Monday, 27 August 2018

PARENTHOOD: Making life with two children more affordable

PARENTHOOD: Making life with two children more affordable
Life as a family is expensive, if it isn't the seemingly endless nappies for babies then its the bottomless pit of food children grow up to become. However there are many ways you can adapt your family life to make life with children that bit more affordable. As I have recently become a stay at home mum/blogger we are really keeping an eye on our finances at the moment, so I thought I'd share some of the ways we can all make family life more affordable without losing the fun, meals out or exciting adventures.

Batch cooking - It's my biggest tip and one I share in so many different scenarios, but filling your freezer up with homecooked meals makes life so much easier. It also stops you resorting to the more expensive ready made children's meals available to buy from supermarkets. My daughter's favourite affordable freezer meals are: lasagne, cottage pie, risotto, vegetable soup, chicken stew, pork & orzo bake, fish pie and bolognaise.

Annual passes - A lot of popular day out locations now have annual passes available, which make for ideal birthday present ideas for your children. We have one for a local farm and as a result visit most weeks. There is the Merlin annual pass for bigger attractions, but also a lot of farms and soft play centres do them too. It's then a guaranteed free day out throughout the year or good to use when you need to keep the children entertained for a few hours. Another one to keep an eye out for is if any of your local attractions do summer holiday offers/deals/passes, as I know our local soft play does.
Junk modelling - Nothing screams junk modelling more than our ever growing pile of recycling. Pop a wipe clean mat down with lots of paint, glue, sequins, feathers, pipe cleaners, pom poms etc. and let your children create whatever they wish to. Can they make a monster out of a toilet roll tube? Or an octopus from an egg carton? An almost free activity that will keep them busy for a good hour or so.

Picnics - Everyone loves a picnic, don't they? Taking a picnic on a day out saves money and makes a day out feel like more of an adventure. If we want to make it feel like more of a treat then we'll cook up a couple of part-baked baguettes instead of a standard sandwich and considering you can easily pay £6 for a filled baguette in most cafes/garden centres it will cost you a fraction of that cost. Aldi has a lot of delicious picnic food during the summer for very affordable prices or you could even make a batch of homemade cookies to take with you.

Reduced food - If you time your trip to the supermarket just right then you'll be rewarded with endless reductions on foods that are going out of date. It is worth keeping an eye on the fruit, as that can easily be cubed up and popped in the freezer for smoothies. Meat is another one that can be significantly reduced and is ideal for the batch cooking I mentioned earlier. I've found that Marks & Spencer's is best to visit around 3pm on a Sunday or the supermarkets within an hour or so of closing time. Always check it can be frozen if you don't plan to eat it soon otherwise you'll end up with more waste. Another source of 'free food' is making the most of berries, fruit and vegetables that grow in your garden. We have blackberries that have been made into crumbles, mini muffins and frozen ready for smoothies. 
Making your own activity books - Colouring books can get expensive, but there's nothing stopping you drawing a few simple outlines of objects on a piece of paper for your little one to colour in. There's always the novelty of seeing you draw a fish, person, house, flower etc. too.

Second hand items - Places like eBay, NCT Nearly New Sales, Preloved sales, things for sale in... Facebook groups etc. are all ideal for hunting down second hand items for your little ones. You can pretty much buy anything second hand these days, so if you're counting the pennies then this is an ideal option.Charity shops - Another place that can be great for finding second hand gems is charity shops. I don't usually look at the clothes, but do love trying to find puzzles, games and toys that you can no longer buy in the shops. It's especially special if it is something that I remember playing with as a child.

Sale shopping for the next year - This is another really big tip of mine whether you have one child or one hundred, shopping in the sales for the next year save so much money. When it is the summer sales I will buy for the next summer in the size that will be needed then. We then have a large plastic box where we keep all my sale buys, which will be checked through every now and again. I do the same for the autumn sale and it has honestly saved me hundreds of pounds over the year. It's especially good to keep an eye out on the more expensive places to shop like John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe, Boden, Joules, Mamas and Papas, Marks and Spencer etc. It can be a bit inconvenient to store all of the clothes, but if you have the space then I'd highly recommend doing it.

Hand-me downs - It's inevitable and one of the big perks of having more than one child...reusing all your previously loved baby toys, play mats, bouncers, clothes and accessories. If you're anything like me then the temptation is to go out and buy all the cute clothing again, but I managed to (pretty much) restrict myself. Instead I have asked for clothes for Poppy at present giving events, so that she has a few special outfits that are just hers. 

Hosting play dates at home - Days out are fun, but there's no reason why you can't all have just as much fun at home on a playdate. I've found it is the easiest place to properly catch up with my mummy friends too because when we meet at the park or farm we spend most the time going in different directions. Make a little picnic lunch or bake a cake and a home playdate can feel like such a treat. 

