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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Faithfulness

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend.  Some men fought long and hard and gave their lives for our freedom.  I am so thankful that we can worship and live in freedom.

Yesterday, we got out and got busy in our garage and sheds, but I recognize that the process will take some time.  So yesterday, Carpenter and I talked about some projects that need to be done.  It's not too much for eight people to do, so the kids and I are going to make the effort to finish these projects this week.  It will actually be in three days.  Carpenter wants to take Friday off from work if possible to get things headed in the direction of our ministry opportunity.

But before we can move and work on this opportunity that has presented itself, things at home need to be shored up.  Organization needs to take place and things need to be taken care of.  Attitudes need to be adjusted and kids need to be prepared to work as a team.

So this week, we have to:
Clean out the old fort and repair the roof so that we can store metal in it for the scrap yard.

Clean out the garden shed, so that we can put the lawn mowers in there with the tiller and other gardening stuff.

Finish cleaning out the garage and the woodshed.  Move the mower and the tiller out of the garage so that we can use the garage for vehicles again.

So I guess I figure we can do one portion each day.  We'll also have to work in the garden faithfully, dentist appointments, a trip to the park with other moms, and babysitting one day this week.  Pool is our incentive - Daddy gave the go-ahead for not one trip on Fridays, but several throughout the week. :) Yay!!!!

So it will be an incentive to get our work done in the morning.

Keep pressing on.
Steph

Friday, May 23, 2014

Age appropriate chores - junior high and high school

We've reached an age where our kids can be a huge help to us.  In fact, they can almost work as hard we do.  You should teach them new things, but you won't need to do one-on-one as much as with the little ones.  Please don't think that they don't need to do things with us anymore, you will need to find other ways to hang out with them.

Inspection is key when you have teens.  You need to train them to do their best at a job.   They can mow the lawn, do yard work, clean bathrooms, do laundry, clean thier rooms (yes, I do think they should keep their rooms clean) and a myriad of other jobs.

I have a home business and mine enjoy some of the extra things that I can find for them to do.

Help them learn to enjoy doing a good job.

Keep pressing on and enjoy your family this weekend.
Steph


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Age appropriate chores - elementary age

Let's think about elementary ages today.  Whether you are homeschooling or sending your kids to a school, your children should still have chores.  They should be getting more independent.   But they will still need to be checked and inspected.  Continue to have a plan for checking up on their chores.  Reward occasionally, but not always.

There should still be a chore or two that they are still learning and that they get to learn with their parent.  The independent chores are still important, but they still love being with you and learning from you.  Use this opportunity to be with them and enjoy spending time together.
  • Dishes - Our children continue to learn to dry and as they get taller, they can put away more dishes.  They also around can gradually learn to sweep, clear and wash dishes.  Just let them wash on a day when there are only a few or let them start the washing with the cups, and then you can finish up for them.
  • Baking cookies - At this age, they can learn how to measure and make cookies.  Watch them and work with them and slowly hand over the whole job to them.  My oldest daughter (just finishing 5th grade) made some fabulous peanut buttter cookies the other day.  And don't forget cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - They can learn how to measure the soap and start a load, and how to switch loads over.
  • Making beds - Somewhere in this age range, they shouldn't need you to do it with them anymore.
  • Dirty laundry - This should be a habit now, but I've found it still needs inspection on a regular basis.
  • Pick up toys - The habit should be well learned by now, but they lose the focus easily and get out too many things.  When this happens, they feel frustrated when clean-up time comes.
  • Dusting - During this age they should be able to do this well, by the time they are done with elementary

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  The elementary children can learn more about laundry, or cleaning the bathroom, or gardening.  These children have so much potential that it's tempting to work right along with us all day.  They can do a lot, but be careful not to overload them.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Age appropriate chores - 4's and 5's

Let's think about 4 and 5 year olds today.  Those little ones that are still learning about the world, maybe they are in preschool, or maybe they are learning the things that are needed at home.  They are older now, and therefore, some of these things they could do on their own, independently.  But they will still need to be checked and inspected.

I think that if you are inspecting their chores and letting them do some of them alone, find a way to reward them on a regular basis for a job well-done.  We have to remember their age still, so we must think of what a job well-done for a four or five year old is.

