Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wait A Minute, What About School?

Can you believe it?  One more day to go and I haven't written about how to organize your school day!  Well, actually I have.  I think it is the longest section in my book, "A Plan for Joy in the Home", so if you want great detail on how to get organized, check that out!

Here's the long and short of it.  School is important because we are homeschooling parents (or at least most of my readers are).  Our main job of the day for about 180 days of the year is to educate our children.  This takes time and effort.  It also really does require some organization.  A lot of moms like to say that they just can't work off of a schedule, but I believe that, even though they might not have one written out, their day has some sort of rhythm to it.  How could you survive if every day was up for grabs with no plan in place?  That's my point...you wouldn't.  You would be, or maybe are, frazzled and pulling your hair out.

That's why, even if you just can't fathom living by a strict schedule (your day broken down into 30 minute blocks), you can live (and actually will be more at peace) if you have some sort of schedule to your day.

A basic schedule can look something like this:

6:00 get up, pray, shower and dress
7:00 Kids up and dress
7:30 everyone eat breakfast
8:15 out the door for Mass
9:30 Get home from Mass and begin school
12:00 break for lunch, clean up lunch and recess
1:00 more school work
2:30 errands and/or free time
5:00 make dinner
6:00 eat dinner
6:30 clean up kitchen
7:00 Free time
8:00 family rosary
9:00 kids to bed
10:00 mom to bed

There you have it; a very basic schedule that lends a backbone to your day.  A rhythm that you can get back into if you have a morning or a whole day of distractions.

Now, if you're looking for more detail (especially if you have a lot of children to school), take that time from 9:30 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 2:30 and break it down by child into 30 minute time blocks so everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and who you are supposed to be working with.  This will eliminate 5 children wanting your attention at once and everyone will know what they are supposed to be working on.

You may not need this much structure forever, but if you do need it, then use it.  I'm telling you, structure is a good thing and sometimes even a necessity.  You will find more peace, as will your children, if there is a structure in place.  At a bare minimum, let them know what time is set aside for school and what to expect when they enter into school mode.  Kids like structure more than adults, I think, so do everyone a favor and bring some of it to your school day!

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Can I Learn This?

Are you born an organized person or it is a learned behavior?  I'm going to say that it is both.  I believe that I have an innate tendency towards organization.  It might border on obsessive at times, but for the most part I think I'm just wired to have things neat and orderly.

Sometimes it is like a game for me.  I look at a task or event and ask myself how I can possibly do it in the most efficient manner?  If I don't like how I've done it, then I try it again the next time to make it even more efficient.  It is most definitely a challenge that I enjoy.

Are my kids all wired like me?  Absolutely not.  I think that over the years, those that aren't have definitely learned a lot from me, but they weren't born that way.  What I'm hoping is that when they get out and have a home and family of their own, they'll realize how important orderliness is and the old lessons from days gone by will kick in and they'll "straighten up"  (pun intended!).  

If you don't feel like you can think or act in an orderly and organized fashion, never fear, because with God, all things are possible.  Lean on Him for the Grace to change your life.  Read books.  Read websites.  Talk to other moms who are better at it than you are.  HOWEVER, don't get stuck there.  It is possible to spend your whole life READING about how to become organized but still never putting it into practice.  That is a temptation that must be done away with.  

Being organized takes effort, and work, and sweat!  Put the time in and you will see results.  Like I always tell my kids, some people just have to work harder at it than others.  The key is just getting started doing SOMETHING and then sticking to it!  As Nike says, "Just Do It"!!!

 God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Does God Have to Say?

We've all heard it said that our God is a God of order.  Just look around at the world.  Everything is ordered so precisely by God:  the day, the seasons, the life cycle, etc.  Nothing is left to chance.  Nothing is askew except for the things that man has had his hand in.

So, what does God have to say about being organized?  Well, in 1 Corinthians 14 we have two verses that help us out.  Verse 33 says, "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace".  At least that's what the RSV translation says.  Other translations use order instead of peace.  Verse 40 says, "but all things should be done decently and in order".  Right there St Paul is telling us that we should be doing things in an orderly fashion.

Of course we have Proverbs 31 and the Proverbs 31 woman, which quite honestly, seems a bit daunting, doesn't it?  This is the ideal woman to strive for.  Will we all make it?  Probably not.  However, if we rely on God's help and strive to have our lives in order, we might come pretty close.

What about the creation of the world in Genesis 1?  Does it not show a very orderly creation?  Why would God expect anything less from us?

I know there are times when order and organization seem impossible; believe me, I've been there.  However, don't be discouraged.  Realize that this is just one season in your life and soon things will change and you will be able to be better organized and on top of things.  If this is a crazy time in your life, just pick one thing to be constant and stick to just that.  My pick would be a morning prayer time.  Try very hard to set aside the same five, or even 15 minutes if you can swing it, every morning to talk to the Lord.  Beg him for the graces you'll need for the day.  Offer your entire day to Him, even if it is messy and disorganized.  

Disorganization = chaos.  Organization = peace.  It really does.  God wants you to be organized, so it is definitely a goal that you should seek.  There are plenty of resources and books out there to help you, so what are you waiting for?  Go out and get started!

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Importance of Chore Assignments

By the way, have we talked about chores yet?  This is such an important topic that I've devoted a whole chapter and a bunch of worksheets in my book, "A Plan for Joy in the Home", to help you get organized in this area.

Let's face it, it is just impossible for us to do it all:  homeschooling, cooking, cleaning and everything else in between.  If we do one thing well, another thing will most likely suffer.  I really believe a husband and wife need to come to an agreement on how clean the house needs to be.  If hubby wants a spotless home when he comes in from work, then that probably needs to take priority over something else.  If you just don't think that's possible, then consider a compromise of sorts; one that you can deal with and one that still makes him happy.

