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What are some routines, strategies, short cuts, etc.. that have made it easier to work full-time and maintain a calm and happy home?
 

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1. Set menu<br><br>
A two-week set menu, with wiggle room for variations. It means a set basic grocery list, requires very little thinking, and means that DH (who can cook, but doesn't like to plan meals) can just look to see what's on the menu for today and make it.<br><br>
2. Laundry bags<br><br>
We sewed six laundry bags out of plain fabric, wrote the type of laundry on them (whites, colours, delicates, etc.) and hung them on hooks on the wall. Dirty clothes go straight in, and when a bag starts to get full, it's ready to go straight downstairs into the washing machine.<br><br>
3. Cleaning service<br><br>
We haven't done this yet, but I think hiring someone to clean the house at least once or twice a month is a really good idea for two-working-parent families who can afford it.
 

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Ditto the set menu, but to add to that, a crock pot and a bread maker. I can come home to soup and fresh bread that's ready to go.<br><br>
Humour. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Decluttering helps the most in terms of the house - just not as much stuff to deal with on a daily basis.
 

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You've gotten some great ideas.<br><br>
If you're overwhelmed with chores, delegate or outsource. If you feel guilty about doing chores or errands with DC around, don't - involve them, they are learning from that too.<br><br>
Make family time sacred. In our house we eat a family dinner every night DH is home. Weekend breakfasts are family meals too and we make an effort to do things together on the weekends.<br><br>
Get your house clean and then just maintain. Keep a microfibre cleaning cloth, a spray bottle of half vinegar/half water and a shaker of baking soda under every sink. Spray down your counters as soon as they look a little grungy.<br><br>
Share cooking. My goal is to have DH do two weeknights, I do two weeknights, Fridays we go out, and Saturdays and Sundays we cook together. Doesn't always work out but when it does it really de-stresses the week. Pack up leftovers in individual portions so they can be taken for lunches.
 

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Definitely meal plan. Get your house in order (decluttering, etc) and then just maintain. I used to clean once a week but now I do it as needed and it seems to be clean more often. Same with laundry.
 

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You have gotten great tips. I will add this one: Don't assume you would be less stressed/the house would be cleaner/everyone would be happy if you stayed home or worked less. I know for me, the house looks *worse* and I am *more tired* when I am home for any length of time.
 

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organizing your and your child's clothes for the week before the work week starts.<br><br>
elimiate or greatly reduce clutter in the house.
 

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Outsource, automate or eliminate the stuff that no one wants to do. For us, this means all our bills are on autopayment and we have the money management automated as much as we can through quicken, e-mail alerts, and autopay. It also means that we've hired someone for basic lawn maintenence -- shoveling and grass cutting. It just doesn't make sense to have either of us stressing out about it and nagging one another to get it done.
 

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Get a Roomba.<br><br>
Seriously... I feel so silly recommending this! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> I've said it several times on MDC now, that people must think I'm associated with the company! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> But I'm not...<br><br>
I just find that little robot to be SO COOL!!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy">:
 

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We made things easier today by deciding to stay home instead of going out to a birthday party. I feel a little bad about not going, OTOH the little girl and DS don't really know each other, it was more of we were invited because the mom and DH know each other and we have gotten the kids together a few times.<br><br>
It was getting to be time to leave for the party and I realized I just couldn't deal with it. An hour drive, a stop at a toy store to get a gift, a 2-hour party, a herd of loud rambunctious 5-year-olds, making small talk with other parents I don't know and will probably never see again, getting both lunch and dinner out at restaurants, and coming back home this evening to my cluttered house with the overflowing sink and overflowing laundry baskets and empty cupboards/fridge. And a good $60-70 poorer after the gas, gift, meals, and other incidentals that always seem to come up when we're out running around with the kids. I won't necessarily get the dishes/laundry/grocery shopping done instead, but at least I'll have had some time to hang around not doing much at all.<br><br>
After reflecting on this, I'm planning to be more consciously protective of my weekend time. I really, really need it.<br><br>
I also agree with PPs about hiring out lawn care and household cleaning. We have done this off and on and find it very helpful.
 

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Yeah to all that, but if you're on a tight budget and can't afford a cleaning service or lawncare company, you could hire a neighbor kid/teenager. A friend of mine has had very good luck getting her 13-year-old neighbor to dust and vacuum once per week. Her house isn't cleaning service perfect, but for $30/week, it's a lot cheaper and better than doing it herself! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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I ditto the menu. We set the week's dinners on Sunday evening and create a shopping list from the ingredients needed, then grocery store on Monday.<br><br>
Also we have a list on the fridge everyday with two sections<br><br>
1) Things that NEED to be done today<br>
2) Things that SHOULD be done today<br><br>
Then as my DH and I do things on the list we mark them off. As long as we get the NEED part of the list done, the house is pretty okay. Since we all help with the list it makes it less stressful.<br><br>
Also our big guy cleans his own room with the help of a list. If he does everything on the list his room is pretty presentable. He also made his own signs to remind him where things go.
 

