Tuesday, May 17

our morning routine.

Being a homeschooling family has been so wonderful, but it also comes with built-in "traps". Right now I'm on summer hiatus from most of my regularly scheduled morning shifts, which equals more mornings at home, which equals more opportunities to be lazy. 

Good morning routines have always been a struggle for me to get into place, especially over the last few years. With my work schedule, a tough pregnancy, a newborn, and now a 10 month old that has decided to pick up a newborn's nighttime sleep habits, it just hasn't been top priority. But now with things slowing down, at least on one front, I feel like it's a great time to get back into our morning groove. So last week, after we got back from vacation, I made a short list for myself and each of the big kids of things that need to be done first thing in the morning. Our lists are short and sweet, and are top priority.

Audrey's Daily 6
1. Get dressed
2. Brush teeth/hair
3. Vitamins
4. Drink water
5. Hamsters' water/food
6. Empty Dishwasher

Lawson's Daily 5
1. Get dressed
2. Brush teeth
3. Pajamas in hamper
4. Vitamins
5. Rikki's water/food

Jen's Daily 6
1. Get dressed (down to shoes)
2. Brush teeth
3. Vitamins
4. Drink water
5. Make bed
6. Start a load of laundry

Some of the items are super simple and quite the given, but if you have no where to be, and the kids know that you have no where to be, it's quite shocking how long each day everyone can stay in their pajamas! All of our basic lists can be done in 10-15 minutes, or less. So whether we are at home for the day, or not, they can be easily accomplished. 

I have the kids' lists posted in their bedroom (hanging on clipboards), and mine is in my room. Audrey, of course, can read hers, and Lawson, though he isn't a reader yet, is sounding out the first letters and remembering what he needs to do. With them easily accessible, and simple in the nature of the tasks, I'm not constantly hollering after the kids to get things done. All I have to do is say, "it's time for morning routines!", and they can get to it. Of course there can be a few sidetracked moments, but I digress, they're kids after all!

In choosing the chores that are on each list, I tried to come up with both the simplest, most basic tasks, and the ones that I feel give us the most bang for our buck.
All of the animals need attention daily, so I divided that between Audrey and Lawson. The chores for the dog are a bit simpler, so I gave them to Lawson.
Audrey has been in charge of emptying the dishwasher for awhile now, but adding it to her morning routine helps us in two ways -- 1. it ensures that I'm being diligent in loading and running the dishwasher every evening, and 2. it's emptied first thing, so all of our dishes during the day, starting with breakfast, can be loaded as we go, making evening clean up easier.
Making my bed and doing laundry are on my list of priority chores (along with dishes), because those three things drive me crazy. If my laundry and dishes are under control, and my bed is made, I feel much more productive and ready to accomplish other things. If they are out of control, I feel out of control and stressed out.

Oh, and on my list where it says, "get dressed", I added "down to shoes" because being fully dressed, with shoes on, does some amazing things for my productivity level. That's yet another tip I picked up from FlyLady!

So far we're doing GREAT with our new routines, and the mornings have been running more smoothly. I'm looking forward to keeping this up, and slowly adding in more good habits over the summer for us all.

Tuesday, May 10

the 15 minute day.

As a young newlywed (barely 20 years old!), I was completely clueless at how to maintain a house. To call my homemaking skills abysmal might be a little too harsh, but it's definitely what I felt like. Sure, I knew how to clean, but keeping any sort of routine was extremely difficult for me. I remember following my husband around in the early days of wedded bliss, cleaning up after him. As with many things in my life, I approached homemaking with an all or nothing attitude. And constantly cleaning, or straightening, could only last for so long without driving myself, or my dear husband, crazy. 

I also didn't know how to cook. Sure I could make boxed mac&cheese, scrambled eggs, and Eggo waffles with the best of them, but to actually cook a real meal was a different story. An embarrassing side note: the one class that marred my straight average in high school was Home Economics, which I pulled a high C in. *cue blushing* Bryan is actually the one who first taught me how to cook. From spaghetti, to chicken fried steak, to chicken taquitos, he's the one that showed me those basics and instilled in me the confidence that had been lacking, to take recipes, run with them, and make them mine. 

