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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?

Thanks!

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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!

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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.!

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H.,

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,
S.

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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!

www.flylady.com

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.

Ask for help. Your kids are plenty old enough to be able to help out around the house. Even the three year old could have a small list of chores. Sorting socks or something simple. She make actually really enjoy it, being mommy's helper. You shouldn't be the only one that has to take care of the house. Make sure the kids and your husand. clean up after themselves. Take turn doing dishes and other chores.

First things first. DON'T GET FRAZZLED OR STRESSED!
There are simple solutions to your problem.
You said you have a 10 year old and an 8 year old. (My oldest daughter was 8 when she started doing laundry, and she could put clothes and toys away at 3.)
It is time to set up chores for them.
Most kids like grown-up jobs to do around the house. This is a great time to start allowance if you haven't already done so. Set up jobs for them to do that are their responsiblity no matter what, and extra jobs they get paid for, but make sure they understand that all the work needs to get done no matter what. Mom and Dad you have your list of chores too.
Get a poster board or whatever you would like to use to write down a list of chores. Sit down and explain what you want to do. This is a great time to start getting them money wise.
You said you don't plan ahead for meals. That's easy, have the kids help out with the planning of the weekly menu. Explain that the meals need to be healthy,and give them the food groups or meals they can choose from. Have them write out the shopping list for each meal.
Children are capable of a lot of wonderful things, and you can enjoy watching them develope their own ways of doing things. Don't insist every towel has to be folded your way etc. As long as the work gets done, don't sweat the small stuff. You are a family unit that needs to function as a family unit. Working together to get things accomplished. It teaches teamwork, responsiblity, money managment, and how to respect each other for what each one is capable of doing, and each other's belongings. Being a supermom isn't about doing it all, it is about teaching your children how to function in real life so they can be successful and independent in all ways. Just enjoy being a mom and don't worry about being a Martha Stewart, or whatever your ideal is. You are doing a great job whether you or anyone else thinks so or not. Being a good mother is a tremendous job and blessing in-itself, don't let anyone tell you different.
Anyone can have a clean house, but it takes a good mother to have happy children, and a house in which everyone is happy.
I was a single working mother, with two jobs, until my oldest daughter was about 10. I am a mother of two daughters 22 and 11. I am now married, care for my elderly father and homeschool my youngest daughter. My oldest daughter is in college at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has her own apartment and supports herself, and she attended public school.

CONGRATULATIONS! But wow what an adjustment for you! One relax and remember it's OK to have a lived in house! I can't seem to make a meal plan work but I have several friends that swear by setting up a meal plan on Sunday listing what they are eating each night that week, that way who ever is home first or has a minute can get it started and the 2 oldest are old enough to start supper. Enlist their help, give them some chores and remind them that a family works together to lighten the load for everyone. Crockpot meals are fabulous if you don't have a picky family - throw meat in the morning and add something simple to it at night.
You've had to adjust to ALOT in short time so don't let the scheduling get you down. You have alot on your plate. If finances allow it for you I would seriously look at a maid to come in 1 every two weeks or once a week - that would definately ease your mind and allow you the opportunity to enjoy more time with your precious children that you have graciously taken in to your home. God bless you for three lives you have changed!! Good Luck!

