I’ve been frustrated lately with how our home looks. There are always dirty dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, and the bathroom is never fully clean (just being honest!). Whenever we invite people over, it’s always a scramble to have everything presentable before they arrive. I knew it was bad when I was embarrassed to let the maintenance guy come in and work on something.
I decided I needed to make a change. Our home should not be this messy. There was really no excuse for it, other than my laziness. When I was first laid off from my job last October, I thought that transitioning into homemaking would be easy. It’s been over a year of trial and error and I still don’t have everything right.
On Sunday, I walked around our apartment and made a list of every single thing that needs to be cleaned. It was a very long list. I broke it down by room and then labeled each item as something that needed to be cleaned daily, weekly, or monthly. Then I assigned each room to one day of the week. Each day, I will concentrate on that specific room while completing a few additional daily chores.
Wednesdays are all about the living room. Each week on Wednesdays, I will:
- Tidy and wash off the table
- Dust desks/end tables
- Straighten the game shelf
- Water the plants
- Clean couch cushions
- Clean off printer shelving
I also have monthly chores for each room, the living room chores assigned to the 2nd Wednesday of every month.
- Clean light covers
- Wash patio windows
I also have a few daily chores that have nothing to do with today’s room assignment.
- Wash/put away dishes
- One load of laundry – wash, hang, iron, put away
- Wash and tidy the kitchen counters
- Sweep kitchen floor
- Vacuum the apartment
- Clean the kitties’ litter boxes
- General pick up around apartment
- Make bed
- Personal items (devotional, exercise, reading, etc.)
I started this new system on Monday and it’s worked very well so far. My daily chores don’t take that long and then I work on the room assigned for that day. I estimate I’m spending between 2 and 3 hours each day cleaning. This might get faster as the apartment stays clean instead of doing damage control. The only challenge is working around the times when hubby is working at home. He spends a lot of time doing phone support for clients and I can’t be heard in the background. During those times, I find quiet cleaning to do or I take my breaks and read. Right now he’s on the phone so I’m writing my blog post. Now I’m off to read until he’s finished and then I’ll make dinner.
One way I’m trying to save money is by shopping around and doing price comparisons. I’m putting together a price book that includes all products purchased on a regular basis and which grocery store has the lowest price. By doing this, I can tell when a sale is actually a good price and when I need to stock up.
Walmart recently stopped carrying my preferred yeast, Red Star’s Active Dry Yeast. Walmart charged $6.49 or so for a 4-ounce jar. When I found out that Walmart stopped carrying my yeast, I looked at several grocery stores and found that Frys was the only one that carried that particular jar of yeast and they were charging $7.99 for 4 ounces. Ouch.
Enter Amazon. However people feel about large corporations driving the little guy out of business, Amazon can usually beat any price. When you’re trying to get out of debt, the savings is vital. I should have looked for yeast on Amazon a long time ago because they have a terrific price.
The jar on the left is my normal jar of yeast. The bag on the right was ordered from Amazon.
Jar: 4 ounces, $7.99 + tax
Bag: 32 ounces, $14.88 + shipping (if applicable)
The bag from Amazon is a terrific deal. To buy 32 ounces worth of jars, I would be spending $63.92, instead of $14.88 to buy a bag online. Because we were also ordering hubby’s birthday present, shipping was free and we saved $49.04. I would consider that worth ordering online and waiting for the shipment. I just refilled my jar and tossed the rest of the bag into the freezer for later.
What a great day of firsts!
- First day we’ve not turned on the air conditioning since June. I hope it stays that way!
- First time I’ve filled out a Citizen Survey for my city.
- First time I’ve gone shopping at Walmart at 5AM. Great customer service and the store is perfectly clean.
