The Case of the Hopeful Housewife (Part 3)

It’s been two weeks since I set out to work on creating a new family and cleaning schedule.  It is definitely still a work in progress.  I’ve been really tuning in to what my family is good at, what we stink at, where we could use some help/simplification etc.  Stopping to really take it in has been helpful and eye opening.  I don’t know that I actually ever really took that time before.

The first thing I did was to sit down and write out on some scrap paper each day of the week.  I made a note on each day of specific schedules (like swim class on Saturdays.)  Then I started to plug in a room or space to concentrate on for each day. The room a day method seems to work out best for us.  I’ve already switched some days around to create a better flow.

Now that I’ve got that part sorted out I will be working on a specific chore list for each room.  I want to create a checklist that we can mark off as each task is completed.

Observations:

  •   I have noticed that time seems to get away from us headed towards bedtime (particularly on nights my husband works late.)  This means I get stuck having to do end of the day pickup all by myself once the kids are in bed and I want everyone to take a part in this DAILY.
  • We are good at following list.  We may not get everything done, but we get a great deal more accomplished when the plans/task are clear.
  • We need to step up our organization throughout the house.  No more “stuff” without a home.  It is slowing us down for sure.
  • While my husband is always willing to help me out he doesn’t want to be nagged and he needs to do things at his own pace.  I need to keep this in mind when I am assigning chores.
  • My kids are getting big enough that I need to stop doing some things for them.  I have a habit of just doing something because it faster and easier.  I know they will never learn responsibility if I don’t let go.
One really big observation is with regards to weekends.  I’ve noted that things really seem to get away from us.  For example this past weekend we had a house warming party to attend.  In the morning my son had swim lessons and I had errands to do.  My husband and I did a divide and conquer, both arriving back home at lunch time.  We all ate lunch and it was time for a quick shower, get the boys off to grandmas and run out the door.  We left toys everywhere, the kitchen a mess, and laundry half done.  We got home late that night which meant everything would have to be done in the morning.  This meant starting my Sunday already behind.
The fact is that on weekends we are super busy and as warm weather and summer approach we will only get busier.  Truthfully, none of us wants to spend time cleaning up when we could spend time doing something fun as a family.  So I think I may make some adjustments:
  • plan some really simple meals with limited cleanup (think sandwiches, pizza, one dish casseroles.)  If I can prep ahead during the week even better.
  • use paper plates and cups on busy weekends to speed up cleanup.  I would like this to be short term as we get a better handle on things but I believe it could be very helpful.
  • start each weekend morning with look at the day ahead.  make sure we are all on the same page about the days plan/timeline/etc.
So there you have my two week update.  I think we are heading in the right direction and I feel good about the progress we are making.  Hopefully that holds true for the next two weeks as well!
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The Case of the Hopeful Housewife (Part 2)

Just yesterday my husband and I were discussing the “incident” from last week- you know the time our friends were about to come and we were rushing around cleaning and straightening?  Yes, that one.  My husband and I both agreed that we did not want to do that again and how unhappy it had made both of us.

Generally speaking our house is usually in a state of “lived in.”  I wash dishes everyday, vacuum and sweep often, make beds most of the time, etc.  Counters and tables get wiped down and loads of laundry washed and dried.  Yet, there is always much more to do so that our home often has the extra clutter,     fingerprints, messes, and dusty surfaces that may get left by the wayside.

I’ve tried a variety of systems, like Flylady, for example.  The routines of others never seem to stick for me.  This weekend I spent a bit of time really considering this.  Why can’t we seem to find a routine that works for our home?  What’s holding us back?

  1. No set cleaning/chore schedule:  we don’t have a vacuum on Monday, dust on Tuesday kind of routine.  This means we are winging it and not everything gets done.
  2. No set list of chores:  along with the above we have no master list of what needs to be done in each area of our home.
  3. Clear responsibility list:  who is responsible for each chore?  Yes there is a general idea of who does what but we’ve never really talked about it or laid it out on paper.
  4. Time and kid factor: my husband leaves home early and comes back late due to his commute.  He works even later 2 days a week.  My 4 year olds preschool program is 4 days a week for 2.5 hours each time.  In other words, our family schedules don’t always make balance/finding time for cleaning and projects easy.
  5. Unrealistic expectations:  in other words cleaning the house and grocery shopping on Monday sounds great on paper, but working around a 4 year old who is stuck to his mom’s hip and has a current disdain for shopping makes this unrealistic.
  6. General dislike of cleaning/chores:  I know there are lots of people who love to clean.  Well, we are not those people- lol!  Truth is we would much rather be doing other things.
Now that we’ve figured out what holds us back and what isn’t working it’s time to figure out what will.  This week I plan to spend time each day considering the schedule, chores for each area, etc.  and come up with a new family routine and schedule.  Next week we’ll put it into action and test it out.  That gives us the rest of March to make tweaks and end the month on a successful note.  Of course I’ll be sharing what we come up with and how it works.
What works for you?  What are the kinds of things that keep your routine going strong?

