What life looks like as a housewife and writer on a tight budget. And my first night out in 6 years.

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Last night I went out by myself to the movies.  The latest Starwars; Rogue One.  I will first say that I loved it!  I’m more the Hallmark romance and mystery type but this was filled with characters that I grew to love by the end of the film (I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet).  The humor was good, the action was just the right balance of shoot ’em up and blow ’em up with the intense climax building music and actually story.  I was even able to keep up.  Usually, I get very confused from the first 5 minutes of sci-fi movies.  I was thrilled to be in an actual theater.  I went rogue myself on the concession stand and I gorged on $7 dollar popcorn, $5 dollar soda, and milk duds (by the time I came to that item I could no longer look at the prices).  I was sick with a headache when I got home and it was the best time I’ve had since my youthful party days.

I haven’t been to a film by myself in 6 years.  I did see a couple cartoon movies with the family 4 years ago.  That just doesn’t count.  Out of all the things I miss desperately I realized that it was going to the theater and watching a good movie on a huge screen with loud music.  Many friends suggest date night but I really just want a night away from everyone and everything that cries, complains, barks, or meows.  I want to not be clutched, clawed, nursed, and needed for just a few hours a week.

My family is used to me being around all the time.  I create an oasis for them.  A heaven on earth.  The boys and I are together so much that they have never experienced more than a few hours apart from me.  When I’ve tried to take time before the children cry, the husband panics.  However, recently I felt like I was losing my charm and etiquette.  I was getting irritable often, I felt I was experiencing the first bouts of writers block, and I felt tired at the mere thought of cleaning.  I knew it was time to create a “me date”.  I told my husband the new plan.  I would shop ALONE on Sunday mornings.  And I was going to start going to the movie now and then.

I failed already at the shopping alone gig as I relented to my eldest son coming with me.  That was fine as he listens and helps and I have fun with him.  It’s the little one that gets a little wild and the two of them together makes me into a yelling shrew.

Then I let my husband know that I was going to the movies that evening.  He said, “But you already went out?”  I wanted to get loose it on him but he had helped me clean the house on his own volition and when I had thanked him he said, “What? You do this everyday.”  So, he had earned a lot of points earlier that day.  I just ask him to really hear what he was saying.  Going grocery shopping was not a “day out”.  And then I gleefully skipped out the door.

When I returned home the children had a lecture for me.  My oldest sometimes tells me stories of when he was my father.  I think he may have been in a past life because he lectures me like only an old man can.  He had checked out the dining room window through the evening, waiting for me to return and when I didn’t he handed my husband the phone and requested that Bali call me and tell me it was time to come home and when I did return home I could barely get in the door from the throng of children and dogs, husband and cat. Arjan (the eldest) informed me that from now on we would just put movies on his computer and I would not go out anymore.  Ah, but it’s good for them to miss me now and again.  I received more kisses and cuddles that night.  I plan to do it again soon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that I have a magical life.  I spend my days at home with my boys and dogs and cat.  I drink coffee and write in my pajamas until noon or embarrassingly beyond.  I play at the park and take long walks in our neighborhood dragging the red wagon filled with boys and dinosaurs and snacks.  I live in a small house so cleaning is a quick process made better with coffee and music and a set timer for extra excitement.  I write all morning sometimes.  My little guys play well together and are pretty self-entertained.

However, there are times that I feel exhausted just rising in the morning.  Why?  Well, sometimes it’s just my personal quest for healing and spiritual growth that are tiring…in a good way.  Then there is that constant energy and weight of people wanting you and needing something from you all day and all night.  If it isn’t a child needing  a snack, a dispute to resolve over stolen tractors and crayon, a dog that wants a walk or biscuit, a cat that wants out, the baby of the family that wants to nurse all day, a house that needs to be cleaned daily because there are pounds of dog hair and sand from the sand box, a hot meal that needs to be made in time for the husband, the washing of dishes for the 10th time, bread to be baked, baths to be had, a trip to the library and park, 6 baskets of laundry to fold and put away before the boys start using the folded laundry as an obstacle course, a book to be proofread and worked on…and that is why I love my coffee.  God bless God for giving this planet coffee beans!

So, it’s all fun and good unless you haven’t had a  break in 5 years.  I haven’t.  I have no family, no mother or mother-in-law to alleviate the nonstop parenting.  Some women have a grandparent to drop the kids off when they shop or go out.  I have only a husband who works 60 hours a week and needs a break too.  We are new to the area still and I don’t trust anyone to babysit yet.