- First time I’ve applied to participate in a credit card program. Earn 20% of any balance paid above the minimum for the next three billing cycles. I can’t use the card (no worries there) and my credit line will be reduced by the amount paid above the minimum. I had called to find out why my interest rate was raised 1.75% and they offered this instead. I applied, but hubby and I discussed this program and decided we won’t take advantage of it. Because the payments are applied to lowest interest rates first and we recently transferred a balance to this card at a much lower rate, we would actually be losing money by paying off the 1.9% interest instead of the 10.24% card we’re paying on now.
We might be visiting another small art museum for the first time tonight. It depends on how tired we are after doing the last bit of grocery shopping at the farmer’s market.
I am almost ready for the Sabbath. It’s been a busy day but I feel accomplished. Before breakfast, I went grocery shopping. Walmart was very quiet this morning and it made for a relaxing trip. Then I spent the morning on my contract work, ate lunch, visited the post office, and completed some housework.
The only thing left to finish is putting away the clean dishes on the counter and in the dishwasher. I also have to clean out the litter boxes. Fun fun! Then I can relax and enjoy the Sabbath.
I attempted another scheduled day. It is going fairly well… Before my schedule started this morning, I wrote my three Morning Pages, exercised, took a shower, ate breakfast, and had Bible study with hubby.
10:30-11:00 – Housework
11:00-11:30 – Research
11:30-12:00 – Housework
12:00-1:00 – Lunch/Free Time
1:00-1:30 – Update prices/add items for sale on Half.com
1:30-2:00 – Read blogs/Check email
2:00-2:30 – Housework
2:30-? – Play Scrabble with hubby 🙂
The only thing left on my schedule is some character building for my novel. I was doing really well with the schedule but hubby is home and he was very agreeable to playing a game of Scrabble with me so I decided to toss out the last hour of my schedule. I’ve accomplished everything on my to-do list for today.
Tomorrow will be a return to unscheduled days. I should have contract work tomorrow morning and that’s always a priority over everything else. My contract work is first come, first serve so I watch my email very closely and drop everything else when work is assigned. The faster I can finish the initial assignment, the more work I am assigned until everything has been completed for the day by all the contractors. I like having the ability to work more hours than the initial assignment but it makes planning hard as I’m at the beck and call of my emails!
As I knew in advance that I would have no contract work today and that hubby would be gone for hours, I decided to create a strict schedule for the day. This was my first attempt at creating a schedule for homemaking duties. I think I did fairly well!
9:00-9:45 – Housework
9:45-10:00 – Reading
10:00-10:30 – Bible study
10:30-11:00 – Housework
11:00-11:30 – Work on my brother’s Christmas present
11:30-12:00 – Exercise
12:00-1:00 – Lunch/Free time
1:00-2:00 – Research
2:00-2:30 – Reading (I was trying to finish a book today. Success!)
I followed my schedule almost exactly. The only deviation was that hubby called at noon and said he was done early. I talked to him for a few minutes and then hung up and did research until 1:00, when he arrived home. We ate lunch together at 1:00 and then I had free time until 2:00.
My contract work boss emailed everyone and said there is no work again tomorrow. I think I’m going to rearrange today’s schedule a bit and try it again tomorrow. I’d like to exercise before breakfast instead of lunch and I want to have Bible reading earlier in the morning. I finished reading John this morning started in Acts.
All in all, my first attempt at a schedule was a great success! I feel very productive. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this afternoon, but I’ll find something. Maybe I’ll keep working on my brother’s Christmas present. That’s going to take hours of dedicated work, I’ve realized!
My husband is on call today so I decided I would progress with the 31 Day Challenge. Today’s task is to clean the laundry room.
I have a tiny laundry room that I access by stepping onto our patio. It contains a stackable 3/4 size washer and dryer, the hot water heater, and a tiny trashcan where I throw all of the lint from the dryer. It didn’t take too long to wipe everything down but it really needed it! I can’t believe how much dirt and grime had accumulated on my washer. Now I don’t have to worry about letting my clothes touch the machine as I transfer them to the dryer. Ick.
