December 12, 2016

Good morning! I had intended to write this post about the peaceful mornings but plans changed. I started my day as usual and the kids actually slept in a bit so I was not being hurried to get breakfast ready and on the table.

I sat down with my coffee and reflected on a few things. One of which was yesterday’s sermon about clinging to grace. We need to remember that when times are hard and nothing seems to be going right that we still have grace to carry us through. We need to keep holding fast to the promises that God has given us. He has a plan for us and He knows what we need even we don’t really have a clue.

I have had many a day when I have felt so discouraged and sad. Part of this is due to the fact that I don’t have someone to walk alongside of. Someone to share my little joys with or someone to hold me when I am down. I do miss having someone to hold my hand or the feeling of someone coming up behind me and wrapping their arms around me and holding me tight. I sometimes long to have someone to talk to about my day or being able to listen to someone tell me about their day. I miss having someone to snuggle close to when the nights are cold or when I don’t want to get up in the morning.

I try my best not to dwell on these feelings as I know that God is in control. I know that right now my focus needs to be on Him and the rest will fall into place. He is always there and will never leave me. He knows the innermost thoughts of my heart and all of my desires. He will comfort me like no one else can. I know that if it is in His will for me to have someone beside me He will allow our paths to cross.

So for now I will continue to pray for His wisdom and guidance, not only for myself, but for the one He has chosen for me. I pray that God will bless Him beyond measure and supply all his needs. I pray that  He will guide him and protect him and that He will surround Him with people who will encourage him. I pray that God will continue to mold him and shape him into the man God intends him to be.

I don’t know God’s will or His plans for my life but I know that He loves me and only wants the best for me. I also know that a lot of my problems have been because I wasn’t patient enough and didn’t wait for Him to reveal His plan to me. I tried to do things my own way and they didn’t turn out the way I had planned. I’ve made so many mistakes and suffered so many failures.

I pray that God will continue to work in my life and mold me and shape me into the person He wants me to be. I know that He can turn mistakes into miracles and that God has not forgotten about me. I pray that if it is not His will for me to have someone to walk with that He will fill my heart with joy and help me to be content where I am right now.

Right now, I will keep my focus on Him and on the job He has blessed me with as a mother and a keeper of my home. This is an important job that He has placed on me and it is full of responsibilities. My attitude and behavior will influence everyone around me especially my children. God calls us to show His love to all of those around us and I pray that everyone I meet can see how His love overflows from my heart. I pray that everyone around me will always feel loved, welcomed, safe, and comforted when they enter into our home.

Yes, it would be so much easier if I had someone to help me shoulder the many burdens of raising a family and keeping a home but God will give me the strength I need. I don’t really look at my role as a burden as I try to do everything with a servant’s heart because I love my family. So I will try not to be discouraged and I will keep singing His praises because God is so good to me! He has blessed me, an unworthy sinner, and He has loved me and shown me His grace and mercy. So for now I will indeed continue to cling to that grace and allow it to carry me through this difficult part of my journey.

Laundry Routines

As you can imagine with house full of kids we have a lot of laundry! There was a time where we didn’t have an inside washer and dryer. All we had was a washroom outside with the washer hooked up. This usually meant that I would do one massive wash day. Boy was that exhausting!

The many hampers placed throughout the house would be overflowing. There was the never ending dilemna of not being able to find anything clean to wear. Not to mention my kitchen would be covered in stinky socks and dirty underwear on wash day. Ewwww!

I am so thankful that we now have an indoor laundry room with a working washer and dryer. At first we kept to the one wash day method but it really wasn’t working and I was so tired at the end of the day. The FLyLady says ‘A load a day keeps CHAOS away!’ and she is right. Now it might take you a it to ‘catch up’ but you can do it.

Sometimes we aren’t in the position to do a load a day so just do the best you can! Below is our current laundry routine:

Sundays: No laundry

Mondays: DS3 & DS4 (1load together)

Tuesdays: DS14

Wednesdays: Sheets & Whites (2 loads today)

Thursdays: Momma’s laundry

Fridays: DD8 & DD9 (1 load together)

Saturdays: DD17 & DS21

Each person is responsible for bringing their laundry to the washer and loading it up. I take care of the soap for the littles and I will also go ahead and throw a dryer sheet into the dryer so it will be ready for a Laundry Check.

