When I look back on my first misadventures in the art of home management, I can’t decide whether to cry or laugh. Cry for the time I wasted wandering grocery store aisles like a stunned chicken, only to emerge with a can of tuna and orange juice. Or laugh at my utter inability to grasp the obvious.
Was I alone in my ignorance of all things domestic?
Like most women of the 21st century, I was encouraged to foster my brains and beauty; to aim for high educational and professional goals. But after marriage, I quickly learned that managing a family takes a heck of a lot of work, organization, and know-how—and I had a lot of catching up to do.
I spent my college years coasting along on a monthly laundry cycle, living off yogurt, coffee, and Carlo Rossi wine. My time was my own and good nutrition, laundry systems, or grocery lists were furthest from my mind. But if I could reach back in time and pull my naïve self off the couch, I could have saved myself (and now my family) a lot of time, money, and annoyance.
Consider learning from my experience and think ahead. Implement the following guidelines now during your single years:
1. Make a shopping list and weekly meal plan: Whether you live on your own or with roommates, a rough sketch of your meals for the week will save you money and prevent you from throwing out loads of mealy tomatoes and curdled milk. Be sure to factor breakfast, lunch, and dinner into your planning.
2. Make a new recipe each week: Challenge yourself to build your culinary repertoire. Cook for friends or your parents or that nice old lady in your building. Find a favorite? Make it frequently so it becomes second nature! Down the road, you'll appreciate the stress-free dinner hour.
3. Organize and purge clothes once a month: It’s hard enough to manage your own wardrobe, without throwing a spouse and a few rug-rats into the mix down the road. Work a great closet system into your routine now and you’ll be a pro when the time comes to juggle your family's wardrobe later.
4. Live within a budget: As a newlywed, I would call my husband to say, “Don’t even buy a coffee until next Tuesday!” Take financial responsibility; organize your accounts now. A great free resource for insights on where you tend to spend is Mint.com. Confront that pie chart with an eagle eye!
"Home sweet home" doesn't happen overnight. Get ahead of the game by fostering healthy habits now to ensure that the "sweet" doesn't go "sour."
Photo via Chiot's Run on Flickr