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Quit Your Job as the Maid: 4 False Beliefs that Got You Here

***This is the first post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 2

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A couple of Sundays ago, I was frantically trying to clean up what looked like a recent tornado touchdown in my tiny little house because I absolutely hate starting the week in a disaster zone. My husband and kids were sitting on the couch, watching a movie together while I resentfully paraded in and out of the living room carrying everything from orange peels to dirty socks to broken toys. Every time I said, “Hey, are you guys going to help me?!” Without looking up my 4-year-old son would say, “With what mom?” Then my husband would look at me blankly, “What’s left?” My 2-year-old daughter would mutter, “Kween up mom?”

Yes, I wanted to say. Yes, mommy is cleaning up because nobody else seems to care. If I don’t do it, it will never get done. And while you all get to sit and watch a movie on a lazy Sunday evening, I get to run circles around this house putting crap away, wiping up sticky messes, and vacuuming up clumps of dog hair. How delightful!

Yeah I know, I sound a little immature. But isn’t there more to being a mother than just cooking and cleaning? It’s easy to get mad at my husband (however, to his everlasting credit, he helps me out A LOT) but I can’t forget that my kids are every bit as capable as I am at putting their toys away and their dirty clothes in the hamper.

“Never do for a Child, what a Child can do for himself.” –Rudolf Dreikurs

How did I get here?

Let’s get real. We suddenly look down at ourselves and realize we have become the maid, complete with frilly little apron. We want to blame our husband or even the kids but if we’re truly honest, it’s really our fault. Nobody strapped that apron on us, we tied it ourselves.

Duct Tape Parenting

A few years ago, I found a gem of a book called, “Duct Tape Parenting” by Vicki Hoefle. It totally aligns with my beliefs on parenting and the fact that we aren’t only loving and caring for our children (although that is obviously a crucial part), we’re trying to teach them how to become responsible and successful adults.

Most of us didn’t purposefully take on the job as maid. Vicki (do you think she minds I’m calling her by her first name?) shows us there are 4 main reasons, attached to false beliefs, that we end up strapping that apron on without even realizing it.

 

Belief #1: Kids just want, and deserve, to have fun

MagicI think sometimes we take on the role as maid because we think it is just part of motherhood. We want our kids’ childhoods to be magical and filled with adventure. They’ll have plenty of time to clean up and be responsible when they’re adults, but let’s let them be children.

While I am all for magical childhoods filled with adventure, I am also an advocate for teaching children to work. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Part of being a good mother is teaching your children skills. If you don’t teach them when they’re young, it will be infinitely harder for them to learn when they’re older.

Let’s not be a martyr. Doing everything for our kids isn’t making their childhood more magical, it’s making them feel entitled, ungrateful, and incapable of taking care of themselves. It’s making us feel resentful, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Let’s do away with this belief and embrace the truth of teaching our children invaluable skills. Childhood will still be magical and now, adulthood will be manageable.

Belief #2 I’m faster, better, neater, and a bit of a perfectionist, and it’s just easier if I do everything

I think we’ve probably all had this kind of a moment. You tell your kids to clean the bathroom and you go in to do your business and can’t help but notice all the filth they missed. So you go back over everything they did and come to the conclusion that it’s just better if you do this kind of stuff.

Or you’re running late and instead of taking the time to let your little one tie his own shoes, you just do it for him. Believe me, I’m totally guilty of this. Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth the fight to get your kids to pick up their messes, it’s just easier to do it yourself after they go to bed.

The problem is our kids end up feeling like we don’t trust them to make good decisions or we don’t think they are capable. How many times a day do you hear your toddler say, “I can do it!” If we deny them this learning period, they will never get it back. There’s a reason our kids want to be independent and we need to allow them that. It’s important for them to develop their own tastes and preferences, not just what works for us.

Belief #3 If my kids don’t look good, behave politely, play fair, and do the right thing all the time, I’ll look like a slacker parent with loser kids

GossipWe have pictures of me when I was little, dressed in all kinds of nonsense. My grandma used to call me, “garberetta.” A staple in my wardrobe was slips; of all sorts. I would wear them like dresses with underwear as a fancy hat. I remember fighting with my mom constantly, about what I wore and how I did my hair. I was curling my hair, with a curling iron, by age 3.