There should still be a chore or two that they are still learning and that they get to learn with their parent.  The independent chores are still important, but they still love being with you and learning from you.  Use this opportunity to be with them and enjoy spending time together.
  • Dishes - They can bring their plates and things from the table.  They can also wipe the table off with a bit of help.  They can dry a few things as well.   But I would pick between clearing and drying and not have them do both at each meal, unless they absolutely want to.  Now is the time to teach them what "dry" looks like, or you'll have them rushing and have dripping plates and cups. In our house, children dry a certain number of dishes according to their ages - sometimes we say "Your age times 3" or "times 2" depending on the number of dishes.
  • Baking cookies - stirring, taste-testing, etc.  And then cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - They can learn to sort laundry.  But will need much supervision.
  • Making beds - they can help put the stuffed animals neatly on the bed after you have helped them pull up the cover - and at some point during this time depending on the height of their bed they will be able to handle the sheet and blanket on their own, even if it means switching sides of the bed.  
  • Dirty laundry - when they take off their clothes, they can learn to put their clothes into the basket. These things should already be a habit, but now they can learn to carry their basket to the laundry area.
  • Pick up toys - they even are quick to pick up how they are sorted.  A friend has her toys in bins and when I was over there the two and three year olds were showing me which bins which toys go in. Now they should be learning that they can get out new things, if they put away the others.
  • Dusting - they won't get all the corners, but they can hold a dustrag while you are dusting. 
Keep your child involved and remember training is a big part of your day when you have a toddler.  It's easier to put them in front of the TV, but it's not training them a lot.  They aren't learning how to interact, or how to handle frustrating situations.  These things are good for them.  As moms, we want to take the frustration out of their day, but it's not healthy for them.

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  With a preschooler, you would have to pick a chore that they would be capable of alone.  I'm not thinking of laundry or washing dishes.  But making the bed and picking up toys should be getting easier for them.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Monday, May 19, 2014

Age appropriate chores - 2's and 3's

In our Mom's group, we started talking about age appropriate chores.  So this week I thought I would share my lists of chores and what is age appropriate.

Some things we need to remember about 2's and 3's, and continue to remember as they grow up, are they need help.  They need a teacher.  So while these are age appropriate, I would probably always say that you can't just have them do them on their own.  They should be working alongside you, not alone.

It's more than just that they are still learning to focus.  It's a pleasure for them to work with their mommy/daddy at this time.  They love being big and helping, but it's not as much fun, if they are being big and helping on their own, while Mom is doing other things.

So let them help while you are doing these things:

  • Dishes - mine stood on a chair and played in the rinse water and "rinsed" while I washed.  The bigger ones were the dryers.  Did I really need a rinser?  No.  In fact, the "rinser" probably made more work for me at the sink.  But he wasn't off being naughty and so maybe it was less work to have him with me.
  • Baking cookies - stirring, taste-testing, etc.  And then cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - they can help remove clothes from the dryer.  Yes, you will have to help them learn to be careful of buttons and zippers.  Pour the soap in when you start the washer.  They probably won't be able to measure it yet.
  • Making beds - they can help put the stuffed animals neatly on the bed after you have helped them pull up the covers
  • Dirty laundry - when they take off their clothes, they can learn to put their clothes into the basket.
  • Pick up toys - they even are quick to pick up how they are sorted.  A friend has her toys in bins and when I was over there the two and three year olds were showing me which bins which toys go in. 
  • Dusting - they won't get all the corners, but they can hold a dustrag while you are dusting. 
Keep your child involved and remember training is a big part of your day when you have a toddler.  It's easier to put them in front of the TV, but it's not training them a lot.  They aren't learning how to interact, or how to handle frustrating situations.  These things are good for them.  As moms, we want to take the frustration out of their day, but it's not healthy for them.

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  With a toddler, you would have to pick a chore that they would be capable of alone.  I'm not thinking of making beds, or dusting, or washing dishes.  But getting the clothes out of the dryer and pushing the basket into the living room to fold, that's fun when the laundry basket is a car and you're driving it to the store.  

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Friday, May 16, 2014

Basement and outside plans.

Our family really would like to have the majority of the cleaning done before Saturday.  Not that nothing is done on Saturday, but we would rather just have a quick pick-up, and a load or two of laundry so that we can do other things together.

Other things we don't want to do on Saturdays, especially once summer starts - mow the lawn, gardening (if possible), clean the basement, clean up the sheds.

So I've added them to my schedule throughout the week.  My boys will mow the lawn and we'll plan on them doing that Thursday so that if it rains that day we can do it Friday.

Below are my lists of the things that I need to do before I start other projects.

