Monthly Archives: February 2018

10 Tips For A Well Oiled Home

We all know there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Not that we’d want to.  This is true of all things. I don’t care if you are just a caregiver, homeschooler, parent, or even working from home, there are a million ways or more to do just about anything you desire.

So today I want to share a few tips as well as show you an average day in my work at home experience.

#1: Priorities

It’s just a matter of finding what works for you.  What feeds your family and their needs. What makes life manageable. This is going to be different for everyone.  And a part of the process is realizing what you need to thrive.

The first thing you need to do is sit down and determine what those needs are.  Mine are as follows:

  • Freedom– Being able to do what I want to do (within reason). This is a big compent as to why I am pursuing financial independence.
  • Time for myself– Making sure that I take care of myself and my personal needs for space, time, and relaxation.
  • Family Time– Making sure to make connections with my little one and my parents. Family events and activities.
  • Spirituality– Ensuring that our family life is enriched. This includes getting my mother to bible study, exposing Freya to all sorts of religions as well as my own…and discussing questions we have in regards to spirituality.
  • Clearing of Old Projects– Over the years, we all end up with projects we haven’t finished. My big goal this year is to clear those projects off my list before starting any new ones. From sewing to woodworking, I have a number of projects to finish.  Getting those done will make my life easier.
  • Organization– I have been working hard since the end of last year to declutter and make sure that everything has a place. I would say that I’m about 60% of the way there. I would still like to get rid of some more stuff and refine where it is organized.
  • Cleanliness– I don’t expect to have a perfectly clean house. I gave up on that a long time ago, between all my other duties and the little one. However, I cannot tolerate a dirty kitchen and I hate it when coats get dropped on the floor.

#2: Savers

We all try to save time. I won’t try to put an exhaustive list here, but I will list a few things that help me save time and money.

  • Bulk cooking – When I make a meal I make enough to freeze for at least another if not two or three more meals. This way we can eat the same thing for dinner each week and I only have to cook it once or twice a month. I save so much time cooking and its especially great for busy weeks and weekends. It also leaves me time to make more fun treats throughout the week.
  • Life Skills – When I say this, I mean that I have miss Freya help me with everything I believe she can do. It does take a bit of time for a new task, but she loves helping and its teaching her valuable skills. It also gives me more time later as she can help take on those tasks. Currently, she gathers all the things I need for cooking and can grab her own plates, among other tasks.
  • Meal Planning – It takes the guesswork out of what we’re eating and it’s still adjustable. It also saves you on groceries.
  • Making my own cleaning supplies– Saves me both time and money. I can make one batch on laundry concentrate over the course of a day (there’s some waiting involved), with a hands-on time of about 30-60 minutes. For that time I have 5 gallons of concentrate that will last me at least six months if not longer. Other supplies are multi-purpose which allows me to take them from spot to spot and get my cleaning done more quickly.
  • Finding a flow to your schedule that works for you. -Probably the most important thing you can do.

#3 Be gentle with yourself

Some days you just aren’t going to get everything done. Things will go wrong. The important thing to remember is that you haven’t failed, you’ve just had a rough day. There’s no reason to be harsh with yourself. Or put yourself down.

I hear so many women, no people who are harsh to themselves.  We should never call ourselves failures and we should recognize that even we need days to recharge.  So next time a day doesn’t go as planned remember that you’re only human.

#4: Task Master vs Servant De List

It’s great to have a plan and a to-do list, but remember that you cannot be a slave to it. Again things can go wrong.  It is fine to have a plan, but if you don’t get everything done you need to take a look. You may have planned more than you could get done or unforeseen events could have prevented you from reaching your goals.

Again be gentle with yourself.  These things happen and its okay.  Being harsh with yourself is not going to make it any better. And stressing yourself out with more than you can manage in a day will only leave you more frazzled, less focused, and unable to accomplish more.

#5: What you do matters

It’s great to want to do everything but remember your priorities. What use is it to clean or work all day, if you don’t make time to enjoy your family or even yourself.  I often find on busier days that I’ll drop homeschool for the day or cut out something that needed to be done so that I can spend time with my family.

