Time (Or Lack Thereof)

After reading everyone's desired super powers in the comments of this post, I was struck by how many of us said we wished we could snap our fingers & have chores finished (most mentioned was laundry), have more time to get everything done, be cloned because there's too much to do, and even grow extra arms to help with all of the work around the house!    I do think that some people came up with the perfect solution of BEING MARY POPPINS.  She can do shores in a snap and fly. 

But really, is this where we've come to?  Are we SO slammed with chores & work & short for time that we will pass up magical, incredible, unreal possibilities (C'mon!  Starting fire with a glance- controlling the weather- super strength- moving objects with our minds- flying- breathing underwater- talking to people through their dreams- etc ) for help with our house work??

I loved reading everyone's "super powers" but in a way I was a little bummed by the truth of how insanely busy we all are.  I didn't pick a chore-related power as my super power, but truth-be-told, I sort of wanted to...  I mean, the laundry situation in our house is insane.  And we only have two kids.

I'm not complaining about the chores,  (Ok, maybe a little) because it is just life, but it did get me thinking of what I could to to make it a little easier.  And I'm not sure I came up with any real solutions, but I do believe that even attempting to come up with solutions at least gets you thinking & makes you more aware of how precious your time is. 

We're all pressed for time.  There's never enough of it.  We have so much to do and so many people rely on us to get things done.  Laundry is endless (yes, I hate laundry) and it seems that just when you finish vacuuming one room, another one's dirty.  Can you even count the number of times you clean crumbs off of the counter a day?  Or do dishes or dust a surface (ok, I never really dust! ;) or pick & put away something that's not yours?   (And honestly, I'm so messy myself!) 

Look how happy she is:

 I'm not her.  I hate to clean.   But I do it because if I didn't, I'd eventually become a cat lady and my house would try to eat me & my neighbors would call the authories on me because of the smell and the trash pileup.  (Ok, and I love a pretty house & all the designing/ decorating would be wasted.)  ...  So all of these chores just have to happen. But is there any way to do these things more efficiently? 

Enlisting our kind friends from the forest?? 

How do we want to spend our time?  Most of us seem to want to spend it with the people we love.  To spend time working on what we love to do...  our passions....  Reading, writing, creating, designing, being good sisters, daighters, friends, girlfriends, wives, moms, granparents...  Doing fun things, making memories...  So how can we spend more time doing the things we want to do and less time with chores & house work? 

--On a sidenote, I believe time is money & money is time.  My idea of success is not based upon money, but rather on happiness.  A happy person is a successful one to me.  (Now a happy, rich person?  Well hot damn! ;)    ---

Anyway, the first thing that comes to mind is that anyone who can afford a cleaning service & doesn't already have one, should hire one asap.   That time that you would have spent cleaning, you can now spend in better ways.  So maybe you don't have as much money in the bank at the end of the month, but you do have more time at the end of the month.  And if you spent that time wisely, you have more memories, more bonding with the people you love, and a less harried life. 

Now what about those of us who can't afford a cleaning service?  (above)  Or those of us who already have one and are still pressed to the max??  (Laundry NEVER stops!!!)  Well, there HAS to be something we can do.  Something to make it more efficient.  A system perhaps?  Can we really possibly doing it the best possible way already?  I don't really know the answer. 

There are probably things all of us can cut out a little.  TV?  Chatting on the phone for too long? And dare I say it, blogging?   (oh that hurt to type.)  We could probably move faster too.  Some of us wanted lightning speed to get chores done quickly...  so maybe we should try going as fast as we physically can?  I know some people like to set the timer for a short period of time (my Grandmother!) and get as much as they can accomplish finished before the buzzer goes off.   I also love getting my toddler involved in chores and trying to have fun so it's less painful... 

And when I get REALLY pressed for time, the first thing I do is create a schedule.  I plan out my entire day. 

