Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasks We Dread

Every day when I wake up, I have a certain number of things before me. Since I don't exactly have a boss or manager watching me, it's up to me in what order to attend to things and even WHAT I'd like to attend to that day.

That was a big adjustment when I came home.

When I worked, the clock determined when I did what things. There was no question---I needed to be ready at X time because otherwise I was going to be staring down 22 little sets of eyes looking at me wondering what we would be doing next. When I worked part-time in an office, I loved the freedom of sitting down at my desk and determining what order I wanted to accomplish things in. That was new to me. I knew what had to be done, but the best part was no one was really waiting on me....no 22 sets of little eyes.

I know each day that we have chores, meals, and school to accomplish. That eats up the majority of my day. I know that if we don't get on those things quickly, they don't happen. Forget afternoon school around here--no one is up for it in the afternoon. Unfortunately that leaves errands for the afternoons. I say unfortunately because I'd rather do them in the morning when the stores are emptier and the streets are not busy and all the kids are in school. I really gotta work on my schedule so I can do that next year.

I dread errands sometimes. But the thing I really dread is paying bills. I'm not sure why. There is a lot of emotion in it for me. The first year I quit work, I lived in a constant state of fear about our finances. I'm not talking concern or apprehension....I'm talking FEAR. No, that wasn't right and I'm not exactly fearful anymore, but my mind still thinks of bill paying as a really bad thing I have to do.

Let's examine why, shall we?

1. I have no very little organization in my bill paying supplies. That's something I need to work on with my HTCI system. I'm just not there yet.

2. I usually pray as I sit down to pay bills. It helps to calm my fears and remember Who is in charge of our money and is responsible for every bit of providence and blessing we have been given.

3. I need a DAY where I do desk work every single week. I'm ashamed to say how often I really sit down and look through mail and get all caught up on the checkbook, etc. When I worked in the office, Thursday was bill paying day. Period. Of course it would be helpful to sit down in a nice, quiet, clean office and do that task without interruption. S said this weekend that he thinks my name is HeyMama. I'm just saying I need 20 minutes a week with NO HeyMamas. Is that possible?

Another thing I dread is making the meal plan/grocery list. I think I dread this most because:

1. It's HARD.

2. There are a lot of HeyMamas and that task takes me a long time. How can I make it easier?

I'm ready to hear your ideas. Some of you have been home a LOT longer than me and have perfected your routines. I need to hear from you.

Also, tell us what tasks you dread. Maybe we can help in the comments section.


  1. I hate paying the bills, too, so no advice from me on that. In fact, you just reminded me that I forgot to pay the light bill. But the meal planning? Yeah, I have something to add there, lol. You knew I would, didn't you?

    My biggest piece of advice? Give yourself a few days to work on it. The local grocery store sales ads come out in out Wednesday papers down here. So on Wednesday, I flip through those ads and see if there are any really great deals that I can build a meal around. Takes about 5 minutes.

    I also keep a note pad on the fridge for things we run out of so that I won't forget when I go to the store. Whoever sees that we are out of something just writes it on the list. So simple, but so helpful!

    On Thursday, I scan the pantry and make the kids clean out the fridge (the blessings of big kids!) Between the pantry scan and the sales ads, I can usually come up with at least 2 or 3 ideas for the next week's meals.

    Friday mornings I flip through a couple of my trusty cookbooks for a couple of recipes with a twist, for something new. Generally, my weekly menu includes 2 quick and easy meals, 3 tried and true meals that everyone loves and I can make with my eyes shut, and 2 "new" but simple recipes so that variety is there to beat back the boredom.

    Find the system that works for you, but definitely give yourself a plenty of time to do it.

    A task I hate? Laundry. Any recommendations for taming the laundry beast would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. Well, Terry definitely has the meal planning/grocery list covered! Great tips, Terry! I love how you break up your meals!

    Oh, and laundry? I do it everyday, just to keep it at bay. But, I feel like it's something that will always be unruly because no one will go naked, even for one day, just so I can catch up. :)

    Bill paying? Ron and I get together once a week (Tuesday nights after the kids are in bed) to go over finances and pay bills. We started doing this about 2 years ago and I love it because I used to pay the bills and it was a huge burden on me. Now that we do it together, we go at it as a team, we are both on the same page, and we both know exactly what our financial situation is. No guessing-- no mistakes or missed bills. And, our "budget committee meetings" take about 30 minutes on average (more sometimes if we have more to talk about.)

    Good luck, Brenda! Looking forward to hearing other, probably more helpful ideas than I gave! :)

  3. Being overseas, a lot of our bills are automatically deducted from our checking account on a certain day each month. This way, we never miss a payment, and I don't have to write out checks, etc. It works for us, and I know LOTS of businesses are doing this now. Maybe look into that?

    My chore I hate is laundry. Well, I don't mind the washing so much as the folding and putting away. The kids are getting better at doing their own, so that helps. Maybe I'm just lazy!

    As for the meal planning, I blogged about that a while ago, and you can read it if you so desire. Here's the link: http://juliemom.blogspot.com/2009/03/fitness-friday-organized-kitchen.html

    You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the recipe part. It's an old Fitness Friday post. Odd, huh? :0)

  4. I also hate menu planning and errands. I've done my best to simplify alot so that I only run errands once a week - and on that day, we run ALOT of errands. but its so much easier than trying to get everyone up and going several times a week. I posted a post about my menu planning system a while back: http://afullheart.blogspot.com/2009/12/wfmw-grocery-shopping-simplified.html

  5. I dread dusting and cleaning our (what is suppose to be) white kitchen floor. I hate it! Just after I clean it is immediately dirty!

