15 articles Tag summer

Saving for the Summer

Saving for the SummerWith the summer holidays fast approaching, many of us have started to think about our finances over the coming weeks. Keeping kids entertained for six weeks isn’t cheap, and the cost of summer can seem truly daunting. With that in mind, I thought I’d look at some things you can do to top up the funds, ahead of this expensive time of year.

Get a Part Time Job

Childcare can be super expensive, but if you’re not currently working and need some extra cash, there are lots of part time jobs out there which can fit around family time. From courier work to bank nursing at your local hospital, out of hours options are there, providing you’ve got someone to watch the kids in the evening.

Get a Loan

While I wouldn’t usually suggest getting yourself into debt, as long as you’re sensible with making your repayments on time a loan can be a useful buffer at this time of year, and getting a loan can even help to repair bad credit if you ensure you stick to your repayment plan. There are also loans for bad credit if you don’t have the best credit rating.

Cancel Any Services You Don’t Use

This is a great time of year to take a look at your finances and cut back on anything that you really don’t need. I currently pay £10 a month for a gym membership, which I barely use, and although a tenner doesn’t seem like much, it’s enough to make your eyes water when you think about it as £120 a year!

Streamline Your Shop

If you’re like us and end up wasting food because of less-than-savvy shopping, this is a good place to start when it comes to money saving. Sit down and look at HOW you shop (weekly, monthly, day-by-day) and work out where most of the waste is coming from. You could also think about WHERE you shop and whether there’s a cheaper option out there, like Lidl or Aldi. Meal planning is also often a good way to help you to be more frugal. 

Get Your Walking Shoes On

Many families are guilty of jumping in the car for short journeys, which would actually be more than walkable. Unless you’re in a massive hurry, try to make any journey of a mile or less on foot – or even better, get the bikes out and get the whole family cycling. As well as cutting your fuel costs, it will get you all moving and will also reduce your carbon footprint – everyone’s a winner! 

Do you have any fab money saving or money making tips for my readers? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you. 

5 Great Tips to Organise Your Kid’s Room

kid's roomThe summer vacation is great for your kids but not always so great for their rooms. Being stuck inside all day whining almost always ends in mess and clutter and dealing with this can be even worse when you see the state it’s in. So here are 5 great tips on how to organise your kid’s room without giving up on first sight:

  1. Sort, Store and Simplify

If your kid’s room is lacking in storage, buy some boxes or shelving. You could even ask them to go with you to choose something they like so they’ll be more inclined to help you (see point 4 and this article by Gtech on getting your kids involved with cleaning). Sort through all the mess and divide into subject piles (e.g. one pile for games, one for books, one for clothes, etc.) and then store accordingly.

  1. Make it easier to put away, harder to get out

Shelving is a great way to do this as your kids may not be able to reach the shelf so they won’t be able to take out everything at once. Also consider getting storage solutions that offer padlocks or child-lock technology. This will force your kids to ask you for which toys they want rather than cluttering up their whole room with unused toys and other mess.

  1. Label, label, label

When you’re sorting through the different piles, make sure you store things in boxes or draws that are clearly labelled. Having a colour coordinating system could also work for you (e.g. the red box is for books, the blue for games, the green for dolls and so on). Labelling will also make it much easier for you when it’s time to clear up the mess from around the house or your kid’s room. theartofcleanliness.com has a great post on a closet organiser system to make your kid’s closet much easier to keep tidy; you could label each section of the closet for even clearer organisation.

  1. Bring the child into the process

As I mentioned before, you could ask your child to come with you to choose some storage they like (e.g. boxes with their favourite characters on them) or make cleaning a game. However you decide to bring them into the process, it’s important to get them started in helping you. You could even offer a reward at the end if they’ve done a good job.

  1. Build a maintenance routine

This will help you stay on top of things without the mess getting too hard to control. Set out a weekly cleaning schedule and allocate a day to organising your kid’s room. This is a good habit to get into especially if your child is also getting involved. See this maintenance checklist by Lowe’s Canada for the monthly maintenance you shouldn’t be avoiding.

See more ways to keep your kids busy on mumstheword.me.

Updating Your Summer Wardrobe

summerNow that the hot weather is in full swing, it’s made me realise how very little I have in the way of summer clothes. Husband noticed that I had a zip-tie holding my favourite shirts up the other day, because the button had come off, and that’s a pretty fair description of most of my clothes, so it’s safe to say that I’m desperate for an update to my wardrobe to see me through the rest of the summer.

The first think I need is some summer dresses, like the dresses from esprit; they’re casual yet pretty and perfect for everything from a summer barbecue to doing the school run on a hot day. I love dresses that can be worn casually with flip flops every day, or dressed up with a pair of wedges and a statement necklace for slight more formal occasions.

