Get cheap nappies with the Amazon Family programme.

As every parent knows nappies are an expensive necessity. However with Amazon Family subscribe and save you can make some good savings especially if you have a prime membership.

up to 20% off monthly deliveries

With a prime membership, you save 20% when you subscribe to a monthly delivery of nappies, although you can cancel at any time so you can just get a one-0ff delivery if you want. This would also work if you do not want to pay the £79 annual cost for Amazon Prime as you can get a 30 day free trial. If you do not have a Prime Membership you can still get 5% off your nappies.

Is Amazon Prime combined with Amazon family worth it?

This all depends on your circumstances and what other benefits you are likely to use. Amazon Family is free to join and Amazon prime is £79 a year. So let’s work out how cheap this is.

A monthly pack of size 4 pampers baby dry contains 174 nappies and costs £20.23 on Amazon which equates to 11.6p per nappy. With a 20% discount this equates to £16.18 per pack  or 9.3p a nappy.

The current best supermarket price I can find is Tesco who are doing two 62 packs for £15. This equates to 12.1p per nappy. So the Amazon prime is saving you nearly 3p a nappy. If you buy one pack a month from Amazon you would get 2,088 nappies and save yourself £62.64 against the current best supermarket offer.

However, you have paid £79 for Amazon Prime so you’re actually worse off. This is the case if you don’t use any of the other prime services, but if you do then it could well be worth it. You also don’t need to keep trying to find the best deals at the supermarket and the nappies will be delivered for free.

Other Amazon Prime benefits

  • Free next day delivery on Amazon purchases with no minimum value. If you shop at Amazon a lot or are notorious for waiting till the last minute to buy presents then this could be a great benefit.
  • Unlimited streaming of 15,000 films and tv series. This service is similar to netflix so you could save quite a bit of money if you switched.
  • Free unlimited photo storage with anywhere access.
  • Borrow ebooks for free
  • If you also take the free Amazon family membership you get monthly discounts on baby and child related items. In the past they have included 20% of cot bedding and Fisher Price toys.

Would I recommend it

I  currently don’t have a prime membership as money is tight and as we have a Costco membership we can get nappies quite cheaply there. I also currently don’t have the time to watch many films, so the streaming isn’t worth it for me.

However, I have been a prime member in the past and found it really useful. It does feel strange when I now buy something on Amazon that I have to make sure that I reach £10 and even then I don’t know how long it will take to arrive.

We also used the Amazon family exclusive discounts a fair amount, but we now seem to have most things that we need and we don’t buy that many new toys/clothes or books for the children. When we do need something it’s often bought by grandparents and other family as they are often asking us for ideas of what they can get the children.

As mentioned above it’s your personal circumstances that will dictate whether this is right for you. I just wanted to make you aware that this service exists.

 

 

How to arrange a playdate

Although this article isn’t just about the issues stay at home dads have with arranging play dates I feel there are more difficulties for men in this regard. I was recently contacted by another stay at home dad asking if I had managed to arrange playdates for my daughters. I have managed to arrange some, but they’re mostly piggybacking on my wife’s friends from when she was on maternity leave.

The importance of playdates for toddlers

Playdates can be a very important developmental aid for toddlers. Especially those who do not go to nursery or attend toddler classes as it teaches important social skills such as sharing. It is also nice for the children to make friends they see on a regular basis. Even though it’s especially important for children who do not attend nursery and/or toddler classes I feel, it is also a good aid for children who do go to nursery and classes. This is because it teaches important social skills on a smaller scale than withing  a big group setting.

The two main issues for stay at home dads

  • The male – female dynamic: Most of the potential playdate options will be a child with their mother. It can be difficult for both the mum and the dad in this scenario to arrange a playdate. There is the potential for a request to be taken the wrong way and sometimes it just seems easier not to ask for the playdate. The mum will have plenty of other mums to ask, but the same can’t be said for the dad.
  • The delay in looking after the child: What I mean by this is that usually a stay at home dad takes over the child caring duties after his partner has finished their maternity leave. In a lot of cases this will be after a year. By this time most mums will already have made a circle of friends, so there is not really any need or incentive for them to add another person into the mix.

