Monthly Archives: March 2017

Time for a little heart-to-heart

I started writing this as a ‘what we did at the weekend’ kind of post but it morphed into something that I think I actually needed to write. It’s a different kind of post to the usual but that’s probably not a bad thing!

Before I start, as I was sitting here typing most of it the four-year-old was making food for her wedding out of playdough. She made (so she told me), cabbage, broccoli and beef. She wanted my help to make some gammon and more cabbage ‘’coz I love cabbage, it’s my favourite.’ Well, I think I must have done something right with this one at least!

Back to business. We made a spontaneous trip to Herefordshire this weekend. As spontaneous as you can be when you have two small ones in tow. It was a week in the planning but felt very off the cuff. As we got further into the three hour drive it felt more and more as if we were skiving from normal life and hiding in the loos while everyone went to lessons. I kept expecting someone to ring and tell me off for not being at home.

We went because we are tired of the internet and wanted to do some actual research rather than look at another picture of a field and argue about whether 1.3 acres would be enough land or whether the pin on the satellite map is the actual house or is it that one over there next to the sewage plant… Also, Mr B admitted that he lost his heart to Herefordshire after our holiday there last summer. Totally canned the idea that we would be sensible and move to wherever we found the property that ticks the most boxes, but that’s ok with me! Basically, we thought some proper boots on the ground research would do us good. In reality, boots weren’t on the ground for very long as we spent most of the time in the car but it was worth it. Research wise it was very helpful, for example; 3.7 acres is great, 1.3 acres not enough; an existing holiday business is definitely preferable as run down barns look terrifying worse in real life than on Rightmove…; ‘A’ roads will not be good locations for a glamping business. These things seem obvious really but all we had to go on before was a map and photos on the internet. It was a much-needed trip for clarification and has given us a lot to think about. As it turns out all the thinking has led to a radical shift in our plans, but that is for another post!

A cold, windy, drizzly picnic spot in the Cotswolds somewhere. How very British.

Mr B found it exceptionally hard to return to London and normality on Monday. I did too (to normality, not London) but I suspect that was just from knackeredness – Getting home at midnight and playing musical beds with the children in the sweltering Travelodge room the previous night (to the tune of Mr Bs snores) did not make for a productive Monday. Also, I have been thinking a lot about our long term goals and what that involves – basically moving house. I hate moving.

Don’t get me wrong I really want to make the move, do the plan and all that it involves but I am struggling with the idea of leaving things behind. By ‘things’ I mean family, friends, our house, the area. Those sort of ‘things’. I worry what friends think when I talk about moving. Do they think I’m being callous and don’t care about our friendship? The reality is that I care a lot and it makes me sad. When we moved to our current house we had decided that this would be it. We would stay here until we were fed up of the place, outgrown it and ready to move to a ‘grown up’ house in the same village (what is a grown up house anyway? I dunno, somewhere with a fourth bedroom or a ‘drawing room’ maybe). Because of this I immediately started to put down roots, make ‘mummy’ friends and embed myself in village life. I did it very well and have made great friends who I love, I love the area and as a massive bonus my babysitters parents live in the neighbouring town. But now our plans have changed and while I am definitely on board with them, I have to tackle the thought of pulling up those roots that I purposefully sunk so deep. I am torn between the life I have here already and the future ‘what if’ life. I know that after a bit of time I will make friends and settle down in wherever it is we end up, but I am very settled here already. For Mr B, it’s a no-brainer – do the move, see his family more, build our own business, no commute. The poor thing has not had a chance to put roots down as London has leached away all his time. I will be leaving more behind than he is, but the one thing that I am missing in my settled life at the moment is him. To fix this, it is worth moving. It is not fair that he has to be the one making sacrifices all the time. But. I am sad about leaving all the ‘things’ behind.

Also I find it difficult to make new friends. I am shy and awkward and have always hated starting from scratch in new places like schools or towns. To be honest I almost cba* to do it all again. But I will, I’m not that antisocial!

My Mothers Day haul. Yes that does say ‘Nan’. And yes, the chocolates are empty. I rescued the box from the recycling to take the picture….

When I start thinking like this I have to give myself a shake and a stern talking to. Thinking rationally, Mr Bs’ reasons for wanting to make the move sooner than the five-year plan (that we are now almost a year into), make perfect sense; house prices rising, starting businesses sooner means more income sooner, while the kids are small is better, he’s fed up of London…Thinking rationally, what do I want from this move? I want Mr B happier, to see him more, for the kids to see him more, to run our own business from home (part of my elaborate plan to never have to go back to work…), countryside, doing the things I’d always daydreamed about but didn’t think would really happen. After all, it’s what we are saving for. All those are the things that make the move worth the emotional cost (which only I am paying, really). The catalyst for me moaning about all this is the fact that Mr B wants to bring the move forward (for the reasons set out above) so the five years that I thought I’d have to get used to the idea of moving have suddenly been condensed a little.

