Author: Zoe Waite

How to save money during Christmas spending

December is a tough time for us all financially. We are suddenly inundated with buying gifts, extra food and home decor. Am I the only one that thinks the price…

saving money during christmas spending

December is a tough time for us all financially. We are suddenly inundated with buying gifts, extra food and home decor. Am I the only one that thinks the price for a Christmas bauble seems to have doubled?!

Not only do you have to pay for all of the extra strains, you still have to keep up with your regular bills and maintenance costs. This is extremely hard especially if you are surviving off maternity pay.

It can be very tempting to dip into that savings pot you have worked so hard for through out the year but, I’m here to tell you now don’t!  Check out my very handy saving whilst spending tips first!

Honey

On Chrome, you can simply download a FREE extension. Guys, let me just say that this took me under 5 minutes to do. It was so easy!

Honey will pop up when you are at the checkout on your online shop with a discount code. Not only that, Honey searches for the best possible discount code for you! Amazing.

Here is the link: Join Honey

Quidco

Using a website like Quidco, you will get instant cashback from shopping online. All you need to do is log onto Quidco first and then shop through there onto your retailer of choice. For example, I want to buy a pair of trainers. I will log onto Quidco site first then I will look for the Nike website and click on it and carry on with my shop. Simple.

You can get rewarded cashback on so many different products, whether it will be gifts for people this year or you want to take out that break down cover you desperately need but can’t afford at full price.

If you are a new customer the chances of your cashback amount being a better rate will increase!

Sign up with my link for a free £5!

Here is the link: Join Quidco

CamelCamelCamel

Did you know that companies regularly change the prices of products on their website? Amazon can do this multiple times a day! So let’s say you are on Amazon, and you really want a new TV, if you put what product you want to track into CamelCamelCamel, you will be notified with an email when that product is at its cheapest or the price has dropped.

There is also a free browser extension too.

Here is the link: Camelcamelcamel

Groupon

Sometimes you just want to treat someone to a really lovely gift. This could be a trip out or a spa day. Check out  Groupon. They have amazing offers where you could save yourself so much money rather than booking direct.

They even have a full section on handy discount codes too!

Here is the link: Join Groupon

Basket Abandonment

You have done your full online shop and got to the checkout at the end and realised, you know what? I can’t afford all of this right now. So you leave it.

If you do this whilst logged into your account. You can get an email saying “Hey, we have noticed you have left items still in your basket, here is 10% off to complete the purchase.”

A great way to save extra money. I know that Pretty little Thing do this, Apple and Ebay. It will be trail and error finding companies that offer this way of discount but will be so worth it! Just be careful with risking your product will be still in stock.

 

Happy Saving and Happy Shopping Everyone!

saving money during christmas spending

*Some links are referral links.

 

 

 

 

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Help To Buy ISA | DEADLINE

Are you a first time buyer? If you save for a mortgage deposit in a Help To Buy ISA the government will add an extra 25% on top of the…

Are you a first time buyer? If you save for a mortgage deposit in a Help To Buy ISA the government will add an extra 25% on top of the amount you have saved!

But, time is running out!

When is the deadline?

The deadline to open a Help to Buy ISA is Saturday 30 November.

help to buy isa

How much money do you need to open one?

All you need is just £1 and you can be eligible for up to £3,000 towards your first mortgage.

Who is eligible?

You need to be a first time buyer ages 16+. You have to have a valid national insurance number.

What does the government add?

The government will add 25% tax-free to whatever the amount is in the ISA when it is used to buy a home. There is even a bonus of up to £3,000 if your total amount in your ISA is £12,000.

The minimum amount in your ISA to get a bonus is £1,600 and you can get a bonus of £400.

Buying a house together?

If you are both first time buyers then you can both get a Help to Buy ISA.

Can I use the bonus on the house deposit?help to buy isa

Be aware that the Help to Buy ISA bonus is for the mortgage deposit not the house deposit. You only get the government’s bonus with the Help to Buy ISA bonus on completion. So if you are planning on using the bonus towards the house 10% deposit. You may need to speak to the seller to agree on a lower deposit that you can afford.

You get the bonus when you become the legal property owner.

It is designed to help cut the cost of your mortgage and reduce the amount you need to borrow.

If this is an issue for you, the Help to Buy ISA might not be the best option for you. A Life time ISA pays you a bonus monthly.

