Living the best year ever, and making more time for what matters most…
Happy New Year! At the beginning of a new year, it seems like everyone is under a lot of pressure to make this year the best year ever. Well, don’t worry! No matter what you do this year, this will be your best year yet this decade!
As a Christian, the main goal of my life is to grow closer to Christ each and every day. Now this can be a really difficult task! In between caring for the home, holding a baby in one arm, and working on discipline with a toddler, it is hard to hear myself think. And if I can’t hear myself – while, its easy to imagine how much harder it is to hear God. So in order to focus more on God, I’m going to spend January and February focusing on habit building and other home organization techniques. My plan is to get these “lesser things” in life on auto-pilot, so the more active part of my brain can spend more and more time being attentive to God.
Staying at Home in the 21st Century
In the last 100 years it has gone from normal for a Mama to stay at home with her babies to expected that she is going to work and only spend 2 hours a day parenting in the evenings. I’m not even thinking about that half-an-hour in the morning where parents have to rush their kids off to school or daycare.
Well I knew a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be up for following this forced norm on our society. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. And children grow up too fast for me to be willing to miss 90 percent of their day.
Unfortunately, my own childhood didn’t prepare for the vocation of being a wife and mother. And many women of my generation our facing the same problems. (You can check out my article on being a Stay at Home here).
How to run a household 101.
Cooking 101 and 203.
Hosting guests in the home 202.
Organizing 101 and 257.
That is just a list of a few of the classes I wish I’d been able to take in High School and University. I wish I had taken home economics, but it was treated as a “soft option” by my mother and classmates. And I was too ashamed to sign up for the one class that might have actually helped me prepare for my future. Instead, all this information that used to get passed down from mother to daughter has been lost. We now have generations of working moms (and even some stay at home ones) who didn’t take time to teach these basic life skills to their children. Probably because a day at work was so tiring that they didn’t have the energy to cook a meal. Never mind also teaching their children how to cook at the same time.
So, in order to make these lesser things less of a problem in living out my vocation, I’ve been spending the last year finding ways to tackle the gaps in my practical education. And now that I’ve found systems that work, I’m going to spend this year turning these methods from manual to autopilot. So I will be able to focus less on making things work, and more on growth in prayer.
And, since writing is what I do in my spare time, I’m sharing these resources with you.
So far I have written a few articles on Organization. One article is a Home Organization Crash Course. In the crash course I cover how to sort, purgurge, and contain clutter, as well as how to get past keeping guilty clutter in our homes. Meanwhile, my other article is How to Organize for Your Own Personal Style. Right now we have just moved homes, so organization is in the beginning stages again. But as soon as I’ve finished packing, I plan to use the formula set out in my Organization Crash Course to keep the rooms properly ordered. So I’m going to make a list of all the rooms in the house that I am responsible for, and rotate through assessing them each week.
So here is my organization procedure
- Check my list to see what room is to be analyzed this week
- Go to that room and see if it is organized and functional, and apply the principles for purging mentioned in my Home Organization Crash Course
- Reorganize as needed and mark space as good until next rotation!
Personally, I find organizing a lot of fun. I am happy to reorganize spaces if I’m feeling stressed. And I always feel great afterward. If only I felt this way about cleaning…
Cleaning is a little more difficult for me. I’ve been reading into it and it sounds like different people find different cleaning systems work for them. (Just like with organizing!). Some people do all their cleaning in one day, and others spread out the cleaning over the week. And of those who spread it out, some people do it by task, and others by room. I have made a combo of those two styles. It looks something like this:
Saturday: Toy Rotate and Floors (again)
I don’t rotate toys every Saturday. But when I do, I plan to disinfect the toys that can be disinfected so I think it is a big enough task to deserve its own day.
You might notice that laundry is not on the list. That is because laundry is a part of my family life schedule. It has taken a lot of work for me to get into a routine as a mom. I went from Full-time university student to very-pregnant-nesting-momma to a mom of a newborn in a very short period. I really wish that I’d gotten the chance to be a stay at home wife for longer. Although I don’t know if any adjustment period could really prepare me for my first baby.
