To read part 1 click HERE
Remember the family who fell in love with their new home? Remember how pretty and fresh and organized it was? Now, remember how they all felt after a few months of living in it. It got all messy and jumbled up. No one really knew where anything was anymore. Josh kept needing new clothes to be bought because he didn’t know where to put them when he changed. And Mum kept losing her important work papers because she didn’t make a space in the new house for her own desk. And Dad was annoyed with the garage not being easier to use because he had forgotten to add some shelving and storage areas along the walls when they were first moving in. Everyone was feeling sad, and Mum had already started looking for another house. And poor, sweet Ivy was almost an afterthought, often being almost forgotten as everyone rushed out the door every morning. She felt like she was just another bag of stuff to be carted around with Josh’s swim and school things.
There is a simple plan to help this lovely family so they can get back to loving their lives and enjoying each other’s company and new home. It starts with small steps that are repeated everyday.
1. Gather the whole family together and share feelings and thoughts about the house and how things look and the way things run. List both positive and negative things. Someone can take notes, and remember to keep this friendly and curious. This is not about blaming or shaming.
2. Decide together what is most important from the negative side and make that the top priority that everyone will help with first.
3. Everyone take on 3 things they will personally be responsible for. Adults will need to help the kids see their own rooms and clothes etc. as their responsibility, and adults will need to take on larger tasks affecting the household.
4. Create a weekly calendar that can be repeated for 4 weeks. This is easier than launching into a month-long plan as that can seem overwhelming. Just make it a week and repeat it 4 times. Post it somewhere bright and easy to see.
5. Group hug or high five or cheer as a family to boost energy and enthusiasm for working as a team! This last step may seem cheesy, but it’s truly the glue that keeps everyone connected to the goal. And keep the cheer or high five around when you see each other complete the tasks.
Now that list may seem a little abstract, so I’ll fill in some details based on our sweet, make-believe family, to illustrate.
Starting with step 2, our family decides that the kitchen and dining area are the most important places to start with. Food and nutrition is important for everyone to think and feel well, so they started there. Mum and Dad both agreed that whoever did the cooking, the other would do the dishes. Josh volunteered to help the washer dry and put away dishes that wouldn’t fit, or couldn’t go in the dishwasher. Dad and Josh also said they could spend 5 minutes in the morning before swim practice to unload the dishwasher. Then Mum asked Ivy if she could be in charge of sweeping the floor with the dustpan and brush as part of the clean up process, and Ivy said she would love that!
Moving on to step 3:
Mum: 1. Morning laundry, 2. Groceries, 3. daily bedroom (master and Ivy’s) and bathroom monitoring and cleaning.
Dad: 1. Evening laundry, 2. daily front hallway, closet and shoe rack monitoring, 3. daily living room cleaning and vacuuming.
Now, Mum and Dad worked on helping Josh and Ivy list their 3 tasks. Josh: 1. put worn clothes in the hamper in the bathroom before having a shower/bath each night, 2. empty lunch box and place dirty stuff in the dishwasher. 3. Using designated fridge drawer (Mum sets this up as part of groceries), pack tomorrow’s lunch.
Ivy: 1. Put toys away in bins when asked, 2. help Dad with shoe monitoring in the hallway, 3. help Mum with laundry – find matching socks and fold small items.
Step 4 needs to be as clear as possible. The most efficient use of space and time, in my opinion, is to get some fun tape (like Washi tape), and divide a white board into 7 columns and 2 or 3 rows. A narrow row at the top and a narrow one at the bottom for notes or important dates etc. The middle is for listing people’s duties. Choosing colours to represent each person is easy to see and visually pleasing. So all of Mum’s tasks are green, Dad’s are red, Josh’s are blue and Ivy’s are purple. You can choose your own colours of course! Then events that affect everyone can be black. The only things that would change would be the dates across the top of the board, and specific events along the bottom. All jobs would stay the same for the four weeks. Organizing the rows is flexible too; if you prefer your special events nearer the top, right under the date, then do that, and keep the daily tasks in a wide row at the bottom of the board.
This white board idea is also fun because you can put little happy, messages or images on the board next to people’s jobs to say thank you, or well done, etc. And they can be erased and started again each week. I recommend a large white board so you don’t feel cramped, and mount it so that it can easily be taken down to be cleaned and written on again. And make sure those who want to write on it, can reach it easily! Those sweet encouraging notes to each other create a real magic energy that lifts everyone’s spirits!
Step 5 is pretty easy to implement. Start simple with easy high fives until you start to feel more enthusiastic. And you will as the tasks keep getting done! Some cheers or celebrations may lead to spontaneous expressions that might become special inside jokes with your family, and this creates a strong bond of fun and togetherness!
So there you go! 5 simple steps to create peace, harmony and efficiency in your home, just in time for new school routines to kick in! Now get over to your local office supplies store and get a large white board and spiffy Washi tape and colourful dry erase markers!