Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Money Saving

  • Baby events: That lovely time of the year when the big supermarkets slash the prices on hundreds of baby products in store. Several are held within the year and are worth checking out if you are a parent/expectant parent and are collecting bits and pieces for baby. Once you start bulk buying boxes of discounted wipes (£7.80 for a box of 12 Johnston's wipes) I guarantee you'll refuse to spend £1 on one packet ever again!. You can find  everything from clothing, baby bath and skin products, bouncers, walkers and strollers to medicines and teething remedies. Literally everything baby related. 
  • Sign up for a Tescos clubcard: We are raking in the points from our weekly shop (Money off prosecco- woohoo) and being sent out multiple £1.50 off baby milk coupons. Every little helps, right?
  • Buy gender neutral colours if you plan on future babies! After being handed our 'pink' bag at the gender scan it was hard not to go out and splash out on all the pastel pinks in sight!, but we do hope for another baby in the future and we really tried keeping all the big items (pram, bouncer, high chair, stroller) gender neutral, just to save a little money down the line.
  • Baby Clubs: You'll receive emails informing you of when baby events are being held and often a sneak peak at the offers or sale previews. Boots parenting club sends out personalised offers targeted at your baby's age and based on your regular spends, 10 points for every £1 spent and emails informing you of up to date offers that may be of interest. Early Centre have a 'big Birthday club' which you can sign up to for gift ideas catered to your little one's age and a 20% discount on a full price product around the time of their Birthday! Google 'baby club' and hundreds will pop up from big stores (and brands)  such as Tesco, Asda, Heinz, SMA, Johnsons to name a few. They are definitely worth checking out- the only downside being the horrendous amount of emails that come along with them.
  • Amazon: Before making baby purchases in  store it's worth checking on Amazon to see if you can get it any cheaper. (That is if you can be bothered with waiting around for the postman on a daily basis- saying that, knowing the postman was arriving gave me the kick up the backside I needed to get  bump and I up out of bed during maternity leave!) There are so many savings to be made. We purchased my pregnancy pillow, fetal dopler and Bump To Birthday journal on Amazon for next to nothing and purchased boxes of 12 Johnston's wipes (£8 for 12 packets + free delivery) every few weeks. During the early months we also bulk purchased Pamper's nappies- when Tescos weren't running their 2 for £15 offer. It really is the online market place and sells every product you can think of from thousands of well known brands. Particularly worth checking out for first toys (Lamaze, Bright Starts, Fisher-Price - I now refuse to pay the prices in the likes of Mothercare/Toys 'R' Us unless I find an absolute bargain!)  Also good for the likes of books (brand new and second hand for as little as 99p!) and big baby purchases like changing bags and baby walkers. Search anything and they're likely to stock it.
  • Don't be afraid to take what people offer you:  Pre baby I was a bit of a self confessed snob, It was our first baby and a part of me really preferred to have everything brand new- even though our budget was pretty much stretched to it's capacity by the end of our pregnancy! A lot of my mum's friends/colleagues were so incredibly generous and passed down lots of bits and pieces  such as a feeding pillow, a play ring and door bouncer to name a few! You will probably find these are the products that you yourself don't use for too long either and will be glad that you didn't spend on- they will also be happy that these items didn't go to waste!
  • Make use of Gumtree/Buy And Sell sites: Again these kinds of pages/sites are totally worth checking out if you are looking a baby bargain. You can save hundreds on prams, many being for sale for reasons such as they've had to change to a double buggy or the baby didn't take to it and prefered a stroller from the start! You can arrange a viewing before you buy if you want to check out the condition, but the majority of the time you will find that they have only been used several times and the owner wants to get back a bit of the money they paid for it.  We wanted two moses baskets, one for upstairs and one for downstairs and so bought one from a buy and sell site for £15. It was a Clair de Lune which came with a wooden stand that together retails for over £60 in the shops. My mum steam cleaned it and purchased a new mattress and sheets and it was as good as new- and perfect for all the time she was in it (two months) We also bought our baby monitors from the same site for a fraction of the price and the woman selling them added in a Gro egg room thermometer for free which you'll pay £15.00 in Mothercare. 
  • Flog your own: Finished with your own baby items/clothes? sort them into sizes and sell them in bundles on these sites, just make sure they're clean and in good condition first.
  • Think before you buy: Do you really need it? Yes little baby shoes are adorable! but realistically your baby doesn't need them until he/she is walking- socks are just fine!.  Again a bottle warmer is a great little gadget but it isn't an essential.  If you have a bath, purchase a foam support so you don't need to spend on a baby bath and don't feel you have to buy the most expensive baby monitor on the market -we personally have the most basic monitor and it does the job just fine (not to mention the fact, on or off we can hear her wherever we are in the house anyway!) If you aren't too sure on a product, wait until your baby is here and see how you get on without it first.
  • Visit outlets: If you live near any shopping outlets they are certainly worth a visit. Although they are notoriously hit or miss. you're bound to come home with something even if it's a bag full of 50% off bargains in Baby Gap!
  • Find out if you are eligible for any extra help: You don't have to be out of work or have a disability to receive benefits. If your household income is £26,000 or under (with one child) or £32,000 (with two) you may well be eligible for extra help.Try the child tax credits calculator to see what you could be entitled to. Tax credits calculator


