not even when my little baby Fin arrived and my attention was elsewhere.

In October I blogged about how I almost lost him to Heart Failure caused by undiagnosed hyperthyroidism. Our Vet, Andrew was amazing and with his help, we were able to give Milo some borrowed time. How much was unknown, but I was grateful for any. Over the months Milo had his ups and downs, but I had always been able to nurse him on his off days, to encourage him to eat when he was feeling a bit down. To pay back the love and devotion he had unconditionally given to me.

Andrew had spoken to us about the end to prepare us, but I never understood how I would know the time was right. Although there were a few occasions where I had questioned if it was time, it never seemed to be. I worried I was missing something. However, in April, Milo took a turn for the worse again. This time I knew, I looked into his eyes and something was missing, I knew this time he wasn’t coming. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, but it was time for him to take his final journey and for me to experience the greatest loss I have ever experienced. That day a little part of me also died.

Milo was such a big part of my Life and I am so grateful I got to spend a few more months with him. It still doesn’t seem real, I keep expecting him to walk through the door at any time. I have cried a million tears and I am crying as I write this. The house seems so odd with him not here. I felt relief when we his ashes were back, he was home again. I haven’t yet had the courage to do anything with them, in time I will, but for now just having him back is enough. Milo was never a wanderer, it would not feel right to scatter him, he loved being at home with us so that’s where he will stay, for now, his ashes in our home, his pawprints in my heart.

RIP my dear old boy, I’m sorry it had to end so soon.pet loss

Mummy in a Tutu
Twin Mummy and Daddy

 

 

Welcome to the World…..

.Welcome to the World

 

My last Pregnancy update was way back in November when I was 22 weeks pregnant. I didnt write anymore after this as my anxiety took hold and I took a break from my blog. After what felt like the quickest pregnancy known to humanity, I would like to welcome our newest addition to the world (better late than never), Emmeline Isabelle.

Emmeline arrived on the 06th March, one day past her due date via induction due to Gestational Diabeties. She weighed in at 8lb 1oz after a rather quick labour. I will update with her birth story later, but it was an amazing experience led by an amazing midwife. We had decided not to find out her gender and it was such a wonderful suprise as they held her up to discover we had a little girl. Although a boy would have been just as precious, I had really hoped for a little girl. To be honest, I was so convinced I was carrying another boy that even now I don’t think it has sunk in and I have to keep checking!

The First Month

Emmeline slotted into our family perfectly. Finlay adores his little sister even though he was desperate for a brother. He is always ready to help change her and comfort her when she cries, it really is very sweet to watch. So far there is no hint of jealousy. I am  not that naievethough that I don’t expect it to happen at some point.

Chris gets fours weeks paternity leave fully paid!

The first couple of weeks were quite tough, but when isn’t it with a newborn. I was breastfeeding and recovering from a 2nd degree tear which was extremely uncomfortable. However, we have been immensley lucky, Chris gets fours weeks paternity leave fully paid, a new policy brought in this year.

A few days after coming home, Emmeline was not gaining weight as she should have been, in fact she had lost 10 – 11% of her birth weight and droped to below 7lb. Although it was not enough to be re-admitted, she would be monitored daily. In addition to weight loss, she decided after passing her meconium she was too much of a lady to go to number two. Her weight flucutated between small gains and small losses and remained relatively static.

 

Welcome to the World - Month 1

The midwives all agreed the problem was a milk supply issue, although I was producing enough to sustain her after her initial loss, I wasnt producing enough for her to grow again and flourish.

In herself she was fine, alert, hydrated and generally quite happy. I was put on a plan of 2 hourly feeds, expressing then feeding. It was hoped that this would increase my supply and she would begin gaining and goin to the toilet. I also saw the Breastfeeding specialist who really helped show me how to get Emmeline to Latch correctly. After 15/16 days it finally worked and her weight began to increase and finally after 9 days of no poo – we had the biggest explosion I have ever seen!

Character wise, Emmeline could not be any different to Fin. She is so content and happy, its unbeliavble. Now, I’m not saying she doesnt cry but its short lived and less ear piercing. She is just generally a very relaxed baby at the moment. She does however need more cuddles than Fin did, like all day but I can’t complain about that. Unfortunatley this mean she will not sleep in her moses basket….AT ALL, so we have had to take up co-sleeping. Although not my ideal choice, I  followed all the guidance to minimise any risk to get some much needed rest.

