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Back to School Budgeting – Save Money This Summer

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It’s been a strange year for many families. The kids have been at home, the grown-ups too, and it just seems odd thinking about going back to a normal routine of school and work. With the summer coming up and schools rushing to reopen, it’s come to that time of year again to stock up on back to school supplies. 

The average parent spends £230 on school uniforms alone every year, not to mention PE kits, stationery, books, and lunches. With all parents in the same boat, there must be ways to cut these costs down. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save money on school supplies this year.

Second-hand Uniforms

Many parents use social media groups to swap uniforms. Facebook is a good place to do this, or you can advertise in school. It’s better for little kids who grow so quickly before their uniform is even worn. It’s also a good idea to swap books and revision guides. There are many apps and websites for swapping second-hand items in your local area if you can’t find anyone. 

Make a Realistic Budget

It’s a good idea to write a checklist of only essential items and see what you already have at home. You can then make a realistic budget for what you actually still need to buy. Budgeting apps can help your with this as well. Explain to your kids that a new pencil case every year might not be that necessary. Think about where you can cut a few costs. For another quick and easy solution to any financial situation, check out payday loans.

Factor in Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about extra-curricular activities that you might need to budget for as well. Things like sports clubs and music lessons can set you back a bit. For lunch costs, you could set up an account and plan it with your children so they’ll know what to expect. If you’re looking for inspiration there are plenty of cheap lunch box ideas online. Get creative with leftovers and fun treats. Home-cooked food is much better for them than prepared meals anyway, besides being a lot tastier.

Shop in Sales

It’s hard to rely solely on second-hand items so when you do need to do some shopping, give your self some time to wait for the sales. Take into account your child’s growth in that waiting time, don’t forget. Supermarkets often have crazy cheap offers in the summer, and you’ll be able to find deals online as well. Here are some more tips and tricks for buying school uniforms. 

Determine a Savings Timeline

If you plan how much you’re going to spend on school supplies you can start developing a timeline and save up with plenty of time in advance. Put aside a piggy bank for school funds. School stuff costs a little more nowadays due to technology being implemented into their studies. Plan ahead a little for your children’s education to make sure they don’t go without.

Keeping Kids Healthy At Home

It can be difficult to find ways to keep the kids healthy and active when it’s necessary to spend most of the day at home. Many parents find themselves lost for ideas and feeling uninspired. With a little bit of imagination and some supplies you probably already have at home, it’s easier than you might think to get the kids up and active. Here we have some fun ideas to try out – you won’t hear them saying “I’m bored” for a while when they are enjoying these fun activities!

Make an Obstacle Course or Play Sports

Kicking off our guide to fun, healthy activities for children is the classic obstacle course. You might be thinking you don’t have enough space or the right equipment to set one up, but it’s quite likely you have everything you need already at home. An obstacle course can be set up in the garden using various outdoor toys, and rocks can be used in the place of cones. It’s also possible to do an indoor obstacle course – encourage your child to climb on the sofa, crawl under chairs or commando crawl under a blanket. You can also set things up for them to jump over, or use simple household items like cans of food as ‘dumbbells’.

Indoor sports are also possible with a little care. The hallway is perfect for practicing batting a soft ball, or playing football with a small, soft ball. You could even set up a net on the kitchen table to have a game of ping pong!

Work or Play in the Garden

healthy kids

Activities to do at home don’t have to be done inside the house – on a nice day, it’s great to get some fresh air and venture out into the garden. Kids can help with simple gardening jobs such as digging up weeds and tidying up, and they will also love to plant seeds and check on them each day. If the weather is nice, they’ll love using the hose to water the plants, and themselves!

Playing in the garden can be loads of fun too. There are many great toys out there which are perfect for using in the garden. If space and finances allow, a slide, trampoline, or swing set are great for kids to burn off excess energy. However, there are loads of great, cheaper options also available which will still entertain kids no end. Balls are always a winner amongst kids of all ages, and they will surely have hundreds of ideas on games to play with them. Simple toys such as hoola hoops always seem to be loved by children too – they are ideal for indoor or outdoor use.

