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Work/Life Balance - How do you do it?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I’m sure there was a thread about balancing work and life but I thought I’d start a new one.

How you do balance work/home/kids/life and find time for yourself?

I work eight hours a day and get off work at 4:30pm.  I pick my 8 yr old up from the after school program she attends and we get home around 5pm.  My 8 yr old does her home work in the after school program so all I have to do is check it to make sure it’s done.

I go through the mail and take a few minutes to relax.  Then around 6pm I start making dinner.  Dinner usually takes me about half an hour to make so we usually eat dinner at 6:30pm.  After dinner I try to alternate spending time with the three most important people in my life, my two daughters and my SO.  One night I’ll play cards with my 8 yr old, the next night I’ll watch a Youtube video with my 15 yr old she wants me to see.  Then the next night I’ll watch a movie with my SO.  Some nights we'll spend all together, we’ll go fishing or watch TV together.

Then 8pm rolls around and it’s time for my 8 yr old to get ready for bed.  Thankfully by this age she’s old enough to take her own shower and get herself ready for bed.  We spend a few minutes reading and it’s lights out by 8:30 for her.  My 15 yr old spends time from 8-8:30 doing what she wants on her own, reading or talking to her friends, then at 8:30 she gets ready for bed and her bedtime is 9pm.

I usually take my shower at 8:30 or 9pm, then I’ll spend some alone time with my SO.  :)  Then I’ll read or watch TV for a little while longer then go to bed around 10:30pm or so.

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I run errands after work or on my lunch break.  I do the bulk of my grocery shopping every two weeks, so I only have to pick up a few items during the week if at all. I work out twice a week, one night a week and once on the weekend.

On Saturday mornings my girls and I clean the house. We split all the duties up so it only takes us about two hours to do everything.  My SO takes care of the yard work and trash.  Everyone is responsible for picking up after themselves and keeping their room clean during the week, so on the weekend the only stuff that really needs to be cleaned is the bathrooms and floors.

 

Saturday afternoon I take my girls to tennis and then drop them off at their father’s.  Saturday afternoon I relax.  I might run an errand, read a book or do some crafts.   Saturday evenings are date night for my SO and I.

Sunday morning I usually go work out and then in the afternoon I’ll take my girls to the library or the park.  And sometime during the weekend I'll find a couple of hours to do laundry.  My SO does his own laundry, and between my girls and I we average about three loads a week, so it usually doesn’t take that long to do.  I’ll watch TV or read with my 8 yr old while the loads are in the wash.

Sunday I usually cook a big dinner, stuff that I would not have time to cook during the week, and we’ll eat the leftovers on Monday.  Sunday night I’ll spend with my girls and then it's a new week all over again.

Life is busy, but thankfully my girls are old enough now that I don't have to do that much for them now.  They can get their own snacks if they're hungry, they can take their own showers without any help.  I just started teaching my 8 yr old how to wash her hair in the shower so I don't have to do that for her anymore.  Amazingly, I do have time to sew and do crafts, often I'll do them while watching TV with my girls.

The only thing I don't like is so many after school activities don't accomidate a working parent's schedule. They start at 3 or 4pm, and I don't get off from work until 4:30pm.  I have difficulty finding things for them to do that start a little later or are on the weekend. 

post #2 of 26

Could you go to work a little earlier, so you have some more time at night?  Some of my coworkers work 7-3:30 and then you could make 4:00 kid activities.  

 

It is so hard to find balance for me.  I have found that I tend to take the backseat.  

 

I work from 7:30 to 4 and then we all commute home together (45 minute ridiculous commute).  I usually take some time to nurse baby and do a little playing and then we have dinner around 7.  After dinner we clean up the kitchen and start getting lo ready for bed.  The kitchen cleanup sucks so much time.  We do about an hour of dished every night since we home-cook 3 meals a day.  The baby goes to bed around 8.  I have a cleaning schedule which we follow most of the time, so I usually do just a few chores at this time.  Unless I go to bed really early, I usually spend some time with my husband talking, reading or watching a movie.  Occasionally, I take a long bath and do some yoga or meditation.  

 

On weekends, we usually work on our farm/business, but at least we are all together.  We go to farmer's markets or events together to sell produce.  I spend Sunday's doing a lot of prepping, cooking and cleaning for the week ahead.  