Daily Morning To-Do List

  • Get dressed to shoes
  • Brush teeth
  • Make bed
  • Clean room 
  • Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Make bread
  • FLYLady
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Supper started
  • Garden
  • Devotions
  • Scripture Memory


Daily Afternoon To-Do List

  • Piano
  • Garden
  • Pick up in the Living Room, Piano room and hallway
  • Put laundry away
  • Homework - not for long!!!!! 
  • Collect Eggs

Weekly To-Do List

·         Monday – Focus – Bathroom
o   Mop kitchen and dining room
o   Vacuum downstairs
o   Scrub bathroom floors
o   Bedrooms – under beds
·         Tuesday – Focus – Bedroom
o   Clean windows
o   Clean basement
o   Change bedding
o   Organize clothes
o   Bedrooms – straighten dressers
·         Wednesday – Focus – Kitchen
o   Mop kitchen and dining room
o   Vacuum downstairs
o   Wipe kitchen counters
o   Bedroom – clean closets
·         Thursday – Focus – Grocery Shopping
o   Dust living room and piano room
o   Organize Tupperware
o   Organize pantry
o   Make shopping list
o   Bedroom – Desks
Mowing the lawn
·         Friday – Focus – Floors
o   Vacuum upstairs
o   Sweep and mop rooms upstairs
o   Mop kitchen and dining room

o   Vacuum downstairs

Those are the things that we are doing in our house.   As I've said before, our house will look different from yours.  

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Downstairs plan

After I figured out what things should look like upstairs, I started on the main level.  Not that things look spotless upstairs, I still need to work on doing inspections, but they are being maintained.  Hopefully, I won't have huge surprise laundry days anymore.

We have a room by the front door that we call the piano room.  It's also my work room, where I keep all the bags from my business and business supplies.  We have a beautiful piano in there that isn't tuned and I was told that if it had sentimental value it might be worth fixing up.  So my idea is to take it apart and make a desk out of it.  Something that is for my business. 

All that description to say that I start there, but don't forget the stairs, they need to be swept/vacuumed about three times a week with our traffic.  Daily pick-ups are necessary, dusting and floors weekly.  Then I move on to living room, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms. 

I make a list of what needs done daily - a quick once over in the bathrooms, sweeping in the kitchen and dining room; and what needs to be done 3 times a week - floors on the main level; and what needs to be done weekly, dusting etc.

When this list is divided eight ways, we conquer it pretty well.  It may be discouraging if you are the mom of little ones.  I guess I would say you can only do your best.  Follow FLYLady, she gives you just a few steps per day.  Give your child a cloth on dusting day and don't worry about getting every speck.  Or find little ways to have them help.  If they are helping you, they aren't making bigger messes, maybe.

Or just pick one room to clean a day.  You won't get everything done in a week, but it doesn't matter.  You may not be able to wash sheets every week or something may get behind.  The idea is not perfection, but progress.  If all you are doing is maintaining that is enough.  If you go backward for awhile, but you are doing your best, that is enough.  At some point things will move forward, just keep being faithful. 

We are cleaning for an audience of One (God) - not the world, not how our mothers did it.  Do you realize that if we remember how our mothers did it, we probably were old enough that we were helping or at least not making as many messes?  What God thinks matters more than what anyone else thinks?  And if He is pleased with you, then the world can think what they like? 

I am a people pleaser.  I love it when people are happy with me.  But I need to change that. 
"Your name is the only name that matters to me,  the only One whose favor I seek."

Have you heard that song?  It's one that stands out to me.

Keep pressing on,
Steph


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How did I make my cleaning plan?

First I want to say that my plan is still formulating.  I probably will still find things that need to be done consistently that aren't on my plan.  I can already think of one - cleaning the fridge!  Really, I actually  forgot that.  FLYLady does it about once a month, but I've found that I really need it done more on a weekly basis.

So I start with the bedrooms - what are the things that need doing?  What needs to be done daily?  What needs to be done weekly?  Notice, I'm not asking what needs to be done monthly.  I'm going to work on these basics first and then add more things.  But I'm also trying to follow FLYLady and she usually has things that need to be done monthly on her e-mail each day, so I'll work at following her.