This month we also began to see some early smiles at around week 3. They definatley were not wind induced smiles. They happened when she was being interacted with and she would look you right in the eyes and smile. Big Nanny, Aunty and I were all blessed to recieve these early smiles. She is very alert and very strong. She has good muscle conrol in her neck, already lifting her head up and having a nose when ever she gets an oppotunity.

There’s not really more to add, the first few weeks are all about feeding, sleeping and growing. I still can’t belive we have a little girl,  – Welcome to the world my darling, Emmeline Isabelle.

I’ve been a Gone Girl!

It’s been a while since my post. Actually 5 months and 26 days ago to be precise. Wow, that is embarrassing. I hadn’t actually realised it was that long. I have been gone far too long!

 life was throwing me Lemons too right, but I was drowning in lemonade!

I would like to take this opportunity to explain myself for my rather abrupt hiatus. Having left, with no explanation why I abanded a blog I had so much enjoyed building.

I’m an anxiety sufferer and that’s the reason. Life just got a bit too much, I buried my head in the sand (I should have been an ostritch!). It started with a few little things, christmas was coming, our team was understaffed at work, my fur baby was poorly (which financially was crippling), I was pregnant, the icing on the cake was being diagnosed with Gestational Diabeties. You know they say if life throws you lemons, make lemonade? Well, life was throwing me Lemons too right, but I was drowning in lemonade!

I only thought about what I needed to think about. If I dwelled too much, my mind filled with negativity, especially regarding the diabeties. I couldn’t think much about anything, so writing a blog post was impossible, I had no thoughts, no ideas. I couldn’t even add to my unfinished drafts. Then the longer I hadn’t posted the more of an issue it became, so I ignored the blog too! To be honest I wasn’t finding enjoyment in many things. I was just plodding along.

I know this probDoing Nothing - Goneably seems like a poor way to deal with things, but for me it works. As pooh states ‘don’t under estimate the value of doing nothing’, nothing for me is definitely a healer. Although I would never advocate ignoring things to anyone. I would say if your mind and body says you need a break, listen to it!

I’m sure if anyone I know reads this, it may come as a surprise how anxious I am and how much it affects me. I have learned nearly every trick in the book to look and act like there’s nothing wrong. I smile, I laugh, I do my hair and make-up (well that can be questionable to some, I try haha). Hiding my anxiety and insecurities from everyone, even Chris most of the time. Why? I do it to fit in, it’s easier, it’s better to act normal than to have to explain something that is so hard for someone else to understand unless they have been through it themselves. The days I can’t act, I hide.To be honest I stopped venturing out, meeting people, staying inside the security and familiarity of my four walls.

I’m happy to say that right now, I’m feeling positive! Things have got better. I am forcing myself back into life. There will be ups and there will be downs, and unknowns, but I know one thing for sure, anxiety will not beat me.  2016 for me, decided to be extra cruel but I’m hoping 2017 will be a lot nicer. I have decided (to try very hard) not to dwell on the things I cannot control and just try to enjoy what I have. I am back now, revamped and ready to kick some blogging butt!

(singing Kelly Clarksons: Since you’ve been gone!)

Mudpie Fridays

 

Competitions: Tips and Tricks to earn ££££’s

CompetitionsI have been entering competitions regularly for well over 6 years now. In that time I have won some fantastic prizes. This has included:

  • Samsung 46″ 3D Smart TV
  • An Ipad Mini
  • A Sony Smart Watch
  • GTEC Cordless hover
  • Jawbone Fitness Tracker
  • £500 of Make-up
  • £500 B&Q Gift Card
  • £200 Virgin Experience day Voucher
  • £100 Spa finder Voucher
  • 2x Smart Phones
  • Kindle
  • Toys Galore
  • Food and Food Hampers
  • Clothes
  • Various Electronics

I could go on forever, to be honest, I have forgotten half of the items I have won because there has been so many! I was once so close to winning a 5* All inclusive holiday to St.Lucia, but I was peeped to the post last minute, drats. However, that’s the way it is. You win some, you lose some!

