When we had our 4th child, things got real. Not that they weren't real before, but adding another person + the combination of my oldest starting first grade made for a very demanding life. I now had "big" kids and little kids and a baby!

I had to get to 2 different schools during the day (preschool and big kid school). I had to wake up in the night with a newborn and set my alarm clock early to get everybody up for school. And don't even get me started on feeding all these people. The demands seemed merciless, especially those early newborn days. And honestly, it is still pretty challenging as we enter the toddler phase and the increasing homework load!

One day I took a step back and said what (WHAT on earth???!) can I do lighten my situation? I likened it to a business meeting, the kind where you would call your team in and discuss ways to make the company run smoother. What can we cut? What can we do better? How can we be more efficient? What can I streamline?

The list below is what I came up with...not in one sitting, but over the course of 6 months or so. This is the list I would give my younger, totally overwhelmed self. This is a similar list I gave to a friend and fellow mom of 4 not too long ago when she said "Help! Do you have any ideas? I'm drowning."

1 - hire some help

If you can afford to hire any sort of help - do it. We found a wonderful cleaning lady to come every other week. My husband said, "Let's view this expense like a utility." Re-framing it like that really helped me get over the expense. It's necessary for making our home run more smoothly.

Hired help could also be in the form of babysitting or yard work or even allowing yourself to get take out a couple nights a week without guilt.

2 - paper plates

Paper plates = less dishes to wash. I mostly use paper plates for dinner if the dishwasher is already full.

3 - auto draft your bills

If you are the family bookkeeper, you can save yourself so much time by putting your bills on auto draft. Most all utility companies and mortgage companies provide this option.This is a precious hour or two I can use for other purposes each month.

4 - Amazon subscribe and save

Dog food and diapers. Toilet paper. The things that you do not want to ever be without...sign up for a  subscription through Amazon. You will never be desperate, loading all your kids up at 5pm to go buy diapers. What a nightmare!

I especially like this for lager items because they take up so much room in the grocery cart.

5 - shoe station

Corral all your kids' shoes and put them in one spot. This way, the shoes are easy to find and it's easy for your kids to put them away.

6 - uniform basket (or church clothes or swim stuff basket)

Similar to the shoe station, keeping school uniforms or church clothes in one basket makes it so much easier to get everyone dressed! This will save you from running to all 4 corners of the house frantically searching for your son's brown belt and your daughter's navy blue leggings. It's all in one spot.

In the summer, I keep all our swim suits in one basket together, not in individual drawers and rooms.

7 - prepackaged snacks

A granola bar never hurt anyone. Embrace prepackaged snacks, especially if you have to pack school lunches - a few prepackaged items can give you so much peace. We also found that letting our kids raid the snack cabinet on the occasional Saturday morning gives the adults a little extra time to sleep. 

8 - if you have a baby, teach them to love their pack n' play

Teach your baby to spend a little time in the pack n' play each day. This is so helpful. Sometimes you need to unload the dishwasher quickly and efficiently without your 1 year old getting involved.

Just this morning, I put Caroline in her pack n' play with a puzzle while I did my make up and put some laundry away. She's 19 months old, a very active, never sitting still 19 months!

9 - quit something

There's a saying that I love "Why do today what you can throw out altogether?" Is there something you can quit, at least for a season while you're stressed, while you have 4 babies under the age of 6?

If there is something in particular that you dread and it totally frazzles you and it doesn't seem worth it - quit!

4 year old t-ball
Wednesday night church
school volunteering

It's not mandatory!

You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. 

One thing I quit doing was taking meals to new mom friends. Sorry new mom friends. I love you. Right now, it about kills me to take a meal to somebody. So I quit and I can take this up again when I don't have a toddler literally under my feet 24/7.

10 - Rest

Two nights ago, Stephen and I stayed up until midnight thoroughly enjoying ourselves, watching our new show.  The next day - unproductive and monster - are the two words that best described myself. I felt terrible. I had a headache. I over ate. I yelled. I was horrible, all because I did not get enough sleep.

Sleep is vital. Everything is better when you are rested. Aggressively developing good sleep habits is worth the effort! And sure, the occasional late night indulgence of TV happens. But it's not the norm.

Good sleep = better performance in parenting, in adulting, in everything!


How do you streamline?

I'm always looking for new ideas?


Adorable Boy Clothes

Over the weekend I was "shopping" for spring and summer kids' clothes, and I could not stop squealing to myself over these adorable Fiream boys' items. I would have died if this stuff was available at such affordable prices when my firstborn was really little.

I was compelled to do round-up! Too good not to share. Moms of little guys, you're welcome.

1 / 2 / 3
4 / 5 / 6
  7 / 8 / 9  

Revised to add: The Fiream brand cotton does not seem as thick and sturdy as the material used for minBoden. However, the girls Fiream clothes we own have washed just fine, and we have enjoyed wearing them. They are all 100% cotton. They are of lesser quality than miniBoden, but still pretty good. 