There is plenty of toy ideas over at tncore.org if you’re stuck for ideas.

Follow an Exercise Video

Any kind of exercise of course comes under the category of healthy activities, but doing it from home might be new. Thankfully, YouTube is packed full of all kinds of exercise videos, many of them perfect for kids of all ages. Most of these online exercise classes don’t need any special equipment, and they can be done at any time. You can find anything ranging from aerobics to dance to yoga – there is sure to be something out there to interest your child.

Make a Treasure Hunt

Perhaps one of the most fun indoor activities to do with kids is setting up a treasure hunt! They can wait in one room whilst you prepare and hide clues, each of which leading to the next one. At the end, leave a simple treat to reward them for their hard work, such as their favourite snack.A scavenger hunt games can also be fun. Prepare a list of things for your child to find around the house, and sit back and relax as you wait for them to bring their goodies to you!.

Enjoy Active Games

Board games are a great way to pass time with the family, but there are also a few games out there which can help kids to be active. Twister is a classic, and is fun for the whole family to get involved! If you have a Wii Fit or similar, this is another great game to keep kids active whilst also having loads of fun at the same time.

Play Party Games

It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday for kids to enjoy playing party games! There are loads of great party games which can be enjoyed on a rainy day spent indoors, and will also help get your child up and moving. Musical statues is always a winner, especially when your child picks out their favourite songs to dance to. To make it even more fun, call out the names of different statues to pose as when the music stops. Another wonderfully simple yet fun game is throwing a balloon around and trying not to let it touch the floor. This is a great game for one child to play alone or for siblings to enjoy together. The final fun party game idea is playing with and popping bubbles. Kids of all ages love bubbles – no one can be sad when there are bubbles around!

How to Keep Your Kids Entertained and Educated at Home

The recent life-changing social distancing measures that have been introduced mean that for the first time, many of us are facing the challenge of home-schooling our kids. In addition, we are needing to support our kids, who will be unsettled by the disruption to their routine and upset by the events going on around them. However, there are simple steps that we can take to help keep kids education on track and ensure that they are entertained while at staying at home.

Providing a structured routine

Ensuring that your kids have a structure to their day is vital for keeping them motivated and productive. Continuing with your usual meal times and bedtime routine is also recommended to bring your kids some normality.

Plan the day using a timetable

The classic timetable is ideal for kids of all ages to use, as it provides predictability to the day and ensures they complete all of their school work. By also including meal and snack times it can help stop kids developing any unhealthy eating habits during their time at home. Get your kids involved with writing their timetable, as there are many excellent skills they can develop at the same time.

To do lists

If you are struggling to keep your kids entertained and motivated throughout the day, then try writing a to-do list filled with activities to keep any bored kids occupied. A to-do list is a perfect opportunity to get kids helping out around the house, as you could include daily chores or even get them involved with preparing meals.

Online exercise inspiration

It can be challenging to think of exercise ideas for kids outside of their regular sports and activity groups. However, to inspire you, there are many online activities for kids that will help keep them fit and active.

Try contacting your child’s current sports and activity groups, as many have created online fitness sessions that may also allow your family to join in. Otherwise, there are a great variety of exercise, yoga and dance videos on YouTube that kids can enjoy participating in. Online workouts make perfect fitness sessions for everyone who is at home with the kids that will get the whole family moving.

Online educational resources

When undertaking home teaching, the support from kids’ educational websites is invaluable. These resources ensure that any work you do with your kids follows their school curriculum and is at the correct level for your child’s learning ability

STEM Learning

The STEM Learning website provides many exciting and stimulating learning activities for kids of all ages, so if you are stuck for fun things to do then, this is a great website to visit. There are even wildlife spotter sheets and fun plant project ideas that are perfect for encouraging time in the garden. For more STEM play options, there are many suitable educational toys for 6 year olds and above that are ideal to use in combination with these projects.

Learning through craft

Staying at home is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quality family time together and try some craft ideas. There is plenty of inspiration available on social media sites, and most activities only require items from around the home. Craft activities are a great way of recycling everyday household items such as cardboard tubes and plastic bottles. However, if you need to increase your craft range, then there are many great craft inspired educational toys for 7 year olds and below to enjoy.

