I know it will come as a great surprise to you but I have a type A personality. That means I like lists and routines. Not every routine is perfect and heaven knows not every day is perfect but I thought I'd share a few of the routines that work around here - maybe a few might help you organize your house . . . (and a disclaimer - not every system works for every person so don't overdo yourself on things that don't fit for you . . . )
1. Start my day with a routine . . . I was recently given a 365 day bible that has old testament, new testament, psalms, and proverbs all laid out for you. If you can find the date, then you can read God's word for the day. By the end of the year, you'll have read the whole bible. I really like the easy format and am really enjoying my daily time with God. (I won't say what time this happens - you know I'm not an early morning person - sometimes this happens before taking Hannah to school, sometimes after but always before noon). I'm a journaler so I like to read with a journal on my lap so I can respond to the scriptures I've read.
2. Family Rules . . . I was inspired by the Duggar family (19 kids and counting) to post our family rules and make our kids aware of them. If they break a family rule, the first time they get a warning and the second time, Hannah has to write the rule 10 times and Haley has to say the rule 10 times - that way they will remember the rule they forgot . . . and hopefully will remember to follow it next time.
In case you can't read them in the microscopic picture, here they are:
1. Obey your parents
2. Jesus first, others second, yourself last
3. Respect adults
4. Use manners at all times
5. Clean up after yourself
6. Help with family jobs without being asked
7. Take your time and try your best
8. Marsh girls don't quit
9. Use kind words
10. Show a joyful attitude even when no one is looking
3. Sticker charts . . . I have tried these in the past and they end up so much work for me, I give up. This time, I realized the girls are old enough to be in charge of their own charts. I personalized them as they are in different stages right now and need to work on different things. Haley's chart is for staying in her bed after being tucked in. She was in the jack in the box habit - every night she'd pop out of bed at least 3 times to go potty, get a drink, ask a question, show us a boo-boo - you name it, she thought of it . . . now, she is allowed one time out (to go potty, get a drink, and solve all the world's problems) and if she follows this rule, she gets a sticker (that she is responsible for putting on her chart). Hannah needed to get in the habit of practicing her piano everyday . . . and I was tired of asking her to do it everyday. Now, if she practices everyday, she gets a sticker on her chart . . .
At Michael's, I bought each girl a clear plastic container, a bunch of fun stickers and let them decorate. I've found there is always more buy in on a project or routine if they are part of the creation of it. On Sunday, we count the stickers they have received throughout the week and they get a quarter in their container for each sticker. They have been so excited to put stickers on each day, so proud of their accomplishment and no one has missed a sticker day yet!! I told them I'd take them to the dollar tree every couple weeks to spend the money they've earned.
4. THE BIN . . . I don't know about your house but after a bit of play time, we have toys everywhere . . . and the girls are not the best at remembering to clean their toys up after they've played . . . and I'm tired of nagging them to clean . . . and eventually I end up cleaning it up as I don't want to live in a pit . . . this wasn't working for anyone so Travis came up with THE BIN . . . dun dun dun (sinister music inserted here). Instead of nagging, I now give the girls one warning to clean up their toys. If they decide not to (whether they are to busy or don't care) the toys they didn't clean get put in the bin (a plastic tote out in the garage). At the end of the month, they have the option to buy back their toys in the bin (with the money they've earned in their sticker boxes) or donate them to Value Village. This tool has been so effective, I've not had to put a single toy in yet . . . just the threat has been enough . . . when I see toys around not cleaned up, I calmly say, "I guess you want me to put these toys in the bin" . . . and before you can say Goodwill, the toys are cleaned up where they belong and I don't have steam coming out my ears in frustration from asking 20 times . . . yeah Travis.
5. Cleaning routines . . . I don't know about you but I get tired of constant cleaning and tidying of my house. I've tried charts and systems in the past and none of them have stuck until now. A few months ago I realized one thing I despise in perpetual laundry as it's never finished. Now I've deemed Monday National Laundry Day and get it all done at once . . . it's a marathon and not super fun but when it's done it's done for the whole week - 6 days of laundry peace . . .
The picture shows my beautiful hallway swallowed by the laundry but look at the sun shining upon it . . . it's as though God were smiling on my dirty clothes!! Tuesday is vacuuming and dusting day . . . and I can't take any credit for the work. Since my asthma and allergies have gotten so bad, I can't do these chores anymore - I can't be around the chemicals and dust . . . we've worked out an arrangement with a dear friend of ours who comes faithfully every Tuesday to take care of all the jobs I can't - it's the best thing we've ever done and helps her growing family with a bit of extra income. And with all the big cleaning jobs at the beginning of the week, the quick counter tidy and dishes aren't that overwhelming and our family enjoys a clean home!
6. Perpetual Grocery List . . . I don't know about you but I have waisted to much time in my life creating grocery lists. And inevitably, I always forget something when I'm at the store. Now, instead of rushing to create a list at the last minute and remember everything we need, I keep an ongoing list on the fridge. I found a magnetic notepad at the dollar tree which sticks on the front of my fridge. As we run out of something or I think of something, I write it on the list so when it's time to go to the store, I rip off the list and never forget what we need.
Maybe you read this list and think I am to anal or maybe you think it's not a fit for you . . . both is fine! I'm just finally enjoying the cadence of our home . . . its not perfect and one thing I've learned from almost 10 years of marriage and 8 years of parenting . . . just when you've figured something out, it changes . . . for today, I'm going to celebrate the baby steps!!