10 Ways To Spend Quality Time As A Family This Autumn

Read time: 3 Minutes

Autumn is a magical time, with the cosy dark nights, Halloween upon us and Christmas fast approaching. When we look back at our own childhood memories, most were made during these seasons and when we have kids of our own, there’s nothing we want more than to create special memories that they can look back on fondly when they’re older.

But when it comes to spending that all-important quality time together as a family, the season does bring limitations. Dark nights mean we can’t stay out as long and Ireland’s trusty autumn weather means we have to prepare for torrential downpours every time we leave the house.

So what can we do to overcome the season’s challenges and spend quality family time together to make memories that you’ll all cherish for a lifetime? Here are our top 10 ideas.

  1. Ignore the pressure

When flicking through Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see other mums and dads posting picture-perfect updates of their little ones having the time of their lives and it may see that you’re not making enough fun for your own family.

Autumn-family-activities.jpg

This pressure can make it difficult to spend genuine quality time together, as you feel like you too should be uploading every moment. Although you might want to take some snaps of your kids enjoying themselves in the leaves or petting animals at an Autumn event, do it to document the moment rather than for having something to post on social media. Try to put the phones away to remove not only the distractions, but any feelings of comparison and inadequacy too.

  1. Pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving is a fun family activity to take part in during autumn. You can pick up pumpkins all through October and early November from most grocery stores and they’ll be fairly inexpensive. You can download templates online to help you carve something extra impressive. It’s a great activity for a couple of hours in the afternoon or evening.

  1. Make Halloween costumes and decorations

If your little ones like to get creative, you can make your own costumes or Halloween decorations together. There are lots of tutorials online and it will be great way of feeling festive together and putting a personal touch on your celebrations.

Autumn-pumpking-carving.jpg

  1. Bake an apple pie or autumn inspired cake

Who doesn’t love a nice apple pie on a cosy evening? It’s the perfect Autumn inspired dessert and is incredibly easy to make. Getting your kids involved with the preparation; from picking the apples to doing the baking, will make them enjoy it even more.

  1. Go for an autumn nature walk

It could be argued that Ireland is at its most beautiful in Autumn when the leaves have fallen and the landscapes are rich in colour. If the weather permits, take advantage and bring your family on a special autumn nature walk to somewhere rural or far out, like Glenveagh National Park which is absolutely breathtaking at this time of year.

Autumn-family-park.jpg

  1. Punchestown Winter Festival

Whether you’re a family of horse racing enthusiasts or not, everyone at any age can enjoy the thrill of Punchestown Winter Festival. From November 18th to 19th, it’s an opportunity to get dressed up, have a fun day out with the family and do something together that you maybe haven’t done before.  Tickets are €10-€15.

  1. Have a movie night

Watching movies at home is a common occurrence for most families; whether you’re sitting down to watch Harry Potter after Sunday dinner or sticking on Despicable Me for the 1,000th time to keep the kids quiet and get some peace. But to make a real event of it, you could hold a family movie night – perhaps something Autumn or Winter themed, or something scary, depending on the age of your children. Light some candles, get some treats in, curl up under blankets or even build a fort in the living room to make it more memorable.

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  1. Wexford fringe festival

The Wexford Fringe is an annual open-access arts festival which will run from Thursday, 19th October to Sunday, 5th November 2017. There are 300 events taking place over the 17 days and includes cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, and visual art, many of which are free to attend. If you’re in or close by to Wexford, it’s well worth paying a visit. Visit Wexfordfringe.ie

  1. Dublin Book Festival

As one of the country’s largest book festivals, it celebrates Irish writers and Irish publishing, across a whole range of genres, from politics to literary fiction, business, illustration and children’s literature, to poetry and Irish language events. The festival this year, will run from 2-9 November with an exciting schedule of events for older and younger readers alike. Most events will take place in Smock Alley Theatre, Temple Bar as well as in satellite venues around the city including: National Botanic Gardens, The Gutter Bookshop, Irish Writers Centre, Fighting Words, National Library of Ireland and RDS Library.

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  1. Wild Lights 2017 at Dublin Zoo

Opening on 3rd November to 7th January 2018, Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo is an incredible family event. You’ll be able to embark on an enchanted trail and discover a dazzling array of beautifully coloured, giant lanterns inspired by wildlife; including orangutans, lions, tigers, giraffes, a 16ft porcelain elephant and a 30m long Chinese dragon. Tickets are on sale now and can be prebooked on Dublinzoo.ie.

