Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Working Smarter

I'm all for working smarter, not harder. As Keepers of our Homes, this may seem like an oxymoron to some. How can all that work that needs to be done in a day not be hard? Well, to be honest, sometimes it is. But that is why I like to come up with creative shortcuts that save me on stress, even though the work amount essentially stays the same. SMARTER, not HARDER.

This notion was the driving force behind coming up with my kitchen method. I did not like the stress of that hour before dinnertime. So, I found a different way that equalled less stress for me. It may not be perfect, and we may not sit down to the finest gourmet meal every night, but we still eat a healthy, from-scratch dinner every night.

Here are some other little adjustments I've made that allow me to work smarter:

1. When I fold the laundry every day, I pull out the kids pajamas and leave them on the dresser in my bedroom. At bedtime, all I have to do is grab them from my bedroom instead of digging through each child's drawer.

2. We do not have laundry baskets. Our washing machine is our laundry basket. When clothes come off at the end of the day, or anytime during the day when they get dirty, they get thrown in the washing machine. Once the machine is full, I add soap, close the lid, and wash. The kids have all been trained to put their dirty clothes there, or on the floor directly in front of the washing machine if the lid is down.

3. When the dishwasher gets emptied every day, whether by myself (with Alex and Olivia helping) or by Isabelle, two sippy cups and one bottle go straight from the dishwasher to the refrigerator where they are filled with milk for before bed. The kids just grab their milk themselves when it is time for prayers.

4. I am constantly training the children in chores so that I can, someday, work myself out of a job. They all know how to make their beds every morning, and even Olivia is becoming so adept at it that she hardly needs my help anymore. They are also responsible for picking up all their toys and getting their bedroom and the family room back into proper order at least twice a day. They bring their dirty dishes into the kitchen whenever they are done with them. They are all fantastic dusters. Isabelle is becoming such a good cleaner (you should see the work she does on sinks, it is impressive!) that Eric even gave her an Employee of the Month award from our commercial cleaning business.

5. I vacuum at least once, although usually twice, a day. This is NOT because I am a neat freak, but because it frees me up from having to constantly monitor Gracie while she plays on the floor. She, like Alex and Olivia, tends to put everything (and I mean everything) she finds on the floor in her mouth, be it a dead spider, a crayon wrapper, or breakfast crumbs. When I don't vacuum promptly, I always have to give her more attention than she needs when she is on the floor playing to make sure she is not putting stuff in her mouth.

Those are some of the biggies for me. There are definitely lots of areas where I am always looking to streamline more, and I always welcome suggestions. Some of my trouble areas include: folding laundry and getting it put away (I loathe this job and would love to find a way to make it simpler. I am starting to get the kids more involved, so this may not be an issue much longer.), washing dishes, getting the refrigerator cleaned out of leftovers, and keeping schoolwork from overflowing in Isabelle's school cabinet. So who has hints for me? Please share!

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Carlie Faulk 10:23 PM  

Love the idea for throwing the clothes inteh washer!

I will say it all gets easier as they get older - assuming you are training from when they are small. We have a large family and everyone is expected to help out. Like you - I'm trying to work myself out of a job one day! lol.

Christy 11:18 PM  

Great time saving ideas! thanks!! As for folding laundry and putting it away...I dump it on the couch as it comes out of the dryer and I'll usually put my kids to work on it!!! Once that get older it is SO helpful!! and my kids each have jobs to clean the kitchen each night. I just started my kids doing all this a couple of years ago...they were 12, 8 and 6 then. It sounds like your kids are already great helpers so you'll have ALOT of help soon!!

Niki 10:18 PM  

Great post!

A friend of mine scans her kids' artwork and well-done school work and puts the printouts into a scrapbook for each child.

As far as leftovers go, we usually try and incorporate leftovers into lunch. On Fridays (the day before I head to the grocery store) I look through the pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what we have on-hand as I menu plan for the upcoming week AND make my grocery list. This just also happens to be a great time to toss any yucky leftovers out.

Hope these are helpful!


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I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

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