Double Standard~

I work hard all day.  Almost from the time I get up until the end of the day, I’m busy dealing with problems, grumpy people, and sometimes doing really back breaking hard labor.  No matter how much I remind myself that I have my dream-job, there are days where it’s repetitive, monotonous, and I just want out.  The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is pick up my spouse’s slack.   If both roles in marriage are so valuable and important, then why is it that my contribution of non-stop, hard work, day in and day out, every single solitary week not enough?

Oh yeah, I wrote that for my husband.  He’s never said it to me (and if he knows what’s good for him, he won’t), but the fact is, it’s true.  I don’t work as hard or as diligently as he does.  I never have for any kind of consistent basis.  I do fear I never will.  I want to though.  I don’t want to continue feeling as if I’m the one of us that is always needing to be bailed out of my job.  Lots of these thoughts have gone through my mind over the past years and today, I’m writing them down for my benefit.  I’m also sharing them in case I’m not the only woman who deals with this.

When my husband gets up at four in the morning, he has a few minutes to shower, get dressed, and then he wraps his socks around his jeans (to protect them from the bicycle chain), pulls on his jacket, straps down his helmet, climbs on his bike, and rides off into the freezing morning darkness.  He gets in a van, rides thirty minutes to work, and is there for ten hours.  He’s a “salaried” worker in that he doesn’t get a lunch, a break, anything.  He’s there to work and work all day.  If he doesn’t know what he’s doing, that’s no excuse.  He’s paid to know and to do it.  Twenty-nine years after being on the same job, there is no excuse for not getting the job done, done well, done consistently, and on time.  He’d better not expect someone to pick up his slack.  After all, it’s his job.

Well, my job is to keep the home.  Two thousand years ago, God inspired one of my favorite apostles to write, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2: 3-5)

Those words are really powerful words.  That phrase “workers at home” has a Greek definition that means literally “house despots”.  We’re to take command of our homes!  In this day of hearing words like “dominion, vision, and jurisdiction” bandied about like buzz words, I hate saying this, but what that verse seems to say is, “Take dominion over your home,” or in today’s vernacular, “Own the job.”

Do we?  Do we get up in the morning and literally work all day?  I don’t.  I know I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I do.  Really.  There are days where I wake up, get dressed, throw food in the general direction of my face and hope it lands in my mouth as I do fifty other things at once.  Before I know it, the kids are in bed, I’m collapsed in my chair, and I don’t even know what I did all day because it looks, by the chaos around me, like I did nothing.  The truth is, I can probably count on one hand, how many of those happen in a six month period.

When I had all small children, I did work hard.  Even doing nothing, I was working hard.  I’d wake up and be working before I got out of bed– becuase I was pregnant.  I’d sit in a chair and hold a child that fell out of her bed and bumped her chin.  I’d change a diaper or two or help a newly training one to the pot.  It was a constant help little kids and try to help keep the house from falling down around my ears because I didn’t know what I was doing, because there was a lot of work by the time I did know what I was doing, or because the old adage is true.  A woman’s work is never done.  Back then, I had zero qualms about asking, or even expecting, my husband to help switch out the laundry or wash some dishes.

As for today, however, I don’t understand why I think I have the luxury of sitting around and doing what I want to do instead of what needs to be done.  I wonder what is wrong with me that I think I can get up, spend most of the day writing, crafting, visiting with my friends, ignoring things I don’t want to do, and then when my husband arrives, expect him to pick p the slack that I have no business allowing.

Now see, the problem comes in that I still don’t have the strenght I once had.  Part of that is because I don’t force myself to work, and part of it is because I just don’t have it.  So, in my all-or-nothing personality, I either want to over extend myself, or I want to just let him do it all.  The man is gone eleven hours a day.  Is it too much to expect that he can come home and not have to do my job?  It’s not like I have four kids under six anymore.

Wives, particularly younger wives, learn from my mistakes.  Don’t wait five, ten, or twenty years to step up and own your job.  If you’ve done all you can do in a day and something is left undone for which you need help, then that’s fine!  If it’s a rare occasion, that’s fine too.  But, if your husband is working all day so you can play, and then he comes home to do the job you didn’t bother to attempt becuase you were too selfish or lazy…  ugh.  How despicable .

One thing I’m not going to try to do.  I’m not going to try to reverse this in a day.  I’ve learned the very hard way that it is sure failure for me.  I am, however, going to reverse some part of this today.