Now I have a little boy-me, his name is Misa. From the time he could walk, he wanted to dress himself. He insists on things like “little pants” (meaning, they can’t be long enough to touch the floor) and all sorts of character costumes. He wants me to draw “whiskers” on his face with my eyeliner pencil and before he goes with his dad to feed the horses, you better bet on him wearing every single article of clothing or accessory that resembles a cowboy.

In the beginning, I fought with him and tried to teach him how to match and the fact that hiked up pants that don’t reach your ankles look ridiculous. I tried to explain that we don’t wear costumes to the store, that being an alligator hunter complete with shorts, cowboy boots, gardening gloves, and a cowboy hat was something we played at home and not when we’re out in public.

Suddenly it occurred to me, am I worried about him looking ridiculous or me looking ridiculous for letting him wear all that garb? It was clear that he didn’t care what people thought, not even what I thought! So I let it go. This kid has his own sense of style and it is constantly evolving. He has now learned how to comb his own hair. I try to ignore the fact that it’s all combed in different directions and standing straight up in the back because he thinks he looks handsome. So be it. I’m not going to fuss over him, or my house for that matter, just to avoid dirty looks or judgmental glares from strangers.

When we are constantly worried about how other people see us, or our kids, we are implicitly teaching our children that other people’s views and opinions about us are more important than our own. We are teaching them that appearances are everything. How do you think that will play out when it comes to peer pressure? How do you think it makes them feel that we fuss over them and are trying to mold them into what we think they should be instead of who they really are? If the only reason we clean our house is to appear clean when we have visitors, I don’t think our kids are ever going to get it.

Belief #4: I don’t want my child to grow up and not want me around, so I’ll just make sure she needs me enough

There is nothing like the feeling of being needed. I have distinct memories of holding my babies and breathing in their absolute innocence and knowing I am 100% responsible for this little human being. I woke up multiple times a night to nurse and rock my babies, change their diapers, and sing to them softly.

The thing is, my babies aren’t babies anymore. While they still depend on me, they are becoming more and more independent everyday. On one hand, it’s kind of nice to not have to be counted on for every little task. On the other hand, it kind of breaks my heart to see they need me a little less every day.

However, it would be completely selfish of me to impede them from learning and growing just because I need to feel needed. I think it’s totally understandable how this kind of thing happens but it’s imperative that we see it for what it is and stop ourselves in our tracks before we sabotage our children’s growth. 

Children will always need their mother, especially if that mother has taught them to believe in themselves. It is a totally irrational fear to think our children won’t come around when they’re older unless we keep them shackled by keeping them incapable.

If we continue with this kind of thought process and continue to do for our kids what they can do for themselves, we will hinder their growth and they will become resentful. It will get to the point that they will either rebel or become incapable of making decisions on their own. Do we want our kids to be willing to sabotage their own happiness in order to keep mom happy? I certainly doubt it.

Why should I quit?

Emotionally Available

“You can be the maid or you can be emotionally available to your children, but you can’t do both.” –Vicki Hoefle

I know that it is much more important to me that my children know they can talk to me, that I love and care about them, than it is to have my house clean.

Not only that, I want my children to grow up to be responsible, capable adults and those kinds of skills are not often taught in formal education. It is my responsibility to teach my children how to survive in the real world. It starts at home.

Kids want to be self-sufficient, feel capable, and take ownership of their lives. They want to be responsible but if we aren’t letting them because we’re being the ultimate “Helicopter Mom” meaning we’re constantly hovering around them and checking up on everything, they’re just going to get frustrated.

I want to live in a balanced home where everybody knows how to contribute, in their own way. I want my children to learn how to care for themselves and pick up their messes. This will allow them to learn and allow me to take a breather in order to ensure I am more patient, open-minded, and loving to my children.

What changes will I make?

This month on the blog, I am focusing on quitting our job as the maid. Each Monday I will be sharing more thoughts on this subject and how to actually execute a plan in order to teach and motivate our kids to help with the housework. Everybody’s situation is different depending on the number of children we have, their different ages and developmental stages, as well as how our home is set up. However, the techniques we will be talking about can be used with all children, no matter what age.

