#Write31Days Challenge – Post 30 – These Three Things

MBA

As a stay at home mom, I felt like my only job was to keep the house immaculate & tend to the kids.  It was the least I could do for the husband who worked all day to provide.  Yet, it was something I failed at all of the time.  I would spend hours organizing a closet, tidying up one space or another, all while trying to take care of my kids.  In the days when the babies would take several naps in the course of the day, it was easier.  When they became mobile it was trying to brush your teeth with oreo cookies.

And despite my best efforts, it seemed like my husband was never happy.  This created a spirit of resentment in my heart, because I felt like I couldn’t ever do enough to please him.  He would complain about simple things while totally disregarding all the work that I had accomplished.  It was absolutely infuriating to me.

One day, I was trying to figure out a more effective cleaning plan for the house.  I had written down a list of every task in the house, categorizing them into daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores.  For whatever reason, that day, I decided to ask my husband for his input.  I wanted to know what was most important to him in regards to the general state of the house.

I was shocked to find out that I had been wasting time working on “projects” that meant absolutely nothing to him, and I was skipping over the things that mattered most.   It wasn’t even an issue of “cleaning” either.  I was angry with my husband all this time for disregarding my work.  The truth was, we simply didn’t have clear communication about the subject. I assumed what a clean house would look like, and he had his own assumptions.

For example, something that many of us mothers will do, I would use the foyer area as a staging zone.  I would keep my purse, the diaper bag, stroller, etc  by the front door.  It was where I needed it, and it wasn’t strewn about.  As I began to volunteer at church for various things, I would often stage by the front door the things I would need to bring with me.  Neat and tidy, but yet all in the foyer area so that I would have everything ready to go.

To my husband, this was cluttered.  When coming home from a long day at work, the last thing he wanted to do was to maneuver around my staging area.

That makes total sense.  Yet, he had never expressed that to me.  The words he chose were ones that made me feel as if I wasn’t doing a good job cleaning.  Simple word choice made a huge difference.  At the same time, we had been married for many years… two children born… before I would even ask him about it.

He didn’t care if I vacuumed daily.  He liked the counter clear, so he could put his stuff away.  I was spending time organizing closets, and he would have preferred something entirely different.

Communication in marriage is HUGE and it shouldn’t be just over the big things.  I believe most of our biggest squabbles come from poor communication.

The second thing I assumed was that once I knew this about his preferences, that they wouldn’t change.  Many years passed by of my doing the same things, we moved into our current home.  It never really dawned on me that a new home might result in a change in his preferences.  It never dawned on me that as his job would change, that it would influence his perspective on what made his home comfortable.

Over time, I noticed he was complaining again, but that I had been keeping up on the things that mattered to him.  That would start breeding a familiar resentment.  This time I caught it, and we were able to communicate sooner.  It was through our conversations that I realized that his needs or priorities had changed.  What he really would have appreciated for that relaxed at home feeling had changed.

The foyer was no longer an issue for him.  Perhaps, because it is now a habit for the whole family… it’s never a mess or crowded.  It could also be that where he retreats as soon as he comes home from work has changed.   Before, he would put his stuff in the closet by the front door.  In our new home, he took it all the way to the bedroom.  Simple things like keeping the bedroom chair clear, so that he could have a place to sit and take his boots off … that was a blessing to him.   After working all day in environments he wasn’t always thrilled about, something as simple as having fresh clean towels and a clean pair of socks to change into were

One of the things I have always encouraged new wives to do, is to ask their husband what their expectations are of her (and vice versa).  In fact, it is better to do this BEFORE you get married.   Seventeen years later, I know that this is not a one time deal but an ongoing process.  I recommended revisiting it every time there is a major shift in the family (new child, quitting job to stay home, moving to a new house, etc).  If those things are staying pretty much status quo, make a point then to revisit the topic every 3-5 years.  Don’t assume things won’t change for him, or for you.

These Three Things

Begin by writing down everything that is a chore or task that must get done, starting with your daily duties.  Sit down with each other, and put a star next to the three things that are the MOST IMPORTANT (chores/tasks) to each of you.   These are the three big deal items that you like to have done daily/regularly that make you feel relaxed and comfortable in your home.  You now have a daily task list of just six things that are your MUST do items for the day, or at least on a regular basis.

Go through this list and talk about each item, do you LOVE this chore… or do you HATE it.  What about your spouse?   For example, my husband finds sweeping cathartic.   I actually like cleaning off and wiping down tables.  I hate sweeping and mopping, because as a mom… I know that it is going to be dirty with in seconds of the kids coming home.

This simple task will help you identify what is important to each other.  These six things need to become the priority in your daily to-do list, at the same time you are also identifying WHO will complete the task.  If you hate it, but your husband loves it… then let him do it!  And if you love doing it (or even don’t mind)…  then take that one for yourself.

Both hate it?  Take turns.  Both love it?  Do it together.

After you have established your daily must do list, go through the rest of your list of chores/tasks.   Skip choosing priorities, and instead identify your love or hate for the chore.  Put a heart next to what you love, and an X next to the chores you just hate doing.  If you don’t care, leave it blank.

