Wow Parenting is tough, I mean really – crying in the night tough… but then it’s also breathtaking and awesome, often all in the same day!
We have four young children, and for someone who never saw themselves as a mother it is often a surprise – the responsibility is endless as well as the decision making, negotiating, demonstrating, shouting, asking, showing, helping, planning, shopping, explaining, refusing, pushing (swings), educating, supporting, feeding, cleaning, dressing, finding, playing, feeding (yes, again) not the mention the clean up after all of these… And I LOVE it – mostly…
This mix of exhaustion and wonder can take a real toll on your mind and body, and having spent 15 years teaching people how to recover and retain positive mental health; I feel really strongly that parents need support to keep themselves balanced. I hope that those years of experience mean that I can offer a unique viewpoint and some practical ideas on how to help yourself to a few moments of selfcare. Rest assured that doesn’t mean I’m a know-it-all parent who never looses her patience or grabs a bottle of wine at 10am and puts it in the fridge for later. I’ve cried in front of the kids while they argue about putting on their shoes for school even though it happens EVERY DAY!! What makes good parents is not the perfect pinterest picture of children eating quinoa… it’s that you care what sort of job you’re doing, and strive to do better. That you still get up in the morning and start the groundhog day of shoe discussions…
Below are six easy ideas to try and build into your regular life, so they become a normal activity – more self care ideas are on the way as we grow our new page Frugal You.
• Make up a bottle of water/juice/squash when you go to bed and put it in the fridge, get it out with the milk in the morning and make sure you drink it through the day – and go to the loo too!
• If you find you miss meals as you sort the kids and forget yourself then get a box of healthy (ish) snacks and make sure you eat something at least every 3-4 hours. Get used to packing a snack for yourself as well as the kids, or have the same as them!
• Get some sleep! I’m writing this having been up at 3am every morning for the last week – I get the irony but it’s still one of my goals. Take an early night when possible, or just read a book in bed but you have to rest.
• Stop writing lists of things to do – there are hundreds and always will be. Have one sheet/diary for everything or create a ‘command centre’ on a cupboard door/fridge so it’s all in one place. Look online for some ideas, and make use of the FREE Ta Dah! Idea here, this allows you to list what you HAVE achieved today that you are probably not appreciating.
• Have something that is just yours – get a shoebox and fill it with a creative project, manicure set, face pack, new recipe, book, magazine or a new CD just one thing that is for you, that you enjoy. Make time once a week (more if you can) to have at least 30mins with your box. Just you and the activity you’ve picked, you can then change it each week or keep it the same – whatever, it’s your thing.
• Ask for help when you need it – we are not in this alone, if there is no one to offer practical help then get a virtual gang together. There are no prizes for struggling or being a martyr – if we all supported each other in our times of need how lovely would parenting be? In my experience, people like to help you out – it makes it easier for them to ask a favour later!
Our #selfcareseptember series is intended to offer snapshots of tips and ideas you might be able to try, from other parents and experts who know a thing or two about selfcare and its importance. This page is aimed at families, but in reality most families have one main caregiver who does the bulk of the kiddywrangling and housekeeping. In the same way that people working a 9-5 job need a break at the weekend, and kids have a weekend away from school – so the main caregiver needs a break on occasion from the daily routine. Families need to work together to set up times when kids get special attention, but also when parents get a change of scenery and responsibility.
Take a look and see if there is anything that you could add or change to your already full plate. If you have a tip you’d like to share then that would be lovely too.
Parents are superheroes in many ways but you can’t pour from an empty cup.
I hate this week of the year, really I loathe it. The ‘Back to School’ aisle in the supermarket was full before school was even out for the Summer, and I don’t want to think about going back until we’ve all had our break.
The downside to my refusal to deal with going back to school at the start of the holidays is that by the time I feel ready to think about it the shops are a barren wasteland of all things school and the Halloween and Fireworks have taken over. This poses a number of problems, one of which is my stress levels! We are very lucky that in our school the kids only need themselves and an easily gettable uniform, with a lunch box if required – no pens, pads, calculators and all that.
However, I have a lovely checklist to see what we actually need to get – and some great places to get them.
So, this is how I do Back to School:
- Print off my checklist
- Have a mass dressing up session to see what still fits, and tick off accordingly
- Get the uniform bag out the loft and see what it contains – with yet more dressing up and ticking. This is items of uniform given to us by lovely families from school with older kids – you need to foster such relationships as it will save you heaps of money. Our school is pretty easy going uniform wise, but people have also given us the branded jumpers and cardigans too which makes a massive difference to our budget. Other sources for free or reduced uniform include:
- Asking family members with older kids.
- Trawl of the charity shops for school uniform, they get out all their stocks in late July/early August and if you need a specific branded item you need to stay local, but for generic grey trousers or pinafore dresses ask your friends and family to also keep an eye out.
- Going ‘halves’ with other families, for example some supermarkets do great deals for PE kit items but in packs of 2… well we only ever need one of everything PE related, so go halves with our neighbour!
- Go and get the kids feet measured at a reputable shoe shop… I do feel that the kids feet are important and these shoes see a lot of action at school every day so I like to buy good quality ones that should last. I don’t necessarily get them in the shop however – there are outlet stores to check and the world of online choices. We did go the cheap shoe route one year, but the soles came off after just one month! People often gift hardly worn (but outgrown) shoes on free sites, or sell very cheaply on local sites or car boots at this time of year.
- If you have a larger family like ours you could save the horrors of shopping by investing in your own feet measuring tools. You can also download free cut outs to measure feet from StartRite.
