This is a written adaptation of my Service Throughout the Day class.
This class takes a look at service ideas by time—throughout the day, but also recommended schedules by week, month, quarter, and so on, with some other important reference information thrown in.
Good morning! This is where it all begins. Morning services:
- Make the bed(s). Yes, they’re just going to get back in it tonight. No, maybe you don’t get to sleep in it. But consider this: people spend about a third of their life in bed on average. Isn’t it worth it to make it a nice experience for them? Nicely making the bed is the fastest way to give a neater and more luxurious look to the bedroom and it feels great for them to get into. Don’t skimp on it. We’ll come back to details in a minute.
- Start “Waiting On” tasks. Whether this is a task you’re delegating, using a machine for, or just need to set a reminder of, look these over and do what you can first thing in the morning, before you end up waiting on the dryer to finish at 10 PM.
- Wake up the house. Open blinds, and windows if it’s nice. Turn on lights. Spritz an energizing scent. Turn on the white noise or music. Start the fireplace in the right weather. Adjust thermostats. Do a quick morning tidy. Set up for the day.
Now, about those bed details…
Bed Making Guide
- Bed linens and such that are properly sized, fit the color scheme, and are in good condition go a long way.
- Remember to change/wash the linens regularly (once a week is a popular guideline); watch the care instructions.
- Having at least two sets of bed linens can save some headaches.
- Don’t forget appropriately keeping the bed frame and whatnot neat too. This might mean dusting, or handling upholstery, or something else.
- Remember mattress care—rotating, cleaning, etc.
- Set the tasks mentioned on a repeating schedule.
- Maybe try a light linen spray once in a while—but remember to check on allergies and sensitivities first.
- I don’t mention certain pieces below—but if you have a bed skirt, mattress pad, etc., factor them in appropriately.
- Make sure the piece you’re handling is facing the way it’s supposed to, both in vertical/horizontal orientation and where the patterned side is; a patterned flat sheet, for instance, needs to be put on the bed face down to have the pattern facing up when folded back. Note that the side of the flat sheet with the wider hem should be towards the head of the bed.
- Customize it! Make sure you adhere to your partner’s preferences.
- If the mattress has shifted at all, for those tossers and turners, make sure it’s lined up/back where it’s supposed to be.
- Fitted sheet: evenly place on the mattress; smooth out.
- Flat sheet: make hospital corners. Remember to have pattern side facing down, and widest hem at top of bed.
- There are many great resources on how to make hospital corners online. A quick Google search should get you to guides for a variety of learning types if you haven’t done it before.
- Main blanket: evenly lay on top; create hospital corners if desired; smooth out.
- Fold down the flat sheet and the blanket so the fold lays not quite below where the pillows will be. Neatly tuck the hem of the flat sheet under the hem of the comforter, or simply smooth out. (This is really a preference point.)
- Place any extra blankets, whether another layer altogether, or folded across the foot of the bed, or what have you.
- Put pillowcases on pillows if need be (tuck excess pillowcase fabric, if any, under the pillow); arrange pillows practically and attractively; try slightly propped up on the headboard.
- Handle any other pieces needed.
Breakfast time (and to be repeated at dinner at least)! So, services around meals:
- Maintain menus and meal planning. This is where meals are born. Consider different types of meal plans. You can have it recur by week, two week cycle, or even by month, and have it repeat categories (chicken, pasta, beef, breakfast for dinner) or specific meals. Or, you can set a plan each week or so. Consider each menu (per meal) and be sure to consider the balance and compatibility of sides, drinks, and desserts.
- Maintain the master shopping list. The master shopping list is a list of basically everything you buy on any kind of recurring basis. Add items from your shopping lists and examine what you keep in the house to form the master list. Divide it by category and arrange it in the physical department order of the store you shop at (or, make multiple copies for different stores). When making your list for that shopping trip, just run down the master list (and meal plan if needed) in comparison to what you have in stock.
- Manage couponing and sales, and keep a price book. Check the mail or the Internet for coupons and sales at applicable stores. There are extensions that will add coupons automatically online and stores that let you load digital coupons onto your membership card (or by phone number). Sort physical coupons and don’t forget them when it’s time to shop. Keep track of sales. Price books compare the average price for the same item at different stores. And be sure to consider unit costs. What does a gallon of milk cost at each of your top grocery stores? Half gallon? Buy items where they’re cheapest unless some other factor takes priority.
- Be aware of (and help manage) special diets and allergies. Whether it’s preference, religious, or health condition, be aware of the diets of your household and any guests and know what you can make for them (and how to make it).
- When it comes closer to actual meal time, consider warming or cooling the plates, cups, and bowls you’ll be using. A chilled glass (just stick it in the freezer a few hours in advance, or always keep a stock ready) looks great and keeps drinks cooler longer. (You can also dip the rims in melted chocolate, then sprinkles, then freeze, for drinks with desserts!) A warm plate keeps food hot longer. A cold bowl is much better to serve ice cream in. Keep it in mind.
