The Challenge of Home Management

by Janet Russell

When I became a stay-at-home mom after 15 years in the workforce, I quickly became overwhelmed by disorganization and inefficiency at home versus how I used to be in the workplace. As a full time working mother for several years, my time management skills at work were fully honed! I was able to stay on top of things that required my attention. Nevertheless, this didn't prepare me for being a full time stay-at-home mom. After two or three months of frustration at my inability to "keep my home," I realized that what I needed was some "structure." But my challenge was, I didn't even know where to start! I did not naturally gravitate towards what needed to be done. Instead, I rationalized my reluctance to do housekeeping by citing all the other demands on my time--my children, my other interests, and my other commitments.

My journey towards finding and incorporating "structure" into my day begins with my involvement on an email list for stay-at-home moms. I was happy to see that there were others like me! Perhaps the most heartening thing that I found was that some moms had actually begun to master home management in such a way that they had time for other things that were important to them! That was my goal as well. I'd like to share with you some things that are working well for me. My husband marvels at how much I am able to accomplish and still have bits of time left over. I was just glad to find that there's nothing "magical" about being able to get things done, you simply have to have a plan and a system. Here's mine:

  1. The first thing I do in the morning is make my bed. Sounds simple, but I never used to make our beds! It acts as a signal to me that my day has begun. If you're already in the habit of making your bed, I give you permission to laugh along with me at how long it took me to figure out that this is a "natural" way to start my day!
  2. I tackle my "daily" chores. I have a short list of daily chores that I can do quickly first thing in the morning. Mentally, I "earn" free time by completing my assigned chores. If you have children, "train" them to do their own assigned chores. Delegate tasks that are age-appropriate so that you have helpers who are cooperating with you throughout the day instead of undoing all your work.
  3. I tackle any scheduled chores. That is, I have a list of recurring chores that I do weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, for example. Those are already prescheduled on a planner and I just check them off as I do them each day. Initially, it took some time to set up and there are many ways to accomplish something similar. I was lucky to have found (through an online friend and now business partner) help in setting this up!
  4. I trimmed any outside commitments so that I was only involved in what is truly important to me. I could have easily become involved with many things that were competing for my attention, and I am glad there are resources for me if I ever want to "network" with other moms. But once I became aware of what needed to be done in my own home, it was easier to say, "No" to outside commitments.
  5. When my plan was in place and I had "order" to my day, I was able to set goals for our family time. When I began to consider the idea of homeschooling my daughter, I realized that I could do that with minimal interruption to the schedule I already had in place.

I challenge you to look at methods for organizing your home and time so that things run smoothly. Your family will thrive, you will be less frustrated, and you will have time for what it is most important to you!

Copyright 1999 Janet Russell
Article Reprinted with Permission

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