Home Management Tips & Tricks
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Home life can feel crazy sometime. There is laundry to go, groceries to get, meals to plan and make. You want a clean home and a sense of life balance. Honing your home management skills is key if you’re to make sense of it all.
Good home management involves organizing the stuff of family life in a way that suits your family’s needs and personalities in the season that you’re in. It will help you feel more with-it and in control.
Follow these simple home management tips to get your home running smoothly for maximum enjoyment.
If you’re a mom, you know that there are lots of aspects of life that will thrive under your care and attention: marriage, parenting, housework, finances, your children’s education, your family’s social life (with each other and with other people)…. the list goes on.
But, sometimes all these different “spheres” of life can be overwhelming. Where do you even start? Managing a home? What does that even mean?
Good household management is more than just getting food on the table and paying the bills, though those are really important.
Successful home management is organizing all these areas in a way that fits your family’s values, needs, and personalities.
What is home management?
Simply put, home management is taking care of all the things that need doing and helping the people in the home do the things that need doing. While it may sometimes be looked at simply as bill paying, meal planning, cooking, and cleaning, it’s so much more than that, at least when it’s a family home, because a family lives there.
Family complicates life, but it also makes it richer.
Since much of my days are spent at home, and have been for the last 20+ years, I often ask myself how I can make my family’s life at home the best it can be.
How I manage our home has a direct impact on their well-being and making this a soft place to land when life outside goes off the rails.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:
Prioritize People over Things
Good home management involves relationships, first and foremost. My husband and children are more important than whether or not the dishes get washed and put away promptly after every meal. My attitude towards my people has a bigger impact than if we have neat and tidy kitchen cupboards.
- If a family member or friend has an emergency, then caring for them trumps teaching a math lesson or cleaning my toilets.
- If a child wants to help with the baking, whenever possible, include them.
- If someone needs to talk through a problem, then that’s more important than his or her getting chores done on time.
People are more important than things.
Put Order into Chaos
If I’ve got chaos everywhere I turn, I can’t think straight and am tempted to be impatient; all this puts a strain on my relationships. See point #1.
Having things in order, establishing a home management system, and getting the family on board all work together to make home life much more enjoyable — for everyone.
When the kids are keeping up with their schoolwork and regularly tackling their chores, when I have my head on straight or at least have a meal plan, when I spend time keeping our home organized, we all do better.
What are typical home management tasks?
- meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation
- laundry and clothes shopping
- household chores (such as cleaning bathrooms and bedrooms, washing dishes, general maintenance and upkeep as well as spring cleaning)
- teaching and delegating chores to other members of the household
- childcare, educational support, and transportation to activities
- running errands (shopping, school drop-off, etc.)
- stocking household supplies and equipment
- paying the bills and managing the budget
All that, plus any hobbies and personal pursuits can feel overwhelming. Managing it means putting it in order and developing systems that work for you.
If you’re the family organizer, then you need to keep all this information in one place. It might be a bulletin board command center or something easily portable like a binder.
A home management binder or personal planner can be invaluable in tracking all the things, especially when it comes to managing a household of many children and all the different schedules.
Be sure to read about creating your own planner to get ideas as well as some free printables.
Play the long game.
Good home management requires having a vision for how you want things to be in the future as well as the here and now. Most good things take some planning and prioritizing. Some things you can change today, others, like teaching kids certain cleaning routines, take a little finessing over time.
I use my Print & Go Planner to help me assess my vision for my life and my household. The front section lists goals and the different areas of my life in order of importance so that I can see at a glance what I want to improve. Then each month, I assess how I can live those things out through projects or systems to implement.
Make Daily Planning a Habit.
Good home management takes some daily planning. Time management is your friend in running a home, especially if you work or homeschool full time. So think about having a list of some sort to work from. Writing it down can help you to remember what needs doing.
Currently, I use a time budget and my post-it note to do list (both in my Print & Go Planner) to help me get my ducks in a row.
I grab action items or systems I’m working on from the monthly list to the weekly list, and then each day, I create a small to do list, pulling a few items from the weekly list of tasks and projects.
Not all of life happens on paper, of course, but I’ve found that different lists help me keep track of the different things I need to manage in my home.
Always Keep Learning
If you want an organized home with a family, you need to be ready to pivot. The seasons of life will take you in different directions. Your meal planning system that worked like clockwork when the kids were little may likely need some tweaking as they get older.
Your methods of managing your time and scheduling your day will need to shift as your family life evolves. Be ready to try new things.
Kids grow and change, as do their habits, skills, and personalities. Develop their household management skills as you grow your own. Give them responsibilities and be willing to learn from them as well as from other adults.
