Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Help this Woman: Can You Make My Life Easier?

I'm pretty close to becoming a crazy cat lady.
I need your advice. Currently, I'm working basically full-time. I have two part time jobs that pay me, I also have this blog, I have three kids, I have a delightful husband, I have a home, I help out in my kids' classrooms. I don't have any sort of formal daycare arrangement. So most of my work I do after the kids go to sleep or the two mornings a week that Mini is at preschool. I am losing my mind.

I know I'm not even special. Everyone is in a near-constant state of being overwhelmed, right? Please say yes. But I can't shake the feeling that there are people out there doing it all so much better than I am. Living a life that is organized and serene, without frenetic flapping about or excessive boob-stains.

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm working two jobs right now, I sort of explain it here.

It may also be a function of my recent obsession with Pinterest. Because I see things there and I'm like: "WHUCK?? Why have I have never thought about doing that before? That would make my life so much easier. Here's an excellent example:

GAH!! If I could just get all my hoarded cats better organized...

Just kidding, I was actually talking more about this:

Apparently, these are pre-made meals for the crockpot. Which you then freeze and use whenever you need them.
You can check out all kinds of stuff like this on my Pinterest Board "Imma Try Dat".

So here is my request: What do you do to make your life easier? Do you have tips? Tricks? Schedules or lists? Reward charts? Things you have to do the night before? Things you know about dinner? Have you found the Achilles' heel of Randy the Laundry Fairy?

The deal is this, if I don't start getting better at being a grown-up, I'm going to have give up TV, Words with Friends, Facebook, wine and blogging. And then what's left? So now you see how serious this situation has become.

Like with the marriage/relationship post, I'll write a post putting together all of your invaluable and amazeballs feedback and suggestions.

I thank you most sincerely.
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. Story of my life! I am single mom, trying to finish my degree, working, interning you name it I am trying to do it! My trick is to take one day at a time I try not to think to far ahead of myself because at a drop of pen everything can change (and it often does daily). I update my calendar on my phone weekly with important dates and set alarms the day before so I know what to expect before I go to bed. I am new to the whole mom role (baby just turned 9 months) so as far as the whole dinner thing goes I am lucky to get a bite in! Good luck and I look forward to help as well!

  2. I come home from work and their in a load of laundry every night. Then put it in the dryer in the morning. That way something is always clean. Folded is questionable.

    Also I put up a cost hook in my bedroom, and I hang two days of work clothes, two shirts and matching pants, there. That way in the morning I have a choice but I'm not overwhelmed.

  3. Seriously, get the book "The Everlasting Meal"... Read the part about Striding Ahead. Then execute!

    It makes meals SO MUCH EASIER, no crockpot required ;)

  4. I am feeling the EXACT same way right now! I feel like I'm juggling 10 million things and that the balls are going to start dropping and I won't be able to catch them all and throw them back in the air because there are TOO MANY BALLS! And my only job is SAHM... I should be able to do more. Sorry, no advice here, but if you get any good ideas sent your way please post about them so that I can learn along with you!

  5. I love living on the west coast and reading your new posts late at night.

    Okay, I am about to hate myself for what I am about to write. Because it comes from my hubby. Thank goodness he is snoring so loud that he cannot hear my inner scream of "damnit you are right!" My husband espouses (pun intended) the strategy of MAINTAINING. Do a little at a time all the time.

    That's so very simple right? Don't stop cleaning, laundering, wiping, driving, writing, teaching, cooking, folding, sweeping so that I am not overwhelmed.

    If only I could stop reading blogs and playing on Pinterest late at night! But seriously, when I feel like I have touched upon all of my tasks, even if for only a moment (don't tell my boss!) then I feel like I have some control over the chaos.

    Trina in CA

    1. EWWWWW, she said the 'M' word!! *runs and hides with all her chocolate stash*

  6. Sandie in TacomaMarch 7, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Hi Lydia (miss you Kate!)
    I am currently a SAHM of 2 teenagers (you'd think it would get easier - but they still need me to drive) I have banished Randy the Laundry Fairy from my house. Because my childhood was spent searching for clothes in the mountain of clean laundry on top of the dryer, I have a THING about laundry. Here is my routine:

    I have a extra large front load Washer/Dryer

    1. there are enough towels, socks and underwear to last a full week
    2. All laundry baskets are large, rectangle and of high quality. I have 7 of them. All bedrooms have dirty clothes hampers

    3. I do laundry ONCE A WEEK (I cannot stand to "do a load each day"!!)

    4. All washing/drying is done on the same day (once a week)

    5. All folding/hanging and putting away is done on the same day (once a week) preferably on the same day as laundry (but sometimes that is just too much)or the next day (NO LATER)

    6. As my laundry comes out of the dryer, it is taken upstairs and dumped on my bed.

    7. When ALL of the laundry is done, I sit on my bed, turn on the TV start folding. I do not fold until it is ALL DONE

    8. FIRST I fold all of the bath towels. I put them in the baskets two across (this is why the baskets are rectangle) When all of them are folded I put them away.
    9. SECOND I fold the kitchen towels and cloth napkins (yes I said napkins - another of my "Things") They get their own basket.

    10. As I am folding the towels, I toss socks, underwear and bras into a separate basket- they are folded LAST

    11. By now, my mountain of laundry is reduced to a hill. I then arrange four baskets near my feet, and fold clothes. Each person has a basket - their clothes go in their basket.
    As I come across thing that go on hangers, I put them aside until I am done folding.

    12. If there are sheets they are folded and put away (I have 3 sets of sheets per bed- so the bed was already made by this time)

    13. I put things on hangers if needed
    14. LAST - I fold the tidy whities and socks. They go in each person's basket.
    THEN.... I yell at my kids to come fetch their baskets and hung up stuff -tell them to put it away in the right place NOW (not later) and have them bring me the empty baskets (OR ELSE)

    I usually do 8-9 large loads of laundry - and can have the whole folding/putting away thing done in under 2 hours (I have timed it)

    Having laundry in various states of done/not done - clean/not clean makes me nuts!
    I actually do some "semi-professional" organizing for friends - I will jot down some other ideas and send them to you via FB message. Congratulations on the new house!

    1. I have the same routine for laundry. I don't want to do a load a day - ugh! I'd much rather get it all knocked out in one day. I have a five and seven year old that are responsible for putting their own clothes away (I got one of those hangers that hangs clothes lower so that they can hang up their clothes).

      I also do a little cleaning each day. Dusting is my downfall so that doesn't get done nearly as often but I try - so that counts, right? If I have errands I try to get them done all in one day so that I have other days for appointments or working in the kids classroom or working on my home-based business.

    2. I also do laundry like Sandie does... but we live in a one story house, so I instituted the rule that laundry could not go left of the laundry room door (all bedrooms/baths are to the right). I do the laundry over 2 days, but fold all on Sunday evenings. It has worked miracles in our house!

  7. I am a SAH military mom of 3. With hubby away ALL the time, I've had to come up with some more effective practices. My top few:
    1) the bottom crisper bin in the fridge is now the lunchbox supply drawer. On Sunday I stock it with ready- to-go servings of whatever fruits & veggies the kids will eat that week, pretzels, goldfish, milk boxes, etc. I still have to make a sandwich in the morning, but that's it. Makes the mornings way less stressful.
    2) Before the kids get home from school, I HIDE THE TV REMOTE. The first few days of this were traumatic but they've adjusted. Much easier to get everyone going on homework.
    3) Tween daughter's phone goes into my back pocket when she comes home from school.
    4) Make as much of dinner as you can during the day when at least some of the kids are at school. And get a rice cooker. When it's 6:00 p.m. and you are staring blankly into the freezer, you can at least start a batch of brown rice (dump in rice and water, push button - rice done in 20 - 30 min).
    5) We don't sell fundraiser wrapping paper/popcorn/cookies/ magazines. I write a modest check. You have to decide what your time is worth. It would be great to have the time to sell that stuff, but I don't.

    And the big one..... I took the Facebook app off of my phone.

    Didn't mean to write a book. Hang in there.

  8. I work as an accountant three days a week, have a craft blog and an Etsy shop as well as being the mother to two girls -- one of them on the boob. I don't claim any organizational expertise but what keeps me on track are a series of little prep tips and triggers: I get bottles of milk and for pumping ready the night before and leave the insulated bags on the counter so I don't forget them or the pump as well as anything else going with me in the morning. In the morning I take all the bags and stuff out to the car while i get my breakfast ready before I start getting the girls ready. I'm really spotty with meal planning but if I've done a good job i make something on the days I'm not working to eat in the days I am. I blog/ work on Etsy orders in the evening after the kids are asleep. I read blogs on my phone a lot while feeding the baby.

  9. My kids are 3 and 5. They go to day care & preschool 2 1/2 days a week and to work with me one day a week. I make their lunches right after dinner (while I'm still in the kitchen). I complain about it every time, but if I wait until the next morning we are SCREWED and will never get out of the house on time.

    I also set out their clothes the night before. Sometimes the 3-yr old fashion diva decides she doesn't like what I set out, so I will let her pick another shirt and I don't care if anything matches. Shirt, pants, socks, shoes. We're out the door. I am NOT a morning person, so I do as much as possible the night before.

    And you're right! The couple of days a week I don't have to care about whether the other people in the room need to poop or pee and can get their own lunches (I love a meal in peace!) is a sanity saver for me!

    1. Um... You are living my life. My kids are the same age. I hate mornings, which is why I'm face booking instead of getting ready. My kids sometimes look like colorful clowns in training, and prepping my entire life the night before (right down to the spoon I will use to stir my coffee) is what saves me. And sometimes working is a blessing.

  10. Cannot WAIT!!!! Here isy biggest tip for slackers: each kid has their own laundry hamper. When it is full and/or kid hollers that they have no more clean pants and where is their soccer uniform, you dump the contents in the laundry. No sorting. Wash on cold. When they are done, you take the entre load and dump it on their bed. Then you sort into piles--NO FOLDING! Just.a pile of shirts, a heap of pants. You make the kid stuff the pile in their drawers--NO FOLDING! And each kid's laundry is done this way separately from everyone else's! The no folding and no sorting diff people's socks has changed my life.

    1. This is how I do it, too! So much easier this way.

    2. My sister, a sahm of 2, ages 4 and 5, also swears by the each-kid's-laundry-separately method. Added benefit: parents' clothes never smell like pee, a smell she says doesn't always come out the first time.

    3. My boys are 2 and 3....I have NEVER done their laundry together! Especially being so close to the same size (usually one different), I hate the idea of making sure I know which shirt fits which boy, or which socks are whose, etc.!

    4. I have always done it this way! Who has time to sort? Or fold? And who cares if stuff's a little wrinkly? Not me! With 3 kids (two of whom are in various stages of potty training) It's a miracle it even gets in the washing machine.

    5. The NO FOLD rule set me twitching (my own personal hang up) but I love the throw it all in rule!

    6. i throw the kids stuff in their rooms and tell them to put it away. we stopped folding when i realized that they were just throwing clothes at each other for fun anyway so why bother. i fold and hang my stuff and the towels. my husbands mother apparently did everything for him and i refuse, so he lives out of a pile in the closet. much easier. much much much easier. cold water so the 'mud' doesn't stain other clothing, and so you can always rewash it if you didn't catch the need for bleach the first time.

    7. I do my laundry this way too. Each person has their own hamper in their closet and they get their clothes washed and dried individually. So much easier!! But I do fold the laundry, I am an A type! But they put their stuff away themselves.

  11. Also, my crock pots (yes, I have multiple) have been a huge help for dinner. If it's not a rushed morning I will throw everything in in the morning, otherwise I toss everything together the night before and leave the crock part in the refrigerator overnight. The other day we came home to pot roast and baked potatoes. It was awesome! I have a "Fix It and Forget It" crock pot book that I use a lot. I also look for recipes on the internet.

  12. Go to . Freezer meals totally explained! And they have mini-meal plans so you don't need to spend a whole day cooking.

  13. GAH! I personally haven't figured out if it's an art or a science in making it all come together. I'm a Mom of a 3 and 4 year old, as well as a small business owner. The only way it works for me is that I have to be wicked organized. Here are some of my biggest life-savers: 1) Re-jig with your partner (or other supports). The arrangement that worked as a stay at home Mom is not the same one that will work as a career Mom. If you're now in the workplace, the laundary, the groceries or the kids' lessons have to be re-negotiated, if at all possible. My husband and I sat down with all the tasks to be done and took a fresh look at it, and re-divided. 2) I hung a fabric shoe-holder just inside my door...where most people hang a piece of art or whatever. It looks totally rediculous. But in go the hats, mitts, (I live in Canada), water bottles, permission forms, and everything else I otherwise scramble to find each morning. Taught my kids to use it by giving them a skittle everytime they remembered to "put it in the holes!" (ha, don't say THAT one out of context). 3) Meal plan on Sunday for 7 days later. Keep the grocery list in your pocket and work away at it while you're out and about. 4) Never finish one vacation without planning for the next one. If I take a week off in May, I have booked off the next one by my first Monday back. I find that it keeps me mentally healthy knowing the actual date of when I will have my next break from the juggling for a while. Good luck Lydia!!! Can't wait to hear the other posts!

    1. I hung a big plastic shoe organizer by my front door as well for hats, gloves etc. Each pocket is labeled in white duct tape and sharpie, there's a section for Sam's gloves, Sam's hat, Meg's gloves, Meg's hat etc. It is not classy, but it has really helped with the winter morning routine. Also I can just look at it and know from the empty sections who forgot to put what away. And then I can nag them :)

  14. Crockpot really is your friend. And double anything casserole-y or any soup you make so half goes straight into the freezer for another time. And letting your kids help with cooking (if you let them start at 4, they will cook dinner for you by 10. I have seen it in action ... well I've seen the 15 year old cooking dinner and believe the backstory.)

    Make the older kids read books to the younger ones so you get 5 minutes to think (my older one doesn't actually read yet but has many favorite books memorized so it still works). We chop up pounds and pounds of the few veggies our kids eat and that's what they get to eat when they are hungry before dinner. We find we end up snacking on them too.

    I need the kids' backpacks and my bag ready to go and the dishwasher unloaded before I can go to bed (unless it's just loaded before bed, but then at least we run it overnight). If my daughter dilly-dallies at breakfast I choose her clothes for the day - it's a great motivator for her!

    Hm. I know there's more ...

  15. I will be waiting for the promised post with bated breath. I could have written this plea myself. I am also working two part-time jobs, both of which require quite a bit of prep at home. At the same time, I'm trying to think of myself as a stay-home mom, mainly because most of my work gets done while the children nap, and childcare tends to consist of frantic phone calls to local college students and retired women. I will be the first one to admit that there is waaaaay too much on my plate, but the things that I would cut out are paying the bills, and the things that don't pay the bills are keeping me sane.

    The only thing I can think of to offer is this: ask for help when you need it. I hate asking for help on things I "used to" be able to handle with my eyes closed. (And by "used to" I mean, obviously, before kids.) But the surprising thing is that most people WANT to help out, they just don't know what you might need. I ask my husband for help with housework and kitchen work, and I have a mental list of several people from my church who are available for each day of the work week, and who have never hesitated to come for an hour or a morning when I need it.

    That said, it's still not easy. I'd still rather hire a sitter than ask some kind grandmother to come stay with the kids, because it feels more like pulling my own weight. But it took me two or three years to swallow my pride and ask at all, and while I wouldn't say it's made my life easy, it has certainly made it easier.

  16. I think we just need wives. Seriously.
    But, I am right there with you, trying to get my life organized and less crazy this year.

    1. I totally just snorted. I can already picture my hubby introdecing us "This my wife, and this is her wife." LOVE this!!

    2. I do have a "wife." My best friend lives in my house and helps me out. I am a single mom with one child (age 4). My friends are all jealous. Especially the married ones. We do all refer to her as the "wife." She's a bit of a neat freak so she helps keep me in line. And she's thoughtful (I'm at the store, you need anything?) and likes to cook. And, as part of her rent she cleans the house. I haven't used a vacuum in years. In the good old days with lots of children it was the spinster sister who lived with you to help you out. Or your widowed mother.

  17. Oh! I thought of another thing that has changed my life. I don't run the dishwasher at night. Rather I run it after breakfast. Because I HATE unloading the dishwasher in the morning rush. It is easier to unload it in the evening while dinner is cooking, or sometimes after dinner. So I toss the breakfast dishes in and then start it. Has changed my life!

  18. Clearly I am not doing what I should be doing right now because I keep thinking of things instead of getting my kids out the door for school! I have a friend who has the cleanest house. She is annoying. But also inspiring. She says she never leaves a room until it is clean....which clearly wouldn't work for me as I'd never even be able to leave my bedroom in the morning. But sometimes I hear her voice in the back of my head and do a quick tidy before I leave a room. Sometimes....

    Ok. I'll stop now!

    1. Ha Ha! I have a friend like that and I mostly want to throw things at her ;)

  19. Have you recently been to The Container Store? That store always causes otherwise rationale women to think there is a better way to organize their lives. I've tried writing lists, but now my house is dotted with lists. There's the grocery list, the menu for the week list, the which kid goes where and when list, the things I need to do in March list, the things I need to do before 2013 list. Yes, I feel better when I'm making a list, but once written the list seems to mock me and remind me about how totally chaotic my life is. I think what you really need is a little more wine. Incidentally, I make my best lists when I have a wine glass in my hand. Strange, right?

  20. I plan my meals for the week on Sunday afternoon and try to hit the grocery store right then or first thing Monday morning. It decreases my stress level immensely to not have to stand in front of the fridge at 5:00 and wonder what's for dinner. And I write the menu on our family calendar, so my husband will know whats for dinner and not eat pizza for lunch if we are having pizza for dinner.

    1. This is what I try (stress try) to do every week. Meal plan for just the week (I have seen monthly ones on Pinterest and it is too overwhelming) and write up my grocery list. Monday morning after dropping Mr Bean off at Kindergarten, Little Miss Adventure and I go to Wegmans, get a nice breakfast and then shop for the week. So much better than staring at recipes, food and referigerator an hour before dinner time and then realize I have nothing but either Pasta or baked chicken for dinner. Also gives Hubby something to look forward to during the day and also staves off complaints from the peanut gallery about how they do not like what I am cooking. Used this meal planner idea and just typed up all the meals and basic ingredients I would need to buy at the store that week to make it. I have half made the board but love having the list of meals and ingredients all in one place. When I try to go by memory I forget an important ingredient or else I end up with a rotation of 3 meals as I cannot think of anything else. It takes time to put them on the list but it is sooooo worth it to me.

      Jrseygirl in VA

  21. The best thing I did to get organized was JUST SAY NO! I so hear where you are coming from and was juggling all those same things too (fear my DH would lose his job, losing my mind with toddlers, wondering why I got a PhD if I'm not using it, etc).

    As girls we are taught we can be anything we want. Love that! I'm thinking we should also be taught we don't have to be everything either!

    You are doing a great job! Love this site and all the great laughs you guys give!

  22. Plan meals. Seriously, it starts out SO SO SO annoying and hard, but it totally pays off. And makes way more than you need so that you always have things everyone likes stashed in the freezer for when everyone is out until 7pm or you get sick.

    Ask everyone what tier favorite meals are, keep a list of everything you cook (just add to it over time, don't kill yourself making an exhaustive (!) list the first time out) and just assign each meal to a day. You can always change it later if you need.

    I even write (on my list) if the meal is something quick or something that takes long, and I might just plan 6 meals for the week based on how many easy meals I need (like on days we have soccer practice and no one is home to cook a meatloaf or whatever).

    That way you CAN chop up veggies the night before for a crockpot you need the next day because you'll be out and it's cold and you just want a gorgeous stew when you all come home. Or plan to have a 20-minute meal (salmon, frozen veggies, and quinoa!) for the days that you have no time.

