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 can  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.

Being All You Can Be. Part IV: Self-Sufficiency.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment.  And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Part III addressed how finance is important to being all you can be, and a few ways of contributing financially.

But where you cannot afford a service or product, where your financing abilities fall short, you needn’t go without. After all, if you need to, you can do almost anything yourself. Here are some self-sufficiency skills which will save you money on projects you may not be able to realistically outsource.

  1. Grow your own. If you can grow the food you eat, you eat better and save money. Consider getting herbs and a bonsaid lemon tree for the kitchen; tomatoes, courgettes, oranges, strawberries and raddishes on balconies; carrots, potatoes, rhubarb, berries and cabbages in small gardens, and fruit trees and various crops in bigger gardens.
  2. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Outsourcing these, even in the form of buying prepared meals, hiring a carpet cleaner or getting ironing done at the dry-cleaner, is expensive in the long term. Cut costs by looking after your hosue from scratch yourself.
  3. Basic plumbing and electrics. Plumbers and electricians cost an awful lot. Which is fine for big jobs, after all we don’t want a flood, death by electrocution or both. But when it comes to changing light switches and cleaning u-bends, we should be masters at looking after our house’s workings.
  4. Woodwork. Anything from mending a shelf to making your own pagoda, the more woodwork you can do the better your house can look for less.
  5. Feminine arts. As with woodwork, repeated again. The more you can make and mend on your own using sewing, knitting, crochet, darning and weaving, the less you need to buy to look and feel great.
  6. Literally anything. Think of things you spend on and ask yourself: can I do that? You may be surprised!

Next week we will look into enjoyment, the things we can do to make the most of all the time and money we free up with the previous two pillars.

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.

Being All You Can Be. Part III: Finance.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Finance is an important pillar, because it represents the resources that we cannot handle on our own. In Part IV I will discuss the ways in which we can handle as much work as possible, but it’s important to remember that there is a limit to how much we can do from scratch. It’s the whole reason we needed an economy to begin with!

However finance is not just about earning money. Finance is, at its core, about a trade of skills, where you swap what you’re good at for what someone else is good at. Here are a few ways of fulfilling the financial side of your person:

1: Getting a job. The easiest way. Here you swap your skills for money, which you then swap for someone else’s skills. The exchange is distant, but it’s the easiest way of predetermining the value of your work and making sure you have covered all your needs.

2: Swapping skills. A bit more ambiguous, but works in small communities. You bake bread for the neighbour, she weeds your garden. A simple trade.

3: Saving money. If making money isn’t your forte, then saving money is a good way of increasing your resources. This will be explored more in the next part, but in principle whenever you manage to haggle a price down, so something yourself or locate a cheaper version, you have generated wealth.

4: Enabling an earner. This is the way well to do housewives have traditionally generated wealth. It is a mash up of getting a job and swapping skills. You use your skills at home so that the earner does not have to do anything when they get back, allowing them to work to the fullest and make more money when outside.

All of these practices generate wealth by exchanging your abilities with someone else’s, making it easier to get someone else to do those jobs which you cannot do, such as make lightbulbs or treat your infected cut.

Next week we will address the ways in which we can develop our Self-Sufficiency, to become all we can be!

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… balance a freelance schedule.

As most of you already know, I am a freelance worker and self-employed in my own tutoring business. Which is kind of cool, as it means I can sit around on my butt all day and somehow get housework done and make a full time income. But it also means the schedule is insane. My everyday life has changed a lot since I went from being “the rural housewife” to actually becoming “the second earner”, and the schedule is the weakest point of the day.

So, when you have this work here and that work there, deadlines all over the place and have to work from your own home, how do you balance a freelance schedule? Here are my tips.

1: Set hours.

If any of your work has set times, build the rest of the day around them. Don’t worry about other aspects of the day, just prioritize set hours and deadlines and let everything else work itself out.

2: Think about time.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Think of how much time you have to complete a project, look at the time you have available and make realistic decisions.

On the other hand, you can always cancel something halfway. Don’t fall for the fallacy of sunk costs. Sometimes it’s better to end a business agreement or a task halfway through in order to focus on something you would rather be doing.

3: Reviews versus money.

When starting up, sweat the reviews but keep an eye on the money. Reviews mean more money, even if you have to do some underpaid work to get there. But make sure you’re not out of pocket, either!

When you’re established, sweat the money but keep an eye on the reviews. You need to look out for yourself and your business. But make sure the buyers think they are getting their money’s worth, or you will have bad reviews.

You cannot prioritize both unless you plan on letting this become a full time job.

4: Home office.

Try and contain all your work in an area of the house. This way you will always know where it is and you will save insane amounts of time.

5: Powering down.

When you set foot outside your home office, the working day ends. Check emails, by all means, but don’t try and keep going day and night. Set aside some time to keep your house in order, enjoy your family and be yourself.

6: Write a list.

Write up a complete list of your daily tasks every morning. Write in timed ones first, then fit everything else in around the times. Include work tasks and home tasks. Push important tasks nearer the start of the day and leave less important ones as a footnote for if you have time. This should help keep you focused and make sure everything gets done.

OTOH, I’m pretty sure I need a break soon. I’m forgetting to power down.

How do you balance your schedule?

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.

New Year. New Me? New Books!

Yeah, I know I missed the Christmas rush in pushing these on you poor, unsuspecting readers.

But I HAVE actually finished the two books I wanted to finish for 2015. And I HAVE published them.

So here is my first book.

