Feb 07 2009

Househusband Tips For Solving Problems At Home – Don’t Keep It In The Closet

Last week my kids went back to school. All three of my boys are now at school 5 days a week.

This is amazing, as it means I now have 5 days a week of uninterrupted time between 9:30 am and 2:30 pm to attend to my home and work responsibilities. As we entered the final days of the school holidays, I sat down and created a list of all the systems I am going to put into place around the home this year, to ensure that I can manage the home efficiently while still devoting the time I need to continue growing my businesses.

Here are some of the “systems” I wrote down for managing the home:

Financial Management System

  • Bills
  • Reporting (for tax and to help us review our spending)
  • Filing & Archiving

Kitchen Management System

  • Keeping General Kitchen Area Tidy
  • Fridge Shelf Management
  • Pantry Shelf Management
  • Weekly Shopping (groceries and supplies)
  • Weekly Meal Planning
  • Rubbish and Recycling

Clothes Management System

  • Sorting
  • Washing
  • Drying
  • Folding
  • Storing

General Home Management System

  • Lawn & Backyard Maintenance
  • Clean Toilets & Bathrooms
  • Keep Living Room, Offices, Landing & Corridors Tidy
  • Keep Car Clean And Tidy
  • Monthly, Weekly & Daily To Dos

Leisure & Recreation System

  • Hiring & Returning DVDs, library books, etc …
  • Weekend tasks and activities
  • Planning and co-ordinating family activities and events
  • Planning and co-ordinating events, activities and engagements for the kids

After creating the above list, I then spent some time over several days breaking down all of the systems into smaller processes and working out the best and most efficient ways to get all of the things listed above done. I also worked out which areas I could delegate to others (for example, my oldest son helps me with the rubbish and recycling, my youngest boys help out with keeping the home tidy and I just pay a lawn mowing guy to keep the lawn around the house trimmed.)

After a few days of intense planning and “mental organization”, I started on the monumental task of becoming a worthy househusband and creating a “manageable” environment for everyone here at home by choosing to address the toughest area first … our finances.

Ever since Corporate Babe brought home a huge flatscreen TV she won in a sales contest, the management of our finances began to suffer greatly. Not because we were now spending more time watching movies and neglecting to pay bills (although I can’t deny there is a certain truth in this!), but because I was forced to move all of the intrays I was using to manage our finances off the second desk I had set up in my home office to make way for the huge screen.

Having no place else to put these intrays, I stacked them up inside one of the closets in the room, next to my socks and underwear baskets (since I spend so much time here in my home office, I decided to set up all of my clothes in here as well. Last year, when we got a home exercise machine, I wanted it to go in my office too, but my wife refused, saying that I would then have almost no reason to ever leave my “cave”!).

Having the intrays in the closet worked well for a while. At least I didn’t have to look at the ugly stack of bills and late notices that our postman was delivering to our mailbox every day. The problem is that soon after we acquired the giant screen, my family realized that we could no longer sit in the really uncomfortable green plastic chairs we were using before to watch movies on my laptop screen. This issue was soon fixed when my in-laws arrived from overseas for a month’s visit and my father-in-law discovered a great lounge going for a bargain at a local church yard sale.

My home office had now also become a “home theatre” and the lounge was pushed back against the closet door. This made it difficult for me not only to access my socks and underwear each day, but also to get to the finance intrays, since there was hardly any room for me to open the closet door and the kids were now living in my office, either to watch movies, or to take turns playing games on the big screen.

What began to happen, is that after collecting the mail, I would come into the office, squeeze my way past the kids on the lounge, open the closet door just a fraction and throw the unopened envelopes into it. This soon became a habit and I thought nothing more of paying bills, fines, late notices, etc …

But, of course, one can only ignore bills, demands and outstanding payment notices for a while. And so, the week before the school holidays came to an end, I set up a third desk in my now very crowded little home office and dragged out all of the intrays and unopened bills from the closet. After spending a whole day organizing my finance management system, I then spent the next two days walking around the house feeling extremely depressed, for I had now seen the writing on the wall (I put up a notice above the intrays with an arrow pointing down to the bills) and knew that things were definitely not looking “rosy”, but more like a kind of dark, stinky brown.

Anyway, the first step when planning how to get to any destination is to know exactly where you are starting your journey from. As a househusband fully committed to meeting my responsibilities to my home and family this year, I now know exactly where I am financialy. It’s not good and it’s a problem, but at least it’s out of the closet now and I can start dealing with it, one day at a time.

The Lazy Househusband

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May 12 2008

Walking With Househusbands – Problem-Solving In The Cave

Househusbands approach domestic situations in ways that are often very hard for their partners to comprehend.

Now, I don’t want to ignite a gender debate here. But take for instance what happened the week Corporate Babe returned from her two-week business trip abroad.

