Things that make my life a little easier

Being a mum is hard, tiring work FACT! So any little tips and tricks that can help me get through a day of looking after a little one, and running a household, as well as trying to make sure you and your child don’t look like hobo’s are more then welcome to me. The things that I have found that help make my life that tiny bit easier are listed below. I’d love to hear any other tips that people may suggest?

1) Dry shampoo is my best friend. I don’t really think I need to say any more then this, but this stuff I amazing for those days when you just don’t have the time or energy to do your hair properly.

2) Night cream. After I had Jake I started using a night cream before bed, it really has helped stop my skin drying out or looking too washed out when I am so tired. Even if I don’t have time to do much by the way of make up, I always feel better knowing that I at least have well nourished healthy skin.

3) Use a travel cot as a play pen. Now that Jake is on the move, he is every where as quick as a flash and can not be left unattended for even a minute. Taking my child to the toilet with me is not something I enjoy, so being able to put him in his “play pen” with some different toys for a few minutes here and there is a godsend. We keep ours in the kitchen as then Jake can watch me cooking dinner which is usually the longest time that I am unable to give him my full attention for.

4) Triple up on the changing stations. By this I mean we have a full set up of changing mat, nappies, wipes, bags, and talc both upstairs and downstairs, and a set always packed away in our changing bag. This stops us going all around the house to change a nappy and makes sure we can grab the changing bag without having to check its contents every time we leave the house. This is simple to set up and makes life a lot easier!

5) Get organized – This is an ongoing project for me, adding organization such as storage boxes, baskets, racks and labels to me life. Everything does seam a lot easier when I know where everything is and when the house looks tidy.

There are loads of great tips for organization and simple life tips that are on pinterest, I’m currently working o putting these all in one board and will share the link when I’m finished!

The weekly shop

I’ve mentioned a few times in my monthly goals post that one of my missions in life is to get our weekly food bills down. The main motivation behind this is that it is basically our biggest weekly expenditure that has a cost that is (or should be) within our control i.e. it isn’t a fixed bill like the mortgage etc. There are a number of things that I have been trying over the last few months some of which have worked better then others. My goal is to buy and eat fresh, health, and cheap meals – which turns out to be a very difficult task! So here is a run down of the things I have been trying:

Shopping at Aldi / Lidl:

I have no ties whatsoever to any specific brands, so I gave shopping at both Aldi and Lidl a go as there are always TV campaigns running saying how like for like your weekly shop will turn out cheaper. Personally for me this didn’t prove to be the case. I tended to find that as we are predominantly “supermarket own brand” users anyway these two establishments couldn’t always compete on this level or sometimes didn’t always have an own brand option to choose. Although if a shopper were used to buying “leading UK brands” and swapped to “foreign brands” on offer then they probably would notice a difference. I also found that although I am always flexible as to what I buy each week I still couldn’t get everything I needed so had to go to the supermarket to get the other bits I did need, such as baby milk etc.

RESULT = Weekly bill went up

Spilt the shopping between Lidl and Morrisons:

As my first exercise turned out to be a fail, I then tried doing half the shopping at Lidl (as I thought our local Lidl was better then our local Aldi) and the other half at Morrisons, which is our usual go to Supermarket (my only other local option is Sainsbury’s which for a full or half shop I know to be more expensive then Morrisions for what we buy) doing this option obviously increased the amount of time and effort it took me to do the shop. The method I used was to write out my shopping list and write next to it the Morrisons prices for everything I needed (as I pay so much attention to my food bills I pretty much knew the cost of every item on my list – what a loser!) I then went to Lidl first and bought everything on my list that was cheaper then the Morrisons prices I had written down. I then went to Morrisons to complete my shop.

As I know I only bought items from Lidl that were cheaper then the Morrisons prices, I can say with certainty that my weekly shopping bill was cheaper then if I had shopped at Morrisons alone. HOWEVER, because I didn’t buy as much from Morrisons I missed out on getting my shop and save voucher – usually if you spend more then a certain amount for three weeks running you get a voucher to save £10 off your bill at the end of the month. I don’t think if I continued with the method for a whole month that my savings would of beaten the £10 I could have saved by shopping at Morrisons alone. So back to the drawing board…

RESULT = Weekly bill went down but monthly bill would go up

Stock up on cheap items when available:

As I am always on the look out for items that are cheaper then our usual purchases I started buying the things I know we would need and use from shops whenever I see them if they were cheaper then what I usually pay. There are too many shops involved for me to drive round to all of them on a weekly basis, so if I want to use these items as part of our standard shopping I would have to stock up and get a few weeks worth at a time. I could then do the remainder and bulk of my shopping at Morrisons.

