Today’s guest post is from Kate Campion who blogs over at My Sweet Home Life.
Imagine this scenario. You come home from work and dump your bag, the mail, and other assorted items on the kitchen counter. You tell yourself that you’ll sort it out later.
You dish out the takeaways you bought for dinner because you’re too tired to cook, even though you blew this week’s budget by doing so. You tell yourself you’ll make it work somehow.
Once you’ve eaten and done all the wife and mom chores for the day, you sit down and start your work – even though now it’s late and you’re exhausted. You tell yourself you can do without the sleep – you have to get this done.
I know that this situation has been incredibly common to me over my life as I’ve struggled to meet the needs of today.
But what occurred to me just recently, that by doing those things for today’s me, I was making life a lot harder for tomorrow’s me.
Try this now. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning, going out to the kitchen, and before you get started on anything, having to sort out the mess from the day before.
Now imagine yourself sitting down to do your budget and not knowing how you’re going to make up for those extra purchases you made.
Now see yourself trying to get through the next work day, exhausted, stressed, and snapping because you needed three more hours sleep than you got.
As wives and moms, we are used to putting other’s people’s needs ahead of our own. But by visualizing ourselves coping with these situations that we are in fact creating, we can imagine tomorrow’s self as a separate person who needs to be looked after too.
And with that in mind, here are some simple things that today’s you can do that will make a big difference for tomorrow’s you.
HOW TODAY’S YOU CAN HELP TOMORROW’S YOU AT HOME
KEEP YOUR HOME TIDY
A clean home equals a calm mind. If you struggle with keeping things tidy, then there are three simple things that can help.
- Always pick up after yourself. Instead of dumping everything on the counter as in the example above, put your bag away and recycle the paperwork. When you make yourself a hot drink, put away the tea or coffee once you’ve used it. When you take off your clothes in the evening, put them into the washing basket or hang them back up.
- Leave every space better than when you found it. If you walk into the bathroom and there are some towels on the floor, hang them up. If there are dirty dishes on the counter, put them in the dishwasher. Make it a game with yourself to improve things everywhere you go.
- Make sure everything has a place. When items have somewhere to live, it’s much easier to keep them organized.
DO A FEW CHORES IN ADVANCE
If you’re like me and do your housework in the weekend, try to complete a few chores before then to reduce the weekend burden.
Maybe change your sheets on a Friday morning and pop them in the washing machine before you go to work. Maybe you wash your towels during the week rather than save them for the weekend. You could even quickly vacuum some infrequently-used rooms.
5 to 10 minutes in advance can quickly add up and save you an hour or so in the weekend.
KEEP UP WITH HOME MAINTENANCE
It’s so easy to neglect home maintenance. It’s not fun to spend both money and time on keeping something in exactly the same state, after all.
But imagine you have to deal with the fallout of not having serviced your gas heater. Suddenly it won’t turn on. It’s the middle of winter. You call someone. They can’t make it there for a week.
That literally happened to me once. I had sensed there was a problem with the heater (probably because it took minutes to turn on), but I kept telling myself I would deal with it tomorrow.
When the serviceman finally came, he told me I should have had someone checking it once a year. I’d been in the house four years by this point.
I don’t make that mistake anymore!
When you purchase something, read the manual and note the maintenance requirements. Then follow them as best you can. Tomorrow’s you will thank you!
HOW TODAY’S YOU CAN HELP TOMORROW’S YOU FINANCIALLY
Just as you can help tomorrow’s you with your home, you can also help her with your money.
STICK TO A BUDGET
The first and most important thing you can do to help tomorrow’s you financially is to stick to your budget. I know it’s hard. I was a single mom for a long time with two expensive kids – at one stage my daughter was doing ballet, tap and jazz and had six or seven dance classes a week.
I had times when I stressed about how I was going to be able to afford the groceries. To make ends meet, I cut out virtually all discretionary spending. I quit all social activities that involved money. Sometimes it still wasn’t enough (hence the credit card above).
But every time the budget was blown, I learned that overspending today meant I had to give something up in the future – and who was to say that next week’s need wouldn’t be more urgent?
DON’T GO INTO DEBT TO SATISFY’S TODAY’S DESIRES
This is closely related to the point above. You would be surprised what you think you need – urgently even – that you turn out not to need at all.
I had to finance a lot of furniture and so on when I first became a mom. I learned something from that early experience—that my purchases never felt as good as they did when I paid cash.
Because money was tight, there was always anxiety around making my payments, which caused me to harbor mixed feelings towards what I had bought.
When you feel the urge to go into debt for something, write down the name of the item with the date. Check your list one month later. Do you still want it?
If you do, then start making a plan for how you can get it. But delaying gratification is a great way of sorting your real needs from your temporary wants.
PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME
For most of my bills, there’s either a prompt payment discount or a late fee. Sometimes this is 10% of the bill. Four to five bills a month paid late and you can see how it all adds up.
Look after your future budget by not wasting money on late fees. Set up direct debits, automatic payments, or try other strategies for annual bills such as and paying it off each payday.
Late bills can also affect your credit score. Leave them too long and you may have an essential service cut off.
They say money can’t buy happiness but it sure as heck can buy a lot of stress, so do what you can today to make it better for yourself tomorrow.
HOW TODAY’S YOU CAN HELP TOMORROW’S YOU WITH SELF CARE
As well as your home and your money, you should also take care of yourself, in three easy ways.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP, EAT WELL AND EXERCISE
You put gas in your car. You service it. You clean it and look after it.
So why don’t you do the same with yourself?
Your body is much more sophisticated than any machine. What you put into it has an impact. How much sleep you get has an impact. Whether you exercise or not has an impact.
You might cut out sleep to get something done. You’ll then be irritable and find it hard to concentrate.
You might scoff a block of chocolate to get a, fix. You’ll then have a sugar crash.
You might skip your workout to get more achieved. You’ll then have sky-high stress levels.
I’ve made all these mistakes before, so trust me when I say the ends don’t justify the means.
To be the best you, you need to attend to the basics.
MOVE FORWARD WITH A GOAL
As well as looking after yourself physically, you need to look after yourself psychologically. The best way to do this is to do something every day that moves you closer to a goal.
Whether it’s decluttering your linen cupboard, reading 10 pages of a book, or working on a passion project, that feeling of achievement makes you feel like your life is moving forward. You’re making progress. That’s a great feeling. What’s more, whatever you get achieved, tomorrow’s you will be grateful for.
Everything you agree to do comes with a time commitment. So when you say yes to one thing, you’re effectively saying no to something else.
We agree to do things in the future because at the time we agree, our calendars are empty and our vision of the day is one of blank openness.
But by the time we get to that day, it won’t be the case.
Before you agree to do something then, ask yourself- if I had to do this today, tomorrow, or even next week, would I still say yes?
If the answer is no, then chances are you will struggle to fit it in in the future.
So say no today and save yourself the stress.
It’s very easy to focus on the here and now and make short-term decisions that seem like good ones at the time.
But the truth is, many of the choices we make are choices for today. They have a negative impact moving forward.
We can counter this, however. Whether it’s in the home, related to our finances, or connected to how we take care of ourselves, it is possible to make decisions that help tomorrow’s you, and make for an easier, calmer life!
Katie is a wife to the world’s most supportive husband, and a mom to two adult children, who have now flown the nest. She blogs at My Sweet Home Life, where women find inspiration and motivation to organize their homes, nurture their relationships and develop themselves. She believes that with small steps daily in the right direction, anything is possible!