I’m always described as being Lucky when I tell people what I have won. However, the reality is competitions are a numbers game and I make my own luck. I try to enter on average 100 competitions a day.  Now life gets in the way sometimes and it’s not always possible, but don’t stress. There’s always another competition to enter! There is no way on earth I would describe myself as lucky, in fact, a nickname given to me by a friend at University was Bad luck Brown!! However, I would say on average I have won £1500 – £2000 worth of prizes a year and I’m forever taking breaks, it depending on life! The best thing is though, you don’t pay tax on your winnings!

I have taken probably my biggest hiatus from comping, it’s been about 6 months since I was regularly entering them. This kind of coincided with my issues at work and just generally feeling hmph. I probably should have carried on the wins are great pick me ups, but I just didn’t have the drive. That was until this week, and I got the bug again. This made me think, why not share my knowledge with you all that I have learnt over the years.

My Tips and Tricks

  • Set up an email address only for competitions – you will get spam
  • Sign up to the Mail Preference Service and the Telephone preference service to reduce unwanted calls and junk mail.
  • Use autofill form – I use Lastpass – This saves loads of time believe me!
  • Register with a competition site such as The Prize Finder or MSE has a great Competition Forum. That way you know the comps are going to be legit!
  • Have a system, sort the boards, don’t just enter all over the place. I like to sort by date as to not miss any closing earlier.
  • Make a note of those you enter, MSE has tick facility – you can get disqualified on most if you enter more than once.
  • Have a daily target, but don’t stress if you don’t hit it.
  • Open uploads of tabs if your computer will let you, it saves time.
  • Only enter for stuff you really want or can gift to someone who would want it. Why enter to win a wedding if you’re married? and leave the family holidays for families if your single or a couple.
  • Always read t&c even if it’s a glance you may find you are not allowed to enter or you can’t attend.
  • Look out for tick boxes – they are sometimes hidden, always opt out of communication if you have the option.
  • I find Twitter and Facebook slow for wins, but quick to complete (others win loads on these). If something’s not working for you, and your time limited pass those ones by.
  • Lower value prizes and local comps tend to have lower entries.
  • Effort comps take longer but you have more chance of winning, personally, I don’t tend to enter effort comps unless it’s something I really want and just speed through the easy ones –  do what feels right or works for you.
  • Dont ever pay to enter a competition!
  • Keep a spreadsheet of your wins – sometimes you might need to chase them up!
  • Dont give up – your not going to win straight away (you might!) but most comps take a good while to get back to you after the closing date if you win anyway. If you enter for a few weeks and give up, you haven’t given it chance, believe me when I say you really have to keep going to start seeing the prizes arrive, but when they do, you realise it’s worth it!

Finally, remember wins are not guaranteed, I find them like buses, you don’t win anything then you get a flurry!! I would also recommend having a mooch on over to Di Cokes site, Super lucky for inspiration, competitions and heaps of great advice!

Do you comp? have you had any big wins, or perhaps you’ve just experienced your first win? I would love to hear.

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Christmas Traditions – Dickensian Evening

dickensian

It’s that time of year and I am getting all gooey and Christmassy. I can feel it in the air and it makes me very excited. I’m going to be running a few post over the next few weeks relating to Christmas traditions. There is after all only 6 weeks to go!! I am kicking off with this post dedicated to the wonderful Dickensian Evening.

I have said on a few occasions that I feel lucky Living on the south coast for a number of reasons. One of those relates to Christmas and Dickensian Evening.  In East Sussex, we are surrounded by many quaint little villages nestled into the South Downs and one of those villages is Alfriston.  Luckily for me and the rest of Sussex, Alfiston holds the wonderful Dickensian evening every year just before Christmas, giving the place a great festive feel.

Although Alfriston is a little village it is warm and welcoming with a great community spirit. The high street is a buzz with old tradition pubs selling Fine wines and real local ales. The local shops sell ice creams, souvenirs, local produce, music, gifts and so much more. On Dickensian evening, Alfiston really comes alive with Christmas spirit.

You may be wondering what on earth is Dickensian Evening, Well I’m pretty sure most of us know Charles Dickens as the famous fictional author. There is something magical about his stories, especially the favourite, A Christmas Carol. Dickensian evening basically combines aspects of A Christmas Carol (Victorian Dress), with traditional Christmas activities. The roads are closed, the shops open late and stalls set up along the streets for the xmas market selling crafts, foods, and Mulled wines. Add to the mix Morris dancing, local bonfire possession, Christmas carols, Roast chestnuts and Santa turning on the Christmas tree and you have a wonderful festive evening!