Some great household management books I’ve benefited from include:
- The Lazy Genius Way – like Atomic Habits, but specifically written for moms
- The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
- The Hidden Art of Homemaking
Tools to Use
Whether you have a full fledged household management binder or use a little of this or a little of that, there are plenty of easy tools and simple tips you can use to organize home stuff.
- The Motivated Moms app helps in organizing cleaning tasks and help gets the family on a cleaning routine.
- I use Google Docs to prepare a schedule for the kids of daily house chores and kitchen jobs.
- I use Quicken to track our spending to see if we’re on budget and these worksheets to communicate finances with my husband.
- As a working mom, I use Amazon Subscribe & Save to make sure we don’t run out of the necessities, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
These systems help me manage my home in a way that doesn’t stress me out and allows me time for work and leisure as well.
This post was originally published on May 12, 2008. It has been updated for content and clarity.
I don’t have ducks I have squirrels and they’re everywhere! There’s literally a dozen or more thoughts running through my head as I type this. I’ve probably lost more to do lists than anyone I know. My latest pair of glasses have my name inscribed in them so they can find there way back to me LOL no seriously it’s bad.
This article is amazing! I had not thought of it as “managing” before, I was more so just reacting to things that were happening and making it up as I went. But this helps me prioritize, plan, and and keep it simple!
One of my dear friends gave me some great, simple advice not too long ago. I was talking about my own struggles as a new mother who couldn’t seem to keep up with everything. She simply responded with: “Whatever you do, make it easier for YOU.” Sounds simple, right?
She then went on to explain that because stay-at-home moms have so much responsibility when it comes to families and their well-being, we have to be able to make things easier, or doable, for ourselves in order to get things done. Things pile up quickly if we don’t.
For example, when the dishes get used, wash or rinse/stack them right away. Make your kids do the same. Wash the dishes after EVERY meal. You can also clean as you cook. Of course, many moms already do this, but when you are a new mom, you might get too tired or lazy, or maybe you get distracted by a crying baby and think you’ll do it later. Perhaps none of this has even crossed your mind. Pretty soon, you’ve got a huge pile of dirty dishes that will take a big chunk of your precious time away.
Maybe this isn’t such a big deal if you have a dishwasher, but the point is, you have to find little chores like these that will help you accomplish your big goals in the long run. You can apply this strategy to almost anything. So why not try to make life easier?
The reality is that being a good mom, wife, and homemaker can be overwhelming; however, reality doesn’t say you have to be perfect either. You just have to do your best and keep trying to do your best. Starting small is a good idea. Finding different ways to make things easier and preventing messes from becoming even bigger messes can really help. I think it does get easier over time.
There’s so much great advice here! Here’s some more:
1. Your children are sponges, so remember you are always being watched. Influence them with good habits to be put to use in their lives. Knowing this has helped me many times when I felt like I was losing control.
2. Your family was given to you from God, and He wouldn’t have given them to you if He thought you couldn’t handle caring for them! And when someone gives you a gift, you want to make sure you take care of it. So take a deep breath, ask God to help you, and thank Him for your family.
I’m praying that whoever is reading this article and these helpful tips and comments will find a sense of calmness and a spark of inspiration! You can do this!!!
Thank you for this article, Jessica!
Great advice, Christy. Thanks!
Oh mamas, I think if we’re honest, we’ve ALL been there. 💜 Shoot, I think I lived there for a while and when I realized I was in WAY over my head, I realized that I needed a new to do list. One that didn’t cause me to cry at the sight of it, or one that only caused guilt since there was no way I could ever finish it with my hubby “enjoying” an early mid-life crisis, a new baby, two elementary aged boys who were new to public school, and adopting an angry teenager all at once, while I worked as a nanny 55 hours a week. Egads!
So, for about two years my to do list looked like this.
1. Do a load of laundry all the way to away.
2. Do a load of dishes
3. Do a 10 minute tidy session in one room of the house
If somehow I had a burst of energy (LOL) I added clean the bathroom to the list.
The rest of my energy was focused on hugging people, putting healthy food in their bellies, and getting enough sleep. And…it was enough.
Be gentle with yourselves, mamas. This mama gig is a hard job, but it’s important. We can’t spend our days beating ourselves up for everything that isn’t perfect. Hugs to us all.
Jessica, thank you for everything!
Blessings, Mama K
Good words. Thanks so much.
