Tips for Managing a Busy Household from a Working Mom of 4

“How do you do it all with such a busy household?” 

This is a question I often hear after I disclose that I’m raising four sons and working full-time. 

Truthfully, I don’t do it all.

But I do have ways that I’ve made things easier for myself.

I have really relaxed my expectations over the years, received help from both my family and friends, and made conscious efforts to make things as easy as possible. All in an effort to avoid burn out and exhaustion.

Here are some strategies I use to run my busy household more smoothly.

Practical Household Tips

1. Groceries & Meal Prep

Use a Delivery Service

First, I have to say that the last few years really made delivery services expand in offerings and options. And I am here for it! Online shopping is convenient and helps me limit the junk to keep extra spending at bay.

For the last two years, my groceries have been delivered 90% of the time.

Use Technology for Grocery Lists & Meal Planning

Throughout the week my family and I add items to our list on our Alexa device. It takes away the need for a paper list, allows anyone to add items, and most importantly, do it instantly while it’s still in mind!

Use the last of the ketchup? Shout at Alexa and add it to the list — simple as that. On Fridays, I do a quick run-through of my digital list and add items to complete it as needed.

I purposely order groceries for Friday/Saturday because our weekends are usually the busiest and we are home the least. This helps me to buy the right amounts and gauge if we need to grab meals while out traveling for sports.

Each family member chooses a meal for the week and Wednesdays (church night) is always leftovers, because we’re usually short on time.

If we’re bored with meals or looking for some ideas, I use the app Mealime.

What I love is that with every meal it creates a grocery list, and you can sort by dietary and allergy needs. This offers flexibility on recipes and makes adding ingredients to the grocery list easy.

2. Household Chores

Our home has always been lived it, but I’m from a culture where home is considered an outward expression of ourselves.

So for my family, the goal is for our home to be a space to relax and unwind. My boys understand that our home deserves respect and care. And while I have scrubbed dirty hand marks off railings and walls too many times to count, they are getting the hang of tidiness and responsibility.

If you read my article on raising helpful boys, you’ll understand that raising my sons to be supportive in all duties is so important to me.

Get the Kids Involved

My two oldest boys know how to clean bathrooms, vacuum, sweep and mop floors. And we often will set a time for 10-15 minutes to do a power clean as a family. It’s a hit because the boys know it’s a short commitment and since it’s timed there’s competition and challenge. 

Bottom line: don’t be afraid to involve children and expect them to help with household chores. You are doing no favors for anyone by doing it all yourself — children need to build skills in cleanliness and can be great helpers when you use them!

Don’t Let the Laundry Pile Up

Household chores.

You’ve probably sensed a theme here: that my family helps in all areas of life, and laundry is no exception.

My strategy for laundry is that I usually run one load a day and fold it quickly in the evening (or after kids go to bed) to avoid heavy pileups.

It’s not perfect and two years ago, I held a folding workshop on a Friday night for my two oldest to learn how to fold clothing. So they can help when I need them.

While I still handle the majority, I do often lean on them to pick up the slack when my one load a day method gets missed. Regardless, they all put all their clothes away each week.

And my six-year-old just started sorting socks and underwear (tip: I buy different brands of socks and underwear for my four boys so we avoid the, “Whose is this?” conversation).

3. Schedules

One area I often handle on my own is schedules.

My family is at a weird in-between with what calendar methods work best, so we use multiple.

First, I have a large paper calendar hanging up in our kitchen. Our motto is, “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.” I use it for everyone and everything, and I love it.

I am also trying to again, develop my sons into planners and organizers (at least a little bit). So, we use a digital Google Calendar as a family for my oldest to help him start organizing and planning his days — especially as both sports and school become more rigorous and demanding.

What motivated me to introduce this? A podcast I listened to recently stated something to the effect of, “If your child can download an app and text a friend to hang out, they can add an event to a Google calendar.”

My policy has been to embrace the efficiencies of tech with my kids, while also keeping it all together for everyone on paper.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Let other people help, because when you take a step back most of the things you do to run your busy household are for the benefit of others — not just yourself. Stay diligent and find what works best for you and your household.

What tools do you use to manage a busy home? Share them in the comments below!

And for more on making life a bit easier, see our post Simplify Life to Refocus on What Matters.
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Alexis is happily married to her husband, Andrew, and together they share 5 sons. Born in Minnesota, Alexis followed her husband to Manhattan, NY, before returning to Fargo. A proud Latina, she believes in utilizing multi-cultural experiences to inspire other minority women to be active in their community. Alexis believes strongly in public service and living passionately through serving others. After her 3rd son, Max, passed away at 22 weeks (2014) life has never been the same, but sharing her story has helped cope with grief and honor his place in their family. Aside from writing, Alexis enjoys traveling, laughing, dancing and food. She will never turn down Starbucks, a trip to the nail salon, or the farmers market. Follow her in pictures through Instagram and connect with her online via Facebook.

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