Establishing Household Habits: The Nitty-Gritty

Reposted from Novemeber 2009


Establishing Household Habits: The Nitty-Gritty



So here we are, starting Week Two. As always, the first couple days were great, then I slacked off at the end of the week. So, here we are again, and I’m talking myself into this all once more. However, the routines I began to work on did work on the days I worked at them, so I know I have something workable here.

My biggest changes: One load of laundry every day (the times to start, move, fold, and put away are set), before-school morning jobs, after-school morning jobs, after-dinner jobs for everyone. The hardest one is the after-school set. That’s where I need the most work at keeping myself together.


Establishing Household Habits: The Nitty-Gritty

Here is what I have been doing to help keep myself on-task:


  1. I simplified my daily checklist. The one I had worked great while I was all-myself (i.e. not pregnant) and before I had a one-year-old (12-24 months is the training intensive year at our house). I needed to simplify it for this stage of the game.
  2. I made a every-half-hour schedule. Set times work for me. It doesn’t stress me out, and it helps keep me motivated to stay on target. It helps me work at getting the tasks done quickly if I’m behind (which I almost always am, but that doesn’t stress me out; when I’m on schedule or ahead of schedule, then it’s like an extra cup of coffee to my mood). However, as encouraged by Terri Maxwell in Managers of Their Homes, I only have about 15 minutes worth of tasks in each scheduled 30 minute chore time, and I added in an extra half-hour buffer for school time. That helps the keeping-caught-up feeling, and it means there’s time reserved for the stinky diaper, the discipline issue, etc. etc.
  3. I have been trying to progress through the task list sequentially as I have it arranged on the checklist. This is where I struggle the most. I see the list, and I want to pick and choose and be in control, but what I think will be most beneficial is to make these actions rote habits, a rhythmic pattern I just go through without thinking or checking any list. Set the children doing their chores, soak the breakfast dishes, clear the counters, wash the table, make my bed, inspect children’s chores. It will be most effective, I think, to do those things in that order every time, every day, and then I won’t have to even think about it, it will be second nature to go from one to the next without thinking, “Ok, now what?” and without getting sidetracked by other little tasks that catch my eye — or my email.
  4. I also posted a simplified version of the children’s schedule where Hans can easily access it. He likes schedules and lists, too, so when he knows what should come next, he gives me that extra boost of accountability. Plus, when he sees how much play time is in there, but that pick-up time is reserved at the end of the day, too, he’s been much more cheerful when I call out, “Ok, 5-o’clock! Pick-up time!”
  5. I printed out my series on housekeeping and my establishing habits series and put them in a notebook. During my morning devotion time I read a portion (usually one post or one page, whichever is shorter) from each to help keep me focused and to remind myself what I’m trying to do and why. It’s been very helpful — when I’ve done it. By the end of the week last week I was sleeping right up until I absolutely had to get up. I’m more tired lately, and not sleeping as well, but even if I sleep past my set-aside morning time, I need to take some time during the kids’ breakfast or play time to set myself on the path I want to be on by reviewing these things. After all, it’s the primary reason I’m writing all this out in the first place! This tactic does work so well, though, that I’m thinking about putting together a section on education/teaching to read before starting school and maybe even a child-training/parenting section to read during lunch or quiet time. It helps to have the ideas and quotes that have shaped and inspired me in the front of my mind as I go about my business.
  6. I have tried to keep a cheerful “Where does it belong?” on the tip of my tongue — or, on the forefront of my mind to tell myself. “Is that where that belongs?” helps us all remember we should just take the extra step or two to actually put things away instead of putting them down. Also, putting away one thing before moving on to the next is a very basic, but very challenging thing to keep on top of, but I’m trying. If we just focused for the next couple years on those two concepts, though, I think we’d be doing pretty well.

Establishing Household Habits series


Establishing Household Habits: The Nitty-Gritty


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