Adding value to me. (updated!)

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Last week we looked at ways to tighten the belt with the household budget. In this, the second in my series of posts talking about the idea of ‘value’, we shall be looking at ways to add value for you. They don’t necessarily cost money (in fact, most of them don’t cost anything – as is my constant quest), they don’t even have to take that much time, but they are 10 ways to add value to your life. To add value to who you are and how you feel. Read on!

My psychiatrist once told me that being a parent and a partner involves a hell of a lot of sacrifice and a mountain of compromise and you can only sustain that reality for so long. He reassured me that if I was to be sane, if my mood was to stabilise in a reliable way and if I was to be happy I had to build things into my life that were solely for me. Things that made making those sacrifices and compromises acceptable.

How many times do you say, ‘I don’t have time’?

How often do you mutter, ‘There’s just not enough hours in the day’?

How normal is it for you to think that there is nothing in your life that is just for you?

You know where these thoughts lead don’t you. They are at the top of the slippery slope to the realm of ‘I’m not worth it’, ‘no one cares’, ‘I don’t matter’. And well, some of us know that once you’re sliding down that hill, clawing your way back to the top is beyond arduous. And ugly.

For years – from when I was a tween actually – I have sort comfort in food. Baking and cooking for others made me happy. But it was a double-edged sword in that while it made me happy it also made me fat which made me bulimic and on it went.

It has only been this year, THIS YEAR, in fact, in the last three months that I’ve accepted I have to find something else as well as baking to be my time out, my thing. And it had to be something that didn’t cost anything. Or very little. So monthly massages, or pedicures or manicures or facials or subscriptions or so on were  simply not an option.

So here are some tips you can try to add value to your day. To make you feel better, to make you feel special, to revive your soul.

1. Get up off the lounge. Turn the TV off. Put the laptop down. Back away from the computer. Now go outside. No seriously. Go outside. What do you see? Is the sky blue? Is the sun shining? How large is the moon? Are there stars in the sky? What’s happening in your garden or on your street? TAKE IT IN.  It can take all of two minutes. Of course, it’s better if you can take 10 but I guarantee you it does wonders.

2. Are you doing any exercise? If you are, snaps to you. If you’re not, like I wasn’t up until 4 weeks ago then you must. Listen, it doesn’t need to be gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing heart-stopping madness (although this is what I’m doing at the moment to lose weight) it just needs to get you moving. And get this. It’s half an hour. 30 measly minutes. So see Point 1 up there, put on some sneakers and just go.

I was the queen of ‘I don’t have time’ but you know what, put those kids in a stroller or hell, get the bigger ones walking/riding/scootering with you. You will be amazed at how ‘just getting out of the house’ makes you feel better.

Once you start it will only take a couple of weeks before your body will start telling you that you need to go.

Remember this, it only takes four weeks to form a habit. Four teensy tiny weeks. Get to it.

3. Make something. Making things gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement that I am yet to find matched by anything else. Oh LOOK, you don’t need to be artistic or crafty, it can be as simple as buying some card, a stamp and making your own cards to give to people for birthdays or Christmas (mind you, I haven’t done Christmas cards – made or bought – in years. Not since that year I did about 40 of them then never got to post them until February the following year.)

And by ‘make something’ it can cover anything – get in the kitchen, try a new recipe for dinner or something yummy for afternoon tea. Something that busts you out of your rut that is ‘pizzas for dinner on Mondays’.

4. Pick up the phone and call a friend. This year I made a concerted effort to stay in touch more effectively with friends not just via Facebook or Twitter. Actual conversations! I know! It has been delightful.

5.  Get together. Meet up with friends. Not with kids on tow. Either go out to dinner or a movie or for a walk together. The most effective stress-release for women with children? GETTING TOGETHER WITH OTHER WOMEN IN SIMILAR SITUATION.

6. SCHEDULE. Now look, I know. We all want spontaneity and excitement but if you have two working adults with any number of children (or even without children I might add) you  Write in when you’re going to go for that walk/run/swim. Make a date with your friend not just a ‘we must get together’, write down what day you’re going to call that person and so on and so forth. Then treat those as you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting – you wouldn’t just no-show to those, so don’t no-show to these. Hell, we even schedule in ‘special times’.

7. Go to bed. Are you reading blogs at midnight? Tweeting at 11pm? GO TO BED. The best quality deep sleep comes before midnight. You need good quality sleep for mood regulation. Enough said.

So there you go – they all seem so obvious don’t they. So innocuous. But if you do them it makes such a difference.

I’d love to know what do you do in your day for you – what is the one (or more!) activity you do that tells you ‘I matter’?