When I had my first baby, I was unprepared for life with a newborn.  I knew I'd be exhausted & slammed, but I didn't know what it would really be like.  After going through a few weeks or months (it's a haze) barely sleeping, eating, hanging out, never really relaxing and completely fawning over our new sweetie pie, my husband & I realized that we needed a solution.  We needed "us" time and it seemed like there was always something- laundry, cleaning, working, etc.- that kept us from enjoying each other & doing the things we really wanted to do and feel like good parents.  (Him- work out, me- work on a new business.)  SO, we created a weekly schedule.  On the back we both wrote what we wanted to do weekly and daily.  We had a date night on there (that could be as simple as making a great dinner at home & watching a movie), We had work-outs on there, a daily walk as a family, I had a couple of hours a day of business I needed to get done, and I even wrote "shower before 3:00" on there because as that point I was having trouble putting the baby down because the poor little guy would wail his head off if I did.  Anyway, once we wrote down the things that needed to happen, we put them into time slots on the schedule.  We didn't put chores on there.  Just the good things.  We did the chores in the unscheduled time. 

We basically reversed out priorities.   (In effect, the chores were still on there, but not written down, so the good things became the bigger priority.)  We weren't perfect at sticking to it, but it was something to strive for.  And it made a huge difference.  We still had piles of laundry and were behind on chores (like we'd always been) but we were happier, more satisfied.  We realized that a walk with each other around the lake was going to do us a lot more good than cleaning the house.

And the good thing was, that I knew when I was hanging out, bonding with Christian, that I didn't have to feel any guilt over not working, because it was scheduled in for later in the day and I would get it done.  (Working from home/ running your own business is often hard to balance:  when you're working you often feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family, and when you're with your family, it's easy to think about how much work is waiting for you in the other room.)  Anyway, I know it's not rocket science, but at the time it felt like it.  Life had completely changed for us & we needed a new way to handle it.

Well, life has changed for us yet again.  Add in another baby (Justin Alexander, above) and a business that's now full-time AND BLOGGING...  and, well, let's just say the laundry room floor is waist-high in clothes.  (And I haven't even gone "back to work yet!")  So it's time to break out a new schedule. 

And my new plan is to race through the chores...  To move like lightning!!  I think music & a timer will help... I'll let you know how it goes.  Could you share your ideas?  Life is short, so let's live it. 


ps-  Don't forget to vote for Eddie's Bloomingdales window today!!  (at the top right of the sidebar)  THANK YOU!!!!

We've also got a giveaway winner!!  (see previous post)


Mrs. 5C said...

This is completely inspirational! Thank you!!!

Ness Lockyer said...

I love that you tell it how it is! I am with you...I dont mind doing the chores, I think it comes down to being house proud and I like to look after it and keep it tidy. I respect it and so does our little family. We have days where not alot gets done, but I do have a system where doing the whole 4 beroom house take s about 2 max. This is done twice a week and each day in between, it can take as little as 30 minutes to get the house in order. Once a month I do a huge clean-ceilings, windows, walls, picture rails...that sort of thing, so inbetween it is just small jobs, mopping, vacuum, making beds etc. Oh, and I never let the washing pile up, even if I have to do it everyday, that basket is empty more often than not.
You sound like you have it under control though and doing well.
Ness xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren! I just posted on this very topic...I am so with you. I firmly believe in the cleaning lady (if you can afford it). I want to get one again and look at it as "buying back time." I have been trying to do little pick-ups in the morning and then a load of laundry each day.

It's so hard when the kids are as young as yours...but it does get better! HANG IN THERE!

pve design said...

Best post! I truly believe that no-one can brace a Mom or a Parent for the sheer amount of work, but the rewards far outweigh all the chores. I think "simplify" is a number one rule to live by.
White sheets, white towels, menu planning, lists, routine and humor -
You could devote your entire blog to this as we all work to find solutions, answers to live our best life, to make less work and to live more beautifully-
Justin in that basket is just priceless.

Tina said...

Great post Lauren:) I have lists for my lists and find the more organised I am, the happier I am and the happier our girls are, because we get to do all of the fun stuff if the house is tidy! I tidy the house daily, but make Fridays my cleaning day and make sure I also have all the laundry done by Friday at school pick up. Most days I cook dinner around lunchtime so I just have to heat it up at dinner time (gotta love my slowcooker)!! Our girls have lists of everything they need to do in the morning and at night - can you tell I love my lists ;) That being said, I still have laundry up to my chin this week...Hoping to have it under control by Friday:) Good luck with your quest!! - Tina xx

Anna White said...