How to overcome these issues

  • The male – female dynamic: To avoid any confusion and embarrassment it’s a good idea to invite a group of mums at the same time. Maybe casually mention about meeting up sometime and just seeing what the reaction is. You will probably find it easier to at least arrange the first few dates in a group setting until you become more comfortable around each other. Another suggestion is to have the playdates in a public place rather than at someones house as they might feel uncomfortable with that. Soft plays are a great option for this.
  • The delay in looking after the child: This is a more difficult situation to overcome if you’ve already taken on the role. However if you’re in the planning stage I would recommend that you start piggybacking on your partners playdates. What I mean by this is arrange to go along to some playdates she has with her friends. Maybe specially arrange some playdates for the weekend  if you are working. In that case partners can come along as well. That way the mums get to know you and will accept you into their group. It also helps if their partners get to know you a little so they don’t see you as a potential threat. If you have already taken over the reins from your partner then it might be an idea to get her to arrange a weekend catch-up with some of her mummy friends so that you can meet them.

Conclusion

Whilst it is definitely more difficult for men to arrange playdates I feel it is worth making the effort to arrange them. I think the first time is the awkward, difficult time, but after that it should get better as the other parents realise it’s mainly about the children and not about them. Having said that whilst it is about the children it’s also important that the parents get on as well.

I’m going to try and follow my own advice and arrange a few more playdates, this is especially important once my wife goes back to work from maternity leave and I’ll be looking after two young children. It will be important for my sanity to get out of the house and have some adult conversation.

Your thoughts

I would be appreciative of any feedback and or comments about how you feel about playdates and how best to arrange them.

 

 

The Dad Network

 

How to raise bilingual children?

How to raise bilingual children is a question I really struggle with. I myself am bilingual having moved to England from Holland when I was a child. I attended primary school in England and secondary school in Holland, before coming to England to attend university. I have lived in England ever since.

 

I really would like to give my children the best start in life and being raised bilingually could really help in that.

My issues with raising my children bilingually:

  • My wife doesn’t speak Dutch: Although she has expressed an interest in learning it’s not an easy language and finding the time to teach her is very difficult. This also raises another issue. If I do teach my children Dutch they could speak it in front of my wife and she wouldn’t know what they were saying. I imagine two young children could get very mischievous with that.
  • Dutch isn’t the best second language to have: It’s not a world language like Spanish, Mandarin or even German and French. Although a second language can be a big advantage I’m just not sure how much of an advantage Dutch would be. We don’t have that many friends and family there and those that we do have speak good english.
  • My Dutch isn’t the best anymore: Although I was born in Holland and have been to school there I have lived in England so long now that my dutch isn’t that great anymore. I sometimes struggle to remember words and I definitely feel english is my mother tongue now. Therefore it doesn’t feel natural to me to be speaking Dutch and it is why I often forgot to speak it in front of my children.
  • Finding the time: We attend toddler groups or classes most days usually with friend and the conversations we have there are naturally in English.

 

I would still like to raise bilingual children

Despite all the issues mentioned above I would ideally want to raise bilingual children and teach my daughters Dutch. Below are some potential ideas

  • Read more Dutch books to my daughters, especially at bedtime.
  • Try and have dedicated Dutch times/days where I can teach both my daughters and my wife Dutch.
  • Let them watch some Dutch childrens programmes on youtube.

I would really appreciate any other ideas that anyone has. Being bilingual is a life skill and it would be a shame not to pass that on to my daughters.

17 easy ways to slash your grocery bills.

Being a parent usually means the income you are accustomed to suddenly changes drastically. Either one of the parents stays at home to look after the children or both parents work having to pay large nursery or child minding fees. Unless you are lucky enough to have an extended family member or friend look after the children at no cost.

It is therefore often necessary to look after the pennies once a baby arrives. Below I have listed a few ways in which you can try and cut your grocery bills.

