5 Signs You’re Getting Old At Christmas

white-company-cashmere-socks

1. You’re genuinely excited at the prospect of getting new socks from Santa. And if they happen to be cashmere bed socks from The White Company? Even better. (Well done, Santa, you clever man)

2. You consider a visit to the local garden centre a fun day out with the kids. Those areas where they sell Christmas lights? Just as much fun as paying to visit Santa’s grotto. And it’s free! Bonus points if the garden centre has real reindeer and nice homeware gifts you can buy for relatives.

3. The Michael Bublé Christmas album is on repeat in your house. Well, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

4. You hear yourself saying this sentence to your other half: “Hey honey, instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year, why don’t we buy ourselves a  National Trust family membership?” I’m not even kidding, this is what we’re doing this year. 2015 is going to be the year of National Trust days out (and lots of tea and cake in the tearooms, obvs.)

5. You check the opening time of your local supermarket on Christmas Eve (7am, FYI) with the plan to get there ten minutes earlier, to beat the rush, for your Christmas turkey and trimmings.

It’s official. I’m getting old. Ah well, I’ll console myself with a Baileys in front of the fire (ooh have you seen there’s a new chocolate version?)…

My Top Tips On Family Budgeting

Upcycling Bekvam spice racks

With a new study highlighting the rise of ‘generation pause’ – the 20 and 30 somethings who are choosing to delay life events like getting married or buying a house due to financial concerns – it’s clear that it’s important to budget from an early age. I’ll admit, I was fairly useless with money until I met Mr P. I racked up credit card debt and student loans, having to rely on my parents to bail me out. But during my 20s, I learned to be more sensible with money.

TSB, who have a handy mortgage calculator on their site, have asked me to share my family budgeting tips with everyone. So here goes…

1. Upcycle furniture or buy cheaper bits that you can transform. I’m a huge fan of an IKEA hack. Inspired by Gill from A Baby On Board, I bought these Bekvam spice racks for £3 each (see pic at top), asked Mr P nicely to paint them white, and put washi tape on them, to turn them into book shelves for the four-year-old’s bedroom.

2. Plan meals. We used to be so bad at just deciding what to eat for tea that day, and popping to the shop to buy the food in. It saves money (and time) now that we plan our meals each week, and buy veg that will do us for a couple of days.

3. Shop around. We love popping to Waitrose for treats, as much as the next person, but we also shop around, depending on supermarket offers (tip: Tesco has my fave wine Villa Maria on offer this week and Co-op has a great prosecco for £6.99) and we shop in Lidl for our basics….

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Finding A Mum Tribe

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When you think about it, we’re so young when we first join (or even create) a tribe. At the moment, I’m sitting in Starbucks, drinking a skinny cappuccino and opposite me are three twelve-year-old girls. They’re all wearing skinny jeans (two are proper stonewash denim, one is black), jumpers, chunky trainers and girly ankle socks with a frill. All of them have their long hair clipped up at the front in a twist and they’re all drinking frappuccinos and holding iPhones with sparkly cases as they chat. They’re totally in their own little tribe – and we all did it when we were young. We morphed into a version of our friends and it felt like we belonged.

As we get older, we’re drawn to people we identify with – whether it’s at uni or at work, we quickly suss out who shares our sense of humour or values. Or even those who share our love of a glass of cheap white wine and a packet of Mini Cheddars in a Soho pub after work.

But things get a bit tricky when you become a mum. For a start, the rest of society suddenly lumps you into the all encompassing MUM TRIBE. Which is kind of weird, because, yes you’ve pushed a human being out of your nether regions (or had one cut out of you) and yes, you probably do have more compassion and look at life a little differently now, but really, that aside, you’re still the same person you were before. Well, bar the inability to drop everything for a night on the tiles *dials the babysitter’s number*.

And within this new MUM TRIBE we find ourselves sectioned off into, there are a gazillion subdivisions that you’re either put in or select. They include (but are not limited to)…

The earth mothers – they wear their babies in wraps, puree organic veg for them to eat, take baby along to yoga class, and just have this incredible sense of calm to them.

The ‘I was born to do this’ mums – they seem to find motherhood a breeze and give you the impression that everything in life up until now was just leading up to them becoming a mum.

The cool mamas – they’re hanging out in trendy cafes wearing cool trainers, with their kids running around while they sip coffee and chat.

The Pinterest perfect mums – this lot are always creating some kind of art project with their kids or just doing some casual upcycling with some furniture while the kids are at school.

Now it might sound like I’m putting other women into these categories, but I look around me, and I genuinely see women in these tribes. The problem is, I don’t feel like I belong in any of them. I’m not ‘earthy’ enough (I love processed meat and can’t get on with yoga or baby wraps), I’m not a natural mum (give me a wine bar any day over a soft play centre), I’m not cool enough (Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs is one of my favourite things in life) and I’m not Pinteresting enough (you should SEE my crappy craft attempts).

Can I just create a ‘run of the mill mum’ tribe? Would anyone else be up for joining?

 

 

Why it’s important to give our kids the flu vaccine

Last week, we took the four-year-old for her flu vaccination. It’s her first one – last year she was allergic to eggs so couldn’t have it (the nasal vaccination has egg in it, fact fans) but I wasn’t in the least bit nervous about taking her. Why? Well firstly, I think it’s hugely important that we vaccinate our kids for everything that the NHS advises and secondly because when I took her for her pre-school MMR booster a few months ago (which was an actual needle, FYI, not a nasal spray) she didn’t even flinch.

Hard as nails, my daughter. But I also put her ability to sit calmly while a nurse vaccinates her down to the genius of one man – Dr Ranj. On the morning of her pre-school booster jab, I’ll admit, I was feeling stressed about it. So I sat my daughter down in front of the iPad and found the episode of CBeebies show Get Well Soon where Dr Ranj covers injections. She watched it, we chatted about it, and she was fine. It was AMAZING. Like some kind of magic spell.

Since her flu vaccination last week, she has been snotty and bunged up – a side effect the nurse mentioned might happen – but I’m so glad we took her, rather than ignoring the letter from the GP clinic, offering the free vaccine.

Dr Ranj, who works as a paediatrician, also feels strongly that children should receive all of the vaccinations they need, to help protect them from nasty illnesses. He has filmed this short documentary on why it’s important…

Find out more from sharegoodtimesnotflu.co.uk

• Thanks to AstraZeneca for sponsoring this post – as always all views are my own.

Our Mini Living Room Makeover

You know those little jobs you should do, but keep putting off? Well we have a list as long as my arm. We bought our house five years ago and three months later, I was pregnant. So most of the things we’d planned to do, back then, are still waiting to be done. Fixing the front gate, painting the doorstep, mending the outside light in the back garden…

One of those jobs is putting shelving into the alcoves in our living room. We have a gorgeous fireplace with an alcove on either side, and the space is kind of wasted.

living-room

I’ve looked at picture after picture of beautiful shelving and cupboards on Pinterest, and I think it’s such a good way to use the space and add a bit of character to a room. But here we are, five years on, with no shelves in our alcoves.

Enter: MoneySupermarket. The financial comparison site offered to ‘balance transfer my life’ – just in the way that you might balance transfer a credit card (a service they can advise you on, handily, but something that many of us put off doing, even though it could save us bundles of cash). They said they’d organise something that I’ve been putting off for ages. So this weekend, they sent a fab carpenter called Devon round, who built us some shelving.

Here’s how the alcove looked before (note our TV bench jutting out at a weird angle – behind that lies lots of ugly cables and shiz)……

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