Tag Archives: FlyLady

Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.

This post is sponsored and includes affiliate links, yet the opinions are my true opinions, as always.  We really do love using this program in our home and I feel that you will too!

‘Scheduling and planning that’s flexible and organized.’

Has the idea of keeping track of lesson plans and schedules got you feeling overwhelmed? The thought of keeping records for report cards, transcripts, and attendance can be enough to make anyone second guess their idea to homeschool.

Just a few years ago I was overwhelmed with the task of record keeping for my large brood. I had one child who needed transcripts and several others in multiple grades with different needs. I was suffering from an informational overload trying to sort it all out and make everything work together without losing my sanity.

Then on October 8th of 2015, with the help of my friend Google, I found the perfect app for our family. It was Homeschool Manager. It sounded so easy and I decided to give it a try.

They had me at the Free 30 day – No Card Required – Trial period which was more than enough time for me to know that this was just what we needed. This one tool IMMEDIATELY brought order to the homeschool chaos we had. (Our Cozi app keeps the rest of our life running smoothly.)

Homeschool Manager completely changed my life and has allowed our homeschool to be the productive and fun learning environment I had envisioned!

Homeschool Manager also gives us the flexibility to adapt and reorder our school year as needed when life throws us an unexpected curve ball or two. We can also easily rearrange our schedule to fit in time for new learning experiences that pop up. We have been able to be more spontaneous and have had the ability to incorporate so many more spur of the moment activities into our homeschool which has allowed our children to have a much more fulfilling and enriching learning experience.

Portfolios are so EASY with Homeschool Manager!

Continue reading Homeschool Organization. Simple. Flexible.

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Kitchen Kleaning Monday Mission: Stove and Spice Storage

If you read yesterday’s post you probably know that I am in the process of cleaning my kitchen. Now it had a fairly thorough cleaning last August before we moved in and I have rearranged a few things here and there but it is still a work in progress. Small house living has its pros and cons and can be quite aggravating when you can’t get to things you need on a regular basis.

Last month I tackled that problem in our bathroom and reorganized it from top to bottom in one day! Now it still needs a thorough cleaning and a bit of work but it is much more user friendly and I have a much better storage area too. You can check out more here.

The kitchen was next on my list as that happens to be the FlyLady Zone right now. (I love this site!) My first mission was to tackle the stove area. This whole project took me 30-45 minutes (in between loads of laundry and helping with schoolwork) to complete. Continue reading Kitchen Kleaning Monday Mission: Stove and Spice Storage

Defeating the Dirty Laundry Monster

I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Whether it resulted from a vacation, a sickness, or possibly even just laziness. We come face to face with an hideous monstrous pile of dirty laundry and the task seems undefeatable. We put it off or just pick through and pull out a few items that we want to wear. Maybe the kids do the sniff test and decide it smells OK enough to wear again.

How do we handle this ever growing task and make it not seem so daunting? After finding the FlyLady I have started doing a load, sometimes two, a day. At first it seemed like I might never get this monster under control. By establishing my routines and with a little persistence I did eventually tame the beast.

Let’s face it even if you don’t have kids you will still have dirty laundry, unless maybe you live in a nudist camp. Even then I think you would still have some dirty laundry. When you have kids you are definitely gonna have dirty laundry. I mean you will have dirty clothes showing up to be washed that you didn’t even know your kids owned. When you move the couches or the beds you will almost certainly find dirty socks.

When you multiply the kids factor by 7 or 8 you will find that this supercharges the monster and it can quickly grow out of control. You need a plan of attack to get this monster under control and defeat it once and for all.

First you need to decide how you want to sort your clothes. I have a hamper in my bathroom for the whites. There are also separate hampers in the bedrooms for the little boys  the little girls. The older kids and I each have our own hampers in our rooms as well. We don’t really have space in our laundry room so this is what works for us. This may or may not work for your family. You may want to set up a laundry sorting area for lights, darks, and whites.

Next you need to decide on when you are going to wash clothes. Here each person is assigned a different day of the week. Mondays are for the little boys, Tuesdays are for DS14, Wednesdays are for the whites and the sheets, Thursdays are for Momma, and Fridays are for the little girls. The older kids wash on the weekends or whenever the washer and dryer are free. Sometimes, especially when a nasty bug hits, we do have extra loads to wash but for the most part we stick to this schedule.

Again this may not work for your family especially if you don’t have your own washer and dryer. You may not need to wash every day either. If your clothes are out of control you will want to wash at least one load a day until you get it under control. Make sure you dry, fold, and put away every load you wash or the clothes will end up back in the dirty pile before you know it.

While you are folding the clothes go ahead and get rid of things that your kids don’t really like to wear or things that don’t fit. Decide how many outfits they really need. My kids have 10-20 outfits for everyday wear. They also have a couple of nice outfits for church and special occasions. The younger kids have 7-10 play outfits as well. If you feel like you can’t part with that many maybe you can just put some in totes or boxes to swap out when some get a little worn. That way they will always have something ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ in their wardrobe.

