“The point of keeping a home is not to be perfectionist or neurotic about cleanliness and order but to create a life of balance that brings joy to your world and those around you…. Find out for yourself what the most confounding things in your own world are, and come up with a workable schedule, with solutions that suit your own hours and days.” An excerpt from “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.
Well here we are, almost ten years into marriage and military life and with four kids, ages five and below. I’m not sure that’s something I ever anticipated saying, and I certainly can’t say I was prepared! But many of the best things in life aren’t things we necessarily planned for, and that’s part of the beauty of it all. I have to admit that 2016 was pretty much a blur. But now that Lilah is no longer in the womb and is four months old and we’re past the pregnancy + those very sleepy and unpredictable newborn days, I’ve been focusing on getting back to some good homemaking habits that help me to keep up with this wonderfully blessed and busy life we live.
By the way, I borrowed the title of this post from a great chapter out of Desperate, a FANTASTIC book for moms that I quoted from above, because it’s so true; housework is truly a beast that needs to be tamed! Here are a handful of my own methods that I’ve been working on lately.
ONE | THE DISHES. I run a load of dishes every night right after dinner, and then put those dishes away after the kids go to bed so that I’m not trying to do it during the morning rush.
TWO | KIDS-FREE KITCHEN. Since we’re already talking about the kitchen, I’ll mention the gate. We have a tiny kitchen with only one doorway leading in and out, and I keep a gate nearby that we sometimes employ to make it a child-free zone. This does wonders for avoiding mommy-melt downs. Obviously it doesn’t work for every house, especially if you have an open floor plan…. But, if find yourself in a tiny kitchen with little people following you into it all day long and basically making it impossible to think, much less accomplish anything while you’re in there- put up a gate!
THREE | SCHOOL OUTFITS + SCHOOL LUNCH PREP. I’ve gotten into the habit of making sure all of the kids’ laundry is done on the weekends (more about their laundry below), and I also put together at least a few outfits for Asher to wear to school so that during the week I’m not realizing at the last minute that he’s out of clean pants! At the rate that he grows out of them, he never seems to have enough pants. Then, I lay his outfit out each night so that it’s ready for him first thing in the morning. It’s similar with his lunches. If all goes according to plan, they get packed every day when I’m making lunch for the two little boys who are at home with me. There’s nothing worse than getting to 8 or 9pm and realizing that the kids are finally in bed and I’m totally exhausted and I still have a lunch to pack.
FOUR | SIMPLIFIED LAUNDRY ROUTINES. I could do an entire post on just this topic. Thanks to some advice from a mom-friend of seven very little ones, I gave up folding our kids clothes months ago and have not looked back! I moved a dresser next to the washer and dryer, and each child gets their own laundry bin that clean clothes go into. No folding, no carrying upstairs to put away.
FIVE | KIDS CHORES. We’re just entering the stage where we have a couple of kids old enough to truly help with some of the housework, and I’m pretty excited about it! Asher (5) and Silas (3) get to help wipe down the table and sweep the floor every night after dinner. It gives them something constructive to do before they start beating up on Thane for the rest of the evening.
SIX | LYSOL WIPES. Does this one really need an explanation? Hahaha! I never bought disposable wipes like this until the last couple of years, but I’m not going to feel bad about it. This is just a season of life where they make things so much easier! I keep one pack stashed in the kitchen and in every bathroom for quick clean ups.
SEVEN | NAP TIME DINNER PREP. The last thing I really feel like doing while two- sometimes even all three- of the kids are sleeping is working on dinner….but, I’ve learned the hard way that if I can, I’d better. Because that chunk of time between Asher getting home from school and Thane getting home from work is madness. All four kids are up and full of energy and making dinner just isn’t going to get made without crying, fighting, and total mayhem. I’m working on getting better at planning meals a week ahead and also on doing more make-ahead freezer meals, but, you know, that requires planning, time, and for the grocery store to actually have all the items you need in stock (which just doesn’t happen often in Germany).
EIGHT | DIAPERS STASHED EVERYWHERE. Between pull-ups, size 5, and size 3 diapers, we are practically drowning in diapers and wipes. I have them stashed in the living room, in the kids bathroom, and in Finn’s room. And Thane is still regularly yelling at me, asking me where are the diapers?! Hahaha, sigh.
NINE | THE DONATION BAG. Clutter is not our friend! I have a big bag I keep in the basement that I work on filling with clothes and items we no longer need. Once the bag is full, I donate it.
TEN | JESUS. Most important of all, I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a bible in a handy spot so that every morning when I sit down with my cup of coffee, I can pick it up and read a little. Because- though chores are necessary- life isn’t really about what gets done and what doesn’t….it’s about living for the glory of the One who created us! And we need His guidance every single day. Even if it’s just one verse, it helps! We have to remember that what we’re ultimately working for is His kingdom, not our own.
That’s it for now!
And I always, always, always love hearing tips from other moms on how to make motherhood just a little bit easier, so please comment if you have any!
P.S. Everything I listed above helps, but no matter how much I clean our house is pretty much totally disheveled all the time….and, I’m choosing to be okay with it. Because look at that little Finny! He and the rest of them are worth the mess.
THE PHOTOS: 1) This little sliver of counter space (to the right of the sink) is the spot where our papers, mail, and everything that needs to be filed away but doesn’t get filed away is piled up and I’d finally had enough and cleaned it off one day. That’s why the photo was taken, to commemorate it’s five minutes of tidiness. 2) Who else keeps a picture of a 12 layer dessert on their fridge? You know, to remind you of what not to eat. 2) These brushes are so nice for dish washing, I hardly ever use sponges anymore! And they are super cheap in German grocery stores. 3) In case you were wondering what a European toilet looks like.