“How do you do it all?”

As a mom of two little boys, a full time ER nurse, a part time clinical instructor, and now a blogger, I get asked often “How do you do it all?”

I don’t. But it may seem that way.

Throughout my nursing career I’ve spent a great deal of time into learning how to make the most of my time when I’m at home. While I’m not an expert, I have a few tips and tricks to share to improve your efficiency on your days off.

So I rotate shifts (AM and PM) and my shifts are never the same week to week. I used to use this as an excuse as to why my life/house was a mess.

That’s bull.

This is the profession you chose. This is your life. Deal with it. You can’t just live in a landfill because you work odd shifts or odd hours. You can’t eat out every day you work because you refuse to prepare for your week. You can’t afford coffee every morning because you won’t set your pot up the night before. You cannot re-wear dirty scrubs because you didn’t change the laundry again. Your kid can’t be sent to daycare without socks on because you can’t find any.

Get. It. TOGETHER.

(that was the pep talk I gave myself but if you also need to hear that pep talk, feel free to apply it to your life as well)

So this Friday morning blog post is all about making the most of your time home and keeping your house/life in order.

Most every nurse is guaranteed at least a full 24 hours off a week. If not, yikes. You need to reevaluate your career choice.

For the month of September, I happened to have Sundays off. Maybe you work every weekend and Tuesdays work best for you. Maybe it is a different day of the week every week. Whatever your schedule looks like that week just pick one day you can commit to getting your life in order.

To start off my productive day, I try to plan a lazy day or a few hours the day before so I get all of my laziness/naps/Netflix caught up on so I don’t fall into the “I work so much I deserve to be lazy” trap on my productive day. Maybe for you that looks like sleeping in late or going to bed early.

Find a good podcast or book to listen to while you work on your productive day. TV makes me lazy and it ties me to that specific room. Overall I am far more productive when I’m listening to something on my phone. I highly recommend listening to the Dave Ramsey Show or an audible book. I am a sucker for self help books. Most recently Rachel Hollis! I’m looking forward to checking out her podcast! I’m loving a new podcast that was recommended by several of my friends Living Fully by Mallory Ervin.

I start off my productive day early – no later than 8 am. I make a full pot of coffee and the first thing I do is put a load of laundry in, load the dishwasher and run it. Even if there isn’t enough for a full load, you will NOT save the planet by putting it off until there is a full load. JUST RUN IT. I promise, it will be okay. That way, when you have dishes or have laundry, there will be an empty dishwasher or washing machine waiting to be filled to prevent buildup throughout the week.

With a farmer husband and two little boys, laundry ends up being an all day thing for me. I clear the counters in preparation in anticipation of folding about 5 loads total. I’ve found if I fold my laundry in the kitchen, I am more likely to put it away right away vs leaving it out all over the laundry room and digging through piles all week.

I fold clothes FRESH out of the dryer – have you ever tried this? It is amazing. Nothing is wrinkled or crumpled, it all smells great. That’s a secret I learned from the BEST self help book I’ve read and actually implemented into my life – How to Manage Your Home without Losing your Mind by Dana K. White.

As I’m folding laundry I’m laying clothes out for the boys – not just clothes but FULL OUTFITS. That includes socks and underwear and outfits according to the weekly temperature forecast. Nothing throws off a morning like digging through mounds of laundry looking for a missing sock. Plus Craig gets the boys ready and to daycare in the mornings throughout the week. This makes his mornings go a little smoother too.

Meanwhile, I’m browning hamburger or sausage to meal prep at least one meal for the week – this week was my SUPER easy egg bake. Some weeks it is tator tot casserole or lasagna – something that makes great leftovers and just needs to be thrown in the oven.

I also make a week worth of lunches for my husband. You read that right – a WEEK! That way he only has to remember his lunch once, he stores it in the fridge at the farm, and he has something to eat every day.
He’s pretty easy to please so that makes lunch packing easy.

This weeks lunch looked like this:

  • A loaf of bread
  • ½ lb of sliced turkey breast
  • ½ lb of shaved ham
  • A package of pepperjack cheese slices
  • 6 pack of diet pepsi
  • 10 mozzarella cheese sticks
  • 5 peaches
  • A family sized bag of doritos
  • A ring of pork sausage (in case he gets sick of sandwiches)
  • A note that reminds him how much I love him and how proud I am of him
  • And usually some homemade brownies

If you have a husband who eats out all the time or if you are struggling to pack lunches for yourself, I highly recommend packing a week of lunches at a time. Craig’s favorite week is when I splurge and buy Polashek’s brat patties – I fry them all up on Sunday and send them in one big pyrex container!

I also try to exercise on this particular day. I’m not really great at working out and keeping an exercise schedule but if I assign it to myself in my mind as a task, I feel better knowing if I don’t get to it at any other time during the week, at least I got it covered on my productive day. Yesterday, that meant going on a walk with my mom and her dog Ruby and my beagle Betsy. It also makes me feel good to know Betsy gets a walk in then too.

