“My life is a circus” says 24-year-old homemaker Ashley. Ashley’s “circus” includes a husband, a 2-1/2 year old daughter, a one-year-old son, and two insane cats. Really – they are insane!
Ashley is a full-time homemaker. She and her husband, Danny, have been married 4-1/2 years. They live in a 1-1/2 story four bedroom, one bath house. They are fortunate to have a LARGE yard (in the city!) with a gorgeous view and an awesome screened porch where they can relax and watch the wildlife. Just the other day Ashley was taking a few minutes on the porch to regroup after the kids went to bed when a raccoon showed up at the porch door. He seemed surprised to see her, and after some deliberation, decided to move on.
As all moms of toddlers know, life can be unpredictable, challenging and exhausting! But it’s also fun. You never know what to expect! And while life changes constantly, Ashley has managed to come up with some routines and strategies to make her circus run smoothly, at least most of the time.
Ashley uses a weekly planner to keep track of her appointments and any special tasks – like refilling a prescription, making a deposit, etc. If there are things that need to be done sometime during the week, but not on a specific day, she writes those at the top of the calendar. If she has a big project, like planning a birthday party for one of the kids, she uses an 8-1/2 x 11 spiral notebook and makes a detailed list there.
Ashley says she likes to keep a lean schedule and doesn’t like surprises. “I need a little time to know what I’m doing and to gear up for it.”
Scheduling is slightly more complicated for Ashley since Danny’s schedule is not your typical Monday through Friday,9 to 5. He works second shift three days (1:30 – 11:30) and first shift two days (6:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.). His “weekend” is in the middle of the week. It was hard adjusting to the schedule at first but now they like it. The biggest advantage is having their weekend in the middle of the week. When they want to go somewhere fun, there aren’t as many people. But it is a little harder to establish routines when each day is a bit different.
Danny and Ashley like their space to be uncluttered. They like a few knick knacks – candles, a cool sculpture – to add some interest – but they don’t like clutter. “I like things clean and tidy so it’s easier to clean. Plus we have two little kids so we don’t want a lot of stuff sitting around for the kids to mess with.”
Of course, having two small children means there are LOTS of toys, supplies and messes! Danny and Ashley are fortunate enough to have an extra bedroom on the main floor that they use as a playroom. “The playroom gets pretty crazy because after the kids go to bed, if we’re really tired, lots of times we just toss the toys from the living room back into the playroom.”
As far as baby supplies, Ashley has a plastic tote that holds diapers, wipes and other supplies. She keeps that in the main part of the house during the day so diaper changes are easier. The rest of the supplies, including clothes, are in a dresser in their bedroom. The kids each have a room upstairs, and originally their clothes were kept in their rooms, but it was a lot of work to go up and down all the time to get clothes and put clothes away. So Ashley decided it made a lot more sense to keep the clothes on the main floor. So they moved a dresser into their bedroom and put all the clothes and supplies in the dresser. That was one of the best decisions they made! It has made life a LOT easier.
Danny and Ashley’s house has an open floor plan with limited storage. Ashley has had to be very creative in order to find places for everything. “Think outside the box,” she says. “Everything doesn’t have to be done like you would do in a big house with plenty of storage. Find unusual places to put things. You don’t have to stick to the rules. It’s your space! Spend some time figuring out how to optimize your space because there are always things you can do to make it work for you or at least to make it better.”
Cleaning is a challenge with two small children underfoot. Ashley tries to keep up with the basics on a daily basis. Her “basics” include wiping down the bathroom, washing dishes, sweeping the floors, vacuuming three times a week (the floors are mostly hardwood) and doing laundry every day or every other day so it doesn’t get too overwhelming. She dusts once a week but certain spots get dusty really fast, like the mantel, so she runs a rag over those spots a couple times a week. Her favorite dusting tools are a rag and pledge but she also likes her microfiber dusting mitts.
As far as deep cleaning, she watches for a day during the week that’s a good opportunity to do a really good cleaning on the bathroom, scrub out the kitchen sink, and declutter. “I like a tidy house – that’s my sanity.”
Ashley doesn’t have a “cleaning schedule”. “I usually have a blueprint of how to get it done during the week but I try not to cement that because it may or may not work. I try not to stress myself out if it doesn’t work out one day. And because I keep up with the house pretty well, it’s not a disaster if it doesn’t get done.”
Extremely important to Ashley is picking up the house before she goes to bed. She HATES waking up to a mess! So most nights, after the kids go to bed at8:00, she goes through the house and puts everything back in order, sweeps the floors and finishes the laundry. The only time she skips the evening clean-up is if she’s really tired or she’s spending time with Danny.
Menu Planning/Cooking/Grocery Shopping:
Ashley grocery shops once a week, usually on Thursday. “I try to start my grocery list a couple of days before and start doing inventory and seeing what we need.” Ashley plans about three dinners for the nights Danny is home. Her grocery shopping strategy includes stockpiling and using coupons. She also goes to two stores – Aldi and Wal-mart. She gets everything she can at Aldi and then finishes up at Wal-mart.
As far as cooking, Ashley doesn’t follow recipes strictly but she doesn’t wing it, either. She likes to start with a recipe as the skeleton of whatever she’s making and then modify to suit their tastes. She stores her recipes in a three-ring-binder.
“My biggest challenge is balancing playing with my kids versus being meticulous about the house. I’m really tidy! I like things neat so sometimes I find myself spending too much time on the house when I need to take more time to be with the kids.”
Most Hated Household Chore: Hanging laundry
Most Satisfying Household Chore: Sweeping the floor
Lessons From Ashley:
- If you’re short on storage, think outside the box! Be creative and do what works for you even if it doesn’t make sense to others.
- An evening pick-up before you go to bed will start your next day ahead of the game!
- Keeping up with your daily chores will allow you to miss deep cleaning now and then if you just can’t get to it.
This article is the third in a series of homemaker interviews. You can read the other interviews here: http://homemakersdaily.com/category/homemaker-interviews/