Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home management blues..

Running the home seems a mystery.  We look at it very differently from our professional life when in fact work involved in creating a home uses basically the same skills involved in running a company. It’s a matter of looking at the housework as real work.

“What will we have for dinner tonight?” If only we could make delectable dishes for our meals, like those in the photos we see in food magazines, then, we assume, everything else would be perfect. That is every husband’s dream and many housewive’s nightmare. Even preparing a simple meal brings a lot of stress to homemakers.

Lack of time and lack of competence contribute to that stress. I have a client who told me that she would like to spend the little time after work with her children. But when she gets home, her time is spent preparing dinner, solving squabbles among helpers, and many other things that steal the time she wanted to dedicate to her kids. Time is always a factor of stress when there are too many things to do and too little time to do them all.

In the office, the projects are usually linear, goal-oriented and time-bound. There’s an end in sight, and when that end is accomplished and the work is acknowledged, the employee gets a sense of accomplishment. But in contrast, work at home is not linear; it’s cyclical. Washing the dishes, preparing the meals, preparing the clothes and the laundry must be done every day, day after day after day. So being cyclical in nature, the work piles up if not attended to properly, and the level of stress increases, which affects professional work.

Lack of competence is another stressor. Many highly educated and successful men and women feel less competent in running their homes. Why? Because the generation of workers we have now are children of parents who have worked or owned their own business. The age-old tradition of mothers transferring home skills to their kids may have happened very little from mother to daughter and hardly happened from mother to son.

Part of this incompetence in caring for the home comes from the fact of viewing the home as something very distinct from other aspects of life, much less professional life. And we think that caring for the home is something that one is born with: the homemaker either has the skill or not at all. But it’s not like that. You can run your home professionally with the same skills and attitudes that make you effective at work.

Plan, delegate, feedback and evaluate for improvement. These very same skills will help you manage the limited time at home. Having 3-4 week cycle of menu will solve half of the time concern because cooking is facilitated, grocery list standardized, budget is foreseeable. Plan schedule of cleaning and delegate tasks to helpers and kids and husband too. Having a notebook to record everyone's concern regarding the home eases coordination and builds notes of experience which is useful for simple routinary activities. Get the right tools for cooking, cleaning, organizing, a small corkboard helps in communication and reminding people.

You know better, get excited! Message me when you have problems..