My contract work is nonexistent today. I was hoping for a couple hours but that’s ok. I’ve been catching up on all our laundry and reading a library book. Hubby and I also walked over to Walgreen’s to pick up a Redbox movie. Even in September, it’s not a good idea to take a half hour walk in the middle of the day! I felt faint when we returned to the apartment. I can’t wait for cooler weather!
“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?”
Day 16 of the cleaning challenge is all about fighting laundry piles. I have to admit, the above quote is pretty accurate! If I only do things that are fun, laundry would never be complete. Thankfully, my husband needs clean clothes to wear to work each day and thus my dirty laundry pile stays fairly tamed.
In an effort to lower our electricity bill, I’ve started line drying some of our clothes. Our apartment complex doesn’t allow clotheslines on the patios so I am forced to be creative. Instead, I hang all of our shirts on hangers and leave them hanging on the shower curtain bar. This has been working really well, as long as I remember to fold or iron the clothes after they are dry. Our electric bill went down $16 last month!
This month, I am going to attempt to hang all of our laundry and eliminate the need for the dryer. I’m going to visit the dollar store to see if they carry clothes pins. If not, I’ll check Walmart. I’m going to try pinning the clothes to regular hangers and leaving them in the bathroom to dry. I’m not sure if the clothes pins will fit around the hangers but I believe that’s my only option for hanging work pants and jeans. If I’m lucky, our electric bill will drop again this month.
Dost thou love life,
then do not squander time,
for that’s the stuff life is made of.
I’ve spent the past week pondering today’s assignment for the cleaning challenge. Do I want to set up a strict schedule for my days? Can I set up a strict schedule? How much emphasis should I place on work versus cleaning? Am I allowed to schedule personal reading time for myself?
I finally decided that our lifestyle isn’t conducive to strict schedules. Hubby works from most mostly but his time at client sites is rarely scheduled in advance. My contract hours vary drastically. Today I was assigned only an hour of work but yesterday I completed three hours, and four hours the day before. Hubby had to work all day last Sunday and thus has a three day weekend starting tomorrow.
Instead of scheduling each hour of my day, I created a list of what I need/aspire to complete and how much time I will commit to each:
- 30 min. of personal Bible study
- 20 min. of Bible study with hubby
- 45 min. of writing – morning pages and blog
- 30 min. research for National Novel Writing Month
- 1-5 hours of contract work, depending on assignment
- 1 hour cleaning
- 30 min. personal reading
Now I can fit everything into whatever work schedule hubby or I might have on any given day. I know I need to complete certain tasks and will organize everything around work. The times listed above are estimates and may change in the future. I think I read more than half an hour each day and sometimes I will only write for twenty minutes. But this rough estimate makes a great starting point.
I finished reading the most delightful little book – The Cat Who Went to Paris. The author is given Norman, a Scottish Fold kitten. The pictures are adorable, the stories are hilarious, and the book is a very quick read. Thankfully, our library carries at least one more book in this true life series about an adorable and very intelligent cat!
Today was mostly about cleaning and budgets. I puttered around the house most of the day, picking up after our weekend. The day was not exciting but I was content in my activities. The only things I have left on my agenda today are half an hour of research and then Bible study.
Day 14 of the cleaning challenge is all about time management. For a few days, I’ve been paying attention to how I spend my time. While I rarely leave the house during the week, my days aren’t all alike. I spend some days doing a lot of contract work, up to 5 hours each day. Other days are spent cleaning and organizing. And a few days here and there are spent mostly reading once my daily housework is complete. I have read a lot of books in the past month.
Last week, I spent way too much time watching television. We don’t own a television but there are a multitude of (legal) shows and movies available online. When I realized how much time I was wasting watching television, I was disgusted with myself. I was watching up to the equivalent of a movie a day. While I was still being productive, completing all of my housework and devoting hours to my contract job, I felt my time could be better utilized. I made myself a promise – I will spend more time with my Bible every day than I will with television or movies. It’s sad to realize that I was spending more time watching television than reading God’s word. Over the last three days, I have kept my promise. Each day, I have spent more time reading the Bible than watching television.