Keeper of the Home 101:  Lesson #3 Well Defined Systems

Crystal Miller


As we began our lessons on keeping the home we discussed that the first area to focus on in your home is to make sure your schedule is revolving around your husbands and that the goals of your day are lining up with the support of your husband’s life and goals.  We basically discussed the main priority for each of us is to be our husband’s helpmeet.    In the second lesson we discussed “Time Management”.  We looked at how to evaluate our day to determine how many useable hours we have to accomplish our goals and work for the day. Then we examined various time robbers that can prevent us from keeping our goals and staying on top of our daily life. 

This month our Keeper of the Home lesson will be on “Well Defined Systems”.  In order for a home to run smoothly and for life to flow in a consistent manner we must have systems in place all through our home.   A “system” is a way of dealing with daily actions that repeat themselves often in the home.  For example, laundry is a regular occurrence in everyone’s home.  So is there a system in your home for dealing with this?  Do you have set days you do laundry?  Do your children know what to do with their dirty clothes?  Do they have a main laundry area to take clothes daily?  Do they have baskets or hampers in their rooms?  Do they have a schedule for when these hampers are to be emptied?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then you have a laundry system in place.  If you answered “No”, then that might be a good place start establishing a system!  ~smile~

The kitchen overflows with the need for systems. Systems for dealing with dishes so they don’t pile up, cupboards that are organized so that dishes can be put away easily, a pantry system to deal with food coming in and keeping goods rotated and dated, and the list goes on.  I will share some of my kitchen systems with you.  I have the toaster that sits next to the refrigerator and in the drawers below the toaster I have the knives and next to the toaster is the bread board.  This makes a nice area for me to easily cut my homemade bread and toast it for breakfast, or I can make sandwiches and easily bring out needed ingredients right from the fridge.  I have all my cupboards that hold basic dishes, plates, bowls, cups, etc.. right near my dishwasher.  This makes it quick for unloading, I don’t have to take extra steps to get the job done swiftly; I simply reach for dishes and put ! them away.  This makes more efficient work out of a job that is done 3 to 4 times a day at our house.   I have a baking center where I can easily reach baking powder, soda, salt, spices, baking pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc.  Below the cupboard, sitting on my counter are my mixers and food processor and in the cupboards below this are my mixing bowls.  This will mean that it only takes minutes to whip up a pan of cornbread or make a batch of cookies because everything I need for the job is in easy reach. 

Other areas that require systems in a home are dealing with garbage and recycling and clutter, children’s toys, library books, meal planning, storage closets or rooms, cleaning schedules, and so on.  Some areas of your home may have a system in place, but maybe it is not working well.  Systems need to be evaluated as time goes on.  

Each room in your should be examined and evaluated to see if it is functioning smoothly.  If you find that something is just not working right then that is a good place to work on.  Often times you can work to turn a basic system into a well defined system.  Years ago I would have the kids bring their laundry to the laundry area and everyone would just dump it in a big pile.  I had the beginnings of a system, I was teaching everyone to bring their laundry to a central spot, but then I was left with a big and often overwhelming mess.  So I improved on this system by purchasing large colored plastic trash bins and taught my children to separate their laundry when they brought it into the laundry room.  White clothes went into the white bin, jeans went into the blue bin, and colored clothes went into the green bin, and so on.   Of course if the children w! ere young I would do this for or with them and eventually this system grew to my present system where each child has their own color coded towels, each child has their own laundry basket and their own laundry day and they all (with the exception of my youngest child) take care of their own laundry.  This is a big improvement from the days of everyone dumping the laundry into overwhelming piles! ~smile~

Another area that needs a regular system is dealing with all the “stuff” that comes into a home on a daily basis.  When your children remove their coats is there a spot in the house for those coats to be hung?  I have hooks in my basement and hooks on the main floor for coats, so no matter which doors the children enter into, there is a place for their coat, besides the floor!   How about shoes, do they get tossed here and there and tripped over or are there places for the children to put their shoes.  One mother I read about had color coded plastic milk crates in an area that held the shoes for her children.  The crates sat below that child’s coat hook; great example of a system!  My children are taught that when the shoes come off, they go straight to their rooms. 

What about paper items such as school papers, mail, children’s art work, message notes, etc.?   How do you deal with these items?  We have a spot on top of our piano that serves as the place to put mail that is addressed to my husband.  Mail that is addressed to me goes on my desk.  Art work, craft projects and drawings are displayed on the fridge or bulletin board for a few days and then removed.  If the item was very important to the child they then can hang it in their room, or put it in a plastic tote for safe keeping.  I can’t reasonably keep everyone’s art work and I don’t attempt to.  I will keep an occasional piece for memories sake otherwise these treasures are tossed.  I don’t have my children take phone messages on paper or note pads; instead I have a large white board that hangs in our dining room (schoolroom) where we write down messages and other information.

If you work to put systems in place it will not only save you time in dealing with the many small details but it will help you to have a home that will function smoothly.  Clean up time, cooking time, chore time will all flow much more efficiently with good systems in place!