Educational play

Providing kids with time to play with toys is an essential part of learning. There are many great educational toys available, so you will be able to find the perfect toys for occupying every child. For inspiration, take a look at https://www.starwalkkids.com where you can discover exciting toys for all ages.

30 days of Lego play

Lego sets come in a range of themes, making them perfect educational toys for 8 year olds and above that bring out every kid’s creativity. They are perfect for entertaining kids for hours and allow kids to design new and exciting masterpieces. If your child loves Lego, then they are sure to enjoy the 30 day Lego calendar, which sets a different Lego challenge every day for kids to complete.

Minecraft educational resources

Minecraft is the latest video game craze, which all kids love playing, and with many educational toys for 10-year-olds featuring this popular game, it can be challenging to get kids to think of anything else.

If you are struggling to get your kids to focus on their school work as they constantly want to be playing this game, then there is a compromise, as Minecraft has produced an excellent range of educational resources. Kids can choose a wide variety of lessons, including many science, history, and language topics, so you can be sure that your child will learn a lot while exploring the Minecraft website.

BrightMinds – Educational Gifts for Kids

Being a parent at Christmas can be a tough job. If Burrito Baby had her way, all of her gifts would be things that Husband and I consider cheap, plastic tat which will probably be chewed up by Maureen before New Year because it all gets left on the floor! Also, as you’ll know if you read this post, Sausage is getting  to that ‘hard to buy for’ age, which makes buying presents even tricker. We’ve always tried to find a balance between three things:

  1. Stuff they actually really want.
  2. Stuff which is good quality and will last longer than a few weeks.
  3. A combination of gifts which are fun but are also educational in some way.

Both of the girls are really fascinated by science. Just a few weeks ago, Sausage came home from school absolutely buzzing because she’d used a bunsen burner for the first time and she seems really engaged by things she’s learning in her lessons. BB isn’t quite at bunsen burner level yet, but she’s developing a deep love of all things science, mostly anatomy and nature.

A while ago, BrightMinds got in touch and asked if we’d like to pick some things from the website for the girls for Christmas, and I realised that it’s basically a whole site, dedicated to things my kids would LOVE! BrightMinds specialie in STEM toys (science, technology, engineering and maths), as well as wooden toys, role play & board games that are fun to use but also encourage learning and development.

BrightMinds - Learning Resources Anatomy Models: Set of heart, brain, body and skeleton

We opted for the Learning Resources Anatomy Models which consists of a set of heart, brain, body and skeleton models, giving children gain a deeper insight to the workings of the human body. Children learn as they build each of the models using the step by step photo illustrated assembly instructions. It’s a bit like a puzzle, but taking it to a whole new level!

I just know that both girls are going to love these and that it will hopefully help to continue to foster their love of science. At the moment, BB is adamant that she’s going to be a doctor AND a vet (hello, tuition fees!) and these models might be the thing that inspire her to make a choice. I haven’t opened the boxes yet, as I want to save them for Christmas, but you can see them through the window on the front and the quality and level of detail looks excellent.

I think these make such a great gift for the scientifically-minded kids in your life and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. The best part is, you can still place an order all the way up to 23rd December for next day delivery, which mean you’ve got plenty of time to get some things ordered before Christmas. Don’t forget to take a look around the WHOLE Brightminds site for other STEM toys, arts and crafts kits, books and a whole load of other educational gifts which are so vibrant and fun, kids will forget they’re learning!

Young Driver: Driving Your Way to a Great Christmas!

Young DriverPhoto by Cory Bouthillette on Unsplash

Sausage is at that slightly difficult age when it comes to buying gifts. At 11, and a first year at senior school, she’s not into toys anymore (Funko Pops aside!) but she’s still a kid, so we don’t want Christmas to be about ‘functional’ gifts rather than fun ones. As a Mum, I finally understand why people hae always said how tricky the ‘tween’ years can be, purely because they really are in between phases.

