A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

Netmums United Kindmums – Knock on a Neighbour’s Door

The latest United Kindmums step is to Knock on a Neighbour’s door and I am pleased to say I have done this twice recently.

The first time was to introduce myself to a new mum that had moved into the street and to invite her to my Yummy Mummy Coffee Morning I was holding in aid of CLIC Sargent. I didn’t know her but heard she had a little girl around my daughter’s age and thought it might be nice to get to know her. The move was a positive one and she came along and stayed, getting to know other mummy neighbours at the same time.

I also arranged a last minute jubilee street party with some of my mummy neighbours and I decided to let our other neighbours know (all 20+) and invite them to join in. Half a dozen families came a long and all the kids had a great time playing. It was fab to get to know the parents too. Everyone was really pleased that the event had been organised and came over to introduce themselves and say thank you. I think it provided a great opportunity to meet new people and we are already planning future events.

So… you see… it really can work! Why not give it a try? Join United Kindmums and Knock on a Neighbours Door… you may be pleasantly surprised with the result!

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The Tightening Belt

The current economic climate as we all know is very bleak and depressing frankly, especially for the modern family and working mum.

A recent survey carried out by u-switch.com has found that almost a third of new mothers end up in debt following maternity leave and 1 in 10 end up shortening their planned maternity leave due to financial pressures. This did initially surprise me, but then I realised actually, that is highly plausible.

Having not long returned to work myself following maternity leave I have recently been wondering what I would do should I have another child. I was lucky enough this time to have been able to save in advance of my maternity leave. I had a decent salary which left me with some disposable income each month, so I was able to put money away. It was these savings that got me through my leave and enabled me to take the full year off that I had wanted to take with my little girl. However they only just stretched!

Had I not had this I would have probably ended up with in debt of over £3,000 at least if not more, especially since I unfortunately started a new part time role just before I went on maternity (timing!), meaning I halved my salary and therefore had a less attractive maternity package.

The u-switch.com survey found that 28% of mums had gone into the red during their maternity leave with almost £2,500 in debts and only a quarter of mums felt ready financially for motherhood.

I felt I was prepared for motherhood and maternity, we worked out that although it would be tight I could take the year off and could go part-time. However that was before the UK fell into its current state. With the rising cost of fuel and increase in costs at the supermarket tills, things don’t feel as plain sailing anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we are by no means in dire straits but I miss that little extra cash in my pocket each month. I have wondered whether or not to look for that full time job that will help me bring in more money, but will this just end up going on childcare and extra fuel to travel to and from work each month anyway? (My husband and I do a combined weekly mileage of 620 miles and that’s just travelling to and from work!) At the same time though I love spending time with my little girl and I don’t really want to have to sacrifice the time I have with her. It’s such a hard situation.

If I were to have another baby, which I would like at some point, I feel a little sad to think that I may not be able to have the same time off with them that I had with my little girl. On my part-time salary I can’t afford to save as much in advance and don’t want to end up racking the debt up.

I think it is so hard for us as modern mums, as I have said many times before on my blog, it’s not like when our mum’s had us, most women HAVE to go out to work and many don’t have the option or flexibility of part-time hours or ‘bank / agency’ work like many women used to do. So many of my friends have been declined flexible working or reduced working hours on business grounds, so what choice do mum’s have?

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com said: “It’s heartbreaking that so many mums are being forced into debt or having to cut short their maternity leave just to make ends meet.

“It is clear that more needs to be done by the Government to help families cope with the financial burden of parenthood, but in the meantime families can help their situation by reviewing household budgets and looking at where they can cut costs to save a bit of extra cash.” (Quote taken from u-switch.com press release

Ann has a point (even if it is with a view to directing people to her website), the Government should be doing more, but instead mum’s and the average UK family seem to be a target for this government. Limits on child tax credit allowances and child benefit payments are seeing the average family lose even more money, this combined with huge public sector cuts, UK wide redundancies and rises in fuel and shopping bills as mentioned before spells a very black outlook for the modern hard working family.

An article in the Daily Mirror on 11th April entitled Benefits Trapped highlights the plight. Single mum Rachel Vallender and her two year old son are scraping by despite Rachel working 22 hours a week. She states:

“I’m having to get into debt to try to make ends meet and keep up with rising bills, against a drop in tax credits and frozen child benefit. I’m left with £10 a week to feed the two of us. I worry about the diet I’m giving him and I end up eating just one meal a day – often his leftovers. I was told by the tax office I’d be better off giving up work. I have friends that rely on benefits and they are better off than me. How can that be right?”

An article , also in the Daily Mirror (I pick these up through work!) on 5th April, entitled “We can’t afford to go to work now that we have kids” highlighted the stories of several women who can’t afford to go to work due to rising childcare costs. It states that:

 “new research from the children’s charity Daycare Trust suggests 44,000 fewer families are getting help with childcare costs since the Government introduced changes to tax credits, whilst nursery costs have risen by nearly 6%”

Again, many found they were better off on state benefits. A crazy scenario when the Government is wanting to get people off state benefits!

So even if you have to cut your maternity leave short and head back to work, many are still not any better off due to the current economic climate, rising childcare costs and cuts made by the Government. It seems no matter what way you look at it, it’s a lose lose situation for the average modern family, especially the modern mum.

