5 Frugal Things Post 18 – Exercise, coffee and 20cogs




5 Frugal Things post 18

It was back to school this week in Hertfordshire after half term, so back to the normal routine. Work wise its been a nice busy week that leaves me feeling grateful for the decision I took nearly 2 years ago, to leave my corporate job. Everything feels really positive and exciting. I am even going as far as investing in a camera for a big improvement to photos and videos!

Joinflex.tv online exercise classes

This week has been my first week of trying out joinflex. I have had to stop my regular Pilates class so this came along with perfect timing to replace my class. You log in to a website and can access so many different classes live all over the world. This week I have done Pilates on Monday and PiYo (a high impact version of Pilates and yoga) on Wednesday. There are so many classes to choose from high impact to relaxation and pre/post-natal. All from the comfort of your own home.

I will be publishing a full review after a few weeks of classes, I’m going to try as many different ones as possible. It’s a subscription service normally costing £10 but the first month is free and you don’t even have to add card detail. You’ve got nothing to lose, why not give it try.

I used to pay £40 a month for my Pilates classes, so have made a big saving here.



Top-up shop only this week.

I normally shop every 2 weeks, and this week should have been big shop week but I decided to wait one more week to help with 5 frugal things post 18! We have a freezer with lots of food option so I wanted to work through that before another big shop. I did a top up shop of packed lunch bits, fruit and cereal but we had everything else. This has saved us a nice chunk of money this week.

Finishing 20cogs

Hurrah I completed my 20 cogs on the money-making app 20cogs. £176 was transferred into my bank account this week. To get your hands on the money you just need to sign up using this link and complete 20 different sign up activities. The activities vary from questionnaires to trialling TV packages, taste card and food boxes. It took a few months to work through mainly because I am so slow but I was really chuffed to complete it this week and receive my money.

Handcrafted Josh’s Aztec day outfit

This week was Aztec day at school for Josh and we made his outfit together, all for free. He wore an oversized T-shirt that we already had from Dylan’s Aztec day 2 years ago. Josh made a head-dress with some feather from our craft box and we covered a shield in Aztec printouts. To finish the look, I did some Aztec face paint and he wore one of my gold necklaces. Happy days.

 

Swopped Nespresso capsules for Aldi (Nespresso compatible) capsules.

Something I have been meaning to share for a while now but I have swopped over to Aldi coffee capsules for my daily morning coffee rather than ordering the official Nespresso one. The Aldi version are 10 for £1.79 compared to Nespresso 10 for £3 to £4.50. A huge saving here and they taste just as good as a coffee from Starbucks or Costa.




I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

Buying a car? How we have funded this purchase?

Buying a car?

Sometimes things happen in life and you need some help, with help I am referring to financial help. Maybe you have a kind relative that might lend you some cash or maybe you have some savings you can dip into? Or maybe like me you don’t have these options available? Sometimes it might be a significant chunk of money needed, what happens then?

We have been in this situation where we have needed a large chunk of money and we didn’t have these suggested options open to us.

A new baby arrives

Back in 2012 we had our third baby Jack. A third baby ended up costing us a significant amount of money, much more money than baby no1 or baby no 2, I wrote here about the essentials you need with a new baby. We were to have 3 children aged 5,3 and baby and after investigations into car seats realised that our car was not big enough to fit 3 car seats in the back seat. This was a time critical matter and an essential that required a solution quickly.

We did our research and worked out the best car was a Ford S-max and hubby did a fantastic job at finding a great priced showroom pre-registered (we were going to be the second owners despite car only having 50 miles on the clock) car. The list price was £26k but we managed to find one 70 miles away for £20k. A huge saving that that we were happy with.

Car was bought

We did a part exchange deal with our existing car which put 6k towards the car. We also used some money from savings of 8k. This left us with an 6k balance. We could have taken a car loan from the dealership but the interest rate was high so instead we chose to source our own loan to cover off the remaining balance. We knew that we could afford the repayments over 3 years. Back then I was on maternity leave and was to return to a well-paid job so all was well with the loan repayments.