In the Summer we will often use the clothes line and I have the younger ones help me to hang up the clothes and take them down.

Each person is also responsible for folding and putting away their laundry with the exceptions of DS3 & DS4 right now. They do put their clothes into the washer and then load them into the dryer. They will also unload the dryer and bring the basket to the kitchen. Momma usually folds the clothes and hangs up their outfits for them.

I do have a press in the laundry room but I am the only one who really uses it. I will teach each of the kids how to use it as these are all skills they will need to have for when they leave home and venture out onto their own.

 

Evening Routines

I know by the time the kids are in bed the last thing you really want to do is think about any more routines. However the success of tomorrow morning will greatly depend on your evening routine. I try to keep it fairly simple and if I have checked off the tasks on my Morning Routines and Afternoon Routines then it doesn’t take me long at all.

Below are the screenshots of my current Evening Routine:

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Once the kids are in bed it is time for me to finish up the day so I can relax a little and have a bit of quiet time. I may sit in my room or watch a movie with DD17. Sometimes I just chat with some of my friends who are night owls as well.

First thing I do is check to make sure the coffee pot is ready to go in the morning. I also check our bread basket, which is more of a bread box now, and I will pull a loaf or two of bread out of the freezer if I need too.

Then if the dishwasher is full I will make sure it has been started and if it has already finished I will crack the door a bit. I have DS14 and DD9 hang their glasses on the bulletin board so they don’t misplace them. I will clean them and get them ready for the next day.

I will also wash out the water bottles, if they didn’t make it into the dishwasher, and refill them so they are ready for the morning. I have some really thirsty kids here and they love water!

Shining the sink is a FlyLady term and it simply means cleaning up your sink and making it shine. Nothing like coming into a clean kitchen with a shiny sink! I will also take the dirty wash rag and dish towel to the hamper and set out clean, fresh towels and rags.

I check to make sure the porch lights are on, and that the doors are locked, while going from room to room to double check that everything is pretty much in order. (2 minutes or less for this task.)

Before I put my computer away I will double check my calendar for the next day to make sure of any appointments or activities we may have planned. I will also review the menu and see if there is anything I need to prepare for them.

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I will also double check my FlyHelper app for any other tasks that may still need to be completed for the current week and/or month. Those will go on my To-Do list, if they haven’t been completed.

When I go to check on the little ones I will set their outfits out for the next day. (I usually hang a pair of bottoms with a top to make it easier.) Then I try to set out my outfit for the next day as well so I can just grab it really quick in the morning.

Ahhh…. the day is almost done and it is time for some ‘me time’. I will fix me a cup of tea or cocoa and take a few minutes just to relax. When I get ready for bed I remind myself to take out my contacts, I am guilty of forgetting this, and then I wash my face, put on moisturizer, and brush my teeth and hair.

I try to spend a little time reading my bible or devotional. I remind myself to go to bed at a decent hour but for me a decent hour could be 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. I do normally try to go to bed by 10:00 but often times I just can’t sleep.

I hope these routines will help you to set up and maintain your routines. I can promise you that your house will run more smoothly and your stress levels will go down tremendously. Don’t try to just copy mine unless you also have 6 kids at home, a dog, a cat, and 50+ chickens and a few geese…. I’m just kidding. But in reality what works for me may not work for you. My priorities will not be the same as Mrs. Smith’s who lives down the road.

Remember that what looks good on paper isn’t always right. So if you try to set up a routine and it isn’t working then don’t be afraid to revise and revise again until it does work.

If getting up and exercising at 5:30 isn’t your cup of tea then don’t do it. Maybe it is better for you to exercise later in the day or every other day. If you don’t like cocoa then that wouldn’t be the best way for you to relax in the evening.

