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Managing It All

You've heard of a store manager, a business manager, a floor manager. Management is not for the weak. Other people look to you for guidance, direction and example. They count on you to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently and to get the job done.

Every mother knows that home management is the most difficult management job on the planet. For it touches every aspect of life and makes life itself possible. And it's not just about organizing every aspect of your home and family so that all of the working parts create a working whole, but it also embraces beyond the physical to meeting social and emotional needs as well. For in home management, you aren't simply creating an end product, but a functional, adjusted, independent human being (or beings). Home management extends to the healthy relationships between those in the home, and seeks to provide the very best environment for those relationships to thrive.

Jessica Fisher (Life as a Mom) often asks herself "How can I make my family’s life at home the best it can be?" because she knows that "How I manage our home has a direct impact on their well-being and making this a soft place to land when life outside goes off the rails."

Following are her ideas from this article, where she outlines some of the things she has learned in 20+ years of being a home-manager:

Prioritize People over Things Good home management involves relationships, first and foremost. My husband and children are more important than whether or not the dishes get washed and put away promptly after every meal. My attitude towards my people has a bigger impact than if we have neat and tidy kitchen cupboards.

  • If a family member or friend has an emergency, then caring for them trumps teaching a math lesson or cleaning my toilets.

  • If a child wants to help with the baking, whenever possible, include them.

  • If someone needs to talk through a problem, then that’s more important than his or her getting chores done on time.

People are more important than things. That said….

Put Order into Chaos If I’ve got chaos everywhere I turn, I can’t think straight and am tempted to be impatient; all this puts a strain on my relationships. See point #1. Having things in order, establishing a home management system, and getting the family on board all work together to make home life much more enjoyable — for everyone. When the kids are keeping up with their schoolwork and regularly tackling their chores, when I have my head on straight or at least have a meal plan, when I spend time keeping our home organized, we all do better. What are typical home management tasks?

  • meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation

  • laundry and clothes shopping

  • household chores (such as cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms, washing dishes, general maintenance and upkeep as well as spring cleaning)

  • teaching and delegating chores to other members of the household

  • childcare, educational support, and transportation to activities

  • running errands (shopping, school drop-off, etc.)

  • stocking household supplies and equipment

All that, plus any hobbies and personal pursuits can feel overwhelming. Managing it means putting it in order and developing systems that work for you.

If you’re the family organizer, then you need to keep all this information in one place. It might be a bulletin board command center or something easily portable like a binder. A home management binder or personal planner can be invaluable in tracking all the things, especially when it comes to managing a household of many children and all the different schedules.

Play the long game. Good home management requires having a vision for how you want things to be in the future as well as the here and now. Most good things take some planning and prioritizing. Some things you can change today, others, like teaching kids certain cleaning routines, take a little finessing over time.

Make Daily Planning a Habit. Good home management takes some daily planning. Time management is your friend in running a home, especially if you work or homeschool full time. So think about having a list of some sort to work from. Writing it down can help you to remember what needs doing. I grab action items or systems I’m working on from the monthly list to the weekly list, and then each day, I create a small to do list, pulling a few items from the weekly list of tasks and projects.

Not all of life happens on paper, of course, but I’ve found that different lists help me keep track of the different things I need to manage in my home.

Always Keep Learning If you want an organized home with a family, you need to be ready to pivot. The seasons of life will take you in different directions. Your meal planning system that worked like clockwork when the kids were little may likely need some tweaking as they get older. Your methods of managing your time and scheduling your day will need to shift as your family life evolves. Be ready to try new things.

Kids grow and change, as do their habits, skills, and personalities. Develop their household management skills as you grow your own. Give them responsibilities and be willing to learn from them as well as from other adults. Some great household management books I’ve benefited from include:

  • The Lazy Genius Way – like Atomic Habits, but specifically written for moms

  • The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

  • The Hidden Art of Homemaking

Tools to Use Whether you have a full fledged household management binder or use a little of this or a little of that, there are plenty of easy tools and simple tips you can use to organize home stuff.

  • The Motivated Moms app helps in organizing cleaning tasks and help gets the family on a cleaning routine.

  • I use Google Docs to prepare a schedule for the kids of daily house chores and kitchen jobs.

  • As a working mom, I use Amazon Subscribe & Save to make sure we don’t run out of the necessities, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

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