Sometimes a loan is the only option and in this situation, it made sense. The interest rate was low, lower than we could have got from the car dealership and it meant that we had a safe and sensible car with plenty of room for the boys.

5 years on the car still goes strong, it was a sensible investment for a car. Buying it nearly new has meant we have spent little money on it with repairs. It also means that at 5 years old we still have a car in great condition and are not needing to replace the car with a newer model. The investment upfront has paid off now with a car that we own 100%.

If you are thinking of getting a loan please ensure that you check the terms and conditions and most importantly the interest rate and the APR. A rate at the moment of 5-6-7% is a great rate. And please ensure that the payments are affordable for the full term of the loan.

This is a collaborative post

8 in 10 smart meter users would recommend them to others.




Smart Meter

Energy is one of my favourite subjects. That’s a strange thing to say isn’t it?! It really is the first place I advise people to look to save some money from their monthly spends. I like to write about new energy products on the market and new technology that make saving energy and monitoring energy usage easier, the smart meter is  something I am super keen to talk about.

Smart Meters are a fantastic way of understanding exactly how much energy you are using. This will enable you to save money when you actually see the numbers and pennies ticking away as you use your energy. Check with your energy provider if you can get one installed free of charge. I have written a few times about smart meters in association with Smart Energy GB. And twice a year they publish some independent research which I have a summary of their findings here.



Smart Energy Outlook

The research is a Smart energy outlook on consumer attitudes towards the energy market and smart meters. The latest wave of research shows that more than eight in ten (81 per cent) of the people who already have smart meters would recommend them to others, and a similar proportion (82 per cent) are taking steps to reduce their energy use. These are very encouraging figures and show that once people have the information they need about their energy use they make changes to their behaviour and help themselves to save money.

Smart energy outlook also shows that in-home displays (IHDs) are having a positive impact on helping people to manage their energy. IHDs are simple, handheld devices offered to every home, at no extra cost, when a smart meter is installed. They show people what they are spending on energy in near real time, in pounds and pence. Eight in ten people with an IHD use it regularly (at least a few times per month). Eighty-Eight per cent of those with an IHD say that they have a better idea of what they’re spending on energy, compared to 76 per cent who have a smart meter but no IHD

Smart Energy GB’s research shows that 83 per cent of people are taking up the offer of an IHD. Nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) of those with an IHD say that they have a better idea of what they’re spending on energy, compared to 69 per cent of those who have a smart meter but have not chosen to take up the offer of an IHD.

More than 10,000 people are surveyed

Smart energy outlook surveys more than 10,000 people around the country, and the research also found:

Smart energy outlook is carried out for Smart Energy GB, twice a year, by independent research agency Populus. It surveys more than 10,000 people around the country. The report has found:

  • Over eight in ten (81 per cent) of people with a smart meter would recommend them to other
  • Over eight in ten (82 per cent) of people with a smart meter have taken at least one step to reduce their energy us
  • Eight in ten people with an IHD use it regularly (at least a few times per month)
  • 88 per cent of those with an IHD say that they have a better idea of what they’re spending on energy, compared to 76 per cent who have a smart meter but no IHD




Smart Meters are coming

Everyone in Great Britain will be offered a smart meter by their energy supplier between now and 2020, at no additional cost. Smart meters bring an end to estimated bills and show people what they’re spending in pounds and pence, in near real time via an IHD.

You can read more of the findings from Smart energy outlook at the Smart Energy GB Website

This is a collaborative post

What is it like to be Youth Academy Football Parents?

Youth Academy Football Parents

I have been wanting to write about our boys and their football progress for a while. I had a bit of a light bulb moment last week when the oil light flashed up on the car dashboard. Turns out it wasn’t oil it was the service light. I checked the service book and we have driven 14,000 miles since our last service in July. Neither of us use the car much for commuting to work so this is mostly football training and games mileage. Serious commitment.



Dylan

As you probably know I have 3 boys, Dylan is 9, Josh is 7 and Jack is 4. Firstly Dylan, he is signed up academy player for Cambridge United. He joined the U8 pre -academy squad in January 2016, he trained with them once a week and played a few games and did so well that he was invited to join the academy. The elite squad of 14 boys. The regime is full-on and requires much commitment from us parents.