Just recently, we heard about a company called Young Driver, where kids as young as five can have a driving lesson, and it seemed like a perfect stocking filler for Sausage. They have centres all around the country where kids can drive a real car, with a real instructor, and they even cater for a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and have automatic cars with hand controls for wheelchair users at selected sites.

Fostering a love for driving at this age is a great thing to do – I’ve written before about how happy I was when I learned to drive and how much I loved the freedom, and although driving is an expensive business these days, I think it’s important for people to learn how, even if they chooe not to use a car on a daily basis.

The best thing about Young Driver is that you can buy vouchers for one lesson, or as many lessons as you want, which gives you an option to suit every budget. The lessons are exactly the same as the lessons that they’d have when they turn 17, and there’s a YOUNG DRIVER™ Drive Diary charts your progress and goes with you.

The 30 Minute Festive Lesson Voucher  gives your tween a 30 minute Young Driver™ experience and is available as a postal voucher, which makes it great as a last minute gift. Gift vouchers are valid for 9 months from date of purchase, so they have plenty of time to get booked in for their lessons.

Im so excited about giving Sausage her voucher at Christmas – it’s such a unique idea for a gift and I really think she’s going to geta huge thrill out of the whole thing. I also think that a gift like this shows that we have confidence in her and see her as a very mature 11 year old.

If you want to learn more about Young Driver or the lessons they offer (they also do birthday parties at some of their centres!), follow the link above. There’s still time to buy a voucher before Christmas a they offer an option for email delivery which you can print off yourself at home, for extra convenience, meaning you can buy something right up until Chritmas Day itself!

Ways to Raise Funds for your PTA

Ways to Raise Funds for your PTAPhoto by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Since Sausage starting at primary school, I’ve done my best to get involved as many PTA events as I can. This has meant chaperoning many discos, helping out with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas sales, setting up stalls at the school fete and as many other things as I’ve been able to get involved with, time wise. In September, the parents received a letter, letting us know that the remaining two members of the PTA were stepping down as the committee and my sister-in-law and I decided that it would be too sad to see the PTA close down all together so we would take on the role of Chair and Deputy Chair.

Since we took on the roles we’ve had brainstorming sessions with other members of the PTA and have come up with lots of fundraising ideas that we want to try over the next 12 months. Our current commitments to the school include keeping the minibus running, but we also want to provide them with some new school playground equipment such as climbing frames so that the kids can make better use of the outdoor space. Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the fundraising ideas that we’ve come up with so far, so they might inspire you to help raise funds for your child’s School.

Embroidery and Name Tags

There are several companies which will give you a percentage of sales when you share their leaflets for your parents. Labels and embroidery are the most common examples and they allow parents to get all of their labelling needs covered while the school benefits from the commission.

100 Club

The principle of a 100 club is that you have a list number one to 100 and parents are able to buy a number and pay £1 per month for this number. At the end of each month, you draw a winner from each of the 100 names and you split the £100 usually 50/50 between the parent and the school. Obviously if you have a much larger school and want more parents to get involved you can have more numbers but do bear in mind that the main work involved with the 100 club is ensuring that each payment has been made from each parents bank account every month.

Enterprise Evenings

Lots of the parents but our primary school are self-employed and run their own businesses, many of which revolve around crafty endeavours or selling things. Enterprise evenings are fairly simple, and there are two ways that you can make a profit. The first way is to simply sell table space so that each business pays a fee to rent a table and then any profits they make, they keep for themselves. The other way is to agree a profit share for the evening so any profit made per table is split with the school but you don’t generally charge for the space. The latter option is more difficult to arrange because obviously it relies on everyone being honest about how much profit they made in the evening.

Movie Nights

If your school has a decent sized hall with a projector, running a movie night is a really simple way to make some money. Advertise it so that kids bring their own bean bags, chairs, blankets etc and all parents have to do you drop them off to watch a film for a couple of hours and then collect them at the end. Our school has its own popcorn machine so we’re planning to offer a bag of popcorn in the ticket price, but as this is cheap to make it shouldn’t affect our profits too much. You can also set up refreshment stands and sell food and drink if you want to.

