Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Countdown to an Organized Christmas - Day 11 - Holiday Housework Plan

Article and Photo Courtesy of Christmas Organizing

Where did the holiday stocking pinch your household last year?

Chances are, a large percentage of seasonal stress arose out of disrupted household routines. Think back to the times that household routines fell apart on you. What was the state of your house?

Frantic clean-up sessions before guests arrive. Late afternoon trips to the supermarket to find something, anything to cook for dinner--and fast! The desperate search for clean sheets to bed down surprise houseguests. Six dozen cookies stalled for want of a stick of butter.

Fight back! The busy Christmas season is no time to play housework catch-up. Keeping on top of household routines--shopping, cleaning, meal preparation--provides a welcome ballast to the seasonal swing.

Time to draft a Holiday Housework Plan: a bare-minimum checklist of household chores, posted publicly to encourage family cooperation.

To Do Today

Print and set up a holiday housework plan.

Housework, alas, is with us always--even during the hectic days of the holiday season. How best to keep life flowing in your organized home?

Today's reading assignment shows how to set up a checklist of rock-bottom, must-do household chores: a Housework Holiday Plan. Done routinely, they'll keep household chaos at bay.

And you won't work alone: just as Santa relies on his Elves to get the job done, the Housework Holiday Plan recruits family members to help keep household routines running smoothly, even during the holiday season.

Post it in a public place to encourage Santa's Elves--or more likely, fellow family members--to pitch in to keep the household running in busy times.

Create a Holiday Housework Plan

Keep home life running smoothly, even during the holiday season

For many families, the Christmas season causes more than usual chaos on the home front.

Do you shove stacks of mail and magazines into dark closets to hide them from drop-in visitors? Does your dinnertime schedule fall off the rails when faced with multiple evening rehearsals?

Does Mount Washmore raise itself to new heights in the laundry room, only to be scaled in panic an hour before the Nativity play?

Forewarned is forearmed! A simple housework plan--and family cooperation--will keep things humming at home, holiday or not!

Built upon the concept of the Magic Minimum, this rock-bottom list of must-do chores can keep life at home afloat, even during busy times.

Coupled with accountability in the form of a chore checklist, a housework plan is the secret to holiday sanity, even during the busiest days of December.

Create a Holiday Housework Plan
Sit down with the Christmas planner notebook and your favorite hot beverage, and outline the rock-bottom, must-do chores that keep the household running.

Dishes must be done and the kitchen tidied fairly regularly. Food must be stockpiled or purchased. Laundry systems must be adequate to the unusual demands on clothing during the season. Public areas of the house must meet minimum health and safety standards for drop-in visitors.

List only the bare minimum of necessary tasks. Forget about making beds. Bathrooms open to guests should receive some attention, but you can slide on the kids' bath or the tub in the master suite.

Don't worry about windows or walls or the utility room. Just list what you must do to keep the family fed, dressed, and ready for company.

Divide your list into daily jobs and weekly ones. A sample list might look like this:


  • Clean kitchen after dinner
  • Run 1 load of laundry
  • Tidy up living room


  • Vacuum entry and living room
  • Sweep kitchen and pantry areas
  • Shop for groceries
  • Clean guest bath
  • Change linens and towels

Next step: delegate, delegate, delegate!

Enroll all family members as Holiday Housework Helpers. Call upon school-aged children for evening kitchen clean up or tidying chores. Schedule a weekend family work time for weekly chores.

Make out a simple chore checklist, or print a Holiday Chore Checklist from the Organized Christmas Printables Library. Mark names next to each job, and post the list in a public place for accountability.

Many hands make light work! If everyone pulls together on the Holiday Housework Plan, everyone will reap the benefit of an organized home during the height of the season.

Magic Minimum: Cleaning Secret of Organized Families

Is it time to clean? Not for today's busy families!

Between work, children's activities, and vacation plans, even the most leisurely days don't seem long enough to get everything done at home.

There's a solution for busy times! Just as your body needs a "minimum daily allowance" of vitamins and minerals, an organized home needs a minimum of maintenance and attention to keep running smoothly.

Think of this as a Magic Minimum: a short list of essential household tasks. It's a bottom-line list of chores and activities necessary to keep things running at a basic level.

With a working Magic Minimum plan, the household stays afloat, even when time is short.

What's on the list? Every family has slightly different needs, but most Magic Minimum checklists provide for these functions:

basic accounting chores: bank deposits and bill-paying
meals and menus: clean dishes, grocery shopping
laundry: necessary clean clothing
home management: once-a-day pick-up, weekly cleaning of bathrooms and kitchen
To make your own Magic Minimum plan, list the rock-bottom essential maintenance chores necessary to keep the household clean, fed and on time.

