We’re Moving!

Exciting news everyone – Hope for Homemakers is now on its own domain! Woohoo! That means instead of visiting hopeforhomemakers.wordpress.com (this site!), from now on you should go directly to HopeforHomemakers.com . I’m so excited to take this next step into blogging greatness. I truly hope you will follow me at my new address! I cannot directly transfer you over, so you’ll need to visit the new address and follow me there. 🙂 I won’t be posting here anymore, so be sure to follow my new site!

It’s under construction so please bear with me as the appearance changes over the next week or so while I get everything figured out. 🙂 There’s a brand new post up, “TV SUCKS”, so go check it out!

Ever so Reasonable Cleaning Checklist!

Today’s tip comes from Rosy Blu Handmade, where I found my all-time favorite cleaning list! I was searching for a list that would help me know what to do each day/week/month. I found that many lists were just overwhelming! Ten daily items plus five special items based on the day of the week? That’s just discouraging! I needed something simple, pared down… something that I could look at and think I can totally accomplish this”. I found the PERFECT list over at Rosy Blu! Click for the FREE PRINTABLE!

Ever so Reasonable Cleaning Checklist!

 

I love this because it offers flexibility. I can do the laundry on Monday… or I could totally do it on Wednesday. Or I could do one load on each of three separate days. Whatever I feel like, as long as I do three loads altogether in a given week. In traditional lists, if I was supposed to do laundry on Monday and then I didn’t, I’d feel trapped. Should I do double the chores on Tuesday? Should I move Monday’s tasks to Tuesday and bump everything down a day? What if I can’t get it all done, which ones should I prioritize? Aaaaaah! This one is much easier. Just do it during the week sometime. Done. Check it off and you’re good to go until the next week!

It also has monthly tasks which is great for those items that you don’t want to neglect, but don’t need to be done every single week. Whew!

 

Finally, the other reason I love this list is because others can help out. My love language is Acts of Service (closely followed by Words of Affirmation!). If someone really wants to make me feel loved, it’s easy to just look at the list and pick an item that needs a checkmark! Easy peasy. Plus once we have older kiddos it’ll be easy to split up the chores and keep track of what is already done and what still needs to be done. 🙂

I hope this list helps you as much as it has helped me! If it’s not perfect for you, make a variation – just remember, simplicity and reasonable goals will help keep you on track.

Mind Games

Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. – Yogi Berra

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about baseball. The last time I saw the Rockies play, I went with a friend who was equally clueless and we couldn’t figure out who was winning! The scoreboard said “R”, “H”, and “E”. Which one was the points that mean you’re winning?? We ended up calling the categories “rabbit, hamster, and ermine” and when my husband asked who won the game, I told him it depends – is that decided by the rabbits, hamsters, or ermines?

I may be ignorant in the ways of baseball, but I still find Mr. Berra’s quote to be both humorous and accurate for life in general. What I’m discovering is that a huge, huge chunk of our human experience is mental. How we think about things, how we interpret events, how our brain works – these things change everything. In fact, our mental process can change the difficulty of a task! What? True story.

Doing dishes isn’t inherently difficult or easy. Some people actually enjoy washing dishes. Others put it off until they run out of clean plates because it’s just such a huge pain to deal with. Same dishes, different minds. Knowing this, I started to wonder – can we change how we think about chores, and can that change our experience?

 

Yes.

Here’s an example. I thought dishes were a big pain, partly because they seemed to take for.     e.      ver. FOREVER. I felt that if I were to get all of that washing done I would be standing at the sink for half the day! What drudgery! What agony! Cruel and unusual punishment! No one has time for that foolishness! Well, one day I decided to time myself. Starting with a sink full of dirty dishes, ending with a drying rack full of clean dishes. Guess how long it took?

… fifteen minutes.

I remember staring at the clock after I finished. Really, only 15? All this time I had been telling myself that it was a time-sucking drudgery. And because I thought it was, it was. The next time I had a sink of dishes, I told myself it wouldn’t take very long and I’d be done in no time. I could just wash them real quick, no biggie, and be done! Sure enough, it was suddenly much easier. I didn’t dread the dishes as much anymore. It was empowering to know I could make such a big difference in my kitchen in so little time. I jumped right in, got it done, and felt proud of myself for finishing.

So my challenge to you is this. Next time you have a chore that needs to be done, remember it’s 90% mental. Go into it with a good attitude. Remind yourself how little time it takes, how much you enjoy the result, how proud you will be of yourself afterwards. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts about how horrible it will be, just jump in and get it done. You’ll be surprised at how much changing the game in your mind changes your entire experience.