What happens if my circumstances change?

If you find yourself in a new job down the line where you have to move abroad then you can still rent out the property you have even if you used the Help to Buy Isa. You can not rent out the property if renting is your intention when buying. You may have to pay the bonus money back.

Will I lose my money if I don’t end up buying my first home?

You will not lose your money. In fact you can withdraw all of your money penalty free.

What happens if I have already invested the money into a cash ISA?

A Help to Buy ISA counts as a cash ISA. You can only make payments into one of these ISA’s in the same tax year.

You can transfer your savings over into a Help to Buy ISA but, this depends on the total amount of you have paid into your cash ISA this tax year.

The best option is to speak to your provider if you are wishing to transfer as not all providers allow this option, especially, if you have paid more than £1,200 since April.

If you have paid more that £1,200 into a cash ISA, you will need to open it with a provider that allows you to transfer and then ‘split’ your cash ISA.

Natwest and Nationwide allow you to open the Help to Buy ISA and the cash ISA where as, other providers if you have paid £1,200 will make you either withdraw £200 or invest the £200 into stocks and shares. Again speak to your provider if you need more advice.

What happens if I can’t make the max payment this month?

help to buy isa

Still open one and keep your options open. You just won’t be able to make a double amount next month. You will only be able to put in £200 not the £1,200 the first month offers.

If you are interested in the Help To Buy ISA then you can apply online right up to the closing date. But, remember the closing date is approaching so don’t leave it until last minute.

You don’t need to be currently banking with the ISA provider and you don’t have to have your mortgage through the same provider either.

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Two under two | What it is really like

Two months of having my gorgeous little squish Frankie. And two months in on being a mum of two under two. What is it like you ask? Well, I am…

Two months of having my gorgeous little squish Frankie. And two months in on being a mum of two under two.

What is it like you ask?

Well, I am here now to explain how I am truly finding life…

The first few daystwo under two

The first few days felt easy for me. I am not sure if it was because I was running off adrenaline or going from 0 to 1 felt so much harder than the jump 1 to 2.

I struggled with motherhood first time around. This was one of those niggly thoughts I would torment myself with during my second pregnancy. Asking myself over and over, “will I struggle again?”.

With Molly, everything came as a complete shock. I guess you could say I lived a very selfish life before becoming a mum. After having all the time in the world to myself to suddenly having zero time for myself. I use to spend days mourning my “old” life.

Fitting Frankie into my life felt like that missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle was finally found.  I felt nothing but pure joy. I got to experience love at first sight and I was lucky enough to feel that rush of emotions. two under two

New mum and loneliness

A few weeks in, feeling extremely overwhelmed got the better own me.  I felt extremely trapped and lonely. Having a baby shows who your real friends are. Those friends that drop everything to come and see you. Those friends that will drive over an hour to come and congratulate you. So dealing with a new addition and all the overwhelming feelings of being a new mum again is hard enough, but, you also have to deal with the realising who you thought cared about you don’t. That goes for family too.

Personally, I find it challenging to be out and about with both of them on my own. Mole hates the pram and wants to run the opposite way. I’ve found that short trips are helping. It’s nice to do simple trips and see adults out and about.

Playing Super Mum

The first few days you really do try and do it all. I was fighting against myself to let go of the jobs I was so use to doing. I would wake up at daft o clock to rush into see Molly, for when she first wakes up in the morning after being up all hours of the night. I tried to take them both to soft play on my own at 9am on a Monday morning. I wouldn’t go to bed until all the clothes in the washing basket were ironed and put away. I could go on and on at all of the stuff I was trying to do.

It is so easy to forget that when you only had one, there was more time for washing or more time for the extra 10 minutes in a shower. Not that I am incapable as a Mother not being able to do it all. I just don’t have the same time.

Once the all nighters became a regular occurrence, I genuinely felt my body was breaking down on me. I knew it was time to let the washing slide, not be on top of emptying the dishwasher and take it easy with trying so hard to get out of the house with two on my own.

The hardest part to deal with, has been letting Jay take care of some of Molly’s jobs. I have looked after her and been present for so much of her life. I had full control in knowing what she needed and it is scary letting someone else take the ropes. I battle with thinking she won’t like me as much anymore or will she think I prefer Frankie over her. But accepting or asking for help will make you feel so much better.

