Today’s homemaker interview is with Beth Cranford. Beth is a full-time mom and homemaker. She lives in middle Tennessee with her husband and two children. She enjoys creating a home for her family and home schooling her children. You can learn more about her at her website.
And just to shake things up a bit, Beth’s article is in her own words instead of mine. I hope you enjoy learning more about her and how she manages her home. And be sure to visit her website when you have a chance.
What is your life like?
This past August my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Reflecting on the years and what we’ve been through and learned, I suddenly came to the realization that I’m becoming one of those “older women” that the Bible talks about. Even though I still seek wisdom from mentors and still have a lot to learn, I have come to see that I have gained wisdom myself and have something to teach. I hope that I can offer help and hope to the younger women in my path.
We have two children, ages 13 and 4. We waited a long time for each of them and were completely overjoyed with the news of each. (Not so much joy carrying them, but that’s a story for a different day.) We homeschool our 13 year old and intend to do so with the 4 year old when he’s old enough. I’m somewhat of a relaxed home schooler, so we’re not exactly sure what “old enough” really means. We learn as we go and try to keep our focus on God and family while learning what God calls us to learn. About eight years ago we moved from Maine to middle Tennessee. It was a big switch but we’re enjoying life here. I keep myself busy with home schooling, church activities, family life, and keeping up my website.
How do you manage your time and keep track of things you have to do?
My most effective time management tool is to simplify. Complicated living is stressful and usually not very fruitful. I keep my schedule very simple; we stay home a lot. I keep my housekeeping simple – we don’t have stuff we don’t use. I think just those two things keep my time pretty manageable.
Am I busy? Yes. I’m a faithful wife and homemaker. I’m a mom who also educates her children. I’m involved in my church. I work from home. I could easily get buried under the pressure of everything I have to do. But I’ve got some systems in place that help me with that. I realize there will be times when one area of my life will seem to take priority for a while, like when it’s time to plan school for the coming year. I won’t spend quite as much time on the business, etc. It’s normal and it’s really the only way that one person can fill many roles. There has to be an ebb and flow. I just keep an eye on it and make sure I still give a little bit of love to the other areas and that I don’t get too carried away in my current project.
I’ve written a book, actually a collection of articles on this very question. I’m in the process of posting one article at a time on my blog. If you’d like to take a peak, you can find the first article here. I post another one each Monday so be sure and check back for more.
How do you organize your space? What’s your style?
The house we live in isn’t very big so we do have to be intentional about how we organize. I’ve already mentioned my first strategy, and that’s to not have stuff we don’t need/use. That cuts down on a lot of potential storage issues. It also saves a lot of money!
I try to organize in a logical way, storing things where I use them. For example, every room in the house has a space for books, whether it be a whole book case or a simple basket for favorite read-alouds or magazines. I keep a box in my closet for items we’ll donate to either Goodwill or someone else. Whenever we are dealing with something we no longer want it goes straight into the box instead of being moved from place to place. My keys, shoes, and purse always go in the same place. It sure makes getting out the door (and out of the driveway!) a lot more efficient.
I guess I have a lot of little “tricks” that I employ to try to stay ahead of the disarray (you can read more of them in the articles I mentioned above). I don’t operate well when there is lots of clutter – I call it visual noise. My house, quite honestly, very seldom looks great. But it often looks acceptable, and we can most often find what we need when we need it. That’s probably all I can ask for in the season of child raising.
What’s your cleaning schedule?
If there is a cleaning schedule in print, I’ve probably tried it. I’m sure they all work…for the person who works them! I have found I’m not that person.
