Guest Post @ Captain Capitalism. Stockpiles.

A huge thanks to @aaron_clarey for publishing my guest post on starting up a stockpile.

My first post back from the week off and it isn’t on my blog! šŸ˜› Click here to read it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Laissez-Faire Homemaking Will Rock Your (and his] World.

Laissez-faire, to let be, to let things take their own course.

It’s often applied to larger scale orders, like government policies. But it also makes some sense in the context of smaller orders, like family and home order.

In essence, however much the breadwinner is the owner of the house and the captain of the relationship, the homemaker is the manager of the home. And many homemakers become proper little tyrants, more often than not unintentionally. We’ll call them Domestic Dictators.

The characteristic befliefs and behaviours of a Domestic Dictator are:

  • there is a specific way to do everything which is the only valid way
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are requirements to make a home for the family
  • efficiency in maintaining order will make everyong happy
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it needs redoing from scratch
  • everyone wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is equal to failure
  • if nobody else can do something perfectly, the homemaker must do everything
  • if someone is given a task they have to do it just as the homemaker would
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is appropriate
  • nobody needs praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

This puts a lot of pressure on the home and the relationships within it, even though the Domestic Dictator does not see the source of the pressure and often believes what they are doing is beneficial to everyone under the roof! In the Domestic Dictator’s eyes, getting angry about the way the laundry was put out is justified because they believe that it needs to be hung a certain way to dry, that this drying method benefits everyone, and therefore that they need to “fix” the job someone else did. They believe that feeling anger is natural because time and energy was wasted and they believe that redoing the task is justified because their way is the only way that works. But what they neglect is that efficiency does not mean harmony, and that doing and redoing tasks is not efficiency either! Fretting over the perfect home can drive a family apart. And the cure to that mentality is laissez-faire homemaking.

Laissez-faire homemaking takes a different mentality. The beliefs and behaviours of a Laissez-Faire Homemaker are:

  • if something works, then it was done well
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are nice, but tidiness, prettiness and cleanliness are good targets
  • efficiency in maintaining order can be stressful
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, at least it was done
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it can be left for now
  • nobody else wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is a far cry from failure
  • if things need to be delegated, the homemaker can let perfection slide
  • if someone is given a task then the homemaker embraces their hard work
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is abusive
  • everyone deserves praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

The Laissez-Faire Homemaker takes a much more relaxed approach, taking pleasure in order without needing to force perfection on everyone. If the dishes are not properly cleaned the Laissez-Faire Homemaker may need to redo them and explain the situation, but if the laundry is hung out slightly differently to usual there is no need to tell the helper off or to redo the work from scratch. The Laissez-Faire Homemaker doesn’t only act like this, but internalizes the messages and embraces a more relaxed set of beliefs around homemaking, feeling calm and collected at the end of the day and doing their best not to let little annoyances get the better of them.

Some of my favourite laissez-faire homemaking mantras are:

1: “It doesn’t matter.”

Every time I feel annoyed about anything that has happened or been done which interferes with my plans, that’s the first thing I move to tell the other person. Often it’s hard, but fortunately with Jon it comes easily. Only once have I had to tell him “I want to say it doesn’t matter, but it kind of does.” Once in five years has my annoyance ultimately mattered. So remind yourself of it, and say it to your loved ones: “It doesn’t matter.”

2: “You canĀ  have whatever you want.”

Food is a big source of arguments and I really can’t see why. Between women playing 20 questions about dinner venues and men not really being aware of what’s in the fridge, many couples argue over meal planning. What I do is simpler: I look at what we have, suggest two or three meals and Jon picks. And if he wants something else? Then he can have it. As long as we have it in the house or he’s willing to go out and get the ingredients, he can have whatever he wants. Leftovers can be reheated. Meals can be frozen. Ingredients can be repurposed. What matters is that everyone is fed and happy.

3: “There is always tomorrow.”

Some days the setbacks just pile up. My schedule is very tight most days: work, housework and downtime are all calculated into the day methodically. So if something takes too long or gets in the way, I can miss things. On Tuesday I missed several opportunities to write due to endless phone calls. On Friday we were out a lot and I couldn’t do the cleaning. So instead I did the cleaning and my extra work on Saturday. Sometimes things can wait, so prioritize, reschedule and calm down. There’s always tomorrow.

4: “Once done is good enough.”