After returning from the office one evening early in the week and greeting me at home, I said to her in an apologetic tone, “I’m sorry the kitchen is a mess and the dishes from last night haven’t been done.”

Corporate Babe embraced me with warmth and sympathy.

“Honey, it’s okay! I know that looking after three kids on your own for the past two weeks has taken a lot out of you. Don’t worry about the kitchen. I don’t feel like cooking anyway, so why don’t we just order some takeout tonight.”

Next evening, when Corporate Babe came back from work, I apologized once again, “I’m sorry the kitchen is a mess and the dishes from last night haven’t been done.”

Once again, Corporate Babe was extremely kind and sympathetic.

“Honey, it’s okay! You need to recover and get your energy back. We can just use paper plates and plastic cutlery tonight.”

The third time I wasn’t so lucky. After getting home, Corporate Babe went into the kitchen first, before coming to greet me in my office.

“Honey, you’re gonna have to do something about those dishes staked up in the sink. I have nothing to cook with and we have nothing to eat on!”

Reluctantly, I got up from my office chair and followed my wife into the kitchen. She didn’t say a word. She just sat down at her laptop in the kitchen counter, next to the stinky, overflowing garbage bin (how can people work like that?) and started typing away at the keyboard.

I walked around to inspect the kitchen sink. All the pots and pans were at the bottom of the pile. Above those, were a stack of plates exposing different food strata. The wobbly plates on the top layer were precariously held together with remnants of my spaghetti and meat sauce dinner. The food composition on the lower levels was harder to determine with accuracy, as the erosive agents of time and stagnant dishwater had already begun to attack these. Above the shifting tectonic plate pile, were the more recent artefacts of recently eaten lunches and the morning’s breakfast (of which nothing was left, save the empty shells of two hard boiled eggs).

As I stood there examining the ruins (an ancient food pyramid perhaps?), I noticed Corporate Babe had stopped typing and was staring at me, with only her eyebrows egging me on.

Carefully, gently, I started slowly removing the layers from the pile, separating the dinnerware from the dinner “whateveritwas”, isolating the easy from the greasy and the oiled from the boiled.

And then I found it!

Looking back at Corporate Babe with a triumphant smile, I motioned her to come around to the sink.

“Come here! Look into the murky waters, there by floating strands of spaghetti and tell me what you see!” I said gloating.

Corporate Babe peeked over the sink and wrinkled her nose.

“It’s a dead, floating cockroach!” she said.

“EXACTLY!!” I exclaimed with sublime contentment. “Let me explain …”

And so, with a smug tone and a cocky grin, like a mixture of Hercules Poirot in the closing chapter of a gripping Agatha Christie novel and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc gang unmasking the bad guy, I let the events of the past few days unravel for the benefit of my lovely and long-suffering spouse …

“You see, for the past few days I have been studying the elusive behavior of this one particular cockroach. It was a smart one. Wise … savvy … a survivor! When I first spotted it running across the kitchen counter, I tried to catch it, but it outsmarted me. It weaved and I ducked. It zigged when I zagged. It went hip when I hopped and jumped right when I left. Every time I tried stepping on it, it was already one step ahead, side-stepping me!”

“Determined not to be outdone by this little vermin, I began to observe it like a crocodile ready to ambush its prey. I became the ‘Cocky Hunter’, familiarizing myself with this little creature’s filthy, nocturnal habits.”

“Once I had figured out its routine, I then devised a most brilliant trap – if I may say so myself! Now, I know this may look like a great big mucky pile of dishes to you, but take a deeper look … ”

“You see, first I filled the sink only up to a third with water, knowing that if any cockroach fell into it, it would not be able to clamber out.”

“I then began to create an environment that simulates the cockroaches preferred natural habitat … the filthy kitchen of a lazy slob! But it was all a facade, you see! Each dirty plate, each icky item of cutlery, each leftover food glop you see stacked over here in the sink, all part of a master design with a deadly purpose. It fooled you for several days, and it fooled this poor little soul too. How could he have known that all this time, I was exploiting his genetic weaknesses? He could not! And so he has succumbed and drowned, a victim of his own greedy little innocence and millions of years of instinctive behavioral programming … bloated and immersed in a nutrient rich broth which ne’ermore shall nourish it’s little soul.”

“And, best of all, this trapping method is completely environmentally safe … no dangerous chemicals or poisons were used. Since you’ve been gone, I have used this exact same pest control procedure to catch half a dozen other little blighters like him!”

When I finished explaining the madness behind my method, I saw that Corporate Babe was looking “cocky eyed” at me, wondering whether to believe any of the “cockymamie” story she had just been spun.

Whether she believed me or not, I don’t recall what she said next to me, because my “hunter mind” had already become fully preoccupied with the next great househusband challenge … tackling the weevil infestastion festering inside our food pantry.

The Lazy Househusband

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