Don't spend a ton of time on this, and rally the troops to help if necessary. This isn't a spring cleaning marathon that will leave you too tired to do anything on Saturday and Sunday. Just clear countertops, throw away trash, load the dishwasher. As you tidy up, make a mental note of things that need to be put away, but don't have a home.
See, isn't this fun? Get up early, just this one morning, to beat the crowd and get it over with. You will need: a laundry basket for each member of your family, a Taste of Home cookbook, 3-4 disposable 13x9 trays, paper plates and cups, a blank journal, fresh flowers, 2 candles, an inexpensive shoe rack, 2 things of plastic hangers, 2-3 square medium sized baskets, 2-3 small plastic bins, small bribes (chocolate, inexpensive toys, games or books), a couple of frozen pizzas or other frozen entrees. When you get home, leave the stuff in the car (except the frozen items and the flowers. Put the flowers in the refrigerator for now). Re-cluttering your house is self-defeating.
Take that stack of bills and set up as many auto-pays as you are comfortable with. Car, house and utility payments are a good start.
Gather the laundry baskets, the hangers and at least one bin. Write each family member's name on a laundry basket, line them up on the floor. Keep laundry going all weekend. As the dryer buzzes, quickly fold the clothes and put in the appropriate basket, place clothes that need to be hung on hangers and put the bin on the dryer. All unmatched socks go in the bin. At the end of the day, put laundry baskets in each person's room. Offer rewards if the laundry is put away by Sunday night. Note: Even if your children are younger, be okay with them doing this on their own. Lower your standards. As long as you are not doing it, that's all that matters. It's never too early to start teaching your kids self-sufficiency. This will be incredibly difficult for some of you. Try it- it can be very liberating.
Again, don't spend scads of time on this. Take 20 minutes to evaluate your kitchen, living room and closets. What have you not used in the last 6 months? What are you tired of looking at every day? Box it up and store it, or give it to Goodwill. Remember those spare bins and baskets you bought, and that mental list of stuff that didn't have a home? Organize these things in the bins and baskets, and then stash them somewhere close, preferably in a closet. Assemble the shoe rack you bought and put it in the entry way closet.
Get out the journal and the Taste of Home cookbook. This cookbook is good from an organizational standpoint because it has a lot of Potluck Polly recipes in it. Casseroles have few ingredients and lots of leftovers, which means you can often get two nights out of the same meal. Make a grocery list.
With your journal still out, think of all the things your family has going on in the coming week. If someone has a basketball game, make sure the uniform is washed and ready to go. If one of your children will be attending a birthday party, put "card and present" on the list.
Your home should be looking and feeling more organized already. Put out the fresh flowers, light the candles, pour a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Relax and enjoy your progress.
Again. See if you can bribe, um, convince another member of your family to do this. Once the grocery list and the list of required items for the week have been satisfied, you're in the home stretch.
And by cook, we mean slop the necessary casserole ingredients into the disposable 13x9 trays. Put one in the fridge (for Monday night) and the others in the freezer. (If you haven't purged the freezer of freezer-burned food or food no one is going to eat, now is a good time to do that). Bring these trays out every other night, using the paper plates and cups. Use the pizzas or frozen entrees for a couple of "fend for yourself" nights. These are nights where everyone is scattered in different directions.
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