Easter School Holidays are upon us (at least here the in the UK they are!) – they are a difficult one to plan as the weather at this time of year is a bit unpredictable. It could be anything from glorious sunshine (friend of the frugal) or knee deep in snow – this year the forecast is for the cold stuff…
This can make 2-3 weeks off school hard to plan and prepare for. Here are 10 suggestions that I hope are worth your consideration…
- Visit to a car showroom, lots to look at and ‘play’ with ahem…
- Continue your love affair with a local library
- Visit to the toy shop (bear with me…) to make a Christmas or birthday list. Mine love this – you give them a pad and pencil to write down the names of things they love, and then in the car on the way home they give the list numbers so most wanted is number one etc. For some kids you could let them take photos maybe? You can also grab any free catalogues or similar and make a collage list when you get home. Supermarkets are good for this as well, and you can grab some bread and milk while you are there.
- Wrapping sessions, we try to get gifts for friends and relatives organised in advance and then have a grand card making and present wrapping session on the table, works for us.
- Indoor challenges, – try making an assault course, playing traditional games like pass the parcel (with toys they already have or sweets/treats from the cupboard) or musical statues. If you have older children you can try a board game or jigsaw day.
- Cut up any Easter egg boxes, wrapping paper etc so you have a collection of pictures you can then use to make a collage. You are likely to have things related to farms and Spring so use that as your theme.
- Plant some seeds. This is a good time of year to grow things indoors, easy options could be cress seeds, sunflower seeds and beans. Watching things grow is always such fun and you can sneak in a bit of science too…
- Hunt the ______ games aren’t just for Easter! You could cut up the letters of their name and hide them around the house. Or cut up the favourite characters in a TV show and they have to find the whole gang.
- Collections… these are actually a real pain in the neck as we end up with bags and boxes of weird things we can’t identify all over the house BUT they do keep kids occupied for quite long periods so probably worth it. You can take a walk in the woods (don’t forget a thermos of hot chocolate or soup if it’s cold) and collect, pine cones, seed pods, sticks, stones, feathers, leaves etc. Try not to pull blossom off the trees!
- We have a free download with a week of kids activities you can print off and use – just follow this link and add your email address 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
With all the Black Friday chaos around today, it made me realise that so many people (including myself on occasion) feel a compulsion to ‘buy’ to find a bargain, to get a great deal – to shop. I dealt with this many times when teaching confidence building skills; so many students would use shopping to make themselves feel validated, successful or just to get ‘things’ that for a brief moment made them feel good. Of course shopping is not a bad thing, and we can help the economy, support small businesses and do great things with our shopping… but just in case you want a break – here are 10 ways not to shop…
- Do something else! This is a bit cheeky, but actually quite a genuine suggestion. If you shop because you are bored, or it’s become a habit then try breaking your routine and changing things up a bit. If you shop because that’s the way to walk home for example, take a new route one day – we discovered that by just crossing the road a bit further up the path we could go past the shop quite easily… even the kids were distracted enough to not mention all the magazines and sweets they wanted.
- Unsubscribe your Email. You may find that over the years you have given your email address out to lots of companies… and are now in receipt of daily/weekly/monthly messages about deals, once in a lifetime offers and discounts. Some of these are useful as you find out about a free delivery offer, or are for companies you regularly use and the discounts are relevant. However, many of these will just be junk – and an enticement to shop that isn’t good for your pocket and eventually for your self esteem. Spend a hour ditching and unsubscribing so you are not tempted anymore. The number of email alerts today was staggering… my hour will be done over the weekend.
- Make a List. When you see something you really love, or must have – write a list of what you already have that serves that purpose, or does that thing. Being aware of what we already own is a sometimes surprising experience. If you still REALLY need/want that item, give yourself 48 hours to think on it… the urgency for gratification will be over by then, and if you still feel as strongly and it’s within your budget then go for it.
- Sell Something. This sounds completely the wrong way around, but you might want to try a ‘one in, one out’ policy for a short time to see what reaction it brings. This can be particularly useful for children to consider if they want the new thing more than one of their current things… Of course you could give something away but by selling something you raise funds and this can be very supportive psychological switch for people who like the thrill of finding a deal. It also means that you can put any money you raise towards future purchases.
- Write a Wish List. In this modern world we have stopped waiting for things, in the West we live in a high demand and fast paced culture and this means if we see something we just get it and pay for it later if necessary. How many of us have no idea what to give a relative or friend as a gift because they just buy what they need? Start a wish list and when you see something that you would like, just jot it down. If you are asked what you would like for a birthday, festival, treat etc you will have a whole load of ideas in all price ranges! Some major website have a list facility which you can share electronically, there is also Elfster which you can hold a list on or just good ol’ fashioned paper and pen.
- Make a Deal. If you mostly shop for others, you may find that to save money and sanity they would also like to cut back and you could suggest any number of new ways to show appreciation and affection. For example, if you give to other families at Christmas you could suggest not buying for adults but only for kids… or doing a Secret Santa with a fixed budget to everyone gets just one present… or setting a budget for gifts (new under £5 gift guide coming soon!)… or trading skills instead of things e.g. a haircut for a lawn mown, a babysit for a cake.
- Make Something. If your desire to shop is actually about wanting new things in your life, it might be that you can make them yourself, or join a group that could teach you, or help you or you could take part in a creative community event. The thrill you seek from owning new things doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It may be that you already have an item you could upcycle or recycle? You may have a skill you can re-kindle, or it might be fun to learn something new? Creativity is an important expression of who we are – that may be in the traditional sense of artistic output or in the form of music, dance, reading, gardening… whatever gets you going.
- Check a Deal. If you really do need/want to shop for a specific item, make sure you do some research – a ‘bargain’ deal today was in fact still £9 more than in my local shop (this was a children’s toy) – amazing deals are not always what they seem. Make sure you shop around and also look at cashback sites like TopCashBack to see if you can gain from your purchase in any way. Also remember if you have any loyalty cards to check if the benefit of the points or rewards change where you purchase your item.
- Have a Budget. This is a real essential and as you move to a more frugal life generally the idea of a budget will get less boring! There should be a hierarchy in the budget, so essentials like the roof over your head and food come above a new TV… yes Mr F they do!!
- No Regrets. Mostly the things you buy should give you joy. If you hide them, regret them, go without something you love to pay for them then they are not good purchases. If you never wear or use the item – that was money you could have spent on a trip out, a take away or whatever a treat would look like to you. I always ask myself ‘how would I feel about buying that in 5 days time?’. You can certainly have lovely things, and enjoy shopping but make sure you feel in control and get to have fun with it.
Did you get anything in the Black Friday chaos today?
Today is the start of our new series ‘Staying Sane in the Summer’, everyday in July there will be something useful, frugal and mostly green to help you manage the Summer Break. Even if you don’t have school age children most toddler groups are term time only, as are the free childcare hours so pretty much every family has to figure out how to balance kids, work, fun, budget and all that jazz.
Later today will be the first instalment… see you later!