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20 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Easier

I’m a crappy housewife. I was bad at before I had kids, terrible when I was stay at home and I’m even worse at it now that I’m back at work. I don’t even aim for clean or sparkling anymore my goal is “not embarrassing” and I sometimes don’t even get there.

So last week I asked the 28,000+ brilliant readers of Rants from Mommyland what their tips and advice were for me to make my domestic life if not easier, at least a little more manageable.  I got hundreds of comments on the blog, Facebook and Twitter enough for a 5 part series that kicks off this week – incorporating tons of great ideas and suggestions.

Here’s 20 tips for helping get the chaos of a family home a little more under control:


  • Stop & Assess 1 of 20
    Stop & Assess
    If you're really overwhelmed: STOP, take a moment to evaluate where you're at, and prioritize. Like a lot of you, I'm trying to do too much at once and as a result, I feel like I'm not doing a good job at any of it. For me, multi-tasking doesn't mean "very efficient", it means "frenetic flapping about". So I'm going to slow down and try and do one thing at a time. I'll start by answering the following questions: What HAS to get done? What's the REAL priority? What in my house is driving me the most nuts? Who can help me?

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Make the Kids Help 2 of 20
    Make the Kids Help
    Do yourself and your children a favor and teach them at an early age what it means to help around the house. Ultimately, we're not doing ourselves or our kids any favors by doing everything for them. If they share a bathroom, they can learn to clean it. Kids as young as 3 can do chores like putting away toys, feeding pets and wiping down counters. Younger kids especially want to help. If our goal is to make them self-sufficient and independent people, making housework a shared responsibility is a great start.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Say NO 3 of 20
    Say NO
    When someone asks you to volunteer your time, or buy something, or bake something it really is OK to say no. There are times when it's best to recognize what your limits are and not push them. If you're struggling to take care of your "have-to" responsibilities, you're not being selfish in declining to take on volunteer tasks. You're being smart and responsible.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Lower Expectations 4 of 20
    Lower Expectations
    If you let yourself feel bad that your house doesn't look like a Pottery Barn catalogue or your swanky neighbor's, you will drive yourself nuts and try to end it all with a banana. It's not even worth it. Life is too short, go play with your kids.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Master Family Calendar 5 of 20
    Master Family Calendar
    This can be an electronic calendar on your phone or one hanging on the wall in the kitchen - but we got lots and lots of comments about how important it is to put everyone's stuff on one calendar. I have one in my house that is the giant peel and stick white board you see above. It's possibly the best thing that ever happened to me.

    photo credit: Wallnutz.
  • Use Technology 6 of 20
    Use Technology
    Some people set reminders on their phones and iPods. Others use apps to get schedules, lists and appointments coordinated. The apps that were most recommended were from Cozi and ToodleDo. After playing around with them on my smartphone for a while, I can understand why.

    photo credit: Apple.
  • Carpool 7 of 20
    Carpool
    This can be a huge sanity and time saver. My older kids are just now big enough that many of their activities don't require me to be there the whole time. If there are other families you know and like on the same team/troop/class - discuss carpooling with them. It goes without saying that the parent driving your child must be trustworthy and responsible. And the biggest surprise for me? My kids completely LOVE riding in their friends' cars. Who knew?

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Plan Meals and Shopping 8 of 20
    Plan Meals and Shopping
    This was the number one thing that readers recommended. If you plan out your week's meals, you can then create a master shopping list around that plan and know what you're doing (at least a little) heading into each evening. It takes a lot of pressure off. Lots of websites and apps can be used to coordinate menu planning into shopping lists, too.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Cook Once, Eat Twice 9 of 20
    Cook Once, Eat Twice
    This is a pretty straightforward concept, also known as batch cooking or EMBRACE THE LEFTOVERS. It goes a little something like this: on Sunday, roast a large chicken. On Monday, make chicken quesadillas. On Tuesday, leftover chicken with green beans and Uncle Ben's. Crockpots can be super helpful with this strategy because not only does the food cook itself, but it makes enough for a huge crowd. Or three teenage boys.

