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The Cost of Babies

The Cost of Babies

Let’s put this straight out there, babies are expensive. Exactly the reason why it’s important to plan and budget accordingly. Last January The Telegraph reckoned it costs £230,000 to raise a child in the UK (cripes, can we send her back – joke) I never quite realised how much money we’d spend on buying things just to make life more convenient. Anyone who knows me will know I’m a bit of a penny pincher and keep a close eye on the family finances. That said, I’ve surprised myself lately of how lenient I’ve become (wifey might disagree, but this is my blog not hers). Since Phoebe was born, we’ve bought plenty expensive gizmos, including

  • A new family wagon. The previous BMW 1 Series didn’t quite cut it when it came to car seats and boot space. It’s been swapped for a Fiat 500L – not the nippiest of cars and has it’s little quirks but cheap to run and lots of family friendly features, including a nice big split level boot. Just before we swapped the car, we bought one of those fancy ISOFIX car seats (we went for the Britax Dualfix) that stays in the car so there’s less messing about getting Phoebe in and out of the car. Bending over to find a seatbelt plug in the dark usually ends up with back pain.This definitely wasn’t cheap but I’d say it’s worth every penny, especially as the seat will last until she’s 4 years old.
  • A new washer/dryer. Gone are the days of trundling out in the rain to the garage to get washing dry. It can all now be done in the house. You’ve no idea how excited I got about this prospect. Having to stay up on a night to rescue washing from the garage at midnight because the knackered old drier didn’t switch itself off was never a fun part of life, and one I certainly won’t miss. After all, the time can now be spent washing and sterilising bottles (story of my life, something else I won’t miss), doing more washing, and all the other baby jobs that have to be done, then doing more washing.
  • A pram. Can’t really manage without one of these!
  • Furniture. This doesn’t have to cost the earth.

We’re also about to enter the realm of childcare, as Phoebe approaches 6 months, the wife prepares to return to work next week and we have to dump the child on random strangers. Thankfully we seem to have got over the hurdle of the little critter only being happy when she’s with me or mummy and I don’t think we will have a problem here. A big shout out must go to Grandma and Nana. We are very fortunate to have them being able to take Phoebe one day a week which will help keep childcare costs down. Nursery should end up costing us about £380 a month and with the childcare voucher scheme it should come out a bit less than that. Still, that’s over four grand a year (yikes). So if you’re reading this in your sleep child, you best get the most out of it.

You’ll also find yourself buying random crap you probably don’t need. Just the other day I got a text off the missus which was something along the lines of “got Phoebe some of those cool bubbles. They were £12.” If you split that into two parts there’s an exciting part and a not so exciting part. Sorry, how effing much? They are cool though I must admit. These bubbles float instead of sinking and popping on the floor and Phoebe does love them. It’s a good job it was pay day today.

A few tips then for making sure your bank doesn’t dry up and you end up eating weeds out of the garden (don’t do this it’ll make you ill)

  • Budget month on month. I’ve got a spreadsheet which I swear by and have been using for the last five years to keep track of spending. It also helps plan saving. There’s a link to it at the bottom of this post
  • If you can, put child benefit in a separate high interest bank account and try not to touch it. So far, we’ve managed this and if we manage to leave it alone forever, Phoebe will have a nice pot of over 19 grand when she’s 18, and that’s before interest is added. It’ll also act as a bit of a buffer if you run out of money yourself.
  • Try to save something each month. Even if it’s only twenty quid, that’s £240 a year
  • Shop around for deals. Deal sites are the in thing at the moment so make sure you sign up to sites like Groupon or Wowcher, and also cash back sites like QuidCo. Community forums like MoneySupermarket and HotUKDeals are also good places to keep an eye on. There’s some good deals to be had out there.
  • When baby events are on at supermarkets make sure you check them out. You can save a small fortune buying things like washing tablets/powder and fabric conditioner in big packs and these are usually on offer. Just make sure you’ve room to store it at home, of course away from children.
  • Shop around for the best deals on things like car insurance an energy suppliers or telecoms providers. If you can save 20 to 30 quid a month on your bills collectively, that’s £240 to £360 a year, which is a lot of money. I never used to bother with this until Phoebe came a long, but it’s really worthwhile. Don’t just settle with your current supplier put the effort in and save some wonga.

One thing to prepare yourself from the start is that you’ve gotta be organised or you risk ending up on a slippery slope getting into debt – which you definitely don’t want.

