UA-99606640-1Planning – Welcome to The Frugal Family

Tag: Planning

How to Plan Your Writing for a Year
How to Plan Your Writing for a Year

How To…

Plan Your Writing for a Year.

So, you are full of great ideas for articles, blog posts and have a bunch of photos on your phone… and the first few sentences flow from you like Shakespeare – until after about a month of writing you suddenly have nothing to say, or someone has just posted the same idea as you, or you just lose your writing mojo.

It happens.

One great way to manage your website writing is to plan it out in advance. For some of you that may sound impossible but I promise these steps will mean you can have a year of weekly writing to share on all social media all ready to go – so you can get on with the fun bit of actually writing it!

This works for all subjects so I will try to give a variety of examples – I like a challenge so if you don’t feel you can do this let me know and I will walk you through the process. I was a lecturer and coach for 15 years writing and delivering courses on time management, journaling, life planning and perfectionism – remember that procrastination may be the real problem.

  1. You need a calendar, planner, diary, app. Something with the day/week/month. I work best on paper and then move onto electronic things. I’m also a big advocate of sticky notes and pencils with erasers on. I would also advise some colour coding for an easy way to see ‘what’s what’.
  2. Divide the year into seasons – this works for fashion, food, gardening, kids activities, weather, travel pretty much everything. By this I mean physically write or colour in the calendar with seasons. This gives you three month chunks (in most countries…).
  3. Then add any dates relevant to your PERSONAL LIFE – for example I add the school holidays as I don’t work the same times during holidays. Also consider any relevant life events happening that may make a relevant article.
  4. Then add any dates relevant to your SUBJECT MATTER – festivals, events, award seasons.
  5. Next take a look at www.awarenessdays.com or something similar for your country. This will show you National and International celebration or awareness raising events. Make a note of any that resonate with your theme, your readers or you feel are interesting. It’s best to make a separate note of them first, and then add some of those to your plan – you will be surprised how many there are! This gives you themes and topics to write alongside, and gives great exposure (for example by using relevant hashtags on Twitter or Instagram) and may lead to collaboration with new organisations.
  6. Add in the ideas you already have scribbled on bits of paper and stuck around the house. See where they ‘sit’ best and link with any of the Awareness Days or items from no. 4 (SUBJECT).
  7. Do an internet search for your niche or a subject you plan to write about and see what else is linked to that, find out what questions people have around those issues and that should give you another couple of writing prompts.
  8. Join a Twitter Hour and Facebook Group around a subject that you would like to write about, engage and get a feel for topics that are relevant and current – there should also be opportunities for collaborative posts either by responding to others or creating one yourself.
  9. On average, you will be looking to put something on your website every week which means 52 ideas (you may have more by the end of this). Rather than worry about numbers, as you think of something add it in pencil to the calendar, you can also use those cool page sticky things for colour coding if you want. You may choose to keep to the same day of the week for your regular activity for example we have a Thursday Thought as the blog on our website, and then post in addition to that as and when appropriate.
  10. If you go off writing completely then remember the power of video – everyone’s doing it, so instead of writing you could just speak to camera and post, or do a Facebook Live or Instagram story and direct everyone to it. You may also consider starting a You Tube channel, we have one just as a place to store video that we want to use on the website, but with effort it could become a really engaging platform, and with the information world becoming faster and faster video is the present and future….

If none of these float your boat then I have EVEN MORE ideas:

  • Remember good content is the key, so write when you feel the buzz and keep them for a rainy day…
  • You can re-purpose old posts with an update.
  • Be topical – respond to a news article or story and share on relevant social media.
  • Use Quotes to inspire yourself or others, make them beautiful and always credit where/who they are from.
  • Review something relevant to your work that you already own.
  • Ask for ideas with a poll or questionnaire.
  • Encourage Guest Posts to come and add an article to your site for you.

 

 

Just to see which medium people prefer I’ve also done this same article as a video!

You can read and watch or just do one or the other. As I’m easily distracted the video is likely to be longer than just reading this!

Take your pick – and I’d love your feedback on which works best for you…

 

How to Start Self Care
How to Start Self Care

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.

Happy Planning!
Happy Planning!

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.

NEW SERIES!!
NEW SERIES!!

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!

Unexpected Parenting #1
Unexpected Parenting #1

watching my 5 year old singing Status Quo in the worlds smallest school choir… go girl!

NEW SERIES STARTS TODAY
NEW SERIES STARTS TODAY

New set of funny evaluations starts later today under the banner of

Unexpected Parenting #

first one will be published at 3pm, just in time for the school run here x

Happy Monday…

Book a relaxing break they said, it will be good for you they said… Of course once we are there it will be brilliant, but getting ready for a self catering holiday with four kids is not child’s play, especially when the kids are at home needing you. I have lists to tick off but it’s been pretty hellish frankly!

We are leaving today, and I’m about to put on a 30min wash…all because I have a bad back so normal chores couldn’t be done let alone the extras for hols – the second we leave the house it will be so wonderful BUT we have to navigate that last bit. Hold your breath Mr A!

That really stressful,
last bit of packing,
super excited kids,
busy adults,
forgotten items, ‘
‘you can’t take THAT’,
packing the car,
praying for dry weather,
checking the list,
counting the kids,
feeding everyone random leftovers,
do last years sandals fit?,
sending off pets,
last quick list check,
finding the emergency 2am tumble dryer socks,
peeling children off the ceiling,
re-packing the car 🙃,
Happy Holiday Monday!

P1010094

Maybe baby…

I had been keeping a pregnancy diary as part of this blog, in conjunction with a great new magazine. Sadly the Editor of that magazine has some health problems which have meant a hiatus in production. However, if I don’t keep up with the articles, I suspect I will forget many of the unique experiences, so think I will continue The Pregnancy Files… watch this space!

Sunday Funday

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Today is our ‘rest’ day, we ‘work’ on Saturday so we can chill out on Sunday – to be honest it works best for the kids as we still have to prepare food, look after the fire, change nappies and clean dishes….BUT we don’t vacuum, put up shelves, mow the lawn etc.

Today we will mostly be making love bugs  (see why here) and eating up all the leftover Christmas chocolate, it’s going to be lovely. I even won some extra chocolate at the WI raffle.

ours weeks are very hectic, and then there are lots of chores that can only be done when there are two adults about, which means the weekend for us. We started to feel we worked all seven days and life got a bit shouty and stressful. Making time to just hang out together is a real priority, but doesn’t come easily when there is a bottomless pit of chores – so the effort on Saturday is worth it to truly relax today. It also allows the kids valuable time for nothing. They are pushed and enriched and all that good stuff over six days, but even they need some space to do their own thing and watch tv and cuddle. Or sometimes they choose to run around the house in just their pants screaming about pirates or dinosaurs – those Sunday’s are less relaxing, but still vital x

The Life of a Multi-Passionate!
The life of a multi-passionate!

The life of a multi-passionate!