Training

Every week we have training on Friday, Saturday and Monday with a game on a Sunday. Training is a 45-60 minute and 40-mile drive away from where we live in Knebworth. The games are normally an hour drive away, Barnet, Luton, Peterborough, Leyton Orient etc. Then in the holidays or occasionally on a Saturday there might be a bigger game, Dylan has played Arsenal, Norwich, Leicester and Man City recently, almost always at the away venue.

It’s a huge commitment that required much time at the weekends and much mileage in the car. We are spending around £150 per month on petrol.



Josh

Josh was spotted before Dylan with a well-timed free-kick that struck goal in front of a few scouts when he was 5! So, Josh joined the pre-academy 18 months ago, and goes to training once a week. Training in a different location to Dylan of course. Plus, he has games every 2-3 weeks on a Saturday. Josh has now played against teams like Fulham, Aston Villa and Watford. Josh is on the path to the academy as well at Cambridge. If he makes it life becomes a bit simpler as both boys will be training in the same location. Although games in potentially different locations on a Saturday/Sunday!

The past 7 days alone have been busy

  • Last Tuesday Josh had a tournament in Newmarket
  • Wednesday Josh had a training day with his pre-academy boys in Cambridge.
  • Thursday and Friday nothing.
  • Saturday was training in the morning for Dylan in Cambridge, then we went to Cambridge in the afternoon to watch the first team Cambridge United game where Josh met the team, manager, chief executive and played on the pitch at half time.
  • Sunday was a game in Southend for Dylan.
  • Monday was football training for Dylan in Huntingdon
  • Tuesday today is an indoor football tournament for Dylan in central Cambridge

It’s totally worth it

Both our boys love it, they can’t wait for their next training session. They are dedicated to it and so are we. We want to support them every step of the way in their footballing journey. You never know they could make it and we want to have done everything in our capability to support them.

The costs for a year of Youth Academy Football

The coaching and games with Cambridge are all free of charge. Cambridge are one of the only division 2 football teams with an academy with many full-time high quality members of staff. This was a big part of the reason of choosing Cambridge with their caring, professional and considered approach.

We have paid £150 for a full kit which includes training kit, tracksuit, winter coat, match kit, bag.

I have also paid £150 to sponsor Dylan, so Mrs Mummypenny gets a mention in the football program every week. This is not a required payment though.

We need three pairs of football boots that maybe need to be changed every 6 months. Boots needed are indoor trainers, metal studs for wet, muddy grass and moulded studs for harder ground. We get our boots from Pro:Direct and cost around £30 to £40 per pair and try to get them in the sale when we can. A cost of £150 for the year per child.

And then the petrol cost of £150 for 9 months of the year. £1350. The additional cost of servicing every 6 months rather than 12 months is £200 ish. The club do run a mini bus to games but we always like to be there!




It is costing us a lot of money- maybe £2000 per year.

The Time commitment

As you can see there is also a huge time commitment from us parents and that would be a challenge if we had regular employed non-flexible jobs. With me being self-employed I can choose my hours so can be driving off to Cambridge at 4pm this afternoon with Dylan. Hubby can also leave work early and take time off regularly. But it is a balancing act every week once we know where we are going to be.

An honest view of Youth Academy Football

There you have it the reality of being a parent to an academy football player, the real honest view. And we love it. Watching your boys play a game of football is the most incredible feeling of pride ever, so much bigger than if you were to achieve something yourself. And watching them grow into amazing players so happy and confident it is the best feeling ever.

My final point is about preparing the boys for it all ending. It is extremely likely that it will all end. Maybe next year, maybe in 5 years time, maybe it wont end. But the boys have to be prepared for this possibility so we often talk about contracts not being renewed and things ending if the club so decides. But long may they continue to love it.

Revealed: What really changes when you have a Three month old baby




Three month old baby

Its Monday so its that time of the week for a new guest post from the most fabulous Rebecca Megson. And this time she talk about that magic time of when she had a three month old baby and the changes for the positive that she noticed. And a big whoop to things being more easier.

