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December 22, 2014

Practical Tips for Managing Your Home, Your Kids, and Your Mess

Greetings from the CEO of this household...that would be me! I am a wife to a man who works long hours...a mama to two little boys who wake up really early...and a relative to family members who live out of state. Successfully managing a home can definitely be tricky...especially when I'm on my own most of the time...but through a whole lot of trial and error, I have found some practical [budget-friendly] ways to help our home run smoothly!

As we continue through different seasons of life, there will be needed adjustments in the way we so things, but for now, here is a little glimpse in to what is currently working for us!

Home

Organizing Childcare:
We do not have any family in the area, so childcare is tricky for us! When you are the only people in "your village", you have to get very creative. When we just had our oldest, we did a lot of swapping! 
I did a babysitting swap...I did a cleaning swap....These were the perfect way to go! When my second little guy came along, this got a tad more complicated....not impossible, but complicated; So we started using Mommy's Helpers: young girls who would help me with my little ones while I worked on household tasks such as putting away laundry, starting dinner, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. These girls have even helped me tackle my kids at the pool - which with my boys being so close in age, this has been a huge help! Their help has continued to work great for us, and my kids have formed great relationships with a couple of really sweet girls!

For times when David and I both need to leave the house (meetings, date nights, etc.), we use a babysitter. During the first year after having our oldest, we did not do this. It was as if we kept waiting for help to fall out of sky, but we eventually realized that this was going to be up to us, so I started praying (yes, praying) for a couple of babysitter options. (We are incredibly picky...and we make no apologies for that.) Over the course of the coming months, we reconnected with a couple of different people who ended up being the perfect fit. Now when we need someone, we have options! We are able to take date nights and do things that we need to do!

If you have little ones and you have never taken a date night...or time for yourself...or time away to get things done without the kids with you...I would highly recommend it. There are ways to accomplish this for yourself without having to pay a lot of money. In fact, the swapping idea is totally free!

Managing the Mess:
As I mentioned above, a cleaning swap is a great idea...and totally free! I love the idea, and I may - at some point - go back to that approach; but this past summer, we decided to start using a service who came highly recommended. A full-time mom hiring a cleaning service? Uh, yes! We use them on an as-needed basis. We keep up the day-to-day chores, weekly tasks, etc. (even including our little ones in the chores)...
..and then we use the cleaning crew to do top-to-bottom deep clean every once in awhile. Ladies, if you are able to set aside a little extra money to make this happen, don't you dare feel a bit guilty about doing some delegating - In this stage of life, it has been a great, great option for our family!
We found a great option for our vehicles as well!



Overwhelmed by all of your stuff? Check out this tips for purging your home:

Purging closets can be completely overwhelming, but these tips will make all the difference!


Keeping the Kitchen Up and Running:
Grilling is my favorite thing to do! Our weather allows for us to do it a good bit, and during the winter months, I miss it! It's just so easy to throw our main protein (and sometimes our veggies, too) on the grill and not have extra dishes to clean up in the kitchen!

How to Keep Your Kitchen Countertops Clear

We also love making pizzas on the grill:
For indoor grilling, using our Presto Griddle is the ticket....When it comes to making breakfast, I'm able to use it for the bacon...the eggs...and the pancakes. It is wonderful to not have all the extra pans, etc. to clean!

2 Easy Steps to Maintaining a Tidy Kitchen

While we're chatting about dishes, let's talk paper products! In our house, we use a lot of paper plates - especially on the weekends. I would much rather spend time hanging out with my crew than cleaning up my kitchen. Thank you Sam's Club for supporting us in this! P.S. I cook in disposable foil pans alot, too - You can find a great deal on those at your local Sam's Club as well.

I am a big fan of Freezer Meals!

Doubling meals and using the frozen extra as needed saves us on those crazy nights...you know the nights I'm talking about - so I have just a few stress-free tips for making this possible. 


After coming home from the store and putting our groceries away, I try to prepare all of our fruits and veggies for the week ahead...As a result, there are Tupperware containers of various snacks, etc. that have been washed and prepared and can simply be pulled out and used as needed. Anytime I fail to do this, I regret it.

A couple of other food-related ideas....Place your frozen chicken in a gallon-size bag...or down in a baking dish...or straight down in your Crock Pot...and let it marinate/cook with nothing but an entire bottle of Italian dressing...complete perfection. Use this perfectly juicy chicken for a few different meals throughout the week...or for your freezer meals.

Sometimes life gets so busy that even doing this is a stretch, so try one of those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. While it's still warm, pull off your favorite meat and add it to whatever chicken dish you are making. It can make for a nice change of pace every once in awhile.

Ahhh...the best invention ever known to man: Crock Pot Liners! No more scrubbing your Crock Pot. It's a beautiful thing! Next time you're at Target, grab a box...or have them shipped to you from Amazon. (Psst....Target usually has a better price.) Either way...make it happen for yourself. You'll be glad you did!

Speaking of not having to clean things...do you use a food cover when you're warming things up in your microwave? If you don't have one, also grab one of those while you're at Target!

A few years ago, I saw this idea on Pinterest, and it has made all the difference in our kitchen!
Lay approximately five trash bags in the bottom of each trash can. 
Each time you take out the trash, you have a new garbage bag laying below ready to go! You wouldn't think this would save much time, but it really does!

For another great kitchen organization tip, check out $.88 Organization


Taming the Laundry:
Monday is typically my biggest laundry day! I try to set aside Mondays as our heaviest Homeschool Pre-school Day as well as the day when we help the house recover from the weekend. 

From time to time, I find it necessary to add a couple of extra loads in during the week - in addition to laundry day...maybe for towels...or bedding...or pajamas (My kids spend alot of time in pajamas!). Doing this helps me keep from getting overwhelmed. I have also had hubby take his laundry back over...for now. When we got married, he told me that he would always be happy to do his own laundry...After we got married, I was happy to help him in this way...After we had children, this is one of the areas we have to work as a team...or Mama loses her mind. (My husband wears a lot of undershirts...Ladies, can I get a witness?) For his work clothes, we like to watch out for Dry-cleaning Groupons. Using these helps to make dry-cleaning a little more affordable...especially when we take his dress shirts to the cleaners. Our local drycleaners charges lots to do the dress pants, but the shirts aren't so bad.

Disclaimer: Some of the options that I've mentioned did not fall out of the sky! We felt that our family needed a little bit of support, so there was a lot of praying going on, a lot of phone calls being made, a lot of "Googling" happening, a lot of asking around....talking with friends...asking for recommendations, etc. and if you are in a stage when you feel your family life could benefit from a few creative ideas, I would love to chat more!


I would also recommend this book by Sally Clarkson & Sarah Mae! 



This book revolutionized my thinking on how I wanted to manage my home...It took me from guilt to looking outside of myself for support and help!


So often, I think we are tempted to live in isolation...without even realizing it, we are attempting to tackle all of the day-to-day frustrations by ourselves. We think we can do it all, but can I encourage you with something today? 

You were never meant to walk through your days alone.