In any household trying to negotiate the economic minefield, the main navigator is likely to be the woman of the house.
Kathy Peel, author of 18 books to help families, says in her latest, The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Organized Home that every family needs a family manager. In most families, even if she has a full or part-time job, that manager is mom.
Because running a family is a lot like operating a small business, Peel said certain “standard operating procedures” need to be in place.
“Good business principals and strategies help run your home well,” said Peel, who lives in Dallas, Texas.
“When you have standard operating procedures (SOPs) and are doing team building and managing by departments you can get more accomplished. Otherwise you are getting up in the morning and thinking, ‘I have so much to do I don’t know where to start.’”
Peel says seven areas in your family need management attention:
Home and property. How do you take care of all your stuff?
Food. Who makes sure there are 1,095 meals on the table each year?
Family and friends. Who manages relationships?
Finances. How do you pay bills, stretch dollars and save?
Special events. Busy calendars include holiday seasons and birthdays and vacations.
Time and scheduling. Transportation and distribution is getting the right people to the right place at the right time with the right equipment.
Self management. You must take care of the mind, body and spirit that God has given uniquely to you.
“When people start running the home this way it’s eye opening,” Peel said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “Women like it because it recognizes that they have an important job in the most important organization in the world. Men, or whoever has been in the market place, like it because they recognize the value of SOPs at the office and know having them at home will increase efficiency there.”
Peel even goes so far as to say an organized household saves not only money, but marriages. When couples sit down and decide who is responsible for “the small routines of life,” little aggravations don’t have time to build up.
Peel, who describes herself as “domestically challenged” when she married Bill 37 years ago, said “God doesn’t waste experiences.” She grew up in a home where everything was done for her. Then she married a minister and her resource level changed.
She wanted a house where people could walk in and feel, “It’s good to be here.”
No one is good at all seven of the management roles, she said. Find a friend who can help in one of your weak areas and barter services. If you are a great shopper but can’t organize a closet, take your friend’s shopping list to the grocery and turn her loose with your shelves, hooks and hangers.
Trading out chores is huge, Peel said, especially for a single working mom. She suggests some ways to save time and money:
Join someone at work and each cook a double portion two nights a week, and share your extra portion giving you each two nights off from cooking.
Host a swap party in your neighborhood or with friends from church around a certain theme, like baby equipment or children’s clothing. “Everyone goes home with treasures without spending a cent,” she said. Rather than selling those pieces at a yard sale for pennies on the dollar, get dollar for dollar value in a swap.
Split the cost of a carpet shampoo with a neighbor and do it yourself.
Set up a babysitting co-op and car pooling to save time and money.
Be creative with your entertainment instead of paying for someone or something to entertain you. Stay home and play board games or make up a family trivia game.
“Attitude is everything,” Peel said. She said the two greatest tests in life are: what we do with success and how we respond to adversity.
With money problems the No. 1 reason for divorce, Peel said coming to grips with what is important in life, and finding creative ways to stretch a dollar will save marriages.
Additionally, she said the financial difficulty of the day may prompt “the revival that we’ve been praying for so long” if people see Christians reacting positively to adversity.
Financial health package
Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.