Running a tight ship at home

One of my friends recently posted on a mummy group on Facebook a question about house spouse science. Specifically: she asked stay-at-home parents who run a tight ship financially and organisationally for ideas and tips and plans about how they do it. The reason behind wanting this was simple and, I think, excellent: to have mundane things in order so that lots of fun can happen in between, a life that has the boring stuff sorted with absolutely no thought so that you can have time to do the things you enjoy.

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Helping your home to not look like this.

The range of responses was really interesting, from really strict to pretty lax…

  • A rough weekly plan with jobs that need to get done, but no set day or time for them;
  • Toddler schedules and activities fitting around that;
  • Book recommendations including ‘Organised Simplicity’;
  • Meal plans, especially to help with money planning;
  • Celebrating and congratulating ourselves on things we do well;
  • Shared Google or wall calendar;
  • Always having an online grocery shop order open, to which you can add when needed;
  • Following the KonMari method for organising and tidying;
  • Electronic to-do boards which allow dragging items from one day to the next if they don’t get done;
  • Having a cleaning schedule;
  • Using the slow cooker so meals are low-labour and everyone can eat when it suits them;
  • Getting a cleaner;
  • A spreadsheet with hours on rows and children on columns, with colour-coded activities (red for essentials like school runs, orange for should-do like swimming lessons, green for flexible like baby group), plus a blank column for random jobs like go to the post office;
  • Pre-sorting laundry into three hampers (darks, lights, whites) then washing the fullest basket each day;
  • Putting tasks like DIY tasks on the calendar as well as events;
  • Not having lots of ornaments to dust and care for;
  • Cleaning as you go and not letting things pile up;
  • Clean up during TV adverts;
  • ‘Don’t put it down, put it away’;
  • Free or cheap outings, picnics, libraries, museum, beach;
  • Paying¬†someone else to do your ironing;
  • Laundry corner, a box for clean laundry for each person, when full it gets put away;
  • A whiteboard for writing to do lists;
  • A post-it task wall;
  • Using a paper diary instead of or in addition to electronic calendar.

Now, some of these spoke to and inspired me, others didn’t. Some weren’t feasible (we can’t afford a cleaner or to pay someone to do our ironing). Some we already do (free outings, shared calendar, meal plans). But I found it amazing and wonderful how many different ways there are to achieve the same thing.

Coming up next: How I keep my ship ship-shape.

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