“Mom, can you buy face wash? We’re out again.”*
“Mom, I need some clean socks!”
“Mom, what are we having for supper?”*
“Mom, can you drive me to the skating rink Friday night?”*
*(Actual quotes from the Crosby house this week!)
Moms are depended upon for lots of things! Life can be overwhelming and chaotic at times, for sure. Home management seems to be a progressively learned skill–at least for me it has been. Some people seem to be born naturally organized and on top of things while others are, shall we say, “organizationally challenged”. I think I probably fall somewhere in the middle. Parts of my life are nice and neat, while other parts not so much!
There have been whole books written on home management and organization. So, I definitely can’t cover all there is to know in one short blog post. I’m also not going to pretend I have it all together when it comes to this topic, but I have learned a few tricks and helpful tips over the 24 years of being a wife and mother. I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned that have helped my home run more smoothly in the hopes I can help other “organizationally challenged” ladies out there!
Food (and all it entails!)
As a mom and wife, one of my major responsibilities is food and all that goes along with it: planning what to feed my family, finding and buying the ingredients while keeping within a budget, keeping the pantry and fridge stocked, using what I bought before it goes bad, and finally preparing and cooking the food in a healthy (and attractive) way so my people will eat it! So much goes into executing just one meal! Then, there’s always the clean up afterwards! I’m sure I’m not alone on this one when I say, “It gets old!” I don’t hate cooking or anything like that, but some nights, when I’m tired, I’ll admit I just don’t wanna!
I know eating at home saves money and is so much healthier, so that’s what we usually do. I have found that I feel much more “into it” if I have a good plan–a well thought out menu for the week. I definitely grew into this part of an organized home! When we were first married, I remember many days that I would frantically look at the clock and my thoughts would go something like this: “Oh no! It’s 5:00! Supper! What am I going to make?!” Then, I would proceed to panic and run around the kitchen looking for ingredients to throw together or, worse, start searching through several cookbooks to realize I had all but one ingredient for every. single. recipe! Ok, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but you get where I’m coming from, right?
My goal now is to make a simple menu each week that I write on a small dry erase board that hangs on our fridge. I can refer to it each day and if the kids ask, “What are we havin’ tonight?”, I can just point!
When I go to plan my menu for the week, I take into consideration a few factors. I look at the calendar to see what our schedule looks like. Are we going to be gone in the evening or planning a get together? Am I going to be going somewhere during the day and not feel like cooking a complicated dinner after a long day of running around? Are there any special occasions coming up? I try to think through our week and plan accordingly. If I am going to be gone during the day, I either plan a meal I can throw into the crock pot in the morning before I leave or something super simple that can be put together quickly when I get home.
I also consider the weather. Because we live in Texas, and it can get very hot during the summer, I try not to use my oven much on the days when the temps are close to or over 100 degrees. It just really heats up our house, so I try to use just the stove top, the crock pot, microwave, or a no-cook meal like sandwiches. I also don’t want to schedule a BBQ on a day that rain is in the forecast for obvious reasons!
One last consideration when planning my menu is what food in my fridge will go bad if I don’t use it this week. I can’t stand it when I have to throw out food that has gone bad before I was able to use it. If I have some broccoli I bought last week and haven’t used it yet, we need to have a meal that includes broccoli this week!
I try to stick to the menu I create, but it doesn’t always work out. So I consider it as a suggestion and try to be flexible. If something comes up and we can’t have what I had planned, I just rearrange the menu or move what I had written down to the next day. It’s not a hard and fast plan that has to happen this exact way, but more of a guide. I think of it this way so I don’t have to get stressed when it doesn’t work out!
One last word about food….grocery shopping! Not my favorite sport! I am so thankful for great grocery stores, but it used to take me an hour and a half to two hours to get all the food and other items my large family needed (like shampoo, face wash, deodorant, etc) each week. It was so exhausting and then I had to come home and put it all away. After all that, I just wanted to take a nap! I am now so glad for online grocery shopping! So far I have only tried Walmart because no other stores are available in my area. I love it! It saves me so much time and energy!