 

I really am trying to wake up earlier and have some time to myself while everyone else is still sleeping, but I am too tired and lazy to get up before 5:30.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VEforlife View Post
 

Could you go to work a little earlier, so you have some more time at night?  Some of my coworkers work 7-3:30 and then you could make 4:00 kid activities.  

 

It is so hard to find balance for me.  I have found that I tend to take the backseat.  

 

I work from 7:30 to 4 and then we all commute home together (45 minute ridiculous commute).  I usually take some time to nurse baby and do a little playing and then we have dinner around 7.  After dinner we clean up the kitchen and start getting lo ready for bed.  The kitchen cleanup sucks so much time.  We do about an hour of dished every night since we home-cook 3 meals a day.  The baby goes to bed around 8.  I have a cleaning schedule which we follow most of the time, so I usually do just a few chores at this time.  Unless I go to bed really early, I usually spend some time with my husband talking, reading or watching a movie.  Occasionally, I take a long bath and do some yoga or meditation.  

 

On weekends, we usually work on our farm/business, but at least we are all together.  We go to farmer's markets or events together to sell produce.  I spend Sunday's doing a lot of prepping, cooking and cleaning for the week ahead.  

 

I really am trying to wake up earlier and have some time to myself while everyone else is still sleeping, but I am too tired and lazy to get up before 5:30.

 

That's a good idea about going into work earlier, but I'm afraid I couldn't do that.  I have a hard enough time getting up at 6am to make it to work at 8am.

That's as early as my body will allow me to get up.  I can take off a little earlier on some days and stay a little later on other days, so I could try that.

 

Your kitchen clean up time is insane!  Yikes!  Do you not have a dishwasher?  There are only three of you, right? and one of those is a baby?  How many dishes do ya'll use for dinner?  I know when I moved into an apartment that had a dishwasher that saved so much time.  Could you take turns with your DH?  How about using paper plates?  I know paper plates are wasteful, but sometimes you have to cut corners where you can. 

 

You mentioned taking a long bath, and that is one thing I made a habit of doing every Sunday night.  I'll burn some candles, read a book, and just relax for half an hour or so.  So helps my sanity!

 

Could you get up on Saturday or Sunday morning and take a few minutes to mediate?  Even if it's 15 minutes, it's better than nothing.  I try to get up the same time on the weekends even though I don't have to, just to keep my body in a routine.  Everyone else is still sleeping and I take that time to meditate or read, or I might even do a load of laundry.  Something about having a few things already done in the morning makes me feel so much better, I feel like I accomplished something.

post #4 of 26

Some things that are helpful in my balancing act:

 

I work on my job only at the office.  I never bring home work or read my work email from home.

 

My partner, who works from home, cooks dinner every weeknight so that we can eat as soon as I get home around 6:00.  This helps us to get our kid to bed on time.  I do weekend cooking and some ingredient prep late at night (when I'm not queasy with pregnancy...more convenience foods lately!).

 

I walk my kid to school every day and do his bedtime every night (except when an appointment interferes, only once or twice a month).  These are our special times together.  He and his dad have time together after school before I get home.

 

Instead of "working out" as a separate activity, we chose to live in a place where we can walk to lots of things, including public transit.  Every day I walk to my kid's school, from there to a bus stop, from another bus stop to work, and from work back to the bus stop; each of these is about 1/2 mile.  (Then usually I get off the bus just 2 blocks from home.)  If I go out to lunch or do any errand in the evening, that's another mile or two of walking.  I have great legs. :D My other daily fitness thing (except in early pregnancy, when it's too tiring) is sitting on an exercise ball at my desk at work--great for the abs and burns a few calories.  My partner gets a lot of his exercise at the playground!  He also built a gym in our hallway where we can hang from a bar, do a couple pullups, etc., as we go by.

 

I do laundry one load at a time, every couple nights; when I'm washing diapers again, it'll be every night.  My partner washes his and the kid's clothes and tries to get it done during the day so we're not competing for the machine.

 

My partner sorts the mail and puts my important mail in my inbox and the rest in my junk mail bin.  One night a week, I go through my inbox and pay bills, fill out school forms, etc.  Once a month the kid helps me go through the junk mail and salvage all useful stickers, notepaper, etc.  (I've been reducing the paper mail I get from charities by signing up for monthly donations and email newsletters, but because I donate to some things, the groups I do NOT donate to keep sending me stuff trying to lure me!)

