Monday, January 6, 2014

Building a Better Me

As always, I am trying to find ways to improve me. Not just for the benefit of me, but to benefit my family and the world around me. I've become happier with my relationship with God, I'm physically more healthy and I'm going to school to make myself happier with my career (never had one of those, just a string of random jobs). That just leaves finances and relationships.

Financially we are becoming more stable, learning to live more with less and taking steps to earn a better wage. However, you can earn all the money in the world but what counts is what you do with it. I'll admit, we get into our worst financial state when we don't budget and plan. How can one reach a goal life without a plan??? Needless to say, I'm going to start today with paying more attention to what we spend, how we spend it and how we can make it go farther.

Our biggest expense goes to big items like a roof over our head and a vehicle to drive. We have pretty much eliminated most unnecessary items from our spending. The exception is satellite and internet. For me, internet is a necessity because we are online students and need the access to the internet. It just isn't feasible for us to run to the local library every time we need or want to work on homework. With 3 kids, it just wouldn't happen!

We are terrible about not planning meals so we end up running to the store to grab stuff and end up spending way too much on groceries. In the past, I have made a menu, stuck to it and actually spent less on groceries. Needless to say, I will be making our menu and sticking with it beginning today. My challenge will be to stick to it for one month, assess what worked and what didn't, then create a new goal.

I would say one of the biggest, if the biggest stress on a relationship is money. How much you have/don't have, what you spend it on, who's fault is it that there's unhappiness with the finances, etc. Luckily I realized this would be a potential problem before I ever got married and made the conscious decision to never fight about money with my husband. The best thing we can do is tackle it as a team and discuss whatever issues may arise.

Keeping teamwork in mind, in order to properly work together, we must agree on the plan. It will take each teammates input for the plan to make executing the plan to work effectively. For example, I find paying for satellite frivolous and unnecessary, my husband enjoys having access to a variety of shows for his relaxing and unwinding time.  While I like to read, he doesn't. My compromise is to pay for the satellite, but if it becomes a burden, it's gone! A possibility in the future is to get rid of the $50+ satellite in exchange for a more reasonable Netflix or Hulu Plus (at $8-10 a month we could afford to have both compared to satellite!). Not only does teamwork for planning finances help with our money, it is part of building a better relationship-SCORE!

My relationship with my husband is so important. Without a good relationship, we would be miserable and that misery would emanate into every other part of our lives. Being good spouses and best friends helps show our kids a good example of not only how to live with a spouse, but how to treat other people in our lives. If we are constantly fighting and bickering, our kids will think it is normal and acceptable to fight and bicker with others.

Unfortunately, in our household, we tend to yell. Not between myself and my husband, but towards the kids. If they aren't listening after being asked to do something, instead of assessing the situation for why they aren't listening, I yell. Not productive in the least, but I still find it as my go-to action. Before you scoff at me for thinking my kids would have a legitimate reason for not listening to me, bear in mind that environment and the actions of others dictates our own behavior. If my kids have been asking me questions or talking to me and I barely seem interested, they are going to internalize that and think it is okay to ignore others. What my kids may not realize is that while I seem to be ignoring them, my mind is occupied with other thoughts like working on homework or I may be trying to think about the correct answer to give them. Ah, the joys of being an introvert.

Communication is key!!! If you want more calm verbal communication, you must be prepared to give it first. I'm terrible about not vocalizing what I'm thinking or what I want and forgetting that everyone else cannot read my mind.

While perusing the internet I came across an interesting blog called The Orange Rhino. It chronicles a mom's effort to become "yell free" with her kids for 1 year. She has helpful tips and resources to help others along their journey to yell less. After reading through the information, I have decided to take my own "Orange Rhino Challenge" and not yell at my kids for 1 week. I'll track my triggers for yelling and update my progress along with my kids' reactions for accountability. In an effort to yell less, I'll also be more present with my kids. While I'm physically here for them, I need to remind myself to be mentally here for them as well.

God willing, I will be a happier person by this time next week. Within 6 months, my goal is to be financially more stable and have a less stressful relationship with my kids. September 6th, watch out!