Saving for a holiday with Plusnet

Both my husband and I have always been quite good at saving.  When I say we, I mean my husband is good and I am ok!  I just can’t resist the pretty things in shops! We managed to save and pay for our wedding and honeymoon in only 18 months and then bought our first home just three months later!  Pre-baby we were saving around £1000 a month to put towards the wedding and house. By saving so much, by the time I fell pregnant we also had plenty of savings to buy all the baby things we needed.  We lived on a really strict budget and rarely had takeaways or went for meals or drinks out.

Since Oliver arrived our saving has taken a bit of a back seat, and now I’m only working part-time I find it harder to save.  I’m always looking to save a bit of extra money here and there.  Even more since my husband has promised that next year we are going to go on a really nice family holiday abroad!  So when PlusNet offered to send me some bits to help my savings along for the holiday I was pretty happy!

PlusNet were very generous and sent a whole bundle of fab goodies which will hopefully help me save a bit towards our holiday next year.  Firstly they sent a great money box.  We have had money boxes in the past to save loose change and I think it’s going to be something we start doing again.  This has a plug in the bottom so we can easily empty it out when it’s full.  Sticking £1/£2 coins in that you have left in your pocket/purse means  you can save a lot very quickly.  The light box will be a great motivational tool to have a countdown or to display a savings total, and the chocolate coins will save me buying some chocolate..!!

This budget planner is great.  With a section for each month you can put down all of your income and outgoings.   This is something I have found helpful in the past.  We previously used a spreadsheet, but I think this will be a bit easier.  It’s a really good tool to see where you are spending too much money, or spending money that you don’t need to.  I think for me it puts things in perspective, I realise that I actually waste a lot of money on things I either don’t need or could live without!

Meal planning is a great way to save.  I started meal planning at the start of this year, but when I went back to work I got really disorganised and stopped.  With this meal planner (which has a handy magnet you can stick on the fridge) I will try to start again.  I think I need to get back in to doing online shopping and planning my meals when I shop.  I’ve got in to a bad habit of doing a several shops throughout the week and I know I waste money this way.

When I do a food shop I need to remember what I have already.  For example, at the moment I have tonnes of homegrown strawberries, so I don’t need to buy them in the supermarket.  I also need to look at what I have in the cupboard, and work out whether I can make a meal out of that.

If I go shopping I always make sure I take along a bag.  I hate wasting money on a plastic bag when I know I have loads at home.  If I do a big shop (at the supermarket or on the high street!) I could be spending a small fortune on bags!

The best things in life are free..well the title says it all!  This is a great guide to help you find free things to do in cities worldwide.  I’m sure we will be able to use this plenty in the future, I love finding free days out and experiencing the culture of the city I’m in.

What do you do to save money?  Any tips you can share with me to help me save more?

 

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Oliver at 16 months

Well this month has flown by (again) and I am here trying to remember exactly what we have done this month.  I feel it’s becoming harder as time goes on, months seem to merge in my mind and as you are getting bigger there are less distinct changes in you.  How are you 16 months old already?! Time is passing us by far too quickly, please stay little just a bit longer!

Food

You’re suddenly obsessed with bread!  Some days your choosing bread over your favourite lunch snacks.  It does make it much easier when we’re out because I know you will eat a sandwich rather than having to have a bag full of finger food!  Now it’s warmed up your appetite seems to have dulled, but you’re drinking plenty.  Your milk intake has upped, you have a cup morning and night, sometimes even two at bedtime, you plug it down at story time!

Movement

You’re constantly running around like the wild child you are.  You’ve got some speed on you too, your favourite thing to do is run away from us, or getting us to chase you.  You’ve also nailed climbing, you can climb up on to the patio chairs and table, it’s a nightmare, but really cute when you sit up at the table on a big person chair!

Speech

Your speech has come on so well recently, you can get your point across and you can say a lot of words for a little person!  We’ve also noticed that you can respond to basic questions with yes and no.  You will nod or shake your head as well.  I’m trying to teach you to say up, because at the moment you say ‘back’ instead of up! You’re such a little clever clogs!!

Personality

You’re still strong willed and will kick up a fuss if you don’t want to do something.  But you’re still cheeky and happy with it.  You love making us laugh or laughing at us.  You crack us up when you get in our bed or sit on the sofa watching tv, you come over and then just slouch backwards leaning on whatever you can find!  You love giving kisses, but you’re always very fair and make sure everyone gets one!

What have we been up to?

We went down to see your granny in Wales for a few days which was really lovely, an you loved exploring!  We had a day out in Bath on the way down, which was really nice to do and break the journey up.  Earlier in the month we had a trip to Wisley where you got a chance to meet Upsy Daisy!  It was great fun and started to prepare you for when we go to In the Night Garden Live next month.

Most of the month we have been hanging out at home.  As the weather has been quite nice you’ve enjoyed playing in the garden, going up and down your slide and smelling the flowers!  I’ve enjoyed having a chilled out month, as I’m sure over the summer we will be having plenty of days out.

 

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To my Husband on Father’s Day

 

Happy Father’s Day to the best daddy our son could ask for.  Two years ago, when we fell pregnant, I wondered what you would be like as a daddy.  Would you be a good father?  Would you take a keen interest in our child?  How would you be once Oliver arrived, would you mind sharing my attention?

Now I know I needn’t have worried.  You are a dedicated father, the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing at night is Oliver.  Throughout the day you are constantly calling and messaging to find out what Oliver’s doing, what he’s learnt, how he is.  Even if you have struggled with sharing my attention, or adjusting to fatherhood you never let it be known.  You have thrived a s a father.