How are you spending time as a family this Autumn? Let us know in the comments below or by using #MyIrishLife on social.

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Are You Ever ‘Ready’ To Have A Baby? – Opinions From Irish Mams

Read time: 5 Minutes

Deciding to have a baby is often the most significant choice you can make in your life. For women, in particular, it creates a cosmic shift in their day to day existence. Their routines, interests and priorities totally shift causing them to live vastly different lives to the ones they lived before – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse and a sometimes a mixture of both.

But is there ever a ‘right time’ to settle down and embark on the grand journey of motherhood?

Whilst there might not be a perfect time to do so, as all women have different goals, plans and experiences, there is an average time – 29.8 years, to be exact.

According to new research, 50% of Irish women are now having children between the ages of 30 and 39. The average age to have your first baby in Ireland is 29.8 years old, according to statistics from Chartmix, which places us fifth on the list of countries with the oldest first time mothers.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at whether there is a real ‘right time’ to have your first baby and if waiting until that magic age of 29.8 really is better. We’re speaking to other Irish mams about their experience of getting pregnant and having kids for the first time and examining some things you might want to consider if you’re choosing to start a family.

What Irish mams think

Kellie Kearney – Blogger at Mylittlebabog.com

“With all of my pregnancies, there were mixed emotions. I wasn’t sure whether I was ready to be a mum. I was a young, just out of my teens. I worried about money, where we would live and what our future would hold. Over the years we stressed about our finances but it always worked out for us in the end.

Now I’ve four beautiful children, each with their own wonderful personality and I’ve just celebrated my thirtieth birthday. For me, personally, I don’t think there was a right time to have a baby. It worked out perfect for us. It’s mayhem the best of days but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a Lotto win.”

Kellie Kearney – Blogger at Mylittlebabog.com

Aly Harte – Artist and blogger at Alyharte.com

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was uncertain yet elated with the first baby, worried with the second after miscarrying in between the first two. Third time I was absolutely delighted as we had been trying for a while and had also been unsuccessful in an adoption venture.

“I had my first baby when I was twenty five which I think, in today’s society, is very young. I am not sure I was “ready” and I certainly was the only one of my friends at the time thinking about babies. Many of them were still single and enjoying nights out when I was breast feeding and struggling with the impact of newborn life!

I don’t think there is a right time to have children. For me, I had travelled a great deal, I didn’t quite have my career in check when I was twenty five but I did know that children was something we wanted and we would make work for the stage we were at in our relationship/marriage.

“I would imagine that being financially stable does help. But that wasn’t the case for us at all! We sacrificed a great deal in order to be able to raise the first two at least. I was a full time mum, we went down to one car, we moved house and put travel on hold.”

Aly Harte – Artist and blogger at Alyharte.com

Things to consider before starting a family

Your motivation

The first thing you need to do is consider your true motivation for wanting to have a child. Are your motivations internal (guided by your own emotions and desire) or external (for example, to please others or because you think it’s the natural next step)?

Having a baby is a decision that you can’t take back and will most likely impact every aspect of your life, so you must be sure you are doing it for the right reasons – because you want one and you know that you can love, care for and raise the child into a good person.

Your finances

Money isn’t everything but when you have a baby, there’s no doubt that being financially secure can help make life easier and a bit less stressful.

Children are expensive. Not only does it cost money to feed and clothe them but you may have to pay for childcare or reduce your working hours which can set you back considerably.

There’s no set amount you should be earning or saving before you start thinking about having kids, but it makes sense to take a hard look at your expenses and areas you could possible cut back on.
If you’re struggling to get from pay check to pay check, the timing might not be quite right.

Your career

You don’t need to give up your career or any hopes of a dream job when you get pregnant. But you will have to sacrifice some aspects of your career as you will definitely, at least, need to take time off after the birth – no matter how important your job is to you.

If you’re the kind of person who gives everything to their job, you may have to accept a change in priorities or the time you’re able to dedicate to work in future.

Having a baby will not limit your potential or make you less successful but it may have an impact on how you approach and feel about work.

Motherhood and career - woman with mug

Your relationships

You certainly don’t need to be married or in a committed relationship to raise a happy and healthy child, but having a good network of family, friends or a partner will help take the pressure off.