I am a single mom of 4 kids (15,13,11,9) and have been single for over 5 years. I have for years wanted and desired a good run household (even when I was married I wished.....) Haveing no time for cleaning and cooking and spending time with my family and each kid individually and having time for me and church and volunteering and all teh other stuff.... I have finally come to realize IT IS OK! It is ok to have the laundry not folded. With my 9 yr old son, I will fold teh laundry and he will jsut shove it in his drawer as quick as he can and all my folding for nothing. I have to remember this "HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?" Some order is good. Stucture is good but what really counts is that you show your commitment to your family to just do your best and that you are NOT perfect. You WILL need everyones help. My children fold their own clothes now. How ever they get it done, I let go, and know they are doing THEIR effort. One step at a time. The one suggestion I have about dinner is that you either use a crock pot (or slow cooker) EVERY morning or have your husband help in that dept.,Even if he is the one putting stuff in the crock pot. Asserting your self to ask for help in some SPECIFIC ways will be a start and they can be 2 simple things as laundry and dinner. Oh ya and I work full time and homeschool 3 of my four kids. I don't usually have dinner figured out (but sometimes mac adn cheese is just ok!! to have again (better dinners are to come)and I am NOW teaching the 13 year old to her and the 11 year olds laundry (they share a room so it is easy for them to put their clothes together.) Just having her learn and be responsible for something is so awesome on both sides... she is learing a very important part of life and the importance of catching stains and why certain things (even for a 13and11 year olds clothes)don't go in the dryer!!! and that this will go with her for all of her life and I don't HAVE TO DO IT ALL!!
Gods blessings to you... you and your family will be PERFECTLY fine with NOT KEEPING up with the JONESs' tidy house.

I have to say, you sound a lot like me. Only I don't work outside the home. I think that it is pretty normal to have a hard time getting everything done. I myself have a 10 year old son, 8 year old daughter, and 2 1/2 year old son. I feel like I never have anything done either. In fact, today while the oldest two were in school, I had a friend babysit so I could clean. I cleaned the whole day and you wouldn't be able to tell. I can't imagine trying to jump right in with all three all at once when you weren't used to having any kids to fit into your schedule. Just take it one day at a time, and one task at a time. And don't be stressed out. If things aren't perfect, no one is going to hold it against you. What's important is that you love them and spend special time with each of them. The rest of the stuff will fall into place if it's important enough. And anyone who would judge you on how clean your house is doesn't need to be in your house anyways. Relax and enjoy being a mom!

Hi H.,
I have a few ideas that might or may not work for you. The two oldest really can be pulled into this as well. If you plan some easy meals ahead you can cook on the weekend and then freeze ready made meals that you just have to take out and thaw. Prepackage a pot roast pre-cleaned veggies and throw in a crock pot. Any type of casseroles or lasagnas work well this. Broth soups also can be easily made and frozen and reheat well. You can do this once a month or once every other weekend. Also have the kids help out with measuring ingredients, mixing, stirring. It still gives you time together and teaches how they can contribute to the house. They also are old enough to have one chore for the week (vacumming, washing dishes, sweeping floors). It may not get done perfect but they are learning that your family is a team and they are a valuable player that can contribute. I also set aside certain days for certain chores when I know I have a little more time. Wednesday is always sheets day, Tuesdays is total bathroom cleaning, Saturday and Thursday are vacumm days, etc. If you try and do everything all at once it gets overwhelming but if you spread things out throughout the week it takes some of the pressure off and still allows you time to enjoy those kids you have waited for. Good Luck and know your not alone!

My first bit of advice would be to take a leave of absence. Those kids have been through a ton and so do you, take some time to show them they are your top proirity. Next take it one step at a time. Pick one room a day. Clean it, orgainize it and if your not done at the end of the day, that it the room for the next day. When you get finished, don't start another one until the following day. Lastly the schedule, have your kids help, they can tell you what they need and and that will help you be more successful, plus you'll have their help. Good luck!

i dont have much for suggestion but in the same boat. so had to respond to see other responses. thank you!

www.flylady.net (sign up for the daily digest or just visit their homepage daily.) this is totally free.

or

www.motivatedmoms.org (this is daily, weekly, monthly lists you download for a small fee -around $8 a year, I think)

The single best thing I ever did for my family was to "de-clutter" my home. The less material "stuff" you have, the easier maintaining a home becomes. Flylady helped me with this, but you can do it on your own too. Just take 15 minutes every day to gather items you no longer need and trash or donate them.

Once your house is streamlined and purged of its clutter, building routines is so much easier!

Hi H.,

It looks like you have already received a ton of wonderful advice. Here are a few more ideas that have helped me.

