The oil that keeps the wheel running

  One of the most frequent complaints I hear from women be it stay-at-home, working full/part-time, parenting or not is the struggle to balance housework. There are dozens of planners, website subscriptions and outlines for scheduling your day.  Personally, I don’t use them. I’ve printed out planners and things of that nature multiple times or tried a digital calendar, but in the end… I’m just a lined sheet of paper and spiral bound calendar sort of girl!

The “brain” of my kitchen: calendar, lists, coffee and the phone.

Before I go any further, let me say this: housekeeping comes naturally to me because I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl. Because of my family’s needs and dynamic, I was capable of doing laundry from start to finish, including ironing without any assistance. I could cook simple meals, clean the house and plan a weekly menu/grocery list. When I was nine, my mother’s health had a collapse and although the grandmas came to help out often, I still needed the skills for days when Mom simply did not feel well, but wasn’t emergent. Therefore, I iron like my Mother’s mother, menu plan like my own mother and fold laundry like my Father’s mother. I enjoy housekeeping in general with the exception of dusting. No matter what I do, I always sneeze. Always.

For my home, at this current stage with two children under the age of 4 this is what works for me. Last year, I wasn’t doing things exactly the same, and next year, I may need a change again. But right now, I need to care for my home and family first, train for my next triathlon, sew and write. In order to get the “fun” activities in my life, I am willing to give up sleep. Like I said, this is what works for me :)

First thing in the morning (often before the sun is even out of bed), Sylvi wakes me up, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Sometimes, I let Matt sleep a little longer, sometimes I don’t and get him moving to work. Either way, I head straight to the kitchen and turn the coffee pot on. I get food for Sylvi and unload the dishwasher and start laundry. I read somewhere that if you spend your first hour of being awake getting your tasks done and don’t check email, you’ll find your day to be much more productive. For me, this is genius since I am a morning person. So… I leave my phone on the charger and the monitor turned off and get my tasks for the day as completed as I can by 9am. That’s the goal. I was done by 847 yesterday, 1015 today.

Every single day I complete 5 tasks:

  • Make the beds
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Clean the kitchen after meals
  • 10 minute tidy of bedrooms and living room midafternoon and before bed
  • Daily chore

This is why I am not stressed by my home. I am a very particular housekeeper, so I keep up on the clutter (except for the hideous pile of paperwork to my right) and as long as I do that, general tasks are simple.

  • Sunday: weekly fruit/veggie prep (washing, cutting, etc.)
  • Monday: Clean bathroom and diaper laundry
  • Tuesday: Vacuum and 1 load of laundry
  • Wednesday: Laundry and declutter and dust
  • Thursday: Diaper laundry and menu/grocery plan
  • Friday: Wash sheets and towels
  • Saturday: any catch up housework

Each task that I assign to the days are quick ones. I don’t do laundry all in one day because I get burnt out. I do a little bit each day and it’s quick enough that way that it takes about half an hour of total active time. The task that takes me the longest honestly is the veggie prep because I’m washing, peeling, cutting and organizing about 10-15 pounds of produce.

I go to bed with toys picked up, laundry put away and the dishwasher running. Every now and then, I skip this step and then have a grumpy start to the next day because I hate waking to a mess. When Liam was a little baby, a friend mentioned to me that I needed to learn to do my chores while he was up so that he saw that I did other things than wait on him hand and foot. Perhaps a kinder way of saying this would be to simply involve your children in the tasks. When I sweep the kitchen, both kids get out their brooms and “help”. They help me match socks and carry laundry to the bedrooms. Liam unloads the silverware from the dishwasher and both children are responsible to take their plates to the counter after meals. And if that doesn’t keep them occupied for a few minutes, I can always pull out the crayons and paper and they create for a little while.

Once I have all my tasks done… I’m free to start on the list. I make a long list of all the things I’d love to accomplish and keep at it for a week. I’ll assign things to myself in the morning and what gets done, yay! The rest goes back on the list for another time. I’m supposed to roast garlic today.  We’ll see. I’m not overly enthusiastic about it. Some days, like today, I’m in the mood to do nothing extra… my house is clean, the kids are happy and I think we’ll have leftovers for supper. Every day is different!

So how about you? How do you tackle balancing life and your home?

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