MY ‘NO SPEND MONTH’ DIARY: WEEK THREE

Oh dear, I did so well in my first two weeks of my ‘no spend month’ and then, well, Week 3 happened. This last week has not been very good at all, my willpower buckled (damn you, cute baby clothes) and I also had to pay out for other things that couldn’t be helped – more on that in the minute.

Despite having a disappointing week, I’m prepared to draw a line under it and get back on track for the last week of the month. There’s still money to be saved and scrimping to be done.

If you want to know why I’m doing my ‘No spend month’ then check out my original post here.

You can read my Week One diary here and my Week Two diary here.

Day 15.

Today our local shopping centre had a Paw Patrol characters meet and greet (they often do things like this during half term). Jasmine was excited to see Rubble  and Skye so after she finished pre-school we headed into town to meet them! The queue was massive and Jasmine was excited the entire time that we waited in line. She then decided, when it was finally our turn to meet Rubble, that he was terrifying. Typical!

We popped into some charity shops afterwards because I needed to find an outfit for a funeral (I own very little in the way of clothing and had nothing appropriate for funeral in my wardrobe). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything suitable in the charity shops. It was a mistake taking the kids in with me as I ended up leaving with a ride-on-toy and a (brand new) Play Doh set.

Oh and I also bought hair dye from Poundland (it’s actually surprisingly good).

Total spent: £6.45

Day 16.

I totally forgot to cancel our window clean for this month and so the window cleaner turned up this morning. That was £15 spent before I even got to lunchtime! I then got an e-mail from the lady who runs our Hartbeeps toddler class reminding me that I needed to pay for the next term if I wanted to keep my space. D’oh!

Total spent: £45.00

Day 17.

I had a study day at home today and didn’t leave the house. I didn’t spend anything. We did use up the rest of our Pancake Day ingredients to make breakfast though so that was nice. :)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 18.

I had a mummy/daughter day with J today so I took her swimming. That only cost us about £5.00. Afterwards, however, I got drawn into the M&Co sale like a moth to a flame and spent over £30.00 on clothes for the girls. *hangs head in shame*

Total spent: £40.00ish

Day 19.

I didn’t spend anything today.

Total spent: £0.00

Day 20. 

I had to buy a funeral outfit as I’m attending it tomorrow! I went to Tesco and managed to get my entire outfit (dress, belt, tights and boots) from F&F. I used my Clubcard vouchers (I had about fifteen pounds worth) to save on the total amount.

Total spent: about £40.00

Day 21. 

I attended a funeral today. I had to pay for a day travel ticket for the bus and I spent some money on alcohol at the wake. (#noregrets)

I spent £30 of kids’ waterproofs from Lidl whilst waiting for the bus. I’m totally blaming my friend Kirsty for that, though. She’s an enabler!

Total spent: £48.30

Total spent this week: £179.75

Guys, I’m really embarrassed about that weekly total and almost didn’t bother sharing this post as I felt deflated. But I want to be honest. This challenge was never going to be easy for me and there’s no point pretending it is, when it isn’t. All I can do is try and do better going forwards.

I’m going to try my hardest to steer clear of shops next week as they are definitely my downfall. Once I’m in them I struggle to not spend money.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagram and Twitter }

My Top 5 Holiday Highlights <br> {Lanzarote} <br/>

In April 2016 we took our first trip abroad as a family of three. We spent hours and hours scouring the internet in order to find the perfect location for us. Somewhere warm but not too hot. A flight that wasn’t too long. Somewhere that offered us beautiful beaches, a place to relax but also enough things to keep us entertained. In the end we settled on Lanzarote, I’d been before as teenager and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t wait to go back with my little family!

Jasmine had just turned two-years-old (literally, the day before we flew out to Lanzarote). Needless to say, the three-and-a-bit hour flights were, ahem, ‘interesting’. Travelling with a toddler was never going to be completely stress-free but it couldn’t have been that bad because we’re now planning our next trip abroad… and this time with two littles in tow!

