It’s time to learn more secrets of family time management!
This week I’m interviewing Liz from Chief Mom Officer. Her site covers personal finance and investing, with a focus on working women. A great recent post from her is her update of breadwinning, six figure, and millionaire women interviews. You can get see what’s been happening with the interviewees and get to all the posts from that one.
Let’s see what Liz has to say about keeping a house full of boys running.
How many children do you have and what are their ages? What is your & your partners work schedule?
I have three children – ages 14, 10, and 2, all boys. I’m a full-time working mom in corporate Information Technology with a Fortune 100 company (and a financial blogger on the side), and my husband is a stay at home dad. We’re just like Mike and Em, but in reverse! Over the past fourteen years since our oldest son was born, we’ve had a number of different working arrangements. We’ve both worked full time on opposite schedules (with my husband working second or third shift), my husband has worked part-time evening and weekend gigs, and he’s been a stay at home dad.
What is the division of household chores between you, your partner, and the kids?
I recently wrote about the history of our division of labor over the years – you can read about that here. It changes based on what’s going on in our lives. Currently, my husband does most of the chores since I’m away from home at work from around 7 AM until 7 PM every day. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, running the boys around to activities – he does it all. My little guy is responsible for trying to help clean up the various messes he makes. The older two boys are responsible for cleaning their rooms, helping to pick up downstairs, feeding the dog, getting the mail, and taking out the trash/recycling.
Since my oldest son is a teenager now, we’ll soon start having him share in some of the snow removal/lawn mowing chores. He already knows how to cook, and we’ll have him cook an occasional lunch or dinner for everyone. I do a lot of cooking/baking on the weekend, the gardening, and most of the bi-annual deep cleaning of closets/drawers/etc.
What part of the day, or what activity, do you think you really have figured out & how do you tackle this?
My husband has the morning routine down. This is important, because my oldest son has to be at the bus stop by 6 AM in order to be driven to his arts school. So my husband has mastered getting up at 5 AM, getting the teenager up, making breakfasts/lunches for everyone (we don’t buy lunch at work/school), driving him to the bus stop, and then getting home to get my 10 year old out the door. I leave for work at 7 AM but also get up between 5 and 6, to see my oldest son before he heads to school, and to work on the site.
I used to the same exact morning routine when he worked in the early mornings and I was responsible for getting the boys off to school, so this is an area we as a family have down pate.
[I thought it was early for the high school kids around here to catch the bus at 6:30! 6 is unacceptable. The boy needs his sleep! – Mike]
What part of the day do you really want to improve & what have you tried?
Hm, this is a tough one. I really can’t think of one. Really I would like to generally have more time for hobbies. Between work, my site, and spending time with the kids I have limited time for things I enjoy doing. I have to make a very conscious effort to spend time on those things, and when I do have time, I’m usually interrupted by the boys. 😊
What do you spend the most time on?
My husband probably spends the most time on cleaning and the laundry in terms of chores. With three boys, a total family of five, a dog and a cat the house will get chaotic quickly if we’re not careful. Laundry and cleaning are two things that will pile up if they’re put off, so he spends quite a bit of time keeping up on that.
Overall the most time is probably spent supporting the kid’s activities. Transportation to/from the arts school, scouts, etc. take up huge amounts of time. It’s temporary, though, and my oldest son will be able to drive – and then off at college – before I know it. So we don’t mind spending the time doing this now. My husband being a stay at home parent helps immensely in this regard.
What do you find is the biggest barrier to getting the household administration done, so that you can spend more time on fun activities?
The sheer number of kids activities would probably be the biggest barrier. Our schedule is tame compared to many families I know, but it still seems like there’s something going on every day of the week. My work/site schedule is also demanding, so I don’t have as much time as I might like to do fun activities. But we still have plenty of fun together!
What tools do you use, if any, to stay on track? (planner, apps, calendar, etc.)
We use a family calendar for the kids activities, in addition to our phone calendars. The boys often have activities going on – swim lessons or library classes for the little guy, boy scouts for both boys, art shows for my oldest (he goes to an arts high school), drama club or band for my middle son – if we don’t track it, things get chaotic quickly.
We don’t use this for ordinary chores though. Those are done every week.
Is there something that you have considered simply eliminating to save time, but haven’t? What if the day was magically an hour shorter, would you eliminate it then?
I’ve thought about paying for things that we currently do ourselves – lawn care, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. If we both still worked full time I likely would. But with a stay at home spouse it doesn’t make sense to do that. If the day was an hour shorter I probably still wouldn’t outsource.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do with it?
Work on my website, Chief Mom Officer, for half the time and spend the other half with my boys.
What is your best tip for managing a household full of kids?
I have a two key tips:
- Remember that you’re raising your kids to be adults – you’re not raising them to be kids forever. When they leave your house it’s important they know how to pick up after themselves, how to cook/clean/do laundry/take care of the lawn. You’re not doing them favors by doing all the work around the house.
- Don’t expect someone else to do a chore the same way you would do it. If you get frustrated with a spouse/partner or child not doing a chore “right”, you’ll just end up doing it yourself forever. As long as it’s done reasonably well, let it go.
If you want to be part of the series or know someone else that would, email me at Mike [@] marriedandharried.com. I would love to learn any tips you have and thoughts on running a household with kids.
If you want more, you can find all the interviews from the series here.
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