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Afternoon Routines

 

Afternoon Routines

Below is an example of my current afternoon routine. Please use this as a guideline to help you set up your own routines that work for you and your family.

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Once the kids are down for naps I will check the laundry, if it hasn’t been done already. I hate to find clothes that have been left in the washer and have soured.

Once the dishwasher finishes running, if I had a full load, I will open the door a bit to let the steam out and the dishes will usually dry rather quickly. I then put away everything that goes in the top cabinets and leave the other dishes for DD9 & DD8  to put away. If something hasn’t dried completely I will set it in the dish drainer. I refill the soap dispenser so it is ready for the next load.

This time is usually when I am busy working on things that I need to focus and concentrate on. I have a reminder to drink my water as I often get caught up in whatever project I am working on and forget.

The kids get up around 2:00 and have a snack. If the weather is nice they will normally go outside to play. If not, I will put them on an educational DVD like Signing Times to watch while they play inside. (DD14 had a lot of trouble communicating at first so we have been learning sign language to help him be able to communicate with others who can not understand him.)

While they are playing I will check the mail or send DD17 out to check it for me. I sort the mail as it comes in and immediately place the bills and items that need my attention in a certain slot on my desk and throw away any junk mail.

When we have a garden, usually raised beds in the summer, I turn on the sprinkler when we go out to check on the critters. We will gather the eggs while out and turn off the water when we come back in. I try to wash and put away the eggs when we come in so the littles aren’t tempted to play with them.

Supper gets started about 4:30 ish unless I already have something in the crock pot. They kids will play until it is almost ready and then start a quick pick up. If they have been outside they will also go do a quick wash up before eating. Then they will come to the kitchen to help pass out silverware and plates of food.

We normally at around 5:00 or 5:30.

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After dinner everyone starts to clean up. They put their dishes in the dishwasher, wipe the table and benches, and sweep the floors. We do the littles’ baths/showers on every other day, unless someone is really dirty, so they will take turns. Everyone else will get dressed in their PJS and then head to the play room to play quietly or read.

Ideally we do like to brush our teeth before bed but sometimes this doesn’t happen. When it gets close to bedtime I will have them start to do a quick pickup and then we will have a story, or right now we are doing our Advent Study, and then they will head to bed at 7:30. The two littlest ones will still try to sneak out of bed or insist that Momma needs someone to keep her safe. We just walk them back to their rooms and eventually they get tired enough they just stay.

Our afternoon routine is pretty simple and it helps us to keep on track and keep everyone happy.

Also see:

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Evening Routines

Morning Routines

Every morning is a chance to start fresh. I can set the tone for the rest of the household by the way I act in the morning. If I am flustered or in a rush then everyone else will sense my stress and they will react to it. If I am calm and collected it may not entirely rub off on them but it will help me to be able to react to them in a more positive way.

Some of my Morning Routine is dependent upon my Evening Routine, such as making sure the coffee pot is set. It also helps a lot to walk into a clean kitchen first thing in the morning. This last one has been a little bit harder to achieve, especially with teenagers in the house, but I take it one day at a time.

My morning routine has changed a lot over the past few years. I have added things as we added kids and I have taken away things as kids, and a husband, have left. We changed again when we began our homeschooling journey and have been changing it bit by bit to fit everyone’s needs. As my priorities have changed so have my routines.

These are not set in stone they are merely a guideline and a checklist that helps me to keep my household running smoothly. This means less stress and helps keep me from feeling so overwhelmed. It also helps because my children know what to expect and they know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

 

Things change, so do our routines. It is much easier to try to be flexible, as you can see I don’t really have certain times to do most things. I just have them listed in the order I normally do them and I just check them off as I go. Below are a few screen shots from my current morning routine:

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I usually try to get up around 5:30 – 6:00. I spend a little time in prayer and reading my devotionals. I need this little bit of quiet time to help me get through the day ahead. When my kids were smaller this may have occurred while breastfeeding a baby in my rocking chair. Just this morning my 3 year old was with me, throwing pillows and giggling at me, and I think kids do benefit from seeing their parents spending time with God and reading their Bibles.