Open Mic Night

This one might not work if your school is small, however our primary school has almost 1000 pupils and therefore lots and lots of grown-ups who are willing to get involved with stuff. You can charge people to come along on watch and encourage everyone to bring their own food and drink so that everything you make is purely profit. It’s a really fun way to get the adults involved with the school community and you could even combine it with the movie night so that those who need childcare have it built in with their night out.

Collecting Coins

This one takes relatively little effort and is something that you can get the whole school involved with. All you need to do is take a decent sized container to each classroom and ask them to fill it with as many 1p, 2p, or 5p coins. Then, at the end of term, you count up which class has the most money in the pot and the class with the highest amount of money raised wins a prize. You can make the prize something like lollies for the whole class if it’s a summer event which means you’re out loud will be minimal and everything else will be profit for the PTA.

If you have any other ideas that you think would be good for raising money for the school PTA and our outdoor play equipment, please leave me a comment below as we’re always trying to come up with fresh ways to raise funds.

Top Reasons Why Dogs are Good for Kids

Top Reasons Why Dogs are Good for KidsIf you know us, you’ll know that we’re a family animal lovers. Husband and I got Chuck in 2006, just a couple of months after we got married and he wa a huge part of our lives for 13 years. We’ve had other pets over the years, too – Happy the hamster, Maureen our Staff-Frenchie-Boxer cross, Bagel and Biscuit the budgies, plus various dogs we’ve fostered over the years.

We’re huge believers that pets make a home complete and that it’s great for kids to have pets too, as it teaches them responsibility…even if it is always be cleaning out Bagel’s cage instead of Sausage! With this in mind, I thought I’d share some reasons that dogs are great pets for kids (and why investing in scratch-proof flooring is a good idea if you want one!)

Bonding

Having a pet helps to build family bonds as animals are often the focus of family activities. From walking the dog together to grooming or feeding the pet, these simple but enjoyable tasks allow everyone to slow down, enjoy each other’s company and communicate with one another.

Exercise

Having a dog means that you have to go for walks. Come rain or shine, dog need exercise, no excuses. You have to remember, that as well as for their physical health, dogs need exercise for their mental health. When they’re at home, they can’t sit and read a book or watch the TV, that’s their equivalent of getting out and having a sniff around the neighbourhood!

Responsibility

The daily commitment of caring for an animal is a great way to teach kids the importance of dependability and responsibility. To be a dog’s provider is an honour that requires a lot of patience and work. We make sure that Sausage and BB help to keep Maureen’s water bowl clean and refilled, put her food down, and make sure her bed is nicely plumped up for her to rest in.

Mental Health

It’s actually been scientifically proven that spending just 15-30 minutes with your dog can help you feel more calm and relaxed, reducing stress and increasing happiness. Playing with your pup increases your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. Just having a dog around can give your mental health a huge boost.

Comfort

Having a dog can be a huge source of comfort in so many situations. When my kids are ill, Maureen (as did Chuck) will always be the first one to sit with them while they’re recovering on the couch, she’s always there with face licks when the girls are crying and she lets us know if anyone o much as breathes wrong within a 100m radius of the house. She’s a huge source of comfort for us all and loves nothing more than a snuggle with her pack…except maybe for a 5 mile walk where she gets to chase pheants!

5 Basic Money Saving Tips that Really Work

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

A lot of people assume that if they want to accomplish incredible things with their cash, they need to be saving hundreds of pounds worth of income every month. However, this isn’t really true. The fact is that just a couple of pounds placed into a savings account every week can make a huge difference to your finances in the future.

Rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed by the idea that budgeting has to mean changing your entire lifestyle, why not make some basic changes to your relationship with cash that really work instead? Here are some top tips to get you started.

  1. Think Bulk, Not Brands

When you’re shopping for essential items like toilet paper, tissues, and even cleaning supplies, it’s easy to get carried away looking at brand names and packaging. However, it’s important not to let the good marketing brainwash you. Instead, look for opportunities to save some extra money by buying supermarket-brand options in bulk.

