How I use my bullet journal to get my parenting shit together!

You may have been a queen at organisation before you had kids… HA! How is that working out for you now, hmmmmmm?

Like it or not, actually trying to organise your time effectively isn’t going to be easy peasy. For someone like me, who plans out every second of my life so as to suck out the chance of fun and spontaneity (because I am well and truly a fun sucker), this inability to do anything really ground me down.

However, I have a solution, and I am sharing it with you all. It’s my Bullet Journal. I actually love this thing, possible more than my child.

Here are 5 ways my bullet journal has made me get my shit together…

1. Shopping lists

Look, I know this is incredibly anal of me, but I made lists of what I can buy cheapest where. Yes, it took a lot of time, and yes, it was totally worth it. I try not to shop at Tesco (even though it’s most convenient, literally being at the end of my road), and if I’m able to, I shop around and check special offers on http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk

If you can make out my tiny writing and you have these shops near you, feel free to use the list next time you go!

Obviously there’s not every single item on these lists………. THAT would be ridiculous…. ha

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Tesco now sells custard creams the cheapest – 36p a pack. Priorities.

2. Money saving

This is my newest spread (that’s what you call a page in the BuJo lingo, I’m so down with the kids) and I frigging love it. Can you tell what my weaknesses are?
I am going to hit my 30 days “spend free” – it’s not really spend free as I obviously have to buy food and shit to feed my kid, but it’s no spending on anything non-essential. I’ve got days out planned for weekends that are totally free, or if not, dirt cheap. For example, today I went to a local RSPCA centre with Olivia, saw the kittens, dogs, horses, and ducks and had a home made picnic, and all it cost me was probably a couple of quid in fuel and a small donation on entry (and yes, I am having to be stingy, so it really was small! – I’ll make it up to them in a few months’ time).

I am going to be the most frugal mum on the planet if it kills me! I’m fighting all of my instincts to do this and I neeeeeeeeeeeed to stick it out for at least a month or our Christmas is ruined… awkward.

3. Future planning

Anyone like Back to the Future? Do you see what I did there? I’ve literally just completed this spread and I’m feeling all pleased with my artistic prowess (that completely totally doesn’t actually exist but let me pretend for like an hour, okay?).

4. Setting goals

I completed this spread on New Year’s Day, and it has served me well! I followed it up with a 6 month progress spread to see how I felt I’d improved and in which areas of my life…

BUT I won’t be doing this one again. I’ve found myself tracking things I don’t need to track – i.e. spirituality! That’s what happens when you use a template. I definitely will use a similar style to do monthly goals in the future, hopefully utilising some of my CBT techniques!

5. Habit tracking

This was my first tracker of the year, and it worked and it didn’t work. For a start, I was tracking too many things, and I was still insanely busy at the beginning of this year. Now, in line with my money saving agenda, I’m tracking a couple of things. No spend is a continuous one, as are the amount of grocery trips, and then there’s things like blog posts or social media.

You can use this tool to track what cleaning and household tasks you’ve done and how often, or even get the kids to do their own to track their chores and make it a bit more fun… If you think stationery and colouring in little squares is fun… Which I do… Don’t judge me!
It’s such a versatile option and it really does help me get my parenting shit together!
What do you use to get your shit together? 🙂

7 Top Tips for Shopping with Food Allergies

My son was 5 months old when we finally established that the reason for his slow weight gain, reflux, explosive nappies, wheezing and general discomfort was CMPA – Cows’ Milk Protein Allergy.

As we were just about to  embark on weaning we had to learn to shop for allergies pretty quickly, and by this point my maternity pay had stopped so we had to do it on a budget. One stroll down the “free from” aisle in any supermarket will tell you that allergy shopping can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, so here are my top tips for allergy shopping:

1. Plan meals around things that don’t usually contain your allergen(s)

It might seem obvious but sometimes its hard to see past ‘replacement’ items and look at what is already available to you. For us there are a lot of things that are fine to eat without changing anything. Pasta, noodles, rice, bread and potatoes are usually all dairy free as are fresh fruit and veg and meats. for people with a gluten allergy there is still rice, potatoes and rice noodles before you have to start looking at ‘free from’ alternatives.

2.  Search for vegan recipes rather than “dairy free” or “egg free”

Veganism is growing in popularity fast, there are a huge amount of vegan recipes out there that you can make as they are or add whatever you like. Dairy free and egg free are a little more niche when it comes to cooking blogs and videos. Having a good selection of meal ideas is going to make your planning and shopping easier and cheaper.

3. Swerve the free from aisle and look at value products.

My favourite example is garlic bread. In Tesco they sell a free from garlic baguette for £2.50 and an Everyday Value garlic baguette for 35p. Both are dairy free. Asda’s own brand mince pies are 89p and vegan so dairy and egg free and Lidl ‘Simply’ white loaf is the unicorn of breads – it is dairy free like most bread but also contains no soya flour. **Correct at the date of my last shop in each supermarket**

4. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read the label.

Sometimes they sneak milk products into the funniest of places, like the sliced sandwich chicken in ASDA or Bernard Matthews Turkey slices with added milk proteins. Even if you’ve had something before, check again because recipes change.

Don’t just check the ingredients though, the allergy advice below can be important. A lot of products in Sainsbury’s and ASDA have the phrase “not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods”. This basically means that there is a very high chance of cross contamination with milk products.

5. Get your chocolate fix on the cheap

There are free from chocolate options available but normal dark chocolate is often dairy free and a fraction of the cost. Instant hot chocolate powders contain milk but Cadbury Drinking Chocolate has a dairy free recipe (it says may contain traces which can be fine in some families) so pop some of that in a cup of oat milk and have a creamy hot chocolate.  Bourbon biscuits, for the most part, are also dairy free but that can vary massively from brand to brand so check the packet!

6. Shop around

Alternative milks are perhaps one of the unavoidable free from products. We like oat milk best of all and that can come with a pretty hefty price tag. ASDA is usually the cheapest for fortified Oatly and Morrisons for Oatly Barista when we can get to one. Sometimes they come up on offer on Amazon or  other online retailers so its worth checking around from time to time and stocking up when you find your milk at a good price. Recently, Alpro Hazelnut milk was on 3 for £3 so I stocked up on that for myself and let my son keep drinking our more pricey oat milk stash.

7. Find other allergy families

The best source of information, recipes and bargain tip offs is other people with allergies. I’m in several Facebook support groups and when there’s an offer on they always let us know. They will share their experiences with certain products and let us know if they are worth buying or whether to give them a miss.  I also have some local friends whose children have allergies and it can be much easier to have lunch dates with them because their food will either be safe to share or they will understand the importance of the children not sharing.

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