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Ideas for having more time

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Okay, I am looking for some ideas for saving some time at home...some ideas I have thought about

1. hiring someone to clean my house ( but I really have trouble spending money on something I am capable of doing)

2. Outsourcing some part of my teaching, joining a cc group, paying for some sort of art, music lessons,etc

3. Using paper plates so I don't have so many dishes ( this one is pathetic, I know)


Okay that is about as far as I got but I am wondering if anyone has had success finding ways to save some time. My dc ask me to play family games, do science experiments and art projects and make homemade applesauce, or some other time consuming and messy activity and I always feel like I have too much other stuff to do. I really want to do those things with the kids...


Thank you any ideas

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I agree with your attitude on getting someone to clean the house. My dh is always encouraging me to do this, but I can't bring myself to (not just the cost, but I'm so uncomfortable being in my house when someone is cleaning it).


But could you get your children to help you more? For example, suggest that before everybody plays a family game together, everybody folds the laundry together (or dusts the living room, or empties the garbage cans). Add some fun music, and the task can actually be pleasant, especially if they're working together.


It takes longer initially, but I'm slowly teaching my son (5) to do more chores, and I can see the time savings in the long run. Not to mention that it's good for children to learn how to take care of themselves when they grow up. And sometimes my son even tells me "that was fun" when he finishes. (Okay, it doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, it makes me smile.)

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At my kids' ages now (10 and 11), they are doing some of their work completely on their own. While they are working on math (if they are not needing help), I can load the dishwasher or clean counters, etc. The kids have specific chores to do, such as vacuuming and cleaning their bathroom, taking out the trash and unloading the dishwasher. Now that they've been doing these for a while, they are pretty proficient at it and saves me time. I did get a science program this year that is on computer, so the kids can basically do this on their own, too, and it requires no prep on my part. However, I am usually sitting in on the lesson with them because I can't seem to stay away. When I finally went to a curriculum that was well-planned out for me, this was the biggest time saver of all. I don't out source classes that I can do at home. But, I have no problem with my kids going to art or sports or music classes as long as it fits in the budget and they enjoy it. However, I do keep this to a minimum (one thing per child at a time and preferable at the same facility) in order to keep from complicating life and spending too much time driving all over town.

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Our kids are nearly all grown, but when they were young like yours, we did use paper plates when we could. Breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. Sometimes cleaning the kitchen was just.too.much.


I also learned that scheduling even one or two fun things a week (and actually doing them) was more fun for the kids than just talking always talking about how much fun it would be if we could do....whatever. We'd go through spells where we played games as a family in the evening. Or we'd cook something fun with the kids once or twice a week. Evidently they don't realize those things didn't all happen at the same time. They think we played games EVERY night, and baked together EVERY day and did elaborate craft projects EVERY week.


In a few short years your kids will be old enough to really take on some of your duties and it'll be way different. Hang on- the ride is wild right now but it'll slow down before you know it.

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Can you spread out your grocery shopping more? I used to go weekly but now I can go every other week with good planning and a well stocked freezer/pantry. It saves me at least 4 hours a month which is a good amount of time for some of those extra projects

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Thank you so much, each of these responses is really helpful. I just finished making lunch (it's 8am) but while I was getting dh lunch packed for him, thought I would at least get lunch made. I also realized that yes, I could skip the store this Sat, I did a huge grocery store visit last week, but I think it's a habit to go back to the store.


I also may try someone to clean for me for awhile while I concentrate on organizing closets, storage room, school room, etc. I know organizing and tossing more stuff would help to have more time, but it's hard to find the time to do that right now...vicious cycle isn't it.


I also love the idea of planning the things my kids ask to do. Today we will pick one of the science experiments or spend time playing games, I always think when everything else is done we will have time for that but yes, I need to just prioritize a few of the special baking, project, game time with them but spreading them out is very wise too.


Thanks so much for all the help, hopefully others can be blessed by others' wisdom as well:001_smile:

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-Get some good, large exterior and interior mats and put them by all doors. This cut my sweeping and vacuuming in half, or less. Don Aslett's mats


-Have one of your kids empty the dishwasher as soon as it's done. All dirty dishes go directly in.