The new routine

two under two

I use to tell everyone how easy it is having two under two as Frankie slots into Molly’s routine. He did at first. But trying to care for a newborn and a toddler requires a whole new routine.

If you are like me and do not like change, you will understand how hard this part was for me. I kept bath and bed times the same for Molly. I am not as strict on the times. Before I would make sure she was having her 10:00am nap dot on, now, if I am feeding Frankie at that time, I am not going to stress myself out that she is going to become over tired and not go down.

It felt inconvenient trying to look after Frankie with keeping Molly’s routine the same. He is now slowly getting his feeding times the same or his naps and it has been far easier to slowly change Molly’s routine into fitting in with Frankie.

Bath and Bed Time Madness

My most asked question is: “What do you do at bath and bedtime when on your own?”

two under two

Answer: Tea starts at 4:30pm. This gives me time to make it without a hungry toddler screaming at me. Molly is in her highchair watching TV eating a fruit starter whilst I feed Frankie.

After tea, Molly goes straight upstairs with me and Frankie. Molly plays in the playroom whilst I get both of their outfits ready for the next day and their pyjamas for after the bath.

Molly goes in the bath first at around 6:00pm. Frankie sits next to me in his Angel Care bath seat. Depending on Molly’s mood, after her bath she either goes straight to bed or stays up helping me bath Frankie and we all ready a story together afterwards.

Frankie goes back downstairs for another feed and usually naps until I take him up to bed at 11:00pm.

(Update: I am now bathing Frankie at 8:00pm and then putting him straight to bed)

Happiness

With all that said above, there is no happiness like it. Sure days are twice as hard, nights are twice as hard and life becomes twice as hard. But, life becomes even better than you thought imaginable. Seeing your two children bond with each other will make your heart feel like it is going to explode!

I would not change my life for the world. I am so happy!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I just wanted to throw a little honesty out there as it is okay to admit life can be hard as well as being the best.

 

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Elvie Breast Pump Review | Is it worth the money?

My experience with using a traditional pump to express breast milk after my first pregnancy with Mole was no fun. The whole process felt like a tedious chore. I was…

My experience with using a traditional pump to express breast milk after my first pregnancy with Mole was no fun. The whole process felt like a tedious chore. I was lucky enough to have an electric pump, but, I was constantly tied down to it as it had to be plugged in. The loud pumping noise drove my partner insane and I ended up giving up with it.

This time, I was determined to not only make expressing breast milk work for us, but most importantly, to enjoy it too.

Purchase the Elvie Breast Pump Here

Elvie Breast Pump Review

Researching

After hours and hours of research into finding a pump that would work for us, I came across the Elvie Breast Pump. Every website I checked said it was sold out or they had a waiting list for a few weeks. Well instead of putting me off this intrigued me even further.

Why was it constantly sold out? Is it really that good?

The clean modern and sleek design compared to current breast pumps on the market made it look a whole lot more attractive. In a similar way of having the latest iPhone compared to an old Nokia. In fact, it looks so modern that it doesn’t even look like a breast pump.

Key Features

  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • Fits inside a nursing bra
  • Hands-free
  • Revolutionary silent technology
  • Five parts and no tubes, cords or wires
  • Closed system for maximum hygiene
  • Two modes: Stimulation and Expression
  • Seven intensity settings
  • Smart app
  • Comes with: one hub (the pump mechanism), two bottles (5oz/150ml, BPA free), two different sized breast shields, two valves, two spouts, two seals, two storage lids, two bra adjusters, a USB charging cable and a carry bag

Elvie Claims:

Elvie Pump is the world’s first silent wearable breast pump, giving you more freedom and mobility while you pump

Double electric breast pump for hands-free expressing at home, at work or on-the-go

Small and lightweight to fit discreetly inside your nursing bra so you can pump anytime, anywhere

My Experience

I was sold. Elvie Pump is the world's first silent wearable breast pump, giving you more freedom and mobility while you pump Double electric breast pump for hands-free expressing at home, at work or on-the-go Small and lightweight to fit discreetly inside your nursing bra so you can pump anytime, anywher

The product arrived with minimal packaging (something I am big on now), with very few pieces to set up.

I just had to download the app and connect everything together.

