Saver or spender?

It’s heading towards the end of the year and many of us will soon receive our Christmas bonus.

It’s time for beach holidays and Christmas gifts. School fees and clothes for 2017 still feel many weeks away and are next year’s problems.

Guilt-inducing financial planning

Soon a guilt-inducing financial planning article is bound to catch your eye. You will be told how you should save your bonus for school fees and invest the rest for retirement.

But what’s the fun in that?

If you are a saver, you will feel satisfied when you look at your growing account balance and displeasure when you need to spend money. However, if you are a spender (like many of us) and you look at life as something to enjoy, you may buy on impulse and worry about your growing debt later.

Extreme savers may have regrets later in life, but it’s also important to put something away for a rainy day.

Spenders can use the following tactics to help them cut back:

1. Limit your credit card usage and try to use it only for emergencies. Forking out cash will help you realise how much you are actually spending.
2. Withdraw cash from your bank account, so that you can see the dwindling balance.
3. Pay for everything as it comes and you will start to understand how your money “just gets away” from you.
4. Set personal savings goals and tell your friends and family, so that they can hold you accountable.
5. Reward yourself when you reach your goals, but only by spending a responsible percentage of what you’ve saved.
6. Ask yourself before every purchase whether you truly need the item. Know the difference between needs and wants.
7. Consider the future, even if this makes you uncomfortable. Think about how much money you will need to retire and how you will pay for your child’s college education.

Savers

If you are a saver, you will sometimes go without things you really need, because money in the bank is more satisfying to you than anything you could ever buy. You rarely have a credit card balance and you astonish others with the savings you’ve managed to build up over the years, even though you just earn an average salary.

But are you missing out in life through your frugality?

Tips for savers to loosen the purse strings:

1.When it is time to do something pleasurable like go on a vacation, distance yourself from the stress of spending by paying with a credit card. You’ve got the cash to cover it, so now you can take your mind off the expense and relax.

2.Treat your purchases as a reward for something you’ve done well, so that they take on more value in your mind.

3. Tell yourself that you also deserve pleasure.  Think about your future and if you really want to have regrets one day about not doing things, simply because you would not spend any money on enjoyment?

You only live once, but sufficient cash will ensure that it’s a good life. So, spend some of that Christmas bonus, but also put some away for next year and the years to come.

First family holiday

There’s a saying that a holiday with kids is not a vacation, but simply a change of location.

In a way this is true, especially when you consider all the packing, but it is also a very precious experience. 🙂

We were tired and grumpy when we arrived at Karoo Pride in Montagu, but the beautiful surroundings soon lifted our spirits.

Ewan forgot about the television for once and even found ways to amuse himself in the evenings with the cheap “holiday” toy soldiers we bought at the Spar. James enjoyed practising his recently acquired sitting skills and took every opportunity to try and get hold of his big brother’s toys.

Our days were spent wandering the beautiful walking routes on the farm, sometimes even off route. 😛 During this time, Ewan also worked very hard to complete his stick collection.

James was only too happy to ride on daddy’s back, taking in the beauty of everything around him. When the road got too long, poor daddy had to carry Ewan as well.

When the time came to go home, no one was ready to leave. “The holiday is gone, it’s gone forever!  I don’t want holiday to be finished.”

And so we started the journey back with a toddler tantrum. 😛

The boy who almost wasn’t

It’s been about a year since I last updated my blog. Boy, what a year it’s been. It’s been a year of boys.

The boy who almost wasn’t has now firmly settled in and is a fully fledged member of our family.

For those who aren’t aware, I chose to abort my previous pregnancy, after the fetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a heart that was not developing properly. A terrible (but we felt) necessary decision.

But now we have baby James, born almost 11 months after the abortion.  And Ewan is finally starting to love his brother after competing with him for attention for the first few months. At times he even shares his toys with him.

It’s been a year of love and learning.  Busy and stressful at times, but I’ve quickly learnt how to be a better parent.

