Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Whities #3: Time Organization (with KIDS!)

Time Organizing (with KIDS!)

To begin: I have NOT arrived in this area, Lord knows!!  I am learning as I go and am known in some parts of the country as arriving "fashionably late"...or annoyingly late is maybe more accurate!  I could use the excuse that I have 4 little kids and myself to get ready sometimes...but I am not okay with making excuses through life so I am working on some self-change!  This being said, there are some things I've learned along the way that are helping me with my time management.  A BIG desire of my heart as a mom is to be PURPOSEFUL with my children.  I hope to make our days special, not just go through the motions!

1.  Be a PREPSTER!  What helps me stay ahead of the morning rush is to PREP, PREP and PREP the night before.  It may seem like a big job, but all the things I do (listed below) can be completed in under 30 minutes (or LESS!) and then it's on to relaxin' with the hubster (or facebook!)...

*PREP the table: I set the table with stacks of bowls, spoons and glasses (or whatever you need for breakfast) and my oldest son sets them at each place when he wakes and gets to mark that on his chore chart (see below)!

*PREP the kid's outfits:  I set out the complete set: shirt, pants, socks and underwear.  The child could help with this too at an older age.  I place it by their bed so when they wake up, they know to get themselves dressed in the outfit (we take baths in the evening usually).  No more panicked clothes flying through the air and Judah wearing pink socks when we have somewhere to be NOW!
(If we are leaving somewhere right after breakfast, I place their coats, shoes, hats, etc. on the coach where they are ready to go to give us a head-start too!)

*PREP tommorrow's activities:  I throw a few things to do in the Today Basket (see below), write out a list of any errands or things that need to get done the next day and review the calender for appointments/etc. I may have forgotten.

*PREP laundry: I throw in a load, take out a load and (hopefully!!) have time to fold a load before I hit the sack.

2..  The TODAY basket: this was an idea I came up with to be more purposeful in making sure we had FUN during the day!  The night before I fill a basket I jazzed up a bit with some fun stuff to do the next day with the kids: a game, a movie, a "lesson time", some books, an art get the idea! It works for me because otherwise it is "out of sight, out of mind", I know we have activities to do together but I don't think of them when we get busy if they are not easy to see and remember.  

3.  Hired HELP!  Sometimes I feel like in today's culture, requiring anything of your children much beyond washing their own hands is considered over the top.  But if a kid spends all day playing video games/etc...will they truly be ready to contribute to society and make a positive difference when they are in the "real world"?  Will they really put others first and be selfless if we (mom, dad) wait on them hand and foot?  Will they learn to work well with a team of other employees if they never learn how to be kind and patient with their own siblings?  

These are just some questions to consider as we train up our children.  This is why our fam is a big believer is CHORES (there I said it, don't let your kid unplug your computer now!)...they can begin at very early ages (see "Hit List" for age-appropriate chores).  

There are many ways you may choose to do this and I'll briefly share what works for us but put your own spin on it!  We start a chore chart at age 3 (see below for a little example of what we use) and once they fill in so many circles (we start at 5, the next chart 10 are needed, then 15 and so on so they can learn goal-setting in stages) we all celebrate and take them to pick out a treat/toy (under $5 usually) at the store.  Simple.  Fun.  Helps YOU get a few things done!

Gideon’s Chore Chart

Sweep after breakfast  O O O O O O O O O O O O O 
Sweep after lunch O O O O O O O O O O O O O 
Sweep after dinner O O O O O O O O O O O O O
Clean windows O O O O O O O O O O O O O 
Help with laundry O O O O O O O O O O O O O 
Other_______________ O O O O O O O O O O O O O 
Other_______________ O O O O O O O O O O O O O 

**Expected jobs: Clear your own plate, put dirty clothes in hamper, clean up room/messes, help set table, do what is asked with a GOOD attitude!

A fun twist on hanging your kid's artwork up other than on the fridge (where my kids always pulled it off and it made a mess)--hang a bulletin board somewhere (back of door if your tight on space like us!) and rotate art projects on it!

4.  Organized Activities: I love art!  Because of this, like it or not, my kids end up doing lots of painting and hands on creative stuff (thankfully, they usually love getting messy and making stuff!).  You have your own flair and talents in life that you can share with your kids, that's what I love about people: we are all so different and unique!  This is just a few ways that help us stay on top of the "art chaos" so hopefully it will give you ideas for ways to share and organize your passions too!

ART CUPS: These divided cups were purchased at WalMart (on sale for $1/each!) and I filled them with glitter sticks, watercolors, brushes, markers, etc. and decorated the front with their name.  Now it's a breeze to make a project as everyone has all of the items they need right in front of them.  Plus, they seem to take better care of it as it is their own stuff.

some of the kid's art cups
CREATIVE BASKETS: I used shallow baskets and filled one with craft supplies and another with their play-do items.  I keep these in the pantry so it's easy to grab a basket, place it on the table so they can play awhile then pick it up when they are done.

a few of our "creative baskets"--they can be rotated with different activities too!