Click here for my life saving spreadsheet! (requires Microsoft Excel). I’ve tried to add notes so it’s fairly obvious how to use. Drop me a message if it doesn’t make sense. I hope it helps you out!

Do you have any money saving tips? Share them in the comments below

Ttfn

Pete

Fathers Day

Fathers Day

It’s finally here! My first Father’s Day! Last year I got a card from ‘beany’ and this year she’s here, for real, to give me presents and let me put my feet up all day. In a few more years she can bring me beer/tea, too, plus other jobs I can think of. Father’s Day technically started a week early when we went to the Baby Sensory Father’s Day special. This was awesome, and it was nice to see so many dads there, who would normally otherwise be at work during the week.

I’d PLANNED to have a lie in this morning, to kick the beast and Wifey out of the bedroom so I could starfish for half an hour before a magic cup of tea appeared 30 minutes later. First thing’s first. None of that happened. PG Tips thought it would be funny to wake up early at 6.30, have some milk and then chit chat until we gave in and got up (I was secretly a bit cheesed off but now I’m a responsible and loving parent I just got on with it, like you do). I made my own brew (Wifey did offer though, just to keep the record on the straight and narrow), and wedged my eyes open with sticks until I’d come round at about 10am (my friends will know I’m currently cream crackered after playing at a festival on Friday night, which was a laaaaate night).

Now that the dream of a lie-in was well and truly binned off it was present time! If I’d have been a bit more with it I don’t think I’d have been able to contain myself. Today is the day I’ve looked forward to for so long. Another day in the annual calendar when I get PRESENTS! Woohoo!

We were off to a fine start with the card. “To Daddy from your Little Monster” (got that right), with a monster drumming – very me.

The presents were cool too! A picture of Phoebe G for my desk, in a “I <3 My Daddy” frame – that’ll be going straight to work tomorrow. It’s amazing what a nice picture can do on a stressful day at the office.

I also got a personalised Peppa Pig book which originally caused a bit of a stir. A week or so ago I took great pride in telling Wifey that Peppa Pig is crap because it doesn’t even look like a pig. I must say however that the personalised book is actually really cool. It’s all about daddies, and paints me in a really good light (on most pages, one or two make me out to be a bit lazy which is bollocks unless it’s sunday night when I’m not moving for anyone).

Phoebe – as seems to be the norm these days – has been a superstar most of the day and was very into her Sunday dinner at Nana and Pops’ house. Carrots, green beans, Yorkshire pudding. You name it she nommed on it.

All in all, a spiffing day (albeit a little expensive after deciding we needed a pram that folds up reallly small now that Phoebe G is in the sit-up bit. We went for an M&P Armadillo City and managed to get it for an effective £104 from Boots due to various offers. More to follow on this when we’ve actually used it!)

I’ll look forward to more Father’s Days in the coming years. See what presents I get when the little critter chooses her own presents! PG you and Wifey are my absolute world. Thanks for an ace first Father’s Day (now get to sleep!)

Ttfn

Pete

 

Wifey is Awesome

Wifey is Awesome

I haven’t written for a while (again), and it’s because I don’t feel like I’ve stopped for a good week or two due to various commitments, all of which have come at once. I don’t ditch my two blog followers on purpose. My aim is to post a few times a week, and I’m well aware I’m way off the mark at the moment!

I’m sat writing this while I wait for my next stint on stage as I’m currently helping out a local brass band who needed a drummer for tonight’s job (the local celebration for the Queen’s birthday, couldn’t say no now could I!). I’ve also been practicing with my work band for our upcoming stints at a festival next weekend and our annual conference in July. That’s as well as going to see Coldplay last weekend (that ticket was bought way before PG was born!!)

Wifey deserves a special thank you for letting me do all this and not moaning at me once. I love you lots and I’ll repay the favour one day 🙂

Back to it now! Over and out. To keep you updated on the baby front, here’s a picture of Phoebe G enjoying some tomato/making a mess!!

The Five Month Milestone

The Five Month Milestone

It doesn’t seem two minutes since I was writing the four month milestone post. Where the last 30 days have gone is anybody’s guess, but if you find them, can you let me know?

Just a mere month ago Phoebe G was just about managing to sit up for a few seconds before tippling over, now all she wants to do is sit up on her own, balanced by her little chubby legs! We’ve not quite managed to roll over yet but are getting closer by the day. It’s got to the point she gets popped on her tummy and she gets so wound up by it she writhes around like a snake trying to push herself over. She hates been on her front for some reason, perhaps that will pass with time. It’ll be interesting to see if she eventually chooses to sleep on her tum when she can decide for herself!