Over to Bec

Everyone said, ‘Just make it to three months and you’ll feel like a different woman, it’s amazing.’

What I could never get them to do – and this frustrated me – was define what specifically changed with my three month old baby and why this was such a vital change point.

Everyone is Different, but

Now, everyone is different and so your experience is likely therefore to be different to mine but here are a few changes I’ve definitely noticed since the Baba bu turned the magical three month corner…


  • She sleeps more at night and only wakes once or twice for feeds, so I feel loads more refreshed
  • I’ve been able to introduce a daytime napping schedule (and I found the advice in this article incredibly helpful) which means she’s more refreshed and I have time to do things with both arms and all my senses!
  • She is alert and interested in the world in a way that means she is occupied without needing anything from me for longer periods of time – e.g. in the baby gym, or starring at the star lightshade in our bedroom!
  • She’s also therefore happy to sit in her bouncy chair for longer periods of time whilst I do a few jobs around her chatting to her.
  • She feeds less and for shorter periods of time

I know this isn’t the case for all my mummy friends. For some the nights are still pretty broken (on the other hand their babies are more likely to go down at 7 or 8pm whereas our nightowl won’t settle to sleep much before 11pm despite any amount of bathtime/room darkening/book reading/lullabying routine).

What I do know for sure though is that we’ve all lost that wild-eyed look of terror brought on by the sense of ‘yes I’m holding it together in this particular instance but it could also all go to hell again any second’ fear.

My theory with three month old baby

My theory is that we’ve all done that most amazing and most human of things, we’ve adapted. They say it takes 90 days to embed any change you want to make in your life and having a baby join your family is a pretty big change. It stands to reason that 90 or so days in, you are starting to normalise having this chaos-inducing, sleep-stealing, heart-stoppingly-amazing creature in your life.

So if you’re not there yet, just hang on, it really does get better. And few things are certain in this life but time passing IS one of them.

You can follow Bec on Twitter and Instagram and check out her rather fabulous blog here.

Next week its ‘5 things every dad needs to know before their baby arrives’



5 Frugal Things post 17 for Half Term Week Including cake!




5 Frugal Things post 17

I am not very good at posting these posts on a (frugal) Friday when I am meant to!! By the time Friday arrives I am done with a week of writing!! Its especially harder when its half term week!

Much of half term week has been filled with football related activities with a bit of a break when the boys went to their grandparents for 2 nights.

  1. Packed Lunches

I have been rather good with packed lunches this week, various activities have required them.

Josh had a football tournament on Tuesday and a football training day on Wednesday. This weekend we have had football from 8am to 6pm on Saturday, yes 10 hours including an afternoon at Cambridge United Football club where we avoided the burgers and chips.



2. Shepreth Wildlife Park

On Wednesday we dropped Josh off at 9am at Clare College in Cambridge which left us with 6 ½ hours before pick up. Rather than drive 40 miles all the way home we stayed in the area and visited Shepreth Wildlife park. I love this wildlife park, its small, but lots of cool animal including two beautiful tigers. I could have used clubcard vouchers to get in but of course I wasn’t organised enough.

Its not that expensive a wildlife park we paid £32 for 1 adult and 2 children, I noticed they have package deals for families of 4 being £40. What I love about the park is that there is a soft play barn and café where you can sit and chill for an hour or so to break up the day.

They do an incredible amount of local conservation work and are overrun with hedgehogs currently, they need cat food donations now. So if you live local to Hertfordshire/Essex/Cambridgeshire pay them a visit with your little ones (and take some cat food!).

3. Lego Batman

Monday of half term was our only day with not much planned so we headed to our local council run cinema to watch Lego Batman. The tickets are £5.80 at our Welwyn Garden City cinema when bought with Zebra card discount. A fabulous bargain at around 50% cheaper than the local cineworld or odeon cinemas. The boys LOVED the film, I can highly recommend it for all ages.