The Case of the Hopeful Housewife

 

True story.  The other day my husband let some friends of ours know that we were heading to the museum with the kids and to his surprise they agreed to join us.  We were happy they wanted to come and knew the boys would be excited to spend the day with their kids.  They agreed to meet us at our home so that they could follow us there.

That’s when the panic settled in.  What if they decided not to just honk the horn to let us know they had arrived?  What if they wanted to -gasp- come in?  No word of a lie, the house was a MAJOR disaster.  My husband and I set to working at a feverish pace to get things into presentable shape.  And then it turned out they didn’t come in after all.  Note: I should define MAJOR disaster.  Toys everywhere, some dishes in the sink, stray cups in rooms, beds unmade, laundry piles, countertops cluttered.  You get the idea: not dirty – just untidy.

To say I felt guilty, ashamed, just downright awful is an understatement. I saw that my husband was frustrated and disappointed in our home.  He helped me clean and straighten up  without complaint, but his expression said it all.  While he would never say he was disappointed with me, he was frustrated by the situation.

Now, let me say that my husband is not one of those guys who expects to come home to a sparkling clean home and fancy dinner on the table.  He understands the limitations of having two small children who make a mess as soon as you clean one up.  He understands what happens when someone has been sick each of the last 4 weeks. But the truth is that he works hard to provide for our family so that I may stay home (for which I feel blessed  beyond words.)  I’m just not doing a great job of holding up my end of the bargain lately.  I’m not beating myself up here, but it needs to change.

I’ve come to realize (I guess I’ve known for a bit since I made it a goal for this year) that my housekeeping routine – or lack there of- really stinks.  We have no formal systems in place and we could stand to do some decluttering and organizing. I’ve been winging it for far to long.  So I am setting a goal for the month of March to develop a new housekeeping schedule. I am HOPEFUL that by the end of the month I have something I , I mean we as a family, can stick with. Once I have a routine I can ask for help when situations arise that I need it.  Before the major disaster happens.

In the end it isn’t just about making a tidier home for my family.  It is about the realization that this is my “job” and I want to be proud of the work I do.  It is about my own sense of worth and the reflection of myself in the cleanliness and appearance of my home.  It is about discovering a way to balance the needs of my family and home while making sure to have time for myself.  I hope that I can aspire to be the best housewife, mom, and me I can be.

This Weeks Goals { February 21 }

Ah, the beginning of another week and back to school too.
We survived school vacation yck7boxce.jpegand managed to stay pretty frugal too.  It really was a nice week and I ended up deciding to not sweat a few things on last weeks to do list.  I will simply do them this week instead.
Last weeks to do list:
  • Go through two bins of books and papers in my son’s room.  Every night we put the books we read that day in a bin so I can rotate them.  The bin is pretty full.  The other bin holds drawings and his Highlights magazines (a gift from Grandma.)  I just want to sort this out and see if there are any items we could recycle.  Add to this week.
  • Box up some of the board books in both son’s rooms to pass on to others.  We’ve outgrown them now but many are still in excellent condition. Add to this week.
  • Add some more books to my request list at the library after checking with my mom to see if she has any of the books I want to read.  The request list at the library can be quite lengthy for popular titles. Done! My mom didn’t have the books I wanted.
  • Condense all of my Advent Calendar items from 2 boxes into 1 bin.  I have lots of leftover crafts and activities as well as games and trinkets we use from year to year.  I want to make sure it all stays together. Add to this week.
  • Maintain my sanity.  Seriously- it is February school break this week and I just want to make it out with my sanity intact.  I think this may require wine and some chocolate just in case.  Happy to report we had a great week!  Already looking ahead to April Vacation!
This weeks to do list:
  • The uncompleted items from above.
  • Straighten out the kitchen pantry closet.
  • Spend some time thinking about ways to reorganize my kitchen cabinets to improve the use of the space as well as flow.
What are you up to this week?  Any big projects?

Week in Review (Week 6)

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Banana Bread, Yum!

 

Why hello from the house of germs, lol!  Seriously, there is some really yucky stuff going around the kids schools.  Last week it was the 5 year old who got sick and now this week the 4 year old.  It has made for a rough couple of days I’ll tell you.  I’ve been told the first year of school is the worst while the kids “build up resistance.”  I am not sure if that’s true, but if so bring on next year, ha!

