42 answers

Setting up a Household Schedule

Hi! I'm a new mom to 3 through international adoption. Son is 10, daughter is 8 and youngest daughter is 3. Wonderful beautiful children! We've been home with them for 5 months now and I am REALLY struggling to get a household schedule in order. I work full time (3 days in the office, 2 days from home). The two oldest go to public school and my husband runs his own business from home.
I am finding myself nearly constantly stressed b/c my house is always dirty, my laundry is always piled up (either dirty OR clean waiting to be folded), I'm not planning ahead so I rack my brain every night on my way home on what to fix for dinner. The kids often get to bed later than I hope. I'm getting up at 5:00 each morning and trying to get to bed by 11:00 pm, but it feels like I'm just getting the bare minimum done. Welcome to motherhood, right? :) But I know it is possible to have a well-run, clean, planned home even as a full-time working mom of 3...I have friends that have that! But jumping in with both feet I've found myself overwhelmed and not knowing where to start with the following:
1 - Organizing our Home
2 - Setting Up a Family Schedule - what to include, how rigid to be, etc.

Any helpful hints for this frazzled mama?


2 moms found this helpful

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More Answers

Hi H.,

I hear you! I stay at home and I still have that problem. I was going to suggest the fly lady like Lea did but here is something that might help for dinner www.savingdinner.com. You mentioned laundry. I despise laundry. I think I would be sane if I didn't have to deal with laundry ever again. I am slowly attempting to conquer my laundry issues. So far I have purchase a laundry receptacle that has three bags. One for dark, medium and light colors. This is for me and my hubby. When a bag is full I roll it into the laundry room and wash it. I also purchased a basket for each kid. They are responsible for telling me their basket is full. When it is I wash the whole basket. After washing, drying and folding (sometimes I have them help me fold) I give the basket to them and they put the clothes in their drawers. All linens get put into a basket in the laundry room. When that is full I wash it. I am not great at it but it is better than it was.

I am not great about the schedule thing so I won't go there. I am sure someone else can give better advice on that.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Now that you've had a few months to settle in as a family together, I'd start looking into delegating responsibilities to the children and your husband. No mother can do the work of 5 on her own. Especially with a toddler on hand.

At our house, everyone is required to make their own bed first thing in the morning, and toys and hubby's work papers must be put away before bed at night.

After everyone brushes their teeth and washes up in the bathroom, they need to take a paper towel to the counter and floors to wipe up water and wipe up any toothpaste spots etc. with a disinfectant wipe. If there are dirty towels piling up or the hamper is overflowing, they have to straighten up, and hubby takes the laundry to the laundry room.

No room can be left a mess before bed. So for example, if the hubby and/or children were in the family room, and there were pillows or toys tossed about, they have to have things back in order before they leave the room. If guests come by, after they leave, tables are to be wiped off/dusted, the carpets are vacummed and dishes are loaded in the dishwasher immediately, before anyone can go to bed etc.

After each meal, each family member takes turns during the week and is responsible for loading the dishes in the dishwasher. Before each meal, a family member is also delegated to empty the dishwasher and put dishes away. If needed this person also sets the table. Doing it this way keeps dishes from piling up, and the dishwasher always open.

I think delegating housemembers to keep on top of these basic but major areas make all the difference in the world. In the big picture, all your doing is making everyone responsible for cleaning up behind themselves, instead of leaving it all to you. IF the house is generally neat, and clutter free, the big cleanup duties are much less overwhelming.

Age is not a factor with any of these expectations. Even your 3 year old is ready to start taking responsiblity for small tasks. He may not be able to do dishes, but he can straighten up his room, and wipe up behind himself in the bathroom. Our little guy puts his own toys away when asked, and does a great job at it. In fact, it is second nature with our kids now that after they're through playing with something, it is to be put away. If they're cleaning up even the smallest amount of mess, life will greatly improve at home.

As for the bigger tasks, pick a set day or two (if you have big loads) for laundry. Keeping it set on a specific but unchangeable day each week. For example we do Wednesday because it is the middle of the week...about the time you need more fresh clothes. This will help keep the loads small and manageable, even for a household of 5.

The older children can be in charge of this if you give them good instruction on sorting and how much detegent to use etc. They should also fold everything right away to keep clothes fresh. Assign a "basket" to each house member, and they can fold and sort the clothes into the proper basket. Then you or dad can bring the clean clothes baskets to the right room, so the clothes can be put away. Make everyone put their own clothes away.

