Monday, April 16, 2012

More Effective Homemaking

"She who is the mother and housekeeper in a large family is the sovereign of an empire, demanding more varied cares, and involving more difficult duties, than are really exacted of her who wears a crown and professedly regulates the interests of the greatest nation on earth."
--The American Woman's Home, 1869

Running a household is not for the faint of heart! And since so many women raised in recent generations received little to no training in homemaking skills, we really do have our work cut out for us! (For more on the subject, check out this series of OFM posts.)

I have found that greeting each day with a plan-- even a loose one-- can help any homemaker face her duties with peace and encouragement. I have come up with a list of housekeeping tips that have helped me over the years. Of course, I am not perfect at every one of these every day, but they really have helped the chaos that sometimes encroaches on our home.

So without further ado, here is my list of the homemaking guidelines that have best helped me in my household duties:
  • Wake up at least half an hour before my children. This is an area that I could do much better in-- especially when I'm pregnant. But when I meet this goal, my house runs smoother, the messes are easier to maintain, and my children are happier. I am going to go back to this habit right away!
  • Delegate, delegate, DELEGATE! Our children need to learn life skills in order to be successful adults. And the only place for them to learn those skills is in the home! Not only do assigned chores take much of the load off of moms, they also empower the children doing them. When a child contributes to his or her home in a meaningful way, they feel how much they are needed by the other members of their family. This is a subject for which I have a lot of passion-- you can check out my posts on teaching kids to clean here and how to cook here.
  •  Planning ahead is the key to keeping an organized schedule. When I check my calendar every night before bed, I am better prepared for the day ahead. I like to use Google Calendar, simply because we can see all the upcoming schedules and appointments for each one of us in the family. And when my daughters and I pre-plan our Menu, we avoid the frustration of trying to figure out the age-old question of "What's for breakfast/lunch/dinner?" We plan our menus every Saturday morning before I go shopping. Sometimes, if I'm very organized, we plan a two week menu. But even planning for one week makes every day run more smoothly!
  • Use "Quick Pick-Ups" throughout the day. My favorite times for quick cleaning blitzes are just before my husband gets home from work, and just before bedtime. Our husbands are so encouraged after a long day's work to come home to a clean house. It doesn't have to look perfectly-scrubbed or pristine-- just tidied up from the events of a busy day at home. It's a kind, little gesture that can show the head of the household how much we care for him. And it also shows our children how much we love and respect our husbands and appreciate all they do for us. When we do a clean sweep at bedtime, we all get the advantage of a hopeful, tidy home in which to wake up!
  •  Find and implement the systems that work best for YOUR home and family. The same systems will not work the same for every family. Or even be effective for the same family over the years as situations or dynamics change! Laundry, especially, needs a system that will work differently for each family. There are many systems out there, from scheduling a laundry day once a week, to doing a certain amount of loads every day. Just search out a system that works for you and your family right now, and don't be afraid to adjust it as needed.

 I'd love to hear about the housekeeping tips that have worked best for you! What homemaking advice would you like to share? Please comment below. I look forward to hearing what has helped you nurture your home and family.

I wish you all the best in your homemaking efforts!



  1. First, I really hope that pin is not causing you undue stress, and know that I was joking along with you...stinking electronic media needs actual person speak or something! :)

    I love this post. Pretty much 100% agree with all of them. As homeschoolers as well, that ballance is especially important.

    One of my "tricks" to keep our house running smoothly is to consult with our kids. I think that often our children are left out of important Family changing decisions and that makes the divide happen. When I want our kids to support and do something, I find that the best way is to consult with them. Checking to see if they are willing to do or be someone or something FIRST before it becomes accepted family practice is always a good thing here. We have even gone so far as to hold family councils where we talk about family goals and expectations. :)

  2. So many good ideas! Thanks for sharing. I taught our children that they have morning and night work: morning work is making their beds, putting pj's away and grooming to get ready for the day. Night work is picking up their room from the activities of the day (so they can start fresh the next), putting their clothes away and grooming to clean up from the day. Those become habits that train them to be orderly. What is interesting is that they never quite live it fully until they leave home and are on their own. Positive habits and routines go a long way to maintaining an orderly home.

  3. Great ideas. One thing that has blessed our family is early bedtimes. It makes all the other things easier when we get enough sleep and I get some quiet time in the evenings. :)

  4. These tips are just what I needed today. I'm so terrible at waking up before my kids—I rarely beat them. Gotta work on that!

    I like the quick pick-up idea too. Lately I've been trying to get our home's default to clean, instead of moderately messy. It's getting there slowly. I've noticed that my kids are more bothered by messes if it's usually clean, and therefore more willing to help pick up.

