If you missed the first part of this series, be sure to read it here. You can see a video of my Homemaking Binder here.
4) Clear the Clutter
You know one surefire way to add more time to your life? Get rid of excess stuff. I truly believe that the less you have, the less time you have to spend on upkeep, maintenance and cleaning. Either you control the clutter or the clutter will control you.
If you feel overwhelmed with clutter, don’t throw your hands up in despair. Instead, create a realistic plan of attack. Take one room at a time and commit to working on it for 15 minutes five days each week until it is thoroughly gone through and then start on the next.
I’ve written quite a bit on this topic before, so I encourage you to go read my posts on Dealing With Toy Overload and Five Ways to Cut Down on Clutter.
5) Tame the Laundry Monster
While I might be pretty good at keeping on top of most of the clutter in our house, I struggle with keeping up with the laundry. In fact, after my third child was born, for a few months, there was almost always a massive pile of clean laundry in our room waiting to be folded.
I never seemed to have the time or energy to tackle it. So, truth be told, most of the time it didn’t get folded and put away; we just took the clothes straight out of the pile and wore them. (Does that make me Worst Homemaker of the Year?)
I constantly felt guilty about this and overwhelmed by laundry. It just seemed I could never come close to staying on top of it. And finally, I decided enough is a enough. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life overloaded by laundry. So I devised a plan (with my husband’s help!):
::Do a load of laundry from start to finish every day. My goal is that there is never a clean laundry pile of any sort in our room. This isn’t always the case, but if I aim to do a load every day from start to finish (wash, dry, fold put away), I usually stay mostly on top of the laundry.
::Get help. I mentioned before that, after our third child was born and I was struggling with postpartum depression, we hired a girl from church to start coming over once a week and helping out. One of the tasks she often helps with is doing a few loads of laundry.
It is such a huge relief and blessing to know that, if I get behind on laundry, someone else is going to help me get caught back up so I don’t fall hopelessly behind and we resort back to piles of laundry in our room again. I’m also teaching the children to help with laundry and we have a time block in our schedule where we all help fold and put away the laundry.
Maybe these solutions won’t work for you (or quite possibly, you don’t struggle with staying on top of the laundry like I do!), but I encourage you to evaluate areas in your homemaking which you struggle with and work on coming up with possible solutions. It might take you a few tries to find a solution, but you’ll likely hit on something which works well in the process — or which at least helps you see some noticeable improvement!
6) Simplify Meals
You know my mantra is “Keep it simple.” There’s no need to over-complicate life any more than it already is.
If you love making six-course gourmet dinners and you have time to do so, than go for it! But if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with life, can I encourage you to give yourself freedom to keep meals simple?
In fact, if your family is okay with it, you might find it helpful to just have two weeks’ worth of go-to quick and easy meals that you rotate. Or, you might consider taking one day a month to prepare most of the food for your main dishes for the next month to stick in the freezer.
We stick with really basic meals around here and it works well for us at this season of our lives. Breakfasts are cereal or oatmeal, lunches are leftovers, sandwiches, salads or macaroni and cheese, dinners are some type of meat (fish, chicken or beef), some type of carb (bread, rice or potatoes) and a veggie. Most meals can be put together in 15 minutes or less, with pretty minimal clean up, too.
Having this simple plan and giving myself the grace to not feel like I needed to be making more than this (unless I was inspired and had time!) has really provided me a lot of freedom from guilt — and it’s saved me a lot of time and energy, too!
7) Let Go of the Myth of a Perfect Balance
I’ve shared a lot of thoughts and tips on time management in this series, but I want to reiterate to you that, while things are so much better in our lives and my priorities are in order much of the time now, please don’t get the impression that I have found a perfect balance in my life. There are still those days when I don’t get enough sleep, the house looks like a tornado came through, I stay in my pajamas all day and Jesse brings home dinner.
As I’ve given myself grace and sought to put the “big rocks” in first, I’ve realized that it’s okay if everything isn’t perfect or even close to perfect. Life is full of disruptions, messes and curveballs.
At different times in your life, you’re going to need to put more energy and effort into some things while other things are going to slide or be put on the back burner for the time being. Something’s always going to be somewhat out of balance… and I believe that is perfectly okay!
True balance is not spending exactly equal amounts of time on every facet of your life, but it’s making sure that, over the course of a few months, you are giving focused attention to each important area in your life and that the unimportant things aren’t creeping in and crowding out what really matters.
Beginning on Wednesday, I’ll be sharing some excellent guest posts on time management from readers who are in much different seasons and situations of life than me. I think you’ll be blessed and encouraged
I’m soooo grateful for this post, it’s very encouraging and realistic. I seem to be behind on chores most of the time now. I have a 15 month old who is turning my house into a demolition site. I’m constantly picking up stuff. Not to mention, my homeschool supplies are overwhelming my classroom, there’s ALWAYS piles of mail somewhere, and yes…LAUNDRY. I’ve began feeling like such a failure.
