Dear Barb – Focus on Simple Pleasures in Tough Times

Dear Barb:

My husband and I have two small children and due to the tough economic times we are finding it hard to make ends meet, let alone save for the future. This will be the first year that we will not be able to go on a vacation. Even though our children are young, we are so worried about whether we will be able to afford to send them to college or university.

How can we find joy in our lives when everything around us is doom and gloom?


Times are tough, no doubt about it, Sara. You are not alone in your situation, even though you may feel you are. Everyone is struggling, from heads of business to sales associates at Walmart.

At times like this we are forced to focus on other aspects of life, rather than material things. Live your life with gratitude for what you do have, rather than yearning for what is missing. You and your husband can be thankful that you have each other. Keep in mind all the single parents who are going through the same tough times as you, but don’t have a partner with whom to share. As well, your children are a special gift that many people have not been fortunate enough to have.

You don’t need a lot of money to have fun. Rather than spending close to $100 to go to a movie theatre, stay home and rent a movie. Make homemade treats together. Children love that type of activity. Allow your children to invite a friend for a sleepover and set up a camping scene in your living room, complete with sleeping bags and tents if you have them.

Instead of an expensive vacation, spend a week camping. If you don’t have a camper, or don’t want to stay in a tent, most provincial parks have yurts, permanent structures that are equipped with cots, kitchen utensils, and barbeques. No question about it, kids like camping indoors or out!

Another idea is to join a hiking club. It’s free and lots of fun and, most important, great exercise for everyone.

Remember, everything is cyclical and history has shown that we have experienced difficult times in the past and recovery always followed. This situation is out of your control for the most part, so do your best to focus on what you can control and enjoy your life.

Hope I was helpful. Happy camping, Sara.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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