Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Being a military family, having six kids, and home schooling makes organization a must.  Over the years I have adopted some of the better schemes for keeping our busy lives running without organization becoming a chore.

  1. School is a priority and in our experience, if we don't get it done by lunchtime it isn't getting done.  I start the day by making a hot breakfast for the kids.  We try to limit cold cereal to once a week.  If the kiddos don't get a good breakfast they will not make it to lunch.  After they eat, they need to get ready for school.  This means they do get dressed everyday.  The only family members allowed to do school in PJs are Baby Wingnut and me. They all have a quick little morning chore to do and then we all meet in the living room for prayers and religion.  When we break from the living room we all tackle math next. Math usually takes the longest to complete of all our subjects and I like for the kids to work on it while they are still fresh. They are allowed to move on to the rest of their work in any order of their choosing, after math.
  2. Continuing on with school organization, every weekend I pull out the kids texts and workbooks and write out in their notebooks a lesson plan for the entire week.  I began doing this when Stat Boy began to believe I was just piling on the work each day.  Having it all laid out in a notebook lets them see what is expected of them each day.  As they work they check off each task in their notebook.
  3. Chores are extremely important in any family, but especially in a large one.  Everyone must pull their weight or we will all fall into complete chaos.  Several years ago, I came across Fly Lady and we've implemented many of her ideas in our family.  After school work, each child has a "fly lady job."  These include unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming the stairs, cleaning their bathrooms, and dust mopping the wood floors.  These just happen to be the things in our home that need everyday attention and don't take too much time to complete.  Like Fly Lady, I don't expect perfection, just that each area should look better than it did to begin with.  Occasionally, if I feel they are slacking in their work, I will give a lesson in how to do the chore properly.  I also adhere to the zoning system from the Fly Lady.  Each area of the house becomes a zone that is worked on during a particular week in the month.  This keeps things from becoming too overwhelming and keeps me from obsessing about cleaning all the time.  
  4. Other chores the children are responsible for are their bedrooms, their laundry, taking out the trash, setting and clearing the table, shaking out or changing the table cloths, and cleaning the kitchen after dinner.  These jobs are divided equitably according to age.
  5. Grocery shopping is my least favorite chore.  As a military family we shop weekly at the base commissary.  This means I need to carve out at least two and a half hours to accomplish this task.   Formerly, I tried shopping for two weeks at a time, but I found we ended running to the civilian grocery store almost every day during the second week. Shopping in the local stores really caused our grocery expenditure to skyrocket, so we really do need to go shopping every week.  Last fall, I came across a great catholic website that has really made grocery shopping easier.  The Domestic Church has a master grocery list that I copied and pasted into my word processor and then adapted to our families needs.  Each week I just print one out and check off what we need on the list.  On the back side I write a menu for the week and then check off the ingredients we need for each meal. 
  6. Wingnut is pretty good about calling when he is on his way home from work.  This gives us about 20 minutes to swoop through the house and pick up one more time before he pulls into the driveway.  He works hard for the money and deserves to come home to a pulled together house and family.
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