  5. I find that trying to get the really important chores done by noon really helps me when I hit that 3:00 brick wall. If I start out in work mode during my most energetic part of the day, I can cut myself some slack after lunch and enjoy the rest of the day easier. Also a tip from my mother: wrap up anything I am involved in by 4:00 and get the quick clean-up done and start dinner so I have plenty of time to not feel rushed with dinner prep. It has really helped me a ton recently!

  6. I really like this post and am enjoying reading everyone's comments, as well.

    We also do morning routine and evening routines here. That's one big plus of homeschooling for us. It allows us to have the relaxed time we need to get going in the morning and wind down at nighttime.

    As the oldest daughter of 8, I have a lot of memories of doing a majority of the housework while my brothers (all 5 of 'em!) played. In our family, I have three boys in a row and I consider it a priority to include them in housework. It's doing them a well as their future wives!

    Even young children (ages 4 and up) can do *something*, I have found. Our 4 and 7 year old work together to put away the clean silverware while their older brother puts away the clean dishes and cups. Even just having the dishwasher unloaded daily takes a big burden off Mom and helps the kids develop good habits.

    Last: I love how our laundry system has evolved over the years. I'll share just in case someone else may find it helpful, too :0)

    With more bodies (6 here), hence more clothing and towels, doing it all in one day a week became a giant burden, and once caught up, I was behind again, and discouraged and worn out. I do two loads per day now, switching them to dryer in the morning and putting away at nighttime. (Kids put theirs away, when I take time to remind them)

    All laundry is sorted *before* it hits the laundry room. SO much EASIER! I have 3 baskets in my bathroom: one for all towels, one for whites and one for darks (me and my husband); one basket for baby and toddler clothing (one load); one basket for boys' clothes in their room (one load); one basket for dirty kitchen towels in the laundry area; and another load is for cloth diapers, when we are using them. Whatever basket is full of dirty things that day is the one that gets washed, or if someone is running out of clean underwear ;) The rotation works pretty well that way, I have been surprised to find.

    Also: I fold each load straight out of the dryer, almost always, and place it in baskets. That took a while to adjust to, it felt like "too much work" at first (tempting to just "fold later"...), but it actually takes less time than waiting. That way, if that basket can't get put way the same day, or next, the clothing actually is not wrinkled and can be taken right from and basket and be worn. (Just make sure to keep it up high so all that work isn't in vain when the toddler runs by, wink) It's already sorted, too, to go to the "right" room. It makes sense to me and has really made things flow smoother, no matter what kind of day / week we are having.


  7. I did most of what you listed while raising my children. I agree that if you have things organized and you teach your children to work and cook; they are greatly blessed.
    I was thinking about posting the following thought on facebook because for me it is true.
    "A clean house is a sign of a broken computer". I enjoyed reading your post today; blessings to you!

  8. I have been making the kids pick up the living room when almost everyone is finished school for the day. This is usually about 1pm. The results are, I don't feel so depressed about the messy house. It takes about 10 minutes with all hands on deck, and the person who is delegated living room for the day doesn't feel so overwhelmed at evening chore time. This fits into your quick picks.

    The other thing that works for me, is all of the kids have about an hour of independent work that they are required to do while I do deep cleaning chores in the morning.

    But, today I slept in, and will have to clean the bathrooms after the little kids go to bed tonight. Still, I think today the extra sleep was worth it.

  9. Wonderful tip, ladies! I am excited to try some new things you taught me! :-)


  10. I've just found that if I make a schedule things look and feel a lot better- There are certain times for the kitchen, a certain time for tidying and vacuuming etc, and I have an hour set aside each day for deep cleaning something or doing a project. Mondays- deep clean the kitchen including stove and fridge when needed. Tuesdays- Service day Wednesdays- Anything extra for my Sunday lesson, Thursdays- Deep clean the bathrooms, Friday- make bread. When the pantry doesn't need it I switch it out with closets, a bedroom etc. I always start the day at 5am (I just can't get up at 4:30 to be up before the kids) and we do our family prayer and scriptures. Since we've done this I've noticed-slowly- good changes and more patience when the house isn't exactly like I'd prefer. When I follow my schedule I feel like I've accomplished a lot through out the day.

  11. The only tip I have (coming from a woman with one toddler and a husband who prefers a clean house to a good meal) is to do all the high-up cleaning in the morning (the places that baby can't reach) so that baby can't mess up what you've already cleaned, and then clean everything else lower down once baby is down for a nap, and try to maintain it generally clean by doing outdoor activities until dad gets home so it's spotless for his arrival.


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