And I’ve decided its time to become more myself and go on a personal journey of #bodypositivity.

Watch this space for related insights. 😛

 

Raising boys…

I’ve been thinking about raising boys, probably because I will soon have two.

The outside

We recently undertook a trip to a beautiful lifestyle farm near Stanford in the Western Cape. Ewan was in his element and thoroughly enjoyed himself. We had to watch him like hawks and run after him to ensure that he didn’t disappear into the bushes and the fynbos by himself.

Boys just want to be outside

We were all sad to leave on the last day and Ewan told me a long story about walking and running in the “ousside”. The poor little man cried bitter tears of disappointment when it was back to the old routine of work and playschool on Monday…

He learnt the word “ousside” at a young age and it quickly became clear that this is where he wants to be at all cost, even when it is raining and freezing. I also noticed that he was much better behaved than usual while on our holiday trip. Tantrums were almost non-existent. 😛

This behaviour, talking to my husband and reading certain literature, has made me wonder about how we are raising boys in the modern world.

Neutering boys at a young age

Even renowned feminists such as Camille Paglia, is speaking out against the neutering of boys. According to her, failing to recognise the biological differences between men and women are leading to the destruction of modern society.

It seems many boys get labelled as ADHD or with other learning difficulties if teachers find them hard to handle. But isn’t the school setup simply more suited to girls, who have a greater capacity for sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time?

Is modern society more suited to women?

How frustrated many men must be in the modern world, especially those with lots of energy who find themselves cooped up in an office all day for the sake of earning a living.

In previous centuries, you had more options, but these days you basically have to spend your whole day inside, mostly stuck on an office chair, for “work”, even though no physical work is actually performed.

How many men have find themselves becoming immersed in dysfunctional and criminal behaviour to escape this tedious existence? Partaking in the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, road rage and extra-marital affairs just to get a little excitement in their lives. Even I, as a woman, with little taste for possible dangerous excitement, find the office existence tedious.

I’m sure many men can identify with the film and the novel, Fight Club:
We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping. There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman [the narrator] is created.
—David Fincher[5]

The male protagonists start a fighting club, which allows men to get rid of their natural aggression. It’s also a protest against entrapment by a consumerist society.

The future for boys

Although I am a bit concerned about raising happy and well-balanced boys, I’m at least comforted by the fact that their father and grandfather are excellent male role models. 🙂

The second Taylor boy

It has recently become public knowledge that there will be a second Taylor boy. 🙂

Excitement and fear

It’s been an exciting time for us, but still you have the fear that something will go wrong, especially after our Down Syndrome experience at the beginning of the year.

At least all the tests have come back negative for Down Syndrome.

So we’ve taken our time in informing people about the imminent new arrival.

Preparing the brother

There’s also the task of informing Ewan that he will have a little brother by the end of this year. 😛

So far he hasn’t noticed that much, but soon I will have to start reinforcing the idea. And reading up about raising two boys. 😛

For now, Ewan can enjoy the sole attention of his parents for a couple of more months.

Preparations

There won’t be much preparation, compared to the first time around.

We have:

  • baby furniture
  • boy toys
  • boy clothes
  • breast pump
  • bottle steriliser
  • lots of random baby stuff.

But I’m sure more cute little baby things will be bought closer to the time. 😛

The newborn

Although we are old hands by now, it will be interesting to have a toddler and a newborn.

We are so used to a little person who is able to have increasingly intelligent and complicated conversations, that a helpless newborn will take some getting used to again. 😛

Even though I anticipate loads of work and little sleep, I’m looking forward to seeing how the two little guys are going to interact.

A letter to Ewan on his 2nd birthday

Dear Ewan,

Your 2nd birthday was this weekend.

Two years of hugs and laughter, but also tantrums. Lots of fun, but also hard work.

Many hours of lost sleep, especially when you are ill and you only want to sleep in mother’s arm or curl up tightly against her back. Precious moments, even when I’m dead tired the next day.