 

VEforlife, have you tried washing dishes only every other day?  Before we had a dishwasher, I found that washing 2 days' dishes in one go took me about an hour, whereas washing 1 day's took 45 minutes=90 minutes per 2 days.  A surprising amount of the time was scrubbing out the sink, setting up, mopping up the drips afterward, etc.  Rinse and stack dishes after use so they don't stink or take up a lot of space.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

Becca,

those are some great ideas that I am going to have to steal!

 

I notice one thing take makes a big difference is having a supportive partner.

When I was married, I felt more like a single mom.

 

Now I live with my SO and things are definitely better.  He cooks a couple of nights a week and does all the yard work. 

post #6 of 26

Do you all have a written schedule for these things?  I'm not much inclined to follow a schedule, although I know that's what I need right now. 

 

I have a lot going on and something is always being let slide.  I said in another thread that my advice for how to survive is that I alternate what I focus on, so there's always something getting done, but unfortunately there's also always something that is not getting attention.

 

A PP said they were too lazy to get up before 5:30am.  I'm pretty sure that I should get a gold medal for how "lazy" I am sometimes but I'm also just so overwhelmed. Sometimes it seems that sleeping in is the only thing I can give myself.  But I think that having a regimented schedule might be like a gift to myself too since I could see it increasing family happiness. 

post #7 of 26

No advice. But I'm right there with you. Thankfully I'm self-employed and I work the hours and days I "want" to work so I have more time for my children. I go in after they are dropped at school and daycare and out before 2:00pm each day so I can pick them up and be with them all evening. I also work Saturdays for my job but it's also a few hours and I take my oldest with me there. I'm divorced so it's tough even though their dad does help out as much as he can.

post #8 of 26
I don't have an exact schedule so much as a to-do list. I make it on Sunday for the 7 days of the week plus a section for next week. I fold a paper in eighths and each day gets a box. I write in the things that have to be done every week and any scheduled events. Then as I think of more things to do during the week, I write them on the day when I expect to have time to do them. Sometimes I even write something on there after I did it, so I can check it off. innocent.gif. The next week I look at what didn't get done and give it priority in the new week.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca View Post

I don't have an exact schedule so much as a to-do list. I make it on Sunday for the 7 days of the week plus a section for next week. I fold a paper in eighths and each day gets a box. I write in the things that have to be done every week and any scheduled events. Then as I think of more things to do during the week, I write them on the day when I expect to have time to do them. Sometimes I even write something on there after I did it, so I can check it off. innocent.gif. The next week I look at what didn't get done and give it priority in the new week.

I do something similar but in an engagement book with lots of room on the sides for notes.

 

I do a menu and a plan for 'to do' items on Sunday as I look at what is coming up. I plan school lunches.  I plan workouts for the week, based on how early everyone needs to get out the door. I make a shopping list. I do the shopping Sun. night or Mon. evening. I plan cleaning for the week based on the overall picture. Many times I let cleaning slide if we are just too busy, keeping up just with bathrooms and kitchen and laundry, and letting everything else slide. 

 

I get to work from home on Wednesdays, which means I can keep the laundry moving, and if possible do a couple of other things, either cleaning or errands. I have been known to mop the kitchen floor during conference calls (on mute!) 

 

My kids have pretty full extracurricular lives, so there is a lot of driving to and fro; my dh and I are constantly comparing notes re: who is picking up whom, etc. We still manage to have dinnner together as a family at least 3-4 times a week.

 

Anything that does get done is due largely to the Flylady system, which advocates 'good enough' cleaning, and 15 minutes at a time, and baby steps.  

post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'll have to look up that Flylady system, Lauren, sounds like what I do.

I don't have an exact schedule either, but I do have certain days that I'll do something. For example - Tuesday or Wednesday evening I usually work out.

Saturday morning my girls and I have a list of household chores to do.

My 15 year old vacuums all the common areas and empties all the trash in the house
my 8 year old sweep the floors and patio and vacuums her room
I clean all the bathrooms and vacuum my room

Saturday afternoons I usually do a couple of loads of laundry, and I'll do another one sometime during the week.

But again, this is not a hard and fast schedule, if I don't get to work out Tuesday I'll do it on Wednesday, or Thursday . . . if for some reason we don't do the house cleaning on Saturday morning we'll do it on Sunday morning.

I work Monday - Friday 8-4:30 and I run errnads on my lunch break. My job is pretty flexible so I can take a two hour lunch break if I need to.

I go grocery shopping either on a Saturday or Sunday, and I get enough to last us for two weeks, so I don't have to do it except for every other weekend.