Obviously, I also need to invest in some new shorts, because the ones being held together by a zip tie just won’t do. I do like to have my legs bare in the summer, because I tend to feel claustrophobic and overheated if I wear trousers, even ones made from light material, so shorts and skirts are the way forward.

I’ve also realised how few summer friendly tops I have. In the winter, I tend to layer up with a t-shirt or vest, followed by a jumper or hoodie and then my coat, but all of my vests are either too clingy for summer or just not really tops that you wear by themselves. I recently invested in a strapless bra, for the first time since I got married 12 years ago, so I’m thinking of looking at some of the funky off-the-shoulder tops that seem to be everywhere at the moment.

Finally, footwear. My lovely sister-in-law bought me a new pair of Havaianas for my birthday back in June and I have about 8 pairs of Birkenstocks, but I think I need to invest in something a bit for formal, like a nice cork wedge so that I’ve got all my bases covered. I’m not a big wearer of heels as I find them uncomfortable, but I could wear wedges all day every day and still feel happy in them!

What are your summer basics? Do you have a summer wardrobe that you bring out every year or do you wear things until they need to held together with zip ties, like me?! Do leave me a comment below!

Keeping the Kids Entertained This Summer

keep the kids entertained this summerEven if you’re going away this summer, there’s a good chance that you’ll have at least a month at home, which you’ll be wanting to fill with activities for the kids, keeping the dreaded cries of “MUUUM, we’re BORED!” at bay for as long as possible! There are loads of things that you can do across a variety of budgets, which will fill their summer nicely, and this is just a few of them:

Pony Camp

If you live near a riding stable and have kids who love animals, find out if they’re doing any sort of pony camp during the summer. Last year, Sausage went to a pony camp one day a week for the entire holidays, and although it wasn’t cheap (we paid about £25 per session), it meant that even during quiet weeks, there are at least one day with guaranteed fun! Our stables bought all of their Horse Nutrition Products from Spillers, so we knew they were well cared for.

Shopping Centres

Take a look at the shopping centres near you; many of them have fun days for kids all the way through the holidays, with various characters like Chase from paw Patrol or Anna and Elsa from Frozen turning up. They’re generally free or very cheap, and give you a chance to pop into town for an afternoon of low-cost fun.

Pick Your Own

The nice weather means that you’ll be wanting to get outside as much as possible, and a PYO farm is a lovely bit of wholesome fun for the whole family. You generally only have to pay for the fruit you actually want to take home with you and the kids get to spend a few hours doing something which is about a million miles away from screen-time.

Fun Classes

Okay, so I’m not suggesting you get them doing school work in the holidays, but there are a few different places you can take them where they’ll get to learn something fun. YO! Sushi do awesome sushi making classes for kids, which we tried last year and the girls ADORED, but you’ll also find stuff at your local library, like coding classes, which your kids might enjoy, and again, they’re usually pretty cheap.

Litter Picking

This summer, Husband, the girls and I have decided that we’re making it our mission to go litter picking at least once a week. We live in a beautiful rural spot which is popular with dog walkers and cyclists, but we see an alarming amount of trash and mylar balloons when we’re out on walks. We figured, if we pick up as much as we can, we might offset some of the damage, doing a good deed and spending time together in nature at the same time. It might not be hugely glamorous, but it’s free and we’ll get a nice warm glow for having dome something for the environment.

8 Ways We Know it’s Almost The Holidays

school holidaysI don’t know about you, but we are SO ready for it to be the summer holidays. Sausage has really enjoyed Year 3 and loves her current teacher but she’s definitely in need of a long break from the 32-mile-a-day school runs and if I’m honest, so am I! We, like most families, start September with very high standards of polished shoes, new stationery and a strict timetable but by this time of the school year things have well and truly slipped so I thought I’d give you an amusing insight into how we know it’s almost the end of the year:

  1. Your super-strict “we MUST be out of the door at 8am SHARP!” becomes “meh, it’s 8.10…we’ve got a few minutes before we absolutely HAVE to leave…”.
  2. At the beginning of the year, snazzy new school shoes have lights in them…only one of those lights now works and you have absolutely ZERO intention of working out how to fix the broken one.
  3. Socks which were once white (and kept that way through weekly soaking in a whitening solution) are now distinctly grey…or pink…and will be staying that way until they get binned in two weeks.
  4. Pristine book bags are now replaced with random rucksacks…or on a very bad day, a Bag for Life because the other bags have been shoved somewhere during a tidying frenzy and can no longer be located.
  5. Healthy packed lunches and bottles of filtered water are now hastily bought dinner tickets and a bottle of pre-made Vimto from the corner shop.
  6. Creative homework, which was lovingly crafted at the beginning of term is now largely forgotten, or done in a five minute panic on a Sunday evening.
  7. Uniform, which was once immaculate, is now looking a little worse for wear with inkspots on shirts and summer dresses which are a little on the small side…but you’re definitely not going to replace it before September!
  8. There’s a massive chart on your wall where you tick off the days until the summer holidays and it’s literally the most exciting thing you do all day.