In general the things that I now buy and stock up on when out and about in town are pasta sauce and stir fry sauce from Home Bargains. Biscuits and soup from B&M bargains, Crisps from anywhere – I will never pay more the £1 for a pack of 6 branded crisps. Squash and fish fingers from Sainsburys. I know these items are all cheaper then at Morrisons and as I only go in and buy them if I happen to go past the shops when I’m out and about and stock up on a few weeks worth at a time I don’t feel like a crazy lady who’s going round four or five shops just to do her weekly shopping.

RESULT = Weekly bill goes down slightly

Buy fruit and vegetables from the Market:

I’m sticking with the stocking up on cheaper products and still doing a weekly shop at Morrisons option. But to reduce the bills even further I tested to see if buying the fresh produce from my local market could be cheaper then buying from Morrisons. At my local weekly market there is only one fruit and vege stall, and the quality of the produce certainly looked better then Morrisons and I like the idea of it being local produce etc. However despite this the food was quite a bit more expensive, and as I bought quite a few items at one go, I didn’t realise until later that the vendor actually over charged me for a couple of things, I don’t know if this was intentional or not but I wont be giving this method another go for a while.

RESULT = Weekly bill goes up

In conclusion I can safely say that I am now shopping in a manor that I know works best for us and saves us the most money. I haven’t managed to reduce my bills by much – yet – but I haven’t change the types of food we eat in any way – so I’ve still got this to have a go at yet.

Binky Linky

Sunday Photo

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OneDad3Girls

Decorating the Kitchen

The last couple of weeks we’ve been working on decorating the back end of our kitchen. Here is the before picture:This end of the kitchen just hold the fridge freezer and a counter top that hold the microwave, under the bench lives the bin and recycling. Personally as we haven’t got any cupboards here I think it looks quite drab and boring. The most interesting features are the map and frames on the walls, so we decided to really make this into a feature try to get them to stand out and also make the kitchen look a bit more fun and family friendly. This is what we did.

1. Paint the wall a sort of pastel brown (Its left over paint, we’re just seeing what we thing of it)

2. Put up a pin board

3. Put up a chalk board (I total made this myself with chalk board paint!)

4. Put up some hooks

5. Paint the frames white

We haven’t finished yet, but we have made some really good progress, so this is where we are now:We’ve painted the back wall brown and left the other yellow – I think I much prefer  the brown as it goes better with the tiles, my worry was it would look dark and like it was from the 70’s – but I don’t think it does? So I think the other wall will be changing colour soon.

We’re not finished yet as a couple of the frames are still cream so need painting white, and I have a couple more pictures to hang, but so far I really love what we have done, it makes the kitchen feel more friendly and personal as well as functional and interesting so I’m really happy with the results!

Monthly Goals: April

Every month I think these posts are going to start the same with me saying ‘ WOW I can not believe it is (insert month) already!’ But really how is it April so soon?!?? The year is flying by so quickly!

So here is a summary of how I did with my March goals, before I get into my goals for April:

Start going for runs: Yes – I’ve got into a really good routine with my Dad that on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we take a drive out to some local woodlands / lakeside and he takes Jake for a pram walk and I go for a run. This is working really well for both of us as he gets to have Granddad and baby time and I get to run without feeling like I am being selfish as I know Jake and Dad are both enjoying themselves too. As well as going for these runs we also completed the Sport relief 3 mile run in March so I think I get a double gold star for that!

Take part in the sport relief run – Yes – Jamie and I both did three miles and Jake and my Dad did 1 mile – Well done us!

Go to my sisters Hen party – Yes I did and it was Fab! Read all about it here.

Buy some frames and get some pictures up around the house – Yes, we still have more to do but this month we have bought and hung 7 frames and pictures. So that is definite progress, and will hopefully inspire us to keep up r new found momentum.

Have a family day out – Hmm – We’ve been out as a family this month, for a meal, a day out shopping and to other family events. But we haven’t had a whole ‘day of fun’ just with the three of us – so I think there is room for improvement on this one.

Reduce the weekly shopping bills – This has been on my mind all month, I am working on it, but I don’t think I’m making much progress.

Do some baking – Complete fail – not one thing has been baked : (

Ok, and now to Aprils goals…

Decorate the Kitchen

Send out Easter cards

Go for a picnic

Get some pictures up in our bedroom

Paint the downstairs toilet

Make a plan for the Garden

Work on Jakes photo book

Do some exercise every day

Take Jake to play group

Do something crafty with Jake

Celebrate my Birthday : )

I’m really looking forward to April, winter is over and it feels like a fresh start so I’m really energised and in the mood for making great things happen this month…. : )