So, this is a tricky celebration – firstly it’s held at different times of year in different countries (more on that later) but also it can be a very volatile subject for those that are not mothers but who would like to be, those who have lost children and of course those who have lost their mother… it can be hard to celebrate something, knowing how hard it is for others you know and love. However, I do like the opportunity that many ‘event’ days give us to share kindness, affection and celebrate goodness so here are some thoughts on Mothers Day…
In the UK it is historically known as Mothering Sunday – and this wasn’t to do with your actual mum, but your mother church. On the 4th Sunday of Lent you would visit the largest or ‘mother’ church in the area (this goes way back to the 16th Century), it then slowly joined with being a day that young people who were working in service could go and visit their mother and perhaps take a small posy of flowers, or a piece of cake. Mothering Sunday then became a day to celebrate your mum.
Over in the USA a totally separate non-religious celebration invented in 1908 by Anna Jarvis to celebrate the role of mothers. It was signed into the calender in 1914, although Jarvis later started a revolt against the commercialisation of the day, feeling it had lost all the genuine affection and moved to something you could just buy and not really think about in depth. Jarvis saw no need to buy anything for Mothers Day and led the boycott of cards and chocolates for the day she had created!
So the two versions of Mothers Day have morphed a bit, despite having vastly different histories. I would agree with Anna Jarvis, that a day to honour any woman that has given time, inspiration, care, love and probably blood, sweat and tears into the lives of others is a good day. I also agree with her that there is no need to spend money buying things when you can tell her you love her in many other ways.
HOW TO CELEBRATE ON A BUDGET
* One tradition from the Mothering Sunday in the UK was to bake a Simnel Cake – this was a real treat during the restrictions of Lent, it’s a fruit cake with marzipan – yum. Download a recipe and either make a cake if you have time or just chat with your mum about her memories of Easter celebrations.
* Make a card, it seems too easy but mum’s really appreciate if you have taken the time and care to create something just for them – if you are not confident with your artistry then print off some really special photos for the front.
* Make a photo collage, you can choose lots of special times, or just the two of you or a theme or whatever – they make great talking points.
* Go for a walk together, to an old haunt or where you used to live or just to a nice park. Time is precious.
* Take her breakfast in bed, this has become a bit of cheesy one and most mums are probably up first! However, this is the day you can embrace the cheese, maybe think of a real favourite breakfast or come up with something new…
* Give a gift of time, commit to visiting (if you’ve left the nest) once a day/week/month depending on your situation, if you can’t visit then consider the help technology can offer – can you call, Skype, FaceTime, Message etc.
* Flowers are lovely but don’t last very long, if you do want to buy a gift think about a living thing that will last forever, maybe name a tree in their honour if you can’t plant one in the garden, or buy a miniature rose that can stay indoors for a long while.
* If you have a skill you could upcycle something they need, refurbish something they love, or make an item yourself that will mean the world.
* Ask questions about her life. Everyone has experienced their own unique version of events, so even if you think you know everything about your mums life I bet there are a few funny stories or childhood memories still to be uncovered. This shared history is a great way to really connect with people. Even very young children enjoy hearing about the ‘old days’. My kids cannot believe that when I was small there were only 3 channels on the TV and the telephone was attached to the wall, and I’m only 42
We have some FREE gift vouchers to download in the shop if they might be useful… I’ve left them deliberately very blank so you can really use them for anything, they are A4 size and should fit into a DL envelope x
Share the love with a mum that may not have her children around, maybe visit a friend that you know struggles at this time, or take a box of biscuits to the local residential home.
In the year that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote, it seems a particularly important year to celebrate all that women bring to the world, and this is just one day to remind us to do that. Hope you can enjoy it x
We LOVE this day, it’s all about LOVE which is the stuff of life… and you can moan about the commercialisation or you can just ignore that and do your own thing – which is how we roll at Frugal HQ. So here’s how we have a Frugal Fun Family Valentines.
We plan ahead –
Family have been drafted in to babysit, and Mr Frugal and I are off to the cinema tonight with free tickets using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers. It’s so nice, and a rare treat for us to go out just the two of us and it’s so essential to have time for being a couple as well as a larger family unit. These outings are truly valued by us, and big thanks to anyone willing to look after our four exuberant children for the night, it’s means the world x
We show love –
It’s not about what you buy, but what you DO that really matters. So, we do cards but not gifts – the cards are mostly homemade or very funny and relevant. The kids make cards and various other things at groups and nursery and we collate these to make a lovely collage on our mantelpiece.
We play games –
Last year we had a scavenger hunt to win sweets, the year before we put photos of family members and friends around the house and the kids had to find everyone on their tick sheet to win the prize.
