Style bible: ‘non-maternity maternity’ wear

“Not keen on spending money on maternity wear? Here’s how to update your wardrobe with ‘double function’ pieces.”

 

Over the past week or so, I’ve started noticing that my usual skirts and pants are becoming quite snug. I’m at 20 weeks and you can’t really see my baby bump yet; but it’s there, I can feel it. I probably should buy myself some maternity wear right about now. But the thing is, I’m not very keen on spending money on clothes that I know I’d never wear again past my due date. So, I’ve decided to update my wardrobe with what I’d like to call ‘non-maternity maternity wear’ – that means, stocking up on leggings, jeggings, cardigans, jumpers, loose fit trousers, comfortable dresses, low-heel shoes, ballerina flats, and anything versatile enough to perform the double function. I personally love these basic styles (which I bought from various retailers) – I think they are essential must-own pieces; I like the fact that they go with practically everything and you can easily wear them casually or smart. Not to mention that they are also very comfortable.

Casual Wear | Non-Maternity Maternity Wear | www.angeliquelee.co.uk

Top row (left to right): 1. Sweaty Betty Vitality L/SLV Knitted Jumper; 2. South (Littlewoods) Basic Tank Top; 3. Zara Cap Sleeve Shirt; Bottom row (left to right): 1. Mango Ribbed Sleeve Dress; 2. New Look Black Seamless Ankle Length Legging; 3. New Look Light Blue Slim Fit Jeggings; 4. Zara Medium Wash Denim Jacket; 5. New Look Pink Sateen Ballet Pumps

Smart Casual Wear | Non-Maternity Maternity Wear | www.angeliquelee.co.uk

From top left: 1. Zara Buttoned Neck Shirt; 2. Zara Drawstring Loose Fit Trousers; 3. Aldo Grennan Low Mid Heels

For those bargain and freebies hunters out there

“Nobody says having a baby is cheap, but that doesn’t mean you have to break your bank account!”

Budget Conscious Shopper | www.angeliquelee.co.uk | eyematrix/123RF

Yes, nobody says having a baby is cheap. In fact, everyone is aware of how fast it can drain your bank account. So, whenever I have the opportunity to save some money or get my hands on freebies, I’d grab it without thinking twice. Who doesn’t like a good bargain, right? Especially when time is on your side (you’ve got 9 months to plan after all!) and it doesn’t involve too much effort on your part. By spending just a tiny bit of extra time online, I’ve managed to save around £1000 (spending around £700 instead of £1700) in buying these items:

  1. Babies R Us cot that can be converted into a junior bed;
  2. Claire de Lune palm moses basket and stand;
  3. Angelcare baby monitor;
  4. Britax baby carrier;
  5. Graco Symbio 3-in-1 travel system: pram, pushchair and car seat;
  6. Angelcare nappy disposal;
  7. Babies R Us changing unit;
  8. Babies R Us changing mat;
  9. Philips Avent electric breast pump and breastfeeding starter set;
  10. Philips Avent newborn bottles starter set;
  11. Philips Avent 3-in-1 steam steriliser;
  12. Johnson & Johnson baby essentials box;
  13. 6 Pampers jumbo box nappies (with 74 nappies in each box) for newborn; and
  14. 3 sets of Babies R Us sleepsuit

And I haven’t included all the freebies I’ve gotten yet! So, for all you bargain hunters out there, I thought I’d share with you the two sites that I always check out before making any purchases (there are, of course, many more out there, like VoucherCodes, Groupon, Living Social, etc, (and I do use them quite often), but these two are my favourite and I use them all the time):

  1. Hot UK Deals (hotukdeals.com)

A user-contributed bargain hunters’ forum. There’s literally everything on that site, mainly because, when somebody spots a bargain anywhere in the UK, online or offline, they can post it on the site alerting other users on the existence of the deal. What you have to do is do a quick search on the item you want to buy or the name of the retailer you want to buy it from and if an offer exists, you can count on it that it’ll be on the site. My husband and I have discovered many deals through Hot UK Deals; our two most recent discovery (which led us to purchase the items) were (1) the Britax baby carrier (for which we paid £29.99 instead of £58.99); and (2) the 6 jumbo box Pampers nappies from Tesco (for which we paid £35 instead of £72). Don’t you just love bargain?!?!

