Spider invasion

October 13, 2009

Have you been subject to the much trumpeted spider invasion this season? I heard on the news that conkers keep them away. I can’t remember why exactly, but I will try anything to keep those spindly creatures away from me. So dotted around the house, in corners, on my bedside cabinet, by the doors (because of course spiders use the doors to get in!) are lots of conkers.

Now I can’t admit that to my little girl, or she will become freaked by the prospect of them.

So please can someone help me come up with a good excuse?? Natural decorations just simply won’t wash with her!

This was the question I faced last week. The little cherub burst into tears as I served her dinner, and I mean full on, shaky hands, crying. It seems it had finally dawned on her that the meat we eat might actually be dead animals.

Tears rolling down her face, she asked again, “does someone make this chicken Mummy?”. Clearly she was pleading, hoping, wishing that chicken is made in a factory somewhere near Hull, out of recycled paper and plastic by staff who live an organic lifestyle.

What could I say? It’s hard enough to get them to eat a balanced diet without her going vegetarian on me (I have nothing against this in adults, and I was myself a non-meat-eater for many years). So I lied. I told her it was made. She looked at me for a minute to check for signs of lying, but seemed convinced, and duly tucked in.

Grandma seemed appalled I had fibbed. “How long do you think you can keep that lie up,” she said. “Maybe ’till she’s ten?”

Well, I reckon I’ve got six months at least.

The frugality continues…

August 27, 2009

Right, I’m getting into this watching the pennies thing now. It’s a bit time consuming, which is what has put me off for so long, but have realised it is worth every second spent.

Last week I checked up on my daughter’s savings account to see how it was performing as I have heard about savings rates of around 5% in recent weeks. Went into the building society, asked for the info, drum roll…..her account was paying….a platry 0.3%

How bad is that! All that time I could have been earning interest and I was stuck on that measley amount. Anyhow I switched to a five year fixed ISA paying 4.5% so I’m a happy lady now.

Next thing I hear from Yorkshire Building Society that lots of mums like me aren’t paying attention to how their Child Trust Fund is performing. Apparently they have seen a recent surge in applications, probably because next month children who were born after 31 August 2002 and who are turning seven will get a second payment.

And parents aren’t looking around much to get the best from their Child Trust Fund because they don’t know that it can be moved around.

Well I certainly wasn’t aware of it. So I’ll just check out how mine is performing…wait…who did I go with…I have no idea! Well first task for me is to track down where I put it in the first place.

Maybe I’ll find the deeds to the house while I’m searching…..

Marketing Mummy

Shock as High Maintenance Girl Attempts Frugal Family Activities

That would be an appropriate headline for my life in the last few weeks.  After writing my last p0st I have since had a week off with mini me and realised that none of the things I suggested were free.

My budget for the week was AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE! (well I will go and have the wedding of the century), so I needed a rethink. Here’s a few things I’ve learned you can do to help keep the little ones entertained on a shoe string.

1. Picnics

Yes a picnic is obvious but I’ve made a couple of mine feel really special by popping along to Betty’s and letting everyone choose a cake (even the hubbie) to have after the butties. Being in Betty’s is always a magical experience and looking over all the wonderful options, choosing your favourite and having it popped in a lovely box tied with old fashioned ribbon makes it feel a real treat (and stopped me heading to the cafe). Or even cheaper bake your own cakes with the kids to take with you.

2. Join the local library.

There are a lot of initiatives to get kids reading more,  so your library will probably have lots to offer. We joined for my daugther this weekend and there is a special club on, she got a chart, booklet, stickers, and every time she reads three books she gets a little prize.  She must have thought I was rewarding her for something and it was all free.  We have killed plenty of time reading the books she got out, drawing pictures of the new characters, and filling in her reading chart.

3.  Don’t do anything without a voucher

My husband is very good at this, he looks  for a voucher before we do anything. And I mean anything! OK, so it drives me a bit mad (me tapping foot loudly, him refusing to go unless we can use some sort of discount), but being frugal usually means being patient too. There are loads of voucher websites out there, and we even got a free child’s voucher off ebay recently. In our week off we saved £5 per person at Chester Zoo by stopping at the Cheshire Oaks shopping centre customer services first (was a bit hard not to pop into the shops though). 

4. Become a tourist in your local area

Let’s face it, the kids don’t like car journeys. But we so often overlook the areas around us, because we just don’t think of them. I’ve recently discovered a few new walks, picnic spots and parks really close to me, and I’ve been making the most out of them. Take a closer look at where you are, and ask around – you might be surprised by what you find.

5.  Get tips

There are absolutely loads of money advice sites out there, such as the pioneering (if hard on the eye) Money Saving Expert.  It’s really an information overload though once you start looking. Personally I really like www.lovemoney.com ‘s Frugal Friday blog by Rachel Robson. In fact a few of us in the office are waiting with baited breath for it to come out each week.

I also went camping which I said I’d never do.  So I’m going to listen to the best of the mummy bloggers out there and see how long the new frugal me can continue.

I think I may need to invest in some battery powered hair straighteners at this rate…

Marketing Mummy

Well it’s that time of year again, the school summer holidays.  For my lucky teacher friends it’s six weeks of staycation activities, not rushing in the mornings and heaps of quality time with their own kids (and not having to face anyone else’s.

