When the blue line appeared, I knew that a whole new life was about to start, not only the one growing inside me, but also the new life that I would have, due to this new, fabulous, much prayed for addition.
I have worked for some big brands in my career, I have been lucky to have worked for the likes of Coca Cola and blessed with the perks that come with such jobs. Career has always been really important to me. I am not blessed with being “clever,” but I do have common sense and the ability to learn quickly, so progressing through my working life, is something that I have committed myself to. However, I have always, always wanted to be a Mum.
That job title of “Mum,” seemed to be more and more out of reach, when in 2015, I suffered two miscarriages. Turns out, they happen all the time, in fact, 1 in 4 pregnancies end up in miscarriage, but 1) no one talks about it and 2) well it doesn’t make it any easier. So when I fell pregnant for the third time, albeit elated, it was coupled with being absolutely petrified.
The first 26 weeks of pregnancy, I won’t lie, were not the easiest, I suffered badly with hyperemesis, and I lost two stone. The doctor put my mind at ease “don’t worry, you had fat to loose… the baby is fine.” Cheers fella, nice one! *jerk!* However as the weeks past, with insane cravings for fruit, I sailed through the latter weeks, loving my huge tummy and counting down the days till she arrived.
We had the chat at home one night, how were we going to budget things? Who was going to pay for what? I emailed work to ask them to outline the maternity package, just so I knew how much additional pay I would receive on top of the standard SMP. I absolutely didn’t expect to receive an email back, two months before I was about to go on maternity leave, that it was, in fact, just SMP.
In short – “fuck.”
Due to working for such big companies previously where the maternity scheme was great, I never assumed that this equally large company that I now worked for, wouldn’t have an additional scheme.
I remember getting home from a long day at work, getting into the bath, and checking my work emails, just to see if there was anything major I needed to do, before I signed off for the week. I remember like it was yesterday, reading the email from HR stating the maternity scheme, and I sat in the bath, and sobbed. I felt so stupid for assuming, so stupid for leaving it so late, and so unbelievably guilty, that I wouldn’t be able to do all the lovely things I had planned, because I would have no money, and any money we did have, would go on basic living, paying for bills, and bloody bounced direct debits because I forgot to change everything over to my husband!
We have a lovely house, with a less lovely mortgage, and my husband also has two children from his previous marriage, who we also support financially.We were, in fact, slightly up, ok, quite a lot up, shit’s creek!
I made two errors, 1) assuming and 2) not saving as soon as we found out I was expecting. However with the fear of loosing another baby, I never actually really let myself believe it was going to actually happen. I had two months, to save, save, save.
I extended how long I was going to work for, and actually was still commuting at 38 weeks to London and back (idiot) on tubes and driving long distances. I remember having to get out on the hard shoulder of the M25 as my back was killing me, and I just needed to stand up! I managed to save £2k, in a very short space of time, by pretty much cutting back on everything. I put that in the bank and didn’t touch it.
Once I had finished my feeling sorry for myself stage, it was time to plan, and put it into action. I became the excel queen! I budgeted for everything, I mean everything. We cancelled things we didn’t need, we changed where we shopped (Tesco to Aldi and Lidl and I will never go back to normal supermarkets now, not even now I am back at work.) I changed my mobile to a sim only deal and didn’t take my upgrade, sticking with the phone I had, and saved myself £40 a month. Take-aways stopped and we made them at home, and gum tree, all hail gum tree.
Sienna arrived and I was in an insanely happy bubble, which also involved not going anywhere, just sitting at home for the first month or so, just being a Mum. A bedraggled, tired, messy haired, hairy legged Mum, but nonetheless, I was a Mum not spending money!
I was also so lucky that a lot of my friends also had babies at the same time, so we set up coffee cake rotation! Someone buys (no one has time to make a bloody cake when you have a baby) and someone provides coffee, and you sit and you eat cake and drink coffee (gin) and don’t spend any money.
I stopped paying for parking ( I also forgot to pay for parking twice and got two parking tickets) but if I could get parking for free and it involved just a few extra strides to get into town, then so be it! Every penny counts!
Soft play! Babies under 1 are normally about £1 to take, so we would go to soft play, I would take teabags with me and ask for hot water. I made my own!
When you’re on no money a week, you do whatever you can to enjoy yourself, without spending the money. The old me would have never dared do something like that, the new, penny saving me, didn’t give a flying….
I did however pay for 2 terms of Baby Sensory for Sienna, that was my only big outlay, and I am so glad that I did. I met some lovely friends, and we are still friends today, even though we are all back at work. It got me out the house each Thursday and we made it a lovely day out. That was treat day and we would all get a Costa, something I really looked forward to.