I never did get around to writing about our trip (did I mention I was pregnant with E at the time? And totally bloomin’ exhausted!) so I thought I’d indulge in some reminiscing and share my 5 holiday highlights from our time in Lanzarote…

1.The food

We decided to pay the extra and go all all-inclusive on our trip and I am so, so glad we did. Mooching around restaurants and perusing menus is lovely when you’re a couple but when kids are involved, meal times are more like a military operation! Knowing exactly what times and where we could eat each day made our lives so much easier. Being able to walk into the restaurant, pick up a plate and serve yourself from the buffet was one of the best things about being on holiday (that and not having to do the washing up afterwards). There were loads of delicious foods to choose from each day, cuisine from all over the world… and plenty of pasta to keep our fussy toddler happy.

2. The weather

Lanzarote has year-round sunshine which is one of the reasons we were drawn to it (considering we were holidaying in early April). The weather did not disappoint – we had blue skies for the most part (the first day or so was a little cloudier) and the temperature was just right for us. Warm enough to be able to enjoy the (unheated) outdoor pools and beaches but not so hot that we were frying!  It helps that you get a lovely island breeze to cool you down!

3. The swimming pools

Prior to our trip, we’d done a fair bit of swimming with Jasmine at our local leisure centre. But there’s something very special about outdoor pools and being able to play in them all. day. long. The confidence that Jasmine gained in the water on our holiday was unreal. Seeing her giggle whilst jumping into the pool (nearly always catching myself or her daddy off-guard) will be one of my favourite memories from our holiday to Lanzarote.

4. The beaches

Not only did we splash around in the pools but we also took a dip in the sea! Lanzarote boasts a selection of gorgeous beaches and we had several within walking distance. Jasmine was a little unsure of the waves so opted to spend several hours making sandcastles on beach. All whilst ordering me back and forth to the water’s edge to collect water for her in her bucket!

5. The sea aquarium

During our stay on the island, we discovered that we were staying a short walk away from the Lanzarote Aquarium. It’s only a small venue (and entry is a little pricey) but is still well worth a visit, particularly if you have a toddler. We were particularly impressed with the sting ray tank!

We stayed in the Costa Teguise resort and I highly recommend it as a location for a family holiday. Why not plan and book your Lanzarote trip using the Holiday Gems website.

Have you been to Lanzarote before?

Do you have any family holidays booked for 2018? I’d love to hear where you’re heading!

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

My ‘No Spend Month’ Diary: Week two

If your interested in why I’m having a ‘no spend month’ then check out my original post here.

If you want to see how I did in Week One then click here.

I’m posting this weekly diary a bit later than planned but here’s how my second ‘no spend’ week went…

Day 8. 

I had a study day at home today so was mostly focused on doing my coursework. However, my sweet tooth got the better of me because when I picked J up from pre-school, I nipped into the corner shop to buy a packet of Cadbury Mini Eggs!

Total spent: £1.00

Day 9.

We had the craft box out today (J’s really into crafting at the moment) so I took the opportunity to make a Valentine’s card for my husband. I used a toilet roll tube to make a heart stamper and embellished the card with cut out letters from magazines. I’m quite pleased with it and I’m sure Stephen will appreciate the effort I went to. ;)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 10. 

I’ve been trying to hold off buying these, but I just couldn’t wait any longer… I needed to get replacement batteries for Ewan the Dream Sheep. We’re trying to get E into a better sleep routine and we always have a little more success when we use white noise. We tried using an app on our phone but it just wasn’t cutting it. Today, I bought the damn batteries and E went to bed much easier. No regrets.

Total spent: £4.20

Day 11.

