We are still enjoying the occasional sunny day right now but there is no mistaking the chill in the air, and there is no ignoring the fact that the days have started getting much shorter. We are right in the lead-in for what is traditionally the most stressful time of the year, as we contend with the worse weather, the kids being back in school and coming home with the latest cough or cold, and the bills starting to rack up. This is the time of year when we all start getting run down and stressed, and it can sometimes feel like we are dragging ourselves across the finish line of Christmas.
In short, we could all use a little extra help to take some of the headaches out of the build-up to the holidays and bring that plane in for a smooth landing. The good news is that there are always strategies that you can use to make sure that you are saving a few extra pounds, taking care of yourself, and looking after your family that do not have to be a huge stress. Here are some tips to help you get started.
You Need To Get Organised
We all have someone in our lives who plans absolutelyeverything, right down to the last detail. It can look exhausting sometimes, but the truth is that we have all looked at that person and envied their ability to know exactly where they are going to be at 3pm on Thursday a month from now. As a parent, you know that there is always going to be a little (or a lot) more chaos than you can plan for but getting organised will do wonders for your stress levels.
Set some time aside to look at all the commitments that you have coming up in the next few weeks. We are talking about everything from picking your kids up from school and doctor’s appointments to coffee with friends and the due dates on bills. It may look a bit intimidating all written down, but once you have a clear list, you can start to plan your days and look at what needs to be moved.
Know What You Have In Your Budget
Speaking of bills, once of the most stressful things about the winter and the lead-in to the holidays is that there seems to be no stopping the river of money flowing out of your bank account. Just when you think everything has been accounted for, you need to pay for a plumber to come in and sort the heating or a new coat for your child because they lost it on a school trip. You cannot plan ahead for each and every unexpected expense, but if you have a clear idea of what your finances are, you can start to work on a cushion for them.
Break down all of your bills and expenses for the months ahead. Make a food budget if you don’t have one, and factor in the typical winter costs that you’ll be paying for every year (new warm clothes, cold medicine, parties and so forth). Remember that your energy bills will always be higher in the winter (and this winter they’ll be higher than most). Look at how much money you have left over in your budget and ask yourself if this is going to be enough to cover those out of nowhere costs.
Look For Ways That You Can Save, Or Earn, More
Once you have a clear idea of how much you are going to be spending every month, you are going to have a clear idea of how much you need to start saving. Think carefully about where you can start to make cuts that will be relatively painless. Think about whether you can rideshare with someone could cut down on petrol money, or you could start taking public transport to work if you don’t already. Plan your family’s meals and snacks ahead of time.
If you are running out of ways to cut down on costs, you could look at ways to earn money from home. Taking on a side hustle or freelance work is a great way of using your skillset to boost your income, although you obviously need to have enough time to do so. You could also think about looking for sign up or referral bonuses for subscriptions and other plans. For example, Lebara’s refer a friend scheme offers you up to £50 and your friend gets a discount on their plan. Lebara’s SIM only plans run on Vodafone’s award-winning network, and you can cancel at any time.
Set Some Time Aside For You
Anyone with a family knows that “me time” can be a hard thing to by. You spend so much time making sure that everyone else is healthy and happy that your needs can get pushed to the end of the queue. However, we have all learned a lot more about mental health and burnout over the last eighteen months, and we all know that this is a time of year when we can start to burn the candle at both ends. If you want to make sure that you are avoiding stress as much as possible, setting some time aside for yourself and your needs is absolutely crucial. It is worth noting that you are going to be less capable of solving the next crisis if you are already at your wits’ end!
If possible, sit down with your partner and talk about how you can factor in some time that’s just for you into the schedule. It can be as much or as little as you are comfortable, but something as simple as going to sit in café or a pub with a book for an hour or two can make a world of difference. You should also remember to keep looking for couple time too, it’s still important to have a date night even if things are stressfulto take a step away from everything else.