At the end of a long day, when the kids are finally asleep and I have a rare moment without someone needing my attention, all I want to do is collapse on the couch and watch something other than “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on TV.
Being a self-proclaimed neat freak, I cannot fully relax without my house in order. There are a few nightly chores on my list that must be done every night or I am up tossing and turning throughout the night feeling unprepared for the next day.
Maybe that sounds crazy? I used to have no problem staying at work until 10 or 11 p.m. tying up loose ends, so I guess I just take my job as the keeper of the home seriously and don’t like any finished business. These nightly chores take less than 30 minutes to do, but save me so much time and stress the next morning.
1. Pick up toys.
It doesn’t matter how many times I pick up toys throughout the day- there are always toys on the floor at the end of the day! We usually have family clean up time before bedtime, but there are always stragglers throughout the house.
I focus on the living room and our school space to make sure all toys are put away in their proper place. I rotate our toys to limit how many are available at one time, but I’m still amazed at how messy my house can get.
When I wake up in the morning, a clean floor makes me smile and feel like I’m not playing catch up before the day even starts.
2. Empty the kitchen sink.
Dirty dishes drive me crazy! I try to clean as I cook throughout the day, but by the end of the day, we always have a sink full of dishes.
Dinnertime is usually a mad dash because we’re either rushing in from being out, the baby needs a nap or everyone is just hungry and grouchy so my dinner kitchen mess is usually substantial. Brian also brings home his lunch dishes and coffee accessories from work which adds to the pile.
We load as much as we can into the dishwasher after dinner, but things that need to be hand washed are usually left until after the kids go to bed so we can have some family time.
Once I’m done with our bedtime routine, I try to go straight to this task and get the dishes all washed and start the dishwasher. My morning kitchen routine starts with emptying the dishwasher before I make breakfast so I can load dishes as I’m cooking throughout the day.
3. Make sure the laundry is under control.
With four of us in the house, our laundry situation has gotten out of control. I’m doing my best to try to re-use towels, napkins, jackets and anything else that doesn’t actually get dirty before washing, but each of us usually goes through at least two outfits a day plus pajamas.
That’s 12 changes of clothes plus towels, burp rags, baby blankets and cloth diapers to wash which means I am definitely doing at least one load of laundry every day.
Before I go to bed, I make sure the washer and dryer are either running or empty and fold any clean laundry. Our mornings usually start with 20 minutes of TV for my three year old to wake up, which is the perfect time for me to put away the clean laundry.
4. Think about tomorrow’s meals.
This step is a simple one and doesn’t actually require any action, but makes a huge impact on the stress level of my days. The biggest drawback to eating real food is that almost nothing is as easy as the convenience foods we used to eat.
I can’t just open a box of Eggos for breakfast, toss a Lunchable on the table for lunch or whip up some Rice a Roni for dinner. Real food can be quick and easy, but it does take planning ahead and a little more work up front.
When I do my nightly meal planning, I run through each meal in my head and make sure I have all of the ingredients and evaluate the time I’m going to need to prep each meal. I find any recipes needed and have them ready to go on my phone.
Our mornings are usually much smoother than our afternoons, so if I am going to cook a dinner that involves more than taking something out of the freezer, I usually need to start at least prepping it if not cooking it entirely in the morning. My nightly meal review helps me hit the ground running when I wake up in the morning.