Friday, 30 April 2010

A mum-daughter club

Over the last weeks, I have felt like I'm losing my daughter. She's 5. We had a rotten Easter holidays because she wanted to be at school. It was her brother's third birthday and she said she felt left out, which I understood although we did our best to include her. For the last two/ three weeks she was full of attitude, anger and not wanting to do anything. Everything I do was wrong, and everything I said. She has always been co-operative and good, and loving, and that's been disappearing.

Monday, 19 April 2010

More Bills than New Baby Cards #5

Once your baby is eating solid food, save money by making your own. Add your chosen vegetables to the slow-cooker, cover with water and cook until soft. Put the finished product in ice-cube trays and freeze. Transfer to freezer bags once frozen solid. When it’s time to eat, warm up a few cubes in the microwave or on the hob. You could even try container gardening or start a vegetable plot and grow your own baby food.

Money saved by not buying:
Baby food £390.00 for six months

Breast pads that you wash and re-use are less expensive in the long run than disposable pads. They are also softer and less scratchy. Try to breast feed for as long as you feel happy with it. It's cheaper than formula.
Money saved by not buying:
Formula milk £240.00 for six months

Remember that babies don’t need fancy equipment or a beautifully decorated nursery. Marketing campaigns urge us to believe that buying things is essential for babies and their development, that if we really love our children, we will spend a fortune on colour co-ordinated cotton wool balls and mobiles which recite positive affirmations to our babies throughout the night. In fact, babies are happy with very little. What they really need are plenty of cuddles, enough sleep, warmth and nourishment and to know that they are loved.

For more money saving tips, read The New Spend Less Revolution by Rebecca Ash

Saturday, 17 April 2010

More Bills than New Baby Cards #4

Second-hand or hand-me-down toys are a further way of saving money and recycling goods. “Toy libraries will give your children much variety” says Karen Christensen, and the money saved “can go towards buying more expensive “permanent” toys.” Swapping toys with friends might also work for you. Another way to maintain interest in toys is to box them up and store some in the loft, bringing down different toys regularly, so that children frequently get a change of play-things.

Baby lotion and cotton-wool or a damp facecloth are much cheaper than baby-wipes.
Money saved by not buying:
Babywipes £96.00

Make healthy meals and store them in the freezer a few weeks before the baby is born. Many new parents end up getting takeaways or ready meals because of the disruption and fatigue a baby can cause. Convenience meals are expensive and don’t give you the nutrients you need at this demanding time. If you have family or friends who enjoy cooking, perhaps they can give you some soups and stews to put in your freezer.

Cloth nappies are cheaper than disposables, even when you take the laundry costs into consideration. There is an initial outlay, but you can save hundreds of pounds in the long run.

We loved Earthlets' Motherease nappies. Starting with 24 flat nappies and 4 wraps plus some liners (at £2-3 per roll of 100), you can expect to pay around £80 for a set. You will need to get larger wraps later as your baby grows, which will bring the total to about £150 for everything until your baby is potty trained.

Retailers often sell sets, which can be better value than buying individual items. One-size wraps cost more but you will need fewer.

It is possible to buy used nappies through Real Nappy Exchanges and I even got some via freecycle. Council incentive schemes help cut the initial cost - get in touch with your council and see what they offer - and remember you can use them on subsequent children.

No time to wash and dry? Using a laundry service spreads the load.

Money saved
Cost of disposables minus cost of cloth nappies £700.00

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

More Bills than New Baby Cards #3

Baby swings and baby door-bouncers have a time-limited use because they are only suitable up to a certain weight, so try to borrow rather than buy, or put a wanted ad on freecycle.

Save space in your baby’s room and several hundred pounds by changing your baby on a changing mat on the floor, rather than buying a changing table. It is also safer, because he can’t fall off the floor once he starts wriggling about.