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Things I'll Do Differently

Not eat for two: I personally think it's perfectly acceptable to embrace the cravings during your first pregnancy. It's all very new and a bit of a novelty being able to eat whatever you want whenever you want and have a 'valid' excuse for it. That being said, next time around i'll be steering clear of all baked goods and won't allow myself within a two mile radius of a Mc Donalds. No. Really. I've finally accepted that i'm no longer eighteen and can not eat whatever I want without suffering the consequences. So long iced coffees ladened with chocolate syrup and cream. Cheerio, iced cinnamon buns. My thighs don't need you.

Get Gaviscon/Renidine on prescription: I probably could have booked us on an all inclusive Caribbean cruise with the amount of money I spent on heartburn/acid reflux relief remedies. 

...And after expecting Chewbacca, she came out with no hair. What the...

Buy less things: It saddens/embarrasses/infuriates me that I bought so many items of clothing and so many of them were never worn. I spent the last few weeks of my maternity leave on the bedroom floor continuously sorting and organising through countless piles of baby clothes and having mild panic attacks thinking I didn't have enough. In reality I could have done without the dresses, tops and leggings as she basically lived in vests and body suits for the first few months! Luckily Eva has a little cousin born just three months after her who we've passed a few things down to, and there's three boxes of my 'favourite' outfits stored up in the attic in the off chance that another girl comes along. Don't be surprised though if you see me feautured on 'Hoarders' in the near future.

Embrace the birth experience more: Not that I didn't enjoy it, in fact I really did to a certain extent, but next time around i'll have more knowledge of whats ahead (keeping in mind however, that every labour is different). I'll hopefully have more confidence having done it all before, and not look like a dear in headlights any time a midwife comes at me with any kind of utensil.. even just to check my blood pressure!
I'll know when i'm in established labour and try not 'fear' the pain. Like the books say, every contraction is one that you'll never have again, and one closer to meeting your little one.
I'll know exactly what to pack in my hospital bag- 30 breast pads? no.. Hair brush? YES. (How did I forget?)
I'll know how to speed up the recovery: Plenty of witch hazel, loose fitting lounge wear and antiseptic baths.

I will sleep when the baby sleeps: I know, I know. I have it recorded on my blog in black and white that it is physically impossible to sleep when baby sleeps. In fact I was ready to swing at anyone who even suggested it, but to hell with that, Im'a give it a good go. I began napping along with Eva when she was around eight months old and it really has revolutionized everything, i'm almost annoyed at myself for not doing it sooner. Sadly in recent weeks she has dropped her mid morning nap, and im a little gutted ive had to drop mine too but hey, ho. Coffee will have to suffice.