But wait, there’s more – it is BATH DAY for everyone too. Fingernails get clipped, ankles get scrubbed, legs get shaved, ears get cleaned etc. It gets so crazy in the week sometimes between our schedules, (we are both pulling 60 hour work weeks MINIMUM until late November) that I feel good knowing they got at least one good scrub in and I can work in a few good rinses throughout the week without feeling guilty.

I try to spend extra time reading books or playing with Carver and Gannon because it really is usually my only consecutive hours I have to spend during the week.

Me not feeling guilty about snuggling the boys on a Thursday night because the chores are DONE for the week! 🙂 This is the freedom that my productive day gives!

I do a quick inventory of diapers, formula, toilet paper, laundry soap etc. and put an order for delivery if needed through the week.

I wash all the water bottles and coffee mugs.

I contact my childcare provider (my mom) to see how she is sitting on diapers, formula, and outfits for the week.

I contact my childcare provider (my mom) to see how she is sitting on diapers, formula, and outfits for the week.

Craig and I do a quick budget meeting to predict any unforeseen expenses that may come up through the week. We run down the schedule and book the babysitter for the week then too.

I finish up laundry and put it away on our way to bed.

A glimpse into my kitchen on my productive day – coffee mugs and water jugs are soaking, laundry is being folded – you can see pancake mix in the corner – a Friedman staple on Sunday mornings.

I put coffee in the coffee maker that will be ready to brew when I wake up.
TA-DA!! People ask me how I do it and there’s my answer! I dedicate 24 hours of my time to make sure our week goes as smoothly as possible. With harvest season coming and in the midst of fall clinicals, it is impossible to establish a daily routine but I can commit to a DAY routine.

Side note – we have also invested in a housekeeper who comes every other week. She is worth her weight in gold. She cleans our floors and toilets and changes the garbage, vacuums the couch and oh my gosh you guys I can’t recommend it enough. Walking into a spotless house is exactly what I need after a long 12 hour shift in the middle of a hectic work week. Carver walks through the door and says “KELLI WAS HERE!” every time after she visits.

So that’s it folks! It only took 4 years of married life to get it figured out! If I can do it with rotating 12 hour shifts + overtime and a husband who farms you can too!

What are some of your tips/tricks to get you through the work week? Leave a comment BELOW!

12 thoughts on ““How do you do it all?”

  1. Tina Zee says:

    I have to agree with your audio book or podcast habit. I will literally clean for hours if I am listening to something good. The other thing I do is cook two or three dinners at the same time. I make double batches of each and then freeze dinner size portions. I usually have at least four different dinners in my freezer at all times. That way I just have to move one into the fridge before work and heat it up when I get home. You might want to check out “sheet pan dinners” for some super simple ideas. I think they are on The Gracious Pantry” blog.

  2. KIM Z says:

    Wow, your life is incredibly full. Thanks for sharing how you have learned to juggle life (Impressive). Some great tips, would love to have had this knowledge while raising my family. Empty nester now, but can still apply to make for a smoother work week.
    Your off to a great start on your blog!

  3. The Joyful Quilter says:

    Hi! I’m visiting from your Mom’s blog. YOU are a super hero!!! I am in awe of your commitment to that weekly routine. Brilliant idea to pack Craig’s lunch once a week and get a helper in to clean the house, too!

    • Joanne Eggleston says:

      Hi, I am Joanne and I live in Waterloo, IA.. I am visiting from your mom’s blog which I have followed for many years. I look forward to following you with your new blog as well as your mom’s blog. You have an amazing Mom as well as amazing family (including all of your siblings and their spouses)!!!

  4. Robby H. says:

    Congratulations on the new blog! From time to time, I spend a chunk of a day creating what I think of as meal ‘building blocks’. I’ll cook a big pork butt with my recipe that uses Southwestern flavors. When it’s done I pull and clean the meat and then package it in meal sized packages to freeze. On a busy day, we have almost instant tacos, or super-fast chili or nachos or even pizza using that as the protein. I do the same with a recipe for roast beef and chicken in various flavors. If you’ve got your protein ready even a casserole takes only minutes to prepare and toss in the oven while you spend time with the boys or do other things. During warm weather when we might want lighter fare, I will grill extra meat for another meal or two. That can go in sandwiches or on salads or even cold pasta. I’ve also done cooking days with friends where we all work together and then end up with a dozen or so meals to take home for the freezer. It takes a little organizing, but it’s more fun than working alone and I usually get a new recipe or two to add to our rotation.

    Best trick? Keep a running list of all the meals that keep your family happy. That way, when it’s time to plan meals for the week, you don’t have to rely on a tired brain or try to think of an idea, just check the list.

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