I limit my kids to one extracurrcular activity at a time so I'm not running them to twenty different things during the week.
My girls visit their dad every Saturday afternoon, so that gives me free time to do extra cleaning if need be, catch up on laundry, or spend some "me" time.

I also try to find ways to give myself a little break. I'll go out for lunch and do some window shopping, and I have a sort of "set" rule that I don't cook on Saturday night. Either we go out to eat or my SO cooks.
post #11 of 26
So maybe the key is that my kids have to get bigger before I am not overwhelmed? Does anyone have preschoolers or younger and still have a clean house? The only thing that seems to work is rotating toys and getting rid of extra clothes and stuff. If that happens then I can keep up with my own clutter and dishes better. But when one thing gets a little out of hand it's not long before the house is a complete disaster. What do you think? Do I just need to be more disciplined?

The emotional side of this is that the real answer may be to just not be so inept at household management. So I feel like the answer is... well, just be a Better mom, be a Better wife, be a Better person. And I just feel like I am failing!! The excuse or reason is that I do a lot- work, hang out with kids, classes, cleaning, maintaining friendships. So... that's why I'm here on this thread. Is it possible to make this work smoothly if you're not naturally a clean, organized, disciplined person?
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by salr View Post

So maybe the key is that my kids have to get bigger before I am not overwhelmed? Does anyone have preschoolers or younger and still have a clean house? The only thing that seems to work is rotating toys and getting rid of extra clothes and stuff. If that happens then I can keep up with my own clutter and dishes better. But when one thing gets a little out of hand it's not long before the house is a complete disaster. What do you think? Do I just need to be more disciplined?

Salr, I won’t lie to you. It does get easier the older your kids are. But there are things you can do now to make your life easier. Buy paper plates so you won’t have so many dishes to do, and getting rid of clutter will definitely help.
Maybe setting aside one or two hours a week on the weekend to catch up on housework would help.
I’m not sure how old your children are, but they can be taught to pick up after themselves. My daughter started making her bed up when she was 5. (Not very well mind you, but she took pride in doing it herself). I'm sure there are some age appropriate chores you could find for your children to do to help out. Are there things your husband can do to help as well?

Quote:
The emotional side of this is that the real answer may be to just not be so inept at household management. So I feel like the answer is... well, just be a Better mom, be a Better wife, be a Better person. And I just feel like I am failing!!

See that’s the problem. I encourage you to do to the opposite, stop being so hard on yourself, stop expecting perfection from yourself. I used to want my home to look like the cover of a magazine every day. I was pushing myself so hard, working full time, taking care of a toddler, picking up after a grown man, (exhusband now) I was making myself physically sick. My doctor told me I had to stop expecting so much of myself.

I aimed for good enough. The house was clean enough, I didn't cook dinner every night, and I didn't let myself feel guilty about it. It was hard for me at first to stop expecting perfection, I think I have a touch of OCD, I had to almost sit on my hand at times to keep from cleaning or straigtening up every little thing, but it's gotten easier over the years. And I realized when I finally starting taking care of myself, I was better able to take care of my children and other things.
post #13 of 26
Amber3902,

I have a 3 yr old and another that's less than a year. My husband is really good at doing things I specifically ask him to do (although we are similar in our lack of organization/discipline) but I haven't figured out what to tell him because I haven't had the time to sit and think about it. I'm on a big decluttering and cleaning binge. I hear you on the perfectionism. The thing is, my standards for cleanliness are naturally SO much lower than other people's. It manifests itself more as procrastination.

Has anyone made a really detailed schedule and then followed it? Like breaking down the day into half hour increments?
post #14 of 26

The Rule of One Thing and Three Things helped me a lot when my son was smaller.  It's a way of letting yourself off the hook when you have done "enough" and helping yourself to see what you DID get done.

 

Also, it was crucial for me to get to know other busy, dual-career families in my neighborhood and have occasional visits in their home that weren't special events for which they'd cleaned up--so that I could see how they really do live day-to-day.  Where I grew up, most families had a SAHM obsessed with housekeeping; most houses looked like something out of the Sears catalog.  My mom was a lot more relaxed (partly because of her back problems) and I often heard other moms and even my peers gossiping about her, as if less-than-perfect housekeeping meant she was a failure as a woman.  It really made an impression on me, and although I consciously think that attitude is dumb, at some level I expect to be judged by others if my house isn't perfect.  Seeing that other people--whom I know to be loving parents and fine citizens--are okay with mildew under the dish drainer, dust bunnies hanging off the ceiling fan, family underwear drying on a rack in the dining room, etc. etc., has helped me to forgive myself and relax more when people come into my home.

