When did I last write a report card? Weeks and weeks ago…so here’s a quick explaination incase you forgot (or are new here). “Report Cards” are supposed to be my weekly reporting on how I’m doing with my Housewife Challenges which are my goals for myself, whether parenting, personal, or household related, and my attempts to make the reality of life with a toddler fit into the ideal that is those goals.
Even if you really want to…or at least think you want to…or think you should want to…
So what are the challenges and how am I doing? Read on…
1. Get (and keep) the grocery bill under budget [read original post]
The budgeted amount turned out to be $65/week, although I budget with a monthly amount in mind, meaning some weeks I spend more than $65 and some weeks I spend less. We’ve been using the envelope system since March and it works great…because you can’t spend what you don’t have! I’ve really committed myself to not using a credit or debit card in the grocery store at all because I know the seemingly “endless” availability of money will put me at risk for splurge spending. So over the first two weeks of the month, I put enough cash in my envelope for the month (based on how many Fridays there are), and I can spend as much as I need to out of the envelope each week, just keeping in mind that once I’ve put in the amount for the month no more money is going in. It usually works out to be every other week I spend a larger amount (around $100) and on the off weeks I spend less than $40, just picking up things like eggs, butter, juice, milk, cheese, and 1-2 veggies to supplement what I have left from the week before. I have had to do some creative budgeting at the end of the months (May was especially bad for some reason) but we’ve always made it on just what was in the envelope.
The only thing sort of annoying about this sort of budgeting is that our grocery envelope is for food only, which means I either have to make separate trips or have the cashier ring up everything else (toilet paper, tissues, dish soap) separately. I think the two transaction thing can be really annoying to cashiers and the people in line behind me, so I usually just make separate trips (since I don’t mind a second walk). The other thing to note is that the amount really only covers food for us. If we have people over for dinner or something, I usually pay for those ingredients with our discretionary money, not our grocery budget.
With the summer starting, I may have to re-evaluate the amount, but I’m not sure yet. Normally, I plan for Nora and me to eat leftovers for lunch so we can have something quick and easy but still hot and healthy. Now that we’re spending so much time outdoors and will mostly be having picnic lunches, I need to come up with a lunch menu too, and I’m not sure yet how that will impact our shopping. Also, now that it’s possible again, we want to eat as local as we can, so I need to try to scrape together enough for a CSA (which are considerably more expensive than the CSAs in NY) or just be okay with paying the farmer’s market prices. This is the perfect example of how, just when you think you have something figured things change; oh the importance of flexibility!
2. Keep a clean house [read original post]
Okay, I’ll be brutally honest here. I do struggle with this
a little a lot. It’s not that my house is dirty or gross, but I do feel like I’m constantly fighting against clutter and dog fur, and as soon as all the dishes are clean, someone needs something else to eat or drink. Sigh. I just remind myself what our LLL leader says, “if there are toys out, it means your child is playing; if there are dirty dishes in the kitchen, it means you cooked a real meal.” I do try to involve Nora in cleaning because I think she needs to see it done and learn how, but I also don’t want that to be what her days are about. I want to take her out exploring new roadsand discovering new sightsand soundsand playgrounds.Luckily, I don’t have a husband who expects to come home to an immaculate house, so I usually do most of the cleaning after she’s gone to bed and I’ve had a few hours at the computer (since we share one, I have to get my computer time in before Chris comes home). I don’t know if that makes me a bad housewife or just one who realizes that there are other things more important than dirty floors, including my own sanity. Am I the only one? I’d love to know when/how you do your cleaning (and is there anyone out there who actually has the house perfectly cleaned EVERY day before hubby comes home)? 3. Become a yoga master [read original post] I’m good at thinking about doing yoga…and I even went so far as to look up a weekend morning class I could try out…does that count for something?
4. Use the sewing machine [read original post]
This I’ve been doing! Nothing too spectacular, but I’ve tailored down some of my too-big clothes so I can wear them again (mostly skirts, a shirt or two, and I’m currently working on a dress), and I’ve fallen in love with the woman’s tank-top-turned-toddler-dress:
This dress is my current favorite – I wish I had a picture of her standing up in it — it’s long and flowy and perfectly bohemian. And it took me probably 7 minutes or less to make (even faster than my first one which required a fair amount of seam ripping). Whenever she wears it, we get all kinds of compliments, which is all the encouragement I need to sew, sew, sew!
5. Practice patience [read original post]
I haven’t been doing so bad on this front. It doesn’t hurt that I have the most perfect little girl who very rarely gives me reason to do anything other than laugh. (Especially now that she’s sleeping through the night again!!!) I’ve also mostly figured out how my hormones are cycling and am better able to predict when I might have a shorter fuse, which is probably the number one way to diffuse stress: predicting it and avoiding it. Chris is amazing at this, too; he knows just when and how to make me feel better, and is good at putting things in perspective. He also has an amazing understanding of how I tick (sometimes I think even better than I do), which is the best thing I could ask for in a partner.
6. Plan (weekly) and cook balanced, varied meals [read original post]
Since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what we eat on such a small grocery budget, I have a longer post going up tomorrow that lists out our meals for a past week. I’m definitely rocking the balanced meals thing, and I’m cooking things for Nora that are outside of her comfort zone so that she’s asked to try new things, but I’m not sure how varied the week as a whole is. For convenience, I like to cook a dinner that can be eaten as several more lunches or another lunch and dinner. I also have some pretty regular menu items that repeat both during weeks and from week-to-week which is both a result of our budget and the fact that I’m feeding a toddler. She eats, for example, black bean/rice puree (“dip”) and veggie quesadillas a lot because it’s cheap, easy, and guaranteed to be eaten. I do wish I could expose her to more world cuisines and different types of meals, but I don’t think I’m there yet.
7. Prioritize and be realistic in expectations for myself [read original post]
And finally, the biggest challenge of them all! Sometimes I wonder how and why I take on so many roles. Mother/housewife. Babysitter. Web designer. Lactation Counselor. Trying to get Papoose started. And then I have all these crazy goals under the umbrella of each one! But the thing is, I am a “do-er.” I just am…and even if I get rid of one thing, something else will take its place. Sort of like how I filled the void from my 40+ hour/week job with all this other stuff. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of most of it and the things that are more necessity (like babysitting…more on that this week, too) will eventually not be, so I’m content with doing what needs to be done for now. I’m always struggling to balance everything I have going (hence the messy house!), but I think lately I’ve been doing okay. I just hope I’m setting a good enough example that Nora can be smart about these things for herself.