As a woman in leadership, one of the questions I am asked most by other women is “how do you do it all”?
By this, they don’t mean how do I do…any of what I do except:
- How do you keep your house clean?
- How do you spend time with your kids?
- How do you take time for yourself?
- How do you take time for your spouse?
Today, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my home and how we keep from being buried alive in dust, papers and dirty laundry.
First, I have routines.
Every morning I switch what is in the washer to the drier and start a new load of laundry. I also do the dirty dishes. We rarely do dishes at night, so if there are dishes to be done, I do them first thing in the morning. Every day one of the kids brings in the clean clothes, switches the laundry again and starts another load. My husband and I fold the laundry after work, and the kids put away the clothes.
Second, we have a team mentality.
Everybody has a chore every day. When I’m working away from the home, (which I haven’t been doing for the last six months) everybody has two chores a day. Every morning, I take time to write down what needs to be done on a notepad so that they can do their chores as soon as they get home. It is the same notepad everyday and we leave it in the same place. Everyone knows to look at the notepad for their chores when they walk in the door.
Note: When life gets crazy, we are fully aware that the kids don’t live up to this expectation. Some days they just come home and veg. If they call and want to go to a friend’s house, the first question is: have you done your chore? On days where they miss doing their chore entirely, we will often instill grace, and, depending on the need, they either have to do it when I get home, or do it the next day.
“Do what you gotta do before you do what you wanna do” In our home, our priorities are: home first, school second, play last. The reason for this is simple. I don’t want my children putting their work before their foundation some day. I want them to know that they have to take care of their home life before their work. Therefore, no matter how pressing school is, they have to address their chores first. Chores never take more than 15 minutes, usually only 5; yet they make a world of difference for everyone. Also, if I know they have a pressing thing at school, I will deliberately move them to the easiest chore for the day.
Third, I take shortcuts.
- Clorox Cleanup is my friend. You can spritz the kitchen sink, tub and bathroom sink, go back and rinse, and be done with all three in under 10 minutes. It is also the best for cleaning moldy window casings – living in Seattle, this is a must.
- Never leave a room without picking something up. I don’t do this all day, just for the 20-30 minutes that I focus on my house in the morning, and then occasionally during the day. My kids are litterbugs. I have found that I can always find something to put away or throw away if I scan a room as I’m leaving it.
- The kids’ bedrooms are their responsibility. Up until age 8 or 9, I would dig them out from time to time. My youngest is now 9, and the last time I dug her out was 4 months ago. She is able to keep it up pretty good now. From time to time, I simply put the brakes on their social lives until I can see the floor again.
Show, don’t tell. Our house will occasionally get out of hand, and it is because mom and dad have gotten unfocused. My kids are in training. They learn from me. So, I am very real with them. “Wow, I have gotten really unfocused. None of us have been doing our chores, and now we are totally buried. We are going to have to spend some time working on this place. (groanings from the peanut gallery) Here are the chores for today. When we are done with this work day, here is the fun I have planned. (Mom thinks of something that we all love to do.)”
Okay, that’s it. I always love it when I have company coming, because that inspires me to take a closer look and get rid of the cobwebs and dust. Those are two things that I have a tendency to overlook. A clean house brings down the tension for all of us and helps us all operate at a higher level.
I hope you can tell that I am not June Cleaver, and I don’t run a Barbie house. When you come in, you won’t find wonderland, but hopefully you will find an inviting atmosphere where you can enjoy your time with us and relax because we have created a homey environment that isn’t too perfect but doesn’t overwhelm with clutter noise.