Being Productive and Proactive

Being productive with your time
If a person sleeps 10 hours, they are awake for a total of 14 hours. I typically sleep 7 hours so I have 17 hours of time each day. What do you do with your time? If you feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do in a day, it is time to make yourself a schedule. Schedules organize our time so we can do all the things we set out to do. If you already have control over your environment, it is easy to keep it up. Cleanup should take no more than 30 minutes after each meal if you have each person doing their own share.

First thing after breakfast, we break away to do our share of the work. We all live together so we all work together as a team. I buy a spray bottle for each of the kids, a broom, and some other cleaning tools to go in their own cleaning caddy so they can do their jobs efficiently. I will share our typical morning which is a piece of cake for TEAM HARRISON (the kids and I) who rent a 4,000-square-foot home…

(my nine-year-old) has bathroom duty. Each bathroom takes five minutes. There are four bathrooms. First, he sprays the counter top and sink and wipes it clean (1 min.). Then he sprays the mirror and shines out all the water spots (1 min.) He dumps a little vinegar into the toilet and brushes it clean (20 sec.). Then he takes the bag filled with garbage out of the trash can and takes it outside to the garbage bin (15 sec.). He sprays down the toilet seat and around the outside of the toilet and wipes it down (30 sec.). Lastly, he sweeps the floor (1 min.). He finishes out the other three bathrooms with the same routine. He only puts in about 30 minutes of total work time.
Mikey is my ten-year-old boy. He feeds and waters the chickens and gathers the eggs (10 min.). When he comes back into the home, he goes into the living room to pick up items that have been left on the floor and returns those items to their proper places (5 min.). He then gets his broom and starts sweeping the living room (5 min.). Then he gets our handy spray mop and mops over the living room floor (5 min.). In his remaining five minutes, Mikey dusts the living room.
Megan and Molly work on the kitchen together. While Molly is clearing the breakfast table, Megan is rinsing the dishes. Typically, it takes about ten minutes to clear all the countertops, put away any leftover food, and wipe off the countertops. It takes another ten minutes to wash the breakfast dishes. The remaining ten minutes are for rinsing, drying and putting away the dishes.
Miles is the cow-milker (we live on a little hobby farm). It takes him about 30 minutes to get the milker ready, milk the cow, dump out the milk, and wash out the milker.
Mom-ME While they are working, I am also busy working alongside them. I start a load of laundry and fold a load that is dry (10 min.). I wipe down the faces of the cupboards in the kitchen while the girls are washing the dishes (5 min.). I sweep and mop the kitchen (10 min.). If needed, I help any of the kids with their work. I sweep my home office and tidy it up. I am right alongside Junior since he is my youngest.  I help him execute his bathroom duty.  I may pop in there and help him with a toilet or shine up the sink.

Preventative cleaning—Being PROACTIVE
In a short amount of time, our home is completely clean. I call this “preventative cleaning” because it prevents us from having to deeply clean once a week. When you clean up messes right away, the grime and filth will not have a chance to take over and set in. If you maintain a clean home each day, you have more flexibility to do other things.
We have about a half-hour before we typically start school, so it feels very relaxed. If our chores take a little longer, we have that extra time. We all like finishing our work quickly so we have time for other things. If we are in a summer vacation time, during the normal school hours we will do other projects. Projects like gardening, canning, sewing, building forts, mowing grass, or most days, just enjoying more playtime with friends.

While the kids are having free time, I can do things that I need to take care of like business or correcting schoolwork. I feel like I have a lot of time. Being productive helps me stay motivated. I gain momentum as the day goes on and I just keep plugging away.
People come to visit and they look around and say, “You must clean all day long.” No, I actually do not need to clean very much because we keep it up. Some moms say, “Well, you have a bunch of kids to help.” If you do not have a bunch of kids, you have a lot less mess. Less dishes to wash, less food to prepare, less people to teach, so it is all relative. If you have 20 kids, you have 20 people to team up and tackle the jobs. If 20 people worked a solid 30 minutes each, you would have the equivalent of 10 hours of work. And it is all done at the same time.

