Bringing up clever, kind, happy kids on a shoestring

I was on the bus a couple of weeks ago. There was a sweet little girl of about five on board who was obviously desperate to talk to her mum. But the silly woman was glued to her iPhone. I was on the bus for twenty minutes and she ignored her child the entire time, too busy texting her mates. It still makes my blood boil when I think about it.

Apparently one of the most important things you can do for your child is spend time talking to them, reading and playing with them. Which is good news because even when you’re broke, time is free.

How can you save money on stuff to help you teach your little one how to be a wonderful, intelligent, kind human being?

Charity shops are your first stop for bargain children’s books. Amazon Marketplace is also an excellent source of second hand books, many costing just a couple of pennies plus a couple of quid postage. If your friends and family have kids, you can set up a book swap every six months to keep things fresh without spending anything at all. And there’s your local library, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Why not make it a communal thing and get together with your friends or family for story-reading sessions?

The same goes for toys. Charity shops and Ebay are brilliant for good quality toys for kids of every age. Or use our discount codes. We’ve carefully chosen three respected and trusted children’s retailers – you’ll find Mothercare  discount codes, Early Learning Centre discount codes and Mamas and Papas discount codes on our site.

If you have a garden, there’s nothing like running about with your little ones outside to keep you fit, have a laugh together and tire them out nicely. If you’re garden-less, head for your nearest green space and enjoy playing in the fresh air together. Getting dirty is a must!

My mum told my brother and I a bedtime story every night and it’s one of my fondest childhood memories, snuggling up in bed as she wove quirky made-up tales complete with funny voices. An art teacher at the time and a potter by trade, she kept Jonty and I begging for more. Peter the Earwig was my favourite. Decades later it still makes me smile, and I’m an obsessive reader to this day. Getting lost in a great book is one of my greatest pleasures.

One area my otherwise golden childhood didn’t score very high was talking about emotional stuff. We chattered away to our parents about every other subject on earth, which I really appreciated. But my folks come from a generation who don’t easily show emotions, never mind talk about them. Thankfully today’ parents are, by all accounts, happier to open up. And talking is one of the few things in life that’s completely free!

(Thanks to for the royalty-free image)