I had saved £2000 but instead of spending it willy nilly, I paid myself, the same amount each month. So essentially I had a salary each month. I knew that I could pay myself an extra £300 a month and that gave me the money I needed to go and do stuff, it also meant that I could help my husband out a bit with the bills.
We are a very equal couple, we pay 50/50 on everything (pre baby) but when Sienna arrived, he had to take on pretty much everything, which was a big hit for him. I basically paid for all the food, Sienna’s clothes, family stuff with the kids, and anything extra. It was hard, but we treated it as a game, how much could we get for a certain amount of money! I switched to vodka opposed to wine, cheaper! (Also helps the every expanding waistline as has less cals)
Then I decided to do something, something I never thought I would have the guts to do, and that was to set up a website, and create something special. This is when Boss Mummy came to life. I paid £52 for the website, (that was a credit card job) and taught myself how to design and launch the website. I created a brand, and I committed myself to it, whilst on maternity leave. It was like my job. It gave me something to do while Sienna was asleep, it kept me connected with adults. I love my girl, but I needed some adult conversation, and suddenly, companies wanted to work with me, and I loved it!! I pride myself on being open and honest, and that’s what I would want other Mums to be like if they were reviewing a product. My pennies are precious, just like everyone else’s. If a product is pants, I’ll tell you, but if it is great, I will rave about it all night long. I have been blessed that I have been able to work with some big brands, such as Ella’s Kitchen, Nuby, Little Tikes, and in turn Sienna has benefitted and had so many lovely things to wear, play with, eat!! I had to commit time and effort to not only my website, but also my main channel of communication, that being Instagram. I absolutely love it, documenting real life Mummy life! I felt like I had a purpose.
I will be open and honest, we got sent a lot of free products, and Sienna has benefitted immensely from me setting up Boss Mummy, but isn’t that what it’s all about? Finding any which way possible to give your kids the things you want them to have. It just so happens that the wish I had to provide Sienna with things actually came true. I am so very blessed that I have been able to work closely with these companies and we have had an absolute ball together!
- Switch to a cheaper supermarket, it might take you longer to do the shop, but when you don’t get to leave the house that often, a trip to a supermarket is fun.
- Look at what you spend monthly on additional extras, we cancelled SKY sports, I cancelled SPOTIFY and I changed my mobile phone tariff. Saved me many pennies
- Find things to do that are free! We did a lot of walking, sitting in parks, picnics, exploring. You don’t always have to pay to have fun
- Don’t get car parking tickets
- Meal plan! I bought food for every meal and never had overs, so nothing ever went to waste
- Make baby food, it is so much cheaper, and it also gives you a sense of satisfaction. It’s not hard!
- Home Bargains – SAVIOUR, bloody love that place, great for baby stuff, and everything else for that matter.
- Allow yourself a treat, if you deny yourself stuff, you will start resent not having any money.
- You will spend money in Costa, but I always ordered a small one. It meant I had a coffee, but it wasn’t as much money. I hate the feeling of missing out.
- Girls nights in! Much cheaper than Girls night out!!
- Take tea bags wherever you go, no one will say no to giving you hot water. I always had green tea in my bag – not even ashamed to admit it
- Gum tree, buying and selling, you can get some great second hand bargains, I never really buy brand new.
- Stay out of places you know you wont be able to afford to buy anything in, it just makes you feel shit, go to places where you know you can justify stuff
- Make up, I am all about the make up and am an Estee Lauder girl, but I didn’t have a spare £35 for a bottle of double wear, so I saved my double wear for extra special occasions, and bought a cheaper dupe version.
- Share stuff with your friends, we did this with toys and clothes, which means babies get new stuff, and costs you nothing.
- Yellow reduced stickers, all the yellow reduced stickers!
I am blessed, I have a good job and a good salary and we lived to our means, so when suddenly that dropped, and basically money became non-existent, we had to get our shit together and budget. You know what? I wouldn’t have changed it, or had it any other way. I will be the first to admit that we spanked £600 a month on food and going out. Now it’s only £300 because I have learnt to budget. We don’t have Sky sports, and I still do all my food shopping in Lidl. Why pay more when you don’t need to.
I have now started a new job, with fabulous people, and a fabulous mat pay scheme, but before you ask, no more babies for me for a while. I have a beautiful little girl who is my absolute world but I want to enjoy her, and see her grow up before I add anymore additions to the brood, plus childcare is a whole different story, and I really cannot afford two children in nursery!!
Maternity leave can absolutely be done on a budget, a tiny one, it’s about planning and prep, and not going into Dune and looking at lovely shoes…or Zara….. in fact, just don’t go into shops!