Don’t let things be a substitute for affection and interaction.
Get rid of a luxury in your home and give that money to the needy.
Keep it simple.
Turn off the news.
Special suggestions for parenting little ones…
Don’t try to be efficient with your little people. Efficiency is for things, effectiveness for people. (with thanks to Stephen Covey).
Get unnecessary stuff out of your way. (Get a storage unit if that helps.) Focus your decor on things that can hang on the wall (and thus out of the way) rather than things on surfaces. Keep hair cuts simple. Donate clothes that are difficult to take care of.
Distinguish between ideal and necessary. I love the St. Francis quote here: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” For example, it’s ideal to attend Mass all together as a family, but it’s not necessary. A different season in your life may allow for more ideal scenarios.
Do what works. There are many practical things which are discussed over and over again among moms about which option is better – should I use cloth or disposable diapers? should I have my baby sleep in my room? should my toddler be potty-trained before the age of three? Do what works for you. None of these are important in the long-run, they’re simply practical issues.
Take advantage of technology. Appliances (especially washing machines and dishwashers) are your friends, as are cordless phones. Online or automatic bill-paying programs can save you a lot of hassle.
Aim to do the little things with love. St. Therese is a great inspiration. I fell in love with the Morning Offering during the chaotic stage of juggling lots of little ones. It’s SO comforting to know that frazzled messes and chaotic tiredness aren’t pointless.
Simplify socks. Socks are cute, but they can be a major pain. Don’t buy socks in assorted colors. Let each child have their own color – or even share a color with a sibling.
Simplify art materials. Felt pens were another thing that drove me crazy when the kids were little. If you must have them, get the washable kind, but in the end I found crayons or colored pencils a lot nicer. For many years we eliminated felt pens and crayons and just had high-quality colored pencils for the kids.
Consider a grocery-delivery service. One of our local stores offered this for a short time, though we had to pick up the groceries, we only had to drive up and they loaded in the groceries in the car for us. (It actually was dropped for lack of interest), but it was the exact six months that we most needed it and it was a WONDERFUL help!
Turn off the ringer on the phone for awhile if it’s driving you crazy. Telephones and littles can be a stressful combination!
Remember that children are supposed to make messes. Don’t let it get you down. Some day your house will be much cleaner and you’ll miss the chaos, if not the mess. 😉