Do at least one load of laundry every day. And try to fold and put away the clothing right away.
Laundry, like most things in life, it is extremely manageable in small amounts, but seemingly insurmountable and totally overwhelming when the piles are allowed to accumulate.
Things will not get put away. Your house will get messy. Acknowledge that your standards have been lowered, whether by choice or by default. Learn to associate an untidy home with a busy and happy home. And know that it can always get tidied when the need arises.
Plan the meals for your family, even lunches, and grocery shop accordingly.
Having a sense of what you will be making for dinner and knowing that the right food is available is incredibly comforting as you race home during rush hour and pick up your whiny, not-listening, difficult yet wonderful and beautiful children from daycare. Then, once home, you can almost sort of relax with a glass of wine as you prepare the meal while your children watch some television. But allow yourself to totally ditch your plans and substitute with Mickey D's or order in pizza on those nights when you just don't feel up to the task. Still drink the wine.
Allow your children to watch some television.
Not a lot. But enough to give you a break when you need it, get some extra quiet time on weekend mornings, and permit a little unwinding for everyone after a long day.
Whether it is your in-laws coming down once a week to pick the children up from daycare and prepare dinner, your sister coming over to babysit on a date night with your husband, or your neighbours offering to coordinate the arborists' estimates for removing the dead tree on your shared property line, graciously accept the assistance and support of others. Also remember to show your appreciation by bestowing much love and thanks although it may never seem to be enough, treating your babysitter to a special dinner, or raking up the leaves from the large still-living trees on our shared property line.
Remember this quote: "You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time, you must make it." - Charles Buxton
Try not to use a lack of time as an excuse for not doing the things that are important to you. But don't feel guilty thinking that if it is really important, you'd make time to do it. It's hard to do it all.
Wake up before the kids do.
Waking up early is hard. Although it can be difficult to get out of bed and get going before 6 a.m., things like: walking the dog, making sure bags are packed and breakfast is on the table, really are a lot easier before little children start making demands for your help and attention. And if necessary, stay in bed until the first one wakes up at 6:30, but take her with you to walk the dog.
It really can be calming and help to centre your focus for a while on yourself. Plus it can give you an excuse out of the bedtime routine at least once a week if you choose your class schedule appropriately.
Visit the lost-and-found on a regular basis.
If you want any chance of recovering the items lost almost daily, it's wise to keep on top of it. Kind of like the laundry.
Use vacation time wisely.
Sometimes, if possible, it might just be a good investment to take a vacation day or two in order to 'get on top of things' again around the house. Wash the windows. Change over the children's seasonal wardrobes. Fix the drywall that the dog has been chewing. Those things that might otherwise never get done. But try also to allow time at least for a pedicure. Or a nap.
Remember that lots of other people are in the same boat.
It can be hard to remember that many of the people at your work, on your commute, in your day-to-day life, are also working parents. Chances are pretty good that even the CEO, the person selling you your coffee and the teachers at the school have also been struggling with disrupted sleep, lost backpacks, and behavioural issues with their children. Or at least been through it in the past. It's somewhat comforting to know that we are all managing somehow.