Friday, April 2, 2010


Sometimes people ask me the funniest question. They say "How do you do it all?"

The truth is, I don't. Not even close. Last year when all my friends were here I begged them to make themselves at home, but not to look in the closets. The children and their toys have invaded every room of my house, despite my efforts to stop it (I blame Husband for his collusion on that. He let them into the front room and now I can't get them out!) I'm not a very good housekeeper. There is a lot of clutter and there are many days when my shower has to wait until naptime...after lunch! And some days I would only get a C for effort.

But I do have a few things I do to make my life easier, cheaper and to me, just more smooth.

1) Layered Bedding.

With the baby in diapers and Peanut very hit or miss as to whether or not she makes it though the night in panties, I like to layer their bedding. I make their beds, lay down a waterproof pad (a big one, to cover most of the mattress) then I make their beds again. If they wet their beds, I just peel back a layer and don't have to worry about making a brand new bed at 3am! To that end, I also have a diaper, wipes and clean jammies handy, just in case.

2) Goodbye Dryer Sheets

We do a lot of laundry. A LOT. And I was finding dryer sheets all over the house, because I am not organized and can't always contain the laundry to the laundry room. They were in my room, the kids' rooms, even downstairs sometimes and a few times they got washed in the washer! I think they multiplied in the night. I switched to the Bounce Dryer Bar. You could also switch to dryer balls. Voila! No more dryer sheets to clean up. The Bounce Dryer Bar is NOT cheaper, but it makes my house look better and my life easier, so I think it's well worth it.

3) Stretching supplies

We allow our kids some chocolate milk and we use the chocolate syrup to make it. When I've squeezed the last bit out of the bottle, I pour the milk right into the bottle, swirl it around and get another cup or 2 out of it.

I have also taken up canning to really take full advantage of fresh fruit from local crops. Next up: fresh veggies. It's so nice to know I have what I need on hand and exactly what is in it. And yes, it can take hours if you have a lot to can, but 5 or 6 jars of jam take less than an hour and saves me tons of cash. And if it takes a day, so what? I figure I make that time back skipping those aisles in the grocery store for months while I'm shopping.

I have blogged before about making my own laundry soap, sugar scrub, reusing hotel soaps and soap scraps, making vanilla and more. These steps not only save money, they are FUN for me, which makes them less of a chore. And contrary to popular belief, they aren't that time consuming. For example, I like to watch LOST. I'll just grab the grater and grate soap while I watch. Admittedly I have become so engrossed in LOST that I have grated my fingers, but the point is, it's done in a blink and I've done 2 things at once.

4) Stock up

If there is a good sale, either with our without coupons, I stock up. I can't remember the last time I bought one pack of diapers. If I'm buying them, rest assured it's because I am adding them to my supply at home and the sale is great. I haven't bought wipes since mid 2008 and I probably won't have to buy any until 2011. I don't buy toothpaste unless it's free. Ditto for deodorant for me. Husband is choosier about his brand of deodorant, so when it's on a great sale I stock up to my eyeballs. We've had shaving gel for both of us in the stockpile for probably 8 months already and we have lots left....I paid $2 for all of it. I think it was something like 16 cans. This isn't rocket science or even a pain to do. You just have to know how to work the store sales and coupons. Need help? Check out savings blogs like, or It's so nice just to never really run out of essentials. Worried about having too much of something? Donate it and write the value off your taxes!

5) Laundry Schedule

I used to have a laundry schedule and I got off track. When I had a laundry schedule I knew what was clean, where everyone's socks were and if we had enough towels. It was heavenly. I need to get back on it because life was definitely easier with one than without. Same goes for meal planning. Meal planning will even save you money. You won't buy at the store what you won't actually use.

6) Ask For Help

I get overwhelmed. Who doesn't? I have lots of built in help. Husband is great about throwing stuff in the washer or cooking dinner or letting me go out to get stuff done. But he's also gone quite a bit, which is where my mom often steps up by grabbing something for me at the store or watching the kids so I can run a quick, child free errand. But I will enlist other people if I need help. My retired neighbors across the street are always happy to sit with my kids if I need to run to the store and someone is asleep. If I don't want to wake the little girls from their naps to do school pick ups, I'll call a classmate's mom and ask if she wouldn't mind picking up Curly as well. I do try to return the favors, but most of the time people are happy to help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. We all need help sometimes.

7) Freecycle and CraigsList

Don't buy it if you can get it for free! When I wanted to start making homemade bread I asked on Freecycle if anyone had a breadmaker they wanted to part with. They did! Hello FREE breadmaker! When I needed a poodle skirt for the Daddy/Daughter Dance, I posted on Freecycle. I had no less than 4 offers. CraigsList has an entire section devoted to free stuff, which is where I got the metal frame for Peanut's bed. Craigslist is also where I've found some great stuff for way less than what I would pay in the stores and in really good to brand new shape.
Another thing Freecycle and CraigsList are good for: getting rid of your old stuff, either for free or for sale.

8) Breath and Laugh and Take Time For Yourself

Remember to breathe. Count to 10 if you need. Stick your kids in front of the TV if it will give you 5 minutes off. Don't be afraid to put a screaming baby in her crib if you just can't listen to it anymore. She'll be fine in there but you might not be if you don't put her in there for a little while.
Remember your sense of humor. Kids are funny. While it might not be that funny when you have to clean the paint residue out of the bathtub, the painted kid is funny. While it might not make you laugh, whatever it is, in the actual moment, remember that these stories are all memories in the making. Take pictures. In a year or 10 years it will be funny. Chances are it will be funny in an hour. Let yourself laugh and enjoy. It's not funny that your house is a mess, but if you can appreciate the fort they are building or the game they are playing that made it that way, you'll feel a lot better.
Everyone deserves a break, even you. Whether it be a hot bubble bath at night, a glass of wine if that's your thing, a dinner out with your spouse or time away alone or with girlfriends, make sure you take care of yourself. If Mama isn't in good shape, then neither is Husband, Kids or House. You must take the time to recharge. It's essential to the well being of your life.

So there you go. I don't do it all. I don't even come close. But those are all things that make my life better. If you adopt even just one, maybe your life will be just a smidge easier too.

And sometimes a smidge is just what we need.