-Make good use of your crockpot.


-Teaching your kids to do chores is an investment that pays off well.


-Buy a small stick vac that even a two-year old can use to vacuum.


-Whoever makes the mess cleans it up. If a toddler spills his drink, give him a washcloth and show him how to wipe it up.


-I don't play with the toys, so it's not my job to put them away. I rarely put toys away. Cull the herd ruthlessly and only keep toys used frequently and that have a good spot to keep them.

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Reading this thread is helpful for me, too - thank you. I've had health issues that make me very conservative about how I spend not only my time, but my energy, so I find that I weigh everything against the benefit it will bring our family. (If that makes sense, I have not had enough coffee this morning!)


We have weekly housekeepers - and it is money well spent. I, too, resisted spending the money on a house cleaning service since I could do it myself. But my DH has a different perspective. His feeling is that caring for the house and kids is a full time job, as much as his work outside the home is a full time job. When we added homeschooling to the mix... His feeling was that teaching the kids became another full time job. So he insisted on hiring help to cover the first job. :) (Love that man!) The housekeepers free up my energy and time for planning, spending time with the kiddos, teaching, and well, more fun. If you can afford it... I would encourage it. It may take a few tries to find the right person or service, but once you do... So, so worth it!


Another huge time saver for me is using the home shopper service at our grocery store. We use Harris Teeter, not sure if you have one but other stores probably have the same option... I go online and choose all the groceries we need, send them the order, and they do the shopping. I pull up in front of the store and they load the groceries! It is a $5 fee, no matter how many groceries one orders, and they often run specials so the fee is waived. For a flat fee, maybe $7, one can have unlimited shopping services per month. Well worth it. I was nervous about having someone else choose our produce and meats, but we use the same shopper each time - and she does a great job. She knows our family well now!


We don't do the paper plates now, although we did for a few years when I was very ill. I now associate paper plates with illness, so that's out. But we do keep them on hand for emergencies.


And... Less is more. Less stuff to organize, move around, store, and clean = more time for you and your family. Maybe you can slowly tackle that issue, one item at a time? Not a massive purge, but a slower out-going tide of items that are not loved... Freecycle is my friend, there is something so freeing about deciding that we no longer need an item, putting it on the porch and having it disappear.


Will be watching this thread for more ideas. Thanks for posting it!

Edited by Spryte
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Someone on a laundry thread posted here a while back mentioned that rather than mix everyone's clothes, she did personalized loads of laundry. I tried it and I no longer have to sort clothes! This was a great time saver. I have small square laundry baskets that stay in the laundry room, one for each person in the family. All dirty clothes are deposited in the proper basket by their owner (most of the time). Then I have a second set of small square laundry baskets (they fit one load and are easy for children to carry) into which the individual's laundry is unloaded from the drier. These are taken to the dresser, unloaded, and returned to stack under the dirty laundry baskets until a load is finished.


You also do separate loads for towels sheets and whites. You could separate these by bathroom or person as well, but I haven't needed to.


I used to have marathon sorting sessions on weekends. Often the laundry piled up into huge piles until we could get time to sort. Doing personalized loads has saved huge chunks of time and the laundry mountain is gone. Thank you to the person who mentioned it first!

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Here's a list of what my 5 1/2 year old does.


-kitchen: set and clear the table, empty dishwasher, sometimes put his dirty dishes in the dw, wipe the table, sweep or vacuum, take the trash out (I have to lift it out of the can for him), take the recycling out


-outside: trash can out to road and back, get the mail, water the garden (with help)


-other rooms: vacuum, vacuum indoor floor mats, empty small garbage cans, put toys away


-laundry: help put everything away, move wet clothes into dryer and start it, load washer (but not start it)


-misc: he wants to help cook, but I haven't had the time or energy for having both of them hover during this; put groceries away; get breakfast for himself and his little brother, and have the kitchen cleaned up before I come down


What I still need to teach: cleaning the bathroom and tub, dishes


I've had a chronic illness for five years and have just started to feel mostly better in the last few months. I followed the saying "give the job to the youngest person that can do it" because I had to. Now I'm very greatful to have a son who's so helpful.