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Declutter Challenge: Day 1- Monday

I read this blog today and it encouraged me.  I wondered what I’d get rid of if I decluttered ten items every day for a week.  I am seriously considering going for a full month, but I’m starting with one week.  By Sunday, I should have 70 items out of our house.  Here I go.

Today’s removed items… (I’m even doing pictures!)

  1. Scrapbook bag
  2. Blue pants I’ve never worn
  3. Blue top to match blue pants I’ve never worn… never worn it either
  4. Lavender pants I don’t like and are too big.
  5. White blouse that is worn out and icktified
  6. White blouse that I’ve never worn but like but doesn’t fit
  7. Purple dress I haven’t worn in years
  8. Brand new skirt I bought to cut down to fit and didn’t
  9. Brand new skirt I bought to cut down to fit and didn’t
  10. Skort that I still don’t know where I got or why

Planning vs. Doing…

Ok, one thing I don’t think people know about me, is how much I adore planning and organizing.  I absolutely love creating extensive school plans, schedules, and I’d even plan my personal recreation if I could.  I love organizing books, closets, craft and sewing supplies, writing goals, and oh man… I haven’t even started with personal goals and goals for my kids.  I seriously could make planning and organizing our lives a full time job.

Names and functions changed to protect my pride.

Names and functions changed to protect my pride.

On the other hand, I’m sure you can guess the problem with my “secret love.”  I’m not so good with following through on those grandiose plans and ideas.  That kind of negates the purpose of making them… or does it?  I mean, I do get a lot of personal satisfaction from it, but if I’m, as Inge Cannon says, “ever organizing and never coming to the reality of organization,” can I really feel the beauty of success.  I’ll be honest, more often than not, I’m feeling the sting of defeat rather than anything else.

Now obviously, some things must be planned.  Can you imagine going on vacation with no plan?  You’d forget half of what you need to bring, you’d possibly bring the wrong clothes if you didn’t bother to plan where you were going, and you might run out of money before you got home!  All the planning in the world, however, won’t get you out the door and to the beach or the mountains.  You have to actually execute your plan!

I’ve seen planners for everything from weddings (logical in my opinion, but some of the contents make my eyes roll), to babies (I never needed a 2″ thick book to plan my pregnancy and childbirth but okkkkkkk), to homeschooling (makes sense to me if you actually use it), to Christmas (most of which I’d never use but a modified version could save a bundle… if I used it!),  and I even saw a craft planner once.  You were supposed to cut a square of every piece of fabric and trim you owned, put it in the book, write down the pattern numbers you wanted to use, make a supply list of things you needed, the works.  They had several all at the same booth at a quilt show (I think it was a quilt show).  They offered ones for sewing (obviously the one I paid the most attention to), quilting (for obvious reasons… can you imagine a square of every 1/4 yard piece of fabric and the quilt you had ideas for?), knitting and crocheting, embroidery, general crafts, and it seems like there was another one, but it’s eluding me.  Seriously.  A whole 1″ spiral bound notebook with oodles of information to fill out about every single craft/hobby supply you own?  I could get an amazing amount of stuff finished in the time it’d take to catalog all of that stuff.  Oh, I’d love it, but in the end, I’d have more clutter and less of a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, there are also the basic and most widely used planners.  The daily reminders of appointments and projects that have deadlines.  There are also “Home Management” binders that also function much like a planner and I do see a need for them– if you use them.  Not if you write a lot in them and feel good about your “accomplishment” of planning, but actually accomplish enough as a result of that planning that it makes the time investment in them worth it.  Seriously, I can’t help but wonder how our foremothers ever managed to keep a home without running water, electricity, while making their own soap, washing on a washboard, ironing with hand irons, planting gardens, sewing all the family’s clothing… how did they do the myriad of tasks they did without a highly organized planner to keep them going?  Now I realize that they did do some planning.  However, I do know that they didn’t have the time or the money to waste on writing down that they needed to weed the garden the next day.  They knew it, they saw it when they walked by, and they did it as soon as the lunch dishes were done because they just did.  I wonder what they’d say to me writing  “read your Bible” in my daily planner.  I don’t want to know… I have a feeling I’d get a well-deserved earful, but I do wonder what they’d think of a quilt show with a booth dedicated to 6×9 spiral bound notebooks for cataloging and planning future sewing projects.  I wonder what they’d say to elaborate index card systems for doing basic housework or entire binders for Christmas or Birthday planning?

No, I don’t want to return to that life.  That’s not my point.  I do want to make the most of of the time I have here and if a little planning will reduce some stress so that I have more time or less stressed time to do and enjoy the things that I love or need to do, then I definitely want to invest that time for that purpose.  I just don’t want to be “Ever planning and never see the fullness of completed plans.”