    1. I do this and it truly is a way to save your sanity-I despise highly processed food so cooking fresh/scratch requires planning-I have a chalkboard menu in my kitchen and plan 2 weeks at a time, one grocery trip-the meals with the freshest ingredients get made first, stuff that can be prepped and frozen get made later, and i have quick go to menues as well. It is hard at first but now is 2nd nature, this applies to breakfast as well-make a BIG batch of pancake mix, then when you make pancakes all you need to do is mix wet and dry-then i cook BIG batch and freeze the cooked pancakes-the 9 year old can pop them into the toaster and microwave herself if time is super rushed...

    2. Also designate one or 2 laundry days a week, laundry basket for each family member for clean clothes-sometimes those clean (usually folded) clothes never actually make it back to the dresser but oh well! there is also a rule in our house that if dirty clothes are not in the basket on laundry days it doesn't get washed - even younger kids can know this (the hardest one to get this through to was DH-after he had to buy clean underwear realized that it was easier to actually HIT THE DIRTY CLOTHES BASKET! LOL

  23. I work part-time in the morning- in a job where I can bring my kids (I'm a caretaker assigned to my grandmother, and she doesn't seem to mind the great-grandkids showing up). But getting them up early, dressed, ready for my older daughter's preschool, fed and out the door is usually a cluster that leaves me so tired I'm grateful for the car ride so I can just sit for a while. So I put little 'time savers' all over- from leaving kid-friendly food and juice/milk at my grandma's house, as well as everything I need to take care of the baby for the day, for the days when everyone is sluggish and I'm running late and don't have time to feed them. I also make sure that everything is packed, as in in my car and not just by the door, and clothes are laid out so everything is ready to move as soon as we're up. I also keep extra juice boxes and pre-packaged snacks in the car so I can keep my daughter happy.

  24. OK, Lydia. Pull it together. None of us are actually doing it any better than you are. And WE NEED YOU! The organized, serene life comes later, like when you are 60 and the kids are all (hopefully) out of the house. Old Irish saying: There will be plenty of time to sleep...when you're dead.

    I am a working mom with a fabulous stay at home dad for a husband. He has a dinner menu/shopping system that is the envy of all the moms in our town. He has plotted out several weeks' worth of meals - our favorite meals go into rotation every 3 weeks, regular meals rotate every 6 weeks. There may be calculus involved in the planning of this, but it helps him with his shopping lists and he includes leftovers as at least one meal per week and we are always well fed. It is not spontaneous but we always have yummy leftovers to bring for lunches and he never ever throws away food.

    Also, our tip for laundry is that once you have a clean load, if you dump it out on your bed when it is dry, then you can't go to bed until you fold it. (Actually, you can just scoop it all off the bed and throw it back in the laundry basket, but we pretend that we don't know that this option exists. Most of the time.)

    My best tip, though, is to adjust your expectations and keep sight of what is important. Is our house spanking clean? No. Is the kitchen island buried under school papers, insurance EOBs, reminders from teachers, birthday cards that we forgot to send, etc? Yes. Are we always fed, clean and wearing clean clothes? Yes. Does my husband spend hours making a Millenium Falcon out of egg cartons and tin foil for our 5 year old? Yes. Do I spend evenings and weekends cleaning my house? Not usually (unless my mom is coming to visit, but that's another story).

    Giving up Facebook, wine, TV, girls' nights out, dance class...whatever keeps you simply NOT.AN.OPTION.

    Thanks for all you do.

    1. well said Anne! No giving up the things that make you SANE (or somewhat sane), especially the wine!
      I'm looking forward to reading all the other comments and getting some awesome ideas!

  25. First of all, give yourself a break.
    I meal plan but since it's just the two of us, I only have to really cook three times per week b/c we eat leftovers.
    When I was with my ex and his two kids, we had a snack drawer filled with healthy-ish snacks so if the kids wanted something, we could just point them in that direction and I didn't have to stop what I was doing.

    Good luck!

  26. My dirty little secret: I have two elementary-age girls (no, THAT'S not the dirty little secret). We'll call them Sassy and Rowdy. Almost all of their clothes match, which isn't too hard because Sassy loves only pink and Rowdy only purple.
    Sometimes I put them to bed wearing the clothes for the next day. Then I wake up a wee bit before them, slap together their lunches, then wake them up *at the last minute* saying "Hurry up! Bus is here in 5 minutes!". That way they don't have time to whine and sass me for a hour.
    Sadly, at times thy go to school with teeth and hair unbrushed. But I think the teachers see worse stuff.

  27. Welcome to the club. We all have organizational challenges. I have teenagers-and you would think it would be easier-but sometimes it isn't.

    I delegate. I decided to go back to school when my kids were in 2nd and 4th grade. They both had a lesson in doing laundry. Yes, I made my 2nd grader do her own laundry. Guess what, she survived. Now they are in 9th and 11th grade and they are still doing there own laundry.

    Plan out your shopping. This includes grocery, Target and the liquor store! (see, this is a different line item in my mind). Plan out meals. I'm not a super crockpot cooker, but I know what I can cook fast and what everyone will eat.

    I'm in home renovation hell right now- nothing says crazy like taking a shower in a bathroom with no ceiling or walls so my house cleaning consists of throwing away drywall and moving tools. If you are not in this crazy club, you can do what you can. Enlist help. Get kids to help by sorting laundry, folding clothes, etc. Pay them if you need to. (This worked wonders in getting our lawn mowed.). Realize that you will not win the perfect home award.

    Dont take it all on yourself. Yes, of course we all grew up- I am woman hear me roar..but we aren't the only lion in the house. Get Mufasa, Simba and Nala to help with the pride. It is not shameful to ask for help.

    We cant do it all and we shouldn't.

  28. WE HEAR YOU!! I feel your dis-organization. We just posted some helpful tips:
    Also, I keep a bag packed and ready for EVERYTHING: daycare, diaper clutch in the cars, etc. It requires a few bags, but then I am just grapping it and heading out the door.

  29. My husband puts the smack down on Randy every weekend! It was his choice to be in charge of laundry, hey they washer and dryer are already in his man cave. So there is no excuse, my hubby works many many hours, and still gets all the laundry done every weekend whilst he plays on the computer and his stereo equipment. He still occasionally will shrink something, or needs to be reminded that somethings don't go in the dryer, but hey I don't have to do the laundry! -Stephanie PA

    1. LOL Stephanie!
      Our washer dryer is also in my husbands man cave...and yes, he does put his own and the boys' laundry in the washer and dryer and then brings it up to for me to fold and put away. :-(
      I showed my 1st and pre-k kid how to put theirs away, so now I just have to worry about my own. lol

  30. I love having a grocery list app on my iphone. Now when husband randomly yells from the basement that we are out of lightbulbs I can immediately add it to the list and pick them up next time I am out. Also helps to add things when I see a recipe I like online. Just add ingredients to Iphone grocery list app and email the recipe to my myself :) This has made cooking (which I hate) and grocery shopping (which I hate even more) much more tolerable.

    1. which app is that? sounds like I need to check it out! :-)

    2. ShoppingList is a good one - with the paid version you can customize your categories to match the order of the store you shop in, or create lists for multiple stores.

  31. I've learned (the HARD way, of course) to stop whenever I'm feeling stressed or rushed or overwhelmed and ask myself what I'm feeling pressured to do at this moment that is exceeding my limits of time, energy (or $ or goodwill or whatever limit I have). Then I think REALLY HARD about whether I actually have to do that thing. Maybe I can do it later or in a different way or just not at all. Get ruthless about it and say no, buy instead of bake, let others actually experience the logical consequences of their choices by not killing yourself to rescue them (yes, even your kids). There is only so much time and energy in a day. Even if I can't take any major responsibilities off my plate, I can always find something I'm pressuring myself to do (or letting others pressure me to do) that can be done differently or not at all, and it keeps me sane to make those evaluations and choices every time I feel my stress level make my blood pressure rise.

    1. "let others actually experience the logical consequences of their choices by not killing yourself to rescue them (yes, even your kids)"
      ...Best advise ever received. Best advice ever given. Period.

  32. I'm wondering how old the kids are? Unless they are newborns, they can do SOMETHING to help out, even if it's just dressing themselves. Most people remark on the cleanliness of my home, the lack of clutter and everyone is happy and well fed, so I must be doing something right here...

    First-LET THE KIDS HELP! It may be difficult and seem more time consuming at first, but it's good for everyone in the long run. My kids (girls 8 and 5) get themselves ready completely on their own in the took some doing, but they are well trained now. The 8yo does the laundry and, before you think your kids can't, I will add that, for us, this includes her lugging it to the laundry room behind our condo, not even in our HOUSE! AND she folds and puts her own away. The 5 yo still needs some help with that. The 8yo also unloads the dishwasher. The 8yo can obviously shower herself and, when my husband is out of town (often) I make them take a shower together...the 5yo still needs some help washing hair.

    Second-MULTITASKING. I make lunches at the same time as breakfast. SOmetimes I'm making dinner at breakfast too (thank YOU crockpot)

    Third-the FAMILY STATION. like the mom who has the shoe pockets, we also have a variety of pockets and hooks by the door, as well as a LARGE bulletin board in the kitchen and I use one of those multi section paper files for homework, etc. Each memeber of the family has their own spot, plus I have one for my Girl Scout stuff and one for my business. ALL shoes, backpacks, jackets, etc come off in the doorway and STAY THERE! You can also make a snack station in the fridge, with healthy snacks at a level your little ones can help themselves to.

    Fourth-EATING. Did you know you can FREEZE milk? Just be sure to redate it with a marker when you take it out or your husband will be asking if that 2 month old milk is safe to drink, hahahah! Also, it is absolutely worth the time to find a few easy, go to recipes (beyond spaghetti and take out pizza). You can cook a whole chicken in the crockpot, just dump it in there with can cook a pork shoulder that way too, then shred it for sandwiches, tacos, etc or freeze the meat for later use. Check out the "Ranch Crockpot pork chops" floating around pinterest, it's SO EASY and even my picky eaters LOVE it!

    Fifth-HANDWASHING. I know, you are thinking, WHUCK?!?! what does THAT have to do with organzing? How out of control does your day go when you have a sick kid, let alone, get sick yourself? Handwashing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs that cause colds, flu, etc. Keep your people healthy with handwashing and TRUST ME, your life will go so much smoother!

  33. I WOHM, have 2 kids in daycare, and my husband works from home.
    The thing that makes it work for us, is a rotation. If I take the kids up to shower in the evening, he does the dishes, in the morning one of us gets kids ready and the other makes breakfast/preps lunches for the day.
    We also rely on leftovers, and re-using meats in new dishes throughout the week.
    He now picks the kids up on Fridays and that is when I grocery shop. That way I dont lose a chunk of the "weekend" to the grocery store, it just feels like an extension of my work day.

    With regard to the laundry bastard: A hamper for each person and a mesh bag clipped to the outside to put socks in. Mating socks eats away at my sanity, but if they stay together the whole time it is easier.

    I don't plan meals based on recipes, I keep staples on hand that can creat dozens of meals, and just rotate the proteins.
    CrockPot is reserved for nights when the kids have an activity.

    I only recently overcame my reluctance on this: kids are capable of way more chores than one might think. Everyone needs to have some accountablity to the home, and to the families needs, not just their own.

    I can't wait to get more tips!

    1. awesome tips Sarah!
      I love the mesh bag for socks idea!
      I also don't plan a menu and I've been wondering if doing one would help. I also have a bunch of staples that I can pull out, but I'm still standing in the kitchen at 4 thinking what's for dinner tonight! ugh!

  34. Kate, not *the* KateMarch 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    I have a full time job and 2 kids too. My saving grace is meal planning, shopping once a week and making sure that whatever I cook can be re-purposed into at least 1 other meal. Example: roast a turkey (yes, a whole freaking turkey) which takes almost no attention on your part, and it's debatable whether or not you even need to be home... Night one: turkey dinner (this is the most work so do it on Sunday) Night two: turkey quesadillas (bonus, kids LOVE to make their own) Night three: turkey salad sandwiches. Voila! Large roasted meats are your FRIEND! That's what she said.

    Laundry also gets done once a week. It does not necessarily get put away though, and I'm ok with that. Oh, and I also threaten my children with death if they don't wear their PJ's twice and if they put a shirt they had on for :05 seconds into the laundry. Unless there is visible dirt, it is socks or underwear, or it was worn for 12 hours, wear it again! You're a kid, you have very little stink!

    And a cleaning lady. Really, that's the key because it means that at least once every two weeks the entire family has to pitch in to pick up all their toys and shoes and crap that's been lying around for two weeks and put it away so that the the cleaning lady can clean! As a working mom, I really feel that this is an essential expense.

  35. Wow, Lydia. Looks like you have a lot of reading and sorting to do. My biggest tips would be:
    1. Menu plan a week at a time. If you go to that inadequacy-inducing Real Simple's website, they have a great menu planner for the work week that helps organize your grocery shopping as well. I actual now pull things out AHEAD OF TIME. Crazy, huh?
    2. I'm a regular launderer. Not folder, but at least it is clean.
    3. I use an old, paper and pencil planner. I try to get three things scratched off my to-do list everyday. Anything over that is just gravy. As far as what to put on that list, use Pinterest and search "organization." There are tons of good blogs about cleaning and organizing, many with weekly or daily challenges. And of course, good ol FlyLady. I don't always keep up, but my house and my sanity are vastly improved.
    Good luck!

    1. First FlyLady mention!! A bunch of friends and I have a FaceBook group dedicated to keeping our sinks shiny... I've warned my husband a thousand times... you put that in my shiny sink and YOU have to wash it! (We don't have a dishwasher... and I HATE doing dishes!)

  36. Best advice I actually use is from the Happiness Project:
    Take ten minutes every night and do something small to clean/organize. By committing to 10 minutes only it takes the pressure off and eventually it all gets done little by little.
    Having a list helps as well.
    Asking for help from my partner is by far the toughest task there is. Can't wait for your recap post. Cheers to everyone for doing it all and then some!!!

  37. I'm with the menu planning. I do mine on the back of my grocery list so I can double check it at the store if I need it. I also do everything else planning wise electronically. I get alerts that I have to do something or be somewhere, because otherwise I forget. Give yourself a break, enjoy your few minutes out of the house, and ask the Cap'n to help step it up a bit at home as shouldn't all fall on you.

  38. Sundays are lazy days. I can go full speed the rest of the week but I need a lazy Sunday to rest and be able to do it all over again on Monday morning. My 7 year old has recently starting asking for an allowance so he's been helping out with chores around the house and its been nice to have the help.

    My husband does most of the cooking and 80% of the shopping, so that helps me out. We also try to plan meals that can cover a meal or two and on the weekends he will make a big pot of soup or roast pork that we can eat. It makes the weekend meals easier.

    No one has everything together all of the time, and if they say they do then they are a liar. And you never know what struggles other people have when they are at home behind closed doors. We are all facing some kind of battle and its important to be kind to ourselves so we can be kinder to others.

  39. I work full-time, go to school part-time, sell stuff on Ebay part-time and am a wife/mother so life is crazy :) I'm not the kind of person who likes to plan ahead nor am I a very "scheduley" person so I usually just take it one day at a time. However, here's my advice.

    1. My dryer's been broken for 2 weeks now & I want to kick Randy the Laundry Fairy in the nads. So I've taken to doing the "sniff test" on the clothes & if I can still smell the fabric softener on the clothes, then I hang them back up.
    2. Two words: FROZEN MEALS. I don't cook much so I always have frozen meals handy-lasagna, Bertolli, etc. Yes, I know this isn't the best option for my family, but they don't seem to mind & I try not to beat myself up about it. I also keep lots of Hamburger Helper handy
    3. Could Mini go to daycare all day 2 days a week? I know it's only a few extra hours but it might give you more time to Pinterest...ergh, I mean do laundry...

    I'm also not afraid to ask for help & call in the cavalry when I need them. And taking a metric crap-ton of meds helps keep a smile on my face when I might otherwise want to scream. :)

  40. I menu plan for the week on Sunday mornings, factoring in what is going on each night and what time we'll be eating/how much time I'll have to cook. On nights when I do have time to cook, I try to make large batches of stuff that freezes well (lasagna, tamale pie, etc). I make one pan for that night and freeze the rest in aluminum pans for nights when all I have time to do is throw something in the oven to heat. Also, the crockpot is my BEST FRIEND. I use it minimum of once a week, sometimes three times. I freeze those leftovers too if I can. Laundry gets done on Wednesdays (or Thursdays, or Fridays if it's that kind of week) and Sunday. Weekday laundry starts the night before - put a load in when the kids go to bed, another when you go to bed to wash overnight. Another load in the AM when you get up, one at lunch (I get to go home at lunchtime), another when the kids get home from school, another before dinner, another after dinner, etc. Then sit down in front of the TV with a big glass of wine, take over the remote and fold through your favorite shows. On a side note: I don't iron, and I don't care if my clothes are wrinkled so this works great for me. :) Sunday laundry is mostly sheets and towels and whatever clothes didn't get washed in the weekday laundry. Housecleaning gets done a little at a time - mostly just picking up as I walk through a room. My kids are 6 and 8 so they help too - and don't make too much of a mess. Also (confession!) I hire someone to come in every 2 weeks to vaccuum, mop, dust, wipe surfaces and scrub bathrooms. She is a blessing and I love that 5 minutes when I walk into a sparkling clean house 2x a month! :) Good luck!

  41. I work full time, have two boys. I do have formal day care, but use that for the job
    that pays me. So, I get home at 4:30 when the oldest gets off the bus. Husband
    comes home around 5:30, so we need to eat at like 5:40. The little guy starts his
    bedtime around 6:30. So, that's a small window for kid time, dinner, homework.

    Here are a few things this year I've done that help out:
    I love my to-do app - ToodleDo. It really helps me remember to do things like
    pay the bills, make sure the oldest has is school library books on the right day,
    sign kids up for summer camp. That sort of thing. I even put long term things on
    it like washing the curtains. Stuff I am now on top of that I NEVER used to
    remember to do.

    Laundry is a weekend thing. I did have the dryer vent cleaned and that speeds up
    drying time. There are "emergency" loads during the week, but not always.

    I plan my menus out a week at a time. So, when I come home I don't have to think
    about dinner. I don't have much luck with the crock pot -I leave the house at 7am
    and we eat at 5:30. I hate that so many crock pot recipies are for 6hours or so.
    When I try them they are mush, or dried out. So, I have learned a lot from
    Rachel Ray and the 30 minute meal. I save the big things for the weekend, and
    when I make something that freezes well, I make more. I always try to have some
    soup or something in the frezer. And if we have pizza more than twice a month,
    that's not the end of the world.

    I made a mail organizer (See from an
    idea I got from the Blog Controlling my Chaos. Mine isn't as cute has Jill's, but
    it has really helped me feel like I'm on top of things. When it's time to pay the bills,
    I just grab the folder and I don't have to spend 1/2 hour finding the bills.

    So, I have made small progress this year. There is still craziness and I still
    yell too much to get the kids out the door in the morning (seriously - 7am ugh).
    And of course, there's that stack of Real Simple magazines..... I think it's more than
    18 inches tall by now... my husband says I need to read them to get any ideas from

  42. Don't sweat the small stuff! Have easy heat and eat meals in the fridge and freezer at all times (fish, veggies, meatballs)--also pay a little more and get the 90 minute Uncle Ben's 90 second rice. You'll use 2 packages for a fam of 5, but it's worth $3 to save your sanity while you're trying to make dinner and you can have a healthy wholegrain starch in 90 seconds. Pre-cook pasta and keep it in a tupperware so you can always heat and eat, at least for the kiddos. We do a load of laundry every other day to keep the volume manageable--I'm a career mom with a husband and two kiddos and we make TONS of laundry so this "little bit at a time," has helped me keep my sanity. Lay out the childrens' clothes the night before and insist they dress fussing over what you've layed out--PUT. IT. ON. Simple breakfasts in the am--no cooking meals for breakfast. It creates too much cleaning up, too stressful. Run dishwasher after breakfast and unload it while dinner is cooking. Make lunches after dinner--you're still in the kitchen cleaning up and it's really only 5-10 mins more. Have prepackages healthy snacks available (individually wrapped cheese sticks, gogurts, goldfish, granola bars)and don't worry that your kids need variety!!! They'll eat what you give them if they're hungry. Standardize lunches as much as you can--same sandwich for everyone--don't make three different I said, if they're hungry, they'll eat what you give them. Hang in there! We are all doing the best we can. Love those babies and your hubby--don't worry if your house is messy or the toilets need a little as you go. That's all you can do. BE POSITIVE!