But for me, a full time working mum in a busy marketing agency, with no family for 70 miles and a childminder who heads off to Spain for the entire six weeks,  it can be pretty tricky.

I have to pack the poor child off around the country most weeks, but I will really savour the one week I do have to spend with her. Living in Yorkshire is the ideal place to enjoy  a week of staycation activities, as we are lucky to be surrounded by lots of gorgeous countryside and stately homes, and quaint villages to amble through.

There really is a massive choice in Yorkshire, but here is my personal top five family days out in the county:

1. IF we get some really hot days again, head to Ilkley Lido in West Yorkshire.  Not only is it a great outside pool fun for all ages, but it also boasts truly stunning views across Ilkley and Otley Chevin. Do get there early, and bring a picnic as the queues for the cafe can be long. But on a hot day you almost feel as if you are in the Med.

2. Bolton Abbey , near Skipton, is a wonderful place to take the family for the day. It is only £5 which pays for the car park, so the more family members you stuff in your car, the better value it is. On a sunny day you can spend the entire day exploring different areas, set up on the ‘beach’ next to the river, and look around the ruins. Best of all is watching all the dads force their kids to walk across the stepping stones over the river, only for the kids to start crying half way when the stones get further and further apart.

3. If it is a rainy day, you can’t beat Eureka in Halifax for younger children. There is even a section for babies, which is pretty unusual, and kids just love playing grown up in M&S, the bank, the  post office, the garage and the kitchen. If you go on a sunny day it will be pretty quiet, otherwise get there early to avoid the queues. They have some nice arts & crafts things on in the holidays, which always go down well with my little girl.

4.  A place I only discovered recently is Fountains Abbey. Wow! It is really stunning, and I can’t believe I have left it so long to visit. Take a picnic, and look out for special events. There was a lovely Medieval village recreated when I went, the only downside was I queued for 40 minutes for an ice cream (don’t let this put you off though, just take a cool box and some ice lollies).

5. Finally, Harlow Carr gardens are really lovely. Occasionally they have arts & crafts things on for kids (though I would really like to see more of this), but even without this the gardens are really beautiful and can take ages to explore. Best of all it is next to a Betty’s, so if you are feeling flush you can treat the family to a parkin or two after. It is also then just a short drive into the lovely spa town of Harrogate if you want to make it a full day out.

Finally, if you are still stuck for things to do, read Tim Dowling’s article on keeping the kids entertained.

Please let me do better than last week.

Please let me remember the PE kit, the fun run shoes, the book bag, the PTA stall money, the fruit, the (current favourite!) water bottle, the sun hat (the pink one Mummy!), the sun lotion, the book report and the sick note.

Please make me remember the right thing on the right day so I don’t have to move my meetings to make a one and a half hour trip in the middle of the day to take the other running shoes needed.

Please let me hold on the various bits of paper, party invites, notices etc which I always lose, causing me to be too late, too early, or not there at all.

Please let the week be full of smiles and laughter, or at least for the weather to stay sunny.

And may all the working mummies get through another week.

Amen!

Saturday was like any other, I was at a kids party with a cheesy DJ and musical statues. I seem to spend half my life at these parties, stood on the sidelines, eating left over jam sandwiches (so it’s not all bad). As I looked for my daughter during the last song (High School Musical of course) I lined up to prepare for the party bag queue. But then as daughter and I began to file out the DJ played one final tune – Michael Jackson’s (well Jackson 5) I want you back.

That was it, the tears finally came.  I’d been waiting for two days for them to arrive since finding out about Michael Jackson’s sad death. I pulled my big sunglasses over my face and in the chaos that is the end of children’s parties, I enjoyed a quiet moment of reflection. I’m sorry I didn’t have a ticket, even though I would not have seen him I wish I could know that I tried my absolute best. My greatest sorrow is that he did not get one last chance to feel the rush of performing live to a crowd that adored him.

Of course he was dogged by leud allegations and my parenting style is normally to err on the side of caution, to fear the worst and hope for the best. But with Michael I never even considered he might be guilty. How could we expect him to be normal when he had never known what normal is? He didn’t mean any harm, he just didn’t know that he was an adult and saw himself as on the same level as the children he surrounding himself with.

Maybe it is because I don’t want to ruin my enjoyment of his music, or maybe it’s because as a parent I always find it hard to belive that anyone could hurt a child, but to me Michael will always be both a musical genious and also a kind, loving and misunderstood father. I hope that is the way others will remember him. And that his songs will be played at kids parties forever.

Welcome to my blog

June 21, 2009

Marketing skills – nine years working in PR & marketing

Practical skills – zero, useless, pathetic

Well that pretty much sums it up. Welcome to my blog. I’m a 29 yr ld account director at a leading marketing consultancy. I work full time at this job and make a full time hash of many of my motherly related tasks (well the practical ones anyway – I try to make up for it in cuddles ).

Whether it is sewing a costume for school, remembering to pay the childminder, or even just remember what time she finishes school, I can’t seem to get it right.

In work I juggle a huge amount each day, every day. No problem. Sometimes I annoy people for being over organised.

So why, oh why does this fall apart at home?

Who knows? This blog will be a diary of my attempts to survive motherhood while working full time, the laughs and the tears, as well as my unrequested opinions on all things parenting.

Thanks for visiting,
Marketing Mummy

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