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All our travel and days out posts in one place….

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All our school holiday ideas in one place….

Child benefit entitlement explained for new and expectant parents….

Although it was clearly worth it in the end, I really didn’t enjoy being pregnant and I certainly wasn’t one of the lucky few who sail through the whole nine months with people telling them they’re positively blooming!

Apart from the fact that I had morning sickness all day long for the first three months followed by numerous aches, pains and issues for the remaining six months both times, I also worried a lot during my pregnancies.  I worried about whether I was ready, if I would be a good Mum, how I would cope and more than anything else I worried about how we were going to afford everything we needed.

I don’t really remember there being any advice or support around then to help ease my worries but if there had have been, I’m sure I would have enjoyed my pregnancies more than I did.

There is help available now though, so if you’re an expectant parent and you want to know what benefits are available to you during maternity or paternity leave then you’ll definitely want to check out the help and support available from the Money Advice Service who have created a brilliant infographic designed to breakdown each benefit the government provides, if you’re eligible and how you can apply.

Child Benefit Building Blocks

Child Benefit Building Blocks – An infographic by the team at Money Advice Service

This post is in association with the Money Advice Centre.

Have an attitude of gratitude – the Christmas edition….

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love a good list and wouldn’t be surprised in the least to hear that somewhere in early November (may have even been October) I sat down and wrote a list of Christmas crafts and activities that I was going to blog about.  I had one thing to write about for ever day leading up to Christmas and I planned to fill my evenings with crafting, baking and other Christmassy activities.

But then the 1st December finally arrived and I readied myself for the marathon month of posting and suddenly, I didn’t feel like it.  I decided that I didn’t want to fill my month with plans and schedules of what I needed to do and I did something unheard of….

…. I ripped up my Christmas to-do list.

(Well to be honest, I ripped it up, put it in the bin and then got it back out again as I realised some of the things on my to-do list actually needed to be done.  But once I’d added them to a new list I put it back in the bin again – it’s like storming out of a room and then having to go back in to get something you forgot isn’t it?)

I haven’t blogged very much or bothered with social media (even instagram shock horror) but today I have a bit of a last minute day off and I woke up feeling like I wanted to jump right back into it all so here I am again.

Before I start on Christmas though, I thought today would be a nice time to join in with Polly’s lovely 52 weeks of gratitude post again by sharing some nice Christmassy gratitude….

Christmas tree

  1. Miss Frugal and I have started a weekly date night where we go somewhere or do something on a Friday night.  So far we’ve been Christmas shopping and been to Costa (twice) and sat in there with our Christmassy drinks and talked which was almost as nice as the fact that the drinks were free as I did a few massive Costa runs for work and used my loyalty card!  We don’t do too much but it’s lovely to spend the time together just us.
  2. A week today is Christmas and I’ve been sorted for weeks other than those last minute bits that I inevitably buy.
  3. Instead of a boozy works Christmas party, we decided to have a cocktail and crafts night at one of my friends houses so I’m looking forward to that tomorrow night.
  4. My Christmas tree is looking lovely this year and I’m loving the dark nights snuggled up with the kids with the Christmas tree twinkling and the candles burning.
  5. There is a Jo Malone gift bag under the tree with my name on.
  6. Someone at work decided that they didn’t want to be off over Christmas so now I’m off all of next week instead of just from Christmas Eve.
  7. I’ve just read some of Miss Frugal’s Christmas cards from her friends at school and it’s clear how well she’s settled in – from knowing no one at all she’s got so many cards from her new friends and lots of them have lovely little messages in to her.
  8. Master Frugal’s Christmas carol concert at school was this week and apart from the unidentified object in my mulled wine, it was lovely.
  9. I’m filled with plans that I can’t wait to get in place.
  10. My man flu lasted a whole three days and seems to have left the building in plenty of time for Christmas!

What are you feeling most grateful for right now?

Monday’s Parenting Pin It Party #82….

It’s that time again – I’m hosting this week’s Parenting Pin it Party and I would love this week to be a super bumper week packed full of some fabulous inspirational parenting posts.  As ever, any of your fantastic parenting posts are more than welcome but seeing as we’re coming up to Christmas, it would be great to see lots of posts filled with Christmas inspiration linked up.

All of the posts linked up last week were amazing but here’s my two favourites:





Just click on the images to find out more.

If you haven’t joined in with us before, it really couldn’t be easier.  You just need to a add a link to your favourite parenting post to the linky at the end of this post and then add the badge to your post (not required but it’s always a lovely thing to do).

Sometime this week I’ll pay you a nice little visit and have a good read of you post and get it pinned to the Parenting Party Pinterest board along with all of the other entries.  Next week’s host will then choose her favourite two posts to be featured in their post next Monday.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

The Diary of a Frugal Family

The Parenting Pin it Party is co-hosted each week by myself, Romanian MumKiddy ChartsMum of OneMummy AlarmAll you need is love and cake and The Fairy and the Frog.

Frugal Family Traditions….

frugal family traditions

A couple of years ago, when I was asked if we had any family Christmas traditions, I said no because I didn’t really think the things we did were traditions – they’re just small things we do every year to make Christmas that bit more magical to us as a family.  As I was saying it, I realised that what we’re doing is making new family traditions, traditions that I hope the kids will want to continue as they get older and more importantly, will do with their own children in years to come.

My favourite tradition is probably making a video for each of the kids using Portable North Pole although this site does seem to be getting more and more commercialised over the last few years.  So much so that they now only do one video for free so you can either pay to go premium or do what we do and get the kids to watch their videos separately at different times.  I’ve always made everyone their own video (non-believers too) and over the years, the expressions on the kids faces and the relief they show when they’re on the good list has been priceless.  I can’t recommend this site highly enough although as I said, it is becoming more commercial which has limited the options available unless you pay for the premium package.  I made the free ones this year and although they weren’t as long or as detailed as they have been in the past, they still made the kids happy and that’s what it’s all about.

I also love how much the kids look forward to hanging their stockings on their bedroom doors on the 1st December every year.  Once the stockings are up , they check them religiously every morning to see if the elves have been to visit and leave them a small treat – nothing huge, just something chocolatey usually.  There’s always great excitement when they’ve had a visit and although at least one of them is now a silent non-believer, the excitement is still there.

We love decorating the tree together although I often have a quick rearrange when everyone's in bed!

We love decorating the tree together although I often have a quick rearrange when everyone’s in bed!

Another tradition we have is the Christmas Eve parcels that we make for the kids.  I know lots of people do these now but I’ve always done them for a couple of reasons, the first on being that I always had a present on Christmas Eve when I was younger so I kind of thought that was normal!  The main reason that they’ve evolved into little hampers rather than just a treat is for purely selfish purposes – the kids are hyper all day on Christmas Eve so waking up to a hamper with a couple of treats and a Christmas movie in them helps keep them calm and pass the day that bit quicker.  I’ll be writing a bit more about our Christmas Eve hampers in the next few days.

We make at least one new tree decoration together every year.

We make at least one new tree decoration together every year.

We also have a pyjama fairy who brings new pyjamas on Christmas Eve and even though this is another one of those things that the kids don’t really buy into now, they pretend to and would be gutted if we didn’t get a visit!

Oh, and a relatively new tradition we have is Jingle, our budget version of elf on a shelf.  I get that these elves are like Marmite and you either love them or hate them so feel free to skip past this bit! J  Our elf isn’t particularly naughty but he does have his moments and it’s not even me who ‘makes’ him do things so he either really is magical or the kids are fully aware that he’s not an actual elf and are enjoying messing with me!

There are lots of other things that we do every year together but these are my favourites – what’s your favourite family tradition?