“Cleaning up around children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos”
Yesterday was my first day officially back at work after an 8 month maternity “holiday”. I am very fortunate to work from home as a freelance writer (and blogger), but like all mums, regardless of our work situation, managing the day to day tasks can feel like a never ending uphill struggle.
Research last year found that mothers have 42 daily chores that are continuous, in other words they NEVER END!
Its little wonder that I feel my biggest enemy in life is time itself, it always seems to be against me. Can I win this war on time?
The problem is that when I am struggling up stream I am not feeling happy. I end up exhausted, frustrated and sometimes even angry. Cleaning up after little people that really couldn’t care less is a thankless task. So unless I decide to give it all up and live in squalor (some days I feel like I already do), then I need to find a way to deal with it better.
I have thought long and hard about the things I could improve on and scoured the internet for the top tips to share with you here today.
Following these tips won’t make you happy, only you can do that. They may though give you just five minutes peace which can sometimes be as blissful as a spa day to a busy mum.
We all know women are brilliant at multitasking; I probably subconsciously multitask most of the day; singing nursery rhymes while washing up, cooking the dinner while preparing tomorrow’s lunch boxes, feeding the baby while… doing absolutely everything else. There may be some tricks you are missing though, here are a few that I don’t do that I will start from tomorrow.
- Brush your teeth in shower
- Put a dustpan at top of stairs so you can brush as your coming down
- Clean the bathroom while the kids are in the bath
- As you walk out of a room pick up two items (one for each hand) and put it away
- Text while on the loo
(OK you got me; I do the last one already!)
Get the children involved
I always seem to be TRYING to get the kids involved in tasks but it generally just involves me barking orders at them. Once upon a time before I actually had kids I remember thinking that I would make tedious chores like cleaning up into a game, I was convinced my kids would love it. 6 years on and my eldest grew tired of these “games” long ago so I gave up.
As I am feeling enthusiastic again though I have done my research and found new ways to get the kids on side again, with minimal barking (hopefully)
- Give each child their own area of responsibility. This means you can clearly see who is helping and who is slacking. It is also a great lesson for kids to take responsibility and a small manageable area is a great way to do that.
- Make a chore chart (or download one here). This is a pretty obvious one and yet I have never done it before. I always thought my kids were too young, I think the 8 month old might struggle a little but I am sure the 3 and 6 year old are ready now. We’ll see. I will keep you updated.
This is my biggest downfall, it was never my strongest point when I only had myself to organise, now I have 3 children and a husband (who thank goodness is quite self-sufficient) and a house to run, I have no hope. Let’s see if these tips will help me to help myself.
- Get everything ready the night before, I do this sometimes but I am not consistent. When I am being good I put the kids clothes on hangers in their reach and sometimes, if they are awake before me, they get dressed on their own (this is rare but exciting when it happens).
- Put the keys and wallet in the same place every time you come in. This may sound simple but I waste so much of my time looking for keys, I once found them in the fridge! We keep them in a basket but it’s so full of other stuff, half the time I can’t even see what’s in it and waste time getting everything in and out. I need a hook on the wall.
- Shop online. I do this but I am sharing because it’s possibly the biggest time saver of all. Not only do I save the time getting to and from the shop but the kids love it when the delivery comes and instead of dealing with tantruming toddlers in the supermarket I get excited squeals when the van pulls up.
- Plan and prepare meals in advance. I do plan my meals but I don’t do a lot of preparation before the evening. Today though I half cooked most of the dinner just before the school run so it was quick to finish after. Another fabulous time saving cooking tip is the slow cooker! There are some great slow cooker recipes here.
- Make a plan and stick to it. I tend to get side tracked so this is a big one for me. Before the kids I was a lot more able to focus but it seems that everyone and everything needs my attention. As a mother there always has to be room for flexibility but if I want to get more organised with time then I need to be more consistent in following my own plan.
The most effective way to save time…
Put. My. Phone. Down.
The problem with having the world wide web in your pocket is that world is so big. There is always something to find out or check on the internet and always people trying to get hold of you. It wasn’t that long ago that if I wanted to check my emails or Facebook I would turn on my computer to log on. Now you know instantly when someone has liked or commented on your networks. I try to reply straight away if I can, rationalising that it would be rude not to. The problem is that other people don’t necessarily expect an instant response; I put that expectation on myself. All those little moments checking and responding to notifications must amount to hours at the end of the wee
My new phone strategy is simple. Put. It. Down.
I will respond to emails, Facebook and Twitter at set times that I plan into my day. This will stop it being a continuous task. After all with 42 jobs that us mothers do throughout the day why would I want to add more?
Another way to deal with all this of course is just to laugh at yourself . Check out this really funny parody of Adele’s Hello by awesome mum vlogger Life Suckers. She always has a hilarious way of representing the busy mum life and reminds us to laugh at ourselves.
Do you have any time slaying tips? Please share your wisdom, I need it!
Image 1 sourced from Flickr
Image 2 sourced from Flickr