About a year and a half ago I wrote what has become one of my most read posts. It is all about being organised in a lazy way. If you haven’t read it already, you should. It may just change your life.
With my return to work just days away now (sob), I have been thinking about how best to manage my workload at home with 30 hours a week less to do it in. I’ve been analysing how I go about things and have realised that I am far more productive
a) under time pressure
b) working with lists
Stepping back and taking a moment to think about my approach to housework, hobbies and all the little things that come with being a mammy led me to come up with five more points for running your home smoothly without much effort.
1. Cluster tasks – rather than running up and down the stairs a million times, forgetting what I wanted and doing things twice, I try to cluster chores. This can make the place look like a big mess for an hour or so, but it ends up saving me a lot of time. For example when downstairs, I put anything that needs to go upstairs onto the bottom steps of the stairs. When I need to go upstairs, I bring them. Similarly when I am upstairs to get a load of dirty washing, I tour the bedrooms, loading the laundry basket up with cups, empty loo rolls, and anything else that needs to come downstairs. It makes me feel very productive and saves a lot of running about with empty return journeys, if you get me.
2. Lists – ok, so this is nothing ground-breaking. But we all need a reminder now and again, especially if things are getting on top of us, that lists make sense. I find that having a numbered list of things that need doing makes to me do the chores quickly and easily. So, to make youself happy and productive, draw up a quick list on the nearest piece of paper, keeping it simple. Instead of a general point like “Do laundry” write several points like “put on wash”, take in dry washing”, “put away dry washing”. That way, if you don’t get all three done, you can mark off what you do achieve rather than feeling discouraged at not getting “do laundry” completed.
3. Bedtime routine – laying out the children’s clothes for the next morning as a joint pre-bed task in the evening is a great way to avoid rows and rushing in the morning. We mostly lay the children’s clothes out on the floor when they are just about to get into bed. Number Two likes to un-pair the socks and lay them out as feet at the bottom of the trouser legs and lay the underpants on top of the trousers. The T-shirt and sweatshirt get laid out above that so then in the end we have a flay-lay person on the bedroom floor. We still have to call up the stairs for the children to hurry, but we’ve saved ourselves the “what should I wear today?” issue.
4. Short bursts of action – I mentioned above that I am at my most productive under pressure. If you give me all day, I may not get the dishwasher emptied. If I tell myself to do it in the space of time the kettle takes to boil, I’ll get it done. Then, motivated by my own efficiency, I will get a whole heap of jobs done in no time – floor swept, surfaces wiped, bins emptied, dinner started, all in the space of ten minutes. If I find myself on the verge of one of these bursts of action, I run with it in a make-hay-while-the-sun-shines kind of way. (P. S. It helps to hide your phone away during these bursts of activity).
5. The oven is your friend – this is one to remember when you aren’t in the mood to cook but you need to put something on the table. Roasted rosemary potatoes can be in the oven in five minutes and need no attention for the next 25 minutes (see below for recipe). Ratatouille can be in the oven in ten minutes and doesn’t need to come out for 90 minutes. Feta cheese with roasted vegetables is another very quick oven dish needing very little preparation. Homemade pizza is a big favourite in our house as it baguette pizza made with par-baked baguette. Keep an eye out for oven dishes that need no cooking prior to going into the oven. They are a life saver.
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
Wash the potatoes but leave the skin on. Halve or quarter the potatoes or elave them whole, depending on the size. It is important that all the potato chunks are of a similar size.
Add the potatoes to a baking tray as soon as they are chopped. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with the seasoning, add the rosemany and the garlic. Shake the baking tray gently to coat all the potatoes and place in the oven foe 25 minutes. Larget chunks may need longer.
Served with an omlette or even a fried egg, this makes a quick, filling and easy dinner.