Melissa is the mama of two girls and a boy. She is happily married to a superhero. She writes about her life and laughs in Phoenix on her blog, Nouns and Violets.

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Small Changes Lead to Big Results

Last night’s dishes are in the sink. Yesterday’s mail is unopened. Toys are strewn throughout the living room and hallway. The sliding glass doors have fingerprint smudges and doggy nose prints. Piles of dirty clothes are overtaking the laundry room.

So much work to be done and the little one refuses to nap.

These are the moments I feel overwhelmed and defeated. I’ve asked myself: How do I get in these messes (literally)? How can I break the cycle of chaos-order- chaos? How does The Super Mom do it?

You know who she is. That one mommy friend we can’t measure up to. The Super Mom treks her three children to their weekly ballet/karate/swimming lessons. She serves a nutritious meal every night on time. Her house is never less than company ready. She is spotted at the grocery store with make-up applied, hair styled (no roots showing!), open-toe shoes flaunting a recent pedicure, and trendy clothes. No pajamas disguised as sweats for this mother!

Finally, I figured out how these women maintain an immaculate image: It’s a farce. We may not see them but there are imperfections. Maybe expired cheese lurks in The Super Mom’s refrigerator. Maybe she can’t find her scissors and Scotch tape. Maybe she wouldn’t let you see the disarray in her garage for all the mascara in Sephora.

The reality is: The Super Mom is simply more organized. She has taken the time to make time. She knows Wednesday is her family’s busiest night so she planned a crock pot meal. She simplified housecleaning by creating a system of organization – designating a place for everything – and she follows a routine to keep her house clean. No wonder she has time to hit the salon!

How do we get to that level of organization? It’s the small changes that lead to big results.

  1. Meal plan. Most families prefer certain dishes and won’t require more variety than five or six menus each for the warm and cool seasons. (A well known Christian author and speaker recycled a six-week meal plan for her family and joked, “No one ever said to me, ‘Six weeks ago we had the same meal rotation.’”) You can still cook according to the grocery sales but don’t waste time trying to match coupons and sale items. For a nominal monthly fee companies like CouponSense can provide that service for you.
  2. Organize room by room. In the kitchen, use a silverware tray to separate items in the junk drawer. Put a shoe box in the closet to store scarves and belts. The idea is to tackle one area at a time so you can become organized in every room of your house. Get it all done by using the “lost minutes” of the day: instead of checking Facebook, during the commercials, or while you’re on the phone. Tips to Organize Life provides detailed instruction on how to organize every room in your home including the garage.
  3. Create a cleaning routine. Many organization experts recommend a cleaning plan but I can’t abide by schedules and chore charts. What if company is expected on Friday but the bathrooms get cleaned on Saturdays? If your teen is studying for finals are you really going to be a stickler about the floors getting mopped? Too many exceptions to the rules and I lose faith in my cleaning plan and abandon it.

An alternative is a cleaning routine that begins with keeping the right cleaning supplies readily available. Use a plastic caddy to carry multi-purpose cleaners to each room, but store Comet in the bathroom where it’s used. The caddy should include a razor blade for sticky messes, soft rags, duster, squeegee and rubber gloves.

Instead of using chore charts, set a daily block of time for housekeeping. This allows for flexibility on what tasks you assign each day so that the most pressing jobs get done right away. Just be sure all areas of the house are getting attention.

Follow the five minute rule to maintain order day-to-day. Set a timer and have each family member tidy a room, fold a basket of laundry, or wash dishes.

The main thing to remember is that you can start small and still achieve big results. You don’t need to pressure yourself with high demands. And you definitely don’t need to compare yourself to your circle of mommy friends who don’t have dust bunnies or food splatters in their microwaves. Remember, they’re probably dying for a hot bath and a glass of wine.

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