Make your kids and other family members responsible for their dirty laundry! You shouldn’t have to fold clothes for anyone over 7 years old. They are more than capable of folding their own clothes. They are also capable of putting their clothes in the hamper, toting them to the washer, and loading/unloading the washer and dryer. Mommas do not need to wear themselves out doing things that others can help with.

Go ahead and teach them to put the clothes in the hampers right-side-out and that will save a lot of time later on. I don’t fix the clothes for them. Even the little boys know that if their clothes are not fixed right Momma will call them in to fix them before I hang them up or fold them.

The kids know that on Wednesdays we change our sheets. Each child has a second set of sheets to put on when they take off the dirty ones. The kids know to take the dirty sheets to the laundry room in the morning and one of the little girls will usually help the little boys to get their sheets off the bed. One of the girls will also gather up the bath rugs and dirty towels that may be hanging in the bathrooms as well as any wash rags lingering around.

I fill the detergent and softeners in the washer before the kids bring the clothes to load. I also place a dryer sheet in the dryer for them. When they load the washer they go ahead and start it. Then when the chime goes off they know to load the clothes into the dryer. No stinky, soured, or mildewed clothes allowed here.

I have shown them how to shake the clothes out before putting them in the dryer to help with the wrinkles. They can then start the dryer. Our laundry room happens to be right off the kitchen so they can leave their school work and swap out the clothes with little interruption and I am always right there to supervise.

When the dryer finishes they will grab a basket and unload them. They will also clean out the lint filter and throw away the lint. (Ok, sometimes they throw the lint at each other but it does eventually get thrown away.) The little boys take the basket to my bedroom, the girls take the basket to their room to work on after lunch, and DS14 leaves the basket in the kitchen.

I fold the little boys clothes, but they help with the whites for now. It is easier to show them how to fold wash rags and towels before we progress to shirts and shorts later on.They can match up their socks though. I hang up outfits for them, one shirt and one bottom per hanger, and then fold the rest of the clothes. They can put away most of their clothes except the ones that need hung up.

The little girls, 8 & 9, are pretty much independent now when it comes to folding and putting away their clothes.For DS14, I hang up his shirts and bottoms separately as he has a lot of trouble with the hangers but he is responsible for folding the rest of the clothes and putting them away. They all complete these tasks fairly well as they know that I will be checking them. I do not expect perfection just progress. The clothes are not going to look neat at first but as long as it looks like they gave it a good try then I’m satisfied.

This is a learning process and it does take patience to get these routines and habits developed so don’t give up. You will be teaching them important skills that they will need as adults. (I count this as ‘Life Skills’ in our homeschool.) Trust me I wished so many times that my ex husband would have put his stinky socks in the hamper instead of hiding them under the bed or sticking them in the drawer of his nightstand!

Well, I better finish up this post as I have a 3 year old asking for some turned over cake… aka Pineapple Upside-Down cake.

Note: In the summertime we use the clothesline which is also great practice for fine motor skills and can be a way to teach the kids how to save money, energy, and how to use natural resources. We have even made a mini lesson on this subject and researched various things from the benefits of air drying clothes to how to properly hang out clothes. Make it fun!

Routines

I know, we’ve all heard about how important routines and schedules are. Some of us may have every minute of every hour planned out on a ‘perfect’ schedule while others would rather just have a  ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of routine. I’ve always been kind of in the middle while I can say that at different times of my life I have leaned more towards one side than the other.

How do we find a balance? Well, the answer is not the same for everyone, every family, or every situation. For instance, there are some children who thrive on strict routines and schedules and they don’t like change, I have one of those children. Then there are some families who are extremely busy with things, maybe a home business, and there is no way that they could guarantee that they would be home by 5:00 every day to eat dinner. Then we have work routines where sometimes there are deadlines and things that must be completed in a certain time frame.

I went through a period of time when I was really sick. I went from being a vibrant young wife and mother (who also held down a 40 hours + job) to almost being bedridden. I had a couple of different surgeries, followed by infections  and long recuperation periods. These illnesses triggered an autoimmune response in my body and I have been plagued by chronic pain ever since. I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, DDD, herniated discs, IBS, GRD, hiatal hernia, migraines, and fibromyalgia among a long list of things.

My doctors prescribed a cocktail of medications to help with the problems but those medications caused lots of side effects. I was extremely fatigued, developed seizures, and was constantly having various rashes and other conditions that couldn’t be explained.

During this time my housework really suffered. My house wasn’t a total mess but it did get pretty bad. The more I tried the worse it looked. This caused major problems between my spouse and I. I was trying to keep up with the inside of the house, the outside of house, the garden, the animals, and the kids. I was OVERWHELMED!