I know its tempting to just keep trucking along, but it will only lead to burn out and an unhealthy lifestyle.  It will leave your children, spouse, and other family members missing something they need as well. Your attention.

#6: Have a Schedule

Even if you work at home have a schedule. Having a schedule gives you and everyone in the house a framework for what should happen over the course of a day. Whether you have little ones or family members with dementia/memory issues, having a framework will help them function within your home.

I’ve also found that having a schedule keeps me grounded and reminds me of my priorities throughout the day.

My Day

The Daily To Do List

Every day I have a to-do list.  Here’s what it looks like. I prioritized the list by what I tend to do first, however, I always remain flexible and move things about as I need to.

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner Prep
  • Chores (3-5 cleaning items aside from daily maintenance)
  • Dishes
  • Homeschool

Then I have a list of things I try to do for myself each day

  • Read
  • Reiki/Meditate
  • Some work on one of my unfinished projects
  • Udemy class

Schedule

  • 9 AM- Wake up, reiki, meditation, organize for the day, get dressed, etc.
  • 10 AM- Breakfast and Dinner prep. Valkyrie Cartoons
  • 11 AM- Cleaning and Chores, Family Showers.  Valkyrie plays time.
  • 1 PM- Homeschool
  • 3 PM- Play with the Valkyrie
  • 4 PM -Udemy Class for me, Tablet time for the Valkyrie
  • 5 PM- Dinner at the table
  • 7 PM Project Time
  • 9 PM The Valkyrie and I do something together (Usually a show and read)
  • 10 PM Finish getting ready for bed and put the Valkyrie to sleep.
  • 11 PM My time to unwind.
  • 12 AM My bedtime (not always great at following this).

#7: Be Flexible

This is what works for us. No one in my house is an early riser, my parents, even less so than I. I get most of my work done in the morning and the Valkyrie helps a bit between playing her own games and depending on her mood.  Once my parents are up things tend to be more unpredictable in terms of what I might get interrupted with.

Some days they wake up early and I have to put off my chores until they are otherwise preoccupied. It can make for an unpredictable day sometimes, but for the most part, we all know what should happen and when.

#8: Relax your parenting

Everyone is terrified that they will not do good enough for their child. We rush everyone to everywhere and over schedule ourselves. We helicopter parent not even letting them play outside by themselves. Our world isn’t so scary that our children can’t play without our constant watchful eyes.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I suggest two books I recently finished.

#9: Find Joy In Everything You Do

If you can find joy in any task you will enjoy doing it. While I know this is far more complicated than easy, it is true. And its something that I often have to work on.

It also calls us to bring balance into our lives. If you hate cleaning, then maybe you don’t need to focus on cleaning quite as much. Maybe it’s okay for you to have a messier house. I gave up on keeping the sink clear at all times because my parents simply are not capable of it and I can’t seem to manage it on my own.  It still bothers me some days, but I’m less stressed by not trying to focus on it all the time.

#10 Find Magic In Everything You Do

In addition to balance, there is magic all around us. Our very breaths are magical. So don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy things. You don’t have to rush about. You can take your time and do it near perfect and find joy in that as well.

Find joy in having your little on help where they can. It’s magical to see them acomplish and learn right before your eyes.

Find magic in how much simpler your life is. When you look at a loaf of bread you find joy and magic in the fact that you don’t have to bake it in a kiln over a fire. Or that you have a mixer when three generations or so ago that would have been a novelty.  You can slow cook things without constantly tending a fire. We have heaters and water at our fingertips.

All of these things should make us feel blessed. They should help us to realize that we have far more time to do things than our forebearers did in the past.

 

 

 

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Homeschool Plan 2018

My homeschool plan for 2018 is simple. I’m just focusing on fundamentals. Colors, shapes, reading, math.  That’s it.  When it gets a bit warmer I want to add some physical education and outdoor play.  And of course, I’ll add in practical life skills and the fine arts, because those are important too right?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the programs mentioned below. I receive no payments or gifts from them in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion based on my own usage and my child’s usage of the product.  

But how do you dod that with a 3 year old? They don’t sit still well. Most of them want electronics anymore, and they have such short attention spans.

Well let me tell you what has been working for us this month.