Then begin to evenly distribute those chores between the two of you.  If you are both working, this is equitable. If one of you is staying home with kids, the load should accommodate for their schedule.  We can’t expect our spouse to accomplish a task that can only be done during their working hours.  The list may not be evenly split in the end, but it will still be a fair list.

The great news about this process?  As you have kids, you can renegotiate the distribution as they reach milestone ages where chores become age appropriate.

It is a great process to start the communication between spouses about expectations, eliminating assumptions.   When I know what is important to my spouse, that becomes my priority.  The rest can wait.

Some other things to consider, outside of household chores include:

  • Repair/ Maintenance Appointments for the Car (If you hate dealing with the mechanics, sales people, etc. this could be a great one to hand off to your spouse.)
  • Attendance to Family Events (You could find that Easter is more important to his family, and Christmas is more important to yours.  This info eliminates trying to fit everyone in on a single day.)
  • Planning Vacations (Perhaps you are limited to one vacation per year, list your three bucket list destinations, and your spouse does the same. Alternate year to year on the destination from that list.)
  • Major Purchases/Decisions (When buying a home, selecting a school, etc. you can each list the three things that are most important to you.  Use that list as your buying guide or litmus for making the decision against.)

These are just a few other ways the “Three Things” process can help you communicate better with your spouse. Clear communication of clear expectations puts everyone on the same page, dissolves assumptions, and sets any couple up for success.

Advertisements

Budget Friendly Christmas. PLUS 10 GIFTS to GIVE AWAY!

Our family is very budget conscious. I really enjoy giving gifts to my family and friends, but some years there isn’t enough room in the budget for everyone I would like to give gifts to.  That is why I started planning my Christmas shopping out earlier in the year.

* Make a list early, who are you shopping for and what would you like to get them.

* Budget a small amount each month toward your list.

* Take advantage of sales, free shipping, and packages that you can split apart into multiple gift.s

* Shop for your packaging and accessory items from your local dollar store.

20150611_160309

I spent $47 on all of the above items.  I was able to get the books & journals for half off or less from Family Christian.  They have sales throughout the year, plus I had some gift certificates to redeem which helped reduce my cost..  The wrapping paper roll, shred, gift boxes, tape, tissues, pens, candles and butterflies were purchased at the Dollar Tree.


20150611_162032

There were 3 boxes per package, and I covered them with wrapping paper.  I started with the outside and folded the paper into the lids and bottoms.  I then had a cut piece to lay inside to finish it off nicely.

Then I added the brown paper shreds, and began arranging my gifts.  These boxes were a little more shallow than I planned for, so I couldn’t fit everything I wanted.  So yes, I had to leave the chocolate bars out of some of the boxes.  Fortunately, I was able to dispose of them promptly.  How is a secret I’m not permitted to share.

20150611_162330           20150611_162521

20150611_163234

 

20150611_162837            20150611_163158

    20150611_163011

I put the tops on the boxes, wrapped with ribbon and topped with a butterfly.

20150611_163446 20150611_163603

20150611_163612 20150611_163630

I had  a total of six gifts for under $50!

And here is the best part, Family Christian would like to help you get started on your Christmas Shopping!

giveaway

I will select TEN random winners who will receive a $10 Family Christian Savings Pass!

Simply leave a comment on this page on how you would spend it!

Winners will be drawn on Friday June 12th at Midnight!  So enter quickly!!!!

For my shopping list:

Silver Metallic Thinline Bible

Forgiven Journal

Women of the Word, by Jen Wilkin

10 Piece Inductive Pen Set

Savor, by Shauna Neiquist

Everything else was purchased at my local Dollar Tree.

Easter Inspiration

eb1 eb2 eb3

I don’t know about you, but I have a really bad habit of scrambling for Easter Baskets.  We adhere to a strict budget in home (a’la #DaveRamsey ).  When there was just one child, Easter was great.  I would buy up things in the months leading up to it, wrapped in special paper, hidden along with eggs.  So very #MarthaStewart.

Our first hiccup, is that every 4 years our eldest daughter’s #birthday is the same week as #Easter.  That will pinch the budget, quite a bit.  Then we had our second daughter, who miraculously shares that same birthday.  So now, we had 2 kids to Easter shop for, and every 4 years … 2 kids birthdays to shop for.  Double pinch.  It would come to an arch with the birth of our 3rd daughter, who doesn’t share the same birthday, but is still another person to shop for on Easter.  Not to mention by the time she came along, Easter baskets for my eldest were starting to get a big pricier.

The funny thing about all this #budget complaining?  I know #DaveRamsey would say “You know it comes every year, why don’t you plan for it?”  And, he’s right.  My girls birthdays fall the same day, every year.  With or without Easter.  And Easter, is conveniently on the calendar.  It’s not a surprise, it’s just not planned very well.  My fault, entirely.