Every night I take the hand towel in each bathroom and wipe the mirror and sink and replace it with a new one. That way it at least looks clean until I can really clean it. It also keeps the kids from spreading germs on the towels.

I use the PEGS system with my kids (8, 5, 7mos - the little one doesn't have chores yet ;) ). It has really helped them know what their jobs are without me nagging them. I just get to praise them for getting them done! Check it out at www.FamilyTools.com Encouraging them to clean up one thing before starting another and being sure their things are cleaned up before bed really helps, too.

We also strive to get ready for the next day before we go to bed. I pack my lunch and my bag for work. My son looks thru a checklist (hot or cold lunch? library books? show and tell? snack?) I keep the list in the kitchen near where he puts his backpack, so it is always there for him to see. This helps him remember what he needs to prepare and waht he needs to remind me (I make the lunches and help get a healthy snack).

Another thing that has saved me a ton of time is using a hamper with 3 REMOVABLE bags (I found them at Target). The fact that I can sort my laundry in my room (and have trained my kids to do the same) and then I can pick up just the bag I need to do to carry it to the washer has saved me a ton of time. When my boys could not yet read, we took pictures of what went in each bag and attached them to each bag. I also love my frontload washer that has a delay start feature, so I can put everything in before I go to bed and set it to start an hour before I wake. When I wake up, I already have a load of laundry washed and just need to move it to the dryer! Talk about feeling efficient!

The most important thing to remember is to give yourself grace. This is a process, so take one step at a time. Start with everyone making their beds. Then cleaning up at bedtime. Then help with setting and cleaning off the table. You don't need to do this all at once. Just doing something will make you feel like you are on the way to improvement. For me, making the bed makes me feel like I have done something when I have only been awake for 3 minutes. Woohoo! It also sets the tone for the kids.

Good luck!

Congrates on your new family!! I have a couple of ideas for you. On the dinner part, trying looking up on the internat Kraftfoods.com. They have lots of easy and fun reciepts, also the best thing on there is they have a grocery list for a weeks worth (5day) and what to meals to make with that list for each night.. I love it. There is several different weeks that you can choose from.
On the household, the kids are old enough to pitch in, even though they are in a very new home, they need to learn early. Start them off very little and easy, and then build from there. Picking up after themselves, picking up room everynight before bed, doesn't have to be the heavy cleaning, just putting there dirty clothes in basket, putting there toys in there toy box, ect. After dinner, have them help clear the table before taking off to play. Maybe let them help you with making dinner, or setting the table, they might have fun with that.
On the deep cleaning, maybe take 1/2 hr every night and do a different thing. Like for example, Mon. dust everywhere, Tues. wash all windows, Wed. clean bathrooms, ect.
Also, maybe buy a big poster board, and write a schedule for everything, who does what chore, what chore for what night. Also write on your calendar what you PLAN to make for dinner for the week. Sit down before you plan on going to the store and write it down so you know what to buy from the store. Hope some of these ideas will work for you!!!

Good Morning H.,

I was a single mom of 1 very self sufficient son for 10 years. Then I got married to a man with 4 children. So we have 5 kids put together that all live with us and we are expecting number 6. I work full time outside of the home as does my husband. Here are some of the things we do at our house. #1 We have a dry erase board hanging in our kitchen with a month's worth of menues. We plan out 30 meals, go get groceries and then make a menu. We stick to the menu and the kids always knew what is for supper along with us not even having to sit and ponder what to make. Another thing that we do is that each child has their own color bath towel. They use that towel at least a few days before it goes in the wash. Then we know whos is whos and there is not a 1000 towels in the bathroom. We have 3 11 year old, an 8 year old and a 4 year old. They each make their own bed every day and the older ones all have after supper chores. Such as, washing, drying, sweeping the floor and wiping down their bathroom. I keep Clorox wipes in the bathroom at all times and they are supposed to clean up after themselves. At night when they go to bed I set the table for the next day. In each of their spots at the table is their juice glass, vitamin, snack for the next day and bus tickets. So when they wake up they are good to go. They get home an hour before me and almost always homework is completely done. A rule at our house. Homework after school. It was very hard for me to adjust to having the 5 extra people in the house and I have had to learn to let some things go. Everything just needs a routine and things will go more smoothly. I found out that if I started out strong the kids responded better, then there is always time for changes. Good Luck!

