Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Homemaking tips request from a busy Mom

I received an email from a reader asking me about my homemaking schedule, and what advice I can give someone whose organizational skills aren't her strongest point (ahem... like myself *smile*). 

In homemaking, there are no rigid rules, and I'm certainly far from being able to call myself a pro! Besides, things change all the time and, as good as schedules are, sometimes we need to modify them, or even let go of them for a season, to do what is best for our families. 

Having said that... I do have a system of sorts, and while it isn't perfect, it works. I'm a morning person, which means that my energy level does a sharp dip in the afternoon, so I try to concentrate all the major chores (laundry, dishes, beds, animal care, garbage disposal) as well as any cleaning in the morning, so that the afternoon can be dedicated to more relaxing pursuits; often I schedule my cooking for the afternoon as well, and sometimes I make dinner preparations in the morning (defrost meat, chop up vegetables, etc) and just toss everything into the pot or pop it into the oven in the afternoon. 

But some people aren't morning people; if you feel you have more energy or free time in the afternoon, you might want to make the morning a gentler time, and gradually pick up speed as the day comes along. 

I cook for my freezer, provided there's freezer space. That is to say, I make large batches and freeze them in separate containers, so that convenient-sized portions can be defrosted at need. I also freeze bread a lot; I put it in the freezer when it's still warm, and it tastes just like fresh when defrosted.

I have an erase board which I simply love. It's placed in a convenient location in the kitchen, and contains several columns, such as shopping list, weekly cooking plan (which I try to come up with at the end of every week), project list, and list of things to research/write/check. Whenever I get something accomplished I erase it from the board, and it's so rewarding! 

There are also many websites with organizational tips for homemakers, and some of them offer samples of printable schedules. I'm sure that, even if it takes a little time, you can work out something that is right for you and your family. 

... You ladies, of course, feel free to add your own tips/thoughts/experiences! 


Mrs. Cinnamon said...

That sounds a lot like our routine as well. My question for you is - what do you do to fill in the time when there are lulls in the day? When all the chores are done, when you don't have a particular craft needing attention, when the children aren't necessarily begging for attention? I'm expecting a new baby soon so I assume I won't have a lot of these free bits of time in the near future, but for when I do... I always get anxious to do something productive such as working on a project, or knitting, or reading something spiritual, but more often than not I find myself just popping on the computer for "five minutes" to research a recipe or something of that sort, and then I find myself unable to get off it. Or I start reading a passage in a book and find myself getting into it so much that I don't want to leave it. Do you have any advice for those in-between moments - when you just DON'T feel like picking up another craft or honing a skill? I'd say normally I'd go out for a moment in the garden, but here we have no garden, and a proper walk around the neighborhood would be a project of its own. So yeah... How much "free" time do you allow yourself a day?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Mrs. Cinnamon, it really depends. There are some days when I'm barely able to sit down, and there are more laid-back days. If we just have a couple of minutes (such as, between tea and dinner) and there are no chores to be done, sometimes I just goof around with the children a bit, doing nothing in particular. :o) Or, I pick up a book that doesn't suck me in, for example a cookbook or a homeschooling book divided into little compartments that don't take a lot of time to read. Or I take a minute or two to just sit on the deck and watch the sunset. :o)

Lady Anne said...

I try to make up menus for the week, noting which cookbook and page has the recipe. I jot down *every single ingredient* and then check my pantry and cross off anything I already have two of. This saves so many trips to the grocery store, because as soon as I KNOW there's spaghetti sauce back there, there isn't. I try to keep a stock of staples, so if the power goes off or we get snowed in (Ah, Sandy!) there's food in the house.

Harper said...

As far as scheduling is concerned, I like to do my housecleaning on Mondays. That way, I feel like I have a clean slate for the week. I then do a quick touch up (mostly vacuuming and wiping down the kitchen) on Friday in preparation for the weekend.

I also do all my baking for the week on Fridays (we eat some of that for breakfast on Shabat). And I try (but often fail) to do precooking for the week on Sundays. That would include any soups or beans we are eating that week, making stock, and cooking all the rice we need and any large pieces of meat or time-intensive main courses.

When I was able to walk to shopping and when I had my own car to drive, I also liked to time my weekly shopping (or monthly, as the case may be) for the day after the sales flyer comes out. It's also best to shop in the morning so that the stores are relatively empty. Menu planning is a lifesaver, and I think is best done the day the sales flyer comes out so that you can be efficient in building a shopping list.

With children, I like to involve them in some tasks (helping with sweeping, baking, and tidying, for example) and let them play and watch at others (they get to play with the vacuum after I'm done with it). For other things, I expect them to play quietly in their room (when I'm preparing lunch, especially). I've found that it's important to have a balance of those categories to keep the little ones out of trouble!

Anna-I love what you said about having a white board! Those things are just wonderful!

Joluise said...

Never go to bed with a messy house. Try and make sure the living area has been tidied up, dishes washed, toys away etc. it means you get up in the morning to order and not stress. It's a much nicer way to start the day. I do this every day and it never takes long and each day starts pleasantly.