Establishing Order: Creating Household Routines Part 1

I’ve talked a lot here at A Sweet and Delicate Thing about how establishing a routine is really the biggest key in succeeding at managing your household not only well, but efficiently. However, as a friend recently pointed out to me, I haven’t spoken about actually creating those routines.

So what is a routine? In short, it’s an established protocol or organized method that is laid out for performing specific actions. But perhaps what people often fail to see it as, is effective Time Management; Time Management is the way in which we divide our time between the tasks we need to accomplish, in order to ensure we can accomplish them all within the time frame that we need to.

Though often overlooked, these two concepts- Time Management and Routine- go hand in hand with one another. For the housewife, especially, they are hardly inseparable; in order to have a successful routine that you can follow daily, you have to know how to manage your time according to your goals. Without one or the other? You wind up with a frazzled Housewife- and I’m ashamed to say that I know this from very personal experience.

And yet most Time Management advice often focuses on managing the time on the clock- usually in business settings to boot. Unfortunately, a lot of this advice doesn’t work for the average person- let alone your average Housewife; it’s a bit counterproductive for a Housewife to rely solely on this sort of Management- but it’s also counterproductive to rely solely on the management of Time Relative (or time as experienced). Instead, for a Housewife the balance really falls between the two.

But how do we find that balance? The answer to that is a bit more simple than most would expect, and it boils down to manageability; dividing your tasks up into manageable bits that are easy to accomplish, and which allow you to accomplish them in the most effective way possible- saving you time and effort around the house.

To do this, you’re going to need to know exactly what needs to be done in your house… Not just on any given day, though, but in any given year. In other words, you need to know every base activity that needs to be completed at any given point in order to maintain your household (and house) at the level you wish to maintain it; every action, no matter how big or small or how rarely performed, needs to be accounted for and put down.

It looks like a lot, doesn’t it? You’re probably thinking a few things to yourself even- like “I didn’t realize so much work went into Homemaking”, or “How on Earth am I going to do all of this”. Don’t worry, because you’re not… Well, at least not right now. You’ll get to it all eventually, but “eventually” isn’t the same as “today”- or even “tomorrow”, for that matter.

Instead, you’re going to take that list, and you’re going to divide all of the items into four categories: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly.

As the title suggests, Daily items are items that need to be done daily. These are items like making your bed, cleaning out the litter boxes, and watering the plants.

Weekly items are things that need to be done in order to maintain the house, but which don’t have to be done daily. These are your items like dusting, vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge, and so on.

Monthly, of course, are items that you can get away with doing only once a month- like trimming the grass, weeding the garden, or cleaning up the yard.

And Yearly items are ones that you can get away with doing once a year (are you noticing a trend yet?); these are household repairs, seasonal to-do’s, and related tasks.

We’re not done categorizing things yet, though. Next, break out your list of Weekly tasks and break them down even further; group the tasks together by what room they have to be done in, and then assign each room to a day of the week.

As an example, my own Weekly schedule looks a bit like this:

On Monday I clean and organize the bedroom, flip the mattress on our bed, and change the bedsheets. On Tuesday I focus on sorting the laundry, cleaning and organizing the livingroom, and dusting. Wednesday has me in the Kitchen, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning the stove, and so on. Thursday comes around and I focus on the bathroom and its organization and cleaning. Friday I’m back in the Kitchen- but this time I’m cleaning and organizing the Pantry and the fridge- and taking inventory to create my grocery list, which I’ll shop for on Saturday after doing the Laundry. And Sundays? Sundays are my off days- because every Housewife needs a break.

And, of course, I’m also doing my set of Daily tasks in between my Weeklies for that day of the week.

Believe it or not, this list is the foundation of your routine; you have the bare bones of a system in place which allows you to tackle things in order, and in a manageable way.

Making the initial list gives you a much clearer idea of what needs to be done regularly in order to maintain your household. Dividing it up into the first four categories takes pressure off of you by providing visible evidence that you don’t need to get them all done at once. And breaking down the weekly items even further makes those tasks manageable even with the Dailies (and Monthlies, and Yearlies) that you need to complete alongside them.

As a result, you emotionally and energetically begin to feel like what you have to do is much more manageable and is something that you can actually accomplish on a regular basis. But not only do you feel as if it’s more manageable, it actually is more manageable… And being able to complete the tasks regularly? Is a key part in building a routine and sticking with it.

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