This week I’m sharing a thought in response to a question we received recently about establishing routines and schedules around the home: “I am really struggling to set up a schedule for my young family of three… I feel like if I could just get together a schedule things would go so much smoother and my husband would come home to a happier environment in the evenings. I was wondering if you moms could give a few suggestions or samples.”
Whenever people come to my house, it isn’t long before they’ve stopped in front of the refrigerator and are reading my Housekeeping Schedule. Questions usually follow, especially from male parties who spy out this slip of paper (you’d think it was written in a foreign language, it’s so mysterious to them!).
Having a weekly housekeeping routine was something I began shortly after my second child, Bronwyn, came along. I remember well those first several weeks after her birth. While they were blissful in their own right and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, it wasn’t all pretty. I had an 18-month-old and a newborn to take care of and, consequently, the house was getting far too neglected during the weekdays. We put up with a progressive mess day after day and then on the weekend, when Daniel was home from work and could help care for the kids, I turned into Crazy Woman, running around the house with dust cloths and window cleaner and toilet brushes. It wasn’t a working system, not for any of us. I would cry all week long about how messy everything was, and then I would totally neglect my husband when he was around because I was too busy catching up on all the things I needed to do.
That was when it dawned on me that chore charts don’t have to only be something a mom assigns to her children, but are also something I can assign to myself. Right away, I put together a plan, and then I started putting it to action.
The amazing thing?
It worked! When I didn’t try to complete all the jobs that needed to be done in one day– which almost always resulted in my little ones feeling neglected and/or getting into mischief while I melted into a bucket of frustrated tears– but instead tackled them in bite-size chunks, by the end of the week, my house was altogether rather clean. Suddenly, coming home from vacation or ending a whirlwind weekend didn’t mean discouragement on Monday morning as I took a look at how disheveled things were. I knew that if I just started doing my chores each day, by Friday things would be back to normal. I also knew that if a kid-tastrophe happened on Tuesday, cleaning the bathroom was on the schedule again in 3 days, so I could just let it go in order to tend to my little ones.
This is my current Housekeeping Schedule:
I make a new Housekeeping Schedule 3-4x/year. This helps me regularly re-evaluate what days I have time for what sorts of jobs and it keeps things fresh so that I don’t get lazy and stop following it. I also use this schedule to draw from when I am making chore charts for Gabriel and Bronwyn who, at 5 and 3 (almost 4, she daily reminds us!) years old, are able to do small jobs around the house with me (i.e. folding diapers, sweeping the kitchen, dusting, etc.).
Each day when I get up, I make my daily To Do list after checking to see what chores are on my schedule. In addition to what’s scheduled, I list the miscellaneous things I need to accomplish, such as refilling Aubrey’s Rx, returning books to the library, making a birthday cake, and watering the garden. My Housekeeping Schedule provides the big picture framework so that I can better prioritize and order my days.
This schedule is one of a handful things that truly does help me keep my life and home ordered, but when all is said and done, it’s a tool and nothing more. I don’t cater to the schedule; I make the schedule to cater to my family’s needs. The important thing is taking care of the housekeeping element of homemaking so that I still have plenty of time and a peaceful environment for the cuddling, reading-aloud, and quality time elements of homemaking!