Well said...I think the key here is to find balance..in work and play..in love and health..and cut ourselves some slack from time to time..
For me...I like to alway spend the first part of my day just chilling with little jacq...then during his first morning nap is when I go crazy with getting all those mundane jobs out of the way...its amazing what you can get done in under 2 hrs...and I also spread out my chores...and try not to do everything in the one day...its still chaotic at times..but generally these small guidelines work.
I actually dont mind house work...but I absolutely loathe washing....urrrghhhhh....but hey...maybe if I had a spiffy deck out laundry room...kitted up with all the things a mummy needs..I may enjoy it just a tad more.

Great post ..thanks for sharing x

Brooke @ Blueprint Bliss said...

Great post, Lauren. So many of us are in the same boat. I think a written out schedule will do me good! Oh, and I know it will be a must when our first child arrives in May! xx- Brooke

Brooke @ Blueprint Bliss said...

Great post, Lauren. So many of us are in the same boat. I think a written out schedule will do me good! Oh, and I know it will be a must when our first child arrives in May! xx- Brooke

"Yeah, that works..!" said...

During the almost 18 years after having my one and only baby, I soon learned that there will ALWAYS be laundry and cleaning and all the rest. But the moments we have with our children, our families and friends pass by way too quickly. So even though the chores nag and become overwhelming (and do eventually get done), I always place memory-making moments on the top of my to-do list.
ps: If I can find it, I will share a great email I recently received about this topic. The author pointed out that she is grateful for housework as it means she has a house to clean, grateful for laundry because that means there are clothes for her family to wear, grateful for dirty dishes because it means there was food to eat....etc

Lacy said...

Ahh- the work-life balance! I think even just taking the time to really think about your goals can be challenging. I too am a firm believer in planning, but the planning has to be productive and not just stressful rumination. I think we have more control over our lives than we imagine, but we are reluctant to try something new and potentially give up something else we think we can't live without. LF

Laura Casey Interiors said...

I have two boys, a full time business and blogging too. My youngest boy is 2.5 years older than yours and your new born and my older one (4) share a birthday! It's a lot to manage, but it's all worth it. Prioritize- BOYS (hubby included) then BIZ then BLOG. A lot of people like laundry upstairs but mine is downstairs (not by my choice) and every time I am in the kitchen I do a load. Sarah at Style Chronicle has 4 kids and she puts in a load every time she leaves the house. Good luck and if one day you can't get a post up your readers will be here the next. take it easy and enjoy the time with the little ones, I am trying my best to do it. xoox

Acanthus and Acorn said...


This was a wonderful post, with the best images ever :) You are far more ahead of the game than you realize. It doesn't get any easier, but it can become "happily managable"...I think too. I do have someone come in every 2-4 weeks for a deep cleaning. It has been especially helpful with my husband gone for such long periods. But it's the daily grind of keeping up that makes most of us nuts. I commented on a recent post that PVE did about 2 little tricks that have served me well: put a load of laundry in every morning and double 2 different receipes once a week to freeze for meals later. Hope this helps in some small way!

spark! (Ada-Marie) said...

Lauren, Thanks for the pep talk! I didn't realize that I needed it, but it is reassuring to know that I am not the only one with the work/life/chore/fun balance challenge. Enjoy every second with your precious boys! xxoo

Jane @ The Borrowed Abode said...

It is tough to balance everything, and my kids are only of the four-legged variety.

I don't have a TV, so I don't have cable. It's a lifesaver. Instead, I have a Netflix account and can pop a DVD into my laptop, set it up wherever I'm working on a chore, and have entertainment while getting work done. I love my new system!

Wendy said...

Great post! I've struggle with this too and had a cleaning lady for a while but she is now coming maybe once every three months only since it is $90 I can spend on something else :-S
My system is basically to clean when I can... If my daughter is taking a bath, I clean the bathroom in a few minutes while she is there. I also keep cleaning supplies in each floor (mainly windex and paper towels) so if I see something dirty i can clean it immediately and forget about it. I do not think giving up our hobbies or our "adult" time is the solution. We spend 1 to 2 hours everynight alone after the kids are in bed, watching TV or a movie or reading or on the computer and I could not give that up... You need "me" time as much as you need "family time".

