Throughout the process of starting The Frugal Family, I have enjoyed lots of ‘moments’ to consider plans, the future, who I am, what I’m grateful for and all that sort of fluffy stuff. One thing I have always held very dear, is my love of nature and the environment and animals (I actually do hug trees when possible) – these values have been with me since I was a child, and they are part of how I view the World. Recently I’ve been focusing on why it is important to me, how I live that value and where I can do better.
It also started me thinking about how other people started their ‘green’ lifestyle, so I thought I’d ask them…
First up is a fellow #ethicalhour member Sabine Harnau:
“OK, let’s watch something on Netflix,” I sighed, trying to protect my hot salami pizza from Sandra’s kitten. Her sofa embraced me with its rough linen fabric, and I was looking forward to a chilled-out evening. Instead, I was flushed with hot anger as I watched cows suffering in sheer endless meat factories. And a pang of desire for small stripy aubergines, farmed the traditional way. That pizza didn’t taste all that good anymore.
Why we had decided to watch Food, Inc. will forever remain a mystery. But it changed my life. I spent the next days in shock at how little I had known about the stuff in my fridge. First, I made small changes to my diet and swapped products for their organic counterparts. I also vowed to invest as much as I could afford into buying higher quality, eco friendly goods. Since then, I’ve gone pescetarian, organic (as far as the market allows), switched to 100% renewable energy and embraced slow fashion.
My most recent step has been starting my own company. This means I can do the work I love to help other conscious companies thrive.
Sabine heads up From Scratch, a customer service consultancy with a mission: to make excellent communication accessible to all. The best insights from linguistics, psychology and user research are distilled into effective writing, training that truly empowers teams, and customer satisfaction programmes — tailored to each business. From Scratch is constantly looking to tread more lightly on the earth. It’s also a proud member of the #EthicalHour community of ethical businesses.
Mandi also made significant changes after watching TV (see it’s not all bad ;)):
I watched a few documentaries around the same time on off grid living, the dangers of sugar and processed foods and the impact of the food industry (esp. large scale agriculture). All of this in conjunction with living in a completely unaffordable city and having had our 3rd child we have decided to take whatever control we can into our own hands minimize our impact while in the city, feed ourselves ACTUAL food and we hope to start a small homestead when we can afford to buy. For now we are learning all we can about doing what we can at home but we hope to have our own small farm, raincatching system, beekeeping, solar power etc. 🌻
You can check in with Mandi on her blog BigTinySteps.
I have to admit to avoiding watching TV and Film that I know will upset me, some I feel have moved away from informative documentaries and have deliberately been made to shock, with even a sense of salaciousness in their production. I do see the great importance of letting people use all their senses to understand the processes used to create all of the things we use in our everyday lives in the rich nations. It’s sometimes hard to know when to tell kids the various things I want them to know, and how much detail to give. As I’m a veggie, but Mr F isn’t – I will let them choose for themselves. They have been veggie until they can express and opinion, we have always explained what the food is made from and then they can choose. Our son is a strict veggie, our daughter has tried a few things from Daddy’s plate, but is 99% veggie and getting more concerned about animal welfare as she gets older. It will be fascinating to watch them grow and learn and make their own choices – I see such care in them about the World and such curiosity it’s wonderful!
Hanna Pumfrey had a epiphany at work:
Sustainability became important to me after a few years living and working in the city. I would watch the rubbish bins in my office fill up every day with paper cups and lunch bag wrappers as we all rushed blindly from meeting to meeting, completely unconscious to the amount of waste we were contributing to landfill daily. I thought there must be a better way to do this!
After some research I realised that with just a few small changes we could all start to make a big difference to our environment. But as time poor city dwellers with demanding jobs and equally as busy personal lives, living sustainably with the current options and information we have can seem very difficult.
I decided to create Flor + Cesta to make it simple for people. To give people the tools needed to become a more conscious consumer, without a radical lifestyle change.
I started the Frugal Office page after realising the massive impact that office culture can have on the environment, and the relatively simple steps that any sized office can take to reduce the negative impact. The ‘Greening Up Your Office’ series has been so interesting to research, and I’m working on number four on ‘Stores’ so about to get some Frugal Family goodies to hand out… possibly pencils made from recycled jeans – how cool is that?!?
