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Happy Planning!
Happy Planning!

As our new series Staying Sane in the Summer continues, it’s made me realise just how much planning I do for school holidays – I’ve never written it down before and I was genuinely surprised that I could fill every day in July with ideas! I do find myself more able to enjoy time with the kids when I have a back up of activities, lots of ideas, know what’s available locally and some fixed points in the holiday for certain events. I don’t dread them like some families do (that’s not to suggest I don’t find them exhausting…). Today I mention some of the things we’ve had from school, the NHS provides brilliant resources via their Change4Life program to reduce childhood obesity – these ones are based on the LazyTown TV show that our kids have loved – so much free fun to be found.

Another aspect of planning the time is that you can see where busy and quiet times will happen, we like to have down time to just watch tv or play as it’s supposed to be a holiday… if you can see when you have free activities planned it’s nice to then just have days at home in the garden or making forts.

I’m trying to enjoy this process of planning – rather than looking at it as a chore I’m focusing on having precious time with the kids, we’ll have about 18 Summers with them before they don’t want to be seen with us (probably less than that!). When I thought of it like that it didn’t seem enough time at all, as they saying goes the days are long but the years are short… enjoy this Summer xx

 

The Staying Sane in the Summer series is a gallery of tips, ideas, links and downloads to help you plan and manage the long School Summer Break. I really hope it helps you to enjoy feeling more in control of the time and to have fun with your family without worrying too much about the cost as most of the things you will be doing are going to be free or very frugal. Kids really don’t need much money spent, they like fairly simple things – it’s often adults that go for the most expensive options as they may have lost confidence in their ability to stay sane with the children home for that long.

It’s been a while…
It’s been a while…

This is my first Thursday Thought in a very long time – and as I started to type, I realised just how much I’ve missed it. The last few months have been, shall we say, ‘Challenging’… I thought I could write a website, run a household, care for four completely crazy kids, walk the dog and remain sane quickly. I was wrong. It’s been so hard to learn all these new technical terms and skills (and I thought I was pretty IT savvy!), and then just when I felt ready to share this work with the world – my site got hacked and I was too devastated to start again for a while.

But, I just love it – I love the feedback I get from people who say an idea helped them in some way, or that they have connected with our worries and concerns and appreciate our efforts to share our small changes into big changes philosophy. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap, and it certainly means planning and effort – the rewards are worth it though, and this website is worth it. I like what I’m doing, and I’m not going to let a poor hosting company change that – so I’ve moved to a great one called www.laskos.com. It was nice to be reminded that there are good people in the world x

So, sorry but there will be lots more where this came from!!!

Thursday Thought 43

It’s been a much calmer week all round, and so ‘we’ have started to consider what we are buying for Christmas and lists have been created – presents, food, cards etc. One strategy we use is to stick to one supermarket and use their points scheme, this means we have  a nice sum to use for our Christmas Treat Foods.

A new strategy is to use TopCashBack for items we buy online (we also order things via this for family and friends). I am totally amazed by how much we have saved over the year by using TopCashBack and when I was checking how to actually get the money out I realised that you can get an extra 6% more money FOR FREE by having your money on a shop card instead of straight to your bank. This could be used as a gift card for someone, or in a shop we are likely to be getting presents from anyway – with four kids every penny counts.

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Thursday Thought 38

Everything is more exciting when it’s made into a funny shape- I even got away with emergency ‘pizza’ made from a slice of bread because I cut them into Halloween spiders 🕷 

Phew! 

  

Reuse and Recycle

Just to prove I’m not the only person banging on about reusing mugs, or using recycled products, here is The Guardian showcasing the argument for coffee shops (you know who I mean…) being more green. However, we can all make an individual difference too, but recycling our cups or taking our own – and yes, this is going to be another photo of my own re-using mug as I love it sooooo much.

Pay attention coffee shop types…

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Thursday Thought 36

Stamps! I was so thrilled to be in touch with these guys on Twitter- I remember sending off used stamps to Blue Peter as a child but had no idea they could still be recycled and raise vital funds.

I would encourage everyone to do this simple thing, I know we use traditional post much less and receive lots of post without stamps on at all but please save what you can ✉️💌📮📦

Stamps for Charity

Save Stamps – Guest Post

Used postage stamps, from anywhere in the world, of any age, are a valuable way for charities to raise funds. They sell these stamps, usually by the sack, to stamp collectors. Called “Philately”, stamp collecting is a thriving hobby among people of all ages. You can learn about different countries histories, culture, communications, and much more. We all receive mail, and normally once we are finished with the envelope, it ends up in the bin – but this is a way that you can save something that you might likely throw away (what could be better than saving something from landfill, or the compost bin, and at the same time supporting whatever cause is important to you, as well?) Save stamps from your office mail, Christmas cards, birthday cards, anything with a stamp on. Once you are finished with the envelope, carefully tear the stamp off the envelope, taking care to remove an area of paper around the stamp. Collectors like the stamp to be undamaged, and even check for the perforations (those frilly bits around the stamp edges!). Removing an area of paper around the stamp, ensures that the stamp is undamaged and therefore worth the most to the charity. If you would like to find charities to support with your used stamps, have a look at which has a regularly updated list of UK charities needing used stamps, including the RNLI, many health and animal charities.

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T-shirt Re-shirt

Another great recycling project, this time with old but loved t-shirts. Sometimes you just can’t throw them away, and here are some fun ideas of how to give them a second life. This is particularly nice with kids clothes that they have grown out of, or loved items that have been worn until holes appeared…

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMetDaanMagazine%2Fvideos%2F1966702713567443%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>T-shirt Re-shirt

Show me your makes!

Fun Bat Project

Whether you ‘do’ Halloween or not, this is a fun project to recycle some good ol’ toilet rolls – as you may have noticed, we keep all of ours to use all year round – we love bats and have a bat box on the house so you don’t have to link it to the end of October if you don’t want to…

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FsostrenegreneUK%2Fvideos%2F1015239535241812%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Fun Bat Project

Enjoy! x

Try it…

For those with children to entertain it can sometimes seem an impossible struggle to get out the door in the morning at all – let alone with everyone’s coats and shoes on. But it’s so worth the trouble to find a good toddler/play group. A good group will offer friendship and support to the adult as well as cheap fun for the small ones, if you’re really lucky there will even be biscuits! 

We use our local SureStart centre which is totally free, but also a number of other groups, usually £1, for over two hours entertainment and sanity. Don’t forget the amount saved by mum needing less wine at the end of the day 😉. 

It can take a few tries to find a group you feel comfortable in but it’s well worth the effort. Today I’ve been made tea, kids had a good snack, had several people hold the baby as well as watching the toddler do lots of fun activities that are way too messy for home.