  43. I think we all feel like this sometimes. My favorite tip is to utilize your freezer. When I make casseroles, soup, etc. I make at least 2; one for dinner and one for the freezer. It doesn't take much extra effort to make 2 when you are already assembling something. It's nice to pop it in the oven, and dinner is done.

    We also clean in 15 minute increments. My 8 year old and I will set the timer for 15 minutes and work on one room for that time. It's much easier to have a set start and stop, plus it avoids "I need a drink, I need to go to the bathroom, are we done yet?"

    If you get a chance to go to the bathroom by yourself, wipe down the counters and sink when you wash your hands. Same with the shower, take a cloth in with you and wipe it down. Oh, and my favorite: put a cup of baking soda in your toilet for an hourish. It does a mini-scrub when you flush and really helps clean.

    Have you ever played with shaving cream on a table? It was my mother's sneaky way of having us clean the table. It works on counters too. Throw the kids in the tub when their done, let them "paint" in there while they're at it.

  44. Routine, routine, routine I'm a SAHM to three boys - 7, 5 and 2 and a military wife. The only way we get through the day without a whole lot of screaming is to have a solid routine that we don't have to think about. And you have to find out what works for you. Mine is get up, get dressed in workout clothes, get the kids off to school and then go workout. Come home, do "the chore of the day" and then pick up the 5 year old from pre-school. Feed everyone, throw something in the crock pot for dinner, shower and get ready for the day, run errands, pick up the 7 year old. Homework, practice, dinner, tub (theirs) and bed. The players may change (my husband may be doing the laundry on his day off or I may be putting them to bed while he's gone...) but the routine is the same. Then it's not so crazy to take on the lead in the community musical (me right now) or that humanitarian trip to Guatemala (him in a few weeks) because the kids are alright. I know it's a super boring answer, but it has gotten us through two deployments, a move, becoming licensed foster parents, my father-in-law's cancer and countless other bumps in the road...

  45. I always do my laundry on "laundry day" too. I hate doing a load a day or here and there- then I feel like it NEVER gets done.. plus I forget and leave it in the wash and then it smells funny and I end up washing it more than once. Sooo Thursday is Laundry Day... My two big kids have to have anything they want washed to the laundry room by Thursday or it doesnt get washed. I dont go searching for it. Also I fold as it comes out when its warm- less wrinkles. Then everyone, including the husband, puts their own pile of stuff away (well not the 2 yr old but Im thinking of training her):). Husband wants his shirts folded in an OCD "I want my drawers to look like the GAP" kind of way so he gets to do that all by his big boy self.. Also, for my oldest she is not allowed to have any friends over, go anywhere or have any fun privileges on the weekends if her room and bathroom are not cleaned (to my approval) by Friday. This has worked really well and now I have one less room and bathroom to clean. I also have the bottom drawer of the fridge stuffed with snacks and lunch items my kids can grab on their own and a storage box in the pantry for that too. I have three storage bins that I put my kids names on in the living room (nice ones that are pretty and match) that I toss any and all shoes, toys, misc things that belong to them in when I pick up. They have to take it when its full and put it all away in their rooms. That has been a HUGE thing. I just toss stuff in there when I see it laying around and Im not always on them to pick up their me they dont like having to put a FULL basket of stuff away... so it sometimes helps with the clutter in that way too.

  46. Keep the wine and don't listen to Sandie in Tacoma!!!

    1. Hahahaha! Yeah, that's a little too militant for me and I love things to be organized!

  47. wow-learned stuff already! LOVE THIS SITE!
    first: Agree with Dont sweat the small stuff!
    2nd: baskets, hooks, shelves EVERYWHERE-esp with younger kids-quick sweep through and tossed in a basket and room looks neat! (not necessarily CLEAN but neat lol)
    3rd: focus on what drives you nuts-for me that is the floors and beds-beds need to be made and floors better not crunch or make me stick to them-that 2 inches of dust everywhere else? pile of Real Simple mags? not bother me
    4th: 2 sets of sheets for the bed-so much more satisfying to strip and immediately remake the bed with clean sheets; bonus is the sheets can be done at odd times
    5th: menu planning-crockpot best friend (I find I can dump frozen stuff in and cook for 8 hours without mush except rice and pasta)
    6th: kids have regular chores appropriate to age level (ie I dont clean kitchen after dinner, load or unload dishwasher, or match socks hehe)
    7th: keep doing something for YOU on regular basis

  48. Leftover shelf. I just decided to try this about Christmas time. One shelf in the fridge is the designated leftover spot. Any food that needs to be eaten (that is not earmarked for a lunch for DH or I) gets put on that shelf. NOTHING else is allowed on that shelf. Our trash day is Thursday, so on Wednesday night I check and make sure that anything on the shelf is still edible and toss what isn't. That is also the night I decide if some of the leftovers need to be frozen. This way nothing gets lost at the back of the fridge and forgotten about. We purposely made it an eye level shelf so we don't forget about it.

    Batch cooking- Double a recipe and freeze the other serving for a later meal. At first it is a pain in the you know what, but after you get the hang of it, it really does become easy. Last night as I was putting the skillet lasagna on the table, I realized that would be a great dish to double for and put in the freezer. So now there is note on the recipe card to double and freeze on it.

    Recipes- Have a place (electronic or paper) for family approved recipes. I went old fashion and have a recipe box on the counter. The only recipes in there are ones that work for my family. When I can't figure out what to cook I look in there for something I know will work for us. When I try a new recipe if we all like it goes on a card to be added to the rotation.

    Laundry- Let you DH do it! Seriously my DH hated my laundry technique and took over when we got married. (I was the do it all on one day, when I was out of clean clothes laundry types) He like the colors separated and is picky about his work clothes, so I haven't set foot in the laundry room in about 6 years.

    1. we also have our "go to" recipes in paper form - actually used a photo album we'd been given as a gift, fits the 3x5 cards perfectly. When we do our menu list we also list where the recipe comes from - which magazine issue, or if it's in the album, or online.

  49. has changed my life. No more staring blankly into the fridge every night wondering what to make. You build your recipe box online, choose your meals and it adds everything you need to a grocery list, organized by the aisle you'll find it in. It even has a little thing you can add to your toolbar so you can 'clip' recipes from other websites and add them to your recipe box. I do all the shopping, then email my husband the recipe for dinner that night and he starts getting it ready when he gets home from work.(He gets home earlier than I do.) I get home about 6:00 and dinner is just about ready to eat. It has saved us so much time! I actually get to relax a little in the evenings instead of it being a race against the clock to get the kiddo in bed at a reasonable hour. (And no, I don't work for ziplist, I just love love love love having it!)

  50. I really have no business commenting here as I am a total train wreck. I couldn't tell you the last time I left the house with dry hair. I'm pretty sure my co-workers don't want to hurt my feelings when it comes to my appearance, so they don't say anything. It's pretty obvious that the couple times a year I look like I might have my schmidt together and they act like I showed up in a bedazzled prom gown with a tiara.

    But, I have one thing that has helped me out a bit.

    I have 5 dirty clothes baskets: whites (bleach), kids clothes, grown up clothes, towels/sheets, hubby's work/hunting/nasty clothes. It ain't pretty, but it's functional.

    This helps immensely b/c the laundry is already sorted when I get a chance to throw in a load.

    Clean laundry sits in clean baskets and is generally folded once a week. I iron things in the dryer if necessary.

    I also put all the kids socks in lingerie bags to make the sorting quicker when they are clean.

    1. Lol. "Iron things in the dryer" Love this - and can so relate!!! :)

    2. Okay - I just have to tell you that the second word in my "verify" box was "nutsrag" bahahahaha

    3. Your comment made me LOL two times, hooker. In part because when I get cleaned up, people act like I'm all bedazzled, too and it's hilarious.

  51. I work a normal weekday and my husband works nights and Sundays - we are typically two ships passing in the night. We have 1 6 mo. old and a very needy, and high energy dog that will take out her anxiety on all things squeaky, soft and furniture like (and howls everytime the baby cries - whole other story). I can't stand to be disorganized with daily tasks, so here are our methods:
    1. We do one load of laundry a day, which is presorted. All of our hampers have sections for whites, darks and multi colors. I put a load in at night, he puts it in the dryer and sometimes folds it. The majority of our clothes are on hangers (even yoga pants). It's just easier.
    2. We own enough underwear and socks and bibs to get us through 10 days if we needed. Fabreez and wrinkle releasor are our friends in a pinch.
    3. I plan my outfits for work on Sunday nights. They are all hung up and ready to go on one hanger so I just throw it on and go in the morning. (I also lay the babies clothes out in the morning so my husband doesn't put her in something that is 1) too small, 2) doesn't match at all 3) involves two different socks)
    4. I meal plan for the week on Saturdays, and we eat healthy - making at least one crock pot meal to keep in the fridge. I cut up veggies on the weekends and keep them in ziplocks in the fridge so they are ready to be thrown on sometime between getting home from work and bottle time. We do a lot of one pot/pan meals. Veggies also can always be served raw too or zapped in the microwave for 5 minutes.

    Things that I like to keep in mind:
    A. The house doesn't have to be spotless. People live here, it can look like it. (Although if I trip over husbands shoes, one may get thrown in his general direction or across the room).
    B. Clorox wipes are always your friend. It takes a minute to wipe something down.
    C. Clean out your closet. You don't need as many clothes as you think you do.
    D. If you can pawn your children off on someone else - go grocery/target shopping at night and childless. It's amazing how much you can get done when the stores are empty.

    1. totally agree with the clean out your closet idea! part of why getting myself dressed in the morning is I only have about 10 pr pants and 5 skirts/dresses (for work. when i'm home all day it's the same jeans all the time). Fewer options means no time dithering.

    2. Actually, Lynne may have hit on the single most important principle - Fewer Options! This is true in any area of your life you can think of - the fewer options you have, the less time you waste choosing - whether it's which salad dressing, which sweatshirt, which couch, which restaurant, which preschool - this is the scourge of modern life. Thin out your life by reducing the number of choices you have to make.

  52. The calendar app- - has calmed my nerves (and sometimes that is my last nerve!). It's free, it has a shared calendar with shopping lists and to-do lists, has a phone app, has reminders. I also really like the "Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer" cookbooks - there are two and they are both great cookbooks. I get together periodically with a friend and we make many meals in one day and freeze them.

  53. I don't have any mind-blowing advice, but there are a couple of things that keep me from losing my mind everyday:

    1. Prioritize the cleaning. I know lots of moms who make themselves nuts trying to have a spotless house. With two little ones running around, a spotless house just isn't possible right now. I try to clean a little something every day, so I have a little schedule: Monday I clean the bathrooms, Tuesday I dust, Wednesday I vaccuum, etc. Obviously stuff like dishes and laundry have to be done all the damn time, but I refuse to spend all day cleaning. By breaking it up (and realizing that my house just won't be sparkling), I don't spend more than 30-45 minutes on any given day cleaning.

    2. Use your technology. If it wasn't for my iPhone, I would forget to take my son to his Lego Engineering class EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. I put it in my calendar and have it send me an alert 15 minutes before we need to leave. Same for early release day at school, my daughter's dance class, etc.

  54. I wrote about this a year ago when I started my sad attempt at blogging that didn't go so I kept forgetting to post, lol... but I did talk about it a year ago. I am less together now than I was then to be honest, but reading it again made me think, hey, I should get that together again.

  55. I'm a single mom in graduate school who works part-time, so I know what you're going through. Here are the biggest things:

    1. Prioritize. Clean clothes are a priority, but sorting and folding are not. A house that won't get the health department called on me is a priority, hiding the fact that a kid lives here is not.

    2. Compartmentalize. I have "cleaning days" and "homework days". These, of course, still involve being a mommy, but I'm less overwhelmed when I have one or two goals during the day, instead of feeling like I have to be a good mommy and get EVERYTHING else done at the same time. After my DD goes to sleep is "me time", no matter what else I have to do. It was hard at first, but I don't fight it. It makes me a happier, healthier person. I use the three hours three mornings a week she's in preschool to do the things that, lets face it, suck doing with a three year old ( Walmart, phone calls, etc.)

    3. Give yourself a break. None of us are perfect. If your kids are generally happy, healthy, and loved, that's the most important thing.

  56. Okay, my favorite organizational trick is the hanging shelves I put in my daughter's closet. When my daughter puts her clean clothes away, she also has to pick out five outfits to put on the shelves. That way, in the morning, all she has to do is pick one of the outfits and get herself dressed. Plus, she gets to choose which of the five outfits she wears since we all know that an 8 year old who has chosen to wear jeans will suddenly decide to wear a skirt and throw a wrench in the works.

  57. One word, Lydia: Flylady.

    Okay, this comment is obviously more than one word, but seriously, check her out. Because I think Flylady understands all about being a boobstain. I certainly do, and her messages really resonate with me.

    Here are things that we do to make life work at our house:

    -Cook once, eat twice. Casseroles freeze really well. So does soup. So do veggies that you find on sale and slice up and put into ziplock bags in the freezer (no blanching required, I’ve found). Also: food processor. Hubby and I devote one weekend naptime (2ish hours) to doing food prep for the upcoming week. We look at the meal plan (essential) and do everything that we can to expedite weeknight prep time. Chop veggies and stick them in labeled bags. Cook beans. Slice cheese. Make sauces. Then on weeknights we have way less to do because things are already prepped, so we grab them out, toss them in the skillet, and eat by 7, even though we usually don’t get home until after 6. Some nights all we have to do is come home and pop the sort-of-defrosted casserole in the oven, because whenever we have casserole we make at least 2. Also, we have accepted that sometimes we will eat things that are not optimal, because they are easy. Thus, nacho night is a staple in our house. The kiddo likes them, they have veggies and protein and are gluten-free (unlike most pre-packaged meals, which we have to avoid).

    -Kiddo helps around the house, rather a lot. He’s not quite 3, so none of this is consistent, but he can—and frequently does—do the following: rinse dishes and put them in the drainer (he likes to play with the sprayer hose). Clear dirty dishes from the table to the sink. Put dirty laundry into baskets. Help Daddy sort dirty laundry (also, this means that Daddy deals with Randy, I don’t have to! Double win!). Help fold clean laundry and put it away (he picks out a piece, hands it to us to fold, and either puts it away himself, if it’s his, or goes to get another piece out of the basket. This can take a long time but he’s usually up for at least a few minutes, so we get to hang out with him while accomplishing something). Pick up toys at night, put books away, etc—we race against a timer to see if we can do it before the timer beeps. Sweep the floor (he loves the swiffer). Clean cat litter box (with supervision and thorough hand-washing afterward!). Scrub the toilet (ditto). None of this is an everyday occurrence, but at least one of these things happens every day, and every little bit helps us stay almost on the ball and teaches him about responsibility.

    -The last thing that we’re working on and boy, it’s a slow process, is decluttering so that we have less crap to deal with every day. Fewer clothes = more space in drawers = less laundry piling up = house that does not end up covered in unfolded laundry. Fewer toys (hah!) to end up underfoot. Fewer books to pile on every available surface. Less time to clear out the guestroom when the grandparents decide to visit. This is really hard and we’re not succeeding yet—but we’re trying and it’s helping. Now if we can just have some sort of controlled blaze to tackle the paper …

  58. A food saver is the thing that makes it work here (you know that vacuum food packer thing) my husband and both work full time, on opposite shifts with three kids and no daycare. on Sunday afternoons I cook meals and vacuum seal them, then I freeze them to eat the rest of the week. And it doesn't have to be a day set aside to do this. Our moto is that it's just as easy to make two meals as one. Why cook one meat loaf? Cook two seal up one and freeze it, then when your busy you have a meal ready to go (add some frozen steam veggies) in about 10 minutes. And I keep a white board on the freezer of whats in there so we can just look and decide what to have. That in itself relieves stress.
    My husband does the laundry. I have no suggestions there except maybe get your husband to do the laundry?

  59. Always do the same thing.....all the time!! Set up a schedule you can work with and ALWAYS do it. When I veer away from my routine things fall apart. I have 3 kids......A 6 year old I homeschool, a 4 year old in preschool for 4 hours a day 4 days a week, and a 2 year old whose soul responsibility is to make sure the 6 year old learns NOTHING. I ALWAYS do laundry every other day(always the same days), I ALWAYS plan my weekly meals on saturday and go shopping BY MYSELF on Sunday. I ALWAYS clean house on Sunday because it makes me feel ready for the week. I ALWAYS do bath, teeth and bed at the exact same time. I ALWAYS spend 20 minutes in the morning making beds and straightening the house so that I am ready for the day.

    Schedules really work if you stick to them. Write it down, set a timer, whatever it takes.....after a while it becomes second nature.

  60. Menu planning
    Crockpot meals and casseroles
    10 minutes a day working on the kitchen (me and hubs both)
    clean the bathroom while the kids take a bath
    food prep for the week on the weekends

  61. When I was working 4-8 hr clinical days, 3-10 hr nights at a job and going to school full time while raising 3 kids I started with the easiest things. Generally Sundays were off days. I used those days to pr-pack lunches for the week for everyone. Snack sized bags of chips, grapes/ apples and mini bottles of water/ milk/ juice placed into gallon sized bags labeled with each persons name. All that was left was to put in a sandwich. Those I've done with Pb&j put in the freezer. Grab and go lunches. Breakfast was premade (by me) breakfast burritos such are microwavable and able to be eaten on the go. Sunday was also the day I made a weeks worth of meal plans. Entire meals including drinks and sides. All ingredients bought and if vegetables or meata needed cutting I did that and places it in baggies in the fridge or freezer. All seasonings pre- measured and bagged. Dinner involved looking at the planner, grabbing prepped ingredients and making. So my one day off was used as a prep day and sucked but the rest of the week ran much more smoothly. Laundry was three baskets. Whites, darks and lights. Everyone sorted as they wore them. I'd wash one basket each day during the week. I would wash and fold & put in the kids rooms. They put them away. My kids have age appropriate chores such as garbage , vacuuming and dusting. Dishes... paper plates and bowls are handy if you use lots of dishes in cooking.

  62. I have definitely not mastered the organization thing, but there are some things that help make me sane enough to sit down and play beauty shop with my 2 year old or Scrabble with my 8 year old ("Words with Smart Kids" I call it) or take a nap with the baby, guilt-free. As all the well-meaning mother hens in my life (who have completely forgotten what it's like to be busted with a whole week of dirty dishes in the sink) remind me: I'll never look back and go "Man, I did a great job keeping house!" but I'll always remember the time I spent with my kids, and so will they.

    My hubby is a list-maker; I am not, and never will be. But a dry-erase marker in the bathroom does me way more good than a Real Simple magazine ever will. When it's really bad, I start a list on the bathroom mirror of things that are stressing me out, in order of how badly they're making me twitch. This is often accompanied by a DEFCON EMERGENCY ITINERARY. Seriously. Because I don't do schedules, either. But when I need it, I list what my kids and I will be doing in 30 minute increments all day long. It helps me see where I have time and be realistic about what I can accomplish. And I absolutely put WWF time on there, because who am I kidding? I'm gonna play, so I just budget that time in, too.