Yesterday my husband, jokingly, said “What…there’s no dinner yet,” at around 6:30pm. I hadn’t even thought about what to cook, I’d been so busy. Hiss comment really made me feel bad due to my own guilt. It seems like as soon as I get one thing under control three things go into disarray.
I’m thankful for your post though, it is truly encouraging for me. I feel like I can get up and take charge of this situation, make a game plan, and tackle my situation. Thanks!!!
Jennifer Kaiser says
That certainly does not make you the worst homemaker of the year!!! I believe laundry is something almost every homemaker struggles with! Thank you for being such an encouragement to me!
Our solution for the time being to the problem of putting laundry away is to use half of the dining room table (the side we don’t use to eat!) as a staging area. My husband and I fold and stack clothes based on what drawer it needs to be in. We have a two storied house (three if you count the basement), so every time we go upstairs, we take a stack of laundry and put it in the proper drawer. This might not work for everyone, since it does make the house seem messier. But I find this much easier than putting away loads of it at once. This tires me out and frustrates me quickly. It doesn’t help that we have old dressers with drawers that don’t always open and close easily!
I have four kids and a tiny house. Our washer dryer is stacked in the galley kitchen, with no space to do anything but possibly stain-treat stuff. My living/dining room IS my laundry room (minus the actual machines), and we are always drowning! Oddly enough, I don’t have too much trouble folding and sorting the clean laundry. What I have trouble with is keeping that laundry clean and folded and sorted. My two kids who are old enough and able, are often excited to take their pile to put it away, but often it gets to their room, but not actually in their drawers. And the other stuff ends up waiting until I have time or better access to where it needs to go, and my nice clean piles (on my sofa) get sat on, spilled on, knocked over, thrown, and scattered. It gets to the point where I avoid washing things that are out of season or recently outgrown, because a dirty shirt scattered through the house is still a dirty shirt. A clean shirt scattered through the house is now a shining example of wasted energy.
But the day to day laundry is cake compared to the long term clothes management. With so many kids, there is always someone outgrowing clothes, and someone waiting to grow into it soon. Our storage is so limited, and hard to access… I just can’t stay on top of it all. And even if I have it all sorted and bagged and labeled by size and season, someone inevitably runs through and dumps it all out. (And not just the kids – my husband is notorious for dumping everything if he can’t find something…)
I get inspired to cull the herd, as it were, but I find it so hard to pull the trigger. And half the time the stuff I want to sell or donate is dirty, or gets dirty before it gets gone, or gets remixed with the good stuff, or waits so long to be donated that I find it and use it again! It doesn’t help that I find things I meant to throw out that are now exactly what we need. It makes me hesitate to actually go through with it. But because of that, I am completely drowning!
Sometimes I think I just need a bigger house, or at least a dedicated laundry room. But then I just figure the mess will expand to fill the space, and I’ll have the same struggle.
If only these pesky kids would stop growing, and those pesky seasons would stop changing! Help!
@scout, Getting rid of outgrown clothes is my problem too! I have two young boys, and it always seems like there is something in their drawers that shouldn’t be there. And I also relate to setting aside clothes to give away, only to find them dirty again. Some of the clothes are for an infant, so they have stains. I know that if I give it away in its current state, it probably won’t be accepted. But it’s so hard to find the time to stain treat these items. Oftentimes they end up in the Goodwill bag with the stains. Hopefully they won’t end up in the trash!
That’s when we wonder, is this goodwill… or badwill? But I just can’t bring myself to throw it out!
@scout, Oh I can so relate to what you are saying…. I swear… my two least-favorite parts about parenting are pumping milk (at work) and sorting clothes. Ugh. I just found a small box of really cute 12-month clothes that I was saving… too bad my smallest daughter is now 18-months, right? And finding FOLDED CLOTHES in the dirty clothes hamper…. grrr. I’ve actually just created a new “system” in the garage… wish me luck.
That happens to me all the time – just as a size or season passes, I either find clothes I forgot I had, or I find clothes that I knew I had, but couldn’t find!
Samantha @ Mama Notes says
I kid you not, my husband just said ” one of us needs to start a load of laundry…” I’m suppose to be doing that right now!!
Laundry is what I’m struggling with. I need a new system, because apparently mine isn’t working! I wanted to do 2 huge loads a week- wednesday and Saturday. That worked for a while but not anymore. We currently have a basket of clean clothes up in our room, some thrown on the bed, and a ton in the laundry room. It’s not pretty.
I don’t know if we need/could do laundry every day, but it might help me. Maybe I will try doing it MWFS and see how that works. Every morning start a load, put it in the dryer after breakfast, and maybe fold/put away during nap time.