What I have learned to do is make pockets of time for myself throughout the days.  There are no weekends and no clocking out.  This job is almost round the clock shifts depending on if you nurse or anyone gets sick.  I find lots of time to read good books and write novellas.  I find times to watch a sitcom (30 minutes is about the limit for uninterrupted time and that is pushing it), to have a chat on the phone and a cup of coffee with the sunrise at the kitchen table.

Writing made the most sense.  I wanted to make some extra money and connect to the world.  I needed to engage my brain and have some fun outside of PBS cartoons and making cities out of blocks.  I needed a career but didn’t want to leave my children or quit my favorite job of housewife and mother.  Writing is free and can be done at home.  You make your own hours.  If you are at all decent you will eventually make a little money.  I write self-help and household books and a few months ago I created a pen name and alter ego writer personality.  I have a little authors site on amazon for my new self and a fancy new name.  I write fiction under that disguise and it’s fun because I feel more free.  Not that I’m writing erotica or smut, there are already millions covering that field.  No, it’s just freeing.  I don’t have the energy to create twitter and blog sites for this other gal.  She will have to sell herself through her stories.  May the force be with her!

Blogging will never make me money but it’s fun and therapy.  I love writing blogs that I think will inspire another person to do better things in their life or see their life differently.  We all need motivation.  It’s also a great way to talk about all the things your friends could care less about.

But now for the frugal portion of this blog; we have taken on a new challenge as of this year.  We have decided to start the home hunting.  We have been preapproved for a meager $200K.  For todays market in California that is like asking someone to buy a new car with some purse change.  I’m very curious to see what the Universe comes up with.

In the meantime, we have buckled down even more on the saving and not spending.  That movie is probably my last hurrah in a long while.  However, the kids at the concession stand hooked me up with a discount rewards card and Tuesdays are half off with half off popcorn all day and night!  My movie days may not be over.

I have some friends that are on hard times and have gone on food stamps for the first time in their lives.  For those who have lived well for decades, hard times are traumatic.  The wife is figuring it out though and sounding a bit perkier these days.  I’ve decided that we will join them and live off the same grocery budget.  They are allocated $349 a month for a family of four.  I’m not sure what people do for toiletries when they are really hard up.  I’m going to figure it out.

WinCo is where we will shop and there will be no more dinners out at the parking lot of Taco Bells dollar menu.  We are already pretty frugal and we don’t go out to eat because dining with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old simply sucks.  The parking lot at Taco Bell was our fancy diner after grocery shopping.  I already cook from scratch making my own bread and yogurt but I’ve been getting lazy lately.

You may laugh at some of the tips I give but I swear it stretches things and saves a lot in the end.  I add water to the dish soap and when the shampoo is almost gone I fill it up with water and make bubble bath for the boys.  I add grounds to the old grounds the day before using less coffee grounds and reusing the filter.  By making my own bread I spend a dollar a loaf instead of the $5 for our organic Dave’s Killer Bread.  By making yogurt I save another $4 dollars a container of organic yogurt.  Right there I’ve saved around $60 a month.  Maybe more if I calculate the filters and coffee but that is too much work and math.

Eating for under $400 can be done even with a sizable family.  However, you will have to buy in bulk and on sales.  You will have to learn to cook from scratch.  Growing your own food and planting fruit and berry trees and bushes help.  Walking everywhere to save on gas and get fit.  Oh, there are so many things.  You’ll have to buy one of my pocket gems for .99 cents.  I am trying to buy a house after all right?

Dirt Poor and Lovin’ It! is popular but short.  Queen of Penny Pinching is detailed for those of you families on one income and/or getting out of debt.  The Lazy and Cheap Housewife or The Funky and Frugal Housewife talks all about running a home, recipes for making your own yogurt, homemade convenience foods, and household cleaners.  These books are becoming popular and that is a good thing because it’s just enough for my coffee habit and a new book cover now and then.  They are fun and motivating and if you don’t like them, hey, you’re only out .99 cents.

Dirt Poor and Lovin' It!: Learning to live on minimum wage painlessly by [Singh, Kate]The Funky and Frugal Housewife: Making a Good Family Life on Very Little by [Singh, Mrs. Kate]Queen of Penny Pinching: Living a Royal, Spiritual and Joyful LIfe on Pennies by [Singh, Kate]The Lazy and Cheap Housewife by [Singh, Kate]

 

 

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