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week:  Purchase the Patiomaster HD 4 burner BBQ for only $499 and receive a BONUS 3 piece outdoor setting valued at $149!

Tightening the belt

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Most of you know that this year has been all about tightening the household budgetary belt and you know, we’ve actually done incredibly well. I mean, we haven’t saved anything but we have not spent beyond our means for a whole 11 months. Pretty amazing huh.

So I thought it would be the perfect place to start in my series looking at the concept of ‘value’. Most of these are completely obvious and there are probably loads more ways we could be saving money so please, share your tips via comments too OK?

allconsuming’s Top 10 ways to tighten the family budget

  1. Set a weekly menu plan and shop specifically to that list. Oh, and back away from the brand names.
  2. Buy a decent brand of coffee and/or tea and cease and desist buying one every time you leave the house.
  3. Have people over for morning or afternoon tea rather than meeting at the coffee shop. Making a slice or cake or batch of biscuits is far more economical than the $$ you will dole out at a cafe.
  4. Stop buying magazines. Depending on your want (fashion, food, gossip, lifestyle/home) there are plenty of blogs and/or online options
  5. Review all your plans – phone plans, pay-tv plans, insurance plans, utilities – take the time to investigate better options. You don’t need to do them all at once, just tackle one at a time. We took a long hard look at our pay-tv subscription, questioned what we would miss versus how much it cost us and well, we ditched the whole thing. The only thing we miss: Grand Designs, AFL, SpongeBob. Hardly life-altering or unbearable.
  6. This one has been tough but absolutely necessary: no more take-aways. I mean, take-away for seven people, five of those essentially eating adult portions is incredibly expensive. Instead we try to really create variety with weekly dinners at home. I must say, I really yearn for one night a week where I say, ‘let’s order take-away’.
  7. Review extra-curricular activities – can it be done better, how much is too much. Now this is a bit laden as it cuts right to the core of giving your kids a range of experiences and activities. We had to reach the decision that each child got 1-2 activities they could do, ideally a sport and an arts orientated one. Oscar’s taken care of mostly through free activities due to his special needs, Felix has done drama and football. Jasper has just picked up dance and Grover is none the wiser at this stage but I think the two little fellas will do gymnastics next year.  I ditched the swimming lessons for the little boys which some would say was foolish. But really, having done swimming lessons with three of the boys surely I had taken on enough to be able to teach them water safety when we’re in the pool at my in-laws or over at the ocean pool or in the surf the several times a week we are there during summer? Instead I’m investigating a week-long intensive option over the school holidays as Jasper is now in need of some stroke lessons. That and the swimming club offers free lessons (gold coin donation) at the ocean pool every weekend during summer. Tick.
  8. It’s not where you shop but how you wear it. No really. It is.
  9. Plan plan plan. Life throws enough curve balls so let’s try and limit their impact. I have a list of bigger ticket items that are going to need replacing at some stage in the near future. Then I keep track of prices of that item and how often there are sales on. I’ve also signed up at two online sales websites: brandsExclusive and buyinvite and if something comes up there which is on my list it may get ticked off (if the price is right as it were).
  10. Homemade is not a dirty word. Now look, I know many of you are not crafty and do not cook/bake, but I do (definitely more of the latter than the former) and so this is a case of playing to my strengths. If you know me then you just have to accept that a birthday gift or a thank you present or a contribution to a hamper or some such is going to be made by me. Yes, I will try and make it look nice but it will always taste good and was made with love. I reckon that’s far nicer than another bloody teatowel/vase/dust-collector.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Purchase the Mountain Buggy Swift from Baby and receive a FREE Storm and Sunshade valued at $79.90 at

Value adding

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Most of you are well aware of how this year has been all about tightening the proverbial belt on our household expenditure, so when Nuffnang approached me to see if I’d be interested in doing a series of posts on the theme ‘value’ to tie in with KIA launching their new Cerato Hatch car it seemed like a pretty nice fit.

Of course, I initially thought they were asking if I’d like to drive one around for a week or something and was all, FREEEEEEDOM!, seeing as the idea of a Hatch plus four boys was never going to work. I still chortle at the thought of it, ‘OK kids, let’s go to the movies. What? You don’t fit? Oh well. SEE YA!’ Now that is value adding I say.

Of course, then I actually read the brief and it was far more realistic and far less likely to see DOCS at our door for child abandonment. So, for the next six weeks I will be running a weekly post looking at the idea of ‘value’.

At the same time, KIA is running a website packed with value-added offers at on everything from computers to cameras to appliances or travel. Go on, click on over to see what’s on offer today.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of new KIA Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Spend $700 on any Del Notebook or Desktop and get a BONUS AIO Printer / Copier for $1