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Burnout Busters for Busy Moms

By Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years Coordinator

Get an answering machine and turn it on. If you need to, invest in Caller I.D. so you aren’t constantly grabbing the phone because you are expecting that one call. We have an internal answering machine, or a voice messaging service, that I cannot hear; once it picks up, it switches elsewhere and I don’t find myself straining to hear the voice on the other end of the line leaving the message. In fact, if I turn off the ringer in the day during learning times, I don’t even know anyone called till I check the messages at the designated times.

Don’t do anything that someone else could do. In other words: Delegate! This is the equivalent of getting rid of some of the extra stuff in that schedule closet we just envisioned. We have now removed several “hangers” and few “shoe boxes” of activity and commitment.

Child training is part of the delegation process. We utilize a chore system that helps me break down household needs into manageable tasks, with how-to-do-it cards to walk me through the training process, or to give more experienced “delegates” a reminder of what is expected.

Don’t put it down—put it away! I know your mom probably already told you this, but think about it this way: If you spend 10 minutes each day looking for stuff, you spend more than 60 hours each year just looking for things!

Take an hour or so each week to go over last week and plan for the next week. Make a note of lessons/field trips, bills to pay, calls to make, appointments to make/keep, meals to fix, cards to mail, etc.

Involve the children. Even a 2-year-old can help empty the wastebaskets or put his clothes in the hamper. We have used The Everyday Family Chore System for many years (I like that it includes “How To Do It” cards); you can read other options in Bonnie McCullough’s 401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home, or practically any homeschooling catalog.

Have a daily schedule or routine for before “school time.”

Simplify housework. Clutter isn’t our main problem; our first problem is usually bondage to belongings or slavery to stuff.

Outline a weekly routine for yourself (Monday is household basic cleaning, Tuesday is laundry, Wednesday is co-op/errands, etc.).

Pare down closets.

Toss some of those never-used gadgets.

Keep crates or boxes in your car trunk to corral some of the stuff you keep in there, so you can find it when you need it. (I know some of this is “stuff” management, but lack of stuff management often causes us to waste time.)

If your children have too many toys to put away, or too many clothes to keep in the drawers or closet, consider giving new homes to some of those items. Watch the clothes that always end up back in the laundry—those are the ones they like to wear. And which toys are always underfoot? Could you give away, or pack away, some of the others?

Organize your pantry and freezer so you can get to the items and you know what you have. This will streamline your meal planning and preparation. See timesaving tips for cooking in “Getting Dinner on the Table the Same Day You Homeschool.”

Streamline your pots and pans and gadgets.

Put things near where they are used. If this means you need two pairs of scissors, so you can have one pair in the knife drawer to open frozen veggies, and one in the desk, then splurge on the extra pair (from the dollar store, if necessary) or put them on your Christmas wish list.

Find ways to save on laundry volume, like assigning colors to each child (Anna has blue towels, Leah has green, etc.), using cloth napkins with binder clips on the chairs for each child (a.k.a. brand new men’s-hankies-turned-napkins in our house).

Train children to turn clothes right side out, take their socks off right side out, sort their clothes into appropriate baskets (one for colored clothes, one for whites, one for darks, one for linens, etc.).

Better yet, if your child is old enough to read the instructions and be safe with detergent, teach him to wash his own clothes and assign him a laundry day!

Fold clothes as they come out of the dryer to save re-drying, ironing, etc. My husband hung a pole for me in our small laundry area so I could hang shirts and dresses straight out of the dryer. He hung a small towel rack beneath a shelf to store spare plastic hangers between laundry days.

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