I love to use summertime as my opportunity to take a step back and review how I’m keeping my home and family organized. When I’m in the thick of it during the school year, I don’t have time to review my systems. I’m just tweaking as I go along until I can stop and think during the summer. I do my review every summer because my kids keep growing. Their need change; our schedule changes.
Upcoming Changes for Our Family
This fall, I have a son entering college while living at home to save money on his college tuition. Unlike his senior year of high school, his schedule will be all over the place including evening classes during dinner time. He also needs a quiet place to write papers and study; working at the dining room table won’t work for him anymore.
My youngest son will be joining his older 3 siblings after school during our homework time. Kindergarten homework was easy. We had 4 days to do a few worksheets, practice sight words, and read books. In First Grade, I’ll be the one making his word cards and spending more time helping him to read the directions for his homework.
I’m not sure what my personal schedule will look like. I’ve offered my help at my children’s school. I’ll continue blogging and start writing ebooks. I will probably need to move the house cleaning completely to the weekends with help from the family.
Your Household System: 2 Essential Parts
At it’s heart, all household systems consist of lists for tasks and a way to communicate information to family members. Obviously, lots of work goes into making sure everyone is fed, clothed, has a place to sleep, and room to be part of a community. Most of the work is repetitive making it easy to create checklists to follow. The key is creating a system that works for you most of the time and is easy to maintain.
Basic List of Items for a Smoothly Running Household
Every family needs a calendar. Some families use a wall calendar to track family commitments. Other families use Google calendar or Cozi. I personally use an Erin Condren Life Planner – small enough to be portable and big enough for writing everything down.
Whatever you choose for your calendar, avoid duplicating if at all possible. I’m not the best example since I have 3 calendars to maintain – Google calendar, EC Life Planner, and a wall calendar. Since our school and high school offer an RSS feed into Google calendar, I continue to use Google Calendar even though it’s not necessary. I carry the Life Planner with me, and the wall calendar stays in our kitchen. I’ve trained everyone to write their events on the wall calendar – whew!
Everyone hates scrambling for dinner at 5:00 pm! Making a simple meal plan on Sunday for the week gives you a road map for the week. You don’t have to stick to it; things come up. Doing the thinking ahead of time gives you options beyond expensive take out.
I am currently using a second Erin Condren Life Planner for my meal planning. I tried using paper planners, and I tried using an electronic system. With the Erin Condren Life Planner, I can keep a running list of produce to use up, recipes to make for snacks and side dishes, plus lists of dishes in the back of the planner for easy meal planning.
Free Printable: Weekly Meal Plan You Can Edit and Print
Running to the store because someone forgot to tell me they used up the peanut butter is the bane of my existence. I have a son who needs his routine to keep his anxiety in check. He never deviates from a plain peanut butter sandwich. Keeping a running list of items we need along with a reminder to buy peanut butter every time I’m at the grocery store prevents melt downs.
Having a grocery list also keeps your grocery budget in check. When I started the $29 Grocery Budget Challenge in May, I knew I could reduce our spending when I wrote down only essential items on my weekly grocery list.
I have a laminated list in my Life Planner for my grocery list. Everyone in the family knows to write food items on this list for me. When it’s time to go grocery shopping, I transfer this list to a piece of paper (because I’m still a pen and paper gal at heart). My husband and I headed to the store together for no-kid time.
Errands can be a huge time suck. Every time someone comments about Target being the $100 store on Facebook, I laugh nervously and click Like. I know I’m not the only one who heads into Target with one thing on my list, and then I remember all that other stuff that was supposed to be on the list.
I use a free app for the iPhone called Wunderlist. All my errands except my grocery list go in Wunderlist. I don’t have a set day to do my errands since my weekly calendar can vary. Usually, I pick a day that looks less busy and plan a few errands for that day. Generally, I plan enough for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, the perfect amount for my attention span.
Wunderlist can be shared with anyone on any device. Personally, I don’t use it that way since I’m in charge of the errands.
Contact Information for Doctors and Other Important People
Kids get sick. Water heaters break. The primary babysitter cancels. When these emergencies happen, do you have a contact list at your fingertips ensuring you can handle the emergency relatively smoothly? Or, does your husband know how to reach the pediatrician’s office if he’s the one on call for the day?
You need a central location to hold the contact information for these very important people in your life. Most people keep the information in their smartphone contacts. What if you need to share the information with a babysitter or your mother-in-law? Having a printed list becomes essential.
I keep all the contacts on my iPhone, making it easy for me to share the contact information with my husband who also has an iPhone. Otherwise, I would text him the information if he needed to call someone. For babysitters, I use the Contact book that came with my Erin Condren Life Planner.
Regular and Deep Cleaning Lists
Even when I’m in a crazy busy season of life, my daily and weekly cleaning lists are the back bone of my housekeeping routine. After pulling them together during my FlyLady days, I’ve tweaked my basic cleaning lists over the years to meet the needs of each season. With my kids getting older, I can delegate many basic cleaning tasks to them and focus more on the monthly zone cleaning.
Free Printables: Daily/Weekly and Zone Cleaning Lists
Last Word: Realistic Routines and Expectations
Let’s not set the bar too high for ourselves. Our goal is to have a reasonably well run home most of the time. We will give ourselves grace when we’re sick, the kids are sick, or we’re knee-deep in holiday preparations. During those more stressful times, we stick to the minimum to keep everyone fed, clothed and healthy, and not feel guilty for not doing more. Doing more is for the slower times.
I’d love to hear what you consider to be essential to running your home. Share your tips and resources in the comments.
How to Set Up an Erin Condren Life Planner as a Meal Planner