On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Redraw_On_a_budget_cover01

Naturally all about money. From the basics to the crazy. For areas where I wasn’t sure (sizing down shirts??? MOT???) I asked friends and relatives. Everything else is me and my insane habit of never wanting to spend.

The second one?

The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide.

Redraw_Beginner_homemaker_cover01

For everyone who likes the idea of my sort of lifestyle, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Or for people who hate the idea of my lifestyle, but are stuck housewifing. Or for people who are single, clueless about cleaning and sick of living in filth. Just the bare-bones basics of keeping a house tidy.

Buy them, advertise them for me, send an email asking for a free copy if you know me, I don’t mind. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Reading!

How To… sit back and chill.

  1. Relax. Think of something nice.
  2. No, the turkey won’t be done after 30 minutes, just leave it.
  3. Phone calls. Breathe deep.
  4. Yes, you remembered to send everyone cards. If someone didn’t get one, insist it was lost in the post.
  5. No, the turkey still isn’t done.
  6. Write a schedule.
  7. Realize there’s no way that schedule is working now that other people are involved.
  8. Try and sit down for another five minutes.
  9. Tell someone not to look for or open their present yet.
  10. Pour yourself something to drink.
  11. Go and check on the turkey. Baste, feel proud.
  12. Fiddle with the decorations before guests arrive.
  13. Make sure the puddings are chilled or frozen well and that the snacks are laid out just so.
  14. Remember your drink.
  15. Light a scented candle to get rid of the strange smell in the entry (why is it the only place that doesn’t smell quite right?).
  16. Chase the dog/cat/child away from the ornaments again.
  17. Fetch your partner a drink. Try and drink yours.
  18. Panic over the roast vegetables and turkey again.
  19. Start making the pie to calm your nerves.
  20. Sit down for a few seconds. The turkey needs more basting.
  21. Put on some jolly music.
  22. Have the second sip of your drink.
  23. Get caught dancing to the jolly music by your recently-arrived guests.
  24. Continue making pie in silent shame.
  25. Will nobody else serve?
  26. Manage to convince someone else to serve.
  27. Say grace as nobody else wants to.
  28. Vow to opt-out for the next two hours.
  29. Find it impossible to relax and keep serving people, checking on the pie and humming along to the music.
  30. Shoo the dog/cat/child away from the very, very, very hot pie.
  31. Serve pudding. Feel proud.
  32. Clean up the awful mess that seems to have spontaneously appeared between bringing out pudding two and pudding three. (Nobody else knows how it got there.)
  33. Let everyone open ONE present.
  34. Now everyone is fed and watching TV, you can relax as it sort of feels like your work is done. It’s a satisfying feeling.
  35. And the dog/cat/child is in the tree. Oh dear…

Can’t win, but it’s all in good fun!

Merry Christmas!

5 Things I Did For Money In September.

I know I mention my work a bit here and there, and I do think that stay at home partners should try and boost their incomes. So to give a clearer picture of how I make my money, where it all comes from and how little you need to get started on most of it, here’s September’s breakdown:

1: I wrote four ebooks on demand.

The task: 4x 5-20k ebooks for different clients.

Time involved: around four hours average per book, not counting uninvolved time.

Payment: $50 per book, total $200.

The ease: I find writing comes easily to me and most books are simple to write.

The difficulties: Dealing with new buyers and weird specifications, on top of deadlines, can be too much.

2: I tutored ten students.

The task: 10 students needing on average 5h of tuition over the month plus homework.

Time involved: fifty hours active tutoring, around five planning and working on homework.

Payment: £10-25 per hour, total £700.

The ease: For me tutoring is entirely easy now I have the luxury of declining student’s I’m not perfectly suited for.

The difficulties: You need a skill to start with, and from there you need to cope with many awkward students before you can afford to focus on the good ones.

3: I reviewed fifty products, services and ebooks.

The task: 50 genuine reviews of real products.

Time involved: 8min trial time, 1min review time average. Total 7.5 hours.

Payment: $4 per review, total $200, plus freebies.

The ease: Very easy and most of the things I review (pet products, books, medical supplies) are things I want anyway.

The difficulties: You need to find people willing to pay for a review and know on which sites it’s legal and on which it isn’t.

4: I proofread five books and various documents.

The task: proofread various texts and documents for clients.

Time involved: about ten hours total.

Payment: $200 total.

The ease: Anyone could do it as long as you speak the language and aren’t dyslexic.

The difficulties: Reasonably hard, actually. You need to be fully focused in order to alter spelling, grammar and reading ease of the text.

5: I recorded ten video reviews and messages.

The task: 10 videos for various clients showing off their products or delivering a message.

Time involved: around 5min prep time plus the video length, totaling around 2h total.

Payment: £10 per video, total £100, plus, freebies again.

The ease: The easy part is doing the actual video.

The difficulties: The hard part is getting the work and getting it ready. 10 videos a month isn’t exactly an income on its own.

Total hours invested: 90h 30min.

Hours per week: 22h 30min. (56% of full time hours.)

Total earnings: £1100. (100% of minimum wage, 50% of national average.)

Earnings per week: £275.

Earnings per hour: £12.15.

So basically by being smart with what I do, investing more hours in my high-payers and cash-in-hand money and working entirely from home, I can bring in a full-time minimum wage salary and still have 17.5 standard working hours left to keep the house in order, blog, train our puppy, write my own books and unwind.

If you’re interested in giving it a go yourself, here are six jobs to do from home and an idea of how to get started.