Like many of you, I am always looking for ways to save time, energy and money around here. So, when a mom emailed me recently and asked me to share any tips and tricks I might have for managing our sometimes crazy/sometimes messy/always busy life, I really wanted to respond. The problem is, I had no idea what to share.
I have only been a stay at home mom for a little more than three years now. Most days, I am completely winging it. I am by no means an experienced, got it all together momma that has wisdom pouring out. In fact, quite the opposite. I am barely keeping it together, so anything I have learned has been through trial and error, and more error.
(This is what my dining room table has looked like for the past two days. The worst part is, I have moved the laundry for two nights in a row for dinner, AND THEN PUT IT BACK ON THE TABLE. Need I say more?)
With that in mind, I am happy to at least cover what I have learned so far. Maybe it will help. Maybe it won’t. Either way, you’ll have a better picture of how this momma lives the homemaking life.
So, here they are.
My Random Tips and Tricks
For the love, the amount of paperwork involved in all of this is mind blowing. Insurance company communication, doctor’s notes and evaluation write-ups, tax deductions, and more – there is a ton of paperwork to keep track of and have available for ongoing use. My tip? Do not let it sit in piles. I repeat. Do not let it sit in piles. The longer it does, the bigger the pile. Inevitably this means you will be thrashing about, getting paper cuts, desperately looking for that one record of the last doctor’s visit as you are trying to get out the door, with two kids, both without shoes, already five minutes late.
I have learned it is just easier to make a very simple set of file folders, and file the paper when I receive it. I have a folder for each boy’s medical and each boy’s schooling. They can get to be quite full, but it so much easier to find what I am looking for with minimal time, energy and mess.
In addition, I avoid paper if at all possible. I have asked that anyone who can, bill us via email. This way I have access to it immediately without the need for filing at all. (I am actually terrible at creating and maintaining online folders. It drives my hubby with the perfect email/desktop folders crazy. I just keep it all in the inbox and use the search function when I need to find something. I know I could be more disciplined with the online records, but I am just not there yet. Told ya I might not be too much help!)
Oh my word, I have nothing to contribute in terms of effective scheduling and management of household tasks. I have tried the “day of the week” method where you do the same set of tasks each week on the same day. Never, ever worked for me. I have tried the “once a month cleaning” method, which was pretty amazing, except when we got to week three and I started feeling like we were living in squalor. The prescribed schedules just haven’t helped.
I have found the most success employing the “put out the fire” cleaning method. This means I get up every morning, look around at all the nonsense that needs to be taken care of around the house, and make a list of what I think I can accomplish.
For example, today’s list is:
– Sweep and mop living room and dining area (especially under and around the couches ’cause there is a family of dust bunnies threatening to take over)
– Fold a load of laundry left over from yesterday’s list (see above picture)
– Clean-up around boys’ toilet and sink
– Scrub stove
Now, we will still do regular tasks like dishes and cleaning up any school or meal messes, but this list is my goal for today. Some days it includes scrubbing a shower, or dusting the bookshelves. Some days it is blank because I just don’t have the time. It works for us because I can tailor the list to the boys schedule for the day and move on.
3. Housekeeping (part 2)
The other method I have found to be very effective for keeping things relatively clean is the “don’t have a lot of stuff to clean” method.
I know there are a ton of resources dedicated to helping declutter and live minimalistically. They say it gives you a sense of peace and calm. I say it gives you less to clean.
I don’t buy or store a ton of clothing for anyone. Have I mentioned my old nemesis, The Laundry? Less clothes means less to wash.
We also try not to purchase or keep a lot of items out around the house. We store what we do have in baskets or bins. It helps with dusting and honestly, it helps when Sourdough is melting down (realistically, this means less is broken or destroyed or thrown).
I have friends that have wonderfully crafted items on display in their homes. They are absolutely beautiful and when I visit, I am always a little tempted to try and replicate it in my own home. Then I come home, look around, and almost always decide to error on the side of less is more for our family.
I have already shared how much I stress about managing all the eating this family does. In addition to my simple meal plans, I have one other tip I am actually kind of excited to share. Excited because it was a simple change that made a big difference in managing meal planning and meal waste. Are you ready for it?
This is my leftover bin in the refrigerator. I was going crazy finding all sorts of random baggies and other assorted leftovers all over the fridge that we forgot about and never ate. Now, not only does my heart sing at how together my fridge looks with organized bins, but the leftover bin makes it easy to see that we actually have leftovers. I don’t have to write down a whole meal plan dedicated to using them up. If I am looking for a simple lunch or too tired to really make anything for dinner, I just check the bin. Easy breezy. It makes me happy.
5. Give Yourself Grace
Truth be told, these tips and tricks have been known to fail me from time to time. On the days when I just can’t seem to get it together, I have learned to take a moment to breathe, say a prayer for peace in our home, and try to remember that my priorities right now are how to best invest in my marriage and my boys. That means if the dust under the couch waits until
never tomorrow, but I spent time with Bacon on the trampoline, we are good. If it means I took a much needed nap and left the ever present laundry basket so that I could be remotely functional for the rest of the day, we are good.
My most important tip – use the “give yourself grace” method. This mommy thing is a long haul, season through season, marathon type thing. The more I find myself willing to let some things go, the more my family seems to relax. As much as I like to feel accomplished and on top of things, sometimes the best way to spend my time is doing the stuff that isn’t on the To Do list.
Sometimes good enough is perfect.
If you would like more information, I am excited to share one of the best books I have read on the subject. Women Living Well, a book by Courtney Joseph
is currently on sale for only $2.99 on Kindle. Please Click Here for more details. I can’t tell you how encouraging and practical this book has been for me as I learn how to handle this home and family. I hope it is for you as well! – UPDATE Although the Kindle promotion has ended, I still encourage you to check out this resource. It has changed the way I look at homemaking.