Sunday, January 06, 2008

Confessions of a Harried House Queen!

Laughably, I have of all things, a degree in Residential Design, and so you would think I am the ultimate in "house proud" with not a thing out of place and all of my knick knacks and decor in place without a spec of dust.

HA! I rarely dust and tell people it is o keep my antiques looking authentic; my idea of organizing the pantry is shoving everything in there and closing the door tight and folding laundry sometimes takes me weeks to get to! Every month or so I discover a whole new wardrobe!

Now, being married to a military man as I was, I knew I had a guy who thrived on structure and order and who would be happiest if that carried over into his home life. So, early in my marriage I discovered I would need some sort of simple system to keep me going since my natural proclivity was toward being a slob!

Then I must add I also had 3 kids in 4 years and lived in a mad cyclone of activity of volunteering for FRG, Church and PWOC. To add to that, like all other miltiary wives, I sent my husband off for TDY and field duty and to Korea twice for a year at a time and the first Gulf war so a system became my sanity!

For mothers with littles, it can seem impossible to get anything done while chasing tiny children through the house but I suggest you put that energy to work for you. Even the smallest hands can safely wipe down walls, cabinets and cupboards with mild safe cleaners (I have always used eco friendly cleaners and mixtures from vinegar and baking soda or bought ones).

Young children love to crawl into a tub with a sponge and baking soda to scrub it down then rinse it while being supervised by a mother who is cleaning the other fixtures. Sweeping with child size tools (found at wal-mart) is just as effective as a large broom. Chores not only teach children responsibility but also give them a sense of accomplishment and capability. Lastly it teaches a child that it takes work for a family to function and they need to participate in that.

Only work for 15 to 20 minutes in each room doing what needs done immedietly then move to another chore. Spending all day on one room should only happen on occasion. In order to keep things orderly allot enough time to do all basics during the morning and one large chore per week day.

A typical weekly schedule may look like this
8-8:30 Breakfast and dressed
8:30-8:50 straighten kitchen and dishes
8:50-9:10 wipe down bathroom
9:10-9:30 straighten main living area
9:30 - 9:50 run vaccum in main living area
9:50 - 10:10 break (take a few moments to sit)
10:10-10:30 get load of laundry in
10:30 to 10:50 straighten childrens room
1:00 to 1:30 strip sheets and wash
2:00 to 2:30 remake beds
1:00 to 1:30 Mop Kitchen floors
1:30 to 2:00 scrub toilets and bath floor

Continue this schedule allowing for one large chore per weekday and always do at least one load of laundry per day! I usually did 2.

The point is we don't need House Beautiful but order tends to make our spouses and our children feel more comfortable. Not to mention makes it easier to find things. Striving for a perfect home every day will wear you down but maintaining a neat orderly home can be done with a simple schedule and realistic expectations .

Other tips to save time and maintain order:

a weekly menu and shopping according to it will save about 30% on your shopping trips as well as time. Pos tit on the fridge so everyone knows what's for dinner!

Hanging clothes in teh closet aor folding them in drawers in outfits instead of pants, shirts etc saves time. A full outfit can be grabbed by a child without having to pull Mom out of the other room.

Buying snacks in bulk then packaging in baggies for quick snacks for small ahnds is always worth the effort. Celery, carrots and other veggies can last days in a baggie after being cut. Apples sprinkled with fruit fresh also last a few days. This prep can also be done during breakfast time ro worked into the daily schedule.

Too often as busy moms we forget to enjoy the most important thing in our day....our children! With my son now over 18 and my two girls in their teenage years I have realized how quickly that time goes by.
Try to find ways to spend every precious moment you can with them. You will never meet a mom who says I wish I would have worked more or cleaned more. They always tell you I wish I would have spent more time with my children!

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