Family Day’s out on a Shoestring

We all know holidaying abroad or even in this country isn’t cheap.  If you’re a family that is always feeling the pinch, finding spare pennies to spend on leisure is tough and that is definitely how we often feel in our household.

We took our only son on his first holiday aboard in May.  We choose May because we didn’t want the weather to be scorching hot for him (he was 22 months) but with his 2nd birthday coming up in June it meant we wouldn’t have to pay for him!  Big saving already!

Now we’re in August, everyone around us seems to be going away somewhere beautiful and hot and we’d taken a week off work to spend some family time at home.  It’s easy to think a ‘week at home’ won’t cost a penny but that really isn’t true.  There aren’t a lot of ‘free’ days out there but if you plan ahead you can definitely cut corners.  And that’s what we did!

We had a fantastic day at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park at the start of our week.  If you haven’t been it really is something that the whole family, of all ages will enjoy.  It’s not a cheap day out by no means but you can save money by ordering tickets online or if you shop with Tesco’s  (like we do) you can exchange your Clubcard vouchers for days outs.  It cost just £16 in vouchers for 2 adults (under 3’s are free) saving us £58!

We had a few odd jobs to get done at home and a trip to Ikea Southampton was needed.  We love eating out, and when the bill for 2 cooked breakfasts and 2 hot drinks comes to £4 we love it even more!  Their café is perfect for kids with a play centre in the middle with seating all the way round the edge so you watch your little ones while you enjoy some good food.

Next was a day out at Butlins in Bognor Regis.  We know of friends with children who have holidayed here and had such fun so wanted to try it out for ourselves but just for the day!  A day pass for an adult is £25 but we found a 25% off voucher meaning we paid £18 per adult, which is a little less painful on the pocket.  Entrance is from 10am-8pm and there is easily plenty for the family to enjoy and with the weather in Britain being so unpredictable it doesn’t matter if you go on a wet day as there is so much to do indoors.  The shows really made our day and definitely were the highlight – along with meeting Mike the Knight and turning our son in to a little tiger when he had his face painted.

To finish off a busy week we took a trip to Paulton’s Park.  We live just 10 minutes from the park so have season tickets so the day didn’t cost us a penny.

We stocked up on a picnic food at the beginning of the week so we wouldn’t need to buy food on any of our days out.  You could spend a fortune eating at these sorts of parks and who doesn’t love some picnic treats?

All in all we’ve had a lovey week together, taking a break from our routine and spending some family time.  But now it’s back to reality and we’ll be busy, busy, busy over the next few weeks organising our next Market at the Littledown Centre on 16th September.  We’re also on the hunt for new Organiser to join us and run markets across Dorset.  For more details email selina@littlepicklesmarkets.co.uk 

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Marketing Me Socially

This is an entry into the JoanneDewberry.co.uk blogging competition

Millions of people have heard Lord Sugar tell his story of how he started up with a van and £100, others who started with the simplest ideas and no budget but ended up with successful business’ through no money but loads of hard work and forward thinking. So many small businesses do succeed without going on Dragons Den!

Things have changed just a little bit since Lord Sugar started out but I guess the principle is still the same, you don’t need a massive advertising budget to get your business off the ground, you just have to be smart and utilise all the amazing free resources around you.

My marketing strategy for my Little Pickles Markets in Dorset basically has to deliver key 2 things, sell the tables at my market and get buyers to attend. If I don’t sell my stalls then the buyers have nothing to buy, if I don’t have any buyers then I’ll have a lot of upset stall holders, they very simply go hand in hand.

Social media has changed the way so many of us communicate there’s no denying it, I think the day I received a ‘friend request’ on Facebook from my Mum was the day I realised what a huge impact it had had of my life. I’d been using Facebook socially for years, sharing photos with family, arranging to meet up with friends, “Liking” local business’ and events that I was interested in just like millions of others do every day. When I made the life changing decision to become self-employed after having my son I knew Facebook would be an amazing resource. I could see from the local business’ how much interest they’d gained from using their page so it inspired me to create my own.

My business, like pretty much every other has competition but I hope what sets me apart from the others is the way I deal with people, make them feel comfortable and the way we operate as a family business. That kind of message is very difficult to get across on a poster but can be communicated with social media. My Facebook page allows me to get my business information across but I can also be myself which allows me to enjoy my job, if I enjoy my job I work harder at it, when I work harder the business does better and so it’s a very positive circle rather than a vicious or destructive one. By creating a friendly, informative page that isn’t just drilling home a business message I feel I can really engage with my ‘Likers’ and then they in turn spread a positive message about the business. I can “Like” other business’ and share their messages which helps build a powerful community of small business that help each other and swap favours but still doesn’t cost a single penny!

