Schedule Your Weekly Household Tasks!
When I first got married, I had no clue how to manage my house. I moved from my parents’ home, which was run by my very capable and experienced mother and whoever helped her, to my own home, where I quickly hired a housekeeper since, like I said, I had no clue where to start.
Fast forward 20 years. It’s taken me a series of trials and errors; living abroad without any help; and finally accepting that I will never be Martha Stewart in order to share with you this schedule. I depend on scheduling for every part of my personal and professional life, and the way my household functions, especially because of the way we eat and the need for PREPARATION, makes a household schedule non-negotiable as well.
Most of us in Egypt have some kind of help at home; whether it’s a cook; a housekeeper who cooks; a cook and a housekeeper; a housekeeper who just cleans; a housekeeper who preps the food while you cook and she takes care of clean up; or any combination of any of these–many of us have some sort of help. But as women, myself included, we can still be plagued by a nagging feeling like we need to do it all, or do more, in order to feel “successful” and “have it all.” Or to be a better mom and wife. If not, we can feel inadequate.
I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to do it all and you don’t need to be superwoman. And it’s ok to have a little bit of dust every now and then.
My goal for you is to eat clean and healthy. And once you understand the importance of that, for you to pass on these lifestyle habits to your children and spouse. That takes work. I never sugar-coat this process. It takes work, consistency, persistence and patience. And it can easily be derailed.
The biggest deterrents I hear to not being able to stick to a healthy eating plan are a lack of willpower and a lack of time. I’ve covered lack of willpower here (if you haven’t read this post, take a moment to do that and see how you have more willpower than you think) and today I’m going to get you set straight on your perceived lack of time.
We all have the same 24 hours in our day. I don’t have any more hours than you do. Working moms, stay at home moms, CEOs; world leaders, anyone–we all have the same time to accomplish what we need. What makes the biggest difference between those who actually succeed in accomplishing their goals, versus those who bemoan a lack of time, is how that time is managed. I could go on about time management here but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on how to manage your household only with the aim that if you make progress in this area you will apply the same skill set to other areas of your life.
Use this table to get you started. I have a great lady who comes in to help me on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and so these are the days when most of my household tasks are completed. I’ve given you exactly how I do it.
My biggest realization was that you can’t do every task, every day. At least not well. You can try to grocery shop, prep, cook, clean, do laundry, ironing, and decluttering every single day, but chances are, you’re going to get burned out (or your help will get burned out) and the tasks won’t be completed thoroughly. When working on a task, your goal should always be to complete this task to as close as excellence as possible.
These are the major household tasks:
Cleaning: this includes full cleaning of bathrooms; dusting; sweeping and wiping floors; dusting furniture; cleaning windows
Grocery shopping: Making a list of everything you need for the meals you’ll be preparing ahead of time. I do this twice a week. Maybe it works better for you to do this once a week–whichever is easiest. What you don’t want to do is get stuck in a rut where you’re doing it every day. Shop online whenever you can. This is are pure time-saving luxury. Order your groceries first thing in the morning or the night before and choose your delivery time. Whether you’re buying healthy, organic produce or household goods like detergents, start to shop online and you will save hours per week.
Food prep: This will take time so that’s why I don’t prep and cook on the same day. It could take up to an hour to wash all the fruits and veggies; chop them and organize them. When I remodeled my kitchen a few years ago, I made sure to have two separate sinks to simplify this process as much as possible and to eliminate the chance of any cross contamination of my fresh produce with bacteria in my sink from dirty dishes. Wash all your solid fruits and veggies first in a bowl with a little bit of raw apple cider vinegar and then strain in a colander and lay out to dry. Next wash all of your leafy greens in the same way except you’ll need to leave them in the apple cider vinegar for at least 10 minutes to be sure all the dirt is released.. Rinse them in a colander and lay out flat to dry. Once dry, wrap your greens in paper towels to store in the refrigerator and/or chop and put in separate tupperware containers (glass is best) ready for future use.
Cooking: Now that all your ingredients are ready and prepped all you have to do is cook! Make 2-3 meals at a time. When marinating any kind of animal protein, we always double the quantity and keep one portion out to use either that day or in the next few days; and another portion goes in the freezer for those days when you aren’t organized (yes, those days happen a lot still). As a general rule, always try to make double batches of anything you cook since you’re standing there cooking anyway.
Laundry and ironing: Dividing up my laundry days has proven to be one of the most time-saving tips ever. We used to wash everything every day. A little bit of colors, a little bit of darks, some towels, sometimes I mixed in light colors with some whites. Anything to get the laundry out of the way. But when I lived in Toronto and had to do this without help, a friend suggested I do different loads on separate days to keep the laundry work to a minimum. At first I thought this was crazy. What if my kids or husband needed something that was dirty? There’s no way they would wait one week for it. I could just see the morning arguments and mayhem unfolding. But because I was tired and a bit desperate and it seemed like I was folding laundry non stop, I decided to try it. The result was hours saved daily. Yes it took my family time to accept that they can’t have every single piece of clothing available to them but that was a good lesson in and of itself. And when they argued, I simply told them they could wash their own laundry.
Misc: This is anything that you need done that doesn’t fall under the main categories, so clearing out closets, doing a full kitchen clean out; or decluttering the various piles that somehow seem to manifest around the house during the week.
Create a schedule that works for you and let me know how it goes. If you need any help, let me know as well!
Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.