5.01.2012

Tip for Tuesday: Dedicated Days

Do you find that you need to clean your house, but you just keep pushing it back because there are more pressing matters at hand?  Or maybe you've been meaning to update your checkbook and balance it, but you forget, every night.  Perhaps the laundry has piled up to unimaginable heights because it's out of your sight, and therefore out of your mind.

I really struggled when I first got married (Yes, I've only been married about 4 months, but hey, I learned some things already, OK?).  I couldn't seem to balance work, housework, cooking, and still have time and energy left to spend time with Hband.  I had to come up with some kind of system. 

If you've been married for any time, you've probably come up with your own system.  This post is really for single women who are just starting out and haven't really had to think about balancing anything except school work and time with friends before, or for older/married women who haven't come up with a system yet, and they're feeling overwhelmed.  Hopefully this will help.  Keep in mind, it's a work in progress for me, but for now, here's what works:

Monday: Hband goes to his second job at 5:30 p.m.  That's when I start cleaning the whole apartment.  Every other week it gets a very thorough clean, more than just the cursory cleaning.  It takes about 2-3 hours, depending on how distracted I am.  If I put on music, it motivates me and I count this cleaning as a workout, too.  When that's done, I sit down and look at our finances.  I update our budget ledger and our checkbooks, and if it's the end of the month, I pay bills and balance the checkbook.  That way it's always up to date.  So this day is always cleaning and finances day.

Tuesday: Hband goes to his second job on this day, too, at the same time.  I start the laundry and make sure three loads get washed, dried, and put away: lights, darks, and towels.  Then I go out with a friend or do Zumba.  Both are great investments.  This day is laundry and meetings day, with a workout thrown in for fun.

Wednesday: Most of this evening will be taken up with youth group in a few months, after our newlywed hiatus, so I haven't really planned anything for this evening.  I don't like to plan anything for a day where I'm only home for 3 hours total, spread out, before bed.  If you're a Christian and you're involved in ministry (I hope you are), you may want to devote an entire day to it.  Then you can focus your prayers on that ministry that day, and your extra moments at home can be used for writing notes, developing service projects, baking, or whatever for that ministry.

Thursday: This is date night.  I don't plan anything for this day except a nice dinner, unless we're going out.  Since we're poor, we often make date night "movie night," and we take turns picking out a movie and watching it all snuggled up in our comfy bed, eating movie theater candy that we got for $1 at Walgreens.  Another cheap idea is to play games or take walks (I think the latter is planned for tonight).  Back when we were dating and spent money like bandits, we used to go see a movie or go out to eat.  Maybe someday we'll be able to do that again.  Regardless-- if you're dating, engaged, or married,  I suggest you dedicate a day to your significant other.  Pray for them that day, and in your free time, think about how to bless them and serve them, and even write them little notes!  And then that evening, have a date!  If you're single, why not use this day as a dedicated friend day-- spend time with either a group each week (We used to have dinner every Thursday with our "group," until we all had to part ways for one reason or another) or rotate friends.  You don't have to always go out to Starbucks and spend money.  Try a potluck dinner or just tea and cookies or something easy, at your place or theirs.  Just make it a day dedicated to friends and fellowship.

Friday: This day is often the day we reserve for activities-- parties, get-togethers-- it all seems to happen on Fridays.  And if it doesn't, then we have a night to just rest and recuperate from a tough week.  This is also a day that I sometimes reserve to work on projects I've been meaning to do (hence DIY Friday).  If you have lots of grand ideas (or your Pinterest boards are begging to be made into reality), consider dedicating a day to work on projects, even just a couple hours at a time.  I have a long list... so let the projects begin!

Saturday: I get together with friends sometimes before Hband wakes up, often for lunch or something like that.  I usually clean up a bit with some Lysol wipes and just put stuff away, since it most likely has been a busy week and the house probably looks a little worse for the wear.  Then I do my grocery shopping.  Sure, traffic isn't fantastic and the stores are busy, but every store is well-stocked, and I have time to peruse the aisles instead of being pressed for time.  I suggest having one or two days set aside for grocery shopping, and just limit it to that day/those days.  That will keep you from overspending or making foolish purchases, and you will be forced to plan your meals for the week.  Also, if you like to shop for fun (like I do) and have money (like I don't), you may want to have a day dedicated for that, too.  It relaxes me.  I love to spend my Saturdays shopping.  I also do another three loads of laundry-- lights, darks, and towels, fresh for the new week.

Sunday: Of course I set aside this day for worship, and then we spend the afternoon with Hband's family.  If my family lived here, I'm sure we'd have a set-aside time for them, too.  It's really important to dedicated a time to spend with your family during the week.  But even before that, I get up and get my Sunday paper, then I clip coupons.  When I'm at my in-law's house later, I match up coupons with weekly sales, and figure out both my shopping list and my menu for the week.  I usually won't go shopping again until that Saturday, so it gives me time to see if we really need an item on the list or not.  That's my week-planning day, and I encourage you to have a day where you plan your week as well.  It helps the whole week run so much smoother.  I often tell Hband the plans for the week, too, so he'll know (whether or not he remembers).

This has made my life manageable, whereas before, I couldn't keep my head above water.  I know if you have children, that will automatically make things more difficult, but the same principle applies: dedicate certain tasks for certain days.  If you miss a day because of a birthday or something, I try to actually get that stuff done the day before, or on one of my relaxing days.

Some suggest doing a bit of cleaning every day, instead of one day.  That may work for you-- like one room a day, or something like that.  But for me, I like the whole house to be clean at once, so cleaning one room a day would annoy me.  I'd feel like it was never fully clean.  So do you do this already?  What days do you have?   


xoxo, A