Tag Archives: chores

Thankful

Even with all of my good intentions, this school year has not been an easy one. Come to think of it, I don’t know that any of them could be classified as “easy.” But as we celebrate the holidays, I am reminded of how thankful I am that we are able to homeschool and educate our children in the way we believe benefits them the most. So even on our “off” days, when things aren’t going as I would like them to, I am so thankful that:

  • I know my children’s academic strengths and weaknesses; while I applaud their strengths, we can focus together on the areas that need improvement.
  • I know their character strengths and weaknesses, and I’m around to help guide them through various situations.
  • I know their friends, their friends’ parents, and their friends’ siblings, and I know what they do when they’re just “hanging out”.
  • They’re learning (albeit slowly some days!) how to accept and get along with one another, as well as how to encourage and support one another.
  • They’re learning practical skills as they help out around the home.
  • We have time to deal with “life” as a family, helping each other when the need arises.
  • We have time to reach out to others in need — to friends, family, and people in the community.
  • We are learning and growing together.
Though many of our friends’ children now attend school, homeschooling has definitely proven to still be the best option for our family. So this season, instead of becoming discouraged by the inevitable “bad” days, I’m going to continue reflecting on all the positives we’ve experienced. And I am so very thankful.
How has homeschooling benefited your family? What are you most thankful for?
Photo by ensignmedia

Time for Re-establishing

After lots of traveling over Christmas and New Year’s, we had our first quiet week at home this week. Our co-op did meet on Monday, so that day was full, and Tuesday the girls had music lessons, but that was all we had on the calendar. And, for a few days our car was in the shop, so I couldn’t have gone anywhere anyway. I had anticipated getting a lot done, including unpacking from our trips, putting away the Christmas decorations, and cleaning the house.

But the house is still a mess and the Christmas tree is still up. Instead, this was the week of re-establishment.

First, we had to re-establish our school hours, and it took a couple of days before the routine was set again. Some of that time was also spent looking for workbooks that somehow disappeared. One math book is still on the loose.

Then we re-established the daily chore plans, including the “before breakfast” and “after school” lists. After several weeks of letting daily chores slip by, it’s nice to have some helping hands with the housework again.

Because adjusting to school and chores again can be tough, we had to re-established the “No Whining Rule.” That one was a little harder and involved a few more tears, but it’s coming along too.

We also re-established the “Video and Computer Games May Only be Played on Saturdays” rule. We set up this rule about a year ago when I felt the boys were spending too much time at the games, and it works well for our family. During holidays, however, it’s an easy one to bend, especially if they get a new one for Christmas.

Looking at the state of our house this week, one (especially my husband) might wonder what we did at home all day. But we did work at some hard things, and the year is off to a good start, even if the house isn’t. 🙂

Photo by Grafixar

Resolutions for the New Year

There are a few times each year when I feel like I can have a real fresh start — those “magical” dates for reordering life and restructuring how I do everything. One is my birthday, because I’m embarking on another year; one is the first day of the school year, which fortunately comes just weeks after my birthday, in case I didn’t get off to such a good start; and the third is New Year’s Day, especially if the fall months didn’t go quite as planned.

So each new year, I make resolutions, write out lists, develop more detailed schedules. But by mid-January, I’m usually ready for a new “fresh start.”

This year, I’m going to try something new, an idea I read in the book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist. In one of the chapters, the author describes her tendency to pressure herself into not only doing everything, but doing everything BETTER. It was then she decided to write down a list of things she wouldn’t do — activities that, while productive and good to do, weren’t necessarily the ones SHE should be doing.  By following this list, not only did she excuse herself from activity overload, but she allowed herself time for the things that mattered most to her.

So, for this New Year, here’s my list of things I’m not going to do:

(Please note: These are all great things to do, and for that reason I usually pressure myself into doing them, or I feel guilty if I don’t. And they may be just what you are good at or what you want to do this year. Likewise, your “Do Not Do” list may have things that I enjoy doing.)

  • I’m not going to plant a garden. Okay, I have yet to plant a full garden anyway. But we live in the country and have the room, so every spring I feel like we should be planting rows and rows of vegetables. This year, instead, I’m going to concentrate on growing some cherry tomatoes in pots.
  • I’m not going to try to can my own jellies or vegetables. I have tried this one, and though many people around me like to can, I just don’t. But I don’t mind supporting the little shop down the street that sells local jelly.
  • I’m not going to landscape. I love looking at homes with beautiful yards, and I wish our yard looked like that. We even have an area beside our house that would be perfect for a flowerbed. So this year, I think we’ll throw our some wildflower seeds and just see what grows.
  • I’m not going to hang laundry on the line. Though it would save on the power bill, clothes I put on the line usually end up being left there for a day or two… or three. Then I have to wash them all over again.
  • I’m not going to clip a lot of coupons. I’ve tried couponing this year, and while I saved a lot of money, it was very time consuming for me. So this year, I’m only clipping out coupons for laundry detergent, cereal, yogurt, and pet food. Otherwise, I’ll just shop the sales.
  • I’m not going to make hot lunches. Cooking is not my forte, so I’ll save the hot meal for suppertime. After all, a good sandwich can be very tasty.
  • I’m not going to mail birthday cards to extended family and friends. While I did this one year and it was a lot of fun, the family has grown since then to 40+ people. I’ll call or email them instead.