- Set the table properly. Consult a table setting chart and bear in mind any preferences of those you’re serving. Use real, clean, matching dishes and linens. It’s easy to do and adds a lot of class. Consider stepping up the centerpieces, place cards, condiments, and other accoutrements, too.
- Drink services. Ask if they want to be served hot coffee or tea just to their liking with breakfast, or a favorite nightcap drink after dinner. At the least, try to give people water with the meal if they don’t have another preference.
- Clean up the meal. Clear and crumb the table and change any needed linens. Do the dishes; clean up the dining and kitchen areas. It’s a part of the meal service just as much as the cooking. There probably isn’t a “you cook and I clean” balance here.
- While you’re cleaning up, be sure to clear out old food from the fridge on a regular basis.
- To have to do that less often, look into methods of food preservation, such as canning, drying, freezing, and sealing. See what you can keep a little longer.
(I cover a lot of this section in more detail in other classes, if it strikes your interest.)
- Top service priority: kids, pets, plants, anything living and dependent on you. See to their needs.
- Tidy up the house. This might involve multiple sweeps of the house per day, but try to keep things in general order. Everything should have a place.
- Dishes. Best hand washed and dried right after meals, but if different household members snack throughout the day, they might pile up at other times, too. Keep an eye on it.
- Laundry (and mending/alterations—or at least add it to the pile). Keep an eye on the supply of clean, needed items daily. Clothes, yes, but don’t forget bath towels, wash cloths, hand towels, cleaning towels, table linens, and bed linens. Collecting and sorting, washing, drying, and putting away.
- Surfaces. Wipe down surfaces, either dry, wet, or with cleaner, depending on needs.
- Trash. Take out any near full trash cans, make sure to replace bags, and consider throwing in a dryer sheet under the bag for odor control.
- Get the mail, do any needed filing, see to other secretarial tasks. This might not be quite daily depending on what the inbox looks like, but it should be pretty frequently checked in case of urgent bills or summons.
- Home maintenance. Keep an eye out for any issues as you do other tasks, and solve the minor ones (change a lightbulb) or make plans to handle bigger ones (hiring a contractor). An eye on this keeps things in check before they get worse.
- Floors. Sweep, mop, vacuum, whatever it needs. (We’ll talk about this below, but remember: do the floors last.) Maybe not daily depending on your exact situation and the floor type, but frequently, and keep an eye on it basically daily.
- Restock needed items. Think vegetable and olive oil and salt and pepper in the kitchen, tissues boxes throughout the house, toilet paper, soap, and fresh towels in bathrooms, etc. Really minor thing, but big convenience.
- Needed outdoor work. This might involve more plants, the pool, a tidy of the car, so on.
- Any requested personal service tasks. Some might recur on other schedules, but be sure to check your list for them daily just like any other task. One more detailed example below.
- Create a soothing environment. Offer basic selection of drinks, snacks, and/or entertainment.
- Place towel, then foot bath with hot water (as hot as comfortable) and desired additions. Essential oils of choice and bubbles make a traditional luxurious touch. For serious dead skin removal, try a large splash each of vinegar and mouthwash, though beware this might stain skin and the bath.
- Soak feet for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Remove dead skin from bottom of feet. Foot file and pumice stone works best. You can also remove hairs if desired with method of choice.
- Use a cuticle pusher to gently clean under nails and push back cuticles, removing loose dead skin around the nail. Apply cuticle oil if desired.
- Trim, buff, and file nails.
- Dry, then moisturize and massage feet. A gentle pull on toes and circular motions around the ball of the foot tend to be popular.
- Remove old polish if needed. Apply a clear base coat, two coats of desired color, and a clear top coat. Toe separators work well here, during and for drying. Keep common polish colors on hand.
Getting sleepy yet? Services for bedtime:
- Lay out their clothes for tomorrow, and/or pajamas for the night. If they wear one thing or let you know what to pick out or trust your judgment, this can be a great way to make the morning smoother.
- Plug in their electronics and set their alarms for the morning. Another great way to make the morning go faster, if they don’t prefer to do it themselves.
- Set the house to nighttime mode. Close those blinds and windows. Lock up. Turn off or dim lights. Spritz a calming air freshener. Turn off the white noise or music, or switch it to something for sleep. Shut the fireplace. Do a quick evening tidy. Adjust thermostats. Set up for sleep.
- Turn down the bed. (Remove unneeded pieces, fold top layers to bottom third of bed if desired, fold flat sheet or all layers back to form 90* angle, fluff pillows. If two people are sleeping in the bed, turn down both sides or fold layers down instead of at angle.)
- Put out any desired nighttime drinks or snacks, and activities (book, journal, tablet, so on).
Chores to insert into your daily routine once a week.
- Clean appliances. Most can be set to a weekly or so routine. Big and small pieces might need a quick wipedown in between, and a big deep clean once in a while, but a basic weekly cleaning should keep things in order. Think oven, stove, microwave, fridge, coffee maker, toaster, so on.