Afterwards I try to get in about 30 minutes of exercise, sometimes I exercise before my devotionals so I can relax with a cup of coffee after my shower. I try to take a shower every morning, I know sometimes this isn’t possible with littles running around but right now I am blessed to be able to do this. I also try to remember to take my vitamins while I am in the bathroom as Mommas need to stay healthy so they take care of the littles.

I have a quick routine that involves me getting dressed so I am ready for anything that might come along. I also do a quick makeup routine (5 minutes or less) and I will fix my hair. My hair is usually pulled back in a pony tail or clip. I do normally straighten my bangs and will run the straightener through my hair every so often when I have time. (Again 5 minutes or less.)

I am trying to get into the habit of setting out the toothbrushes for the kids before I leave the bathroom too.

Before I head to the kitchen at 7:00 I will make my bed because I can’t expect the kids to make theirs if I don’t set a good example. I also pick up after myself and keep my room, my closet, and bathroom straightened and organized. Lead by example and set a good model for them to follow. They will pick up more things by watching you than you realize right now.

I turn on the kitchen light (and I have also started playing some soft music) and this signals the kids that it is time to get up. They are usually awake and playing quietly in their rooms. It did take a little bit of time to get them accustomed to this routine as they just wanted to get up and run through the house making as much noise as possible. This is also when I turn off the door alarm for my special needs son and he heads to the bathroom and then back to his room to get dressed. (Please note that his room is right next to mine and he will knock on the door if he needs to go to the bathroom or anything. The alarm is more to alert us that he is up and about as he does like to wander sometimes. (See He marches to the beat of his own drum.) I also turn the alarms on the doors to ‘chime’ mode so I can be alerted when anyone opens the door.

Before he heads to the bathroom it is important that I do a quick check in the Living Room as he will pass through there to get to the bathroom. If anything is out of place it can create chaos with him and set us up for a bad day.

My coffee pot is usually already going by the time I wake up (I love my automatic coffee maker). This is more of a reminder in case I have forgotten to set it up the night before or if the power has went out during the night.

I will use the time that the kids are getting dressed to unload the dishwasher. I normally place the items that go in the lower cabinets on the island and DD9 will put them away when she comes into the kitchen, DD8 will put away the silverware and cooking utensils. I put away the items that go in the top cabinets as well as the knives or fragile items.

After this I usually do a quick check on the calendar to see if we have any appointments or anything that needs to be done. This keeps me from forgetting or overlooking things. I will also check my FlyLady tasks for the day. When I finish with the calendar I will start our oil diffuser and the kids usually start piling in the kitchen to take care of their chores. (They don’t really see them or consider them as chores, just part of our normal everyday routine.)

2a

We love our sweet tea and I always try to have some on hand for when people stop by. I usually make it 2 gallons at a time and I check on it in the morning to see if it needs made or not. I will then start on breakfast.

Breakfast is an important meal and I know how crazy mornings can be when you have littles, or getting ready for buses or work, or just didn’t get enough sleep. For me, I like to fix a hot breakfast when I can and we have a ‘Breakfast Schedule‘ of sorts. Mondays are Cereal or Oatmeal, Tuesdays are French Toast, Wednesdays are Muffins, Thursdays are pancakes, and Fridays are Cereal or Oatmeal. On Saturdays and Sundays I have a rotating schedule that includes waffles, Dutch puffs, coffee cakes, scrambled eggs and grits, monkey bread, and a variety of other treats that may be more time consuming and aren’t feasible for me to attempt during the week.

I also check off as each child comes into the kitchen to make sure everyone is dressed for the day. You never know when something might come up and you have to leave unexpectedly. It is much easier to be prepared for the unexpected than to be running around trying to get everyone together for an unplanned outing.