Links are Amazon affiliate links.


Pom Pom Trim Curtains

Caroline will soon be moving up and moving out of her teeny closet nursery. She's a great sleeper, and it's (almost) time for her to join her siblings on the other end of the house.

Almost 2 years ago when putting her nursery together, I made these easy, simple curtains out of white sheets and pom pom trim.

I can be so critical of my own projects and often grow unhappy with them over time, but I am still quite fond of these curtains.

I took a plain, white cotton sheet and cut it to the size of each window. Then I sewed the pom pom trim on the edges. Easy.

If you don't sew, I'm sure you could use fabric glue.

The pom pom trim adds such a nice touch, I think.

I'm going to miss this being her room. It's definitely bittersweet.

Link is an Amazon affiliate link


6:30 Dinner

We have never had a dinner time. But recently, after a long season of chaos surrounding when to eat, I set a dinner time, 6:30.

The issue at the center of all this is that my husband does not arrive home for the evening at the same time every day.

And so it goes...the children get hungry early, but I want to wait on daddy. So most of the time I feed the kids, and I wait (starving, hangry) until my husband gets home...unless I decide to go ahead and eat (alone) after the kids. This is depressing!

And it was happening more often than not.

On a whim, I declared a dinner time. And now, for almost 3 weeks, we have sat down to eat at 6:30.

Laurie likes to set the table, we light candles, turn on music, plate the food, say a blessing. I sit down with the kids, phone off, eating when normal people eat. There are still evenings when daddy is not home at 6:30, but having the time gives him a goal to work toward.

And now the kids are so funny, telling him, "Daddy, you missed dinner." Like it's a grand event! 

This dilemma is representative of many household "problems" that I continue to let happen. It does not even occur to me to take action and seek a solution or improvement.

It was such a win, and it's got me thinking - what else can I fix?

Dinner time has been especially helpful with the time change, too. It feels too early and light outside to eat, but it's time. And it's important that we get on with dinner, so we can get on with bed time because we still have 2 full months of school!


Do you have a dinner time?
Do you eat as a family every night?


My Winter to Spring 10 Item Wardrobe

After a year of having a capsule wardrobe, I have settled on Jennifer L. Scott's 10 item wardrobe philosophy. 

winter 2016 capsule wardrobe
spring 2016 capsule wardrobe

The premise is you have 10 core items that are the workhorses of your wardrobe, items like jeans, dresses, and structured tops. These are the clothes you wear every day in heavy rotation.

And then you have extras - t-shirts, leggings, coats, special occasion wear, church clothes, etc.

I love this idea of having a small, beautiful, workable wardrobe. In my 10 item wardrobe pictured below everything mixes and matches so well. Literally, all the tops go with all the bottoms. Getting dressed is fun - and easy - and I feel put together on the most harried of days.

This little collection of clothes was spontaneously organized because we are having the mildest  winter, and it looks like spring will be, too. My winter clothes were just not working! I can count one hand the number of times I wore a coat.

In attempt to align my clothing with the weather, I purchased a few tops, a new pair of white jeans, and my mom bought me a dress. Combined with some items I already owned and ....

Ta-da! I feel so refreshed!

My 10 items

3 blouses
2 light sweaters
1 long cardigan
3 pairs of jeans
1 dress

A huge goal of mine is to wear more dresses and skirts as we move into the warmer months. I hardly own any dresses because last year I was nursing a baby and the year before I was pregnant. So I will slowly buy them as the budget allows.

I will wear this winter to spring wardrobe probably through the end of April. I kept the sweaters in because temperatures will be all over the place, and we will most likely have a handful of very cool mornings. In my extras, I have t-shirts for warm days and coats for cold ones. 

What do you think? Would you have a 10 item wardrobe?


To give you a little more information about the 10 item wardrobe, Jennifer L. Scott has a fantastic TED talk.

She also has a wonderful blog, YouTube channel, and has authored 3 books. I have really enjoyed following her the past couple of years, and I have acquired so much wisdom about making the most of everyday life! Thank you, Jennifer.


Hi - and Three Things

I have every intention of blogging more, but those darn kids!

So today I will say a quick hello, thanks for your comments, and here's 3 great things!

1- I stayed up late last night reading The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. If you like mysteries, it's great! It's based on the 1930 real life disappearance of New York Supreme Court Judge, Joseph Crater.


2. A thought: when and why did women stop dressing up? I'm thoroughly depressed at the everyday wear options and norms of the American SAHM. Jeans, I'm over you. One huge goal of mine is to wear more dresses and skirts. But they are hard to find! This gorgeous Boden Skirt caught my eye. I'm thinking on it. Also, if it worked, I would shorten it a little.

3. Last night we had Change-Your-Life-Chicken for the second time. It is EASY, amazing, and delicious, a one pan wonder. And there are plenty of leftovers to get me through a few lunches, too.

What are you loving? 

What do you think about women and their everyday dress? I'm currently obsessed with this topic. 

Amazon link is an affiliate link
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