Blessed Nest

Home doesn’t have to be perfect to be a blessing. View it as a blessing and you can treasure and cherish it, taking care of it out of gratitude.

 

 

I recently went on a two week road trip. Maybe it’s just the pregnancy hormones, but I got so homesick! I missed everything about my home, including being able to take care of my home. I couldn’t WAIT to get home so I could clean it, keep it tidy, make it lovely and welcoming. I guess I just got a different perspective after being away, and I started thinking of my home as a precious precious blessing. When you love something and cherish it, you want to take care of it! Before, house cleaning felt like a burden, something that I had to do.

When I got back, I spent most of the next week cleaning. In fact, remember that handy checklist I posted on Saturday? I used that and completed all of my 3x weekly, weekly, AND MONTHLY tasks in just one week. I didn’t love all of the tasks themselves, but I loved that I was in my home and able to give it the TLC it needed.

The lesson I took away from that was that perspective can change everything. It can change the perceived difficulty of tasks, it can change energy levels, it can change motivation. I’m so thankful for the chance to miss my home and the chance to come back and take care of it. 🙂 Of course, that did wear off and this week I’m not quite so perky on the cleaning front, but that’s okay! I took advantage of it while I had it, and I’m going to find new ways to remind myself how grateful I am for this home!

Becoming a Scientist

Don’t worry – you don’t have to even like science in order to enjoy this post. Don’t panic 😉

I’ve noticed that when it comes to helping ourselves be the best we can be, many of us fall into a trap. Let’s call it the “Tried it, Didn’t Work” trap. I personally experienced this a lot when I was dealing with some of my more severe depression. The thought train went something like this:

Helpful article/friend/book/therapist: “If you do XYZ, it could help!”

Me: “I already tried that, it didn’t work last time.”

OR

Me: “I remember I used to do that, and I was still depressed back then. So it doesn’t work.”

OR

Me: “I did that last month, and I’m still super depressed, so it didn’t work for me.”

Notice a theme? All of those thoughts are based on what I recall about the PAST. I remember doing XYZ. I remember that I’ve been in depression for an eternity and nothing I’ve ever done has fixed it. I remember that even after doing XYZ, I still felt poopy.
Therefore, it doesn’t work.

Guess what? That’s very poor scientific practice. And it’s poor practice for helping yourself. I don’t care if your problem at hand is always losing your keys, or if it’s debilitating anxiety, or anything in-between. You cannot rely on what you remember trying before and how you remember feeling afterwards, to determine the effectiveness of a method. Our memories are not that accurate, for one thing. Also our current state tends to color our memories – if you feel anxious now, you’ll remember feeling anxious in the past more often and more severely than you may have actually experienced it at the time. If you’re depressed now, it seems like you’ve *always* felt this way and nothing you’ve done has ever, ever made one iota of a difference.

Humor me, and just try this. Seriously, this was literally life altering for me. Literally. TRY IT.

  • First, choose the issue you’re struggling to solve. My example above was depression, yours may be similar or totally different. Pick anything that is chronic (ongoing) and that you feel powerless to fix, or at least have trouble fixing.
  • Next, get a journal page ready. Or a post-it note. Or a note on your phone. Or a whiteboard. PICK SOMETHING. Write your trouble on the page so you know what it is you’re monitoring.
  • Now. Regularly, a few times a day, rate your issue. “On a scale from 1-10, how depressed am I right this very second?” Write down your number. It doesn’t have to be perfectly accurate – I know these things are tricky to quantify. Just do your best. I chose a few guide words to help me out, like 10 = black depression, 7 = really struggling, 4 = feeling fairly good, 1 = feeling great.
  • THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART. When you get a negative rating, i.e. when your trouble is troubling you, do something about it. Just pick something. Walk the dog, sing a song, write a list, read a book, eat a snack, watch TV, do a chore, workout, cook…. literally any activity. It might be helpful or it might not, but do it.
  • THEN. Then, my friends, then. Then, rate your issue again.

Feel bad, do something about it, record the result.

 

I thought this was stupid when my therapist assigned it to me. I already knew what helped (almost nothing) and what didn’t (everything else). I already knew that depression was just a brain thing, a chemical thing, an inherited thing, a <something I can’t control> thing. I knew I couldn’t fix it, I knew it was lifelong, I knew it was just a matter of surviving.

But I was wrong.

