We all have periods where things out of our control make daily existence overwhelming. Has it been two days since you’ve showered? Laundry piled as high as your ears? Kitchen look like a bomb went off?
Welcome to being in survival mode! We have all been there. Whether you are on bedrest, just brought home your first baby, or are sleep training your third baby by night, and with a whole bunch of hyper toddlers by day (me, right now)…
Here are a few ideas to make your survival mode a little more survivable (I hope).
First, I think, attitude really helps. Don’t let “judge-y” people make you feel bad, NO ONE always has it all together… and if they did, they’d be pretty boring people to know, right??! Although sometimes you must lower your expectations, there are also days when you need to just put your big girl panties on and get it done.
Try to remember this is temporary. Be thankful for the good stuff, there’s always a silver lining. Celebrate every success. Finally doing that load of towels, is totally worthy of a kitchen dance party!
Secondly, as a mom there’s a few key areas that are musts (unless you’re on bedrest, in that case, they’re still musts, but get other people to do these things)
Food, Floors, Kitchen, Laundry, and Bathrooms.
Food, move to a very simple food rotation, plan every meal and snack for a week and repeat. (I have one, if you e mail me, I can send it to you). Also, no one ever died having pb and jelly, carrot sticks and a banana for dessert for lunch for 2 months straight….. just saying…. 2nd tip, if you have some available time to cook, cook double or triple batches – you have already pulled out the ingredients and the dishes are already dirty. When doing this, focus on making healthy meals that freeze well (chili, shepherd’s pie, or whole wheat pasta dishes). Drink loads of water. Don’t overdo coffee, avoid sugar all together, you don’t need that afternoon slump.
To keep floors reasonable, plan to pick up everything off the floor twice a day. Put things in baskets, things always seem neater when they’re in baskets. If it takes more than 10 minutes… you have too much stuff. Box some stuff, and get rid of it!! (or save it for less stressful times) Then, give the toddlers some cloths and play “wipe the floors”… drag out the vacuum and leave the vacuum in an accessible place. Trying to sweep after each meal is a good goal to keep the kitchen reasonable. If you’ve got a larger sized home, block off areas if they’re hard to keep clean from little people.
To get the kitchen back into reasonable shape, set a timer for 5 mins, and do as much as you can in that time. Do this as many times as it takes. You’d be surprised how fast it goes. This also counts as your workout for the day! It also really helps to get everything off the kitchen table after each meal, and be diligent with filling and emptying the dishwasher… this machine is truly a blessing.
Laundry can pile up fast with kids… especially if you’re in the zone of potty training and spit up. If you’re really behind, get all your little helpers to help you collect it all early early early in the morning. Set LOUD timers to stay on top of switching loads immediately when they’re done. Take each basket into the playroom, sit down and teach your 2 year olds (and older) to fold, while you fold the load. Put your last load in by 3pm and aim to put it away by 4pm. To stay on top of it, put a load in first thing every morning, or a few more, depending on your family size. If you’re on bedrest, or just beyond overwhelmed, don’t fold. Sort the clean clothes into baskets for each member of your family, and they can rummage. If you’re struggling in this area, I would put away any excess clothing… the more you have, the more you have to manage.
Bathrooms can be done in little bits. Every time you “go”, clean something (mirror, sink, top of tub, inside of tub, floor, toilet tank, empty trash, etc). It will take you 1 minute, and it will at least remain a dull roar of a mess. I also teach my littles to wipe the sink after they wash their hands, this is a huge help.
My last tip is to practice a morning routine, I get up, do contacts, floss, brush teeth, deodorant, get dressed and extras as time allows. But I at least do the basics, so that if I have to leave or if someone comes over I am not freaking out. I have at times also picked out 3 outfits that work for me. I made the outfits my uniform, rotate and repeat.
FYI These tips are not coming from someone who knows it all, they’re coming from someone who’s learning what as she goes…. and making lots of mistakes too.
And a bunch of these ideas have come from one the most useful books ever, Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman, unfortunately the book is out of print though.