I’m sure there are other surefire signs of how much we’re DONE with this school year. What are yours? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear them!

Busy Summer Vacation? Get Help With Slow Cooker Summer Recipes

Kids are out of school, and that surely means it’s a time for you to take a break of nine months of being a taxi driver for extracurricular activities or a school volunteer, right? Of course not. When summer break hits, you’re marching to a different rhythm—driving kids to and from summer camps, going on more daylong trips, or just scrambling to organize summer activity ideas to hold off kids from saying, “I’m bored!”
Basically, your kids may be getting a break from the summer, but your job has shifted to activities director—you are most likely just as busy as during the school year.
Good thing your slow cooker also doesn’t take a break either. This trusty appliance was most likely was your saving grace during the school year, cooking your family meal while you are gone all day and having it ready when you arrived home after work and picking up children. In the fall and winter months, a warm and hearty meal from the crock pot sure hit the spot after enduring brisk weather. Crockpots are great for cooking and keeping food warm on those winter days, but what about summer when a hot day calls for a cool drink or a crisp salad? Your slow cooker can cook up meals that are sure to hit the spot on summer months without you being stuck in the kitchen. Check out these crockpot tips to make summer cooking a little easier:
Barbeque
Summertime is all about cooking on the grill, but if you’re gone most of the day, firing up the grill for a quick meal may not always fit in your evening schedule. Luckily, there are many crockpot recipes that offer that summer barbeque taste without needing a grill. Many of these barbeque-like recipes simply involve marinating the meat in a sauce like mayonnaise, barbeque, or salad dressings.
For example, consider a recipe like Crock Pot Caesar Chicken: simply place four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot, and set the crockpot on either high for three hours or low for six hours. After cooking the chicken for either three or six hours in the crockpot, drain the juices from the crockpot, keeping the chicken inside. Pour a bottle of Caesar salad dressing like Just Caesar from hampton creek on top of the chicken. Cover the crockpot and set it on high for 30 minutes. Top off with parmesan cheese and cut it up to serve with a salad or as a chicken salad.
The difference in Hampton Creek salad dressings and sauces is that they are made with minimal artificial additives and free of gluten, dairy, and soy. The company has other sauces like Just Mayo, an eggless mayonnaise, that you can use in other crockpot recipes that call for mayonnaise. Try replacing any crockpot recipe with a sauce or salad dressing from Hampton Creek.
Vegetables
Summer BBQ isn’t complete without a side of vegetables, especially corn on the cob. Corn is often boiled in a pot or cooked on the grill, but you can prepare corn on the cob ahead of time in a slow cooker so you have it ready when you get home.  One version of crockpot corn requires that you prep each ear of corn with garlic butter, pepper, salt, and wrap each ear with a slice of bacon. Place the ears of corn in a crockpot with chicken broth and minced jalapeno pepper. Cook on low for up to four hours.
Soup
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you can’t eat soup. Soups are often thought of as hearty meals meant to warm you up after a cold day, but there are just as many soups that are light and flavorful, making it a perfect dish to enjoy on a hot summer day. It’s also a fun way to incorporate fresh vegetables from farmer’s markets, which most of the time are held during the warm months. A summer vegetable soup like a summer vegetable pesto soup makes use of summer vegetables like sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, and more, and tops it off with pesto. You can also add other vegetables like white beans for a different flavor.
Summer break from school doesn’t mean that parents also get a break, but summer crockpot recipes give you a break from the kitchen so you can spend your summer days doing what you want—going to the pool, attending the county fair, relaxing at the beach—without the worry of what you’re going to eat for dinner.

Dressing Girls for a Rubbish Summer

One thing that I’ve found quite tricky these last few weeks is getting the balance right when dressing the girls. The appallingly bad “summer” weather means that the usual dresses and sandals have been completely out of the question, but it’s also not quite cold enough for coats and jumpers, so it’s been a case of finding some middle ground.

Husband is a big fan of layering because it means that you can adjust what you’re wearing if your environment changes and we’ve been trying to adopt this for the girls, too. Instead of thick coats, we’ll give them a fleece and a shower-proof layer, and they can still wear dresses, but often wear a t-shirt and leggings underneath.

