Do you ever feel like life needs a great big shake up? Like it is one big long list of things to do? Got loads of niggly things that need sorting, but never get to do the stuff you really want to do or work out what you really want from life? Kids are bored, or have been complaining about the same little problems for months? Or demanding playdates and you just haven’t found the time to sort it out? It is so easy for important things to get shoved on a back burner, because there is always way more urgent stuff that needs doing.
We had a tough weekend of being ill, the kids were bored and hit meltdown, so Mr A and I decided to think up some new strategies to make family life a bit happier. The new Poundworld Plus store opened in Nottingham last week, and the team had challenged me to see how far I could make £50 go, so sorting out some of our family niggles in a thrifty fashion seemed like a great place to start.
Ever get the feeling you are paying over the odds for things too, because you are too crazy busy to think? I realised how much money we waste on things sometimes, because we’re rushing. When I turned up at Poundworld Plus on Monday morning, they’d had a really popular opening weekend, an extra lorry had been deployed to bring in new stock, the supervisor apologised that a couple of shelves looked a little bare. But there were absolutely loads of bargains to be found. The deal with Poundworld Plus is that it now offers items that aren’t a pound, but still offer exceptional value.
There are loads of ways I could have approached this challenge of course. While I was there, I could see a young couple getting all they needed for their home, students stocking up on stationary, a parent planning a kids’ party, knitters getting bargain wool and lots of people just looking to get a real bargain on everyday items like shampoo, ketchup, tea bags and washing powder.
My lack of motivation £3
Sometimes in order to care for others, you have to start with yourself. I’ve been feeling decidedly unmotivated recently, although this challenge really got my creative juices flowing again and I really enjoyed it. I’m in limbo between moving house and a complete change in lifestyle, and it’s a little frustrating. This mantra reminded me of an article I read about listing all the things you want to do in life. I’m not a bucket list sky diving, tough mudder kind of list maker, but I do want to do some contemporary dance again, make an Ottolenghi recipe, and go on holiday just with Mr A, so this jar is now full of those wishes and I will work on one a week (or whenever I find myself staring out my office window aimlessly. (Jar £1, Glass Mantra £2)
My procrastination £2
I’ve always been a perfectionist and it kills me sometimes, I can procrastinate for England. I usually beat it with a timer on my phone or the Pomodoro app, both of which help me make a start on things, but things have got so bad recently that I now need the constant ticking of a good old fashioned egg timer to spur me on. It’s September too, so that calls for a new notebook to make new motivational plans in. (Notebook £1, Egg timer £1)
Can I have the iPad? £2
We reached new iPad lows during a recent sickness epidemic in the house, and so Mr A has installed an app to stop the kids using them for more than one or two hours at a time. We’re also trying to help the kids find other things to do. I created this Idea Jar to entice them, rather like my jar, it is based on the idea that humans are more motivated by random results (this is why people get addicted to gambling and email inboxes). I added the pretty strings to make it even more fun to use. Bag of ribbons £1, Jar £1.
We’ve forgotten to buy a birthday/thank you/congratulations card! £3 for 10
I love these crafty supplies, great for making cards for all kinds of occasions. The chalkboard labels come with a chalk too. £1 for 10 cards, £1 for 12 labels, £1 for a set of alphabet stickers.
Muuuuumm! I can’t find the end of the sellotape! £1
It’s birthday season, in fact this month is the most popular birth month (Christmas is such a happy time), so one of my kids and plenty of their friends have birthdays. Heavy Duty sellotape dispenser (£1)
Can we go to the cinema? £1 plus popcorn kernels, DVD or Netflix
I don’t mind the odd cinema trip but the cost can be eyewatering. I love these popcorn bags and they make a home cinema experience, or sneaking popcorn into the cinema, so much more fun. Perfect party bags too! 10 Popcorn bags £1
Can we go trick or treating? £5
We always leave this to the last minute, but not any more, the Halloween range at Poundworld is ace! Scream masks £1, Haribo Trick or Treat £1 a bag, Warning Tape £1.
