Here are some tips for getting organised with the housework. Even if some of these tips work they will make life easier for you, and make it possible for you to get on with more enjoyable or more important things in your life.
Reduce the frequency of your shopping expeditions. Keep a list of what you need on the refrigerator, or somewhere in the kitchen. This way you can add whatever you have run out of. For greater efficiency write the shopping list in logical parts, for example write all the fruit and vegetable requirements together, and each of the cooking, cleaning, cat and dog or food components separately. Some supermarkets keep lists on the aisle corners and you could probably get a copy. That way you could list your shopping according to the aisles. This should save you going up and down aisles looking for your item.
Some people may like to shop online and have their shopping delivered. This of course comes at extra cost, but would probably save you time.
Do your shopping when the crowds are less, moving around quickly with your prepared list, and not stopping to talk to anyone.
Prepare your food ahead of time and freeze into smaller amounts which can be easily defrosted and reheated. Introduce lots of salads and fresh fruit to save you cooking time. It’s also more healthy for you too.
Get your partner or adult children living at home to ring you when they are leaving their workplace. You can then schedule dinner more accurately and save time. If this doesn’t work and they always come home late and dribble in at all hours just keep their portions and they can reheat them as required when they do arrive home. Encourage them to be thoughtful of your time.
Keeping things tidy
Keep your things organised and tidy and know where everything is, that way you don’t spend valuable time hunting all over for an item. Encourage others in your family to do the same. If they continually lose their things let them spend the time finding them as it’s their responsibility, not yours. This will teach them to be more methodical – hopefully! Nothing more frustrating than everyone running around looking for someone’s locker or car keys, especially if you are already running a bit late.
Saving more time
If you must watch television try and limit yourself to a few special shows, and organise to do the ironing, sewing, mending or exercising while watching TV or listening to your favourite music. You could also even use this time, or the time when the advertisements are on to run around and tidy up, or do some small jobs. Acknowledge that watching TV is a big time waster, especially if you watch it in the daytime.
Talking on the ‘phone for hours with friends or family can be very time consuming. Try and limit calls to a reasonable time, and reduce the number of calls. Use an answering machine so you can screen calls, and return them at a time that suits you.
Reading stuff online and looking at your emails several times during the day can be extremely time wasting. Try and group these activities together, for example email reading, and be more efficient in dealing with these.
Do a large load of washing rather than several small loads unless there is a special reason for doing so, for example coloured fabric which may run into whites.
Don’t iron anything like tea towels, sheets, towels, or underwear unless you really need to. Providing all the washing is dry, fold everything when you take it off the clothes line or out of the clothes dryer. Put away immediately. Get family members to put their dirty clothes in the washing basket before washing day to save you going to all the bedrooms and hunting for soiled clothes to wash. A consequence of not doing this is that they don’t get their washing done.
Warning! If your family is not accustomed to doing this you will have to talk to them about the change in routine and give them some time to change their habits. When they have had enough time and reminders to change and they continue to leave their dirty clothes on the floor in their bedrooms, then they must learn to take the consequences – no clean clothes! This includes partner too. If you don’t enforce the consequences reasonably, then they will be back to their old tricks in no time, with you being the servant again.
If you are on a holiday and if it is possible, do your washing and drying on the final day and bag each family member’s clean clothing. That way when you arrive home, tired and hassled you don’t have to face a mountain of washing. Each person of course takes their bag and puts away their own clean washing in drawers and cupboards. This teaches them 1) that Mum doesn’t have to do everything, and 2) they can be responsible and cooperative.
Try and handle papers, e.g., bills, letters or things you are working on just the once. Deal with a task once, and then file it if necessary, or bin it. Keep paper organised, it has a habit of mounting up and concealing what you may be looking for – very frustrating.
Pay all of your bills together, maybe setting aside some time each week, for example on a Friday night.
Keep a file for each member of the family. Keep their medical, school, insurance, birth certificates and other details in chronological order in this file. Keep passports in a secure place.
Delegate jobs to family members.
Discuss this concept with them first, especially if they have not been used to helping you. Name the person delegated to a task. Asking “would someone put the bin out” is vague and unsatisfactory. Asking Derek to put the bin out on Friday night is much better.
Do you know anyone with the name of “someone”?
