When I started this site almost three years ago, my only focus was on saving money – couponing, daily deals, shopping sales and the occasional DIY project. Recently, I have noticed this page is going in a different direction, one that not only shares money saving ideas, tips, and tricks, but also where I discuss other aspects of keeping a home and raising a family.
After a bit of thought, I decided the tag line for this page – “Raising the bar, without raising your budget” didn’t exactly fit anymore, but how could I sum up what I wanted Raising A Family On A Budget to be about, in one simple sentence.
And then it came to me - “Home Economics for Real Life”
Depending on your age, and what schools you went to, you probably had a home ec class of some variety when you were in school. For some, these classes were about learning to cook or sew, but for others, these classes included details like budgeting your money as well as your time, learning to be a smart shopper, menu planning, cooking, sewing, as well as general life skills for keeping a home and living within your means.
Growing up, I got a good mix of academic Home Economics classes as well as the real life experiences from my own mother.
In my middle school (CW Lewis in Gloucester Twp, NJ), everyone in 6th thru 8th grade took both “shop” and home economics. Mrs. Guida taught Life Skills – the ideas of conflict resolution, comparison shopping, and budgeting time and money. With Mrs. Depsey we learned to sew, both by hand as well as with a sewing machine. And Mrs. Dunn was not only the cooking teacher, but she was also our Girl Scout leader. When I got to high school, Mrs. Walker was the cooking and nutrition teacher, and it was in her class I learned the importance of menu planning and how to prepare family style meals on a budget.
These skills carried over and were reinforced at home by my family, specifically my mother. From the time I was in the sixth grade, my mom ran a family day care out of our home. These additional seven children weren’t just bodies taking up space in our home, but they became like part of the family. That meant the weekly grocery trips with my mom required 2 shopping carts, lots of coupons, a well planned list, and about 2 hours on a Saturday morning. From there, I also learned to prepare dinners for our family of 5, as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks for up to twelve people at a time.
In addition to my academics and extracurricular activities, I also had responsibilities around the house – from cleaning my room and making my bed daily (which I usually didn’t want to do), to helping with the yard work, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, shoveling snow, picking the fruits & veggies from the garden, and helping with the family’s laundry. I hated having chores, and felt that the ate into my social life and free time. Often, it was my being stubborn about not wanting to complete a task that was the reason for lack of free time, because my brother would do all of his chores and be out playing before lunchtime on the weekend, and it often took me significantly longer to accomplish the same tasks. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for the headaches I gave you every weekend fighting about cleaning my room for hours on end. I have a feeling these three kiddos will give me a dose of my own medicine before long.
Now as a mom, I realize that I can not put a value on the experiences I had when I was younger. Those things that made me moan and groan as a kid, are the reason I have a strong work ethic, a mostly organized and tidy home, home cooked meals on the table, clean laundry in the drawers (ok, in the baskets), and children who are now willing to help work around the house (and sometimes not so willingly) all so we can function together as a cohesive family unit.
That’s what I am now sharing with all of you here on Raising A Family On A Budget. It is about more than clipping coupons, and the budget part that I have focused on for so long.
Now its time to focus on the raising a family part, and focusing on all of the aspects of homemaking and parenting that is real life and not some idealized picture we get from watching 1950′s television. I am not June Cleaver or Donna Reed. I’m not even Mrs. Cunningham, but I’m trying to be the best home economist I can be in the real world.