The pump easily fits inside your nursing bra. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it is completely discreet as the on button lights up through your top. The pump was so comfortable that you can barely feel it working. The best part is, you can get up and carry on with jobs around the house of like me, see to your toddler and newborn without even giving pumping a second thought.

Cleaning the pump is no problem too. The non-electrical parts can be put in the dishwasher and sterilised.

App FeaturesElvie Breast Pump Review

  • Track milk volume
  • Pumping history for each breast
  • Control the pump remotely (changing intensity, pausing or restarting).

 

Downside of the Elvie Breast Pump

The price. Currently costing £249.00, the Elvie Breast Pump is one of the most expensive breast pumps on the market. And that is just for one pump.

Another downside to the Elvie Breast Pump that I disappointingly experienced was, when the pump started to fill up over half way, the milk would leak out onto my top. I put it down to me moving around. A shame when being able to be portable is one of the pumps biggest selling points but if you do move around then it leaks out.

I then tried the pump with a smaller breast shield and whilst sitting down and it still leaked out all over my top.

The measurements of milk on the app were off. Sometimes the app would claim it is full when it was not.

Although the pump claims to be silent, you can still hear it switched on pumping away over the TV on a medium volume.

 

Final VerdictElvie Breast Pump Review

I love the Elvie Breast Pump. The smart technology was extremely helpful for me to track how well I was producing milk, very important for me whilst I was exclusively expressing.

Although I would not feel confident using this pump at work (teaching a class of students) due to the noise or the leaking issue, I still love how the pump fits discreetly into your bra. It is so convenient to use, I doubt I would have ever been able to have exclusively expressed for so long with a toddler around without this pump.

 

Purchase the Elvie Breast Pump here

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New Sibling: Preparing your toddler

The first time around, when you bring home your newborn, you are focused on figuring everything out together. Just you and them. The second time around is a little different….

The first time around, when you bring home your newborn, you are focused on figuring everything out together. Just you and them.

The second time around is a little different. As you have a toddler to contend with. You need to make sure that they are comfortable with the new addition to the family and they have an understanding on what is going on.

introducing a newborn to a toddler

I’m no expert, but, Mole seems to be so content with her baby brother, that I thought u’d share with you some tips we did prior to Frankie’s arrival and how we introduced them both.

Tips to introduce your toddler to your newborn during pregnancy

Role Play

Whilst pregnant with Frankie, I gave Mole a baby doll to play with. We was lucky really as she really took to the doll. Together I would teach her how to care for the doll by feeding it a bottle and loving it with kisses and cuddles but most importantly being gentle. If Mole wasn’t interested in the doll that day, then I would pay no attention to it and just leave Mole to play with toys she wanted to instead.introducing a newborn to a toddler

Talking to my tummy

We would have fun and point at my tummy and say “baby” so Mole would get some understanding that there was a baby inside my belly. When Frankie was kicking, i’d let Mole feel his kicks and say “baby”. I doubt she truly understood I had an actual baby inside me but it was a fun bonding session.

Tips to introduce your toddler to your newborn

The first introduction

Personally, I didn’t want Mole present at the hospital. I don’t think its the place for a toddler running around, and I knew I would not have the energy to deal with tantrums if she played up. I wasn’t too sure on how my delivery was going to go too, so I made sure to have childcare in place. It was good to spend time with Frankie getting to know him and as the first few days of a newborn is demanding, I was able to give him my full attention. That being said, it was super hard not to see Mole for a couple of days because I rarely leave her.

Finding Baby

To make the introduction fun for Mole, we turned it into a game of finding baby. Frankie was asleep and settled in his bed so me and Mole went on the hunt for him. When she found him, it must have felt rewarding for her. turning the whole experience into a positive one. The main reason I did this was so she didn’t feel replaced as she might of if I was holding him when she first saw him.introducing a newborn to a toddler

Rewarding good behaviour

Whenever Mole was positive towards Frankie by kissing him or being gentle, we would be really over the top with saying “well done” making her feel like she was being a very good girl and giving her lot’s of attention for the right behaviour.

Solo time together

Mole was use to seeing me alone without Frankie. It had always just been me and her. I felt that it was still important to give her that same experience when possible. I would either do her bedtime one night just me and her or whilst Frankie was napping, we would read books together or do Arts and Crafts.