More often than not, you’re going to get the exact same experience from a supermarket that you would get from a big-brand company, but you’ll save a fortune on the packaging. Remember, you can always buy extra of the things you always need in when they’re on sale, so you don’t run out too.

  1. Rethink your Electricity

When you start searching through your monthly statements for opportunities to save, you’ll notice that you spend cash in some areas more often than others. For instance, a lot of us overspend on food shopping, but we also tend to use a lot of our cash on gas and electricity. If you’re paying over the odds for your electricity, start by looking at offers from other providers to see if you can get a better deal. At the same time, you can also think about exchanging some of your high-consumption appliances with energy-saving alternatives.

While buying a new fridge, washing machine and other essential utensils might require you to take out a loan initially, it will mean that by the time you’ve finished paying what you owe, you’ll have much lower bills.

  1. Stop Over-spending on Drinks

Sometimes, it’s easier to see how much you spend on food from takeaways, restaurants and cafes than it is to recognise how much you’re spending on drinks. How often do you buy yourself a bottle of cola when you go shopping on a weekend to keep you going until you get home? How much do you spend on a morning coffee when you’re on your way to work.

Invest in a reusable water bottle and take it with you wherever you go. Not only will you have an instant source of hydration when you need it, but you’ll also get a health boost by switching away from sugary and caffeinated beverages too.

  1. Prep your Meals in Advance

Next time you’re going shopping at the supermarket, make a list of all the meals that you’re going to make for that week. This will help you to make sure that you’re not overspending when you’re walking through the aisles. However, it will also mean that you have everything you need to start prepping your meals in advance.

While spending an afternoon cooking and chopping on a Sunday might not seem like much fun, it will mean that you have all the food you need ready and available to throw into the oven when you get home after a long day at work. Pre-prepped meals make it much less likely that you’ll end up turning to a takeaway for food.

  1. Make Saving Automatic

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who finds saving difficult, then why not simplify the process by making it completely automatic? Take a look at your budget and find out how much you can afford to put into a savings account after your bills are paid for. Then, you can set up a direct debit that moves your money into your savings account before you have a chance to spend it.

Making saving automatic will reduce your risk of spending the cash that you wish you had put aside for later. At the same time, it also means that you don’t need to think about saving at the end of each month. Just make sure that you come and re-check your budget every once in a while to make sure that the amount of cash you’re putting into savings, and the cash you’re using elsewhere still makes sense.

Teaching Kids About The Grey Areas Of The Money World

Money is a magical thing to a child. Adults have a lot of it, in their opinion, and the day they get their pocket money is one of the best times of their lives! But as we know, money isn’t always a sunny, fun thing. That’s something we need to make our kids aware of as well. 

Kids need to learn about the world they’re growing up in, and whilst they’re young, they’ll absorb more knowledge than ever before. And because of that, it’s important to introduce them to money at a young age, and highlight both the good and bad aspects of it. So, without further ado, here are some of the grey areas the financial world has to it, and what your kids ought to know about them. 

Pexels Image – CC0 Licence

How to Know They’re Spending Too Much Money

Kids should know that money doesn’t grow on trees, and when they want to spend some, they won’t be able to spend forever. Of course, the idea of object permanence can be hard to teach to a kid, but it’s definitely possible! Put the coins out in front of them, and slowly take them away using hypothetical purchases – when there’s none left on the table, ask your child what they see. 

Having a Debt

As a kid, the idea of debt can be incredibly scary – it’s something they see on the TV, in all the adverts and the drama TV shows, where scary men in suits bust into a house and take all kinds of things away with them. Well, it’s time to make sure they don’t grow up with that notion, and only that notion, about debt in their head. 

Teach them how easily debt can be resolved. Teach them that looking for an instant loan might be quick and easy but needs to be thought about at length. Teach them to be careful about who they borrow from, and to always look to family first. Teach them that you can always be relied upon! 

The Benefits of Saving Up

Saving can be something weird and alien to a child. A lot of the time, kids are about instant gratification, and if they want something, they want it now! But if you manage to get ideas about saving in early, they’ll be able to stop themselves and think automatically!

