The Multi-Tasking Mom of Many - Secrets to Efficiency
Multi-tasking is the lifeblood of a mom, especially in a large family. While there is evidence to support the idea that multi-tasking is not the best approach in a business environment (you actually get more done if you focus on one task at a time), in Mom World, that's just laughable. Like I'm going to put in a load of laundry and wait until it's done before I run the dishwasher so that I'm only doing one task at a time? No, I don't think so. The key to efficiency in Mom World is to multi-task at a very high level. Here's the breakdown:
1. Get your machines working for you
With eleven kids, there are always mountains of laundry and dishes, so first thing in the morning, I get my appliances going. I get a load of laundry going, and I unload and reload my dishwasher and get it going as soon as it's full (which is usually right after breakfast). I only have my youngest six living with me currently, but when I had all eleven , we had two sets of washers and dryers (which was a godsend!) and two dishwashers, and that really helped make a dent in the dirty laundry and dishes. If I'm doing a crockpot dinner, then I get my crockpot working for me, too. It's a great stress reliever to already have dinner put together and cooking by 8am!
2. Combine your errands
If you want to really shine in the efficiency department, learn how to combine your errands. At any given time, I have kids' activities, grocery shopping, doctor and dentist appointments, a dog that needs to go to the vet, cars that need to be smog tested in order to update the registration, gifts to buy, etc. If I'm going to leave the house, you'd better believe that I have at least 3 or 4 errands mapped out, at a minimum (sometimes as many as 10)!
For instance, when I take my sons to swim practice, I drop them off, and then I go to the post office to check the mail in my post office box, stop at either the grocery store or Costco and do my shopping, and then put gas in my car. On the night that we have basketball practice, I take my older son to swim practice, then I pick him up on the way to taking the other two to basketball practice. While they are shooting hoops, he and I go out for dinner and get some nice one on one time.
When you have a lot of errands, it helps to write them down in the order you are going to do them
3. Buy in Bulk
Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club are awesome for large families. We burn through stuff really quickly, so it's great to be able to stock up on cases of milk and eggs, large packages of meat, double bags of bread, huge packages of paper towels, etc. Track prices though; the warehouse stores aren't always the cheapest per unit. Sometimes they are a fabulous deal, but with some items you can actually do better at the neighborhood grocery store, especially if you watch the sales and click on the digital coupons.
4. Do your cleaning logically
To be a model of efficiency, let your cleaning products do most of the work for you. In the bathroom, put some cleaner in the toilet and shower, and then let those sit and do their magic while you clean the counter, sink, and mirror. When you go back to finish the toilet and shower, the grime will come right off. Then sweep and mop your way out of the room.
In the kitchen, soak the pots in soapy water while you unload and reload the dishwasher, declutter the counters, spray the cooktop with cleaner and then the counters, empty the trash, then go back and wipe down the counters and cooktop and tackle the soaked pots. Wipe the finger prints off your appliances, and then sweep and mop your way out of the room.
Monthly or seasonally do other tasks like cleaning out your fridge, wiping down the blinds, cleaning the oven, dusting the baseboards, etc.
Be sure to enlist your children to help you with as much of the cleaning as possible. If they're all little, they won't be much help, but just know that it will get easier! At a minimum, they can pick up their toys. I remember when my older daughters Christina and Katherine were about 3 and 4 years old, I was vacuuming, and they would get into the graham crackers and follow me around while munching on them, dropping crumbs on the areas I had just vacuumed. Funny to look back on, but not so funny at the time!