Anyway! My last delve into the world of organizing my life has been such a success that it even survived the period of moving homes! Well, if you don’t count week 1. All I did the first week was unpack as much as I could while taking care of a toddler and infant. But after that first week I was able to get right back into my Block Schedule Rule of Life, which you can read about in my article here. Since following this schedule is already becoming routine, I don’t think there is anything more that I need to do to put in on autopilot! Except by keeping going and perhaps preparing more activities for toddler homeschool/learning time as Little Fox gets older.
The Big Bad Budget
So, a little confession. I love math! But don’t worry, I’m still mostly normal. I also hate following budgets.
As the math geek of the family, it has always fallen to me to figure out our budget. And for months and months… nothing worked! I am not a little details person, so trying to figure out how to set money aside for a million categories (transportation, clothing, cleaning supplies, gifts, etc.) just does not work for me. This past summer, my husband and I resolved to find a system that would work for me (and us). After watching about 25 budgeting videos on youtube, one of the youtubers mentioned Jordan Page, who runs a blog called Fun Cheap or Free. She and her husband are Morman, but their budgeting tips can work well for anyone.
How to Budget
First, take a paycheck and break it down into three categories.
- Tithe/Charitable – 10% of income
- Savings and/or Repayment – 20% of income
- Living – 70% of income
Second, allot savings/debt repayment.
- While paying minimum payments, save up a 1000 emergency fund
- After you have 1000 in savings, put everything towards your smallest debt and get it paid off quickly
- Now start paying off your highest interest debt. Continue paying off debts until they are all gone
- After you are debt free, work towards saving up 3 months worth of living expenses in savings. After that, put your savings into extra for retirement, or towards a family trip, or really anything you want to save up for. Don’t add this 20% back into your living expenses budget – it is for special stuff.
Third, allot Living Expenses.
- Add up all family monthly expenses (insurance, home and utilities, monthly bank fees, the average cost of gas for one month, etc.). When I was just starting, I printed out three months worth of records from my bank and went through and highlighted all these monthly expenses. For gas, I added up the expenses for the three months and divided it by three to get an average. After reaching a total, I divided the amount by the number of paychecks/income we receive in a month. Then I took this amount out of the 70% to go towards these expenses
- Next allot 100 a month US or ~132 Canadian a month for each family member for groceries. Add it all together and divide it by 4 (or the number of weeks in this month). Set aside the amount of weeks worth of grocery budget that this paycheck needs to cover for groceries. Note that groceries include all consumable products, like diapers and cleaning supplies too.
- Everything that is left is your budget for other. If you have debts to pay off, this money should go to that first, though obviously if your kids need clothes, that is important too. After debts are paid off, this money can go towards fun things like carnivals, dance classes, having dinner out, new furniture, etc. Basically all the things that we can survive without while defeating the monster called debt.
Example Budget Following This Method
Please note that this example is not based on a real paycheck or amount of family monthly expenses. It is just for easy math and numbers to clearly show how the money gets divided up. Math is done for groceries based on it being a family of four.
Bi Weekly Income [the amount deposited in the bank]: 1000
Family – 400 (from this income) / 800 (total amount needed to pay rent, utilities, etc)
Grocery – 200 (or 100 dollars a week for a family of four)
Other – 100 (or 50 dollars a week)
If we go over budget for groceries, then it has to come out of or other budget for the week. Borrowing against next week never works! Our family has been following a budget made this way for 5 months and it has been great. And this is how we’ve made our budgeting simple and sustainable!
My plan in the next few weeks is to make a worksheet for doing the math for the budget. Right now I just write out all the numbers in my notebook, along with a list of each of the family monthly expenses. That way I can check off when each one is paid off, and when the money comes out of the account.
The Byzantine Life
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading my article on Developing a Block Schedule Rule of Life. Don’t forget to share this post to social media and pin it on Pinterest so you can find it again later!
On our Pinterest we have boards full of different organization ideas! New posts are always shared to Facebook. And my husband runs our Twitter (@TheByzLife) and Instagram accounts (username: thebyzantinelife)! And if you want to support our work at TheByzantineLife.com, consider joining us on Patreon. For as little as $5 a month you can get exclusive access to special posts, photos, and updates from our family! https://www.patreon.com/thebyzantinelife
Have a good week! Here’s to an organized home and life!