Can you teach me to knit? £3
One thing I have been doing more of is crochet, and the whole family loves to see the results each evening, it’s magic to see a physical result from your efforts, instead of the evening disappearing into phone twiddling or television. Now the kids want to learn, I bought these big needles and balls of wool so that L can make her own scarf. Needles £1, Wool Buy 2 get one free £2.
Pound world Plus has a big range of pet supplies, I’m a little wary of what we are feeding Max so I went for some brand names I trust, which were 50-75p cheaper than the supermarket. Dog treats £1
What can we do when my friend comes to play? £2
It’s always good to have a trick up your sleeve to help a new playdate feel at home, my daughter and her friend loved painting these mini canvasses for their bedrooms. 4 mini Canvasses, £1. Acrylic paints £1
I am so bored and destructive right now. £1
A bit of graffiti is good for the soul and we’re big fans of Bansky in this house after seeing his exhibition in Amsterdam. Also, a great trick for a playdate that needs redirecting to a more creative outlet, I love these giant chalks £1.
We’re hungry Mum! £3
We never seem to have enough snacks in the house, I remember my mum giving me these cheese cracker shapes in my packed lunch and they make a fun, sugar free snack. The chocolate rice crackers are a massive hit when we go to the gym, but they are expensive, this pack of 6 is only £1. And swiss rolls are a fab treat. £1 each packet.
The washing up £3
Well the washing up is never going to be magically solved, but you can make it more fun. With this washing up brush £1 and gigantic bottles of fairy liquid only £2.
We’ve run out of ketchup and I still have chips left Dad! £1.50
This usually involves a quick trip to the local shop, where a bottle nearly one third of the size costs nearly the same price as this gigantic bottle. This one will last three times longer! 875ml Ketchup £1.50
Can we do something together Mum? £1
Pound world Plus had lots of bulbs, I have been meaning to plant more Alliums for ages. Always a good activity with bored kids that has something in it for me too. Bulbs £1.
Mr A’s Raynauds Phenomenon £2
As the Winter comes Mr A gets painful white fingers from Raynauds, where the circulation doesn’t quite reach the fingertips. We can never have enough hand warmers, especially as the reusable ones have to be boiled after each use to reactivate them. Something like this would cost a lot more in a gift shop. Handwarmers in knitted covers £1 each.
My t shirt is always soaked after school swimming lessons because my ponytail is so long Mum! £1
Love it when you find something you have been meaning to buy for ages. I’ve been after one of these microfibre headtowels since the hot tub in Iceland with my good friend N. I also bought one for L for school swimming and a magnifying mirror because the light in the bathroom has been wrong forever. Microfibre head towel £1, Magnifying mirror £1.
What’s for tea? £3 (plus Quorn, veggies and grated cheese).
I’ve been meaning to try out homemade Lasagne on mine for ages but I am never sure if they will eat it, so this Dolmio £3 dinner kit for 4 was a quick and easy place to start. Plus it is always handy to have something in for emergency dinners! They wolfed it. I also bought a fajita kit.
Bought but not photographed here…I also bought a bag of nuts for my mid morning snack, two large canvases for the kids to paint, a birthday badge for Mr G as we couldn’t find one for L’s birthday and ended up ordering at great expense on the internet, a fajita kit and a pack of felt for crafting.
Spotted but didn’t buy this time… a fab heart shaped notice board for £3 and a funky doormat for £4. I’m too impatient for adult colouring, but the mindful colouring book was only a £1. Baking wares and supplies galore too.
Do have a browse next time you are near Poundworld or Poundworld plus, you never know what you might find! You can find Poundworld Plus in Nottingham in Trinity Square (between the Victoria Centre and Cineworld)
Thanks to Poundworld for asking me to work with them on this celebration of the new Poundworld Plus in Nottingham and getting me out of my creative funk. More info on how I work with brands here.