Then I found an index card system for housework. They also have a book called Sidetracked Home Executives which I never bought but maybe should have. I immediately jumped in and began to use the system. I tweaked it here and there to make it work for our family. I then developed a similar system for work and it made an amazing difference in my productivity levels.

Unfortunately my spouse wasn’t as thrilled with my new found method. I could never keep our home as ‘show place perfect’ as he felt I should. The marriage fell apart and I moved with my four kids to our current home. This is where I found FlyLady, who has been a life saver to so many people. (You may want to check out the site for yourself.) A lot of the routines I will list below follow along with her basic plans. I again tweaked them to work for our family.

My house is not ‘show place perfect’ nor will it ever be. My house is lived in and it shows. I do get a lot of compliments like, ‘I would never know that you had so many kids here.’.  I’m not quite sure what they expect my house to live in but I am pleased to surprise them.

The outside of my house is a bit of a mess and I am working on that. Many people have stopped as they thought I am running a daycare. I guess I kind of am in a way. Some of the mess is beyond my control as it doesn’t belong to me.

I really believe that everyone should be proud of what the Lord has blessed you with. Be content where He has put you and make the best of it. I pray that you will find some helpful tips and suggestions as you read through the links. (If a link isn’t working I probably haven’t been able to work that on it yet, but keep checking and I will get them up.) Please remember to use these as a guideline for setting up your own routines. If something isn’t working then change it and make it work for you. Don’t get discouraged!

Getting Routines Started 101

Morning Routines

Kids’ Morning Routine 

Daily School Routine

Afternoon Routines

Evening Routines

Weekly Routines

Monthly Routines

Yearly Routines

Laundry Routines

Yearly kids chores by age

Age appropriate chore charts

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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

 

