Three Things: Housekeeping from the End of The Rope

This season that I’m in right now, it’s a demanding one. If anyone ever told you that parenting teenagers was easy, they weren’t doing it right. I also have a baby and a husband home 24/7, a small farm and a large household to manage, and six of eight children to homeschool. Me time? It doesn’t exist.

I’m hanging on at the end of my rope by the skin of my teeth.

And lots of days – most days – it’s a challenge to keep up with even the most basic housekeeping tasks.

One day, not too long ago, I sat myself down and we had a talk. “What if,” I asked myself, “instead of worrying about all the things, you just committed to keeping up with three?”

“Three things?” I answered myself, with no small amount of hope and relief. “Why, anybody can do just three things!”

After a little bit of brainstorming, we came up with three things that would have the biggest impact on our well-being and peace of mind.

Make The Bed

A bed is a very large expanse of horizontal surface, and leaving it a mess of tangled sheets and discarded pajamas is visual chaos. It takes me five minutes to make the bed, pick up the laundry, and put our water glasses and coffee mugs in the sink. The payoff is one neat room I can step into throughout the day when I need a respite. Even just knowing it’s there is a balm to my weary soul.

After I make the bed, I lay out Evie’s changing things. She sleeps in my room, and it’s just easier this way.

Wash All the Laundry

There are ten of us in this house, and skipping the laundry for even one day means overflowing hampers and a heck of a lot of work for the laundress. It’s an easy one to let slide, though. I can often get it all washed and hung by 8AM, but sometimes, I’m hanging the second load at lunchtime and running my third “specialty” load in the afternoon. As long as it gets done by the time I have to start dinner, though, I don’t feel so harried.

Blue jeans hung to dry near the fire. Each load of laundry hung saves approximately $3 on my electric bill, and it doesn’t take all that long.

Plan For Dinner

These people. These people! Three times a day, they want to eat! If I don’t check my menu plan in the morning and take meat out to thaw, then come three o’clock, I’m stressing and scrambling to think of something satisfying I can pull together using only pantry ingredients. I don’t mind doing that once in a while, but everyday, it becomes a draining task resulting in a less than nutritious diet. Since I had a plan when I made my shopping list, it’s a small thing to review that plan and select a meal, and without dinner hanging over my head, I have a better day.

This is not the freezer that houses our meat. We have two chest freezers for that.

That’s it. My Three Things. These are not the only things I do in a day, but these are the basic three I concern myself with each morning.

How about you? If you just committed yourself to just three things, would that ease your burden? What would yourΒ three things be?

(PS: I wrote and photographed this whole post in snippets on my iPod, because opportunities to sit down at the computer are scarce!)


9 Comment

  1. KristyB says:

    I don’t know of my three things, but this helps me. Reading this helps me to see if I can set manageable goals for each day. I’m also feeling like I’m hanging by a string, etc. with a newborn (well, 2 month old) and four other kids, a husband, and recently returning to working (from home, but I’m still at a desk the majority of my day). Maybe I can find three things I can do every day (making the bed’s a good one!) to feel more in control of my task list. There will always be one, and it was always be long. Thank you Jennie.

    1. I think life with an infant will never be easy. πŸ™‚ Go easy on yourself, dear Kristy, while she grows. Just three things. And make one of them “Make the Bed” so that you can nap with your little one. πŸ™‚

      (I’m not the only one who prefers to nap on top of the covers, am I?)

    2. I made the bed! I think napping on top of the covers distinguishes it between a nap vs. going to bed for the night, so at least that’s my line of thinking on the matter πŸ™‚

  2. having a menu is a huge plus at my house. Bart can pull meat out of the freezer while I am at work. I am a happy camper when blankets and pillows are organized/ folded in the living room.

    1. Having a menu plan is key, Jane! I always try to get the pillows and blankets folded after the kids go to bed, too. It’s a small thing, but it does make the room look so much tidier. Perhaps, with the sofas in order, we can overlook the stray socks and undies all over the floor. πŸ™‚

  3. I usually know what’s for dinner because I usually shop on Saturday with a menu for the next week (based on schedules). And even though I rarely go upstairs during the day, the bed does have to be made. I can’t get into a messy bed at the end of the day. πŸ˜‰
    I spend most of my day in the kitchen, looking into the family room and right now I have sewing supplies every where (making me crazy!). I need to find a basket so I can sweep it all into someplace tidy when I’m finished sewing — at least until all these dresses are finished. I like to look at clean surfaces during the day (except the kitchen table which is covered with school detritus). I have to do enough loads of laundry that I can get it done and put away. Sometimes that’s one, sometimes it’s six. I also like the floors clean, though I’m certain no one else cares!

    PS thanks for that glimpse of Evie’s quilt πŸ™‚

    1. Her blanket makes frequent appearances in my instagram feed, Barbara! We love it. It’s small enough to go anywhere! It’s been in the yard, in the stoller, in the car, on the bed, in her crib, in the living room – and it’s so pretty, it makes a nice backdrop for ipod baby photos. πŸ™‚ Thanks for loving us so!

      And also: Amen about the messy bed! I have never been able to sleep if there are wrinkles in the bed. A little known fact about me. πŸ™‚

  4. This post helps me too. I am just beginning to try to step up the housekeeping a bit around here. It’s a daunting task, but it’s so comforting to know we’re not alone!

    1. It is daunting, especially when you have a lot of other Very Important Stuff on your plate. These three things, I find, often overflow into a couple more. For instance, I only care to make my bed, but it looks so neat when I’m done that I usually pick up stray things in the room, put away the clean clothes, hang up towels, and water the plants, too. Sometimes, I even dust real quick! Try to start with just three things that’ll give you the biggest bang for you buck and see where it goes. πŸ™‚

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