Thursday, July 17, 2014

Family Systems Part 1: In which I realize a problem and an overview


I read in a book on home management that all families have systems. Some are beneficial, such as a system for dealing with dirty dishes immediately. Some are not, such as a system that leaves the dishes for days on end until there are no more clean dishes and someone just does them all. But beneficial or not, they are both systems.

I came to the realization while back that our family systems were not working. We seemed to be perpetually existing in survival mode. We seemed to bob along, doing the minimum necessary to keep our heads above water. Don't get me wrong-- we never starved, we always had clean clothes when we needed them, and no health codes were ever violated. But we ate meals out far too often, the laundry never seemed to be caught up, and we spent far too many frustrating moments trying to find things (the remote, a needed book or papers, a pen). Between nursing school, an active three year old, and a feeling of general exhaustion once the weekends came around, our systems were most definitely no longer beneficial, or even working anymore (if they ever were).

So in the past few months I have been working reforming our family systems, on finding ways to make our systems run better, function more smoothly. I have read (and am still hunting for tips) what has worked for others through reading blogs and books on homemaking, pulling out ideas and suggestions that I think will work for us or that appeal to me. In my research, I tried to follow three simple rules.

1. It has to be simple. I have this tendency to try to make my systems, any system from organizing to budgeting, overly complicated. Very detailed, meticulous plans appeal to me, and I love to create them. The problem is that complicated plans/systems also require time and energy to put into practice, and time and especially energy are two things that I am frequently lacking, and so the systems are never followed. Therefor, I have tried to follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

2. It cannot require a huge investment of resources. Time, money, and space are all in short supply around here, and I simply cannot afford a system or an idea that requires a great deal of any of them. Of course I could have the perfect system if I had a huge house and unlimited time and money. But I don't, and our family systems have to work for where our family is right now. So any organizing scheme that started off with purchasing huge amounts of materials or rearranging my entire home I passed on by. Simple, inexpensive (even cheap), and easy to do.

3. It had to be three year old compatible. As of right now, I only have one child, and she is three. As such, she is of limited help in the running of our home. I have seen a lot of systems that have Mom delegate a large portion of the work to her children. These systems simply will not work for us, not right now. (Side Note: I did make notes of these ideas, as they might prove helpful later on down the road)

I won't pretend that I have all the answers now, for I certainly do not. I am still very much in research mode, trying to devise new systems and change old habits. It hasn't been easy, as old habits certainly die very hard.

 Perhaps hardest of all is that this whole process has forced me to take a hard look at myself, and face some personal habits and behaviors that were unhealthy, not beneficial, and just down right selfish. This has been uncomfortable, and even down right painful at times. But then, denying one's self and picking up one's cross is always painful. But that is a topic for a later post!

So while I have far, far to go in my re-education as a keeper of our home, I have learned some things, and in subsequent posts hope to share what I am learning with you. As always, I would love any advice you, my dear readers, might have. What systems have you found to be effective in this season of life, whatever it might be? What systems once worked for you but had to change as your circumstances changed? Any advice for one who truly is just starting on this road?

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