 

It also helps a lot to talk with other women who have male partners about who does what in their home and what they do when they feel like he isn't pulling his weight.  I've learned some great strategies that way!  It's very common for women to feel personally responsible for the home (even when we work outside the home more than the guy) and feel trapped by the idea that we oughta be grateful the man does any housework or childcare at all....

post #15 of 26
Thank you for mentioning the underwear on the drying rack. I've had that exact scene. That comment made my day.

Real life friends do help to know what's "normal." I find that even with close friends there can be perception differences. One family always seemed to come over right after I happened to clean. She was impressed! Lol. Luckily she's been over recently during messy times too. It's important to reach out especially when there's not a lot of extra time or energy. And also to have good friends who understand if you drop off the face of the planet for a couple months.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by salr View Post

Amber3902,

I have a 3 yr old and another that's less than a year. My husband is really good at doing things I specifically ask him to do (although we are similar in our lack of organization/discipline) but I haven't figured out what to tell him because I haven't had the time to sit and think about it. I'm on a big decluttering and cleaning binge. I hear you on the perfectionism. The thing is, my standards for cleanliness are naturally SO much lower than other people's. It manifests itself more as procrastination.

Has anyone made a really detailed schedule and then followed it? Like breaking down the day into half hour increments?

 

I’ve never done a really detailed schedule because that just doesn’t work for me.  I find if I’m scheduling things down to every half hour it’s too overwhelming for me.  Plus, life happens.  It’s hard to schedule every thing like that, because sometimes it may take the baby an hour to get to sleep whereas another day it only takes her 15 minutes.  Or dinner takes longer to cook than you thought it would.  Then I feel like a failure because my schedule didn't work.  I don't schedule too much so if something happens it's not a big deal and I don't feel like a failure.  (Back to not being so hard on yourself)

 

But you can certainly try a schedule and see if it helps motivate you since you say you have problems with procrastination.

Maybe now's the time to sit down and make a list.  Think about what needs to be done and what your husband can help with.

post #17 of 26

The only way I manage a balance is that I fortunately have a very understanding boss who lets me work Mon-Thurs, and an awesome DH who shares the home front work load.  I have three LO's four and under so all of our kids still need a lot of attention.  Our four year old is going to PreK so on Friday I bring the other two to day care and get all my errands and grocery shopping done.  I felt guilty for this at first but realized that getting these necessary things out of the way allows me to spend more focused time with them.  Another thing I do that I absolutely feel keeps me sane is that I cook 3-4 meals on Sunday and we just eat that through the week with maybe a sandwich/salad/pizza night sprinkled in.  I can not express how big of a help this is to our family.  We come home, pop home cooked food into the microwave, and we are done by 6pm including cleaning up the kitchen.  This gives me plenty of snuggle time until their bedtime at 8pm.  After that I spend about an hour or so just having me time.  I am also trying to give my four and two year old little chores like clearing their plates from the table and putting their clothes in the laundry hamper.  It's small but it really helps.  As far as house keeping our home is acceptable.  Is it as neat as we would like? Not by a long shot but I just let it go.  When I can get to it I get to it.  When it is clean it only stays that way for about a day anyway:eyesroll.

post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simonsez2u View Post
 

The only way I manage a balance is that I fortunately have a very understanding boss who lets me work Mon-Thurs, and an awesome DH who shares the home front work load.  I have three LO's four and under so all of our kids still need a lot of attention.  Our four year old is going to PreK so on Friday I bring the other two to day care and get all my errands and grocery shopping done.  I felt guilty for this at first but realized that getting these necessary things out of the way allows me to spend more focused time with them.  Another thing I do that I absolutely feel keeps me sane is that I cook 3-4 meals on Sunday and we just eat that through the week with maybe a sandwich/salad/pizza night sprinkled in.  I can not express how big of a help this is to our family.  We come home, pop home cooked food into the microwave, and we are done by 6pm including cleaning up the kitchen.  This gives me plenty of snuggle time until their bedtime at 8pm.  After that I spend about an hour or so just having me time.  I am also trying to give my four and two year old little chores like clearing their plates from the table and putting their clothes in the laundry hamper.  It's small but it really helps.  As far as house keeping our home is acceptable.  Is it as neat as we would like? Not by a long shot but I just let it go.  When I can get to it I get to it.  When it is clean it only stays that way for about a day anyway:eyesroll.


