Having children can turn your life into a phenomenal juggling act. The more children you have, the more balls you need to toss in the air to keep things going. Parents of many know what an amazing blessing it is to have many arrows in the quiver and those blessings are all the more apparent when we can manage to make life run a little smoother.
By implementing a few simple strategies, it is possible to stay in control of your home without exhausting yourself trying to manage it all.
Color code everything. Whether you select the colors or your children do, give each child one color that they know is always theirs. This color will apply to their bedding, socks, towels, cups, storage bins, toothbrushes and more. By giving each child their own color, it will be easier to keep track of where things go and to whom they belong. This saves on laundry, dishes, cleaning up and overall time. It also makes it easier for the older children to take responsibility for that which belongs to them.
Have bins everywhere. No matter the age of your children, the more people in the house, the bigger the mess. Picking up throughout the day becomes a marathon that steals away precious time and saps us of our energy. By having bins in every room, keeping things tidy becomes a cinch. Throughout the day, parents and children alike can toss toys, books and more into the various bins around the house, only needing to trek to another room to put them away at the end of the day (or whenever they fill up). If you want to take it a step further, put a few bins in busier areas, designating each one to a specific room. That way, once they are full, you can take the appropriate bin to the appropriate room and put it all away quickly. You’ll love having the floors picked up through most of the day and putting it all away won’t seem so daunting.
Designate stations. If you look around your home and see the same items strewn about daily, it is time to designate a station for those items.
- Cups. A major problem in larger families can be cups. Either you are washing them frequently, losing them or just plain sick of gathering them. Instead of the headache, create a central space just for cups. You can do this by taking a piece of finished wood and drawing colored cup-sized circles onto the board. Each child will place their cup on their designated color. If the cup is not there, then it is their responsibility to find it.
- Books. Another like item that builds up around the house is books. Consider purchasing decorative baskets and placing them in major reading areas. These baskets are not intended to be like the bins to put away regularly, but instead a new location to store some of the family favorites. If the baskets are handy, putting the books away becomes a cinch for any age.
- Electronics. From cell phones and tablets to remote controls and extension cords, larger families can have a lot of gadgets lying around just waiting to be broken. Consider buying basic office inboxes and smaller countertop bins from the Dollar Store to create an electronics station. You can even color code the sections so each child knows where their personal electronics are.
- Shoes. Shoes are a never ending battle for the large family. This can be solved by a basic basket or shoe rack placed near the most used entrance. Be sure to buy a basket big enough to house all of the shoes so there are no extras floating around somewhere.
The overall idea of various stations is to make putting away frequently used items more convenient for all ages. Instead of fighting the clutter, control it and organize it.
Embrace schedules. Larger families run better when everyone is on the same page. A full blown commander station can be a great idea, packed with a large calendar, important notes, meals and more but if you don’t have the space or structure for that, consider starting with more simple techniques. By merely scheduling a cleaning routine and basic dinner menu, you will be amazed how much easier the household runs. Start small and be lenient then slowly grow your scheduling until you are a pro at time management.
Revisit often. No matter which techniques you implement or schedules you select, your family is ever growing and ever changing. For this reason, it is very important to revisit your techniques often. Take a few minutes each week to consider what does not work or what aspects of household life are frustrating to you and brainstorm ways to fix them. Sometimes just throwing fifteen minutes at a problem can solve it for good.
Above all else, keep things simple and function intentionally. It is easy to become buried in all the housework and chaos of each family member so by tackling things one at a time and with purpose, tasks can more easily be done with love and joy in our hearts. Large families do not have to be the most organized household on the block, but simplifying techniques and staying aware of problem areas can make you look like a pro juggler!