Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Post: Managing Chaos

When I married Jeremiah, I was able to join another awesome family. I really have great in-laws. I cherish each time I am able to join in on a family get-together. These events usually include lots of love and laughter.

Today's guest post comes from Jeremiah's Aunt Joy. She and her husband Rodney are missionaries with  Wycliff Bible Translators. You can follow their blog here. Her husband is also an amazing photographer - check out his flickr here.

Being the mother of 3 children 6 years old and under, I’ve come to realize that much of my time is spent as a “chaos manager”. 

Particularly with the age of our youngest (21 months old), I experience multiple interruptions each day, attempting to prevent him from falling; breaking/spilling/destroying something; ingesting chemicals or hot sauce or [insert anything inedible here], etc. One piece of advice that has been extremely useful throughout our parenthood journey is to keep a sense of humor. This is easier said than done sometimes. After this little incident pictured below,

it was pretty hard to laugh about it, especially as I contemplated cleaning it up. But it’s pretty funny now (2 months later, mind you). Keeping a sense of humor has helped us weather the tough days when we’re in survival mode, desperately trying to get to ‘thriving’ mode.

As I try to manage the sacred chaos in our home (because I do believe my role as mother is a sacred calling), I’m always interested in how ‘others’ manage their households and get it all done. So I was really excited when, at our last MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting, we were each to give 3 of our favorite time-saving tips. I’m sharing this combined knowledge here (with a big THANKS to the awesome Dudley Shoals Baptist Church MOPS moms who gave the tips!) in the hopes it will help you in whatever stage of life you find yourself:

  • Sort your laundry night before, when kids are in bed; this will be one less thing to do in the chaos of the morning.
  • Never underestimate the power of a colored toothpick in getting your kids to eat things!
  • Smoothies are a great way to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise eat (I’m talking even spinach! Check out this recipe at a blog I follow.)
  • Use clean dishes out of dishwasher when you can; fewer dishes to put away
  • Pick up at least one misplaced item when leaving a room and put it away on your way to wherever you’re going. Believe me, with a husband and 3 kids, l have plenty to choose from
  • Keep a roll of paper towels/sponges and cleaners in each bathroom for quick use
  • Keep a bag (diapers, wipes, clothes, snacks, toothbrush, sippy cup) in each vehicle
  • Have a decorative container for each person by the door (with their initials) to hold their gloves, hats, etc.
  • Keep a lost sock container in your laundry; when it’s full and you have time, look for matches
  • Have kids eat breakfast in pajamas (so as not to soil clean clothes)
  • Buy multiple shirts that match multiple bottoms (in case of spills, you always have something that will match)
  • Keep a shoe bench at the door (with a basket underneath for each person; shoes come off as soon as you enter the door, keeping your house cleaner and saving the frantic search for shoes later)
  • Over the door shoe holder –can hold puppets, toys, etc.
  • Order diapers from Amazon.com (“Subscribe and Save” for prime members-2-day shipping free) 30% savings
  • The best purchase a couple of us made recently: a steam mop! It’s quick, it dries instantly, and it sanitizes without chemicals
  • Lay out everyone’s clothes and shoes the night before, someone even suggested putting them aside for whole week, but that would require a lot of clean laundry!
  • Brush child’s teeth while they’re lying down (watching TV, for example) (this is a tip from a dental hygienist –she said it’s easier and more effective; not sure how it works when they need to spit)
  • Keep a basket at the stairs on each level of your home for holding things that need to go to the other level
  • Plan your menus for the week or month; this will save you time, stress (“what’s for dinner!?”) and money (less spur of the moment takeout)
  • Sort laundry while removing the clothes from the dryer
  • Always dress kids in coordinating colors so that you can take advantage of unexpected photo ops
  • Have your children sleep in the clothes they’ll wear the next day (this is, of course, if you don’t mind a few wrinkles)
  • Leave a bag of diapers and wipes at church
  • Pack all your bags the night before (briefcase, backpack, lunches, etc)

I hope some of these tips will help lighten your load, and streamline your chaos. But however chaotic your life may be, always remembers that “this too shall pass” (another absolute gem) and we might…no, definitely will find ourselves longing for the days of noise and interruptions and the sweetness of having our children so near to us. “The days are long, but the years are short” is a succinct summary of life with young children and one that is so valuable to remember, in the middle of the sacred chaos.

Joy recommends the following blogs -

  M.O.D. Squad Blog - for mothers of daughters
  The M.O.B Society - for mothers of boys (posts seem to be particularly geared for mothers of high-energy boys)

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