My productivity style is what I call a “batch worker”. That means I like to do a lot of one thing and then move away from that for a while and go do a lot of something else. Some things can’t be done that way, like making the bed. It’s pretty much an every day thing. But I only clean my bathrooms once per week (ok, less often most of the time). I usually do all the dishes from the day in one fell swoop after supper. I know, it probably isn’t the best way. It does make for a messy kitchen all day, but it seems to be what ends up happening. When I get the vacuum cleaner out, I’ll most likely end up doing the whole house or at least one whole level. I pay all of the bills once per month instead of as they come in. As I go throughout the day and find things that are out of place, I usually put them all in one place and then put them all away at one time. I feel like I get it done a lot faster that way.
These are just some examples of how I do some of the chores. I do have a written schedule of what chores I’d like to accomplish on each day of the week. But, I have to tell you, I almost never look at it. Somehow I just manage to move from one thing to the next and maintain some level of “good enough”.
How do you handle laundry?
Laundry is definitely something that fits into my “batches” productivity style. Some time ago I got completely tired of seeing laundry, at all different points in the process, sitting in various parts of the house – a load of clean, unfolded clothes on the couch, a basket of folded clothes at the foot of my bed, a load in the washer, and a load in the dryer. It felt like laundry was taking over my life. So, I switched to two days per week. I do all of the laundry from washing to putting away. I usually wait until I have 2-3 loads washed and dried. Then I turn on a training audio for my business or a home schooling podcast and fold as I listen. I’m usually done folding before I’m done listening! From there it’s very easy to put it all away.
As I fold I keep everything in the piles they’ll go in, so it’s just a matter of opening each drawer once and refilling it with 3-4 days worth of clothing. I find this system to be working for us. I no longer feel that constant drain of needing to do yet another load of laundry. Just two days per week and it really doesn’t take much longer to do it all at once than to do it one load at a time.
How do you menu plan? Grocery shop? Cook?
I’m a big believer in meal planning. I’ve found that just having a plan makes the grocery shopping much more tolerable and saves a lot of money. Having a plan brings me a certain feeling of peace from not having to worry about what’s for dinner. I’m not always good about sticking to the plan and I can really tell a difference in my stress level. I personally found it easier to sit down and plan out meals for an entire month than to keep doing the same thing every week. (There we go with the batches again!) From there I went one step further and organized my meals into seasons. I now have three monthly meal plans; one for spring and fall, one for summer, and one for winter. It works out nicely because each meal only appears on the plan once, so even though we use the plan three months in a row, we never get tired of the meals.
I try to do my major grocery shopping on a monthly basis but it doesn’t always work out that way. When I do manage to go at the beginning of a month, with my preplanned monthly list, I do save money and it really doesn’t take that much longer. I still have to go back for milk and produce but those trips are usually pretty quick. With a smaller list it’s also easier to stay focused and not end up with too many impulse buys. You’d think, having said that I like to work in batches, that I’d be all about once-a-month-cooking. I’m not. That’s just a little too much of a good thing for me to do every month. Instead I cook a lot of one thing at time, like taco meat, sloppy joes, or baked chicken. I freeze each item into meal size portions or flash freeze (depending on what it is) and keep in one big bag. When I go to make supper each night, usually one significant part of the meal is done for me.
What is your biggest challenge(s)?
My biggest challenge is clutter, and my inability to function if there’s too much of it. I think that also answers the next question which is “what is your most hated chore?”.
What is your most hated chore?
I really hate dealing with all the little items that I find laying around the house at any given point. I don’t mind doing dishes, vacuuming, doing laundry, and all those other chores that are clearly defined. It’s putting away the little things that don’t have a quick, easy place but you have to keep them. That’s the part of housekeeping that drives me nuts.
- I’ve learned that perfection is overrated.
- I’ve learned that time is valuable and if I use it well, I can accomplish much.
I’d like to take a minute to thank Patty for allowing me to come to her blog and chat with you today. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’d also like to thank you for welcoming me and for reading what I have to say. I certainly don’t have all the answers. I think if I did I’d be bored. I’m thankful for friends like you, who I can learn with along the way.
This article is the sixth in a series of homemaker interviews. You can read the other interviews here: http://homemakersdaily.com/category/homemaker-interviews/