Stephen and J wanted to go to the zoo today and I was almost tempted to go with it. Tickets would’ve cost us about £40 so I looked for an alternative day out. I suggested we go to Ashton Court – a large estate/grounds that is free to visit. We made a packed lunch and bundled the kids and dog into the car. It was SUCH a cold morning but it was nice to be out of the house. It wasn’t an entirely free day out as J asked for an ice cream(!) and we had to pay for parking. But still considerably cheaper than a day at the zoo. I’ve told J we can go to the zoo for her birthday in April.

Total spent: £2.70 (Parking and a Nobbly Bobbly Ice Cream)

Day 12.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day today which makes not spending money so much easier. I went out for a long walk with the girls, letting Jasmine decide where we went. We ended up saying ‘hi’ to some nearby horses and mooching through our local woods. Happy days. :)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 13.

Today was pancake day and we did pop out to Tesco to get some additional ingredients *cough* Nutella *cough*! I’m generally not counting groceries as money spent but in this case these were things we could’ve gone without but didn’t. I mean, you gotta have pancakes on pancake day, right?

Total spent: £3.70

Day 14.

It’s been a while since Stephen and I have been out on a date anywhere and this Valentine’s day was no different. Instead we made do with a (homemade) curry by candlelight and exchanged our (homemade) cards. It was a really lovely, romantic evening. :)

Total Spent: £0.00

Total spent this week: £11.60

 

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagram and Twitter }

Is it time to bring in a sleep trainer?

My firstborn, Jasmine, was a fabulous sleeper. Ever since she was around 10 weeks old, she slept through the night. We were very, very lucky. And only now do I realise how lucky we were.

When I was pregnant with E, people warned me “Oh, you won’t get another one like that!” and I would roll my eyes. How on earth were they to know how my baby would sleep?! Well, it turns out, in this case – they were right.

Elowen is almost 15 months old and has never once slept through the night. She has bed-shared with us pretty much since birth and I’m still breastfeeding her. She wakes up every 3-4 hours at night for a feed and fusses, sometimes for hours, before going back to sleep. She doesn’t use a dummy or a soft toy as a comforter. Oh no, she uses me – more specifically my hair. She pulls it and twiddles it with one hand and sucks her thumb on the other hand. I wake up some mornings to find clumps of my hair on my pillow case. And aside from anything else, it’s really rather painful!

I realise it’s normal for infants (particularly breastfed babies/toddlers) to wake up frequently during the night. It’s why we’ve just carried on doing what we’ve been doing up until now. I figured she will grow out of it at some point. But also, I wouldn’t even know how to go about changing things up. I don’t know how to stop breastfeeding or how to get her sleeping in her own bed without her screaming the house down. I’m not prepared to do use any kind of Cry It Out methods – no judgement on those who do, that’s up to them, but I’m personally not comfortable with it.

It’s not just night times that are the problem either – she’ll only nap in the pushchair or in my arms and never for very long. This, I’m sure, is a big contributing factor to our night time woes.

Lately, I’ve found myself perusing the websites of local ‘sleep trainers’. These people claim that they can work with parents in order to get their child to sleep through the night. And perhaps, in my sleep deprived state, I’m just desperate for somebody to come in, work their magic, and give me back my 8 hours of sleep a night. But it sounds too good to be true.

I keep telling myself that some kids are good sleepers and others aren’t. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I keep telling myself that this won’t last forever. I’ll probably miss E tugging on my hair, one day.

I keep telling myself that the days are long but the years are short.

But honestly?

I can’t cope with the lack of sleep any more. Something has got to give.

Hubby and I dread going to bed every evening because we know we’re in for a sh*t night. We just don’t know how sh*t yet.

15 months of broken sleep as taken it’s toll on me.

I’m too exhausted to function properly. Simple daily tasks are a struggle.

I spend all day snapping at Jasmine and I feel awful that she takes the brunt of my tiredness. It’s simply not fair on her.

And this is why, I’m seriously considering hiring a ‘sleep trainer’.