Explore nature - There is a whole world to explore just outside your front door; everything from bugs to flowers to butterflies and minibeasts. Save the money spent on trips to the butterfly farm or farm and take a magnifying glass out into your garden/local area. You could also draw different bugs in a grid for your child to find while outside. It's the perfect way to get fresh air, run off all that extra energy and learn about the smaller animals we share this planet with. When exploring the outdoors you do need to be careful of flowers/plants that could be poisonous, so having a tube of Anthisan in your first aid cupboard is a good idea. It is suitable from two years plus and provides relief from pain, inflammation and itching caused by insect bites, insect stings and nettle rash.


Touring your local parks - Parks are free, fun and the perfect place for children to burn off some energy, but going to the same one day in day out can get tedious. Why not choose a few of your local parks and organise to visit them all over a week or so? You could take a picnic to make it a bit of a longer activity or a football to make up games with. Some of our favourites are hiding the ball, throwing up to a certain point on the park equipment, rolling it up the slide (if no one else is around) or just having a kick about. If I'm fancying a bit of a treat then I'll take a flask of tea too, gone have those relaxed café visits with a newborn baby!

Sell old baby items - This is something I'm rubbish at, but is one that can have serious monetary rewards. Getting into a routine of selling anything that you don't think will be needed again is great for stopping your house getting filled up and for earning a few pounds back.

Taking meals for children when eating out - When eating out with a weaning baby then you would always bring their meal with you, whether it be a pouch or homemade meal. However taking your children's meal for as long as possible means you don't have to stop eating out as a family, as it keeps costs down. We stopped taking Isabella's around 2.5 years old when she starting requesting her own meal and we felt comfortable giving her the options often offered on children's menus. Another way to keep meals out more affordable is looking for places where children eat free or for £1.Keep an eye out for free events - These are especially on during the school holidays, as there is suddenly an influx of children to entertain, but it is worth keeping an eye out all year round. Libraries often have free events, as do Hobbycraft (just search for your local store on their website and book into the class you'd like to do. They include activities like slime making, pottery painting etc.) during the summer or there are baby/toddler classes that offer your first session for free. 

Enter competitions - Chances of winning aren't often too high, but there's no harm in trying if you have the time to enter. Blogs will often host giveaways or there are quite a few on social media these days. Twitter has #FreebieFriday where a lot of brands run a retweet and follow competition, which are quick and simple to enter. I'd recommend only spending your time entering competitions you either want to win the prize itself or can envisage selling it. If you're lucky enough to win it is a good way to get free days out, Christmas/birthday gifts and/or treats for yourself. 


What are your favourite money saving tips for family life?

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x

*This post contains PR samples. As always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest. 
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17 comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of shopping the sales for next year’s kids clothes. Batch cooking is also a great idea for savining time too.

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  2. I love these ideas and do some of them already. I used to always go to coffee shops but now brewing my own coffee and taking in a flask and making cake to take with me and eat in the park. Sooo much cheaper and actually, I can watch kids play in the park while enjoying my coffee and not have to worry about making them behave and sit nicely!

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  3. I used to do a lot of charity shopping and car boot sales when my son was young as baby clothes aren't worn as much as kids grow so quickly. I used to enter a lot of competitions too. Some great tips here

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  4. those are fab tips , we often buy and freese reduced food , as well as slow cooker - i love it as i can chuck in what i have left in the freezer and make a curry or a hot pot

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  5. I love these tips. I’ve just started batch cooking also love saving for jasmine when buying through Kid start or cash back sites.

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  6. We are about to welcome number two so was definitly interested in these tips. Batch cooking is something I know makes great sense, I just need to get more organised to sort it out. We also have national trust passes and have found them so useful to get it and about in the fresh air without shelling out additionally.

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  7. Some great tips here - we have a couple of annual passes for local attractions and they have saved us loads this summer. Kaz

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  8. fabulous tips here hun, some great ways to save. Batch cooking really helps me for everyday life that's for sure :)

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  9. As a family of 6 we are always on the lookout for ways to cut back or save money. There are some great tips, some we already do and some I’m looking forward to putting into action. Thank you

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  10. There are some really good tips here. Annual passes and making picnics is a great way for a family to save x

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  11. I think those Merlin annual passes are a very good idea and theyre not too expensive either

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  12. Explore nature and the local parks with a picnic was something we did a lot of this summer and it was great for being on a low budget. Mia loved it. Annual passes are a great idea for saving a bit more money especially if you visit places like the local farm a lot

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  13. Some great tips! I think you just have to learn to live within your means don't you. If we'd thought about being able to afford three children we'd have never done it.

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  14. Wow, what a great selection of tips. I definitely agree about annual passes, they have really helped us in the past.

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  15. I wish we'd had a tube of anthisan to hand yesterday when my son got stung not he hand by a rather cruel wasp! Great tips here by the way.. lots more I could do to make life easier!

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  16. I'm still getting used to life with two children and these ideas are great! We would definately benefit from batch cooking! x

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