Cookie inspiration from Ms. Stewart's readers

Cookie inspiration from Ms. Stewart's readers (linked to a gallery).

Do you ever feel that as the holiday season approaches you need to become more like Martha Stewart? Suddenly your home needs to consistently look like a magazine so you can focus on your invited guests and be ready for unexpected friends to stop by. Meanwhile, you need to find time to bake the world’s most amazing and beautiful sugar cookies, find presents to melt the heart of each of your loved ones, wrap them so well that the recipient won’t even want to open the gift, and conjure up your inner artist to make all sorts of crafts that your friends will swear you bought at a store.

It’s no secret most of us do not have the baking skills, craftsmanship, or money for materials that Martha Steward has. However, we all have self-discipline. If we didn’t there would be no point in making a New Year’s resolution every January. I tend to make little resolutions through out the year. One in particular has really been paying off.

A few months ago my husband and I were feeling very stressed. He’s working on his applications for grad school and I’m working on my career. We felt like the only “free” time we had was being spent catching up on chores, mainly house cleaning. Never without an answer to life’s most daunting problems my mom saved the day and our sanity. She explained to me that when my dad was in grad school they already had two of my older siblings and therefore immediately acknowledged the need for relaxed family time. Their solution has served them through four children and beyond and now its magic is starting to work in my little family of two.

When my husband and I first started living together we split up the chores by what we were most content with.

My Chores His Chores
Bathroom Kitchen
Dusting Vacuuming
My Laudry His Laundry

Even with our chores nicely split it still tended to take the better part of a Saturday to get the house sparkling clean. Enter my mother’s solution. Splitting up the chores was the first step, to really make it easy we then had to split up the days. For us this led to splitting the chores a little less evenly because I work from home so it’s very easy for me to toss a load of laundry in in the morning, dry it in the afternoon, and put it away in the evening, since we’re not doing all the laundry at one time anymore this task seems even easier.

Here’s what our solution is now:

Day Laundry My Chores His Chores
1 Sheets/Towels Shower Bathroom Sink
2 Regulars Toilet Granite
3 Delicates Stainless Steel Vacuum
4 Whites Dust  

Breaking it up like this has given us the ability to keep the house clean in at most a half an hours worth of work per day, leaving me more time to hone my art skills and think about baking cookies! Since we get it all done over the span of four days our weekends and Friday nights are free for more fun activities. In fact every night feels more freed up. With each chore taking only a few minutes of time there’s always time left in the evening to relax, read a book, or get some extra work done.

I recognize this isn’t as easy in a larger space or with very young children who can’t help out, but I don’t think that makes it impossible. In fact if your children are a bit older they can help too (do you detect allowance incentives?)! From the age of four or five they can help sweep or put dishes in the dishwasher and when they can read they can start doing their own laundry.

Whether it’s just a temporary solution for a busy season or becomes a way of life throughout the year this trick can certainly help you free some time to conjure up your inner Martha Stewart and truly make it a season to remember.

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