The first generation to be worse of than their parents, not if I can help it.

University fees are rising, houses are becoming unaffordable and the next generation is likely to be the first to be worse of than their parents. So what can we do,  as parents, to help our children and enable them to have opportunities in the future.

My wife and myself have decided that we want to try and build a savings pot for each of our girls. We’ve done this by opening a regular savings account with Halifax which pays 4.5% interest loans.  After a year the money is transferred into a Halifax children’s savings account paying 2%. We have standing orders in place to save into the regular saver account every month.

In addition to our regular savings contributions the girls grandparents will usually give money to add to the savings account for Christmas and birthdays. They think the children have enough and get enough toys as it is and they’d rather them have something to look forward to in the future.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the relatively low interest rate of 2% on the savings account. Now they’ve built up a decent sum of money and because we don’t want them to access it till they are in their late teens at the earliest I’m wondering whether the stock market would be a better place to put the money.

Whilst this is a more risky strategy,  the length of time we would be looking to invest should mitigate that risk. Historically over this time period the stock market performs a lot better than savings accounts. This could enable them to have a much greater savings pot in the future.

I need to do more research on the various options and discuss with my wife, but one thing is for sure, when they grow up and become independent  I want them to have the best start they could possibly have.

I’d be interested in finding out how other people are saving for their children’s future.

 

 

 

 

Going to the cinema with young children, great films at great prices.

So over the cold, wet winter months, we’ve started taking our daughters to the cinema at the weekend for special children’s screenings of big movies. Usually a few months after they first get released.

Previously we’ve always been worried that our three year old wouldn’t have the patience to sit still through an entire movie, but at £3 a ticket it was worth trying. She and her five year old sister both really enjoyed it. So far we’ve seen Despicable me 3, the re-release of frozen, with Olaf’s christmas adventure and Paddington 2. All the films were great fun and at £12 for a family it’s a cheap morning out.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the films that they are showing and how close they have been added as a kids movie to their actual release date. I believe the current film doing the rounds is Ferdinand and that was only in the cinemas just before christmas.

The children love going as it’s a different experience for them than watching a film at home and they love getting popcorn and other treat (we usually sneak them in from the supermarket).

If you want to see what children’s films are showing at your local cinema then you can use the following links. These films are usually shown at around 10am at the weekend, but they also often have showings during school holidays.

I would definitely recommend the cinema as a great day out on a cold, wet weekend morning.

 

 

 

Back after a long break

Looking after a 5 year old and 3 year old has been extremely hard work over the last three years. Especially as the 3 year old stopped napping at about 12 months and is like the duracell bunny. She just keeps on going, full of energy day after day. Now the eldest is at school and the youngest at pre-school three mornings a week I have a little more time. However there are so many DIY jobs that have been neglected that these are keeping me busy. Also just finding the time to do homework with the eldest is challenging when the youngest is constantly wanting to get involved.

I do feel it’s time to put some effort back into this blog though as it helps to write things down and be creative. So in the last year or two we’ve been busy doing lots of outings to Whipsnade Zoo as we have an annual pass there. We’ve also got an  Merlin annual pass which has been really great and I will probably post a separate post about the different things we have done with it so far.

As well as the normal days out we have enjoyed numerous holidays. The girls went on a plane for the first time last year to an all inclusive stay in Turkey and really enjoyed it. Another firm favourite has been Center parcs vossemeren where we must have been 4 or 5 times. This is due to the fact that my parents only live about 45 minutes from their and it is a lot more family friendly than their house. It is also a lot cheaper than a center parcs in the uk even if you include the Ferry. We usually take the ferry to Calais going there and then the night ferry to Hull from either Rotterdam or Zeebrugge coming back. This splits the journey up so it’s not two full days travelling and the girls really enjoy eating dinner and sleeping on the ferry.

We have also been lucky to have found two great deals to Disneyland Paris. One was in the the summer of 2016 and the other was just before christmas last year, both times were really magical.

I’m hoping to share some tips on these days out and holidays in separate blog posts. For now it’s just good to be back writing again after such a long break.

From bed back to cot- regression and what to do?

Bedtime has been eventful in the last week or two in our household. We took the sides of our eldest daughters cot and transformed it into a bed.

She really loved it at first and settled and fell asleep really quickly. However, she unfortunately learnt how to open doors shortly after that. Since then she has getting out of bed and out of her room constantly. She would not even stay in her bed for more than thirty seconds. We have asked her if she wanted us to put the sides back up and surprisingly she said yes.