If you want to get the book “Duct Tape Parenting” and read chapters 3 and 8 on this subject, it will be most helpful. The entire book is great but these two chapters are genius when it comes to teaching our children how to care for themselves and keeping us from going insane!

I know I am always searching for ways to be a better mother. Not because I feel like I’m a terrible one, but because my children are my responsibility and I only get this one shot at guiding and leading them into adulthood. I hate to let trivial things, like a clean house, get in the way of spending time with them or listening to them when they want to talk.

One day while vacuuming my kitchen, my son, who was only a year old at the time, came in the kitchen holding a book and said, “Mommy! Weed!” At first I said, “Just a minute buddy, let me finish vacuuming…” Then I looked at his little angel face and immediately turned off the vacuum, scooped him up, and we went to his room to cuddle on the rocking chair and read a book. I don’t EVER want housework to get in the way of making memories with my children.

That being said, I also know that my anxiety level goes waaaayyyy down when my house is clean. I feel like a better person all around and have more patience in general. However, it isn’t my sole responsibility to keep my house clean all the time, I need to share the love and allow my children to learn in the process. I hope you’ll try it too!

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Am I the only one who is like this? What does housework look like at your house? Do your children help? Is it a screaming fight or do they do it willingly?

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50 Ideas for “No Light Hours”: Take advantage of the fall time change

Nighttime squareIt’s easy for someone like me, who prefers warm weather and being outside, to get depressed that the time has changed and winter is on its way. However, this time I am oddly optimistic about what I will accomplish with no outdoor distractions. After spending a summer outside building and painting furniture, fixing roofs, and gardening, I’m kind of looking forward to an excuse to stay indoors for a while. Here are 50 ideas to occupy your extra nighttime hours and keep you away from trash TV.

Take up a new hobby

1. Learn to crochet
2. Learn to play an instrument
3. Practice cooking more delicious and healthy meals
4. Go the other route and learn to bake delicious and indulgent treats
5. Read more
6. Take up writing or at least journaling
7. Learn to sew
8. Learn a new language
9. Take an online course
10. Learn to make and bind books
11. Take up scrapbooking
12. Learn how to coupon
13. Learn a new style of dance (maybe you could get your spouse to join in it with you)
14. Make jewelry

gamesMore Family Time

15. Play board games or other physical games like Hide-and-Seek
16. Do puzzles together
17. Go on night drives to see the Christmas lights, make sure to bring hot chocolate
18. Have movie nights at home with popcorn
19. Learn to ice skate together
20. Go bowling
21. Build forts in the living room
22. Exchange foot massages
23. Take treats to a neighbor
24. Learn some songs together and sing them to elderly folk at a nursing home or assisted living center
25. Plan and prepare Christmas for a less fortunate family
26. Just talk over a mug of hot chocolate

 

More Personal Time

27. Take a bubble bath
28. Have a spa night with homemade spa products
29. Go to bed earlier and reap the benefits of beauty sleep
30. Exercise or go on a night walk, just bundle up and wear reflective colors
31. Find a new podcast or audiobook to listen to while you clean or work on a project
32. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
33. Take up meditation
34. Window shop or browse online shops
35. Think about and write down your goals
36. Write a real paper and pen letter to a friend and mail it

Work on indoor projects

37. Paint a room in your house (or all of them!)
38. Paint a small piece of furniture
39. Read this book and declutter your home
40. Fix things that you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
41. Go through cabinets, drawers, and closets that have needed it for a while now
42. Sell stuff you don’t need online
43. Put together a cookbook of your family’s favorite recipes
44. Make all homemade Christmas gifts this year
45. Make an inventory of your stockpile or food storage, if you have it, and decide where you’re low
46. Organize old, printed photos and keep them in a safe box that will protect against aging and yellowing
47. Organize digital files and photos and back them up
48. Make a password reminder list to help you remember all the different usernames and passwords you have. Protect the document with an easy-to-remember password
49. Clean out your filing cabinet or make a filing system if you don’t have one
50. Organize your brain by reading this book and following through with what it teaches

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. Do you have any other ideas? What’s your favorite way to spend that extra time indoors?
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Get a Budget Finally… 5 Reasons I’m in love with YNAB!