  1. Top Cash Back (topcashback.co.uk)

Like Quidco (if you’re familiar with that site), it gives you cashback on everyday purchases from over 4000 online retailers, such as Babies R Us, Marks and Spencer, Argos, Tesco Direct, etc. All you have to do is access the retailer’s site through Top Cash Back and your visit will be recorded accordingly. Once you’ve accumulated enough cashback, you can opt to get the ‘pay-out’ in cash (in which case they’ll credit your bank account) or convert the amount into vouchers that you can use at any of the participating retailers (including Babies R Us, Amazon, etc). What I always do is convert the maximum amount I can into Tesco Clubcard points (currently, £50 per year) and use the Clubcard boost to double my Clubcard voucher value. I then convert the remaining balance on my Top Cash Back account into either cash or Babies R Us or Amazon vouchers. It’s easy money, really! Three of the biggest cashback I’ve received so far were (1) around £60 from PC World (when I bought my HP desktop computer); (2) around £60 from Car Phone Warehouse (when I signed up to EE Samsung Galaxy S5 plan); and (3) around £25 from American Express (when my husband and I signed up to the British Airways American Express card, which in itself is a great card to have but I shall talk about that another time).

Of course, when it comes to baby’s stuff, it doesn’t hurt checking out the offers from Bounty as well – I bought my Claire de Lune palm moses basket with a Bounty offer for 50% off the RRP. Most importantly, before making any purchases, you might want to compare prices from all the major retailers like Tesco, Boots, Amazon, Babies R Us, Mothercare, etc – it’s how I managed to get my hands on, for example, the Angelcare baby monitor for £19 from Tesco instead of £59.99 (Amazon and Mothercare) and £69.96 (Babies R Us).

And for all you freebies hunters out there, this site provides a list of sites that offer freebies to mums-to-be: http://www.cloudfreebies.co.uk/2013/05/baby-freebies/. So far, I’ve personally received these items:

  1. A Bounty mum-to-be pack (redeemed from Boots), which is full of very useful items for mums-to-be, mums and newborns – you don’t have to do anything; you should be given your Bounty pack and vouchers at your first antenatal appointment;
  1. A mum-to-be pack, bump-to-baby pack and new family pack (redeemed from Boots), which like the Bounty pack, are again, full of very useful items and money off coupons worth £200 from Argos – by signing up to Emma’s Diary;
  1. Vouchers worth £100 from Mothercare – by joining My Mothercare Club online;
  1. A £5 money off coupon from Sainsbury’s to be spent on the Sainsbury’s Little Ones range – by signing up to the Sainsbury’s Baby and Toddler Club online;
  1. Goodie bag and money off coupons from Babies R Us – by signing up to the Babies R Us Gold Card and Mother and Baby Club in store or on their website (I signed up online and was given the goodie bag in store when I visited them);
  1. A cuddly cow and pregnancy diary from C&G – by signing up to the C&G Mum and Baby Club on their website; and
  1. A huggable polar bear from Apta – by signing up to the Aptaclub Baby Club on their website.

I’ve also signed up to Boots Parenting Club (I believe you get a goodie bag out of it, which you should receive by post within 6 weeks of signing up – I’m still waiting) and Tesco Baby and Toddler Club (from which you’ll get a free Tesco Parents parking permit and emails about the much loved Tesco baby events).