Refrain from bringing baby into bed: I know first hand that this is easier said than done and I wouldn't rule it out completely, but I'll give it my best attempt. We have been co-sleeping from early on and I love nothing more than curling up with my little one for a kip, but as the months have went on and she is getting physically bigger and stronger we are being royally edged out of the bed- and may as well be sleeping on the floor, i'll not lie, some nights it's tempting. Stuart as a baby skipped the cot stage and went straight to a bed, and i'm guessing Eva will be the same. 
If a 'next time' ever comes around, I think i'll look into a 'Next To Me' crib for the closeness and safety, and also the chance to experience sleep with a pillow again! 

Stay off Google: Google does nothing for anxious first time parents, absolutely nothing! One unsettled night and suddenly the search results are telling you your baby has Gastroesophageal reflux, severe colic, and constipation....the list goes on. I'll try to remember that sometimes babies have the ocassional 'off' days and if i'm that concerned to visit the out of hours doctor before pressing search on Google. We now have a cupboard full of Dentinox colic drops, Infacol, Gripe water, and every teething product on the market from 'panic' purchases.

Invest in Ewan The Dream Sheep: Waste of money or not, with over 500 5*'s on Amazon i'll be happy to give him a go. £30 for potentially a good nights sleep? Count me in.

Cut myself some slack: I am far from being a perfect mum, (is there such a thing?) Some days I really feel happy, content and confident i've got the hang of things, and others leave me feeling drained and emotional. There are so many things i'll put my hands up and admit that i'm absolutely crap at.. like choosing practical baby products such as strollers and car seats- which was coincidently lasts weeks big purchase and it left me wondering what on earth ISOfix was..or a top tether, and how come some cost over £300 and others only £90? I'm also not great when it comes to putting outfits together, I struggle dressing myself at times and regularly break the unwritten style 'rules' like wearing navy and black and mixing prints and patterns, so baby fashion was never going to be my forte. I also have to continue to get ready for work in the evenings when Eva wants to play, and then spend my shift with severe mummy guilt that I didn't give her enough of my attention. It's a horrible feeling.

But there are plenty of things that I am damn good at, like making my daughter laugh with ridiculous voices and silly songs, stroking her hair and tickling her hand at nap time. Photographing candid little moments that she'll be able to look back at in years to come and laugh at, and showering her with endless kisses and cuddles. 
I'll accept that i'm far from super mum, i'm going to make plenty of mistakes but that it's OK. That's life. Ill remind myself of all the things that I am good at and rememebr that  every mistake is a lesson.

Enjoy it: I'll remember to enjoy all the little moments, all the different stages and phases. To not get so obsessed with developmental milestones, babies grow and learn things at their own pace. To enjoy the night feeds, those quiet moments alone with my baby. To be in the moment and soak up all the loveliness and lastly to savour those moments my baby looks at me with her big brown eyes like i'm the greatest, most hilarious person to ever grace planet earth, as one day in the not so far away future, I will be a parent of a teenager(s) A mum that will be as secretly be as gloriously cringey as Regina George's mum, and I look forward to it.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

She Is Only A Baby For Just A Little While..

'Cherish these night feeds, believe it or not, you'll miss them one day.'

Oh please, I used to think, by that stage I'll be catching up on every Zzzzz that I've missed out on.

Back in those days I would have done anything for more sleep. Anything.
Eva's relationship with sleep was a write off from the very beginning. Countless nights I stood in the landing crying down the phone to my mum with sheer exhaustion, and in true motherly style she reassured me that I was doing a fantastic job and told me of times she'd pace the floors with my older brother and I. 'Everybody does it' she assured me.
In these small hours I was utterly convinced  that I simply wasn't cut out for this parenting caper. I was always very aware that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but my God, I didn't expect it to be just as hard as it was at times. 
These were the moments that I just wanted to hug my own mum tight and apologise profusely for all the times that I was a bit of a twat. (The vast majority of my teenage years i'm sure she would have you believe)

Everyone else seemed to have it all sussed out. 

