Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stay organized while the kids are home

I think this has to be the most common question I get through emails and facebook and comments.

I will start by saying that I am no expert on this subject, I'm just a normal stay at home mom like so many others out there, learning as I go, experimenting, trying, sometimes failing etc.

But over the years I have found things that work for me, granted my children are now 13 and 9 years old which makes things so much easier, but to an extent my way of doing things still applies.

Just this morning I had another one of these questions on the facebook page, and instead of writing a huge entry on there, I thought it would be easier to put in a post, who knows, it may help someone else out there with some ideas.  Again keep in mind that just because it works for me, doesn't mean that it's failproof or that it will work for everyone else, but it might give you a starting point to develop a plan for your family :)


Many don't follow a specific routine, and I will tell you that while I had an actual written out routine when my children were little, now I don't.  I just have chores that I know need to get done daily, like washing dishes, tidying up, sweeping, cleaning the countertops, making the beds etc.   It's just a part of my day and something I'm used to doing so I almost do it as if on auto pilot.

But if you need to stick to a list, then draw one up of the things you think need to be done every single day and allow yourself at least an hour to get them done.  The key here is not to overwhelm yourself and do everything in one day, I've learned over the years that if I stay on top of the housework then I don't end up with tons of work on the weekend when I should be relaxing and enjoying time with the family.

In that routine, include an hour of mommy time.  It doesn't matter what you'll be doing, even something as simple as just sitting on the couch with a book, crocheting or knitting, or watching a favorite show.  Have that coincide with the kids naps, of course now that my children are older it's much easier because they'll read a book or watch a tv show quietly or play on their laptops etc.

 Menu Planning

I can't tell you enough how much menu planning helps, especially during the younger years with toddlers.

There's nothing worse than having a hungry child and  standing there still trying to figure out what you're going to make for dinner.  Plan right down to the breakfast and lunch, trust me, it makes all the difference in the world.

Before you go to bed the night before, pull out any meat that needs to be thawed and set in the refrigerator, in the morning you can just put it in the sink.  If you can, on the days that you know you're going to be extra busy, use your crockpot.

Include your kids 

If you turn cleaning and tidying up into a game, then you will get what you need done AND at the same time keep your children entertained AND teach them some valuable lessons.

I always made cleaning up the toys into a game.  Each kid got a little basket and they would run around filling them up.

Doing dishes?  I would pull up a chair and let them help me rinse them or even just play with soap bubbles, they got to splash the water around the sink, thought it was the coolest thing on earth, and I got my dishes done.

Cooking?  Let them stir, let them add things to the bowl.  As they get older you can teach them how to cut up veggies or stir a pot on the stove.  But always with you standing right there.

Teach them how to make their own beds.  Fight the urge to go in after them and fix it LOL  Trust me, I wanted so many times to make it right, but it's THEIR bed and they're learning and therefore it should be left alone.

Doing laundry?  Let them sort into colors, again, you're getting help but they're also learning :)

I think overall the best advice I can give you, is to not overdo it.  You don't HAVE to do everything today, break your chores up into rooms, done one each day.  Or do a load of laundry each day, wash, fold, and put away immediately.

Most importantly though, make some time for the things you enjoy, you have to nourish your own soul during the day or homemaking will turn into just unpleasant chores that make you feel unhappy. 

Don't be hard on yourself.  I remember in my earlier marriage years, if I didn't absolutely do everything each day I felt horrible, like I was failing, not doing my part in the home.  Problem was that I was trying to do way too much and trying to create the perfect home according to society as opposed to creating the perfect home for your family.

A home is to be lived in, it's not a museum.

It doesn't need to be untidy and dirty, but there should be signs that human beings live, love and laugh daily.

Simple things make your home cozy, for me:

Handmade items
Crochet blankies draped over chairs
Beautiful books on the coffee table

What says cozy to YOU?

All images in this post were found through Google.


Jen said...

Candles say cozy to me. But having my family around me is all I need to feel cozy! Great post. I'm really looking forward to having more time come December.

Susanne said...

Very good suggestions, Sandra.

What says cozy to me? Hmmm, never thought of defining it. But I do like books, a nice scent in the house, a big basket of throw blankets close at hand, a few favorite family pictures scattered about, and things fairly neat. If it's too cluttered I find myself feeling stressed.

Christina said...

Great post and many good tips especially for those with younger kids. Love the pics too.

Amee Pelton said...

Great post, I often wonder what would happen to my children if my husband had this "relaxing" job of home with children.

Tammy ~ Country Girl at Home ~ said...

Lots of good advice and wisdom there, Sandra. It's always a challenge keeping things tidy around here since my kids are home year round with homeschooling, but I've learned to relax about it. As long as I know that at the end of the day when I go to bed, that things are picked up and organized for when I wake up, I'm good.

Cozy for me is candles, a lovely scent in the house, and lamplight. Of course I love quilts and handmades too....oh and the color red. :)


Liz said...

We've moved so many times, but it wasn't until we started hanging pictures on the wall, I'm talking family pictures, not paintings and such that it started to feel like a home not just a house. Also, I love flowers. Nothing makes me feel better than beautiful and colorful fresh cut flowers with their aroma filling the room.

Also, I keep a fairly clean house. I love the dust free surfaces and finger print free windows... I dust and clean the glass in the house once or twice a week. Kids are the biggest mess makers so I have them clean up all their toys twice a day. Before lunch and before dinner. When they do that the messes never get really bad and they always know where their toys are instead of the "Mom, where is my train toy?" conversation we used to have.

Renee said...

Great post! Cozy to me is books and candles but to my boys and hubby - it's snacks,legos and mythbuster shows. Deep down though I think they enjoy the candles and books too! :)

Nicole said...

I love flowers real ones from outside. Glad's are my top fav. Great Post. I have a menu plan thanks to you blog, and saves time and money. I also do one thing a day cleaning wise. It helps greatly. Love your pictures and ideas. Defintely cozy is flowers in a vase from my garden!!

Mandi said...

I have been loving your posts lately! Thanks for the tips and ideas. I really liked your post the other day, too...just forgot to write it.

SueakaNana said...

Hi Sandra, Long ago during my child raising days I too did what you have written about, the only thing I wish I had done was Meal Planning, would have made life so much easier, oh well I do it now for hubby and I.. as a result of how I raised our girls, they are both organized Mommas.. what makes me cozy hmm candles, a few family pics and rolled up fleecy blankets.. have a good day Sue