A Few of My Favorite “Little Things”
Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth
Daryl Hoole’s Little Things
I recently received a CD for review called Little Things That Can Make A Big Difference. It is a talk given by Daryl Hoole – homemaker extraordinaire – subtitled, 16 Practical and Easy Tips for an Organized Household and a Happy Family.
Daryl has been writing and lecturing about home management for years. Her recent book, The Ultimate Career – The Art of Homemaking for Today – has been touted as a message of hope and good cheer for homemakers in today’s world. Daryl is a mother of eight and grandmother to 36 – definitely a woman who can speak from experience!
My husband came home while I was washing dishes and listening to tip number 8 – Assign a “home” to everything. His first comment was, “Who is this? Can she come live with us?” Point taken. I like to think I keep a pretty organized and clean home but clutter does get the best of me at times and “a home for everything” isn’t necessarily my forte’. So I was open to receiving some suggestions that might improve our family life.
I tend to get overwhelmed if I try to change a slew of things at once (thank goodness these are little – not big things!) So here is my advice: Listen to Daryl Hoole’s CD, then pick a few of your favorite “little things” and work on those. Here are mine.
Tip #1 – No Meals on Wheels
My first thought of “meals on wheels” was of housebound individuals waiting for food to be delivered to them. Daryl is not banning this wonderful community service. “No Meals on Wheels” means no walking, running, ambling, dancing, crawling or skipping with food in hand (that covers most of the forms of movement my children perform while clutching animal crackers). Food is to be eaten at the table with the goal of cleaning up fewer messes around the house. She mentions later that children like little catch phrases like this.
So I tried it. My three year old loves to jump to the empty chair next to hers during meals. She’s also prone to disappearances under the dining table, as well as laps around it (we’re working on this). So I explained “No Meals on Wheels” to her and the idea stuck. We haven’t seen an overhaul in behavior but I do get an obedient smile when I kindly remind her.
Tip # 6 – Clutter Attracts Clutter
Yes – I’m a culprit. I know this tip is true. We have a nook in our kitchen that is notorious for piling up with papers, projects, items to return, books I’m reading, or broken toys. And once the pile is formed, no matter how miniscule, it grows – without any effort. It’s astonishing!
Daryl says several times that the No. 1 Housekeeping Enemy is “too much stuff.” She encourages listeners to de-junk, throw out, and give away daily – whether it’s sorting through the mail or creating a donation bin – limit the amount of “stuff” that accrues in our homes. I liked this bit of counsel: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
She also makes the distinction between toys and clutter. She reminds young moms that toys are not clutter. Scattered toys indicate progress as children play with, take apart, and move toys around. “There is no need to apologize for toys” says Daryl. “But” she reminds, “do teach children to pick up.” And here she offers another pithy saying, “Pick up is part of play.”
Tip # 9 – Do Today’s Work Today
It is no fun to wake up to yesterday’s work. I can heartily agree with this one. It’s depressing to get up and have last night’s dishes eyeing you from a dirty sink. The day goes much smoother for me if I have a fresh start in the morning, the house is picked up and counters are clean. It helps me have a clear mind to tackle the day. Here’s one more saying you can share with your little ones. “Put the house to bed before you go to bed.” We can do our best to make sure things are put away and wiped clean before bed.
Daryl continues by reminding us to do what counts the most each day. If it is laundry because no one has clean socks, do the laundry. We all know what needs to be done each day for simple house maintenance – what things are necessity, what things are tertiary. Daryl says sometimes we have to shift into “minimum maintenance” when we have a big project or responsibility on the burner for a week or so, but each day there is work to do. Whether we want to take it on or not – it does exist!
What I liked most about this tip, however, was the analogy Daryl drew between making a home and building a building. She began by talking about the cornerstone. “Moms” she said, “You are the cornerstone of your home. Take care of yourself.” Secondly, we should consider the foundation. The foundation of a home consists of the tasks that home maintenance requires – meals, laundry, picking up, a system of organization. Thirdly, we build the structure. When you have a happy and strong cornerstone (Mom), and a solid foundation (an organized, functioning home), you can create a structure that includes all the teaching, learning and growing. These things happen more effectively if the cornerstone and foundation are firmly in place.
More Than Keeping House
Daryl concludes by offering her definition of an ideal homemaker – that it is “more than keeping a house neat, clean, and orderly. Paramount to this is creating a home where family and friends feel comfortable and happy, where there are good meals, good fun, and love is strong.”
I’ve learned that we definitely can’t do it all. But we can and should be mindful of ways we can do things better. It won’t hurt to try some of these “little things” and see how they improve your home life, or at least your approach to homemaking. I appreciated Daryl’s ideas, her little sayings, and her years of experience. And Sister Hoole – I told my husband I was pretty sure you couldn’t come live with us, but if you’re ever in the neighborhood, we would love to have you for dinner!