The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Organized Home
What mother could resist the promise of the title THE BUSY MOM’S GUIDE TO A HAPPY, ORGANIZED HOME by AOL’s Family and Kids Coach Kathy Peel? I’m a sucker for anything that promises to help me make sense out of chaos, and Peel’s book is a great place to get started.
The book is organized into seven sections, each one with advice on managing a different area of your life. Peel includes a good range of topics, from basic everyday needs such as Managing Menus and Meals (Chapter Three) to the more emotional Managing Relationships with Family and Friends (with ideas on such subjects as talking to kids about sex or instilling good manners, Chapter Four). You don’t have to start at the beginning; pick up the book and go directly to a problem area, such as Managing Your Finances (Chapter Five) and dive right in.
With some entertainment responsibilities recently over that didn’t go as well as planned, I went immediately to Managing Special Events (Chapter Six) to find out how I could improve in the future. Peel had plenty of good advice and tips, from When to Do What, which helps you plan the gathering well in advance, to Nine Entertaining Disasters -- and What to Do about Them (including problems such as what to do if the power goes out). In the sidebars, I learned interesting tips on filing chipped glasses with a damp emery board to make them usable again, or that I could remove those omnipresent sticky labels on the bottom of my glassware by rubbing them with lighter fluid. I’m no Martha Stewart, and I found her advice helpful and practical.
Women who struggle with getting things done will find Managing Time and Scheduling (Chapter One) brimming with helpful ideas, from setting your priorities to making sure tasks get done. I particularly appreciated her list of small tasks that can be accomplished in five minutes (write a thank-you note, pray for friends, water plants, sew on a button). Of course, if you’re really disorganized, you may not be able to find the thank-you note or the button --- see Chapter Two, Managing Your Home and Property, for keeping things clean and organized.
In the seventh and last chapter, Managing Yourself, Peel notes that women who are concerned about getting everything right often neglect themselves. Or, as she puts it, “The caregiver receives the least care.” However, if “Mom breaks down, everything else suffers,” writes Peel, adding later, “When you make caring for yourself a priority, you’re better equipped to care for everyone else.” And no, this isn’t about going to an expensive spa or joining a gym. In this section she gives women ideas for no-cost ways to build rest into the pattern of daily life, from reading a book on the back porch to knowing when you are likely to experience PMS and planning accordingly with your diet and exercise.
There are more tips and ideas here than any woman could do in a year. But don’t be overwhelmed. It’s easy to choose a section at a time, and concentrate on whatever management problem is the most stressful for you right now. Why worry about managing so much? When you have a happy, organized home “you can slow down and enjoy the blessings of life,” says Peel. That’s good incentive for busy moms to pick up the book and begin making changes.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on July 23, 2008