    photo credit: Crock Pot.
  • Find a Laundry System 10 of 20
    Find a Laundry System
    Maybe it's doing one load every day. Maybe it's doing everything on Sundays and folding while watching TV until the wee hours. Perhaps, if you're very smart, you hand the whole the thing off to your husband. The point is, find a process that works for you and then just do it every single week.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • The Kid Laundry Slacker Method 11 of 20
    The Kid Laundry Slacker Method
    If you are a meticulous person, this idea will drive you nuts so don't even bother reading this suggestion. Here goes: Each kid gets a large hamper. When the hamper is full it goes in the washing machine (no sorting, wash on cold). Then the dryer, then dumped on the kid's bed. Teach your kid to sort into piles (shirts, pants, jammies) then folded or not the kid puts it all away. The end.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • One Hour Power Clean 12 of 20
    One Hour Power Clean
    So many people mentioned how wonderful and helpful Flylady has been for them. She has this thing called the "One Hour Power Clean" where everyone pitches in and works their tails off for one hour per week. The amount you can get done is apparently stunning.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Keep Wipes Everywhere 13 of 20
    Keep Wipes Everywhere
    One of our moms suggested keeping extra baby wipes stashed all over the house so that whenever you see one of those yucky things (for example a sink covered in crud that is apparently invisible to everyone else), you can just knock it out. It's not the greenest suggestion but baby wipes are effective and don't leave behind strong chemicals or smells. If you feel like this idea is wasteful, try using cheap washcloths from a discount store that you can just throw in the wash.

    photo credit: Amazon.
  • Clean During Tubtime 14 of 20
    Clean During Tubtime
    Clean the bathroom while the kids are in the tub? Oh. Mah. Gah. I mean, I'm right there anyway. Usually playing Words with Friends and saying "Bathwater stays in the bathtub!" and "Do not get the dog wet!" for the 9,000th time. How did I never think to do this? Obviously, this only applies to kids big enough where being a few steps away isn't a safety issue.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Baskets 15 of 20
    Baskets
    If there's a problem area where your kids' random stuff always finds itself (for me it's the family room), give each kid a basket and leave it there. At the end of every day have them put their stuff in their basket. At the end of the week, they take the basket to their room and put everything away. The brilliant and genius Bloggess also does this and she calls them Crap Baskets. Because the kids' crap goes in their baskets and not on the floor and therefore your house appears to be more tidy.

    photo credit: Pottery Barn.
  • Deadlines 16 of 20
    Deadlines
    Here's how these bad boys work. The kids have something to do, for example - put away everything in their crap basket. They know that they're supposed to do it Friday when they get home from school. Nothing else fun is allowed until they get it done. Wii? NON. Spongebob? NON. Play with the kid from down the street? NON. Go on the planned sleep-over at best friend's house? Sorry... NON.

    Do you know what else this empowers you to do? And some moms do it every day. HIDE THE REMOTE and POCKET THE CELL PHONES. When homework and chores are done, you can have them back. The end.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • Chore Charts and Check Lists 17 of 20
    Chore Charts and Check Lists
    These are so, so helpful. I bought the one you see above for about $9 at Target. When we have little behavior problems at our house, we also sometimes use "Good Choices" charts. I told one of my friends about that, she was all: "GOOD CHOICES CHART? Where were you when I was in college?!"

    Checklists also help kids remember what they need to get done first thing in the morning or when they get home from school. Both these ideas can be adapted to work with little kids who can't read yet by using visual cues in place of written words (for example, a picture of a toothbrush to remind them to brush). It's never too early to teach kids responsibility, right?

    photo credit: Target.
  • Less Mail 18 of 20
    Less Mail
    There is so much information coming at us all the time. Take a few minutes and unsubscribe from email lists and RSS feeds, opt out of junk mail, catalogues and unwanted solicitations. There will be less clutter in your house, less information in your in-box and less to deal with in general.

    Photo Credit: iStock
  • The Ten Minute Theory 19 of 20
    The Ten Minute Theory
    So many people talked about this. Set a timer. Do something for 10 minutes - just 10. Clean your kitchen. Fold some laundry. Start purging crap from the junk drawer. You will be amazed what you can get done in 10 minutes. I tried it this week. I stopped playing Words with Friends during the day and whenever I had a few minutes (like that weird break before I have to go the bus stop) - I would just start cleaning. It works.

    photo credit: Amazon.
  • The Area by the Door 20 of 20
    The Area by the Door
    We all want a mudroom. With hooks and shelves and cubbies and little lockers with crown molding. Something that looks great but also catches all our kids' stuff before it spreads all over the house. Except most of us don't have one. So some very smart mommies shared with us how they re-purposed their hall closets with plastic or fabric hanging shoe holders to serve the same function. It helps organize their kids' stuff and even though it doesn't look all swanky - who the hell cares. It's a closet, close the door.

    photo credit: Pottery Barn.

Read more from Julie at her blog Rants from MommyLand. Follow Julie on Facebook and Twitter for additional goofy nonsense at no extra charge. You can catch up on her posts for Strollerderby, too – where she is often slightly less stupid.

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