May I suggest Flylady.com Her basic ideas of routines, zones, and control journal etc. have been very helpful to me. They do sell some 'tools', but the program itself is FREE and you do not need to purchase any of the things to make the program work. You can sign up for daily emails (I get mine in digest form) and I have found the daily encouragement helpful in getting me "back on the wagon" when I get behind a few days (or weeks!).

Oh honey! Don't be so hard on yourself. It takes time to figure things out and most of us do it one at a time. First of all sit down and relax. Why did you adopt these children? Because your wonderful! Now knowing that figure out what is most important...play time, homework time, meal time, bed time and allot enough time for each.
In our family ( I have 5 children) we sit down once a month and meal plan. Everyone gets to choose dinner choices, that way no one can complain about dinner because they had an opportunity to choose too. I put it on a blank calendar and stick it on the fridge. On sunday night or monday, I see what we need to make each thing for the week and do one shopping trip. If possible I premake some things, but that usually doesn't happen. Dinner is planned and I don't have to worry. If someone is home before me they can help with dinner. All they have to do is look at the menu.
You need rest too! I hate a messy house and there is always going to be a load of dirty clothes walking around. In reality it just doesn't matter that much and it won't be the things your kids remember when they are older. I once complained to my mother in law about all the dirty laundry. She laughed (she had 8 children). I said how did you do it? She said, "my kids never had so many clothes". I don't complain anymore. We are so blessed! Anyway, your kids can help with laundry, dishes and everything else. It isn't bad parenting to teach your children to work. In fact it is great. WE have a job list and it rotates each week. For my little kids the list is smaller. They can empty the dishwasher, take out trash and replace liners, wipe off counters, ect... My older kids can do more. We do these jobs each friday after school. That way, we can play on Saturday. When we all pitch in it goes fast and we usually play some fun music to get us moving. Sure they complain sometimes, but routine is comfortable for all of us. Sometimes at night when I look around and see a mess, I have everyone (myself and husband included) pick a room and do a quick clean up. We make it a game and see who can finish first! They can stay up 10 minutes longer!
I hope some of this is helpful to you! Most of all realize time will pass and so will the messes. Don't miss the beauty of your children! Make everything a family affair. Including everyone in decisions helps them to know you are a family and that won't change! I love being a mother and I hope you love it too! (Don't worry sometimes I want to run away!!) Good luck!

H.,
you have received a lot of great and supportive advice from all of the wonderful moms around here. I also adopted my son and had to adjust to realizing that being a mom is now my first priority and everything else is secondary. As many others have already said - give yourself some credit, you became a mom of 3 all at once! Give it some time for your children, yourself and your DH to adjust to being a family and make sure that your children become attached to you and your DH as their parents. That is the most important thing right now. Cherish those moments when you notice that they are accepting you as their mom and know that the value of that is so much greater than a clean house could EVER be.

Yes, having a menu and schedule in place will make it easier for you to enjoy your family time. Go visit flylady.com!

Good luck!

Hi H.,

Welcome to motherhood!!! (And I mean that in the most positive way.) Children truly are a blessing but they tend to disrupt every area of life. I have found that with a new born baby (or in my case twins and then a daughter 20 months later) it takes about a year to get your feet under you again. I totally agree with those who said to give yourself some slack. Give yourself a break and release any guilt you might be feeling for not being "perfect".