Why do we all struggle with this?! I think if we kept up with it our lives would be much simpler and cleaner. And, really, it only takes about 10 minutes to fold teh laundry and put it away… I just never do it! 🙂
Ah, I am motivated now. Off to do some laundry…
I am a part time psychiatrist who was gone into part time practice by myself to spend more time at home raising my kiddos. I just take all the clothes and towels (and whatever else) and throw them in the washer TOGETHER. (gasp) My kids may not have the brightest colors ow whitest whites, but I save time and am a bit more sane for it. 😉
I also am so pleased to hear women talking openly about their postpartum depression. Please know that if you are suffering, you are not alone and that being depressed is not a character flaw.
so, after reading this, I got motivated and now have 2 boxes and a big trashbag full of things to take to goodwill tomorrow. I still have a long way to go, but cleaned out the kitchen and got rid of a set of dishes and a ton of coffee mugs (I don’t even drink coffee but seemed to have about 50 of them )
Also, went through my hall closet, wow was that a chore. I figure if I can keep this up, maybe by Christmas eveything will look a lot better.
Thanks for the motivation
I love this. I am a mom of 3. 3.5, 2 and 4mo(preemie). We moved in with my in laws about 6mo ago when my pregnancy got complicated but in was with the intention of finding a bigger house. How do you manage your time when other people that you have no control over mess it up, mess up the house and you have no space. I am always hung up on laundry. We don’t have much space for all of it and I am horrible about folding it, always have been. I usually get the stuff that needs to hang up taken care of but the little clothes drive me nuts. I LOVE the one load a day idea. Hoping to get that in while (hopefully) all 3 nap in the afternoon. Dinners are fairly simple, I love to cook and like to end with a mostly clean kitchen (I only have so much control over that since it isn’t my house) I am really looking forward to more posts on this subject and have bookmarked them for tips I will be able to use better when in my own home again… I don’t feel like such a lame mom/wife. thanks all.
Have you read Dan Thurmon? He talks about being off balance, on purpose. It’s a pretty clever concept.
Melissa @ The Sassy Saver says
Thanks for all your work on this Crystal. I need a good kick in the rear to get me going these days. I just had my third 2 months ago and I am having the same laundry issues you have. I used to do the one day laundry day, but lately it just isn’t working anymore. I am not one to do laundry everyday. I hate that it isn’t finished and I don’t have to think about it for another week, but it is how I am surviving right now, so until I can switch back tot he one day thing I will be doing this.
I wanted to ask you though what program you use to make your to do lists and dockets and such. I like yours, but want to make it have topics I need and such so I am looking at making my own. We only have the free adobe so I can’t use that to change it. any suggestions on programs?
Joy from FiveJs.com made mine for me… but hang tight, in a few weeks we’re going to offer free *customizable* downloads so you can add in what items you’d like to have on the lists.
@Crystal, my heart skipped a beat when i saw “free customizable downloads” for my new household binder (a result of this series) – i have struggled with getting systems in place for homeschooling, housekeeping, financial planning, really almost everything for the last two years because we have moved 4 times across the country with my now 3, 6, and 9 year olds – i think we are settled for a while, Lord willing, and i have got vision for minimizing stuff maintenance and maximizing people time!
I had to go and fold some clothes before I allowed myself time to reply to this post :), but I did want to share one thing that has helped motivate me to get things folded and put away. I realized recently that when I have things folded and put away, and on a good day, maybe even organized, it almost feels as if I’ve gone shopping, because I have much more available to me to wear, and it takes less time and money than shopping does. Folding the clothes, or doing the dishes, also makes me realize how much I have in terms of blessings – food, clothing, and the people who go through these two things on a regular basis.
On a more personal note, Crystal, I was wondering how you recovered from postpartum depression? And how long did it take?
Catherine R. says
I laughed to myself when you talked about the massive pile of clean clothes in the bedroom. I ALWAYS have a massive pile like this and I even use the word “massive” often to describe it to my hubby! This is a great tip to do a smaller increment of laundry every single day. There is no way I can have a “laundry day” once a week. That just ain’t gonna happen.
I do think hiring a mother’s helper on occasion is a good tip for people who are drowning for any number of reasons. Sometimes getting outside help just needs to be a priority, especially when you have no real support system (like me). But if you are like me and can’t afford that, rest in knowing God is there in all the mess and imperfection and confusion.
I like the whole ‘working smarter not harder’ thing. It’s just so easy to lose sight of things when a zillion things need to be done and time, energy, emotions, money, poop diapers, and everything else are going nuts. Thanks for another helpful post : )
I love this series. Thank you so much for writing it AND for your encouragement. The stress on finding what works best for each family is fabulous.
About laundry. I can get it washed and folded but putting it away? Not so much. Ha ha. I once read a tip to give up putting it away. Sounds crazy at first but the suggestion was a small laundry basket for each family member that gets placed in their room. They can choose whether to leave it there or put it away. Kids as young as 3 are usually able to put clothes in drawers so this could work for some families. I have not personally tried this as the boys’ rooms are small and having a laundry basket sitting around would drive me crazy but I can see how it might be a useful system for some people.
