Skip to Content

Miscellany for a Wednesday!

Last night my mom shared this article from The Atlantic about the lack of free, unstructured playtime in children’s lives. I found it fascinating to read about the increase in time that children are spending at school, doing school work, and shopping with parents and even more fascinating to read about all the benefits of something as simple as free playtime.

I think it’s kind of funny how often I read about studies that point out the benefits of time-worn, common-sense practices like eating meals together, hugging a spouse, reading to children, and sending them outside to play. It almost seems silly that we need studies to tell us these things, but I suppose we do if these habits are slipping out of our everyday lives.

As a child, I thought that one of the most fabulous things about homeschooling was the amount of playtime it afforded me* (what kid wouldn’t get behind that??), and after reading the article, I’m wondering if the hours I spent in the woods, at the park, or at home playing with my dolls are part of the reason I’m a happy adult.

(*if you worry that homeschoolers sacrifice education for play time, my post about homeschooling and efficiency may allay your fears)

I’m so thankful that I’m in a position to be able to offer that relaxed, plenty-of-time-for-play lifestyle to my own children.

Interestingly enough, I think my attitude about free play is what made me instinctively resist the sort of plan advocated in 168 Hours, where the author pretty much holds up a “mom and dad work all day while out-sourcing childcare and other household tasks” life as the ideal. I would so much rather live frugally and do my own household chores so that I can provide my children with the schedule space for exploring the world in an unstructured environment.

(because this subject is such a hot topic, let me offer two disclaimers: One, I realize that not everyone is in a situation where a parent can stay home…I am privileged to be able to do so. Two, I’m not against structure in the home or structured activities within reason…what does make me sad is the almost total loss of free time that so many children experience. When I hear about children who leave their homes at 6:30 am, return at 7:30 pm, and then have to eat dinner and do homework before bed, I almost want to cry for them.)


On a related note, here’s a list Sonia recently made, titled “List of fun things to do”

In order from top to bottom, complete with second-grader spelling and backwards numbers:

1. Bubls (blowing bubbles)
2. Origami
3. Play-Doh
4. Play balls (playing with the glitter balls they bought at Goodwill)
5. Roller-blad (roller blading)
6. Shine rocks (sometimes the girls wash rocks and add glitter and glaze to them)
7. Smash rocks (this made me laugh! My kids like to smash rocks with a hammer to see what they look like inside.)
8. Cut magazin (they cut pictures out of old magazines)

Numbers 9 and 10 are blank, but clearly, drawing cakes should be on there somewhere. 😉

I love this list so much…there’s not an activity on there that I’d object to (they’re pretty much all non-consumery, non-electronic activities), and it was written entirely without my input.

I think the author of that article above would be happy to see Sonia’s list. 🙂


Our new schedule is working out nicely so far. We’re getting enough sleep, loving life without a 4:40 am alarm clock, and enjoying having Mr. FG home in the mornings (we used the morning time on Monday to go get pumpkins together).

We’ve had a few hiccups here and there as we’ve adjusted to our lives being turned almost upside-down, but the advantages of this new routine vastly outweigh the disadvantages so far.

Plus, Mr. FG is SO much happier doing the different work that this promotion brought, and I could practically cry joyful tears over that. Yay!

Also, he got word last week that this promotion did indeed come with a raise (that was a little unclear at first), so that’s another happy thing. We’ve been talking about what exactly we’d like to do with this money, and when we get his first new-salary paycheck, we’ll sit down together and decide where it will go.

On the discussion list: things like paying down the mortgage, giving more money away, adding a bit to the grocery budget, and furthering Mr. FG’s education.

Not on the discussion list: things like more shopping, more eating out, a cable TV package, and fancy cell phones.

In other words, as usual, we’re going to try our best to use this money wisely, and we’re not going to inflate our lifestyles (although we’re not opposed to some sort-of lifestyle inflation).

Oh, and since so many of you have asked, I promise I’ll do a post on how we’re managing this new, odd schedule once we’ve had a little more time to get used to it.


Soon, I’m doing a giveaway from Cook’s Illustrated.

Sometimes, I kind of have to pinch myself because it’s hard to believe that I get to work with a company I adore so ardently. Oh, blogging. How I love you and the opportunities you bring my way. Mwah!


Today’s 365 post: Do you recognize this dress?

Joshua’s 365 post: A Sad Day

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lauren B

Sunday 30th of October 2011

I absolutely love this post! You're awesome Frugal Girl.. and I hope to have an amazing family full of love and free time like you do one day :)

Kristin @ KlingtoCash

Friday 28th of October 2011

I love Kristen's outlook on life. A few years ago, I thought I had to work full-time also. I had an extremely stressful life and was always running to keep up. Then in 2006, I was diagnosed with cancer. It completely changed my perspective on things. My husband and I looked at our budget, I started a small business at home and I never went back to the job I hated. It's been five years and my life has gone in a completely different direction. I'm teaching at a university, which is something I've always wanted to do. I'm contemplating the next phase of our life (kids, additional education, more volunteer work). We have never regretted the change we made in our life. Things were very tough for a while but we always tried to keep a positive attitude. It's amazing how things won't bother you when you value all the little things.


Friday 28th of October 2011

Can I have a 'You don't have to make yoghurt' bumper sticker please? I'm up for pretty much anything in the kitchen (no innuendo meant! honestly we aren't talking 'the postman always knocks twice' didn't cross my mind ;-)) - but I draw the line at making yoghurt!


Thursday 27th of October 2011

I read your blog a lot, FG, but rarely comment. Forgive me. I am a Montessori teacher dismayed and absolutely appalled by experiencing the loss of play firsthand, and by seeing children as young as two spend 12 hours or more/day away from their parents at school. Is there no flexibility to two parents working full-time? Of course there is; lifestyle adjustment. Looking at needs versus wants and being real honest about it. These babies just want their parents! I say, so often, "why have children...??" In fact, half of my just-finished master's thesis explored the idea of outdoor free play. I was shocked to learn that about 40 percent of public schools in America have eliminated recess (a sad playtime at that, these days, and way too structured) in favor of more academics (groan ...). This is happening in private schools, too. I recently visited a Montessori school where I used to work and a little girl I knew told me, "I hate school this year. All I'm allowed to do are academics." She's FIVE!! If only we could pool together all the parents in the country able to homeschool and have EVERYONE educated that way ..... sigh.


Thursday 27th of October 2011

Oh dear. I am so not for the idea of schools eliminating recess.


Thursday 27th of October 2011

Hi Kirsten. I read and enjoy your blog all the way from Australia, although have never commented before. I find your attitude helpful in trying to focus on the good that is all around us, even when it is hidden behind chores or tight finances! I love your upbeat attitude and have never felt like you are preachy just aware of what you value for yourself and your family.

As women, sometimes we don't do the best job of supporting each other in choices that are individual and should not be viewed as condemnation of others choices. We are all so different how can one persons choice be right for another person? it appears to me that you are just showing us (parts) of your life and I personally feel encouraged to enjoy my own choices all the more as a result of reading.

Don't feel discouraged, this is a great blog.

Thank you, Rebecca

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.