One of the best tools (I use myself) is flylady.net. Flylady teaches people how to set morning, afternoon and evening routines and how to get the house neat and orderly. She also teaches how to get rid of clutter and basically get your physical world running like clockwork. She teaches you how to break the tasks up into managable 15 minutes pieces. When I started I focused on just getting the routines down and even now when life gets busy I focus on the routines and let some of the other household cleaning go for a little while.

I personally have found the routines to be the most valuable part of the program. I have also put my children on routines that are posted in their rooms. For my children - because they are just beginning to read I use pictures to represent to things they need to do with a sentenc underneath. For example, my children's morning routine is: Get dressed, make your bed, brush your teeth and open your blinds. So in the mornings I say, "It's time to do your morning routine" they know exactly what they are supposed to do.

I hope that helps. Congratualtions on your new family!

Hi H.,
Congratulations for doing such a brave and wonderful thing! Adopting 3 children is REALLY admirable. I'd say that you should be really easy on yourself and allow yourself much more time to feel like things are settling in and getting into a routine. Your friends with 3 children who have regular schedules probably didn't get all three children at once! I'm in a somewhat similar situation as I have my first child, now 10 months old and my husband's two children from a previous marriage moved in with us just 5 mos ago. "Overnight families" take much more time to get organized! The one thing that has helped us keep what's left of our sanity is to make sure that the kids are in bed by 8:30. It might seem early, but we need the time to get organized for the next day and have a little time for ourselves. We let the older ones read for a while if they want to, but they get to bed even if they haven't had time for a shower or totally finished their homework (only once in a while, of course). We figure our overall sanity is more important than them having their daily shower or whatever other details they don't finish up. I wouldn't advise it forever, but in this transition time, it has really helped us. Also, if possible, get your family to help with the kids. If they can take them to the park or something for just an hour or two on a weekend, it might give you and your husband time to regroup.
Hope this helps!
B.

My advice would be to only worry about the well being (physically and mentally) of your newly adopted children. I am sure that at less than half a year in a new country, they are going through complete and utter culture shock! My motto is the easier the better. Hire a company or individual to clean your house and do your laundry. Spend all free time relaxing and getting to know these kids. Of course they are old enough to start chores. I would get to know them first.

H., every mother struggles with this. You have to decide what you will let go and what you will focus on. Number one, ENJOY the time you have with your new family. They will be grown and gone before you know it. Number two, every person who lives in your house makes messes, SO every person needs to help clean those messes. There is nothing wrong in having children do chores. They are the better for having learned how to do this. Make them responsible for keeping their rooms clean and keeping track of their stuff--they are old enough to do this. Then, have them choose what chores they will do to help the family. Have a consequence if the chores are not done and be ready to stand by the consequence. The reward is a happy and relaxed mom. :) kraft.com has tons of quick recipes that you can make with little or no planning. I never know what I am going to make each night. I just have learned to get it done quickly. Fast and healthy meals during the week and meals with more prep during the weekend. You definitely do not want to spend your weekends cleaning. Decide what you can live with and what you can let go until later. Finally, email your friends and ask for some quick recipes. You will get more recipes than you will be able to fix I bet. Good luck! This is the eternal struggle of the working mom.

Congrats on the kids. I have three kids also. My kids pick out their clothes the night before everything is hung on a chair in the dining room each kid gets a chair. We have shoes coat, and backpack all ready to go. I plan my meal schedual on Saturday for the week ahead. If I know it is going to be a buisy week I will cook and freeze so all i have to do is heat it up. As for house cleaning, there is a difference between dirty and just lived in. My house isn't always spotless, but who cares. I want my kids to feel comfortable in the house not like they have to walk on eggshells. When the kids are all grown, they aren't going to remember that you had a spotless house, they are going to remember that you took the time to play with them. They house work will be there on Saturday and Sunday.

Dear H.,

I know how you feel. We adopted a beautiful child from overseas a couple of years ago. He was a toddler - 20 months when we brought him home and our lives changed drasticly! I cannot immagine bringing 3 home at a time! I take my hat off to you and your husband! First of all let me encourage you to take it easy on yourself. Your lives have completely changed in every way. You are also working full time which makes life even more of a challenge. Did you take any time off when you first brought your children home? I would suggest that at this time you spend as much time with your children as you can working on attachment so that you will not have problems later on. There are some very good books on attachment, "Attaching In Adoption" by Grey is a fantastic one.