I wish I had more time for close contact with you. I was fortunate that you were wholly mine for six months before I had to return to work. Now you are my evening, weekend and holiday child.

How you have changed:

  1. You have become a little person over the last two years. You walk and talk and have a strong will of your own. 😛 You want to do things your way and at your pace. You quickly tell us to “go away!” or “stoppit!” if we don’t do what you want.
  2. You’ve developed an impressive vocabulary. It’s actually become easy to have a conversation of sorts with you. We don’t have to interpret grunts and cries anymore.
  3. You’ve also started to realise possession and that you can tell other people, “It’s mine!” But you are very good at sharing, especially for a child who doesn’t have any siblings yet. You like to share your food with mommy and daddy.
  4. The quiet, meek little baby has become a strong and noisy little boy. It’s become more and more difficult to pick you up and control you, especially when you are throwing a tantrum. 😛
  5. Two years ago the house still belonged to the adults. When you became mobile, we started the process of baby proofing. These days we have to try and put things high out of your reach, as you have become such a tall boy.
  6. Your size and level of development often means that people think you are three years or older.
  7. You are not always that accepting of infinite hugs and kisses anymore. Mother gets pushed away when it becomes too much.

I look forward to sharing your 3rd birthday with you.

Love

Mamma

Why women in their thirties gain weight

In my twenties I had an easy ride weight wise. I could eat what I wanted without gaining much weight.

I had plenty of time to burn excess kilojoules by going to gym and walking to work.

Then the thirties struck and my life changed. I finally became part of the modern lifestyle statistics.

The following contributed to my weight gain:

  • I got married and we moved far away from work. My former exercise time now became sitting on public transport time.
  • We had a baby, which further decreased time to spend on ourselves. I try to take him for walks over the weekends, but lately he has been sick a lot, which means I’ve been spending most weekends inside looking after a sick child.
  • Public transport time (which is also often delayed), still doing shopping some evenings and then fetching the baby, means we have no time for exercise when we get home during the week after work.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation when little man is sick or doesn’t sleep well. Apparently this can completely mess up your metabolism. I just want to eat after such nights, especially chocolate.
  • Stress and constant business. You are running around between caring for the child, house and holding a full time job. Sometimes you just put stuff in your mouth for the sake of getting some energy…

The root of the problem

So for those of you out there who also carry excess weight – sorry, I can’t really offer constructive advice. It’s all good to tell people they must exercise, eat healthy and lose weight. What if this is not the root of your problem, but really the lifestyle that is causing you to eat unhealthy and not find time for exercise?

Lifestyle change

I don’t have an answer at the moment, but I want to look at my lifestyle before anything else. I’m just going to put more stress on myself by trying to maintain a stringent exercise routine that I can’t keep up at the moment.

Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, but I want to make this my long term plan. Life is not meant for just surviving. Not being tired all the time and better quality of life are my future goals.

Long commute bad for your health

WorkingMotherWarrior

Recent studies have concluded that a long commute (more than 45 minutes a day) is extremely bad for your health.

Negatives of a long commute

  • Obesity
  • Additional stress
  • Back and neck problems
  • Insomnia
  • Loneliness
  • Less time to spend with family
  • Divorce
  • And the list goes on…

How it affects me personally

I’ve been trying to make the best of my commute by reading and writing, but I’ve also experienced some of these negative effects.

  • I experienced severe back pain at one stage, which still returns from time to time.
  • I have gained a lot of weight since I’ve started taking the train to work. Unfortunately we could only afford to buy a house far out of town, so there is really no other option.
  • Trains are often late in the afternoons, thereby further cutting the time I have to spend with my family. I don’t want to think about how…

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Toddler throwing fun

One of the little man’s favourite past times at the moment is throwing items. At first I thought he was being somewhat naughty, but apparently this is a normal stage of development. You simply need to give your toddler direction in what he is allowed to throw and what not.

