Tired of Laundry Piles? How to Create Home Routines that Last

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I am one busy momma. Often, I sacrifice order in my home to accommodate the busy. One of the areas where I have struggled most is maintaining home routines. It’s tough. It seems like a never ending cycle of emptying the sink (or dishwasher) only to fill it up again and again and again. I wash all the clothes only to make more dirty laundry. Sometimes, you just want to give up.

Princess and the Frog -Tired
Over the years, I have tried so many organization systems. I have used binders, printouts, handwritten to-do lists and sticky notes, but nothing has ever led to lasting change – until now.

Creating Home Routines

Most recently, I tried the FlyLady system. I downloaded all of the materials and signed up for the email listserv, but it lasted maybe a week. I just couldn’t handle all of the daily and weekly tasks. Lots of women credit the system with helping them confront disorganization and clutter. It just didn’t work for me. However, I learned a very important lesson from my failure:

No one’s system was ever going to work for me, because those systems belong to the people who created them — not me. I picked myself up. I dusted off the remnants of failure and really got serious about tackling my home systems.

Here is what I did:
1. Acknowledge simple tasks done daily and weekly might help me get on track
2. Accept that if I can’t complete a task, roll it over to the next day.
3. Commit. Don’t quit if I get off track.
4. Stop the internal blaming and shaming.

In addition to these four strategies, I now understand that without routines, I have no systematic way to make sure tasks in my home get done, which means they will likely go undone.

What is A Routine

I sat down one evening and created an ideal morning routine.I asked myself, “On my very best day, what would I like to accomplish in the morning?” I wrote all of those things down. Similarly, on the perfect evening, where all goes well, what would I like to accomplish. I wrote all of those things down. Then I thought, I’ll use the weekend to do things that I cannot get to during the week. I made my lists and plugged them into Evernote.  Realistically, do I accomplish everything on my ideal day list? No. I don’t, but I get some things done. And on the weekends, I get most things done. Routines help me keep the laundry from piling up, the sheets washed, and my fridge cleaned out. I manage my home without my home managing me.

Start small. Here are some ways to jump start your new, home routines. Remember, customizing for your own needs is the first step.

Use an event, like “Trash Day” or “Laundry Day”. Right before, you will want to collect your trash and clean out your fridge. If you do not have a “Trash Day”, then pick a day of the week and do these tasks. The important thing is that they get on your list.

Create daily tasks. Avoid creating a long list. Your daily task should be the 2-3 things that you can reasonably do each day. For example, wash one load of laundry (if your laundry is in-house), make beds, or take food out for dinner. If your laundry is out of the house, your task becomes prep for laundry, which could be sort clothes, check detergents, etc.

Create weekend tasks. Use this time to catch up on what was missed during the week. For example, catch up on laundry, vacuum, run computer scans, clean out your car and meal plan.

Create e-lists or printed lists. Create reminders in whatever way works best for you. I use a combination of electronic and written lists. The process is about you, so use whatever methods work best for you.

It may feel overwhelming at times, because you are implementing a new behavior. Stick with it. You will see change in your home environment and a greater sense of order will come into your personal space.

Good Luck. You can do it.

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About Author

I am Dr. Joanna Scott, creator of Mocha Parents, Awesome Kids. I am also a mother, researcher and racial equity consultant. I have worked with numerous organizations across the country who aspire to be more intentional about race in their organizational policies and practices. In this space, I borrow from my work and my parenting experiences living at the intersection of race and gender. I have an extensive background in public policy analysis, family counseling and years of experience as a child advocate. I hope my work mirrors my heart’s song – a deep belief in the brilliance of every Black child.

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