Two and a half years ago, just after my son was born, I entered some sort of contest (I don’t even remember what the prize was). All it required of me was to make a promise to my child. My promise was “to do all in my power to make this world a better place for him”.
I really took it to heart & immediately went out & got cloth diapers & started my blog. Ever since I’ve been making one continuous change after another to live a more sustainable, clean & eco friendly life as well as grow myself so that i may raise him the way he & the world deserves & educate others to the best of my abilities.
My motto is “improving ourselves to improve the world”.
Brianne Pruitt also made changes alongside becoming a parent:
I went green because I realized what a huge negative impact not being green was having on my health. While I was pregnant I became lightheaded and overwhelmed by fumes from a chemical filled cleaning product . I started by switching out all my cleaning products. And then that led to learning more about how skin care and food affect me, and changing all of that too.
I have a FB group where I post info from a lot of resources as well as what I do personally to live green.
Becoming a parent is the most life changing experience, and I do feel that the concern we have for our children does affect how we feel about the World – I for one don’t want my grandchildren to have to go and live underground or on Mars… There are lots of links on here to really inspiring women doing great things for great reasons, please check them out and share the power we all have when we focus on what the change. Obama made it cool again, but Ghandi said it first ‘be the change you want to see in the World’… I’m pretty sure Michael Jackson said something similar too…
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 was invited to a focus group last night for a sewing magazine publisher; a friend of mine runs a great sewing business Sewing Belle and knew I love to patchwork and sew, so invited me along. It was a perfect storm of visiting grandparents and husband home early to get the kids to bed so I could go… 6pm is not a great time for a parent! I even had a shower and wore something without stains – I felt like a princess. Lately I’m simply too tired to go out, even though I have a number of lovely friends and groups I enjoy – so I have really missed the social interaction and non-child related moments. Not only was cake being served, and some amazing freebies but I really enjoyed being in such interesting adult company. I felt invigorated by the discussions about what a good sewing magazine should contain and felt giddy at the idea that people would value what I had to say – mostly because in the middle of the school holidays I’m hitting a peak of being ignored by the kids. It was a lovely relaxed evening, and home before I turned into a pumpkin too.
I sometimes feel like background noise at home, and as an individual parenting can often make you feel invisible – so it was enchanting to be somewhere I felt so ‘me’. It has confirmed everything I already knew to be true about finding your passions and making sure there is time in the week or month to express them (whatever they may be). I have spent the last 15 years helping other people discover their passions and make plans for how to incorporate them into their lives – I taught time management, journaling, confidence building, how to manage perfectionism and lots more. You would think I would have my own needs totally sorted but of course knowing something and being able to put it into practice are not the same thing – but I have a many pronged plan…
- I’m going to encourage my children to share my passion for making things, they already do lots of crafting so adding in sewing won’t be too hard. It’s then something I can do with them… they seem keen so far having seen the free pattern to make a fabric butterfly in on of the magazines from last night! It’s also a great way to use up scraps and fabrics that are currently in the loft waiting for me to find more hours in the day. This also fits with our frugal habits, and reusing/recycling lifestyle so it feels good on lots of levels.
- I have dusted off my sewing machine and it’s now in an easy to reach location, with just one project alongside so I don’t have to spend ages finding what I want or deciding what to do. When Mr Frugal is studying in September I will start sewing at the same time. When Mr F’s work schedule allows I’m going to attend the evening sewing group again – even if I’m too tired to actually sew!
- I’ve started a new board on our Pinterest Page – Frugal Fun Sewing to help collate ideas and inspiration. Feel free to follow along and share.
- I’m thinking about how to incorporate the frugal aspects of sewing into this website… a new page or an existing one… any ideas welcome x
- I’m going to approach some sewing magazines with ideas for articles and a regular column.
Identifying that I need some time for my own passions is a positive step – now the real effort of making it happen begins…
What are your passions, and how do you fit them into family life?
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.
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.