Dickensian evening isn’t just Sussex tradition.  Have a search on the Internet to see if there are any local Dickensian evenings to you. I love them, as does Finlay, they are great for children adding to the magic of Xmas.

For all you Sussex people, put Saturday, November 19th into your diary. This years confirmed Dickensian evening for Alfriston. Take a look below for the line up kicking off at 2pm. To be taken to the Alfriston Dickensian page and further details,click the image below. Hopefully, we will see you there!!

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ERF – Rear Facing beyond Group 0+

ERF - Extended Rear Facing

ERF – Extended Rear Facing

I’m not a parent who pushes their views onto other people, but I do like to provide people with information so they can make their own informed decisions when it comes to their children. Extended Rear Facing (ERF) is one of those subjects I feel very strongly about. Mainly because the UK has a culture of turning their babies forward facing as soon as they hit 9kg (or 15kg from the new i-Size regulation). This culture, combined with a lack of resource available on ERF, a market full of forward facing car seats and a lack of ERF seats, it is no surprise that most parents choose to turn their babies forward facing when they start outgrowing the first stage seat.

Did you know that ERF is 5x safer than forward facing? Many countries have a requirement by law that children remain Rearward facing until they are 5 years old!

For me when I first started researching about Finlay’s next stage car seat when he was a baby, there was no question about choosing an ERF seat. However speaking to friends, most agreed that forward facing was the best for their babies, with some facing forwards as soon as they hit 9kg. The general consensus was:

  • My baby is bored facing rearward
  • My babies legs are too long to keep them rear facing
  • My baby wants to see where we are going
  • My baby is uncomfortable Rear Facing

I have also had conversations with Family who argue the hell about, it not being safer because you can also be hit from behind! Although they support our choice, there is always little digs and comments about it being time to turn Finlay around over the past three years. As we come to a point at 3.8 years, Finlay has been forward facing for the last two months in my car which I just drive around town in. We feel ready now to turn him forward facing in the family car. But as we do, I just wanted to share some facts about the reasons and arguments for why we chose to keep Finlay in and ERF. So perhaps somewhere along the way we can help you decide whether the time is right to turn your little forward facing.

  • Why shouldn’t I turn my baby at 9kg? Babies are not mini adults. Proportionately a babies head is massive and heavy in comparison to its body. The spine and neck have yet to harden and the forces applied in a frontal collision can cause the spine to stretch and snap, called internal decapitation. If sitting rearward, the head is cradled by the car seat. The impact is distributed through the whole back area. Please watch this video which demonstrates this.
  • What about my Babies Legs? ERF Car seats sit higher up and further back than 0+ car seats. This allows for plenty of leg room. There have also been no reported incidents of ERF children hurting there legs, but there are many reported injuries of children with neck injuries in forward facing seats. I also would rather a broken leg, than a broken neck – it’s a lot easier to mend!
  • But my baby wants to see where we are going. A child unless sitting in the middle seat will not be able to see out the front window. ERF seats sit higher up allowing children to see out of the side and back window. Remember also that a young Childs vision is not great and would not be able to focus on everything rushing towards them. They can actually see more rear facing.
  • Wont my child be uncomfortable? The car seats are just as comfy as forward facing ones. There is plenty of leg room as the positioning is different. They are higher up so they can see out of the side and rear windows. Also, a child that has always been rear facing will have nothing to compare it to. They will remain happy and content and you can use the usual toys and games to keep them entertained on journeys. You can get special mirrors so you can make eye contact also.
  • What if I was in a rear ended crash? More Forward facing crashes tend to happen at higher speeds with more severe injuries. Rear crashes are statistically at lower speeds and most damage is on the car, there are also less of them. So from statistics, you are more likely to be in forward facing crash. If however you are in a rear ended crash, drivers tend to press the brake before impact. This creates a brake force with a forward direction. The child is then pushed back into the seat and cradled by it. Also, think of it as two cars crashing into each other at 70mph will cause tremendous force. The car goes from high speed to standstill in a matter of seconds. With two cars travelling in the same direction, and one going into the back of the other. This creating a very small differentiating force and a less serious impact in comparison.