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Original Blog Post April 15, 2016
I just posted about the beginnings of our homeschooling journey. We have made several changes and continue to make changes as needed to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. When we first started this school year I was a bit overambitious and I was stressed.
I must thank the FlyLady for helping get my routines set up and keeping me motivated! There is also a FB group for anyone who is interested in learning more about this method. With that being said a routine is very important also. At least for our family that is. We have one child who has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD as well as some other issues and another child who has ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).
Routine is the key to helping everyone stay on track. With a routine they know what is expected and when it is expected. We have tried various charts and methods for posting our routine. It was pretty strict at first but I have relaxed a lot since we first started. We do have a few things posted as a general outline of the day.
I have some visual learners and they really need to see it every day. Then we also have a HUGE calendar that we keep things on also. This has made a tremendous difference with my kids. We did have another schedule board posted in the kitchen. It had our morning chores and morning school activities on it. The kids would move a clothespin down to each activity and they really enjoyed it. The only problem was that occasionally we wouldn’t do something in the order it was on the chart and my one son would get really upset about it. Now its just more of a general ‘To-Do’ list that we need to complete for the morning, afternoon and evening.
I usually get up about 6:00 am and take my quick shower. I will get dressed and fix my hair. Then I head to the kitchen and try to sneak in a little ‘Mommy Time’ before the pitter-patter of little feet. I will fix my coffee and go over my daily schedule on my online calendar. I have been known to forget about a doctor’s appointment or such. I also try to look at the menu and get started on dinner if it is a crockpot meal. (Menus will be another post.) I will usually unload the dishwasher and put away the dishes that go in the top cupboards. I leave the lower cupboard items on the counter for the girls to put up when they get up.
I have been trying to keep the kids in their rooms until 7:00 am to give me a little time but sometimes the little guys find their way to the kitchen before then. I will fix breakfast and usually have it on the table when the kids make it to the kitchen. The basic morning routines for the kids include:
Wake up
Make your bed
Get dressed
Brush your hair
Go potty (I have a few who still need to be reminded of this on a pretty consistent basis.)
Eat breakfast
Brush your teeth
I keep it fairly simple and we do have a small sheet posted with pictures (for those who can’t read yet) and words to help remind them of what needs done.
After breakfast everyone helps with a quick clean up and some chores which vary day by day. We even include these on our school schedule as ‘Life Skills’ as they are learning how to care for a home. While the kids are cleaning up I get the laptops set up for school and get everyone’s work out for the day. (I have a multi-tabbed color coded folder which helps me stay organized. Each child has a different color.)I usually just open up tabs on the laptops with each assignment for the day. When they finish the assignment they leave the tab open until I come around and check.
We then have our ‘Morning Time/Circle Time’, not sure what to call it, where we go over patterns, calendar, counting, money/time, weather, bible, and whatever extra materials I have set out for the day. (Again I have a 3-ring binder with different activities organized by the day. Sometimes we get to them and sometimes we don’t. I used to stress over making sure I covered it all but now I don’t.) We sometimes include a quick workout/dance video or other activity to get the wiggles out. Then we will have a quick snack around 9:30 am. This usually takes us 15-30 minutes.
My 7 & 9 year old will sit at the kitchen island while the boys sit at the kitchen table. When everyone gets settled in to doing their work I will check the bedrooms and make sure the beds are made. (I don’t make their beds for them or do any unfinished chores but will have them go back and do it if needs done.) I also clean the back bathroom and check the second bathroom to make sure the kids have cleaned it. This usually takes 5-10 minutes tops.
I will check on the girls and see if they need help with anything and see if they need help with anything. (My high schooler works independently and she will ask for help when she needs it.) Then I will sit with the boys and we will work with our hands on activities and/or crafts. We will also go through their lessons online and watch a few YouTube videos of their choosing, lately they just want to watch dinosaur videos.
While the little boys watch a short video or two I work with my older son on his reading lessons. On good days he will get finished really quickly and then there are bad days where he says he doesn’t know any of the words. He knows that we won’t go to the next activity until he finishes his reading so I try to keep something he enjoys for last. Sometimes it is ABC mouse or Teach Your Monster to Read and other times it may be a puzzle or game.
Before lunch time we usually have our ‘Independent Work’ completed. This includes reading, language arts, and math. When everyone is finishing up they will begin cleaning up their workspaces. Each child will put their completed work into a color coded folder so Mommy can find it later and decide what to keep for their portfolio. Ideally I like to go through these once a week but right now their folders are overflowing. (This would have driven me nuts a couple of months ago but now I know I will get to it, eventually.)
After cleaning up we will get started on lunch. This is usually around 11:30 am. Sometimes I have lunch boxes prepared with leftovers from the night before or sometimes I just make lunches in the morning and put the boxes in the refrigerator for later. Most days everyone eats lunch together.
While eating lunch I will do some reading with them. (Right now we are reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin for history.) When they are finished with lunch we have a quick clean up and everyone takes a potty break. I will start the dishwasher and check on my menu if I haven’t already put something in the crockpot for dinner.
Until just this past month everyone would go lie down for ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. I found that they really didn’t want to finish their work after they got up and it would just drag the afternoon on and on and on. So now after lunch we just go right into our ‘Group Studies’ which are History, Science, Art, Music and PE/Health. Everyone works together on these subjects. We do a lot of lapbooks and sometimes we will look up videos for areas they are interested in. If the work is complicated I will give the little ones coloring pages or another activity to work on while the older ones do their work. This little change has been working much better for us.
After ‘Group Studies’ all of the kids have some ‘Quiet Time’. This is usually over around 2:00 pm. Then they can go outside and play or go to our playroom to play depending on the weather. We just have one rule at ‘Quiet Time’ which is ‘No Feet on the Floor!’. This gives me a chance to work on my grocery list, couponing, or entering grades and checking over our daily schedule to make sure I haven’t missed something.
Once ‘Quiet Time’ is over we will have a quick snack. I will go outside, usually with a kid or two following, and feed the pigs and check for eggs. We will also check the garden and pick any veggies that are ready or anything that we may need for dinner. We come in and wash the goodies we have found.
I will start on dinner between 4:00 – 5:00 pm. This is another thing I changed recently. I ALWAYS had dinner ready by 5:00 pm. That’s another story for another day though. Our family has had some major changes in the past couple of years and I have just had to make adjustments to help us all through it. Life happens and now dinner will be ready sometime between 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Today it was ready by 5:00 pm but that has been a rarity lately. Once 5:30 pm rolls around I will have kids complaining that they are starving and must eat so I try to have it ready close to that time.
After dinner we clean up and do some quick chores. The kids will have some quiet play or reading time and then the kids will take baths and put on PJs. They are usually in bed around 7:30 pm except for the oldest and the youngest. I will sit with the younger ones until they are sleepy and then help them to bed. My oldest will finish up her school work and I will finish up any desk work I have left for the day. I am usually exhausted and in bed by 9:00 pm. Exciting isn’t it?
Now you may notice that we do have chores a couple of times during the day. Our chores only take 5-15 minutes at a time. I have found by having a few ‘quick pickups’ spaced out through the day it keeps us from having a major mess at the end of the day. Even the little ones can help with clean ups. Not every day goes very smooth or ends with a clean house.
With a routine you need to decide what will work for your family. Don’t be too strict about it but it may also be wise not to be too relaxed either. Start simple and as things slowly. Sit down and decide what you would like to accomplish each day/week and decide what the important things are. Assign a general time to have these things completed. I have found that by breaking the day up into smaller chunks of time it really keeps me from being overwhelmed.
Remember that you can change your routine if it isn’t working. With our family what works today may not work tomorrow and may need a complete overhaul to get everyone back on track again. Don’t be afraid of change!
Good luck!