Price comparison wizards uSwitch.com have unveiled a new study that looks closely into the best and worst places to raise a family in the UK. Top of the pile is Hertfordshire. It has some of the highest employment rates and an average gross income £33,435. At the bottom is East and North Ayrshire, with high crime rates, low employment rates and worse still (well for a phone addict like me), it has poor 2,3 and 4G mobile coverage. Eeek! It’s not all bad though – the council tax rates are some of the lowest.
Luckily for me Essex CC is number 16 of 138. I’m pretty happy with where I am, and according to the study, 72% of parents are happy with where they live. Despite this, 40% of parents believe a lot more needs to be done to improve their family’s quality of life. With this in mind, I’ve teamed up with uSwitch.com to share my 6 tips on how to get a better family life.
Set simple rules for earning screen time.
Let’s face it, a lot of children, even very young children are slowly becoming more attached to ‘screens’. Whether it’s Paw Patrol on the TV, YouTube on a tablet, or Pokemon Go on the phone, kids LOVE to look at a screen. Something I’ve introduced is ‘earning’ screen time. An hour’s play outside or inside earns an hour’s worth of screen time. The same applies if they spend an hour doing crafting, or helping with chores, they earn an hour with a device.
The beauty of it is, that the children usually get so wrapped up in the play or crafts, hours pass and they forget about the Minecraft fix! Plus, while they are busy playing, it gives you time for paid surveys or a Netflix binge.
Going for a day out? Go early!
Days out with the family can be a lot of fun, but they can also be stressful, especially in the school holidays. It can feel like the whole world has decided to follow you. So lessen the stress and leave for your destination early. You’ll beat the traffic and be there as soon as your destination opens. It works the other way too – if you maximise your time there you can leave early and beat the rush to leave.
ALWAYS carry EBs.
You’re probably wondering what EBs are… They are EMERGENCY BISCUITS. Children and other halves can be utter pains when hungry. If you’ve got a pack of EBs in your bag or car, you can crack them open when the hunger strikes. The brief sugar rush is enough to banish the grumps, but not so much to ruin the next meal. Those little packets you find in hotel rooms make awesome EBs. Stock up now – thank me later.
Check you’re getting the best of your broadband.
In households with older children, there will be times that your internet connection will take a hammering. If you’ve got several children streaming videos in their rooms, Netflix on in the Living Room and teens online gaming in the office – your connection might crawl. Firstly, check you’re getting the speed you’re paying for. It’s easy to check – go to somewhere like Speedtest.net. It will perform a quick test to see what speed you’re getting. It can vary depending on where you live. Check with your service provider what you SHOULD be getting. If it’s slow – it could be a variety of issues. Try moving the position of your router – higher is better. Also nasty malware and viruses can sit stealing bandwidth on your computer. Get the free version of Malwarebytes to scan and delete anything untoward on your PC.
If your still aren’t happy, consider switching broadband supplier, it’s so much easier these days and uSwitch.com can help find the best deals.
Cook and eat meals together.
I think it’s super important to try and eat together as a family. switch off the TV, let the small people choose some background music and enjoy each other’s company. It’s hard to do in busy families, and even harder in fractured families, but a bit of effort now and then is worth it.
Take it one step further by making the meal together too – even really small kids can help with the ‘prep’. Give them a plastic knife and some mushrooms to ‘cut’ – let them feel part of it. Even if you don’t use their snot / dribble infused mushrooms (probably best not to) they’ll enjoy ‘helping’. Older kids can help with the proper prep work and putting the oven or stoves at the right temperature.
It won’t be the most stress free of cooking sessions, and there might be some bickering but it’ll be worth it.
See your savings in a jar.
Everyone knows that you can save money switching energy suppliers, insurance providers etc. Sometimes though, it’s hard to visualise just how much you’re saving. So – if you switch providers and say, save £25 a month, take that £25 per month and put it in a jar. After a year, crack open the jar and spend your savings on a treat – a little break, or a big day out for the family. Putting the money away like this serves as a reminder you’re saving, and you can see it increasing each month.
Hopefully you’ll find something of use in there – although I’m interested in hearing what tips you might have to have a better family life. If you’ve got any, feel free to drop them in the comments. If you want to see the full study commissioned by uSwitch.com, you can read it right here.
This post has been written in partnership with uSwitch.com