And about sorting laundry. The best thing I ever bought was one of those divided hampers. We have compartments for whites, colors, and delicates (my husband’s work shirts and my clothes I don’t put in the dryer). It’s been so helpful because my husband isn’t afraid to do my laundry less he ruin something and after we had our second child our Moms could easily throw a load in. If you have the space I highly recommend them.
I don’t have a issue with laundry either but I do have an issue with clutter.
It seems to multiply very quickly. I am truly inspired by this series!
Denise C. says
“I never seemed to have the time or energy to tackle it. So, truth be told, most of the time it didn’t get folded and put away; we just took the clothes straight out of the pile and wore them. (Does that make me Worst Homemaker of the Year?)”
I did the same thing! 🙂 I stay at home with my 2 kids (4 & 2). I do the laundry at night, I start a load when my husband gets home, it goes in the dryer, then I run another load. Some nights if it’s just kitchen towels, I leave them in the dryer until the next day (who cares if the dish towel is wrinkly- certainly not me!)
I wanted to add this too, I went back through the archives & was reading about financial goals from 2008, 2009 & the ones listed for 2010. You have inspired me GREATLY to set some some financial goals for 2011 (my husband & I had some setbacks this year & our biggest one is to get ahead!). 🙂
Add me to one of the ones being blessed by this series! After having our third child this summer, I have had so many times of feeling overwhelmed. Although I keep telling myself this is just a season, honestly, I let satan have the upper hand too many times and rob me of the joy I should be feeling! Crystal, thank you for your ministry through this blog. The practical tips and real life examples you give are so helpful. Thank you for being so open so the rest of us can see that most of us are struggling with similar issues and there is a way to make it better!
Angie W. says
This is different than what Crystal and many of you do but this is what works for me. Monday is ALWAYS a stay-at-home day–no appts, no playdates (unless someone needs emerg. babysitting), no groceries (which means we eat some strange things sometimes on Monday)–and I do laundry and other home tasks for the day. I can clean, play with or referee kiddos, go thru paperwork, make bread between loads, fold as it comes out. We usually have a busy weekend with church and friends and family so we love the down day right after. Or maybe rather I NEED a down day. 🙂 But it gives me a chance to get a grip on my week, put the house back in order after the usual Sunday company and I don’t have to think about which task I’m going to start that morning when I have a designated day. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it is another option for both laundry and keeping up on the little stuff in the house. I would encourage even the young moms like some of my friends who love to get out for a minute or two every day to just try staying at home all one day a week. I personally like several of those days a week but I’m more of a homebody. 🙂
I just started implementing this in my life – stay at home Monday (and Thursday). Yesterday, I said to myself “I sure do love Mondays…” huge difference from what I was like years ago!
Angela W. says
@Johnlyn, Me too!
Samantha @ Mama Notes says
@Angie W., I like this.. I might try it. But, I just don’t know.. I can’t get much around the house with my toddler running around the house anyways, so I don’t know how successfull this would be!
Angela W. says
@Samantha @ Mama Notes, I have a toddler, a preschooler and am pregnant. I like this system for me because I actually can chase the kids around, fold a few things, chase the kids, throw the next load in, etc. I feel like I can relax, play with the kids and still get at least one thing done. Don’t be afraid to try it and modify it for what works for you. Trial and error, lots of error brought me to this for me. Still working on a cleaning system that works for us so If you get any bright ideas as you try, you’ll have to share!
I don’t have an issue with laundry either… but oh! the paper clutter is killing me!!
Mary Ann says
@Trixie, I’m with you there, Trixie!
A Mom Anonymous says
Great advice (mostly). I don’t know, laundry is just never an issue for me! I have always done it in one day. There are 4 of us in the house and I get almost all the clothes done in one day. In the winter it sometimes takes 2 days but that is due to the fact I hang dry so many things. In the summer I use my clothesline and I can get the whole family’s laundry done in a few hours. I sort too. Everyone has a hamper in their room. When they are full I bring it down and sort it into 5 hampers in the laundry room – whites, light colors, dark colors, sweaters/jeans/sheets (though they get washed separately, towels. When those are full, it means that’s a full load in the washer. I bring them up to my bed and fold there. DH does his own folding and putting away. I fold the kids – they put it away. Done. Not really a big deal. Sheets, towels, jeans, sweaters get washed on an occasional basis when there is a full load. It always has me stumped why laundry is such an issue for so many families.
I think we all have our problem areas and weak spots and those areas we’re strong in. And I love it because it means we can learn from those who are strong in the areas we’re weak in!
@A Mom Anonymous, I know for us it’s a matter of amount of clothing. We only have a little over a week’s worth of clothing, per child, per season (by choice and necessity due to space what with 4 kids, soon to be 6). If I only washed when I had a full load of a specific color, I wouldn’t necessarily get enough clothes washed for one child and then would be scrambling to find them something to wear. So I schedule our laundry (this just started after our last two joined our family) and it has been wonderful!
