July Spring Cleaning Week!

This week the plan is to sort our house. The kids have been told they won’t be allowed out to play with their friends this week, unless they do the jobs they had been told they were to get done at the start of the summer… and they haven’t even looked at!

There seems to be an added incentive. Their friends mother has downloaded an app where you can add financial rewards for jobs done, and my kids have been telling me about it all week. So this morning I downloaded it to see what it was like. And since, every time I’ve asked them to do a job they’ve asked will they be getting app money for this?! So they want to be doing jobs so that they get money in their app. Its looking like it might be an expensive app lol.

But I am hoping that having a chance to gut the house and reorganise it will make for an easier day to day life, which in turn will help with my head and mental health. I’m definitely struggling with getting everything done, and I’ve very little time to actually do anything, seeing as the baby is particularly hard work (they all are hard work! this one just wants to be on the go even though she’s not even 6 months yet)

So that’s the plan for this week!

3’s

People always say things come in 3’s – and I’m hoping we’ve had our three for a while!

My car was in with the mechanic last week – and needed a lot of work. And then my hubbie’s jeep broke down on his way home, and when he got in the door I was trying to get the oven to work (and couldn’t) – so needed a new oven, and parts for his jeep, as well as all the work that had to be done on our car.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that’s the end of break-down’s for our household for a while 🙂

Things are changing in this home!

My husband has got a job!

He had an accident 9 years and damaged his leg. He was self employed at the time. I was on maternity leave on our first child. He had to get a few operations, and he couldn’t work, so that was the end of the business. His leg never really healed fully, and he has issues with arthritis and other things so he never went back to the kind of work he used to do (very manual, building type work).

Over the past nine years he has worked on various things generally part time, he’s studied and learnt new skills, and I worked different jobs and went to college, up until after the Boy was born six years ago. Everything he has done has been extremely flexible, so I have had him home and as a support pretty much since we’ve had children.

But it has been tough. There has been very little money. We are extremely lucky, because things always work out for us, we have a great family and friends and I am so grateful for all that we have, and all we have had. So even though it was a struggle at times, we decided that we would “make do” on less money, so that he could be around for me and the kids – because the work that he does is long hours, long weeks and most of the work that has been available in that industry over the last few years has been abroad. He had already missed out on his “first family” when they were small, he didn’t want to do it again.

I’m not sure where his decision to go back to work came from, maybe it was just that he was talking to someone who told him about some work coming up and said he’d give it a go. Maybe it was just that he was fed up of never being able to “just buy something” – every unplanned purchase has a consequence in such a low budget. Whatever it was, he made the call. He got the job. He started back to work. This is his first full week. The days are long for him – he is leaving the house in the morning at 4.30am, and he is getting home between 8.30pm and 9pm in the evenings – after the children are in bed. He literally won’t see them awake from a Sunday evening until Saturday morning, unless I keep them up after their bedtimes. And he has to go to bed close to 10pm, so he has time to eat and wash and have a ten minute conversation with me and then he’s gone to bed.

It is a big change for all of us. It is going to be tough – but hopefully we will make it work. We’re going to have to make it work. People always say that relationships are tested when people are out of work, because they have to spend a lot more time together, and the money problems put more pressure on them. We’ve lived like that for years now and I think it has brought us closer. I am worried that not getting to spend as much time together is going to be tough for us. But as I keep saying, we are going to make it work.

This Blog Name

Mama Fee’s Happy Healthy Home

It is not named that because I necessarily HAVE a happy, healthy home – it is named that because I WANT a happy, healthy home.

All three of them – a happy home, and a healthy home and very importantly, it to be a home.

I don’t know whether I decided on this name because I wanted people to think that I had it all, that I had it all under control – or whether I wanted it to be inspirational, to myself. Probably the latter. I’ve never really been one for pretending that motherhood, or being a stay-at-home mum is easy all the time, so I would guess that I was hoping that it would inspire me to implement more happiness and healthy routines in our house, our home.

At this stage, the blog hasn’t become a routine for me, that I’m constantly updating – I’m often thinking of things to write about, taking photos on my phone to go back to and write about – but with all the madness that goes on in our lives, I just don’t get the chance to.

I have decided to stop putting as much pressure on myself – pressure on myself to organise the house, to lose weight, to update the blog, to eat healthier, to exercise, to have better routines, etc., etc., etc…. I’m continuously putting pressure on myself to do these things, and then not getting any of it done and then its a negative thing, bringing me down. If I don’t put pressure on myself and instead just slowly work on things, slowly they become positive things – and the positive things will build me up.

And so far this year, since I’ve pulled the pressure off myself a bit, I have got a lot done… so onwards and upwards! I’ll keep hacking away at everything, getting a little bit of everything done and being happy with my small achievements – because they’ll all add up – and they’re all getting me closer to getting my happier, healthier home!

How do you budget your money

Like all of us I’d say, we have had times over the years that we are flat broke, and times that we have a bit extra money, but no matter what we have coming in – we’ve always made it work.