Wow. Let’s do the math…

20 people    x   30 minutes  =  10 hours

When I work with my five kids, we actually put in a total of three hours of cleaning in the morning. Here is the math equation…

6 people    x    30 minutes  =  3 hours

30 minutes is nothing to one person when they have 14 hours a day! The more members in the home, the less time is required out of each individual. I like to give my kids schedules where they can check boxes off. It is good to see what is expected of each person. It feels good to check things off your list.

This is taken out of one of my many chapters in Living Virtuously: A Wife’s Complete Guide To Keeping Her Heart & Home.  Discover how to manage life by reading my book.  It really covers all the aspects of achieving and maintaining an organized and joyful environment.

Here are the kids chore charts if you are interested in using them.  They are word documents, so you can download them and replace the chores with your unique situation at home.  Make one for each of your kids today!  You can also purchase some mini dry erase boards and copy my idea pictured at the beginning of this post.  See how much work you can do in 30 minutes. Call your team, TEAM (your last name)!  Enjoy!

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13 thoughts on “Being Productive and Proactive”

  1. This sounds great 🙂 But I wonder if you have any advice for me. I have 4 children (about 4, 3, 2, and 5 months) and I like to include my children in my chores and they can complete simple tasks but I often feel overwhelmed. My baby obviously isn’t in the mix yet but the other 3 seem to want to help all at once. For example, if I’m making pb&js for lunch, I’ll let one of them help me.. well then come the other 2 and there are just little hands flying everywhere. I have a hard time splitting my attention I guess. Homeschooling is also more difficult than it needs to be it seems, with the 2 year old (a boy) wanting to be involved but really makes it hard. I know I have to be making this harder than it has to be because I see that other people make it work just fine. Thanks for your articles- they are so helpful in a world where it’s funny and acceptable to be a lazy homemaker and a dysfunctional family. It’s such the norm nowadays. Love you and your site 🙂 God bless

    1. I’m not sure what Erin’s ideas may be on your situation, but I’ll throw in my 2 cents since I’ve been there (and in many ways, still am!) I have 6 children (8,7,5,3,1, baby due in 8 wks). I can SO EASILY relate to what you are explaining!! All I can say, is, you’re doing good, Mama! Keep it up, and someday it’ll get a little easier. Then, I’m sure with time, it’ll get a lot easier. Right now, I can’t have a schedule like Erin’s. It simply wouldn’t work for us! We do the same amount of work, but instead of taking a total of 3 hours, it takes us a total of about 12 hours a day. The reason is that a 5 yo does NOT do 30 min. worth of adult’s work in a 30 min. time span. Throw about 4 hours (of my time) for homeschooling into the mix, and sometimes that seems overwhelming. Scratch that, most days it feels overwhelming! I have time to cook, clean, homeschool, and collapse into bed! 🙂 BUT… here’s the big encouragement. It DOES GET BETTER! I can see it getting better before my very eyes. By the time you have one or two kids ages 7 and up, you WILL see a difference! You will suddenly find time to do all those projects you’d been neglecting for so many years (I can’t believe I now have time to quilt nearly every day!! And I might be able to put in a decent garden next year? Surprise!!) Your children will ENJOY working with you, because you took the time to ENJOY working with them!
      As for the kids all wanting to help all at once, I have one solution that has worked like a charm in our house. Like you, I get overwhelmed with too many little hands helping. So, I set up ‘special days’. Each day of the week is a child’s (or, in my case, 2 children’s) special day. When we are doing something ‘fun’ (making meals, getting the mail, etc), it is only the kids who have a special day who get to help out. Obviously, the rule is bent as need be, but that’s the basic gist. Basically, every other day each child gets a special day. I hope not to take this opportunity to steal time away from Erin’s book, which I’m certain is very helpful! I need to order it and read it soon, as her blog has been such an encouragement to me! However, from what I have read thus far, the book that has helped me the most on this topic is “Large Family Logistics” by Kim Brenneman. Since implementing the ideas in that book for our tribe of Littles, my home life has radically changed for the better.
      As an aside, if Erin has more ideas for how to schedule life around a host of toddlers, I would LOVE to hear them! 🙂 I’m always looking for more solutions from Godly ladies!
      Hope that helps! 🙂