@A Mom Anonymous, Sounds like you have a great set-up – everyone with their own hamper, AND a real laundry room. Many people just have the laundry closet in the hallway.
Laura @ Frugal Follies says
I wash and dry a load of my kids’ clothes on Wednesday nights, after they’ve taken their baths. But I never get around to folding it that night. The kids have gotten used to running to the dryer Thursday mornings to pull out their favorite outfits…
Thanks for the motivation to get that folded before the night is through!
– Laura from Frugal Follies
Love this series! I do 1 or 2 loads of laundry every day. As it comes out of the drier it gets sorted, each person has a basket, always in the same place. I fold my husbands clothes and my own, kids just get thrown in. Once a week I TRY to get everything put away. Everyone knows where to get their clothes and can help me sort. My husband throws everything in to the wash inside out. I would get so mad and ask him to please turn it because it took so long to turn right side out. One day I folded everything as was and he has never said a word, that was 18 years ago! Saved myself a lot of grief!
@sam, Me too! If it goes in the basket inside out, it gets washed, dried, and folded inside out!
@sam, Ahhh yes, the inside-out items *were* an issue at our house, too. One day, I said, “That’s it! I am not turning every. single. sock. the right way!” I don’t think my husband believed me until I really did it one week! And wouldn’t you know, I very rarely find an inside-out sock in the laundry now! 🙂
The t-shirts are still a work in progress though…
Crystal, what program did you make your worksheets in?
Cannot wait for the addt’l posts on this subject too! I’m also a working mom and struggle with guilt and time management many days. I also need reminders of God’s goodness and to be thankful to be able to provide for my family through my job!
I have a 2 yr old, a 10 mo. old, and I’m due with the 3rd on #1’s 3rd b-day. I ALWAYS have a large pile of clean, unfolded clothes on the bedroom floor and I HATE it. I feel so awful when my husband says something like “um, do I have any clean socks?” and then I point him to the pile on the floor. You are NOT alone in the laundry war. But I think with practice, we’ll win eventually;)
I have a suggestion on the laundry. We all know the chaos created when laundry is WAY out of control. And it seems that it takes forever to get it back in shape.
I work 50-60 hours a week and there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. Recently we had a family meeting and came up with a solution.
First; during the week we filled all baskets and totes with sorted laundry. We set aside one load of socks that needed soaking in bleach before being washed
Then on Saturday morning at 7am we packed everything (minus the load of socks) into the back of the vehicle and headed to the laundry mat. The washer time is 28 minutes, and the dryer time 10-25 minutes. We pulled light items out every 5 minutes and folded and sorted by owners. Then when we got home it only took about 30 minutes to put away everything since it was already sortd and folded.
It took us 2 hours, and $30 of quarters to do 14 loads of laundry! And it was SO worth every penny. As soon as we got home we started the bleach soak for the socks and started putting everything away everything, we had lunch and the socks were officially done…..NO dirty laundry at all….until my daughter spilled an entire gallon of milk across the counter and into the open towel drawer! LOL
Milk Donor Mama says
I’m struggling with all of the above!! 🙁
I had my baby boy July 1 and also had PPD. I returned to work 10/18, taking off 2 days a week through November (using “furlough” days). I still have a good amount of vacation time and plan to take one day a week off for a while.
It’s amazing with two kids in that I feel so much BUSIER. My DD is 4 and needs a lot of attention. She’s curious and likes to be busy. My baby nurses frequently during the day but sleeps like a champ. However, on days I’m home, that makes getting things done difficult because there’s not a lot of uninterrupted time right now.
Since I’m back to work, the house is a total disaster (I can’t remember the last time we cleaned the bathrooms, bedding gets washed like once per season, etc). I try to do some laundry mid-week. We use cloth diapers at home, but I am doing 10-12 loads weekly (daycare blankets, towels, diapers, and clothes for the 4 of us).
I haven’t liked my job since my duties changed 3 years ago. But I’m a professional with a masters degree and earn a salary in the 60k range, more than my husband makes.
We recently paid off our mortgage, but then the furnace & heat pump died, the washing machine died, and the sewer got backed up with tree roots. $9k in repairs in one month!!! 🙁 Plus our 13 year old car either needs a new brake job and other work or it needs replacement with another new to us used car.
In my heart of hearts, I want to quit my job to care for my children, husband and home full time. I do some freelance writing which does bring in a few $$$$K every year. $6k last year and $3k this year.
We’re totally debt free and have a 12 month savings since the mortgage is gone. But the idea of quitting my job, when my husband’s salary is smaller and his job isn’t as secure (I’m a union employee) is scary. I need a boost in my faith.
However, having suffered PPD (severely enough to be hospitalized in a psych ward for 3 days)… and suffered the loss of a very close family member, I hate all this time I spend away from my precious kids.