I don’t just use Facebook, also Twitter, Netmums, Mumsnet and the fantastic new Playdates sites are all very useful tools and are very effective. They all give me the opportunity to advertise my stalls in the months leading up to the market and then advertise more intensively in the fortnight before to get buyers through the door. This could be from getting RT’s on Twitter from relevant well known personalities or posting in forums. At my most recent market I took a straw poll on where the buyers had found out about the markets and over half was from social media which is proof that it works!

Little Pickles Markets Dorset allows families to save or make money through recycling their children’s pre-loved items.

Selina & Michelle – Dorset & West Totton Little Pickles Market Co-ordinator 

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A guide to being safe as a consumer when buying at Little Pickles Markets

At Little Pickles Markets we want everyone to have an enjoyable experience, and too grab a bargains or two. Although Little Pickles Markets, do our best to ensure the standard of items for sale is high, it is up to you, the buyer to ensure that you are happy with the item you are purchasing, whether from a second-hand or one of the business stalls, before any money is exchanged. Little Pickles Markets cannot be held responsible for the condition of any item that has been bought at one of our events.

Using the following sites we have compiled a list of important information for consumers, this list is not exhaustive: –

  • Trading Standards – www.tradingstandards.gov.uk (There are some handy leaflets and downloads)

  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ( RoSPA) www.rospa.com

  • Foundation for the Study of Infant Death (FSID) www.fsid.org.uk (you can order a useful wall thermometer – explaining how many blankets to put your baby in for the temp of the room)

  • Baby Centre www.Babycentre.co.uk

For reasons of health and hygiene, there are some goods that we advise against selling (unless brand new in packaging)

These include:

  • Dummies

  • Beakers or cups

  • Potties or toilet training seats

Car Seats

Although safety experts advice against buying car seats second-hand due to the fact you cannot guarantee that it hasn’t been involved in a crash. Even a seat that has been involved in a minor accident and displays no visible damage, may no longer provide adequate protection for your child in a further accident. We advice that car seats may be difficult to sell on but we don’t stop sellers bringing them along.

For further information on Car Seats and the various stages see our guides.  Car Seats from Birth & Second Stage Car Seats.

Electrical Items

  • Portable Appliance Testing

UK Law states that any second-hand electrical items must be PAT tested by a competent person before being sold and should include the manufacturer’s instruction manual. Please do bear this advice in mind before you buy any electrical item second-hand.

Pushchairs4527600

Check out our guide and top tips to buying Pushchairs, buggies and travel systems second-hand.

Cots / Moses baskets / carry cots /

Is it complete?

  • Check all the pieces carefully before buying, and ensure that all components are present, including screws, panels etc.

  • Check the finish and make sure that wooden models are smooth and have no splintered edges.

  • Ensure that painted models have no flaking or chipped paint

  • Look at the space between the bars, ensure that your child will not get their hands, feet or head stuck.

Travel Cots

Always ask the seller to put the cot up for you, not only so you can ensure its in perfect working order, with no rips or tears but so that you can see how the mechanism works.

Whenever possible ask for the instruction manuals.

Mattresses

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) advises that it is very important for your baby’s mattress to be clean, dry, firm, flat and that it is a perfect fit into the baby’s cot/ Moses basket. Ideally you should buy a new mattress for each new baby. If you want to buy one second-hand, ensure that it has a completely waterproof cover with no tears, cracks or holes. Also ensure that it is exactly the right size for the cot.

** Websites such as Kiddicare do have great sales on they also provide discounts on multi-purchaes of the same item – Think about clubbing together with other new mums or mums to be maybe from anti natal to purchases a few mattresses or carsets and split the discount. **

Highchairs

Read our comprehensive guide to highchairs and what to look out for when buying second hand.

Toys

  • Safety Marks

In the case of second-hand toys look for the CE mark. All toys approved by the British Toy and Hobby Association will also carry the Lion Mark. Avoid buying handmade toys unless they have the above markings.

  • Condition

Check that a toy is not broken or damaged and inspect for loose parts or sharp edges that could be a potential hazard to your child. Ensure that the toy is suitable for your child’s age range. Batteries Check the battery compartment to make sure that old batteries haven’t leaked and rendered the toy unusable.

If you are ever unsure or have any queries please do ask any member of the Little Pickles Markets

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Start a family friendly business

According to a recent survey by Mumsnet and the Daycare Trust more than a third of parents have considered quitting work due to childcare costs. Around one in eight (12) having left a job, while one in 5 have turned a job offer down because of the cost of childcare. ever found yourself in a similar situation?