When Jon does the dishes the stacking is almost always completely different from how I would do it. When he hangs the laundry out it’s wherever. When he makes dinner it is often simple, fast and may not fit my macros. But considering that he only does these things when I am too busy earning money, doing another job or having a minor meltdown, it would be cruel to complain he isn’t me, and stupid to redo it in the time I don’t have. Once done is good enough.

5: “What’s done is done.”

Sometimes your annoyance does matter. Sometimes work is an absolute mess, needs immediately redoing from scratch, never doing like that again, has completely thrown your schedule and the person needs to know. But, again, making it into a massive blow-out has no point. Take them aside, explain the problem, pour your energy into fixing it. But what’s done is done. You can’t undo their mistake with anger. So let it go.

If you are more of a Domestic Dictator, this approach may seem confusing, even lazy. But it works. You may wonder how people can be happy if a stew was made and all everyone wants to eat is eggs and waffles. You may wonder how a homemaker can settle for an improperly loaded dishwasher. You may wonder how a house can run if everything is not exactly to plan. But it still works.

There is happiness in harmony, and laissez-faire homemaking puts harmony first, allowing happiness to bloom.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… motivate yourself.

I get it: you don’t want to. I don’t even know what you want to do yet and I know you don’t want to. I can feel the intensity of not-want from here. But you really want the results. And sadly, when you want results you have to work for them. So here are a few pointers to get you on track.

1: Make it a surprise or do it together.

If your plans involve someone else, then it’s all or nothing. Either they are doing this with you, or it’s better not to tell them.

It has been scientifically proven that talking about your goals casually gives you the same positive energy boost as achieving them. Being acknowledged and listened to matters more than losing weight, quitting smoking or finishing that novel.

Besides that, it is also proven that people who aren’t improving themselves will try and sabotage those who are. Make your plans secret from such people.

If your friend or partner are all in, then that’s a different matter. But otherwise, make your self improvement a secret.

2: Visualize less, plan more.

Visualizing is a trap. The more you imagine yourself to be the perfect person you want to be, the less likely you are to actually strive for it, the less prepared you are for setbacks and the less likely you are to accept improvement over perfection. People who visualize and daydream more tend to be less likely than average to achieve their dream.

Throw away that perfect inspirational picture, stop imagining fame and glory, leave behind your dream job and focus on planning our the steps towards actually improving, one ladder rung at a time.

3: Plan less, do more.

In the same vein, the more time you spend planning, the less time you spend doing.

Give some serious thought to a rough plan you will be able to follow. Write yourself a schedule with a bit of flexibility. Then stop planning and start doing.

Too many plans take up your time and energy and can leave you falling into the visualization trap. Besides that, like fad diets, when your goal is 90% planning and only 10% practice, you are wasting time and energy on something other than results.

Move towards your results instead.

4: Give yourself a pep talk.

Sometimes you just need a coach behind you to tell you you’re doing great, to push you a bit further, to remind you of where you are heading. But if you’re working this hard path alone or you just happen to be alone when the desire to give up hits you, you need to give yourself that pep talk.

Remind yourself of your goal, of what you have done right, of what you have done wrong and of what your plans are. Don’t be too kind or forgiving, but don’t talk down to yourself either. Direct yourself to the right path.

5: Look at how far you’ve come and reward yourself.

Gamification is a recent concept in psychology that shows how turning your progress into a “game” can help you make more progress.

Rather than just looking at the start point and the end goal, measure your success in stages, like levels to a game, and reward yourself appropriately at each stage. The same mechanism that makes you hooked on a silly online game can hook you on self improvement!

And those are just some ways you can productively motivate yourself!

What do you do for motivation?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

10 Cleaning Tricks To Save Time And Money.

Keeping on top of household cleaning usually either takes a significant time investment or costs some money to outsource some of the work, either by paying for labour or by buying a fancy gadget. But there are a few tricks to making the most of what you already have and what you can buy cheaply to save a lot of time.

1: Vinegar and newspaper.

Uses: Cleaning windows and tiles, deodorizing fridges and vegetable boxes, killing mold and reducing the effects of mildew.

How: Spray vinegar water on dirty windows and tiles and wipe with newspaper. Wrap fruits and vegetables in slightly vinegary newspaper. Layer the fridge drawer or vegetable box with newspaper. Spray moldy and mildewed items and areas with vinegar.

Pros: Cheap, easy, you probably have some at home already.

Cons: Everything smells of vinegar, at least for a while.

2: Silica damp absorbers.

