Probably one of the most asked questions that I get, as a mom to four, is...."how do you do it all?" The answer: I have no idea!
Sometimes I think I might lose my mind, but other times, I think I've just gotten extremely efficient.
A good friend of mine has a new baby, and the other day, laughed because she was remembering visiting our house right after Brylie was born. At the time, I had an 8, yr old, 5 yr old, and 18 month old. She said I was nursing Brylie while taking care of the other three, and made it look easy. Having one feels hard, she said! You know, I remember one feeling really hard, too! Sometimes, I think it felt harder than my life with four. I was inexperienced, I was nervous, and I didn't want to make mistakes. Four kids later and I've let go of a lot of expectations. I let my kids leave the house with dirty clothes, I allow dishes to sit in our sink, I have realized that an un-made bed doesn't define me as a mom. And, you know what? I feel better. I am better. I am confident in my abilities as a mom.
A couple people have asked me to share some of my tips for balancing my time, while keeping the house together. Here's what works for me:
1--multi-task, multi-task, multi-task! I'm almost always doing two things at one time, and it works for me!
2--clean while you cook. Say, what?! I don't know about you, but when I'm finished with a meal, the last thing I want to do, is clean up. I'm sick of being in the kitchen by that point. I try to clean as I go, and even have all counters wiped down and dishes in the sink, by the time the meal is prepped. When it's over, it's just a matter of loading the dishes and then moving on!
3--clean while they bathe. This is a favorite. A trick I just used tonight. We've got two bathtubs upstairs and I'll rotate which tub I give baths in, based on which bathroom needs cleaning. One night, I'll do counters, mirrors, sinks, then I'll do our stand-up shower or hanging and putting away clothes. I don't feel guilty cleaning while the kids clean, and they love baths, so it's a win-win.
4--read at practice. Many people have asked how I have time to read with so many kids. The answer? We have a lot of practices! I keep a book in my purse and will grab my book whenever I can. Usually this happens at swim lessons or any practice where I don't have to keep a close eye on the littles. It's amazing how much reading I can get in! Soccer season was great because I would turn a movie on in my car and let the littles watch, while I read and Jake played.
5--use voice text. If you haven't discovered this, you need to. I'm constantly leaving notes to myself, texting people or responding to messages, without ever touching my phone keys. This leaves me hands free to do other things and is much faster than typing.
6--clean out your car while gassing up. My kids know that when I pull up to a gas station, it's a race to see who can gather the most garbage out of the car. They will seriously pick every scrap up, hoping to win the "game." I try to empty out everything at the gas station which saves us garbage space and keeps the car (a little) neater.
7--make a list. Not only do I love lists, but they keep me on track and focused. Once I've accomplished my list, I feel SO much better! You can do daily, weekly, monthly, whatever!
8--set a timer. I find that I'm more likely to do *anything* if I know how long it will take. Sometimes, I'll tell myself that I've got 20 minutes to accomplish ____. I set my timer and work as fast as I can. It's amazing how much I can get done when I'm focused with no distractions. It's kind of like the idea that your best cleaning occurs when you are having guests over.
9--use bath, bedtime, driving to practice, etc as your one-on-one time with a child. I know that it's hard to focus on just one, so I do my best to have conversations with my kids, when I've got them doing something that we do regularly, rather than trying to make it a special time (because those usually get rescheduled and not made a priority). Molly loves folding laundry, so we will sit and fold and chat about our day. Two birds with one stone.
10--let go of perfection. Listen, I get it. I'm a type A personality and sometimes it pains me to just let it go. But, you have to, sometimes. So what if my floors are dirty, I've got dishes in the sink, my kids have mis-matched clothes on, or someone hasn't brushed their teeth. They are loved and well taken care of, and that's all that really matters.
11--plan ahead! I almost always have a bag with some snacks, a diaper (not anymore, friends!!!), crayons, a coloring book and a few small toys. This is my go-to if we get in a situation where we are desperate. Kids do so much better with snacks. Or is that just my kids? Hungry, cranky kids are a recipe for disaster!
12--wake up early. Seriously, do it. Summer is my favorite because I love to get up before the kids, come downstairs, get a cup of coffee and read, do devotions or work on my blog. When I have some time to myself in the morning, I feel much more ready to tackle the day. If you don't have time to workout later in the day, this is a great time, too. Being showered and ready to go before my kids have gotten up, makes me a better mommy, for sure. How do I stay up late and get up early? Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Okay, now it's your turn. What are tips for making your household run smoothly? I'd love to hear!