Developing Designs said...

Just realizing the challenges that are before you and coming up with a plan to get you in the right direction is HUGE. It's wonderful that you realize this, for many it doesn't come till much later in life when they have missed out on the things that matter. Never lose respect for the important people in your lives, and always remember they take priority over the little things.
As far as laundry, just make sure you have an abundance of underwear :) (and diapers)
The photos are awesome of everyone and the little guy!
Great post, and has and will stir up a lot for others to think about, thanks for sharing.
I believe time is money & money is time. My idea of success is not based upon money, but rather on happiness. A happy person is a successful one to me.

elisabeth (bovagoods) said...

great topic! i think all of the suggestions are great. something to add...all of the lists, timers, music, and tricks mean nothing if we aren't taking care of ourselves. sometimes i stay up late at night being "productive" (blogging is "productive", right?) only to have a waste of a day the next day because i am sooo tired from the night before. going to bed early, taking vitamins, excercise, eating well, etc... if we don't do those things we won't feel well and we'll be less productive. (by the way, i struggle daily with almost all of those things. i am definitely a work in progress!) seriously, it shouldn't be THAT hard to take a vitamin every day!!! right? but, we get busy and forget and what not. ok, i'm off to take my vitamins! ;)

Traci Giles said...

I love the idea of writing the good things on the calendar, not the chores. I'm going to do that right now! My daughter and I are off for a walk before the rain moves in later, and I am going to savor my time with her. I think I'll even right it on the calendar: "morning walk with Meg". Laundry/dishes. . . later. Thank you for the inspiration!

Tara said...

"A Clean house is the sign of a wasted Life" That was on a sign at the flea market and I wanted to buy it to set out on those days I don't want to clean. And I love to read this poem "I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep" It helps me relax about my home,(I used to be obsessed with having a magazine ready house)as I learn this I am becoming a Happier person.

Lovely Little Nest said...

The kitchen timer has become my new best friend! I set it for 10 minutes and attack one room. If I'm not finished with the room, I say "oh well", set the timer for 10 more minutes, and move on to the next room. When you've given 10 minutes to every room (though some need less), you go back and hit the rooms that hadn't been finished (setting the timer for 10 minutes). That way, you won't feel like your wheels are turning AND you'll get more than one room cleaned! It really has revolutionized my cleaning ~ hope you find a solution that works for you! :)

Jennifer said...

Great post, Lauren! Our pastor talks a lot about living life with intention, which is exactly what you are talking about. It's so easy to let the days slip by without really accomplishing much at all, even though we seem quite busy. Sounds like you and Dave are doing a great job of remembering what is most important to you as individuals and as a family. Thanks for the great insight and good luck getting your schedule adjusted with Justin in it! BTW, that basket picture -- darling!!

Catherine Peart said...

Great post! I love that idea of scheduling in all the important stuff first - I will be doing that straight away! (just for interest sake - my favourite superpower would be telekinesis)

Velvet and Linen said...

When I have time I actually find chores to be very comforting. For some reason there is something very satisfying about a load of clean folded laundry when the rest of my life seems out of control!
That said, I hear you. Most of the time I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow after a day that was spent rushing from a meeting, school event or super market!
You are at a particularly challenging juncture in your life. There is nothing that requires more energy than a newborn baby and a toddler. That's a very labor intensive job. All I can say is that part get easier. Of course there are other parts of parenthood that get much more challenging as they get older!
Great thoughtful post Lauren!


Unknown said...

I love your blog, my sister and I (who's an interior designer) refer to you as just Lauren, when I'm telling her something great I just saw on your blog!
Anyway, I have two boys also and I love to spend time with them too, when I get behind on house stuff around here I usually visit this website about getting your house in order:
You probably don't need her that badly but the flylady has helped me a lot! She talks about setting the timer and making a weekly plan. I think you are doing well with your too little ones!
Have fun getting organized! I've been loving the monday posts...even got me to take down two dusty sconces I've been looking at forever!

