In my last post (Planning and Organizing and Getting All My Ducks in a Row, Part 1) I shared what a typical day looks like for me. I shared that I would like a better organized, planned, and intentional life. I don’t live in a complete dump, or in complete chaos, but I could sure stand to change some things. Basically, I need to get all my ducks in a row. Grab those wandering little suckers and put them in their place.
So, in the spirit of lining up ducks, behold some of my thoughts on organization:
First of all, let me be clear about what this blog post is not. This is not a well thought out list of organizational methods. It is not a “listicle” (what an awful word) of “life hacks”. I’m not the expert. I really don’t know much of anything. And that leads me to what this post is.
It is a way to start a conversation about the reality of intentional living. Maybe some people put a system in place in their lives and there it stays until the end of time. For me and my family it seems like our schedules and plans are an ever-evolving system that can still use a considerable amount of work. I’d like to get better about this, again, to have more stability. But I’d also like to be honest about how difficult this is for us.
This post is also an accountability tool for me. It is a way of forcing my own mind to create order in the midst of the chaos, to plan and to set goals. It is a concrete way for me to seek some schedule stability. Maybe you would like to jump on board and work with me?!
Now you’re probably wondering why you should even read this post. Well, you probably shouldn’t. You should probably use your time more wisely. But if you’re into guilty pleasures, like reading about how a woman teetering on the brink of chaos is trying to rein it all back in? Maybe you want to shout suggestions from the sidelines? Or you want to commiserate and share what you’re doing to change your days? Possibly you just want to see if I’m going to fall all the way in or be eaten alive by my ducks. Well, my friend you’ve come to the right place.
So, to recap from the last post I need:
- a list of things to stop doing and a list of things to start doing.
- a list of things that I do every day, without having to think about it. (Non-negotiables my friend called them.)
- to think ahead of my children and let the extra noise roll off.
- to figure out how to feed this family of mine every day without using all of my brainpower and time.
- to clean on a schedule and let everyone else clean up their own messes. Even if I have to go find them to do so.
I’ll tackle those one at a time, although you’ll notice a little crossover on some items.
* A list of things to stop doing and a list of things to start doing.
Okay, here we go, starting with the things I need to stop:
- Reacting to bad behavior by yelling, lecturing and/or other of my own bad behavior (*hangs head*),
- Wasting time on Facebook because I haven’t planned and don’t know what to do next (notice I didn’t say no Facebook at all, I think it has its place),
- Eating things that make me feel worse, rather than giving me energy,
- Thinking negative thoughts about my body (it’s distracting, destructive and a waste of time!),
- Cleaning up after family members that are completely capable of doing this for themselves,
- Trying to “wing it” daily. It doesn’t work for me; I need a plan.
- Allowing child drama to run the day.
And, the things I need to start:
- Memorizing scripture about controlling my temper, anger, etc., reciting the scripture before I respond, and then breathe, smile, and go!
- Setting long-term, intermediate and daily goals. Obviously those things go hand in hand. How can I know what I need to do day to day if I don’t know what my intermediate goals are? How can I know those without my long term goals? You get the picture.
- Create a positive inner dialog. I am beautiful. I have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Etc. The truth is, I should treat myself with the same amount of love and grace that I would treat my best friend. And I really like her!
- Eat how I want my children to eat, instead of how I’m constantly telling them not to eat.
- Requiring my family to pick up after themselves. My kids already do chores each morning. What I’m talking about is a toy here, a dish there, a tissue over there, etc. With 7 people living in one house, that stuff adds up and takes a ridiculous amount of my day.
- Create a concrete list of non-negotiables. (Flylady.net is a great place to get started if you’re feeling clueless, btw.)
- Create a list of activities to distract and occupy bored or grumpy children.
* A list of things that I do every day, without having to think about it. (Non-negotiables, or routine items if you will.)
There are probably hundreds of websites out there to help compile a list that works for just about anyone. I am familiar with and like Flylady.net, but I also just know from years of failing what my day needs.
- Shower first, even if it means the baby goes in the bouncy seat right outside of the shower. I just function better and faster with a shower first. Plus, it uses that wasted time waiting for the coffee to brew. And it wakes me up faster!
- Bible time with an emphasis on scripture memorization. Let’s face it, Bible study books are great in theory, but they just aren’t meshing with this season in my life. And I definitely need scripture memorized.
- Yoga! I have newfound love in yoga. It is life changing.
- Dinner prep: Pull meat to be thawed, check for ingredients, etc.
- Check my calendar and to do list. Create a daily to-do list for me and Bryan. Spend no more than 15 minutes on this.
- Write for 15 minutes.
- Read to my children for at least 20 minutes.
- Help my children create their to-do list. 5 minutes per child.
- Walk/exercise every day.
- Lay out clothes for next day. (Children too!)
- Breakfast plan & prep if needed.
- Brush & floss, wash face, pajamas.
* To think ahead of my children and let the extra noise roll off.
Again, there are probably a thousand websites dedicated to this, not to mention Pinterest. I need to:
- take advantage of this wonderful technology and compile a list of practical (for me) ideas,
- shop for whatever items I need,
- post the list where I will see it daily,
- and finally, know that a house containing 5 children will be noisy. So, I need to get some headphones for the worst of it and get over it! (Hey, it works for my 16 year old!)
* To figure out how to feed this family of mine every day without using all of my brainpower and time.
Okay, this should be obvious. And you would think that I’d be a pro at this by now. Dinner isn’t really my biggest problem, although I’d like to streamline it for the school year. But, breakfast and lunch are a huge thorn in my side. I think I really need to just suck it up and make a full menu all the time. The seasons of my life that I have done this have definitely proven that it’s worth my time. So, to make that happen I can:
- Compile a list of the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinners) that we eat regularly,
- Print out a menu grid with enough room for all three meals,
- Shop for ONLY THOSE MEALS (and smart snacks),
- And stick to it.
* To clean on a schedule and let everyone else clean up their own messes. Even if I have to go find them to do so.
This is so obvious that it is embarrassing. But it’s so much easier to just pick the mess up then to hunt the person down and make them do it. Until you are doing that 100 times a day and you realize that you have created helpless monsters. Trust me when I say, hunt them down, don’t do it for them. To make this a little more practical, I can:
- Buy a cheap basket from the Dollar Tree to place items “in jail”,
- Only allow each child to eat from designated “snack” dishes, and make them keep track of them, wash them, etc. (We already do designated cups to drink from, don’t know why I didn’t think of snack dishes too.)
- Throw away the “toys” that my children leave around that are actually trash (think Sonic drink holders, stickers, bits of paper, etc.), if it’s on the floor in a common area they must not love it too much and it’s fair game!
Well, this post may not be life changing, but maybe it’s enough to start changing the way my family operates. I love being the momma to so many, but it does come with unique challenges, especially considering they are home almost all of the time!
So, did any of these ideas spark your interest? Do you have some suggestions of your own? Share away!
And stay tuned for next week where I share my “Other Momma’s” schedule from when her children (7 of them!) were little and homeschooling.