It took me almost a year to set up a schedule after we brought our beautiful boy home. Let me suggest things like making up a menue for the week and shopping only once a week. This has been extremely helpful for myself. I also work out of our home but only work part time. Knowing what I am going to cook each evening has reduced my stress level substantially. I also have the food in the house already and we eat much healthier. I make up my menue every Monday morning and shop on Monday mornings. You may want to make up your menue with your husband on Sunday evening and maybe your husband could do the grocery shopping in Monday morning if that is possible. I also do my laundry on the same day each week. I try to get it all folded and put away on that day. Some days you will need to finish the folding on the next day. You could also have your oldest two children help you fold the laundry. This is a very easy chore and a 10 and 8 year old can easily do it. They could also help clear the dinner table, empty the dish washer and put their toys away each night. One rule I have with our son is that he puts his toys away every evening and also every afternoon before his nap. When he brings toys into other rooms he has to put them away when he is finished playing with them. Having the kids put their clothes away every evening before they go to bed and taking out their clothes for the next morning and having them nicely folded on a chair or table in their rooms will help destress you all in the mornings. I would suggest you do that for yourself as well. Plan ahead as much as you can. Write things down. Make lists. Prioritize - what can you live with and what can you not live with. I also do not like a messy house so I do not allow our son to play in the great room or our bedroom. This way at least two rooms in the house are always neat and tidy. Try to organize as much as you can. Have a place for everything and put things back in their place when you are done with them. This includes kids toys. Your children will learn to appreciate this because kids like things organized. They feel much for secure when their lives have schedules and are organized. I would also suggest that you have a schedule for your oldest two when they get home from school. Give them a snack and then they do their homework. They can then help set the table or help cook dinner, and after dinner spend time with them. Read books, play games and then have a bedtime ritual which you do every night. IE. Kids take a bath after reading time, you get them all together and read one or two bedtime stories, if you say a prayer before bed have a prayer time, then you may want to sing a song or two as you cuddle the kids and then tuck them in to bed.
Lastly, remember to take time for yourself every week. You need it. If you have parents or family around have them take your children for an hour or two every week. Go for a walk or out for coffee with your husband and relax.
These are just a few suggestions. All the best to you and your family.

check out Flylady.net. She is a great source for tips and you can easily keep up with even what used to be called spring and fall cleaning. It's not necessary anymore because every room has a time of the month to get deep cleaned. I'm a full time working Mom of 4 (16 yo girl, 14 yo boy, 12 yo girl, and 10 yo boy). If we're not BO (born organized), we don't know where to start. I'll say a little prayer for you today.
God bless!

Can you ask your children to do more to help? Can you set up different baskets for them to sort their own laundry, have them set/clean the table for dinner, and are they responsible for their own rooms? I have chore charts for my children (7&5) for them to mark off their list of chores themselves. When they are finished, they move on to the next thing. They also LOVE to help me fold laundry. At the end of the week if they have finished all their chores daily, we go to the dollar store for their prize. You will know how rigid to be with your own children, what they can handle and what they can't. If this is new to them, start off with only a few things. When they see a reward, plus all your hugs and kisses and appreciation, they will want to do more to help and get satisfaction from it.

The best way to get the entire family involved and ready to help out is to hold a family meeting. After supper or whenever sit at the table and talk about the problem and take turns coming up with answers. Let everyone speak even the youngest. The children and your husband will all be more willing to help if they are part of the decision. Make a list of chores together and take turns picking responsibilities. You may have to reserve the easiest for the 3 year old, but they love sticker charts as incentives at that age. The older ones may like an allowance or just love feeling like part of the family and important because everyone has a job to do and a place in the family. My 3 year old can unload clean silverware and put away from the dish washer(I do the knives first). Fold washcloths and match socks so I have him help me with the whites. Feed the cats. spot clean the floor with spray and a towel. We use a safe non toxic cleaning product. wipe the sink, counters, tables, etc. He can help dust low stuff like coffee tables or dining room chairs. If you brainstorm I'm sure you'll be able to come up with a list for everyone. Make it fun and get everyone involved.