If you are handy with a sewing machine, or have a talented friend who wants to make you a present, it is possible to create a unique and stylish baby changing bag without the designer price tag. Deena Beverley features a funky baby bag in Brilliant Bags that you can adapt to suit your favourite colours and personal style. According to a survey by Egg, parents spend around £715 a year per child on toys. Babies don’t need a lot of expensive toys; they’re more interested in the world around them and in everyday objects. Make your baby a treasure basket for exploring. Babies often want to put everything into their mouths, so make sure that everything you choose for the basket is safe and clean, and stay with your baby while he plays with each item. The purpose is to offer interest through smell, taste, sound, touch and sight; far more inspiring and eco-friendly than plastic, battery-operated toys (and less annoying!).

What to put inside the treasure basket:

Natural objects –, avocado stone, lime, pear, fir cones, big shells, large walnuts, pumice stone

Objects made from natural material – woollen pompom, little baskets, brushes (test bristles are firmly attached)

Wood – spoons, egg cups, bowls, pegs, napkin rings

Metal – spoons, tin lids, garlic press, bunch of keys

Odds and ends – little notebooks, small purses, small cardboard boxes, inside of kitchen rolls, velvet material

Thursday, 8 April 2010

More Bills than New Baby Cards #2

Babygrows, booties, socks and hats can be picked up for pence in charity shops and they will be hardly worn, since babies grow so quickly. As Karen Christensen says in her inspirational 1990 Green life guide, Home Ecology, “Just because a garment is second-hand does not mean it will be shoddy. You may well find you can afford far better quality – and originally more expensive – clothes by careful shopping. There are resale shops in some towns, and while the prices cannot rival those at jumble sales, they are still considerably cheaper” and less wasteful than buying new. Avoid buying too many items in newborn sizes, however sweet and tiny they look.

Buy at the end of the season. If you are having a winter baby, shop for some 18-month-sized summer items at the end of August.
 
Accept hand-me-downs. Well-worn clothes are much softer and more comfortable for children to wear. I understand that not everyone is happy to dress their little boys in pink during the day, but I did dress my son in his sister’s old pink and purple fairy jamas while I could get away with it.

Money saved by not buying new:
Typical first year wardrobe spend £280.00

If people ask what presents you would like for the baby, it is a good idea to ask for clothes in bigger sizes or toys for when your son or daughter is older. “Encourage friends and relatives to ask before they buy presents,” says Christensen, “so they can supplement your “finds” instead of duplicating them.” Or you can ask for a contribution to a larger item such as a cot. My son, who was six months old in December 2008, got lavender essential oil, and washable nappies amongst his Christmas presents. He didn't care at all! At least he had some wrapping paper to play with!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More Bills than New Baby Cards #1

If we all waited until we were sure we could afford to have a family, we probably wouldn’t have one. New babies can certainly cost a lot financially, but there is no need to succumb to the pressure to spend more than you need. The easiest time to begin teaching your children how to live better for less is when they are newborn, so why not start as you mean to go on? If more bills are coming through your letter box than New Baby cards or your maternity pay is just about to run out, don’t panic. Keep costs down and your baby happy. I worked out I’d saved £2,655 by my son’s first birthday (and that was in 2008). In this series on mumtopia, I’ll show you how.

Freecycle.org, charity shops, second-hand stores and NCT sales are perfect for cribs, high-chairs, portable play-pens, baby monitors and pushchairs. We picked up an umbrella-style buggy at a NCT sale for £5.00 and it lasted over three years. Check out the dates of sales in local press or at nctpregnancyandbabycare; they are usually twice a year. If freecycle doesn’t come up with the goods, small-ads in newspapers and corner shops can still save you a lot of money. Our son’s wooden chest of drawers was £40.00, our daughter’s cot bed cost £35.00 and we picked up a travel system for £40.00, all in excellent condition. Definitely try to borrow a Moses basket - your baby will probably on be sleeping in it for a few weeks. It is recommended that you always buy a new mattress and a new car-seat, however.

Think how much you’ll save if you don’t buy any of these things brand new:
Cot, Pram and accessories, Baby carrier/ sling, Bedding, Steriliser, Bottles, Highchair, Safety gates.
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