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Meal plan! Good lordy, this has saved our family's sanity. DH works full time and I go to school full time, so there's no time to 'throw something together' and we ended up eating out a couple of times a week! Now, there's a plan.<br><br>
Also, feed your freezer. Things like taco meat, pot pies, casseroles, lasagnas, etc. etc. Easy stuff that you literally take from freezer to oven. That way when you come home and don't even feel like boiling water, you can take it and just pop it in the oven. (The meal planning section in Nutrition is chock full of awesome recipes, FYI)<br><br>
Another thing I've noticed is that I have to do things AS SOON as I get home or else they won't get done. As soon as I walk through the door, I spend about 15-20 minutes catching up for the day. After that, I rest and relax for the rest of the night and stuff is still done. Cleaning as you go helps a ton, too. Do dishes after dinner, put laundry away as soon as it's folded, clean up spills/messes as soon as they happen.<br><br>
Have a to-do list in a prominent, easy-to-see place. Most of my 'to do' is on days I don't have school, so I make up a list throughout the week and them bam-wam get it done on an off day. My list is on the wall between the kitchen and livingroom... I see it ten times a day and it constantly reminds me.<br><br>
Take a break! Designate one night (or even a full off day!) where you relax. See if you can find a babysitter for DC. Either go out if you can afford it, or go rent a movie and make popcorn. Take a bath, read a book. Don't stress about the home for one day... trust me, it's not going anywhere. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
So, those are my tips! It was really rough going back to school but now things have settled down and I have my system. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>heggie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12366878"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Yeah to all that, but if you're on a tight budget and can't afford a cleaning service or lawncare company, you could hire a neighbor kid/teenager.</div>
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Totally...we have always hired neighborhood kids. They're not always reliable but it's still been helpful, and darn cheap.
 

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Get enough sleep. Easier said than done, I know. But it's important to take care of yourself.
 

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I second that emotion on the meal planning, and boy howdy!<br><br>
Ready for a serious geek-out? I made a grocery list in excel with a header for each aisle-- Produce Section, Organics section, Aisle 2: baking, Aisle 3: Mexican/ Asian/ Pasta, Aisle 13: Frozen, etc.<br><br>
I filled one list in with every common item I could think of that we buy from each aisle, and printed it out along with about a zillion copies of a blank version.<br><br>
On the back I have a meal plan for myself to fill out-- dinners, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and stuff I have to make ahead (bread, soups, etc.) That helps me map out easy/ leftover meals for nights we know we have stuff going on after work, etc.<br><br>
Each week I sit down with DH and we decide what we're having for dinner and work backwards from there (leftovers = lunches, etc) until the meal plan is done.<br><br>
I fill in my blank grocery list according to what we're having and consult the "pantry" list to double check supplies of ketchup, toothpaste, etc-- stuff that falls outside of the "ingredients" category... the stuff I always forget.<br><br>
Then we shop. I can make it from one side of the store to the other in record time-- even WITH my 3 year old in tow-- and know I have everything I need because I've already thought through the whole trip before I even got there.<br><br>
And when 5:00 rolls around we just look at our list and get to work. It's a one-time prep commitment (and some abuse of the workplace copier) to get the list going, but I'm telling you, it makes grocery shopping and meal prep so much less daunting.<br><br>
Great tips on this thread! Good luck!
 

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Best advice I ever got was- "When DD is all grown up, you won't ever feel guilty about letting the laundry pile up or rug get dirty, but you will feel guilty about doing that instead of spending time with her". It's soo TRUE! When I get home from work tired, and then squeeze in dinner, dishes cleanup, family time, bath, book, and finally bed there are MANY times my house gets trashed along the way. But I've learned that I'd rather have a messy house than skip our time together, KWIM?<br><br>
Don't kill yourself trying to be Ms. Perfect! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Awesome thread!<br><br>
It's been said in almost every post, but meal planning is an amazing help.<br><br>
Also, sleep. Make the time to make sure your body gets sleep---if the clothes pile up or the dust stays a day or two long. I know when I don't get enough sleep, everything goes down hill pretty dang quick---work, home, personal, parenting, everything. If you have grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone who will hang with your kids for you to make sure you are getting sleep (even just on a Sunday afternoon nap)---take them up on it!!!! When your kiddos are older, you can return that favor to someone else in need.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>rivkah</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12379469"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Lately, we have been giving ds and dd more responsibility. Even little chores, like sorting laundry, help.</div>
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We do this, too. I try to match it with her interests. I.e., if she is going to obsess over the dog's food and water bowl, it's her job to fill it. Also, she likes moving wet clothes to the dryer for some reason. Oh, and we took one of the poles out of the Swiffer, so she has her own appropriately sized tool to chase down the dust bunnies.
 
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