I have a meeting with my manager and am contemplating requesting a change to part time work. It’s not that easy in state government though. And we’re not allowed to telecommute or flex. We have to work 8-5, M-F.
@Milk Donor Mama, I too am a state government employee and I can see where you are coming from. I hope things go well with your meeting with your manager!
@Milk Donor Mama, .
I too struggle with all of the above!! 🙁
I have a five year old and a 18 month old. I work Mon-Fri, don’t get home until 6:30 some nights, have to make dinner, etc. I thought it was hard when I had a 4 year old a and a new baby (I only got to stay home for 6 wks).
Now that my DS is in school, life is even crazier. instead of picking up both kids at daycare together, I now have to pick him up from the after school program @ school then go to daycare to get DD. Crazy!
now homework has to be done after dinner, before bed.
I’m home Saturday and Sunday but DH works so I am alone to try and catch up with housework. (I also can’t remember last time bathrooms got a full cleaning.) my love seat is Full of clean clothes! It also doesn’t help that every time I turn around, my DD is into something.
I also have to spend time with my kids who are REALLY craving my attention by the weekend.
I too want to stay home but I make more than DH(which isn’t much) so it’s not an option. plus DS is in a Private Catholic School.
major money but soo worth it. Public school in my area is not good @ all.
Everything always seems to go @ once. we had to replace our water heater and put on a completely new roof this year.
Hang in there. What keeps me going is knowing that things could be worse. At least I have a job and our debt isn’t unmanageable. we have a roof over our heads, food in our belly and healthy kids .
I wish you all the luck and hope things get better for you!
@Milk Donor Mama, My advise is in regards to you wanting to stay at home is for you and your husband to pray to God asking what you should do and then do it. It will not always be easy, but you will have the most peace this way. Three years ago my husband quit his job to be self-employed while I worked full-time. One year after my husband quit his job, I quit my job to stay home with our infant son. This was the hardest decision I have ever made. My husband’s business is growing and income is not steady. However God has always provided for our daily needs. We are much happier now. My husband is living his dream of being self-employed and I am living my dream of being a stay-at-home mom.
Stacy @ Delighting in the Days says
Thanks again Crystal. Another great post!
I appreciate you sharing your struggles and triumphs with us.
My greatest difficulty seems to be the kitchen. I love to cook, but often get carried away and end up with huge messes that take forever to clean. I would like to be more disciplined and only do “fancy” cooking once a week or so. But I get the urge to bake a cake…and often do. If there is a little time free, off to the kitchen I go! Makes for some good eating, but not a very clean kitchen to be sure 🙂
So glad everyone else isn’t superwoman either! I just read this book a friend had told me about and I just wanted to scream “Are you for real?!”. The author seemed to think if EVERY single moment in the day was utilized you can accomplish everything and more. The author said she never allowed her children to talk to her or vise versa without them doing something (like dishes, laundry and such).
My biggest weakenss are the floors. They are that fake wood looking flooring and they stay dirty! I wear the little swiffer and me out trying to keep up with them!
I work full-time and do the one load of laundry a day thing. I have read it is more energy efficient to do laundry back-to-back so the dryer is hot and stays hot, but that just does not work for us. If I wait until the weekend to do laundry, it piles up like you are talking about. I try to put one load in before I go to work and throw it in the dryer when I come home then put it away in the evening. Of course, I get behind occasionally, but it really helps to split it up like this.
@nanasewn–I can agree with overscheduling, but I have memories as far back as 3. Many of them are mundane everyday tasks–I vividly remember helping my parents put down peel and stick tile in the kitchen and being told to step on it to push it down (probably to keep me busy and out of the way—LOL)! Memories don’t have to be fancy. I do have a very high-energy 3 year old and live in a small townhome with no real yard and he literally ends up climbing the walls and taking us with him if kept at home all day! But, why the need to come up with outings that we haven’t already done? The same 3 playgrounds seem to be just as exciting over and over again. The same McD’s playground is also exciting over and over.
While reading here, I clicked back to your “toys” clutter solution and agree with making memories over giving stuff. Yet, I see young mothers (fathers arent as crazy about this) run themselves ragged trying to fill up the kids every waking minute with outings and goings and doings…stating they are making memories. Great idea but if you think back, what are the first memories you have? Perhaps not much further back than 4th grade and then perhaps just highlights or moments in time. Most people of varying ages I have spoken with actually remember very little except the very highs and very lows. All that to say, please moms give yourself and the moms you know grace to rest. In generations past, those who expressed feeling deep love from their parents and families had nothing in material goods and little time for “outings”. One sweet young mom friend of mine this past week was in such a quandry because she couldnt come up with outings for her eighteen month and 6 month old kidlets that she hadnt already done with them. Grace, peace and permission to rest to all you young moms.
@nanasewn, I totally agree with this. I think the best memories I have from a kid were the unplanned ones.
