Wednesday, November 4, 2009

But it's so hard to make things easy.

At preschool pick-up today, one of the moms was congratulating me on the pregnancy. She already has three kids and so I asked her, as I have been asking many moms lately, if she had any advice for me on managing three. She said she had received one piece of advice that was invaluable: "Never let a day go by . . . " I'm going to stop there and note that I was nervous that she was going to end the statement with something like ". . . without telling your kids you love them"--a sentiment I totally agree with and all but not the kind of practical wisdom I was seeking.

Instead, she said, "Never let a day go by without doing at least one load of laundry." Now, that's pretty sweet advice, considering that I waste time each day finding clean/semi-matching socks for the boys, clean pants for myself (even harder when pregnant), clean washcloths for bath time, a onesie to go under Little Bit's footie pajamas, and a decent top and bottom combo for Bub to wear to school. And then there's hubby with his pesky news bulletins like "Honey, I only have two pair of underwear left." For some reason I tend to save the laundry until there's almost nothing to wear. Then, I attack the huge mound and start sorting and end up with about seven or eight loads worth. That's silly.

My life would be easier if I tried to do one load of laundry a day.

I've brainstormed a list of other things I could do that would make my life easier.

My life would be easier if I . . .

. . . put the little potty into storage.
Bub does all his bathroom business on his own these days, and I am no longer abreast of all his movements. Literally. He pees into the regular potty but prefers the little plastic one for number two. That's all fine except that he fills without emptying. And, since he does it all on his own,* I don't realize that there's been poop resting in potty until I open the bathroom door and almost pass out from the stench. I know he can use the real toilet for all his needs so I should just put the little potty into storage. But what would I use to sit on (lid down) during bath time?

. . . ran the dishwasher every night before bed.
I prefer to delay running it until I can fill every last nook, cranny, and crevice.

. . . emptied the dishwasher first thing every morning.
Then, I sometimes wait to unload it until there are so many dishes waiting in the sink that they practically fill the newly-emptied dishwasher.

. . . were stronger about removing toys that threaten my sanity.
After two or so days of picking up 300+ MegaBlocks multiple times a day, I get a little testy. I tell myself, "Tonight, when the boys are in bed, I will re-hide the MegaBlocks." Then I forget about it until the big box gets dumped all over first thing in the morning. The tunnel thing that takes up the entire living room when unfurled creates a similar state of irritation and chaos that I often fail to troubleshoot effectively. These toys are good for one or two days at a time. Then Mama needs a break.

. . . took some time over the weekend to plan my meals and grocery shopping for the following week.

. . . kept a typed piece of paper in my purse that lists ingredients for the dishes in our weeknight rotation of family favorites.

. . . developed a weeknight rotation of family favorite dishes.

. . . emptied the recycling every evening.
If I did that then Little Bit would not spend a good portion of each day scattering items from the bin--junk mail, wine bottles, pop cans, newspapers--all around the house. Had I emptied the recycling last night though, Little Bit would not have been able to entertain himself with an empty (but, unfortunately, unrinsed) gallon of milk for over thirty minutes.

. . . graded 5-10 papers each day instead of saving all 42 for the night before they absolutely need to be returned to my students (which, in my mind, is before their next assignment is due so they can "learn" from the feedback from the previous paper).
My failure/procrastination in this area is just as frustrating now as it was in the late nineties when I had 80-something papers to grade at a time.

How am I doing?
I have a load of laundry in now.
All the dishes are in the dishwasher, but it's not nearly full so I can't bear to run it.
The tunnel and MegaBlocks are both currently in hiding. The Diego puzzle may join them if I remember.
I graded two papers this afternoon.

You know where this is headed . . . what could you do to make your life easier? Or, even better, what do you do, NTB, that makes your life easier? Please share in the comments.

*You may be thinking, "But, MEP, shouldn't you be wiping him?" No lie, it's a clean break every time. Kind of amazing, NTB.


CaraBee said...

Those are all excellent suggestions! You should write a parenting book called "My Life Would be Easier If..."

I should throw out/recycle the catalogs I get before they clutter up things. I am NOT going to order anything from Company Kids or LL Bean Kids or Home Decorators, but I save the catalogs to review later. Just in case. And then they sit on the dining table for a week or five until something happens, visitors or something, and I finally just recycle them.

E... said...

