After lunch at my friend’s house, I offered to put away her dishes while she took care of her baby. She laughed and said that she would take care of them later because she didn’t want me to see her disorganized cupboards.
When I told her that my cupboards weren’t totally organized either, she was shocked. “I thought every single cupboard and drawer was perfectly organized in your house,” she said. “You use a planner…everything always looks clean and orderly…”
“Actually, my sock drawer looks worse than my kitchen cupboards,” I admitted. “If every area in my house was perfect, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else enjoyable or fun. Aren’t perfectly organized people only a product of our imagination?” We had a good laugh and it was comforting to know we were partners in imperfection.
That conversation made me realize that I am not as stressed about homemaking as I used to be. I give credit to Donna Otto, author of Get More Done in Less Time. She explains how using a daily planner will help a homemaker be more objective and less stressed over trivia. A planner can help organize the events of any given day according to morning, afternoon, and evening. It helps keep the household flowing through routines and schedules. It helps us remember commitments and appointments.
Definitely those are good benefits, but I have discovered a few more perks that possibly aren’t so noticeable. Let me share them with you.
1. Relax in the chaos. My planner serves as a guide line and eventually it will help put things in order. If a week is full of extra activities it seems jackets, laundry and mail get scattered throughout the house and the longer it goes, the less family members seem to care. If I write, “15 minute clean-up” for Thursday evening, I can relax knowing that a bit of organization is forthcoming.
2. More likely to do fun things with my children. If I don’t write, “go to the drive-in for ice cream” or “make spider cookies,” I probably won’t get around to doing special activities with my children. Life can be so busy that sometimes we forget how important it is to do out-of-the-ordinary things. While little extras may seem insignificant to us, they are much bigger in your child’s mind. I see this in my older children- sometimes they reminisce about fun things they did when they were younger and they view it as a frequent happening. In reality we only had “green day” once or twice, because I certainly didn’t make it a habit of adding green food coloring to scrambled eggs.
3. Lightens the last minute rush. No, it can’t be eliminated all-together, but a planner helps you to spread out tasks. Who determines that the aroma of fresh homemade rolls must greet guests… or that all of the laundry should be washed, folded and put away before you leave on a trip? Deadlines have a tendency to produce drama and our goals can increase the level of pandemonium. Sometimes the only way to preserve sanity is be realistic about what is necessary or do a few tasks in advance.
4. There is a time and season for everything. As we move from season to season in our lives, our priorities change. We may need to put aside what we did in the past and channel our energy into something else. Our children attend a small church school and this year our youngest started first grade. Now my days are quiet and I am able to pursue other projects. On the other hand, it seems I am less free than I was a few years ago. My little boys are now big boys and I spend a lot of time cooking and doing laundry. When changes come, (and sometime they come weekly) we must wisely choose what kind of commitments we should make.
5. Helps decide between yes and no. If you’re like me, you dislike saying no to a request, especially if it’s for a good cause or directly related to helping others. Even if we have good reasons for carefully selecting our priorities, we may feel guilty by not agreeing to do more. If you cannot say no and your household continually suffers from your over-commitment you are risking failure in homemaking. On the other hand, saying yes to an emergency situation when you are already busy will not affect your household in the same way.
6. More focused at tasks at hand. My natural tendency is to be scattered, but disorganization frustrates me. A planner is my crutch and it helps me remember things I would otherwise forget. It tells me to do things I would not choose to do on that particular day. For example, I generally give my kitchen a deep cleaning twice a year and it is a job I despise. But if it’s written in my planner I am more apt to tackle it and of course I love the results. It helps me to reach out to others, because once I’ve written, “send a care package to Alma” I feel committed to carry that task out.
7. No stress over “what’s for supper?” In Get More Done in Less Time, Donna says, “Most women have no idea how much time they waste staring at cupboard shelves hoping desperately for an idea, making last minute trips to the grocery store to get extra food for one meal, and flipping through recipe books trying to figure out what to do with [one pound of burger].” She suggests that once you are in the swing of menu planning, it could save you thirty minutes to two hours of time each week.
Using a planner hasn’t made my life perfect, but it has brought some much-needed order. Homemaking is not about being perfect; rather it is about creating an atmosphere that is warm and friendly. It’s a place to create memories and enjoy companionship. Likely your children won’t fondly reminisce about the days you worked long and hard, but they will talk about the times you made them feel loved and important. And that is worth more than perfection.