close up of grass broom

Your Questions: Getting It All Done

I’ve had several of you ladies write recently asking the question we all think every now and again when we get a peek into someone else’s life… “How do you get it all done?”

My experience is that if so many are asking it, there are even more thinking it. And boy the last thing I want is for you to ever browse away from my page feeling like you’re a loser.

Because you’re not. We aren’t created to be self-sufficient or to get it all done. And I have bad news for you anyway, all our righteousness are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) And just because you’re aren’t self-sufficient, because our sufficiency is of God (2 Corinthinans 3:5) or able to get it all done, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s simply cause for you to learn to lean more fully upon the Lord to help you do His will in serving your family.

It’s a funny topic for me to choose to tackle. I try to organize my blogging thoughts on Tuesday nights and write out the majority of posts and edit photos for the week for a few hours after dinner. Since we moved in, I’ve only taken two “blogging” nights and when I told my husband this week would be one of them, he grumbled. I asked what he thought I should do and he said, “I don’t know, clean something.” Sweet irony! So does that speak to the state of my ability to get it all done?

It’s been a couple years since I spoke extensively on homestead management and how I do do what I do do.

The short answer is, and always will be, “I don’t.”

And I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m ok with that. Because I’ve found, especially when you are a homemaker, there is always, always something else to do.

Allow me to sum up the situation with an e-card: - Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.

I think Scripture puts it this way, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4

If I didn’t have all these babies living here, and if we weren’t living a simple agrarian lifestyle, raising our own food to nourish and sustain their bodies, there wouldn’t be Legos scattered all over the floor, toilet paper trailing all over the bathroom, dirty dishes on the clean side of the sink, chicken droppings on the front porch, cow manure to manage in the stall, milk to turn into cheese, two loaves of bread to bake daily, two to three loads of laundry to wash, hang, fold, dry, and put away, and so on….

I wouldn’t trade these rascals for all clean barn stalls or shiny windows in the world!

That said, we need to try to do the best we can to keep on top of it all while accepting that the work will never truly be finished and learning to be content with that.

Generally I find that as change brings tempestuous sea waves into my life, like moving or a new baby, while where I was when before then  was my calm ocean and and where I find myself leveling out when the storm is over. It’s finding my baseline and is a comfort when I find myself falling back into the old habits and routines again.

If you’re struggling with keeping up right now, let me share a handful of practical tips to get you started while you find your norm.

{Make a List}

Allow me to sum up the situation with another e-card: - Men, if you ever wanna know what a woman's mind is like, imagine a browser with 3,241 tabs open. All.The.Time.

I find that by making a list, I can stop worrying about what tabs I have pulled up and focus on the tasks at hand.

I like to make a list of things that must be done today- adding even things that need to be done daily like the first thing I write down is “sourdough- AM/PM” or “Make Pregnancy Tea- AND DRINK IT!” I do it every day, but this keeps me from  forgetting.

Then I write down the open tabs of things that need to be done sometime this week. I pick one or two a day to work on. If I didn’t get everything on my list done, at least I don’t need to worry about remembering it for tomorrow. It’s already written down.

Making a list is a big part of my Sabbath Day preparation as well. My mind is more clear, ready for focused worship, and less distracted during the day if I already have next week’s tabs closed.

Also, I find that a ponytail or bun is an essential tool for list making.

Seems like a strange suggestion, I know, but if you spend all your time searching for where you left your pen, you’re not going to get much done. My pen is pretty much always in my hair.

And yes, I’ve gone into public like that.

{Prioritize a Cleaning & Laundry Schedule}

I work best in small manageable chunks. Having a whole day exclusively devoted to laundry or cleaning burns me out! I much prefer to do a bit of cleaning each day and do a few loads of laundry start to finish with no overwhelming mountains piling up somewhere. This is similar to what you read Laura Ingall’s mother did where everyday had it’s task.

Here’s what works for me:
Monday– Finances, Menu Plan & Grocery List, Clean the Fridge, Shopping
Tuesday– “Scrub-A-Room” After the birth of my 6th baby, I realized that months went by where I never dusted. It was too time consuming to dust and wipe down everything in the house in a day so I came up with this instead. That way each room is getting cleaned at least once a month. That might seem like not very often, but it’s better than never.
Thursday– Ironing
Friday– Bathrooms
Saturday– Monthly chores

{Agrarian School Calendar}

If you homestead and homeschool find what your busiest season is- for us it is the harvest/canning season- and take this as your “summer vacation.” At least cut down to the essentials. There will be some guilt while everyone else is going back to school, but let me tell you the feeling passes. This has been monumental in preventing homestead burnout during such a crucial season of actually reaping what you have sown.

{Stay Healthy}

It seems like staying up late and burning the midnight oil and getting up early might be the best way to get caught up on your work, but “it is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). No matter how much you get done, there is always going to be more to do and if this becomes a habit, your general health will most likely suffer thereby reducing your energy and performance during normal waking hours.

As we have reduced our sugar consumption over the last couple years, I can’t help but notice how poorly I do when I do partake too regularly. I’m sluggish, lethargic, and off my game. And usually cranky and looking for a sugar fix too. Another benefit of reducing sugar is that you’ll spend less time in the kitchen preparing snacks and treats.

And try adding in exercise. I know, it’s something else to do, but it really does give you an energy burst and keeps the mind more clear. I mix it up throughout the week and do this, this, and this so I don’t get bored.

{Staying Home}

I like to get out every now and then as much as the next person, but when I do something at home is being sacrificed and neglected for that to happen. I have chosen to have no outside commitments or obligations during this season of my life. My ministry is my family and I unless I deny the Lord as the Creator and Giver of life, I can’t deny the ministry I know He has chosen for me in these 8 children regardless of where I feel I could be useful somewhere else.

We have also chosen not to get our children involved in extra-curricular activities. They don’t participate in sports, clubs, homeschool groups, play dates, etc… I’m not saying there is anything wrong with those things. Sometimes I’m glad we don’t because it seems like they might be like video games vs. books or Twinkies vs. broccoli… social activities vs. home and if you’re always on the go staying at home feels boring despite it probably being a more rich experience.

Anyway, from a homemaker’s perspective by staying at home I accomplish two things: First, I’m not neglecting my work. Second, I’m being more frugal by saving money on gas, snacks, or convenience foods to make up for my not having been at home and preparing a scratch meal.

I feel like I could list many more things that have helped me get things scratched off my list. Things like delegation, mulch gardening so I don’t have to weed but an hour a week, boxing up toys and only getting them out for a spell of time instead of having everything they own available to tear through leaving a path of destruction in their wake, utilizing a homemaking & homesteading binder, and so on.

Learn how I set up my Homesteading Binder HERE.

One final thought I’d like to share is by way of a little encouragement for those of you with all small children: This may not be the last time in your life when you will have so many littles, but it will be the last time in your life when you have this many and no big helpers. I know it seems like that day will never get here. I remember all too well the feeling! But the reality is, it will last only a handful of years before the training you’ve invested into your oldest will begin to pay off and when the next baby comes there will be an extra set of capable hands to grab a diaper or gather eggs.

And when you read my writings here and see the photos that I share, please don’t picture me in the thick of it all getting everything done, picture me with a baby on my hip, pen in my hair, waving my hand around in the air telling everyone else what needs to be done and delegating the work out to my often times grumbling helpers.

I have the bad back to prove it.

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    1. Hello Christine. I know it has been a while. I just got Reformation Acres a few months ago. I have been working on updating everything. The printables are ready now, if you would like to try now. You can use the form in the article or click here to get the printables. Thanks.