    As for Bills and groceries.... well after reading your comments and post.... I am quite blessed as Hubby does them! I will have to wear my nice set of jammies just for that. Thanks for helping me appreciate him!

    Taming the laundry monster... I have tried letting it build up and doing large amounts in one day... no can do. What ends up happening is it takes me a day to wash, a day to get it out of the dryer, it sits about a day in the laundry basket and then the final day it is folded and just might sit an extra day to get it put away. By that time there is another huge bundle to do. YUCK. Now I am doing smaller more managable loads and I fold and put them away the same day. I also really peared down the closets to only the things we actually wear. We all usually only wear the same 3 shirts and 2 pants anyway.
    Another thing I do is each person has their own towel. Then we have 2 spares. Personal towels get washed once a week therefore it must be hung to dry not left in a heap on the floor. If for some reason you dirty yours before towel washing day (Friday) then you can use a spare. This also helps save space in the linen closet.

  6. I honestly can't imagine needing to spend time every week for bill paying. I think we've used one actual checkbook in 5 years. Almost everything is set up for automatic deduction or paid via our credit union's Bill Pay. The ONLY time spent on bill paying is our monthly budget lunch to plan out expenses and then about five minutes online to pay the three bills that aren't done automatically. I write out the one check we mail each month during the budget meeting and mail it on the way home.

    For menu planning, I sit down the evening after our budget meeting with my ONE consolidated recipe book (during my first pregnancy, I spent a couple days going through all of my recipes and organized the ones that I actually used into a three-ring binder). I just flip through the book and pull out the recipe cards I plan on using for the next two weeks, then make a shopping list. Two weeks later I do the same thing. Then I just have to glance at the calendar to see what's for dinner!

    Tasks I dread? Folding laundry and making beds. And right now, sitting. But that's because I pushed out a 10lb 7oz little boy last night...lol. Back to taking care of his menu now. :)

  7. I do all bill paying on Sunday night after church so that they go out on Monday morning. This doesn't really bother me anymore 'cause I've been doing it for about 10 years. I have always been good with finances though so K just leaves it with me. I don't really stress about it anymore, though the really tough times were when K was working as a waiter only and our income had extreme ups and downs. You learn to rely on God pretty quickly when your husband makes $2.15 a hour : )

    I love meal planning but that's just me. I know I'm odd in that aspect, sorry.

    I hate laundry. If I could just throw the clothes away when they are dirty and buy new ones that would be awesome. Unfortunately we aren't rich so I struggle with getting it all washed ALL the time.

  8. Megan!!!! Congrats!! Seriously? 10 pounds 7 oz. WOW! You are superwoman! I've got to click over and see pics! :)

  9. Terry and Megan described my meal planning basically. My husband gets paid every two weeks, so I plan two weeks worth of meals (remember to incorporate any known leftovers into coming meals ex: chicken dinner on Sunday will leave leftover chicken, so Tuesday will be chicken pot pie or chicken enchiladas). Always check the store ads before planning - if chicken is bargain priced this week, we will be eating a lot of chicken, if pork is on sale, it will be pork, etc. Then after you have two weeks of menus, do your "big" grocery trip. So major grocery shopping is only done twice a month - bonus. You will of course need to stop and pick up things like fresh fruit and veggies and milk that may not make it two weeks in the frig. Usaually breakfast and lunch are the same things over and over on a rotating basis, so not much thought has to go into those meals. Just set a schedule once and transfer it onto new menus as needed. Also - I usually check my calandar when I do my meal planning to make sure easy meals are planned for busy days, etc.
    As far as bill paying, we do not have much extra, but even so, I love paying the bills. Since we get paid every two weeks, I sat down and listed which bills come out of which check each month. When we get paid, I go online and use the free bill pay system that my bank offers - most banks offer free online bill pay. Then I don't have to write checks, address envelopes, pay for postage, etc. Just fill in the amount that needs to be paid to each company. After the bills are paid, then I know how much money I have to spend on groceries, gas and any extra expenses for the next two weeks. And, I use paperless billing when possible, so all of your bills end up in your email instead of the mailbox - much less paper clutter and since you have a list of all your bills and when they get paid, you never have to worry about losing a bill or paying late.
    Laundry is never fun, but I keep a laundry sorter near my washer and dryer downstairs and on Monday and Thursday all laundry hampers are brought downstairs and the laundry is sorted. When a bin gets full, I know I have a full load to run. Usually towels are done once a week - we also have a one towel per person policy, sheets are done once a week. Jeans are once a week and colors and darks usually get done Monday and Thursday. Whites as needed either once or twice a week. In the meantime, all dirty laundry is hidden safely in the basement and I know when I have a full load that needs to be run, so things do not get backed up.
    It's kind of like the house that cleans itself, once you have good systems in place, you don't have to think about these things, they almost get done automatically. That said, I have a 9yo and 3yo and one due any day so I know what you mean about "Hey, Mom!". Bill paying takes maybe 30 min (twice a month) and meal planning probably takes 45min - 1hr (twice a month). Also - keep old menus and when chicken is on sale again and it's been a month or two since that meal plan was used you can "recycle" it with minimum modifications.
    Good luck!

  10. Thanks for the congrats, Brenda! I don't have pics up on the blog yet, but I will in the next day or two. If you're on facebook, I have a few in my album over there. You can try adding via my e-mail: meganl (at) vetmed. wsu. edu


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)