5 Months Old Today. Party!
5 Months Old Today. Party!
The way she plays with toys has also come on immensely in the month just gone. She is such a curious child, exploring how everything works. She’s got some toys meant for bigger kids, such as the Melissa and Doug Rainbow Caterpillar, and it’s quite phenomenal watching her pull the cogs off and sort of turn them (she gives it a damn good go!). The mini monster is still really into her sensory play, which is something we encourage hugely in our household, and why I still bang on about Baby Sensory classes to anyone who’ll listen (which, by the way, I don’t get to go to now due to being back at work sulk sulk). I guess all parents say the same thing, but my girl is so bloody clever and I’m convinced she’s a bit ahead of where she’s supposed to be. We gave her a spoon the other week with a tiny bit of dairy free ice cream and she put it straight in her mouth and knew just what to do with it (we’ll be starting baby lead weaning soon so she’s had the odd lick of things here and there). She just stares at us (and often screams) when we eat now with the biggest food envy face you’ve ever seen, so she’s pretty much ready. She’s also started holding her bottle herself (not for the full feed yet) and putting it in her own mouth, rather than us having to shove it in for her!

Ice Creaaammmm!
Ice Creaaammmm!
Other things Phoebe G is now thriving at are controlling her hands, using both of them really well to pick this up and work with the toys she has to play with. She’s also quite good at making choices now. Presented with two toys she thinks for a moment then goes for one, rather than just trying to grab both. With Wifey being a teacher she points all these little things out which to be totally honest I might not pick up on so quickly, so it’s quite handy!

The BIG event of the month was her christening which was yesterday. She was very well behaved and only had a little whinge when she was handed over to the Rev. She soon settled and we had a lovely day. There’s a couple of pics below and the little beauty! Thanks to everyone who came to share in her special day. We were all knackered by the end of it and slept well last night!!!

The item of the month we want to forget is jabs round three. Jeez did she suffer after those, poor lamb. She’s all fixed now but got a stinking cold afterwards so we went through a fair bit of calpol to try and keep her happy (didn’t work according to the noise that came out of her mouth. We could have collected her tears in a bucket)

I’m starting to wish this growing up would slow down a bit. To anyone who has just had, or is expecting a baby, make sure you cherish every second when they are so small. It’s precious time that flies by! Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely now Phoebe’s personality is starting to come out and she can be a right diva, but the tiny human we had has vanished in the blink of an eye, we have to call her a big girl now she can sit up by herself.

Anyway, we’re into month five so it won’t be long before the weaning begins and we’ve got a house covered in food (not to mention the new style poos that’ll be popping out of her backside, I’ve only just got used to the smell of formula poos (no joke I had to hide my face in my sweater to stop my eyes watering)!!)

Over and out. As promised there’s a post coming up about homemade toys, so watch the blog this week!

Ttfn

Pete

 

Sorry for the delay, we’re back!

Sorry for the delay, we’re back!

Hi folks

Sorry there’s been no blog activity for a while, what with a hectic week last week and a snot-ridden miserable monster there’s been no time for such luxuries. I’ve decided to try and write this on my dinner hour at work to try and keep things fresh otherwise the number of followers I’ve got will start to dwindle, which is never good, especially when there’s only two in the first place.

A lot of what I was going to post about I’m not not going to post about, as I’ll save that for my 5 month update (it’s only 4 days away, less of the groaning) but what I will say is that Phoebe G is like a different person all of a sudden! She’s so much fun now she’s getting older and her little personality is starting to shine through.

It was Wifey’s birthday on Tuesday, and whilst shopping for presents for the little ‘un, I decided that ignoring age warnings on toys (taking a common sense approach of course) is perfectly acceptable. Now I may be controversial saying that (and to be frank I don’t care – she’s our child), but there just aren’t many toys for kids under 6 months. At nearly 5 months I bought Phoebe half a dozen eggs to play with (free range of course) from The Entertainer at our local shopping centre. They were a bargain at £6.75 and Phoebe absolutely loves them. She’s supposed to be 6 months old before she can get her mits on them, but she’s behaving like an 8 months old at the moment the way she plays with stuff. As I had a spare note in my pocket (seriously who has spare money when you’ve got kids?!) I decided she needed a treat. NB: Obviously I’m not going to be giving Phoebe things she can choke on, and she’s never left unsupervised!!