We have five programs we are currently using for our homeschool curriculum.

  1. EPIC

Epic is a wonderful online resource (8 per month) where we can read all sorts of books from the comfort of our home without going to a library. Don’t get me wrong, I love the library, but there are some weeks that between my duties and obligations, we just can’t make it there. And we go through a lot of books each week.

Epic is also great because it has animated versions of some of my favorite stories that I can now share with my daughter such as Strega Nona and Boom Chicka Boom Boom. It also has some stories that it will read to your child as it highlights the words, great for a beginner reader to follow along and see the flow of a book.  In addition, it recommends new books based on your reading preferences and seasonal elements. So this month we’ve been reading about black history month and valentines day.  I’m not sure how long we will use it but for now, it is worth the money and makes my life easier.

However, before you purchase this, you might check and see if your library has any equivalent free programs. We recently learned that the Indy public library system has such a program, though I currently don’t like it as much as EPIC!.

2. Reading Eggs

I found a free trial of this (going on till the end of Feb) and we fell in love. She’s learning sounds of letters, something I was struggling to teach her. And she’s starting to be able to recognize her letters by name. While we have our frustrating moments with this program (more my patience issues than anything), she seems to have fun and it also comes equipped with its own library.

The site even offers a homeschool curriculum you can follow. The only problem with that is the Valkyrie is blowing through it way quicker than the model suggests, despite her struggles to understand some of the concepts.  My only problem with this program is how quickly some of the activities move. It is geared toward 3-7-year-olds and sometimes my Valkyrie has trouble moving the mouse quickly enough at 3, to click on things, leading to me having to help her a bit more than she’d like as well as some frustration.

Each lesson has between 8 and 15 activites, videos, and exercises to engage your child in learning phonics and early reading stills.

Also, this site works great with a tablet and is only 60 for the whole year. I found a coupon here that allowed me to get both the Math and the Reading program for around 52 dollars! It’s not as pretty as ABC Mouse, but the quality of the exercises is 100% better.

3. ABC Mouse

Honestly, this is my least favorite of the programs we’re using. Freya loves the activities, but I just don’t feel that they are as good of quality as the Reading eggs and its math equivalent.  We are mostly using it because I’ve already paid for it late last year and because my daughter loves the rewards and coloring sheets.

It’s also something that she can do entirely on her own with her physical skills. So it’s easier, unlike some of the problems she has with reading eggs and its math equivalent.

Other problems is that there are way too many coloring sheets, the songs are a bit boring, and I’m not sure its paced well.  On the other hand, it has great videos for any age and a linear progression based on skill and age.

4. Math Seeds

I didn’t add a link here because its the same link as above. Math seeds cost the same as reading eggs (60 per year), but if you check out that coupon link above you can get both for a reduced price.  (I paid 52 for both).

This is my daughter’s favorite program out of everything we do. She loves math, she loves counting and the games in this program just make her happy. I usually try to save this and reading for when she gets frustrated.  Especially, as she tends to forget all her worries and scream yay reading or yay math.  Those moments bring me joy.

This program starts from counting one. Each section has at least 20 activities and videos to engage your child in learning.  They also relate it to their body, counting their favorite things, and incorporate books about the subjects.  I love this program and recommend it to anyone with a young math learner, especially if they struggle with basic counting and math skills. We’re only into shapes and basic numbers and I’ve already seen my child grow far more than she had during our private instruction prior to this program.

Finally, last but not least

5. Right Start Math

This is a curriculum that goes from early math all the way through high school. The initial start up cost is somewhere between 150 and 200 dollars. But for all that you get a full curriculum, all the tools you’ll need for all the math courses you’ll take with them, and a set of fun math games you can play. After that, each grouping of books is around 60-80.

Each set of curricula is designed to last your child 2-3 years and is set out as lettered levels going from A-F.  Their website even has a placement test you can take to determine where your child falls within their program.

I originally learned about this program in 2016 at the Indiana Homeschool Convention.  When I went to a demonstration and saw my two year old want to play the games with the rest of the kids. I also found myself understanding math concepts that I had struggled to learn as a child.

We’ve only been doing it for about a week (though I bought it back then), but I love the activities. There is a focus on really understanding what the number 3 is and how to quantify it. And the Valkyrie loves their counting song.