I put them up today and so far so good. There was not too much moaning at bedtime and she settled really quickly. I’m really hoping we can take them down again soon as my wife and I did like being able to read and sing to her whilst she was snuggled up in bed. Now we have to do her bedtime routine on her rug and then lift her into the cot at the last minute. It seems like a bit of a regression.

With a bit of luck she will realise what she is missing and ask for her big girls bed back and actually stay in it to fall asleep.

Have other people dealt with regression like this before? How did you deal with it?

Time without the children, time to chop down a tree.

So this week my wife has taken both children out for the day twice. This is a first for either of us and has given her a lot of self confidence which is good. I haven’t managed to take a trip out on my own with both my daughters yet as the youngest is exclusively breastfed and is still unpredictable with timings of her feeds. However, I was quite happy to get on with some task that have been out on the backburner.

Time to get out the chainsaw!

With this free time I have been able to do a lot of gardening which has been necessary for quite a while. This includes cutting down a pretty large sycamore. It felt rewarding to get the chainsaw out and cut down the sycamore which had been blocking light from an old oak tree.

It was hard work, but it felt really good being able to do something without having to worry about rushing in to attend to one of the children. I think my wife also really enjoyed her alone time with the children and will hopefully have gained some confidence to take them both out in future.

Especially as there is a big list of jobs that need doing, that will be difficult to do whilst looking after children.

  • Dig up a flower bed and plant it
  • Lay a patio
  • Protect and stain 2 garden sheds
  • Put a new felt roof on one of the sheds
  • Clear, chop and chip the wood from the sycamore tree
  • Check the guttering
  • Strip and re-varnish the exterior window frames

And this list is just for outside!!! my wife might have to take them away for a month or two to let me finish this list and get all the interior jobs done.

 

 

Toddlers have half term too!

Do you think half term is only for school aged children? If you do think again. Half term has a major impact on my two year old and five month old.

 

Impact

For our own sanity we try and get out of the house as much as possible so toddler groups and classes are a real godsend. However at half term the majority of them don’t seem to be running. This means that you have to entertain your children in other ways. That’s not easy though.

We went for our weekly swim last Monday and the swimming pool was really busy with older children. There was lots of splashing from the older children, who often didn’t look where they were swimming. This meant that we were often getting bumped or having to take avoiding action. In addition there is a real scramble for the changing rooms with a baby changing unit as older families use them as well. All in all this means the experience is not as relaxing as it normally is. I imagine the same goes for other activities which will also be busier than during term time.

Our solution

Our solution was to pack our bags drive 180 miles and visit some family and friends. We did this on the Tuesday and thankfully we had an excellent drive up both girls were either asleep or passive enough not to stop so the journey was very good. We had enough time to get unpacked, settle in and let our eldest get over the excitement before it was time for bed.

The next day we had arranged to meet friends at Gulliver’s world in Warrington. I did a detailed review here, but suffice to say our eldest daughter loved it and even today a full five days later still talks about the ladybird ride that she went on. The next few days involved seeing family and going with them to a garden centre with aquarium when it was raining, and visiting Tam O’Shanters farm when it wasn’t. At Tam O’Shanters my eldest daughter got to stroke an owl which she really loved. Other activities included house visits to friends and family and getting windswept on the beach.  The days were really jam packed and fun, with family taking a bit of the pressure off having to constantly entertain a two year old and five month old.

The children not being in school gives you a little more flexibility with regards to travelling. For example we decided to travel back today, on a Monday, when children were already back at school to avoid the traffic. If we had had to travel back on a Sunday the traffic would have been chaotic and we wouldn’t have had such an easy trip.

We left this morning and to tire out my eldest daughter, as well as to give mummy and daddy time to pack the car in peace, she went on a bus ride to the local beach with family. She really enjoyed it and it definitely did the job as she was asleep soon after we left. Again the journey was really good. Our youngest slept the whole way and although our eldest did wake up about an hour from home she wasn’t that restless that we needed to stop so we managed to get home at a decent time.

 

Upcoming holidays

Both my wife and myself think this past week has been a huge success. Our eldest daughter hasn’t been missing her classes as there has been so many other things going on. She has had plenty of distractions without taking up all of our time. We have already planned to visit family and friends again at Easter time. Hopefully that will be just as successful. I’m not sure we will be wanting to go away every holiday, but probably we would for a good portion of them. Alternatively it might also be worth timing relatives trips to see us around school holidays so that there is an extra distraction for the girls.

I also think late spring and summer holidays will be different anyway as there are a lot more outdoor activities that we can do and we don’t feel like we have to be cooped up in the house or having to drive to expensive soft plays and theme parks.

All in all I do think that doing something different like taking a trip to see family and friends during school holidays is a great idea. .