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Our Nighttime Routine: laying the foundation

2010 May 24
by Pamela

My girlfriend is struggling to “make it all work” with some new responsibilities and her regular household mountain of stuff, all while taking care of her husband and kids. Since she usually sees our house in the morning, she was under the impression that I kept a spotless house 24/7 and was asking me for advice on how to do the same.

As if! There is no such thing as a spotless house after you have more than one child. Period. Well, let me backtrack: if you interact with your children throughout the day, cook three meals, and spend any amount of time with your husband, there is no such thing as a spotless house. Nor should there be. I’m not a curator at a museum.

So my girlfriend called and asked if she could come and “watch my nighttime routine”. Sure, I said. She asked what time to come over and how long she should plan on staying. 5-9:30 p.m. was my response.

WHAT?!!! was hers.

It’s true. Our house is not always (or even usually) perfectly clean, but on most nights it is straightened with things ready to go for the morning. Unfortunately it doesn’t get that way in 20 minutes, which is what she was hoping to hear. Things are fluid based on the girl’s needs. Several months ago, when Elizabeth was struggling to sleep through the night it rarely got finished at all. 10 months ago when she would only fall asleep and stay asleep if she was touching me, it never got done. But thank God Almighty for this 20-month-old who has given me a slightly longer leash and has decided sleep is not the most retched thing on Earth.

These to me are the bricks in the foundation for getting the house straightened, but first, what “straightened” looks like to me:

Straightening: I’m not saying this is a great thing, but to me having the house straightened means even more than having it super clean. Or even clean at all. I can’t stand dirty dishes all over the kitchen, towels and toiletries laying around in the bathroom, or stuff cluttering the dining room table. I also hate having Bob come home in the morning to a mess of a house. So I do my best to get everything put away in its proper place.

Which means everything has to have a proper place, unfortunately. I try hard to make sure everything has a home around here. Everything. The girls toys go in certain places, dirty laundry somewhere else. The mail has a bamboo organization system so bills and invitations can be found. Once Bob and I discuss whether we can attend an event, I move the invitation to the bulletin board in the kitchen and write the date on the calendar.

How to have a home for everything: I am really big on storage bins. So big that if I go on the container store website I start to feel like I’ve drank three cups of coffee I’m that hopped up.

We use containers to separate the girl’s toys by theme. Barbies go in one, Barbie clothes in another. Barnyard stuff has a separate home, you get the idea. To fit all the different containers, we use a cube storage system from IKEA. Same thing for the hall closet. There are containers for adult medication, first aid, and toiletries. Having different containers all over the house allows me to easily throw things back where they below.

The other cool thing about small storage units is that it is easier to clean and organize them. I don’t usually have time to clean out the entire linen closet at once. But I can pull out the first aid bin and re-organize it or purge expired items in less than ten minutes.

Having a proper place for things helps me and my family to know where to find things. I’m such a master of Stating the Obvious, huh? It also helps me to know what isn’t working around here. So for example if I am thumbing through a magazine and find a recipe we might like, in my perfect delusional world I would rip it out of the magazine immediately. Then I would put the page in the outer pocket of my recipe binder, and try the recipe at some point. If we liked it I would immediately and joyfully sheath the page in a plastic page protector and file it in my binder under the proper heading.

But here’s what I’m really doing: leaving the magazine under the coffee table until the whole thing is ready to collapse under the weight of all the trees that had to die for my magazine obsession. Then there is another pile in the kitchen and on the fridge of recipes I did try but never filed. Then there is another pile of sheathed recipes that never got filed back into the binder.

Can you tell I could use some help in this area? Steal this idea, become a millionaire, and then give me a share of the profits so I can hire a housekeeper, would you? Create a way to save all my recipes online as well as finding others online and importing them easily. And make it so a techno-idiot like myself can use it. Oh, and I’d like it portable so I can carry it into the kitchen and work from the screen and not paper.

Thank you.

My next post will talk about the actual routine I’m following at the moment.

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