Claire from The Frugal Family has some great tips for striking some balance in our busy lives. It’s so nice to read when someone is genuinely happy with their life choices so far. It’s easy to lose “yourself” when you’re caring for others. Getting back to your core values and moving on from there can sometimes help!
Read on for Claire’s replies to my Working Mom questions:
Describe your home life – how old are your kids? Does your spouse work as well? Or are you a single parent?
I live with my husband, four kids and one very annoying dog. Mr Frugal works full time and long hours, he’s also studying for his MA so we’re very proud of him right now. Our kids are 8,6,3 and 1.5. We live in our forever home in a great small town with everything we need in walking distance, it feels a luxury to be surrounded by friends and amazing adventures in all directions. We fought not to come here which is hilarious to us now!
What do you do? Describe your working life.
After 15 years as a lecturer working in Personal Development and Mental Health Recovery I decided I wanted to be at home more and end the ‘mum guilt’ of trying to be everything to everyone. I started The Frugal Family, as a continuation of our blog into a complete website to support families like us who need to live on a budget, but also have concerns about the environment – so don’t want to just buy from the cheapest stores. I’m also a book reviewer at www.mrsaverageevaluates.co.uk!
And how many hours do you work in a week?
I have 11 hours childfree on Monday’s and Tuesday’s – so try to devote that to the website (rather than housework etc). I work in my shed at the bottom of the garden which is my sanctuary. The rest of the week I have my two youngest with me, so we have adventures and I work around them a bit, and of course in the evenings. It’s hard to balance sometimes, especially the demands of social media.
How soon did you return to work after having a child? And is your work life the same now (same job, or role at that job?)
I returned to my same job as a 0.5 lecturer after the first 3 children after roughly 11 months, working 3 days a week. After baby 4 the job role had changed and the demands increased to (in my opinion) dangerous levels. I had spent so long helping strangers work on their dreams and forgotten about my own! I love that I do all the school runs, and can attend any functions. On occasion I have a talk or workshop that runs late and have a wonderful group of friends that help out. It also means I can help other families with childcare which I’m happy to do.
What do you do to treat yourself? Do you have something in your routine that you do just for you?
This isn’t happening at the moment, but I was expecting that starting up a new business. I’m hoping to add in some reading time in the evenings – and Mr Frugal would like some more computer game time so that should work well without either of us feeling ignored.
Touch on your most and least favourite things about being a working parent.
My favourite thing is role modeling for the kids, that money comes from working and that it pays for us to do fun things – but that it’s a balancing act and they came first in our decision making. I could have gone back to a well paid job, but we looked at the needs of the whole family – and also what the whole family would have to give up when we lost that income.
What are your goals going forward?
I would like The Frugal Family to make enough income for me to contribute to the family income again, and to start up some of the things we gave up last year. I’d also like to plan a family holiday for next year…
Any tips to share for balance in your life?
You have to know what your values are. They are the key to living the life you want, and most of us have never really thought about them! I used to teach a whole session on this topic, once you know what you value then that should lead your decision making – not that it’s always easy but they should be the foundation of your planning. So for balance, you should be living enough of your values to feel comfortable, which is different for everyone. I’ve increased my value of ‘family’ by changing my work, but I’ve now got to make a place for ‘financial independence’ which I’ve lost for a while… finding balance is a work in progress.
Claire is a fun loving 40 something and surprised mother of 4. After years looking after other people she’s now on a mission to look after herself and those she loves, while still trying to save the world. Wish her luck!
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