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***This is not a sponsored post, I don’t work for YNAB nor are they compensating me at all for writing this. I wouldn’t even bring it up, let alone write this entire post about it, if I didn’t absolutely LOVE it!

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I am a sucker for apps. My iPhone and computer are full of them. I have one for just about everything you can think of. However, when it came to finance and budget apps I was sorely disappointed.

After trying to keep up with our finances and budget for years, using every program that looked worth trying, and then trying to create my own system, I was at a loss. So I did some serious research for some kind of software/app that would help me stay on top of this mess, because seriously, that’s what it felt like. One. Big. Mess.

I had heard of YNAB (You Need a Budget) a while back and the philosophy of living on last month’s income. It was appealing so I looked it up. Lucky for me they had a free month trial so I downloaded it.

This is no joke folks. This software has changed my life! Actually, it’s not merely just a software. It’s a whole new philosophy and approach to budgeting for me.

Here are 5 reasons why I can’t stop talking about it:

Categories1. Easy to Use Categories

I once got it in my head, after reading about it on a finance blog, that I needed to have 7 different bank accounts. Maybe you are familiar with this concept. Let me tell you, it didn’t take long to realize that was way too much for me to handle. I’m a simple girl and want a simple plan and although it didn’t sound too bad when I read about it, implementing it was entirely different. YNAB makes it easy to categorize your expenses but keep all the money in one account. You can easily set up additional accounts and additional budgets but for most families, one main account and budget is sufficient. You don’t have to take out cash and divide it up between categories represented by envelopes (which was also WAY too much work for me…how do you get the right amount in each category unless you’re using multiples of 20?) All the money that you budget, stays in your account but on your YNAB screen you can see exactly where every dollar belongs. However, don’t think you’re cemented into your plan once it’s made, you can easily borrow and transfer money between categories.

The relief of knowing where every single dollar goes and of course, still having the flexibility to change it up, is so nice. I don’t care how much money is in my account anymore (although it also makes that easy to follow with a sort of built in check register), I care about how much money I have budgeted in each particular category.

Real Money2. Budgeting with Real Money

Instead of setting up a budget for the entire month with anticipated income, as I have miserably failed at for my entire adult life, YNAB encourages you to only budget when you get money. Since I have always lived paycheck to paycheck anyway, this really works for me.
Obviously, the goal is to get away from paycheck to paycheck kind of living and eventually be able to create a budget for next month, with income that is already in your bank account from last month. I can’t tell you how badly I want to be able to do that.

For now, I only have to follow my budget paycheck to paycheck. For us, that’s every week. It takes me about 5 minutes to go in and budget out every dollar we received today by way of a paycheck. Then, I just use the app on my phone to make sure I stay within that limit, just for the week. If I don’t use that money I budgeted towards clothes, it still stays in that category and I can keep adding to it to use later (hello guiltless impulse shopping!), or I can move it to another category that takes priority right now.

Peace of Mind3. Provides Peace of Mind

You know when you map out a great budget and think, “YES! I’m really going to do it this time. This is my budget for the month and I’m sticking to it.” Then halfway through the month you remember you have to register your car this month, or your son ruins his only pair of church pants so you need to buy another pair, or maybe that STUPID Disney Movie Club sent you another featured title because you forgot to decline it in time and they took $40 out of your account automatically. This kind of stuff happens to the best of us but that may be $150 you didn’t budget for this month! YNAB helps you to plan for these things and helps you get a jumpstart on quarterly or annual expenses that we inevitably forget about. After budgeting all the expenses I have to pay for this week with our weekly check, I use whatever is left over and divide it among upcoming rainy day funds (such as car registration, putting our garden in, Christmas, etc.) Of course, there’s also the Buffer savings category to help us work toward the goal of saving until we can live on last month’s income. I can’t wait for the day when I can budget once a month, with money I already have, and not worry about it the rest of the month. Talk about peace of mind!!!

