Dear Home Ec 101:
I hope one of you two can help me myself from a want’er to a doo’er. I want a lot- I want save money, I want to keep my kitchen clean, I want to keep up on the laundry, I want to plant a garden, I want to landscape my house, I want to build my home business more and advertise inexpensively (but I cannot use your site because I sell naughty things- heh), I want to… You see? I have a lot of wants but no inclination to do it all. Can you help me find my motivation? Can you help me find motivation PERIOD? I want to be a doo’er and get everything done!
Well Ms. Wannabe, I think you have asked a fantastic question. You see Ivy and I have not always been the paragons of domesticity you see standing here today. (Transparency – I ‘m sitting on the couch with my feet propped up, but six months pregnant folks, six months pregnant.)
If the truth were told, both of us were blindly wandering through adulthood not quite sure where we were going or even how to start. Personally, I went from full time work-a-holic to bedrest and that’s when I ‘met’ Ivy.
Ivy is my accountability partner. She listens, she lets me know when I’m way off base, and she plants a foot in my rear when I need some encouragement. I tell her my goals and she reminds me of them. Everyone needs an Ivy, it’s kind of like having your very own snarky cheerleader, without all the pesky bounciness. Do you know someone who would do the same for you?
Everything Heather just said goes double for me. Having an accountability partner is an amazing thing. My mother absolutely loves Heather because she taught me to cook without causing food poisoning all the time online.
Now to specifically address the goals in your e-mail:
I want to save money.
The biggest jumpstart to a frugal lifestyle is to start with your menu. The typical American family spends a disproportionate amount of money on convenience and take out food. Not only is the initial expenditure more costly, but the hidden cost in health related expenses can be astronomical, even with health insurance.
Our e-mail is always open for your cooking questions, as are the message boards. Don’t be embarassed, if no one ever taught you the basics, how can you be expected to know?
Ivy says: Also, saving money requires, you know, piling up money somewhere. I was really bad at that until I got a savings account that is not very easily accessible. ING is a good place to get such a savings account. I could go on about this topic at length, and I will one day, but yeah. Get you a place to put some money away that you can’t get to very quickly. Then, when a real emergency comes, you’ll be set.
I want to keep my kitchen clean.
For this I have two recommendations: divide the project and use a timer. This month I’m starting a project called 1 Day, 1 Drawer. I use a timer set in ten or fifteen minute intervals to keep my focus and I start with the sink. Chances are you didn’t wreck the kitchen in a day and it probably won’t be perfect
in a dayever. However, you can start heading in the right direction.
Ivy says: I think the kitchen is most clean house’s Achilles heel. Make doing dishes an unbreakable part of your daily routine. Dishwasher loading and unloading is my children’s job, so every day, the second they come home from school, they load and unload the dishwasher. It all goes to hell on weekends and holidays, but on weekdays, this works out really, really well.
I want to keep up on the laundry.
Assuming you have a washer and dryer in your home, fold and put away the clothes after each load. Personally, I find a pile of laundry that needs to be folded imposing and disheartening, so I do it as I pull it out of the dryer. Upbeat music or a book on tape help, too. As you fold make sure the folded piles are out of reach of any wandering toddlers. It’s easy to get discouraged when your work is so quickly undone.
Do laundry throughout the week rather than letting it pile up. If you work outside the home, start a load before you leave and put it in the dryer when you get home, fold it during commercials if you can’t miss American Idol or Desperate Housewives. A bonus to not watching commercials is, it’s easier to avoid the gimmes or fall victim to evening snack cravings.
Ivy says: Man, I feel your pain on this one. I second what Heather says. Also, if you can part out that job to anyone else in your household that actually likes doing laundry, that might be an option too.
I want to plant a garden.
Start with a window box of herbs or flowers.
Ivy says: I have really, really poor soil in my yard, so I have a container garden. This makes keeping a garden a breeze- I step outside my door and water every couple of days. My container garden has the added bonus of not growing weeds in it, so it saves a lot of time on weeding as well.
I want to landscape my house.
Ivy writes for Shakyard and probably has some great tips.
Ivy says: The biggest thing I have found to successful landscaping is making sure the things you plant are suitable for where you plant them. For example, I kept trying to plant full sun plants in an area where I got partial sun. I kept thinking I could get around the whole partial sun thing, but I just can’t. Once I gave up and planted hostas, the area looked a lot better. Same goes for planting trees that grow really large in an area that requires small trees, etc.
I want to build my home business and advertise inexpensively.
Ivy and I are right with you. We are learning the ropes of promotion. We love Home Ec 101 and want it to grow into a succesful site. Currently we set small marketing goals and check in with each other frequently to measure our progress and ensure we don’t lose that spark.
Ivy says: While our site is not suitable for naughty items (email me privately! I love naughty items!), there are plenty that are. Keep your eye out for sites that would fit in with what you’re selling and ask them about advertising rates.
Life is less a race than a journey. There should always be periods of growth and development throughout your life. Who you are today is not exactly who you will be tomorrow. Consider making a conscious effort to make positive changes in your attitude. Rather than I want to have a clean kitchen, I will have a clean kitchen. If you don’t succeed, don’t berate yourself for it, you can try again tomorrow.
My biggest motivator is thinking of how my dad would tell me to suck it up and just get going. I can hear his voice in my head anytime I’m procrastinating on anything. “Ivy,” he would say, “Get going. You have a lot to do, get it done.”