When you have your first baby, no matter how prepared you think you are, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a constant overwhelming feeling that you’re doing it all wrong.

Having people close to you will not only help provide you with reassurance but can give you emotional support and may even be able to help with childcare.

Lifestyle

When you have a baby, you have to accept that your lifestyle will change in certain ways. For example, you probably won’t be able to get those regular Saturday and Sunday morning lie ins, or go on spontaneous nights out. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re going to sacrifice enjoyment, as children bring a whole different kind of fun that you may never have expected. But if there are certain aspects of your life that are not compatible with being a parent and that you’re unwilling to give up just yet, you may want to wait a while before changing everything.

Do you think there’s ever a ‘right time’ to have children? Let us know on social media by using the hashtag #MyIrishLife

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Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurancepension and investment needs.

25 Things That Make You Realise You’re An Actual Adult

Read time: 2 Minutes

Adulthood. When did that happen?

One minute you were drinking at a Tuesday night house party with your mates until 4am and now you’re in your pyjamas at 9pm, looking at the Ikea website wondering which cushions would match the new curtains you bought.

The transformation into a fully fledged adult feels like it just sneaks up on you, but if you look and listen carefully to the world around you, you will realise that there are those small but significant moments which signify that you’re turning into a real life grown up.

    1. When you take sick days off work, they are actual sick days.
      Signs you are a real adult - taking real sickness days
    2. Binge watching an entire TV show in one day no longer feels like an accomplishment but instead fills you full of anxiety about your life choices.
      binge watching series
    3. You think about how you want to feel on a Sunday morning before deciding if you want to go out on a Saturday night.
      gif about hangover
    4. Your phone is full of pictures of your pets or children or home décor.
      pictures of pets
    5. You will sometimes spend over €7 on a bottle of wine.
      gif woman drinking wine
    6. Things crack when you bend down.
      feeling old
    7. And you can’t get off a sofa or out of bed without making that old person ‘ooft’ sound.
      gif with woman sitting down
    8. When you spend time with teenagers, you feel like you’re a 95 year old who no longer understands English.
      old woman
    9. Treating yourself means buying new kitchen utensils.
      cooking with a glam outfit
    10. When you need to visit the doctor or dentist, you no longer call your mum to make the appointment for you. You either do it yourself or just avoid going altogether.
      going to the doctor
    11. You take vitamins.
      vitamin pills
    12. You always seem to be filling out long, complicated forms for things.
      filling in a form
    13. You’ve eaten salad because you wanted to eat salad.
      woman eating salad
    14. You exercise because you’re aware that someday you will die.
      dog lifting a leg
    15. You’ve killed a spider in your house because you were the only person there to do it.
      spiderman
    16. You read the news because you want to. And as a result you can probably hold a conversation about current affairs/politics/the economy that lasts longer than 30 seconds.
      Homer Simpson reading a newspaper
    17. Your weekends are spent running errands and cleaning.
      cleaning
    18. You start saying ‘congratulations’ to friends who announce their pregnancies.
      congrats
    19. You spend a lot of time Googling when you have an injury or illness, convincing yourself that the end is coming.
      woman talking at the phone
    20. You no longer get FOMO. You’re happier when you’re alone in your home and not at a club past midnight.
      grown up
    21. You no longer feel the need to delete all your messages, social media accounts and general existence after a night of drinking.
      Sheldon Cooper giggling
    22. You have work clothes.
      work clothes
    23. Sometimes you need to stop what you’re doing to remember things.
      forgetting things
    24. Sentences that your parents used to say sometimes come out of your mouth making you realise that you are now them.
      behaving like your parents
    25. Instead of ‘going home’ for Christmas you go to your parents’ house for Christmas.
      I am an adult

Life is an unpredictable adventure.

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9 Financial Habits Every 30-Something Should Have

Read time: 4 Minutes

As a 30 something, the best time to start thinking about your retirement and future financial security is… well….yesterday.

Of course, it’s not the most exciting topic when you’re young and have to consider things like mortgages, weddings and children, which require more urgent financial attention.

The reality is, however, the sooner you embrace the topic of pensions, the better. Not only will it take one of those big ‘life admin’ weights off your shoulders, but an early start brings great benefits.

