It’s the beginning of the school year again and that means adjusting to new schedules, ever growing to do lists, and a fresh realization that there are simply not enough hours in the day. Between school schedules, kids homework, activities, maintaining a house, feeding everyone and – oh yeah – time for yourself, this time of year always includes a heavy load. In such a time as this, maintaining a home can understandably quickly fall to the bottom of the priority list. On the other hand, it can be beneficial to have everyone’s “home base” functioning as smoothly as possible so as to be an escape from the sudden demands the world is placing on them. While it may not be the number one priority on your list, keeping up with the home can be broken down into bite sized pieces so that everything still gets done.
Below is an excerpt from a previous article entitled “Is There Any Such Thing As A Stay At Home Mom?” that discusses the nitty gritty task of organizing housework.
Here are a few tips for managing housework and getting organized.
1. Make a list of everything that needs to be done in your house to manage it. Cover everything from daily tasks to seasonal requirements. For instance, picking up the kids toys, doing the dishes, laundry, bathrooms, cleaning the cars, dusting, sweeping the garage, vacuum / mop, cleaning the kitchen appliances, monthly window washing, mowing the lawn, sprinkler blowout once a year, aeration, etc. Leave nothing out.
2. Divide the list into things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal.
3. Assign a day of the week to a task. For example:
Wednesday: Clean cars
Thursday: Vacuup / mop
Friday: A monthly chore
Saturday: A seasonal chore
4. List your daily tasks. Daily tasks should be things that you personally feel make your house feel in order. For instance, making the bed makes a room seem much cleaner since it takes up most of the space in many rooms. Making the bed only takes a couple minutes every morning, so it’s as easy thing to do. If you feel that you are in order with a clean kitchen, your daily tasks should revolve around making sure the dishes are cleaned every night and the counters wiped down. That way you start breakfast in a clean kitchen the next morning and are already ahead of the game. If you feel out of control with the kid’s toys, have them picked up every night before they go to bed as a night time routine. A simple way to do this is with a spare laundry basket.
5. Make it a habit of getting your daily tasks, including your day of the week task, in two hours or less. Once those are done, STOP wherever you are in your work.
This should help ease some stress about housework. If you wake up to a laundry list of things to do (pun intended) and no plan for when they are going to get done, its very easy to get overwhelmed. Feeling like you have to do everything every day IS overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. If you wake up on Friday to a pile of dirty clothes, it’s ok because you know that Monday is laundry day. It will get done then so you can scratch it off your list for the day. If you wake up on Saturday and the bathroom mirror has been smeared with children’s fingers or sprayed with hairspray, don’t bother with it if you don’t want to. It’s Tuesday’s task. It will get done. You “to do list” becomes your “ignore list” and you can focus on what’s more important!
In the meantime, you stay on top of your priority “the house feels clean when I do this” task daily, and you may maintain some sense of control. Certainly there is no right way for everybody. Families are not “one-size-fits-all.” But anything a mom can do to simplify her schedule and maintain her sanity a bit can only be helpful!
While it is nice to be organized and helpful for a sense of control, remember that it is still ok to ask for help. Never be too proud to ask for help.
There are ways to ask for help without feeling burdensome on the person you are asking. For instance, moms with small children can connect and help each other out. Find someone that has children who are a similar age as yours. Commit to get together once a week and help each other with housework while the children play. Switch homes from week to week. You get the added benefit of an extra pair of eyes to watch the children – and an adult to talk with to boot!
If however, like most people you constantly feel like you are always a step or two behind on the housework, it may be worth it to hire someone to come in once a week. Find a high school or college kid that wants to make a few extra bucks and hire them for $9-$10 an hour to come in once a week for a few hours to help you out. Each week may be the same tasks for your hired help, or you may make a list of those things that are piling up on your to do list that you know you wont get to. For $30 / week once a week or every other week, you can get some reprieve from the ever growing to do list.
Someday there will be some semblance of equilibrium that returns to the household. Probably when the children are grown and gone. In the meantime, maintenance is key.