Tag Archives: housework

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

Organize and Simplify

Junk_DrawerOne of my New Year’s resolutions was to organize our home, and we got off to a good start this year. As we rearranged our rooms to make our space more useable, we packed up boxes and boxes of stuff (some might call it junk) that we just don’t need right now. Fortunately, we have an extra building we can use for storage, so we put everything out there. I haven’t sorted through anything yet — we just boxed it and stored it.

I’ve learned several things through this process:

1) A house with less stuff is easier to clean. I always knew this, but for the first time in several years, we’re actually putting it into practice. That’s not to say we’ve never gleaned through things before — we’ve given away bags and bags (and bags!) full of toys, clothes, and household items just this past year. But it must not have been enough, because we had so much to pack away as well.

2) We can save money by not having so much stuff. We have spent a lot of money on those things we packed away. Even with store sales and yard sale finds, the money adds up. When I look at all that stuff we aren’t even using, it’s easy to estimate how much it cost — and somewhat disheartening.

3) We don’t need so much stuff!  We are a family of collectors, and we all tend to hang on to things either for sentimental reasons or because we just might need it someday. But we’re functioning just fine without all that stuff, and actually, we’re functioning even better.

So here’s to a new year and an uncluttered house! Now I just have to sort through that building…

Break Time

113697753842We decided to wait until the second week of January to get back into our schooling routine, so we used the time we had this past week to reorganize our home. It’s something I had wanted to do for quite a while, but busy schedules just hadn’t allowed it. So for the past few days, we’ve been moving furniture, sorting through books, weeding through the toys, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. And each day, after a few hours of work, we all take a break.

Break time for the kids means free time, which they have been spending playing with new Christmas toys. But for some reason, their free time this week has been exceptionally loud. For the most part they’ve been getting along, laughing and shouting — it’s just been so loud, that it just doesn’t count as break time for me.

My idea of a break is quietly reading a book or magazine in my room, taking a quiet walk by myself, or listening to some quiet music while I work at a hobby. There is a key word in all these activities — “quiet”.

For the most part, homeschooling parents are home with their children most of the day, every day, except when we’re running them to classes and lessons or taking care of household errands. No wonder we need a break from the activity — a quiet one. Although we can enjoy this time when our children are young and moving and playing, we shouldn’t feel guilty about sending them to their rooms, closing the doors, and going outside to sit under a tree. In fact, we need to do just that. We need to take the time to rest, relax, and recharge ourselves so we can move on well with the rest of the day.

So whether you’re schooling, working, cleaning, organizing…whatever you’re doing today, try to find a quiet place to take a break. Make it a habit, for you and your children, and you’ll be able to enjoy being with them even more.

The Redemption Box

boxAs part of my constant effort to get our home in order, I have decided to implement an idea I first heard about when I began home schooling. At the time, I was attending a homeschooling conference where educator Inge Cannon was selling a tape set entitled “Finally Organized.”  In it, she recommended a certain method for helping children (and parents!) remember to put away their things: the Redemption Box.

I’ve since misplaced that tape set (hmmm…. sensing part of the problem here), but I do remember the basic premise of the Redemption Box. If someone leaves their personal belongings out of place around the house , the items are placed in the box. Once a week, the child will have the opportunity to “redeem” the items by paying a certain amount for them. We’ve decided to empty the box on Saturdays and have our children pay 10 cents for each item they recover. If it’s an item they need before Saturday (such as a shoe, a school book, etc.), they’ll have to pay 50 cents to get it back early. If it’s an item they don’t really care about (such as a toy, not a school paper!), they can leave it in the box, and it will be given away the next week.

But what if Mom leaves something around?  The kids came up with a good idea for that one. If they find something of mine out of place, they can put it in the box, and in return take one of their items out of the box. That way, they don’t have to pay to get it back on Saturday.

How’s it working? We’ve been using the Redemption Box this past week, and it’s been great!  I don’t have to fuss at people to put their things away anymore — I just throw the items in the box. And as a result, the kids are working a lot harder at picking up their stuff. They’re also helping each other remember to put their things away.

I’m not sure yet what we’ll do with the money I collect, but so far it’s proven to be a good motivator — and the Redemption Box a great organization tool!

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. 🙂

What Can I Do?

 file6151244762637About half-way through the summer, when the initial thrill of summertime wears off, my children will come to me and say, “There’s nothing to do!” Now, deep down they know that’s a mistake, because they can always work on schoolwork – practicing their math facts, writing essays, etc. But because I love summer too, I give them a few fun options to choose from:

 1. Read a book by themselves, or read to their little brother.

 2. Make a wordless book. Draw the whole story – no words allowed.

3. Play with play dough. For less than $1 a can (off-brands are even cheaper), it’s an inexpensive way to entertain little ones.

4. Paint their faces (older children can paint their own if they have a mirror). Craft acrylics work well for face paint. Have the children put on old clothes (the paint doesn’t come out of clothing) and give them a couple of colors to choose from. Be sure not to paint around their eyes or mouth.

5.  Play in the sprinkler or hose.

6. Use the hose to make mud pies. Decorate the mud pies with twigs and flowers.

7. Play with bubbles outside. I like to use the large container of bubbles from Wal-Mart and flyswatters. Pour some of the bubbles into a bowl. Give each child a flyswatter to stick into the bubbles. As they wave the flyswatter around, hundreds of tiny bubbles will appear.

8. Make a robot. Use empty boxes, paper towel tubes, and toilet paper tubes. Pull out all of your craft supplies – markers, glue, popsicle sticks, sequins, paper, pom-poms, and see what the kids come up with.

If none of these ideas interest them, they could also:

9. Clean the bathroom.

10. Fold laundry.

11. Sweep outside.

12. Do the dishes.

With these options in the mix, they suddenly find something to do, and the summer fun continues.


I’ve tried a number of different methods of assigning chores to my children, some of which have worked better than others. About a year and a half ago, though, I found a system that has done well for my family. Here’s how we do it:

Each week, I print off a new “chore list” for each child. I list the chores on the paper, with the letters M, T, W, TH, F, SAT, and SUN (representing the days of the week) after each one. As the children complete a particular chore for the day, then, they simply mark off the corresponding letter or letters.

 I like to call the first set of chores our “Good Morning!” chores, though the kids don’t quite agree. But they are easy things to do. Good Morning chores include making their beds, getting dressed and putting pajamas away, brushing hair, bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room, putting away clean clothes that have been folded, and feeding the pets. When everyone is finished, we all sit down for breakfast and devotions.

I wrestled for some time about when the children should complete their chore lists – before school, after school, or in the late afternoon before Dad comes home; after school has worked best with our schedules. So then, when the children are done with their schoolwork, they pull out their lists again and continue on down with jobs such as tidying up various rooms in the house, sweeping outside, folding laundry, and cleaning their bedrooms.

Also included in the after school list is “Put Away the Things in Your Box.” A friend gave me this idea, and it has relieved us of more than a few arguments as we clean. Each child has a box on a bookshelf near our kitchen. As the children clean up their assigned rooms and find toys or books belonging to their siblings, they just pick them up and put them in the appropriate box. No one says anymore, “That’s not mine. I shouldn’t have to pick it up.” Instead, they just put it in the box so the owner can put it away.

All this may sound like I’m an extremely organized homeschool mom with a clean house, but all those who have stopped by can tell you that’s not so. Some days go better than others, some days we’re more disciplined than others, some days the house looks a lot better than others. But at least with the lists, we all know what needs to be done.