  • Lidl half price weekend offers: A lot of news reports have highlighted the rise of the discount chains Lidl and Aldi. They are definitely a place where you can save on your weekly shopping. However did you know that Lidl also do half price weekly offers where they have three or four products half price. They are often really good deals. This weekend for example they have a 200g bar of premium chocolate for 49p, Kiwis for 12p and 100g of Grano Pandano cheese for 59p. Now these deals might not be your cup of tea, but it is always worth checking out what the weekend offers are going to be just in case they’re something you buy on a regular basis. You can find the deals on the Lidl Website or you can download their app.
  • Aldi super six: Again just like Lidl, Aldi is a discounter where you can save on your weekly shopping compared to the bigger supermarkets. However you have to remember that it is pretty much all own brand food. Whilst a lot of it is just as or nearly as good as branded food, other things in my opinion aren’t so it would be trial and error to see which staples you can replace. They do however have a weekly fruit and veg offer called super 6. This is where they offer 6 fruits and/or vegetables at great prices. This week for example the best deal they have is blueberries at 69p for 125g(£5.52 per kg), the current cheapest per kg price for fresh blueberries at Tesco is £12 per kg. You can find the Super six deals on the Aldi website or with their app.
  • Freezer fruits and vegetables: That lead me nicely on to my next point. The cost and convenience of freezer fruits and vegetables. Not only are they often much cheaper, there is less chance of wastage. In the Aldi section above, I mentioned that the cheapest fresh blueberries at Tesco worked out at £12 per kg. Well the cheapest frozen blueberries at Tesco are £5.72per kg, which is less than half price. Other examples are Broccoli(fresh £1.40 per kg/frozen £0.99 per kg), Green Beans(fresh £4.42 per kg/frozen £1.12 per kg) and sprouts(fresh £2 per kg and frozen £1 per kg). Of course there are seasonal variations in the cost of fresh vegetables so the difference will change as well. Additionally they will often save peeling and preparation time.
  • Approved food: Approved food is an online retailer of goods that are often near their best before date or which have just passed it. The majority of the time there is absolutely no difference in taste if an item is slightly over it’s best before date. The savings that you can make can be big, although you do have to buy a reasonable amount due to the delivery fee. The delivery charge is based on weight, up to 25kg is £5.99 so it is wise to mainly go for lighter purchases. Stock availability changes regularly and they also do special daily deals so every time you go on it they can be different. For example, as I’m writing this, they have; Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Recipe Mix 40g at 5 for £1 (best before 20th Feb). the rrp is £1.30 each so that is a saving of over 80%. They also have 5 x Hellmans extra hot 450g tomato ketchup best before 20th of Dec 2014 for £1, compared to an rrp of £1.29 each. Again this is a saving of over 80%.
  • Go vegetarian: I myself am an avid meat eater, but it is a lot more expensive. As we’re on a budget we are trying to have two to three vegetarian meals a week. For example this could be a vegetarian stir fry, pasta dish or curry. This does make a big difference in the amount we spend and the dishes we make are still really tasty.
  • Use cheaper cuts of meat: On the days that we do eat meat we try and go for the cheaper cuts. These are often cuts that need to be cooked longer at a low heat. This is perfect for stews and casseroles in the winter. A slow cooker is great for this as you put the food on in the morning and it’s ready for dinner time. Using a slow cooker for eight hours is also cheaper to run than an electric oven for one hour.
  • Discount Stores: I’m thinking of the likes of B&M, HomeBargains, Poundstretcher, etc. These places often have really good deals and a bit like Approved Food it sort of depends what they’ve been able to buy in bulk, for whatever reason. It could be cheap chocolate after Valentine’s Day, sweets after Halloween or sometimes it’s just nearing the best before date. I have had some great bargains from these kinds of shops before, however I would not make a special trip, but if you’re passing one it’s worth just popping in and checking out what they’ve got on the day.
  • Buy cheaper products: What I mean by this is you should try out a lower priced alternative to what you normally buy. If you buy branded products try a supermarket own brand. If you buy a standard supermarket brand, try the value range. Sometimes you’ll find that the cheaper alternative tastes just as good, other times you’ll never want to buy the cheaper alternative again. However if you can substitute just a part of your annual spend to a cheaper alternative it could mean big savings in the long run.