Uses: Preventing damp, mold and mildew, reducing the intensity of smells.

How: Place anywhere where condensation occurs.

Pros: Highly effective at controlling damp and related issues.

Cons: Can be pricey if your home is very damp and you use many.

3: Old t-shirts.

Uses: Dish rags, dusters, shoe and leather polishers.

How: Cut into hand-sized squares and write its use with permanent marker, to prevent mixups.

Pros: Cheap and easy.

Cons: You need old t-shirts to do this.

4: Shower time.

Uses: Washing delicates, large items and heavy items.

How: Pre-soak in the bath or shower, when you shower take a moment to scrub and rinse the items.

Pros: Saves some time and stops you getting your clothes wet.

Cons: Need to assign extra time to the shower and have somewhere to store the items until you can wash them.

5: Caustic soda crystals.

Uses: Unblocking drains, stain removal, limescale removal.

How: Apply carefully to the problem area, don’t get them on your skin, leave to soak and then rinse.

Pros: Quick and effective cleaning.

Cons: You have to buy caustic soda crystals, they can be hazardous to people and animals.

6: Thick bleach.

Uses: Stain removal, smell removal, whitening, mildew tackling.

How: Use neat for big issues, dilute for smaller ones. Apply and let dry. For fabrics, rinse.

Pros: Really cleans.

Cons: Slight yellowing of fabrics. Strong smell. Hazardous to people and animals.

7: Lemon juice.

Uses: Adding shine, clean fragrance and removing mineral residue.

How: Use newspaper or a cloth to apply lemon juice to a dull tile, a smelly item or something affected by limescale. Leave to dry on.

Pros: Cheap, you probably have it, great smell.

Cons: Possibly an allergen.

8: Walnuts.

Uses: Shining wood, reducing the appearance of scratches.

How: Rub the kernel of a walnut over dull or damaged wood.

Pros: The oils protect the wood, add shine and don’t cause harm.

Cons: Topups will be required. Potential allergen.

9: Like with like.

Uses: Removing grime, gum, grease or sticky residue.

How: Find a substance that is made of a similar thing to your stain. Use it to gently blend and lift the stain. White wine for red wine, peanut butter for gum or chocolate, olive oil for bacon grease. Then, gently dry the item.

Pros: Removes the substance most efficiently.

Cons: Will still leave some residue. Generally not suitable for fabrics.

10: Boiling water.

Uses: Cleaning floors, fabrics, furniture, dishes, pans, etc.

How: Pour boiling water directly onto the item or into a bucket from which you can use a sponge on a stick or a mop to clean the item.

Pros: Lifts grease, kills bacteria, evaporates quickly leaving little water, cleans stains and gunk.

Cons: Some items may be too sensitive for boiling water. You could get burned.

And those are ten tricks I use to make cleaning cheaper, easier and faster.

What are your favourite cleaning tricks?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

We’re All Collectors.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of junk, clutter or collections. But I also have a deep, personal struggle with some hoarding habits. I went through a few events in my childhood where beloved items were placed in storage only to be forgotten, damaged or stolen. And when you’re being uprooted again and again, however much you enjoy it, you can grow attached to things that go with you. I also find that when you’re frugal you cling onto things because you realize the value there is in reusing everything you own. Water bottles are good for mixing and transporting drinks. Egg boxes are good planters, newspaper can be formed into fire blocks…

So I spend a lot of my life sorting, organizing and getting rid of junk. And an equal amount of time gathering more junk, because I saw something on Pinterest or because planting season is coming up.

Which is where I’ve been finding out the importance of libraries. Most people think only of conventional libraries, but there are, in reality, all sorts of libraries. You can have a video library, a seed library or a pattern library, for example.

And if we’re going to keep some amount of clutter in our lives, we may as well categorize it. I keep my craft materials on some shelves, sorted by type. Some piles of fabric, some sewing boxes, some assorted material samples and some furs and animal bones. Everything I need to craft things when the urge arises. I have a specific shelf for current projects, so when the urge arises I can just leave new materials on it. If I don’t finish the project I will just get rid of the materials.

Keeping your collections in an organized library does three things.

Firstly, it contains your work. Never take out two projects at once, always put materials back and sort everything you finish.

Secondly, it reduces waste. You don’t end up throwing away a few things every time you tidy the house.

Finally, it limits your collection. Once your library is full, you need to focus on quality and can stop yourself from becoming a hoarder.

Because we all collect things, so we may as well not drive ourselves or anyone else crazy doing it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… quick clean your house.

