What Happened In July

So…I’ve been a bit MIA lately. June and July are always crazy months for us with birthday’s and school things so I decided it was time to reflect on the first six months of the year. How I feel my blog went and how I would like it to grow over the next six months. There are a few things I’m working on in the background but more about that later.

I need to be more consistent, decide on a strategy and stick to it, take more of my own photographs and grow my email list.

One of my new strategies is a monthly review. All our monthly going’s on including some of my favourite buys, TV shows and a few things I want to shout about.

Let’s start this off with one epic and long-awaited first trip as a family of four to the cinema!

Toy Story 4 – Thomas’ First Trip to the Cinema.

For those of you who don’t know (perhaps you are lucky enough to live in the woods) Toy Story 4, hit the UK at the end of June. Thomas loves Toy Story, in fact, ‘Cowboy’ and ‘Cowgirl’ are two of the words he uses regularly in reference to Woody and Jessie. It would have been a crime had we not attempted to take him to see it.

Toy Story 4 Cinema Trip
Our first trip to the cinema as a family of four
  1. We were however prepared for meltdowns, screaming and just general ‘Thomas’ style attitude. I’d thought long and hard and decided our best option was to attend an Autism Friendly Screening. So thanks to Cineworld Cinemas Chichester. I booked our tickets using our CEA card (never used it before) online for Sunday 7th July at 11am. Thanks to the nature of these showings, no trailers or adverts, it’s not as dark, not as loud and you can take in your own food. I went in armed with snacks – a large packet of chocolate buttons, a milkshake and a packet of chocolate (I forget which). Apart from a little apprehension, we survived the hour and a half showing. We were all obviously in the same boat, lots of kids running around, adults calling out, clapping, it was nice for Thomas not to feel out of place.

Would I do it again? Yes, if the right film grabbed his attention. With the preparation, it worked and he was in the right mood. Given a different week, we could have only watched ten minutes. Snacks helped!

I decided against doing a ‘full’ Toy Story 4 review. It’s awesome, we all know it’s awesome and too many spoilers!

Alana’s Camping Trip

I like to document my children’s achievements and important moments. I’m still a sucker for a photo album! My daughter attended a two-day camping trip to West Sussex, it’s her end of term trip. Team building, BBQ’s, making new friends. We’ve always marked these kind of occasions with a photo. It goes hand in hand with the first day of the school.

CampingSo you can imagine that I wasn’t going to let her get away with the all-important ‘leaving’ photo. The result is below, on record forever to show that my smiley, enthusiastic 12-year-old did not feel the need to document the event.


I am sure as the years go on, there will be more of these photographs. I would give anything to go back to some of the moments I forgot to document. One day, I hope that she will appreciate them more.

Family Fund Blogger

Blogger Badge

So July was an exciting time for me. You may remember back in May that I wrote a blog post ‘How Family Fund Has Helped Us and How They Could Help You!’  If you didn’t, please check it out by clicking on the link above. Well, the lovely people at Family Fund shared my blog and offered me the opportunity to become a Family Fund Blogger.

In July, I found the courage to write a post about the bedtime struggles we face with Thomas. If you haven’t already read it, please check out my post Family Fund – Bedtime Bedlam. I really can’t thank Family Fund for the opportunity. I really want to offer an insight into our little life and hopefully, help others out there.

Strep B Month

July is Strep B Awareness Month. A cause that is obviously very close to my heart. I often read stories from parents and it breaks my heart that it is not seen as necessary to test or monitor closer. I wanted to touch on this a little as I’ve written my own post My Son Was Born with Strep B which you should check out. 1350x650

The first time I even knew about Strep B, was the day the doctor confirmed that Thomas was sick. Then four months later during a routine checkup, I was sat in a health centre waiting room and right in front of me was a poster ‘How Much Do You Know About Strep B’. I will always remember that feeling of ‘why isn’t this on every doctor surgeries wall? Why didn’t I get a leaflet in my maternity pack from my midwife? Why am I only seeing this poster now? To make matters worse, the Doctor I saw was rude, arrogant and had no idea the post-traumatic stress I was dealing with not only from having a sick baby but the birth itself. He told me to take paracetamol for my bad back and eat lots of vegetables.

