Household management 101

Where to start if you are clueless

If you had asked me a year ago what household management meant, I probably would have said it had to do with knowing the family’s schedules and keeping the house clean. But over the past few months, I have learned that it is so much more. 

Definition and importance of household management

So what is household management? It is the tasks, chores and planning necessary to ensure a smoothly running household. 

Why is it important? Without effective household management, a household will fall apart. 

The best example I can think of to illustrate the importance of household management is in the book Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. There is a scene when the main character, Fanny Price, visits her parents house for the first time in many years. Fanny expected to find a quiet, polite household, but was completely disgusted by the lack of control that her parents had over her younger siblings. Additionally, her mother was always complaining about the servant, how she could never find good help and about the disrepair of the rug. She also did not use her children’s abilities to her advantage, but instead allowed them to quarrel and run all over her and the rest of the house. 

After getting over the initial shock of the upside-down state of the household, Fanny began implementing small changes to calm down the feeling of the entire house. She began the education of her sister to the finer things in life. She helped create peace between two warring siblings. Her changes, while not big, impacted the entire house and made her family love her.

Types of household management

I’m by no means an expert on household management from the 18th and 19th centuries, but I am becoming acquainted with ways we manage households today. Most of these ways I have stumbled across and fallen over on my way to having a more organized house.

  1. Planners
  2. Command center
  3. Meal planning
  4. Cleaning schedule
  5. Budget planning
  6. Homeschool binder

Planners

Planners come in all sizes, layouts and brands. I prefer a half page size weekly planner with space to write my to-do lists, appointments and writing assignments. I also like to sometimes use a daily planner to get a rough idea of what my day will look like. On that spread, I also like to include what types of laundry I need to do for the day. I have played around with several styles and designs for my planning. 

Below is the current version of the weekly planner that I am using. I made these in Canva, using some designs I had seen.

Command Center

When we moved into our current house, I knew we needed something to help keep us a bit more organized. Somewhere, I had seen a designated area in homes that had a bulletin board and a white board. Most of them also had some sort of table or filing system where mail and other things could be put and processed. 

Our command center was my first attempt at organization before being organized was really on my radar. While it has helped a lot, there are still many functions our command center should have and doesn’t. Because of the shameful state of our command center (I haven’t gotten around to organizing it yet.), I will refer you to this command center Pinterest search for examples of what a command center can look like. While ours isn’t always the most functional, I still really like having a command center and highly recommend it anyone. 

Meal planning

Over the years, I have struggled with meal planning. Those times when I would meal plan, I found that I didn’t follow them or didn’t plan enough food.

The past few months, I have started meal planning again. And I actually really like it. One of the things I have recently discovered about my meal planning is that creating a meal plan removes the decision fatigue that I otherwise get when the evening rolls around. It removed the question of what I should make each night. 

I may do this the cheater way, but my meal planning is mainly based off of the menus provided in the EveryPlate boxes our family used to purchase. (If you are struggling with the basics of cooking and meal planning, I highly recommend this meal service. I found that it made it easier to prepare meals because the entire meal plan and ingredients are in one box and are mailed to my house. Recipe hunting and grocery shopping aren’t necessary. And no, EveryPlate did not pay me to say that. I love EveryPlate.) 

Due to the number of growing children in my house, we no longer use EveryPlate. Instead, I plan out one week’s worth of meals at a time using the recipe cards we received in our past boxes. (I think I have almost every one.) Because each card is a whole meal, I am able to easily plan out our meals and buy groceries based on the cards. But I do want to start creating my own single meal plans based on our families favorite foods and start incorporating them with our EveryPlate recipes.

Because of the weirdo I am, I feel the need to plan every meal. So I created this meal planning sheet to help me know what we should eat for each meal of each day. I also included a grocery list that I use when shopping.

Cleaning schedule 

In my various research on organization, I stumbled across cleaning schedules. The idea is that you have certain chores that you do on specific days of the week. These can include cleaning the toilets, organizing the pantry and cleaning the stove. 

At first, I tried it using someone else’s system and printables. But I found that it didn’t match my life, so I modified it to fit my needs and family. 

Budget planning and homeschool binder

These two items, I don’t currently use, but I thought I would include them anyway. While I don’t use them now, I hope to in the future. 

The idea behind the budget planner and homeschool binder is to have ways to help stay organized in the area of finances and the education of your children. 

For examples of budget planning, I recommend the Youtube channels Kell of a Plan and The Organized Money. They offer ideas on how to do budget planning, as well as having loads of ideas for how to use planners.

For ideas on how to use a homeschool binder, Youtube has several videos on the subject. 

What I have learned so far in my journey

There are several different things I have learned on my organizational journey. 

  1. Everyone is at a different stage of their journey. It is so easy to look at those who are ahead of you on the journey and see how organized they are. It is easy to feel discouraged and like a failure. But the truth is, that organized person may not have always been organized. They may have been a mess too. What you see is the result of lots of hard work. With the same work, you can also be organized. 
  2. Start where you are and start small. Learning a new skill takes time and practice. If you never run, you can’t expect to run an entire marathon. It takes practice and lots of work to build up speed and endurance. The same is true with organizing. You can’t expect to go from a disaster to totally organized in one day. It will take time and work to become organized and to stay organized. Organization is a skill that must be practiced. So start where you are. Take small steps to build the organizing muscle. With practice (and lots of patience), you will find that staying organized becomes easier. 
  3. What works for one person may not work for you. The internet is full of videos on how to organize and plan. Funny thing is, the way someone else does things usually only works for me to a certain extent. There will be something about their method that doesn’t match my life and needs. So I take their advice and adapt it to find what works best for me. You are unique. Your organization and planning will also be unique. 
  4. Play with it until you find the right solution for your family and situation. It may take several styles, methods and months to find what works best for you. During this time, it may be tempting to give up. But keep going. Getting to that organized life will be worth it. 
  5. Be flexible. This plays into the last two points. Don’t get so stuck on one way of doing things that you miss out on a better way.