5. Time management: I think we are just hitting the tip of the calender iceberg as far as events/etc. as our children are so young still. I am imaging the day we have lots of kids to get to school, sports, outings and more..whew!  I'll need some tips from any of you moms of older kids then!  My man and I are trying to form some good habits today with planning and communicating about family activites so when that day comes, we will have a good plan in play (hopefully!).  Plus, playdates, errands, dr./dentist appointments, family events, etc. keep our schedules busy already...

BIG FAM DRY ERASE BOARD: I got this idea from a friend and love it!  You could also have each child have their own color marker (Sue is blue, Jonny is green, etc.) and write in their plans on the calender too.  For practical purposes, we keep our calender (purchased for $10 at Target) in the dining room so we can talk about our upcoming week over dinner, a time we are usually all together.

natural ( family planning board
GOOGLE CALENDER: My hubby sold me onto Google Calender (see below) but there are many options for tracking your activities and appointments via the computer/phone that are great to help you and your family coordinate schedules (this is coming from someone who is computer illegitimate so that means something)!

Don't laugh: I found them in the Christmas clearance section, my kids don't care!  Ha ha...
THE GOOD CUPS: Here's a little fun thing for your precious little girls and guys: catch them being GOOD (sharing, playing quietly, reading a book, helping someone, etc.) once in awhile and reward them with a "Good Cup" (that's what we call 'em, but call 'em whatever you want!).  I use a little tin cup with lid, throw a few "goodies" in it (stickers, candy, etc) and try to catch them in the act and reward it once a day or every few days!  Sometimes as a mom in the "training" stage of children, I feel I get after them more about what they need to change than what they do well.  This is a way we try to strike a balance with that in a small way (and easy/cheap!).

AND DON'T you set up your week, try to schedule a DATE night with your special someone amongst those busy days!!  It's like a breath of fresh air that renews the soul to spend quiet time with a loved one on a regular basis...with NO kids!  It's worth the babysitting fee but on weeks it's not in the budget, we put the kids to bed early (it's good for them, ha ha!) and pick up fast food and a movie for date night in!  Also, trying to have a family day/time once a week where you all do something fun together is something the kids will really look forward to (even teens eventually, I remember as a teenage loving our family outings even if I didn't always admit it!).

**This all being said, there are days that are just crazy that I never get around to reading their favorite story or playing a single game and the thought of prepping anything after such an exhausting day makes me want to faint at the very thought!  We all have days like that so no worries, no guilt, no prob!  This is just a few ideals to hopefully help you to have MORE time and LESS work...
thanks for reading and ENJOY!

Age-Appropriate Chore List for Kids
Ages 3 and 4
  1. Pick up toys and books.
  2. Take laundry to the laundry room.
  3. Help feed pets.
  4. Help wipe up messes.
  5. Dust with socks on their hands.
  6. Mop in areas with help.

Ages 4 and 5

Preschoolers still find helping to be an exciting venture and usually are thrilled when time is taken to teach them new chores. They are ready to do some chores without constant supervision. Rewards at this age are very motivating. A sticker chart that allows you to build up to bigger rewards can be appropriate. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great option and fosters independence in choosing a reward.
Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…
  1. Clear and set the table.
  2. Help out in cooking and preparing food.
  3. Carrying and putting away groceries.

Ages 6-8

These school age kids may or may not still have their childlike enthusiasm for completing chores. What they do have, however, is an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents and caregivers can guide children to become independent in their chores, using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities both completed and pending.
Some chores that they are capable of in addition to the ones above…
  1. Take care of pets.
  2. Vacuum and mop.
  3. Take out trash.
  4. Fold and put away laundry.

Ages 9-12

Children in this preteen age are capable of increasing responsibility where chores are concerned. Keep in mind that many children this age rely on continuity. Find a system that works for your family and do not change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Make sure that you factor in rewards and consequences and address those issues with your children. Let them know the consequences of not completing chores, as well as the rewards for fulfilling their responsibilities.
Some Chores preteens are capable of in addition to the ones above…
  1. Help wash the car. 
  2. Learn to wash dishes
  3. Help prepare simple meals. 
  4. Rake leaves. 
  5. Operate the washer and dryer.

Ages 13-17

Teenagers are developmentally ready to handle almost any chore in the home. At the same time a teenager’s schedule can sometimes become quite hectic, leaving little time for chores. Make sure that the workload of your teenagers is manageable.
Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…
  1. Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags. 
  2. All parts of the laundry.
  3. Wash windows. 
  4. Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances. 
  5. Prepare meals. 
  6. Prepare grocery lists.
Remember that children mature at their own pace and not all kids will be capable of advanced chores at the same age, just as some children may be ready for more difficult chores at a younger age. The most important guidelines are supervision and evaluation of your child’s needs and abilities.

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