I am just so overwhelmed with my full time job and one baby, by the time the day is over I am ready to sit down on the couch and just relax, how am I supposed to cope??!?!?!?!?
The key to managing with our day is to recognize priorities, put them on paper, and create a daily schedule. A routine.
By getting your routines to become habit (through frequent doing) you will find that they don't require much effort. Subsequently you'll be able to get more done, in less time, and with practically no stress.
Your time is important. YOU are important. Make sure to schedule in guilt free time to sit on that couch to just unwind. Take it even a step further - and make that time special. Spend it with your husband, with a friend, on the phone, with music, or with a good book. Maybe even with an ice cream sundae or a hot chocolate. (Combine any two as you see fit ;)
The important thing to realize is that homemaking is but one part of your life. An important one, but it shouldn't ever take over. Find the tips that make it easier, find the ideas that make it enjoyable - but ultimately find the time for other joyous parts in your life too.
I'm glad you are trying to make life easier for yourself. It is important to keep in mind though that there is a huge difference between "perfect" and "perfectly fine", or as it's been said "between 'good' and 'good enough'".
While I do often the talk about my certainty that you are more capable than your help - keep in mind that I only reiterate that point to prove that what she does in an hour you might be able to do in 10-15 minutes. I don't say this to remind you that you need to always expect as perfect a job as you yourself are capable of. You can't expect that of your help - and you most certainly shouldn't always expect it of yourself.
I'm in no way condoning a messy job - I am simply saying that clean and sufficiently neat will get you there - and with your sanity intact.
That said, let me address some of the other points you made.
Indeed, the concept of routines and healthy habits - along with the tools I suggest, are intended to have you be in control, and if you get to eliminate the outside help - so much the better. Many do indeed find that to be the case, but you should look at your own situation and not at someone else's.
You're an amazing mother to four little kids - and your time and energy is valuable. If you learn to do the evening routine in the half hour - as discussed in the book and explained in the workshops - you should find that your kitchen area: dishes, counters, table and even floor - are neat & clean every day. The bathroom too will benefit from the daily wipe and whirl. But I can certainly understand if there are chores that you find yourself too exhausted for. Taking the help when needed doesn't mean that you aren't very capable. It simply means you are smart too, and recognize when it is necessary to ask for help.
I wouldn't recommend hiring someone for folding laundry or ironing though. Not only because they don't do the job you expect, but also because these are tasks that truly aren't strenuous - and because of their frequency, they are tasks you need to learn to enjoy. Start associating the task with a pleasant scent, moisturize your hands (warm laundry feels great!), put music or and audiobook on, and learn to enjoy the folding experience. You can also either make it the time for a phone date (- since there is no loud running water or vacuum cleaner to disrupt the conversation), or perhaps get your bigger kids involved (as little as they are) and let them 'help'. They'll feel important and it can be valuable family time. This is particularly important so that when they grow up they always have fond sentiments towards this task - and are more eager to help when the need arises.
You want your family (and yourself) to see homemaking as a joy-filled experience. The way to get there is to NOT have it be the focal point of the day. Get routines done and out of the way - so that the stress is removed. As I've said, the very concept of routines is to get all that needs to be done, done - without constantly having to think and worry about it.
I wish you loads of luck - and joy! in this endeavor. Your lovely family deserves that.
Actually the HH for today is the toys.
The idea behind getting ready for Pesach easily is doing whatever possible NOW. Way before the pressure sets in. This way it can be done in little increments. At this point you can already do the master bedroom, particulalry the interiors. (closets, drawers etc.) you can even do the upper shelves and inner closets in the kids room and the china closet, linen closet, etc. Again the idea would be small tasks at regular intervals. Like 2 tasks of 15 minutes each day for the next two weeks (follow our homemakers' homework for direction!) will give you a tremendous headstart. After that we're starting the official Pesach cleaning. Do you have our Homemakers' Guide? We're giving those away free now! It gives you day to day direction.
As for what to do about the toys? Listen in to today's HH! (347-772-1188 - option #22) where we discuss just that! The idea is that less is more, especially in regard to toys. First off, toys and games that won't be played around food can easily already be done. And even if food *is* involved, if it isn't actual chometz you're fine - a quick wipeover is all that's required. We also mention that having some toys out of reach for a while will make the ones available more obvious and remove the overwhelming feeling of too much to choose from. But more than that, when the stored toys come back out to play - suddenly they look like something entirely new! So go ahead and get 'new' toys out of the old. It'll make your closets neater, your Pesach cleaning less stressful, and cleanup time a breeze!
Dear Hakol Beseder,
I just purchased your book after the summer and would like to start doing your program. However, being with the hectic summer time and having suffered a miscarriage lately, things are really so neglected that I don’t even know where to start. I have 4 little children and I was wondering where I should start when EVERY single room and closet is a mess.
As you've probably read in "Clutter-free Butterfly" and in regard to the "Homemakers' Homework", decluttering is a step by step process. The mess in your closet and rooms didn't happen overnight, which is why we have to be fair in our expectations and realize that it won't disappear overnight either. The idea would be to focus on a different area for just fifteen minutes a day - much like our Homemakers' Homework.
Next week I'll be starting with the master bedroom on the HH Hotline. As you'll notice we suggest one small task daily. We also recommend that you spend an additional fifteen minutes decluttering and reorganizing in the zone you are in. The most important tip to remember here is to never unpack more than you can put back (or throw out) in the timeframe you set on the timer.
The novelty of doing this approach is:
A. Instead of a one day complete-home-overhaul, this approach will take less time away from your precious little ones, and even more importantly, it will let you preserve you energy for what is most important - your health, and time spent with your kids.
B. Since you will be doing the cleanup yourself, and you will get to enjoy the little increments as they are done, you will appreciate it more. And you will respect it more. You'll be unlikely to simply stuff items into a drawer you just finished reorganizing. As more of your home gets this makeover, more parts of it will be protected from a sudden 'stash and dash'.
C. Since it will be a work-in-progress, then you will be more likely to keep at it, and stay organized - and the habit will form of doing a little bit daily. This is in direct contrast to getting it all done in one day, (either by you, or by cleaning help). In those situations the novelty of a clean home falls away after a week or so, and you end up back where you started.
And finally, D. If you will follow along with the Homemakers' Homework format (or your own, done smartly) you will be repeating yourself monthly. You'll be marking the progress yourself, as you see your drawers become neater with each decluttering, and better preserved from one cleanup to the next.
I would be remiss not to remind you that reorganization doesn't do much good without decluttering. And decluttering doesn't merely mean to have proper containers and an allocated spot for each item (although, that is important too!) Clutter is all those items that you wouldn't miss if they were gone. Not too much anyway. They are items you don't 'love, use or need'. And I do understand that sometimes it is so hard to let something go. But the pain of the moment will be forgotten soon, yet the sweetness of a clutterfree home will be remembered and enjoyed for a long long time.
Wishing you loads of luck,