For more info:

If you want to check out some of the activities for elementary aged students check out their youtube page. Currently, I plan on this being our primary math curriculum as math seeds only goes to age 7 or so.

The games are the best part of this program. Even if you don’t need a whole curriculum you might look into their game set. It can be purchased separately from their larger package for around 30 dollars I believe.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my description of our homeschool curriculum this year. And I hope that some of it is beneficial to you.

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FI: Jan Resuts

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Just a few lists showing where we spent our money, how much debt we reduced, and what went right and wrong. So let’s get to it. Here is my post-January FI report.

If you haven’t followed my journey so far, check out my Financial Independence Page to see all the posts.

FI January

  • Savings 4.4%
  • Housing 27.9%     (A bit higher due to having to buy some furniture)
  • Utilities 10%
  • Food 5.9%  (lower than usual by about 13 dollars)
  • Transportation 6.7%
  • Health 3.3%
  • Children 2.9%
  • Obligations 28.2% (See heading below)
  • Entertainment 10.8 (See heading below)

First off we had some additional income and some money left from the prior month.    So that helped cover some of the extra expenses. Which was great. Most of it went into debt, but we also had some unexpected expenses, as we almost always do at the beginning of the year.

Obligations

I’m continuing to pay down my debts. By the end of last month, I had the credit card down to 2800.  Based on my last statement only 300 of what I put towards the credit card went towards unexpected expenditures that our budget couldn’t cover, like the first of the year medical gap, car problems, etc.  That means that I paid down my debt by 1350!

Fairly sure I won’t be able to put that much towards it this month and I’ve already had some expenditure flubs, but like I’ve said before, life is a learning process…..and I’m definitely still learning.

Entertainment

I have both done better and far worse than I did in January.  We had an additional expenditure for my parents anniversary, eating out, and both entertainment budgets. In short, I failed a bit here. However, that was okay as well. It gave me a chance to see my own spending cycles and to learn where I need to be more careful.  And that is what this tracking project is all about.

  • Anniversary 90
  • cigarettes (for dad) 15
  • Eating out 159
  • My spend 241
  • Parents spend 147

The anniversary I planned for.

Same thing for the cigarettes. I’ve tried to get him to start, but that just makes everyone in the house miserable. Frankly, at this point, so long as he doesn’t smoke in the house I’m good. I neither want to anger our landlord or smell it and have it mess up my sinuses.

Eating out was bad this month. Between being off-diet for Dec and Jan and my usual winter struggle with depression, I actually did better than I have in the past, so I suppose that is progress, even if it’s still frustrating. But there’s no point in beating myself up about it. The past is past and there’s nothing I can do about it. It won’t help me to lament only to learn from my patterns and mistakes. And if you’re tracking your own I suggest you do the same. Don’t take it as a true failure. Take your mistakes as an opportunity to learn.

My parents spending budget was out of control.  To put it into perspective we usually only spend maybe 30-60 on eating out. I try to make sure everyone gets out of the house once a month to do something, even if its just an unwhich at Jimmy John’s.  My parent’s entertainment budget is usually around 80-100.

My spending was actually in range, but my spending is a weird subcategory of our budget. It’s the money that I have to spend on myself, the Valkyrie, our homeschool endeavors, my clothing, etc.  While I have budgeted 300 I usually only spend 100-150 and put what’s left towards debt. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this one is still going to be a bit out of whack this month as well.  I may have to spend a bit more on my clothing, but next month I’ll try to break down my spending a bit better.

Overall

Overall I’m doing well. I’m on track to have the debts paid off by November 2014 putting me 5 months ahead of my original schedule. Hopefully this month I’ll get my tax check (just waiting on approval from the IRS) and I’ll be able to get even more ahead.

My current plan is to pay for two events, my parents taxes, a hotel for an event we’re going to in July. After that I’m trying to decide if all of it is going towards debt or if some of it is going to send me to a weekend retreat for my sanity.  Even if I go to the retreat that means another 3000 or so towards my debt reduction endeavors!

Well, that’s it for this months update. I can’t wait to see how I do next month!.

 

 

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