Even 2-3 year olds can help pick up their toys and put them away. If there is no cooperation here, then they must learn that the “toy collector” comes around late at night and puts all toys left lying on the floor into a box. Small children don’t get the toys back for a day or a half a day as a consequence of not helping. (Learn to handle tantrums!)
After discussion about a new way of doing things, with adults (partner or kids) refuse to pick up any of their things which they have left lying around. Place all on a big box. When they ask where this or that may be suggest that they look in the box to find it. If they don’t like their clothing all crumpled up you can point out that they can hang it up or put it away themselves. Also point out that any dirty clothing in this box won’t be washed until it is placed in the laundry basket before washing day.
Refuse to grovel around under beds for dirty clothing. Make it a rule that each person who is old enough to understand must put their dirty clothing in the laundry basket by Thursday or whatever day you do your washing.
You must not relent when making new rules otherwise you will be back where you started because you have probably spoiled your family and they will continue to take advantage of you.
Getting everyone organised
Make a weekly/daily plan of the household activities so that it is quite clear to all what is expected of them, and you. This is especially important if they expect you to transport them here and there. They must give you enough notice of this unless it is a known regular weekly activity. Write everything down in a communications book (large and clear). Note any tight squeezes – refuse to do the impossible and learn to negotiate.
Keep the communication book in a prominent and known place where it can be used for all to write down where they are going, and when they are coming back, and whether they want to be picked up, have dinner etc. Encourage them to clarify and talk about this with you especially if it involves you in anything spectacular which you hadn’t bargained for! Don’t accept weak excuses that they “forgot”. This regime is not meant to be controlling but to smarten everyone up, including you, to get more organised. If certain people are often “forgetful” then think of a consequence for this unhelpful habit – for example, they don’t get you to take them to their friend’s place.
Remember if you have never been an organised person, and your family has never been organised then you have to be kind to yourself and to others while they grow accustomed to being organised. Being kind doesn’t mean letting go of your aim of having an organised household.
You will get opposition of course because others have grown used to things being disorganised and getting their own way with you doing everything for them.
Just stick to your plan and sweetly smile and point out the consequences of them not being organised – which they have chosen to be.
Keep one household diary for appointments, lessons, payment of school fees, school or extra curricular activities or holidays.
I keep a weekly running list in the bathroom where I see it first thing in the morning. Then I may have a daily running list if I am very busy and likely to forget something. This list may have the time of the event I have to attend, plus the time I must leave in order to be there in time to park the car, and get to the venue.
You may be able to organise a car pool for transporting kids to school or to classes or sporting activities. You may also be able to organise a babysitter pool also. However you do need to know who the others in the car or babysitting pool are and whether they are safe, responsible, and reliable to leave your children with. If you have any doubts or reservations about any person then don’t trust your children with them.
Keep a file on all household appliances with all receipts and information about where to get servicing. Also keep a file on any jobs done by handymen or service personnel so you can quickly contact them if you need a similar job done. Of course don’t contact people who have been unsatisfactory in any way.
Get accustomed to having a less than perfect house.
Get your garden into a low-cost, low-care type. Get the family members to help in garden tasks also. If possible transform your house into an easy care style.
Get hired help in if you need to and can afford to do this. Keep a roster of maintenance jobs, for example when the outside of the house may need painting, windows cleaned, or large garden work done. Ask around to find out about the best and least expensive tradesmen. Schedule these large jobs in an intelligent way to suit your family needs.
Get the older children to prepare their own lunches. This could be done the night before, with lunches being packed and put into the refrigerator to take in the morning.
Get your partner to prepare the lunches, or help with the dishes. Acknowlege that both children and partner may need training!
Keep your house clear of clutter. Throw out unwanted clothing or articles, and recycle where necessary. Avoid throwing out any precious toys without consulting the owner. These if not wanted anymore can be given to another family who may love to have them, or the local opportunity shop.
Encourage everyone in the house to keep things in their place so time won’t be wasted looking for items. If you hear your adolescent son wailing about his lost locker key you can remind him that it will be where he left it. Don’t go and find it for him because that is what he wants. He wants you to be his servant, much like all the others. Point out that this is not on!
With consequences, these must be appropriate for the age of the child or person, must register with them that it is a consequence that they would rather avoid by doing the right thing, and not be cruel or unkind.
Estimate how long it will take you to clean the house (especially if no-one is helping you). Stick to the cleaning schedule. Put the phone on answer and avoid interruptions.
Best of luck!
© Kathleen Crawford 2016.