I don't remember when I first came across the idea of being a household manager, but it changed the way I looked at my role. It was also kind of a "duh" moment for me. Being a homemaker is really much more than being just a maid - I am managing the basics of life for a household of people! Of course, we all know that a mom wears many hats - and a mom living overseas might even wear a few more than she would in the States. But I had never seen the drudgery and chaos of motherhood in the light of being the household manager. The idea was refreshing and empowering.

The title of "manager" especially felt appropriate when we moved to the capital city to run our organization's guest house. Suddenly I was not just taking care of my own household. I was overseeing and directing the work of those "under" me - the boy who mowed the lawn, the boy who ran errands, the housekeeper who prepared the guest rooms, and the girl who hung out the laundry. It required me to take my job even more seriously and be more organized than I might have just for my own family.

I have certainly found, as every mother has, that there are some ways to make home life smoother and more pleasant for everyone involved. I am not an excellent homemaker by any means. In fact, I write this article for myself because I need the encouragement and reminder. But here are some things that are helping me to be a better manager of my home.

1) Set achievable goals. First of all, do set goals. If you are not aiming for improvement, you will not achieve it. But secondly, make sure they are achievable. Start with one thing at a time. Especially if you are feeling overwhelmed with your life & responsibilities, don't try to change everything at once. Set a few small, achievable goals. Once you are well on your way to accomplishing those, you can set a few more.

2) Identify your "sore spot" and work on that first. What area of household management is causing the most trouble for you? Is it not having church clothes ironed on Sunday morning? Is it the mess your husband comes home to in the stressful "supper time crunch"? Maybe it's not having a quick lunch to prepare in the middle of a home-school day. Identify your recurring "sore spot" and then sit down and consider what changes you can make to relieve this stress point. Make that your first goal to work towards.

3) Be focused. If you had a 9-5 office job, you wouldn't take an hour mid-morning to browse Facebook or Pinterest. Consider the home and family your "work", and stay focused there throughout the day. Granted, motherhood often has strange hours, and perhaps your baby's mid-morning nap is your only personal free time. Then take it without guilt! But if overall you're staying focused on your responsibilities and not getting distracted by technology, social media, or whatever it may be, you will find it easier to be productive and organized.

4) Make a schedule and/or routine - but make it work for you. There is a lot of freedom in having a flexible schedule that allows you to make changes as necessary, but still make sure the basics of life get taken care of.

 

5) Develop systems - again, systems are for your benefit. They work for you, so that you're not constantly faced with a myriad of decisions from day to day. This can include meal plan systems (Mexican every Friday night, pasta every Tuesday), housework routines (laundry every Wednesday) and so on. It also includes things like having an "inbox basket" where all mail is deposited so that mail isn't scattered throughout the house, having a place for schoolbooks and papers waiting to be graded, and so on. This is helpful because it saves you the constant questions from children coming to you ("here's my paper, Mommy, where should I put it?") as well as making it harder for you to misplace things!

 

6) Make lots of lists - and categorize them - and keep them all in one place. I have a "To Do" list, a "To buy" list, a "To Write" list, and a "To Talk About with Hubby" list, just to name a few! :-) For me, it works well to keep these on a note app in my phone, so that they are always with me.

 

7) Delegate. I have been realizing lately how many chores a four-year-old is capable of doing. Even my two-year-old helps me put away dishes and straighten up the living room. Yes, when they are preschoolers it is definitely more work to let them help you than to just do it yourself. But it won't be long before they can actually be a big help - especially if you are willing to lower your standards a little, and let the job be done "good enough".

 

Help me out here! What are some tips you've learned for keeping up with your responsibilities as a household manager? Please share in the comments!

 

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  • One thing I would add to the list is "Simplify." Sometimes cutting corners to reduce the workload is the best solution to household management. It doesn't always make you feel like you're doing the best possible job...but in the end you really are as things flow more smoothly. For example, I usually make enough food for supper to reheat for lunch the next day as well, since simple foods like sandwiches aren't available where I live.

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  • Yes, this is definitely an important one! And another reason not to spend time on Pinterest . . . at least for me . . . it's much harder to be happy with keeping things simple when I'm comparing myself to the way others are doing it.

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  • Guest - Lysanne

    Great post Melissa :) I really enjoy finding ways to make our job a bit easier. One thing i keep discovering is that there a lot of things i can learn from the women in my overseas location! After all, they have lived here muuuuuch longer than me ;) For example right now we are in intenslalanguage n culture learning time in a rural village. Life finds me hauling my own water and doing laundry by hand. I recently learned that in this culture, everyone washes their own underwear and possibly more clothing when they take a bath. We started doing this and it is amazing how much it reduces the laundry! Another fun thing i learned is that for women here, laundry is kinda what you do on your day off... 'Instead of working hard at farm, I'm going to take a break today and do wash!' haha knowing this has made a difference in the way i view my laundry chore :)

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  • This is such a good point, Lysanne! I definitely found that when we are trying to live "like they do" it often works best to actually DO it the way they do! :-) I remember being impressed by the way they washed their clothes during their bath - it makes a lot of sense when you've got a bucket of warm water anyway!

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  • Guest - william jhone

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  • Guest - Dany

    I am glad to see that people are actually writing about this issue in such a smart way, showing us all different sides to it. Thanks for sharing, please keep it up. gym flooring

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