We also have some homemade Love Bugs that are used for all sorts of strange games over the years, you can drop things through them, use them for bowling or try to blow them over while laying on the floor…
We make stuff –
This year we have the new play tray so I had to put that to good use. With a range of ages to engage we have gone with:
cards and envelopes to make
games using sweets – naughts and crosses
games using sweets – stacking them until they fall
love hearts – to write something you love and stick it on our collage mirror
a pot of pink and red pens
We eat weird things –
We try to eat pink and red foods, it’s usually easy with some heart shaped pasta that they do at Lidl, but I was too late this year, so we will have heart shaped pudding and red sauce on ‘normal’ pasta, I think I’ll get away with it as there are lots of sweets in the house, all heart shaped of course.
This is really just to prove that you can include children and the whole family in discussing and celebrating love, you can show them how much you care with treats, but also with time and shared experiences. You don’t have to spend anything, or a few heart shaped sweets to make it extra special. It’s not about what you spend, it’s about taking a ‘fake’ day and making it your own, to express something you do feel is valuable. If you are looking for some ideas for a more intimate, adult Valentines Day then you might find our post on Adult Love useful x
Gifts that Keep on Giving… Part Two
During a conversation with our lovely friend Lisa at Less-Stuff we realised how frustrating it can be to buy things for people who already have everything they need, so we have collaborated to bring you 10 brilliant ideas for Gifts that Keep On Giving… they help you look amazing, give your friend or relative a brilliant and long lasting gift and most of them also help in others ways as well – charities, education, less waste etc etc.
I’m sure you have enjoyed the 5 great ideas from Less-Stuff, but there are plenty more ways you can give a gift at Christmas that isn’t just a wonderful gift for your loved one, but also has the power to keep on giving… so here are our suggestions:
1. Memberships to somewhere they will love… This is especially great for families and will usually be for a whole year so it’s an amazing gift to give. If you can find a place that is a registered charity, or does some great work you can feel even better about giving to them as well as your recipient. You could also consider an organisation or institution that they might like to visit or be part of, it just needs some thought… Good examples might be:
• The National Trust
• Local zoo/wildlife park
• Local/National Museum or Gallery
• Political or Professional organisation
• Private library or Association
2. On a similar theme you might feel like adopting an animal as a gift – they get all the fun of finding out about their adoptee with none of the poo related work! Several charities run adoption programmes so you just need to find one that suits your budget and their animal preferences, check out:
If you/they are not an animal person you can adopt trees or plants – get creative!
3. We LOVE books, they are just such a wonderful thing to touch, read, share and love. They are a great gift as they will last for many years, and can be read over and over again… they are also perfect for any age and not too expensive. If you want to really up the ethical giving monitor then buy a book with a message you want to share. Our current favourites are:
Duffy’s Lucky Escape by Ellie Jackson
Dreams of Freedom by Amnesty International
Maddie’s Magic Christmas by Sam Maxfield (local author x)
For adults you could think about recipe books, journals, guidebooks, signed copies or ‘mystery bags’ get a few good looking books on a theme from the charity shop and wrap them up x A friend of ours gives their partner (and avid reader) a list of 10 genres to try…
4. We have talked about the organisation Good Gifts before, and we love the variety they offer in terms of how much to spend and the amazing projects you can support. There is something for every budget, and Father Christmas gives one in each stocking in our house. Examples are socks for homeless people in the UK, School breakfasts, Chickens for people overseas to become more self sustaining, Book libraries and so much more… These are also useful for last minute gifts and for people overseas as you can email them the information!
5. For those on a stricter budget or with no budget at all we like to give our time. That may sound a bit sappy, but actually, it’s rather lovely to give someone the gift of your full attention. We create our own gift vouchers for something that person will really value. You can make your own or use ours x This is great as it can be tailored to any age or activity (limited only by your willingness!). Make sure you only offer something you are prepared to give, and don’t spoil the gift by doing it begrudgingly – it’s a gift remember!
Ideas could be:
• A voucher for a walk in the woods
• Help with cleaning for a day
• Mowing the lawn in the Summer
• Taking a drive out to visit something/someone
• A trip to…
• A foot massage
• Cooking a meal for everyone
We have another post coming in December that may fit in with this idea as well – watch out for 5 Free Gifts for Children!
If you haven’t visited our sister post with another 5 excellent and inventive Gifts that Keep on Giving over on Less- Stuff do go there now! You can also check out the wonderful and gentle work that Lisa does by joining her newsletter and following her on…
As our new series Staying Sane in the Summer continues, it’s made me realise just how much planning I do for school holidays – I’ve never written it down before and I was genuinely surprised that I could fill every day in July with ideas! I do find myself more able to enjoy time with the kids when I have a back up of activities, lots of ideas, know what’s available locally and some fixed points in the holiday for certain events. I don’t dread them like some families do (that’s not to suggest I don’t find them exhausting…). Today I mention some of the things we’ve had from school, the NHS provides brilliant resources via their Change4Life program to reduce childhood obesity – these ones are based on the LazyTown TV show that our kids have loved – so much free fun to be found.