    I definitely won the family lottery because mine is willing to help. I've pulled my eight-year-old son into service rotating laundry, hauling the recycling, and cleaning his bathroom. I never in a million years thought that the bathroom thing would work, but I decided to try writing down each step in a notebook and you know what? He follows the directions every time and I end up with one less bathroom to clean. Of course I had to convince myself it was not forced child labor. But he figured out right away that if he did things a certain way he would end up with less to clean (less toothpaste on the mirror/pee down the side of the toilet!) for which his future spouse will LOVE me. He gets it done to my satisfaction in 15 minutes, and uses non-toxic bathroom cleaner...I still don't see a down side. My hubby doesn't hesitate to pick up laundry or grocery-shopping or dinner or dishes...yet I decline as often as possible because I know he will totally wreck whatever systems I have in place. But if I disparage him for it, he'll stop helping. I definitely can't afford that. And it's pretty great to be able to complain to a girlfriend that he loaded the dishwasher in totally the wrong order, and all she can say is, "YOUR HUSBAND LOADED THE DISHWASHER??" *smug* We were sitting on the couch just last night folding laundry together. I had just folded some purple pants and handed them to him. He nonchalantly unfolded and refolded them HIS way before putting them in the basket. I just stared at him, and had to delete my first thought in favor of “MAN, I love him.”

    I also do a few little things, like make a whole loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Sunday night, so lunch is practically ready for the whole week. I have a few checks I try to do at night, but I’m pretty useless after 8PM, so I keep it short. Crock-pot dinners are great on soccer practice nights. I’ve informed my family that I no longer cook breakfast. I bake bread and do heavy cooking every day of the week—they can do cereal or toast or oatmeal in the mornings so I don’t have to start my day sweaty and boobstained with a sink full of dishes. And “First Things First” has been my mantra with my kids their whole lives, and mine definitely goes more smoothly if I follow it. For instance, I should stay off of RFML until after I unload the dishwasher. I really should. First Things First.

    1. Also, the EPICWIN app is awesome. Your chores become quests in your very own RPG. My ADD brain is thoroughly engaged.

    2. I think this might just get my house clean!! A cleaning RPG!!!

  63. I am a SAHM to 3 (5yrs, 3yrs & 8mos) lovely/caring/smart/polite children (just trying to convince myself here!) and we have recently moved into our new house.
    What I've found that works for me is to have a cleaning schedule. I've literally typed out what needs to be done each day.
    For example:
    Mondays are my stay home day and I do laundry (in between all the other tasks). With only doing laundry once a week, I have enough clothes for a load each person and then whites/colors for the adults.
    Tuesdays are for groceries. My daughter has Sparks in the evening so for that hour I wash the van, get gas and pick up any other groceries I missed in the morning. I meal plan on Sunday for the week. Meal planning is new to me so I am working hard at accomplishing this and following it.
    Wednesdays are for bathrooms. This includes washing towels, bath rugs, changing cups and soaking toothbrushes.
    Thursdays are dusting days. Usually can get accomplished when making a phone call to a friend/family member that I haven't chatted with for a while. During nap time, of course!
    Friday is vacuuming, sanitize kitchen (which is just wipe down counters & all handles with lysol wipes) and bottles/recycling.
    Saturdays are for family time or running errands and some vacuuming by my husband (after a little sexytime the night before, of course!!)
    Sundays I wash the sheet so that everyone has a clean bed for the week. I do the menu plan, try and bake something with the kids and then clean up the basement/toy room after it has been destroyed from the weekend.
    I also have posted some daily/weekly/biweekly/monthly items so that I remember. IE: make beds, clean fingerprints on the walls in high traffic areas, clean washing machine and wash windows. (SIDE NOTE: the making of the beds daily pretty much never gets done - unless someone is coming over... ;)

    Wow, TMI, I guess! It sounds like a lot but doing a little bit a day really helps. I used to spend a whole Saturday doing all the housework and that just sucked. And, then I would realize that it was 2-3 weeks since I had washed sheets! I used to be embarrassed to have this schedule on my bulletin board but now I am proud. It works for me/us and I love it. Since we have just moved into our dream home, I am excited to get other areas of the house organized and have really loved Pinterest for this. First on my list is the desk/computer area AKA: the main hub of the house. I'll be golden once that is done. Oh yah and then the mudroom and the playroom and the kids' books/toys in their rooms and ................

    Also, I keep my van STOCKED! Diapers, wipes, snacks, kleenex, papertowel, extra toques/mitts/, activities, lip balm, etc... That way if I think I've forgotten something, i am covered in the van. I also keep a stash of cash for those moments when you've realized you've left your wallet behind and are already in the Tim Horton's drive thru! Not based on experience or anything.... :0)

    Good luck, Lydia. It's a task and a half to be organized and I am no where near where I would like to be. Could be the demanding 3 kids or my love for pinterest - ack!!! Either way, just focus on one thing at a time and then you will feel like you've accomplished something.

  64. I portion out my days of the weeks: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are kitchen cleaning days, Tuesday is laundry day, Thursday is bathrooms and floors, and Saturday and Sunday I leave open for sewing, arranging flowers, baking or any of the "fun" chore-like things, or no chores! This system keeps me from becoming overwhelmed and the house is almost always reasonably presentable. If someone comes over all I have to do is a 5 minute sweep, picking up stray socks and legos and spritzing air freshener in the common rooms.

  65. I have the Achilles' hell to Randy: my husband cannot stand laundray baskets more than 2/3rds full. So since that's his "issue" laundry became his "thing". Even sorts and does the beds and lays out sweaters. (That last one did take him shrinking a sweater he bought me that we both loved.) And no, you can't have him.

  66. I do certain household tasks every week on the same day. For example, I wash linens on Tuesdays, vacuum on Mondays and Fridays. I keep my list on my iPad, and the tasks don't take too long. It prevents things from piling up. I do laundry every day (of course), but everything else is less than 20 minutes a day.

    And, I don't eat. It makes a mess, and takes too long.

  67. I definitely don't have it all figured out. I have a nearly full time job that I work in the evenings and from home whenever I get a chance. I have 3 kids - one with special needs - and no childcare. Lately I have been scheduling "projects" to do with each kid. Taking my son to the playground when his sisters are in school, making cookies, doing a craft with the girls when brother naps. I promise the kid ahead of time so I don't back out. It makes me feel like a better mother. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done that I don't spend "quality" time with them, and then I feel like crap for being a bad mom. So that is taking priority now even if I have to let something else go. I also try to spend 45 minutes a day on the house - at the same time everyday so it's a habit. For me, this is right after school drop off. I'm usually home this time of day, and then I start the day feeling somewhat accomplished.

  68. I do all clothing laundry on one day. Have a shower curtain rod hung above washer and dryer so I can hang things as soon as they come out of dryer. Each load gets folded and put in each child's assigned laundry basket. When I am done with all laundry each child has to take their basket upstairs. I don't care if it gets put away, as long as I don't have to see it. If they want to get dressed out of a laundry basket instead of a dresser that is fine with me. The rule in our house is when you turn 12 you do your own laundry (I have all boys. Bad, ugly things start happening in their clothes around that time, and I don't want to be a part of it, if you know what I mean) So, now I am down to just DH, me and the twins, plus reminding the other two once every week or so that they are probably going to need some clean underwear soon, so better get to washing.

    I do towels, sheets and blankets on a separate day and as soon as each bed comes out of the dryer I put it right back on the bed (again with the exception of the teenagers. I don't want to know what is under the mattress, thank you very much, so they can remake their own beds)

    Dusting and vaccuming one day and the kitchen gets a deep clean on another day. Throughout every day I have to wipe down bathrooms (again, boys. Ugh! Why can't they AIM??) but I generally only deep clean them once a week.

    Grocery shopping is done for a whole week at a time and I try to make meals that will feed us twice.. Now, I have an OK handle on things these days, but I am a SAHM, add in a job (or two!) or a toddler and my life would turn to shmidt.

  69. I'm a SAHM of 3 the 6&7yr olds sort and fold laundry and put away their own, they trade off days of dishes and hand wash anything they say will not fit in the dish washer. The 3 yr old helps load the washer and wipes the table. My 3 yr old(almost4) and 6 yr old boys are the same size so they share clothes and a dresser so there is no fighting over clothes. Oh and recently the 6 & 7 yr old trade off making the school lunches for the week every evening while I make supper. Any extra fighting on their part means extra chores for them so I get more peace...sometimes

  70. I didn't have the time (ha, imagine that!) to read all the comments, so beg pardon if I'm repeating:
    1. The Six O'Clock Scramble - google it - a healthy recipe subscription service that plans your week's dinners AND the grocery list for you - been hooked on this for 7 years.
    2. Empower the children - we put plastic cups and plates in bottom cabinets, put their cereals and snacks down low, put coat hooks and cubbies where they could reach them, basically arranged the house so we could say, as often as humanly possible, "Get it yourself." It helps if they are over 4, though.
    3. Baby wipes. Everywhere. There is nothing you can't clean with baby wipes, and they are not toxic or smelly - I have them stashed under every counter and in every room. When I have that moment of "Holy mother of God, does NO ONE see the fungus in this sink??" I can just swipe it out with a wipe and then get on with whatever else I was doing.
    4. Say no. Why are you volunteering at school when you could be at home mending the holes in your sanity? Seriously, make a resolution to say no at least once per week, and go up from there. There are TONS of moms out there who haven't showed up for library duty, like, ever - and no one cares. No one has even noticed. Just stop extending yourself for other people unless it's something so important you're willing to let everything else go to hell for a bit.

    But we love you, so, you know, don't say no to US. :-)

  71. Coming from an only parent (saying that to emphasize the distinct lack of help I receive), there are ways to make it easier.
    First, preschool, it's all or nothing time. The more days per week they're in school equals more time per week you have to get schmidt done.
    Second, scheduling. You must become the schedule nazi. Live and breathe for that schedule. If something isn't done on time then it's just not getting done today. Of course that also means that if the schedule says it's time to put down the laptop and pick up the laundry basket, then you better do it or risk falling behind.
    Third, this brings me to laundry. Laundry is not difficult. Laundry does itself. Never complain about laundry because you can put it in the washer and clean the kitchen while it's washing. Transfer it to the dryer and put in another load, and clean the bathroom while those run. Then here's the good part. You put on a movie, sit on the couch, and fold while you watch it. Yeah! Seriously! Before you know it the socks are paired, the laundry is sorted, and you're ready for another basketful which is perfect because the next load just finished in the dryer.
    Fourth, I'm not telling you to plan out your meals a week in advance, that's tough and you might not want stroganaff by the time Thursday rolls around. But plan them the night before. Before you go to bed pull whatever meat you'll need out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. It will thaw throughout the night and day and by the time you're ready to make dinner your options are limited by whatever meat you chose. It makes deciding a little bit easier. Alternatively, crock pots can be your best friend. Toss all of the ingredients in the night before, turn it on in the morning, and pow! Dinner is done......

  72. ...Fifth, a good solution to the last minute dinner problem is to freeze it. If you make stew in the crock pot, freeze a bunch. Soups and stews are the easiest for this, but sauces are good too. Take that spaghetti sauce, freeze it. Suddenly when you need a last minute dinner all you have to do is heat it up and boil noodles. Easy peasy!
    Sixth, teach your children responsibility. I don't mean the simple responsibilities that every child should learn to understand, I mean the more complex idea of "If it's not put away, it's getting thrown away." Seriously, nothing inspires a child to clean quite like the threat of losing all of their toys to a trash bag. My son is four and understands that when mommy says to pick up your toys, she means it. He's already lost countless hot wheels, Thomas trains, legos, and action figures to the dreaded trash bag. Of course, these don't actually get thrown away, but they do get donated to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Sometimes, if it's a really expensive toy or a favorite I take it out of the bag later and hide it. In a few months when he's been exceptionally good it magickally returns... My advice: Start with the cheap happy meal toys and work your way up to the leap frog stuff.
    Seventh, if you need to seriously get schmidt done, turn off the tv... For everyone. I don't care if it's Walking Dead or Dinosaur Train, tv is distracting no matter what is on. Force the kids to get up and do something, turn off the tv, turn on some tunes, and get busy. A little music can go a long way in terms of productivity. Why do you think laborers throughout the centuries have sung songs to help them get through the work day?
    Eighth, There's an old saying that if mom isn't happy then nobody is happy. It's true. But take it from me, nothing makes you quite as happy and relaxed as a clean house. Just sitting in the almost silence (see: muted noise of children playing in their bedrooms with the door closed) in a clean living room can be as satisfying as finishing that first glass of wine after a particularly rough day. Knowing that there is nothing left to do, no chores, no laundry, no dishes, no messes... If only for five minutes there is nothing left to do... It's furking magickal.
    Finally, exercise. I know it always seems like there's never enough time. But there is. I found it. When the child goes into the bath, you get on the treadmill. Go for half an hour. When you're done, your child is clean and ready for bed. Half an hour every day or even every other day can work wonders for you. Not only will you sleep better, you'll be happier and more relaxed because that's one of the benefits of exercise... You get extra endorphins and suddenly it's like your Mommy Schmidt-o-meter get an extra level thrown in at the bottom. It's harder to lose your schmidt when you have an extra dose of happy running through your system.

  73. Smart group of women here. I am taking notes! I have a few small things to add:

    1) Reduce the amount of information coming into your house. Whether it's junk mail, email or rss feeds spend a few minutes here and there unsubscribing from these things as they appear will make you feel more sane and you'll have a *few* less things to handle each day in the long run. If you miss a sale, a great blog post or an email from someone you actually know IRL, I guarantee another one will pop up again eventually.

    2) I have to use my iPod touch timer and alarms all the dang time. The dog barking alarm reminds me the kids will be getting off the bus in fifteen minutes with the added bonus that it makes me laugh.every.damn.time. because we don't have a dog. Truly, if you use them, timers are magical and helpful and make unicorns and rainbows appear. Plus, you feel sorta dumb for bitching 20 minutes about something that actually takes you five minutes to accomplish which reduces the bitching. (in theory, at least.)

    3) Ruthlessly declutter something that drives you nuts. Getting rid of schmidt is so liberating. You think you don't see the mess but it really does drain you on some level because it's still there waiting to be dealt with.

    4) Hire an assistant for a few hours a month in the area that you feel the most overwhelmed in. (childcare, virtual assistant, house cleaner, errand runner, whatevs)

    I hope someone will pipe up here with some advice on how to deal with the incoming kid reminders, papers, permission slips etc.. That crap makes me crazy and makes me feel inadequate.

  74. Triage . . . food and laundry first. We also do the multi-basket approach so the laundry is pre-sorted - which makes it so easy for the kids to do laundry - they alternate doing one load each day and they each have their assigned day to wash their sheets. Put a simple chart of step-by-step instructions up in the laundry room.

    Meal planning as others have said and ALWAYS having back-up/emergency stuff in freezer (meatballs, pasta, frozen dinners) and pantry. My two-for-one is to frequently cook two starches in one night. If we are having rice, then I go ahead a boil some pasta at the same time - either ready for tomorrow or I can store in the freezer. Whenever I can, I make double batches of easy things - meatloaf, meatballs, cooked veggies, pasta - all the basics that you can use on the nights when you don't have as much time.

    When my kiddos were little, I paid a 5th grade neighbor girl to come in and vacuum the floors and hit the high spots with a duster. She loved it!! My strategy for the bathrooms is to do one spot a day - clean sinks and mirrors on Monday, scrub potty on Tuesday, clean shower on Wednesday, run the swiffer over the floor on Thursday and tub on Friday. Each thing is just a few minutes that I can "make" myself do at bedtime.

    Lastly, look for AS MANY of the little things you can start having your kiddos do - get backpacks and snacks/water bottles ready, sports gear, clothes, uniforms laid out the night before, empty the trash cans in the house, set and clear the table, wipe the table, roll the trash cans back and forth from the curb, etc. Mine just have a daily checklist - at first I had to ride herd on them to make sure it all got done "right" - but once they realized that this was how it was going to be from now on, they were fine. it is a first step in self-sufficiency. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERY LITTLE THING!!

  75. Something my church does is have a "Dinner Done" night every couple months or so, where 10 or so of us get together in the church's kitchen and make a ton of freezer meals (each lady comes with just one dish, but ingredients for like 5-10 family portions), and then once everything is cooked or otherwise prepped for the freezer, we swap like a Christmas cookie exchange, so that you don't go home with more than say, 2 or so of the same dish. It would be hard to do with allergies or special diets, but if you eat average food and trust your friends' cooking it is a nice way to get your freezer stocked. We always do it at night after (HOPEFULLY) daddies are home with the kids so we don't have to swing babysitting.

  76. Go easy on yourself. Multiple PT jobs are way worse than a single FT job for some reason, or at least that was my experience. You're making a lot more mental transitions and having to keep track of more categories of things. I used to think everyone but me had their schmidt together, and sometimes I still feel that way, but in a household with kids, chaos really can't be cured; only managed. We're all in the same boat.

    I'm a single working mom, so I do try to do things ahead when possible and make sure to do at least SOMETHING every day (one load of laundry, empty and reload the dishwasher, pick up the living room, anything to keep it from piling up quite as fast). I have a cleaning lady every 2 weeks, so there's a limit to how filthy the house can get, which is comforting. My kids eat lunch in the school cafeteria, so I don't have to pack anything during the school year. Summer camp is a different story, so I make lunches the night before. I'm thinking this summer I'll make them do their own.

    Laundry ebbs and flows, but I try to stay more or less on top of it by doing it as soon as the hamper fills. I fold while watching TV at night and have the kids put away their own. I want to try the one-hamper-per-family-member approach mentioned above, and the mesh bags for socks.

    Meals: I won't lie. My kids will eat only about 5 things. There are a lot of chicken nuggets and spaghettios because when their dad and I separated, I just didn't have the emotional energy to argue with my kids about food. I haven't found a way to come back from that, but I imagine it'll involve several days of intense whining, and so far I just haven't worked up the wherewithall to deal with it. But I do a lot of quick protein plus rice/pasta/tortillas/couscous/bread plus veggies combos for myself, and sometimes the kids will eat that, and I always have baby carrots and frozen peas and fruit on hand for them. I pre-cook extra portions of chicken, ground beef, etc. so there's always something fairly ready to go. Storebought pizza dough is a godsend.

    I grocery shop while the kids are at weekend activities or with their dad. I do a lot of shopping online. All bill paying is online, and whatever I can automate, I do.

    My BIG challenge is keeping track of all the school/scouts/religious school details. Events, permission slips, checks, library books, dress-like-a-pirate-day, birthday party RSVPs, uniforms, team snacks, school projects, Hebrew homework, it never ends, and my poor tiny brain is screaming for mercy. I need a system for remembering what and who is supposed to go where, and when. The kids shift between 2 houses, so that's a big extra brain cell killer. My ex and I have a shared calendar for kid activities, so that does help some, but the physical objects and off-calendar stuff (parents are reminded to send an empty shampoo bottle with their children to school tomorrow!) are my downfall. I think the solution may be to put more responsibility on the kids, but I worry that might make it worse, because then they'll never have what they need, and I'll be judged and someone will call child services because obviously single mothers are inherently abusive according to that jackhole in Wisconsin. Seriously, I do worry that people will know my kids have a single mom and assume I just can't take good care of them, which is probably stupid, but there it is.

    Bottom line, if you're not at heart one of those Real Simple people as much as you wish you were, try to change things on the margins, because that's more realistic than a sudden lifestyle overhaul that has a poor chance of actually sticking. You can always add more incremental changes as you figure things out. And, be nice to yourself. You help make daily life livable for thousands of us, so anyone who judges you is judging us all and deserves to be slapped with a sandwich.

  77. I am a single Mom to two young children, work a full-time+ job as a Army Officer, and volunteer for Boy Scouts.

    I live and die by schedules and pre-planning. I plan out my meals in two-week blocks which generate the grocery list. I grocery shop on the weekends only and resist stopping at the store during the week (takes up time). During the weekly shopping trip, I group any other errands and try to knock them all out at once. I would rather sacrifice an entire morning rather than drag the errands throughout the week. I maintain a B-I-G calendar in the kitchen that tracks everyone's activities.

    I allow myself slack (read: lowered my standards) for the household. If its relatively clean, I can accept it- it doesn't have to be perfect. The kids pick up their own clutter- or I take it and put it off limits. Amazing how they learn to pick up/put away the stuff that's important to them. I have no issues if dinners are semi-homemade. I also use my crockpot on a weekly basis and try to cook enough so I can freeze half for a second meal.