We try for one special family outing a month usually something free or very low cost (under $10). The girls are two and three months old, we know they will not remember but it gets us out of the house as a family.
@Stephanie, I don’t think stuff like that is bad. But, I know some families that do these (sometimes elaborate) outings 3-4 times a week!
@nanasewn, I’m sure this would even exceed the definition of elaborate outings, but my husband was the son of an airline pilot who could get his family free flights to anywhere. Consequently, his father would take his kids to exotic places like Egypt, Paris, etc. My husband remembers brief things about these trips, but doesn’t really feel like he’s been there, because most of it he forgot or couldn’t appreciate when he was young. Thanks for the encouragement to rest – I have a 3 year old and 1 year-old, with one due in March, and I find that walks in the stroller are about as much of an outing that I can manage most of the time, though occasionally we take advantage of an annual zoo pass someone bought us for a birthday present.
I am a mother of 3 and use cloth diapers. In the summer I have a routine to wash and hang laundy on the clothesline every day them fold and put them away at night. During the winter that just can not be done and the family is so big I can’t hang all the laundry to dry in the basement anymore. So, I do a load a day, dry them in the dryer and then sort them into laundry baskets, one for each member of the household. About every day I put just one person’s laundry away. My basement is a mess but this simplifies the folding issues that I have every winter.
Wendi S says
@Angela, wow! What a great, simple system. This could really work for me. To do a load a day and stay caught up with the hamper, but not to be putting stuff away in every room every day. I do pretty good at keeping up with the washing, line drying, folding, and even sorting by person, but I really struggle with getting the clean clothes put away because everyone’s asleep (dh works nights/ sleeps days, and the little ones are napping) when I’m doing the folding and putting away. By the time they wake up, the cycle of carpool, homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime routine ensues, and then after that I am too tired to even think about putting clothes away in 20 different drawers in 5 different rooms! But I think it would seem less like a breeze (funny how the mind works) to put stuff away for 1 child each day. So thanks for sharing your system!
Amy Lynn Andrews says
@Wendi S, we actually store all our kids’ clothes in our room and closet, except for our oldest daughter who has ample space in her own room and is able to put things away herself. We have an extra dresser in our room and have made space in our closet (which is on the large side) for all three of our boys’ clothes. It has made a HUGE difference for us — not only in putting away laundry, but in keeping the “stray clothes” problem at bay in the rest of the house.
julie (etsy stalkers) says
I love the 15 minutes a day plan. I’m always struggling to keep up with clutter. Staying neat is just not innate for me!
I love doing 1 load of Laundry everyday, it has helped me tame our laundry monster for the most part (especially since the older kids put away their own clothes). Thank you for opening up and being honest. This has helped me much more than you know. I tried (rather unsuccessfully) to have a blog. I used to read so many mommy blogs and wonder how they could do all of this stuff and spend time with their kids and keep their house clean, it made me feel rather inferior. Now I see howabsolutly silly that is.
Also in an effort to keep the laundry monster tamed I take my clean clothes to the couch to fold instead of the bedroom. It makes it MUCH MUCH less likely that it won’t get folded their!
Am I the only one who doesn’t sort colors and whites? I just throw all the laundry in the washer on warm!
I do all the laundry everyday (only 1 or 2 loads for us!) so we are never behind. Sometime I have to give myself a kick in the pants to put it away, but it only takes a few minutes and it’s well worth it to have access to all my favorite clothes all the time!
julie (etsy stalkers) says
@Catherine, I NEVER sort colors and whites. I’m just proud of myself to finish a load of laundry.
Samantha @ Mama Notes says
@Catherine, I don’t 🙂 I never have!
Julia @MomLifeToday.com says
One of the best gifts you can give your children is to pass these habits on to them! My kids have been helping fold laundry since they were 3, setting the table, emptying dishwasher, etc. Thank you for this timely post during a hectic season. Great reminders so I can focus on the important celebration of Christ!
Mom to 2 says
It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one that has piles of clean laundry laying around! I don’t feel like such a slacker! In fact, there’s a pile of towels on the couch right now! Thanks for being real! 🙂
Amber @ SiMoney Savers says
@Mom to 2, I have 3 laundry baskets right now with clean clothes in them. 🙂
Allyson @ A Heart for Home says
I too struggle with the laundry beast!
We have three children ages 3 1/2, 2, and 9 months with the youngest two in cloth diapers.
My husband has really helped me in this area be stressing that success is a completed load not an empty laundry hamper.
Also, I’m trying to get into the habit of leaving the clothes in the dryer until I’m ready to fold them. It keeps the piles to a minimum and encourages me to get that folding done.
Cricket@ A Thrifty Penny says
I love the 15 minute cleanup. I find this very refreshing to see the magnitude of things I can accomplish in such a short time. When hubby puts the kids to bed I try to spend at least 10 mins picking up. I do the same thing when I actually watch TV. Every commercial break I try to tidy up in the LR or kitchen until the show comes back on. I get to kick back and watch TV, yet get SO much done!
