Housekeeping is a real job–a job that needs to be planned carefully if one would avoid becoming a slave to housework or have free time for social activities and outside interests….In short, when a schedule has been followed until it becomes second nature, you run your house; it doesn’t run you. ~America’s Housekeeping Book, 1941
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been appointed to a plum managerial job at ABC Enterprises, a family owned operation. The direct monetary pay isn’t all that great but the non-tangibles make it worthwhile. For example, you are immediately given stocks in the company as part of the profit-sharing plan, you have an expense account, you set your own hours and you get to be as creative as you would like to be. Your first day on the job is full of excitement and you leave work with a great sense of accomplishment. The second day is also filled with critical decision-making but you decide to leave early to meet a friend for a mani-pedi at the local salon and then dinner. The third day is filled with a tinge of guilt as you realize that some undone stuff from the day before is impeding your ability to concentrate on the day’s work ahead. The fourth day, you start to feel a little overwhelmed with all of the decisions that need to be made and you discover that some of your tasks need to be done again and again and again, over and over and over again. By Friday, you decide to take a few minutes to read your favorite blogs and hang out on Twitter and Facebook. But you lose track of time and before you know it, the day has passed online and nothing on your “To Do” list has been crossed off. You are racked with guilt and vow to be a better manager and the whole cycle starts over again.
What’s missing from the scenario? Intentness.
Intentness provides a framework for being an effective home manager. In this day and age, we want instant results. We want our house to miraculously look like it came out of Home and Garden and we fantasize about The Food Network giving us our own cooking show. But life doesn’t really happen that way. The results we desire often require time and patience. Intentness keeps us from being distracted and enables us to persevere no matter what happens.
Let’s look at this another way. I know from experience that I am much more productive when I have a purpose. If I don’t, I just languish about and feel rather bored with tasks that I know I need to complete. Tons of books have been written to help businesses focus on their primary purpose. At every institution where I’ve worked, I’ve been part of committees whose purpose is to clarify the “mission” of the department within the greater purpose of the university.
What if…what if we decided to overtly define our purpose as home managers? What would our mid-century role model’s mission statement be?
When I was teaching Lifespan Human Development, I’d start the semester off with death and dying instead of prenatal development. My students’ first assignment (due at the second class meeting) was to write their obituary and their epitaph. They, of course, thought I was nuts until they understood that I was helping them clarify how they wanted to be remembered by others. Thinking about how you want to be remembered, as morbid as it may seem, is one of the first steps in defining your purpose as a home manager.
I’ve seen some high falutin’ mission statements and there are a lot of online resources that will help your create one but I think a simple one line statement is sufficient. For example, this is my rough draft:
My purpose as a home manager is to create a peaceful, serene, inviting, and loving environment that will enable all family members to achieve their goals and thrive.
So, getting back to the passage I quoted from America’s Housekeeping Book at the top of this post, by keeping a housekeeping schedule, my home is serene and inviting; I’m able to create a loving environment through the meals I prepare and other “little details,” and, since my house doesn’t control me, I can thrive through achieving my personal development goals.
How about you? Share your own (rough draft) statement in the comments.
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