Anne-Marie @ 10 Rooms said...

I have three kids, the youngest started school full-time this year, and the past ten years are kind of a blur! People always say, "enjoy them while they are young". But you really should, Lauren! Those days are precious, grab each moment that you can. You're ahead of most of us to realize that while your boys are still so young. As for the housework how about mark twain:
"the secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one."
one word - lists! xo

La Dolfina said...

Hi Lauren,
Great post today! So timely...I've been pondering the same thing myself!
I just did a post on "laundry" this morning and came over to let you know that it was one of my recent projects to try and streamline that area of our home and life. I think you'll appreciate it...
A good one for your spring cleaning blitz...which is so inspirational and motivating.
(The photo of you and your boys is amazing!!!

Have a wonderful day :)



Melissa said...

Oh, I SO hear you. On all of it. I run a small company out of my home, and have at least one of my kids at home with me all the time. It's so hard. The timer works best for me since I'm pretty lazy about starting unpleasant tasks-- also, trying to use time that otherwise has no real purpose-- like while we're waiting for the water to boil to make lunch! I also think having a cordless stick vaccume for running over the floors does wonders for your desire to tackle other chores. Taking that five mintues a day makes the house so much nicer, plus it requires that you pick up the toys,laundry, newspapers, etc that are lying around. It's a constant struggle to find balance, but having a system really works!

elisabeth (bovagoods) said...

i couldn't agree more with melissa about the cordless vacuum. i have the shark professional cordless vacuum. it's rechargable, runs on any type of floor and REALLY does pick stuff up. it works miracles for those cherios, cracker crumbs and half eaten spagetti noodles!!! best invention ever!!!

Wendy said...

Hi Lauren! I love this post. It is so true. Just life the way it is. I love your philosophy about writing out a schedule for the good things. Everytime I make a schedule I seem to focus on the other stuff....it would be great to make a schedule for working out and hanging out etc. and then fit everything else in around it. I think I might just try that!

Your blog has quickly become one of my favorites. I look forward to my visits here.

Henley on the Horn said...

Multitasking helps me but sometimes I get completely distracted too. With 5 children, the laundry never ever ends. I feel your pain!

pillingfamily said...

after i had my fourth baby life got CRAZY! i felt like i couldn't get anything done, but when i stopped and examined a little closer, it was just one or two things that were really hard for me and making everything else harder : laundry and ironing. my husband looked into laundry services. none in our area and i didn't want to do that anyway. so he suggested i find a young teenager from church and offer her the job. this was perfect! she was thrilled, i didn't have to pay the professional prices and i felt like i was helping her learn a new skill. plus, when she came to help i always worked on something else that needed cleaning or organizing in the house. sometimes getting help with just one thing makes all the difference.

Kathysue said...

Hi Lauren, great post, it sounds as if you have a very good perspective on life. I am in awe of your two gorgeous baby boys. Now if looking at those angels doesn't give a person perspective , nothing will. Like I say on my blog,"Enjoy the Process", No matter what you are doing, be in the moment. I think that is truly the "Good Life", when you stop and take notice. Great post, Kathysue

Anonymous said...

Get yourself a housecleaner every other week asap!! Seriously. I'm a stay at home mom and I clean everyday (because I'm OCD and I like to) but I still have cleaners come to really deep clean and make the house feel like a hotel...even though that feeling is only for a day or so.


What an amazing post as always, and so true, But I must tell you even when the kids are all grown and gone, there still is not enough hours in a day, so don't worry about it. I wonder sometimes how I did it all when my 3 were little, and I look back and it is not the dust bunnies or baskets of dirty cloths I remember, it is each and every love filled moment of time i spent with my kids as they were growing up. They grow up so fast, so heck with the washing,cleaning and anything else that takes you away from thoses little angles you have been blessed with. Buy new cloths,dim the lights so you can't see the mess and rock that beautiful new baby boy as you read his brother a story. I assure you the mess will be there tomorrow and it will be there even when the boys are grown and gone. So my friend, enjoy thoses babies when they are still little and don't sweat the small stuff. If you can't stand looking at the mess, take the kids for a walk. OH and THANK YOU for stopping by my blog, I am so looking forward to meeting Justin . I hope to see you soon. P.S. the pictures of the kids are wonderful, how beautiful they are.

