When the Kids Leave Home

It can be difficult to cope when your children leave home. For years your life has revolved around caring for them and preparing them for the outside world, but when they enter it, it can leave a void. Empty Nest Syndrome is very real, and many people feel a loss of purpose when their children aren’t around the house any more.

There are a few simple ways to relieve these feelings of loss, so you can refocus and concentrate on the new freedom you have in your life.

[Read more…]

Three Storage Tips to Make Your Home Safer and More Spacious

Not only does it look a mess, clutter can be a bit of a health hazard too, especially when you have kids around. Think about knives lurking at the bottom of drawers, or heavy boxes waiting to topple on toddlers. Doesn’t bear thinking about.

Here are some tips to help keep the house tidier, and safer to boot.

A Place for Everything

It may be a tired old cliché, but having designated spots for everything from boots to crayons means you can find what you want straight away without tripping over things on the way.

Drawer organisers are easy to buy and cheap, and they’re useful all round the house, not just for cutlery in the kitchen. Use them for:

  • Pens, crayons and felt tips in a crafting drawer.
  • Hair ties and bobbles.
  • Costume or play jewellery
  • Make up and brushes

You can also buy or make dividers for sock drawers, and to keep crockery or pots and pans organised.

Shelving throughout the house creates lots of storage without restricting the floor area, and is especially good for keeping glass or other breakables out of little finger’s reach.

Activity Zones within Rooms

We can’t all afford bespoke rooms for every activity. Bedrooms are all occupied by beds and people who sleep in them, and dining rooms are fully fitted out with dining furnishings. We can, however, earmark sections of a room for certain activities and take steps to make sure the kit needed for those activities stays within the boundaries.

  • The office in the living room – a small computer workstation in a corner takes up little floor space. Install shelving over the desk for stationery or text books, and use an open bookcase set perpendicular to the wall as a cubicle boundary. Have some books facing each way so it looks good from either side, and pretty it up with trailing plants and photo frames or ornaments.
  • Zoning children’s rooms – make a quiet reading corner with a couple of bookcases and a beanbag, or lay a play mat for building bricks or cars. Captain and cabin beds create additional space for activity zones beneath them without taking up extra floor space.
  • Elsewhere in house, adopt ideas such as installing a shoe rack in the cupboard under the stairs to encourage people not to leave shoes lying around in the hallway. You could rearrange furniture in the living room to make conversation more important than watching TV, or create zones with colour or textiles that either excite the mind or promote calm.

Going Seasonal With Storage

When you’ve got more possessions than house room but you don’t want to permanently get rid of stuff, putting what you’re not using into self storage is a way of freeing up space. Some people go the seasonal route, storing summer garden furnishings and machinery over winter and winter sports kit during the summer. You could adopt the same routine with clothes if you have favourites that come out every year. Wardrobes are less crammed, and what’s in there stays in better condition.

Minimising the things kept at home makes it easier to create a safe environment too. Not only are garages and sheds less attractive as treasure troves and climbing frames to children, it’s easier to keep the inside of the house clean and sanitary when you can easily reach the corners.

An added bonus to organising home storage and clearing up some clutter is the sense of mental freedom afterwards. The home feels more airy and spacious, and is an altogether nicer place to be.

Claiming Flight Compensation: Do it Yourself or Use a Solicitor

Flying should be a comfortable and convenient way to travel, whether it be for business or pleasure. Thousands of flights happen daily across the globe, so we expect the process to run like a well-oiled machine. So, when something does not go as it should, it is natural to feel frustrated and cheated. Of course, in some cases delayed flights or even cancelled flights can mean a loss of work or missing an important event, so wanting to claim compensation is perfectly natural. However, should you claim on your own behalf or use a solicitor.

[Read more…]

At Peace With Just The One

My son was never meant to be an only child.

As the youngest of four children, my childhood home was always full of hustle and bustle with a multitude of playmates. Of course it also meant that there wasn't a moment's peace and quiet, but I wouldn't have traded that for the world. Which is why I was going to have two children.

Was going to.

But it just hasn't happened and at the grand old age of 40, I'm ok with that.

I can recognise now that I'm fairly certain I had such significant birth trauma after my son was born that it may have been borderline PTSD; it certainly triggered anxiety and panic attacks. It's taken a good few years with various counselling interventions to make peace with the mistakes that were made during his birth, but I can now let it go.

He's here, he's healthy, he's happy.

That is the most important thing.

However, by the time I'd adjusted and entertained the thought of childbirth again, I was on the slippery slope towards 40. Having a baby at 32 was hard enough, but this many years later? I dread to think how I'd cope with the feeding dilemma and subsequent guilt combined with the sleepless nights, let alone the physical toll on my body. Pre-pregnancy weight is a distant dream eluding me and I'm nowhere near as fit. Would my body actually hold up through the pregnancy? It is a realistic concern and in order to be physically in a place where I should become pregnant would take at least a year. Then there's the falling pregnant and the actual three-quarters of a year before the baby arrives.

I'd be looking at 43 and my son would be 11. That's a heck of an age gap and one that I know only too well can be very difficult to overcome; luckily I've got two siblings in the gap of twelve years between my eldest brother and I, and it makes it easier. I'm just not sure that it would be very fair on The Boy.

Did I want my son to have a sibling?

Of course I did, it's one of the most amazing bonds and the longest one a person can have. Never have I known three people that I can absolutely adore whilst also wanting to pull their hair out. And I'm not talking about when we were children; my brothers both currently need their heads banging together for many reasons. But I still love them.

There's a saving grace to assuage my guilt; my sister's children. They're incredibly close to my son (my niece is 14 and my nephew 11) and the three of them together are like the Three Musketeers. It fills my heart with joy to see him cuddling my niece like a big sister, learning how to tie his shoelaces from her and the way that she always visually checks he's managing at dinner, or automatically holds his hand near a road. Likewise I'm filled with glee when I see the two boys down in the mud kitchen concocting all mnaner of delicacies for their restaurant; Food and Doogan. Or when they go on a space mission through the garden to the climbing frame rocket with football helmets under their arms.

The bond that they have is similar to that of a sibling, but the best thing about cousins is that you have more of your own space and can have a more effective timeout.

I'm lucky. I have a son. He's funny and kind and amazing and fills my heart with joy. I can't imagine my life without enjoying his company.

And that's why I've accepted that I just have one child.

Now does anyone want to buy a pram?

Why Do People Make Bad Financial Decisions?

Let's be honest, we all make bad spending decisions from time to time. Unfortunately, some of us make more bad choices than others. If your dangerous decisions are becoming a habit, then it might be time to sit back and think about whether there's a reason for your pattern of poor investment choices.

There are plenty of ways you can mismanage your funds, from overspending, to compulsively shopping, and even under-estimating your budget. While we're all guilty of making these mistakes sometimes, science suggests that there could be a strong link between your current financial status and your spending habits.

[Read more…]

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

Save

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.

[Read more…]

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...