1. Do not expect perfection. I have learned that no matter how much I want my house to look like a magazine picture it is not going to. You want to know why? I am not living alone, I have a family and little one does not care about magazine pictures. She cares about having toys easy to access and a home that is free for her to roam around. And guess what else my husband doesn't want a magazine picture home either. He lives here too and deserves to be able to have space to live in a comfortable way for him. So I clean my home regularly and pick up at the end of every day and that is all I can expect. Everything else is a waste of energy.
2. Paper plates. These things can be so handy. We don't eat on paper plates on a regular basis but on a day when I am tired, we are in a hurry and when we have lots of company, I bring out the paper plates. Such a simple thing can make a big difference. In fact in our home we decided that we would have Sunday morning breakfast on paper plates every week. This way we don't have a huge pile of dishes to do or not get done before church and to have welcome us home from church each week. I can't believe how much it helps.
3. I do not believe in extremes. It would be great if every meal were well balanced and filled with home grown foods that were only of the highest nutritional value, and if we all were clean and well groomed at every moment, if there was no laundry piled in my laundry room, and if I had a weeded garden, a storage room filled with home canned items and was my "ideal" weight. But newsflash: I can't maintain that kind of lifestyle. So I do my best to do a little bit of what I can and I try and avoid stressing over everything else. We eat the best we can, sometimes well balanced and sometimes it's a frozen pizza we baked ourselves (another wonderful invention in and of themselves I might add). I try and get a bit of exercise each day. I pull a weed or two when I have a minute and try and make my laundry pile invisible to company. I accept the fact that I am not doing everything I am "supposed" to do and try not to feel guilty.
4. This is the biggest thing. I posted about this when I first started blogging but I have a lot more people who read my blog now than back then so I am going to mention it again. I used to feel overwhelmed because there was so much to do it never seemed to end. I always felt like there was more to get done than time to do it and never any time for me. Then I decided that I needed to focus on only a few things each day (break down all that there was I wanted to do into days) and only worry about one day at a time. When I stared doing this I realized that there was an end in sight to all that "needed to be done" and that there was time for some of the things I wanted to do. Here is how I do it. I believe this can work in one way or another for everyone.
Monday: cleaning day. On this day I do my regular cleaning chores: dishes, vacuuming, picking up, dusting, and laundry (as many loads as I can do in one day and that sometimes is a lot but then I don't have to worry about it another day). If there is time I add in the bathrooms (though I hate cleaning bathrooms). When these things are done my list of "have too's" is done. As small fry gets older and I have another baby I know I will have to add to this list. Then I have time for doing some of my wants, or going outside to play or whatever. The biggest thing is that I try not to do any of these things again (except dishes which we do every day and I sometimes vacuum once on Fridays). The house is really dusty by the next week but oh well. When it is Friday and I see the dust I tell myself it will have to wait until Monday. Also I find that laundry will wait and usually the only reason we have to do laundry again is because we need clean underwear. So I try to have enough underwear for the whole family so that we can avoid this problem.
Tuesday: Food storage and organization day. On this day I bake bread, batches of muffins or cookies for the freezer or other large meals. I use this day to put things away where they belong, clean out shelves or cupboards. I try and update my food storage and refill containers. Some days there is lots to do and other days it doesn't feel like it but I try and just focus on these tasks and not let others carry over. Of course if we are leaving to go out of town or there is something that will consume another day I allow for things to spill over between days. If there is extra time then I do something that I have wanted to do or something to I rarely get to do.
Wednesday: Household projects day. On this day I do any big household (inside or out) projects that I wouldn't normally do on my cleaning day or other days. This includes things like mopping floors, cleaning windows, rearranging furniture and also includes garden stuff. As canning season rolls around I will use Tuesdays and Wednesdays to try and do some of that. I use this day for out of the ordinary projects. Bathrooms happen on this day sometimes and I have learned that a dirty bathroom can work just fine for a while.
Thursday: Craft days for me. Some days I feel like I get a lot done on these days and other days not so much. I spend a lot of time playing with small fry on these days but I try to allow myself time to do a project without thinking "oh there are so many things that I need to get done." I need time for myself because it helps me feel balanced. I don't do any cleaning (except dishes) on this day. It is totally for me and sometimes that only ends up truly being a couple of hours but they are so important for my sanity.
Friday: During the school year when my husband was working and coaching I left Friday open for anything because we often had a ball game to go to or had to go out of town. Now that we are home more I use Fridays to catch up; like if I missed something during the week or didn't get a whole day to do my normal routine. We have carpet in our kitchen (my nemesis) and so I often vacuum the kitchen again on Fridays cause it looks so gross. I can go outside on this day or finish up projects for the week. I am sure it will be filled with more as time goes on.
The weekend is free time. Everything else is done and remembering my first point of not expecting perfection I let things be as they are and try and enjoy whatever the weekend brings.
The keys to making this work are knowing how much you can do in a day, being realistic about what really needs to get done, not letting things spill over (it is better to just buckle down and do it and then it is finished) and knowing when to stop. I am sure some of you are thinking you have way too much to do to make this work but I am confident it can work for every family. You have to keep the other points in mind though and not overload your life with too many things. If nothing else now you know how I can find time to do what I do.