Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Top Tips for Money Saving Mummies



My Mummy's Pennies is four years old today! That's four whole years that I've been tapping away at the laptop sharing money saving tips, reviews, competitions, offers, photography and snapshots of our family fun together. Over that time I've gone from being a new mum on maternity leave to being the main bread winner of the family and now a working mum with a bit more of a work / life balance. 

The back bone of this blog is always going to be about getting more from your hard earned pennies even if the posts are a lot more varied these days. My Mummy's Pennies has grown from being just a blog to becoming a social media community. Often really good deals and offers can be short lived so I find it easiest to share them over on twitter and on the facebook page and money saving group.

When you become a parent, immediately your finances become stretched. You are likely to have a reduction in your income while you‘re on maternity leave and may decide to go back to work part time or stay at home with your children. In addition to this you have an extra little person to feed, cloth and entertain.

For many people this can be the first time in their life that they have had to start to pinch the pennies (apart from those years living off noodles on toast at university, maybe!) It can be a shock to the system, but if you shop smart you will find that you can still live a luxurious lifestyle without breaking the bank (Well as luxurious as you can get while covered in breast milk and pureed carrots with a handbag full of nappies and LEGO…)

Here I wanted to share my top five tips for penny pinching Mummies…


Buy Pre-loved


There was a time when there was a stigma attached to buying second hand but these days where vintage and upcycled goods are in fashion and Kirsty Allsopp champions thriftiness in her hit show ‘Fill your house for Free’ it couldn’t be more on trend! The Equipment you need for babies and children really mounts up and you can save hundreds of pounds by checking out local selling sites on facebook, ebay, gumtree or even freecycle! If you can pick up from the seller you often get and even better deal!

Charity shops and Car Boot sales are and ideal place for find toys books and children’s clothes too. Remember there are some things that should bought new for safety reasons such as cot mattresses and child car seats but for everything else shop around! One of my favourite pre loved bargains was my son’s Mama’s and Papa’s pram, it was a hi spec pushchair from one of the most popular nursery stores in the UK and had only been used for a few months so was in immaculate condition. I was able to pick it up locally and only paid £30. A huge saving on what I would have paid on the High Street!

Keep a coupon folder


Do you read magazines? Newspapers? Or even just get leaflets through your door? If you look a little closer you will find that most of these publications will contain coupons and money off vouchers. I’ve got myself in to a habit of cutting them out and keeping them all in a cardboard folder even if it’s not something that I would usually buy. It may be good to try something new or someone else may be able to use them. Also add to this any vouchers that you are given at the supermarket till such as price match or money off your next purchase. I take a few minutes each week to sort through and get rid of any expired vouchers.

It’s not just paper coupons! For all the vouchers available online why not set up a coupon folder in your email account, pop in all the money off and voucher coder emails you receive. You never know when you may need to make a quick purchase for a last minute birthday gift or replace a broken appliance and you’ll have them all to hand!

Collect Loyalty Points


Loyalty points are great aren’t they? You do your usual shopping, buying food for your family and fuel for your car and the points mount up ready to knock pennies off your next lot of shopping! Make sure you sign up for loyalty cards for everywhere you shop, Nectar, Clubcard and Boots are some of the best and connect them up to your debit card or credit card if you can to earn even more!

A lot of loyalty point schemes offer ‘double ups’ at certain times of year or even 3 or 4 times their value when you use them to buy cinema tickets or exchange for restaurant vouchers or even breaks away!

I save up all my Clubcard points and exchange for cinema tickets and meal vouchers every 6 months or so. This way my husband and I get a date night out for just the cost of drinks!

Time your Shopping


This isn’t always practical when you have small children but the timing of when you go shopping can be a major factor in what you pay. If you still prefer to do your grocery shopping in person rather than online, find out when your local supermarket starts to reduce fresh produce (usually in the evenings) I’ve been able to halve the cost of my weekly shops by ensuring that I get my fresh vegetable from the supermarket on a Sunday afternoon just before they close I also find around 8pm is a great time to check out the reduced to clear fridges. I regularly get vegetables for as little as 9p and have had a whole fresh chicken for just 30p before!

Get Paid for Spending Money


We all like spending money, right? (I'd prefer if it was someone else's but still...) This last tip is a great way of getting more from what you spend. When ever you buy anything online, make sure you go through a cashback site! When you click through links or banners on websites you will often be allowing these sites to earn a percentage of what you spend. Using a cashback site means that YOU get this percentage instead! Two of the best known sites are Topcashback and Quidco. I am a member of both of these as I find that one often has cashback on websites that the other doesn't.

