As a mom it’s easy to get bogged down with the housework. I bet if I took a poll of mothers out there and asked what their 3 top time consuming areas of housework were they would say that dishes, laundry and dealing with toys tops the list!
I’ve found this to be true in my own life. As a mom of 4 I used to feel like a LOT of my time was spent doing dishes, picking up toys or getting after my kids to pick up toys and the never ending mountain of laundry that moves from my bed, down to the floor so I can sleep at night, then back to my bed, and then finally folded and put in baskets and shipped off to the kid’s rooms a couple days later.
I realized that if I want to feel like I’m spending less time doing housework and more time focused on my kids and doing things I LOVE, then I needed to figure out these 3 areas.
Here’s what I’ve personally done to cut back on the toy, laundry and dish messes and how I’ve gained hours of my life back each week!
I’ll be honest I’m not big on having tons of toys for my kids. Right now 3 of my kids share a room and their toys are also in the room so space is very limited.
I have a couple rules when it comes to toys. First, they need to serve more than one use. So something like a nice set of wooden blocks is great because kids can build anything with them, but something specific like a yo yo… it has one use and isn’t as engaging.
My second rule is that it needs to be high quality. I don’t like cheap plastic toys, or dollar store toys. They break and never work well to begin with. I’d rather pay more and have it look nice and last forever.
I got rid of all toys that were broken, junky quality and missing parts. A puzzle without all the pieces isn’t very fun so just trash it. A junky plastic car is not going to roll as well as a metal Hotwheels car so ditch the plastic.
I got rid of things my kids never played with too. We had a bunch of floor puzzles, which came out a couple times a year. I kept 2 and got rid of the rest.
We had tons and tons of books; I got rid of the ones my kids never read.
Cutting back on toys has really helped make the toys messes more manageable so that when the kids do pull out toys, they can handle picking them all up much easier and there’s a lot less complaining.
I always said to my husband, “laundry is my least favorite job!” He would reply with, why not make the kids help more? His point was definitely valid. But the other thing was that we just have too many dang clothes!
We cut back to just 4 pairs of pants per person (kids and adults) and about 10 tops. That’s plenty to mix and match and create lots of outfits.
This creates less overall laundry to be done.
Another thing I did was instead of having everyone throw their dirty laundry into the same hamper, each person has their own laundry basket. When something is dirty they put the clothes in the basket. Once the basket is full or kids are running out of clothes, they do their own load of laundry.
Now we don’t have a mountain of everyone’s clothes mixed together and we cut out the need to sort, which took most of the hands on time.
Kids get their own clothes out of the dryer and immediately put them away.
Cue angels singing!
What a glorious thing! It has saved me so much time as well as my sanity!!!
Here’s another place I went radical.
I was fed up with having a sink full of dishes at the end of the day. Each person was using 3 bowls, 4 cups, 10 spoons and 2 plates each day and it was ridiculous. Some days I was running the dishwasher twice!
It was like pulling teeth to get the kids to do dishes and they didn’t realize how much work it was to keep dishes stocked in the cupboard.
I think they figured they just magically got cleaned and put away while they were at school. Well, that magic fairy was me and I was fed up.
When my son complained one day that we had no clean dishes, I was like, all right, enough is enough. You need to take responsibility for your own dishes!
I boxed up pretty much all of our dishes. I kept 1 plate and 1 bowl for both my husband and I and I bought the same brand of dishes for my kids so they would still stack nicely but I got them in different patterns, so we could tell which bowl or plate belonged to what kid. That way if a certain bowl wasn’t clean we would know whose it was and they would be responsible for cleaning it before they used it again.
I send a lot of mugs and cups to the second hand store and kept only a handful. I packed up many utensils too and saved all the extra matching dishes for when we have company.
Now I never have a sink full of dishes because we simply don’t have that many dishes to take care of. We are forced to immediately clean a dirty dish so it’s ready to use the next time.
This teaches my kids responsibility, cause and effect (if you don’t wash it right away, it gets dried and sticky and harder to clean), and they’re learning how to wash their own dishes.
Every couple days I’ll run the dishwasher when I have lots of pots and pans from cooking but it’s nothing like what it used to be.
I’m telling you if you want to spend less time doing housework and less time feeling like a martyr at the end of the day, then you need to get intentional and maybe a little drastic about what you decide to own.
What you own is going to take up your time. So you need to make sure you absolutely love and use it and it’s worth your time!
I hope these tips help you adopt a minimalist motherhood. Feel free to email me at Hannah (at) hannahhepworth.com for any questions about minimalism! I love to help moms reclaim their time so they can spend it the way they want and with the people they love!