Ideas for the lockdown!

My lockdown might be different to many, as a Nurse I cannot work from home. My fabulous residents still need me, so I am still going to work, caring for my residents wih my wonderful carers, domestics and handyman, fellow nurses and management! It only feels a little different to me, more phone calls from family, rather than face to face visits. We have the ability for families to skype with their loved ones, so that is helpful as well. On the three days I work 12 hour shifts, the days fly by and everything feels a little more normal! My four days off do feel weird though I am a home bird and have a lovely large garden to feel free in. Here is some of my thoughts on how to help during this very strange time!

  • Make a plan! I am a bit pants without a plan, my day just seems to disappear and I can feel like it has been wasted. If I make a plan, it helps to focus me on achievements, such as, play on the sims for 2 hours, then put a wash on, then watch something on TV, do some online learning, research something interesting etc. I like to tick things off a list, I like to see that I have made something of my day, even if it mostly consists of playing the sims!
  • Build fun in your day! I won’t lie, just before we ended up in lockdown, I had ordered Sims University and Parenthood as they were both on offer. This worked well, as I have thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in this fantasy world, it is a great way to pass time without noticing it passing. This could be the perfect time to finally complete that game on the X-box (hubby), watch that TV series, read an entire book collection. All the things that normal life makes us feel bad for doing, as there are more ‘important’ things to do, but realistically, what is more important that relaxing and doing something fun? No guilt! Though, I was getting stressed trying to make my sim child a well rounded individual, flipping hard work, will stick to dogs in real life!
  • Create a work space. If you are lucky/unlucky enough to work from home, I think it is really important to carve out some space, even if its making a make shift desk from the ironing board! Make sure you take regular breaks, stretch out, make cups of tea, wear whatever you want, listen to music if appropriate. Make work hours and stick to them! If you are an early worm or a night owl, if you can tailor your work day to suit, you may find productivity increases! If hours are rigid, suck it up and get it done 🙂 Do work in a different room to where you relax, try and claim some space where you can walk away from when it is finished to help with switching off.
  • Recognise negative triggers. I cannot stress the importance of this, I honestly found the news too overwhelming, I deleted facebook off my phone, it is all too biased, people spread fake news, people get really angry about irrelevant things, the world starts to feel like it is full of mean and angry people. Deleting it off my phone was great. Not watching the news is easy, I very rarely watch the news, it always triggers negative emotions in me. I am part of a union, they send me daily updates about any changes to government rulings etc, I have the statistical website page on my phone where I can check for actual facts and stats on covid19, I will research any specific information I want to know actual facts too, this all helps my headspace. The more I know, the more fake news and fear can be fought! I still use Instagram as I love this app, I am filling it with dog pics mostly! This is also a good time to delete people from apps who bring negativity, or snooze them for 30days! The other thing I have done, is delete my countdown holiday app from my phone and put all my holiday books away, currently it is very unlikely I will be going to New York, whilst travel is usually a good escape for me, it is currently making me feel trapped and sad. So moving it away until I can get my joy back!
  • Allow feelings. Do not berate yourself for feeling any emotions, it is absolutely normal to feel frightened, angry, sad, frustrated, elated, happy…any emotion is normal when nothing makes sense. Do not call yourself selfish for being gutted your dream holiday, which is all paid and planned may not happen- me- that is understandable, that doesn’t mean you are not taking covid19 seriously, or somehow you are belitting the loss and suffering of those infected, it means you are human. Try not to act on emotions that can be negative, allow the feelings to be present, but then let them go, distract yourself, do something productive, make a cup of tea and think about something else, call someone to chat, research something and most of all, don’t make yourself or others feel bad for having strange and fluctuating emotions at this time!
  • Look after you and yours. You cannot control other people, best will in the world! The sooner you accept this, the less other peoples behaviour will impact on you. Neighbour not adhering to current guidelines? Ask yourself, does it affect me and mine? If yes, then be productive about it, if not, move on. My neighbours can do what they want, as long as it doesn’t impact on me or increase the chances of me spreading illnesses to my residents. Humans are inquistive and naughty, we push boundaries, it is how we continue to develop and learn, so of course some people will push against the current guidelines, people that have the capacity to make choices, can make stupid and dangerous ones. As long as the majority work on themselves and protecting those who are vulnerable, we will manage and get through this crisis even if bob and his family insist on visiting each other and coughing in each others faces, hopefully if they get it, they add to herd immunity rather than adding to the ITU beds!
  • Exercise. Whether you wish to do this indoors, or with your hours allowance outside, do it, exercise helps to reduce stress, it will get rid of tension, it will make you feel more normal, it is good for our immune system and helps to keep us both physically and mentally well. Find an app, use youtube, make up your own routine, there is lots of info out there curently for free! I am still working on this, exercise is something I don’t do enough of, but am trying to do more!
  • Pets. If you have pets, use this time to be with them, snuggle them, pet them, teach them, entertain them, stimulate them. There is so much enrichment out there on the old interweb, things you may have never thought of before, that might just make their lives a bit better during this time and long after! I have heard lovely stories about people fostering pets whilst they know they are at home, what a bloody gorgeous thing to do!
  • Keep in contact with people. I am now part of two family whatsapp groups, it is quick and easy to check in, I have groups with others and will just check in with them intermittently or as I wish. I have seen lots of things shared like ‘pay attention to who contacts you during this time’, but can’t help but think, communication is a two way street, have you contacted them either? It works both ways! Bob hasn’t text me all week, but wait, I didn’t text Bob either! Maybe he is sat at home thinking the same about me! Call people, facetime people, do a group meal over facetime, have a glass of wine whilst chatting together, walk around the garden with a friend on the phone/tablet, we have the capacity to communicate in so many ways now! Be clever, be adventurous!
  • Overhaul your finances, get on moneysavingexpert for all the info on making sure your money is being smart! Use this time to look at spending and working out if you are saving money, and how, what are you not buying? You could come out of this financially better, maybe, possibly. Though money is very strange, hubby’s job is very unsafe right now and that could throw us a curveball. But by doing this overhaul, we will be in a better position to deal with things as they happen.