What is your best Mummy money saving tip?

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Monday, 18 May 2015

May Half Term Family Fun in Manchester and the North West

Can you believe it's almost time for another school holiday? The schools break up for May half term this week and I've been looking at what's on in Manchester and the North West to entertain children over the Bank Holiday weekend and during Half Term...



Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park (23rd to 25th May)


This May Bank Holiday, Geronimo! comes to Tatton Park, Cheshire. Geronimo Festival claims to be the largest children's festival in the north-west with hundreds of activities for children from 0-12.

Tatton Park is an ideal setting and there seems to be much to do, including live shows on the "Geronostage", exploring Themed Woodlands and Build a Den. Children can also watch a Circus, Ride a Donkey, Swing through the Trees, enjoy a thrilling BMX bike display, zip down High Wires if they dare Dare! There will be an Adrenaline Zone and a Craft Marquee. Younger children can enjoy storytelling shows, bounce around in the  Inflatable Village or hit the dance floor with Zumba and Ballet workshops. Children of all ages can have fun in Survival School and get up-close to cuddly creatures in the Petting Zoo.

There will be secial appearances from CBeebies favourites, including Hook and Line from Swashbuckle, Alex Winters, Katy Ashworth and the lovely Mr Bloom!

Standard tickets are available from £22.50pp / £86 for a family of 4 and tickets will also be available on the day priced at £25pp. Do be aware that Tatton park has a £5 parking charge for all cars.





The Lost Carnival at Burrs Country Park, Bury (22nd to 25th May)

The Lost Carnival comes to Burrs Country Park in Bury from 22 – 25 May. The carnival is an ambitious, large-scale, outdoor experience from Wild Rumpus, producers of the award-winning Just So Festival, and So It Is, a new producing company established by Bury Met director David Agnew, The Lost Carnival is an immersive theatre experience that invites families to step into a world unlike any other. Expect spellbinding theatre, circus, music, visual trickeryand a story beyond your wildest dreams.

The most enchanting carnival in the world, suddenly stopped touring in its heyday, under suspicious and mysterious circumstances. The carnival is coming back, but can the audience help it to ward off past dangers and bring it back to its former glory?

LAStheatre will present the story of The Lost Carnival, a story beyond your wildest dreams. Families can expect spellbinding performance, circus, music and visual trickery.

The tale behind the Lost Carnival can be found in the form of a fictional radio documentary podcast produced by sleuth Arthur Bird. Families can follow the story at www.thelostcarnival.org.uk and use the podcast, archive and clues to try to solve the mysteries of the carnival themselves, before the story culminates at the live event.

Tickets cost £10 per person (under 3s go free). Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes. Tickets are available at www.thelostcarnival.org.uk.





#HookedonMusic at the Museum of Science and Industry (23rd to 31st May

The #HookedonMusic Citizen Science Experiment is coming to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 May, the museum will jump to the beat when all visiting movers and shakers - even embarrassing mums and enthusiastic dad dancers – will be invited to groove on down on the make shift dance floor right in the heart of the museum in the daily silent disco.

The aim is to have fun whilst taking part in a Citizen Science experiment. Each set of headphones will be pre-programmed with three different channels pumping out catchy tunes relevant for different age groups. By recording the reactions and responses to the music and the reasons for switching channels whilst dancing - researchers and scientists will gain a better understanding of what makes different musical features popular. All the discos will be filmed to support this research.

May Half Term also sees the return of the ever-popular #HookedonMusic quiz, testing musical knowledge and tastes in this fun, frantic and fast-paced game-show running in between the silent disco. There are even prizes to be won! Teeny boppers and toddlers can also get in on the #HookedOnMusic action too in the Jungle Disco. Join Roary the Lion, the King of the Jungle for this energetic and interactive storytelling session and help the animals get ready for the big jungle hop. Recommended for the under 5s.

Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 May.

Silent Disco – Revolution Manchester – 11.20am; 12.20pm; 1.20pm; 2.20pm

#HookedonMusic Quiz – Revolution Manchester – 11am; 12pm; 1pm; 2pm; 3pm

Jungle Disco – 1830 Warehouse – 11.30am; 12.30pm; 1.30pm. 2.30pm

Suitable for all ages

Free – drop in - no need to book

The silent disco will be filmed for internal scientific reseach



Cunard's Three Queens celebrate 125 years, at Liverpool Docks (24th - 26th May)

Between 24-26 May 2015, all three Cunard ships will call at Liverpool to salute a city that will be forever part of it's history, culminating in all three Queens meeting on the Mersey for the first time on 25 May. 