I wonder how many of us with traumatic births, premature deliveries or sick babies were left without the proper support because ‘we’ ticked all the boxes. The boxes that were ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because budget restraints meant that we were signed off from the community midwife. I never even attended one community weigh in with Thomas. No one ever checked, no one ever called to ask why. He was weighed when he had follow up appointments with his consultants.

To this day (it’s been nearly nine years), I’m reminded how little support or advice I received. It’s thanks to charities like Group B Strep Support and their fundraising that other parents won’t struggle when their baby doesn’t hit their milestones or they consider having another child. Please let me know if you received a leaflet in your maternity pack? I’d be interested to see if much has changed.

Disabled Trolleys

TrolleyThis month especially we have been appreciating the Firefly GoTo Seat trolley which we have found in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and recently Iceland. Thomas was always a little apprehensive (there’s that word again) when it came to the disabled wheelchairs.

However, he’s recently been seeking out the specially adapted trolley’s and in all honesty, it has to go on my fave list.



Alana’s 12th Birthday

alana 12The last year of the tweenager years before she becomes a teenager. Although we are well on our way to the teenage tantrum years. In my day it was called Kevin and Perry years (remember them). I think YouTube has a lot to answer for.

Having said that, I always make a conscious effort for their birthdays. Balloons, banners and seeing their faces as they walked down the stairs in the morning, is the very reason I do what I do. Birthday’s are important in our house. Both of them can expect more balloons, streamers and banners for years to come!


End of Term

July wouldn’t be July without the end of the school term. That all-important angst as we await the new class list for September. The planning of the six weeks of hell. It needed an honourary mention.

That’s it for my July Review. Just a little piece of our world. How was your July? What do you have planned for the following months? If you like what you read, please stick around and check out some of my other posts. I write about being a parent, working life and general lifestyle things.

Coming August

  • Disneyland Paris Planning
  • Disneyland Paris Packing
  • Summer Fun
  • Wet room


20 Things I Have Learnt in the 20 Years Since Leaving School!

I had the realisation last week that I am officially an oldie. I made a comment about ‘those days’ and was mocked because it was, in fact, the good old 90’s! You know before social media, before the internet and when you could get your older looking ‘mate’ to buy alcohol because he/she looked 18!

School librart.jpgIt then dawned on me that it’s been 20 years since I left school. It got me thinking. What exactly have I learnt in my time away from compulsory education? We all think we know ‘shit’ as teenagers. We struct around acting like we know how the world works like we are going to have this perfect life while life likes to trip you up! With that in mind, I thought I’d share 20 things I’ve learnt since leaving school!

20. Don’t be in a rush to grow up – remember to enjoy the moments as you never know when they will be the only memories you have left!

19. Things change, people change and yes you change – Just because you spent most of your high school education wanting to be a teacher, doesn’t mean that you will always want to be a teacher! (I never wanted to be a teacher, just using it as a narrative).

18. Never let your school experience hold you back – We aren’t all lucky enough to be popular or pretty or a straight-A student (I was a C student if you are interested) but that being said never let your school experience hold you back from living life, from being who you want to be. High school is five years of your life! That’s five short years in the scheme of the rest of your life!

17. Remember the teachers that inspired you – Teachers are weird creatures, they spend five years trying to educate you, and we often remember the ones that were the angry ones or the difficult ones. Teachers are still humans!

16. You can’t excel at everything (but you can try) – We often spend our school experience competing against others whether it be sport, drama, music, most popular etc. This often extends well into adulthood and we spend our 20’s and even 30’s believing that we need to compete for everything! That’s a lie, we don’t!

15. Work/Life Balance – Find a job that you enjoy, that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning! But remember all work and no play will only bring you down!

14. No one said you have to have it all planned out – We have this mentality that we have to conform to what society tells us, 9-5 job, house, marriage, kids, travel, it is okay for it not to go plan. It is okay, to have all of those things, some of the things and none of those things!

13. Friends – During your school years you will ultimately have some great friends, some will extend beyond those school years and others will not. That is not to say that the friendship wasn’t worth it but we grow up, we change, we live different lives and suddenly your best friend since primary school is now just a friend on your facebook page. You will meet so many different people, some will become friends for years to come others will come and go. Learn to treasure the ones that stick around!