Most of all, stay as well as possible, uncertainity breeds fear, fear increases stress hormones which makes us more susceptible to being unwell- not just covid19. Sending love to all!

Countdown to Christmas

We like to try and make Christmas magical by doing different things on the countdown, this can be really difficult with our clashing shifts and work hours. Some of these things will be free, some are not at all free, some things are a one off for this year, some things we do every year, some are indoors and some are outdoors! We put the tree and decorations up before we went away, to make sure the house felt Christmassy when we came back!

December 1st-

We went to Glasgow and headed to the Christmas Markets! A nice Christmassy way to welcome December! We were travelling here specifically for NBC live with an Orchestra, we have never travelled this far for Christmas Markets before! Ended up being cheap as we bought nothing!

December 2nd-

We had booked to see Nightmare Before Christmas, live with an Orchestra and original cast at the Hydro for its 25th anniversary. Super Christmassy, very wonderful and I dont think it is something we will see happening again! I bought middle range seats!

December 3rd-

We watched a program about the making of Home Alone on Netflix, can just pass as Christmassy but had driven back from Glasgow, been shopping for food and also bought some new decorations from the Range! Technically Christmassy to buy decorations?!

December 4th-

Hubby had been working some ridiculous hours today, so the dogs and I watched Christmas films on Netflix! Some of the homemade ones are so good, really give you the Christmas feels!

December 5th-

We watched The Holiday, technically a Christmas film, very good film!

December 6th-

Another Christmas film tonight, with the dark nights and wet weather, this is a good way to welcome Christmas! We havent decided which one yet

December 7th-

We are going for a Christmas meal with friends at their house, this should be a nice cheap evening, with board games and festive things!

We haven’t planned out any other specifics yet, but the other things that we like to do are:

  • Get Christmas Hot Chocolates- home made or shop bought, maybe both
  • Go out for a Christmas meal
  • Wrap presents
  • Watch many of the Christmas films we love, Polar Express is saved for Christmas Eve and Elf is always on Christmas day! Other films: Christmas Chronicles, Home Alone 1&2, Santa Claus 1&2, Get Santa, Jingle all the way, Die hard (!?) and I am sure there are others!
  • Go light hunting, this is sometimes done more than once, we pick a direction and head off looking for the best light displays in our area, the dogs come too!
  • This year we will be decorating a second tree, which my mum is giving to us
  • Adventure to local shops, garden centres and local markets to get that buzz and find local gifts
  • Hubby has a December birthday, on that day we ignore Christmas and make it about him!
  • Do the gift delivery to family
  • Go to Santa night if not in work!
  • Wear Christmas clothes, this can be just around the house, to work or when we go out!

Please share any ideas that you do, or traditions that you have, I am always looking to expand my horizons!

