In addition to my Mom Hat, Wife Hat, Daughter Hat, Grandmother Hat, Sister Hat and Friend Hat, I am also forced to wear a hat that defines me as a Home Manager. At our house, I am the one whose responsibility it is to keep an up-to-date “social” calendar; to pay the bills and keep the checking account balanced; to maintain all medical, tax, warranty, insurance, investment and other household records; to keep the laundry and housework reasonably caught up; to buy, prepare, and serve most of the food; to keep track of and adequately “cover” all birthdays and other special occasions; and to do the 101 other things that I have forgotten to list here but routinely do.
In an effort to “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” I have tried to apply the following home management tactics.
- I Make Lists. These include a shopping list, a to-do list, a list of all the passwords that I must remember but should not write down, a list of upcoming TV shows I want to DVR, a list of books I want to read, a list of people I need to call, a list of ideas I want to develop into articles, a list of gift ideas for friends and family members, a list of important information that our kids will need if their dad and I die, and a list of the changes that I need to make to all of the above lists. Of course, when I need to consult a particular list, I usually cannot find it. This means that I need to compose a “Where I Put My Lists” list.
- I Utilize Self-Motivation Techniques. I find that I accomplish tasks more quickly if I use some form of self-motivation. For example, I tell myself that I am “not allowed” to play a computer game until my kitchen is completely cleaned. I will not lie down for a nap until the laundry is folded and put away. My problem with using such tactics is that most of the time, I am self-motivated to ignore them.
- I Get Organized. Last week I decided that I would organize my chores by assigning them to specific days of the week. On Monday I would tackle “Bathrooms and Blinds.” On Tuesday I would “Dust and De-Clutter.” On Wednesday I would “Vacuum and . . . .” I couldn’t think of another V-task to complete on Wednesday. I needed to assign myself two tasks per day in order to get everything done, but I had hit a snag. The whole system fell apart on Wednesday.
- I Practice Guilting and Shaming Myself into Action. I tell myself that other home managers do a better job than I do. They don’t need lists because they never forget anything. They don’t need to employ self-motivation tricks because they are natural self-starters. They don’t need to get organized because they were born organized. The words guilt and shame are not emotions with which they are familiar. This kind of thinking leads me to eat ice cream directly from the container. It does not lead to anything productive.
Thus, I am left to manage my home in the same way I have always managed my home, and that is by utilizing the Do It All in One Day Method. Moved by some unseen and indefinable force, on one day I will dust the entire house, file or otherwise “manage” every piece of paper I encounter, clean the bathrooms, change the sheets, vacuum all the floors, put away all clutter, sanitize the kitchen, wipe down window blinds, balance the checkbook, make necessary phone calls, mail some cards, shop for groceries, and blow through five loads of laundry. I will work until 11:00 p.m., and then, following my cleaning frenzy, fall into bed exhausted.
The next morning as I drag my aching body out of bed, I repent. I tell myself, “Girl, you need a plan. Make some lists. Use some self-motivation techniques. Get organized and assign your chores to specific days of the week. No home manager in her right mind does everything in one day. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“I hope there’s more mint chocolate chip ice cream.”