We’ve all been there. You need to clean and you don’t have the time. Maybe you’re expecting some recently announced guests. Or maybe they were invited weeks ago, but you slept in. Or maybe it’s just cleaning day and you’re running behind schedule. So, what do we do when this happens? We do a quick clean, of course. These steps are in order so if you’re caught short at least you’ll have done the main things.

Step 1: Clear clutter!

Grab a laundry basket. Go around the room and take anything that’s on the floor or on the tables that shouldn’t be. Don’t worry about shelves, mantles or other places. They’re fine for now.

Carrying everything in the basket, take it to the right room.

Step 2: Do the dishes!

Make sure all the dishes are in the kitchen and wash them all. Even if you don’t dry them or put them away, not having dirty cups and plates in the living room or on the counter really polishes a place up.

Step 3: Hoover.

The trick here is to hoover only the middle of the floors, any corners that don’t have furniture in them and doorways. This looks clean and keeps corner-dirt from being trekked around the house.

Step 4: Empty rubbish.

Get a huge rubbish bag and empty bins, cat litter trays, dying plants. Any rubbish you can get your hands on, just bundle it into that huge bag and put it in the bins. Even if you just set it outside the door to be taken down later, that’s better than it being all around the house.

Step 5: Dust visible surfaces.

Go around the house with a duster and dust any obviously dusty or wide open surfaces. These are the places where a lot of dust will accumulate and also where people usually notice it!

Tips:

-Making coffee or baking whilst you clean will leave the house nicely scented!

-Open the curtains to the fullest for a brighter room; bright rooms look cleaner!

-Put dirty things away or to the back of shelves and put cleaner things on display!

-If you clean the sink, toilet and mirror well, the rest of the bathroom looks fine!

-Putting an interesting ornament out like a guitar or a complex painting detracts from clutter!

And hopefully this should tide you over until you have a chance to clean properly!

What cleaning tips and tricks do you know? How do you clean your house when you only have a few minutes to spare? Share your advice in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter paper.

We’ve already looked at speedy and efficient decluttering and how to declutter your wardrobe. Next we’re looking at one of our worst clutter areas: paper. Maybe you’re a student and going through last year’s work. Or you’ve accumulated a pile of bills and don’t know what to do with them. Or you’ve been away for a while and the mail pile has just piled up and up.

Well, as a private tutor I accumulateĀ a lot of random paperwork and need to regularly go through it. Here is the fastest and most efficient way I have found of sorting paper.

1: Pile it all together.

If it’s a complete mess, just go round the house and empty all your piles of paper together. Most people have at least three, so here are the common piles of unsorted paper.

-Homework.

-Work sheets.

-Mail.

-Coupons and vouchers.

-Magazines and newspapers.

-Past bills, receipts, etc.

-Essential documents.

-Fun things, like motivational posters.

If your paper stores are generally organized, work through them one by one. But if you’re finding your post with your past bills and magazines and receipts in your briefcase, you may as well empty them into one pile to work through.

2: First sort. Bin or check.

The first time we go through our paper, we need to just ask if we want to bin or keep it. Plenty of things can be thrown away immediately. Anything that won’t be put in the bin or the recycling goes into another pile.

3: Second sort. Store, use.

The second time we go through our paper, we decide whether the paper needs something done, like a bill that needs paying or a magazine you want to clip things from, or just needs to be stored like payslips or important documents.

4: Third sort. Folders.

Take your store pile and assign a folder for every category of paper. Use the categories above, or even break them down, such as bills into water, gas, electric and tax, or homework by class. As you sort them, arrange them by date, with the oldest at the back. Make sure to add the newest at the very front of the folder each time.

5: Go through.

Once a year, go through your folders and get rid of anything you no longer need. Bills older than five years can easily be thrown away, though you may not keep bills older than one or two. Either way, it should be a simple matter of taking the papers nearest the back and recycling, shredding or burning them. If not, it’s time to sort again.

6: Keep out.

Make sure your folders are easily visible and usable, otherwise you start creating more paper piles. When you are sorting something, make sure you get whatever it is done and then put the paper away.

And that is how I declutter my papers. It does take a while, but it’s absolutely worth it and at least it gives you an excuse to procrastinate, watch TV, take a call and drink coffee for a couple of hours.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What does your paper drawer look like? Is it driving you crazy, like it used to drive me crazy? How do you keep on top of paper clutter?