Another aspect of planning the time is that you can see where busy and quiet times will happen, we like to have down time to just watch tv or play as it’s supposed to be a holiday… if you can see when you have free activities planned it’s nice to then just have days at home in the garden or making forts.
I’m trying to enjoy this process of planning – rather than looking at it as a chore I’m focusing on having precious time with the kids, we’ll have about 18 Summers with them before they don’t want to be seen with us (probably less than that!). When I thought of it like that it didn’t seem enough time at all, as they saying goes the days are long but the years are short… enjoy this Summer xx
The Staying Sane in the Summer series is a gallery of tips, ideas, links and downloads to help you plan and manage the long School Summer Break. I really hope it helps you to enjoy feeling more in control of the time and to have fun with your family without worrying too much about the cost as most of the things you will be doing are going to be free or very frugal. Kids really don’t need much money spent, they like fairly simple things – it’s often adults that go for the most expensive options as they may have lost confidence in their ability to stay sane with the children home for that long.
Say goodbye to June…
We are ending June with a cleaning frenzy… not an actual one because I hate cleaning, but all the theory is here on the website. We’ve made a few changes since starting our project, mostly in the products we buy and in the reduction in waste and water usage. It’s great for the environment but also helped with our savings so it’s a win-win. There are some great tips here for greening up your cleaning in all areas of the house – and they should save you some money too. You can find them on here or our YouTube Channel.
Plans for July
- Our free e-book should be out next month with seven ways to start your frugal journey.
- We also have the monthly newsletter starting for those who would like to learn more about us and what we’re up to, it’s not a copy of what’s on here, but all new and exclusive info!
- You can join our community at the bottom of every page xx
- We will be starting the planning for the School Summer Break – Staying Sane in the Holidays with our new page Frugal Events – I can’t wait.
It has been unbelievably hot here over the last few days, and so we have got the paddling pool back out and the kids have cooled off and had lots of fun soaking each other (and daddy!). But, inevitably my new way of thinking caused me to reflect on how easy it was for us to just turn on the tap and use beautiful clean water to just play in… and that didn’t feel quite right.
We always recycle our play water, usually by watering our veggies and it isn’t refilled very often (we use a sieve to get the grass out!) . But I thought about other ways we could ‘offset’ our water usage, and show the kids how lucky they were as a good opportunity to think about our impact as a family. I went to have a look on one of my favourite sites Good Gifts and found a wonderful range of ways to support water related projects across the world… They range from just £8 to £500.We are going to think about which one we can afford, and which feels the best fit for our water usage – I feel better about the paddling pool already.
This is my first Thursday Thought in a very long time – and as I started to type, I realised just how much I’ve missed it. The last few months have been, shall we say, ‘Challenging’… I thought I could write a website, run a household, care for four completely crazy kids, walk the dog and remain sane quickly. I was wrong. It’s been so hard to learn all these new technical terms and skills (and I thought I was pretty IT savvy!), and then just when I felt ready to share this work with the world – my site got hacked and I was too devastated to start again for a while.
But, I just love it – I love the feedback I get from people who say an idea helped them in some way, or that they have connected with our worries and concerns and appreciate our efforts to share our small changes into big changes philosophy. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap, and it certainly means planning and effort – the rewards are worth it though, and this website is worth it. I like what I’m doing, and I’m not going to let a poor hosting company change that – so I’ve moved to a great one called www.laskos.com. It was nice to be reminded that there are good people in the world x
So, sorry but there will be lots more where this came from!!!
Things are hotting up over here at Frugal HQ – we have decided our family project will grow into a something far longer, and get bigger than just our little unit.
WATCH THIS SPACE! We are working on a new website and lots of exciting things for 2017.
Following on the recycled theme, and seamlessly matching it to the Christmas theme, I came across these beautiful recycled coffee sack Christmas stockings from Fern Cottage Crafts.
Buying gifts that have a recycled element can be done in all sorts of ways. There are lots of homemade ideas for gifts from children, or you may have a piece of jewellery from a relative that would make a great heirloom piece for another family member. Christmas shouldn’t be about the money we spend, but the thought we put in.
We’ve tried a few ways to extend Christmas spirit for more than just one day of present frenzied chaos and eating ourselves into a stupor. We like to wrap all our Christmas books and DVD’s and have them as treats all through December (re-using last years wrapping paper of course, if you wrap them before they go back in the loft with all the odds and bits you have left, or saved from the big day it’s a doddle!). We also like to make Christmas Eve a special day… take a look at Jam Jar Craft Studio for some great recycled paper ideas. Just a thought 😉
We do the elf thing at Frugal HQ – somewhat of a rod for our own backs to be honest, but it’s fun too and the kids love it. We got our Elf several years ago so it’s now free fun! Sometimes silly is good for adults as well, especially at this often stressful time of year…