Monday, May 24, 2010

Setting a Goal to Not Get Finished

As you can imagine, it's totally insane having ten kids. Even though two of them have moved out, there are still eight, including a 3-year-old, 2 year-old twins and a 2-month-old.

To try to get anything accomplished during the day with the 4 under 4 is like moving Mt. Everest, literally. It is literally impossible to get done in a day all that I think I need to get done. If I focus on making my kitchen spotless...,


...then the laundry get neglected. If I focus on laundry, then the kitchen doesn't get done...


If I focus on making a spectacular breakfast...


...then no cleaning at all gets done, and the kitchen gets messier than it was before.

So this is what I've come up with. I've decided that if there is an area of my house that is driving me crazy, for instance, the island in the kitchen, which was cluttered with so much junk it made the whole kitchen look ridiculous, I am going to set the time for 5 minutes and work on decluttering that area.

Now I know this system has been tried before by people like The Fly Lady, but she uses 15-minute increments. Even that time-frame is not doable for me, because it seems like there is never a 15-minute span of time where at least one out of the four isn't either crying, making a mess, or creating some type of emergency situation, like the molasses disaster..


...that needs my attention.

So you might wonder what one can accomplish in 5 minutes. Let me tell you.... more than you think. Here's what happens. You work for 5 minutes, and you can see that you're making a dent. And it feels good to be getting something done. Your mind has a focal point and you aren't wandering around the house wondering what mountain to move next.

As minute 6 approaches, you realize that the baby is still happily kicking on his quilt, the twins are still playing upstairs in the toy room and the 3-year-old is still looking for some outlandish outfit to wear.

So you keep organizing. And the more you do, the better it feels, and it becomes a cycle of cleaning and organizing and ego-feeding, not a vicious cycle, but an I-might-actually-be-a-good-homemaker cycle!

This worked so well the other day when the twins got into the flour bin in the food storage room while I was blogging, breastfeeding, breastfeeding and blogging....and the rice bin...and the popcorn bin..... and then....

...they poured cups of water from the water fountains on top of all this and walked around in it a lot and then walked all over the kitchen.

I knew in my mind that there would be no way I could clean all of this up at once, so I simply closed the door to the food storage room, cleaned the flour/popcorn/rice trackings in the kitchen, and waited until I had 5 minutes to make a dent in the food storage room. And it worked! I didn't get it cleaned up all at once (it actually took 3 days of 5-minute increments), but by the time John came home from out of town, all he saw was organized shelves of our year's supply of food and 4 happy little boys.

I challenge you to try this and let me know how it goes!

Thanks for listening.

I am pleased to list this post @...

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Today on life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day: {the best soup place in town}


chibbylick said...

I love FlyLady... but 15 mins is often too long for me too. I've been known to set my timer for 2.5mins, when dealing with something I really didn't want to do! When you have 4 under 4, getting yourself washed, dressed to shoes and an evening meal cooked is a successful day! :)

alessandra said...

Wow, you go Jen!
You're my hero, always a step ahead!
I'm giggling but I'm not kidding, I really think it.

Dukey25 said...

Thanks for posting this. Sometime it feels like everyone else can accomplish so much more than me in the measly 24 hrs we are given in a day. It is nice to know that I am not alone.

Kelli said...

I am dropping by from 5 Minutes for Mom - since I tackled my outrageous table this week, I feel your pain. LOL! I only have three kids (10, 8, and 3) but oh man, those boys can certainly destroy the house in the time it takes to run potty. LOL! I am sometimes on Skype trying to knock out my housework with a buddy or two, feel free to join me! Just tell me who you are when adding me as a friend. Kelli_3boysandadog

oh, we don't use video, just typing. :-)

Jenna Consolo said...

GREAT idea. I'm on it.

Christine said...

Thank you for reminding me that *I* am in control of my schedule. I've used the 15 minute timer for years but being 8 months pregnant (and measuring 9+), I can't even stand for 15 minutes, let alone accomplish much during that time. I'll try the five minutes and shoot for one section of kitchen counter at a time. If I don't get it done in that five minutes, there's always the five minutes after I have my rest.

LittleBlessingsFarm said...

I love your post today I just stumbled on your blog and WOW that is me and my household LOL.

CHELZERS said...

I so needed this today. I, too, go through on an hourly (or minute-ly) basis! I can't seem to get anything done with my triplets running around destroying everything in their paths!! I'm going to try this strategy.... after my nap.... :)

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Triplets....Oh my gosh, okay, I'll stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

For me, I completely relaxed about housekeeping when I finally got it thru my head that keeping a home is a cycle - it NEVER ends. You can't get caught up - if you do, then the very next meal or the very next change of clothes for the family or the very next whatever means the cycle just starts again. So, I just had to find a method - like you did - that words to keep some sense of order. Mine's a little easier since I only have 2 teenagers but I know you are thinking "oh my house would be spotless if I only had 2 kids", but trust me, Fly Lady is 100% right when she said that the job will expand to fit whatever time you have.

By the way, I live in western NC and Fly Lady lives about 15 minutes from me!

Tara said...

I totally agree with you! I'm typically a flylady kind of girl, but especially those first 6 to 9 months after having a baby, it is definitely 5 minute increments!

Jb said...

I would like to follow you around for a day just to see how in the world you are surviving! You are amazing!