      1. Darlene (Contributing Writer Keeper of the Homestead)

        You are right on April. Life looks different with a house full of toddlers than a does with a house full of teens or preteens. As children grow and mature and as we patiently train them they will learn and we will reap the fruit. Here are 3 things I did when I had a house full of toddlers at one time (I had 5 all under age 4).
        Eeek it was a challenge for sure. Here is what I did.
        1)I stuck to a basic routine so the toddlers functioned better, they kinda learned what to expect and what came next. It wasn’t completely structured but they could tell you what was happening next. I scheduled chores always after lunch for about an hour with the kids awake and an hour when they slept for naps.
        2)Teach them as you go, my little 2 year old and 4yr old would have spray bottles with water they were helping mommy clean the bathrooms, even though they would get distracted, wet eachother played as they worked, it was fun bonding time and they were always with me.
        3)Id teach as we cleaned, Id count how many times we wiped, we would sing Abc’s etc. I’d try to incorporate learning in our cleaning routine.
        I know this will help you as much as it did me. Let me know how it goes.

    2. What about buckling them up in high chairs?
      Fisher price ones. Have them do something fun yet simple with their tray on. Let this be an individual time. Try that. Put on a soundtrack of music that they may really enjoy. They will be too busy imagining the movie if they have already seen it. Now you can focus on that one helper. You may have to put your helper on a high chair at first, as well. Sing and dance. Claim His promises. Laugh a lot. Excercise for 10 minutes. Get that energy out. Get theirs out of them before you sit them down. Get movin’ mama! You can do all things in Christ. Pray about getting some help, too! Make sure you have a date night! Blessings!

    3. You could put your 5 month in a bouncer if he’s awake and talk to the baby when you get a chance. In this hard season of your life, make sure you are drawing to Christ. I wrote something else for you but I didn’t reply under your name so just scroll down and look for my name, Imelda. Read the story of Mary and Martha in the book of Luke. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. I will pray for you! Draw to Him and friends for help during this hard season of your life! I’m here for ya’! You may call me!

    4. I was curious, why are you homeschooling a 4 year old? I believe life is a classroom but assuming you mean formal education that’s rather early to start. Read them books, let them play in a sandbox and do crafts. Leave more formal education at least until they are 5 or 6. Assign ‘table time play’ for the kiddos while you prepare a meal. Or, give them a light snack while you prepare pb&j. Keep little hands busy while you make a snack to prevent ‘hands flying everywhere’. Give the little ones a colouring book or building blocks etc while you work with your oldest child. It sounds like they are bored and want more one on one time with mum.

    5. Darlene (Contributing Writer for Keeper of The Homestead)

      Stefanie, you sure do have your hands full for sure. We all are at different seasons in life when it comes to our homemaking and child rearing. Erin and I both can testify that we too have been where you are. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do the best you can enjoy the children where they are these days will soon be gone. As you patiently train your children you will reap the fruit as they are grown as Erin have and as I am now beginning to experience.

  2. Great ideas! I live in a house with 4 other adults who all work full time. I’m the only one who stays home to care for the baby. So for me, it’s a ton of mess with only me to clean it up. Any tips for someone in my situation? I typically do each job by days so I have a couple of days where the cleaning work is a little lighter (like my windows/glass day).

    1. Erin @ Keeper of the Homestead

      You can use the chart I made for the kids and modify it for yourself. I think it is totally possible. If I were there, I would first, each day spend, during nap time for baby, a couple hours or whatever you could afford, to get the place in order. I have an entire tutorial on youtube that you can watch to help you pick away at the mess. Then you can implement this routine and it should be a light cleaning after each meal to keep up. Set the baby in a sling and do your work while you cook. That is what I did. At one time, I had a baby in the sling and 4 toddlers under 5 years old. I managed to keep up with everything that way. I just had the picking up and meal prep in one shot while the kids were sitting at the table playing with play dough or organizing different kinds of beans. They were happy and I was getting a lot done in a little amount of time. I hope this will help you. I wish I could help you, If I would be your neighbor I would help you get a start to your order. 🙂

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