Two lists, daily and weekly.  Make it easy, but also detailed.  My little kiddos need help with detailed steps, so I made this list for their daily bedroom chores.
Bedroom details

o   Remove all toys, clothes and other things from your bed.
o   Pull sheets and blankets up over the pillow
o   Fold any other blankets and place them on the end of the bed.
o   Place stuffed animals neatly along the wall.
o   Put things on your dresser away.
o   Close all the drawers.
o   Put things on the desk away.
o   Straighten books.
o   Put all dirty clothes in one laundry basket.
o   Put all hangars in the other laundry basket
o   Pick up everything on the floor.
o   Empty trash.

o   Bring down the laundry baskets.
Your steps will look different, and there are some days where they won't have to do one of the things on the list.  I also picked one thing to focus on each day.

  • Mondays, we clean under our beds
  • Tuesdays, we clean our dressers and straighten them up
  • Wednesdays, we clean our closets and organize them
  • Thursdays, we clean our desks
  • Fridays, we clean the floors in our room
It really doesn't take very long, maybe 15 minutes, when we do it every day.

More on this tomorrow.


Keep pressing on,
Steph






Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Every business has a plan, why shouldn't I?

Now I don't want to relegate my home to being a business.  I want it to be a personal place, a place of laughter and fun.  But in a small way, I just may need to change my perspective on it.

Let's think about my goal mentioned above.  What do I want in my home?  I want laughter, fun, peace and some order - not perfection though.

So I have viewed schedules as not fun, the law, terrible things that drag me down.  What did I do?  I threw it out the window and just let what I felt like doing rule the day.  That doesn't mean I did what I really felt like doing - as in, laying on the couch and watching movies all day.

But I only cleaned places when I noticed they needed cleaning, which means they had to get pretty dirty before they got noticed.

I rushed out the door and forgot things like piano books, and school stuff, or a rain check for the chicken that was on sale last week.

So now twice a day, I plan out who will take the chores from the daily list or the weekly list.  We divide and conquer and now household cleaning is mostly done by the time I leave the house to drop the kids off for school.

Daddy's new rule of "Everyone must be at the table at 6:00 for breakfast" has helped.  I was dreading the chaos that would ensue with the four younger children running around doing their  own thing in the morning.  But armed with a plan, they each have the list of things they need to do in order to be ready for their day.  We all (on our second day) are heading out the door much more pleasant, less stressed than we have been in awhile.

It's just a plan.  It is not meant to be my master.  It is meant to help me master myself.  The end goal of laughter and fun???  I've heard more of it when there is a plan than when there is not.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Monday, May 12, 2014

I despise schedules

I have a love-hate relationship with schedules.  I love making them and hate keeping them.

Today we started getting the kids up to have breakfast with Dad before he leaves for work.  I must admit I knew we need to, but I didn't want to.

We need to because our family values aren't real to our children anymore.  We feel that being together and being intentional about parenting will help.

But I don't want to because I enjoy being up before the kids, and spending time doing my memory work, and I didn't have a plan set up to keep them busy, so we wouldn't just turn on the TV for entertainment and forget all the things that needed to be done.

I'm selfish - I want my alone time.  And it's necessary if it helps me to be a better mom.  But if it's just because I deserve it, I don't need it.  Plus during nap time, I have time for quiet, it's just a matter of choosing it.

I'm selfish - I want to do my own thing.  I really want my kids to do what it takes to get ready and I don't want to be bothered with the details.  But I need to realize that this is my one and only opportunity to help them become the adults they need to be.

Our world is full of parents who sit on the couch and expect others to do for them.  Do I really want to be that parent?  Well, I really don't want someone to do for ME, I just want everyone to do for themselves and not bother me.  Is that too much to ask?

Yes.  I'm a mom....of SEVEN!  What did I expect when I signed on?  Certainly not that I would get to eat bonbons and prop my feet up!  It was my choice.

My kids need me.  They need me to do with them.  They need me to be excited when they finish their list... to encourage them and strengthen them and to applaud their efforts and to help them learn to be disciplined in their lives.  It may not look like what I think it should when they are adults, but that won't be my problem then.  It is MY problem now.

I need to help my children learn self-control.  Yes, Mommy feels like sitting on the couch too.  As soon as we get done with our chores, let's sit and read a book together.

I need to help them with anger management.  Yes, you are angry that things have flipped upside down and you no longer can spend your morning on the couch playing games on your Kindle.  Your attitude determines how this morning will go to a large extent.  If you turn it around, and get on board, you may have some Kindle time before the bus gets here.

I need to help them with manners.  Rudeness is not acceptable when brushing teeth is the next thing on your list and someone is using the bathroom.  Politeness is always necessary.

When I do my own thing and expect my children to do their own, parenting is non-existent in my home.