A lending hand

I really include Mole when it comes to changing Frankie. I ask Mole to get me his nappy or if she wants to sit and help. Obviously if she isn’t interested I would never force her, but she actually seems to find it fun and loves the responsibility.

On nights where i’m solo parenting, I bath Mole first and then bathe Frankie. During Frankie’s bath, I ask Mole if she wants to come and help wash him. Or ask her to choose a book for the bedtime story.

introducing a newborn to a toddler

You will always have that fear during your second pregnancy if you will be able to give both your children the attention they need. The answer is yes you will. You will find your own way of making it work.

If your toddler seems to not be interested when you introduce them to their new sibling. Don’t force anything. Give them time and continue to stick to your routine and give them both praise and attention.

 

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My Birth Story: Frankie

Thursday 12th September, I had a lovely day with Mole. My mum came round and we spent the day baking cakes, doing Arts and Crafts and baking bread. Funnily enough,…

birth storyThursday 12th September, I had a lovely day with Mole. My mum came round and we spent the day baking cakes, doing Arts and Crafts and baking bread. Funnily enough, my mum joked about me going into labour that night because I was non-stop kneading bread and running around after Mole in the garden.

Later that evening, I started to experience a dull, aching pain in my lower back. Not a pain that took my breath away but one where I felt the need to sit down more often. It is completely different when you have a toddler. Your mind is so pre occupied with them that you don’t pay attention to yourself the same.

Knowing I was going into labour

I went to bed feeling okay then at 3:30am I woke up to go to the toilet, as I stood I really felt a tight back pain that seemed to wrap around to my lower stomach. This pain was completely different to any niggles and tightness I’ve felt in this pregnancy before.

I had to make the decision whether to go back to bed and try and get some rest or get ready for the hospital. As I felt the pain come back, I could 100% say it was a contraction. I didn’t want to go back to bed and lie down in case that would have slowed the process down, so I got ready, did my make-up and went downstairs to bounce around on the birthing ball.

At around 4:30am I text Jay to tell him I was going into labour. He sat with me whilst he could time my contractions as by this point it was too painful for me to concentrate timing them myself and they felt very regular. We decided to get Mole up and ready for her stay at her Grandmas, got in the car and dropped her off on route to the hospital.

Heading to the hospitalBirth Story

We arrived at the hospital at 5:45am. I was waddling across the car park and having to keep sitting down in the corridor whilst I had a contraction, as they were too painful to walk through. The maternity ward was upstairs, so we finally got seen at 6:00am.

I was doing my best to stay stood up to help him move lower down. After having a 12-hour labour with Mole, I was doing all that I could to avoid that.

Every time a contraction came, I would breathe in for 10 seconds and then out again for 10 seconds. Keeping focused helped me to stay in control. A lady once told me that she imagined a big red balloon on the sea, every time she breathed in the balloon moved towards her and breathing out the balloon moved away. For some reason, this was all I could concentrate on and I feel it helped me to beat the painkillers and keep my head focused.

When the Midwife examined me, I was shocked to hear her say 9-10cm! I was honestly expecting her to say 3cm!

It was too late for any painkillers and almost too late to run the bath for a water birth. I’m so glad Jay was there to stress to the midwife to run the bath and he helped me walk across as a water birth really helps with the pain.

That excruciating pain hit me and I knew it was time to push.

Frankie is here!birth story

At 6:11am, Friday 13th September, I had Frankie in my arms. This time around, I felt that rush of love straight away. He looked so perfect and I couldn’t wait to get him home to meet his sister. I was also in a lot of shock from my 11-minute labour. Frankie weighed a healthy 8lb 4.

Frankie had his check and all was okay other than his heart murmur and he had the jitters from mucous and the quick delivery. We had to stay in an extra night until he got the all clear.

When pregnant with Frankie, I worried that I’ll be able to love him as much as I love Mole. But, you can. Your heart can stretch even more than you would have ever thought possible!

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My Birth Story: Molly

I remember being pregnant with Mole and as it was my first time going through the experience, when I reached my third trimester, all I was doing was watching births…

I remember being pregnant with Mole and as it was my first time going through the experience, when I reached my third trimester, all I was doing was watching births on the TV or reading birth stories on blog posts.