    To keep my sanity, I schedule 'me time' (which may just be a bath when the kids are in bed) on a weekly basis and exercise 4-5 days a week. I learned to say 'no' to requests for help (volunteer at school, bake cookies for a fundraiser, etc) and not feel guilty.

  78. I've been there, here's my tip: I made my life easier by getting rid of all the stuff that was making my life unnecessarily hard. Simple, yes? Let go of something(s). You know that's what you gotta do, and all the time-saving laundry tips aren't going to change that. There are a finite number of hours in the day, and a seemingly infinite list of things to accomplish. Scratch off the ones that won't cause anyone to die if you don't do them. FWIW, I read the thing where you explain why you work P/T ( did that too, also F/T, O/T, and A/T/D/T, AKA All-the-damn-time), and frankly, while you list a lot of great reasons to work, making yourself miserable so you have something to fall back on in case hubby loses his job isn't one of them. Take back your sanity!!! Make of list of your priorities, be brutally honest, and get rid of the extraneous stuff. Make your life easier by making your life easier. And thank your lucky stars (as I do every time I want to complain about the crazy DC hours my hubby has to work) that it's even an option. You know what to do girl, so go and do it.

    1. Amen! All the laundry and menu tips in the world can't measure up to this advice.

  79. One things for sure, I'm most certainly not winning any mother of the year awards any time soon. I'm a single mom, full time student, volunteer in a mentorship program for preteen girls, and have 2 sweet little monsters ages 10 & 6 that have successfully turned my brain to mush. My oldest was recently accepted into Duke TIP and expects me to help him with coursework - cryptology for math and biology and physics for science. Um, okay, whatawhat? And my youngest has ASD. I know way too much about super heroes and really don't want to cook chicken and rice for the 1309284 time. My home looks like Mt. Vesuvious exploded and I must admit I have for the most part conceded. Recently I learned something from Pinterest, it's quite educational you know. Hang a small laundry bag from the doorknob of each bedroom door, one for each person, for socks and underwear. When ready to do laundry, synch then closed, throw in the washer and dryer, and wha la, no more sorting socks and underwear. AND the sock monster that lives in the washer can no longer eat the socks. Thank you Pinterest!

  80. Menu's. Make a menu for the week and stick to it. Also try taking one day out of the week (Like a sunday) and make a bunch of meals and freeze them. Get the kids to help. They need to learn to cook anyway, what they think you're gonna come over when they're 30 and cook for them?! No way! My son loves to help me make meals for the week. As for Randy the Laundry fairy I dunno. I've never had a problem with him. Then again...I have something he really wants back so he knows better than to mess with me.

  81. I am soooooo looking forward to your post with a summary of replies on this one! Hopefully you can work through these comments to help you find the time to do it as well as you did the marriage/relationship one. I'm a full-time working mom of two. I have two boys, one is 4 1/2 and the other is 7 months. Like I said, I work full time - I leave the house around 7am and get home at around 5:30pm. I make dinner, eat dinner, play with the boys for about an hour, then it's bathtime, and then bedtime (for the boys and me). Weekends are spent at soccer adn trying to have some quality time with the kids - especially the 4-year-old, because the baby is basically a permanant attachment to me whenever I'm not at work (he's cute and cuddly and I love him to pieces, but seriously, he won't let me put him down for a second! And he apparently likes me to hold him more than my husband, but I think its just because I have the boobs) And somewhere in there I try to find a little time to spend with my husband. Housework is pretty low on the priority list and just thinking about getting dinner and lunches and bottles ready every day is completely overwhelming at times. Add to that, my husband is unemployed and looking for work (he helps out with the kids and the house, but even though he's not working and the kids are both in daycare, he is always working on a project or job searching, or something), and I've been trying to overcome post-pardum depression and anxiety - and trying to relocate us to a different state where we actually have at least a small support system.

    So, long story short - I'm clueless and overwhelmed and cannot wait to read all the responses you get to this!

    And thank you, and Kate, and Guru Louise for this blog - it's saved my sanity more than once!

  82. Clorox (or Lysol) Wipes...we keep one in under every sink. quick and easy clean up and since the house will smell like you've done some serious cleaning, hubby will think you've been working at it all day.

  83. I would put mini in full time preschool - tada more hours for working. If not full time, then full time 2x a week or part time more days.

    My other secert is I don't cook dinner. We eat snacks for dinner, and yes veggies can be snacks. We eat cereal, hummus & veggies, sandwiches, granola bars, cheese, yogurt... for dinner. No cooking, no fuss. Bonus is that I can easily eat so much less because 1) there was no effort to make it and 2) it isn't all that yummy that I'm dying for extra. That is the key for me to keep losing weight - skimp on dinner. DH is on his own and can make a sandwich all by himself. We will cook a nice meal 1x a week and just make a lot of it so that there are leftovers for days.

  84. I mostly always cook enough for 2 meals, and freeze the leftovers. Occasionally I do a big batch cook of chilli/lasagne and stick that in the freezer, that way there's always plenty to choose from in the freezer that can be defrosted during the day in the fridge, or quickly in the microwave, and then heated through in the oven and its ready :-)

    I've also started planning meals which takes a lot of the confusion and dithering out of mealtimes...

  85. I find meal-planning more stressful than cooking. What has worked magic in our house is for DH & I to alternate who is in charge of the week's meal planning. On my weeks, I plan out on Sunday night what we are eating each night (including FFY - fend for yourself nights, if too many people are coming and going to all sit down together). I also figure out what groceries we need (we live in the city, so I can pick up veggies, etc at lunch). We save large grocery shopping trips for every other week usually after bedtime.

    I also subscribe to cooking in batches, (stuffed shells, meatloaf, shepard's pie, soup) - so often my weeks are a mix of cooking from scratch and pulling out of the freezer. Things are a bit more chaotic when DH is in charge (he often doesn't realize we need an ingredient until he starts cooking) so we have brinner (breakfast for dinner) sometimes - but it is his problem, so I don't care (anymore). We don't use the crockpot more than 1-2x a month - I like eating fresh veggies & have a hard time coming up with recipes that don't use processed crap in them. A standard meal in our house is a broiled/sauteed protein, box of rice, couscous, pasta, and a steamed veggie or salad - rarely takes more than 30min. If I'm motivated, I'll make myself a lunch while I'm making dinner and prep veggies for future meals.

    Sunday nights are reserved for catching up on the DVR while I get outfits ready for the week (occassionally ironing) and usually some lingering laundry folding. DH is responsible for folding his own stuff. I always feel much less stressed knowing I have a couple of complete outfits to choose from when I wake up - it makes getting the house much less stresful.

    I'm all over the map with laundry. If DH wants something washed and I haven't gotten to it yet, he knows he has to do it himself.

  86. Dirty, DIRTY secret here.

    We use our dressers of out-of-season clothes, special-occasion clothes and BOOKS.
    We each have our own hamper in the basement laundry room. And we have a laundry chute. I do laundry each day, and take 100 seconds (I time myself-- I know, I know) to sort stuff into each person's basket. There's also one basket for bath towels/washcloths and one for kitchen towels/tablecloths.

    We simply use the hampers. It completely works. And if _I_ want to, I put my stuff away in the dresser/closet. If they want to, it's up to them.

    I know. Shocking.

    --kate in MI

  87. Pasta and brown rice can be cooked at the beginning of the week and microwaved in a hurry. Frozen ravioli are perfect for this!

    I did myself a big favor and started grouping ALL my work clothing into two weeks worth of outfits. I make myself wear each outfit once before wearing something a second time. It vetted out those items that I wasn't wearing and I finally gave in and gave them to goodwill, forcing me to declutter my closet. I now spend about 10 minutes every other Sunday night organizing my work clothes instead of 5 minutes every morning. Wish I had figured this out years ago!

  88. Right now I'm working full time outside the home and my husband is deployed. I have (2/3 of the way through it, geez!) finally figured out what makes the kids (therefore me) less crazy: plan/ grocery shop/ partially cook meals on weekends and The Schedule along with an earlier kid bed time during the week. I cook 2 hours on Sunday afternoon - one big meal like chili or something else that takes a while, then pre-cook ingredients. Partially cook veggies, bake/ grill/ saute meat, mix sauces so that ingredients are ready and just need to be thrown together and heated during the week. Nightly dinners take like 15 min max. I make enough to pack lunches, so as I serve myself and the kids I put the rest into serving size plastic containers and lunch is done. I make breastmilk bottles when I get home, so the milk isn't separated. The MOST important thing that has helped is to hire a cleaning person. Gives me more time to hang with my kids, which is a better use of my few weekly hours at home with them.

  89. I have four kids ages 5, 3, 19 months, and 6 months. I also work two jobs, train for a marathon (because I'm stupid) have an asinine amount of medical issues, and balance a home with a loving husband. I spend every effing day overwhelmed. Happy, but overwhelmed. I do freezer meals and keep a tight routine and such but still can't do it all. Recently, an older lady I know that kind of takes care of me told me "You know, the secret to surviving these years is to stop worrying about the house. You can clean when they are older. I promise we won't judge you, just enjoy your kids." I can't stop thinking about that. Obviously I'm not going to live in filth, but I have seriously relaxed on pushing myself to keep a pristine house with four young kids and I feel infinitely more relaxed. It has been huge for me.

  90. I would start by looking at your life, and deciding what responsibility or activity is giving you the most stress, and start by working on that. I am a SAHM, and My absolute least favorite thing in life is the 5 o'clock freezer dance. I don't think I find anything more stressful then knowing I have a houseful of hungry family members, 30 minutes to get something on the table, nothing in the fridge to cook, and definitely no money with which to give up and eat out. So over the last 8 years of marriage, I've come up with a system that works for me. Wednesday is grocery day. It used to be Monday, but most stores restock on Tuesdays, and it wasn't uncommon for me to not be able to get something on my list because they were sold out of it. Wednesday morning, while I eat my breakfast, I sit down with my grocery list and a notebook in which I have written down the meals that everybody likes. I plan a week at a time, and I do it from Thursday to Wednesday, so I have stuff to cook for that day already. I make sure to include one day of leftovers, one quick and easy meal, in case I need something fast, and one meal that can be put off without anything spoiling. Everything else in my life is much less organized, because none of it is as stressful for me as not having something to cook for dinner is.

  91. Cooking:

    It's totally NOT about cooking for me. I like to cook, and so does my husband. The problem, I've noticed, is when we don't SHOP well.

    Think of your favorite EASY foods. (For me, black bean/corn salad w/avocado and lime juice on top, etc.) For the kids, it's lots of Mexican foods, a few chicken dishes, and lots of raw veggies. THEN? I BUY THAT STUFF.

    So when they're hungry, I can toss together my "French Chicken" (chicken sauteed in olive oil, then an easy cream sauce) with their favorite pile of raw veggies and a potato or rice.

    I can ALWAYS find something easy to make if I have SHOPPED well. I buy almonds, fruit, veggies, ham steaks, yogurt, eggs, avocados, more fruit, good cheeses, bacon, beef (on sale), and pizza-makings. And when you run out of your FAVORITES, go get them again! Don't buy beets if you don't like them. Duh. :-)

    It's standing in front of a fridge with a stalk of celery, some grape jelly, and maybe some leftover tuna salad that makes me call out for Chinese.

  92. Wow - I don't have time to read all of the comments, but the ones I did all had great advice. My husband and I have four kids - 7, 5, 3, and 22mo. I work full time outside the home, he's home with the kids but also works the equivalent of 2 part time jobs - he has his own tech consulting firm and spends a ton of time at our kids' school as the unofficial/unpaid IT support. I think we've got things running pretty smooth now, but it's been HARD getting here.

    My tips are: Limit extracurriculars! I know, I know, it's really hard and there is definitely a lot of guilt, especially reading about all the activities my friends do with their kids. But time is money and it's no good to get overextended with every weekend spent running around town.

    Meals - I FINALLY started meal planning about four months ago and what a difference it makes. I'm on a weekly plan - got the idea from, called the six meal shuffle. I have an excel sheet where I list out all the meals I can do into categories (pasta, soup, mexican, crock pot, etc). Every Friday afternoon before I leave work I plan the next week's meals and start a general grocery list - add to it once I'm home and assess the basics. I typically do my shopping Friday night or first thing Saturday morning. I double and triple some of the meals like soups/chilis and freeze leftovers. At least one night a week is a "leftover" meal. I have used my crock pots (yes I have two) more in the last few months than in the last 10 years. I put the kids to bed, assemble all the ingredients, stick it in the fridge, and plug it in the next morning. I LOVE coming home to a ready meal. has wonderful recipes - I discovered it a few months ago and it's been a lifesaver.

    As for Laundry - I had to get my butt organized with a system that worked for me. I do it twice a week - Sundays and Wednesdays. I will sort it all the night before so it's all ready to go. Do about 3 or 4 loads and line up the baskets in my family room. Once the kids are in bed, I turn on the tv and watch something I enjoy on netflix instant as a fold it all. I stack up the kids clothes by kid in baskets and my 7 and 5yo put it all away the next day after school. I have taught them where all of their and thier little sisters' stuff goes.
    We keep a big whiteboard in the kitchen that has the 7 days of the week in columns and we write notes for the week on there for reminders about dr appts, school stuff, etc. It's ugly but it works. I go through all the mail, balance checkbooks, pay bills once a week. We have one big basket for all incoming mail to keep it in once place and a small basket that has the checkbooks, calculator, pens, stamps, etc. I try to do as much online banking as I can now.
    For the school age kids - two boys - they wear uniforms - so my 7yo's job is to get the next day's clothes out and ready the night before. I make their lunches as I'm cleaning up from dinner. I go through their folders as soon as I get home from work.
    To keep myself sane - I joined the local family orientated gym. I go work out on my lunch hour 2 to 3 days a week and try to go once on the weekends - the kids LOVE the child care facitily so it's like an outing for them. I started this last June and lost 27lb, have way more energy, sleep better, and am in an overall better mood all the time. The meal planning helped with the weight loss too - less take out and junk food/processed food.
    I'm sure there is more... but this are the things I've learned to do.

  93. Ok, you've got a bazillion great things to wade thru here. And you've gotten the newsflash - none of us are in that mythical place you speak of!!! So, here is me:

    1) Divo 7 and Tooter 5 are both in Karate now. Karate ENFORCES the 'job list' aka CHORES. They don't get attitude stripes if they don't complete their list, which I have the option of customizing. They now fold/hang/stuff away their own flippin laundry, which means I only have 3 people to worry about instead of 5. And both boys are learning how to do their own laundry.

    1a) I never sort, always wash cold, and every load gets a large splash of white vinegar to take care of any lingering pee or mildew smells.

    2) DH does the dishes. I simply can't face coming home from work to do dishes to cook in, then make dinner, then do dishes again. I. CAN'T. So he has to do it. Oh, and I empty in the morning before I leave for work.

    3) I plan 2 weeks of meals at a time, since I only shop once every pay period.

    4) I always shop ALONE - cuts down on the bill and gives me alone-time.

    5) The crockpot is my friend. I use it at least 3 times a week. I also love the grill.

    6) Everyone's clothes are chosen and laid out the night before, including locating the one missing shoe we all seem to have. If you change your mind, you have to put the rejected stuff back where it belongs and find something new your damn self, because I am not going to work without makeup AGAIN.

    7) I too, hide the TV remote. Tooter and Crapper are banished to the yard until Divo finishes his homework and dinner is ready.

    8) School Lunch. I gave up on packing a lunch, because he usually came home with 90% of it uneaten anyway. I just write a $40 check every month and forget again until the 1st.

    9) Stock up on paper bowls and plastic spoons when you buy instant oatmeal and cereal. I've found that Divo is great at making cereal and oatmeal for all 3 of the boys in the morning. And, if for some reason they don't get it before we leave, I don't have to worry about getting my dishes back. Also work well for fruit, yogurt, applesauce, etc.

    10) Command Hooks by the Garage Door. Walk in, kids hang coat/backpack at door and step out of shoes right there. Nothing to search for in the morning. In fact, I need to get a couple for DH and I!

    Oh, I also only drop balls that bounce. Like PTA meetings and vet appointments. Those aren't crucial. A sick kid is. So is keeping my job. So I keep the "family balls" (pun intended) in the air, and let all the other ones bounce around until I need to catch one.

  94. As a work-from-home Mom of 2 that just acquired a new client (YIPPEE!) I have to say - FB, Pinterest, Words for Friends...they gotta be limited my friend. I work on the computer, so IT'S ALWAYS ON. Better yet, IT'S A CLICK AWAY! I try not to even open it up, that way it's not tempting to just take a peek. Time management is your new BFF, all the organizers in the world won't help if you don't use them, and FOCUS grasshopper! I throw in a load while I'm directing the kiddos in the morning, when I eat lunch I trade them out, before I pick up in the afternoon I swap out again, and do what I have to after their bedtimes, oh! and everything is folded before it leaves the laundry room so I don't have a pile of clean wrinkled clothes. Good luck! And yes, I AM overwhelmed, and I try to just focus on one thing at a time...SQUIRREL! :) You are far from being alone my friend! And realize I've been doing this 9 years, so I've had my fair share of meltdowns. Comes with the turf, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm doing the American Dream, one step at a time.

  95. Whenever I cook something that freezes easily I double it. It is no more work (or at least minimal)--one goes straight in the freezer. Another stupidly amazing trick I just came up with several months ago is freezing onions (works for pepper medley, too). Whenever I need to chop an onion but I don't need all of it, I chop the whole thing--take what you don't need and freeze it (spread in a single layer on parchment (or wax paper) on a cookie sheet). When frozen put into a ziplock bag (or another container) in freezer. So many recipes start with browning/sauteeing an onion - it is so easy to walk in the door, put skillet on burner with oil-reach in the freezer and throw the onion in with no washing, chopping or clean-up needed.
    A friend always buys huge containers of ground beef/turkey at costco then comes home and fries them up and freezes - saves time later (I'm not a big ground meat person, so I don't use that tip much).
    Laundry - learned this from my MIL and it changed my chore life. Do at least 1 load EVERY DAY. I know- it sounds horrible, but it totally works when you get used to it. I throw a load in before I walk out the door to drop kids off in morning. Whenever I get around to it I transfer to dryer. Fold (or have kids fold) when home in afternoon--No one leaves to play/turns on TV till their laundry is put away. They actually don't mind putting it away b/c if you do a load a day, no one has much to put away. Even when my pumpkin was a toddler she could put her clothes in the right drawer as long as it was only a few things at a time. I try to make the second load something that is non-clothes. a load of sheets/towels/knapkins. That way no one's wardrobe depends on it.
    Left-over fun. We turned friday night into leftover night and it is the new favoritie in the house. Instead of trying to turn it into a meal, we heat up (or combine) whatever is still in fridge, supplement with veggies (usually I don't even cook that-carrot sticks/celery or sliced friut is fine for that night). It's kind of a free for all-grab what you want or make yourself something out of what is around - then we all play a game while we nibble. I'm amazed at the ideas we have come up with to do with out leftovers--even the kids get in on it, and that is half the fun (plus the fridge is cleaned out by the end of the evening.)
    Another game changer in our house is this one. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. For that time everyone runs around and puts things away. It doesn't matter if it is theirs or not - if they know where it goes, they put it away. After doing it one time they realized how much easier it is to clean if you do that 1 or 2 times a day instead of spending a long bring time later on doing it. We also try to clean one thing a day (Monday - toilets/sinks, Tuesday - choose a room on first floor and vac it, Wed - 2nd floor). It only takes a few days in a row of doing that and the whole family realizes it only takes 5-10 minutes to clean so it doesn't get to be a pain in the butt.