Groupon, Wowcher etc

I have gotten some great deals using Groupon and Wowcher- I am sure there are other similar sites as well but these are the two I have used! If I want to go for afternoon tea, a Spa day or a day out locally, I will always check on these sites for any deals. This has definately lead to some great savings on something I would have done anyway. Most recently I got a great deal on a local festival I planned on going to, I got the VIP tickets for the same price as the normal entry fee, this got me lots of free items including rum and cake- perfect!

Though, not all deals are as good as they look- for items, furniture etc, they can be found for the same price or cheaper online on sites such as Amazon, so it is always worth shopping around before you buy.

I have used groupon for Las Vegas- I signed up with the hotel address of where we were staying. I got buy one get one free on yard length margaritas and unlimited alcoholic drinks on the Linq Hotel’s big wheel, the High Roller for a bargain cost for three people! So it often seems that local bargains, even abroad can be found.

I tried when we went to Paris, but it was in French- unsuprisingly really- so I wasn’t able to understand it at all!

We are off to New York next year, and one of the places we want to stay is often on Groupon so I will be doing the same again closer to the time!

These type of sites are also a great way to discover what awesome and interesting things are in an area, I learnt new things about where I live by looking through the deals, some great finds to be had- but be sensible, you dont save by buying something you dont want, or if you dont check that you are getting the best price!

Super King Size Bed!

Something that I find difficult, is the desire of wants versus needs. I wanted a King Size bed, mostly because we allow our dogs up on the bed and more space would be wonderful! This was not a need, and when looking at costs, it was starting to look like a big expensive when we had a perfectly usable double bed.

So i started looking on Facebook and Ebay. Sure enough, just 20 minutes down the road we found someone selling, not a King Size bed, but Super King Size for £50! It was a bargain that we couldnt turn down!

We went to collect it in a borrowed van- no cost. It was in great nick so we payed the £50 and came home.

We payed £12 to buy paint, then I started painting the bed and hubby finished it. We found two sheets for £11.99 each at the Range, already had a King Size duvet which fits great so no extra cost and the biggest expense was finding a mattress! We trawled around lots of stores, it got tedious and I couldnt believe the cost of mattresses! In the end, we found the perfect mattress in Carpet Right of all places, £350 including free delivery!

The bed is amazing, so much space! I love, love, love it! The paint was just to freshen it up a little and help it fit in our room, it wasnt necessary but looks great! Looking round for second hand items is so underrated, we could easily have spent double what we did buying everything new and not as good quality!

Costs:

  • Bed frame £50
  • Mattress £350
  • Paint £12
  • Sheets £23.98
  • Van borrowed so no cost

Overall cost: £435.98

12 Tips for Buying Online

  1. Shop around- if you know what you would like, check different websites to ensure you are getting the best deal. Very and Littlewoods often have the same items, yet sometimes one can get you a cheaper deal on the same item than the other
  2. Check for cashback- this is something that I need to get on top of, I read about people getting money back on things they were buying anyway!
  3. Leave items in the basket for at least one night- if you aren’t desperately in need for the item, or if it isnt already in the sale! I did this recently, partly to manage impulse purchasing but also to see if any offers would be sent through to my email to tempt me back. I got an email the next day to say the items in my basket were now in the 25% off sale, perfect!
  4. Always check what the returns policy is, if you will have to pay for a return, then ensure that you will be happy to stump up those costs
  5. I recently got 20% discount on a gift by signing up to the website- River Island, then referred a friend- my husband- and then bought another item using his email, another 20% discount on a gift! It is easy to unsubscribe after you have made use of the discounts, or stay on the mail list and see what else will turn up
  6. I paid £9.99 to join a VIP package on a website I use regularly, this ensures ‘free delivery’, delivery is £3.99 usually so I only need to buy on three occasions and I have recooped my costs on delivery alone, I will also get early access to any sale items and special discounts
  7. Consider where you want the item delivered, you can get some good savings by having items delievered to store or pre-destined places rather than to your home
  8. Read reviews, either about items or websites before you buy to make sure you wont get any shockers!
  9. See if you can find any coupons or vouchers online, also check about student discounts or NHS discounts, perhaps you could ask someone you know with one of these discount cards to purchase on your behalf
  10. We have Amazon prime, I will sometimes get my friends items via this service as the delivery is quick and ‘free’ within the package, it also helps me too feel that we are making good use out of the prime aspect!
  11. Look out on second hand sites, facebook’s online marketplace is really good, I have bought some great items for cheap there! As well as Ebay, Preloved etc
  12. Consider if you really need the items/item, if you dont, thats a saving right there!