Interview With An Eight Year Old

My son makes me smile and laugh in equal measures. He's a contrary little monkey, with a fantastic sense of humour, and everything about him makes my heart burst with adoration and love. Be it his mostly accurate commentary of the performances on Strictly Come Dancing ("His timing is all wrong Mummy, and she was basically jogging around the dancefloor with a smile on her face!"), or his complicated recipes for 'Food and Doogan' (the mudpie kitchen he runs with his cousin, from the bottom of our garden), I love to see his personality emerging with a wonderful joie de vivre.

Every year around his birthday, we conduct an interview which I record; a set format of twenty questions* that really show how his tastes and thoughts are changing as he matures. The first one was conducted five years ago when he was a squiggly little three year old infant who couldn't sit still, and some things never change!

The tastes are definitely starting to change; bye bye to Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig (look at his incredulation that it was ever included), hello to Chinese takeaways and Ed Sheeran. While some things never change; his love of Cornwall, his best friend, and his favourite meal being cheesy-ham pasta!

Previous Interviews With…

* The original questions originated with this post on A Matter Of Choice.

The Cost of the First Twelve Months

Normal-Res-Baby-Infographic

In the school that I work in we have had a wave of new babies being born over the past couple of years, such is the way when the staff is made up of mostly women under the age of 40. It's an absolute joy to see my colleagues realise the wonder of having their own little bundles of joy to enrich their lives, and of course I am able to have an excuse to crochet and use up some of my infinite supply of yarn (it's over-running our house!).

I've had quite a few discussions since having my son about the cost of having children, they are pricey little monkeys! And of course the first year seems to be the most expensive, especially as most of the money seems to be spent on 'consumable' or 'disposable' items; it makes juggling finances in the initial twelve months really hard, especially when parents having a limited income due to parental leave. Most of the time when someone says to me that they are waiting to have enough money to be able to afford the cost of having a baby I tell them that you'll never have enough and you make the pennies work. I became very resourceful making pasties, shopping at nearly new sales and generally being as frugal as possible.

When the shock of those first few years have passed, it's actually quite interesting to see the breakdown of the cost of having a child. The obvious comparison of the cost of feeding is obvious; breastmilk is free and if mums choose to breastfeed then they could save £1,500 during the first year! The interesting discovery for me was that reusable nappies aren't that much cheaper than disposables, only saving £100.

I was quite fortunate in not needing to use a private nursery or paid childcare as my mother was able to look after my son when I returned to work when he was 11 months old. He didn't attend a state nursery either as I felt he was too young to cope with it every day, but he did have a few sessions a week in a private preschool which my husband's boss paid for. We saved a lot on childcare during those first four years, thanks to extended family, but I was interested to see that the cost of childcare wasn't as much as I'd thought. This infographic produced by Busybees preschool in Leeds is intriguing and definitely worth looking at for new parents.

Normal-Res-Baby-Infographic

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Is All Inclusive The Best Way to Save Money On Your Next Holiday?

When you're looking into booking your next holiday, you'll probably be offered the option of selecting all inclusive. Two things here – firstly, you'll almost certainly see the price of your holiday increase in comparison to a self catering, bed and breakfast or half board selection.

Secondly, don't necessarily let that price increase put you off. Going all inclusive can be a way of saving money on your holiday if you calculate that cost against what you'll be likely to spend on food and drink across the duration of your trip – whether that be one week or two weeks.

'An all inclusive' holiday means you can really put your feet up and relax, knowing you have paid for your food and drinks upfront – and they can be great value' state online travel agents Travel Republic.

All inclusive options can vary from hotel to hotel, so it's always advisable to check specific details to confirm what is and isn't included before you book. Typically though, you can expect breakfast, lunch and dinner to be covered, and at least some soft and alcoholic drinks. Some all inclusive deals will also include snacks during the day.

Of course, you'll pay for all of this up front when you book your holiday and so your bank account may feel the pinch at the time. But if you work out how much you're likely to spend on three meals a day per person going on the holiday, plus drinks, and then compare this with the extra money you've paid to upgrade to all inclusive, you might be pleasantly surprised. As the Travel Magazine says in this article: 'With an all inclusive holiday you get to enjoy the benefit of literally leaving your wallet in your hotel room.'

It's certainly a nice feeling knowing that you don't have to worry about budgeting for basics like food when you're away. In fact, there's a good chance the only money you'll need to spend will be on nice extras such as gifts, extra activities and excursions.

All inclusive can be especially good for families on holiday. Not only does it cover food and drink, it also means that hotels offering all inclusive options have entertainment included too. 'With mini discos and games now on most hotels' night-time agendas, you can sit back and enjoy a cocktail while they (the kids) run riot with new friends,' says bounty.com.

It's not completely about saving money, though. Having a stress free holiday is important and knowing that your children will be fed when they're hungry, without the worry of finding a restaurant with space when little tummies are rumbling, makes life very easy indeed. The flexibility of many all inclusive options allows kids to eat lunch whenever they want, within reason. For example, if your teenage son is playing football when the rest of the family want to eat, he can sit down an hour later when the sports club has finished.

And, if you have a fussy eater it really doesn't matter if they try a meal and don't like it, because there is usually plenty more on offer to eat instead; all inclusive options are often buffet-style meals. There is a vast choice and limitless portions!

Everyone has an opinion and all inclusive comes down to choice. Some holidaymakers may prefer to dine somewhere different every day but others will love the convenience and value of all inclusive.

Junior ISAs: Should You Get One For Your Child?

When it comes to junior ISAs, a small amount goes a long way if it is regularly contributed and withheld until your little one is ready to receive the money. If you start when they are born, you could have a nice little nest egg to gift to your child once they come of age and start looking to put deposits down on houses and pay University fees.