4. Made a cake with store cupboard ingredients

On Friday when the boys arrived back from their grand-parents we didn’t head out to spend money we made a cake!! Marble cake is my fall-back cake always as we’ve always got the ingredients in the cupboard and it’s a cake that doesn’t need a fancy topping or filling. I am rather proud of Jack and my efforts. We used this recipe from BBC Good Food. And a new discovery is that salted butter works way better than unsalted in a cake recipe like this.

5. Got very close to completing my 20 cogs

Over the past couple of months I have been working my way through 20cogs, a money making tool where you sign up to questionnaire sites, taste card, freebie sites and get rewarded for each sign up. I wrote about it here. I finally have 2 cogs left to turn green after focussing on it this week and that means I can cash in my earnings. Very soon I will have £200 in my bank account. Perfecto. Check out my post for how it works and why not try it yourself.

Back to normal next week with all the boys back to school.

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.



Review of Educational Quizzes – Parents 999 Emergency Info

Where do you turn when you have a problem relating to your children?

I mean a problem like dealing with bullying or helping your children to prepare for exams or maybe you want to understand more about Asperger’s?

Parents 999

The team over at Educational Quizzes has put together a toolkit of parents 999 useful resources to help you with just that. These subjects might be something you talk to your friends about, but maybe some online research is a safe place to go before reaching out to others, particularly when the subject area might be more sensitive or maybe just an area you want to know more about.

They are planning on adding a lot more content but at the moment there are 17 articles to browse through and then at the end you can take a quiz for a bit of fun or to ensure that the information has been digested.

I am particularly interested in the following articles on emotional resilience in children and children’s brain development.

Emotional Resilience

This is particularly important in our family as two of my three boys play a lot of football to a high level and they are faced with constant pressure from team mates, coaches, competitive games, school mates, parents and each other. I want my boys to grow up resilient to all challenges and to bounce back whenever things go wrong as inevitably they do.

I also want to prepare them both for the fact that what they are doing now, playing for a football academy, might end one day, and they must be able to accept that possibility and likely event happening. After all most boys in the FA youth system do not make it through to be a professional footballer.

The article is laced with useful advice and pieces of information like

Allow your child to face up to challenges and go through them. Support them with suggestions or guidance, but do not over-protect them. With every challenge they face, they will learn new strategies to deal with difficult situations that will help them in the future.

Encourage your child to be an individual and seek out like-minded friends who share the same interests. Having a support network – whether friends or family – helps to build up emotional resilience and mental wellbeing.

Celebrate the positive things your child says and does. Feed their dreams and aspirations. Do not dwell on the negatives. If something negative happens, face it head on together. Teach your child to deal with it, and then let it go.

After reading the article there is a quiz to complete if you want a bit of fun to see what you have learnt and information you have digested. I took the test and got 6/10. I loved the last question which talks about how your child should feel loved and valued.

Children’s Brain Development

This is another area I am really interested in, particularly as I see the differences between my two eldest with their learning ability at school. My eldest Dylan, has often struggled with reading and spelling, but excels at maths when Josh my middle son is more balanced and does well in all learning areas.

According to research, 80% of a child’s educational achievement is determined by parental support for learning at home.

By the age of 8 the human brain already weighs 90% of its full capacity, according to scientists’ estimates. However, although the brain might be almost fully grown in size, it has not matured and developed enough to deal with all of the pressures we all face on a daily basis.

Another really interesting article that goes on to talk about teenage brains, and that looks like a huge time of change which could be quite dramatic for our household!

Overall Impressions

I really liked the variety of subject areas discussed and the length of the articles at 999 words was just perfect. The articles are full of useful links to more information is you wish to explore further.

Some subject areas are difficult to fit into just the 999 words particularly when referencing different ages of children,  e.g. the article about brain development could be split into two with pre-puberty and post puberty maybe?

Sometimes the quiz questions were difficult to reference in the text, but simply clicking on any answer will tell you the correct answer and why.

It’s a useful toolbox of information that can be used as a great point of reference when you are first considering issues or have questions.

I quit my job and changed my career to something I love.




I quit my job, can you?