Another important thing about chores is that you have to start your kids out young.  Waiting till they're older to start helping around the house is too late.  They might not be able to do a lot when they are little, or even do it well, but they can do something to be helpful.  Get them enthusiastic at a young age and it will reap rewards when they are older.

I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of how we handle our chores because it is quite detailed and covered very thoroughly in my book.  I would just encourage you to have some kind of organized chore schedule (daily, weekly, monthly), stick to it and have the kids take on as much as possible.  It is amazing how much ground you can cover when you have a team instead of trying to do it all yourself.

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Legos

The word strikes fear into a parent's heart.  The word Lego usually means little pieces everywhere.  I have two boys who love Legos but hate having to put them away.  I, on the other hand, love to have them put away because I really don't enjoy tiptoeing my way through my living room.  In fact, since we redid the living room this summer, I've deemed it a LEGO FREE zone.  I need one room that looks neat.

Here is how our Lego collection looked recently:

Upstairs

Downstairs

I believe that is an air hockey table hiding under there

And here is the storage area!
Like I've said before, a system works if those people who are involved in it participate.  I'm not a real stickler about downstairs because I don't spend too much time down there, but upstairs is a different story.

When I do crack the whip, the house cleans up nicely and every Lego has a home.

 

This brings peace to my soul!

You might not have Legos all over your house, but I'm sure you have other toys that seem to be scattered everywhere.  When the kids were younger, I'd make sure we did a pick up of toys before dinner time and then definitely before I went to bed.  I've always hated getting up and seeing a messy house.  Kind of ruins the moment for me.

I realize that it is impossible to have a tidy house all the time.  I realize that some day all these kids will be gone and I will have as clean of a house as I want to have.  I really do get it.  However, some days it is just really nice to have a house that is neat and tidy AND have the kids around :).  This is why it is important for everything to have a place.  Not just a place, but a place where they can be placed and look neat.  It really will bring peace to your soul!

God Bless!
To see the other posts in this series, go here. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seasonal Clothing

We have been blessed over the years to get a ton of clothes handed on to us from a wide variety of sources.  The problem is, it is quite overwhelming when a bunch of bags of clothes get brought over and you have to deal with them.  It is times like these when you need to have a system in place to handle all of your clothes, especially if you have a lot of kids.

My first three girls are all just about two years apart, so from the beginning I began collecting big bins to store all of the clothing in so that I could pass them down to the next girl.  It helped, too, that they were all born at the same time of the year and were about the same size, so one set of clothes went through three girls. God is so good :)

My next girl was about three years after the third and born at a different time of year, so for her I needed to start a different collection.  More bins.  At this time we only had a crawl space, so that meant literally crawling in twice a year and grabbing out all of the bins, sorting through everything and then putting them all back.  This usually took up a few days and the entire floor of one room.  

The next three kids were boy, girl and boy.  This meant five years between girl #4 and girl #5 and the same for the two boys.  This meant even MORE bins; but God bless the person who invented plastic bins with lids.  They are the key to a successful clothing storage system.  That and some tape or paper and a sharpie so that all the bins can be properly labeled.  I've always labeled the bins in the following manner:  girl/fall-winter size 10.  This way I know exactly what is in there.

Now that we have a basement, and older kids, the task is so much easier.  Twice a year they go down and bring their OWN bins upstairs, sort through them, relabel them and bring them back downstairs.

Twice a year I gather up all of the items that the youngest boy and girl have outgrown, make sure they're clean and worthy of being passed on, and then usually donate them to our local Free 4 All, or Goodwill if I miss the Free 4 All.

Systems.  That is the key to being organized with a large, and even a small, family.  For everything you have to do over and over again, look for the most practical and efficient  way to get it done and then make it a routine.  The more you can do of this in your home, the smoother your life will run.

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, go here. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Your Bedroom and Closet

Speaking of closets, do you organize the clothing in your drawers and closets?  You know, neatly hung and/or folded and stacked?  Or do you just kind of shove and run?  Do you leave piles of clothing all over your room or do you put them away every day?

I like to think of my bedroom as a haven.  Not that I spend much time in it, but if I need to, I like it to be neat and well organized.  I don't keep any papers or things like that in my room.  If you have to have a desk and/or papers in your room, then try very hard to keep the clutter down.

I also don't like to have clothing strewn around the room...clean or dirty!  I make a habit of hanging my clothes up right away or tossing them right into the laundry.  I put clean clothing away the same day, too.

The bed gets made every morning because that really brings a sense of peace to the bedroom.

I like to make picking out my clothes for the day as quick as possible, so last fall I decided to organize the clothes in my closet in groups by color.  Skirts are all to the right; shirts and sweaters to the left.  All I need to do now is pick a skirt and then go to the appropriate color coordinating section and see what my options are for the top half.  I really like this and feel it has also helped me mix things up better.  After doing this, I also was able to see if I was lacking in a necessary color and it made it easier to decide what I needed to buy for the season.

I did try that trick in my drawers about folding the shirts and putting them in rows so that you can see all of the different shirts (as opposed to just having piles of them, where you can only see the top shirt).  It works well for t-shirts and turtlenecks, but my drawers aren't deep enough to do this with sweaters or pants.  I tried it with my son, because he always seems to just wear the same shirt, and it worked for awhile...until he had to put away a bunch of clean shirts; then he just did the open and shove.

This whole series is about how to make the many small things in your life very routinized so that you have time and mental energy to deal with the big things.  Keeping your bedroom clean makes going to bed and getting up a much more pleasant experience, and keeping your drawers and closet organized makes getting ready for the day faster and more mindless.  Save the pondering about clothing for special occasions. :)

God Bless!
To see all of the posts in this series, you can go here.