Sauder Craft Oranizer Closet-  not mine.  Im glad I think.

Craft Oranizer Armoire- not mine. I'm glad I think.

Organization is a related subject that causes grief and heartache to many.  Where do the pony-tail holders go?  How can I find a button in this mess of a sewing basket?  Is there hope for my craft supplies?  Well, if you look to the left over there <—– you’ll see that for those with a lot of supplies, they can organize it all in a relatively small space.  Not necessarily for a small price though.

Everything would have a home and be in its place.  It SHOULD be easy to find what you need as long as you memorize where you put everything!  Or maybe after you’re done separating your green jeweled brads from your yellow ones, you can make a detailed schematic of every storage space and what is in it.  Then you can make an index so all you have to do to find your DMC 504 embroidery floss is check the chart, see that green is in bin JJ, go to that bin, find the green box, pull it out, and voila.  Talk about nifty.

Yes, there’s a smidge of sarcasm in there.  I don’t mean to be condemning of people with such a cabinet or twenty.  Actually, I think it’s wonderful.  After all, I just spent two weeks organizing my own little sewing nook which I’ve blogged about a bit extensively (and I’ve got a little blurb about my new chair to go up soon too!).  My point is, are we organizing in order to more effectively use what we have or as an excuse to avoid the work of actually using it.  What is the point of having jars of color coded buttons for your button art if you never make any art?  Why have trays of rubber stamps, ink, and 439 different clear acrylic boxes full of embellishments to make the world’s most amazing cards if you spend all your time shopping for things and arranging where you’ll store them instead of time actually making them!  (Yes, I am preaching to the choir.  Make Cards just went on my “auto-focus” list.  I’ll talk about that in a minute.)  I have at least 20 large totes of fabric.  What good are they if I don’t use them?  I don’t mind having twenty totes of fabric if I’m constantly pulling old stuff out, using it, and adding fresh stuff to replace it.  What I mind is that for the past three years, I’ve “organized those totes” at least five times and I can count on one or two hands the number of things I’ve made from their contents.  That’s just sick.  All the ribbon in the world won’t make beautiful hairbows by itself.  Yes, even if it is hung on perfect little dowels, color cordinated, and with all the embellishments carefully organized in little bins waiting to be used.  You have to actually pull out the scissors, cut off a length, and get to work or you have wasted supplies.

The same is true, of course, of kitchen gadgets, home school supplies, yard tools, and for the men or handy women among us, tools.  Tell me why you have a router if you don’t, well, rout!   Spending two weeks reorganizing your books is a great idea if you actually use them more frequently as a result.  However, if they still sit untouched on the shelf because you’ve moved onto a new organizing project (color coding your socks perchance?), you just wasted two weeks of your life.  You just wasted two weeks of your time with your children and husband, their time with you, and you can’t get it back.  “But once I have time, it’ll be so much easier…”   Yeah, if you ever get that nebulous thing called time, yeah… it might be easier.

I’ve just started playing with a new “Time management” system that I find simplistically satisfying.  It bothers me a bit.  I’m a little OCD about things and this isn’t a pretty system full of boxes to check off, lists of ‘to do” things organized by type, or a step-by-step plan for creating a notebook to think for me.  Instead, it’s a running to-d0 list.  That’s really all it is.  How you use the list is what is so amazing.  Mark Forster has created a system he calls the Autofocus system that is simple, direct, and gets the job done.  So far, I’m quite pleased.  I won’t go into the whole thing.  Go look at it if you’re interested but I did add a shopping list to the back of my notebook.  I tend to spend a lot of time, even with these simple little things, buying a pretty notebook and new pen, tabbing different sections and organizing it because, “I just don’t work that way but I’ll make it work with my alterations.”  I only made one tiny one… Flip open my notebook to the back and it says “shopping list”.  I wrote down things I need to get that I likely wouldn’t remember.  Things like

  • 2 pink zippers
  • interfacing
  • purple pens
  • mouthwash (we’ve never used it before so I definitely wouldn’t remember it!)
  • new mop

Most of that list has been purchased already.  I just need to get mouthwash and a new mop.  Next time I leave the house, I can glance at that list and add the things I need to my regular list.  Why not add everything to my regular list and just have one?  Well, my regular list is in my brain.  Hence, write down the things I won’t remember so I can get them next time I’m out.  That modification was worth it.  If I keep this up long enough to fill up this 10 cent notebook from last year’s school supply run, then I’ll let me buy myself a pretty one for next time.  Do you have any idea how many pretty notebooks I’ve purchased for “new organizational plans” that never went anywhere because I overcomplicated them?  Yeah.  Not doing that again.