As far a laundry goes....don't fall behind. Do a load every day. I wash it from returning home and fold after supper or when the kids are in bed while I semi relax in front of the TV. My problem is getting it put away, but the kids can do that themselves.

mealtime: Plan ahead and when you do have extra time make lots and freeze 1/2 of it for another meal or in single portions for quick meal options for lunches. Find some good crock pot recipes so supper can be done when you get home. Think big. Make a ham or Turkey on the weekend served traditionally and then make meal options off of that for the entire week like making a soup, hotdish, or sandwiches, etc. The older kids can start helping with some food preparation too as apropriate like helping assemble salads or shredding cheese.

Good luck and best wishes!!

Wow...most people with 3 kids have a few years to figure this out. You're doing it all at once. Don't beat yourself up, this is a lot. You can't do it all...at least not at the same time.
I can say, as a mom of 3, not working outside the home, that my house is typically a mess, my laundry is piled up...but I do have a 30-day menu & some make-ahead meal ideas.
more to come

Try the flylady.net for some great advice. She has a wonderful way to getting cleaning into your schedule without overwhelming you anymore then you already are. Good Luck!

Good morning H.!
First and foremost, congratulations on your family. My husband and I adopted both of our sons, and feel truly blessed every day!
Everyone here has given you some great ideas (I may have to check out a few myself! LOL!) so the only other thing I can suggest is planning a monthly meal calendar. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't. Take a blank calendar and fill in before the first of the month with different ideas. It's really easy to do it - and it doesn't mean you can't change your mind, only that when you are looking for something to cook for dinner, you already have an idea. The other nice thing about it is you shop the weekend before for all the meals to ensure you will have everything you need to make those meals. The other thing we do is have pizza night each Friday as a little family "tradition". We hope that as our boys grow, Friday nights can be pizza and movie family night! That's it - congrats again! As a friend told me when I became a mother of 2 - don't sweat the small stuff - it's your kids that matter!
Take care-
D.

Hi H.!
I have a great resource for you...

www.flylady.net

This site has exploded in the past few years. She is wonderful at helping you get a plan to get organized - especially as a mom with a family to run. Check it out - you'll be glad you did! :)

Good luck!

I don't know how to do this, but I can sure tell you how NOT to :D.
Don't expect to jump right into it - set up your schedule, but then ease your way into it.
Don't even dream of perfection. You'll be too discouraged to start.
Don't ever cut yourself down for not meeting your goals there - concentrate on the satisfaction of making progress.
Don't forget that it's much easier to keep a house clean if no one is there! Sounds like between the two of you, you are a stay-at-home mom, so THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE IN YOUR HOME TO MESS IT UP.

H., yes welcome to motherhood. Your children are old enough to help you out around the house and need the responsibility. So have them help you with folding their laundry, loading the dishwasher and running the vacuum. I would recomend a menue for you dinners you can get free ones with a grocery list on them from different places online (Kraftfoods.com is one place to look for 30 minute meal ideas). Their are also place online where you can get a monthly household cleanning schedule with a checklist. This helps all helpers to know where to help with the cleaning for the day. Also i would recomend a 15 minute a day de-cluttering schedule it will help keep your home looking neat and you won't be so stressed b/c of the clutter that threatens to over-take it.

My boys are 3 and 4y/o and they know how to fold and put away their own laundry. They also enjoy collecting pop cans from along side the roads in order to get some cash for their toy purchases.

H.