A few things we learned along the way:


-He gets upset if we keep telling him "do this" throughout the day. He is much happier if we just give him a written list all at once.


-Racing against Mommy and Daddy to see who can get their big Sunday list done first speeds him up a lot.


-If he's being too slow or getting distracted, setting a timer for each job helps him focus.



Stuff he doesn't do that I should teach him

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I have a cleaning person in once a week. I don't use a company. I asked around and found someone that several friends suggested. Individual people will be less expensive than a company.


On the day she is here, I plan something VERY easy for dinner. If we didn't have such weird diets here, I would probably have her cook/assemble it. I still may one day. :) Wednesdays (today!) are my 'break' day. The house is clean and dinner is simple.


I also struggled with guilt because it is something that I 'can' do. However, I've come to realize that my emotional/mental health is valuable and Wednesdays are very refreshing.


We use paper plates for breakfast and lunch. Sometimes we use them for dinner. I set up a picnic caddy with plasticware, paper plates and napkins. It stays out on a counter. Again, some guilt with using them, but my kids have a lot of health needs in addition to regular needs.


I buy bottled water and they use that for snacks and sometimes meals. I use a sharpie to write their name on the bottle. They use the same bottle all day and get a new one the next day. If they drink all the water, they refill it from the sink.


I subscribe to a menu planning site. I sit down for an hour on Saturdays and plan my meals for the next week and do my grocery shopping that night. I have found that not only are the meals delicious, I am actually saving time by not floundering in the kitchen at 5:00.


DH suggested to me that on the days that kids have after-school activities and I know that time is tight, to pack them a lunch in a brown paper bag (and store in the refrigerator). They still eat it at the table after school (and sometimes will probably eat in the van), but it's already put together and 'disposable' easily (plastic bags, etc). I haven't started doing that, but I can see that it's going to work well for us.


We bought one of those handy-vac things that hang on the wall. The girls love to 'spot' vacuum areas which allows me to not vacuum. They also sweep the floors. I bought a lightweight mop and if I fill the mop bucket up for them, they can mop themselves.


My oldest is learning how to do the kids laundry. That is a slow process but we're getting there. They are also responsible for tidying up the bathroom. For younger kids, they can be assigned to simple things like picking up dirty clothes, putting the shoes where they belong (we have a large bucket for all kids shoes), putting coats in the coat closet (they are too small to hang them up, but just throwing them in there keeps them off the floor).


Scheduled times for waking and going to bed. The kids are all in bed by 8:30 which leaves me a couple of hours for myself.

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I was having a problem with my 5 year old not being thorough enough when cleaning up his toys. Recently I started telling him to get the room "vacuum ready" and he does a better job. Less stuff gets left on the floor.


"Don't expect what you don't inspect." If I can't check on his work right away, sometimes I have him take pictures on my phone. Then I look them over and point out what things he forgot to put away.

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Others' ideas are what I would offer: kids helping with cleaning, paper plates (this is not pathetic it is one less thing!), monthly shopping trips instead of weekly, etc.


I just wanted you to know that this is a hard season. You are in the deep trenches right now with the number and ages of your kids. Next year won't look like this. You will feel better about this.


Keep up the good work!




~Angela (mom of 4: now 14, 12, 11, and 6)

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I think I really am overwhelmed with the kids, house, life as these posts brought tears to my eyes.

thank you for the advice and kind words. What else I realized is that I have really stopped asking the kids for help (oldest has been ill and he is my biggest helper) but even with that, I have felt that I was always nagging because I really needed thier help and it was more of that motive rather than teaching them responsibility. So, recently I stopped having them help. Probably not the best idea. I think I have figured out from reading this that what I really need is a list not asking for help all the time. My oldest is a very SWC (strong willed child) so I think it is patronizing for him to have me ask him to do things. I am going to copy the chores that some of your children do and try and go over with them what that means. I do struggle with a middle child age 7 who at this point in his life tries (successfully most of the time) to get out of doing his share. If I could somehow get him to pitch in, life would get much better for both of us. I was humbled when I read a 5 yo chore list...my 7yo and does next to nothing.