State pension age is on the increase (set to be 68 after 2028), as is our life expectancy. Irish men and women are expected to life to 78 and 82, respectively and surviving for that long on the current state pension personal rate of €230.30 per week, seems like an unimaginable stretch.

So if you’re new to the world of retirement planning and feeling a little bit more ready to get started, here are some things you can do now that your older self will thank you for.

  1. Know where you currently stand

Pensions seem complicated when you don’t know anything about them, but there’s plenty of information online and it’s always worth asking those around you too. The most important thing to know, when you’re getting started, is whether you have or are eligible for a pension and what the contributions are. If you are in the public sector, you’ll be covered by the public sector pension but if you work in the private sector, this may be more unclear. If you’re unsure, talk to your employer or HR department to understand your current position.

Calculator and notebook

If there is an option to join a company pension scheme, you should strongly consider this, as it’s basically free money for future you. Take an interest in the scheme and understand your contributions. It might automatically be set to a minimum of 1% of your earnings. If you feel like you can increase this, you should.

  1. Calculate and set a budget

Once you know where you stand, the next step is to figure out exactly how much you need to put away each month to secure the kind of comfortable future you want after retirement age. Irish Life has a very handy pension calculator which will take you through everything. All you need to know is your annual salary and basic information about your existing pension, if you have one.

It can tell you how much you need to save on a monthly basis to reach your goal. By having this information in front of you and knowing how much you need to save, the reality of retirement planning will seem a little bit easier to take on.

Set budget for retirement

  1. Set up a pension

No matter if you have all the savings in the world it’s still worth having a pension, as a pension receives income tax relief, if you’re eligible. This basically means you’ll pay less tax if you have money in your pension. For example, if you invest €100 in your pension, you’ll get €20 off your tax bill. And the relief is even greater for higher rate taxpayers.

If your employer is matching your pension contributions, you should contribute as much as you can to benefit fully from this.

  1. Pay off your debts

Retirement planning is not just about setting up and having a pension. Having control over your current finances will help stand you in better stead in later life.

If you have any debts, make it your priority to clear all of these before you do anything else. Start with the ones with the highest interest rates first as they’ll be costing you most, longterm. From there, try to avoid when possible, purchasing items on credit or getting loans that you don’t absolutely need.

online banking

  1. Ask for more money

It’s not a conversation that anyone wants to have but if you don’t negotiate your salary, you’re not only undermining your potential income but your savings too. Having an extra €100 or more per month to put towards your savings can make a significant impact on your financial security in later life.

  1. Save as much as you possibly can

Even though buying that new pair of shoes may seem more appealing, it is worth saving as much as you can, while you can – before you have to come to terms with the big life expenses such as mortgages and weddings and your money has to stretch much further.

Every time your wage increases, or if you manage to clear a monthly expense, put this towards your savings. If not, you’ll find you’re just unnecessarily spending this extra cash with nothing to show for it.

Save money - piggy bank

  1. Consider investing

For most people entering into the world of savings and investment for the first time, setting up a pension is often the first step. But once you have that set up, it might also be worth considering other investments to add a little bit extra to your pockets, so you can afford to put away extra for your retirement. Of course, with investment, there is greater risk but there’s also greater reward. We have some great investment information and resources at IrishLife.ie to suit investors of all types and levels of experience.

  1. Buy a home and buy wisely

We know, we know – in Ireland, this is much easier said than done, as the average age of first time buyers has risen to 34.

But if you have the chance to get a foothold on the property ladder, buying a home is a solid investment for your future, retired self. If you manage to pay it off well before retirement age, you’ll be able to save more and will have considerably less expenses. If you’re buying a house that you don’t currently want to live in, but want to rent out instead, consider if it may be somewhere you could comfortably settle later in life, for greater practicality.

House

  1. Talk to a professional

To maximise the potential of your retirement plans, it’s always best to talk to a professional who understands pensions, investments and savings inside out and can give you the best advice. At Irish Life, we have hundreds of thousands of pre-retirement pension customers in Ireland so we have a detailed understanding of how to cater for customers of varying needs and levels of expertise when it comes to finance.

As much as talking to friends, family members and colleagues can help guide you, discussing your situation and your goals with a professional will give you that extra bit of confidence in your decisions.

Let us help you plan your future!

No matter what age you are, planning for your retirement or making sure your pension is on the right track should be a priority.