12. Travel – Don’t put it off, if you want to backpack across Asia do it! Whether you are 18 or 55, just experience everything! Life is short and we are all bad at putting things off, saying we will do it ‘one day’ but not everyone gets that ‘one day’.

11. Not everyone will like you – It’s hard when we all want social acceptance, but over the years I’ve learnt that we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes you will meet people who you just won’t appreciate you and do you know what, it’s okay.

10. You can’t please everyone, so just please yourself – It’s harder now when we watch our lives being viewed on Facebook or Instagram or for the very brave YouTube. There will always be people that want to bring you down or want to make you feel bad. The answer is, if you enjoy doing it, don’t let others tell you otherwise because, for the one comment that is negative, there will be positive.

9. That Night Out is long forgotten, or so it used to be – I’ve been a teenager, I’ve spent many nights out with my friends having a great time and there is no record of it anywhere, not one photo! However, that drunken night you spent is now open to being available to any future employer, employee or contact who decides to go looking!

Night out8. Social Media is not your friend – I have friends who embrace social media, are early adopters of all platforms and I have friends who don’t even have messenger. A friend of mine had been out on a Sunday night for a few drinks (nothing wrong with that), however, sat on the train to work she wrote on Facebook ‘What a great night, feeling a little hungover this morning, lots of coffee needed!’ She’d been in work 20 minutes when HR and her direct manager called her into the office. She was accused of arriving at work ‘drunk’, she wasn’t however drunk but HR bought up the post. The evidence spoke for itself. Sadly she was used as an example for other employees and was fired after an investigation. At the time Facebook was new, no one really knew how to deal with this new ‘social media’ policy. It was a harsh lesson for her!

7. Never be afraid to say ‘No’ – I’m very much one of those people who don’t like saying ‘no’. However, I have learnt in the last few years that we shouldn’t be afraid of the word. I was offered the perfect job last summer, it was everything I wanted and more but my family circumstances made me realise that it just wasn’t ‘right’ at that moment. So I made the painful decision to turn it down. Another opportunity came along months later.

6. Do you really need that coffee? – I am going to have to mention money/finances. I am the worlds worst person when it comes to spending. It’s like it burns a hole in the pocket. I have however learnt to be more aware of what I’m spending. I have a couple of apps on my phone. One manages my income and expenditure, the other is a savings app. It has helped me save what I can actually afford and see what I spend my money on.

Office.jpg5. The Office Politics – Depending on where you decide to spend your career, there will always be ‘Office’ politics. It will always be one rule for one and a rule for everyone else. No manager is ever the same and it doesn’t have to be an office for you to feel on the outside. I told myself daily that ‘it was the money’ that kept me from just walking out there and then!

4. No one really ever knows what the hell is going on (It’s a myth) – I’ve been a girlfriend, a wife, a best friend, an employee and a mother and in all honesty, there is no science to doing any of it right. You just get on with it and hope that it makes a difference. So don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day or you feel like you are failing because you are not!

3. I’ve learnt to take it as it comes – My life hasn’t exactly turned out the way I pictured my beautiful life at 15. College, university, career travelling the world, that was how I pictured my 20’s and early 30’s before settling down and have a couple of kids, moving to the country and relaxing a little. Instead, I got married at 22, had my 1st kid at 25 and my 2nd at 28 and nothing can prepare you for the special needs child, no amount of planning is going to make that right. It’s okay to hit a few changes in life, everything happens for a reason.

2. Mental & Physical Health – In this journey we call life, we often forget to take care of ‘us’ as in ‘you and me’. We spend so much time working, socialising, caring or living that we forget to take time out and ‘self-care’. When was the last time you did something for ‘you’ and either didn’t feel guilty and didn’t rush! Some times we need a little time out, so enjoy that walk in the park, enjoy that extra coffee with a friend, it’s good for zen.

  1. Lastly, 20 years…a lot can change in 20 years and at the same time, nothing can change at all. Remember to take time to smell the roses, enjoy the little things and take lots of photos! You never know when those photos will be all you have left!

