If you're like many parents with young children, family fun and frugality are two top values. Valerie Deneen shows us how we can have the best of both with the many creative ideas on her Frugal Family Fun Blog.
***Note: Readers will have a chance to win a surprise package of inspiring supplies at the end of this interview.***
JEAN: “Frugal” and “Family Fun” are words that I imagine many parents can relate to. Can you talk about your decision to focus on these subjects on your blog?
VALERIE: My decision was largely based on the fact that I am very passionate about those topics! Our family has always lived a very frugal lifestyle, but I was constantly searching for ideas to make our time together extra special, without breaking the bank. It became a journey to cultivate a love of _simple_ pleasures, and the blog has been a fantastic way to document that, keep in touch with faraway family, share ideas, and gain valuable feedback from readers. What a blast it has been!
JEAN: I agree that you don’t need the latest gadgets or expensive plastic toys to keep your children happy and engaged—building forts out of rolled-up newspaper, making mud pies, or doing simple craft activities together are enough. How does your emphasis on frugality affect how you interact with your kids?
VALERIE: I would say it plays a large role—real frugality happens when you are grateful for what you already have, so you don't want and/or buy the things you don't really need. Many times, my desire to save money has led to lessons in gratitude, developing creative problem solving skills, and most importantly, quality family time! An added side benefit is that spending time with the kiddos often brings out the kid in me too!
VALERIE: We are not afraid of messy art here, so that is always a favorite! For the kids, any process-oriented art is always popular, and those are often the projects I love because each one is unique and there really is no wrong way to do them. We are also HUGE fans of pretend play, and I consider it time well-spent!! Also? I am addicted to cardboard and toy-making. No recyclable is safe from the crafty afterlife in my house!
VALERIE: Let's see… I would say start with your recycling bin. We call ours the "Invention Kit" because so many things can be made with recyclables! The pantry is another often over-looked source for art supplies (dried beans, pasta, straws, cupcake liners, and coffee filters to name a few). There is a much more detailed list of frugal arts and crafts supplies on my blog.
JEAN: Where do you go for inspiration? Any favorite blogs or books you can share with us?
VALERIE: It sounds silly, but one of my favorite places to visit for inspiration is the dollar store! I love going up and down the aisles, finding cheap things and asking myself, "What can I make with this??". I'm pretty sure the other shoppers think I'm crazy! Favorite inspiring books include The Little Prince and anything by Shel Silverstein.
Blogs—The Artful Parent, of course! And I _adore_ Color Me Katie.
JEAN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the interview, Jean! I am a big fan of your blog, and it truly is an honor to be featured here.
JEAN: Thank you so much, Valerie! I just love that you get inspiration from both Shel Silverstein and the dollar store!
If you haven't had a chance to visit Valerie's blog yet, check it out! Whether you are on a budget or not, she has many great ideas for arts, crafts, and simple family fun.
Valerie is giving away a surprise assortment of her favorite inspiring things from the dollar store to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment by Thursday, January 12th at 11:49pm EST. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Friday morning. US residents only, please. Giveaway now closed.
The random number generator picked #65 so Dena wins the surprise giveaway!
Love her blog!! And what she said about saving money and gratitude is so true!!