    Good luck!
    Jen Deming

  96. Ooh - I forgot -- all backpacks in trunk of car (or next to door leading outside before going to bed at night.

    Jen deming

  97. Interesting that no one has posted that a fundamental cause of all the described time-stress is that workers in the US are drastically overworked and/or underpaid. Since 1950, the productivity of US workers has increased by 400%. This means that, had things remained connected, we should be working only about 11 hours a week for the pay that we now receive for 40 hours. In many northern European countries, the work week is 35 hours per week, the pay remarkable higher than here, and four to six weeks of vacation is the standard. Of course, childcare, eldercare, and healthcare are all available as well as substantial paid leave for the mothers and even the fathers of newborns. High living standards, high life satisfaction indicators, top schools, excellent housing options, efficient mass transportation and low crime rates mark these nations as models for others who struggle with tremendous difficulties. So, rather than bust your brains trying to figure out how to make the hamster wheel spin faster, or how to pack more into your 36 hour day, it would be better to work for more humanitarian and fairer compensation. As things stand now, the benefits of all that 400% increase in productivity have gone to the employers, the owners, even as US workers work harder and harder for less and less.

    1. I think nobody mentioned it because it isn't relevant to how to manage that small sliver of non-paid-work time....

    2. Whoops, wrong blog, you were looking for . Please check your spelling and try again.

    3. I live in Europe right now and I can guarantee you that their pay is not "remarkably higher" than in the US. They do in fact work fewer hours, but they make less money, pay at least twice what Americans do on gas and the standard of living is not what you think. Maybe for the ultra rich things are looking pretty good, but for most Europeans, life sort of sucks (and most of them are choosing to only have 1 child as a result).

  98. Wow, that's impressive! I have one sweet pea and I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. I work full time and we have recently implemented a nightly slog (slow jog) so we are getting some form of exercise after work each night. It has definitely made us get more organized. Here's how we attempt to manage:
    1) On Sunday we do the grocery shopping and make the meals for us and for our 9 month old daughter for the week. That way, after work, picking up our daughter, going for a quick run, bathing, feeding and putting little one to bed, dinner is ready. This saves us a ton of time and keeps us from making unhealthy decisions due to exhaustion and lack of time.
    2) I have learned to ask for help/accept help. I can't do it all! I have a very supportive husband but if I don't ask for help most of our daughter's care (99%) falls on me. We have an agreement that 2 nights a week, he gets up with her if she wakes up. This lets me catch up on sleep and keeps me from becoming a crazy person. And if I need a break other days during the week, I just ask. And he is always willing. But he doesn't usually volunteer if I don't ask. Like your article on relationships, he can't read my mind. We also entertain a lot and I have finally learned to let my friends help with dishes, food prep. Also simple is good - I don't go all out like I used to! I recently overheard two of my girlfriends as I was getting my daughter ready for bed saying how nice it was to be able to help out. OH RIGHT! People feel good when they feel needed. I didn't realize that I was making them feel useless by refusing to let them help. Now when friends offer, I say thank you and LET THEM. It makes my life easier and they enjoy it.
    3)I've learned to cut myself some slack. My house is not as clean as it once was. And that's ok. I do try to do little bits during the week. It doesn't have to be the whole bathroom...maybe I take a few minutes and clean a toilet and get the sink the next night. I don't do the mega clean every weekend now either. We cloth diaper our daughter and every once in a while I wonder what the schmeck I was thinking. On those days, sometimes, I don't get everything washed and stuffed and I ALLOW myself to take disposables to the sitter. I can't be on top of it all of the time and you know what THAT'S OK! And MOST of the time I love my decision to cloth diaper.

    I have really had to revise some of my expectations for myself. And what I've come away with is that I have this precious lil being who makes my days brighter and if my house isn't as clean as it once was, and the laundry isn't all done, it's ok. I try to focus on the important pieces and work at not putting too much pressure on myself when things feel ovewhelming. Easier said than done sometimes!

  99. Big believer in cooking extra and freezing. Laundry- this is easier said than done, but just try and stay on top of it. If it get's piled up, it's great out of hand really fast. But there is no trick. The whole things a crap shoot. When one thing is going good (work) you find out your kid is flunking 3 subjects because they aren't doing their homework. When you back down at work, to spend more time at home and help kid with homework, the boss get's all wierd because you are leaving early. There is no win- win. You just have to get up every day, and give it your best. I have full time job and pretty much support the family financially, but there is no job more important than the kiddos. Because if you screw them up, then really, nothing else matter. Love your blog! Good luck!

  100. Apart from the great tips about cooking and cleaning, a good way to deal with those piles and piles of paper that can accumulate in your house, I actually learned at my first job as a teen: Enforce the one-touch rule. If you touch that paper, you must deal with that paper IN THAT MOMENT. Choose to either file it, throw it away, or take the action that it requires. If you're not ready to take the action, you may not touch the paper.

  101. Quit sleeping.

    Lol. Okay, I'm only partly serious about that. I'm a foodie so I don't really like taking a lot of shortcuts on dinner, but I do make big batches of various sorts of homemade veggie burgers to freeze and then those make a quick and pretty healthy dinner. I have my husband do the laundry once a week or so WITH my daughter as his "laundry helper" because we live in an apartment and therefore our laundry room is in the basement. After dinner is made every night, I let my husband handle bath-time, and this is usually when I start whatever project I've pinned for myself (usually baking, sometimes crafty). We clean on the weekends. I don't feel like I'm winning the game, but I'm keeping up.

  102. As a SAHM with a part-time job, a military mom when my husband is deployed and a mom to 4 kids, I have found a few tricks to make life a little easier (at least less chaotic).

    I plan my dinner menu for a month. I can always switch things around if plans change but by having dinner planned for the month I know what I have to buy at the store. I also know that our dinners through the month will have a greater variety than just pizza, chicken nuggets and hot dogs each week.

    I also enlist help - from the kids. Three of my children (13, 10 and 8) do their own laundry - wash, dry, fold & put away. That makes my laundry time much less since I only have to wash 1 kids clothes. The kids also help with cleaning the house. They are responsible for their own bathroom. It is broken down into 8 things that have to be cleaned and each child is responsible for two. These then rotate through the month so they all get an equal chance to clean everything in the bathroom. After the bathroom they also have to chose one more house chore (dust, vacuum, windows, fingerprints, etc). By enlisting their help to keep the house clean,which they make dirty anyway, I have more time for whatever is needed...facebook, words with friends, a drink.

  103. I hear you! I'm a single mom working full-time, with sole custody of 2 kids under 10. So, yeah, hand me the T-box. A couple things: you need to let something slide, and it's gotta be something you genuinely hate doing and can live with it not being done. For me, it's cleaning. My room is very neat and uncluttered because there's nobody else to eff it up, but I don't sweat the kids' rooms or the playroom too much. The kids straighten those once a week. I figure if the bathrooms and kitchen are clean I can live with myself.

    I'm a load-a-day laundry gal, but I only fold once a week. My kids know to dive into the clean clothes basket if they out of jeans. They don't care if their stuff is wrinkled, and I hang my stuff that matters right out of the dryer. (The rest? No heat fluff for a few minutes!) I don't have space for a bunch of baskets, so we have a 3-section laundry station, and the kids put their clothes in each night, sorting by color. No hampers in the rooms.

    Meals: Stouffer's mac & cheese is your friend! Even easier than Kraft, and cheaper! My kids probably get it once a week, when I just. Can't. Cook. Like others have suggested, I double lasagne, baked ziti etc. so I have some to freeze. We don't do casseroles, I have found they take more prep time than I usually have, so we typically do a meat - a veg - a starch. To coax my kids to try new foods, we have a marble jar - one marble in the jar for each new thing they try, two if they eat the entire portion they're served. When the jar is full we go out for a treat of their choice -- usually ice cream sundaes, but last time we went to The Melting Pot for dessert fondue. :)

    VERY IMPORTANT: take time for yourself!! I know you're thinking "what time?" But it's critical to have a little centering time to keep from going off the rails. I call it "Mommy's time out" and my kids are great about being quiet when I need it before they go to bed.

    Good luck, and give yourself a break. We love you!

    1. I am seriously heading out to the store to get marbles right now. That is brilliant!

  104. Here are some tips that I follow:

    KEEP ONE SCHEDULE: Keep only one schedule between work and home. I use Outlook at work, but all my personal appointments and reminders are on there. I sync my calendar to my iPhone using Good. You can try to keep your work and home life separate by keeping separate schedules, but you’ll be more likely to forget something or show up late to a meeting.

    PLAN OUTFITS AHEAD OF TIME: A lot of people have commented about the importance of meal planning, but I think wardrobe planning is just as important. I try to plan my work outfits for the week on Sunday evenings so that my morning routine is streamlined. For kids, try using a hanging closet organizer. A week’s worth of outfits are sorted into the organizer – one slot for each day. This can be done on Sunday with the kids, so all the negotiating over clothes is taken care of when the organizer is loaded up.

    HAVE YOUR KIDS HELP WITH CHORES: I agree with the moms who say kids can help out a lot more. When I was a kid, I was able to clean just about anything in the house by the time I was a teen. Extra bonus for moms of boys: your future daughter-in-law will LOVE you for raising a self-sufficient man who can help around the house.

    I want to choke out my MIL. She’s Italian – like, WAY Italian. And she never allowed my husband to step into the kitchen or even make his own bed growing up. Now I have a partner who can’t boil water, scrub a toilet, or do a load of laundry. I taught him how to clean a bathroom when we were still dating – and he was 35 years old! Ghaaa! I love the man desperately, but he’s completely useless when it comes to anything domestic.

    Closet organizer I'm taliking about:

  105. I mapped out my grocery store and made a shopping list with the items we use the most, divided into aisles. In each aisle I also added a few extra lines for those once-in-a-while things that come up. At the end there is a large section for all the miscellaneous items that don't fall into the grocery aisles (clothing, dishware, etc.) On the reverse side I have a 2 week menu planner (I shop every 2 weeks) to plan out the meals for that two weeks. Then I can flip it over and check off the items needed for the meals. Two copies of this list hang on the side of the fridge- one menu side out so I can see the meals planned and one blank shopping list so as items are used up anyone can add to the list. If it's not on the list, I don't buy it (unless it's a treat for Mommy!).

  106. I'm still new to the mommy game (my baby is 15 mos), but I work full time. The single most important thing in my life (as far as m sanity goes) is pre-plannig. The hubs really isn't much help. I get both of our outfits ready the night before, I get my lunch ready, make lists, etc. I recently started pre-planning our meals a month at a time. I finalize the coming week the weekend before and I go grocery shopping Sunday am after church. I might not cook the specific meal the night I planned it, but I have options, and that has been so incredibly liberating! If baby is being grumpy, I can go to plan B.

  107. I stole this from my sister in law, but adjusted it for my "not old enough to read yet son." He has a list on his bedroom wall containing pictures of the steps he needs to take to get himself ready in the morning and before bed. For the morning: 1.) a picture of the potty 2.) toothbrush 3.) shirt 4.) underpants 5.) socks 6.) pants 7.) jammies in hamper 8.) a pic of pancakes to remind him to go downstairs for breakfast. At bedtime 1.) potty 2.) toothbrush 3.) pull-up 4.) jammies 5.) pick a story

    He still needs occasional prodding to hurry up (I am thinking of getting a timer), but this frees me up to get myself and the baby ready in the morning. Also, it gives him a sense of accomplishment that he did it himself. With older kids, same checklist with words.

  108. I would like to start off by saying that I love love love your blog! I read it daily and it really grounds me, makes me laugh, and realize that I'm not alone. So thank you!

    Secondly, you aren't "basically" working full time, you ARE working full time plus 40+ hours overtime every week. As a SAHM of a 2 year old I work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week so 84 hours a week! When I think about it, I sometimes long for the 40 work week of my old career. And I know the moms out there work at least this amount of hours and probably more.

    My suggestions are based on my personal experience so may or may not be work for your family:
    1. If you can, get help! We have a part time nanny 10 hours a week (5 hours a day twice a week) so I can go to the grocery store, bank, do laundry, etc. in peace. Just to have that child care break is wonderful even if it's at the store. If possible, hire a housekeeper. The thought of doing major housework every day while my child was napping was overwhelming. When would I eat lunch, make calls, pay bills, sit down??? I don't mind the daily stuff like dishes and laundry, but all the deep cleaning of bathrooms, floors, dust was so daunting. Believe me, I didn't grow up with a maid so it was a little odd at first, but then so so awesome. Totally worth the price.

    2. Consider full day preschool hours. My son started preschool recently and goes all day twice a week. I believe the structure and routine works well for him - and he's learning so much. And OMG, to have the house to myself for a few hours, even though I am constantly doing something, is amazing.

    3. This has been a great solution for me and my husband: we divide up some weekend hours so we each have time for ourselves. For example, if my son naps until 3pm, I take 3-5:30pm and my husband takes 5:30-8pm. Then we each get personal time and one on one time (mainly for my husband) with our son. Even though I knew I needed time off on the weekend, it took a while for my husband to state that he did as well. Of course we have family outings and time together at home, too. Another part of this is every once in a while one of us sleeps in on Sat. morning and the other on Sunday morning. Those extra few hours in bed even if you're not able to sleep works wonders.

    And of course it's a purely personal choice, but perhaps consider giving something up - maybe one of the part time jobs. Having time for YOU is so important! As women we take so much on that we tend to forget about ourselves. What would make you happy? What you want out of your life? If you know what that is, ask for it and make it happen. :-)

  109. Children are much more capable then most people give them credit. Make them part of the team. I say the rest of this to prove my point. You can make most any chore something fun. And I had a child to be a parent, not a maid. My DD is 4 and she's a big help around the house. I'm already training her to do her own laundry. I sit her on the dryer and she loads the washer. Together we load the dryer. I fold, but she puts away. She also sets out her own clothes the night before. She has her own broom and if she makes a mess she sweeps it up. Actually she can be annoying with the broom if I'm trying to sweep something up on my own she insists on helping. If I'm cleaning and she's underfoot I hand her the dust cloth and she dusts the dining room table (and all the little holes and slats in the chairs that are perfect for her tiny fingers). Another option is to let her wash the windows. The low ones anyway. I spray the Windex but she wipes. She wipes out her own sink. Before she gets out of the bath she wipes down the sides. That makes it easier for me to clean later if I don't have layers of tub crayon residue to deal with. If she uses my shower, she has to squeegee the door and walls. I have to beg her to get out sometimes. She knows how to replace the toilet paper roll. She takes the recycling to the garage. She helps unload the dishwasher (she can do the silverware herself, but the rest she either hands me or puts on the counter for me) and she loves to load it. I'm also teaching her how to cook. If we have pancakes on the weekend she knows to get out the ingredients, bowl, spoons, etc. I let her stir. I cook it. I'm not an idiot and let her near the stove. I use the recipes to teach math skills and following directions. When she's older she will be cooking at least one meal a week. Having trouble getting your children on board? Ask them to solve the problem. Together make a list of things that need to get done and make them own it. We were having problems getting out of the house on time so I asked her what we could do to be faster in the morning.

    I and my brothers were raised this way too. And this training was a blessing for us when my mother was diagnosed with MS when I was 12. Taking over the cooking and the laundry wasn't that traumatic for me compared to what was happening to my mom. And don't think I treat my child like a servant. We do these things together and we also have fun together.

    Other items:
    - Automatic bill pay (I hardly ever have to write a check and avoid late fees).
    - Don't balance the checkbook. I trust the bank. I check it online and have never had an issue.
    - Use a debit card to pay for everything. Helps for tracking categories of expense and a big time saver when I get ready to do my taxes (export to a spreadsheet and categorize for itemization).
    - Sort the mail by the recycle bin or trash can.
    - Lay out clothes, etc. the night before.
    - To do list app to immediately jot down "errands to run" (ex. dry cleaner) "items to buy" (ex. toilet paper) "things to get done" (ex. taxes)
    - Box for items to take elsewhere (as I think about it, ex. library books to return, package to ship, etc.) so when I can I just put it in the trunk when I do the errands.
    - Toys. Organized in bins. She puts it away or it goes to the garage for 2 days. Rotate the toys. Put most of them away (out of sight) and then every few weeks swap them out. Less clutter and they remain interesting.

  110. Well since I suck at organizing and following through with stuff, the only time-saver I can think of probably won't work for you.

    My mom is an evil genius. At the most hectic point of our lives, she found a way to make Randy pull his mustache out. She invented the sock basket. Me, both my brothers and my father all wore the same socks; white crew athletic socks. Only my mom had different socks. (This worked because we were all in sports) She washed all the socks at once, they went into the basket, the basket resided in the living room (and was put away when company came over) and whoever got to them first had the best chance of getting the socks that HADN'T gone through a season's worth of muddy football practices.

    Mom had a 'thing' about laundry which I seem to have inherited. She always did laundry and we pretty much did everything else. Since your kidlets are still so young, that's not so much of an option for you right now.

    I wish I had something more than a mildly amusing anecdote about socks but the truth is, I'm chronically ill with an auto-immune disease, have one surviving child (age 12) who is homeschooled and I'm a SAHM. Except we have one car and because Chibi is homeschooled it means I'm never actually HOME. The best I can do is keep everyone in clean clothes, keep the cat boxes clean, make sure everyone is where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there, and if I'm lucky I manage to make dinner a few times a week. I pretty much suck at real life.

    And when I get sick(er), everything goes to hell in a hand-basket because if I don't do it, it don't get done. The husband-shaped thing works full time, overnights. He does his best, and his schedule allows for less wear on the car and less gas to be used over the course of a pay period. I'll be reading these comments when I can focus with the hope that there will be something of help for me...I KNOW I won't be the only one!

    Rock on can do it, I believe in you!

  111. Here goes -
    I moved in with my now-husband right after we got engaged, and was thrown into the deep end of the Parenting ocean ( He has primary custody, so I have two great stepchildren ).
    - I hate how he does laundry, so I do ALL of it.After a little over two years, I've almost got these three trained to put the correct colors in the correct basket.I put my foot down at undoing inside out socks - they understood when I made them undo someone else's socks. Lesson learned. Now if only I could get the younger one to understand that pants come off first, THEN underwear - not both at the same time.
    - We have a pretty firm rule in the house that if you cooked, you don't clean up.He plans the meal at least a day ahead so he doesn't come home andscramble.Since he does 99% of the cooking, this leaves me to do the dishes.This serves us both well, in that I get to eat good food ( my single gal diet left much to be desired ) and he can relax a little after dinner.
    - I had a Shark prior to moving in. Yet another appliance he scowled at, assuming it was more crap I was moving in.I'll tell you, the girls will bicker over who gets to vacuum the floor. Get one - it's lightweight, picks up a lot of stuff (you'll be grossed out at the amount of hair humans shed) and it's really easy for the kids to use. No cords to trip over, they're sharing in the running of the household and you get to look at the corners that no longer have days/weeks worth of food/trash/WTF is that??? Even the Dirt Devil has a lightweight vacuum for cheap(Dollar General or Family Dollar, but probably more expensive at Walmart or Target). They'll do a lot more around the house when they realize it benefits them AND they aren't barked at to do it.
    - Laundry again - I do it once a week, unless there's an emergency load. Those gazillion laundry baskets? Make sure they are ALL THE SAME SIZE.Check out Target during the Dorm season.The Sterilite baskets usually go on clearance for between $1 or $2 (I've gotten them for 75 cents - SCORE!).When they aren't used, they are stacked together and don't take up much space.Beyond the whites, lights and darks, there's also towels, sheets and comforters (we have asthma issues, so all bedding gets washed on hot weekly - ugh!).I also have a ton of the big Tide lingerie bags (Walmart has them the cheapest and they've got a VERY fine mesh so bra hooks don't poke through and catch everything else) that non-dryer clothes go in.They are kept right by the laundry baskets so I can easily throw things in there, then in the basket.When I pull stuff out of the washer,I know it can't go in the dryer. I keep hangers in the laundry room for that stuff and we've got a hook to hang them on.I also try really hard to NEVER buy anything that needs to be drycleaned.I check tags when clothes shopping - if it's dry clean only, it goes back on the rack.
    - Are you finally unpacked from your move? If you aren't, make some serious playdates for the kids and get on that.Just that will ruin all the other stuff.
    - My last piece of advice is to make sure the Cap'n knows you're feeling overwhelmed. I just emailed a therapist to talk because lately, I don't feel like I'm doing anything right. I'm just kind of floating by, day by day. It's better now, but the hubby is nudging me to talk to someone that knows more professionally than personally. My girlfriends are great and can give wonderful guidance, but we don't always *hear* what they're telling us. When you pay for the advice and/or opinion, it's a lot louder. The kids can't come with you, either:)

    Lighten up your plate, put some Wegman's or Costco cheese on it, get a bottle of wine from the grocery store(I love that we can do that in this area!) and think of how truly lucky you are. I keep telling myself that in the grand scheme of things, these are First World Problems (thank you for that!!!) and it will get better.
    Hope we're helping,Hooker!