2015 brought a particularly tight budget, though.  Not only did we have the year of the Birthday/Easter week, but for my eldest it was a milestone birthday.  Sweet Sixteen.   This year, however, I had my #DaveRamsey cap on.  I was determined to plan, and plan early.  I was determined to stay within my budget.  I was also determined to interject more #Jesus, less candy.

I know that it’s too late Easter 2015, dear readers.  But, you can start planning early for Easter 2016.  Here is a break down of this years baskets.  I hope it is a bit of inspiration.   (And no, I didn’t get any discounts or freebies from these companies.  LOL.  Not sponsored ads, just idea sharing).

candyThis is a 3.75 lb. bag of Palmer Easter candies.  They call it the “Egg Hunt Mix“, and it was perfect.  A little bit of everything.  1 price, 1 bag.   I grabbed my bag at BJ’s.  #Palmer candies are one of my personal favorites.  I’m partial to their peanut butter cups because the peanut butter is smooth and creamy vs. grainy like other brands.

I divided the bag of candy up by 4, because mom needs here share.  I plead the 5th as to whether or not those were “equal shares”.

For my 8 and 12 year old daughters, their baskets were virtually identical.  I headed over to #OrientalTrading and wanted the best value for my dollar.  I went with:

ebfiller  This Easter Basket Filler Assortment was a perfect solution, it had quite a variety and divided up perfectly.  You should be aware that you won’t get everything in the picture.   I did get most of what you see in the picture.  The blow up bunnies were my personal favorite.  The foam airplanes were the kids.    Most of the variety was just 2-4 pieces of that particular item, but there were a couple of things I got a ton of.  I held onto the extras & I am saving them for next year.  #BudgetWin   I also made the choice to inflate the bunnies and built the planes vs. putting the diy kit in there.

supertoy  I also selected the Super Toy Assortment.  On this one, there were definitely differences from the photo.  I pulled the whistles out, because that was one thing our household didn’t need.  I am going to donate them to a local rape crisis center, or place that offers women’s self defense training.    Despite the differences #OrientalTrading still provided a great assortment, with small numbers of each type of toy.

lamby  I purchased one these adorable I Love Jesus Sheep for each of the 3 girls, because who doesn’t love a sweet cuddly plushy?

chalk  I also selected a bucket of chalk and these cute bags carrotbag to wrap up some of the smaller items in.   The carrot bags do not come with any ties, so you will need to pick up some ribbon.  #OrientalTrading came through this year, for sure.  Plus I had a free shipping discount code.  WIN.

I then hopped on over to #FamilyChristian to grab up a few items for the individual girls.

For my 12 year old, I grabbed this great devotion bookdevotional  She’s growing up, and it was time to upgrade her from her “Action Bible“.  She loves that bible and I highly recommend it for your younger kids (girls and boys alike).  But it was time for something more, “Middle School”.

For my  year old, who has been telling us the same jokes over and over again… and is terrible at making up her own…. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of kid friendly, clean joke books #FamilyChristian carries.

jokebook  I picked these 2, but there were many more to choose from.  eastercolor You can’t go wrong with coloring or activity books for an #EasterBasket , so I picked up this too.  It’s perfect, for 8-12 year olds.

There is another great company called #CTAInc. that I have purchased all sorts of items from to use with our #WomensMinistry .   I had never paid much attention to their kids section, but I am glad I took a peek this year.  I got these awesome eggs to put in the girls baskets!   One tells the Gospel Story through cute little egg shaped cards.  Another has a dog tag style necklace that sums up the story with easy to remember color coding.  The third has a puzzle and mini story book to seal the deal.  I chose just to get the eggs because I had other items already purchased.  But CTA Inc. had a lot of other Easter items for various ages, and some coordinated with the eggs!

ctaegg ctaegg2 ctaegg3

For those waiting with baited breath as to what in the world I got for my 16 year old…. that was a bit tricker.  With it being her 16th birthday, we had a BEAUTIFUL Blessings Tea at a local Tea House.  She was gifted a lot of amazing things, to put into her Hope Chest (yes, we do that thing here, LOL).  So she didn’t get a lot of typical “fun” gifts.  I mean, sure grandparents gave her spending money…. because that is what they do.  But, at her party the gifts were much more personal and sentimental.

So, I filled her basket with the plush lamb, a bit more candy than her sisters, and then went for jewelry & some cute Easter socks.  I’d like to say she loved them, but frankly at the hour her sisters got us all up… she was less than human.   She promptly went back to bed, I expect I’ll know the success of my endeavor by whether or not pictures show up on her facebook page.

Frankly, I had already failed her with opting not to dye eggs this year the traditional way.  She silently protested.  Choosing to color her eggs solid, as if to say … “this is how they should look” … while silently thinking “mom not only disappointed me with a cheesecake instead of a real birthday cake, but now she has ruined Easter too.”

eggday8 eggday9

eggday7 eggday4 eggday5

eggday3 dinoegg eggdayz

WHO DOESN’T LIKE CHEESECAKE?????   People, really.  This happened.  Pray for her.

…. and yes, that is a Candy Corn Easter Egg…..