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The Boy… Aged Eight

The Boy aged 8

It's been way too long since I blogged, still trying to find my mojo with a busy job and homelife, and balancing how much of my son's life I share; his digital footprint is something that I am very aware of as he gets older.

However, there are two things that I do every year to celebrate The Boy turning another year older; video him answering the same set of questions, and a collage of his favourite things. Ashamedly, I seemed to have not done the photo last year, but I'm not missing it again!

The Boy aged 8

 

Here are his previous collages aged three years old, four years old, five years old, and aged six.

Turning Crafts With Your Kids Into Memories

There is nothing better for decorating a family home than children's crafts that you helped them make. Not only is making unique crafts with your children some excellent bonding time, but it can help build up their creative and problem-solving skills which will serve them well throughout their lives. Therefore, this is something that you will want to start doing with your children if you have not already begun to do so. To help you with this, you will want to take a look at some of the following suggestions that you and your children could easily make use of.

Customized Bedding

When it comes to custom bedding, you can make an entire set or simply focus on one piece to customize that can be added to your current bedding selection. Is Father’s Day or mom’s birthday coming up? Help your kids go through some photos of the fun times that they have had and pick the best ones to have uploaded to a company that can create custom bed sheets, pillows, comforters, or anything else that you can think of.

If you know how to sew a quilt or want to use this as the time to figure it out, you and your kids could take t-shirts that you bought from all of your vacations together and use those for the various quilt patches.

Make Some Windchimes

You and your children can make various wind chimes that you can set up all over your porch, on the outside of the windows of the house, around the garage, or spread throughout your yard. The options are endless.

If you and the children have collected driftwood over the years from a nearby river or from when you went on vacation, you can use those along with shells and make very rustic or beach-themed windchimes. If you do not want to use the seashells that you collected while on vacation, or you simply do not have any, you can easily find bags of them at your local craft stores.

Canvas Artwork

Head to your local craft store, or a large department store with a suitable crafting department, and pick up some blank canvases. They come in a variety of sizes, so you should have no trouble finding some canvases that will fit nicely on the walls of your home.

Then you need some quality paint in a variety of colors and various sizes of paintbrushes. Take all of the supplies outside with the children on a nice sunny day and let them have a blast creating their own art masterpieces. Once they are dried, you can hang them all throughout the house.

Custom Coffee Mugs

There are a few different ways to do this. You can upload pictures or drawings of your children and have a company print those onto the coffee mugs of your choice. The chikdren can have a lot of fun picking out the best photos or drawing something extra special for the mugs.

If you want to create custom coffee mugs with a more hands-on approach, you will want to purchase plain white coffee mugs. Purchasing non-toxic paint and brand new paint brushes. While you might want to get a variety of sizes, make sure that you are also getting very thin brushes for any small details that they want to create on the mug.

As you can see, there are many different crafts that you can do with your children that you can then have up on display around the house. Pick one. Pick two. Or pick all of these and any others that you come across. You and the children will have a great deal of fun making wonderful memories and décor for your home.

His Ideal Sport: A #TennisForKids Journey

Tennis for Kids filming

Last year I was very keen to sign my son up to the Lawn Tennis Association's #TennisForKids campaign in its inaugural year. He was fortunate to have one of the 10,000 spaces available throughout the UK and received six free sessions learning some basic skills and having a brilliant time. At the end of the six sessions, he was able to take home the racket that he'd been learning with in order to continue to play. The campaign was a roaring success for us, free taster sessions and a free racket to see if tennis was 'his thing'.

It turned out that tennis was very much to his taste as he continued playing tennis after the sessions ended in June, attending the Saturday morning sessions until the end of November and even going on some Summer camp days during the holidays. We've recently signed him up as a junior member of our local LTA club and he starts proper lessons in the first week back after the Easter holidays; those six free sessions have really started him off with a passion for the sport.

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#TennisForKids: One Year On – Advice and Tips

TennisForKids 2017

Last year we were fortunate enought to be involved in promoting the (then) brand new initiative from The Lawn Tennis Association, Tennis For Kids, which enabled 10,000 children around the United Kingdom to receive a course of six tennis sessions from qualified coaches free of charge. The programme was so popular that a further 5,000 places were created, in total this introduced 15,000 children between the ages of 5 and 8 to tennis, a sport that they may not have considered playing before. And at the end of the sessions, each child received a free tennis racket to keep.

The Lawn Tennis Association have contacted me again this year as they are running the fantastic and free campaign again this year. However, in 2017 they are offering up a whopping 20,000 spaces to children around Britain, giving them access to six free tennis sessions of quality coaching and a free racket!

TennisForKids 2017

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Plinky Plonk Progress

Twelve years ago my old headteacher decided to sell the infant school piano to the piano tuner for £100. I interjected and asked if I could buy it for the same price.

At the time, we had a shell of a sixty year old house. The only floor which had not been dug up due to a dodgy dampproof course was in the living room and the day when we would make that house our home seemed a long way off.

Yet sure enough, the following Saturday morning saw two men in a van transport the battered and coffee-ring stained mug that was a feature of my own childhood infant assemblies, to our 'new' rubble-strewn house. We protected it from the constant dust for six months, encasing its wooden, badly varnished carcass in many layers of plastic sheeting, cursing the hefty lump of wood and wondering why I'd had this bright idea when neither of us could play the piano.

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Easy, But Romantic Date Night Ideas

Date night has become a staple of modern family life, allowing mum and dad to take some time out to reconnect and reaffirm their relationship away from the pressures and demands of family life.

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