Has it been a while since you left school? Have you learnt some things you’d like to share? Perhaps you’ve left school in recent years and you still don’t know where you want to be? Please click like, share it around and maybe leave a little comment. I know I’d appreciate it!

If you like what you read, please stick around and check out my other posts, I have posts ranging from careers to family life. I aim to post on Monday’s and Thursday’s! I say aim, as I juggle family life with working Monday to Friday so sometimes the time runs away with me!

Perran Sands Review 2019

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For those of you who don’t know, Perran Sands is a Holiday Park owned and managed by Haven Holidays (Bourne Leisure). For total transparency this is an independent review, I have not been gifted or paid in any way. We were however gifted a voucher towards our holiday from Family Fund. You can find my previous post about Family Fund and what they do here.

We are a family of four and this was our seventh year staying at Perran Sands, but the first time visiting in May Half-Term and the first time trying an adapted caravan. This is usually our annual summertime holiday in July, but this year we had squeezed in an overdue trip to Disneyland Paris!

About Perran Sands

Perran Sands is an average size holiday park in North Cornwall, in a small seaside town named Perranporth, it’s pretty much the surfing capital of Cornwall! It has its own private beach which is accessible from the park, but please be advised due to the stairs it isn’t suitable for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues! Believe me after a day at the beach, its a killer!

Perran Sands

Check-In & Finding Our Way Around

Check is always smooth. Like last year, check in was inside the Dune’s Bar. We were greeted by an enthusiastic and friendly team member. He confirmed our accommodation and pointed us in the right direction of where our caravan would be. The good thing about Perran Sands is that it’s extremely easy to find your way around, the signposting is very obvious. If you do find yourself lost, staff members are often on hand to point you in the right direction.

As a side note: This year we booked an adapted caravan for the first time, however, our son who has special needs was not impressed. This is not reflected against Haven and their standard of caravan, it was neat, tidy and had direct access to the park but unfortunately, he likes his routine and he didn’t settle. So I spoke to reception to see if there was any possibility we could move. Thankfully we were moved to a three-bedroom prestige caravan, with a partial sea view for four nights (we had to cut out trip short). Our caravan was located at the top of the park in an area called ‘Pentreath View’ and ironically right next door to the caravan we stayed in the year before. I have included a few photographs of the standard below.

Our caravan included: Microwave, dishwasher, hob, cooker and hood with fan, fridge with small freezer, digital TV with DVD player, Bluetooth sound system, ensuite toilet, TV in bedroom, plenty of storage, radiators (believe me it was cold for May) and plenty of space for a large family to spread out.


On-Site Facilities

Let’s talk about food: Like most holiday parks, there are some great facilities onsite including The Surf Bay Restaurant, Cooks Fish & Chip Shop, Papa Johns Pizza, mini supermarket and laundrette. There is a large entertainment complex including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool and the new addition of an outside lazy river. Two bars ‘The Dunes bar’ which was closed during our recent trip and the ‘Live Lounge’ where the main entertainment is.

We have eaten on previous visits at the Surf Bay, it’s a cross between a Harvester and a Beefeater. Good quality food, with a bar located outside. You are unable to pre-book so you can expect a wait during busy times but if you are lucky you get to eat in the ‘camper’. Great atmosphere but busy! Always busy.

There are two takeaways onsite ‘Cooks’ Fish & Chips and Papa Johns. Both can be busy at times but convenient. Papa Johns, even deliver to your caravan! Both of which offer a decent meal, good size portions and not hugely expensive compared to nearby Perranporth.

Keeping the little ones and big ones entertained: The advantage of a holiday park is that they offer an array of things for young and old to get involved in. Haven do offer activity bundle passes 12 activities for £50 and 24 activities for £100. We’ve personally never used them, so I can’t really comment but they appear popular with other visitors and include archery and aqua gliders.

The swimming pools are open to everyone from 9.30am, I would suggest arriving early as we queued for over 45 minutes to enter due to the sheer volume of people in the pools. There is one inside a large pool, a separate slide, a smaller toddler pool and a large outdoor pool with lazy river. It was too cold to venture outside this year but the lazy river is extremely popular and worth investigating.