Especially now Oliver is on the move, I can see how much you’re enjoying being a parent.  It means that you can be a big kid, without worrying that people think you’re crazy, something you’ve wanted for such a long time.  I look forward to seeing your relationship develop over the years, when Oliver can start to share your passions with you too.

You’re also so supportive of me as a mother.  As much as I know that you hate that I have to work, you know I do it because I love it.  The days might be long and we barely see one another when I do. But you know that I work so we can have the things we want and we can give our children the things we dreamed of as children ourselves.

I am so glad that we chose each other to go through this crazy journey that is parenthood together.  Here are rest of our lives as parents, together.

Happy Father’s Day Stu

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Little Street Frimley

If you’ve read my blog before, you might remember that we visited Little Street West Byfleet a few months back.  We live pretty much equi-distance between West Byfleet and Frimley, so when the team at Little Street Frimley invited us along to try out the refurbished play centre at a blogger preview session, I couldn’t say no!

Little Street Frimley is the flagship role play centre within their growing chain.  It is situated at Frimley train station and there’s parking available at the station for only £1 a day.  They run 4 play sessions a day and you can book online.  They say it’s always best to book online, or at least check online before you leave as their sessions are very popular and can get booked up!  They’re very reasonably priced and they also offer an annual pass.

There are 7 areas, a beauty parlour, cafe, construction site, vets, air ambulance/fire station and a theatre.  Oliver particularly like the air ambulance, fire trucks and the vets!  He loves any ride on toys, so the ride on fire trucks and bikes were great fun for him!

Like the other branch in West Byfleet, there’s a supermarket, which has lots of ‘real’ products (which are empty bottles) alongside the pretend fruit/veg/bread.  I love this touch as it adds a touch of reality to their play.  There are miniature trolleys (with baby seats for their doll) and baskets so they can do a supermarket sweep!

The air ambulance is the centre piece at Little Street.  I believe that they previously had a fire engine, but I must admit, I think an air ambulance is a little bit cooler!  All the children there seemed to love climbing on board, and pretending to fly it.  They had all the accessories to go along with it, making their play so much more fun!

Another new feature is also the vets.  Oliver loved this bit.  He loves animals, cupboards and he likes putting things back, so the little kennels for the animals were great fun for him!  He also enjoyed the reception desk area, where he climbed up on the chair and pretended to use the computer!

All in all we had such a great time at Little Street Frimley.  I would recommend it to anybody with a little one who enjoys toddling about and exploring.  It’s worth the trip if you live a little further away.  There’s so much to do, they won’t want to leave!

  1. If you want to visit you can book here!
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What to Pack for a Toddler for a Trip Away

I am a serial over packer.  I have always been the type of person who takes a whole suitcase for just a couple of nights away.  Often, before Oliver came along, when we travelled to Stu’s mums in Wales, we would have a car load of luggage.  Although the weather in Wales is pretty unpredictable, I never needed half the stuff I took.

Since Oliver has arrived I have managed to streamline my personal packing down, but my list for him is ever growing.  As a toddler he needs so much stuff.  A handful of toys to entertain him, plenty of clothes (as he inevitably will get grubby at some point in the day), snacks, nappies, the list goes on.  Over the past few trips we have made I have managed to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we bring.  Even though there is still a lot, I have learnt what we do and don’t need to take for a trip in the UK.

Clothes

For a 5 day trip I take about 8 outfits, mainly because we are going on trips where we are staying on a farm, by a stream and Oliver isn’t great on uneven ground.  So most days he has fallen in the mud or gotten wet in the water.  I take 5 sets of pyjamas, one just in case .  Even though we have never had to use the spare, the one time we don’t take it I’m sure we will need it!  I also packed one pair of shoes and his wellies, an all in one waterproof suit and a pac-a-mac.  Obviously if you’re going somewhere dry and warm, you don’t need to pack as many!

Toys

We have taken 2 of Oliver’s favourite toys that are little and then a couple of trains and cars to keep him busy.  We have also taken 6 or so books, only because Oliver likes to be read about 6 books at bedtime!! Realistically we could reduce the amount of toys to just a couple altogether because he just plays with things like plastic tubs and boxes most of the time!

Wash Bits

I bought a small pack of nappies to take with us and a pack of wipes.  Oliver only has a couple of changes a day so this was plenty to get us through the trip.  If the local supermarket was nearby I would have probably just bought them when I was here, but it’s about a 30+ minute journey there, so it’s easier to bring your own.  I also bought the travel sized versions of the Childs Farm products we usually use which have lasted us 4 trips now with plenty left to go.  You could also just use those travel sized empty bottles and put your usual bath products in there.

Transportation

We always look at whether we will need to the pushchair or not.  This time round we chose to bring the pushchair because we were stopping off in Bath and we knew we would need it there, but usually we come without it.  The baby carrier we have will usually suffice, as we do a lot of off road walking here.  Even if it wasn’t off road we would still consider the carrier to save space in the car.  Another invaluable item we packed was the back pack reins we got from Kiddies Kingdom, it meant when we were walking through the fields we could keep Oliver from running off, or catch him before he fell!

Equipment

We are fortunate enough that there is a travel cot and highchair here so we don’t have to worry about bringing our own.  If we did need a highchair we would usually bring our booster/pop-up seat which is fairly compact. We do bring our own cups/plates/bowls and cutlery though.  We usually bring two bowls, one plate, two cups and two spoons/spork.  It’s always worth checking whether or not the accommodation has plastic tableware provided as this saves valuable packing space.

Food

We brought some snacks from home, like the smoothie melts that Oliver adores because they were on offer in Waitrose, and I know there isn’t one nearby.  However, things like fruit pouches and rice cakes, we get on our way through at the Lidl which is just down the road.  If you know where you’re staying is nearby a supermarket you can take enough to keep you going for a day or so and then you can just get the rest when you arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

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