I was genuinely surprised when I took my parakeet out of her cage, petted her little head, fed her some millet, put her back… and then scored myself a full three points lower (less depressed) than I had ten minutes ago. I was truly shocked when I went for a walk, and scored myself two points lower. I was baffled entirely when I did a load of dishes and then scored my level of depression as lower than before I started the dishes. If you had asked me before, I would have said that playing with pets, getting light exercise, and being productive by doing chores helped barely if at all. I would have told you my depression didn’t really respond to that. I would have remembered that I used to play with my pets more, but I was still super depressed. I would have looked back at the past and recalled that even after working out, I felt like poop, and it hadn’t helped. I definitely would have recalled that I was typically too depressed to do many chores and the ones I did accomplish just wore me out and discouraged me because it was never enough.

But I was wrong. My choices affected how I felt. I couldn’t choose to not be depressed, but I could make choices that affected my depression. MIND BLOWING. Seriously, I literally did not know that. A lot of literature about depression talks about the lack of a true cure, and the roots (which we often cannot change), and the things we could try to do that might help but I had already tried and they didn’t help. I had come to the completely incorrect conclusion that depression was just a part of me and I couldn’t do much about it. It wasn’t until I approached it in a scientific manner, studied the cause and effect, tried out a hypothesis and tested it and measured the results, that I truly understood my own power. Somewhere in my head I knew our choices affect how we feel but I didn’t know it in my heart until I studied it.

The best part is, I only had to do it a handful of times before I learned my lesson. The lesson wasn’t about which activities helped the most, the lesson was that my choices affect me.

Once I learned that, it was juSt a matter of finding the choices that would produce the best results. And that’s where this blog comes in.

Comparisons

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Tell me about an area where YOU have improved – regardless whether or not you are yet “up to par”!

When I compare myself to where I started, I see that I am more successful at keeping up with dishes than I uses to be! I don’t hate doing it as much as I used to, and when I get “behind” it doesn’t take as long to catch back up. I put a load through the dishwasher and unload it almost every day, and I hand wash every couple of days. Big improvement! Compared to where I started, I’m a rock star!

Procrastination vs Cold Hard Logic

You know what’s silly?

Procrastination.

 

Image from someecards.com

 

I’m a self-employed portrait photographer, and like a good responsible business owner I charge sales tax for any physical goods sold (prints). Then I file and send in that sales tax, four times a year. Except, I missed a due date. It was the holidays, I was busy… okay I just didn’t want to do it. I thought it would be hard (even though the first time wasn’t) and I didn’t want to have to do all the math and look through my records, and I just… put it off.

 

Then I got pregnant and basically did NOTHING for a month or two. I felt so sick and tired all the time. Sure, filing for taxes takes almost zero physical effort, and my laptop was right on the couch with me, and the internet doesn’t mind if you have morning sickness. But I didn’t feel good and the last thing I felt like doing was filing taxes!

Then… I missed another due date. Seriously. I’m not kidding. That’s how embarrassing this is. Now, this second return I didn’t file, would have been a $0.00 return because I stopped selling physical goods and only offered services, to which sales tax doesn’t apply. That could mean “Oh good, filing will be super easy!”, but to me it meant, “I don’t owe them money anyway so it’s not a huge pressing issue and I still don’t feel that good and I’ll do it soon. Maybe.”

Then I got a letter saying I failed to file. Apparently they like their money? Weird.

Then I got a letter saying that I still hadn’t filed and if I didn’t respond within 30 days, they would estimate a return and just bill me for it.

AND I STILL PUT IT OFF FOR ANOTHER WEEK.

For this entire six month period, every time I thought about taxes I would feel a little pang of guilt, panic, anxiety, or regret. The longer I put it off the more uncomfortable it was to think about! How embarrassing that I would let it slide for so long. Even if I didn’t owe much money ($5!) it was irresponsible to put it off like that. How discouraging! How horrible! How uncomfortable!

Well, filing was on my list of Five Things today. When there’s only five things on your entire list, and one of them was blow drying your hair, it’s hard to make excuses to not do everything on the list.

I forgot my password, I couldn’t figure out how to do it, I had to mess around for awhile… and then it was super easy. I probably spend twenty minutes trying to figure things out, and ten minutes filing. Thirty minutes. For six months I was putting off thirty minutes of uncomfortable stressful work. For six months I procrastinated, stressed, regretted, and put off. I thought it would be hard – it wasn’t. I thought there would be a lot of calculations involved – I had to add three numbers together. Which I did by hand. I thought it would be stressful – well, not as stressful as getting threatening letters from the government!

