Chaotic House Management

After I exposed the messy truth in my post, A ‘Real’ Glimpse Inside the Naptime Decorator’s House, one of my readers left this comment:

Again great post! So question….would you do a post on your ‘Chaotic House Management’…like do you have a schedule for picking up? Do you just kill yourself every evening? Do you let it lie? My house looks a ton like yours…only enter orange 70s carpet…and while I want to just make memories…I also feel overwhelmed/frustrated by it. But I’m feeling better to know that I’m not the only one! 

I thought that sounded like an excellent idea! (Thank you, Leron!) While I don’t have a huge amount of tips and tricks for those of you trying to just keep your heads above the water toys, I have a few that I think (and hope!) you will find useful.

So without further adieu, here are the ways I keep my house and  my sanity. Take it for what you will;)

1. I start my day on the right foot.
A lot of people have something that when they do it first thing, it sets the precedence for their entire day. Before I had kids, this would have been working out (HA! Imagine that. Haven’t set foot in a gym in 6 years now, but in my former life, I actually chose  to wake up at 5am! How times have changed…). For some people it might be making their bed. For me, if I don’t empty the dishwasher first thing, my day’s shot. Ok, I’m not THAT bad! But it’s one thing that makes it easier for me to keep up with my day. Dishes are constantly piling up in the kitchen every day, and when I have a nice empty dishwasher, the breakfast dishes pop right in, then the snack dishes, then the lunch dishes, and so on. If I keep up with the dishes and see an empty sink, I have some sense of control around here. And there’s nothing worse than starting to make dinner and seeing the ENTIRE day’s worth of dishes staring at you. But that’s just me. Find your ‘thing’ and do  it.

2. I stay afloat with the room that is the most crucial for me.
I added this next, because it kind of ties in with #1. The kitchen is Grand Central Station in our home. Once that room’s chaotic, feel chaotic. But if I can keep that room under control throughout the day, I’m good. I’m a clean cook – I wash the pots and dishes as I make meals. I like that putting the dinner dishes in the dishwasher and storing the leftovers is the only thing facing me when the meal is over. As long as I can stay afloat with dishes, piles, etc., in the kitchen, I don’t get overwhelmed. On the opposite end of the spectrum, our playroom in the basement? ALWAYS a disaster. But I don’t need to prepare meals amidst all of that, or make important phone calls, or organize the family calendar. So you know what? I’m fine with the mess down there;) Gotta pick your battles, right?

3. I don’t fold laundry.
GASP! It’s out there. My big secret! 😉 Ok, it’s not completely true, but I do more of a “put away neatly” method. Here’s how I handle laundry (by the way, Dear God, where oh where does it come from?!!). I do at least a load every 2 days. I prefer the frequent method as opposed to piling it up throughout the week and spending hours on the weekend doing it. But that’s just me. And here’s how I fold it: when we’re all upstairs, and the kids are playing, I make piles on my bedroom floor. One pile for each kid, and when I come across something of mine or my husband’s, I put it away (either in drawers or hung up in the closet). So then I’m left with 3 piles. I don’t even turn things that are inside out. I just quick make piles and deal with it when I get to their rooms:

the piles are MUCH bigger than this, trust me!

Then I go into one of their rooms to deliver it, or call them to grab them. I hand them the items they can do (underwear, pjs, bathing suits – things that I don’t care if they’re stuffed in a drawer in a ball!). Then I handle the rest. Two of the kids have very small rooms, so I don’t have dressers in there. Instead, I use the closet – Noah’s room has his changing table in there, basically because the bins we had used were so large! (Note: this system won’t really work when they grow up and their clothes get bigger, but while they’re so small, the bins work fine:) I hang ALL of his shirts- even t-shirts – and the pants, shorts, pajamas, etc. all go in the bins.

See what I mean about the no-folding thing? I just kinda lay them in there. My kids have an obsession with picking out clothes, so they’re in and out all day anyway, grabbing things. If I folded, it would be a huge waste of time around here;)

Reagan’s closet has one of those plastic storage guys in there:

Again, I hang all her shirts (and dresses), and everything else is in the plastic drawers. If I had a penny for every time this girl was in and out of those drawers…I’d be a millionaire by now! And she’s not the *neatest* child, so she’s always stuffing things here, there, and everywhere. But if it’s put away, I’m cool.

