When your home overwhelms you

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A pile of dishes in the sink. Papers strewn all over the sofa. A messy pile of laundry from last week in the hall. Unrecognizable sticky spots trailing the length of your living room.

Homes can get messy astonishingly fast, especially if you have kids. And sometimes, when you’re not tired, more like exhausted, or even more like totally and utterly depleted and sleep-deprived, it can get overwhelming.

Still, you must start tackling the mess somewhere. Here are my suggestions.

Something easy. There’s nothing like a quick, easy task to give you a sense of accomplishment. Empty the overflowing trash can, shove some paper clutter into the garbage, or water the plants.

Something hard. You’ll feel SO much better after you fold all the laundry from the last two weeks, give the bathtub a good scrub, or do whatever it is you’ve been postponing for a while.

Something inspiring. Homes aren’t just functional places where we eat and sleep. Something new and pretty, like hanging up a piece of art or planting some flowers, will give you motivation to keep working on your surroundings – even if the kitchen sink is still messy.

Something for someone else. Somehow, fluffing up my children’s pillows or sorting out their closet is easier for me to start with than my own room.

Something to eat. As you go into a whirlwind of trying to restore your home to a livable condition, it’s easy to forget you need to eat until lunchtime is long past, you’re faint with hunger, and your kids are complaining. Take the time to fix something simple to eat, even some pancakes or egg sandwiches and salad.

Need more encouragement? Check out these tips on cleaning a super messy house, super fast.

It’s hatching season again

New arrivals

A little belatedly, hatching season opens here again – and this time, with guinea fowl eggs. I have received some as a gift, and apparently a couple were already in the incubation process, because they surprise hatched after only a week.

So far, we lhave these two adorable keets. One looks like the standard coloring and the paler one could be lavender.

This little one had huge trouble getting out of the egg. I ended up performing an assisted hatch and peeling nearly all the shell. I was really apprehensive, but after a couple of hours it was already running around the brooder! So don’t give up on those chicks who are struggling to get out. They may be perfectly fine and just require a bit of assistance to start out in life.

Best friends

By the way, did you know guinea fowl are kosher? I have only discovered this recently. We don’t eat our birds, but I’d love to try some guinea eggs.

Pink Clouds crochet dress

Latest creation

One of the fun things about having girls is the endless possibilities of beautiful crochet projects. Dolls and doll clothes, feminine tops, fancy boleros, whimsical little bags… And, of course, beautiful lacy summer dresses!

For this one, I picked a basic open back raglan for the upper part and a beautiful skirt design by Anastasia Krechetova. Yarn: Summer by Ice Yarns.

Semi-war going on. Missiles falling. Bomb shelters being readied for occupation. But what the heck? Crochet is compact, fits anywhere, and is cheaper than therapy.

We’re safe

Following a deluge of messages from concerned friends, I’m just popping in to let everyone know we’re safe and haven’t been near the rocket attack areas in Israel.

We did, however, experience first-hand some of the violent disruptions by Israeli Arab “citizens” who are showing for the umpteenth time where their loyalties lie (hint: not with the country that feeds, protects, and ensures equal rights for them).

Our hearts are with the Israelis who have suffered from the unprovoked, vicious bombings.

Do you work too hard?

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Not long ago, I told a friend that saying I’m tired is like saying the Titanic experienced a minor snag. True enough, exhaustion has been part of my life as a mom, spiking during periods like new babies, moving house, holidays, and other types of overwhelm.

I’ve been told it’s normal. Normal to want some quiet time. Normal to dream of moving to New Zealand.

Maybe you’ve just had your first baby. Maybe you have children with special needs. Maybe, like me, you are trying to juggle the needs of several different-age kids and your freelance writing business.

Either way, I’m going to share five questions I’ve asked myself to help myself let go of unrealistic expectations (pffft) and put mental health first.

One, do you work too hard? No, wait. That’s not a question. Start over.

Do you iron? Ironing is seriously overrated. A few wrinkles on a shirt haven’t killed anyone yet. Besides, wrinkles straighten up, more or less, while you wear the item.

Do you do too much laundry? Around here, clothes get tossed into the hamper when they are dirty. I separate darks and lights, but otherwise, everything gets shoved in the wash together, including underwear, bedding, and towels.

Do you cook too complicated? It’s best to choose dishes that request not just little prep, but little cleanup as well. Soup is a perennial favorite.

Do you delegate? Do you let people do what they can for themselves? If a toddler can pick up her toys, great. If a tween can clean her room, fantastic. So what if it’s not perfect? It fosters healthy independence and helps lighten your load.

Do you take the time to recharge? Do you remember when you last watched a movie? Read a book just because? Called a friend? When I realized that my answer to these was “I’m not sure”, I acknowledged I was on the verge of burnout. I began making an effort to eat and sleep better and to do more things that refresh and rejuvenate me.

Finally, a predator-proof coop!

Last week, we had a sad incident, in which a fox got two of our chickens. I admit I have grown a little careless, as I wasn’t aware there were any foxes in the area.

From my previous experience with foxes, I knew they never give up until they’ve eaten all the chickens in a coop OR until they realize it’s impossible. I knew my old coop wasn’t fox-proof. And I knew I didn’t want to race outside with a hammering heart every time a hen started clucking.

So for a week, I overnighted my chickens in boxes inside the house, and meanwhile, I commissioned a secure and convenient stainless steel coop.

New home for the hens!

Although it isn’t as pretty as some of the rustic style coops I’ve admired on Pinterest, it’s by far the best coop I’ve ever had. I can’t believe how much I paid to have it made, but I’m happy 😊

A housewarming party 🎉

It has two handy shelves for nesting boxes, and a lower section for our quail that can also work as a secure space for a broody hen (of course I would put the quail elsewhere).

Now I’m just waiting for this fox to come again so I can laugh at it 😁

5 places to start decluttering

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As I was putting the house in order before Pesach, I was amazed, like I am every year, at the sheer amount of stuff that was going out for donation or recycling. The holiday is over, but I’m still decluttering, because I’ve started to overhaul the closets for summer.

I’ll tell you a dirty secret: the reason why I love decluttering so much is that I hate cleaning. Or, at least, I hate spending a lot of time on cleaning. The less stuff you have to take care of, the easier and more straightforward cleaning becomes.

So here are my suggestions on where to start freeing up valuable space.

  1. Closets. Most of us own stuff we’ve forgotten we have. Some of it can actually be put to good use. Other items go in the donation bag. Kids have things they have outgrown, socks with holes, and that shirt with paint stains I can never get completely clean.
  2. Kitchen cabinets. I’m a secret container addict and can never resist buying pickles in a pretty glass jar, then washing it and stashing it away for future use. While recycled glass is frugal and eco-friendly, at some point my jar collection threatens to take over my kitchen space.
  3. Toys and books. From my experience, only a handful of toys and games are worth keeping longterm. We get more gifts of toys and books than we can use, some of them double sets, and while I cherish every gesture of friendship, there’s only so much we can keep.
  4. Yard. For me, it’s extremely easy to forget everything that isn’t actually in the house. This includes cracked flower pots, broken tiles, and various odds and ends.
  5. Storage. It’s easy to forget about items that have been sitting in the depths of my storage shed for years. But storage isn’t supposed to be a “shove inside and forget” concept. It should be a convenient place for useful things that simply aren’t used regularly, or seasonal items like rubber boots and umbrellas.

With every trash bag that leaves my home, I feel like I can breathe a little easier. I hope I can stay in the momentum and keep gaining space, peace, and order.