Not Convinced? The please have a look over Rear Facing: The way forward for many more facts, figures and information.

 

As I said I respect everyone’s individual wishes. However, I would say make sure your choice are made with the right reasons behind them. ERF is 5x more safer for a reason.

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Bump Watch: Tiny Tuppen #2 Week 22

week 22

Another week has flown by, I feel I am beginning to feel like a broken record, somehow I have got to week 22 already. For those that have been following my bump watch, No I haven’t made any further progress getting organised, hey I have about 18 weeks! That’s looking back to say July, that’s aaaaaaages right? Oh Crumbs maybe not! Actually, I bought a packet of newborn nappies this week, there, progress, I’m getting there slowly! Anyway, there are far more pressing things to think about, Halloween is now over which can only mean one thing, Christmas planning!

Week 22

I think my hormones have been really messing me this week, I have been a little bit of an emotional wreck.  Getting upset over a few things like my cats health. To be honest, I will probably be upset whether pregnant or not, but I have gone from happy to crying in seconds, which must be my hormones. However, crying over accidently crushing a snail is definitely the pregnancy hormones (I’m a softie)!

I feel that the hormones are also playing havoc with my anxiety. I have felt quite good the last few weeks and have pushed myself to get out and do a few things with Fin, which I just avoided in the Summer. However, I have found myself worrying more and more about the birth and what could go wrong. My anxieties, as do most peoples tend to go from something benign like eating an apple, to how that apple then ends up killing you. Ok that sounds dramatic, but anxiety is a horrible horrible thing.

So this week me thinking about the upcoming birth and a nice pleasant VBAC has on a few occasions left me sobbing thinking I will need to have a C-section and then bleed to death. It’s irrational and I try hard to remind myself that. I’m quite lucky that I can pull myself out of it quite quickly, but it’s just silly and annoying.

Also, I had my Eye check up this week and I suddenly felt quite anxious, I find myself looking for the door for an exit, not that I would ever just run out. That would be too embarrassing! However, as I sat there I suddenly thought to myself Do I smell of Poo? I have no idea why this thought entered my head, I don’t think I have ever smelt of poo. Not even when I had a pooey newborn. Also having showered an hour before, it was doubtful I would smell of anything. There was no poo I recall on my walk from the car, Why little head would you plant that seed? Well, it had been planted and I spent the next 45 minutes hoping I didn’t smell of poo, embarrassed and uncomfortable!! I definitely blame the hormones, My eyesight has also got worse! Boooo!

I have begun to feel lots of kicking this week which is really nice and reassuring. Mostly down the right side of my tummy which makes sense as that is where the baby was sitting during the scan. I have tried a few exercises to encourage baby to move from the breech position. This involves me elevating my pelvis higher than tummy for 30 seconds at a time. I found the easiest way for me to do this is to lie on the floor and lean my legs and hips up the wall. I did try the one leaning off the sofa/bed but that made the blood rush to my head and I don’t like that.

Hopefully, this will be enough encouragement to boot its bum out my pelvis! Its early days those so I’m not too concerned right now. If in a few weeks it’s still breech I may have to spend the next weeks walking on my hands!

There doesn’t seem to be any pattern at the moment to the movement, I guess the placenta is cushioning a lot of the movement still. There’s been the odd moment when I have had a good wallop, especially in my bladder, so baby is definitely getting stronger. I look forward to getting to know a more regular pattern in the coming weeks so I can keep a better watch on the babies health.

I have quite a few restless nights this week. Not that I can’t sleep, I feel I could sleep for the world right now. It’s more relating to getting comfy. I wouldn’t say the bump is huge right now, but I feel it has really got in the way sleeping. I leant on it too hard the other night and woke myself up. It must have pulled on a round ligament. So as a result of disturbed sleep, this week I have been really sleepy too!

You can read about Week 21 here in my previous instalment, but otherwise join me next week for week 23!

