How to become an organised family!May 23, 2022
What if we told you that investing just one hour per week could lead to a happier home? Or that treating your household more like a workplace could be the first step toward conquering life's chaos? Finally, what if we told you that many of the arguments families have are probably nothing more than by-products of poor time management and stress?
Like many couples these days, you can find yourself at sea. You are both so focused on basic survival—simply striving to get through the week—that you fall out of touch with everything, from small tasks such as cleaning the house and planning meals, to the larger, more important concerns that give our lives meaning, like enjoying our kids and our partners.
Meet Every Week
Of everything you can do to make changes, having a meeting with your partner is the easiest to stick to and offers the most rewards. Just consider for a moment how much you can get done in an hour or even 30 minutes: jobs for the week assigned, an action plan for the holidays finished, bills paid, budget for upcoming vacation figured out. Reviewing everything that needs to get done that week (or even month), and actually talking about it will save you from hours of arguments and multiple misunderstandings. If this is your first meeting, be prepared to start with a massive to-do list, one that contains all of the jobs that need to get done for the house and family daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
A shared calendar is a good idea, but if you don't have one make sure you each bring your own to your weekly sit-down. You want to be on the same page and discuss any social or business commitments that require the family to do some juggling. It could be a work conference that takes one of you out of town and impacts how the car gets serviced, an upcoming field trip for the kids that means buying a new sleeping bag, a birthday party that calls for finding the perfect gift, or even tickets to the movies that require a Saturday-night sitter. Your children also have their own commitments that are your obligations as well. In-school events are something to consider and add to the discussion list; practices and games often require you to do the driving, while playdates and parties may mean presents as well as transportation.
Create a Command Central
When you have your weekly meeting, make sure you plan for the bill paying. In our house my partner brings his laptop so we can review finances together and pay bills on the spot.
Now that you've gathered everything for the meeting, it's time to set the agenda. Topics could include home repairs, kids' schedules, finances, shopping, meal-planning, cleaning, paperwork, and organisation.
We recommend that these meeting guidelines include active listening by both parties; acceptance of the other person's point of view; no arguing—instead focusing on finding solutions; equal listening, sharing, and directing; and taking responsibility for your own to-do list. Once there are guidelines, you will soon find a natural rhythm to your discussions.
Write It Down
One of you will need to take notes during the weekly meeting, keeping track of those new items that were added to the list for the week as well as any next steps on projects. You don't need to be a court reporter—just create a general bullet list of what was covered.
Be Realistic About Goals
Don't over commit. You want to be able to get to everything on the list and not to forget to do things. Before taking anything on, look at your upcoming week to gauge your free time.
Once you have a better sense of your schedule, then you can take on those tasks that you can realistically get to. The list each of you ends up with should be a combination of chores you enjoy, things you're more skilled to take on, a few action items to move forward and one or two from your monthly or yearly list, your long-term goals, and improvements to your household.
Keep your list to those tasks that you can get done within the week. You can then focus on bigger goals, such as renovating the kitchen, by breaking that project into steps (setting a budget, researching a contractor, reviewing designs) and adding one or two of those steps to upcoming weekly lists. If you add big-action items that take too many steps to get done within the week, you won't be crossing much off.
Move the tasks to the top of the list, noting the due date. It's helpful when you're planning your week to know what you need to focus on first.
Group the to-dos, so that later you can see the tasks you can get done from your desk. Some examples:
- calls (appointments to make, reservations to cancel, bills to question),
- errands (library books to return),
- shopping (food, gifts, hardware, pet store),
- kids (set up playdates, sign them up for camp etc).
Once you have created the list, start adding the tasks to your calendar.
Trust us that these meetings only get faster with practice. All the little "I thought you took care of that" arguments melted away, along with resentments about who was carrying more of the household load. The result: a shared life that's more manageable, relaxed, and conducive to good times.
Who Does What
You're more likely to embrace jobs you enjoy (and ditto for your partner). Matchmaking tips for divvying up duties:
Organise - Paying bills, cleaning out closets, filing receipts, being the liaison with the accountant
Connect - Scheduling appointments, coordinating social activities
Drive - Errands such as a trip to the garden store or hardware store
Clean - Keeping the house, the garage, and/or the car tidy
Plan - Meal planning, long term finances
Shop - Selecting and purchasing gifts, household decorations, and groceries
How the Kids Can Help
3 to 5 Year Olds
Put away the toys.
Put clothes in the laundry basket.
Set the table (skip the knives).
6 to 8 Year Olds
Put away jackets/jerseys and school backpacks/bags.
Put away shoes.
Feed the pets.
Clear the table.
Pick up after clothes and shoes after a shower/bath.
Make their own bed
9 Years and Older
Tidy the lounge and dinning room.
Pack school lunch.
Help with dinner.
Put out the garbage.
Pack the dishwasher after dinner.
Empty the dishwasher.
You may get some resistance from your kids however keep to the schedule.
With everyone in the family helping the load is shared and the kids learn that being part of a family means helping out around the house. This is a valuable lesson they need to learn to be productive members of society and an example to their future families.
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