I receive anywhere between 15-25 emails a day from readers of my blog. Most asking the same questions so I decided to do a couple blog posts on these topics just for you.
First let me just clarify that I am an organized neat freak. Yes, that's right-I'm an organized neat freak and I have children [insert laugh here]. Even as a child my parents never had to tell me to clean my room =) As an additional note I'll remind you that I have two Autistic children ages 3 and 2 AND I have a newborn. Also add a crazy chi-weenie that I'm pretty sure has little dog syndrome ;) So hopefully my tips can help you out!
You Can Have Kids On The Spectrum AND A Clean House Too-no really, I'm serious =)
1) Kitchen and Dishes. Pick up as you go! Through out the day I will pick things up as I see them. If my kids want a snack I'll take things into the kitchen on my in. While I'm in there I will stick 2 or 3 things in the dishwasher. By the end of the day there's no dishes!
2) Set up a schedule/routine. I don't really have a set time for anything but I do have an "order" in which I do things. Don't sit there in awe over how amazing and easy this sounds. In between getting things done there are tantrums, toy throwing, melt downs, poopy blowouts, sitting on the dog, 2 year old streaking around the house, 3 year old shouting he wants to watch Barney instead...you get the picture? However when you have an order things will go much smoother than they could other wise. I started my kids on schedules when they were 6 mos. old so they are use to it. (My dad served in the Navy so schedules were what I was use to growing up. Plus Kids with ASD generally love routine.)
3) If your kids take a nap or have play time in their room use that time!!! I use that time to check my email, finish up laundry, do dishes, sweep or mop if I have to because they are in bed, I bake or relax and watch a movie or read a book =)
4) Laundry: Do it as you Go. Organize your Laundry room to make it easier and faster. We have separate laundry baskets for Lights, Whites and Darks so I rarely have to do any sorting. I just throw in the load. There is always laundry to be done in my house between bed sheets, towels, baby clothes, kid clothes so this tip helps me often. When I first wake up I let the dog out to go to the bathroom so I quickly go down stairs and throw in a load before I let him back in. It takes maybe 5 seconds. I do it during nap time as well.
5) Baby Gates: Use them =) When you have children on the spectrum baby gates will be your best friend! Keeps them in designated areas of the house and out of trouble for those few minutes you run down stairs to switch laundry loads or get them a snack from the kitchen or need a potty break. However my kids follow me to the bathroom so I have yet to know what it's like to enjoy going to bathroom alone without my kids watching my every move =)
6) Dinner: I hear SO MANY parents feel they have to eat out because they are just too busy with their child to make dinner. Are you ready for me to reveal my secret to frequent fabulous home cooked meals amongst a busy schedule?....
The CROCK POT!!!! Ta Dah!! =) Ladies, the crock pot can become your best friend!!! I even have a blog you can frequent. It's good to have 2 crock pots, one for the main dish and one for a side dish and to invest in a rice maker. I love her blog and use it all the time 365 Days of Crock Pot Meals, Desserts, Side Dishes and Drinks! Dinner dilemma solved! No more yucky, make-your-bum-jiggle, kill-your-wallet fast food! =)
7) Cleaning the Bathroom: How many times do you use the bathroom a day? Exactly =) Same thing applies. do it as you "go" no pun intended ;) Maybe wipe off the counter one visit, wipe down the mirror another visit.
8) Organization: This can make your life go so much smoother and it allows you to do things quickly if you know where everything is. Organize your pantry into sauces, pasta, veggies, canned meats, beans/rice, soups, kids snacks and so on so you can just grab and throw together. I also have cleaning supplies in each room. This way I'm not running around the house looking for supplies. I keep Sanitizing wipes in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room so I can just grab and wipe down counter tops quickly. Keep extra trash bags IN your garbage pails underneath the liner so you don't have to run around to get trash bags. And yes, ALWAYS make sure you put cleaning supplies UP and AWAY from the kiddos.
9) Take a Mommy (or daddy =) Time Out and Here's How: It's ok! My husband and I aren't fans of spanking. My parents did that to me as a kid and I hated them more and more each time. so my husband and I said we would never. Sometimes being a parent in the Autism situation can have it's moments of EXTREME frustration. All of us have been there. Well on one ocassion I was so frustrated with my son, he kept taking things from my daughter, he pushed her at one point, he was having melt down after melt down and I ALMOST gave him a pat on the bum. I recognized it first and later that evening my husband and I sat down to come up with a plan since I am the stay at home mom while my husband works and finishes up school. So what we do now is when I feel things are getting out of hand we let him play in his room for 15 -20 minutes, we make sure first that there is nothing is in there that he can swallow or hurt himself with and we put up the baby gate in his door way. He has a lot of toys in his room so he really enjoys being in there. This allows me a MUCH NEEDED time out so I can continue to be a good mom through out the day with out turning into the wicked witch of the west =) We only have to do this about once every 2 days.
10) Don't blame everything on their Autism. Remember they were kids before they were Autistic. So they come with all that implies. On any given day of the week my living room looks like Toys R' Us threw up in it as well as their bedrooms and the hallways and in the summer, my back yard too =) And sometimes they wake up in the middle of the night. My first thought isn't usually "it's their Autism." Sometimes it's because they had an accident or they want some water.
**Coming tonight on my Blog: How to maintain a sizzling hot marriage!** You know you're excited for it ;)