Practical Dad

Multitasking the Housework

Do you wonder how some women complete all of the housework, powerwalk and volunteer six days weekly at the elementary school?  So do I.  But there are some things that I can pass along that make things quicker and simpler.  And it starts with a different mindset about the household.

It helps to think in terms of operations management - what can I do to streamline the processes so that the output is maximized in terms of time?

  • Before you start, think ahead about what has to happen and set up a working plan.  While I no longer put it in writing, I still have a mental to-do list that I compile in the evening.  What has to happen and who needs to be where?  And nowadays, what article do I need to write and what kind of research needs to be done?  Then lay it all out.  Frankly, there are instances in which I have to arrange things days ahead of time.
  • Is there something relatively mindless that I can do while I interact with the kids?  Folding laundry is a great possibility since there's no loud noise to interfere.
  • Is there anything that I can have the kids do to help?  If I'm cooking, the kids can fetch and carry items or ingredients.  If there's laundry, the kids can carry clean stuff upstairs or dirty stuff downstairs.
  • Remember to carry things with you as it arises.  Housework is a process and there is no point at which things are 'done.'  It's continual and you just try to have things in a decent state at any time.  So if you have to go upstairs and there's something nearby to go up, take it with you and deposit it; save yourself a needless trip.
  • What can be done while you're gone?  Washers, dryers and dishwashers are terrific labor saving devices if you utilize them properly.  So if you know that you're going to be leaving for some time, build a few extra minutes into the schedule to load any of the machines so that the job can be done while you're out.
  • Keep tabs on the schedule of family members so that you're on top of the clothing needs.  Is there a concert or event requiring decent and clean clothing?  Is there a gym class requiring clean uniforms?  If I know that there's a need for a clean and pressed white shirt in two days, I'll do with a full load of like clothing so that there's no water or electricity wasted.
  • Keep tabs on the schedule of family members so that you're on top of the meal needs.  Starting next week, I'll have three kids in three sports at three different levels and the crock pot will be used heavily as kids are shuttled.  When the kids were in preschool, I generally had them play quietly while I prepared the food or they could join me in the kitchen and play or draw at the kitchen table.  Their favorite programs were in the late morning and I used that time to fix lunch, so I had things laid out at the table in advance.

There are no magic tricks to getting this accomplished, just trying a different mindset and sticking to it.  It doesn't eliminate the chaos that kids breed but it does make it more manageable. 

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