Monday, April 16, 2012

You are awesome...

Well, you are.

You're here. You're obviously concerned about managing your finances and the family budget, so let's get started.

I had an epiphany recently. I realised that, as has been the case since forever, stay-at-home-Mums are an undervalued resource. I decided to stop calling myself that and instead bestowed a new title upon my home based role...Guardian of the Home and Budget.

Now this also means, that I must take my role as seriously as any other job outside of the home. I rise in the morning, and behave as if I'm 'going to work'. I make the bed as soon as I rise, I get immediately into the shower after I've completed my 6am routine and dress for the day, according to what I'm doing. If it's housework and cleaning, then I dress in bike pants, shorts or jeans, a neat but comfortable polo shirt and sneakers. I avoid tracksuits like the plague, but if you've got the body of a size 8 gym junkie, then a track suit is fine. I completely get that they are comfortable, but they are neither flattering nor good for the soul. You wouldn't go to work in a track suit would you?

If I'm shopping for groceries, then I make a bit more of an effort as I refuse to leave the house 'looking like a housewife'. So it's dressy without being over-the-top, comfy but pretty shoes such as ballet flats or silver, or orange patent or pink paisley Birkenstock Gizeh sandals, blow dried or tied back with a headband, and light makeup. If I expect the rest of the world to take me seriously, then I have to take myself seriously.

I have breakfast with the family, clear the breakfast dishes, stack the dishwasher and put a load of washing on. In more recent times, I've reinstate the old fashioned dish drainer upon my kitchen bench, and prefer to wash the breakfast dishes by hand, then allow them to air dry. I then give them a light polish with a pure linen teatowel before putting them away neatly.

A word on teatowels: I have a 'thing' about teatowels. Nor for me the 6 for $10 cheapies. As with any other job, whenever possible, I stock the best possible equipment for the task. This includes teatowels. My teatowels have a jacquard printed logo, claiming them to be Glass Cloths. Whatever else they may be, they are silky and heavy to touch and a joy to use. Can it be a sensual experience to dry the dishes? Well yes it can if you treat yourself to some beautiful, durable linen teatowels. Really. These are oversized as well, allowing you to dry the largest of serving platters or pots, effortlessly. I sourced mine at 'Spotlight', a good haberdashery store here in Australia where they were 2 for $8, but my link will take you to Peters of Kensington where you can order them online for the same price plus a bit for postage. Honestly they are worth it. Even at around twice the price of the cheapies, they're certainly not a huge investment for the pleasure I gain from using them.

Having left the house in good order, I drop my daughter at school and continue immediately either to home for my days work, or to the grocery store to stock my kitchen. I do not stop for coffee, I do not get distracted. After all, if I was 'going to work', I'd got straight there and start working, wouldn't I.

Now I'm not going to bore you with my housework routine. Suffice to say, do what works for you. If you're a Flylady type, then go with it. If you start at one end of the house and work right through, that's fine. If you do one room a day from top to bottom, that's good too. But DO it. It's not good for your heart and soul or that of your family to live in untidy or dirty conditions.

I will say this. Open your windows, let the fresh air and light in, dry your sheets in the outdoors, weather and space permitting. In this day and age where air conditioning and clothes dryers are commonplace, we have forgotten the feeling and scent of freshly dried linen. We spray something labelled 'fresh linen' on our pillows, and buy and burn a candle to simulate that gorgeous outdoor smell. How silly...think about it for a second. You could just open the window and dry your clothing outdoors for free! Yes, it's a little more effort, but it costs nothing, and you'll adore shimmying in to sheets kissed by the fresh air and sunshine.

Cooking from scratch, thus avoiding mixes, takeaways and pre-prepared food, is the singular, most effective way to make a positive dent in the family spending. I know this, having been raised in a family of seven children, and spending a good portion of my younger parenting days as a single Mum.

So much of my advice to you in coming posts, will be centred around preparing your own ready-to-go freezer meals, healthy baked treats, and ways of avoiding spending up big on unhealthy food because it's 'easier'.

For now, practice getting ready for your day as if you were going to a 'real' job...I hate that term too, but you know what I mean. And remember, you have to do something at least 17 times for it to become a habit.

See you soon...

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