Running a Home

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FushciasHaving just moved house again, (I wrote this six months ago), I’m enjoying the opportunity to re-assess how we use the space available in our home.  There is sorting, chucking out, picture hanging and of course some furniture will be changed.

Our environments, those we choose and have control of, are a reflection of how we are feeling and functioning and what we are thinking about.

I’m all for working on improving how we feel, think and function; it’s what I help clients with as a Life Coach, but of course we can get a positive results from giving our attention to the external directly as well.

In other words, clean up your mess, create an atmosphere in your home that is compatible with the life you want to be living, and it will help you feel, think and function better.

You might want to start with your desk, your car, your bed, your bathroom or your kitchen sink.  Get rid of whatever is not serving a useful or aesthetic purpose, and go for clean surfaces.  I find it better to have places to put things away rather than leaving them permanently out on surfaces if possible.  It’s easier to dust, and minimises distraction.

As with anything, ask yourself what the purpose of the space concerned is.  We often keep things in certain places around the house which no longer really belong there, and don’t acknowledge the real purposes we need to use our space for, or notice the full or true potential of our space.

Whilst having a bit of a sort out, I tend to make some piles.  These piles will be about grouping items, like the pile of extension cords and power boards I’ve made until we know which ones will be needed where, and piles of clothes to give away, toys found to be kept for younger children, and broken stuff to be thrown away. 

iStock 000006919994XSmallOk so in the last post I talked about how it's a good idea to get your kids, partner, flatmate/s to help with the housework.

More information required? Yes, there is. How do you get that to work?

It will be different depending upon where you're starting from, particularly how well you're getting on with yourself. You thought I was going to say how well you're getting on with them, didn't you? Nup. It always starts with us.

If you're defensive or justifying or blaming or feeling guilty or any of that victim triangle stuff, you're pushing it uphill expecting to get help with housework from those you live with.
So number one, is to make sure you're working on your relationship with yourself.

Maybe you're keeping up a good standard in your home, but you're burning yourself out and feeling resentful that those living with you are just letting you do it, not appreciating it and not helping.

Or maybe you've kind of given up to some extent yourself, and just manage very basic stuff, sporadically, either setting or following the low standards that are currently in place.

There are a bunch of strategies you can use to get this thing moving:

iStock 000007504991XSmallAs my youngest kids are becoming more independent and capable, I'm finding they're able to help more around the house, so I thought I'd talk about this again; it's been while. Here's a previous article about delegating chores.  If you live with your partner and/or kids, this one is for you. Actually it would apply to shared accommodation as well, though I know that can be even harder to manage.

Basically, it's my view that all capable members of a household should contribute as they are able to. It's good manners, it's fair and it makes sense. Even in a home with domestic staff, household members should be capable of cleaning up after themselves and showing courtesy to others.

For kids in particular, I think it's important for them to learn good manners and basic skills.

In my house, I work on (yeah, I still have to work on it) having everyone keep their own room tidy, clean up after themselves by putting their things away, putting their dirty washing in the laundry baskets (with socks untangled and sorted into lights and darks), putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wiping the kitchen bench and the table, folding and putting away their own clean washing. The kids also help with feeding and cleaning up after pets, emptying the rubbish bin and the recycling, cleaning the toilet and bathroom, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping, emptying the dishwasher, putting things on the shopping list and putting groceries away when I've done the shopping. Everyone helps clean up after meals (yeah ok, in theory). My 16 year old knows how to operate the dishwasher and washing machine. She can even make spaghetti from scratch (a recent improvement from being able to boil the pasta and heat up the sauce I already made).

I know, they do complain, quite a lot as it happens. Here's the thing. Complaining happens more after a relapse of letting them not do much – the more they accept it as normal and get into a routine (meaning you get into a routine of making it happen), the less they bother to complain.

Also, it's crucial that you do accept and fully believe yourself that getting everyone to help is the right thing to do, because if you doubt it and feel guilty, they'll smell that a mile away.

Man with many shopping bags looking at sale sign in shop windowYou might be thinking of getting a head start on next Christmas by planning a January shopping trip during the sales.  I have a lot of my gifts this year already by doing this. 

This doesn't work with consumable gifts of course, and be careful of getting caught with something which your intended recipient may buy themselves during the year.  Also, it's can be very hard to wait a whole year. 

So choose carefully in the sales, and don't even step out the door without a well prepared list. 

Gift wrap, cards and decorations are good things to pick up, and if you can put some money aside for yourself and your family for clothing and household items to spend in the sales, that's great. 

If it's all going on credit though, you're better off doing without unless you can pay it off before it attracts any interest.  Don't be a credit card victim.

Welcome mat at an open front doorHow are you feeling at the moment about your home?  Are you feeling prepared for extra visitors or does the thought of people dropping in stress you out? 

Here's an idea for a quick fix I call the Mother In Law method.  Just imagine your Mother In Law (or subsitute appropriate person, say Vogue Living coming over to do a photo feature) is on her way over and will be here in 20 minutes. 

Tidy up or do what needs doing quickly just for that amount of time. Repeat daily, or twice daily until you are ready for the actual Mother In Law.  If that doesn't work to motivate you, you could try inviting your actual Mother In Law over for real.

Being ready for visitors doesn't mean you need to repaint the house and have the garden landscaped.  Start with what really matters.

Household items on the back of a uteThis has been a very busy month for me.  We moved house just before Christmas, so there’s a big test of my organizational skills. 

I’m happy to announce we are all in one piece and most things have found a new home in the new home. 

It’s always a great opportunity to let go of a good lot of junk as it’s uncovered in the packing and unpacking, and invariably some furniture needs changing. 

I worked my way through my change of address checklist, making a couple of phone calls each day.  There’s only so much waiting on the phone pressing 1 for this and 2 for that I can take in one hit.  I’d love to be able to say I multi task and do other things while I’m on hold, but I tend to need all my concentration to listen to the recorded messages over the sound of my little ones playing.

Running a Home

 

Big or small, if we are lucky enough to have a place to call home, we want to take pride in it, make it comfortable and welcoming, and keep it organized and running smoothly.

Running a home is not something that just happens by itself, as anyone who does it will know.  It takes dedication and work, and good self esteem.  Yes, self esteem.  You need to feel you are deserving of a comfortable home for yourself.

Partners and children often seem unaware of how much work goes into it, but certainly enjoy the benefits of a well run home, and seeing our families enjoy the home brings a great deal of pleasure.  

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