Life is busy right now. We’ve got kids of all different ages, with all different levels of needs and interests. We do limit their activities, but even with one sport and one musical instrument and one church group per child, we’ve still got a lot of places to be.
Running a household is tough and I don’t see it getting simpler any time soon. That’s why I’m so grateful for these six routines that are saving my life right now. Am I perfect at these? Heavens, no. But just trying to hit most of these routines makes a huge difference in my day. And on the rare days that I fit all of them in, I’m feeling like one on-top-of-it Mama.
Before I established these rules, I was feeling completely overwhelmed. It seemed like I just couldn’t keep my head above water with housework. I sat down and thought about what areas were most stressful to me and came up with these routines to make sure the most important things were getting done.
Here are the six routines that are keeping me (mostly) sane:
1) Morning Routine.
I need time to myself to grow and progress. I choose to make this happen in the early mornings most days (when the baby is up a lot in the night, I may choose sleep over my morning routine, but not often). My morning routine consists of the following things:
Scripture study and prayer
2-3 pomodoro sessions on my current project
Make our bed
Dressed and Ready for the day
Some days I don’t fit in any Pomodoro time. Some days I don’t exercise or make the bed. Some days I don’t shower. But even if I just do a few of these items, it makes a big difference in my day.
We also fit in a Quiet Time each afternoon so I can rest and refuel before the busy evening kicks in.
2) Meal Plan/ Start Dinner Early
Having a simple meal plan in place is HUGE. I generally just plan dinners and make sure we have leftovers and other breakfast and lunch staples on hand. I love filling my people’s tummies and my very active kids love eating. In the rush of soccer/swim practice and other evening activities, having a plan saves me stress daily.
Also, something that’s been making a huge difference lately is starting dinner early. If I get a jump start on chopping/prep-work while the kids are doing their morning jobs, it’s so much easier to pull dinner together during witching hour.
3) Big Kids’ Before Breakfast Jobs
Each morning, my 12 year old daughter folds/hangs/puts away the load of laundry that I washed and dried the night before. My 8 year old son empties the dishwasher. This is the key: these jobs are required before they can eat breakfast.
You may think this is cruel (sometimes my son does), but it inspires them to move quickly. How long does it really take to unload the dishwasher or take care of a basket of clean clothes? If you’re motivated it takes just a few minutes. Before I instituted the before-breakfast rule, these jobs could take my kids all.day.long. I’d have to keep calling them back to finish and in the meantime dirty dishes would stack up and the laundry would be spread all across the floor. Now it takes them less than 10 minutes to complete and we rarely have a backup of dishes or laundry anymore.
I know this can’t work for everyone, but for our family it’s a really good fit. Having big kids to help is pretty amazing for our family, but for those without big kids, you could still fit in folding a load of laundry and emptying the dishwasher each morning before breakfast. It only takes a few minutes!
4) Evening Routine
We eat dinner together as a family every evening. I try to clean up as I cook dinner, but there’s usually messes from throughout the day in our kitchen/dining area. So after dinner we all work together to clean up the kitchen, do the dishes and sweep. During this time I also start a load of laundry washing.
We have family time and start the bedtime routine: books, family scriptures, songs for the little one, etc. Once kids are in bed, Jason and I watch a short show and enjoy some downtime together. As we’re going to bed, we start the dishwasher and switch clothes to the dryer. Then they are ready for the kids to do their jobs in the morning.
Are we perfect at this? No way. Earlier this week, the kitchen was a disaster for a couple of days straight. But we caught up and have been on top of it since then.
5) Monday is Cleaning Day
Because we homeschool, the kids are always around. I generally don’t have long periods of time to clean uninterrupted. But we can get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time if we work together. Each Monday we have “Quick Cleaning Day”. It lasts about one hour. We set the timer for 10-15 minutes and work steadily in one room until the timer beeps. During this time we just work on the main parts of the house. Bedrooms are for Saturdays. We divide up the house into the following sections: Playroom/Schoolroom; Family Room/Office; Bathrooms; Floors. It’s amazing how much we can get done in 15 minutes per area!
6) Deep Clean/ Declutter One Area Each Week.
One day per week I spend 20-30 minutes deep cleaning an area. This could be decluttering a closet or purging my office, it could be dusting or anything else that’s been driving me nuts. I keep track of all that needs to be done in my simple bullet journal and refer to it when I’m figuring out what area to tackle next.
Our home is not spotless, there are definitely 6 busy people who live here and have hobbies and projects. But when I keep up with these routines it’s manageable and the perfect amount of “good enough” to help me feel like I’m not failing. I’d like to encourage you to take a look around your house and decide which areas are most driving you nuts. Figure out ways that you can stay on top of the chores that matter most to you and how the other people who live in your house can help.