With a large family, there are many aspects of “keeping it together” that need to be maintained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. While I no longer insist that the entire house is in complete order as I once did before I had children, it is important to me to keep on top of the daily tasks and finances in order to keep our home and lives running as smoothly and as organized as possible! I’ve been asked on occasion if it’s possible to maintain an organized home with lots of kids. Honestly, some days don’t run as smoothly as I’d like, but for the most part, we all pitch in so that we all benefit from our team efforts.
Here’s how we manage to keep our heads on straight:
1– Stay on top of daily chores: Keeping on top of the never-ending laundry, the ongoing kitchen work with meal prep and clean up, keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked with the meals for the week ingredients as well as basic staples, paying the bills and keeping up with the checkbook register simply are musts. But do I do it all on my own? Of course not!
2– Delegate: In our home, our four older kids each have a list of jobs to do around the house that are clearly posted in the kitchen for all to read and refer to. Our older girls are required to take turns with dinner dishes and folding two large loads of laundry per day in addition to their homework. The middle set of twins are expected to keep their rooms in order as well as the upstairs loft which they all share to play games, computer work, homework and TV-watching.
3– Divide up tasks over several days: I try not to feel like it all has to be done everyday. I’ll spread the work out over a few days. For example, I’m content that the bathrooms get thorough cleanings (Mondays), vacuuming (Wednesdays), and dusting (Thursdays), which all get done once a week. The kitchen floor may not get completely mopped each day, but it requires sweeping and spot-washing several times a day.
4– Communicate/Post Schedules: As for the children’s after-school activities, as schedules seem to constantly change, we communicate daily as to who needs to be where and when. A large, erasable calendar has been recently posted for all to see showing Brandon’s baseball schedule, Erin’s dance and soccer schedule, and the two older girls’ dance team, drama club, social activities and other school club meeting dates. My 8-seater van shuttles everyone all over the place, but I also have a carpool arrangement with another family. Right now, I have four kids in three different schools, and it’s a real challenge making sure that everyone gets to and from their activities daily.
5– Be money-conscious: Since adjusting from two to one income, our family has really had to tighten our finances, which is no easy thing to do. We’ve consolidated some credit cards and are sticking to a very tight budget. Our motto is: if we don’t have the cash for it, we don’t buy it. I plan out the dinners for a week and stick to those ingredients so that I’m not tempted to buy lots of extras. I take advantage of sales, coupons and have gone to second-hand stores for kids clothing, etc. I believe that living this way is teaching our children to appreciate what we have and to respect the costs of daily life.
5– Take care of yourself: When the busy day full of home care and shuttling is over, find an outlet to relax. I actually exercise in the evenings, followed by a hot shower or relaxing bath. Some evenings I run out to meet a friend for coffee and dessert or a movie. I also love to go to movies all by myself, allowing myself to get immersed in a good love story or comedy. After having the chance to take a break, I’m a much happier wife and mom! 🙂
You know, people say to me all the time, “Fran, I don’t know how you do it!” And often I’ll answer, “Some days I do, and some days I don’t!” And that’s the truth … some days go as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, and other days seem to be fraught with a hundred little fires that need to be put out one by one, just like most families experience daily!
I think the best advice is to delegate and accept help, take care of yourself, and above all, don’t try to do it all on your own!