I have this folder system that is working slightly right now. I went from trying to have one big organizing location (ie a file cabinet or big accordian file) to different school folders for each area of my life that accumulates paper clutter. (O's school, Moms Club, Bills to Be Paid, etc.) I keep the folders in my cookbook cabinet so I don't have to look at them all the time. It's working, probably b/c it's new.
Also, do you remember a scene in Yokota Officers Club where the mom straps six different bags to her belt, and moves through the house putting things that don't belong in that room in the bag for the room it DOES belong in? I don't actually do the bags, but I do have a sweep/sort system a couple of times a week. Cuts down on the number of bath toys in the family room, for example.
I also just devoted a junk drawer solely to little stuff that belongs to the kids that doesn't really have a home yet, maybe needs to be thrown out, but probably I will get in trouble if I do. These things are no longer all over my kitchen counter.
I am pretty much always doing laundry. That means there is always some waiting to go in the dryer, folded, and put away, but at least there is always something clean.

LAP said...

My life would be easier if...

I put up a baby gate by the steps. I follow and/or remove the 10 month old from the steps a minimum of 20 times a day.

I had a bin on the steps for everyone's crap. I've thought of getting cute little bins with a label on the side for each person's name (yes, me and BB included). Anything from socks, "upstairs toys", clean clothes could all go into the bin and off of my family room floor.

I had a babysitter for a few hours a week. What's your problem I only work 10 hours a week...lots of people work FULL time. Yes, but they don't do it with three non-napping kids within arms reach or at 11pm each night. I might even talk to my husband in the evening if I wasn't always at the computer. (Don't interpret this as whining though, I do like to work just not the circumstances in which I do it.)

Clothes put themselves away. I am fine with doing laundry, I just hate the putting away part.

msh said...

my life would be easier if i aimed to leave the house 15 minutes before i actually aim to leave the house. i'm not a big yeller, yet i find myself yelling at my kids because "WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE! HURRY! HURRY!!!!!" and whose fault is that? mine. for example, i should be leaving the house in about 20 minutes, yet i am on my computer instead of getting ready. but if i was aiming 15 minutes earlier, i'd forgo the computer to get ready to perhaps meet a deadline and perhaps not yell at my kids, scaring both them and me.

Amy said...

My life would be easier if we picked things up (i.e., toys, books, etc.) every night instead of waiting until cleaning day and then making it more difficult. Also, if my family would eat the same thing so I didn't have to cook two or sometimes three different meals so everyone gets something they like and will eat.

elb said...

I truely loved this post. I found a little confort in knowing that I'm not alone in the boat. I too think of ways that I could reduce the chaos in my house. As a working mom and wife, I find it very hard to stay organized. I often print out recipes from the web and try to plan the next week of dinner meals. I even sometimes make a list. However, everytime I head to the grocery store the list seems to have vanished. Further, I can't remember any of the ingredients that go into the fabulous new recipes I printed so I end up buying the same things every time I go to the store....and don't even get me started on the laundry. I've even attempted to do a load a day but then I forget it in the washer and then have to re-wash the clothes sometimes two times before I remember to put them in the dryer before they smell musty. I aspire to be an organized put together mom but sometimes I just have to realize that I'm just not cut out for it. Sorry, I couldn't provide helpful stories but at least know that I admire you for trying. Please continue to share any ideas. I need them too!

Sue and Randy said...

On the meals the dollar bin at Michaels right now they have these very cool magnetic note pads that have the days of the week on one side and the other side is for the grocery list. We do meal plan most of the time, but I always forget what we talked about--so now I can actually remember! I am loving these note pads! Probably the most excited I have been about a $1 item, ever!

Anonymous said...

ahh....i was wondering about the wiping and thinking we were seriously behind over here. Okay, so I do laundry everyday. I usually even fold it the same day. But.....I'm a slacker about putting it away. It would be so much easier if I would just put it away. Doesn't take that long if it's only one or two loads, but takes something like 30 minutes if I let it pile up. I should seriously consider hiding the matchbox cars....never get played with, but they love to dump it out for me to clean up later. rita

cake said...

i am so jealous that Bub goes all on his own. even if it is in the little potty. and he leaves it. we've had some serious regression issues with "number two" to the point where i might go totally insane. but. i can comfort myself with the fact that i have, and will only ever have, ONE child.

Sara said...

They are all good ideas, MEP. The one that really hit home was the daily grading of papers. While my intentions of that were there, it just was hard to implement.

What I did instead was stack my papers in 5s, and after I made it through, I'd give myself a little break (check email, make a phone call, etc.). Also, I'd time myself per paper--just to keep me going (although sometimes it just frustrated me that I didn't get paid enough for the overtime, you know?).

Oh, and put away that potty. We did, and we're much happier...

Anonymous said...

Once you implement you will love feeling like you have some control over every day things. If you recall, I usually did at least 2 loads of laundry each day. (much easier when laundry room is on same floor) When kids are involved in more activities, I kept a notebook on the counter with a list of everything that needed to happen and everywhere everyone needed to be at what time. There is a certain satisfaction in crossing things off. m

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