There are few realities I have had to face. The first is that I am not nearly as industrious nor as organized as I have led myself to believe. The second is that five kids is a lot of kids. I thought it might be helpful for other sibling group families or prospective families to know a little of what does work around here, at least right now. These are my Top Ten Sanity Savers:

  1. Have a repertoire of “ready recipes,” things your family loves to eat that are fast and simple. Ours includes fettucini alfredo or spaghetti carbonara, sauteed orange chicken and rice, and pork-chop rice bake. Use these when at wit’s end.
  2. Use your freezer. When making a casserole, spaghetti sauce, or soup, triple the recipe and freeze two meals for later. It takes only minutes longer and saves many more.
  3. Have a place for laundry and refuse to wash clothes that aren’t placed there. Our laundry goes straight to the laundry room.
  4. Color code your world. It won’t be as obvious as you think! Each of our kids has a color. That way I know who didn’t eat, whose towel is on the floor, and whose sheets I just washed. Yes, I do forget that fast!
  5. Buy most of each child’s clothes in a two-color scheme. For instance, my youngest daughter is pink and purple. My oldest son is orange and navy. The youngest is lime and orange, but he’ll have a lot of orange and navy in a couple of years! Reasoning: Everything they own matches each other. This saves a ton of time and money.
  6. Buy only white socks (except for dress shoes for boys– then all black). All you have to do is sort by size.
  7. Have older kids train younger ones. For instance, feeding pets, sorting the clean flatware into the drawer, and emptying the trash are all easy tasks for young kids, which can grow into larger responsibilities.
  8. Wipe down the bathrooms daily. This saves a ton of time. If you do it every day, it takes three minutes. Swish out the toilet, wipe out and shine the sink, wipe off the counter, and wipe off the mirror.
  9. Cut yourself some slack. Call out for Chinese or pizza on occasion; take a day off and just hang out at the park or pool. Let the house be messy on Sundays.
  10. Finally, never stop improving your system. Keep looking at what works and what doesn’t.

What are your sanity savers?