 

 

Despite germ sharing we have had a really nice week here. On Saturday we took the kids to the science museum.  Entry was free with a reciprocal membership (we are members of the children’s museum.)  This saved us $80!  I brought lunch and  drinks from home to have while we were there.  We only ended up paying for parking which was $15.00.  We left mid afternoon and were home in time for me to take some taco meat out of the freezer for dinner.  Freezer meal for the win!

On Sunday morning my husband took the boys sledding at the elementary school.  They had a blast- cost free!  Later in the day we went to see the new Star Wars movie.  We went while we could still pay a matinee price.  I brought drinks and leftover Halloween candy with us.  We did purchase a large popcorn but we split it 3 ways.  I again pulled dinner from the freezer -some homemade mac and cheese- that we combined with some leftovers.  For dessert we enjoyed the last Girl Scout Cookies and the bottom of a tub of ice cream.

On Monday we had yet another snowstorm and the kiddos had no school.  I broke out some of the kids Christmas gifts I had stashed away to keep them busy. I cooked up a bag of potatoes that needed to be used up.  I ended up baking them all and have had a potato for lunch with a little cheese every day this week.   We received a refund check in the mail for Sam’s club.  Since they closed all their stores in our area they were offering the price of your membership back.

I started to go through a box of papers and documents and ended up finding a bunch of gift cards!  This box had been set aside when we moved last year and I didn’t think there was much in it.  Boy was I wrong!  There was a Visa gift card with $3.00 on it, 2 $15.00 McDonald’s gift cards, a $25.00 Barnes and Noble card, and what I think is a $10.00 Walmart card.  Woohoo!  This is why I really need to get organized!

On Tuesday I picked up a couple of toys on clearance to add to my gift stash. I found a Star Wars Play-Doh set for $9, a string art kit for $3, and a projector alarm clock for kids at $5.  I’ll use these items for birthday parties my children are invited to.   I received a few samples from Pinch Me in the mail (vitamins, Truvia, and a top that turns any cup into a sippy cup by Boon.)  My son and I enjoyed pumpkin pancakes made with pumpkin from the freezer and mix from the pantry.  He thought it was fun to enjoy pancakes on “Pancake Day.”

On Wednesday we worked on our homemade Valentine’s Day bookmarks that the children20160212_090431.jpg will give to their friends at school.  They were made with craft foam I had at home, a tag I made using Microsoft Word and printed at home, and some stickers I had purchased at Michaels for 50% off.  There were so many stickers in the box that I have plenty for the next 2 Valentine’s Day card exchanges!  My mom gifted me two DIY Pot Holder kits to use as gifts.  These are the old fashioned loop ones!  I gave her some more soup in exchange.

Thursday morning I took my little one to the doctor (a $30 copay. ugh.)  There were at least 15 children there and as mom’s compared notes we realized they all have the same thing.  We grabbed two lollipops on the way out and we went straight home.  I have plenty of supplies to make us feel better in my pantry.  I completed a Pinecone survey while we snuggled.  Then I requested a book and a few movies from the library.  I love Redbox, but the free codes only seem to be coming on a Monday or Tuesday which are not all that convienent for movie watching here.  We had Sloppy Joes from the freezer for dinner with some sweet potatoe wedges.  Yum!

Today begins the deep polar plunge we will be experiencing for the next few days. We will be staying home (the little one is still sick anyway) so no money spent!  I am pulling out some Naan bread from the freezer that I am going to turn into pizzas for dinner.

I spent $102.74 this week at the grocery store.  This leaves me with $181.81 left to spend this month.  My shopping included adding some items to my pantry per my plan.  In the last two weeks I added: Belvita, spaghetti sauce, tuna, 2 bags of chocolate chips and 1 soup.  This coming week Nutrigrain bars are on sale, as well as chocolate chips.  I still haven’t caught a good sale on canned fruit.  I will set aside a little of my grocery budget to purchase a small amount regardless.

I hope you all had a great week too!

 

 

5 Tips for a Birthday Party on a Budget

 

Today is my little ones 4th birthday.  I absolutely cannot believe it! I just want to take it all in and savor each and every moment.  This little guy has a smile that lights up a room and it is truly a blessing to be his mom.

Yesterday we had a small party at home to celebrate.  We invited family and a few friends to join us.  It was absolutely raining cats and dogs here yesterday and I found myself grateful that it wasn’t snow!  Despite everyone getting a bit soaked and wet coats hanging everywhere everything turned out great and a wonderful time was had by all.

