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Three Essentials for Busy Parents

Updated on June 9, 2011

Among the many insights I learned from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class was the four walls concept. The four walls, which must receive priority, are food, clothing, housing, and transportation.

Permission to prioritize these basics was, for me, a relief. My drive to make the homeschool perfect sometimes shoved these items a little too close to the edge. I’d invest too much into classes and curriculum, without a prepared spending plan. I’d even feel guilty spending on clothing or home maintenance, believing we should live spartan lives for the greater goal of education. I didn’t recognize how counterproductive that approach is. A family can’t really function optimally without the basics in place.

Without presuming to know more than Dave Ramsey, I’d like to share what I believe are three important items to spend on, within these four walls. These, at least, I was getting right! Quality mattresses, good haircuts, and nutritious supplements each make a significant contribution to a successful life.

Get Quality Zzzzz's!

As part of the housing "wall," I suggest purchasing quality mattresses for everyone in the family. Most parents work extremely hard, and there are few things more essential than a good night’s sleep. Conversely, there are few things more detrimental to your and your children’s well-being than night after night of uncomfortable, restless sleep. Lack of quality sleep impedes our ability to function and wears us down. We become vulnerable to common illnesses. Parents find it harder to advance a career when they’re run down and sleep deprived.Children struggle in school because it’s hard to think clearly and creatively without adequate rest. The human growth hormone is released during sleep, making restful sleep even more imperative for growing children.

I would never recommend going into debt (debt impacts sleep no matter how great your mattress!), but quality mattresses are worth scraping and saving for. Do something radical to get a good mattress! Consider selling your plasma TV, for example, or even those unused antiques you inherited. Sleep is far more valuable. I purchased Sleep Number mattresses shortly after my husband left. I realized that I was in for years of hard work, and that restful sleep would be a significant factor in our success as a single parent family. Eleven years later, our mattresses are still in great shape and I know I can count on a good night's sleep. I’m so glad I made this investment!

Make Every Day a Good Hair Day

As part of the clothing category, a good haircut will do wonders for your confidence. I’m all for saving on clothes at the Goodwill or garage sales, but waiting too long between haircuts is now on my unacceptable list.

One of my closest friends is a hairdresser. She has convinced me of the value of regular haircuts. The beauty salon seems like an obvious place to cut back when finances are tight. But when we're going through the inevitable trials of life, it’s great to know that at least our looks are taken care of. To reduce the expense, consider applying color at home. Ask for only a haircut, rather than a perm or other expensive choice.

It’s sad but true: People respond to looks. If you’re competing for a job, don’t undermine your great qualifications with unstyled hair. I can put a nice outfit together from the Goodwill, but I can’t look good without investing a little in my hair. I also find that a great cut lasts longer than a poor one, which stretches my dollar further.

You Are What You Eat

Quality vitamins and supplements are essential for optimal health, especially during times of extreme stress. Eating healthful foods is vital to combating stress, but this can be difficult when everyone’s on the go. Even when we do manage to eat right, our diet has gaps. Supplements fill in these gaps over time, building resistance to illness and a foundation of good health. In some cases, they can also help with specific health concerns.

Researching homeopathic remedies is often well worth the effort, both financially and in terms of health. I’ve had heart palpitations since I was in my 20’s. A few years ago, they become quite pronounced. I wondered if I had a serious problem, and the doctor mentioned mitrovalve prolapse, which sounded just horrible! I didn’t have time for a heart condition!

A little research turned up several common causes for heart palpitations in middle-aged women. Changing hormones are a factor. Lack of potassium is significant; the heart can’t beat without it! Stress is another factor; and caffeine sometimes contributes, too. Following the advise of a qualified nutritionist, I began taking pregnenolone, a natural precursor to estrogen. I increased my potassium intake and invested in a good B complex stress formula supplement. I also switched to decaffinated tea. With these changes, my palpitations almost completely disappeared!

Of course, you always want to begin a supplement program under the guidance of a doctor or qualified nutritionist. You’ll need to spend some money, but your health is a solid investment that pays great returns. Again, I recommend finding creative ways to raise the money for this important investment.

These three simple investments have increased my energy, confidence, and focus, enabling me to function effectively. As a parent, I can't put a price on that!


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    • Collisa profile image

      Columba Smith 5 years ago from California

      Thanks so much!

    • DeborahFantasia profile image

      Deborah 6 years ago from Italy

      I agree with all your recommendations and find them all to be true !

    • Collisa profile image

      Columba Smith 6 years ago from California

      Thanks! I always put my money where my head is, lol!

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 6 years ago

      Great hub. Excellent point about money spent on clothes and money spent on hair.