Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Household Organizing

I was asked about this topic, so I decided to write a post what I did. So, here goes:

Get ONE calendar for your family. One place for everything means that everyone is on the same page about what is going on, where, and with whom.

I used a calendar that was 20"x30"; each daily square was about the size of an index card. EVERYTHING went there; appointments, playdates, church functions, hanging out, and anything that happened that was noteworthy was noted on the calendar - like how many eggs we collected, when one of the dogs died, or when we changed the water filter (Because, six months later, those details are fuzzy.) I kept mine on a wall in the kitchen, because everyone would see it there.

[Calendar Link: https://www.amazon.com/AT-GLANCE-Monthly-Calendar-Wirebound/dp/B07CZL6XVY/ref=lav-20
I have bought it at the list price, and while expensive, worth every penny. This price is much better :-)]

The second thing is for everyone to develop the habit to LOOK at the calendar before planning to do ANYTHING. If DH wants to go hang out with friends, if he looks at the calendar, he'll realize that Child#2 needs to be picked up from the orthodontist before he leaves (fake example).

If someone wants to plan something, the rule is they have to a) check the calendar, and b) put their stuff on the calendar, or it doesn't happen. And if you forgot? Well, what's on the calendar is what we're going with. The calendar is the final arbiter.

Next, write down ALL the things that need to get done to keep the household running smoothly - this includes things like changing the central heat and air filters, cleaning out the car, etc. Every chore gets assigned to someone.

If they don't know how to do it, they get taught how. I used to rotate the chores, because that way, everyone is cross-trained, and everyone develops empathy. It's easy to leave your dirty cups and stuff laying around when it's not your job; after you've been the recipient of others' thoughtlessness, you pack out your own junk to where it belongs (it mostly worked with my kids). This goes on the calendar, too.

Meals, I never did true meal planning; I kept a full pantry/fridge/freezer, and decided on meals based on what was happening the next day. For example, since we eat oatmeal for breakfast, I would put the fixings in the crockpot (Bubba Gump style), and start it on low the night before. When people woke up, they served themselves, because there was something ready to eat (this let me sleep a little later). Any breakfast casserole recipe will work. If you have a meal planning routine, insert that here.  

What I did:
When I started my day, I began lunch preparations (remember, breakfast is in the crockpot from the night before). Once lunch was simmering, I started dinner. When I was doing all the housework myself (I cross-trained everyone - so I didn't do it for long), I would be finished with housework by 1:00pm; then I took a nap. If I knew that we were going to an evening function, and had to bring something, what I prepared was something that could travel. Leftovers were wrapped and put in the freezer.

Now, when I was working, I leaned heavily on crockpots, (we didn't eat a lot of prepared food - too expensive) and I prepared stuff the night before - clothes, shoes, papers, food (lunches, water, and snacks).

Laundry:
Got done every day. No hampers anywhere; you packed out your dirty laundry to the laundry room when you took it off. I put laundry in the machine the night before, filled it with water and soap/treatments, and let it sit overnight (the dirty/stinky stuff, if there was more than one load).

When I got up, I started the machine, and SET A TIMER - rewashing stuff because you forgot and it turned sour gets real old, real fast. Moved the wash to the dryer when the timer went off, repeat. I folded laundry while talking to children, or watching something, while the food was cooking. Letting the laundry sit for more than one day meant you got to scale Mount Washmore - not a job for the faint hearted; it made the labor of Sisyphus look like a cakewalk.

If I was working, I'd run the machine when I went to bed, and put clothing in the dryer when I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (stay on top of cleaning those dryer filters and vents!!), and if I sat down at all during the day, or watched TV, I'd fold. If there wasn't time for that, well, there was a pile of clean laundry to go through to get what you needed, and we'd catch up later (But, if you do the laundry daily, it even the clean laundry doesn't turn into a mountain).

Based on activities, clothing was selected at the beginning of the week, folded, and set aside per person (when I had a houseful of smaller children - as they got older, they dealt with that themselves).

Now that I have older children, everyone has a day where they do their own laundry - I don't think it works as well, but I don't do anyone's laundry but my own now, so 🤷🏾‍♀️.

Vehicle:

I gassed up the car before I came home from wherever I was during the day (I hate with the passion of a thousand suns having to gas up at o'dark thirty because I was tired the night before!), and when the gas was pumping, I cleaned any trash out of the car, wiped up/down messes, cleaned the windshield, and re-organized (if necessary). If children were in the car, they did that bit, since they usually were the ones that made the mess. If there was time, I ran the vehicle through the car wash (it's not perfect, but it kept the children from writing 'wash me' on the back of the van, lol), and sometimes, in the summer, the kids would wash the van (it was an excuse to spray one another with water, and the van got cleaned too).

Once everyone was on board and cross-trained, I didn't have to do much more than supervise, mediate, and inspect the work, and pitch in to help when there was illness, or someone was out of town. I was still in charge of maintaining the pantry, household supplies and tools, maintaining the house and vehicle, doing the grocery shopping, and driving everyone around to where they needed to go - and now, everyone except the two youngest has access to a car/has a license, so I don't have to do so much of that!

And it goes without saying, to take what you need, leave the rest, and modify it to suit your families' preferences and inclinations. Please share anything that helped you organize your household!


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