She must have played with them for half an hour before getting bored, and her hands are just about big enough now for her to pick them up. She’s not quite mastered pressing them to make them squeak yet, but I’m sure that’ll come!

Phoebe enjoying her eggs!
Phoebe enjoying her eggs!
Other new additions to the bomb site house include a ball pool from Nana (which I love, never mind Phoebe)

Loving the ball pool!
Loving the ball pool!
We also spent a painstaking Saturday making our front garden a bit more low maintenance (anyone with kids will know that’s there’s bugger all time to pull up masses of weeds every week)

The Before shot is actually during, but you get the idea!
The “Before” shot is actually “During”, but you get the idea!
That’s all for now. We’ve a BIG event on Sunday which I’ll be posting about in due course, as well as the 5 month update which will hit your screens early next week!

Enjoy the bank holiday.

Ttfn

Pete

The Four Month Milestone

The Four Month Milestone

My daughter is FOUR MONTHS OLD. Already. How the !%£$ did that happen. I have got no idea where the first third of the year has gone, but it seems to have disappeared faster than my monthly salary leaves our bank account (and that’s usually pretty quick believe me).

Wifey suggested the other day that I should try and do a post when we reach important milestones. For the first year every month is a milestone in my opinion and worth writing about. So here we go, starting at month four.

The amount Phoebe G has changed over such a short period is truly mind blowing. They’re clever little creatures these kids. She can nearly sit up on her own, is slowly starting to attempt a rollover – currently gets as far as trying to fling her legs to the side – makes an absolute racket, blows bubbles, is a bit sick, is starting to realise she can control her limbs rather than them randomly flailing around, is a bit more sick, can hold toys, shake rattles, knows how to run rings around me to get what she wants, all at four months old. It’s mental. She’ll be moving out soon! She even held up her own 4 month old card this month look…

I realise that last paragraph makes her sound like a sicky child, but she’s not really, just the usual “oops I burped a bit too hard and some milk shot out all over mummy/daddy – must try harder” episode. We’ve all been there.

It’s fascinating to see Phoebe concentrate on rolling a ball around her little table like her life depends on it, or trying to get Sophie La Giraffe’s leg in her mouth (get one of these, babies seem to like them). Even sitting up must give her headache the way she tries to stay balanced. We did have a short 10 second burst of “oh my days I’m sat up by myself” but then the wind blew and she fell over. Nevertheless, we’ve all got to start somewhere.

When Phoebe was born, I signed up for Start4Life, a free email service provided by the NHS that send regular updates on what to expect at certain stages in their first 12 months (and beyond, possibly, but lets concentrate on the present for now). I’d recommend signing up to this as it’s a really useful read and covers a broad range of topics, all of which can be helpful. One of the things noted at three months was getting your baby to sleep. If your child is anything like mine, she just won’t WANT to sleep during the day. It’s a bit of a joke sometimes. Life when it’s daylight is obviously way too exciting and they might miss something. Phoebe will currently only sleep on Wifey, or in her basket. So when she’s not around or we have a busy day, it can be a bit of a nightmare. She knows she’s tired and just grumps all day, but still refuses to sleep. Sound familiar to anyone?

One thing you should be thinking about at 4 months is childcare. If you’re lucky like we are and mummy is at home all day and daddy goes out to work (or vice versa), there’s going to come a time when you both have to go back to work and something needs to happen to the little one. Funnily enough they don’t know how to work the cooker etc yet so are unable to look after themselves all day. There’s various options, nurseries, child minders, family and so on, but make sure you decide fairly early on as the waiting lists for some places are ridiculous. We’re lucky that Wifey is going back to work part time (3 days a week) and Grandma and Nana can also have her one day a week, so she’ll be heading to nursery one day a week to learn some social skills!

A tad annoying difference between three and four months is that everything suddenly has to go in Phoebe’s mouth. We have to be a bit careful now about what she can play with on her own, otherwise she’ll end up with blue lips etc because die has been sucked out of toys and so on. She’s also not quite learnt yet that her fingers are longer than the depth of her mouth and we’ve had frequent “oops” incidents where she’s shoved them in a bit far and made herself sick. She’ll learn, I’m sure!

Anyhow, the fun continues and we love every minute. I’d be interested to hear from any dads out there with a similar aged child. Would be good to compare notes!

Ttfn

Pete