  • Compare supermarket prices: Mysupermarket is a website whereby you can input a basket of goods and it will tell you what the cheapest supermarket is for that basket. When you are in need of just one specific item do you just go to your normal supermarket or do you walk into every supermarket to see if it’s on offer? With Supermarket Special Offers you just type in what you are looking for and they will let you know which supermarkets have got it on sale. So if you’re like us and there are 3 or 4 different supermarket brands with a similar journey time you can go to the one that has the offer on that specific item.
  • Look for reduced items: Most supermarkets have a reduced section. This usually consists of food that has a sell by or use by date of the day you buy it. It can be a good way of getting a discount. With luck it will be something you were going to buy and use that day anyway. Otherwise you could change your meal plan for that day. In the case of most fruits and vegetables they are often fine even after the sell by date. However with meat and fish I would take great care and use it on the same day or freeze it. In addition some supermarkets have a reduced section for long shelf life goods. Perhaps some cans that have been damaged, or they are products that they are not going to stock anymore. In these cases you can pick up items you need at a cheaper price.
  • Coupons: Coupons can also be a good way of reducing your bills especially if they are on things you would buy anyway. Good places to find coupons are inside free supermarket magazines or on a product for when you buy the product again. I recall when Nando’s had a £1 off the next purchase and Tesco had them at half price so they cost £1. In effect you kept getting a bottle free every time you bought one. You can also get coupons by joining online clubs such as the Cow and Gate Club, Pampers and Heinz. There is also a phenomenon called extreme couponing where you can find lots of coupons to use. Should you have the time and patience then you might want to check out these blogs extreme couponing  and http://www.ukcouponing.co.uk/.
  • Online initial deals: Most supermarkets give you a good discount code when you place the first online order with them. So you could save a bit of money by doing this with a few of them. I have written an earlier blog post about that here.
  • Receipt photography: This one might seem a bit strange at first but cashback sites Topcashback and Quidco both offer a service whereby you get cash back on your shopping if you buy certain products. You just need to send them a photo of the receipt as proof. At Topcashback it is called Snap and Save and current offers include 20p cashback when you buy Hovis soft white bread, 40p of Nutella and 50p of Special K. At Quidco the offering is called Click Snap and currently it includes 25p off any Aldi or Lidl shop, 15p cashback when you buy Cadbury’s fingers and 20p off Onken yoghurt. If you’re signed up to either of these services, it’s always worth signing up to at least one of them for cash back on most of your online shopping. It’s then worth checking even after you’ve been to the shops. You never know you might have bought something for which you can get some cash back just by submitting a photo of the receipt.
  • Packed lunches: Making packed lunches is another good way of saving money. Whenever we go out with the children, we always make sure to take a lunch with us as this is so much cheaper than eating out or even buying a sandwich. Someone who spends just £3 a day on a packed lunch will, if they buy it five days a week for 48 weeks, spend £720 just on their lunch. Home made lunches will come in at just a fraction of this.
  • Use freezer when stuff is cheap: When there are good deals on freezable food then it is always worth buying some extra and freezing it. For example, near Easter time Asda were doing leg of lamb for under £5 a kg. This was very good value so we bought a few to freeze for special occasions. You just need to have some discipline and remember what you have frozen and use it in a first in first out system so you don’t end up with food that has been sitting in your freezer for years.
  • Cook in bulk: Another good thing to do is to cook in bulk and then have the same meal a few times in the week or again freeze some of it. Not only can this save money it can also save a lot of time. It’s a lot quicker to cook a double batch of one meal than to cook two separate meals.
  • Go to the local market: This is one that I haven’t really tried myself yet, but a lot of people say that the food at local markets is a lot cheaper than in the big supermarkets. It is definitely something that I will try and check out for myself.