Love the grocery store shopper, we don't have that around here. And, I will admit I LOVE food shopping...I love reading recipes, shopping for food, cooking (most of the time) but I create such a mess that I spend 3 hours cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes afterwards that it prevents me from doing as much cooking as I like. Maybe my kitchen needs organized again:001_smile:

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:grouphug: its a lot.


one thing that has helped me is to have rituals. so the chores happen at the same time each day. it was a big fight the first day, a lesser fight the next day, day three was dreadful, and then that is it. we move it when it stops working. so for example, it used to be that after breakfast, dc went to their rooms to tidy for 15 minutes. that worked well for years, but has stopped working. now, when i start making lunch they go to their rooms to do 15 minutes tidying. it saves on the struggle, which is worth a lot ; ).




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Just to give you an idea:


- All kids help at the cafe we own (they are there daily with Dad). They complete assigned independent work, take out the garbage at the end of the day, do the "cycles" on our espresso machine, and can bring dishes back to the kitchen.


- At home, all kids are responsible for folding the laundry, taking turns clearing the table, wiping down, loading and unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash and recycling (weekly), making beds, putting clothes into the hamper, and picking up their things (toys, books, jackets, etc.).


It does require an attitude of "we all work together because we are a family and take care of each other". Also, since you have several kids, I'd suggest starting very small. For one month, show them ALL how to make their bed. And then ONLY work on that for one month. Then hold them to it (enforce it being completed if you see it not done). Then the next month, work on clearing the table after a meal. And so on....


If everyone is working on the same chore, then it is easier for you to help, guide, and check. After everyone is "good" at three chores, then you can assign chores to each child. Child A folds laundry, Child B please clear the table, Child C please pick up the living room. They will be better at it by then since they know what you want.


:grouphug: It's worth it. Really.

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I have three things that have really helped around here:


1.) Always clean up the kitchen after dinner so it's ready for the next day.


2.) Declutter, declutter, declutter.


I have enough dishes for one meal for my family only. We use paper when we have guests.


We have next to no books. I keep a few baskets filled with board books and early readers (Dr. Suess level). I have one small bookshelf that holds all of our school books, and that's it. We keep a library basket that holds about 50 books full and continually restocked.


We all have 2-3 outfits nice enough to wear in public, 2 sets of pjs, and a handful of other pieces. Honestly, I want us all to have more clothing but lack of money keeps us at about this level.


3.) Organize everything well. I have plastic 3-drawer bins and dollar store baskets everywhere. Most things are labeled. It makes clean up and keeping things clean when everything has a place to go. In some places, we have a lot of lost/wasted space due to basket usage but I'd rather have less stuff with an organized home than more stuff stuffed into available space.

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If I could pay someone to clean house or do yardwork, I'd do that in a heartbeat.


I wouldn't use paper plates, though. I just don't want my to grow up eating on paper plates. I want them to have real dishes, cloth napkins, sit-down-at-the-table meals.


To have more time, I'd definitely NOT participate in many outside activities. I'd stay home and do those science experiments and whatnot.


And if there's lots of grumbling from assorted dc over household responsiblities, then that's a definite sign of needing more time at home for character training.

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well, with your encouragement, I did it. We spent the afternoon doing science experiments. I started out with a 15 min one and then my 2ds took over and spent the next 3 hours mixing safe kitchen "chemicals" and doing all sorts of strange things with beakers and balloons, my turkey baster is now a part of their science kit :)


Anyway, it only took me about 10 minutes to clean up their mess (after they "cleaned up after themselves" that is). I decided to put science experiments on for each Wed. Tomorrow maybe it will be baking.