One thing I have learned over the last few years is that you don’t have to break the bank to have a great party.  Here are my tips for a birthday party on a budget:image

 

1. Keep decorations simple.  My little one loves Minions so we wanted to have a little fun with that.  We used a Minion banner and dinner napkins.  We purchased some balloons that coordinated.   I added a few bunches of flowers throughout the house.  Fresh flowers have a way of making any space feel special. Total cost for decorations about $15.00.  Pinterest is a great resource for free printable pages you can use as decorations.  I have found everything from water bottle wraps, cupcake toppers, banners, and more doing a simple theme search.
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2.  Skip the expensive store bought cake.  I made cupcakes from a box of cake mix and topped them with homemade buttercream frosting.  I also baked a plate of sugar cookies for those non cake eaters using ingredients we always have on hand.  Two dozen cupcakes and a plate of sugar cookies cost me about $5.00 to make.  I used cupcake liners, sprinkles, and sugar I keep in my baking supplies that were purchased with coupons at the craft store.  A store bought cake and cookies would have easily cost me over $25.00.

3.  Have a simple menu, ask for help, and shop ahead.  My husband and I decided to have a pizza party as it is a favorite of my little one.  We budgeted in advance for this since we knew it would be our highest cost.  We ordered from our local pizza parlor using a coupon sent in the mail.  To really save money you could skip the meal and have a strictly cake and ice cream party!

My menu for this party: pizza, salad, fruit, appetizers and dessert.  I had lots of family members offer to bring something and I took them up on it!  My mom and SIL each brought an appetizer. My sister brought fruit, and another SIL brought a salad.  They were all more than happy to help out this way and I will return the favor at one of their parties.  The savings to us because of their generosity was huge!

I purchased cake mix,  2 liter bottles of soda, and juice boxes while they were on sale at Christmas time.  I added sliced lemons to a pitcher of spring water instead of individual bottles.  Perhaps consider purchasing other items or ingredients you know you will need for your party while they are on sale and set them aside.  Maybe you could skip soda and juice and have homemade ice tea or lemonade instead.

4. Keep paper goods basic.  Better yet skip them when possible.  If you are having a small party use your everyday plates and glasses.  If your party is a little larger and you are purchasing disposables buy basics.  We used simple white paper  plates, and plastic utensils purchased in bulk from Sam’s. These have lasted me a long time! I did purchase some solid colored cups for drinks, as well as solid colored appetizer plates and napkins that coordinated with our decorations.  These were very inexpensive at the dollar store.  All leftovers will be added to our party supply box and used at another time.  By purchasing simple paper goods I can stretch their usability over multiple occasions.
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5.  Skip the treat bags.  I admit on occasion that I have created treat bags for the kids to take with them.  All told they are really a waste of money.  The gesture is really meant to be a thank you, but let’s face it- most parents don’t want to bring home more little trinkets.  Instead I sent leftover cookies and cupcakes home with those kiddos whose parents said it was okay.  If you really want to have a treat bag consider skipping the dollar store toys and create something on your own.

Do you have any money saving tips or traditions for birthday parties?  I would love to hear them!

Welcome 2016- Let’s Innovate!

Good morning and Happy New Year!  The other day while perusing Facebook I came across a friends post – her “word of the year.”  It was one of those fun and silly generators we’ve all done a time or two.  I was curious as to what word would be generated for me and decided to give it a whirl.  My word came back as “Innovation.”  I giggled a little since this could not be a more perfect word as we head into 2016.  I’ve got big goals and will certainly need to be innovative to achieve them!

Food:

  • Build up a 3 month supply of food storage with a system for inventory and food rotation
  • Do more freezer cooking
  • Continue to source and add more organic and farm fresh foods into our grocery budget
  • Plant a spring/summer garden
Finance:
  • Increase our rate of savings
  • Find savings in each of our spending categories
  • Plan and actually have a yard sale (clutter- we’ve got it!)
  • Save for a home improvement project
  • Pay off our credit card debt in full (this will likely spill into 2017)
Family:
  • Have at least two family fun days each month
  • Have at least two date nights each month
  • Take a family vacation over summer break
Fun:
  • Do more with the kiddos.  More projects, more reading, more water balloon fights, etc.  You get the picture- commit to being present!
  • For me- read more, sew more, create more!  Take some time for myself- it is more than okay and healthy!
Fitness:
  • Exercise in some way shape or form at least four times a week
  • Lose twenty five pounds – this is a MUST for this year.
So there you have it, my 2016 goals.  Do you have goals or resolutions for 2016?