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#MySundayPhoto – The Journey Ends

The Journey Ends

#MySundayPhoto – The Journey Ends

This week I have been sharing our past experience having a baby with Plagiocephaly and his journey through corrective Helmet treatment. This is a topic that I hold close to my heart as it was a big part of our life during Finlay’s first year. Especially as there was and remains little advice and support from the NHS. Although many cases of the syndrome are only mild and self-correct, for the more severe cases this is often not true and help and advice is hard to come by. Often by the time you get the answers you need, it is too late to treat without the need of a corrective helmet. For some even this is too late.

Finlay was five and half months before I took matters into my own hands and contacted a private clinic. At this point, I didn’t even know what his condition was called. We were lucky, although he was diagnosed with severe Plagiocephaly he was still young. He shouldn’t need to be in a helmet for long and we should see good results.

testing testing testing

Finlay’s Helmet treatment lasted about 101 days. It was tough. It would cost over £2000 with regular visits to the treatment centre which was an 86 Mile round trip. We did regular fundraising events and press releases. There was lots of questions and lots of stares. It was the height of summer, it was sweaty and stinky, but the end result was worth it.

The day the helmet came off was a significant moment for Finlay. Although it was only 101 days that was over a third of his little life. Taking the helmet off for the last time was a surreal moment and we felt a little lost. We did not want to put the helmet away in the back of the cupboard, so we placed it on a teddy and sat it on Finlay’s top shelf and snapped this picture to mark the end of Finlay’s Helmet Journey.

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Living on a tight budget

Living on a tight budget

I was reading an article a couple of days ago on the BBC about a predicted rise in inflation. My heart just sank. As a family, we live on a very tight budget. I guess we are what is known as the Middle classed squeezed. We both work, our salaries are nothing to shout about, they could be better but then again they could be worse! We can not apply for help as we just earn over the threshold, everything we pay for comes from our wages. There’s nothing to fall back on.

Living in the south has it advantages. It’s beautiful, but being on the commuter belt to London, everything is very expensive including housing. We don’t own a home, I doubt we could get a mortgage. If we could we have no deposit and no way to save for one. So we rent. The cost of renting is extortionate. Although our rent is high, we are lucky that it’s on the cheaper side for a 3 bed house in this area. However, we get stung paying over £200 a month in council tax. On top of that we pay between £150 – £200 of nursery fee’s. This is before we pay out for all the other bills, food and cars.

At the end of the day we just manage to balance the books at the end of each month, this is after having to budget in a wage cut when my employer decided to reduce my hours back in August. However unexpected bills are a struggle. So the thought of a 4% rise in inflation scares the life out of me!

I find it extremely embarrassing that we struggle so much financially. I mean on paper we should be comfortable right. What must people think of us when time and time again we have to say we can’t afford it. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in a perpetual loop of doom. Friends who are on the property market pay lower mortgages than our rent, some by half (not that I am dissing them). They have stability and each year they own more and more of their home. Over the past 4 years we have paid over £40,000 towards someone else’s mortgage. How I wish that had been towards our own home. I know we could afford to pay a mortgage, we just can’t get one!

So what does it mean for us living on a tight budget?
  • We don’t have luxuries, family days out are rare, and we constantly budget.
  • Holidays don’t exist. We have never been on holiday together as a couple or as a family. I can’t see it happening anytime soon either.
  • A perpetual engagement (4 years and counting). I would love to get married, have a special day, of course on a budget. However, we have no spare money to save anything. Friends who have had beautiful weddings say ‘just go the the registry office’ but would they be happy with that? Why should I miss out on a day I have dreamed about forever? Don’t get me wrong I won’t be spending thousands, but even a budget wedding is off the cards.
  • I often stand in a shop weighing up if Finlay’s clothes will do another week or two or season, I cry when they don’t!
  • Chris having put up with me whining every time he spends some money on himself – sorry Chrissy, I just worry.
  • Me walking around in tatty clothes that are already years old because I can’t justify spending on myself when there are bills to pay and Finlay needs clothes more.
  • Currently trying to squeeze into normal clothes and not wanting to spend on a maternity wardrobe, even Ebay seems expensive!
  • Borrowing money from my mum when we have an emergency like when Milo became poorly.
  • Feeling like I can’t give Finlay stability – who knows when the landlord will put the rent up or sell up. I dread to think how we would pay the admin and referencing fee’s to move which came come up to £1000!
  • Constant stress and worry about when the next bill will arrive – let’s not even mention the yearly MOT’s. I wish we could live with one car, but it’s impossible around our work and nursery schedule.
  • I get anxious over a £5 shop in poundland!
  • Chris and I rarely go out on date nights – but we make up for it snuggling on the sofa with our ‘parasitic’ Netflix account!