  112. i work at home with 8 month old twins and there is no way i could get decent work done without full time childcare. it's not fair to your kids or your employer to try to work at home and take care of kids at the same time. it is definitely not fair to you. you may find that you are much more efficient when you have childcare in place, whether in your house or outside.

    other tips:

    set realistic goals, especially about cooking, and don't beat yourself up if you don't measure up to the ideal. in our house we accept that we will eat takeout some nights. we don't have to cook for the babies yet, no idea how that will work once they start eating table food.

    outsource whatever you can if you can afford it.

    spend time organizing only if it will save you time in the long run. if you spend way too much time in the morning finding clothes for the kids, organize their closets and drawers. if having a messy closet doesn't make a difference, don't waste your time making it look nice because it's supposed to look nice.

    any "solution" that involves buying something is not going to work. there is no magic box, bin, filer, or laundry basket that will make the difference. you are better off throwing stuff away and simplifying.

  113. I have my basic everyday grocery list. It is divided by aisle of the grocery store and each segment has the things we use every day or every week. I put this list in a plastic sleave and as I run out of items I put a check mark by it with a dry erase marker. There are 3-4 extra spaces in each aisle segment for write-ins that aren't used on a daily basis, plus an extra "meal plan" section where I write in each nights dinner. As I go through the store I just wipe off the check mark as I put the item in my basket. I update the "master list" every so often as I see I write in the same item continually or if I'm not buying something as often as I used to. ~Larissa

  114. This is a man's advice so take it with a large grain of salt because I realize that what mothers have to deal with is a whole new level of crazy compared to their husband's 'busyness'.

    A couple of things.
    1. check out the book "Getting Things Done" by Dave Allen. straightforward approach to organizing and staying on top of your workflow and it applies to running a household of crazy monkeys as well as to a 'real job' (don't worry, my wife already squared up on me for that one)

    2. Ask your husband to help. I do dishes, occasionally do laundry, definitely do lots of folding of laundry, I make sure the kids are in bed (and stay in bed) and I help out for the first half hour the kids wake up in the morning so my superwife (and super-pregnant wife - don't worry, same woman) can have an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep/wake up slowly. It makes a difference and generally husbands who aren't douche bags like to serve their wives (particularly when their wives do so much already to make their lives easier). It's that whole a marriage isn't 50-50 it's 100-100 thing.

    Good luck and God Bless!

  115. Also, be creative and try new things to determine what works for you. I live in an apartment building with a few other kids my kids age. People think I am insane but inviting kids down for a play date for the hour before dinner has been magical for me. It doesn't add to my "work" load, it completely frees me. Yesterday I was able to read the last 2 RFML posts at 5:30pm while dinner cooked and kids played. Booyah!

  116. I DO know what you mean. I thought I was the only one who tries to run a business "while my kids are sleeping".

  117. One more to add - someone mentioned that they "sometimes" let their kids sleep in tomorrow's clothes. This cracked me up, because we do this All The Time, no shame. They take a bath at night, and change into clean clothes (we wear all cotton knit around here, so they may as well be PJs), and go to bed. No morning fits about what to wear, just roll outta bed, grab the frozen waffle, brush teeth, stagger to bus stop. 20 minutes.

  118. Here's my laundry tip. Everyone has their own basket. Small, rectangular, fits on shelves next to the washer/dryer. All clean clothes go into the person's basket straight from the dryer, unfolded.
    All "household" laundry goes into its own very large basket.
    Each child has their own dirty laundry hamper. When it is full we tip in into the washing machine, add soap and press ON. When it's washed we move it to the dryer. The kids do not have clothes that cannot survive the washer/dryer cycle.

    My children know that if you need clean clothes, you should go to the laundry room and get your basket. If you are out of clothes and you have put your dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper and some time has passed, you will likely find them clean and in "your" basket in the laundry room. Take that basket to your room and put your laundry away. I don't care if you fold it or not, but I.DON'T.FOLD.
    As soon as we run out of sheets, towels, washcloths, tea towels, rags or whatever, I put away the household laundry. Until then it just sits in the laundry room, clean and quietly waiting.

    This system makes it easy to do a load whenever, because all we do is sort what comes out of the dryer, not fold, and so it only takes 5 minutes. Also, if you have put all of George's laundry in as one load, it can all go into George's basket when it is dry, so that saves sorting time.

    And as soon as George is 12 he can haul his own hamper down to the laundry room, put the clothes and soap in the machine, press ON and then when it's done move it to the dryer and then his own basket. Magic!

  119. Hide the laundry baskets. My washing machine in my laundry basket. Dirty clothes go in there. When it's full, I turn it on. And then put stuff in the dryer.

    Laundry never piles up that way!

  120. Keep the undies and socks in one drawer. Then toys in all the other dresser drawers. Hang EVERYTHING else. Hanging is way easier than folding and you can see it all at a glance. If you have too many things to hang, donate (or yard sale).

    If you don't have a closet.... then where do you keep your shoes and over-stock of T-Boxes?

  121. So many great ideas here and I LOVE this blog.
    Things are getting easier for us (2 full time working parents incl one military mom) now that our three boys are old enough to REALLY contribute. 11 YO does his own laundry, cooks an occasional meal & does dishes, 8 YO puts away laundry and dishes and toys & cleans, 4 YO puts away books and toys. All three wipe the seat after they pee. :) We have been lucky to find affordable housecleaning too; just a couple of hours every two weeks, to do a "deep cleaning." We don't scrub or dust in between those times, just the occasional Lysol wipe of a sticky surface.
    The major secret to our reaching a balance...adjusting expectations. We aren't going to be having the queen over for tea anytime soon and I don't really mind that my kids aren't school-photo ready every day. (Okay, not even on school photo days, to be honest.)
    Practical tips: my kids just don't own clothes that have to be carefully sorted, hung up, ironed, dry cleaned, etc. It works for us because they all hate collars and buttons. So they DO go to bed in clean clothes and wear them to school the next day. No need to own/wash/store/rotate 4 pairs of PJ's per kid. I really liked the hanging shelves w/ a label for each day's outfit, but my boys didn't care for them (since they don't have "outfits" per se, everything is mix and match.) They just collected crap & I got rid of them.
    Fine dining...with 5 people arriving home at 5:30 and needing to eat at 6:00...meals either have to cook all day (slow cooker) or take 20 minutes (grill, pressure cooker, stir fry.) OR...we make "Super Salads" from whatever greens, veg, meat, cheeses are already in the fridge. Or a "Ploughman's Platter" with fruit, cheese, bread, meat, etc. It doesn't have to be hot, it doesn't have to always be a starch/meat/veg. It just has to be healthy and taste good, and over the course of a week, we try to eat fish, chicken, vegetarian, beef & pork/lamb once each. We TRY...and usually, how well we eat depends on how well we've shopped. We do buy warehouse quantities of meats, milk, cheese & some veggies; I split up the meats and freeze them, and I LOVE the "green bags" in the grocery store, they really work to keep veggies fresh for a long time.
    My go-to cookbooks: America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution, the Test Kitchen 30 minute meal recipe cards & cookbook, and "The Food You Crave" by Ellie Krieger, and Lorna Sass' pressure cooking books. My family doesn't like casseroles much so most "make ahead" meals aren't great for us. I like the recipes in "The Six O Clock Scramble" but I don't use the shopping lists.
    We don't pack school lunches and my husband takes leftovers from dinner to work; I have good options at work so I buy meals there.
    Our nemesis is still the Backpack Battle...field trip forms, picture day slips, birthday invites, all that stuff. I've tried all sorts of organizing stations and they just don't work well for us. We've (sort of) settled on this: a spiral notebook with built in plastic pockets- just the regular school size.
    It sits on the kitchen counter and works for all sorts of things: phone messages, notes to school (just tear out the page), shopping lists, long term "to-do" lists, party planning...all that stuff. Things that need to be signed and returned come out of backpacks and into the plastic pockets, then we clear the pockets each night- sign papers, attach checks, mail things, all that jazz. It's far from perfect but it helps to know that if something needs parental attention it will be in the notebook.
    I'm really looking forward to the collation of all these great ideas- and it's inspiring to know that so many people out there are getting it done under circumstances far more challenging than mine. Perspective is a wonderful thing!

  122. My hubs and I took a weekend and CLEANED and TRASHED (and I mean trash & donated) our house. Had the in-laws take the kids so they couldn't see what was going, and they couldn't get underfoot.

    Now that we have the clean areas of the house, they STAY clean because we don't eat dinner until the living room toys are picked up and put away. Hunger is a great motivator to pick up toys! :D They will put legos away so fast it'll make your head spin!

    We also meal plan each week. Most weeks it doesn't go according to plan, but at least there is one and enough food in the house for all of those meals.

    The stuff I want to do to help organize better is to make a list stuff in my deep freezer so it doesn't get forgotten in there, and I don't have to open it up every other week to dig around and see what I've got. I also shut off my computer!! I get WAY more stuff done when it isn't calling my name!! :)

    Kids can do a LOT to help out. Bags, sports equipment, homework, etc. can all be taken care of themselves. If they forget and assignment, it isn't our responsibility to save them! They can turn it in the next day and face consequences! Clear their own plates and put them in the dishwasher. If their room is a dump, their problem, not mine (I close the door so I don't have to look at it). Everyone has to take their own stuff out of the car, or the car isn't available to take kids to practice/games/playdates etc.

  123. Read the book Sidetracked Home Executives. It is AMAZING! It helped both myself and my friend to get our homes back in order. It is written so candidly and has so much helpful advice.

  124. During the week I struggle to nurse the baby, get the 2 year old on the potty without a huge mess, make dinner and do dishes and laundry after working my 9-5 job. There is rarely time to do anything else. Sometimes I manage to get my couponing ready for grocery shopping. Sometimes I even vaccuum. However, normally everything else has to wait for the weekend.

    We just implemented a weekend to do list. I found it on Pinterest (Theirs was some gilted picture frame with fabric and nice lettering. Ours is a piece of construction paper with sticky notes). The paper has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and later written on it. There is a stack of post-its next to the paper. When we think of a "big task" that we normally would do on a weekend, we write it on a sticky note and put it on the paper in the "later" stack. On Friday, we pick the 5 most important tasks and put them on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We got three done last weekend because it rained, but otherwise it helps us focus on the tasks that aren't "finally clean the house" and "cook food to eat."

    1. I am stealing this idea for sure! Our family loves dry erase boards, they are all over, so we can write them on there throughout the week and erase when done!

    2. I totally understand as I work full time and my 3rd and 4th were 18mo apart. That first year back to work was so hard as far as making dinner. So I didn't. I cooked what I could on weekends and during the week fed the kids a variety of quick things that I think are fairly healthy -- pb n j on wheat bread, bagel with cream cheese, mac n cheese (ok, not so healthy), pizza bagels on wheat bagels, turkey or ham sandwich - one of those as the main meal and then served it up with loads of steamed frozen veggies and fresh fruits. Throw in some string cheese, yogurt if needed. My husband and I would eat leftovers from the weekend or take out... that's about as best I could muster during that time. Once the baby was 18mo we turned a corner and everything was easier. Now I meal plan and cook most nights by doing a lot of the prep after bed times for the next night. You do what you have to do!

  125. Also, when I cook at night for my family of 2 and a half and a quarter (2 adults, 1 toddler, 1 baby), I cook for 5 people. I make one portion for each my husband and myself, one to cut up so the kids can throw it on the floor, and two portions to put away for either the next days lunches or to freeze for those just can't do it nights.

  126. I admit I only read about 100 of the comments so I hope my suggestion is not a duplicate. (BTW - learning a lot, just like with the marriage comments!) I suggest checking out FLY means Finally Loving Yourself and Flylady uses the most loving, thoughtful ways to encourage all of us to do a little better taking care of our selves and our homes. She encourages working 15 minutes at a time to declutter and adding one new trick a day to your routine until you have become automated in getting certain things done. I especially love how she does not criticize those of us who have found ourselves living in chaos. One of her ideas that works really well for us is the one hour power clean. Every Saturday morning everyone in our house works one straight hour to get the house picked up. I write down all the possible chores on a dry erase board and the kids and I work non stop for one hour, crossing items off as we go. (My kids are 8, 6, 5 and 9 months.) Once the hour is up I am amazed how much is done. I am usually so motivated afterwards that I mop and vacuum the floors while I can see them! I am with you Lydia, I am overwhelmed and wish maintaining the house, laundry, menu was not always a crisis, but at least I know where to turn for encouragement (in addition to Mommyland!)

  127. I'm a working mom of one. I don't know if that disqualifies me. I'm pretty much a single mom because the husband's work schedule SUCKS right now. One of the things that I do on the weekend is make a menu for the week. I write down anywhere from 6-12 meals and then list any ingredients I need for grocery shopping. Then I have plenty of choices for the week, so I am not staring blankly into the freezer (been there done that, A LOT). I also get the boy's book bag ready the night before, so I don't forget to send any signed papers back with him. Saturday morning is usually reserved for "clean up day". Everyone living in the house pitches in and by the end of the morning, the house is clean. Sometime mid-week I may vacuum or do some laundry if it's needed. Also, you have to have a little "me" time. Even if it's locking yourself in the bathroom for about 10 minutes and put your hands over your ears to block out the banging on the door from the kids. Taking a few minutes to de-stress does wonders. -Malk

  128. We have a Chore Chart on the side of the fridge. It's on a piece of paper slid into one of those page protectors. Each day has chores that need to get done on a daily basis (dishes, counters, litter box, cleaning rooms, making beds, etc.). Then each day has one special chore that gets done weekly. (Laundry, dusting, vacuuming, trash, bathrooms). We each have a different color of dry-erase pen, so that when we do a chore we cross it off. That way we know 1) that the chore was done and 2) who did it. It gives a good visual of whether or not everyone is pulling their weight, and who needs to try harder.

    It also gives the hardest worker an excuse to point out how hard they work, and that they really, really deserve a break. Or some chocolate.

  129. Yeah, I was coming to you for help. Perhaps we can huddle in the dark and whimper together. Love your blog. I added y'all to my blogroll.

  130. I have a 5 and a 7yo and I work 3-4 days a week with a long commute (1+ hour each way). My kids each have a chore chart that I printed and laminated so they can check off with a dry erase marker, one for night time and one for day time. The night time one includes things like: toys off the floor, bag packed (with reminders for each day: monday = library, tues = gym, so bring sneakers, etc), clothes in the hamper, etc. The AM one includes: breakfast eaten, teeth and hair brushed, lunch packed, are you dressed, bed made, etc. If they take too long to finish the list, they either lose bedtime reading or won't have time to watch a cartoon in the AM. The earlier they learn to do things themselves, the better. Now, if they tell me they are ready for bed, I ask, "is the list done?" and that's it. much less nagging. If they forget their library book etc, I don't bring it to school for them. They don't get to exchange it that week, the end.

    All the kids wear white socks that I by in bulk packs from target. If one gets lost, I don't care, there are 50 more like it. And no matching or folding. socks live in a basket in a drawer.

    I am fortunate enough to live in a place where I can get groceries delivered, and I can order them from my phone while
    on my train commute :) but I bring cookbooks on the train and meal plan, so that I don't order a bunch of food and still have nothing to eat. My sitter will cook dinner sometimes, but I prep ingredients for her the night before and try and keep things with less than 15 min cook time. Am a big fan of TJs frozen brown rice.

    I also need to have a tidy house before I go to bed. I have very minimal clutter and routinely purge/donate kids toys, so there's not a lot to do, if I use the M word (Maintain).

    I do keep a box in the bottom of each kid's closet, if something is too small, too purple, or otherwise never getting worn again, it goes in there, and not back in the drawer, taking up space.

    I have as much as possible on automatic bill pay, or I program reminders in my phone to tell me to pay the credit card/whatever bill. I have it tell me 3, 2, and 1 day in advance. I pay bills that need a check once a week. It takes 10 minutes, because I don't have very many paper bills, it's mostly online.
    I hate paper clutter. I sort my mail over a shredder and the recycling bin. Anything like an invitation, I put the info in my phone right away and then toss. I like Google calendar, because I can access it from my phone, iPad, or desktop and I can set it to email my husband reminders sixteen times if I need to. I print out the schedule every week for my sitter. It's color coded by family member.

    I have a basket by the front door for (in summer): sunscreen, flip flops, sunglasses, sun hats. In the winter, it has hats, mittens and gloves. In my house, these tend to multiply, and this way, if you don't know where your blue ones are, its ok, just put on the red ones. I have a boy and a girl, so I try, as much as I can , to buy unisex colors so they can be passed back and forth. Everyone also has a shoe basket that they can just pile shoes into, on the weekends, any pairs that don't get worn a lot go back to the bedrooms.
    Amazon Prime is worth every penny, I can get so much stuff delivered for free with overnight or 2 day delivery, has drastically cut down my Target runs (some may not look at that as a good thing).

  131. Can. not. wait. for the compiled results of this. My few sanity savers:
    As soon as the mail comes out of the mailbox it is opened and filed into an organizer on the counter with 3 slots: to be paid, to be filed, to be shredded. The rest goes in the recycling bin. No more mail counter clutter.

    I put 2 laundry bins in the closet - one for whites, one for everything else - takes the sorting out of doing adult laundry. Kids clothes go in the bathroom hamper and get washed with the towels etc.

    I love a good purge. Grab a garbage bag, walk around the house and throw in old toys, outgrown clothes, household stuff you haven't used in a while. Put it in the car right away, drop it off at Goodwill next time you're out.

    Thanks for doing this!

  132. i hired a cleaning lady. i work a full time job with an hour commute each way. hubby doesn't get home until after the baby goes to sleep at 8. he has a 2 hr commute each way, so once he gets home and we make/eat dinner, we both need time to unwind. the weekends were filled with arguments and me doing WAY too much cleaning and not nearly enough time with our son, so i hired a cleaning lady. hands down, best $95 i spend every other week. i'm willing to sacrifice almost anything to keep her.
    i also make ALL lunches on sunday night. i spend 1-2 hours cutting, packaging, portioning for baby and myself. i take a salad every single day; dressing in one container, chicken in another, all fit into a giant tupperware. yogurt, cottage cheese, fruits, veggies - all washed and portioned for the week. on sunday nights, my fridge looks like the glad ware section target. of day care provider will take food for the week on mondays, so i bring everything to her on monday morning, which clears room in my fridge for the week's leftovers.
    i swear by a food saver. we make a few big meals each month - spaghetti casserole, chili, a vat of meatballs - and eat it for 2 nights and freeze the rest.
    i've had groceries delivered, but i need that time to myself on the weekends, so either i go alone or hubby goes and takes the baby.
    all that said, i don't feel like there's ever enough time in the day, or that i'm doing a good job at anything that i'm supposed to be doing b/c i'm stretched so damn thin, but i do a really good job of faking sanity. reading blogs and hearing stories from other mommies who put on the sane face make me feel better.

  133. I haven't read all the comments, so I'm probably repeating something someone else has said, but these are some things that have have really helped me.

    First, menu planning. I REALLY suck at it and REALLY hate it, so I gladly pay a service $5 a month to do that for me. They give me a shopping list too, which is a wonderful bonus.