A verse that has been on my heart when it comes to being a mom is - "She opens her mouth with wisdom and the law of kindness is on her tongue."    When I have a schedule, I'm not as far behind as I would be if I didn't have a schedule.  I have a plan.  Every business has one or they aren't effective.

This morning despite tired eyes and some grumbling hearts, I was able to keep my cool for the most part and have wisdom and kindness on my tonugue.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

P.S. More tomorrow on a plan

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Decluttering - Week 8 Day 5 - Woodshed

We pulled everything out of the sheds and re-organized them.  One of my sons, last Saturday, while he was waiting for me to come out and tell them where to work in the garden, decided that the woodshed needed some organization.  We also have a duplex shed, with one side being the toy shed and the other being the garden shed, but because of the woodshed's nearness to the garden, everything we need for gardening gets stored there.  And all the chairs we need for sitting outside and the toys the kids want to play with, along with the wood that actually belongs there.

So this was quite the undertaking for him, so much appreciated that I don't think he ended up helping with the garden, but spent his time doing an excellent job there.  I always love it if my kids find something to do and do it with all their heart.  And here I'm talking about doing a job that they see needs done and caring for it without me asking.  This is not his jurisdiction, not an area assigned to him at all, but he still saw a need and took it upon himself.  Thanks, Jones!!!!

I asked him to count the items that he took to the trash, and he figures that it was well over twenty, maybe fifty, but since I know how he counts, we'll say twenty.

And the de-cluttering challenge is done, having taken 9 weeks to do 8 weeks worth. :)  But in our house de-cluttering is not done.   Today in fact I have found several things that should go.  Some shirts that are  too hot for my littlest guy, so we'll pass them on to another little guy as it will be too small for him next year.

Keep on de-cluttering when you see something that needs it and the 8 week challenge next year won't be so heavy. :)

Steph

Decluttering - Week 8 Day 4 - Changing seasonal clothes

Even though I did this post on Tuesday, I still didn't get it posted.  Too busy living life.  Too busy getting sidetracked.  That's me.  But here it is a couple days late.

Today, I am bringing out the shorts.  It may be a little on the later side, as it's supposed to be 90 today.

I also have a bunch of laundry to fold as I got behind.  I will go through each piece of laundry and determine if it's needed through the summer ( a pair or two of jeans is necessary) and if it will be wearable next season.  If I think that it will not fit say Bugaboo (my 10 year old daughter), I'll put it in Jules' (my 7 year old daughter) bin.


O.k. so first job on this project was to remove everything from the top shelves of their closets.  During the year, I'll put things up there with their bins, so that when it comes time to change things over (seasonal clothes, I mean) I can find all the different things that go in their bins.  I put all the things from one closet into one of their laundry baskets.

 Then I bring their tote downstairs.  I pull out all the clothes.  The special things stay in the bottom and I sort the clothes.  Some of them are still too big and others are just right.  I set the clothes to the side, on a table or something.
Then I pull out their folder.  This box sits on the counter right by my microwave.  I put awards and birthday cards, school papers and art projects in here.
Then I look through the folder.  At this point I throw almost all of it away.  I save all birthday cards, awards, but just one or two papers from school, some of their work that they will be proud of.
I put them on the table with the clothes I have set aside to store in the bin.
The special papers go in first, and then all the clothes that are not for the season.

Then the totes go upstairs back to the clean and now, neat top shelf.   

Today I found a lot of papers to go in the trash, but we'll count 1 for each child and several clothes that won't fit for this year. I also found some clothes in the laundry that are ready for the trash.  I always keep my eye out for things that are too ragged.  The problem is we do need some raggedy things for farm life. 

So my total for today is 15.
Total for the challenge is 634.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

De-cluttering - Week 8 Day 3 - Kids Toys Day 2

You are probably wondering if I dropped off the face of the earth - and this close to the end of the challenge at that! No, my husband came home from a trip on Thursday, and Friday he stayed home and despite doing day care we were able to have a day of discussing the things he'd learned.  Then this week, I have just been full-throttle, even though I have been de-cluttering still.

The kids' toys are gone through now.  When the Little Miss had her last day (Friday), I sent her home with a box of toys and things that she had used here.  She even went home with a cute little bag with her name on it.  We had a little ice cream party.

I found another bucket of game pieces to go through and there was about 40 things in there that didn't go to anything.

Also dumped out the train box and found a myriad of things in there that needed to go - another 20 things.

Total for the day was 60 things.
Total for this challenge was 1019!!!!  We made the goal.

Keep pressing on,
Steph