 

Conclusion:

Since we’ve had our daughters it has been imperative that we try and keep our outgoings down as much as possible. We have used each of the above ways to trim our grocery spending.  I understand that following each of these ideas might be a bit extreme, but hopefully you’ve discovered one or two new ideas that will help you reduce your outgoings somewhat. I would also love to hear any other money saving ideas that you might have.

The Dad Network
Mums' Days

Are your children wearing the right shoes?

Last summer my wife and I were having a discussion about the proper footwear for our daughter. My opinion was that it was fine for her to be barefoot in the park, but my wife believed she needed to wear shoes. My wife was worried about her getting splinters, cuts or dog dirt, which is understandable as there could be anything hidden in the grass.

Compromise

Getting on my high horse thinking I was right I did a google search for barefoot or shoes for babies. I came upon an article in the Guardian that suggested being barefoot was best, but that you can now get barefoot shoes, which aim to give you the best of both worlds. Having done some more research we found that one particular brand, Bobux had some stockists fairly locally so we could try them out.

Sizing

Just before we decided on a barefoot shoes we were looking at Clarks shoes and went to a Clarks store to get our daughters feet measured.  The first store said she was  a size 4F, but didn’t have the size we needed. Within a week we went to another Clarks store and they said she was a 3.5F. Seeking a third opinion we went to a Brantano store and they said she was a 4.5G. We were a bit cynical of the last place as we were looking at size 4 shoes that were in the sale and were advised they would be too small, even though they felt fine to us. However the fact remains that within a week we got told our daughter was three different shoe sizes. I would therefore recommend that you take care when accepting the sizing that you are given. Even in a leading shoe store like Clarks. The size they give you can be an indication, but I would always go with what your own feeling is when your child tries them on.

When we tried out the Bobux shoes we were really impressed with the look and feel. However we decided that we would decide for ourselves what the right size was based on how far from the end of the shoe her toe was. Unfortunately they didn’t have the style we wanted in the size that we needed. Luckily you can buy Bobux shoes from various places online. Bobux themselves have a website and they are also available on Amazon. We therefore bought our shoes online as the store where we tried them on didn’t get back to us about getting the right size in stock.

Reaction

My Daughter was really excited when her shoes arrived and wanted to put them on straight away. She loves her Bobux shoes, she’s always really keen to put them on and she walks really well in them. I can’t tell if they are indeed better for her feet than say Clarks would be. However the research does suggest that they are. All I know is my daughter finds them comfortable to walk in, they are great quality and I feel I’m giving my daughter the best of both worlds. A barefoot feeling, but with no chance of cuts and splinters.

 

Pop Up vs Mix and Match a Mr Croc showdown.

My Daughter absolutely loves the Mr Croc range of books and having heard this Jo Lodge, the author of the Mr croc range of books kindly sent us two Mr Croc books. The first Happy Birthday Mr Croc is a traditional pop-up book. The second Flip, Flap Mr Croc is a mix and match book. Below I will give a short review of each and compare the two to see which is our favourite.

 


Happy Birthday Mr Croc: As already mentioned Happy Birthday Mr Croc is a pop-up book similar to the Mr Croc books we already had, Ready or not Mr Croc and Ready to Rock Mr Croc. As such my daughter absolutely loves this book as it’s got a very similar feel to it. The pop-ups are more varied than in the other two Mr Croc books. With door openings as well as tabs that you need to pull. I did spot what is in my opinion a minor flaw in this book. It’s on a page where Mr Croc is playing hide and seek. The tab is meant to pull down to uncover his eyes. Unfortunately his hands never cover his eyes in the first place. So you’re just pulling his hands slightly further away from his eyes. It could be that children don’t really understand what he is doing. Having said that my daughter gets so engrossed in the book that she doesn’t really notice. Her favourite page is where Mr Croc is dancing. I have to keep pulling and pushing the tab, whilst she imitates music. She really loves that. All in all I think it’s a very good book.


Flip, Flap Mr Croc: This book is totally different to all the other Mr Croc books that my daughter has read. Whilst the artwork is all the same the style of book is totally different. Instead of this book being a pop-up book it is a mix and match book. This means that each page is split into three sections. A head section a body section and a foot section. You can therefore turn different parts of the pages at different times. What this lets you do is create different and funny looks for Mr Croc. In the book Mr Croc is dressed in various outfits, ranging from snorkler and pirate to clown and cowboy. It’s educational in the sense that each section tells you a bit about what you see. The snorkle page for example tells you he’s wearing a snorkle and mask, he has a spotty ring and he has pink flippers. So it teaches colours and shapes etc. what it also allows you to do is create your own silly outfits. for example you can have Mr Croc wearing a cowboy hat, waving a toy sword and treasure map with pink flippers on his feet. I think this is really fun. Although I think my daughter is not yet at the age where she really enjoys doing it yet. She does like looking at the pictures and pointing out things, but she doesn’t really make up her own Mr Crocs yet. Having said that i think it’s a very good idea and hopefully she’ll like mixing and matching soon.

Conclusion

In my opinion both books are worth getting. however if you had to choose one I think it would depend if you had any Mr Croc books already. If you have mr croc pop-up books already I would consider getting Flip, Flap Mr Croc as it’s a different style and has a different engagement. However if you don’t have any Mr croc books yet I would get Happy Birthday Mr Croc as it’s more of a classic book that my daughter absolutely loves.

Both books are available on amazon.