By Julie Kieras
I thought life at home with baby would by idyllic. I would read and coo and play with baby, then flit about the house with a feather duster, frilly apron and high heels. Okay, maybe not the high heels. But life would be sweet…and light…very Becky Home Ec-y.
The reality is – my baby is almost a year old, and I often find myself running around the house like it’s on fire and I’m trying to find the most important objects to grab and get outta Dodge!
Some days even my brain feels like it’s on fire – hence the smoke coming out my ears. I sat down one day and said – I gotta get it together! Using several strategies I found online, I created a plan. Then another plan. Then combined plans. Tweak, tweak, tweak. I finally found what worked for me. Maybe it will work for you, too.
I created what I call my “Master Chart.” The Master Chart has four main categories: Daily goals, Weekly goals, Errands / Appointments, Dinner Menu.
Here’s how I set it up:
- Chart Layout – In Microsoft Excel, I created a chart with 8 columns. The first column listed the 4 categories (with several rows in-between each one). The other seven list the days of the week. I start with Monday.
- Daily Goals – I listed tasks I would like to do every day – devotions, taking vitamins, cleaning the sink, making dinner, exercising. These go at the top in blue, because I try to take care of them first.
- Weekly Goals – This part took the longest to tweak. I listed every major housecleaning task – changing sheets, bathrooms, mop floors, kitchen, laundry, dusting, water plants. Then, I scattered these tasks across the week so I wouldn’t have a big pile up of chores all on the same day (no chores on Sunday – even moms deserve a day of rest!). After a few weeks, I discovered certain chores belonged together – like when I change the sheets, I automatically always throw them in the laundry – so those two chores got moved to the same day. You might find you have chores that fit nicely together too.
- Errands / Appointments – I leave this area blank to fill in week by week. On days when I have few chores (Tuesdays and Thursdays for me), I schedule appointments. If I have an appointment, I try to plan errands the same day since I’m already out of the house.
- Dinner Menu – I save this for last. I can tell from the chores and errands what kind of dinner to plan for each night. If I have a lot of errands, I might need a crock pot or freezer meal since I won’t be home to prep dinner. If it’s a light chore/errand day, I might make a more hands-on dinner. On nights when I know my husband has meetings, I schedule leftovers, since we end up eating at different times.
I print out a new chart every Sunday and fill it in for the week. By writing down everything I hoped to accomplish, I no longer ran around like a house on fire! I don’t have to “remember it all” – what a load off my mind! Instead, I get up in the morning and take a look at my chart (or sometimes consult it before going to bed at night). It’s a plan of action already laid out for me.
And, it’s a flexible chart, of course. One Monday (my day with the most chores), I got violently ill. So, I shuffled the chores over into the other days, or just decided to wait until the next week for some. My Master Chart has developed over time, a little tweak here and there. I don’t let it be a Dictator. I have plenty of days when I don’t get through the entire list. But it certainly keeps me focused, and I find I get more done overall. There’s a sense of satisfaction at crossing off items on the list.
My friends laughed at my chart. They said I was being too nit-picky. But you know what? Over time, several have come (secretly, under cover of night) and begged for a copy! I won’t make you beg. If you ask nicely, I will email you my layout and you can tweak, tweak, tweak till it fits your life! And then maybe we can all get back to our feather dusters and frilly aprons. High heels, even?