It's hard work keeping a home. It's even harder with little people. I have three littles. One more coming soon. Here are a couple of things (nothing earth shattering) that keep my home running as smoothly as I can...
1) Wake up earlier than the children.
I have read this before and thought that it meant that I need to wake at 5 and do all of these amazing things before everyone gets up. That may work for some people but not for me. What I have realized lately is that all I need to do is wake up earlier. Sometimes that means that I get a lot accomplished before the day begins some days it means that I lay in bed and look at my email and just enjoy a few minutes of quiet by myself. It really helps my day start off right. I look forward to everyone waking up rather than thinking "5 more minutes..." as my guys are jumping on me asking for pizza for breakfast...yeah, Tyler...
2) The Drink Tray
I hate having random cups sitting all over the kitchen. I end up throwing them in the dishwasher just because I hate the clutter. My MIL was getting rid of this small silver tray and it has become the home for cups in use. It has changed my kitchen completely! I am happy because there aren't cups everywhere and my family is happy because they can keep a cup for more than 5 seconds before mom gets rid of it.
3) Morning Chores
We finally have a morning rhythm - and it feels great! Eat breakfast, clean up (unload the dishwasher it's ready to be emptied), get dressed, make beds. That's how it goes. Easy peasy and makes the mornings run smoothly. I also love having my room clean with all the beds made (the boy's are in our room in bunk beds right now). It starts my day out on the right foot without clutter and chaos...well, maybe still some chaos!
4) Smiley Face Chart
I've never really been a chart kind of girl but lately it's been nice to have a little reward for good, helpful, happy attitudes. So we started the Smiley Face Chart. They have to get 25 smiley faces and they get a treat. I have seen a huge difference in behavior since we started this. It started out with a lot of "mom, I helped Tyler up the stairs, can I get a smiley face?!" or "I said 'yes ma'am' can I get a smiley?" and it's moved into habits. I see them being kind and helpful to me and each other without expecting or even thinking about a smiley face. I try to keep them pretty even so they will get a treat at the same time. Tyler is also potty training right now so he gets one when he tinkles in the potty. For now, this is working for us and I love it!
5) Menu Planning
I have been doing this for a few years now and I still swear by it. The worst feeling in the world is looking at the clock and it's 4:00 and then staring into the fridge wondering what the heck to make for dinner. I spend less money and impulse dinner purchases ("honey, can you pick up a pizza on the way home?"), have less wasted leftovers that never get used, and the bonus is a happy mommy in the kitchen at dinner time! =)
Cheryl's kitchen secret: "Whatever Quesadillas" Once a week or so I take leftovers like beans, meat, rice, or whatever is in the fridge, saute some veggies that need to be used, add cheese and voila! Yummy quesadilla DINNER!. Come on, anything with cheese and salsa on a tortilla is a winner!
6) No dirty clothes piles
Seriously! Ok, maybe sometimes...
Disclaimer: I don't sort my laundry unless there's something new or really gross dirty and then I wash them separately. So if you are a laundry sorter...this isn't for you!
At the end of the day I make sure the washer is empty and my family take their dirty clothes from their bodies to the washer along with their bath towels, wash clothes, and whatever else needs a wash. I also throw my kitchen towels, cloth napkins from the day, etc. Sometimes it fills it up and sometimes it doesn't and I leave it until it's full. I never have piles of dirty clothes around. Piles of clean clothes is another problem that I'm working on. I hate putting laundry away but here's what's working for me now. When the dryer buzzes I fold the clothes as I pull them out of the dryer and put them in a laundry basket and put them all away when the basket is full...usually 2 or 3 loads. I hang up any nice clothes right away so I don't have to risk ironing! The boys put away their own clothes and one other stack. This is working so far. I'll keep you posted.
So, like I said...nothing earth shattering just a few things I've found that work for me. I like reading other mommy's tips so I hope you pick up something new that will work for your home!