Given these statistics there is no better time to start your own business.

Are you??

  • Friendly?

  • Organised?

  • Love meeting new people?

  • Do you understand how much it can cost to raise a family?

  • Are you someone that likes a challenge?

  • Do you have or want to build links with the local children’s sector, including pre-schools, nurseries, schools, toddler groups, activity groups and many more?

  • Are you regularly be able to check you emails to keep up to date with your latest bookings and enquiries?

  • Can you be available at weekends to run markets, for about 4/5 hours?

If you have answered yes to 5 or more of the above then a career with Little Pickles could be what you are looking for!

Little Pickles Markets in less than 2 years has branched from Jessamine to a total of 13 branch leaders and growing still. Not only have Little Pickles Markets become a nationally recognised brand, they have developed a large following on Facebook and Twitter.

The best part of all is that Little Pickles Markets give you all the support you need to set-up and run successful markets. You will receive a starter kit including a banner, t-shirt, flyers, organiser handbook, goody bags, company public liability insurance, your very own @littlepicklesmarkets.co.uk email address. And best of all there are no start up costs!

I enjoy running the Little Pickles Markets in Hampshire, as I can put in the hours that I want to, and fit everything around school runs and holidays, being my own boss works so well, as I get to meet so many new people, and my kids love helping too ! The growth in Hampshire has been great, to watch the markets get bigger, and receive great feedback from the buyers and sellers makes it so worthwhile, knowing we are helping other families, and earning money at the same time.” Tarryn Hunt Little Pickles Portsmouth

The earning potential of Little Pickles Markets really does depend on you. So if your looking for a new challenge or something to complement an existing business or employment contact us today.

**Mumsnet questioned around 1,000 mums – the statistics mentioned were taken from Yahoo article **

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What Baby Equipment do I REALLY need to buy?

The list of items you can buy for your baby is endless. Many gadgets and gizmos are on the market to ‘make your life simpler’. But you are on a budget, so what do you really need and what can you do without?

Car seat

From the minute you leave the hospital, you will need to make sure baby is safe in the car. For a guide to choosing the right car seat, please read our guide here

Somewhere to sleep

It is a personal choice whether you use a cot, cot bed, moses basket or crib. You may find a cot is too big for a newborn, yet a moses basket may only last you a couple of weeks, especially if you have a big baby. Moses baskets are easy to move, so you can use it to keep baby fairly close to you in the day and then move it into your bedroom at night. A crib/cradle is slightly larger, giving the baby more room, but cannot be moved around during the day. Ask around your friends, see what they preferred. Second-hand cots, cribs and moses baskets are easily to find on the Second-hand market, but it is recommended you buy a new mattress for whatever bed you choose. When buying second hand, ensure your chosen ‘bed’ is strong and sturdy, in good condition. Ideally, especially with cots, you should look for one that comes with the instructions.

Clothes

You will need a selection of babygro’s, vests, bibs and cardigans. If you are having a winter baby, you will also need to think about a coat or snowsuit, plus hats. It is worth remembering that people will inevitably buy you pink or blue clothing once baby is born, so do not go too mad beforehand or you will end up with so many clothes that you won’t be able to use them all.

Pram

Our guide to pushchairs will help you to decide which style to buy and again, these can be picked up for a fraction of the price second-hand

Feeding

No matter how you intend to feed, it may be worth having bottles and a steriliser on standby. Despite best intentions, you may find you have to bottle feed and do not need added stress of having to get everything after baby is born. You could borrow from a friend or find a good quality second hand steriliser and buy new bottles.  You will also need muslin cloths and bibs, as it is bound to get messy!

Nappies

What goes in, has to come out! Re-usable/washable/cloth nappies are the cheapest to use, but they are not for everyone. Some people would also say that disposable are ‘easier’ for the first couple of weeks while you settle into your new life, but again this is personal choice. The most important thing is to have a stash ready and waiting. Whilst on the subject of changing, you also need to think where you will change baby – a changing mat is cheapest, but will need to be used on the floor, or you can get a specially designed changing table. Again, these can be found at a fraction of the cost second-hand. You will also need a supply of baby wipes or cotton wool and a top & tail bowl.

 

Other bits you may want to consider: Baby Monitor, a bath or a bath support, nail clippers, blanket/shawl, Dummies, Changing Bag.

This list is designed as a useful starting point, it is a personal guide to what is essential but remember it is a personal choice that wholly depends on your lifestyle and your budget. Many items can be bought second-hand, but be sure to check all items carefully and remember the items that you should buy new (mattresses and bottle teats being the essential ones).

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