{Book Review} How to Afford Time Off with Your Baby: 101 Ways to Ease the Financial Strain

Becky Goddard-Hill (@babybudgeting) is one of my Twitter friends and she kindly sent me a copy of her book to review.  Becky also runs a howtoaffordtimeoffwithyourbaby.com which has some wonderful family budgeting ideas.

I wish I’d had this book when I was pregnant or even trying to get pregnant.  To say that I was clueless about having a baby and the impact it would have on our lives financially is a complete understatement.  We’d spent nearly two years trying to get pregnant, so when I did instantly on our honeymoon it was somewhat of a welcome surprise!

The first time it was apparent that maybe we weren’t prepared was when I was 6 months pregnant and I was looking around the nursery that my office overlooked. There I was oooing and ahhhing over the lovely baby room as I was determined to go back to work 6 months after the baby arrived. Then I asked how much it was a month, thinking somewhere about £350 would be reasonable.  I was stunned when the lady came back with £860 plus nappies & formula – our mortgage at the time was only £600!.  I was earning £1200 and my work was a daily 60 mile round trip, so my petrol was about £300 a month plus my lunch and other little expenses meant I’d be working for nothing.  So we decided I’d be a Stay at Home Mum, and care for our baby for a couple of years – all well and good until hubby was made redundant when Miss L was 6 weeks old.  Suddenly our savings were far too small, because we’d both always had well paid jobs it had never occurred to us that we might not have money coming in at all.  It was a steep learning curve but a good life lesson, since then we have made sure we have 3-6 months of salary in the bank and tried to keep the credit cards down.

But How to Afford Time Off with Your Baby goes much further than the obvious that we’ve adopted.  It’s a great resource for adjusting to the drop in family income you have when a baby comes along.  Becky has covered everything from working out your maternity allowances, a guide to the various benefits, what you really need to buy for a baby, when to buy food cheaply in the supermarkets (I will now be shopping after 9pm!)  how to easily save without thinking about it (cancelling a direct debit? – just move the money straight into a saving account instead!).  The chapters I could have really done with are the ones on getting out and about with your baby on a budget. I’d never heard of mother and baby groups and had no idea they existed. Frankly they would have saved my sanity when Miss L was little,  I ‘d go for weeks without seeing anyone to talk to.  I was too scared to spend any money on going out other than to the park and to do the week’s shopping.  There’s also an excellent chapter about making money as a Stay at Home parent, and one about how to afford nursery and pre-school care which can help massively if you are trying to start your own business and work from home.

I think this is a great resource for parents to be and I’ll be buying a copy for my friends who are thinking about starting families and some of the ones who have already!

I have 2 copies to give away to Violet Posy readers, leave me a comment before 10th January to enter and I’ll do a random number generator to decide the winners – Good Luck!.

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Keeping small children occupied on planes

Our holiday is speeding towards us and it’s suddenly occurred to me that we have a 10 hour flight with a 6 year old and I’m a little underprepared!  We’ve flown twice before with Miss L and both times were ok, as long as we have plenty to do.  This year I’m updating our plane pack as she’s a little older now.

She has a pink back pack with wheels, so she can pull it herself which is very important when you’ve got lots of bags and a small child.  It also gives her a sense of responsibility for her own things and she also feels like she’s helping.  The most important thing I’ve found so far to take with us is a Nintendo DS.  She can play her games to her hearts content, the SD cards the games come on are tiny and you can pick them up second-hand cheaply from computer game stores or online stores.  This year I’ve gotten a Club Penguin game and she’s still obsessed by the Build a Bear one I got her for the plane last year.

Next up books, don’t take loads of bulky ones, they weigh a ton and you’re never going to read them all.  So I’ve bought a 3 paperback books in one ‘Horrid Henry’, it’s light and there’s 12 stories in it.

As for colouring I buy some cheap colouring books from poundstores, which also have word searches and crosswords in and a pack of crayons.  A blank notebook so they can have a holiday ‘diary’ also is a good idea, Miss L loves to draw where we are and what we’ve done.

One word of warning, I’ve found that felt tips leak all over the luggage when excited little ones forget to put lids back on, and pencils break.  Also you can’t take pencil sharpeners on planes with you anymore so crayons win hands down. Of course there is also a bad of Haribo hidden in her bag somewhere for take off and landing as for some reason she’s never figured out sweet sucking, but chewing Haribo is apparently ok :)

What’s your travelling tip with toddlers and small children?

Sports Day

Yesterday we had Miss L’s Sports Day, I cannot believe that Year 1 is drawing to a close and she only has another year at her school before moving to ‘big school’.  It’s gone by in a heartbeat.

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I love that her school has a proper sports day with running races (Miss L got a 2nd & 4th)  an egg and spoon races and the super sweet sibling race which seems to get bigger every year.  I forget how tiny the nursery children are when they are standing next to their strapping older brothers and sisters.  I get broody everytime!

As you can see we had amazing weather and after all the races the children had strawberries and cream followed by rolling down a massive hill, I don’t think any of them were sick they were too busy with rolling and tree climbing.

It really was one of those wonderful perfect summer childhood days

When it’s time to stop writing about your child

You may have noticed that Violet Posy has been a little Miss L free of late and here’s why.  You know when they’re little and you forget that they can talk and the odd swear word pops out and next time your toddler drops something you hear a baby voice saying ‘Oh Shit!’.  Well I forgot she can read,  yes I know stupid of me. My daughter has a reading age of eight but it just didn’t occur to me that she could read my Facebook update.

We’d had one of those days where she’d been a mini teenager, refused to do any of her homework, made a massive mess and had done her best to wind me up all day.  So come evening I was frustrated beyond belief and at the end of my tether so I’d put on my Facebook update something along the lines of ‘Does anyone want an annoying child?’.

She read it

She cried

A LOT

and told me I’d humiliated her.

I felt totally awful. Like many other Mum’s I don’t think when I pop something in Facebook,  Twitter or on here. She’s my child and I write about her.  It never occurred to me that she’s her own person and might not want the world to know about something cute/embarrassing she’s done.  So from now on if I have something I want to write on the blog about her;  I ask if it’s ok and if it’s not I don’t. I also try not to put anything on Facebook or Twitter about her either.  She’s her own person now and not my baby anymore so I have afford her that respect.

So here’ s my public apology – Miss L I’m so very sorry and Mummy loves you very much xx

 

RIP Santa

Today was one of those days when I realised my girl is no longer a baby and that she’s a very observant 6 year old. Admittedly I thought I had at least one more Christmas to go.  Here’s what happened this morning over a pair of socks

Miss L ‘Mummy is Santa real or is it Mummy’s and Daddy’s wrapping presents and leaving them in a stocking?’

Me: ‘What do you think sweetie’

Miss L ‘ I think he’s not real and it’s you, did you wrap up my presents with the ‘Ho ho ho’ ribbon?  It was very nice of you’

Me: ‘Ummm yes it is me, who told you?’

Miss L: ‘ No one, I knew it!  I kept seeing him everywhere and you can’t be in more than one place at a time’

Me: ::Speechless::

Miss L: ‘So there’s no such thing as flying Reindeer then either?’

Me: ‘Umm No’

Then she looked all smug like it’d had been bothering her for months and I made her promise not to tell any other children under punishment of death.  All I need is irate parents on my chasing me for ruining their children’s lives.  I of course am traumatised that all my bargaining tools for her good behaviour are gone and she’s strangely fine and happy that it was all made up.

But we’ve not discussed the Toothfairy yet…..