We also decided that we’re done stressing about Christmas money in December. It’s going to have to come from money we’ve saved throughout the year. It’s so easy to set that money aside in a category in YNAB and just add a few extra dollars when I have some left over. I don’t have to deal with a million separate accounts or take out cash or use envelopes. I just depend on my budget set up in YNAB to know where all the money in my account actually belongs. It creates this buffer where you never have to worry about your checking account going in the red as long as you are always reconciling those red numbers in your budget, borrowing and transferring between categories. The math is all done for you so there’s really little room for error.

I hate dealing with money. I like to spend it on fun stuff, but the whole financial world is mostly a mystery to me. I hate having to constantly keep track of where everything goes and pay for things like insurance and rent. However, I realize that it’s a part of life that will never go away. So anything that makes it easier and is moving me toward less stress in the future, I’m on it.

Prioritize4. Helps Me Prioritize

I’m writing this post because I know how bad it sucks to have to think about your finances and try to tame the beast. It’s even harder when you’re married and the two of you are trying to work it out together. There’s always differences of opinion or one of you (or in my case, maybe both of you) who consistently fail at following the budget. That’s why I love this program so much.  If I go a little over, I borrow from another category. This helps keep me accountable because I’m using only the real money that is currently in my account and I know I can’t overspend and hope to make it up later. If I overspend, I know I have to take the money from somewhere so it helps me prioritize. Again, it’s like a game, transferring money between categories until all the red numbers are gone.

For example, I REALLY want a water softener for our house. I had a guy from Culligan come down and give us our options. We decided that in our situation, renting for a year and possibly buying it out at the end was our best bet. It’s only $130 to install it and for two months now I keep thinking I should be able to come up with it. The old Lacie would have just scheduled to have it done and worried about how to make up that $130 later. The new Lacie with the YNAB software has looked, with every paycheck, and realized we’re still catching up from Christmas. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get on top of this soon (and it’s looking that way) so that I can finally get my water softener.

Efficient5. Super Efficient

I used the program and its accompanying app for a month and bought the software. It’s not complicated like other software that I’ve tried to use in the past. It’s meant for people like me who hate to budget and need to get on top of it. I watched the hour long getting started tutorial and I’m so glad I did. It lays it all out and it’s actually super easy and intuitive but watching the video helped. I love that I can make a budget and use my main checking account for our family’s finances and just as easily make a separate one for business. The app makes it easy to stay on top of each category and real time syncing means my husband can use it on his phone too so we’re always on the same page. No more text messages “I need gas, how much is left in our budget?” Now he can check the app and see if I got gas that day too and how much is left over.

I used to think the best way to handle finances in a marriage was to split it up. However, I much prefer working together on it and since we both have savings goals we really want to meet, uh hum…buy a house, we are more willing to work with each other and agree how much money is going where.

It’s easy to set up your categories and automate payments and things as recurring transactions. The more you use it, the easier it is to use. Not only that but the website has amazing tutorials on all kinds of things like how to categorize cash, how to handle credit card debt with the software, and how to use all the great features the program has to offer. Even if you never watched any of those videos, the program is totally functional.

The icing on the cake is…the price. One time, I spent an entire week working on an excel spreadsheet that I called “Our Family Budget.” I don’t know how many hours I spent on it, but I would venture as to say some 12 hours or so. It was several workbooks in one excel document including one for income, one for expenses, a calendar, a list of debts, etc. So let’s say I was paid $10 an hour (which is pretty reasonable for that kind of work I think). That means I spent $120 of my life working on that budget. I bought YNAB for half that, $60 after a free month.

If your budget needs a facelift, or you need to start one from scratch, try the free trial. There’s no credit card required to try it, you only put in your payment information when you’re ready to buy it. When you are ready, you can save $6 by using this link: http://ynab.refr.cc/KDPC652. So you’re only paying $54 after a month of using it and it’s yours for life, including the app.

I can’t praise it enough and although everybody is different when it comes to dealing with money, I feel like this program is the simplest and most flexible for most people.

How do you tame the budget beast?

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5 Habits to Keep Your Home Clean (Even with little ones!)

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I hear it all the time; “It’s just the stage of life you’re in. Just accept the fact you’re never going to have a clean house when you have little kids. It’s more important to worry about spending quality time with your kids and not worry about the mess.” Maybe you’ve seen some of the popular memes floating around pinterest and facebook such as:

 

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While all of these make me laugh because yes, I’ve totally been there, another part of me tells me it’s not ok to resign myself to a permanently dirty house. A clean house makes me happy. Not only me but my husband and children as well. It lowers my stress level and I’m not afraid for people to stop by unexpectedly. I want my home to be a peaceful refuge for my family and it sure doesn’t feel that way when it’s a disaster.