I so appreciate the wisdom and encouragement.


oh and I cleaned out my spice cabinet while they were experimenting, so one little corner of my cabinets are now very organized... baby steps :)

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You sound overwhelmed, a place I often visit myself! I think you've gotten some great advice already. Below are some thoughts on what I've found most helpful, though by no means have I "cracked the code" yet though! Each new idea takes a while to be instilled, but then it does help keep things up a little bit better. It's probably not helpful to completely overhaul everything at once, but rather making one change at a time to help you get closer to a more manageable housekeeping plan.



  • intentionally doing some of those fun things by scheduling them in, as well as your housekeeping tasks. Then you can say "well, tomorrow we're planning to make applesauce, would you rather do that or play a game tomorrow?' or you can change plans around: "I'm supposed to do this thing right now, so we can make applesauce tomorrow. Do you want me to switch those two around?" Or: "Once I get this done, then we can play your game"
  • do you have a system for housekeeping tasks so that you know when you're done for the day? Something like motivated moms, flylady, or the sidetracked home executives notecard system? To me, it's been helpful to have a closed list of tasks and when I'm done then I'm done. It's more black and white that way, rather than a neverending stream of being not good enough.
  • Saturday chores, as a family we bang out most of the major tasks: vacuum/sweep just about everywhere, mop floors that need it, change all the trashcans to have clean liners, dusting, cleaning out the car, etc. We don't do everything every week, but use the SHE system to keep track of what needs to be done and when.
  • kids pick up their own stuff. A new system we're implementing is that at night, anything left out goes into a box. After Sat chores are done, they can put away their belongings (whatever they want to keep) one at a time. It's surprising how they'll say: "actually, I don't have a good spot for that and I don't even really like it, why don't we donate it?" My hope is that the things they really do care about will be left out less often.
  • If you're uncomfortable using paper, have a special cup and a special plate that the child uses all day long
  • my kids sort laundry by color (those of you who do laundry by person, do you just not sort? Does that make a difference for your whties?). I just grab a bag when it's full and wash it. If they wet their beds, they do it themselves.
  • If you make me a mess you CLEAN IT UP! This means we have cloths in every room, a dustbuster, a small dustpan/broom set, and the kids can operate them and know where stuff goes. With reminders they're usually pretty good about it.
  • Eating happens only at the kitchen counter or the dinner table. Same with drinking (except for water).
  • We usually don't wear shoes in the house.

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Glad you had a good day! Don't let yourself get overwhelmed planning experiments. Maybe buy a book of experiments or spend a few hours online bookmarking experiments you can use. Or better yet, buy a book and have the kids choose what to do AND gather the supplies you have and write a list of what needs to be bought/found. Put some of the work on them- it's good practice for when they're older!

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I am seriously considering getting a cleaning person at least once a month. There really are things that I can not do for myself anymore. The only thing that is stopping is finding a good person. I used a company before and I was very dissatisfied. They did a horrible job and I hated paying someone to do a worse job than I could do myself.

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I find that most time is saved by looking at where the time goes in any given day and planning well. Are there chunks of time you are not using productively? TV and computer are huge time wasters.


I would not want our family to eat off paper plates. Kids can load and unload a dishwasher or do dishes by hand. I want them to have proper meals, at a properly set table... plus raise environmental awareness. It can't possibly save that much time to be worth the trash.


I find that having less stuff and keeping order saves time: paper is filed immediately, bills paid electronically. Old clothes and unused toys are given away to people who can use them.

Cut down on outside activities if you spend a lot of time waiting or driving. Or use times while kids are at activities to do errands, prep lessons, do correspondance. Use driving time to listen to audiobooks and lectures.

Examine how much time you spend on cleaning. Is there a way to cut down? We clean when it is dirty, not on schedule. No shoes in the house, no food anywhere but at the dining table - that cuts down on dirt and crumbs. Older kids can be in charge of their rooms and bathroom.

Make the time for fun things - they are more important than housework. I find that having time is more of a mindset than related to the actual amount of time one has available.

Edited by regentrude
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