07 September 2011

Home Management Cheat Sheet: Everyday Essentials

Dear Lissy,
There is a universal management principle called the "80/20 law".  It has many applications, but for our particular case we want to focus on "20% of our time produces 80% of the results".  There will be many times throughout life that you have a limited amount of time or energy for home management, and it's important to know how to best spend that time.  I've already written you a letter about the 5 Most Important Household Tasks, so this cheat sheet will be based on that letter.  My intent is not to encourage you to neglect the remaining 20% -- that is often what makes a house into a home -- but to give you a "sanity preserver."

Most of these items are typically considered "weekly" tasks, but create an overwhelming load if only cared for once a week.  

Everyday Essentials:  A cheat sheet for avoiding dilemmas through daily diligence.

Nutritious meals?  It's not a bad idea to have a 3 week "emergency menu plan" for busy times.  The meals should be favorites and easy to prepare.  Bonus points if you have a shopping list to go with it!  Don't be afraid to use disposable plates, cups, and flatware if you don't have a dishwasher and the extra expense will fit in the budget. 
Kitchen Tidy?  The kitchen will only get worse if you let it go.  Take a few minutes to keep the dishes done and the counters and floors clear & clean.
Clean bathrooms?  I find a daily swipe of the sink and commode and a once-a-week tub scrub and floor cleaning is far easier than trying to clean the bathroom all at once and a lot more likely to get done.
Clean bedding?  We spend nearly a third of our life in bed, but it's easy to let the sheets get really gross.  Make it a point to change the sheets out every week even though it creates a little extra laundry.  A made bed is a preference for me, but I know many that feel very differently on that topic.
Laundry current?  This can be a real bug-a-boo when life gets hectic.  It's so much easier to throw in a load or two every day than try to save it for once a week.  Be sure to fold and put away straight out of the dryer or you'll end up with a mountain of wrinkly laundry to fold.
Clutter controlled?  Another thing that only gets worse if you let it go.  Have a couple of times each day that you buzz through the house and straighten up.  It's even better if you (and your family) can put things away as soon as you're done with them.
Household finances current?  Make sure your bills are paid on time.  Open every bill as it comes, and write the amount due on your wall calendar if you have to.

On occasions I have helped other families keep their homes running while Mom was ill or out of town.  These are the items I take care of (except bills).  It's fun to dig in and re-organize one small area that's gotten out of control, but it's much more helpful to keep the big picture under control.

A lot of emphasis is put on establishing relationships through quality time together.  A quick read through Proverbs 31 will reassure you that much of that nurturing takes the form of physically managing the environment to help your family grow and thrive.   Routines, an orderly environment, and good nutrition reduce a tremendous amount of stress and discord in the home.  To my mind, that is spending quality time.

Grace & Peace,

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