After spending so many precious Saturdays cleaning up a week’s worth of messes, just to find the house a complete pig sty the next day, I finally decided something had to give. And so the 5 habits for keeping a clean home were born. I tried this for a month straight and was amazed at the difference it made. I share these helpful tips with you in hopes you don’t have to resort, like I did, to being a beast because your house isn’t clean.

Please note, when I say “clean house” I am not talking about pristine. You guys know what a clean, lived in house with kids looks like. While I like having what I consider a clean house, it in no way implies my house is impeccably clean all the time. What’s important is that you feel comfortable in your own house and so will most other people, including your own family.

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1. Establish morning and night routines

I decided that I needed more structure in my life and wanted to create habits that would free up some mental energy. So I set up morning and night routines that helped me focus certain times of day on straightening up. This helped me create some consistency with my children as well. Instead of constantly cleaning up the same messes all day, I would focus on a 15-minute pick-up time before getting ready for bed. We started setting our clothes out for the next day (which not only saved us the mess of clean, folded clothes pulled out of drawers in the morning, it also saved us time by not having to worry about what to wear).

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2. A little every day

I created a cleaning schedule that split up my main chores throughout the week. This has saved my life! I don’t try to focus on doing it all every spare second of every day. Instead, I focus all my cleaning energy in the half-hour or so I have at night on one or two main chores. For example, Wednesday night is bathroom night. Thursday night I sort through my inbox, organize my desk and dust. Of course your cleaning schedule will differ from mine because our homes are set up very differently I presume. The point is to create a schedule that is feasible for you. I don’t allow myself to sit down and watch TV or read or any other recreational activity until my job is done for the night. It doesn’t seem like a sacrifice really though because I know how much happier I feel when my house is clean.

 

25067544_s3. Teach your children

Another reason I just can’t accept that it’s ok to have a dirty house is I have a deep-rooted belief that children need to learn to clean up after themselves. I’m all for kids enjoying their childhood but I’m also an advocate for rearing effective, responsible, and happy adults. This means they have to learn to work and take responsibility for their actions from a very young age. My son is three-years-old. He makes his bed almost every day, most days without being told, he cleans up his toys when he is asked, and he knows exactly where his dirty clothes and shoes go when he takes them off. This isn’t to say I never have to remind him or that he always does these things 100% cheerfully, but he knows how to do them and he knows he is expected to. Most of the time, he genuinely likes to. It makes him feel accomplished. I always talk to him about how it feels when our house is clean and how it feels when it’s dirty. He enjoys having a clean house almost as much as I do!

 

13849261_s4. Make your bed

My mom taught me this one and I will swear by it until the day I die. If your bed is made, your house (or room at the very least) will stay cleaner. I don’t know what it is but it works like magic. There is something about this small habit that changes the way you feel about keeping your room clean. There is nothing better than turning down the sheets in a clean, crisp, tidily made bed. It helps me sleep better too.

 

7080639_s5. Catch up day

Obviously I am not superwoman and I am not always able to stick to these schedules and yes, my house is still messy sometimes. This is where the habit of having a catch up day every week is important. It might be Saturday, it might be an especially slow weekday evening but make sure you schedule yourself one every week. Even if you don’t need it, you’ll have a couple of hours to do something fun instead. Mine is usually Saturday morning. Although I used to look forward to sleeping in on Saturday mornings I have found that I much prefer getting up early, catching up on my cleaning and being able to peacefully enjoy the rest of the day.

Establishing habits now will eventually free up brainpower for other things. I don’t like to have my life consumed by trying to keep a clean house. After establishing these habits I don’t even really have to think about it. It is just part of my day and actually helps me relax. I like to listen to audiobooks or music or sometimes I chat with my husband or my kids while we do it together. The point is to make it automatic and you’ll benefit from less stress and a more peaceful and comfortable feeling in your home for you, your family, and anybody who comes to visit.