17 years were spent in a finance career because it was the right thing to do. I studied hard, went to university and got myself a great graduate job. The next 17 years were then spent moving up the ladder from one finance/commercial role to another from HSBC to Tesco to EE.

There was always a pressure inside that this was what I was supposed to do, a pressure from who, my dead father? Or from my friends all doing similar jobs? Or a financial pressure from myself to maintain a materialistic life I had created for myself?

To be honest for at least half of the 17 years I hated the jobs. I would wake up with that sick feeling and not wanting to go in to work. I would go quiet at work and retreat into my shell. And when things got bad I would move onto the next company, wipe the slate clean jumping up a bit more in salary.

All I was doing was creating a salary trap for myself. As the income grew so did the lifestyle. The house got bigger, the cars got newer, the clothes and make up became more expensive. Eating out was a very regular occurrence. I was feeling more and more trapped that my income was essential to maintain that life.

Lightbulb Moment

Back in 2015 I had a lightbulb moment, you know one of those moments of clarity where your direction is suddenly clear. I took redundancy due to my company relocating and suddenly I had breathing space of freedom and money to cover the bills for 12 months.

This was my chance to break free from the corporate cycle and give my dream a go. My blog Mrs Mummypenny had been a hobby for a couple of years and I had a clear vision of how I could make it a success. A stepping stone to an ocean of opportunity.




If you are feeling unhappy and you know that the employed working life is not for you then why not take a step and go do something that you really want to do. Prioritise happiness over a salary. If you want it enough, then you can do it.

Blogging as a career?

Just look at bloggers such like Emma Drew, Money to the Masses Damien Fahy, Super Lucky Di Coke and Emma Bradley (my wonderful co-author of Blogging Your Way To Riches). All of them are successful full-time bloggers/writers/business owners who have given up the day job to chase their self-employed dream. All of them are doing so well and have never looked back.

If you are going to take this step into becoming a blogger then I must state a health warning, I am a personal finance blogger after all.

  • Have faith and confidence and belief that your idea will work and do everything to achieve it.
  • Take some time to build the blog whilst you are still working. Establish it and get the name out there, build your social media and create tons of great content.
  • Network, collaborate, join Facebook groups, get as much help as possible.
  • Have some money set aside to pay your outgoings whilst your income builds, AT LEAST 1 year worth of cash.
  • Be prepared to diversify, get income from lots of different places. It all adds up and it’s not the end of the world when one income stream dries up.

My blogging story is written about in glorious detail in my book which you can buy here for a fabulous discounted price of just £12.99 Blogging You Way To Riches, it will of course be a signed copy. Or you can buy it from Amazon paperback or E-book.

Read all about how I became a blogger and what I did to get it to the point of making money.



New Spring Aldi Homewear Range available from 16th February




New Spring Aldi Homewear Range

I love to freshen up the house with a few new items of homewear be that a new cushion or a throw. I love it even more when I can find great value items whilst doing my shopping.

The Aldi special buy range is definitely worth browsing through. I love to wonder the aisles every time I do a food shop to see what bargains they have. The offers change every week too so one wee you might find power tools, the next week its kitchen wear, or the next week its ski-wear. I always find myself picking up something that I needed.

Aldi Homewear

There is a new range available in Aldi, available to pre-order now online and for sale from Thursday 16th February in store with lots of items available to make a spring difference to your living room, dining room or bedroom.

aldi-homewear We decided to spruce up our sofa with a new cushion and multi weave throw.  I love having lots of cushions, they bring colour to our grey sofa and make it extra comfy. We love having lots of throws as well, the whole family will snuggle up on the sofa, warm underneath the blankets. The cushions are £5.99 and the throw is £16.99

We added a wool rug to Josh’s and Jack’s bedroom to it homelier. They love to lie on it when we read stories at bedtime. The rug is just £14.99.

There is a great value beechwood dining table and chairs available in an ultra-modern design. These would sit perfectly in the kitchen. The table is prices at £59.99 and a pair of chairs £39.99, so a combined price for a table and 4 chairs is £139.97.

Other items available include table lights, floor lights and some beautiful velvet top curtains. For the full range why not check them out online or take a look in your local Aldi from the 16th February.




