Monday, January 4, 2010

Practical Help for Working Couples

The Busy Couple’s Guide to Sharing the Work & the Joy:
Smart Solutions to Dozens of Household Dilemmas Couples Face Every Day

by Kathy Peel (with advice for men by Bill Peel)
Years ago, when I was the public relations coordinator at Word Publishing, I met a vibrant, enthusiastic author named Kathy Peel. Her new book The Family Manager was receiving rave reviews, not only in Christian publications and media outlets but also among the in-house team at Word.

At the tender age of twenty-two, managing a family was the last thing on my mind. The ink had barely dried on my A&M diploma, and I was happily immersing myself in my first full-time job. I was single, taking master's classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, and renting a tiny one-bedroom apartment in seminary housing. I thought about passing on my copy of The Family Manager to someone who could use it, but something tugged at my heart, and I knew I should hang on it. Who knew? Maybe someday I might need it.

Hoo boy, was that an understatement! Little did I know then that someday I’d be married to a church planter, raising three kids, and managing my own freelance business. I’ve referred back to my now-worn copy of The Family Manager several times for Kathy’s advice and tips for running a well-organized household. (Though, see my honest admission that my home isn’t exactly a paragon of peace and quiet these days.)

What I appreciate about Kathy is that she gives all mothers—whether stay-at-home moms, working moms, or like me, a little of both—a significant and admirable title: “Family Manager.” And she trains women to manage their families with the same skills and strategies that successful business managers use. Her tips are practical, helpful, and seasoned with grace.

The Busy Couple’s Guide to Sharing the Work & the Joy is no exception. In this practical resource, Kathy tackles many common household issues, such as time management, housekeeping, meal planning, relationships, finances, and special events. Each chapter is filled with Kathy’s trademark practicality and can-do optimism, as well as ideas to make your family life less stressed. (One of my favorite sidebars is the list of family-friendly iPhone apps, in which you’ll discover such gems as “Sit or Squat”—an app that gives traveling families the nearest bathroom options, as well as stats on cleanliness and changing tables. Genius!) I also enjoyed her creative ideas for spending quality time with your kids.

Though some of the checklists and worksheets are a bit tedious, many of Kathy’s common-sense tips are very helpful, such as simple strategies to communicate with your spouse, simplify each room of your home, and delegate household tasks according to personality and availability. (I can vouch for that last one. For example, in our family, Brett goes shopping with the kids because he doesn’t mind the eventfulness of three kids in public places—and I put away the groceries when he gets home, because I’m just OCD enough to enjoy organizing and rearranging the fridge and pantry so that everything fits just right.)

As an added bonus, Kathy’s husband, Bill, penned a men’s perspective to each chapter, making this book a good resource for couples to read together.

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to experience more peace and order in your home, I can honestly recommend this book, along with any of the resources from Kathy Peel’s Family Manager brand.

NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.

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