While we can’t change the current climate, I guess we can take steps to try to help our pockets a little. Just some of the hints and tips I have heard in recent weeks as to how to save money in the current climate include:

Petrol – apparently the AA say you can make significant savings on your fuel costs by adopting simple measures such as these below:

  • Make sure tyres are inflated to the correct level
  • Carry less heavy items in your car / boot if possible and remove roof boxes when not being used
  • Travel at a steady speed, within the limit and don’t brake heavily or accelerate quickly

Shopping:

  • Online sites like My Supermarket can help you compare your weekly shopping costs and ‘check out’ from the cheapest store.
  • Sites like My Voucher Codes can find you discounts to use when shopping, always worth a look first.
  • Sign up to mother and baby clubs to receive discount vouchers such as Tesco’s, Asda’s Sainsbury’s Little Ones, Mothercare’s Gurgle
  • Buy in advance while 2 for 1 offers and sales are on and put items away (ie birthday’s etc)
  • Plan your weekly food ahead and only buy what you need. We plan what we are going to eat each week and make things like Shepherds Pies, Bolognaises, Lasagne’s, Chili’s etc which can be frozen and can give several meals

Insurance, Bills and Utilities:

  • Use sites such as U-Switch, Go Compare or Money Supermarket to see if you can cut your household utility bills.
  • It was recently highlighted that energy companies are soon going to have to make customers aware of their lowest tariffs so make sure you are getting all the information you need

Netmums United Kindmums campaign is this week highlighting ways families can save money and help one another by donating items they no longer need via Nearly New Wanted boards like those on their site, or at charity shops etc. Likewise when donating have a good look and see what purchases can be made via those channels too, it’s amazing what you can find. I am a regular at our local baby sale and buy lots of never worn or practically brand new clothes for my little girl for the year ahead, there’s some great bargains to be found!

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the situation isn’t going to get better any time soon so I guess every little helps. Do you have any additional suggestions, anything you found that’s really helpful? I’d love to hear your views, ideas and suggestions so please leave me a comment below.

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My United Kindmums Random Act of Kindness #1

So as you may have read I am supporting Netmums United Kindmums campaign. Netmums is calling on mums across the UK to unite by making small changes to their lives in order to make bigger changes to others, with a view to creating a kindness culture.

This week their action is to help a local food bank, well I did look up my local food bank but it’s unfortunately only open at times when I can’t attend so afraid this action may not be possible. However I have upheld another aspect of the United Kindmums campaign in carrying out a random act of kindness.

My random act was to offer advice to a very talented lady to promote a local scheme she is running. Following a conversation I had had with her I went away thinking of how I could help her gather more interest and participants and I sat down and mapped out a few ideas she could undertake. It only took me fifteen minutes or so but with my experience I can hopefully offer her a few helpful pointers that might make a big difference for her in the long-term. She didn’t ask me to do it, I didn’t need to do it, but I believe the concept she has is great and I wanted to help her in what way I could.

Have you joined the Netmums campaign? If so why not keep sharing the love and tell me in a comment below what you have been doing?

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Netmums Call for United Kindmums

If there’s a mantra that I live by it would be to care for others and treat others as I would wish to be treated myself. That’s why I love Netmum’s new United Kindmums campaign.

In today’s austerity Britain a lot of people are struggling, some more than others and in many different ways. Netmums is calling on mums across the UK to unite by making small changes to their lives in order to make bigger changes to others, with a view to creating a kindness culture

The United Kindmums campaign will see Netmums each month signposting a simple United Kindmums action that you can easily do to make a big change.  The actions will range from little things you can do from the comfort of your chair to bigger actions that might mean leaving your home.

How You Can Become Part of United Kindmums

Smile. Find something every day that makes you smile or even better laugh.

Little things matter. Never underestimate how much a small act of kindness will mean to another person, a friendly smile, a chat in the school playground or toddler group can make someone else’s day.

Stop judging. Be accepting of the way others parent and don’t be so harsh on yourself.

Pay it forward. Help someone who needs you whether it’s another parent, a member of your family or a complete stranger. It’ll make them feel good and you too.

Netmums suggest there are three things you can do right now to make start on your path to being a United Kindmum

Random Act of Kindness

A random act of kindness is doing something selfless for someone else. It could be as simple as talking to a lonely looking mum at the school gates or a toddler group or buying a coffee for the person in the queue behind you.

Paying it Forward

Paying it forward is all about repaying a kind act that someone has done for you. If a stranger or someone you know does something nice for you rather than ‘paying them back’ instead, pay it forward doing something nice for someone else.

Life’s Simple Pleasures

Appreciating the simple things in life makes us grateful for what we have.

My random act of kindness for today was not taking for granted the fact that my mum was cooking sunday dinner for us all on Mother’s Day, I brought dessert to the table for us all, one of life’s simple pleasures and a random act of kindness. I’ve also this week offered to help two people starting out in business using some of my knowledge that could be put to good use to help them on their way and last week I held a coffee morning in aid of CLIC Sargent to help children in need and invited a new mummy neighbour to welcome her to the street and meet others. So without feeling too smug I am feeling good that I can commit to Netmum’s campaign, although I know I won’t have a week like this every week!!!!!

I will be aiming to post any further updates here on my blog as I see fit but why not share with me any actions you have taken by commenting below??? In the meantime why not head a long to the Netmums site now and learn more about the campaign

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