Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Ideas for a reduced stress home

on March 19, 2015

I tell my husband that in a prior life he must have served in the military, because his sense of order and discipline are deeply ingrained and can feel almost bootcamp-ish at times. Many of our struggles have been over simple things like how to load the dishwasher or how clean the house needs to be. Over the years, I’ve reined in my free-spirited approach to homemaking, and with more than 25 years of experience in running a home, let’s hope I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

Here are a few things that have worked for me. If you have suggestions about what to do to make your home run more smoothly, please let me know, as there is always room for improvement.

  1. Water carafes in the fridge — When my kids lived at home there was always someone scrambling to get water glasses filled and on the table at dinner. I’ve taken a cue from bistro restaurants, where they placed a carafe of chilled water on your table. Carafes are available many places (my favorite is a Weck juice jar from Crate and Barrel and costs $5.95) and it feels easy breezy good to grab a carafe and a few glasses, and voila — beverages are handled! weck-juice-jars
  2. A white board in the pantry or on the fridge — Everybody in my house knows that if it’s written on the board, it will show up in the house. This way little scraps of paper or mental notes of “oh I should pick some of this up” won’t be set aside and forgotten. And it’s frustrating if you’re cooking and don’t have a crucial ingredient that you meant to pick up at the store. I make myself write things on the list too. Like I said, it’s one central list and it works.

    We must really need flour, because I listed it twice.

    We must really need flour, because I listed it twice.

  3. Label your shelves — Reducing micro decisions is a key to a calmer life. As a stay at home mom, the micro decisions are endless (what should I do now? and now? how about now?) and exhausting. For everyone, big open shelves or drawers can be just a catchall for whatever you happen to have in your hands. I have a cabinet in the upstairs hallway that we use for sheets and towels and blankets. Until I labeled the shelves I would just shove stuff onto any shelf where it would fit. You would think this would work ok, especially since the function of the cabinet is defined, but it meant I could never find things. With labels on the shelves, I take the nano-second of time to put things where they belong.
  4. Micro decisions and laundry — When I did laundry for one husband and two teenage sons, every single item of clothing had to be considered to determine who it belonged to, because they were all very close in size. If I had it to do over again, I would do laundry loads for each person. (Ok, what I really should have done was required everyone to do their own laundry!)
  5. If it takes less than 90 seconds, do it now! — I learned this from Tim. And it’s still hard for me to follow. But if there’s something I can do to restore order, and it takes less than 90 seconds, I should do it. These actions can include rehanging a shirt that I’ve decided not to wear, putting away running shoes, putting away makeup, or anything else that takes virtually no time. My surroundings are a lot nicer when I do this.

One response to “Ideas for a reduced stress home

  1. Amy says:

    I love this Leslie! Another big one for me is making my bed every morning. I helps me start out the day feeling organized and on top of things. On the days it doesn’t get done (like when the hubby is still in bed when I leave for work!) I don’t feel quite as “together”. Sets the tone for the day…

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