Aside from the main park, there are surf lessons, football pitches and plenty of parks dotted around and if you are more for arcades and pool tables, the Live Lounge area has that as well. During our visit, there were large extended families, with lots of younger children.

If like us you prefer to venture further afield, Perran Sands placed you at a great location as a base. You are an 8-minute drive away from Perranporth where you will find shops, bars, food outlets, ice cream and quaint gift shops. Newquay is only a 15 – 20-minute drive away where you can find a large town, restaurants, bars, supermarkets. Truro is by far the largest town at just 25 minutes away, with its beautiful cathedral, cobbled streets and Primark (sorry, I’m a sucker for a bit of shopping). There are also some amazing coast drives with the most amazing beaches, Porth, Mawgan Porth, Watergate Bay and Crantock just to name a few.

Top Tips

As a family who like the home from home feel, Perran Sands offers us the option of eating in or eating out while not feeling obligated to eat on site. There are so many options from camping to beach houses, from glamping to chalets. Over our previous visits, we have stayed in various types of caravan class so there is a budget for everyone from standard to platinum with decking.

  1. Booking early can save you ££££. We often book nine months in advance and save 25%. Sometimes up to 50% depending on the offers available.
  2. In peak season months (July/August) you will often queue for everything from getting into the Live Lounge to accessing the launderette. So it’s best to get there early to avoid disappointment as Summer 2017 we couldn’t even get into the main Live Lounge to get seats at 6.15pm!
  3. If you are interested in activities, book in advance. You will be surprised how quick everything fills up.
  4. There is so much to see and do in the local area, from zoos and waterparks to railways and theme parks (Flambards is A…mazing!)
  5. Get up and out early, in peak summer you can imagine how busy places get. We’ve struggled to park in Newquay in August due to the people.

So there you have it, next time you are considering a ‘staycation’ maybe Perran Sands is worth a look. Perhaps, you’ve previously been? Maybe you are staying this year? Let me know if you have your own comments to add.

If you like what you read, please stick around and check out my other posts, I have posts ranging from careers to family life. I aim to post on Monday’s and Thursday’s! I say aim, as I juggle family life with working Monday to Friday so sometimes the time runs away with me!

So I’m a Carer…What Happened to Being Just a Mum?

I don’t think we ever plan to take on the role of ‘carer’. When my Son was born, I became his Mum, his care provider, the feeder and the security blanket. I thought nothing of cuddling him to sleep as that was his preference and with everything he’d been through, he deserved to feel safe.

I can’t remember when it changed, maybe around five years old came the question. ‘Are you his main carer?’ I am an unpaid carer who looks after my son who has additional needs, I am not alone in this as my husband is his main carer now. Being a carer full time, part time, occasionally puts great pressure on our lives as individuals, as a couple and as parents. I personally carry around a great deal of guilt, should I be at home more, should I be working more, should I be spending more time helping him with his needs, should I be attending every course, workshop and coffee morning just to feel like I’m not alone because the one thing I’ve learnt it’s lonely being a carer or a caring team. You rely on each other a lot and only keep it within the family unit extended or otherwise. Honestly, who wants to spend any time with us! Yes, a day at the beach sounds amazing until Thomas decides to have a meltdown, eat sand, not want to stay still for five minutes and that day suddenly becomes an hour or he decides that he’s not quite in the mood for the zoo so throws his body to the floor in front of the gorilla enclosure. It’s not that we don’t want Thomas to experience these things, but our lives are so much different. It’s also hard to watch your friends child running around a park, doing normal things. We shouldn’t judge on the ‘normal’ but we all do it. As much as friends or family say they get it. It’s hard unless you live it!

What’s a Night Out? 

I can’t remember the last night out I had! Like honestly, I think it was some time back in 2018 (I’m not even joking), 61% of carers have suffered ill health physical or mentally due to their caring responsibilities. I still shrug when people ask ‘but you get help right?’ I’m not exactly sure what people expect me to say ‘that I have a full time paid nanny’ that we get thousands of pounds a year to fund the non-existent respite spaces. This post is by no means a whinge or self-pity but how many people take for granted that their grandparent does sleepovers, that holiday clubs are around the corner. We get four-holiday sessions! Yes, four whole days that have to be spread across six weeks! That’s on a first come basis and when your child relies on the routine of school, the six weeks holidays are a battle at times.