- Clean the bathrooms. Again, you might do certain things more frequently, but a basic clean of toilets, sinks, mirrors, showers, and tubs once a week or so keeps things in line.
- Launder linens. Anything on the bed that can be easily washed should be about once a week. Having an extra set of linens on hand to change to while things are in the wash (or in case of spills, etc.) keeps it simple. But if you don’t air the mattress daily, this is also a great time to help keep it fresh. You can run most pillows through the dryer for a quick fluff.
Once a month items.
- Change the air filters. Yes, some claim they can last longer, but frequent changes can make a big air quality difference, especially for those with allergies, and it’s a fairly easy task in many homes.
- This one can vary greatly in timing, but be sure to at least check on basic leather care needs at least monthly. Guide to basic bootblacking below.
Basic Shoe Shine
- Unlace boots.
- Clean item with saddle soap and slightly damp cloth if needed.
- Make any needed repairs (clipping loose threads, etc.)
- Apply leather conditioner.
- Apply layers of polish as needed.
- Buff with horsehair brush.
- Dampen cloth slightly and apply thin layer of polish in circles. With a slightly damp cotton ball, apply circular shine. Repeat as needed.
- Relace boots in the same pattern as before.
- Dryer sheets placed in shoes when not in use can keep them smelling fresh, and baby wipes are good for quick wipedowns.
Once every three months.
- Rotate the mattress 180*. Flip it if you can, though fewer mattresses can be flipped these days. Honestly, I’d do it a little early each quarter if you can, to avoid those mountains and valleys that settle in over time.
- Change toothbrushes (or toothbrush heads). It’s also a great time to do this right after a bout of illness, but at least consider quarterly.
- Wash the windows. You can spot clean in between, but try to wash accessible windows interior and exterior once a quarter. If you have windows out of reach that look okay, maybe an annual cleaning by a pro is enough.
Here are some ideas on organizing and ordering those tasks.
- Prioritize appointments, deadlines, and “makes sense” items. Things that happen at a specific time or are due at a specific time take first priority on your list for the day. Also prioritize items that make sense to do with those first items, like errands that are in the same part of town as your appointment, or laundry that can be thrown in with a load you really need to do.
- Clean top-down. Ceiling to floor. Dust, dirt, and grime follow gravity just like anything else. If you wipe down the counters after sweeping, you’re going to have to sweep again or face an already dusty floor.
- Use daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual lists. If you have recurring items that are unique to you, sort them by these frequencies and make a plan for them at the beginning of that day, week, month, so on. Or you can get specific and assign chores to days in the traditional style. (Laundry on Monday, shopping on Tuesday…)
- Use recurring checklists. For more involved recurring tasks or projects, have a checklist. Whether it’s hosting a dinner party or overnight company, spring cleaning or travel, if you do it again and again, have a list you can use again and again. Don’t use precious time to reinvent the wheel at every instance.
Ideas for things to have on hand that help with all of the above. This is not an exhaustive list but more of a starting place to think about, and a few specific pointers. There are great lists online for a lot of the ideas posed below.
- Safety equipment. Things you need to be safe in your home. This can be anything from security systems to first aid kits to fire extinguishers to extra stores of food and water. What dangers does your home face, and are you ready? And don’t forget your pets!
- Personal service supplies. Whether it’s massage, a mani pedi, barbering, or just running a hot bath now and then, keep basic and favorite supplies for the personal services you provide on hand.
- Cleaning supplies. The things you need for your housekeeping regimen. Remember the chemicals and liquids (safely handled), protective equipment for you (gloves, aprons), rags and towels and sponges, trash bags, big pieces like brooms and mops.
- A well stocked kitchen. Food of course, but also remember drinks, ice, condiments, spices, accoutrements. Consider food storage (from bags to tupperware), napkins, tablecloths, silverware, glassware, and everything you need to cook (pots, pans, bakeware, utensils) and serve. Remember measuring pieces (spoons, cups, thermometers) and everything that goes on the table (whether plates or centerpieces).
- A good multitool. Just own one. No one’s regretted it, and you’re bound to use it. Always have it on you, if possible.
- Trays. Add a luxurious touch to bringing up a snack or drink, arrange items for a personal service neatly and attractively, or organize small, loose items anywhere in the house. A personalized one (say, monogrammed) makes a cool gift.
- Laundry and mending supplies. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener if you use it, bleach, iron. Own a basic sewing kit, and some spare pieces of items you go through (like the buttons on your uniform shirt, or extra bra straps when you lose a connecter piece).
- Office supplies. The basics. Be able to send a letter or thank you note. Have some ever useful sticky notes, a filing system, and ways to organize other papers (whether it’s binder and folder supplies or paper clips and staples).
- Basic supplies for home maintenance, yardwork (don’t forget the pool), pet care, and your car. Top pick: spare lightbulbs.
This class (or adaptation) is meant to be a starting point for service, but be sure to make it your own and suit your own (and your partner’s) needs and wants. I hope it inspires!