HouseworkIf you’re at home with children or working in a ‘virtual office€’ you’re also a Domestic Engineer. Here are some tips.

You want to keep the place in order. If your children are fans of superheroes that bring order to the Universe, you’re in luck. Tell your kids their heroes began by bringing order to their rooms. Teach kids it’s “cool” to pick up after yourself. If it works, try it on your spouse. If that works, patent it and you’ll be a millionaire.

You may also have some gardening duties. You can easily eliminate yard raking by burning the leaves before they fall. If you don’t want an unsightly backyard composter, many people achieve the same degree of controlled decomposition in their refrigerator crispers. If you have house plants, talk to the live ones and lie to the artificial ones. You can relieve stress by watering plants€¦ With a squirt gun. Also, you’ll probably want to choose a dining room décor that compliments spaghetti sauce.

You’re probably also in charge of household cash flow, which can be increased by allowing neighbors to reclaim borrowed items via a garage sale. Take advantage of savings by clipping coupons, preferably before the paper’s served to housetrain a puppy. Shop at a grocery store that offers choice of paper or plastic – Not just bags, I mean to pay as well. If your kids tend to scoop your loose change, hide it in the laundry hamper. Kids have a complex concept of mortality; they think they’re invincible till they go to the mall. Then they think they’ll die without $120 cross trainers.

Buy Halloween candy in red and green wrappers so no questions are raised when the leftovers become stocking stuffers. You can also conserve energy and build trust by bathing with your pets.

Colors and whites should be washed separately, but silverware can be washed with everything. Cut down on dishes by having the family eat over the sink. It’s something you can all do together. When time doesn’t permit a sensible lunch, try €œchicken noodle coffee.€ By the way, the paper shredder can double as a coleslaw cutter. Never ask questions when both leftover pet food and crackers disappear.

You’re also in charge of discipline. You can keep teenagers in line by threatening to sew the knees back in their jeans. Let them catch you listening€¦ No, dancing to their CDs just to keep them on their toes. Remember that kids confined to a bedroom with a computer can still communicate with the free world. Also from time to time you’ll need to remind all kids that €œthrow pillow€ is just a figure of speech. The good news about being home with toddlers is you have an excellent chance of hearing their first words; the bad news is they may very well learn those words from cable TV.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to relax. You may choose to watch some television. It may be catching up on taped daytime shows. To remain efficient as a Domestic Engineer, you’ll probably want to limit the number of shows you follow to about twelve.

Or maybe you unwind with something as simple as a bowl of grapes In front of the microwave, exploding them one by one.

By Rick Dickert.