"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." —Phyllis Diller
Before my daughter was born, I always considered myself an organized person. My house was always clean, and my life ran like clockwork. I enjoyed planning meals and cooking. My spare time was spent decorating and doing crafts. When Sydney was born, something happened to me. Not only did becoming a mother give me the greatest joy ever imaginable, but I think it snatched a few brain cells, too. Having the responsibility to take care of another human being's life took away my ability to organize my own.
I have to admit, I had some pretty demented preconceived notions about what it would be like to be a stay-at-home mom. I was going to be the modern version of June Cleaver. My husband would always come home to a clean house and a piping-hot, home-cooked meal. My floors would sparkle and my decor would rival Martha Stewart's. Ha! Boy, did I have it wrong.
What I didn't realize is that staying at home tends to create more housework, not less. One of the reasons our home was always clean before Sydney was born is we were never there. It isn't hard to have an organized homelife while you're working full-time and eating out regularly. Add a baby and a stay-at-home mom to that equation, and you get a continually growing mountain of laundry, toys that need to be picked up, and no time for yourself (much less decorating).
Being a parent can make even the best of us feel a little chaotic, and having the housework reach that out-of-control point can make this feeling even worse. Although organizing your household may take more effort with kids, it can still be done. Here are a few tips to help busy moms get a very basic grip on the household duties:
- Keep a family calendar. Write down every appointment or event that your family must attend. If you have a large family, you may want to consider using a different color for each person. Keep the calendar in plain sight (we keep ours on the refrigerator).
- Schedule your tasks. Make a list of every daily, weekly, and monthly housekeeping task you must do. Start with basics like laundry, grocery shopping, dusting, etc., and you'll think of more to add later. Come up with a schedule to get them done:
Monday-laundry, Tuesday-dusting, etc. This should keep you from forgetting what you need to get done and also give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Keep a to-do list. This list has all the little tasks that aren't on your schedule. It may include things like fixing a leaky faucet, making a birthday card for Grandma, or giving the dog a bath. We like to compile our family's list at the beginning of the week. Sometimes we add things to the list that we've done just so that we can cross them off!
- Have a 15-minute pick-up time. I must admit, we implemented this mostly for my husband. I was getting tired of nagging him to pick up his dirty clothes off the floor, and he was getting tired of me nagging him to do it. Now before going to bed, we spend 15 minutes picking up odds and ends around the house that accumulate during the day (sorting mail, putting away newspapers, picking up clothes, etc.). This works out well for both of us and prevents a lot of arguments.
While I do admit I'm not as organized as I was in my pre-baby days, being a parent has definitely changed my life for the better. It has taught me patience, flexibility, and spontaneity like nothing else ever could. While my floors may not always be clean, and "cereal night" has become a frequent occurrence in our household, I get to enjoy watching my daughter grow. And that is the reason I decided to stay home in the first place.