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Are You Leaving Your Home Management to Chance?

Are You Leaving Your Home Management to Chance ModernRetroWoman.com Blog Image

Planning is not cooking but it is management.  Mother gets her day’s work done because she has learned to plan.  In her day, planning or management were not taught in school.  This is where you have an advantage.  (The Home Economics Omnibus by Harris & Huston)

Dear Friends,

Lately, I’ve been wondering about whether many of us view homemaking as our job rather than a chore.  Thanks to the media and companies trying to sell us stuff to rescue us from our “daily drudgery” (and don’t forget Pinterest with all of those “hacks!”) chores have a rather negative connotation.  But what if we thought of home management as our career and not “just a job?”  Would we go about our day differently?

When I was a new school teacher, I had to submit my weekly lesson plans to my principal.  He wanted to make sure that the new teachers had plans in place to ensure that our students would meet our learning benchmarks.  As a new professor, I didn’t have to turn in my lesson plans but I carried over my habit from when I was a schoolteacher.  Since then, I have led countless workshops teaching new professors and graduate students how to plan out their entire courses so that their students learn without too many “uh-ohs” happening during the semester.

And, isn’t that what planning is about?  If we plan, we can manage the daily ups and downs a little easier.  If we ask ourselves, “What can go wrong?” we’ll already have a plan in place to manage the “uh-oh” instead of it turning into a disaster.

What does home management planning entail? 

In my mind, home management planning includes things like financial/money management, physical upkeep of the house and ourselves, meals, vacations/days of rest, and education.

Education?  Yes, education.  Many professional careers require their practitioners to acquire professional development hours in order to renew their license.  And, yet, we don’t necessarily think about professional development when it comes to home management.  But why not?  That “hobby class” offered at the recreation center may provide you with skills that will help you grow as a home manager.  The big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot offer DIY workshops.  Even if you aren’t planning on redoing your bathroom, just having an understanding of how the bathroom plumbing works will enable you to save money because you will know when you can unclog that drain yourself (instead of needing to call a plumber).

I’m not a FLY

Many young mothers write to me, wanting to know about resources so that they can be like a 50’s housewife.  I think the unspoken plea is that they don’t feel in charge of their home and want some guidance on how to be an ideal homemaker.  I think a first step is to view home management as a career and see both the daily and long-term in our planning.  That way we won’t be buffeted about like a ball in an old pin-ball machine.  Planning means that we are in charge and can remain (relatively) calm and productive no matter what happens.  We can be confident that there is a Plan B and, hopefully, a Plan C in place in case we can’t go with Plan A for some unexpected reason.

I know a lot of people have found FlyLady to be a lifesaver for them.  And I’m not going to knock her system.  However, I’m more old school and prefer the original system that hers was built upon.  For the past 20-some odd years, I’ve tried planners and digital reminders and FlyLady and all of that good stuff.  But, the old-fashioned 3×5 tickler file still works best for me to keep an organized home and life.

How about you?  Are you a planner or a winger?  Share your method in the comments.

To your calm Technicolor homemaking career,



Image: Vim advertisement, 1951, courtesy of TotallyMystified on Flickr.com


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  1. I believe if we truly put the running of a household in the same catagory of running a business, there would be a savings in the cost it takes to run. The only problem many of us working girls find is the time for the details.

  2. I am so happy to be retired and focusing once again on my home. I understand the point you made about education, but I just love the education I receive by reading this blog. The Omnibus is great and I’m glad to see you are continuing to refer to it. And other educational inspiration is out there. And since I have trouble focusing on my job and its daily responsibilities, I appreciated the reminder about the card file, a great tool.

  3. Pingback: But…I don’t even have TIME to plan! — Modern Retro Woman
  4. I’ve tried having plans for home management and they never work for me. I hate housework and if its on a plan that I should be doing it then I just feel forced into doing something I hate. This does mean my house isn’t as clean as it should be, but it’s not a sty either – I just get around to cleaning somewhat randomly when I feel like it needs it or when I can’t stand the mess anymore. Interestingly I hardly ever have a problem of bills not getting paid etc – I’m the type that tries to do little jobs the second they hit my desk so that I can keep my brain-space as clear as possible and not constantly having reminders going round and round my head.

    I wish I could learn to enjoy housework – I really envy anyone who actually enjoys cleaning.

  5. Hi Jen –
    I have a secret: I don’t actually enjoy cleaning, either…especially the bathrooms. But I’ve reframed it to being an act of love because I love having a clean house (just not what I need to do to get it clean) or “me time” when I can listen to some music or an audio book (using my phone and ear buds and tuning out everything else). I do some of my best thinking when I’m cleaning (and in the shower, too! ).

    Also, a lifesaver for me has been to tell myself that I only need to do 15 minutes of homekeeping at a time and what gets done gets done. Yeah, it’s a mind game but I’ve got to use all of the tricks I have to get to the end goal when it comes to cleaning.

    Thank you for sharing! I’m pretty sure you’re not alone!

  6. I’ve always been very organized and have a clean home and a freezer full of meals, but I DID spent my adolescence collecting and reading 1950s etiquette books and home ec manuals. Never saw the connection until now!

  7. Hi Julie-Ann,

    I always remember what a neighbor told me she read somewhere……… Think of it as home- caring instead of house-keeping.
    That has made a big impression on me ever since.

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