Ewan likes throwing:

  • Anything he can get his hands on down the toilet. Recent victims include his own pajamas, dad’s slippers, sunscreen, toilet rolls etc. Unfortunately he also loves flushing the toilet. The toilet can be an entire blog article on its own. 😛
  • Everything and anything into the bath. This includes towls and clothes. He then runs water into the bath as he can now reach the tap…
  • His toys at the dog, over the back door. Unfortunately the dog seems to delight in munching down on small plastic items. The back door is now kept closed as we fear a large vet bill in the foreseeable future.
  • His food, especially when he is in his high chair. Hence the high chair isn’t being used anymore. Apparently it is quite normal for toddlers to start throwing their food when they are finished eating and becoming bored.
  • His toys, especially when he gets angry at you for scolding him or stopping him from completing some clandestine mission of mischief. Sometimes missiles get hurled at your head. This is the habit we need to break.

New skill

According to a web article throwing is a new and enjoyable skill for Ewan. Judging by his aim, he already has excellent fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, unlike his mother, who struggled in primary school due to a lack of these skills.

So, if we can direct his throwing activity, he might just turn out to be a good sportsman, unlike mommy. 😛 You never know.

Keeping sane as a working mom

Are you a busy working mother who spends 40 hours a week at work and then go home to a crazy household every night to start your second job? Maybe you don’t know how you get it all done a lot of the time, but you just keep on doing the impossible. It is important to learn to take care of yourself and to tune into your body to avoid becoming over stressed and eventually suffering from burnout. Warning signs of severe stress

  • Speaking louder or yelling.
  • You may experience rising blood pressure or a spiked heart rate. You may also feel dizzy.
  • Irritability. You may be impatient or experience lapses in judgement. From experience I can say it is so easy to become impatient when a child keeps crying or whining, especially when you had very little sleep the night before and you had to put in a full day at work.
  • It’s important to take a break when you feel this way so that you can gain new perspective. If your stress is not under control, you may struggle to connect to your children which can cause them to act out. You may also be unable to focus at work which can lead to time-consuming and expensive mistakes which will further increase your stress. This is exacerbated by a lack of sleep. I may feel fine, but then I find I had forgotten to do something or made a silly mistake.

Follow these tips to keep your stress levels under control:

  • Know when to ask for help from family and friends. Also ask dad to step up to share the parenting duties.
  • It’s not easy, but try to plan ahead and be organised. This includes things like making dinner the night before so that you can only reheat the next day. I still find myself struggling with the “being organised” bit. The other day I saw someone advertising their services as a life planner. Hmm…
  • Speak to your employer about rearranging your work schedule, if possible. It’s my dream to be able to work from home one day and to turn the granny flat at the back of our house into an office.
  • Set boundaries and don’t say “yes” to everyone’s requests.
  • Take a break and slow down for a cup of coffee or a chat with a friend.
  • Find a type of exercise you enjoy and try to include your children so that everyone benefits. The research is growing that exercise keeps stress at bay. For me time is an issue, as I have a very long commute everyday. I’m still working on my plan to do more exercise.
  • Take time to laugh. When is the last time you had a good laugh with your kids? My crazy little boy gets at least a few laughs from me with his antics. Bring more fun into your lives and create fun family memories. Do spontaneous things like baking the dog a cake for his birthday.
  • Schedule date nights with your partner. This doesn’t have to cost much – go for a walk, watch a rented movie etc. – it’s just about having time alone with your significant other.
  • Take care of yourself. Try to get enough sleep, follow a healthy diet and have some “down time”. Sleep, healthy diet and exercise are all things I’m still struggling to figure out. Guess I’m a work in progress. It might be difficult to fit this into an already full schedule, but proper self-care will enable you to be more efficient in your life in general.

It will be difficult to find a balanced lifestyle as a working mother, but hopefully these tips will help you stay sane for now. Remember that it is in the best interest of your children that you don’t become severely stressed and suffer from burnout. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else, even the most important people in your life.