Maria Killam said...

Loved this post, and especially the pictures of you and your little angels!! I just discovered the power of Windex the other day when I cleaned the house from top to bottom (a rarity) Windex is all you need, it cleans everything :) Just a little tip of the day, not that you need it :)

pve design said...

I just came back to see all these comments, (after I tossed a load of laundry in the dryer, picked up the bedrooms, cleaned the remnants of b'fast and took out the trash....
Now I am catching up on blogs, and then off to play tennis, back to work and then knitting. "Juggling" is the name of the game, that and a list a no more than 3 to 5 things to do in a day.

nannykim said...

Had to laugh at the first picture. I am spending this week with my grandchildren (3 and 18 months). They love Mary Poppins (it is one of the few movies they have seen). My granddaughter pretends she is Bert almost every day. She has a special hat she wears. Once in a while she is Mary. Her brother and she both pretend her bro is Michael(hmm, is that spelled correctly?). I can't believe the imagination of the 18 month old. He will put on a little hat and say he is Michael. So the picture really made me chuckle. Also the spoon full of sugar song we sing as we pick up their toys--they both get into it and we snap our hands and clean up one mess after another.

ps. I have found flylady.net to be helpful in keeping a house clean. Great ideas there. (it is not NOT .com)

Roberta said...

Congratulations on another beautiful baby boy!! Precious pics. Just discovered your blog via Maria and love your home. Green velvet sofa, awesome chandelier... stunning! Don't know how you do it all.

Emily A. Clark said...

I can't tell you how much I needed to read this right now. I'm in the same situation (just add one more baby to the mix) and trying to start my own design biz is so exciting, while making me feel equally guilty for the things I'm not doing around the house or the time not spent with my kids. It's definitely a hard balance to be the mom you want to be and also have time for your own interests so that you still feel like your own woman. Thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

Lauren, you are too funny! I love all of the very appropriate pictures throughout this post. Not to mention what you said! I don't have any kids (yet) but I somehow feel your pain. I am running around town like a crazy designer all day and most of the time do not sit down at home until 9pm! And instead of cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or doing laundry- I sit here and BLOG (and read others).. because, well.. it relaxes me. And the picture of your precious newborn relaxes me too...
Love this post. Thanks for 'keepin' it REAL' ! xoRH

Rachel said...

I love your suggestion of scheduling good things, and then finding time for all the chores!

We don't have kids yet, but with 5 dogs (yes - FIVE) it feels like we do sometimes. Our laundry piles up, and the house gets dirty quickly.
What I've found that helps me is to do a little bit at a time. For instance, if I'm watching a TV show, I'll do laundry - you can switch loads during the commercials, and fold while you watch. Maybe you don't get it all done, but a load here and a load there adds up.
Same with cleaning. Sometimes I'll take 15 to 30 minutes to vaccuum. Or to dust. Or to clean a bathroom. I like to do this right after I get home from work - before my husband does - so I can just get to it without distraction. I just feel such a sense of accomplishment when I get things like that done!

But thanks for sharing your advice - I'm always interested in how others seem to fit everything in!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a bit now, and I wanted to say how much I love it! You have great style, and wonderful ideas! This post was sooo inspiring to me. I blog a bit, but I always feel stretched for time (and I don't even have kids!!!). I have recently been reading the "FLY lady" who has an organizational system based on doing your chores in short but consistent bits. I just started it in the new year, but I feel it's making a difference. You might want to check her out: http://flylady.net/index.asp. I am working on my schedule now, and I really appreciate the inspiration!

DecRenew Interiors said...

Lauren: I loved this post and thought you would enjoy reading my post that is similar to what you wrote about family and enjoying life to the fullest.


Susan said...

Maybe a silly Q - but is that a laundry basket or a moses basket? I'm hopin' for the latter of the two and the details of where I could find a similar one

Love the blog!
Blessings and Hugs,