See, I told you I suck at this regular blogging thing! :) My planned Wednesday post is now being done on Thursday! At least for this week.
So, this week I want to talk about the little things in life and around our home. The little things that either grind or bring a sense of sanity, because I think they play together.
Last week I shared about the 15 minute sweep that I do in the mornings now. Honestly, I had no idea how much this would change my day, and really, it’s a little thing that takes very little time. But it makes a big difference when I walk by the kids room and see the beds made, or go in our room and see the bed made and nothing on the floor. We aren’t slobs, but we do live in a small space with two young kids. Last night I asked Chris when our kids would stop destroying our house multiple times each day, then realized that may never happen.
For me, it’s usually the small things that grind on me. They can cause me to get frustrated and annoyed, and then I take it out on everyone around me. At the core of this for me is that I was raised to respect people’s time and effort on things, so when I or Yonese clean up and someone, no matter how tall they are, comes along and leaves a wake of destruction it leaves me feeling like all the work was wasted and not respected. And yes, I have communicated this many times, and it is getting MUCH better.
I’m learning that the small things can make a big difference in how our household functions. These are some of the things I/we do or have done:
- I meal plan, and have a white board calendar on the fridge where we can all see it. It’s an easy way to check what we need for the week as far as groceries go, and to see who’s on dinner that night because Ryan and Chris each cook one night a week, which I LOVE!
- We do leftover night on Wednesday. It’s a small thing, but big because we clean out the fridge before Yonese goes to the market on Thursday. This means I have a way better idea of what we really need as far produce, eggs, milk etc goes. I usually take everything out that’s considered “leftovers”, put it on the counter and then everyone makes their plate and we heat things up in the microwave.
- We have another whiteboard on the fridge that has a line down the middle with one side designated “Market” and one for “Store”. Because we buy our fresh stuff on Thursdays, anything in that category goes on the Market side. Anything needing to be bought at the store goes on the Store side. If you use it up, you write it down. It’s made shopping so much easier.
- Because we have a small space I look for or build furniture that is very functional. You’ve seen pics of our coffee table on here. It has a trundle box underneath for the kids toys. Later in life we’ll probably store games and other stuff like that there. It makes for quick pick up, and we can push it closed for some space from the kids stuff. It’s easy for even Alex to pull out so he can play.
- I’ve been slowly going through stuff in our house and giving away what we know we aren’t using. I still have some big projects, like the storage room, but I’m not stressing about it. I regularly go through my clothes and get rid of things that have bleach stains (a common problem here) or that I know I haven’t worn in a long time. We have a rag basket in the bottom of our linen closet, so things like bleach stained or holey t-shirts go there to be used for cleaning or projects around the mission.
- We’ve been giving away our baby stuff as we’re done with it. People keep asking us if we plan on more kids. Nope. We’re done and very happy about it. I know that I’m personally done with having wee littles simply by the fact that I am so happy to be getting rid of all of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. I love that Alex’s crib no longer stores stuff underneath. I love that hopefully in the next year we’ll be moving him to a big bed and we can pass on our crib. I’m just ready to have two little people.
- I have a clipboard hanging on my wall next to my desk that has a stack of papers on it. Each sheet is the same – one for each month, or for when they get full, which it’s not yet. The sheet is separated into two sections – Personal and Mission. In each section is an area for “Projects” and an area for “Wish List/Order”. When I think of a project that I want to do around here I write it down. If I think of something that would either make life easier, or that we need to order, I write it down. My brain is full all. the. time. This helps keeps things sorted.
These are just a few little things around our house. I know there are more, but for the sake of time I’ll stop there. I think the important thing is that I’ve started going through a process with myself. When something is bothering me I start asking a series of questions:
1) What’s really bothering me about this? Figuring out what’s at the root is key. Maybe it’s not that there are bottle caps on the counter, again, but rather that I feel taken for granted. That’s a feeling, not a situation. And feelings need a different course of action.
2) What can I do about this? If it’s a recurring thing, is there something we need to change in our home to stop it from happening over and over again? Typically it would mean looking at the situation and deciding if a simple change would fix it, or if the issue is more in depth.
For example. I get annoyed that the kids books and toys are always scattered everywhere in their room. We are working at making Olivia clean up before bed. BUT, a while back I also realized that there was too much stuff that we were expecting to fit in the available space – a whicker shelving unit. So, I went through and took out 1/3 of the books and put the rest in a small laundry basket in our storage room. I try to rotate them every couple months. Less books means less books on the floor and around the house! Phew.
Toys? I regularly go through what is there, and what’s in the toy box, and see what the kids are actually playing with and what they aren’t. Alex is still young enough to be discovering toys, so I give him a bit more grace. Olivia is a pack rat. She likes to keep garbage. I wish I was exaggerating on this one, but I’m not. Yesterday we were in the van on the way home and she found a broken car phone charger. As in, it was missing an end. She asked if she could keep it. I find all sorts of crap in her stuff. When I do a cleaning I am merciless with bits of crayons and garbage. I know that she’s not using it and doesn’t even know it’s there because it’s always down at the bottom, in the nooks and crannies. The truth is, I hate bits and pieces and things that end up all underfoot. I try to group toys back together if I can, but if I can’t and I know the kids aren’t playing with something – it goes. I’ve gotten past the sentimental side with a lot of things and just remind myself that we don’t have much space. If a toy is in good shape, we pass it on. If it’s just a piece of junk, it goes.
If the thing that will help improve the problem is organizing things better, we do it. If it’s designating responsibility, we do it. Sometimes it means changing things up or in many cases in our house, getting a different piece of furniture that will help solve the problem, like our coffee table, dining room table, bed… All of those things have helped improve annoying issues in our home, and it makes life easier to live.
3) Can I really do something about this? I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had to realize that sometimes, no matter what I do, there are no easy solutions. Some things are out of my control. I can’t control people. I can ask for their help, and set boundaries of my own, but in the end we all make our own choices. If bottle caps on the counter bugs me, I can tell my husband and let him know that picking them up is a way of loving me because it sends a message that he respects my time and energy. But he has to choose to do it. I can’t force him.
Having small kids means that there are certain things I/we just have to live with right now. Olivia is old enough to be taking more responsibility around the house. We make her clean up her coloring stuff (the thing she’s always doing now) and she knows that if she doesn’t take responsibility for those things, they’ll go. She has to clean up her room. We make her help set the table. She has to pick up her clothes and put away her shoes.
Alex is a different story. He isn’t old enough to get that stuff yet, but we try to teach him things like closing the door after he comes in or out. 50% of the time he does it. He can go get his own shoes if it’s time to go outside. He’s understanding that certain things aren’t acceptable and won’t be allowed, like throwing things. As he gets older, he’ll be in the same boat as Olivia. Until then, I recognize that there are things I have no control over in our home. I can either let the toy mess gather and gather or I can do a quick tidy a couple times each day and enjoy the clean peace in between.
Question: What little things make your home run better? What areas are hardest for you? What have you changed over time to make things more livable for everyone in your home?