In my mind, reading everyones birth stories made me feel prepared. Like I knew every possibility that could happen to me. The truth is, when you are in that moment of giving birth, it doesn’t matter how many blogs you have read you still don’t know what you are in for!pink mole birth story

Hitting Full Term 

I had hit 40 weeks and 3 days, already had a sweep and was passing time bouncing around on a yoga ball or dancing. (YouTube labour dance).  I felt completely normal, the house had already been fully nested to the extreme. We have a black Labrador and you would not have even been able to have found one dog hair. Every twinge I felt was nothing out of the ordinary.

That night, I crept into the spare bedroom to enjoy a good starfish sleep. But, I just couldn’t sleep. My eyes were wide open! There is nothing more annoying than when you are absolutely shattered yet you can’t sleep. Especially knowing how sacred sleep was going to be for me soon. I pretty much got about an hour. 

The very early stages of labour

In the morning, my hair was so greasy and frizzy. I just thought I had left conditioner in it from the shower. Then my skin was the same. All greasy and weird feeling. my make-up wasn’t going on right and I looked a mess. Very similar to what I go through when my hormones are all over the place before that time of the month. I rang my mum and told her, there is something not right with me today. Weird how I just knew.

Shortly after I passed my mucous plus. (Gross I know, and maybe TMI for you.) I remember thinking “ohhhhhhh it’s all happening”.

Then, I felt like I needed the toilet. But I couldn’t stop needing the toilet. It was driving me crazy because nothing was happening. I just kept needing it.

I played on the PlayStation for a while (also winning a game of Fortnight…does it still count even if I hid under a bridge for half of the game?) Contractions were definitely present. The hospital told me to wait until they were regular before I dropped in.

I don’t even remember the route to the hospital, but I do remember contracting whilst crossing the road and needing to sit down on the zebra crossing. I couldn’t for the life of me walk through the pain. 

Arriving at the hospital

The staff sent me to a room where I could rest on a bed and eat some food. They told me I was far too smiley to be in hospital just yet so they advised me to go back home. I insisted that I was just a smiley person and this is my awkward, nervous smile but they still said to go home. Whilst putting my coat and shoes on, I then projectile vomited everywhere. This was non stop for a good while.

My labour lasted for 12 hours. I kept on going back and forth from the hot bath they had set up in the bathroom. As soon as I went into the water, it relieved my pain. I highly recommend it to anyone!

The 12 hours dragged on and on. I had my mum and Jay sat watching Homeland eating packets of crips and drinking cups of tea like they were having a great time.

For pain relief I had Pethidine. Oh that was lovely in my legs. Again, I highly recommend it. It just feels like someone has given you a dead leg.

Established Labourpink mole birth story

The midwives had me try all sorts of positions on the bed. I must have looked like some weird origami. I demanded to go back in the bath. I felt way too exposed on the bed and the warmth of the water soothed my pain. 

4:26am the Mole was born. She weight 7,11lbs and looked absolutely beautiful. I was actually stood up in the bath screaming. I have no idea how on tv all the mothers are silent giving birth. One thing I remember was seeing how blue her eyes were and just thinking wow. She is actually gorgeous. They took her pretty quickly to be checked and I was still in the bath like a lump. There was so much blood I thought the placenta had come out!

After Birth

There were still no signs of my placenta making an appearance so the midwife called for help. I had a lady massage my tummy for a good while and they discussed theatre. I knew there was no way on this Earth I was going to go through a natural childbirth and then face surgery. I got on the gas and air and gave it my all.

Stitches were needed too and by this point, I felt like I had just given up. I was sick of being messed with and just wanted to spend time with my baby. 

All that night/day, I stayed away just watching Molly. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. 

I stayed in an extra day to get to grips with breastfeeding. When it was time to go home I felt so relieved. There is nothing like the comfort of your own home.

 

 

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Qualifying for tax free childcare

The Government scheme that gives you up to £2,000 per child What is Tax-Free Childcare? It is the Government backed scheme to simply help parents with the cost of expensive…

The Government scheme that gives you up to £2,000 per childtax free childcare

What is Tax-Free Childcare?

It is the Government backed scheme to simply help parents with the cost of expensive childcare.

The scheme was launched in April 2017 and if you’re eligible, you can get an extra 20% towards childcare costs. If you are eligible, you can get up to £2,000 (£4,000 if your child is disabled)  a year per child towards the cost of childcare for free.

You can even use the funds to pay towards activities like summer clubs.

