Where is "Cruise Control" for the Home?

This week has been much more “mayhem” than “elegant.” It started out with a plumbing leak from 3rd floor to the 2nd floor, water pouring down on my bathroom ceiling. All water in the house was turned off for 16 hrs while teams (yes, plural) came in to diagnose & repair. Then my husband & oldest daughter got stuck in Denver on way back from a ski trip, arriving like zombies at 4 a.m. yesterday. Oh, and my sweet nephew has been home sick all week and his parents are both on international business trips, so I’m playing a very pale imitation of my sister- and brother-in-law's amazing medical caretaker role today. It happens, right?

While not every week is this full of calamities, everyone has SOME weeks that are like this. So the question I’ve been pondering lately (& need more help on!) is how can you automate your home more, so that you — and your brain — are not the exclusive starting engine to keep things humming along??

Tim Ferris of the 4-Hour Workweek talks about this a lot in his books and his podcasts but he seems to be a single guy, so not all of his specific suggestions work for a very hectic family of 4 with 2 pets & 2 houses. Here are the 2 ideas I’m working on to get started. I am open to anyone else’s suggestions - please share!

1.) One BIG idea I’ve gleaned from friends is to have a standing order for your household basics. Some people prefer Jet.com and others like Amazon’s new “Subscribe & Save” program. The advantage behind both services is the same — you have a set of recurring orders, delivered according to your timing wishes (every month for some items, maybe quarterly for others). The REAL benefit in my mind is that if you do have a crazy week that takes over all your best laid plans…..there will still be toilet paper! And maybe even dishwashing soap. Or even printer paper for homework! The fantasy is real, friends. Now go ahead & sign up:)

2.) The other idea I’m working on, more slooooowly, is to write down what needs to be done, when & how. This is majorly boring so of course it’s at bottom of my list. But the benefit is that once you do this, it allows OTHER PEOPLE to step into your shoes if/when needed. I did this a few years ago when I got to tag along with my husband who was working at National Geographic and “had to” go on a trip around the world. We left our 2 elementary school age kids in the care of my parents and babysitter for 3 weeks, so my mom especially needed a “plan.” At that time I used Fly Lady’s “Control Journal”.  I’ve since found cuter templates and printables on line via Etsy, or maybe you want to make your own?? But the point is to take the thinking out of things so that you get to that amazing Cruise Control level:

Sample checklists:

*  things to do at home before you go on vaca

* special procedures for a child’s allergies or medical situation

* Holiday planning

The key here for busy women whose heads are already full:  the lists take the thinking part out of it for you! It’s like a Manual for Your Life. And the secret sauce….you can GIVE THE LIST to someone else to do for you, whether because you are undergoing special stress (illness, work situation, what have you) or because you just need time to do something enjoyable!