I just make my order online which only usually takes about 20 minutes or less because I mostly buy items from the section of the website called, “favorites” (things like milk, bread, fruit, shampoo that I buy often). I like this feature because I don’t have to keep much of a grocery list any more. All my regular items are already in my “favorites” section, so I only write down items that I don’t usually buy and I only have to search for those products when I’m making my order.
Then, I reserve a time to pick up the order the next day. I drive to Walmart and let them know I am there and magically in about 5 minutes my vehicle is loaded up and I’m on my way! This has been a life saver for me. If you haven’t tried it, maybe you should! I actually have energy for putting the groceries away when I get home since it only took 5 minutes to pick them up. I’m so thankful for this service!
My mom used to have a plaque in her house that said, “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy!”
There’s actually a lot of wisdom in those words if you think about it! I want my house to be clean, but if I start to stress out about every speck of dirt on the floor and items out of place, my family and I will definitely not be happy! Just like so many things in life, there has to be a balance here. So, how can we achieve this balance?
A few simple things I’ve learned about cleaning is: have a routine, be consistent, and get the kids involved in helping with chores. For me, it helps to have certain days that I do certain chores. So, for example, if it’s Monday, I know I’m going to be doing extra laundry that day. Tuesday, I vacuum the main rooms. I won’t bore you with my whole weekly list, but you get the idea! To make a similar list for yourself, just think of all the things you need and want to accomplish in a week and then organize them by day and then…do it! (This can be the hardest part, which brings me to my next point….)
Being consistent with cleaning. I have found it is so much easier to clean when I don’t let it get too bad. If I clean my bathroom every week, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to get the job done. If I let it go for two weeks (or longer!), it will also take a lot longer to get the bathroom back to sparkling clean! I’d rather do a quick clean more often than spend thirty minutes of my day doing a job that could be done in half the time. Plus the house looks nicer when cleaned more often (and healthier–as we learned above on the plaque!)
Besides a weekly routine for cleaning, it is a great idea to have a daily routine. I learned this a long time ago from an awesome woman called Fly Lady. You may have heard of her…if not click here to find out more! She has helped many people get clutter under control and taught them how to “fly” when it comes to a clean home.
There are some cleaning jobs that need to be done every day. I like routines because they become habits and you hardly have to think as you go about doing them–it’s like they’re automatic! Unloading the dishwasher, gathering the dirty laundry, starting the washer, and straightening the living room are all part of my morning routine. Loading the dishwasher (or making a child do it), setting the coffee maker, straightening the little kids’ bedroom, and making sure the kitchen and dining room are clean and straightened are part of my nightly routine.
This is where your children come in! Most children love routines and (if young enough) like to help and feel useful when chores are presented in a positive way. I start trying to teach my kids to clean up their toys by 1 1/2 years old by singing the Barney Clean Up song. Singing makes everything more fun! (Think of Mary Poppins!) I slowly add more responsibilities as the child grows older. My 5-year-old empties the silverware from the dishwasher each morning and one day she got mad at me for doing it for her! That was a happy mom moment! 🙂
I’ve had so many different systems for getting my kids to help around the house. When they were all younger and were homeschooled, I gave each child who was old enough an area of our home to clean each morning after breakfast. I think I even set a timer and we all worked for 15-20 minutes and tried to get our areas all tidy and clean before time was up. That worked pretty well back then….at least my house was “kid clean” as I like to call it (you know, not quite up to mom standards, but ok!)
Now that most of the kids are in school, we have a different way of doing everything, but the one thing I’ve used that has lasted the longest is my kitchen chore chart. It is still in use after many years and has been a great tool for our family, simple though it may be!
It really is very simple (I made it several years ago on my computer) and laminated it. I bought those little velcro circles and stuck them on under the names so I can switch them around after supper each night. (When they were all homeschooled, we switched it after every meal, but it’s not necessary now.) As you can see, there is a blank spot…that’s because Abby got married and moved out last year and she just won’t come over every night and do her chore any more! haha…actually, I’m going to be adding Suzanna (my five-year-old) to the chart soon so I just left it like this till I get around to doing that.
Hopefully the lessons I’ve learned over the years can help some of you in your home management ventures! Homemaking is so very important and can sometimes feel like a burden, but it is easier to find joy in it when we implement a routine and realize our families benefit when we do our best to make our house a home. I have more to say about this topic, so be looking for a “part 2” coming soon!