Hints and Tips

If you are a carer yourself, are new to the responsibility or you have been doing it for years without noticing I wanted to share a few tips on how to cope, whether you look after your own child, a family member or it’s part of your job.

  1. Stress & Worry – Everyone is guilty of stressing and worrying its part of human nature, but it can triple with caring responsibilities. My phone is constantly within my sight just in case school phone. You may find it difficult to switch off from your caring role especially at night. It can be easier said than done but take time for you, even if just five minutes you sit down and do something you enjoy whether it be catching up on your favourite programme or reading the new bestseller if you zone out for just five minutes it can have a positive impact on your health.
  2. Money – The financial burden of caring for someone is sometimes a cross between putting petrol in your car to get to work or feeding your family! I have had cereal for dinner on many occasions. As a family, I work 27.5 hours a week across five days. My husband is full-time carer first and a self-employed designer but we still earn way under the lower earning limit of £16k so we rely on working and child tax credits and carers benefits. We are in debt and have been for many years, maxed out credit cards, loans, overdrafts. We are slowly getting ourselves back on track. My suggestion would you draw up a monthly budget, if you are in the red, try and see if you could lower any outgoings. I spend my life on websites like Turn2us and Entitledto to see if we could be entitled to more it is also helpful to see how Universal Credit will affect you. Then there are helpful sites like Money Saving Expert and The Money Advice Service who can help save you money.
  3. Physical Health Problems – We’ve all been there. Even as parents our needs come after the rest of the family but what happens if due to your avoidance that you suddenly couldn’t care for your loved ones. My back has been playing up for years and I avoided it until it was so bad last year that I could barely move! I remember at the time just feeling down, tired and with no energy. Please don’t suffer alone, approach your GP for the support!
  4. Anxiety & Depression – It’s not like you wake up one morning and feel down or low or depressed. From personal experience, it sneaks up on you. I remember having a bad day and just wanting to stay at home under my duvet, so I did. That was when I realised the low days were pretty constant. I suffered alone for a long time, I didn’t want to ‘bother’ anyone with my feelings or problems. Then one day, it felt like hitting a wall. I didn’t want to live my life anymore. Now, I’m not saying I wanted to commit suicide (that’s not me) however I hated my life. I wanted to run away, get on an aeroplane and not be me for a while. Thankfully I didn’t, instead, I spoke to my GP who took it all very seriously. I still get moments of extreme anxiety, over silly things like attending job interviews, I’ll be honest and say last year I cancelled three interviews due to my anxiety. Never feel alone, there are professionals out there, who don’t judge, don’t make you feel stupid, it is their job to give you what you need! It’s hitting the news so often these days of teenagers as young as 13 taking their own lives because no one is listening! I was very good at masking how I was feeling, chatty little me was so used to doing it that it was second nature but hitting that wall was a wake-up call. Please don’t suffer in silence!
  5. Social Isolation – I have always been a sociable person, coffee date, shopping, anything to get me out of the house. But there is the other side of being a carer when you feel guilty for having a life. My husband isn’t a great one for ‘going’ out. So I often feel guilty when I do. However, I have learnt that my anxiety and depression was at its peak when I wasn’t going out and I wasn’t enjoying work. But I’ve learnt in the last year to say ‘yes’ to experiences. My son is at a special school, a group of parents, I can connect with as we all have the same level of sleepEvery year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. But hundreds of thousands of people are still struggling. deprivation, the same issues of doing normal things. Suddenly, a group I could have a coffee with and not feel like I was alone. I guess the point I’m trying to make is…when was the last time you checked to see if your friend was okay? Asked them out for a coffee? I’m not just talking about friends who are carers! This counts for everyone!

This post today was inspired by the charity Mind. They are a charity who believe no-one should have to face a mental health problem alone. If you would like to know more about the charity and how it could help you or a loved one, please click on the link above.

So…I’m still a Mum who just happens to care for a hyperactive eight-year-old with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning difficulties.