How does Tax-Free Childcare work?tax free childcare

For every 80p you spend in childcare, the government will add 20p. This essentially gives you basic-rate tax back on your payment.

You can open a centralised account to make it easy. So for every 80p you put into the account, the government will add their 20p. You can then pay your childcare provider directly from that Tax-Free Childcare account.

With the scheme, you will be able to pay for up to £10,000 of childcare.  This works out as you would pay £8,000 and get an extra £2,000 per child each year! If the childcare bill reaches the government maximum, you will not be able to get any more financial support that year. However, you can still pay childcare through the tax free scheme using your centralised account, just with no additional funding. If this happens, it may be easier to pay for your childcare directly with the childcare provider.

Do I Qualify for Tax-Free Childcare?

The scheme is open to all qualifying parents.

  • You (and your partner) need to be in work to qualify for tax free childcare – This includes self employment.
  • Available to single parents
  • Your child must be 11 or younger.
  • For children with disabilities, this is up to the age of 16.
  • You (and your partner) must be earning at least £131 a week. This is the equivalent of 16 hours/week at the national minimum wage for 25 year olds or over.
  • You’re self-employed and your income varies on a weekly basis, use your three month average to see if it meets the £131 a week minimum.
  • Each parent needs to earn less than £100,000 a year.
  • If you have been self-employed for less than 12 months, the minimum income requirement does not apply to you.
  • If you are currently not working but are due to start in the next 21 days.

If you or your partner is in work and the other is not able to, you can still be eligible, if you receive any of these benefits:

  • Carer’s allowance
  • Severe disablement allowance
  • Contribution- based employment and support allowance
  • Incapacity benefit or long-term incapacity benefit
  • National insurance credits

Can I qualify for Tax-Free Childcare whilst on maternity leave?

Yes! paid or unpaid statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave is still classed as being in work. You just can not apply for the child that you are currently on leave for. You can use the scheme for older siblings.

Example of Tax-Free Childcare

Lt’s say that if your total childcare bill was £500 a month, you would pay £400 and the Government will pay the remaining £100. Therefore, this would cut your £6,000 yearly costs down to £4,800.

If the childcare bill for one child is £1,000 a month, you would pay £800 and have £200 paid for by the Government. However once the maximum amount of £2,000 has been given by the Government, in this case, after 10 months, you will have to pay the full total.

Who is Tax-Free Childcare best for?tax free childcare

  • Self-employed or couples earning less than £100,000 each.
  • Families with more than one child and high childcare costs.

How to sign up for Tax-Free Childcare

First of all you need to create an online childcare account here: Government Tax-Free Childcare site.

You will need:

  • 20 minutes spare
  • National insurance number
  • Unique taxpayer reference (if you are self-employed)
  • Debit card

You will pay money in using your debit card through a standing order, or a payment from your bank account. Although both parents can use the account, only one parent can open it and you will need to decide who’s name you will use.tax free childcare

The government should top the money up hours later after you put money into the account. It can take up to five working days to pay the childcare provider.

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A career break: can this be positive?

When a pregnancy test result displays as positive, one burning question on the mum-to-be’s mind is “how will this impact my career?”.  Whether you are planning to have 6 weeks,…

When a pregnancy test result displays as positive, one burning question on the mum-to-be’s mind is “how will this impact my career?”.  Whether you are planning to have 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years off, time out of work can appear daunting.

positive career break

Although the financial strain of  a family is a huge factor in starting a family. Many women feel that having time off from their job may destroy all what they worked hard for. For me, I felt that my career was finally taking off after years of studying. To take the break initially felt like a positive decision for my family but, a poor decision for my personal growth. I couldn’t explain how I felt to anyone. I didn’t want to be seen as ungrateful for being  lucky to have time off from work to raise my family and that I didn’t bring in the most money anyway, so my job was not that important.

Focusing on the positives now, here are a few things to why taking a career break is positive:

Recharging your batteries

positive career break

Taking time off allows you to rest. Being out of the office or where ever you worked will give you that mental space needed to focus on other things in your life and have a mental break from your job. As a teacher, I remember before I would go to sleep, I’d start planning starter activities in my head or begin thinking about all the books I needed to mark. It has been lovely to truly have a break from these thoughts and reset myself. Now, when I think about work, I become excited as I feel so refreshed and ready to dive back into it.