4. Take advantage of times when you can multitask.
I don’t mean all the time. I’m the biggest supporter of getting down on the floor and playing with your kids, putting on puppet shows, and building forts…but sometimes you can let them be while you get some stuff done. For example, I clean the bathroom while they take a bath. All 3 of mine still take a bath together, and they’re all at ages when I don’t have to hold onto them or be a nervous wreck that they’ll fall. (Plus, we have a small tub, they couldn’t really go anywhere if they tried!). So while they’re splish-splashing and playing mermaids and superheros, I grab my GreenWorks botttle and get to work. I can have the sink, toilet, and floor spotless before they get shampooed;) And the green stuff doesn’t have fumes or dangerous chemicals, so they’re safe.

And times when I get to steal a few minutes to talk to a friend on the phone? I’m always doing something. I’ve never been able to sit on a couch and talk on the phone. (If you knew me in person, this would not be surprising information;). So while I’m chatting away, I’m often cleaning the kitchen floor, or wiping off furniture.

5. Baskets, baskets, oh, and more baskets.
Can’t say enough about attractive storage. We would look like a Toys ‘R’ Us if we didn’t have them. When we had one kid, I was very particular about organizing things in certain bins, baskets, containers. Blocks went in the Blocks bin. Dolls went in the Dolls bin. You get the jist. Then we had #2 and #3, and I just could.not.keep.up. So huge baskets are our favorite things for stashing anything and everything.

Got this at Target about a year ago, but it’s still there, in case you want to grab one for yourself:) It usually looks more like this:

But hey, if I’m able to get the kids to actually clean up after themselves, I’d mark it in the ‘Win’ column, wouldn’t you?

Here’s another, just for books (yes, that is the one thing we make sure doesn’t get mixed in with the other toys)

Got that at Target about a year ago as well. (In the bath section for curious minds:).

Baskets are a great way to get my kids to clean up their stuff, and keep our family room from looking like this joint is completely  run by kids (which of course, we know it is;).

6. We do our big pick up before bedtime.
So I told you I keep tabs on the kitchen throughout the day. I also said the playroom in the basement pretty much stays destroyed (with the exception of when I hold our Monthly Girls Craft Night and Sundays during football season;). The other room that gets used the most during the day would be the family room. From about 7am to 7pm, you would see 80 billion lego pieces strewn around the room, a random tiara and Batman mask (among many other things) on the coffee table, perhaps a pile of crayons and paper on the floor. And it’s ok with me to have it a mess all day. It used to bug the heck out of me to see everything everywhere throughout the day, but it doesn’t really phase me anymore. And I know if any company pops over, if they have children, they totally  get it. If anything, they probably would feel better, knowing my house isn’t “company ready” the majority of the time! But once 7pm hits, we get that room in shape. That’s the room Paul and I usually spend our evenings curled up watching tv and hanging out. And I just cannot deal when it’s in complete disarray at that precious time of day. Those few hours after the kids go down and we head up to bed are OUR time, and as much as I madly love my children, I can’t decompress when I’m stepping on legos (um, OUCH!) or throwing Cinderella and Rapunzel dresses around to find my magazine or remote control. So right before we head up to begin the whole teeth-brushing-book-reading-song-singing routine, we ALL tidy up the family room, so when Paul and I walk downstairs after tucking those munchkins in, we see a nice straight room to relax in. Plus, it’s important to us to get the kids involved in cleaning up their things.

So there’s a few of the ways I keep house around this joint. Do I abide by these all the time? Absolutely not.  But I don’t beat myself up if I slip. If there’s anything I’ve learned about parenthood, it’s that each and EVERY day is a brand new one. One day, the messes overwhelm me and I feel so buried in all of it, and the next, I could feel refreshed, and embrace it all, because I know it’s not going to last forever. I’m happy that those days are occurring more often, as I’m becoming more and more aware at how fast theses babies grow. I know one day I’ll walk into my family room and won’t see this sight:

And I can’t believe it, but I think I might just cry when that day comes.

In the meantime, I will think of these words as I walk in every less-than-perfect room and know they are as true as the day is long:

“Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories.”

And how blessed am I to be surrounded by their messes.

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