I made this today for my daughter and it has kept her entertained longer than any toy she owns. It’s easy to make and there are ways to minimise the mess. I fill a baking tray with high sides to contain the dough and try to keep it at the kitchen table. You can make it more powdery if you like but I find this consistency good because it holds together like wet sand. But it is easier to wash off their hands than sand!
2 cups flour
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the two ingredients in the tray your child is going to play in (fewer dishes :)) Combining it with your hands is the easiest way. It will still crumble apart but if you mould it it holds together.
I just give my kids some measuring cups, silicon bun cases and plastic cutlery and let them pretend to bake/ make sandcastles. My 5 year old likes this just as much as my 3 year old and I like it even more because of the peace it grants me 🙂
As I write this, I am somewhat ironically, drinking a £2.50 cup of coffee in a coffee shop. But in my defence, I very rarely have a kids’ free hour, so if babysitting is offered I’m going to enjoy a cup of coffee without interruptions that lead to it to it being microwaved multiple times. I am guilty of committing some of these money wastages and it is from experience that I speak. I have often taken into account the small amount that an individual item costs, but failed to see it as part of a shockingly large total.
- Takeaways. It’s ok to get the occasional takeaway but when it becomes a weekly habit it wastes more money than you would think. If you spend £20 a week on takeaway for your family, that equates to over £1000 a year just on food deliveries. Keep appetising alternatives in the freezer to avoid temptation.
- Buying bottled water. I don’t really understand why people drink bottled water in places where the water is perfectly safe to drink; perhaps it is just a flavour preference or the idea of the water being cleaner. If that’s the case, it would be cheaper to buy a water filter and bring your own water in a reusable bottle when you go out.
- Coffee shop coffee can be a nice treat, but if you make it into a regular habit it proves very expensive. If you buy three cups of coffee a week in the average coffee shop, you would spend about £350 a year just on coffee. You can easily make filter coffee at home and I find that one bag of own brand coffee (costing £4.25) lasts me about two weeks. I usually drink two cups a day, so that works out at 15p a cup, and to be honest, it’s just as good.
- Buying branded items for no reason. I can understand buying certain branded items, if they have a distinctive taste. For example, I can’t get my taste buds around unbranded versions of cola. But spending five times the amount on branded stock cubes doesn’t make sense to me; is there a better-tasting version of fake chicken water? The value ones are just fine. Don’t be put off by plain packaging: you can barely detect the difference in its contents.
- Unnecessary TV channels. I know a lot of people who spend large amounts of money each year on TV packages when they only use a small percentage of the channels. I don’t know anyone who has time to watch hundreds of channels. I’m a bit weird, but I barely watch TV and only spend £2.99 a month on Now TV for my kids. If you only watch recorded shows you don’t even need to TV license. They also have entertainment, movie and sport passes.
- Going overboard at Christmas and birthdays. It shocks me how many people put themselves into debt to keep up with present requests from friends, family, and especially from their kids. If your get kids too much they don’t appreciate what they do have and don’t have time to play with it all. I have noticed when my kids have more toys they are easily distracted and more unsettled. It is pointless trying to outdo other parents with expensive parties and presents: those won’t be the things your kids remember. Agree to a Christmas budget for each member of your family. For example, my family members don’t spend over £20 on any person and we are always happy with the presents we receive. The less you get the more you remember. Have you ever noticed how many unwanted presents end up in charity shops in January?
- Going to shops “just for a look.” I have learnt that window shopping always turns into shopping indoors, with a bank card leaving your purse and a bag exiting the shop alongside you. The items you end up buying are always unplanned and leave you feeling regretful afterwards too. I think it is better to think over any purchases you hadn’t planned to get to figure out if you really want them or if you just got over-excited by the fancy window displays. I am definitely speaking from experience on this one.
- Driving distances you could easily walk. If you try to refrain from doing this, at least if the weather is cooperative, you would be surprised how much of your petrol is wasted on ten minute round trips.
- Paying for expensive classes for your kids instead of looking for free events/cheap memberships. When my oldest was a baby, I paid for her to go to baby classes that were £10 a session. I think she got more out of mums and tots, which was £1 a time and involved a free snack for her, and for me. Sometimes I think parents get lured by advertising and comparing what they are doing to what other parents are doing. If you ask most kids about expensive classes they are attending, they would probably rather be spending their time with their family or playing with their friends in the garden. There are so many free and cheap community events that it is pointless putting a financial strain on yourself just to keep up with what everyone else is doing. On the other hand, I think it is worth paying a membership for somewhere you go to often, as it works out much cheaper than paying per time.
- Buying lots of pairs of cheap shoes instead of investing in a really good pair. My boots cost about £100, but I have had one pair of them for five years, and another pair for two years, with little sign of wear. Any time I buy a pair of shoes for a fraction of this price they fall apart in a number of weeks. Some things are worth investing in: like decent, sturdy footwear and toilet roll that doesn’t feel like printer paper on your delicate parts.