Recently, House of Fraser asked us to take a look at their Kids Clothing range and pick a few things for each girl that would make it onto a summer outfit wishlist, so we thoguht we’d put together a little board for each of them to show how we cope with dressing for any weather:

 

Layering for Summer

 

Layering for Summer by jaynecrammond on Polyvore

The items on the left are what we chose for BB and the stuff on the right are for Sausage…what do you think of your choices? I think they’d be perfect for a day out while the weather is so unpredictable. What would you choose? Do you have boys or girls? Do you find it easier to shop for one gender than another at this time of year? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy Your Summer With a #HolidayatHome

Having Chuck, our 11 year old bull terrier cross, means that going on holiday is pretty much impossible. Asking someone to look after him would be a no-no as he can be difficult to walk unless you’re used to him and we promised, after getting him from a rescue home, that we’d never put him into kennels.

Every summer, we try to make the most of things though, by going on day trips and also trying to do as many “staycation” activities as we can. We’re lucky enough to live near the coast so trips to the beach are a simple matter of walking a mile or so and avoiding the holiday traffic. There are also some excellent activites along our seafront; it was Sausage’s birthday last week and she asked if we could spend the morning at the arcades playing games, before going to the fountains to play.

Southend Seafront Fountains

We also try to make the most of spending time at home; movie afternoons are a favourite when the weather isn’t up to much and we’ve also made some pretty cool dens for the girls to play in. Making S’mores is an absolute must, too!

Carpetright have just launched the brilliant #HolidayatHome competition, where the lucky winners will nab some amazing prizes, such as a Champneys spa day for two with pampering treatments and a three course lunch worth £408, as well as a luxury picnic hamper from British Fine Foods. All you need to do is share a photo of yourself or your family enjoying fun staycation activities via social media, to be in with a chance of winning some great prizes. Don’t forget to include the hashtag, so that Carpetright can find your entry!

In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a list of our favourite staycation activities to inspire you on yours:

  1. Go to the beach
  2. Go to the pool
  3. Take a long walk (preferably ending in a pub lunch!)
  4. Take naps!
  5. Play a sport
  6. Have a water fight
  7. Visit friends/family
  8. Have a home spa day
  9. Have one day where you eat out for every meal
  10. Do a pub quiz

The most important thing is that you remember to have plenty of fun!

 For more information about Carpetright’s carpets and other products they offer, click the link to visit their site.

Summer Shoes for the Whole Family

It has to be said, I’m definitely a flip-flops kinda girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pair of winter boots, but I’m never happier than when I realise that the weather is warm enough for me to get my sandals on! I’ve been taking a look at the Reef website, planning a few purchases for the whole family for the upcoming warmer weather and I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you:

For Sausage

 

I absolutely love these flamingo print flip flops for my biggest girl. She’s totally bonkers about animals and anything nature related, so the print on these would be absolutely perfect, and when paired with the sparkle on the straps, they’d be the ideal pretty yet practical sandal for her. They’d coordinate with almost everything in her wardrobe too, which is a real bonus, especially when kids grow out of things so quickly and buying multiples of everything can be expensive.

For Husband

I was pleasantly surprised to see mens stuff on the Reef site, too. Husband is like me and likes to get his toes out on particularly hot days so I reckon these mens leather sandals would be great for him. The fact that they feature full arch support and a hardwearing sole make them perfect for Husband, and the simple, stylish look is something I know he’d go for.

For Me

I have to say, I struggled to find something for myself…not because there’s a lack of things that I like but because there’s SO much stuff that I wanted! The turquoise flip flops look great for a summers’ day or a stroll on the beach, while the leather flip flops look like the perfect shoe to take on a summer holiday – great for both day and evening wear, allowing you to save plenty of space for duty-free make up in your case! The slightly more closed-in show is probably more befitting of a British summer, when the weather can change at the drop of a hat and would also be perfect with office work-wear.

Sadly, Burrito Baby is still too small for Reef shoes, but as soon as she’s big enough we’ll be treating her, too!

What would you choose for yourself and your family? Leave me a comment below.

Draw With Me – August

The lovely Sonia over at This Mummy Loves has come up with a new linky with her daughter, which involves a theme being set for our littlies, who then draw a picture to represent that theme. This month’s theme was ‘Summer’, so I got Sausage on the case, who came up with this beautiful, seasonal offering:

Sausage's SummerSausage’s Summer – Aged 5

This is a multimedia composition, using both pencils and pastels, and although chicks, lambs and rabbits usually represent spring, we had such a naff spring this year that I think all of these things became far more synonymous with summer! One thing that I adore about Sausage’s art is that everyone depicted, be they human, animal or mineral, is always smiling. I like to hope that’s because my daughter is also happy and views the world around her through happy eyes.

Anyway, that’s our effort for this month. Sonia is planning to do this every month and it’s something that I can see Sausage and I getting involved with on a regular basis. Click the button below to go over to This Mummy Loves and see the rest of the entries.

Draw With Me – This Mummy Loves