    Second, I'm NOT a morning person, so I try to do as much of the morning stuff the night before. Picking out clothes, packing lunches, setting up coffee pot, all that is done at night. This way I can pretty much be on autopilot, and the less stuff I have to think about before I'm caffeinated, the better.

    Third, I keep a household master calendar. EVERYTHING goes on it, even date night. It took my hubby about a year to remember to write on it and check it regularly, but once he did, it cut out alot of our arguments about how I don't remember something he told me we had to do. Our rule is, if it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist. :)

    Hope some of these tips help out some of you girls! Hey, does this mean we're Helping Hookers again?? ;)

  134. Ditto the basket at the door! We have a bench with storage in the seat, seasonal items go in there.

    Backpacks packed & placed at the door before the monkeys go upstairs to get ready for bed.

    When they get older, they can help a LOT. If kids want a certain meal, we have taught them which items need to be gathered and they pull what is needed from the fridge and cabinets and place them on the counter, get out the pans needed and place them on the stove and pull out cutting boards and prep dishes. It saves me a lot of time and I figure this is a good way to start teaching cooking AND organization skills.

  135. I'm a 25 year old SAHM with a 11 month old daughter. Excuse my English ( very blond and Dutch :) I'ts been very fun reading all the comments.
    I've been following the flylady method, for almost a year and a half now and i can seen a amazing difference in my home. BF ( before flylady ) i always had a last minute cleaning marathon when i was expecting company, and have been totally ashamed when some-one unexpected came by. I told them to walk around the church once and then come back, i live in Thorn the Netherlands(use google street view, i live in one off those old white houses)
    So after that i decided to get organized, went online and found flylady.
    I started doing flylady and it took a while and loooooot's of email reminders. But it truly works, even things i never used to get done, get done now.
    I have a very simple routine for the day : pick up clutter, do dishes, vaccuum floors and do a load of laundry (quick cycle ) + wild card. I get's done in about a hour and depending on my wild card for the day. I filled all my chores in my organizer, put them in a sheet protector and stripped them away (???) when done.
    Menu planning is been mentioned, really is a life saver, in our neighborhood we have a groenteman ( veggie deli?? ) where you can get a veggie deal. In one trip your done for the week and is really saves lot's off money.
    Oh and last tip is to make your one cleaning product, i got mine from the organic housekeeping book, mix 2 table spoons baking soda add one thee spoon off lemon juice add about 0.5 liter hot water, works wonders on sinks, stove, anything wood. Very cheap and very simple.
    I really hopes all this helps, because i really enjoy reading your blog, kinda keeps me sane and sort off connected to the outside world.


  136. i love your blog, and i love when you enlist everyone's advice. everyone is so smart!! (funny, too!) i have three things to add:

    1) we have two hampers centrally located upstairs (you can toss your clothes near them from both bedrooms and the bathroom--we live in a mini house) for whites and colors. what's great is that one full hamper equals one load in the washer. no sorting, no half-done laundry baskets. also, we only have light-colored sheets and towels; they get mixed in with the whites, whenever there's room.

    2) if i don't have time to fold, i will take clothes out of the dryer and "air fold" them or lay them flat in the basket. this way, our clothes aren't wrinkled and it only took a couple of minutes.

    3) i KIND OF meal plan--there's only 3 of us and we eat dinner at home only half the week. on mondays, i grocery shop and do "involved" cooking. (i work from home on mondays, while daughter is at full-day preschool.) i'll make breakfast stuff for the week, and keep them in the fridge in single serving portions. i make dinner before i pick up my daughter; make plates for the three of us, and pack up the rest (again, single serving) for lunch or dinner later in the week. lastly, i will do prep work for a slow cooker meal on tuesday. and i'll portion out those leftovers, too.

    by tuesday, our fridge is stocked with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. my husband used to not like leftovers, but he's learned to love them b/c 1) i only cook in large quantities (grew up in big family with all-you-can-eat mentality) and 2) if he doesn't eat what's at home, he has to spend his own money to buy lunch or dinner.

    hope this helps!

  137. I use a spreadsheet for my meal planning, because I adore spreadsheets. I have different ones for all kinds of things. The first page is the two week menu (we shop every other week because of our pay schedule), with each day listed and the meal I'm planning for that day. On the second sheet is a list of all the meals we ever fix, so when I'm sick to death of tacos (again, it is the go to fast dinner), I can look through that page for something different. On the third page is a list of all the meals, with all the ingredients that that dish requires, whether we need them or not (so for example tacos need meat, cheese, shells, seasoning, sour cream, salsa, and tomatoes). After consulting the calendar to figure out which nights I need a quick dinner versus the nights I can take a little longer, I plan out my menu. Then I go through the third sheet and compare what the meal needs with what I have on hand. Then I fire up my grocery app on my phone and make my list.

    After all that, I made a really fun wall sized meal planner, out of cheap picture frames, and I write the week's worth of meals on it on Sunday, so the kids know what to expect each night. We've only had it on the wall a few weeks but the kids love it and they get really upset if I deviated from it, even when junk food is the alternative. We ran out of time the other night and I hit the drive through and they were both yelling that BLTs were on the menu and why were we at McDonald's!

  138. I may have mentioned this before - and I know it's a suggestion after Kate's heart. :')
    Write the date of leftovers on the plastic wrap with a Sharpie before you put them in the fridge. You can also do this on jar lids or labels [especially baby food and things that live in the fridge forever like mayonnaise.] Totally saves me the 10 minutes every time I go into the fridge for leftovers wondering what day I made the pasta and if it's safe to serve it. [You may have to extensively wipe moisture off something that is already cold, though, before you write - otherwise it won't take and the marker will fade.]

  139. A--I have an incredible chores list. I make them for other people. For free. Just ask anyone who has had one done, they LOVE them. I'll make you one if you want. Lemme know. has been a lifesaver. I limit my FB/Pinterest/ranstsfrommommyland time each day. Keeps me focused on doing, you know, dishes and stuff.

  140. My suggestion is from a different perspective - I'm the one who works full-time & my husband works part-time from home, but that doesn't stop my stress and guilt when everything doesn't get done. So I strive really hard to "be where I am" - to be engaged in my work when I'm there, and focused on my family when I'm home. I'm less guilty everywhere if I'm not thinking about all there is to do in the other place - I know I'll be back there soon.

  141. I have have nothing really Earth-shattering to contribute. But I am totally willing commiserate with you all and tell about how I manage to make it (just barely) day to day. I have 2 daughters, ages 8 and 3. I work full time because I have to and because I want to. I am also in school half time (online courses) and write a little food blog, as well as work as a personal chef for a friend and provide prepared, freezer-ready vegan meals twice weekly. Which means I cook A LOT. And I facebook and drink wine. A LOT. Because I want to and I have to.

    Ditch the 2 hours a day 2 days a week kind of preschool. It's a pain in the a$$ schlepping the kid back and forth and you get nothing accomplished in traffic in the BWT but stressing about what you should/could be doing instead. Find a good daycare that has a pre-school curriculum. Mini will have little friends, sing songs, do craft projects, play outside, have structure and routine, take a nap every day, read books, eat a wholesome lunch (prepared by someone else)and be happy to see you at the end of the day. Take her 3 days a week for full days. You will be more productive in those 3 days that on the other 2 weekdays when she is home you will have less schmidt to juggle and more time to enjoy her. You'll feel like a better mom, not worse, for sending her to daycare once you see her thriving.

    I go grocery shopping, alone, on Friday nights. It is heavenly. The store is quiet and uncrowded. The kids are home with dad getting some good quality time together, and I can take my sweet time. This accomplishes two things at once... the shopping gets done and I feel like I am doing something nice for myself since it's peaceful and no one needs me to wipe their nose of butt. I get everything I need to make meals for the week, and on Saturday mornings I start cooking at 8 until about noon. I make meals for my family and my client to refrigerate or freeze. Then during the week, I just have to pick up fresh items here or there like fruit or milk when we run out. Even having part of meals prepped and ready is a huge relief. For example, pull a casserole out of the freezer and all you have to worry about is throwing together a quick salad. Or make taco meat in the crock pot during the day and at dinner time just put out the toppings and everyone makes their own.

    From one boobstain to another- good luck!!

  142. So I've been reading and learning a lot and realized I have one more tip (really it is more of a confession). I try to meal plan (I'm only successful some of the time, but when I do it I really do find life easier). I plan 7-10 days out which really helps to be able to use the ingredients up that might have spoiled. Anyway, here's my tip. After you plan and shop, make sure to bring the plan back and put it on the fridge/drawer whatever. Seriously--no matter how good of a plan I have, if I don't actually see it, I will forget what I was going to do.
    And I agree with the other comments about find what works for you/what you're comfort level is. Then don't sweat it!
    Jen Deming

  143. Single mom, full time student by day, bartender by night. No money, no help, and not a lot of friends. Trust me. I feel for your situation. Because really, if I give up the things you were talking about having to give up, I quite seriously would have nothing left. But every day I flail and fight and fall into bed at the end of the day feeling like I have nothing left and have accomplished even less. The problem is, while most of the time saving ideas I find might help in the long run...I have absolutely ZERO idea how I am going to find the time (and, who are we kidding, money) to actually do any of them. Cut up and freeze 5 crock pot meals? When, exactly, am I ever going to have 2 uninterrupted hours to do that? I'm resigned that until my son is old enough to fend for himself (and probably not want me around anymore) I am just going to have to get over the fact that I never have it together, press on, and buy wine in bulk. But hey, that doesn't mean I'm not PRAYING that someone on here has a better solution...

  144. When I do laundry, I have 5 school-day 2 gallon ziplocks marked with the day of the week. As I do laundry, I put together all of my 7 yr old's school outfits for the week, including underwear and socks, put one in each bag and zip that puppy closed. She has a drawer for school days and when she gets up she can just reach in and grab the bag for that day. She also has long hair so I try and put any hair stuff in the bag like headbands or ribbons or whatever.

  145. I was thinking I might try some of those freezer-crock pot meals, but I will put them in round plastic tubs to freeze them. Then I can just pop 'em out of the tub frozen and straight into my crock pot, which is also round. I have some big Ziplock containers that approximate the shape of my crock pot.

  146. I know this has been said a million times, but I just have to say it one more time. Let the kids help! Mine are 2 and 4 and they did 50% of the work for Sunday's pancakes this morning. My 4 year old hasn't dropped a piece of shell in a cracked egg in 6 months. I have friends who say this is a good time to start them with knives ... we're waiting til we're back in the USA and able to communicate with the ER doctors (just in case)!

    Oh and for the by-the-door disaster. We got those Ikea bins meant to store toys and it's right when you walk in, everyone has their own color (mom and dad too!) and mittens, hats, scarves etc all go right in the correct bin before anyone gets past the front hallway. We only have 1 backpack and no schoolwork yet but I am sure something similar can work for that stuff.

  147. My biggest tip: Delegate Responsibility.
    Here's what I mean: My kids are 12 and 9, but I started this when they were 5 and 3. I'll wash and dry your clothes, but you fold and put away. Also, I bought you a hamper for a reason, you will load your dirty laundry into it. You will also check your own pockets (I double check, and anything I find is mine), and sort your clothes (4 piles, bluejeans, t-shirts, socks/underwear, towels.). When I got a front-load washer, the kids were also now big enough to put their clothes in, and switch them from washer to dryer. that was impossible with the top loader, neither kid could reach the bottom, even standing on a chair. All I have to do is add the soap, and supervise them turning it on (it's a complicated washer, and with them being boys, all the buttons and beeps lead to confusion and me convinced the washer would explode).
    When my youngest was 3, he wasn't quite ready to fold complicated things like jeans and shirts, but he could fold towels of all sizes, and socks, So he folded those while I folded the hard stuff.

  148. First of all, sing it sister! I am losing it here too so I look forward to your analysis.

    That said, I went to a wonderful women's college called Smith College. In the 1970s we had a great President named Jill Ker Conway. And she made a speech to a graduating class that has become so legendary that I thought it was a myth (then I made friends with someone who graduated in the 70s and was there for the speech, and she assures me it is true). Basically, she said: "Dust Has No Moral Value. Do not judge yourself by how clean your house is. Instead, judge yourself by how much meaning you find in your life and how much good you do." If you think for a moment about expectations for women in the 1970s, you will feel how revolutionary this statement was.

    So, when I look at the dust, I remind myself that it has no moral value. Of course, it is making us all sneeze, and if I look at my toddler and have to pull dog hair out of his hair one more time, I will freak out. So if anyone has any tips for actually cleaning the house more efficiently, I would be glad to know them. But at least I am not judging my success as a person based on the fact that dusting is at the bottom of my list (somewhere after care for kid, be good wife, run business, care for parents, walk dog, and read blogs and mystery novels to stay sane).

  149. Have you thought about getting an au pair? I'm currently working as one in Europe, you pay food and board and pocket money, and you get an extra pair of hands to help with housework and looking after the kids. I know that you really value staying at home with your kids, but if someone else did your cleaning and laundry etc then you'd have more time to work and spend with your kids. And you get an inbuilt babysitter so you might get a few more romantic nights out with your fantastic husband :-)

  150. I have a standard shopping list, print multiple copies and hang them on the fridge door, highlight things as I run out or when I do the fast dump-the-old-stuff-and-inventory move before I go to the store. It's arranged by store aisles. We usually do better with having basic pantry items, with some special things bought as the spirit and budget allows, to make meat/starch/veg meals. My husband does most of the cooking, all the dishes that can't go in the dishwasher, and unloads the dishwasher. Everyone (theoretically) loads their dirty dishes, but I often wind up loading strays. I start the load each night, my wonderful husband unloads while he cooks dinner.

    Laundry is my job, since husband doesn't hate dishes as much as I do, and I am better at laundry. I taught my son to do his laundry the second time he complained about how I'd done it. I told him he would never have to worry about me leaving fabric softener spots on his clothes again since it was now his job. He was 12, and I've never done his laundry since. My daughter learned when she was 8, and was able to load the washer without a stepladder. Wish I'd approached cooking the same way. I usually do laundry in one day on weekends now, have a washer big enough to hold one load of my husband's and my whites, one load of colors, one load of towels, etc. When I did all the laundry, I had to do a load a day to keep up--throw it in the wash at night, into the dryer in the morning, dump it on my bed, use the you-can't-go-to-sleep-till-it's-folded trick to get it done in less than 5 minutes. Once there is a pile on the couch, it's too much entropy to overcome without a major effort. Socks are bought in one big batch, with all old socks being donated or trashed, so there is no matching issue. I've done the lingerie bag trick, and also bought socks that look different for each family member--gray heels and toes for my husband, brand name across the sole for my son, etc. Used permanent marker if necessary, one color for each family member across the sole.

    When they were very little, the kids sometimes wore tomorrow's clothes to bed. Spare clothes, bottles, formula, wipes, meds, etc. had to be packed in their diaper/daycare bags the night before. Having them help with this would have been a great learning experience for them as well--I regret not having them do more chores. Contributing to the household is an important step in achieving a feeling of self-efficacy, which is vital to their future success.

    Biggest thing for me as a non-morning person was realizing that if it was not organized and laid out the night before, it just was not going to happen. Worked on getting the kids to put everything by the front door the night before was a struggle, but worth it. This cut down on the utter chaos of our mornings, which made me a less cranky mom, and them less cranky kids. I still have a "launch pad" for myself, since, though the kids are now adults, I teach full time and am working on my master's degree. My classes are often 5-10 pm after an 8-5 day of teaching.

    One of the hardest things about mornings is managing my bedtime so I get enough sleep to allow me to function the next day--I know you've struggled with this as well. My primary perimenopause (which lasted 10 years) symptom was insomnia. I've set an alarm clock to GO to bed on time. I've also had to limit caffeine at times to be able to get enough sleep; too much selfy-steam leads to poor self image the next day when dealing with the Blur. Sorry to say, a glass of wine would make me drowsy, then I'd be awake midnight to 5 am, so no Tbox on work nights for me.

  151. We have a chore chart on the fridge for the kids. They also don't get their computer time if their rooms are messy. (Don't tell them I'm on here- I haven't made my bed yet!!)

    Make double (or triple) large meals and freeze the leftovers. Then all you have to do is pull out a ziploc bag of whatever in the morning, pop it in the fridge to defrost, then heat it up for supper. It also gives you bragging rights. "Yes, I'm busy, but we had a nice homemade chicken-noodle soup for supper!" (No one needs to know that you made it last week.)

    If my kids' pants are clean, they wear them again. Ditto pajamas, hoodies, and sweaters. (Except for my almost-at-puberty daughter because they smell under the arms after one day.)

    I have also learned to use a very empowering word. It is "no". As in "no, I can't make cupcakes from scratch for your whole class on your birthday, but I will buy you some oreos to hand out" and "no, I can't go on the field trip with the grade four class because it is the only day I have to catch up on the laundry that has taken over my house and spilled out into the street" and "no, dear, I can't make a nice dinner for your boss this week, why don't you order a nice pizza! Or use the leftover soup in the freezer".

  152. I am a new reader and so so glad for this post! My husband and I recently found out that we're expecting our first little one (I'm almost 10 weeks) and already I'm trying to form better habits for when there are three of us. I plan to use 90% of what I've read so far!

    I work full-time now but will be cutting back to 3 days a week after the baby is born. I plan to have my MIL watch the baby on the days that I work and have one of my young sisters-in-law come with her once or twice a week to help with housework - which I'll pay her for. So I don't have to keep up with newborn-ness and a clean house :o).

    I'm also going to start doing all my grocery shopping online before the baby gets here and keep up with that as much as possible after. Giant and Safeway both deliver and I know that if I stick to my list online I'll be less likely to spend money on those impulse purchases I make now just from wandering the aisles. Plus, with Giant (Peapod) you can use coupons so I'll be able to save a bit too.

    We're lucky in that my husband's family is large and they all want to help out, so we have built-in sitters/mommy's helpers that I plan to fully take advantage of.

    I'm already (well, first trimester has me out of sorts, but I used to be) an avid cooker and I make a lot of freeze ahead meals now, so I plan to continue in that vein as well. I know I'm pretty much setting myself up for failure, at least the first few months, but that's what family is for, lol. And as soon as I'm able to have wine again, I'll be stocking up!!

  153. I'm a SAHM for one 18 month old, and Dad is in graduate school. I do the cooking and wash any/all dishes I use UP UNTIL I SIT DOWN TO EAT DINNER. After that, it's someone else's responsibility (aka Dad). Dad finishes the dishes while I get toddler ready for bath, and then Dad gives toddler a bath. After dinner I'm pretty much off the hook - that's Daddy time for the toddler. I try to start all my dinners while toddler takes his nap, whether it's making pizza dough, throwing things in the crock pot, cooking a meat so I just have to throw it all together in the afternoon or chopping vegetables. We clean the house once a week (dust/sweep/bathroom/kitchen) and everything gets put in a place (any place) so that for one brief window in time I feel like my house is clean and I can breath. Even if the toddler pulls toys out all over the place, for at least those two hours it was clean and I felt like a grownup. It's not perfect, and sometimes after toddler goes to bed I'm back in the kitchen helping clean up from dinner, but the rule is no dishes in the sink over night (which largely gets adhered to - though they can sit in the drying rack overnight if needs be). Also I told Dad straight up out of the box that I was not doing his laundry, I hate laundry, I LOATHE laundry, so he does the toddler clothes and his clothes, I do the towels/kitchen towels when we clean the house. I do all the grocery shopping for the family, but he usually buys the groceries for his lunches at school so its one less thing for me to keep track of. Finally I baby-proofed the storage in the family room I didn't want the toddler getting into, and emptied out the other storage for his toys to go in. He loves opening the drawers and I know he's safe in the family room. Anyway, sorry to write a novel but I agree with whatever someone said - continuous renegotiation of household duties has kept me sane. Dad knows that crazy mommy = crazy everybody, so when the whites in my eyes show too much or he feels the explosion coming he directs me to our room and occupies the toddler. But when he has big tests/projects coming up I pull the extra weight so that he can focus on school.




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