- Check if your school has a second hand shop, and if not offer to start one. This could be online with a Facebook Group very easily and helpful to the whole school community.
- Be sale savvy – some shops have amazing sales of school uniform, but often at times when it’s not on your radar. You need to become more conscious of when these occur and then can buy the next size up at every opportunity. With the random weather patterns in the UK we have needed all seasons all year round so I buy whatever I can find and add extra layers as necessary!
- Don’t get lured into buying everything in one hit – kids grow at different rates and you may not need everything at once for September. Check what they actually need for that first few weeks. Depending on the weather you could leave getting a tracksuit until the October half term maybe? This helps spread some of the costs out.
- Try to establish a laundry schedule that reduces uniform needs, so you don’t need 5 of everything… who am I kidding??
- Remember you can add cycle shorts/tights under a dress that is bit shorter than you would like.
- Get sewing and turn trousers that are too short into shorts. You may also be able to shorten long sleeve shirts that have had the cuffs and elbows ruined.
I am about the enter my week of Back to School here at Frugal HQ and so I may well discover new and interesting things as I weave my way through again, which I promise to add on here. While I love school and learning and all of the wonderful adventures of life school starts, I’m not a great fan of having to be out of the house at a set time and in set clothes and I REALLY don’t like homework! So, part of my own way of managing the new routine is about helping myself and the kids to deal with the schedule of school – but more about that next week.
Welcome to our new series Staying Sane in the Summer – every day in July I will share an idea, task, download or suggestion to get things going for the Summer Break.
Today is a download of a calendar to help plan for July and August. Whatever you do planning is really essential to make sure you take advantage of all the free fun to be had, and also to make sure you have a good mix of activity and downtime. It’s also nice to tick the days off!
Remember EVERY DAY there will be a useful item here on the website – so stay in touch.
Our new series ‘Staying Sane in the Summer’ starts with the Thursday Thought tomorrow, so this is a fantastic final round up of frugal and environmentally careful ways to clean the house. I’m so excited as it’s a guest post from the lovely Eva Brown
5 Frugal House Cleaning Tips to Save You Time and Money!
Summer is here and there’s no better time to get all the dust and germs that accumulated out of your house. Though it may seem far off, the holiday gift-giving season is not that far away. Instead of spending loads of money on spring cleaning supplies, Onlycanistervacuum.com demonstrates five frugal house cleaning tips to save you time and money.
Skip the Store-Bought Chemical Cleaners to save time and money
Don’t spend big bucks on store bought cleaners for your Spring cleaning. Skip all those chemicals and make your own cleaners using ingredients you probably already have on hand. Common pantry items like vinegar (cuts grease) and baking soda (eliminates odors) can help you save time and money when cleaning your home. You’ll find recipes on Pinterest for:
- Window cleaner
- Multi-Purpose Scouring Paste
- All-Natural Floor Cleaner
- Carpet Cleaner
- Deodorizing Spray
- Laundry Soap
- Drain Cleaner
- Washing Machine Cleaner
- Garbage disposal cleaner
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Shower Cleaner
Re-use and Recycle to save time and money
One of the best house cleaning tips to save you time and money is to take a lesson from those who came before us. During the great depression, the economic situation was so incredibly bad that people were forced to re-use and recycle anything they could. Before you run out and spend money, look around your house for things you can re-use or recycle to help keep your house clean and save money.
Re-usable Disinfecting wipes Cut up an old shirt or other material into squares and roll or fold into the container with a natural solution made of vinegar, tea tree oil and other essential oils.
Used coffee grounds eliminate odor. Put them in a bowl in the fridge to eliminate odors. Replace every other month.
Re-use your sponges by running them through the washing machine with baking soda and vinegar on gentle cycle.
Stop spending money on paper towels. Use microfiber cloths for cleaning instead. Throw them in the washing machine with the sponges to clean them.
Save Money on Cleaning Supplies
The money you spend on cleaning supplies can really add up over a year’s time. If you do use store-bought cleaners, use these tips to save you time and money by shopping smart:
- Buy store brand instead of name brand
- Watch for sales
- Buy in bulk
Use dryer sheets to freshen just about anything!
There are so many things in your home that can get musty and smelly. You can use tear off dryer sheets to freshen up just about anything in your home including:
- Trash cans
- Smelly shoes
- Bathroom cabinets
- Bedroom closets
- Pet Beds
- Laundry Hamper
Clean up after meals and other tasks as you go to save time.
One of the biggest tips professional housecleaners and organizers will give you is to clean up after meals and other tasks you go throughout your day to save you time. Throw away wrappers and put things back into cupboards when you’re done with them. Pick up shoes and other things from the floor instead of walking over them. When your floor is kept free of clutter, it takes no time at all to choose a best buy dustbuster and run it over the carpets to keep the house looking fresh and clean.
As part of our May theme of Transport we are proud to be included in this very comprehensive article about travelling with children – there is something there for everyone and some really great ideas from families all over the world, who have been there and done it!
While Christmas shopping, or buying anything during the Winter here at Frugal HQ we would like to encourage you (and ourselves) to think of using Good Gifts for at least some of that spending. There really is something there for everyone, and starting at just £5. We always have one in the stockings, to make sure we don’t get too lost in the selfishness of modern life.
Please take a look x
Rather than spend a fortune stopping for a cuppa at the Services, take your favourite brew made just how you like it in a thermos cup. Remember to refill for the journey home too!
Re-use all the junk mail envelopes you get. You can add labels or just scribble out the address. I have a stash for all the returns we have to send into school.