HOME, sweet home; for there the heart can rest,” said a poet. But often, because of its condition and appearance, the home is a source of frustration. Instead of feeling comfortable there, family members may want to be elsewhere.
While you do not want your home to be like a factory—regimented and cold—could good home organization make a significant difference for your whole family? Consider the possibilities.
First, being well organized gives a person time—time for other important activities or things one enjoys doing. We are not discussing saving a few minutes, but hours every week. For example, one study shows that “by using an improved method of doing the daily cleaning, a 53 percent saving of time was effected.” Good organization cut the working time in half!
Second, good organization eases frustrations, such as not being able to find items, feeling embarrassed when unexpected guests arrive, having things always on one’s mind or half done. An organized home helps to bring stability into a person’s life.
Third, for the homemaker (since the home is her “workshop“) it brings a sense of pride in accomplishment, a dignity. So in all these ways good home organization contributes to family happiness.
But, if you choose to do so, how can you make changes in your home? Where might you start in organizing it?
Organization Starts with Attitude
Family cooperation needs to be encouraged. If the wife is the only one putting things back where they belong, she can soon become discouraged. The husband should take the lead in encouraging cooperation and seeing that duties assigned to family members are not neglected.
He also can contribute to a fine atmosphere in the home by encouraging a high regard for the role of the homemaker. Reflect for a moment: She must combine the talents of an interior decorator, teacher, secretary, nurse, maid, laundress and cook! Speaking of “the intricacies of keeping house,” one authority says: “It is without question one of the most complicated and many-sided operations one person is ever expected to handle.”
A woman works hard to prepare a meal. It can be a work of art. But how often do others thank her for what she does? Family appreciation greatly affects the mother’s attitude and, in turn, her attitude affects the home.
What should dominate your attitude as a homemaker? Caring. Caring means letting your love for your family show by the way you keep your home. Caring requires that your mind be on your work; not spending the day dreaming of things you would rather do. If you care, you will try to avoid always putting things off. Get an early start in the morning. Also, be alert to problems. A little tear is so much easier to repair than a big one.
As an aid to keeping a proper attitude, take time for a moment of satisfaction. ‘See good for all your hard work. It is the gift of God,’ says the Bible. (Eccl. 3:13) After cleaning or cooking, step back and look at what you have accomplished. See its value.
In addition to attitude, home organization involves plan, place and method.
Home Organization Requires a Plan
A good plan actually brings the homemaker freedom. How? She does not look around and worry about all the many things to be done. She knows that there is time set aside for each task.
Planning does not mean that you have to schedule each hour of the day, though some do that. Rather, list those things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally. In each list, put the more important things first. Plan activities for each day of the week, inserting weekly and monthly projects where you think they fit best. Then give it a try and readjust as you need to. When you look your plan over, you will see things that can be done at the same time. Often, for example, while something is cooking, you can be sewing or ironing.
While there are others, three basic areas occupy a great deal of most homemakers’ time. They are (1) cleaning and home care; (2) food, including buying and cooking; (3) clothing, laundry and repair.
How do you plan your cleaning? Dirt never takes a holiday. Thus, many feel that some “light cleaning” is needed each day—dusting, straightening. This often saves much time and energy when the time for “heavy cleaning” comes, as scrubbing floors or furniture. If things do not get as dirty, they will be more quickly cleaned. Also, a little cleaning relieves the mind about the appearance of the home, and the family sees a daily concern for their comfort.
When you plan your cleaning, avoid needless redoing. If you dust the furniture in a room and then sweep the floor or toss blankets in the air while making a bed, what happens? Dust and lint are thrown over the furniture you had just wiped clean. Planning saves work.
As for food planning, in those lands where daily shopping is not a necessity, favor less frequent shopping trips. Why? You save time, conserve body energy and do not have the anxiety of worrying whether there is something in the pantry to serve your family. Too, when unexpected guests arrive, you are not caught with your shelves bare. To shop ahead means you must plan your menu ahead. Actually, this can enable you to give more careful consideration to a balanced diet.
Keep a list or notebook where the food is stored, and when you find that you are nearly out of an item, write it down. Using this list when shopping will save many trips to the store. Yes, written lists do improve home organization.
As for clothing schedules, most find that weekly laundering is best, but circumstances vary. Often when laundering you will notice missing buttons, tears or frays. Having a notebook for mending nearby and jotting down the needs can be helpful.
So think about your job; plan your daily routine. Write things down when there is too much detail to remember.
Organization Means Arrangement
A home also needs good arrangement, especially in household work areas. Home equipment (brooms, pots and pans, cleaning solutions) need a definite place—an assigned spot. If the first place selected is not the best, by all means change it. Why keep running to the other end of the house to get something you regularly use in the bathroom?
Does it really make that much difference how you arrange things? As an example, consider the kitchen. One study showed that when a kitchen was rearranged—same space, same equipment—there was “a saving of 2,191 steps and 1 hour and 3 minutes of time each day.”
The U-shaped kitchen is often the best—things are closer together, fewer steps are needed. Also, equipment that is hung on hooks in the kitchen is easy to find and is usually close.
Methods also make a difference. A change in method may mean better results in less time. Can you improve your work methods?
Study your habits. See if you can reduce the time it takes to do a job by eliminating a number of operations or procedures.
Many tasks are made easier by fuller use of both hands. One homemaker revealed: “The longer I make the effort to use my left hand, the more useful it becomes.’’ Too, there is a tendency unnecessarily to lay down a tool and then pick it up for use again. An improved habit is to keep it in your hand until you are finished with it.
Consider, too, your methods of dirt removal. First, think: ‘What do I want to accomplish? Do I just want to move the dirt around?’ Obviously, if you just push it around, it will be there tomorrow, along with a little more. Equipment varies, but the preferred method is to gather the dirt, pick it up and put it outside the house. Thus, while a feather duster has uses, it throws dirt in the air, whereas a damp cloth picks it up, removes it.
Learn a lesson from the man’s toolbox. He carries it because in the long run it saves steps and energy. Similarly, a lightweight basket for carrying supplies can save you many trips back to the kitchen or supply closet.
Be balanced about household organization. Such organization is not the end in itself. Never let your children or your mate feel that their needs come second to the house.
A building is not what a person should think of when he thinks of home. What makes it home are the people—the quality of human association found there. If by means of reasonable organization you can make your home a place where your family is more comfortable, happier, it is certainly a worthy task.
Yes, home organization makes a difference—measured, not only in clean, tidy rooms, but also in smiles and inward satisfaction. It can help to make a “home, sweet home” where the heart can really rest.