Whether it’s part of a job or for yourself, managing a household is an important responsibility. Many skills are needed, and these include managing a schedule, creating and implementing a chores list, shopping, and efficiently completing domestic tasks including cleaning, laundry, ironing, and sewing. Some people have a plan for every hour of the day while others enjoy living in the moment. Although the approach will differ for each person, having the tools to effectively manage the necessary tasks in our lives can help make them easier to achieve and reduce daily stress.
If you are working as a Nanny or Sitter, there may be confusion about the different roles and activities associated with your position. Some families assume Nannies are also household managers while these same Nannies may feel their role does not include any domestic chores and only requires supervising and caring for a child. For the purpose of this discussion, we will define the Nanny position as being responsible for the care of a child and the tasks associated with caring for a child which may include some directly related laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
Household managers, also called Personal or Family assistants, help keep the family organized and are responsible for the day to day operation of a home with tasks including running errands, supervising home repair, laundry, cooking, and cleaning. These tasks apply to the entire family, not just the portions associated with childcare. Thus, a family could have a Nanny, a chef, and a housekeeper. Another family may have a Nanny who is also the Household Manager and cleans the home. Some families may have older children and just hire a household manager. No matter the role, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the position and what will be expected by both the employee and employer.
What type of tasks are included in household management?
Busy families, especially those with two working parents, may hire household management help so that the free time they have can be spent with the children instead of completing the household tasks. These roles provide a huge value to the family as it allows the parents time to spend with their kids, in a less stressed and often, a more meaningful way. Household management duties can include:
- Shopping and Errands. Completing the shopping for a family may require trips to a few stores including grocery, hardware, general, drug, and pets stores as well as dry cleaning. Errands may also include getting the car washed or dropping items off at a local donation center.
- Transportation. Transportation may involve taking the children to and from school or other activities. It may also involve taking other non-driving family members to doctor appointments or social engagements. To provide these services, you must have a safe driving record. You may be provided with an automobile to use as part of your employment, or you may have to rely on your personal transportation. Whether you use your personal vehicle or one owned by the family, it is important to make sure that you keep the automobile fueled and clean. You may like the challenge of running on empty, but a family will not appreciate the time lost to stop at the gas station when a child is supposed to be at soccer practice.
- Food and meal preparation. Managing meals and safely handling food is a life skill. Having a basic understanding of nutrition will enhance the ability to plan healthy meals and author a grocery list. This depth of understanding in nutrition can be gained from online college courses.
- Housekeeping. Everyone uses housekeeping skills to keep their home clean and organized. These include cleaning, especially the kitchen and bathrooms, making beds, taking out the trash, and washing laundry. Family assistants should understand what cleaners can be safely used on different surfaces, how different types of clothing can be laundered, how to unblock a toilet, and other household skills.
- House and yard maintenance. Most household management positions do not include appliance, house or yard maintenance; however, the are becoming increasingly common with family assistant positions. House maintenance will require the identification of repairs needed such as the dryer not functioning correctly, or that the sink is blocked. To remedy, family assistants should be able to contact the service company desired by the employer and arrange for repairs. The family assistant may also be responsible for being at the home when repairmen are scheduled to arrive and collect any paperwork or invoices for work completed. In some cases, basic yard care such as cutting the grass and edging may be included in the job description. It’s not reasonable that an assistant would know how to repair a broken lawn mower so make sure the equipment is in good condition and serviced regularly. Similarly, if a large tree has died and needs removed, this is a task for a professional.
- Pet care. Pet care will depend on the type of pet, but activities may include providing food and water for that pet. Walking a do or cleaning cat litter boxes are also common household management pet care tasks.
What is the most important task when managing a household?
If you are working for an employer or a family in a position that has you paying for family expenses, it is vital to clearly communicate how the money will be managed. Clarify how and when employer money can be used as this is very important to make sure the employer is the decision maker for how their funds are spent. For example, an employer may agree to pay for all grocery and fuel expenses that are directly related to approved tasks. Make sure to provide receipts that itemize all expenses.
Make sure you clearly understand when and how to use employer money so you can be confident and comfortable with managing the money allocated. Families may allow meals to be added if a mealtime occurs as part of a child event, such as buying lunch at the concession stand during a baseball tournament. It is never appropriate to use employer money for your personal items or expenses – these should be paid from your salary, not employer cash.
There are several ways to manage expenses including developing a petty cash process. Petty cash can be actual cash provided in advance or a pre-paid credit card. It is vital that every purchase made with employer funds is tracked with a receipt. You should be able to account for and provide documentation for every cent. This means remembering and keeping all receipts from the dry cleaner and all the stores. At least every two weeks or less, you should provide an expense report to your employer that lists the amount of money spent, date of transaction, and items purchased. The report should total the amount spent and the amount of funds remaining.
To learn more, a Household Management course is available with enrollment in the Specialist Childcare program at AmsleeInstitute.com.
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