Dinner + Clean House + Little Ones= Challenging, Exhausting, Frustrating...
Some of you reading this post have a newborn, a toddler, maybe 2 or 3 toddlers, or maybe a combination of older and younger kids. Either way, getting things done around the house, and preparing meals, all the while taking care of your family is a huge task. I've told John before that I worked very hard at teaching elementary school, by Friday I was exhausted and felt numb because it was physically and emotionally draining and I tried to give my students 100% since that's what I expected from them. But as a mom, have gotten that tired and numb feeling almost every night of the week! It is getting easier, but we all know that motherhood is HARD Work!!!
Today I just wanted to share some tips and insights to what I do because maybe you have your own system but it's not working, you may be eager to try something new, or you might just enjoy reading how someone else does things and will be able to incorporate a few if not all things into your own schedule or routine.
I was sharing with a close friend the other day who was asking me how I get things done with the little ones under me constantly, and I was realizing that a lot of what I do is just how my brain works. I am the type of person who hates clutter, or things on the floor, I hate finger prints on the windows, I dislike crumbs or garbage lying around and so since these things are a bother some to me I have to "clean/clear" before I can move on to my next task! It's just the way my brain works and I operate, and I realize other people have a higher tolerance for messes and clutter than I do, for me it's just not an option...I tease my friends and say it's my disease. I mean who else has to clear the sink or dish washer or counter before they prep a meal? Me! Who else has to sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor before and after they cook? Me! Who else has to have a clean coffee pot or empty garbage for the kitchen to feel "clean" even if no one else sees it? Me!
Tip #1 Plan your meals the weekend prior cooking so that you have all your ingredients readily available.
Have you ever found a great recipe and then started making it and realize there are one or two things you need, but you can't go to the store because of nap time, the weather, or some other inconvenience? I find that planning out what you are going to eat each day of the week really helps faster food shopping, less grocery trips during the week, saves gas money, etc. (Sometimes I even plan out a month in advance...but not lately)
Tip 2* I have found that placing all the ingredients on the counter the night before helps me. Then if I do need to run to the store for one or two things I can do it first thing in the morning with the kids when they aren't tired or hungry.
Tip 3* Begin chopping or prepping your meal right after breakfast! (I know I'm insane, but this is what works for me) I find that the sooner I start prepping my meal during the day the less stressed I feel come dinner time.
Tip 4* At your children's nap time finish the prep of dinner or even start to cook a few things! (My meal is usually done cooking around 3:30 or 4pm then it has time to cool and I like to taste test) By 5pm we are ready to eat!
While you are prepping your meal what is your child doing?
* Coloring at the table
* Playing with play dough
* swinging in the swing or sitting in their bouncy seat
* playing in their exersaucer
* Reading a book to a younger sibling
* watching a short video (blue's clues, barney, baby einstein)
How do you keep your house tidy throughout the day?
Tip 5* Everything has a home! The kids help me clean up when it is time and they know exactly which bins things go in.
Tip 6 *Shoes are lined up near the front door or placed in person's closet
Tip 7*Things that need to go upstairs are lined up on the side, and whenever I take a trip upstairs I grab something and put it back in it's home
Tip 8* Sing with my kids as we clean (singing always helps us to stay positive)
Tip 9* I choose a room or area to focus on each day. For example: Mondays: Bathrooms (3) Tuesdays: Playroom, Wednesday: Basement, Thursday: Dining Room, Friday: Kitchen, Saturday: The 3 Bedrooms. Each area or room gets vacuumed, cleaned, disinfected, garbages emptied, etc.
Tip 10* I only do one load of laundry a day (if there even needs to be any laundry done, which some days there doesn't) and I make sure the load of darks, lights, or delicates is done first thing in the am and then at nap time or t.v. time at night I fold that load. Laundry shouldn't become overwhelming so I try to only do one load and then I feel caught up.
Tip 11 Before going to bed breakfast is prepped on the counter, coffee maker is set, and sink and garbage are emptied...this way I wake up to a nice clean kitchen and not a pile of dishes.
Tip 12 The key is if you do a little each day then you don't have to clean all day! And many hands make light work, so teach your children young to start "helping" even if it is more work in the beginning because they learn fast, they feel important, and they are more apt to be more independent, helpful, and eager to participate as they get older.
Hope that helps! Next Friday: How do you get the kids ready to get out the door without losing your mind, temper, and not having any melt downs?