A few years ago one of our sons sprang it on my husband and I that he wanted to play on an autumn soccer league. Our lives were already so busy, but we promised ourselves that as part of homeschooling our sons, we would encourage any extracurricular activity they wished to pursue within the limits of our family’s budget.
That entire season we were so busy, with two nights of practice per week and a game every Saturday morning, that it seemed that by the time the league wrapped up for the year, the holidays were already upon us! Usually finished with my list well before Thanksgiving, I was sure I’d never catch up. And by the time January 2nd arrived, I swore I’d never repeat the experience.
Plan a Schedule and Stick to It
The following year, with nightmares of another busy soccer season dancing in our heads, my husband and I sat down to make a list of things we had to do to prepare our home for the holidays. Then we pulled out our respective calendars and created a schedule. Once the schedule was done, we began assigning jobs to different members of our family.
Even though our sons balked at first, they soon realized that the quicker our scheduled chores were complete, the quicker they could run off to play video games with their friends. Doing a few small jobs each weekend made the overall preparations less stressful. And because we knew we weren’t obligated to take care of the entire list in one weekend, we put more effort into the ones that were on the schedule.
Add Life to Your Home with General Maintenance
Preparing for the holidays does not only get you ready for the busiest time of the year, but it also helps to extend the life of your home. When is the last time you painted your home’s exterior wood shutters, the trim surrounding your home’s front porch, or the front door of your home? A lot of these tasks can be completed in a single afternoon. Here are some things you can do to prepare for winter holidays that will save you time and money later:
· FIREPLACE – Close the flue whenever you aren’t using your fireplace. Even when the flue is closed, it still allows a portion of the heat inside your home go right up the chimney. Consider installing glass doors that help hold the heat inside your home without eliminating the ambience that a roaring fire provides.
· HVAC – Clean the vents and ductwork. The last thing you want to interrupt your holiday plans is a call to the heating company because you didn’t maintain the furnace. Not to mention, the money you could end up spending to fix the furnace might be the difference in your holiday gift-shopping budget.
· WATER HEATER – What is the temperature set to on the thermostat on your hot water heater? A lot of people do not know. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that setting your hot water heater to a lower, more pleasing temperature can reduce anywhere from 6% to 10% of the cost to run your hot water heater.
· PIPES – Insulating your pipes is easy. The materials are available at your local home improvement center. Shaped like a pool noodle with a slit down one side, the insulation conveniently fits right over sections of pipe. And if you need to re-size it, trim it down using a kitchen knife with a serrated edge or section two pieces together with duct tape.
· ROOF – Prevent roof leaks by cleaning your gutters before the snow starts to fall. Once winter weather sets in, use a long-handled rake or other garden tool to keep as much of the snow and ice off your roof as possible.
Preparing the Lawn
Another place to prepare is the lawn. Clean up any obstructions throughout your yard now to make it easier to remove snow later. This includes Mother Nature’s assault of leaves and branches, or other items such as summertime toys, sports gear, and bicycles.
Once your lawn is free of debris, it’s time to decorate for the holidays. Why not decorate in ways that help the birds and local winter wildlife? My family has been doing this since my sons were very young. Even though they’re teenagers now, they still enjoy seeing winter birds and squirrels sampling the edible decorations throughout the yard.
Slather peanut butter on pine cones, roll them in bird seed, and hang them here and there along with strings of popcorn and cranberries in your yard. This not only harkens back to a simpler time, but the local birds and other wildlife will delight in the winter treats. And trust me when I say that if your family gets snowed in and loses electricity, they will enjoy spending an afternoon watching to see what wildlife shows up for a snack.
About the Author
Becky James-Muth is a freelance author and graphic design. When writing about ways to prepare for winter, she found the website http://www.sunbeltshutters.com where she was surprised to learn about using interior shutters as an alternative to traditional window treatments. When she’s not working, Becky enjoys knitting scarves for cold weather shelters as well as playing cards and board games with her husband and their two sons.