It has been useful to bash this out on the keyboard, as it is hard to get a chance to really talk to anyone about it, what with two tiddlers running about like lunatics wherever I go. Thank you for being the recipients of this catharsis. The thing is, I’m not going to let my fear of leaving swamp the chance we have to turn our lives into something we want. If life is nothing but a shout into the wind, we are going to make our shout count.

But still. I’ll miss my friends.

*Can’t be arsed: for those of you not familiar with tla’s**

**Three letter abbreviations.

Everything in Moderation (excludes cake)

Birthday Month was seen out by the boys second birthday. It was a bit of a wash-out to be honest as his sister had given herself a tummy bug by drinking swimming pool water, so was in quarantine from preschool. We were stuck inside and basically just watched TV all week. The boy’s birthday was a bit more frugal than his sisters as I’d managed a bit of forward planning and bought a couple of his presents second hand and in the January sales. That being said I went and spent a tenner on a stuffed dinosaur from Sainsbury’s simply because he found it in the toy isle and wouldn’t let it go. It was so funny watching him chase his sister with it up and down the isles (yes, I am that mother) that my will power completely crumbled. ‘He’ll love it forever!’ I thought. Now let’s watch as he never plays with it again because he is too busy with the plastic rubbish that came with a magazine…*

His second hand Facebook site present comes with its own cautionary tale by the way. The key word is scale. Ah perfect, I thought, a nice toy tractor just right for small hands. I’ll buy it for his birthday because I am super organised (it was November). Got a message back; would you like two more? Ok I thought, why not? Who doesn’t need three toy tractors? Mr B came back from collecting them with three of the biggest flipping tractors I have ever seen (that are actual toys rather than working farm machinery obvs…). SCALE. Very important. Ah well, at £3 each I suppose I’m just getting more for my money…?

What?! Its bigger than a dinosaur!!

Another fun thing about February is that the boy started Rugby Tots. For the uninitiated, it is a half hour session where two- and three-year-olds go mental in a sports hall with rugby balls, supposedly doing a series of exercises involving scoring trys, kicking and throwing. The two-year-old loves it, luckily, as we have signed him up to the eight week course and had to buy the uniform too. Not strictly a frugal thing really but then the four-year-old gets to do ballet and Mr. B. wanted to be involved as well (it’s at 8.30 on a Saturday morning…painful… we have since discovered that, like his mother, the boy child is definitely not a morning person). While the boys went to the inaugural Tots session a couple of weeks ago, the girls went swimming as the four-year-old was desperate to try out her new costume (yes, this was when she swallowed the pool water and poisoned herself). We were all back home before 10am and absolutely shattered. Have another seven weeks to go so bring on the coffee!

Spending money on things like Rugby Tots, swimming and ballet lessons is quite un-frugal, especially as kids classes tend to cost a bomb. There are obviously a lot cheaper things to do and giving two-year-olds rugby sessions isn’t really a necessity, he probably won’t remember going and didn’t ask for it in the first place. We signed him up because we  wanted him to do it. But as we have found out in the eight months of living frugally, this is the area we don’t mind spending money on. Everyone will have different ways of living frugally, and to be successful at it in the long term, it has to work for you. I am happy buying and cooking with supermarket own brands, using the car less to save petrol and avoiding the shops to remove myself from the temptation of shopping. Mr B takes in lunches to work, lets me cut his hair and goes for runs rather than to the gym. However, the area of our life where we want to spend money is family. Giving the kids opportunities and doing things as a family is what is important us. Our ultimate goal is to have more freedom to spend time together and that is what we are saving towards, so it makes sense that the things we want to spend money on are family orientated. Take holidays for example, technically a frugal no-no. But this year we are going GLAMPING! Under the guise of ‘research’ I persuaded Mr B to allow me to book us a couple of nights in a bell tent. I am SO EXCITED!! I’m sure the kids would be too if they understood. I have been wanting to go camping for about forever four years but have had to wait until the kids would enjoy it and not be annoying all the time. Well, this is The Year. I can’t wait anymore. Even if everyone else is miserable (impossible, camping is awesome) I will be loving it. And of course it is research, anyway.

A taste of whats to come!

The key thing is not to go overboard with whatever it is that you don’t want to cut back on. We don’t actively look for things to do on weekends that cost money just because we have given ourselves the green light to spend. Otherwise all the money you have worked hard to save in other areas of life just gets sucked into this new one. When something comes up that costs, we weigh up the benefits vs the expense. Rugby Tots is worth the cost in our opinion, because it will be good for the boy child to learn from it, Daddy gets to take him, and its good for the girl child to see that not everything has to involve her. Everything in moderation is my motto. Like I went for a moderate run this weekend and therefore can eat a moderate amount of cake during the week….Totally how it works.

*Update – He actually does love it! He calls it ‘grrr’ and shares his food with it and takes it to bed…*melts*