I will also run back to the bedrooms to check and make sure they are  ‘picked up and while I am in the back of the house I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ the bathroom back there. This normally involves m spraying the mirror, counter, sink, and toilet with cleaner and wiping. I will wipe the light switches and door handles too, but make sure you do this before you wipe the toilet. Then I will put a little bit of cleaner in the toilet and ‘swish’ with the toilet brush. A quick straightening up of the towels and such and I’m done (5 minutes or less.). I do keep some disinfecting wipes under the sink so the kids can take care of quick messes through out the day. Everyone appreciates a clean bathroom when you are hugging the porcelain throne during a bout of the flu.

I will also have someone grab a load of laundry to start according to our laundry routine. Each person has a set day to do their laundry, and I wash sheets and whites on Wednesdays. This helps keep the confusion down, prevents the ‘She took my shirt’ drama, and keeps the laundry from becoming a mountain. Of course, when people are sick we do laundry as needed but normally we stick to our schedule.

The little boys are usually responsible for picking up stray shoes at the front and back doors, as most of the time the shoes belong to them. They will carry the shoes to the bedroom of the owner or place them in a basket by the door.

I will check for outgoing mail which is usually left on the top of my desk. Then I will empty the kitchen trash. When I carry it to the bin I will put the mail in the box and sometimes go ahead and feed the critters as well.

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After breakfast the kids will clear their own dishes and place them into the dishwasher. They then head to my bathroom to brush their teeth. I leave the toothbrushes on the counter and they will start the timer. (This is one similar to what we have but ours is no longer available.) When they have all finished they rinse their toothbrushes and place them back in the holder.

They will then come to the kitchen and DD8 will wipe off the table and benches as well as the counters. DD9 will sweep all of the hard floors and the porch steps. They do this automatically as I said before and they don’t really consider it as a chore. Everyone will then go to the playroom for a few minutes before we start school.

I will ‘Swish & Swipe’ my bathroom and put away their toothbrushes to keep anyone from being tempted to play with them when they visit the bathroom. Normally I empty the trash cans too when I ‘Swish & Swipe’.

When I go to the playroom we will work on our ‘Morning Board’. We have a variety of activities which include morning prayers, pledge of alegiance, graphs/charts, calendar activities, art, math, poetry and we have a ‘Morning Basket’ with books that we read from daily. When we complete this everyone does a ‘quick pick up’ and heads to the kitchen.

They will grab their individual work boxes and take them to the table. DD8 will bring me the laptops and DD9 will bring me the headphones. The boys will begin work in their work books that I put together earlier in the year and the girls will get started on Spelling, Reading, and Copy Work. I used the binder earlier this year and put together Spelling books, Copy Work books, Math books, Activity books etc. for them to work from. This frees me up from constantly needing to print out things or give directions as to what needs to be done.

At one point we did have a visual pocket schedule that hung on the wall to direct the kids as to what needed done but it wasn’t very flexible and was really aggravating to use. It worked well for one or two children but when I had five trying to use it then it became a lot of trouble.

While the kids are working I will make my To-Do list, clear a couple of Hot Spots, check my emails and bank account, and also see what is on the menu for dinner. We will also do a ‘Laundry Check’  to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, in case we forget to do it earlier.

I will set up the laptops for their school work and begin the rotation schedules. Two or three kids will work on the computers, with head sets to help keep it quieter, and the other two or three will work at the table. Sometimes the little boys will head to the play room for a bit.

Once everyone is settled into their work I will begin my cleaning tasks for the day. I will try to complete the FlyLady mission first and then work my way down the list.

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Next I will work on my weekly list of chores. It is pretty much the same basic things as listed on the older routine. I will try to go into more detail on Weekly Routines in a later post. I will also attempt to cross a few things off my To-Do list as I go through the day.

By 9:30 everyone usually needs a little break and we will stop for a quick snack. The kids will go play for a minute and do whatever they need to do before getting back to work.

We will continue to work on our school work and as they finish up they will head to the play room to read, draw, or just play. I will usually start on lunch about 10:30ish. Sometimes lunch is leftovers from the night before and sometimes its just a quick sandwich. When it is time to eat everyone will do a ‘quick pick up’ before they eat.

‘Quick pick up’ is just a term that we came up with when the kids were smaller. I may have heard it or read it somewhere but I don’t remember. The kids all know that it means it is time to pick up everything and put it away where it belongs.