Great post! Something that has changed how we do dinner is a meal swap I do weekly with my mom, mom-in-law and sis-in-law. Each week we each make one entree and quadruple it. We then exchange the meals and have 4 different dinners for the week. This has saved me SO much time, money and planning.
Now off to do a load of laundry…
I grew up in a large family. We nearly always pulled our clean clothes from the piles of clean unfolded laundry heaped on top of the dryer. This did not ruin my childhood in any way!
Except perhaps that as a result, I do the same thing. Although, I do manage to usually get it folded. Everybody has a pile on top of the dryer or ironing board (there are 6 of us). When they get dangerously high, I get the kids to come put them away. Call me a slacker, but I see nothing wrong with this! I just don’t have time to put away clothes all the time.
My dream house would have a giant laundry room with a closet/drawers for each person. All clothes would just stay in there!
One method I like that I’ve heard is to do each load with only one person’s clothes in it. Then it is quicker to put things away. But we don’t have enough outfits to do that. If we did, I would try it.
Currently, I try to do one load every day, which is less overwhelming. Sometimes I do have to do more, though. And I force myself to fold each load as I empty the dryer, which helps keep things under control. Only in a real super-hurry-emergency will I pile it up unfolded on top.
If you have 6 people and 1 load a day it sounds like you should have enough to do each person laundry every week or maybe a every week and a half if some of those loads are towels and bedding, but what if you pair up in teams, like you and your HD and then the kids paired up… I don’t know out of experience so maybe you’ve tried it, but just a thought 🙂
@Holly, I had not thought of pairing up – that is a good idea. Although my other problem is space – no separate laundry room and tiny bedrooms and closets, so I would hate to devote space to separate laundry baskets, when we are already crowded.
@Heather, This is what we do. I have four kids, ages 8, 7, 6, and 5 with two more on the way. 🙂 I do the boys’ laundry on Mondays, girls’ on Tuesday, whites on Wednesday, my DH and mine on Thursday, and the weekend is for towels/sheets/whatever else. We only need one week of clothes for each person so it works out really well. We have tall, skinny wicker hampers (one) in each room to save space. Oh, and I work full time outside of the home so I usually throw a load in the washer at night, in the dryer in the morning, then out of the dryer and fold when I throw a new load in the washer the next night. Only one load to fold and put away each day! 🙂
I use a space-saver divided laundry basket that I got from Target, but seen several different places with 3-4 sections. I use it to separate by colors, but you might be able to use it to separate by groups. I’ve used the mesh and canvas bag styles, but always removable so I can just grab the section I’m working on for the day and dump it right in the machine without hauling the whole hamper with me.
Right now I am in the middle of “Cleaning Bootcamp”. I’m tackling one room each day while still maintaining the other rooms. So far so good. Laundry is the last huge hurdle to clear. Once I am caught up I have a new weekly schedule I hope helps me maintain everything.
I am NOT a morning person at all. Luckily my baby sleeps from 7:30pm until 8am. I’ve started getting up at 6 with my husband though. It has made a huge difference. I have time to shower, drink my coffee and read my blogs all before the baby is up. That way once he is up I am wide awake and ready to go. Who knew getting up early would help me be more awake?
@Ashlee, “Luckily my baby sleeps from 7:30pm until 8am.”
Wow. Those babies really exist? I thought they were just urban legend. Where can I order one? Just kidding. That’s great that you get so much time in the evenings and mornings.
@Jill, I am so lucky he sleeps so much, but if it is any consolation for the first almost 8 months he would sleep no more than 3 hours at a time! I think this is just his way of saying sorry Mom!
Thank you, and looking forward to the guest posts on this topic. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this continually. I’d like to see how other women deal….
Making My Own Luck says
I feel like some days all I do is dishes and laundry. When I can keep on top of these things everything else seems to fall in place!
Crystal, I found your blog about a month ago, I am reading some of your past posts and WOW! I have been needing this kind of encouragement.
I’m a stay at home mom with a 2 year old and a 9 month old. Finances are tight, and I get overwhelmed with clutter. As a a Dave Ramsey follower I find your debt free lifestyle so encouraging! You’re tips on home management have really helped me. You are a blessing to me I have already shared your blog with others.
THANK YOU for all you do!!!!
Yay! Differering seasons of life will be interesting since my guess is there are a few of us about 10 yrs or so ahead of your space & time with the children! Don’t get me wrong, I have Learned sooooo much from your blog! 🙂 Thank you for all you do!
Thank you for this series. It is a blessing. I am always grateful for your realistic outlooks and honesty of what life looks like in your home. I agree about the laundry monster. So hard to tame!! Your thoughts are wonderful. I am grateful for you.
“True balance is not spending exactly equal amounts of time on every facet of your life.” So true! Thanks for this post Crystal.