This is my first appearance in this “highly effective woman” series, by my request. With three little ones, “highly effective” means catching Owen before he smears lipstick all over my duvet. When it comes to Habit #6 though, several of my mom’s suggestions have made a big difference in this season of my life. Here are three tips for “establishing an efficient routine for managing your home:”
Food and Clothing First: Lately, my laundry has been spinning out of control. I don’t think I will ever see the end of it. I have been trying the denial method. I shut the door firmly and choose not to think about it. But it’s not getting any better. I’m still hoping one of my kind sisters will come and do it for me (Janelle, are you doing anything today?)
As a wife and mother of young children, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. On top of that, I really enjoy a clean home. My temptation is to find my joy and peace in the order of my house. Laundry I can shut the door on, and no one sees in my fridge, but the messiness of my house I cannot shut out.
However, in busy seasons like this, Mom has encouraged me to focus my homemaking efforts first on these two basic needs: food and clothing. My house may be a mess, but if my husband and children have clean clothes to wear and food to eat, they will be happy and life will go on. So, I guess I’m going to have to open that door to the laundry room after all!
Minimal Cleaning: Before I had children I cleaned my house from top to bottom every week. I sought to keep this standard after I had Andrew. I would stick him in the entertainer each Friday as I cleaned. Well, now with three little ones, all that is out the window. My house is almost never cleaned all at once. For example this past Monday I thought I could mop the floors—just mop, nothing else. Well, by the end of the day, I was only half way done. I still haven’t finished.
My standard, to say the least, is a little lower these days. Mom has encouraged me to adopt a “minimal cleaning” approach: develop a plan for maintaining general cleanliness in the home and save the thorough cleaning for another season. So Windex and Clorox Wipes have become my special little friends; my quick way of making my messy house look a little cleaner.
And when I stop and look at my husband and kiddos, I realize that caring for them should be my top priority. Next week my family won’t remember how clean the floors were, but they will remember the time, care, and love I gave to them.
Ruthless Paperwork Habits: As you already know, we moved into a small townhouse earlier this year. The corner of my room became the “unpacked section of the house.” If I set some bills or miscellaneous papers in the stack there was no telling when they would be found. Bills were disappearing, papers and receipts were getting lost. Thus I finally went off to Staples and purchased $40 worth of files and labels. I still haven’t bought a filing cabinet to hold them, but I do have my paper work sorted into the proper files. Now, when bills come in, they have a place to go.
In her book, Organized for Success, Stephanie Winston suggests the TRAF method for organizing paperwork. She says, “Happily, I’ve discovered there are only four things you can do with a piece of paper—four decisions: Toss it, Refer it (i.e. pass it along or discuss it with someone else), Act on it personally, File it.”
So, by practicing ruthless paperwork habits, setting realistic goals for cleaning my home, and tending to food and laundry first, I am able to at least be somewhat effective at managing my home in this busy season. These three simple goals may not serve my idol of a perfectly clean home, but they serve my husband and children, and that, I believe, pleases the Lord.