We eat and the kids clear the table, clean up, and head to their rooms for nap time or quiet time. If there is laundry in the dryer it will get folded and put away before they go back for quiet time. I will finish up in the kitchen and start the dishwasher as we usually have a full load by this time. Normally DD9 will fill everyone’s water bottles before she heads back to her room. I also remind myself to drink water as sometimes I forget.

Once the kids are settled I will work on my Monthly Routines which will be more detailed in a later post as well. I know it sounds like a lot but most things are broken down into chunks that take me 15 minutes or less to complete, many of them are much less.

When the house is quiet I will sneak to my room for a  little bit of quiet time and I will read my Bible or work on whatever study of devotional I have out at the moment. This is usually the time I will use to run errands, as DD17 is home, and/or work on projects that need my full concentration. I may also use this time to catch up on making appointments, working on my To-Do list, or take a nap myself.

Please be sure to keep checking back and I will continue to work on the other routine links so you can get a better idea as to how we get it all done here. Just remember that you are the one who knows what your family needs and what will work for you and your family. Try something and if it doesn’t work then don’t be afraid to scratch that idea and try something else.

It has taken me over 20 years to get into a good routine that I feel comfortable with. Life happens and things are always changing. This means we have to be flexible and change too. I have found over the past 5 years that I have had to bend and stretch to make changes because I was being pulled in too many directions. I really had some days where I felt like a complete failure. I wasn’t, I just felt that way. I struggled with that and you may too.

My house doesn’t look like yours and yours may not ever look like mine. What my house looks like today may not be what it looks like 5 years from now. Kids grow, relationships change, and our standards will fluctuate.

Their was a time when I felt like my house had to be perfect or I would lose my husband. I was literally afraid that he would come home and not be able to see the vacuum lines in the carpet or that he would find a sucker wrapper I had missed in one of the kid’s bedrooms. That was no way to live.

Please don’t be held prisoner by unrealistic expectations from yourself or anyone else around you!

See also:

Getting Routines Started 101

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Laundry Routines

 

Are you needy?

My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:19  Continue reading “Are you needy?”

God uses cracked pots

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  -Jeremiah 18:4

I know that often times we get caught up in things we believe we ought to be doing, the way we should look, or where we should be in life. Sometimes we wonder if we are too damaged or flawed to be of use anymore or to be able to do what we need to do. Maybe we have things in our past that we are not proud of, things that have chipped away at our self confidence, esteem and maybe even our reputation. Continue reading “God uses cracked pots”

It’s hard being a peacemaker

Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

What is a peacemaker?

I’m sure you’ve probably read this verse before as I know I have read it. I came across again it a few days ago and began to wonder ‘What exactly is a peacemaker?’ I looked up the definition and this is what I found: Continue reading “It’s hard being a peacemaker”

Enjoy your season

Four seasons to a year

We all know that there are four seasons in every year. We have Spring which brings new life and lots of energy. Everything is young and vibrant and ready to explore the world around them. Continue reading “Enjoy your season”

Its been one of those days

I think all of us have had ‘one of those days’. Well, it’s a Monday, and it’s a Monday after a time change so I have a strong feeling it will be one of those days every day for the next week or so. If you have young kids, special needs kids, or maybe even no kids then you know what I mean. That one hour time difference can wreak havoc to your normal routines. Continue reading “Its been one of those days”

Shattered

This post was from my original blog…

 

Continue reading “Shattered”

I Can’t Do it by Myself!

Original Blog Post-April 20, 2016
Earlier today as the kids were cleaning up for lunch work I sent the 4-year-old to tidy up the playroom. It was a mess that had mostly been created by his younger brother and himself. He went in and immediately said, ‘Momma, I can’t do it by myself!.’
I explained to him that if he would just choose one thing at a time to put away he could indeed do it by himself. He put away all the books and then he attempted to put the cushions back on the couch and chair. He couldn’t do it. I watched him try and try. He struggled but he kept on trying.

Continue reading “I Can’t Do it by Myself!”