5 Steps: Make your family your business!
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So here we are at Back to School already! The beginning of the new school year always feels quite exciting. As you get uniform and stationery supplies together there is a real sense of a new start.
For our children, this could be the year when they can put behind them any issues or dislikes from last year or beyond, and move forward in various new ways. But also for us as parents, perhaps this is the year when we can finally get ourselves and our families organised for success.
We all start the new school year full of good intentions. We are going to be superman/woman and be totally on top of everything this time. But as the weeks go on – and particularly as the days become darker and more dreary – it can seem so difficult to keep it up. We kind of run out of steam and just resign ourselves to the fact that everything will be chaotic; there is no other alternative.
But a recent book challenges all that. The Lean and Happy Home, by Eva Jarlsdotter, explains how you can run your home and family along business principles. Eva is a mother of three from Stockholm, and the book contains her tried and tested tips for running a smooth household.
The concept of “lean” originates from business and refers to breaking down tasks into small steps and then getting them done as smoothly and simply as possible.
When you apply this concept to a home situation, the key thing is to work back from the symptoms of the problem and sort things out at the source of that problem. As an example, think of a typical school morning when you may be rushing around, running late, not able to find the things you need and screaming at each other out of frustration. To fix this, you need to look at that whole process before it happens and see what needs to change.
Eva Jarlsdotter recommends the following five steps to sorting things out:
- Identify the problem
In the above example, you need to examine each step of the process and work out where the bottlenecks are. Work out how much time you realistically need in the morning to do everything that needs to be done. Also try a different approach to the problem, for example identify whether there are things that can be done the night before. Decide how you want things to change and ways that you can get there. Then try making those changes for an agreed period of time – eg a month – and review how it’s going and what else you may need to tweak.
- Family meetings
At the beginning of each week, sit down as a family for 15 minutes to talk about what’s happening the following week. Agree where you will put this information – for example a wall calendar or whiteboard or shared computer calendar. Include every single activity – eg parties, celebrations, school trips and activities, other clubs etc. You can also build into this some of the key domestic activities such as meals and chores. Personalise it to your needs, but the main aim is that everyone needs to know what they are doing and when – so that there are no surprises.
- Be open about domestic chores
Resentment can build and grow in families if one person thinks that they are doing too much and that others are not doing enough. But unless this is itemised, it can be hard to make rational judgement and to iron out any inequalities.
An interesting exercise is for everyone to write down the percentage of chores that they believe they do, and list them. Then also write the percentage and the chores that they believe everyone else does. This enables you to make a complete list of everything that needs to be done, and also for everyone to appreciate what everyone else is doing and redistribute as needed.
- Work as a team
Leading on from the above, there are many household chores that could be done so much more quickly and easily if you pick a time for everyone to work together on one thing as a team. Eva Jarlsdotter has a weekly “Cleanorama”, a day for the whole family to clean. You may want to have a checklist of tasks for each room, that everyone can tick off once they have been done properly. Best of all, always have a fun way to celebrate together when you’re done.
- Anticipate problems and find a solution
It’s amazing how long we will put up with things that are not working, just because we can’t be bothered to fix them. But long-term niggles can become really major issues if they are not nipped in the bud. Some examples are:
- Your children don’t spend enough time and effort on their homework. So why not set up a dedicated place for them to do this with all the resources that they will need, and set a specific time for each child to use it.
- Your children waste any money that they have. What about setting yourself up as their banker? You look after the money for them, but they need to create and keep records such as a cash book or spreadsheet for what they put in and what they take out. This will help them start to learn good habits with money.
- You don’t think you have enough quality time as a family. One way to overcome this is to arrange some fun activities together each weekend. But you can also get them more involved in necessary day to day activities such as helping to cook the family meal.
So good luck with the new school year. We hope that it turns out to be a really good one for you and your family, and that the above tips help everyone to get organised and feel less stressed.
Check back here soon for more lifestyle and money saving tips from Loans 2 Go.