The way I have always worked it is that we have a “bills account”. All the household bills (like rent, electricity, gas, phones, etc) are set up by direct debit to go out of this account, and each week we put a set amount in. I have worked out the annual cost of all our bills, and divided it by 52 weeks and each week we put that into the bills account. It means that in the summer time we have a bit of money built up in the account because the heating costs are down, but it balances out again once the winter comes in. We don’t use this account for other costs like food or other expenses.

In the past few years I met with money and budgeting advice people, and they gave me a format to look at all expenses for the year – from car taxes, back to school costs, Christmas, birthdays, health, optical and dentist, right down to hair cuts, makeup, clothes and even lotto tickets and car parking costs. No expense is too small to take note of. It is a lot of work, but it is amazing to see it adding up. These extra costs are added up, and again broken down to a weekly amount, and this amount is put into a different account – like a post office or credit union, one that cannot be accessed by card easily! When these costs come up, you can go and take out the necessary allocated money.

What is great about this system is that the money accumulates quickly in the first few weeks, so you might only be putting aside €15 per week for your car tax – but because you’re putting in a higher amount to cover all of the annual costs, after a few weeks you will have the cost of the car tax, and can tax the car, knowing that you have it balanced out over the year.

And then there is food money, a certain predetermined amount which is taken out in cash.

Now, we haven’t been in a position in recent years to have savings, but if you have excess money left over after the necessities are accounted for, then you would be able to set your savings accounts separately too.

I love our system, because it really takes away the stress of managing money. There is very rarely a shock cost that I can’t cover, although this year I didn’t have enough allocated to car repairs!! It does take a bit of time to set up and work out EVERY SINGLE annual cost, and of course you might miss a few. I’ve a folder in my notes section on my phone for expenses I missed (like a football registration cost!) so that I can update it going forward.

What do you think? Do you guys have any budgeting tips?

Where to start?

Hi all,

There’s so much going on that I don’t know where to even start! I just know I really want to get this blog up and running, but I am being pulled in all directions and therefore not managing to get anything done properly.

I have decided that a priority is my house – I need to get it organised. I feel the clutter is negatively affecting me and my mental health. I am a hoarder, and I live in a very “compact” house. It is a lovely house, but there is very little space in it, and as we have not have much money over the past seven years we haven’t been able to buy or build much clever storage. Bit by bit we are getting there. But of course I am accumulating more and more too! So I have decided I need to start being brutal and clearing some of it. And giving everything I am keeping a “home” – where if it goes back to after you use it.

Last week I got a suprise, because these guys called to the door to assess our house for insulation and vents (I was very sceptical) but it turns out that at some stage this week our landlord is having our attic insulated. And they told me I need to empty my attic so they can do it. Oh my God. That is a job and a half. My husband and one of my step-sons spent hours taking down all the boxes, and I told them where to put it (separate piles for different categories) so now I have decided I am going to clear through an awful lot of the stuff before it goes back up. It is mainly kids clothes. From Princess P for Baba Z, from the Boy in case I have another baby boy… and from Baba Z in case of another baby too (even though supposedly I am finished having babies!)!

So I have an awful lot of work to do, and no idea where to even start to be honest. And I’m having a bad time with my body at the moment, my back, shoulders and hips are in bits – so I’ve started seeing an osteopath… who says I shouldn’t lift, bend or twist! Talk about difficult with a 1 1/2 year old and trying to sort stuff! But I’ll do my best.

I have taken a few photos of the boxes from the attic in the bedrooms… and I’ll post them soon. I’ve shown a few friends and they have all said its like an episode from one of those hoarders shows!

Sock Mountain!

This is something that we have in our house – but I don’t think other households do.

Some of my friends and family think I’m crazy for doing it this way, but I find that it really is much easier and works for our household.

Basically I have a specific bag hanging in my utility room (the room is basically a closet that fits the washing machine and a basket of clothes!!) and when dirty socks end up in the wash pile I take them out and put them in this bag. The ideal is that the socks are paired up before going into the bag! Every few weeks when I notice the sock drawers are running low, I do “sock mountain”.

I pour out the bag of socks, and find pairs and put the pairs (separated) into an empty laundry basket. When I have found all the pairs, I put the odds back into the bag and put the basket of dirty socks into the washing machine.

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When washed them come straight out and into the dryer, making sure none escape! When dry I bring them into the sitting room and dump them out on the floor in a “sock mountain” and get the kids to do their part!

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They sort through the pile of clean socks, putting ones that look alike on top of each other – all pink socks together, all Daddy’s black socks in one pile, school socks in a different pile – you get the idea.

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Then its back to me. I come back in and actually pair them all up, and put in piles for each different room.

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Then the two older kids bring down their sock drawers, fill them and bring them back up. And I don’t have to think about socks for another few weeks!

What do you think of that? Crazy or genius?!

One of my friends thought it sounded like a lot of work. A family member was horrified about how many socks we all have (which we need for them to last a few weeks!). I love the fact that I don’t get odd socks coming out of the washing machine – I still have odd socks, but I know that its not the washing machine that has eaten them! (They’re usually hiding down the side of the bed now!) It used to really annoy me having odd socks coming out of the wash in dribs and drabs.

It is a bit of extra work all in one go, but then its over and done with for another few weeks. It works for us!