Well, this 'Find Time' month seems to be working so far! I am proud to announce that I actually had enough spare time on my hands to remove the chipped nail polish from my toes last night! Now this may seem rather small and insignificant to you but for a chronically disorganised person such as myself, this is a huge achievement. As a rule I only EVER get time to apply nail polish when I'm on holiday and have nothing else whatsoever to do, hence the recently acquired purple toenails from our jaunt to the beach. Once applied, it is then left to its own devices for anywhere up to six months until the last scrap has completely disappeared, but not this time! I couldn't believe that I literally couldn't find ANYTHING else I needed to do last night. I actually had some spare time!
The only problem with finding more time is that now I keep finding more things to do. I've never had time to go running after dinner before but almost every day this week I've gone for a nice cool run in the evenings and the kids accompany me on their bikes. The boys also went back to school this week and because I've been organised with dinner and such we've been able to go swimming every day after school. It's really enjoyable and I'm loving the new organised me but it's early days yet and I'm still trying to find the balance. Two days ago I was so busy being organised I didn't sit down until 10pm and I was absolutely exhausted! Noel also had to give me a gentle reminder that while it was lovely I was being so productive, would I mind trying to find a little time to fit him back into the scheme of things too? As it was, the poor man got a clean pair of undies out of the drawer yesterday and turned round seconds later to find I had already put them away again. Last night was slightly better though - I found myself with nothing to do by 8.30 and Ali and I cuddled up on the couch and read together for 20 minutes. Now that's something we haven't found time to do in longer than I can remember! I was so busy dreaming about all the money we would save from being organised, I hadn't stopped to consider how much extra family time we would also get together. Now that's definitely worth finding time for!
As yet, I have only really made three significant changes but they have made a BIG difference. First, I have been getting up at 6.30am. We all got into dreadful habits in the school holidays, often not waking up until 8.30 - or sometimes even 9.30! Getting up so late stuffed the whole day up really - breakfast wouldn't be until around 10, lunch could be as late as 3pm and we were still fluffing around getting dinner at 9pm! Obviously we're not usually so slack but even on a school day I always had trouble dragging my lazy bum out of bed by 7.30 and would then spend the rest of the day stressing about not getting the washing out or getting something for dinner out of the freezer before I went to work. So now I get up an hour earlier, step straight into the clothes I've laid out the night before, go and hang the washing out, get something out for dinner and it's done! I can relax and am on track for the rest of the day. Getting up earlier also means I now go to bed earlier too. Instead of sitting up until midnight and gone, I'm now in bed by 10.30, which means we use less power too! I'm sure there's a tip about that somewhere in the Vault - now why didn't I do it before?
The second change I have made, which I think I mentioned before is giving up alcohol. Yes folks, I've finally cracked it! I can't remember the last time I had any and it feels great. What with Noel giving up smoking (five months or more now!) and me giving up the booze all we need now are a couple of halos! Seriously though, not drinking is enabling me to get so much more done. Not that I was ever a blithering drunken couch potato you understand! I was more like Shirley Valentine - I loved a glass of wine while I was cooking dinner - and there's nothing wrong with that. The only problem was, once dinner was over I couldn't be bothered doing anything else, I was too relaxed! I'd go and grab another glass and sit and browse Trade Me or Facebook or something really important like that, while the evening ticked away and my kids occupied themselves. Now I've ditched the wine, the evening is my own! I can go for a run, catch up on the ironing or just sit and talk with the family. Amazing how something so small can make such a big difference.
The third change has been the toughest - stop making impossible 'to do' lists. I'm a great one for making lists; it's essential to my daily existence as I always swear I would forget my head if it wasn't stuck on. However, I have great trouble prioritising. Every day I would make a massive 'to do' list and then spend half the day berating myself for not managing to achieve half of what I set out to do. It was only when Noel pointed out the other day that my list was physically impossible for anyone to complete that I realised that I did need to get real and stick to just setting a few priority tasks instead. After all, 99% of the time it makes absolutely no difference to anyone else in the universe except me! Today instead of a to do list as long as your arm, I have just two things to remember - pack our swimming gear when I pick the boys up from school and make a batch of Easiyo. Now how hard is that!
It might sound funny all things considered but I've never been much of a journal keeper. Before my blog, I was never able to keep a diary for more than a few weeks. As yet, I haven't even started my time log as such but I have still been recording information every day. I've been a bit harsh on myself lately for being a Sad Sally and rightly so, as I've been crap but I've decided to stop dwelling on all the bad stuff and concentrate on all the good stuff instead. So I've started my own 'SS time' log and am filling it in every day with things I do to save money. I've only been doing it about a week but already I find it's really helping me stay on track and make the right choices. It makes me strive that little bit more to make sure I do something to record in my 'SS time' log each day. Best of all, it makes me feel really positive and proud of myself, I can look back at what I've done and think to myself 'wow Penny, you did a good job!' My 'SS time' can include anything that has saved us money or will in the long run. For example, some typical entries might look like:
Friday Jan 30th: Froze two servings of leftover Beef Rogan Josh from Jamie's Ministry of Food cookbook. Made a dozen banana choc-berry muffins.
Sunday Feb 1st: Bought Noel's birthday and Father's Day presents already, saved 50%! (I can't tell you what they were as he reads my blog *grin*)
Monday Feb 2nd - Made another dozen banana-berry muffins, put washing on at night.
Tuesday Feb 3rd - Made Nutella Slice from SS slice book - yum! Got six freezer food containers from new $2 shop in town to kick off my OAMC. Also bought two pretty glass water bottles for $2 each to keep in fridge so we all drink more water instead of juice. Put washing on at night.
Wednesday Feb 4th - Stuck to my guns and refused to buy ice creams after our swim! Made Spaghetti Bolognaise from Jamie's Ministry of Food for dinner, enough left to freeze two portions.
You get the idea! To most of you I'm sure that doesn't look particularly exciting at all, I mean, we're Simple Savers, that's what we're supposed to do, right? But there's so much we do automatically that we don't even think about. For me, writing it down is a really positive exercise. I feel really good about what I've achieved and am far more likely to keep it up. I still probably spend too much time browsing on the computer but I'm really trying to limit it to only allowing myself to spend time looking at things which are going to save us money. For example I really want to make our own healthy ice blocks for after school treats but all the ice block moulds we have ever bought have been absolutely useless. However I saw some in a magazine recently which came from Tupperware and they actually looked as though they could be built to last, so that's one thing I will allow myself to check out - but only if I have the time! And if the boys will let me on the computer by then. They both have some big savings goals at the moment so are selling their worldly possessions on Trade Me. Every spare minute they get, they're racing onto the site to see how all their auctions are doing. My office looks like a bomb site. There are three crates, one full of items which are currently listed and another two still to sell. It's actually really scary to see all their stuff in there like that - we must have spent an absolute fortune over the years on DVD's and Playstation games. I for one will be really glad to get rid of them. Liam is doing really well - he chooses his items carefully and is realistic with his pricing as he wants people to buy them so usually has a lot of interest. Ali on the other hand tries to charge moonbeams and then gets all offended when his things don't sell and Liam's does! Good luck to them, I think it's great but I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before they've been through all their stuff and will allow me to list some of mine!
PS - How's your Find Time month going? If you want a bit of a chuckle and haven't seen it yet, check out our family 'Find Time' video on YouTube!