H., I salute you! You jumped into motherhood with both feet and I think you are probably doing better than you think!
I agree with Lea about the flylady.net suggestion. It's great. Also, I think there is a book about once a month cooking where you do a majority of your cooking for a whole month(you could do 2 weeks if you wanted to) and you have a meal plan that you can just add things like fresh veggies and fruits.
Also, I know it is hard to let stuff go sometimes- I love a clean environment too- but my mom gave me a little poem that helps me put it all in perspective. I know your kids are older but I do think it applies here since they are a new addition to your home:

Cleaning and dusting can wait til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow.
So, quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

You will get into a groove, I promise! Just cut yourself some slack and make sure you and your hubby get some date time!
Be blessed!

You have a lot on your plate. It's going to take a while before you get a hang of juggling it all. Don't judge yourself by what you think others are capable of doing and think you are somehow lacking. The only people I know who have three kids, work outside the home, and have a neat as a pin house have help. If you can afford it hire some cleaning help. Enlist the help of your husband and kids as much as possible. Don't worry too much about a mess. (Trying to keep a house too clean makes for a cranky mom. At least it does in my case. I find myself nagging. Yuck!) You are still forming a family and getting to know your kids is the most important thing right now. Most people build their family over years and it is easier to adjust. It's going to take you time too.

My suggestions: 1. Try to keep up with the everyday chores. Run a load of dishes after dinner and unload it before breakfast. Have everyone load their own dishes. Do one load of laundry per day all the way to putting it away. The children should each have a laundry basket of their own. You fold the clothes and put the laundry in the basket. The kids put the laundry in their drawers. Even the 3 year old will be able to do this with practice. Have a before bed pick up time. Everyone picks up for 15 minutes before bed. This really keeps down clutter. 2. Schedule cleaning spurts. It is probably really hard to find time to do a whole house cleaning, so schedule 15 minutes worth here and there. Actually write down what tasks you will do when and hold yourself to it like a business appointment. 3. Make a two week list of dinners(let everyone help make list) and rotate them. If you have freezer room, make double batches and freeze one. 4. Limit the children's activities. Plan family time and time with each child. Don't forget your husband! God bless you for adopting these kids.

H., this is the time in your life when a messy home and piles of laundry are the new normal, the time will come when your children are grown and your home is spotless once more. Just remember that children take priority over things. Now is the time to make family memories of fun times spent together, playing, talking, cuddling, baking cookies, fingerpaiting, all the good stuff of childhood. It is OK to be less than perfect, it is OK to feed your children cold cereal for dinner once in a while as long as you serve it to them with love and a sence of humor! Your children will be much happier people if they have memories of a messy house with a mother and father who loved them and spent time playing with them whenever they could, rather than memories of a spotless house with a mother and father who were always absent or distracted and who yelled at them over every mess and spill. Relax and enjoy your new family, try not to fall into the mindset of "I must be perfect or I am a failure," moms who think like that end up miserable and their children suffer because of it. Good luck!

I'm a Payroll SHE (Sidetracked Home Executive) and I third, fourth (?) Lea's suggestion for Flylady.net. You'll love her motto, "You're not behind! Jump in where you are!" and it is free! There is a "Control Journal" for everyone that you can download or create yourself, or she has one already made you can purchase. This is what she calls the "manual to running the house". She also has a GREAT calendar that is amazing for keeping track of schedules, events, etc. SO worth the $...I'd be totally lost without it! I've gotten them every year since 2001!

Another thing to help you (and your children) is the Housefairy.org. She has tips for what chores/responsibilities kids can do by age...as well as getting you off the hook of by not having you be the "meanie" when the kids don't clean their rooms! :) My boys love her as well as their own CJ's. They know what they have to do each day and don't complain about it.

Someone mentioned SavingDinner.com and that is wonderful, too! I got the crockpot and freezer recipes and they are lifesavers!

Congratulations on your new family and new life! It will take everyone a lot of time to get used to the new routines, etc, so follow FlyLady's advice and just take Babysteps...one at a time. :)

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