As the school year was coming to a close in June, I was excited at the thought of having all of my children home for the summer. However, I knew that with all of them home all the time, except for a couple of weeks of camp and a few small trips, that my life had the potential to be pretty stressful.
So over the last six weeks, I made five changes that have saved my sanity in certain areas. Some of these changes are permanent and others are for this season of life.
1) The Buddy System
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house with all four kids and five minutes into the car ride someone needs to go to the bathroom or when we arrive at our destination I realize that someone is missing a shoe and of course we are usually running late. I was watching 19 Kids and Counting one day and the mom was talking about how difficult it was for her to get everyone out of the house on time, so she implemented a buddy system where each of the older kids are responsible for four younger kids. Brilliant!
I paired up my oldest son with my middle son and my daughter with my youngest son. The older two are responsible for making sure everyone has shoes and anything else they need to bring with them. My oldest son also is responsible for making sure my middle son uses the bathroom before we leave (my youngest son is still in diapers).
This has worked surprisingly well. I simply say “buddies” about 10 minutes before we leave and everyone knows what they need to do. Getting out the door on time and with everything we need has been wonderful.
2) Shower in the evenings
I prefer to shower in the morning. I like that clean, fresh start to the day, but now that my 18 month old is tall enough to open doors, taking a shower in the morning when I’m the only adult home is simply too stressful. He leaves the bathroom and gets himself in all sorts of trouble. I now shower in the evening when my husband is home and can make sure everyone stays safe. It’s also a nice way to unwind at the end of a long day.
3) Assigned dirty laundry to my oldest son
We live in a two story house with our washer and dryer in the basement. For a family of six it’s not exactly ideal, but it’s what we have. I decided to assign the task of bringing our dirty laundry to the basement to my oldest son because it was getting too difficult to carry the laundry down two flights of stairs while making sure everyone else was safe on the stairs (my children like to follow me where ever I go in the house!). He is responsible for bringing it down every morning. This is working well as long as he remembers to actually do it. :) Knowing that all of the dirty clothes are near the washer when ever I can sneak down there to start a load sounds like a small thing, but it’s one less thing that I have to worry about and in my book that’s a huge sanity saver!
4) One load of laundry every day
I’ve heard this suggestion many times over the last few years, but I didn’t see the benefit of it until I actually tried it. I used to do several loads in one day and the clean clothes would get dumped on my bedroom floor. Everyone would dig through the pile to find what they needed until I was able to devote a couple of hours to folding clothes and putting them away. I usually needed to do a few more loads before I found the time for folding. But now when I do one load of laundry every day, I’m able so sort it and put it away the same day! No more digging through piles!
5) Dinner at 5-ish
My husband and I make it a priority for our family to eat dinner together almost every night. There are exceptions, such as when my husband has to work late, but most nights we are all together. Somewhere along the way, we decided dinner would be at 5. Most nights I was frantically trying to reach that (self-imposed) deadline and getting stressed out because someone was crying or someone else needed a diaper changed.
Earlier this summer I realized that I was putting all of this stress on myself unnecessarily. I made the decision that I would start dinner at 4:00 every afternoon. If someone needs me, that’s okay. Dinner can wait. Some nights things go smoothly and dinner is on the table at 4:45 and other nights it’s 5:15 because one of the children had a melt down that needed to be dealt with.
There are still a couple of weeks of summer left. What sanity savers will you implement so that you can make the most of your time with your children before they go back to school?