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.
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.