Planning and organization are excellent tools with which women can maximize their potential.  They’re there to help us accomplish something other than organizing and planning.   So, I have a challenge for all of us.  This week, make a very simple plan if you need to plan things or need reminders about appointments or something… but if you’re like me and spend more time planning and organizing than you do living… keep the plans/organization super simple and actually DO something.  Gee.  What a concept.

Goin’ “Green” Around Here~

Buy this and other cool pictures from Istockphoto.com

Buy this and other cool pictures from Istockphoto.com

No, I’m not becoming a tree-hugger.  I’m not about to start avoiding disposable pads or diapers, and I do not plan to issue chalk and chalkboards to the kids for drawing.

I’m talking about the green stuff we all hope is in our wallets.  Yeah the “M” word.  Money, Mammon… you name it, we want it.

It just occurred to me today that we hear a lot about “disposable income”.  I think this deceptively innocuous word holds a huge explanation for a lot of spending waste in American families.  We are the disposable generation.  We dispose of everything from paper towels and plates to toilet bowl scrubbers and last year’s wife.  We (this is a collective society we, not personally or implying that everyone does this) buy new cars every five years and even inconvenient children are quickly disposed of before they have a chance to be born.

So, when economists and marketing projectors talk about ‘consumers’ or disposable income, it really does fit into a mindset that has slowly brainwashed our nation.  I know what it means.  I know this is an issue of semantics.  Disposable income is simply the income available to be used as we’d like after our obligations are met.  Technically speaking it isn’t talking about tossing it away when we no longer want it.  However, I remember my English lessons in PACEs.  They clearly deliniated the line between denotation and connotation.  Denotation is, of course, the dictionary definition of any given word.  The actual meaning.  Connotation, is the implied meaning of a word in the context of speaking.  I can say, with sarcasm, that I love paying a fortune for gas.  In context and with the inflection of my voice, the connotation would lead you to understand that I do not mean that I (denotation) truly do love to pay high prices for petroleum.

There is also the power of suggestion.  If someone tells you, often enough and especially if very subtly that spending money on xyz is wasteful, it is likely that eventually, you’ll come to hold that position unless you are of tremendously strong mind.  There is a saying that “fiction, repeated often enough, becomes fact in the public mind.”  We can all see where this is true in our every day life.  Advertising makes a killing every year promoting this very concept.  They flash their information on the screen, magazine, or in the radio spot often enough, that it’s hard to forget that people ever got by without Direct TV or Verizon wireless.

Disposable income is a potentially scary terminology because it has, at its base, denotation that can subtly override connotation (just as connotation often overrides denotation).  We hear it often enough in a society that has disposable everything, and then we find ourselves treating it as if it was truly disposable.

I wonder what would happen if we all woke up tomorrow, looked at our bank balance, and realized that we truly do have no guarantee that any more income will come trickling in.  I wonder what would happen if when we started placing things on conveyer belts at the grocery store and discount store and department store and craft store and toy store and clothing store and….  What would happen if we looked at each thing with a futuristic eye.  Some questions that I plan to try to learn to think of in my “going green to keep the green” are…

  • Will I have this item, the memory of it, or the benefits from it, in a month?
  • Will I know that my money went to this item when I look at the bank balance next week and still be glad I bought it?
  • Will this truly enhance my life?
  • Is it likely to make me desire to spend more in the future?
  • Is it “in the budget”?  (laughable since we don’t have much of one but still… it’s something to think about.  If we had one, would it be in there?)
  • Will I miss it if I don’t buy it?
  • Is there somewhere that I can get it free, rent it, or otherwise reduce the cost of it?

I don’t want to start being “penny wise and pound foolish.”  I don’t want to turn money into an idol by making the use of it ‘holy or not’ but neither do I want to make it an idol in letting its use run my life and encourage me to waste.  Neither are prudent or wise.

I want to rethink how I spend money on the following things:

  • food
  • decorating
  • clothing
  • educational supplies
  • craft supplies
  • gifts
  • treats  (especially treats)

Basically, I want to ensure a bigger return on my financial investment whether it’s purchasing a bottle of water, a pack of scrapbooking paper, or a new couch.

Now… how to do that.  Anyone have suggestions?  Websites?  Ideas?  Come on people, share with me!