Bandwagon, anyone? So I haven't posted in a really, really long time. My poor neglected blog really needs an update. BUT, I've enjoyed reading posts from Kelly, Colleen, and Bonnie on how they "set up the pins and knock them down" at their houses. This post will just end up serving as a snapshot of our current life, I did a similiar post a number of years ago here, but that was when the kids were younger. Here's what life looks like in our family now...
|Gertie sneaking in a |
photo op with a load of whites!
I don't sort colors (except I occasionally do a pink/red load). Instead everything gets washed on warm or cold. The load of whites is the only one I do with hot water and occasionally bleach. I pretty much fold and put everything away myself, sometimes the younger kids help if they're home from school. Sheets only get done if someone is sick or they look like they need it. I hate ironing so all of Doug's work clothes are wrinkle free, which I've found means you can only wash 4 or 5 shirts at a time and have them come out of the dryer actually wrinkle free. So once I have 4 shirts I throw them in a small load and hang them up right out of the dryer. The summer is a bit different because we swim almost every day. I usually hang the swimsuits in the bathroom to dry overnight and throw the towels in the dryer. Otherwise we have wet swim clothes laying all over the house.
Teaching the older kids to do their own laundry was a game changer, before that I felt like I was always falling behind on laundry. This was especially useful when the oldest started scouts and Civil Air Patrol (which have uniforms that need to look presentable all the time). He's responsible for his own uniforms, I occasionally will remind him about the meetings but he stays on top of it. He learned how to iron so now he can iron his dress blues, one less thing I need to worry about. Seriously, laundry is a life skill, one I learned as a teenager when my mom twisted her ankle and ended up on crutches (and our washer was in the basement). I took over laundry duties for a couple months and after that I did my own. One less thing to learn when they move away from home.
2. Meal Planning
We shop at four different stores, Aldi's by far is where we get most of our stuff. Their quality has gone way up over the years, if you haven't checked them out recently I highly recommend you try it (don't forget to bring a quarter for the cart). We shop Wal-Mart for the stuff we can't get at Aldi's and have some specialty stuff we grab from Schnucks down the street (like my coffee and white popcorn for the air popper). We also like shopping at Fresh Thyme, their peppered bacon is awesome. My MIL told me years ago that to save money on the grocery bill you really need to make up your menu by what is on sale at the meat counter. She is correct, we save a lot on our bills by making up our menu based on what meat is on sale. This is not something I would have been able to implement years ago when I didn't have as much variation in our menu. I was more in survival mode when raising babies but now I'm a more experienced cook and have had more time to experiment in the kitchen with different types and cuts of meat. I have an Instant Pot, a Ninja blender/food processor, and a double oven which makes cooking on a large scale a bit more managable. Plus I'm not nursing a baby (why do they always need to nurse during the 4:00 witching hour)?! I remember many a meal made holding a fussy 1 year old on my hip, which makes stirring mac and cheese an Olympic event.
Now we make up weekly menus by looking at the ads and seeing what meat is on sale and what we have in our freezer. Doug and I head over to Schnucks or Fresh Thyme and buy whatever looks good or is on sale. We'll stock up in the freezer if it's a good special. So when Boston Pork butts go on special we'll buy 4 or 5 of them and throw them in the freezer because we use them for a crock pot carnitas receipe. If hamburger is on special we'll buy a ton, make half into hamburgers and freeze them with wax paper between them stacked four high. The other half we freeze in 1.5 lb bags to use for tacos, meatloaf or chili. Then I take them out to thaw (usually I thaw them in water an hour before I cook them). We always have frozen chicken breasts on hand, and usually pork chops or pork steaks too. Payday happens twice a month so we do two big shopping trips, but even with two refrigerators we can only hold so much. Luckily Doug's office is right down the street from Aldi's so he will occasionally stop by after work and grab more milk or eggs if we need it.
|Wine with groceries is|
always a good combo...
4. General Cleaning
Everyone is responsible for their own rooms. I take care of the master bath and the downstairs bathroom. The living room, upstairs bathroom and hallway, entryway and stairs are assigned to the kids. Sweeping the dining room and kitchen are assigned to the dish duty person. I usually clean the bathrooms the same day I wash the towels, about once a week. The other areas get swept weekly, sometime twice a week. Firstborn takes care of the pets in the house, feeding and grooming. He does this so well I don't ever have to think about it. In fact, when he goes away on trips I have to write myself a note to feed the dogs or I might forget! Soccer Boy mows the grass in the summer. Firstborn or I will usually take over his inside area to compensate for the time he spends outside mowing. Nobody gets paid for any of the maintence chores. I do sometimes pay them money for extra stuff, like cleaning out the van or shoveling snow. Both sets of grandparents live out in the country and usually have an abundance of outside work. They often pay the kids to come help them out with their bigger jobs.
5. Bill Paying
Here's the thing, I have a Bachelor's in Accounting and Doug has a Bachelor's in Finance plus an MBA and has worked in the banking industry for over two decades. So if anyone should have their bills together it should be us. I joke that all these degrees come in handy when filling out our taxes but taking control of your finances requires a fair amount of dicipline and communication (something which young newlyweds typically lack). Many an argument we had over the bills, credit cards and balancing the checkbook! Almost 20 years married has taught us a bit about how we manage our finances, and although there are some general rules (try to stay out of debt, pay your bills on time, etc), each couple is going to be unique on what system works for them. When we were first married there was no internet banking, everything was paid by check. So I kept a list when I paid the bills and went in every couple of weeks and balanced the checkbook and made sure everything cleared. Now with online bill pay for virtually everything I write very few checks, it's all electronic. Which makes balancing the checkbook a breese since so little is outstanding at any given time. We usually sit down at the computer after putting the kids to bed and pay the bills together. Then we can talk about that pay cycle, what extra expenses we might have coming up (birthdays, car oil changes, etc). It used to be Doug or I doing the bills but by doing them together it keeps us both informed on what's going on with our finances. That way if one of us is out of town the other person can easily pay the bills solo and nothing gets dropped or forgotten. We've discovered when it's only one person's responsibility to pay the bills the other one quickly falls out of the loop. Then it becomes difficult to discuss your finances together when the need arises to pay off or consolidate debt, the one taking the backseat has to play catch up. If anything ever happened to one of us the other person is not left completely in the dark as to account balances, insurance policies, health insurance and the crazy amount of account numbers, login and password information you need to access anything. Same idea for taxes, in the beginning of our marriage I did them, then when the oldest were babies Doug took over. Now we do them together using TurboTax (I would like to point out when I did them it was all filled out by hand, multiple copies of everything because I had to file two state taxes, and mailed, ahem).
Still not got a handle on this one. We used to shop yard sales and consignment when there were some good stores in the area. But now we tend to shop the sales and buy ahead a season. So we buy the kids' winter coats for next year when they go on sale in the Spring. School uniforms are different, we buy those in the Fall right before school starts because that is when they are on sale. When we had three little boys right in a row we kept stuff and passed it on to the next kid. But I now find myself purging lots of clothes because there is just not enough room. The boys are all different sizes and now that they are older they have different taste in clothes. We always check out the sales racks to see what they have. This is another area that Doug excels in, he loves finding deals (am I the only women alive who absolutely hates shopping)? I love shopping solo at Target but hate getting drug around the Mall or Kohl's clothes shopping. I avoid the Mall like the plague (although Macy's is there and they have really good deals too). Old Navy isn't bad either.
|My happy place!|
There you have it, I'm linking up to Kelly on this not-so-quick post on how we do things around here. Head over to her link up to find more Quick Takes...