So here’s the question I get asked more than anything. “How do you do it all? You take care of your grandmother around the clock. You homeschool the kids. Run the house. Now a blog.” Which most of my friends and family don’t even know about the blog by the way.
LOL. Well for starters, I don’t. The internet, social media and frankly life, in general, gives a skewed impression of other people’s lives.
We see holiday and vacation photos. Family newsletters. Ick, just sayin’. Talk to people at parties. It looks and sounds fun. Like people are happy. Seems as if they have money. That their kids are cute and cuddly.
We somehow get the impression that we are less. That EVERYONE is running around doing… All. The. Things.
That’s a lot of pressure. And a load of crap.
Most people I talk to are either doing too much and miserable or not doing much and feeling miserable because they think everyone else is happy doing it all.
As usual, I’m off the rails. So let’s get back to the question. How do I do it all? Well I have a minimalist approach to life and stuff.
Did you ever hear the saying “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”?
Lately, I’m going for “Shoot for the fence and be glad you didn’t hit the kids.”
Sometimes life is like that. Now I don’t mean to say that I don’t have goals or want to improve my life. It’s more like right now I have to do the best I can where I am to get through. I’m letting some things slide. Just for now.
Whether you’ve got your shiz together and need a few extra tools or you’re having a week, month or let’s face it, year, like mine and need some glue to hold yourself together, I’d like to help.
Here are my top favs right now. I thought about categorizing them into time savers, motivators or sanity savers, but honestly, most of them fall into more than one category. So for time and sanity, I’m just throwing them out there in no particular order.
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#1 Baby Wipes
I don’t care if you have kids or not, baby wipes are one of my top favorite inventions ever. I know it’s not a green solution like rags. Don’t care. I do a lot of other things here that are green. This product stays. I buy Walmart’s Parents Choice brand by the case. They are super cheap. Anyway rags + laundry detergent + water + electricity still isn’t free. Besides some jobs are just nasty. Without kids in diapers these last a long time, and I don’t have to think about it.
Baby wipes are magic. For versatility in the house or car they are the best. They can get out stains on clothes. I use them on the floor attached to my swiffer, way cheaper. To clean the bathroom, hell yeah. Car interiors. Try them on your steering wheel or car seats, I dare you.
They beat flush-able wipes because of their size. I now need them with my gram, enough said, TMI. My husband keeps them in his lunch box since there isn’t anywhere to wash up at work. They manage to get dirt off of things where nothing else has worked. Dog butts. Ewww. If you’ve ever had a small dog, I don’t need to explain this one.
Sometimes I hate the behemoths these two are, most days I am just thankful. I can order online. They have everything I need. Most of the time it’s cheaper. And I can read a review before I buy. Returns are easy too. We also don’t have much to choose from where we live.
Amazon has Prime membership. Faster and free shipping. I also have the benefits of their video services which is great for homeschooling. I use them to sell items I don’t want anymore, though not as much or as often as I used to.
Walmart will ship to the house or you can pick up orders at the store. Some areas even do that with groceries. They also price match.
Walmart has it’s own Savings Catcher App. So easy. Shop at Walmart. Scan the receipt with your phone. It automatically searches a 50-mile radius and gives you the price match on those items. Just for brands, but I get back about $200 per year with this. It comes on a Walmart gift card, via email. Just scan it at the register. Make sure you have your phone charged. Ask me how I know.
Coupons can be used too. Unlimited quantities through Amazon but I never seem to find the time. If I do they somehow camp at the bottom of my purse until they expire because I forget at the register. I used to be a coupon diva. Now it’s just one of those things I have let go of. At least for now.
The Ibotta App if you aren’t familiar, is a coupon app that is used after you shop, by scanning receipts and barcodes with your phone. Deals are sorted by store. Big names like Walmart. But many grocery stores, pharmacies, department stores, wholesale outlets. Newly added, Amazon.
The savings can be turned into Amazon or Walmart e-cards. (other stores too). Kids can scan items, just as easy as you can. They think it’s fun.
I’m averaging about $15 a month. And that’s without really trying. If I was better with it, it would be so much more.
It’s not just processed foods either like typical coupons. Every week there are deals on dairy, produce, meats and alcohol. Yes, alcohol.
#3 YouTube and Netflix
It’s what is holding my homeschool together. This year we are hating the textbooks. Having trouble leaving the house to even hit the library. Sadly field trips are only in my dreams.
I am sure die-hard homeschoolers and public school educators are gasping about now. But the truth is I am having a homeschool identity crisis. We have done public school, unschooling, deschooling, curriculum textbooks, and unit studies. We cannot get into a groove.
The year we did the textbooks went better in the sense of staying on track. We followed the majority of the curriculum. We completed the work. In fact, we finished by March. So what was the problem? …. everyone was bored, they barely remember any of it and no one wanted to do it that way again.
I also spent the whole time thinking, why the heck do they need to know any of this. This year we are reading aloud as a family almost every night. Large chapter books like Anne of Green Gables and Swiss Family Robinson. We discuss words and concepts we don’t know. Google places and animals we read about.
Online videos are teaching all of us for free. We watch all sorts of tutorials, movies, musical performances and documentaries from around the world on far more subjects than I know about or could possibly teach them. Okay, okay there may or may not be lots of videos of funny pets, stupid people, and inappropriate memes. But let’s face it, those offer some learning opportunities too.
Besides if I can keep them knowing how to find information and a love of wanting to know, I’ve done a better job than having them memorize facts. And it’s more fun.
