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Simple Saving Savvy: Intentional Housekeeping: Part I - Setting Up Ground Rules

Simple Saving Savvy

Practicing Wise Stewardship & Blessing Others Out of Our Abundance

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Intentional Housekeeping: Part I - Setting Up Ground Rules

Over the next few weeks we will look at ways to de-stress our lives by living intentionally through organization in the home, from drawers to calendars to meal plans...and whatever falls in between.

I don't know about you but I just feel better when I take the time to live intentionally.

I have found, as I'm sure you have, that I am in a much better place to serve my family and others when I have a plan. When things are getting done and I'm not rushing around just trying to keep up.

To be productive, effective and stress-free, I must have "systems" in place to combat the chaos. I must have a plan!

In my personal experience, this starts with the state of my home. If my home is cluttered, my mind feels cluttered. If I can't find what I need, I feel frustrated which bogs down my mind even more. If I don't set the example of order for my family...well, I think we all know where this is going.

And most surprisingly, I find it easier to be spontaneous and enjoy my family when I plan ahead. Who woulda thought it?

Now lest you think I am an obsessive compulsive organizer or a clean freak, I have to confess this is not the case. On any given day, you can find my floors in need of sweeping, my kitchen counters cluttered, clean laundry spread out all over the couches (I don't have a laundry room), a "to do" list a mile long and don't forget the thin layer of dust covering the bookshelves.

But no matter how crazy life gets (barring a natural disaster or something of the like) I know there's always a light at the end of the tunnel because I've set up a few systems or in other words, I've laid a few ground rules.

Rule #1 - Everything Must Have a Home

Everything in my home has a spot where it belongs. If it doesn't, I give myself two options: either find it a home or get rid of it.

If I can't find a suitable home for something I own, then that means I have no place to put it when I clean. So I am either stressing over where to put things or I am juggling things from one place to another which just adds to the clutter.

In my house, there are very few things that I just don't know what to do with. Everything has a place. So when it comes time to take control of the chaos, I start first with the simple task of putting things away...WHERE THEY GO! Then there's just the basic cleaning to do and VOILA!, we're done! And the great thing about this? The kids learn where everything goes and they can help! Then hopefully it will carry over to their bedrooms!

Rule #2 - "Touch It Once"

Instead of leaving clothes on the bed or laying jewelry on the dresser or kicking shoes off in the living room, I try to remind myself to touch it only once by putting it away now. I am still training myself in this rule but I'm doing a much better job than I used to and I feel much more on top of things as a result.

It really does cut stress and save time in the long run.

I've started to try to train my kids to do this. The jury's still out on that one.

Rule #3 - Use Available Labor Sources


Since I am a SAHM and since my husband works 10-12 hour, physically and mentally exhausting days in every kind of weather, I really try to stay away from asking him to do too much around the house. In my opinion, this is my full time job. Besides, he takes care of the outside which is quite labor intensive and time consuming. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't ask a favor here and there. And I have found that my husband (mostly) really does want to help me, he just doesn't anticipate how.

So here's what I do. If I see my husband heading out to the garage and I know the trash is full, I kindly say, "honey, would you do me a big favor and take the trash with you on the way?". He usually complies without so much as blinking an eye. And then you know what happens? I find that he is randomly taking out the trash when it needs it...WITHOUT being asked!

I've also tried this with clearing the table. There have been many times when I have to run somewhere while the family is still eating or if I have an evening engagement. When I come home, I find all the plates have been strewn across the counter and all the serving dishes are still right where I put them...on the table. So I kindly said to hubby, "I don't expect you to clean the kitchen, but when I have to be gone during the evening, it would be such a big help if you could stack the dishes and put away leftovers. It's such a relief for me not to have to come home and do it".

A couple of nights ago I taught a coupon class so put dinner on the table and headed out the door. When I arrived home, the dinner plates were neatly stacked and the table was cleared. What a guy!

Of course, not ALL husbands are my hubby. But I think you'll find that most are willing to help if pointed in the right direction with the right words and and an attitude of gratefulness.

Our children are never too young to start learning to help. And I think most mothers find that the earlier they teach their children about helping and responsibility around the house, the easier it is to transition into elementary and later, middle school and high school years.

Around here we call it "being a responsible member of the family" or "pulling your weight". It is every one's responsibility to help out so that the household operations run smoothly. It is every one's responsibility to do so with a willing and cheerful spirit.

This rule can be very difficult to incorporate if you are like me...a "works alone" type person. I just figure it's easier for me to get it done myself, the way I like it than to have to try to teach, train and sometimes redo what my kids do. However, this is a HUGE disservice to my children for two reasons. One, I am depriving them of the blessings that come from hard work and serving and two, I am not teaching them survival skills for life.

So, I allow my children to help me. And as they get older, and more efficient, I am finding that at times they are lifesavers.

We can whip through the house in a short couple of hours and be done. They fold/hang laundry, clean their bathroom, vacuum, dust, take out the trash, sweep the porches, sidewalk and garage, vacuum and dust the van, water plants, sweep & sometimes mop floors. And they regularly put all their own clothes away and keep their rooms clean.

If they grow up with this, they just consider it the normal way to do life. In fact, the other day I told my 8 year-old daughter that I had one more chore for her before she had free time...clean your room. She matter of factly said, "mom, that's not really a chore". There are certain basic responsibilities we require of our children outside of the chores they are asked to do...she knew that one of these is keeping her room clean.

Next week I'll show you some areas in my home I've organized with very little effort or expense. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what kind of "systems" you have in place for conquering the chaos.



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