OK, when I say 'everyone' I mean all those mums and dad's on my Instagram/ Facebook feed with their spotless houses, with rooms that actually resembled living rooms and not a Mama's and Papa's outlet. Their smiley babies bathed and ready for bed ,not a colicky grimace in sight. I'd do laps of the local park and be so painfully aware that other new mums were getting on with their lives with their perfectly painted nails and not a pair of sweatpants in sight. Did they miss the memo that it's perfectly forgivable to look like a slob for the first few weeks? Was it me? did I miss the 'Get up and get on with it' one?
 I was constantly cancelling plans as I was simply too tired and struggling to get everything done around the house. The thought of going up to my mums for the afternoon was tempting (showers, clean towels, hot coffee) but there were days that I couldn't even muster the energy to throw together a bag to go and she would end up having to come down to me.
All the 'well meaning' comments and smug remarks that I shrugged off through pregnancy came back to slap me full whack in the face.
'Get all the sleep you can get now, you'll not know sleep once baby is here!'
'It's not labour you should be worrying about, it's raising a baby after, that's the hard part!'

There are of course things you leave out when people ask how you're finding motherhood.

'Yeah great, apart from the fact i've had the same washing spinning about in the machine for almost a week now i'm just adding more into it, I have absolutely no idea what time or day of the week it is and i'm near sure if I took down my hair my 'mum bun' would stay perfectly in tact at the top of my head due to the excessive amount of dry shampoo sprayed in it.

Over the months (without us really realising it) it has got so much easier.It is only when we look back through(thousands upon thousands) of pictures do we really laugh hard about the tough times, those awkward early months when we were like fish out of water. For example our first week of parenthood, when I dropped our dinner which had just made it out of the oven, all over the kitchen floor. It left me hysterical and weeping as much as I did the first time I watched Thomas J getting stung by bees in 'My Girl' (Two words: Heart. Wrenching

Aren't postnatal hormones an absolute treat?!

Or the nights we stood in the landing shouting all sorts at each other.  Sleep deprivation makes you ridiculously hypo-sensitive. Absolutely anything and pretty much everything can seem like a cut throat comment, a personal attack.

'You think you're a baby expert' I shouted at Stuart one night during a heated sleep debate.
I'm lucky I lived to retell this story as the man seen red. I have never seen him quite as angry, it was as though i'd just landed the news on him that I was in the process of packing my bags and running away,far into the sunset with one of his best friends, which is hilarious as any other time he would have taken such a throwaway comment on the chin and thought nothing more of it.

Of course we still have struggles, just different kinds... like trying to keep remote controls/hair brushes/shoes out of her mouth and chasing a nappy-less baby around the living room. Who needs a spin class, eh?! And we are aware there are plenty more  challenges ahead from potty training to the first time she cuts her knee.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I often question were the first few weeks  really even that hard or was it just the fact that it was all so foreign, so new to the both of us. There is no test you have to sit to earn the right to be a parent, no step by step manual handed to you at the hospital door- that would be far too easy, and where's the fun in that?!
All these little blips and hurdles are all part of this challenging, but amazing journey. One that isn't always perfect, one that definitely doesn't come with a pretty Instagram filter, but is pretty damn amazing all the same.

Nine months on and Eva is feeding herself, drinking her own bottles and I can't keep her still for a cuddle. I'm looking forward to what's ahead but at the same time I completely understand why people kept telling me to cherish the night feeds and embrace every single thing that comes along with motherhood. To enjoy our time together, even if it is at 3am. To laugh it off when she covers herself in banana just after a clothing change. To worry less about getting the dishes done ASAP, or the ironing, or the one hundred and one others things that need done around the house, and to give a little more of my time to her. Life is too short, the days go in too quick.. today's special moments are tomorrow's memories.                 

Hold her a little longer,
rock her a little more.
Tell her another story,
tell her a million more.
Let her sleep on your 
shoulder, cherish her 
every smile.
She is only a baby for 
just a little while.

© A New Mum Without A Manual

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