7 things I wish someone had told me before giving birth




Guest post from Rebecca Megson – 7 Things I wish someone had told me before Giving Birth

Every Monday for a few weeks I am giving my website over to my wonderful friend Becky. She has very recently given birth to her first beautiful baba and has written some brilliant content for you readers on some of her recent learnings.

I have known Bec since we were 11, we joined secondary school together and were in same form class H2. We have stayed solid friends for nearly 30 years now and have been there for each other through thick and thin, birth, death, relationship breakups, everything. Bec has always been an amazing writer and now I get to share her work with you.

Baba Bu is now 4 months old

The Baba bu is now four months old which is truly, truly unbelievable.

It’s such a cliché but I really think there’s truth in the fact that nothing can really prepare you for motherhood.

In those early bliss-filled crazy hazy days of not knowing what the hell was going on my partner and I found ourselves constantly updating our catalogue of things we wish we’d been told before we had her, a scrawled version of which I just recently came across in my journal. The Baba bu was about 2 weeks old when I wrote this list, which goes to show just how quickly you become an expert!

So if you’re preggers with your first and you’re wondering what else there is to do now the hospital bag is packed, your freezer is full of home-cooked lovely meals and all the windows in your house have been windowlened (this last one might just’ve been my own weird nesting activity) then this list might be useful to you….



1. Start maternity leave 1 week earlier than you think you want to/need to

When the Baba bu decided she was ready to meet us at 39 weeks I felt I’d hardly had time to change gear and really relax, much less get bored of being on maternity leave.

2. Get an emergency feeding kit together BEFORE your baby is born

You and your baby may take to breastfeeding straightaway but if you don’t chances are your crisis point will strike at 3am on a Sunday morning when everything everywhere is shut. So I’d recommend pulling together a kit that includes:

3. Buy a pack of new born baby grows (e.g. up to 1 month sized)

0-3 months is HUGE, especially if your baby is less than 8lbs or so. Keep the receipt if you’re worried about wasting money!

4. Buy blankets before you give birth

Lots of them. Or ask friends and family to buy them for you. We just didn’t think about them and were super lucky that Mrs Mummypenny had included some in the vast bundle of lovely baby goodies she’d given us. It just wasn’t on our radar when we were prepping the hospital bag/nursery….

5. Work out your visitor ‘exit strategy’ in advance with your partner

Visitors are wonderful, kind and lovely people. You want to see them. But you have no idea until it happens just how exhausting it is having people come over. Discuss and agree in advance how many visitors you want to have (and whatever your number is, halve that figure!), for how long (and halve the number again) and what your strategy is for getting them to leave. It sounds crazy but I say again, it is wonderful but also EXHAUSTING to have visitors.

6. Buy at least one nursing bra (ideally 2 -3 ) and a few nursing tops BEFORE you have the baby

I refer you back to point one. I thought I had more time available than I did to go shopping ‘for me’ and so I spent a miserable first 8 or 9 days mostly braless, in vest tops feeling as though I was constantly getting my boobs out in the least dignified way possible. Few things in the normal course of life will rob you of dignity quite so fully as pregnancy and giving birth but you want to feel the best you can afterwards. Things like having the right clothes to feed your baby and feel relatively covered up at the same time are a small but important part of this.

Bravissimo have a great range with lots in the sale at the moment



7. Go to a local breastfeeding group before you give birth

Breast feeding is hard. For some people it’s really straightforward but most mums I’ve talked to had issues at least in the beginning and in addition to the kit I mentioned in point two know what support is available locally and connect with groups before you give birth. It will make turning up easier at a point when you need everything to be easier.

As I said, I really don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for what happens when your baby turns up – either the magical moments and feelings you have or the omigod ones – but I’d really love it if I could help just one person a little bit with this list of my top 7 things I wish I’d known before the Baba bu arrived!

You can follow Bec on Twitter and Instagram and check out her rather fabulous blog here.

Next week its ‘Revealed:What really happens at the magic 3 month point

This post contain affiliate links to the recommended products all available at Amazon, Boots and Bravissimo.