It feels like forever since I was last able to have a few minutes to get on here. I wanted to share a little about our family plans going forward. We made some big decisions about me leaving work to stay home and care for the kids, especially as our youngest is struggling at the moment. He was diagnosed formally this month with Aspergers, aside from that his behaviour has become a lot mroe challenging of late, which has forced us to reevaluate how we help him in the future. Especially as he starts school in September, which he is already hyper about.
With working, appointments and school transitions I literally haven’t stopped for the last few months. Little wonder my body has decided to fight back with laryngitis this week. It has forced me to stop and be quiet for a few days. Which is hard when you are used to talking all the time. It has made me be still, to contemplate the future, consider options going forward for our family that perhaps I wouldn’t have looked at had I not been forced to just ‘be’ for a few days.
The laundry got done, the shopping list got digitised, and I got my mojo back as a Mama. Which basically means I stopped all the ‘secret snacking’ from depleting the lunch box stock, organised my teen and brought my feral pre-schooler back into some assemblance of routine. I made sure everyone ate at a decent time, instead of waiting for me to get home at 7pm. It has felt so good to be at home doing what I do best, which is looking after my family.
The decision for me to leave the employment world and return to being a stay at home mum was not an easy one, but to be honest having had these past few days I am so glad we pushed in and took the step in faith. We can have the boys down to visit, I can take care of the home, I can make the most of our Nation Trust membership and I can ease the load on my husband with making sure home is taken care of.
Sure it means some things will have to be cut back on; our Virgin bundle was the first thing to get the chop, not that we watched most of the channels we were paying for anyway as Netflix or YouTube was usually on! We have been watching every penny that goes out, making sure we use our money wisely instead of just spending it. We have learnt that Mr J is way better at saving money on the weekly grocery shop than I am, mainly because he follows the list completely whilst I have a roaming eye that is easily enticed by good ‘deals’. On the other hand I am much better and managing the rest of the bills and keeping on top of everything. Last month we were able to pay off a couple of our debts and start saving for the first time in our married life! There are a few more debts to repay but if we keep to the minimum and continue to live within our means I am confident we can get those paid in the near future too.
One thing we have found that has helped us prepare for the loss of my wages going forward was a self-imposed spending ban throughout July. We decided to withdraw a set amount of cash to cover food and fuel for the cars each week. If we go food shopping, with a list and calculator, and find we don’t have enough to cover the trolley then something is going back on the shelf! If there are pennies left over, they are going into savings for the end of the month in the hope we can pay it off towards our last little bit of debt or perhaps even towards holiday spends. We haven’t made a unanimous decision on that yet as it’ll mostly depend on how much we actually save.
We are eating the contents of the fridge, freezer and cupboards in a bid to reduce the amount we actually need to buy and the amount of waste we produce. So dinners are being bagged, tagged and frozen for any lean weeks we experience. The kids at the very least will not go hungry and beans on toast is a pretty nutritionally balanced meal if you add a sprinkle of cheese to it!
We are being creative with our meal planning, making sure the majority of meals are simple and low on ingredients. Spag Bol dinner the other night provided 4 freezer dinners for the kids later on in the month, and cost less than £4 in total – that’s for the whole meal plus leftovers not per head, which is pretty good in my books. Chilli con carne, bangers and mash, breakfast for dinner, homemade fish and chips, the list goes on and thankfully I have enough meals in my repertoire to keep us going for ages!
We are not fooling ourselves into thinking this is going to be an easy ride, and that we have it all figured out. We know there are many variables that need to be factored in as we go forward into the rest of the year. Our family holiday is at the end of August, there are school uniforms to get and several birthdays, all leading up to Christmas. It may be a simple one this year, it may not. The fact is we can only make our plans and then wait and see what happens.
In the meantime I am going to learn to stop, breathe and rest.