Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding an ounce of hope in "SURVIVAL MODE" :)

Are you too living in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)?!  Our messy house has just been driving me bonkers lately, so I thought I'd post about IDEAS to maintain the home while in the midst of raising all these little people!  This is NOT a post about how to have your home always clean and straightened!  Oh boy, that seems completely out of our realm of possibility right now and just not worth it... our kids would have to be watching TV all day every day for that to happen :). Children are the world's best mess makers, and it's super tricky to find some sanity through the ongoing cleaning saga.  I never intend to overwhelm you with my big lists :)... I just hope to share with your my research and then let one or two ideas INSPIRE YOU!  Here are some SOLUTIONS that I've learned from other mothers, books, and also from researching online:

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON:  When raising lots of littles I think it's unrealistic to expect  your house to be usually clean and straightened.  Sometimes I scan the mess and think "This is proof my children are learning!"  But we have to have a certain level of cleanliness to physically and mentally function.  Some seasons of life like when pregnant, with babies, preschoolers, or when really stressed or busy with things - you just never feel like you can ever keep up.  Other seasons get a little more manageable. 

BOND AS A FAMILY WHILE DOING THE MUNDANE:  One of my favorite family life college courses was one where my beloved professor taught - we have family work so we can bond as a family.  Even though the work of maintaining a home can typically drive us totally nutty, notice the values of working together.  Try enjoying a little more laughing, connecting, and teaching as you clean together!

ONE LOAD A DAY:  We're not there yet.  But, doesn't it sound great to throw in one load of laundry each day and actually put it away (that's the hardest part for us).  I know this would help a ton if we just did it.

"IF YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO CLEAN IT NOW, YOU PROBABLY WON'T HAVE TIME TO CLEAN IT LATER":  My mother-in law learned this phrase when she was so busy raising 6 children close together!  Learning to take a minute to clean up a mess as it happens really helped her - getting in the habit of quickly rinsing off dirty dishes or cleaning trays or spills from lunch. I'm just not quite there yet in my survival mode life, but it already has been inspiring to help me make little improvements.

SOCKS & SHOES BY THE DOOR: We've started to store socks and shoes in a box right by the front door.  It has been so helpful!! 

ONLY EAT IN HIGHCHAIR/TABLE:  My mother-in-law also learned to be consistent about only feeding her children snacks and meals at the table or in highchairs. Oh man, I know this would help me.  Also, my sister in law with twin boys changes their diapers in one designated spot.

DAILY ZONES: I've tried the trick of assigning each day to a different "zone" of the house or a particular task like the kitchen floor, the computer area, the bathroom...  I tried this twice and both times it only lasted for one week :).  But maybe it would work for you and your current season.

SOMETIMES, JUST FORGET IT:  Since being in a much smaller place now that's not really livable, many days I just say "whatever!" and we leave the messes and go play - the zoo, the library, the bookstore... just anywhere but home :).  I think I really could be cleaning and organizing 24/7 and still feel like I can't keep up with the house, the laundry, the dishes....  I really thrive in a home of order and cleanliness, but at the same time I also want to enjoy the moments and create memories! 

HIRE A CLEANING LADY :) Ok, we are not anywhere near this possibility yet!  But, I do know some moms who hire a maid to come in like once a month... to do some deep cleaning.  All these mothers strongly value the importance of teaching their kids to work and clean super hard too!  Even with some help, there is always TONS of cleaning that needs to be done.  I just think it's brilliant (if ever possible) to get some help with your tasks to gain more sanity and invest more TIME elsewhere.  

Here are some cool FLYLADY.NET ideas.  Go to the website to learn more! 
  1. SHINE THE SINK:  Flylady recommends to get all the dishes cleaned and put away each night. In the morning a shiny sink is there to greet you!  This doesn't always happen in our house, and you know, it will be okay.  It's a great idea though.
  2. DAILY DE-CLUTTER for 15 MINUTES:  Set the timer, and go to work!  Maybe you could even reward yourself when the buzzer goes off.
Pottery Barn Wall Organizers... maybe someday :)  For now
we use diaper boxes and $1 plastic bins from Walmart!
HAVE A PLACE for CALENDAR, KEYS, PHONES, CHARGERS, "RETURNS", "TO BE FILED", BINS FOR EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY, etc:    Look at your "Hot Spots" - where all your junk tends to collect - and observe what organizers you need.  Having a spot to throw found items for each person has been so helpful!  I also took our old huge white board, drew a monthly calendar outline with a fine sharpie and wrote "To Do" and "To Buy."  It has been a life saver - along with a paper monthly calendar too.  I now have near the door a box for "return" items.  We've all got lots of papers/bills and such so finding a system for that can be great like a "to be filed" place.

cute idea

JOB CHARTS: Kids need something tangible - a list with circles to fill in or a print out of pictures for little ones to cross out.  Many moms don't allow their kids to play with friends (or do something fun as a family) on Saturday until their jobs are done.  With just my little toddlers, I just focus on trying to MAKE IT FUN...

MAKE CLEANING WITH CHILDREN FUN:  Go to to create a free, fun compilation of favorite songs to blast while cleaning!  Talk and laugh as you clean.  Label toy containers with pictures of what goes in each one, so your children can better put things away.  Once I created a "cleaning tool kit" for Brayden where he had his own set of cleaning gloves, a plastic tool for scraping junk off floors, a scrub brush with his name on it, his own sponges, ... it's amazing how excited younger ones can get when you give them ownership and make it fun!

TRAIN YOUR KIDS TO CLEAN:  click here to read a post about"THE PARENTING BREAKTHROUGH" by Merrilee Boyack.  I totally recommend her book to help you know how to train them to work and also to be independent.  She has in the book this awesome list of what each age should be able to do!

*I hope there's maybe ONE IDEA here that sparks your interest.  Good luck!!  You're welcome to share what has worked for you in all your cleaning craziness.


  1. Oh man, great ideas, Mindy! The one that really struck me was doing one load of laundry a day and then putting it away. That made is sound so manageable ha ha. Once I'm not so sick with my pregnancy, I'm totally going to try that idea :)

  2. I have fond memories of washing the dishes with my dad. I would dry and he would wash. What a great time for conversation and one on one time. When my siblings got older then it was us kids. I think having the kids help is great!! My parents taught me well, and I'm finally starting to listen! And now my four and a half year old helps dry the dishes while I wash, with my monitoring of course, no glass items. ;-). I enjoy our chats as we gaze out at the setting sun and she stacks the dry dishes in elaborate structures.


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