Sometimes I get so tired of constantly budgeting, I just wish we could live without the financial worry. I don’t know what the future holds or what else to do. I feel I have budgeted down to the last penny, I have transferred to the cheapest tariffs. We have cancelled nearly all unessential direct debits. To be honest, unless something changes drastically I think it will only get worse, especially with Maternity coming up.  Luckily I have quite a bit of annual leave I am allowed to tag on and a good occupational maternity package! All i know is the impact of a 4% inflation rise will hit us hard.

I haven’t meant to write this post as a whining poor me post. I know a lot of people are in a similar situation and I feel for them. With inflation set to soar throughout 2017 I just needed to vent my frustrations. I would love to hear if you have any budget or money saving tips that I might not already be doing!

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Childcare Circles for Working Parents

childcare circlesA few days ago I was having a conversation about Childcare and working. This led on to the funding for 15 free hours for 3 and 4 year olds. Finlay goes to Nursery for 15 hours, in theory, you would think childcare would be quite cheap for us. After all, you get 15 hours free, right? Technically yes, but in reality not always. For starters, the funding is only for 38 weeks of the year. That’s fair enough, but still, you would think we would only pay for 14 weeks of nursery a year,our bill would be low.

Well, our Monthly nursery fee for 15 hours a week is between £150 and £200 a month. Between £1800 and £2400 a year! How can that be? The simple answer is nurseries can choose how to offer the hours. You will be lucky to find a nursery that lets you take the hours as and when. In my nursery, the funding is limited to 3 hours per session, term time only. I can only take 9 of my 15 hours. Some nurseries let you spread the hours over the whole year which saves larger bills during the holidays if you’re lucky. The rest of the hours for the session at my nursery are charged at a higher hourly rate than the normal. Although it;s definitely cheaper, it;s not technically free and although our bill isn’t huge, it’s a big chunk when you’re on a lower income.

I actually work 22.5 hours a week (recently reduced from 26). If I had to pay childcare for extra sessions, It would not be cost effective for me to work. So how do I make up the shortfall in my childcare? Childcare Circles!

Childcare Circles

What are they? Well, childcare circles or babysitting rings are more often than not set up between friends. Those people who do not have the privilege of having regular babysitters can get out and enjoy an evening without having to pay the earth on top of a night out. They are often close friends, and the group set up rules and have a token type system. One token is perhaps an hours worth of childcare. Each party perhaps starts with 4 tokens and you give and receive between the group. However, childcare circles can easily be adapted for daycare around working parents.

I am extremely lucky that a close friend of mine was only 3 months behind me when I expecting Finlay. One day when the babies were small the topic of nursery came up and how expensive it was. A friend actually suggested we looked after each others baby to save money. We looked at each other and agreed. When we went back to work, I would have her little girl one day a week and she would have Finlay on another. Neither of us use the full day, but the option is there if that is needed. It saves us both money and can be extremely flexible. We have been doing it for almost 3 years now.

Things to consider when setting up a childcare circle around work
  • They work better for closer friends rather than acquaintances
  • Think about how much you trust the other party
  • How many people will be involved/how many babies can you cope with
  • Ensure you all discuss the terms and arrangements
  • Is everyone happy and agrees?
  • Do you have a back up plan in case it falls through?
Advantages
  • Can give you flexibility, hours not fixed like nursery
  • Saves a lot of money
  • Baby looked after by someone you know and trust
  • Children can form close friendships/bonds
Disadvantages
  • Could fall through quite easily if one party pulls out
  • dependent on two way trust
  • No cover when the other party is on holiday/during sickness
  • If you only have one day off, it won’t be just you and your child

Personally, the childcare circle I have been part of has worked so well for me and my friend. Without it, I don’t think I could work the hours I do and get my little bit of independence. Luckily both our works have good family friendly working policies in place. On the odd days where either of us has been away or sick, it hasn’t caused a problem. If you have close friends with children of a similar age, then bring up the subject. You might be surprised and find an affordable solution to childcare issues!

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Mad About Kids

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