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Are Mum’s Being Forced into Minimum Wage Jobs?

You know how it is, you decide you want to be a stay at home mum, you want to work fewer hours, you want more flexibility within your working day but there is just nothing suitable or flexible enough or your employer already feels the strain.

I never thought much about it, when I made the decision to leave my 9 to 5 job back in 2012. At the time, I had a nearly two-year-old, he wasn’t hitting his milestones and with more and more professionals suddenly taking an interest. I made the decision to find a job that was more ‘part time’. Easier said than done.

At the time, I had 10 years office experience, two years marketing and event experience and various skills including retail and hospitality but struggled to find a part-time position that was two or three days a week that paid more than minimum wage or in fact any wage. I eventually took on a casual (zero hour contract) position as it gave me the flexibility to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the hours I worked. For over seven years, I worked in the hospitality industry, at times working two casual jobs just to meet my mortgage. But for seven years, I never earned the same amount each month, I would go from £150 to over a £1000 depending on the required hours. I learnt that weekends or bank holidays were ‘busy’ times and no flexitime was allowed then. I got used to clock watching on a Saturday afternoon knowing I’d have to leave for work around 3pm or getting in at 3am on a Monday morning knowing you have to get up in three hours to get your kids to school! Those were the days! But it gave me the flexibility to pick my daughter up from school, take my son to his hearing appointments, study at college and university and I worked with some of the most professional and inspirational people I have ever met.

Did I feel that I had a choice? Not really, I tried the supermarket option during those seven years, it was great. 8 hours a week minimum, I earnt regular money and I could have over time. Then my shifts started moving around throughout the day. ‘When did my hours suddenly become portable?’ apparently, it was written into my contract that I had ‘flexible’ hours meaning if they gave me an 8am start, I couldn’t argue. Suddenly, it no longer worked but I still had hospitality to keep me afloat.


I’m am one of the lucky ones, tax credits really have supported my family over the years. I know its a controversial subject. Believe me, I’ve heard it all. ‘If you can’t afford kids don’t have them…’ I know. But we aren’t living in the ’70s or ’80s anymore when houses were worth £30k or a Dad’s £15k wage would cover all the bills, food for a month and still have change. I knew what I was taking on, I knew that I was going to have to return to work full time in 2007. Thank god for Grandparents! I was lucky, I managed to only have to pay for a part-time nursery place. Had I not had the support of my Mum and tax credits I wouldn’t have been able to return to work.

Childcard.jpgIt’s adjusted over the years, only one parent had to work full time, then it was both had to work – one over 24 hours a week and it continues to pinch the pennies. My 15 hours free a week was never enough, not when I was working 40 hours a week. I was pleased when the government increased the free childcare to up to 30 hours per week so parents like myself could return to work. It was too late to benefit me, but friends have been able to benefit from that little bit extra. However, you both have to be working and earning over £131 a week. Technically it’s spread across the whole year rather than 30 ‘actual’ hours.

If you imagine that a full-time wage is £1200 after tax etc. Average childcare in my area is £50-£60 a day. A full-time childcare place would set you back £1000 a month for one child under three. This was pretty much my life! Tax credits paid up to 80% at the time. Which took it down to about £800 a month for my two children once the 15 hours kicked in. If you’ve done the maths that leaves a total of £400! You spend 40 hours a week earning £9 an hour to eventually take home £400. Forgive me, I never saw the logic. I worked out at the time that I was actually better off, working part-time, saving on childcare and earning slightly less an hour.

I have friends, some in managerial roles who after maternity leave got to pick their hours, then I have the friends who can’t afford to work, the friends that rely on support of their parents for childcare, the friends that work as dinner ladies, the friends that are self-employed through Avon or betterware or juiceplus. Why are we still seen as the lesser sex before we chose to have children? The project planning, time management, multi-tasking alone makes us more employable. I’ve heard it all, I put myself forward for a promotion while working in hospitality. I was pretty much working 40 hours a week or more on minimum wage when a role came up that had more than enough experience for. I approached my manager, whose reply was ‘you have two children, you aren’t flexible or reliable enough.’

