When old ways don’t work anymore

After Benji was born Dave and I quickly realized that we didn’t have enough time in the day to do what we used to do. Our margin was already tight but add a newborn and the margin slipped away. We looked around and asked ourselves, “what can we change?” “How can we involve the older kids more in chores?” “What systems need revising?” The subtle shifts we made ended up paying off.

IMG_1295Here are a few of the changes we made…

  1. I put the kids’ bowls, plates and cups in a spot they could reach without a chair. My friend Amy had this system at their house and I thought it was genius. But, we didn’t have a drawer like she did and I didn’t have the motivation or brain capacity to think through another option. But, when we needed more margin, I took the time to find a simple solution. In the end, I cleared a corner in the bottom of the pantry, added a plastic tub and called it good. Not only can the kids set the table but they can also unload another portion of the dishwasher in the morning without our help.
  2. I made space for the cereal boxes on a lower shelf, next to the kids’ plastic tub with their dishes. Dave took it a step further and poured the cereal into Rubbermaid containers and put measuring cups in each container. He found that the kids had a hard time pouring the cereal but could easily scoop the cereal out. Now, Dave doesn’t prep breakfast the night before. Instead, the kids can get their own bowls, get the cereal, spoons and even the milk if the jug isn’t too full.
  3. We moved the kids’ clothes from our room to their rooms upstairs. Let me tell you, having the kids’ clothes in our room was a huge time saver when the kids were younger. The laundry room is on the first floor and Dave folds clothes at night. So, when the laundry was folded, we’d put it away right away. It was also very easy to help the kids get dressed in the morning and after baths. But now they kids are older and more independent, at least the three oldest kiddos are, and they can dress themselves. I was also ready for a bit more space in the mornings when I was starting the day. In a lot of ways I think I was still used and liked the cozy way of life we had in Paris. But with time and bigger kids, it was time for a change.
  4. The kids carry their clean clothes upstairs and put them away (and some days they fold them too). Another time saver for sure.
  5. Electric toothbrushes for the kids (and me). Feeling the weight and responsibility to help four kids brush their teeth well each day was just too much. We hit the mark mayyyyybeeee every other day. Then came a visit from Mary Poppins, I mean Dave’s cousin Sara. She bought all four kids electric toothbrushes. They ripped open the packages and brushed their teeth for three days straight. What a delight. We also bought them 3 minute sand timers to help them know how long to brush for. The batteries don’t last terribly long but I’ve since bought a more expensive ($20) electric toothbrush for our eight year old. I’m fairly confident it will be worth it, even if it saves us one cavity. Well, I wanted to join in on the electric toothbrush fun, so I got myself a pink Oral B electric toothbrush. It says it cleans 300% more plaque from your teeth. I believe it! Call it a bit of self care during a global pandemic.IMG_0678
  6. Color-coded cups. These metal cups have been amazing. Every kiddo has their own color, they used it all day and keep it in the fridge between meals. The covers help prevent spills and the straws are fun. I’m a huge fan. It cuts down on the number of dishes in the dishwasher. Time saved!
  7. I’m teaching cooking skills to my kids. We are following an online program my mom gifted our kids called Kids Cook Real Food. It helps me with kitchen prep and someday they’ll be able to cook even more!
  8. I stopped sorting laundry. Yep, pretty much fell off the train. I had heard of people doing this but I found it irresponsible… until I just didn’t care no more. Wash on cold. Wash rags and rugs separately. Take joy in dumping the whole dirty laundry bin in the washing machine at once. Done.
  9. Each kiddo has daily chores. Two kids help empty the dishwasher (silverware, kids’ dishes and Tupperware). Our oldest alternate between who is on floors and who is on table (it follows even and odd days). Floors means they vacuum after meals and snacks. Table means wiping the table after each meal and wiping the floor after dinner. Our almost five year old tidies up the entry way after each meal (shoes, coats, toys, etc get put away).
  10. The older three kids have 2 “extra” chores each day. I write the things that need to be done on the white board and then assign them when we tidy up.
  11. I stopped wearing an eye mask when I sleep. This is in a totally different category but after wearing an eye mask for years when I slept I realized that it might be contributing to some unwanted wrinkles. (It might not but I’d like to be on the safe side.) So I went cold turkey and stopped sleeping with it.
  12. I got a new haircut and highlights. I was tired of feeling mousey, so I splurged and got all-over highlights. A cut and highlights cost $70 and it was way of starting to celebrate my 40th birthday, which is coming up early August. I feel like I got my spunk back and I love it. I think I’ll be able to maintain my highlights for less by just getting highlights along my part or partial highlights.


These are a few old ways of doing things we’ve changed up.

Something else I’d like to try out assigning each of the older kids to a “cleaning zone” for a week during the summer and have the rotate through different zones. Have you tried that; any tips? I’ve also heard of folks having their kids do their own laundry. Any tips on that? I don’t have a ton of room to have individual laundry baskets for each of the older kids… any ideas?

What are time saving tips you’ve put into place to help your household run more smoothly?

One thought on “When old ways don’t work anymore

  1. These are great, Heidi! My guys clean the bathrooms on Saturdays (not yet for B). We started that in Hungary and they each have their favorite job, including scrubbing the toilet bowl! So one cleans the toilet, another wipes the counter and changes the trash liner, another cleans the mirror. I usually clean the floor. They also change their bedding once a week or two. They always help bring in groceries. I found mesh laundry bags at Walmart for $3 each I think and that’s been awesome! They do their own laundry (with a bit of nagging from me) at least once a week.


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