You don’t have to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat.
You’re allowed to have laundry that’s not folded.
You’re allowed to sometimes feed your kids McDonald’s.
Homemaking well is not about being perfect–it’s about creating a home that is fun, nurturing, and chaos-minimized. (click to tweet).
And so today I’d like to share 10 Homemaking Hacks for not-so-perfect homemakers–hacks that can make what you do everyday easier and far less stressful!
All of these hacks I learned from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–a sale of over 79 ebooks and 20 other courses and downloads that can help you on your homemaking journey. And the Bundle is on sale right now until next Monday for just $29.97! It’s so worth it.
1. Paperless Home Organization
I’m not even kidding. I got access to the bundle about three weeks before it went live, so that I had a chance to go through all the books. And I read this book. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. I just lay there, wide awake, picturing how awesome it would be if I actually implemented her system.
Finally, at 4:00 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, got up, and actually set it all up! And now I use it everyday.
Here’s what you do: You use three main online (free!) programs: Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk (an awesome task reminder program). All of these can also be synced onto your phones and devices.
Then you set up checklists in Evernote for your daily activities, and you enter special things in Remember the Milk. I’ve got reminders for everything in there–that I have to change the furnace filter every 2 months (seriously, we’ve had to call the furnace repair people 3 times in the last decade just because I forget to change the furnace filter), reminders for when bills are due, reminders for what projects I have to get done for my daughter’s wedding, and more.
Here’s what I love: she shows you how to use both Evernote and Gmail so that things automatically get saved and filtered, without you having to use a whole lot of words or remember where you filed something. It’s easy to retrieve again, and it’s ever so easy to check on your to-do list. It’s not like you need 23 different tags and 32 different notebooks. Not at all. It’s really simple. It took me about an hour and a half to set everything up.
So now everyday I scan papers I need to scan, save them in Evernote, and I don’t need to keep notes anywhere anymore. And I always have my to do list and reminders with me! It’s awesome.
One of my big problems is that I have so many things that I’m trying to remember and hold in my head at one time. And I’m always thinking, “I can’t forget that!” But that’s stressful.
This way, I know I’ll remember. It takes less than 15 seconds to set up a reminder and to plan when I’ll do it, and now I don’t have to constantly feel I’m going to forget something.
You’ll Save: Late fees on your bills–and lots of stress and tension because you don’t have to remember anything anymore. The computer does it for you!
2. Backwards Meal Planning
I’ve never been that organized.
So when I read Backwards Meal Planning, I thought–finally! Someone who gets ME! Sometimes we run to the store because it’s the only time we have free all week, and we don’t have time to plan first, so we just buy what’s on sale and what tickles our fancy. And then what do we do?
This book shows you how you can go grocery shopping FIRST–and then figure out, from what’s in your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, how you can come up with a menu. It’s simple! Just keep track of your favourite meals for each ingredient, learn how to substitute easily, and brainstorm on pretty printables!
You’ll Save: 20% on your grocery bill, if you stick to what’s on sale instead of what’s on your grocery list.
3. Budgeting for Yearly Expenses–When You Need a Monthly Budget
Here’s problem #2: You budget for insurance, transportation, food, mortgage, etc., etc., but you forget that in the summer the kids have to go to summer camp. And next year you’re going to need to buy a new car. So you think you have a budget that’s reasonable, but when summer comes, there’s no money for camp.
In Build a Budget That Works, Jessi Fearon shows how to budget for yearly expenses, or even every-few-years expenses, so that the money is there when you need it. And she hows you how to compensate if you don’t get paid on a regular or predictable basis.
But there’s still problem #3: You know you need to put away $50 a month for summer camp, but WHERE do you actually put that $50? You can’t create 20 bank accounts for all your different yearly expenses.
So Jessi shows how to keep track of how much you’ve saved for each thing, while still keeping it in your chequing account. And she shows you how to make sure you don’t inadvertently use that money you’ve earmarked for something else!
So it really is a budget that works–with lots of worksheets and printables so that you’re not caught unprepared.
You’ll Save: Interest payments from going into overdraft–and you’ll end up saving money, too!
4. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Several of the books in the bundle have different recipes, but all are super easy. You can make them with your kids–and then your kids may be more eager to help with laundry, too!
You’ll save: The author of DIY Natural Cleaners puts it this way: “The average American family does 400 loads of laundry a year. This will save you $0.17 a load, for a total of $68 of savings in a year–and that’s only 1 of 60 plus recipes!”