Instead of doing these things, I’m going to enjoy more time with my children doing crafts, putting puzzles together, and playing games. What’s on your “Do Not Do” list?

Couponing

SHPlaceOfBusGrocery4A friend at our co-op is known in several grocery stores as “The Coupon Lady.” She spends quite a bit of time following the sales, and for her efforts she saves a huge amount of money on her family’s weekly food bill. Inspired, I asked her for some tips. She did something even better — she had a class in her home for any interested moms to show us how she does it.

I used to use coupons long ago, and now I’m using them again. With the help of some couponing websites (southernsavers.com and hotcouponworld.com), along with the grocery store websites, I’m starting to save a lot of money. I love looking at the bottom of the receipt now to see how much I’ve spent compared to how much I’ve saved.

To clip the coupons, I’m following my friend’s recommendation of laying out multiple newspaper ads and clipping identical coupons all at the same time. What I haven’t got a handle on yet, though, is how to sort them quickly. And with the big pile of unsorted coupons on my desk, it shows.

I thought I’d work at it late at night once a week while watching a favorite movie. By that time, though, I’m usually too tired to think about coupons. Several people have suggested I put the older children to work at it, which sounds like a good idea — I just need to take the time to teach them how to do it. I think once I’m caught up, weekly sorting won’t be too hard — it’s because I have so many to sort right now that it’s become such a chore.

But all in all, I think I’ll stick with couponing. We’re enjoying foods we don’t usually buy, and for half the price!

A Heart Of Gratitude

img-0285This Thanksgiving, we’re spending time with family, enjoying each other’s company. My children will be playing with their cousins, enjoying lots of good meals, and taking a break from school. But it’s hard work getting ready for a trip: making the lists, running errands, washing the clothes and sorting through them, cleaning up the house, and getting the pets settled for someone to care for them. It often seems as if the kids don’t appreciate all the effort it takes to provide them with a nice holiday time. Rarely does anyone ever say, “Thanks, Mom, for getting us ready to go.”

Sometimes I wonder how my children will learn to be grateful. They need this, they want that, and they want it right now! But there must be a better way then giving them lecture…after lecture…after lecture.

Then I wondered, how often do I thank them? Did I thank Cassie for spending extra time cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the craft paint off the cabinet door of the sink? Did I thank Lillie for helping Luke choose which toys he wanted to bring along? Did I thank John for running to his Grandma’s house to borrow some eggs for breakfast? I thank my friends for favors they do for me, but I don’t often thank my husband or children. Perhaps the things we do around the house are expected or required, but it’s still nice when someone appreciates it.

Instead of just telling them to be thankful, I need to show them by example. They need to see me with a thankful attitude. I need to appreciate them not only for what they do, but for who they are. And they need to hear me thanking every day God for all He has given us, not fussing about the things we lack.

They need to see me with a heart of gratitude.

Yes, Dad Can!

laundryCN_8203Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, most of our household chores have followed the traditional division of labor – I clean the house, fix the meals, and wash the dishes while my husband mows the yard and makes minor repairs around the home. Because he’s busy with work during our school year, most all of the homeschool responsibilities fall on me as well. I bring him in as principal when I need to, but generally, I do all the teaching. 

This past month we’ve had to change all that. I had a project commitment that was due at the end of June, and it was taking all my extra time to finish it up. Fortunately, my husband had some time off – he could take care of the things I couldn’t do. And he did! 

It’s been a good month, with a lot of quality time for Dad and the children. He took them everywhere I would have taken them – to the pool to swim, to the free summer movies, to music lessons, to friends’ homes to play. He listened to them read aloud and made sure the rest of their schoolwork was completed. He also took on one major household chore: the laundry. He washed, dried, and folded the clothes all month, enlisting the kids to help him with the process. He streamlined my system, making it easier and more efficient. 

What my husband learned: it’s fun doing things with the children, and relationships are strengthened when they spend time together. What I learned: Dad can do it!  He can help with school, run errands, and clean the house. He might even come up with better ways of doing things, making the chores easier for me when I take them over again. But now that I know, I might not take them all back. I think I’ll leave the laundry for him. 🙂

Chart Jungle

list2Ask any of my kids, and they’ll tell you I’m a list-maker. I make lists for chores, lists for weekly activities, lists for daily activities, lists of items that need to be done, budgeting lists, and lists for schoolwork. I have my weekly, yearly, and 5-year goals written up in lists. My lists are on the fridge, on the bulletin board, and in the school notebooks. I am constantly revising and updating my lists – I think I even have lists about my lists.

If you like using lists as well, check out ChartJungle.com . Wendy Shepherd, the author of the site, has created free printables to help you get things organized. Not only will you find free calendars and charts for schedules and chores, but you’ll also find printables to help you with your money, your car, your weight loss goals, your health, your holiday activities, and much more. For the totally committed list-maker, there are even charts for recording the times you changed your baby’s diapers, when you had a reaction to an immunization, and when your child was nice to his sister.

ChartJungle also offers lists to help get your homeschool organized. You’ll find reading lists, report cards, number lines, graph paper, diplomas, and word lists. My favorites have been the school year calendars, which I use to record our school days and attendance.

The free newsletter is another nice feature of this site. After you sign up, you’ll receive periodic emails about the latest charts that have been added to ChartJungle. With so many charts available, it’s a good way to keep up with the changes without having to search the site. 

If you’re looking for ways to re-organize before the next school year, be sure to check out this site. If you can think of it, there’s probably a chart for it.