Last but not least, don’t forget to pile up those points when you shop for more savings and freebies! Here are some of my favourite schemes:

  1. Tesco Clubcard (just because I do most of my shopping at Tesco and I love their Clubcard boost, especially since I’ve always converted my points into British Airways Avios – you get 600 Avios for every £2.50 worth of Tesco voucher, which I think is really good);
  1. Boots Parenting Club – you’ll receive 10 points for every £1 spent on baby products when using your Boots Advantage Card (accumulate enough points and you can pay with your points instead of cash when you shop at Boots);
  1. Babies R Us Gold Card – I just signed up to this and so can’t really comment on its usefulness (except that I love the freebies they gave); and
  1. Amazon Family – you get 20% off nappies subscription and a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, which entitle you to a free one-day delivery on purchases made on Amazon UK (personally though, I’m not quite sure about this since I don’t have to buy nappies yet and you might be able to stock up on nappies for cheaper from other retailers when they’re running a promotion; Amazon Prime itself is not cheap and I always have problem with the delivery mainly because I’m working and never at home – I prefer to use their free first class delivery with Royal Mail to be honest; at least, I can always pick up my item from my local Royal Mail branch instead of having to contact Amazon and re-arrange another delivery. But, my husband is a Prime member (because we use the movie-streaming service), so we thought, why not?)

I hope you find this post helpful!

Disclosure: this is a non-sponsored post – I was not financially compensated in anyway by any of the retailers whose names appear on this post, save for Top Cash Back from which I earn a small referral fee should you decide to set up an account with the link that I’ve provided.

Leave me alone, I am nesting!

“That irrational need to clean when you’re pregnant: it’s not irrational, it’s just your nesting instinct kicking in.”

Nesting Instinct | www.angeliquelee.co.uk | halfpoint/123RF

I like a neat and tidy home. Don’t you? Although, at times, I feel like I may have gone a bit overboard with cleaning and organising. There’s a place for everything in my home and it’s really important for me that everything has to be in its place; I get really annoyed otherwise. Think of something, anything, and ask me where it is, and I can tell you immediately where to find it. Let me give you an idea of the extent of my compulsive cleaning and organising behaviour:

  1. I have a ‘filing’ box which houses all my important documents;
  2. I have a ‘memory lane’ box where I keep my travel stubs – properly labelled according to the trip, of course;
  3. I have an ‘electrical’ box with many different compartments inside labelled ‘adaptors’, ‘phone chargers’, ‘SD cards’, ‘batteries’, etc;
  4. I have a ‘keepsake’ box which houses all my greeting cards;
  5. The drawers in my bedroom are neatly divided into compartments where socks, belts, gloves, etc, go;
  6. I have a few of those pretty baskets in my bathroom where I put my everyday beauty products, home spa products, perfumes, etc;
  7. I have to clean the surrounding area as I cook; and
  8. I have to wipe the kitchen sink dry every time I use it…

Some would say that it’s an OCD. But is it really? Well, I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think I have the full blown disorder anyway. I just hate clutter and not being able to find something when I need it – it’s such a waste of time and it often causes unnecessary annoyance and frustration.

The thing is, this compulsive behaviour of mine has been getting worst since I’m pregnant. I’m finding myself re-organising my storage system, obsessing about sanitation and cleanliness around the house all the time, replacing old stuff (like curtains and bedding sets) with new ones and throwing away the old ones, and getting all stressed up at the slightest mess. Is it a behaviour that is more prominent in pregnant women, I wondered, or am I getting the full blown OCD? A little research on dear old Google revealed that this irrational need to clean and organise is actually not an irrational behaviour at all – it’s all to do with a woman’s ‘nesting’ instinct, i.e. “an inbuilt need in a mum to ‘protect and prepare’ for her unborn baby.”; “Females of the animal kingdom are all equipped with this same need. Just as you see birds making their nests, mothers to be do exactly the same.”

Read more about it in these articles (or if you prefer to do your own research, google up ‘nesting instinct’, ‘nesting pregnancy’ or something along those lines):

“Nesting and cleaning the house. What is nesting and why will I do it?”

“Why pregnant women are obsessed with tidying and nesting: it’s all to do with their inner cavewoman”

So, turns out, I’m not weird and I’m not irrational. Far from it, I’m nesting, so leave me alone!