A sample checklist might look like this:

Every day:

Load and run dishwasher
Tidy kitchen
Run one load of laundry, fold and put away
Family pick-up time

Every week:

Review checkbook and pay bills
Shop for groceries
Vacuum living areas
Clean bathrooms
Next step: delegate! Assign one or more minimum chores to each family member. Every family member has a stake in keeping the household functioning, so everyone should be expected to help with the chores. Working together, everyone will be free for family fun in record time.

Finally, post your Magic Minimum list in a public place.

Families using a household notebook will include their list under the "home management" divider. 

Other families will post their list to the family command center, while another time-honored choice is the refrigerator door, but use whatever area is central to your family.

The written list aids accountability, because everyone knows what must be done before anyone can leave for a trip to the water park.

Give your household a Magic Minimum to maximize your family's opportunities for good times!

Unrealistic expectations when it comes to the holidays? Get armed with a good dose of reality therapy as we examine the "right" way to celebrate Christmas :

One Right Way to Celebrate? Wrong!

We don't know where we get it, we don't know where it comes from, but lots of us will stumble over this holiday illusion: "There is one right way to celebrate the holiday season!"

This one's sneaky. It comes to us through images, songs and Christmas cards. It rears up between newly married couples, as they try to blend his way and her way and make their own way in the face of competing in-laws.

You'll see it working in tear-in-eye TV commercials: a happy multi-generational family (all in attractive, color-coordinated sweaters) gathers round a flickering fire.

A groaning table sits beyond, crowned with a glistening turkey. Angelic, shining-haired children lean breathlessly on Grandpa's knee. Mom and Grandma trade good-natured looks over their work in the bustling kitchen--and outside, it's snowing in the starlight.

Yeah, right.

There is no room on these greeting card images for real life! Do not be seduced into comparing your home, family and circumstances with this touching image of the small screen.

Your children don't lean breathlessly on anything during the holidays; they bounce off every surface in the house, high on too many sugar cookies. It's a struggle to keep them clean, much less to stuff them in stiff-and-scratchy formal clothes.

The only thing that flickers in your home is the stack of three television sets, each tuned to different sports events. Dad and Uncle sprawl before them in a rumpled bed of crushed potato chips, pilfered olives and empty beer cans. When you try to prod the males to their feet for some "appropriate" holiday activity, like carol-singing, they howl like a herd of wildebeest have entered the house.

That oh-so-perfect holiday dinner? Well, the commercial didn't show the burned pie crust, the runny Jell-O ring, or the curdled gravy. Not to mention the cook, staggering around the kitchen at 5 a.m. and muttering under her breath as she crams stuffing into the enormous (still-frozen) bird.

Give it up, friends. There are lots of reasons why we may not have a storybook family on a storybook holiday.

This former single mom is waiting, just waiting, for the advertising geniuses to sentimentalize the reality of the Holidays after Divorce. How will they portray over-tired, over-extended children who've had two Christmases with two parents, assorted step-parents or stepparent wannabes, plus their collective offspring?

We may have lost family members during the year. Clinging to a picture-book definition of "family" only underlines their absence from our table and our lives. Distance may separate us from those we love. Isolation and the ravages of grief have no place in the "perfect" Christmas, yet they are realities that must be acknowledged and accepted, however unwillingly.

Life is simply not like that. We must give up the illusions in order to truly treasure, truly cherish, and truly celebrate that which we do have.

There can be just as much joy in the home of a single mom and her children as in that "perfect" gathering of grandparents, parents and children.

There can be just as much joy in icing a tube of slice-and-bake cookies with your children as in building a complete replica of the White House in designer gingerbread.

(Probably more, since you won't find yourself saying, "Johnny! Don't eat that cupola! No! You may not add purple shake-a-sugar to the back entrance! This is the White House!")

There can be just as much joy placing your motley collection of preschoolers' crafts on an artificial tree as in decorating a 12-foot blue spruce with a costly collection of 19th-century ceramic cherubs.

What's the one right way to celebrate Christmas? Yours!

To find that joy, you simply have to go looking for it. At home. Your home . . . for an organized Christmas.

Today's Recipe

chocolate coffee spoons recipe

Looking for a quick, easy gift idea? Delight your favorite lover of coffee or cocoa with inexpensive, easy-to-make Chocolate Coffee Spoons.

Disposable spoons dipped in chocolate, Chocolate Coffee Spoons make everyday coffee or cocoa an indulgent holiday treat. Garnish them with seasonal flavors and colors--like crushed candy canes!--for a standout handmade gift.

Best of all, Chocolate Coffee Spoons can be made in multiples for efficient holiday giving.

Bundle chocolate coffee spoons and a packet of Snowman Soup  into a pretty mug, and use as a stocking stuffer, teacher gift or Secret Santa present. With several seasonal variations on the basic recipe, you'll create a unique and welcome gift:

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