I used to love watching the ships sail down the Mersey as a chill and this will be a historic event. Find out more details here




Dinosaur Day at The Millgate Bury (28th May)

This half term The Millgate shopping centre in Bury, have a dinosaur coming to visit! On Thursday 28 May you can meet Tiny the Stegosaurus, a 125 million years young dinosaur brought to life. She will be joined by a palaeontologist who will present lively and informative natural history shows at 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm. You can pet her, talk to her and feed her. Event is FREE and there will be a dinosaur trail to follow to win a treat! Find out more here.





The Journey Home at The Edge Theatre, Cholton (22nd May)

The Journey Home, the acclaimed children’s book by award winning author Frann Preston-Gannon, is brought to life through puppetry, lyrical music and transformative design in this new production byLittle Angel Theatre.

Suitable for ages 3+
Tickets: £8 / £6




Sing-a-Long-a Frozen, Warrington Pyramid & Parr Hall (23rd May)

We went to see the fantastic Sing-a-long-a Frozen when it was at the Lowry Theatre, It was a really entertaining evening that both the children thoroughly enjoyed. If you missed it you can get tickets to see it at Warrington Pyramid and Parr Hall. Read our Review to find out more.





Creative Crew at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (up until 22nd May)


LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester is challenging local young creative talents to showcase their exceptional LEGO® building skills in a bid to win a position in the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Creative Crew and a trip to Florida!

The competition will see the budding builders pushed to their LEGO® limits, facing new challenges along the way and presenting their creations to Master Model Builder Alex Bidolak.

A total of twelve children aged 5 to 12 will be inducted into the Creative Crew following a series of challenges. Beyond just their LEGO® build skills and techniques, the Creative Crew will be called upon to be the first to test out and review new rides, tell the world about cool new LEGO® products and teach others how to design amazing builds.

Once selected, the Creative Crew will each gain a family pass for four to the attraction for a year, they’ll attend monthly creative design and build sessions with our Master Model Builder plus one lucky winner will receive a family trip to LEGOLAND Florida!


Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester have also relaunched their Duplo area ideal for toddler fun, read all about it over at Red Rose Mummy.



Turtle Fest at Sealife Manchester  (up until 22nd May)

Pick up a Turtle activity pack and learn about turtles at the Turtle Fest this month at the Sea Life in Manchester. Find out more here.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Magic of Play #MagicSquaresPlaydates



Elizabeth loves to play with her friends and when we were set the challenge to write about the magic of play we had lots of ideas!


Often when I hear the words 'play date' I think of a soft play centres, or similar, and I have to admit those places send my anxiety in to overdrive; the noise, the germs, the other children... I'm stating to perspire just sitting here thinking about it. These sorts of venues do have their place though. They are ideal for children's parties, for somewhere to get out of the house when it has been raining non stop for a week and they are a somewhere to meet up for a coffee with friends , while your children safely play when you don't have the energy to tidy up your front room!



Our favourite venue for play though has to be natures own playground...   the great outdoors! Not only is it huge, it's also free!




From running around playing imaginative games to climbing trees, splashing in water, building in the sand, or going on nature trails, it's difficult to get bored with such a mixed bag of fun to be had!




And natures playground is not just for Sunny days, as the saying goes, 'There's no such thing as bad weather just unsuitable clothing!' Just pop on some wellies and waterproofs and carry on playing, in fact drissly weather is even better for hunting for minibeasts and discovering bugs and crawlies. 



After all that fun, little legs get tired and little tummies get hungry so a bit of a rest and a snack is needed!




We took some of the new Petits Filous Magic Squares in Strawberry and Vanilla Flavour and Raspberry and Vanilla flavour out with us to enjoy on a recent play day, the children really enjoyed the taste of them and were delighted with the square effect the different flavours make inside the pots, this gave them and idea for a game to play of the paving flags in the park, hopping diagonally so they only stepped on the vanilla flavoured squares! Then then chased each other on to the grass, oh to be four again and take such pleasure from a game of chase!



How do you enjoy the magic of play?


This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous