As the mother of three small children, I am always looking for ways to get the house cleaned quickly, and the clutter organized, so we can go play. While talking with my sister one day, we both came to a revelation that has changed both our home and work lives. It had to do with what is not always considered an honorable profession, but one that helped both of us work our way through school. No, not that! Read on!
No Wasted Trips
When you are out at your favorite restaurant, watch the waitress who seems calm and completely in control. She's friendly, she's happy and her customers are, too. She's working in a groove of her own making, but how? Two ways: anticipation of needs and no wasted trips.
As she strolls throughout her tables, she notes which customers are nearing the bottom of their drinks, which are finishing up their appetizers, which have dishes that need removing. This is anticipation of needs. When she sweeps through the dining room again, she stops at *every* table to bring something or remove something. This makes for no wasted trips.
Those of us who wish to have a clean home and "happy customers" can learn a lot from the calm and relaxed waitress. Before you leave a room to wake a child from his nap, scan it. What can you bring to the child's room with you to help tidy things up? His stuffed toys? His books? The clean clothes you've just folded from the laundry?
Heading to the bathroom? What can you bring halfway down the hall on the way? Coming out of the bathroom, you can complete the errand, and find yourself ahead of the game.
Thinking Two Steps Ahead
And this can definitely turn into a game as you challenge yourself to think two steps ahead. Going to pick up your little ones from Gramma's house? What do they always request of you in the car? A drink? A snack? Great, anticipate their needs and surprise them.
But think even one step further - what do they hope for when they get home? A game of catch or tee-ball? Have the equipment assembled, so you don't have to rush around looking for it. Do they prefer to nap? Have the bed turned down and the shades drawn.
Simple anticipation and never walking anywhere in your house empty-handed can work wonders - and it's so easy once you train your mind to think this way. When I waitressed my way through college, I learned skills that I did not then realize would help me throughout my life. But now I know better. Looks like I learned more from college than I thought!
Sharon McKenna lives in New Jersey with her three sons. She is married to a newspaperman. She is a former waitress, and says she dabbles in politics, but some of us know better. (She's gonna be president, I swear...)