Avoid letting clean clothes pile up in the laundry room. People will get complacent and just keep wearing more fresh clothes from the closet. You will find quickly that you go through even more clothes this way, making laundry day daunting and awful.

Reserve an entire day each month dedicated washing to big heavy stuff like comforters and blankets if you don't dry clean them. This should be an adult job. Don't incorporate this type of stuff with your main laundry because it will set your schedule off big time. (dry time for one)

Mopping and sweeping can be done daily as part of kitchen/bathroom cleanup duty.

Another thing that may be throwing you off, is mealtime. PLan meals every two weeks...once a week at a minimum. Avoid deciding day-to-day. This can be a time waster. If you plan ahead, you can budget better, and often prepare alot of the food on the weekend, so that all you have to do is heat it up during the week. Invest in a good crockpot. These are a life saver for those who work. Just put the ingredients in the pot before you leave for work, its cooked and ready to eat when you get home. Lasagne, casseroles, quiche, etc. are all things that you can make over the weekend and freeze for during the week. Soups are another great make-ahead meal.

If you're kids take lunches to school, have everyone make their own lunches after dinner, the night before. This will save time in the morning, you can monitor what they're preparing, but they have some say in what they're bringing.

Keep healthy but low-mess easy to prepare snacks on hand for the kids during the week. Fruit, popcorn, etc. are all good, and they don't make a mess in the kitchen.

Last but not least, when you have a weekend to spare... go through the house and get rid of anything you don't need anymore, and then reorganize your shelves. If you assign a "home" to everything, keeping your home organized will be a cinch. The biggest contributer of a disorganized home is unnecessary clutter. If you have no place to store something, and don't really use it, get rid of it. If it has a "home" then people will know where it belongs and will put it there when they're not using it. Likewise, they'll be able to find it when they're looking for it.

In order for this theory to work...invest in good storage cabinets or shelves. We keep alot of our kids' toys in locked cabinets to cut down on the amount of loose toys around the house. For the items with lots of little parts and stuff, keeping them locked cuts down on choking hazzards and big messes becase they have to ask for these things. It's easier to monitor and control tiny pieces this way.

While having a clean and organized house is a reward in itself, be sure to reward the children and even your hubby for their dutiful support. Allowances and even special treat incentives can keep the momentum going and cut down on grumbling. Have contests, and give aways to make things fun.

I hope some of these ideas help. They helped us.!

2 moms found this helpful


Congratulations to you! You have a triple blessing with a challenge. Most people get their kids one or two at a time and they just lay there for the first 6-9 months until you can get a handle on things. You don't have that luxury, so don't be too hard on yourself.

Here are a few "musts" that we have in our home to keep us (4 kids under the age of 7 included) orderly & happy.

1. Family night once a week. We regroup, teach values, play games, hold family council, set goals, discuss issues, etc.

2. The book "Sidetracked Home Executives" helped me tremendously after I had kids to keep my home neat, clean and orderly. You can also look up www.FLYlady.com . Her website is a little chaotic, but you get the info you need. It will take a few months to get it down perfect, but once you are on top of it, cleaning your home and keeping it clean is so much easier.

For meals, the easiest way to handle it is to sit down at the end of the month and create a menu for every night of the next month. We have themes at our house. Monday is breakfast for dinner, Tuesday is Pasta, Wednesday Soup and Salad, Thursday is "kids pick," Friday Meat, Saturday sandwiches, Sunday crockpot. For kids pick, we go oldest to youngest, and they each choose dinner one Thursday a month. www.allrecipes.com is a great way to get lots (thousands) of free recipes and they are the best I have ever found. I use it for almost every night. Before you go to the store, make a list of all the ingredients you need to make dinner every night for the next week. You shouldn't need to set foot in a grocery store more than once a week this way and your trips can be kept to about an hour because you have a list. The monthly menu can also help you be prepared for meat that needs to be thawed overnight or crockpot meals that need to be prepared in the morning.

3. As far as schedule, I would hold a family council for this one. Consult with your husband first, come into family council united, then get the kids input. Decide what really matters to your family harmony - computer time, TV time, bathroom time, chores, etc. My kids have chore charts with tickets...Two tickets for everything you do without being asked, one ticket if you do it with one reminder, no tickets with a second reminder. One ticket equals one minute of computer or TV time. I rarely have to remind my kids to do anything.

