Wednesday, April 23, 2008

House of Order Handbook

Title: House of Order Handbook
Author: Marie Calder Ricks
Genre: Organization, Homemaking
Pages: 215
Date Finished: 23 April 2008
My Rating: 2 Stars

First off, I have to say that this book was absolutely riddled with typos. In fact, someone who had this book checked out before me had started writing in corrections but stopped after the first few chapters. I don't know if they stopped because they stopped reading or because they just got tired of marking all the typos. This was a self-published book but clearly it needed some good editing.
All the typos aside, it is a pretty basic book on housekeeping and organization. I went through this book in a few hours and took about one page of notes on things that I thought would be helpful. Each chapter has a story from a former client of Ricks. I found myself rolling my eyes at many of these stories and decided that maybe I am not as unorganized as I thought. In fact, if these stories are actually true, than I am light years ahead of these women in my organizing skills or at least knowledge. (Even if I don't do these things I at least know I could be doing them.) For example, there is a story about a woman who fed her family cornflakes for dinner because she forgot to take the beef out of the freezer in the morning. She does not have a microwave she could defrost the meat in? And I am thinking her shelves must have been pretty bare if the only alternative to beef she could come up with was cereal. I also could not believe that there are women, mothers even, who need to be told that taking toys and snacks along in the car when running errands with the kids will make said errands easier. Really?? What mother can't figure that out for herself?
For a book published in 2006, much of the information seemed very dated. Who uses the term variety store these days? Ricks suggests taping coins to the bottom of your purse for making calls at a pay phone. I can't even remember the last time I saw a working pay phone.
A few times in the book, Ricks suggests that you set aside 3 hours a day for housework and not to let anything distract or interrupt you. My first thought was does this women have kids? There is no possible way I could go 3 straight hours doing housework without being interrupted or distracted. It is just not practical. Ricks also suggests that you schedule appointments around this 3 hour time frame and if a friend invites you to do something during this time you should tell them no. Basically, pick a 3 hour time frame where you will not leave your house for any reason or let anyone or anything distract or interrupt you. And do this everyday. Seems a little bit extreme to me!
With all that said, the book did have some decent ideas, you just had to work past all the crazy stuff to get to them. In fact, I already use a 3x5 filing system similar to the one Ricks suggest for organizing and tracking my daily, weekly, monthly etc chores.
Some of the other good things I gleaned from this book:
  • The buy back box. When kids leave toys, books etc etc laying around you put them in a box and they have to buy them back by either picking up other things that are laying around or doing some other special chore.
  • Master Key copies in my family binder. I have a family binder with important documents and papers in it but it is nothing like the one Ricks suggests. However, she suggests making copies of your car and house keys and putting them in a business card organizer and then adding it to your family binder. I thought this was a good idea. (Just tape the opening closed so that the keys don't fall out.)
  • Reading Nickels. Your kids can earn nickels for summer reading goals (number of pages or books read etc) and then use the money they earned to buy school supplies at the end of the summer.
Beyond that, she had some decent worksheets that I am sure could be very useful to some people. I don't think I'll be using any of them because I use Excel a lot and already have my own versions of these worksheets or would rather make my own in order to tailor them to my needs.
This is a good book for some good, basic organizing ideas that will help your life run more smoothly if you implement them.
Marie Ricks can be found online at House of Order.


Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Hilarious! Seriously, I don't think I would ever devote three hours a day to housework. And as a mom of two small boys who's only adult interaction these days seems to be reading blogs like yours, if I had a friend call me to go do something, I would be out of there!!

As for the buy back box, that reminds me of my mom. When I was in middle school, I had an awful habit of leaving my clothes on the floor (and to tell you the truth I may not have outgrown this quite yet). My mom would take a plastic bag, throw everything in and I had to pay 25 cents for each article of clothing. If I didn't pay up within a certain time frame, she'd give them away. I think the threat alone was enough to get me to clean my room.

Wendy said...

I've been to Marie's classes - that might be a little bit easier to digest, I do have the book though, but only for the forms and reminders about what I learned. (Please no peeking in my house to see if I follow what I was taught!)


How very much I appreciate your comments and concerns. Because I am still learning, too, may I use your input as I edit my next edition? I am also very interested in ways that this book could be more appropriate to you in your current situation. Would you be willing to share? Also, I have worked on the editing, but will do so again. Thanks for keeping me honest. (And, yes, I do work with women in the exact situations as my stories and come away every time glad for skills which are easier for me than for them and also glad I can help them find ways to keep ahead of their laundry, get a decent dinner on the table at night, and find a needed piece of paper. It is fascinating work.) I would love to hear from you directly at