A few weeks ago we had a sweet reader (hi Caroline!) email us with a few blog post suggestions. We big puffy heart LOVE when we hear from our readers either in the comments on the blog or via email and social media. One of her suggestions was a post on how we handle housework. As a fellow busy mom of three little ones she was wondering how we balance out housework with taking car of the kids and other everyday stuff. So that is today's post! Might be boring for some, but I love seeing sneak peeks into other moms' everyday lives so I hope some of you will enjoy this and maybe find it helpful, too!
For me housework seems to fall into 4 main categories: laundry, dishes, cleaning, tidying (or putting things away).
I usually do laundry every single day. I'm not one of those people who can do a million loads in one day and fold/put away mountains of clothes. I prefer to do a load or two each day to keep the rhythm going. Generally, when each of the hampers in the kids' closets or my own gets full, it's time to wash.
Just last week I walked into my laundry room and found this from Blondie:
It was right about then that I secretly wished for a laundry fairy. She was actually being quite responsible though. She needed her soccer uniform clean to wear that evening and she knew it was somewhere down in that hamper so I appreciated the reminder.
I like to do each person's laundry separately. I used to wash all the kids together, but I have found that washing it separately makes putting it away easier because then I have a basket full of one family member's clothes ready to be put away.
And speaking of putting away, it's the laundry job I despise most. I don't mind doing the laundry, it's the putting away I avoid. So, I have my kids put their own laundry away. I figure if they are old enough to operate an iPhone, they know how to put socks in the sock drawer and t-shirts in the t-shirt drawer. Even little Boo-Boo, who is not quite 5 can do his or at least helps me.
A few other things about laundry...
- My laundry room is upstairs and it makes bringing everyone's clothes from their bedroom easy, as well as, the putting away part of it.
- I hang dry a lot of the girls things and my own so a lot of that needs ironing. If I hate putting things away, I hate ironing even more.
- I usually wait until I have 5-6 pieces that need to be ironed and then do it all at once.
- I used to iron my husband's clothes (work shirts/pants) before we had kids, but after we had kids that had to stop because I just did not have time. He has a lot of wrinkle free shirts and pants and I try to take them out of the dryer as quickly as possible so they don't sit and wrinkle, but I hang and put them away as is. If he deems that they need to be ironed before wearing he does it himself. (Our iron and ironing board stays set up in my closet).
- I try to let the washer/dryer work for me when I'm busy doing other stuff. I'll start a load of laundry before I leave to run errands and put it in the dryer when I get back. A lot of times I will wash clothes in the evening while I'm getting the kids ready for bed or just after I get them to bed and then I throw it in the dryer before I go to bed. Then I'll just start up the dryer again in the morning to fluff the clothes before I fold them.
- I never leave our dryer going when we are not at home because of the risk of fires. (Plus, our dryer is literally from 1980 - it has woodgrain people!!!) so I don't trust it.
I used to be the kind of person who couldn't even sit down to eat dinner until I had washed the pan I cooked it in. I couldn't stand dirty dishes in the sink. While I still don't like it, I have lowered my standards A LOT! I like to use the dishwasher and pretty much put everything I can in the dishwasher. I run it every single night and empty it each morning, usually while the kids eat breakfast. Then I have an empty one to start loading again for the day. It works for me and then I'm not having to stuck stuff in the sink because my dishwasher is full.
I have the kids bring their plates/cups over from the table or kitchen island and put them in the sink. I remind them all the time that I am not their maid and that they are old enough to help out around the house. Obviously little, little ones can't do this, but I think you can still start training them to help out by just having them throw their own napkin in the trash, then work up to carrying over silverware to put in the sink and finally work up to plates/bowls/cups until it becomes a habit. I'm all about making kids responsible for themselves and it starts when they are really little!
So I don't want this to come as a shock or to sound really snobby because I'm just stating a fact, but I don't know one of my friends (except Jen) that cleans their own house. Sure they might clean a little in between when the cleaners come, but they at least have some help every other week or once a month even. I do all of the cleaning myself and for a big house it is a BIG job.
While I would love a maid or a cleaning team to come in and help now and then, we have just decided to use that money for other things and so the cleaning is up to me. While I love a clean house, I do not love cleaning house. Because it's a big house and a big job, I do not like doing it all at once. When I do have a full day to devote to cleaning it is nice to have it all clean at once, but it feels like such a daunting task that I put it off and put it off and find any excuse to find something else to do. So instead of doing it all at once I usually do one thing at a time. For example, I will clean the kitchen after dinner so that it is all done. I'll vacuum when I notice that it needs it upstairs. With a big dog that sheds a lot that is pretty frequent (at least twice a week). I'll sometimes do it in the evenings while the kids are playing before bed. For downstairs I have a Roomba that I LOVE. I wrote an entire post about it HERE. I run it downstairs usually every other day to help with the dog hair. I'll clean the hardwood floors one day and I always do all of the bathrooms all at once. Blondie loves to dust so when I notice the dust starting to collect, I set her off and she is happy as can be. If I have 30 minutes here or there I'll sneak in a task and then it doesn't feel so overwhelming.
I saw this on Pinterest the other night and it made me laugh.
It's funny because it's true. In all seriousness though, I heard somewhere that with kids you can either have you house clean or you can have it picked up, but not both. You'll go crazy trying to do both. I so badly want both, but it's like a revolving cycle of clean, dirty, tidy, messy that just does.not.end.
I know this about myself, but I can't stand clutter. It seriously gives me anxiety. I like for everything to have a place and I like things organized. I feel like a busy bee during the day that is constantly picking up and putting things away. From shoes left in the middle of the floor to mail to toys and everything in-between.
My kids help, when they can. I encourage them to help using our Rock Jar reward system (see the post HERE). From very early on I always included them when cleaning up toys, etc. If the playroom is a disaster, I can't close the doors and just forget it's there. I needs to be cleaned up before bed so I send the kids in and they clean it up. They know where everything goes and my rule is that if you got it out, you put it up. Now with that being said, I have random babydoll strollers, legos, books, and balls floating around random parts of my house at all times, but for the most part, things are put away.
Same thing with their rooms. I'll walk in and find stuff EVERYWHERE and I'm find with it if they are playing or busy working on something in their rooms, but when they are done I expect it to be picked up.
Having the beds made instantly makes my house look tidier and more put together. I had my kids start making their beds when they were about 4 or 5. I read in a parenting magazine that they could start helping about that age and of course it wouldn't look neat or perfect by any means, but they have to start somewhere and practice makes perfect!
So with all of that said I saw this shared on Facebook the other day and took a screen shot of it. It literally stopped my in my tracks and really spoke to me.
Shortly after that I could have been cleaning the bathrooms or sweeping the floor, but then Boo-Boo asked if I would play catch with him and I said YES!!! And I just let the other stuff wait. I think it is so important to find that balance and while you don't want to live in a pig sty, you don't want to miss opportunities to really engage with your kids. I can be tough on them about picking things up and putting stuff away and I don't let them live like slobs. I think it is my responsibility, as their mother, to teach them to be responsible for themselves. One day they won't have me going behind them to do everything for them so I want it to become a habit now. However, they are children and I want them to spend time creating, playing and make believing. I want them to make childhood memories that are really happy and filled with joy. So it is a difficult balance to try to achieve, but I feel that I'm doing my best and that is all any mom can really do!
Please share any other tips or tricks you might have for fellow moms. How do you handle the housework? How do you find balance?
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