Anyways, back to my housekeeping skills, or lack there of. It's maddening, and exhausting, to keep going from keeping on top of things, to letting them slide, whether it's housekeeping, exercise, routines, etc. In time we also ended up adding a beautiful baby girl into the mix, along with a dog, ministry work at our church, and eventually a part time job for me. I felt like I was constantly failing at keeping all of my plates spinning. Enter FlyLady . I found this website a couple of years into our marriage. I've always been big into "mommy" blogs, and I'm sure I saw it mentioned on one of them. FlyLady is one of those things that has stuck with me for the last 10+ years. I don't always follow everything to a tee, and yes, I often still feel like I'm struggling to stay afloat in certain areas, but I learned some immensely helpful principles from FlyLady, that I always inevitably turn back to. I won't go into all of them in this post, but I'm sure this won't be the only time you hear FlyLady mentioned on this blog!

One of the biggest principles that has stuck with me is, "anyone can do anything for 15 minutes." FlyLady mainly uses that in reference to decluttering, but also shows how it can help in other areas of life. While I don't always specifically adhere to the exact 15 minutes, I've been able to tailor this principle to fit my needs. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, and like everything has gotten out of control (which with  kids, homeschooling, and a job happens far more than I'd care to admit) I lean on this principle. There have been times where I've used a timer and done specific tasks for exactly 15 minutes, but mostly I try to look at the tasks themselves. Most individual tasks don't take a super long time to complete, so I break things up into small chunks. Instead of looking at this messy home of mine, and wondering how on earth I'm going to find the time to clean it, I focus on one job at a time. I try to prioritize where I'll get the most 'bang for my buck' (dishes, laundry, and bed making are my main three), and start there. And in doing that I'm able to alternate through small tasks in many areas -- home, school, baby, self, work, etc. Of course, nothing is ever 100% done and perfect, but that's just life! However, when I have a "15 minute day", I'm able to go over my checklist, whether physical or mental, and look at all of the things that were accomplished. And while not every single thing gets done, it's more than enough to keep me sane, and life running semi-smoothly.

Now I'm off to the next task!

Monday, May 9

hello monday!

hello to writing again!
I've been feeling the urge to blog again. Add that to several people consistently whispering in my ear about it, and here I am! I hope to make this a more regular endeavor again. Really blogging sort of feels like cheap therapy to me, and being a working and homeschooling mama, it's nice to have a creative outlet outside of perusing Instagram and Pinterest.

hello to jumping back into life after vacation!
Last week we were fortunate enough to take a trip down to the coast with my parents and brother. It's been nearly two years since our last vacation, so it was long overdue. Five days of beach living with little to no cooking and cleaning?! Yes, please!!! It was a wonderful time filled with lovely memories, but now we're back home. I'm feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into "normal" life again.

hello to school planning!
This year has been a transitional one in our homeschooling. Honestly I started the year feeling stagnant, and kind of uninspired. Then I started listening to homeschooling podcasts. That was the jumping off point to having inspiration bubble up inside of me. So now, it's putting that all on paper. We've always pretty much been year-round schoolers, but this summer I'm ready to be even more intentional about it. So I'm currently planning out the rest of Audrey's 4th grade year, the beginning of her 5th grade year, and the beginning of Lawson's Kindergarten year!

hello to new baby adventures!
Penny turned 10 months old on Saturday! I'm dumbfounded by how fast this year has seemingly gone. As of last week she's doing more of a crawl/frog hop thing than her normal army crawling. And she's decided that she's ready to pull herself to standing. She also seems to have gotten more curious and exploratory this last week. So now there's even more of pulling her away from/off of things, picking up things that we don't want her in, and redirecting her from those things that can't easily be moved. Let the adventures of having a fully mobile and curious baby begin!

hello to more time at home!
Along with the ending of April comes the "slow" season at work. A lot of our regular meetings have ended for the summer, so that means more downtime at home for us. Work in May has slowed WAY down, and June and July look to be even slower. While this kind of sucks in the paycheck department, it also opens up time for more home-based projects to be accomplished. I'm looking forward to getting into a good routine at home with the kiddos. My kids thrive on routine! Also, since it gets SO HOT outside during Texas summers, this is the perfect time to really delve into all the nooks and crannies of schooling. Hopefully I'll also be able to get into more regular blogging, and can catch up on my reading and tv list.


hello to you! 

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