I’ve looked at the prices of consultations and they can be hundreds of pounds. It’s an expensive option but feels like the only one I’ve got.

And even if it means I have to eat beans on toast for the rest of the year, it’s the price I’m willing to pay for my sleep and my sanity.

*Photo is an old picture of E. She’d never fall asleep on the floor now. Not unless there was a tranquilizer dart involved. (Ooh, now there’s an idea!)

Have you ever hired a sleep trainer?

Jenna xx

My ‘No Spend Month’ Diary: Week one

If your interested in why I’m having a ‘no spend month’ then check out my original post here.

Here’s how the first 7 days went…

Day 1. 

Today I kicked off my no spend month by:

Taking the girls to the library. On the way we pretended to have magic wands (sticks) and were ‘turning each other into frogs’. Then we stopped off at the river to play pooh sticks. Plenty of free fun right there!

We spent an hour playing and reading books in the library and picked out 6 to bring home with us.

Bought E’s nappies with my Boots points.

Nappies are essentials so obviously I won’t be able to avoid buying them for the whole of February but I really wanted a great start to my ‘no spend month’. By using the points I had on my Boots Advantage Card I could avoid spending cash.

Signed up for Netflix free trial. 

I love watching a good box set or film in the evening but I can end up spending a fair bit of money downloading films from Google Play or Sky Store. Netflix offer a one month free trial to new subscribers and I’m excited to binge-watch some new shows for free! Any recommendations?

Total spent: £0.00

Day 2.

We didn’t do a lot today so not much opportunity to spend money. We had a chilled day at home and watched some shows on Netflix. (Jasmine is a big fan of the Beat Bugs episodes!) Then we tackled J’s messy bedroom as it looked like there had been an explosion in a toy factory in there.

In the evening I found out that a blogger friend has sadly suffered a bereavement so I contributed some cash, along with my other blogger mama pals, for a donation to her chosen charity.

Total spent: £3.00

Day 3. 

This morning we were all up and out of the house early as I had to go into Bristol city centre to do my driving theory test (which I booked and paid for a few weeks back). I passed – yay!

I’d looked for free things we could do afterwards so as to make the most of our trip and discovered that Windmill Hill City Farm was a short drive away from the test centre. Despite the weather being a bit crummy, we donned wellies and popped over for a visit. I’m so glad we did because the girls really enjoyed themselves.

Total spent: £0.00

Day 4.

Today I treated Jasmine to a trip to the cinema to see ‘Early Man’, the new Aardman film. Fortunately, I had a cinema gift voucher so the tickets (which would’ve cost over £20) didn’t cost me anything. I even remembered to buy treats from the supermarket rather than at the cinema, saving me a small fortune.

Total spent: £2.75 (on popcorn, drinks and sweeties)

Day 5.

A friend of mine brought over a child bike seat today which I agreed to buy from her before my NSM (no spend month) began but as I paid for it today, it counts! I want to be able to take E out on my bike when the weather gets better and was looking at buying a new child seat. My friend mentioned that she had one that had never been used and that I could buy it from her. So I’m still saving money, just in a different way! ;)

Total spent: £20.00

Day 6.

Today, instead of spending E’s nap time time wandering around the shops, I had a bit of clear out around the house. I managed to fill a big bag with stuff to donate to charity. A bit of de-cluttering and a spend-free day: woohoo!

Total spent: £0.00

Day 7.

Today, when J got home from pre-school, we decided to do some Valentine’s crafts. Normally I’d go out and buy new bits for specific craft activities but this time opted to use whatever we could find in our already-full craft box. I was quite pleased with the results!

Total Spent: 0.00

Total spent this week: £25.75

Overall, not a bad start to my challenge – obviously I spent more than I was hoping to but I think I can do even better next week. I haven’t really been tempted to buy much due to not going in ANY shops all week. (I had my groceries delivered and I’m not counting money spent on essentials such as food).

Onwards and upwards…

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

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