4. Long term, I would highly recommend the book by Stephen Covy, "7 Habits for Highly Successful Families." It is so full of ideas to make your family a united team that loves and supports each other. It is the best family book I have ever read. It includes creating a family mission statement, which has been one of the most special processes in our family.

Best of luck,

1 mom found this helpful

Okay... Here's the deal...
Your house will never be totally clean again-
Get over it...
Let go... I know this is really really hard to do; I've been attempting to do this for quite some time now.
But, your kids will only be these ages for so long- enjoy them and worry about a clean home later. When you look back on your life one day, are you going to remember, 'Wow, I had such a neat, organized and clean home' OR are you going to reflect on all the wonderful moments that you took the time to share with you children? Just food for thought.
Oh, and that helping you with advice on getting organized, scheduled and cleaned... yeah... you'll have to find that from another mom. :)
I am home most of the time with my children (3boys all under 8) and I can't get our house squeaky clean and organized - I swear to you it's just impossible!
As far as your friends that are able to do this nearly impossible feat... I've always wondered... are they really LIVING in their house??? (and STOP comparing your family to theirs right now, because it will drive you nuts in the long run- not everyone's home is a 'showroom'.)
If you can afford it... I recommend hiring someone to come and do a good cleaning once a month at the very least.
Congratulations on adopting and good luck... you'll be fine. And Yes, WELCOME TO THIS ADVENTURE WE CALL MOTHERHOOD!

Do the kids have a set bedtime schedule? That is key for us. If you can get everyone down by 8, that would give you about 2 hours to keep your house in order. What works for me is putting both kids down by 8 (2 1/2 years and 7 months). Two nights a week I spend about 2 hours a night on hard core cleaning and I am literally doing laundry every other night! It isn't too bad though...the hubby and I are able to catch up a bit while I am folding. In terms of meals, I just discovered an awesome casorole cookbook. I would recommend making 3 on a Saturday/Sunday and freezing them....then you have them for the entire week. Hope this is helpful! Works pretty good for our household. Both my husband and I work full time, so I do feel your pain! Good luck!


there are a lot of emails that she sends out so if you have a second address that they can send to you will appreciate it.
It is a site that helps you set up a household schedule for getting it all done.
It takes reading on your part and doing -- but you dont have to read ALL the entries!! Just the ones that pertain to you and what you need. She helped me kick myself in the butt and get going.
Good Luck!!

First of all sit back and give yourself a break. Most people start out having one baby at a time and work there way up. You went from having none to having 3. That in itself will take a lot out of you. You should also delegate some chores. The kids are old enough to help a little. Even if the little one only folds washcloths and pairs socks (which is good for matching-learning). The older ones can help fold too. This could be great family time. The older one can help with dishes. They can all have a hand in poutting things where it belongs. The 6 year old can vacuum and dust. It may not be perfect but it leaves less for you to do later. With dinner you can make extra and freeze a potion of it for another meal. I found crock pot ideas work wonders. You just thow some stuff in it and it's done when you get home. Your kids can help with some meal prep stuff. They can definiately set the table. I would just do it little by little. When you think of doing everything at once a person gets overwhelmed. You have to say well I have 5 minutes I can throw the laundry in or do up dishes. You'd be amazed at what can get done in 5 minutes. Think of the little stuff. Doing the little stuff makes the big stuff a lot less. Good luck

I would say that the first thing you need to do is to have a chore schedule set up for what each child is able to do. This will help your children learn responsibility for when they are older and move out on their own. Have your oldest help out with laundry wether it is sorting everyones clothes before washing and even showing him how to wash them. Your 8 year old should be able to put dishes in the dish washer if you have one or even help out by washing them if you don't. Kids love being able to help their parents out, it can sometimes be a fun way for you to spend time together. Once they know how to do things, the way you do them, they won't need your assistance and you'll be able to do the things you need to get done without stressing about it.

Another thing you could do is to plan out your dinners and write specific directions on how to make the meal for the day. Then your 10 year old could help you out by at least getting dinner started for you and your husband. Just remember to start out simple to see how it goes. Your 3 year old could have simple chores such as helping keep rooms clear of clutter and toys. This should help out with the stress on both you and your husband. Hope this helps out. A.

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