He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Household organization- my "non pinteresty" system

I will be the first to admit that I am a planner.  I organize, I make lists, I have fabulous ideas for various family events, activities with the kids etc.  Trouble is- the majority of the time these things remain simply ideas.  Yeah, I'm not so good at follow through.

Implementation of said fabulous ideas seems to allude me.

I think maybe this is why the first time I looked at pinterest, I loved everything I saw on the one hand (what fabulous IDEAS) and I absolutely hated it on the other (I will NEVER follow through with these things that I see and love!)

Case in point.  My kids get an allowance.  I love the idea of teaching them about handling their money- emphasizing saving, spending, giving- helping them sort that all out.  Yeah, so my kids have to remind me every 4-6 months or so to actually give them their allowances, so in spite of all my wonderful ideas about teaching them about money, it's never actually happened.  One of these days...

Anyway, I digress.  One of the things I've been checking out on pinterest is chore charts.  I've tried various things over the years with minimal success.  (the problem being me, not the kids).  We've done sticker charts, check lists, magnets with their initials on them etc.  We are now in a season of life where chore charts have become more than being a tool to teach them responsibility and life skills (although those are great bonuses)they have become about the cleaning is too much for me and I need help!  When we lived in Lebanon, I was beyond blessed to have a precious lady who helped me clean twice a week.  Oh how I took that blessing for granted and miss it now!  It's a bit more expensive here plus I just haven't found the right person yet (probably because I haven't had time to look at all).  So I knew I needed a chore system that my implementationally challenged self could handle and, well, actually implement.  The fact that we essentially live in the desert (ok in a big city that is surrounded by desert) does not make cleaning an easy task.  In fact, it is an entirely different monster than cleaning a house in the states.  The dust here is really quite amazing.  (not in a good way).  Combine the ever present dust with the fact that in warmer times of year (now) we have to leave our windows open for airflow (no central air or heat) and the result is a constantly dusty house.

All that to say that after looking at several fabulous (and very aesthetically pleasing) ideas for chore charts on pinterest most of which used craft supplies that I either can't get or would have to pay an arm and leg for, I consulted a dear friend who I know to be very practical and down to earth (you know who you are and I mean this in the most positive way...) about how she organizes her chore charts.  As I read through her kids weekly activities I realized several things.  First, my kids have been getting off way too easy!  Second, chore charts do not have to be complicated or even cute.   A print out of a calendar works just fine.

So enter my handy dandy purple notebook (see picture above).  Yes, it is true that I still live in the dark ages of using a day planner (NOT a digital one) for my calendar and a notebook that I write in with an ink pen to organize and plan my life.  For some reason, I have not been able to translate that portion of my life to the computer.  Kind of like the kindle I think.  I need to hold a book in my hands just like I need to hold a calendar in my hands.  Some things just shouldn't be digital.  Anyway, digital calendars and home organization may work for many, not me.  So anyway, my purple notebook.  Love it, use it for lots of lists, plans etc and I'm pretty sure it was cheaper (and prettier) than the latest computer program.

So first, I made a list of all the chores that need to be accomplished in our home on a weekly basis and how often those things need to happen.  I also noted to the side things that are not necessarily regular but still need to happen and things that I want to try and do once a month like clean out the frig, a rotating deep cleaning of each bedroom etc

Then I thought about each of the girls, what would best suit them, what they needed to learn to do better and I broke down the chores into morning, afternoon and evening jobs and broke them down even more by day of the week.

Morning chores/activities are simple things like make your bed, wipe off bathroom counters, Bible time.  The afternoon chores are the most intense- vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, balconies.  Because of the dust filled desert that we live in, between the girls and I, we vacuum and dust 3x/week, wipe down the doors and baseboards 2X, clean the bathrooms 2X etc.  I've also delegated things like breaking ice and filling ice trays (I HATE this job and no frig here comes with an ice maker so it's a constant thing especially in the summer), making lunch snacks etc.  Evening chores are mostly related to the kitchen and preparing school stuff for the next day.  

Now the idea here is that I would organize the calendar and then print it out (maybe changing things up each month or so- that way they have enough time to learn to do something well but still change things up a little).  Before I printed out the calendar, I wanted to make sure that the chores made logical sense and that they were working as far as the running of our household, so I started out by writing them on one of our dry erase boards (pink of course) left over from our homeschooling days.  Green is for afternoon, blue is for evening (morning chores are understood at this point...).  I hope to eventually actually print out a calendar but this is still what I'm doing for now since our printer died...  I actually like the flexibility it provides in case I want to change things up.

You would think that going from not having much of a chore system to a full blown, job every day kind of thing might rock their little worlds (although I've been warning them for months now that this was coming...) but that hasn't been the case at all.  I've been so pleasantly surprised by their attitudes and how they've really just jumped in ready to help.  Now don't get me wrong, of course we have our days but overall I think the increased work around the house has actually helped the general attitude.  They take more ownership for the overall appearance of our home if that makes sense.  

In the process of organizing the girls activities, I am also attempting to come up with a daily schedule for myself.  So much to do so little time, and for me it's not going to happen without at least a skeletal plan.  I'm trying to work several hours of language study into my week.  I need several hours a week to focus on finances and I'm trying to set aside time for emailing and blogging.  Also meal planning, a day to cook ahead and grocery shop etc.  Oh and there's also exercise, rotating date nights with the girls etc etc.  Things here typically take a lot longer than in the states.  I haven't really put my finger on why, it's just kind of a general rule agreed upon by anyone who has ever lived overseas, and I've found that for myself, I need somewhat of a plan if I'm ever going to get things done.  For example, if I know that Tuesday is typically my cleaning day and on the first Tuesday of the month I'm going to tackle big cleaning jobs in the kitchen, then I can organize around that.  If Sunday is my grocery/meal prep day then I can work around that.  None of this is set in stone, but for me if I just have the bare bones of a plan, then I don't find myself quite as far behind when something happens to throw off the schedule.  Since there actually IS a schedule as opposed to things happening haphazardly and without any plan.  I've tried to write out what I hope to accomplish over a given week and I am working on figuring out how all these things fit into a schedule...

My hope is that this will encourage someone else out there who is just looking for simplicity!  It can be done with a purple notebook- no fanciness required!

1 comment:

Madelyn said...

This sounds great, lady! (Yes, I do read your blog) When we were in Cairo I ran across the book Sidetracked Home Executives which helped steer me in the same direction you're going. In addition to the stuff you do - which is the main stuff!- they had us make a list of "anytime" chores and time them. If they took under 5 min they went on a card in a file & someone did them while spaghetti water boiled or some other "wait time" could be used. Good stuff you're doing!!