The unexpected results

When you go from working full time to suddenly not working at all, even as a new mum you will find yourself with a lot of unusual time on your hands. Many women take this opportunity to study something new or start up a business venture they have always dreamed of. I started this blog as a hobby in my spare time, simply documenting my experience as a mum, I never expected that I would end up earning from this. If I was working full time I doubt I would have taken the plunge to start a blog.

“It’s not necessary to think of being away as a way to start a business or go to a new career,”. “The point is: What would you do if, for a while, you don’t have to think about making money?”

New Skills

positive career break

Work is the place where it has been drilled into your head: “this is where you develop skills and grow as a person”. As a new mum, taking time off, you actually gain an abundance of skills. For example, I have way more patience now than I have ever had in my life. Looking after a toddler, I have gained the skills of being extremely organised, resilient, level headed, punctual and my problem solving skills from figuring what she wants during  tantrum have progressed too!

Time for a change?

Having a long period off work gives you the space to think if that was the career for you. Now that you are having time away, you will be able to see clearly if that job was making you happy and you could see great potential in progressing in that job.

Even if you decide that you love your job after having time off, it will be nice to go back with a fresh mind set that you are in the right place without second thoughts.

More appealing candidate

positive career break

You may think that taking time off from will hurt your career. But, have you thought of this? Taking a well needed break, gaining life experience and being 100% committed to you again, will make you look like a more appealing candidate, in comparison to someone who may not know what they really want out of life yet.

 

 

 

Taking the time off can show that you want to further your skill set and try new experiences.

 

So when you feel that you may be hurting your career or you receive the comments “oh you don’t work?” or “you just stay at home all day.” look at the bigger picture. Remember that you have got this incredible time off raising your family whilst resetting yourself ready for your next step. If you decide never to return to work, remember that you are still gaining life experiences and developing skill sets as you would in the work place.

 

 

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First and second pregnancy: Differences I’ve noticed

No two pregnancies are the same however, in my mind, I still believed that the whole pregnancy experience would be similar. But I was wrong. The second time around, everything…

No two pregnancies are the same however, in my mind, I still believed that the whole pregnancy experience would be similar. But I was wrong. The second time around, everything has been different.

Here is how:

comparing two pregnancies

Finding Out

The first time around, I find out I was pregnant pretty much straight away. I just had that feeling. Even taking tests that were displaying as negative I still strongly believed I was pregnant.

The second time, I didn’t find out I was pregnant until around 10 weeks. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. I put it down to being so busy all the time with Mole.

Time

Time seems to go so much slower when you are pregnant for the first time. It feels like years waiting for a midwife appointment and counting down the weeks till your next trimester drags on and on. Now, I can not keep up with my midwife appointments. I feel like I have blinked and already it is single figure weeks countdown.

Sickness

My first pregnancy I was lucky enough to not experience morning sickness. This time, i’ve had days where just turning my head would make me want to throw up.

Restcomparing two pregnancies

During my first pregnancy I could take a nap when I wanted or watch a film on the sofa but, oh no, not the second time around. I am running around after Mole at a soft play centre or running up and down the stairs to change her or I am looking like I am on Super Market Sweep trying to get my shopping done before Moles patience time bomb goes off.

Fitness

The advice I was given during my first pregnancy was to “take it easy”. I spoke to a midwife about exercising it was frowned upon. I was in good health and had always exercise so taking the time off did not sit well with me mentally and I gained a lot of weight too. One of the things I said to myself was, if it was to go through a pregnancy again, I want to be as active as possible. When asking midwives now about doing a workout, I received a completely different reaction. A positive one. I have been able to workout without a guilty conscience and thoroughly enjoy feeling healthy and active.

Anxietycomparing two pregnancies

Every little twinge during my first pregnancy I was convinced I was going into labour or something was wrong. This time, I have been able to relax more and after knowing what a contraction really does feel like, I am not rushing down to A&E or ringing my midwife.

Bump Size

I was told that the second time around your bump is usually bigger as your stomach muscles have stretched. As I have been eating healthier and working out during this pregnancy, my bump is no where near as big as it was the first time. I feel like I need to take more photos of the progression as I get so busy with Mole or I don’t have the energy to take any. First time around my camera roll was full of bump photos.

 

 

 

Zoe

xx

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