5. Make the Most of Daily Activities to Teach About Jesus
An imperfect homemaker simply looks for things that are happening around her–like seeing a squirrel gathering nuts, or seeing a crying baby, or seeing a sunset–to bring Jesus into the conversation naturally. Without a curriculum. Without crafts. And without preparation.
You can introduce your child to Jesus without a lot of fuss, because Jesus is just a natural part of your life, too! So learn how to make Him a natural part of your conversation with your kids.
You’ll save: A lot of guilt thinking you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent! And you’ll feel empowered.
6. DIY Breakfast Station
A perfect homemaker gets up 45 minutes early to cook a hot breakfast for her husband and her children, which they all eat while sitting down around a table with napkins in their laps.
An imperfect homemaker sets up a DIY breakfast station, with healthy food kids can stick in the microwave by themselves if they want, along with cold food they can grab in a hurry. Kids as young as 6 can make their own breakfast–while you run around trying to get everyone out the door!
Sounds much more like me.
I LOVE these recipes–and it comes with printables you can put on your breakfast burritos, muffins, crepes, or energy balls. So easy–and really fun for kids, who can choose what they want without bugging you.
You’ll save: Aggravation. Time. And money because you won’t take them to the drive-thru in desperation on the way to church or school!
7. Know How to Find Pics of Your Kids with Buck Teeth
An imperfect homemaker goes through her pictures, throws out a ton of them, decides it’s okay to keep some in a shoebox, but organizes most online so that she can find them quickly–even if she never decorates them or prints them out.
I’ve hired my youngest daughter to scan all of our family pictures, and then throw away the hard copies of ones that aren’t worth saving, so that we can locate any pics, any time. We want to have everything at our fingertips so we can create slide shows for my older daughter’s wedding.
Organizing your pictures is just one of the 52 projects in One Bite at a Time–one of my favourite books for making your home more manageable. Each project is practical–and limited in scope so it’s not overwhelming. And they’re fun, too!
You’ll save: A ton on photo albums. And a ton of storage space! We reclaimed a whole bookcase once we got rid of our photo albums. And now our pictures are on those digital frames that switch every few seconds. So much more fun!
8. Get Rid of the Drawer Filled with Warranties and Instruction Manuals!
An imperfect homemaker stuffs them in a drawer.
But you don’t have to do either! They’re both too much work.
Here’s what you do instead: Like Jessi says in Paperless Home Organization, scan the receipt an warranty and save it in Evernote.
Then, as Elsie Callender says in Your Simple Home Handbook, google the instruction manual when you buy it, and save that link (I’d suggest putting it in the same Evernote note). All instruction manuals are online anyway!
No more bulging drawers!
You’ll save: Space. You get your drawer back. Hassle: If you need to return something, or if something breaks, you can easily put your hands on the receipt and the instructions.
9. Let your kids watch TV, let yourself on Facebook, and don’t always give time outs.
But what if that’s exhausting?
Maybe what we need is more grace. A half hour of quality TV or netflix won’t hurt your kids. Looking at Facebook while they play is okay. Using distraction and coaching rather than being a firm disciplinarian is likely a better idea anyway.
I’m dedicating a whole day to talking about this book on Friday, because it’s that good, but today, just a simple word of encouragement: You know your home better than anyone else. You know your kids better than anyone else. In everything, there can be balance. Let love and grace reign, and you all will be okay. You don’t have to be a perfect home; you can just be yourself, and raise your kids to be themselves, and rely on God, and you’ll find life far less stifling.
You’ll save: guilt for not being perfect. Heartache when your kids act up and are angry at you. Frustration for being bored. Learn to live again!
And perhaps most importantly…
10. Managing the Mundane is the Key to Surviving the Insane
A perfect homemaker has a list of every task that needs to be done, all color coded.
An imperfect homemaker knows that there are really only three things that ultimately matter in how your home feels, and it’s these:
Holly Dvorak helps you zero in on the necessities, so that you can survive the insane world of mommyhood. And she makes it so super easy. It’s not some major cleaning schedule. It’s just getting the most important stuff done. Like she says, there are two universal truths:
Universal Truth #1: If we don’t eat, we die.
Universal Truth #2: If we leave the house naked, we go to jail.
If you’ve got these covered, you’re good! And she tells you how to, in easy-to-follow steps.
You’ll save: guilt that you don’t have a super-organized cleaning system. Aggravation that there’s nothing for dinner. And anger that your house is always a mess!
That’s it–ten books with great homemaking hacks that don’t make your to-do list longer. They lessen your guilt, simplify your life, and give you breathing space, all so you can:
Work Less. Enjoy Your Family More!
That’s the theme of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and if any of these resonated with you, I encourage you to check it out.
Or, if you’d rather,