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I can totally relate. I have managed to work on a few routines over the years but it’s still a struggle. I had been at home with kids for at least 10 years before I realized that I was making every single decision about what to do next each time I cleaned up the kitchen because I wanted to do it efficiently. Once I realized that if I follow the same script each night — leftovers away; clean dishes away; put all the dirty dishes by the sink; load the dishwasher/wash the dishes; wipe counters; sweep — even if it’s not the most efficient way, it’s not so overwhelming because I don’t have to decide what to do next. I still struggle with remembering to start the routine but once I do that, I’m on autopilot. I’ve also tried to develop rules for myself like I don’t take laundry out of the dryer unless I’m folding it directly into a laundry basket. That way, I don’t confuse the dirty and clean laundry and people can find clean clothes more easily. I also have a ton of laundry baskets. I’ve seen the advice to just have one or two baskets, but for me, I end up with piles of laundry, so instead I have at least two in each bedroom, and I keep them nested so that when one is full, I pick up the top basket and leave an empty basket behind, so dirty clothes don’t end up piled on the floor if it takes me a few days to get the clean laundry basket back in the room.
I looked at flylady a long time ago and while there was some good advice in it, I personally found it overwhelming. I really like the blog A Slob Comes Clean, I feel like she gets the overwhelm and temptation to write up a whole new, completely comprehensive system that I’m never going to be able to actually follow through on so then I do nothing.
We moved a few times in the last year and getting rid of stuff has helped tremendously. While I keep extra clothes squirreled away in bins, it helps me a lot to just have a few outfits per kid in the drawers and do all the kids’ laundry together every day or two. Then, it’s never overwhelming, and I *have* to remember to do it or they run out of clothes. We have a big bookcase by the door for shoes and all the shoes go there. That way, they’re off the floor so they aren’t cluttering the space up, and everyone knows where to put shoes away and where to look for them. Zero thought needed.
As for writing lists and then forgetting to look at them, I totally get that too. I now have multiple spots and ways of writing lists (paper planner, wall calendar, small notebook in my bag, keep list on my phone, digital calendar on my phone/computer) so I don’t have to go searching for my one list when I think of something, and I consolidate them when I think about it. I also set reminders on my phone to look at them. I also send out an email to my family (ie, the people who live in my home) weekly, usually Sat or Sun or early Mon, with a quick run down of what the week looks like, plus I keep a running list of upcoming holidays, appointments, etc. at the end of the email. That forces me to sit down and look at all the different places I’m keeping info so I can share it with them. We also sit down on Sunday evening to go over our calendar for the week, so that usually helps me remember to send out the weekly email ahead of that. That kind of accountability helps me. This is also something that has taken me years to work out.
Is there a spot for homework? I find a bin for each kid helps. I use a sweater bin, they’re usually big enough for a binder and they have lids so you can stack them easily. I have to purge them regularly but I find that easier than having to keep a pile tidy every day.