As the primary breadwinner I have to balance the need to work and family priorities. If I don’t work we don’t eat. This reality limits my time at home. Consequently, when I’m home I have to be very deliberate about prioritizing my activities. My priorities are husband, kids, friends, healthy meals, a good night’s sleep, clean clothes, church on Sunday morning and then everything else as time allows. So my home is relatively clean, but lacks organization. The photos remain in envelopes waiting for me to put them into the album. There is almost always a stack of paperwork waiting to be filed. The kitchen blinds and floor need a good scrubbing. And the list goes on. I am too old to be Super Woman. I cannot do everything. I have to focus on the important stuff and let the rest of it go.
Done is better than perfect, and I think you do a great job at that. Thanks for chiming in.
I really feel like such a failure in this area of my life. It seems like I can never stay on top of even the most basic things. I did great when I had one child, ok with two, but now with three I’m really having a hard time pulling it together. Most days I barely get my oldest to school on time and struggle to get anything accomplished. I feel really depressed about the current state of things which saps my motivation even more.
Kimberly – I feel you as I just had my third and am amazed at how crazy things are. It definitely helps me to make a to-do list each week and edit it as needed during the week. I always try to remind myself what Jessica wrote – that family comes first before chores. Are your children happy? You got the oldest to school? Those are great things to be proud of. For me what has worked is prepping meals in advance, doing one load of laundry a day (sometimes I put one in at night so all I have to do in the AM is dewrinkle and fold). Maybe you could try seeing where you are most stressed and coming up with a plan to tackle things one by one. Hang in there, you are not alone. This season is crazy but things will get better!
I have been in that place more times than I can count. Are you getting enough sleep? That can really take a toll on how you feel and how you manage stress. Can you get some help from your husband, family, or friends? Sometimes we need a boost to dig out. Digging out can be overwhelming.
Another strategy that has worked for me is just to pick one small area to maintain. Maybe it’s the kitchen sink. If I can keep dishes washed and the sink empty and clean, then it’s a small victory that I can build on.
Lower your expectations of yourself for a season. Know this is a season. It took me two years after every baby to feel “normal”. Focus on food and clean clothes if nothing else works.
I’m not sure of your specifics, but let us know how we can help!
Yes sleep is a major problem. I seriously haven’t slept through the night since my oldest was born (she is now 6 and didn’t sleep through until age 4, my son (now 4) didn’t sleep through until age 3, and the baby doesn’t sleep through the night and even at 18 months gets up 3-5 times. Most of the time I end up in a sleeping bag on the living room floor with the baby so my husband can sleep. I’m hoping things get better over the summer, right now husband is in school part time and working full time 50 hours a week, and we have no close family or support system so I’ve just been managing the best I can on my own. Thank you for your encouraging words Jessica and Cheryl.
Hang in there, Kimberly. I definitely would make sure you communicate with your husband how you’re feeling. Chances are he may not understand that you’re burning out. It took me years to learn to communicate that I needed help, but it was so good that I did.
That IS tough! Don’t kid yourself that you should be on top of all things in this situation–you have many things working against you. I can sympathize a little, since we’re just coming off of many months of really horrendous sleep from the baby too, not much family close, and hubby in school. I think we feel good enough to think we should still be able to manage, but the reality is that those factors affect us more than we know.
I’ve started trying to view this season as a way to make me appreciate cleanliness and organization more. When I am able to be back to full strength, I think I’ll have an easier time knowing how to stay on top of things. Finding little strategies that work (sometimes) now, even in the midst of the hard, will set us up for doing even better during non-survival-mode. At least, that’s what I’m hoping has to be true!
All that being said, hang in there! Do your best, and that’s all you can do. And take a nap instead of almost anything, if you get a chance 😉
Though my season of life is different now (they’re all teenagers), when they were younger, I felt overwhelmed by it all. It was another mom who had 7 kids under 12 that gave me the best advice-do one thing a day. Sometimes that one thing was just one load of laundry washed and dried (and not folded); sometimes it was an entire room. The key, she implored, was it didn’t have to be anything big, but something that made life easier for me. A lot of times it was just getting all the bottles and sippy cups cleaned. As my kids got older, the amount I could accomplish increased dramatically, as did my confidence at homemaking. It’s hard when your kids aren’t good sleepers and you feel like you’re in a constant fog, but it does get better and you have to give yourself a little grace and enjoy family life where you are! You are not alone.
“One thing a day” is great advice.
Who do you have to come over and see d time with while you do the big projects? Is their another mom interested in meal planning that you can drink wine with and share some laughs as you guys brainstorm and plan.
I would ask how old the kids are… I know I did with my 6 get over whelmed when I wasn’t having the kids HELP ( 5 min room rescue at the top of the hour) helped. No tv No computer and NO cell phone after a certain hour and BEDTIME FOR MY SELF was set in STONE. . Bedtimes included clothes picked out for the next day. Launch pad for things that had to go out the door the next day. I had to change my routines a lot with each kids..