So, this is why procrastination is silly. If something is uncomfortable and you procrastinate doing it, you’re stringing out that uncomfortable feeling for as long as you possibly can before disposing of it. Why? Sometimes we think it’ll be worse than it really is, sometimes we aren’t sure how to do it, sometimes we don’t want to dedicate the resources to knocking it out. But isn’t just doing it easier than dreading it and hating it and feeling bad about it – and then at the end, you still have to do it anyway? You have to do it either way!

 

Are you going to spend time hating it for awhile first and then do it, or are you going to do it now?

Inspirational Moment

What prompted me to start this blog?

It was an emotional conversation with my husband. I was expressing to him that I didn’t always feel fulfilled being a housewife, but I didn’t understand why! I wanted SO BADLY to be a great housewife. It was a huge priority for me! I truly, in my heart, wanted to be an excellent keeper of the home. So why did I feel so unhappy as a housewife?

I remembered a quote, one of my all time favorite quotes in fact:

“No one really hates math. They just hate feeling stupid.”

Think about it! People who feel stupid in math class because they aren’t successful, will learn to “hate math”. But truly, they hate how they feel. If they can just be given the appropriate tools to be successful and FEEL successful… well, then they won’t hate it, will they?

I don’t hate being a housewife, either. I LOVE being a housewife. I’m just very, very frustrated sometimes because I feel unsuccessful. Sometimes I work all day and feel there’s nothing to show for it. Sometimes I get a lot done, but when I step back and look it’s barely made a dent in the big picture. Most often, I have trouble getting busy in the first place and I spend much of the day trying to motivate myself to get going – and wondering where the time has flown so quickly. I would give myself a 4/10 rating on how well I do this housewife thing. Now tell me. If you were working a job where you felt UNsuccessful 80% of the time, you never reached meaningful goals, and you felt unfit for the task at hand… would you feel fulfilled and happy?

Then I realized the best part. Anyone can be taught math, and learn to do math well. I bet anyone can succeed at being a housewife, too! In fact, I don’t suck at housekeeping. I really don’t. I just have specific struggles and have not yet found the tools to overcome them. All I need is the right tools and I’m going to be a truly fantastic housewife. I just know it!

So, that was when I decided to face my struggles head on, research how to overcome them, and learn the techniques for success. When I realized how very much I wanted to be successful and how very frustrated I had become, I knew there must be other women out there just like me. What if I could help them and help myself at the same time? The very best way to learn something, is to teach it to someone else. And I never want anyone else to feel stuck and unhappy doing something they could be successful in! Let’s do this together. I’ll be honest about my struggles and triumphs. I’ll do the research to learn management techniques, pitfalls and how to avoid them, and how to rock this. All you have to do is read, comment, and share.

Let’s be awesome.

 

I can do this. You can too.

Just Five – To Do Lists that Work

I find it very helpful to keep a short and sweet to do list. I write exactly five tasks on an index card with a bold Sharpie. Just five! As I buzz (or slog) about my day, it’s easy to remember those five goals. Even my inattentive brain can recall at least a few of the tasks! When I finish one task or get burnt out on it or come to a stall, I switch to another task. As long as I’m working on something on the card, I know I’m making meaningful progress! Of course I also take breaks, but when I’m ready to go again I have a handy list waiting. Rather than check items off as I go, I like to run them through with a strong black line – they’re gone forever!

Naturally, there are more than five things we need to do in a given day, or week. If there are additional tasks I’m afraid I’ll forget, I write them on the back of the index card in pen or pencil. They are written down, but they aren’t clogging up my mental freeway. Once I run out of my five things, I make a new card and reference that surplus list for ideas. Also, if I cannot complete a task (like the day I wrote down “Fix laptop internet” on the card…) I can swap it out for a different task instead.

What are YOUR five things today? Mine are:

– Pay state taxes for my photography business
– Do two loads of laundry
– Begin packing for my trip
– Read the Bible and pray
– Try out the new blow dry technique I read about

You’ll notice I try to pull from a variety of categories. Self care must ALWAYS be on the list, whether it’s a workout or just putting on makeup. Another big priority for me is my spiritual life, so that has to be on there too! Daily/routine tasks is my third must-have; dishes, laundry, pick up, something commonly reocuring so I don’t get too behind in it. For the other two slots I put in oddball random tasks that need to be done, additional routine tasks, or a deeper cleaning task (like dusting or vacuuming).

I hope I can breeze through my list and start on the back, because I have a lot to do! Even if I don’t get more things done, just those five will mean my house is improved, my family is improved, and I am improved. Strive for progress, not perfection!

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