I bet you get your errands and grocery shopping done much faster than if you had to drag the kids along with you.  :)

 

I also try to cook a big meal on Sunday and then we have the leftovers on Monday or Tuesday.

 

Since starting this thread I've started to ask my SO to cook dinner more.  He works from home most of the time and is more than willing to do it.  I just never think to ask him, but this thread has reminded me I shouldn't be ashamed to ask for help.

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by amber3902 View Post
 


I bet you get your errands and grocery shopping done much faster than if you had to drag the kids along with you.  :)

 

I also try to cook a big meal on Sunday and then we have the leftovers on Monday or Tuesday.

 

Since starting this thread I've started to ask my SO to cook dinner more.  He works from home most of the time and is more than willing to do it.  I just never think to ask him, but this thread has reminded me I shouldn't be ashamed to ask for help.

It's funny (not really!) how many of us don't even think to ask for help! We just plow through trying to get everything done ourselves!! 

 

It really is perfectionism that is so hard to let go of. We have such high ideals for ourselves. Probably every one of us has a friend or relative that works and really DOES seem to manage it all effortlessly. I have a relative that used to make me feel crazy with how well she did. Well I finally asked her about it and found out she had a housekeeper coming in!!! Never expected it. 

 

So we have to be gentle with ourselves and decide what good enough home management is. I do find that I'm MORE organized in my regular work schedule. I can get 10 x more done in my regular style week. When I take a week off just to hang out and 'get things done' I am terribly unproductive! Something about thinking I have plenty of time! In my regular tight schedule I KNOW I don't have plenty of time so I can get some amazing things done in very short periods of time! 

post #20 of 26
Having a partner that helps is huge for sure. My DH does 90% of the cooking and 100% on weeknights. He does most of the parenting "stuff" with DD1 (bedtime, baths, etc.) and I do most of the twins' parenting "stuff", but we both pitch in as needed and ask each other for help as needed too. He also does all the vacuuming. I'm in charge of dishes and laundry. We tackle most of the rest of the house cleaning together. A few other things I do personally to keep the balance:
1. I pay bills at work, either when I get in early or take it out of my lunch hour. It's so much easier to do this task without kids bugging me smile.gif
2. I run errands at lunch and since I'm close to home I'll occasionally go home and get a few things done too.
3. I make a lot of calls at work, especially anything I have to sit on hold for, I'll just work while on hold and it takes only 5 minutes at most to do the actual call.
4. I check work e-mail at home briefly, I know some are very anti-this, but for me it lets me start thinking about work stuff so I'm already up-to-speed by the time I get in in the morning.
5. I eat breakfast at work. I have to eat, but eating at home is a huge hassle if I want anything more than a piece of string cheese, so I just eat at work.
6. I try to get things done the night before that I can that have to be done before work. That way I'm not rushed in the morning and I can either deal with a mini-crisis (need to change spit-up soaked shirt, baby just peed through her clothes, etc.) or get something extra done or just have a moment to myself without being late to work.
7. I do at least a few loads of laundry during the week so I don't have a mountain on the weekends. I try to keep the weekday stuff to things that don't care if they get folded immediately (or at least I don't care smile.gif ) - towels, some clothing, etc.
8. We pay someone to mow our lawn and to do a spring/fall cleanup of the flower beds, the amount of time this saves is well worth the $$ for us.

As far as keeping a clean house with younger kids, it definitely helps the older they get as my almost-4-year-old can actually help quite a bit with picking up toys and even some basic cleaning stuff. I try to get the sink cleared out every night before I go to bed, I'm not always successful, but just that really helps to keep the house feeling cleaner. I also try and spread out cleaning over the week and then have some solid chunks of time on the weekend. Also, decluttering was a huge thing we did over a 2 year period that really made our house so much more manageable to clean. Everything has a place and we mostly keep it put away so that when it comes time to clean I don't have to dig myself out first. This sounds simple, but it isn't always easy and takes some time, but so so worth it. It will also make your house seem so much bigger when you are done because you end up with so much more usable space. That's not to say that our house is perfect really ever (maybe the 10 minutes before we have company it is close!), I don't mind a lived in house as long as it is reasonably clean. I don't cry about a few crumbs on the floor and some toys out and whatnot, but I try to keep the house fairly well picked up on a daily basis because if I don't it can get out of control fast.
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