1.       I worked on average 40 – 50 hours a week

2.       Never called in sick

3.       I had spent two years learning from everyone, I was pretty much doing the job

4.       My children had never stopped me going to work or leaving early

5.       I was never late, I stayed over, often working later than any manager

I was pretty, shocked by the attitude of not only that manager but other staff members. Was being a parent really that bigger burden on my career? That manager left within a year, I kept quiet, did my job and received a promotion about nine months before leaving in 2015.

It stuck with me and to this day, it continues to drive me to prove that my children are most certainly not a burden. I have a foundation degree, a degree and I plan on studying a CIM in Marketing next year.

I should be sharing the joys about having my children while juggling and holding down a career but I feel constantly guarded. I’m not young, I’m not in my early 20’s embarking on my career. I’m pretty solid in the belief that my children are why I work hard, why I want them to be proud of me.

As Mum’s and some Dad’s should we be forced to take on minimum wage jobs, our skills should be assets. But I wonder how many of us downplay our experience just to get in the door (I know I have). Perhaps you feel pushed out of your job? Did you take on a minimum wage job just to feed your family?

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How Family Fund has helped us and how they could help you!

A Little Bit About Family Fund


Family Fund, like so many other charities, helps families like ours across the UK. If you are raising a disabled or child who is seriously ill and they are under the age of 17 and are on a low income, Family Fund may be able to assist you as a family or the individual child.

Last year, Family Fund provided over 88,000 grants and services worth over £33 million to families across the UK but without regular money coming in they wouldn’t be able to continue the great work they do. We were one of those families. Thanks to their kindness and grants, we have been able to proper time together as a family.
Family Fund was first established in 1973, and the first grant of £26 for hospital visiting costs was issued on 1 April 1973. In 1996, Family Fund became an independent charitable trust. Today, they are funded by the four UK governments, private donations and income they generate through the work of their Family Fund Business Services.

Our Story


We discovered Family Fund through our son’s Occupational Therapist. We wanted to go on a proper family holiday, but having recently given up work to care for our disabled son, we only had one income, and it was a struggle. So we discovered Family Fund, and I was pleasantly surprised by how straight forward the application process was. Our application was sent via the post with the supporting documentation, and it was roughly four weeks before we had our first approval. We’d applied for a Haven holiday voucher. Like most charities, you have to have a particular item or holiday in mind when you apply. They offer Ipads, white goods, garden modifications, holidays, clothing, just to name a few. You can apply, however, to change your funding once it has been approved if you want to change your award. We have never requested two items, but I have friends who have applied for money towards a holiday and garden equipment like a trampoline.

Once the voucher is awarded. It takes seven days to be credited to Haven or the appropriate holiday provider. Our first voucher we’d already booked our trip, so I called up and told them about our award, and they credited the amount to our holiday. This has since changed, and you can’t use the voucher for any holidays already booked. You can, of course, book two trips and use the voucher towards both.

What it has given us

We are no longer cramped in a budget hotel, in one room having to go to bed at 9pm with our son, having a caravan provides us with the flexibility to put him to bed and sit in another room and spend time with our daughter. We have found both Haven and Perran Sands to be so accommodating. Thomas is sensitive to noise, so we have always requested a caravan away from the entertainment centre. For the first time, this year have requested an accessible caravan as it was a struggle last year.
We have used Family Fund now for three or four years, I logon to our online account and once a year request a Haven holiday. They limit you to once a year applications for obvious reasons although in exceptional circumstances the may accept a further application.

How can you help them

It is often underestimated how much it can cost to raise a disabled child. In fact, on average, it costs three times more to raise a disabled child compared to a child without additional needs. Family Fund understands this and is committed to help families, improve their quality of life and help them feel included. A big key to their success is fundraising.
Every penny raised will help Family Fund continue to develop and deliver new ways to support families raising disabled or seriously ill children.
Whether you fancy hosting your own Messy Tea Party or Dress Fun Friday on the 21st June 2019. There are still so many families to help! Please check out their website for more information about how you could help.
If you have any questions about donating to, or fundraising for Family Fund, you can speak to their Fundraising Team on 01904 550033 or email fundraising@familyfund.org.uk.
*We are not affiliated, associated, authorised, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the Family Fund or Haven Holidays.*