#4 Delegate Chores
If you have kids that are old enough to walk and talk they can do chores. Even if it is as simple as folding towels or sorting socks. Luckily, my kids are 9, 10 and 14. Chores are not new or optional. Now I don’t mean I am a die hard dictator, just that it’s been part of their lives for so long they are used to it.
If this isn’t already part of your life I can’t tell you the “how” that will work for you. Every family is different. Search Pinterest. There are a million charts, lists, incentives, and ideas. Find one. Even if it’s a different one per child. Try different methods until one clicks. Ages, lifestyle, and temperaments of kids and parents will affect your choices.
I promise it will help. You might think that giving up one small chore that only takes a few minutes is no big deal. HA. Try it and come back and talk to me.
I already knew this. Still, I didn’t think that someone else giving my gram a shower, like a 15-minute job once or twice a week would help all that much. Boy was I wrong. It is AWESOME. I disappear into another part of the house and it would happen. Like magic.
You will be amazed how each small task taken off your plate makes you feel. That goes for any of the hats you wear.
It doesn’t have to cost money. Being part of a family means working together to get things done. Barter with someone else if you have to. A fair trade may not always be about time.
These are also life skills. So it counts as a two-fer. Hell, if you homeschool it’s a three-fer. So not a word, how about a trifecta, at hat-trick or for all the Christian homeschoolers let’s go with a trinity.
Maybe you can do something like batch cook in bulk to help your neighbor. They could repay you in a chore you don’t like or carpool the kids for you if you can’t leave the house.
I know some moms who each get an afternoon to themselves by taking the other one’s kids. Wednesday for you, Fridays for me. Whatever works.
#5 The Great Outdoors
We have a huge yard and we are using it. It’s free. The kids are outside every chance we get. Tents, balls, bikes. They take pictures, use binoculars and watch birds. Clean the yard and shovel snow. They get creative, learn to get along or not. They exercise themselves and the dog. Any and all games they can make up on their own to stay active and out of my hair. It gives them independence and breaks up the day when people are out of sorts. Especially me. Get. Out. Side.
#6 Essential Oils
While coffee is my main motivator. Essential oils are new in my arsenal. I am not an expert and don’t sell them. Take caution when using them and find out everything about them beforehand since they can hurt you if used improperly. I don’t take any internally. That said, I freakin’ love them.
Essential oils are somewhat personal. Just because a certain oil is right for your need you may not like the scent. Some of my favorites give my son a headache. That’s when I use a cotton pad near me or with a carrier oil rather than a diffuser. Find what works for you. We like this one that doubles as a nightlight.
Essential oils seem to be all the rage now and are selling in cheap discount stores. I wouldn’t suggest that. Chances are they won’t be real and that does make a difference. I know multi-level sellers don’t recommend Amazon but that’s what I do.
I admit for the budget’s sake, I smell them at the local health food store. They sell a good quality brand like this one. Unfortunately, the mark up there is quite high. So I see what I like, for what needs I have and then order them on Amazon for half the price. Chances are I also have a gift card. Double win.
My favorite motivating blend is 4 drops of Lime, 3 drops of Bergamot, and 2 drops of Rosemary into the diffuser or on a cotton pad I set near my workspace. Let me tell you, I can crank out some serious work with that.
Last spring I personally put over 60 hours in my yard in 2 weeks. Weeding, mulching, and planting. There were a few nights it was dark already and I had been out since first thing in the morning. Holy energizer bunny.
I have used oils for colds and cough with dramatic results. We had luck solving my daughter’s sleep issues that you can read about here: Why Can’t You Just Sleep in Your Own Damn Bed?
#7 Batching, a Bullet Journal and a timer.
These three work hand in hand.
First batching. For years we’ve been told multi-tasking is the way to go. That if we can do this we will have it all. Turns out that’s a load of crap. You end up being stressed out and a little bit of everything gets done half-assed. Ask me how I know.
Batching is just the opposite. You focus on getting a whole lot of the same thing done in chunks of time. Maybe do all your cooking on Sunday for the whole week and freeze it. You could grocery shop once per month. Laundry on Mondays. Cleaning on Tuesdays.
You could also do it by the time of day. All school work in the morning. All chores in the afternoon.
Bullet journals. If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, check out www.littlecoffeefox.com. Shelby Abrahamsen is the one who turned me on to using one. She creates the most drool-worthy journals. Her whole blog gives you ideas and inspiration. She even sells her own creations.
You wouldn’t know all that by seeing my journal since it’s plain and boring. Using different color ink to divide tasks like personal, home, school and blog is about as creative as I get.
However, the most important thing is that her journals inspired me to start using one and it keeps me organized. I know what I need to do. When I need to do it. More than once it has saved me when I couldn’t remember when I made a blog change or wrote down a book I wanted to read. It has gotten the scrap paper notes and sticky note chaos under control.
The timer simply keeps you on track. It can be a fun challenge, especially if you get the kids involved. A race against the timer rather than each other. It can be used as a reminder to move on to the next task. Sometimes we get on a roll and don’t mean to work through lunch. Other times it can keep us going just a little longer when we don’t want to.
Choose a task. Block it off in the journal. Use your timer to stay focused.
That’s it folks. These resources making my world go around right now. Anything else just isn’t happening. I wish I could say I had earth-shattering news for you. That I had all the answers to doing all the things.
Some days I think I am falling apart and that I can’t possibly do it all. Some days I think I actually do have it all figured out and this is the way to go. Keep it relaxed. Keep it simple.
It’s like my homeschool identity crisis. Maybe it’s not about knowing all the things and doing all the things, but in being able to know how and when to learn them as they come up and go from there.
What’s your must-have tool for getting it all done?