They’ll be able to look at the toy in the shop and work out how long it would take for them to earn enough pocket money. They’d feel more secure about making that decision, and they’ll be able to comfort themselves with the idea that they can come back later. All in all, you’ll teach them to be very mature about their money. 

There’s a lot of grey areas in the money world, but they don’t have to be unknowable forever. Make sure your kids are aware of the troubles money could give them, even when they’re not sure what they’re running into – it’s important for the future. 

How Gender Normative Attitiudes are Damaging Our Kids

I’ve written before about how we don’t believe in gendered toys and that we encourage the girls to forget gender conformity when it comes to pursuing their interests, and for the most part it’s worked well. BB plays just as happily with toy cars and Nerf guns as she does with her Barbies, and Sausage goes to a martial arts class where she’s often the only girl. A phrase often uttered by me is “as long as you don’t need a penis to operate it, it’s not just for boys!” and despite the cringe caused by the word “penis” the girls are happy with this rule.

However, just recently, BB has run into some issues. It started a while back when she asked for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear, and we discovered that they didn’t make them for girls. We did, however, find some stretchy boxers on the boy’s section of H&M which had TMNT print on them and decided that they were just as good as knickers and would probably be quite comfy. BB has worn them, happily, for months.

A couple of weeks ago, she was getting dressed for school and I’d laid out her TMNT boxers for her to wear, and she got a bit upset and said she didn’t want to wear them that day. I asked why and she said that it was P.E. day, so she’d have to get changed in front of her classmates, and she didn’t want anyone to see her in her boxers. It transpired that a few kids in her class had been taking the mikey and telling her that she shouldn’t be wearing that underwear because it was for boys. She told the girl who was mocking her that “Mummy couldn’t find any others for me to wear today”, but she shouldn’t have to feel like she needs to make an excuse.

She’s quite a resilliant kid, our BB, but it was clear that it was bothering her to have her classmates telling her that she was doing something “wrong”. I started trying to ensure that I gave her girly underwear on the days she had swimming or PE, but the whole thing sat really uncomfortably with me.

It gets worse.

BB’s school, like the rest of the country, offers free school meals in key stage one, but they recently got rid of their cold food provision, so if a child wants a cold lunch instead of a hot meal, they can now take a packed lunch. BB was super excited about this as she’s a little fussy with food AND wanted to show off her new lunch box. Her new Spiderman lunch box.

She’s used it twice, and BOTH times been told by some of her peers that her lunchbox is for boys.

The problem I’m having is this – what want her to do is to tell them all off about their gender normative attitudes and carry on using whatever she wants to cover her ass and carry her lunch. However, it’s not me who has to fight the battle, it’s her. I can encourage her to stick up for herself and tell her classmates where to shove it all I like, but at the end of the day, she’s the one who has to do it. Part of me wants to protect her feelings, buy her the pink knickers, buy her the LOL lunchbox and let her conform, but a MUCH bigger part of me wants to encourage her to stick to her guns and wear whatever she damn-well wants. We don’t raise kids to be compliant.

The whole thing has really stuck in my throat. The saddest part is, I’m not surprised. I still see posts on things like Facebook Marketplace on an almost daily basis of people looking for “toys for boys” or a “pushchair suitable for a girl”. We’re STILL, in 2019, so hung up on the outdated rules we’ve had drummed into us about what is for girls and what is for boys and it’s being passed onto the next generations.

We’ve given BB a pep talk and told her that the opinions of others are not important, and that she should carry on liking Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without worrying about what people think, and I’m hoping it sticks but there’s a chance that the damage has already been done. Daddy also made sure she had undies she felt comfortable in for PE days and bought her some in pastel colours. NOT that we should have needed to…

If you’re reading this and still teach your kids that toys and charachters are only for a specific gender, please join us in the 21st century and update what you’re teaching your kids, because I will NOT be teaching mine to tolerate that kind of bullshit.

(Also, is it any wonder we’re still having these problems when THIS is what comes up when you Google “TMNT girls”…because obviously, no ninja goes anywhere without their handbag and fucking stripper heels. EYEROLL)