To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Time for Organization Part II: Laundry and Cleaning

"Let all things be done decently and in order" ~I Cor. 14:40

A short time after having Will, our fourth child, it became quite evident to me that my current system of "keeping up" was not going to work anymore.  I had a mini breakdown. I have had a few of these over the years since having children. They are short-lived but each of them has resulted in my creating a system for whatever it was that caused me to have the meltdown in the first place! 
I got to a point after a certain number of children, where my mind no longer functioned well and until I've had that 3rd cup of coffee I see everything hazy. My brain no longer has the capacity to function the way it once did. I can no longer wake up and say, "today I'm going to do this, then this, and then this". Now I wake up and am lucky if I remember what day it is. I needed a system that when I woke up in the morning I had someone or in this case a list, that told me exactly what I needed to do that day. 
I wish I could tell you my system eliminates the need to do laundry or clean. It doesn't. What it does do for me is help me stay on top of everything that needs to get done. I have a laundry schedule and a cleaning schedule taped to my fridge. Each family member gets a day of the week their laundry gets done and each day a certain part of the house gets cleaned. It goes like this: 

Monday: Noah & Owen- Wash floors & vacuum downstairs
Tuesday: Gabe & Will -Dusting and Windows/Mirrors
Wednesday: Bath & Dish towels-Bathrooms
Thursday: -Ben & Lissa-yard & gardens (summer)/playroom
Friday: Jena, Tess & Emma-Misc.picking up & downstairs bathroom (again!)
Saturday: Bedding (every other Sat.)/Bedrooms get picked up & vacuumed
Sunday: OFF!

I have reasons for why a certain persons laundry gets done on that day and why a certain part of the house gets cleaned when it does. You can customize this however you need to to make it work for you. I have some friends who don't like to do laundry every day so they don't like this system. I don't necessarily like to do laundry everyday I just have no choice. I  cannot keep up without doing it this way so at least now I can wake up and not have to decide who needs it more I can just look at my list and do it. Yes, I am a slave to the list but it  has helped me tremendously. What I like the most about this system is my house is for the most part always picked up and neat and I only have to spend 30-45 minutes each day cleaning. It may not  be spotless but at least everything is getting done once a week and I don't have to worry about the house not being in order when the unexpected guest pops in!

Since writing this a few years ago I did have to edit my schedule a bit. I do way more laundry now than I did at the time I wrote this. When I wrote it I did 1 load a day. Now I do 2, sometimes 3 loads a day. I also have to clean the downstairs bathroom twice a week. I will say that though this system works very well for me I have not been able to keep up with it exactly since having Tess. Two babies back to back has left me with very little time for anything but taking care of babies and the house shows for it. Things are starting to get easier as the babies get older so I'm slowly easing back into it. Even though I have more kids now than I did when I implemented this I still feel it is a good system for me and I will continue to do things this way.One great thing is that as the years go by, kids get older so now they are able to help with some of these chores. If I have a day where I am unable to do that days chore then I leave it till the next week or fit it in IF time allows on another day. But I don't stress about it. If I get to it that day great but if not, it will still be there next week. The only thing that HAS to get done are the bathrooms. I will say that if I don't keep up with the laundry then I fall behind badly and it takes a good week or two to catch up again so I make sure as best I can to keep up with it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Time for Organization Part I: Meal Planning & Weekly Reminders

"Let all things be done decently and in order" ~I Cor. 14:40

I have recently implemented a new system of menu planning.* As a Christmas present I received, from a friend, this weekly reminder. After several weeks of using it I am wondering how I ever managed without it. It has solved my "man, I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer" problem and helped me keep up with my daily tasks.  It has 4 columns and you can do whatever you want with them. Here's how I categorize mine: School, To-Do, Food Prep, and Menu. Each day I can look at my weekly reminder on the fridge and see what I have to do that day. 

The "School" section is where I remind myself what is going on with the kids at school that week. I write down anything they need to bring with them that day. If there's a special party and I have an item to send in, if it's band and I need to make sure they take their instrument, gym means I need to make sure they have sneakers with them, 1/2 day of school means I have to pick them up early. I make a note of all these things so I don't forget.

My "To-Do" section is for all those little things that need to get done but are not a regular chore like cleaning the fridge or organizing the downstairs closet.  A lot of times I would think of something I wanted to do then get side-tracked and forget what it was I wanted to do. Now I don't have that problem. Also, if I have a Dr. appointment. or have scheduled a a get-together with friends that week I jot it down in the "To-Do" section. 

The "Food prep" section is where I write when I need to take meat out of the freezer. I am notorious for forgetting to thaw what I need for the upcoming meals. I also write down any food I need to prepare early in the day like letting bread rise or cooking the meat ahead of time. Now I just look at my weekly reminder before I go to bed and see if I've forgotten anything. It has helped me SO much. 

The "Menu Planning"** section is what we are eating for dinner that night. I sit down about once every 2-3 weeks and plan out our meals for the next 2-3 weeks using what I have on hand in the house. I am not a week to week grocery shopper. I like to stock up on items when items go on sale. The only thing I HAVE to buy weekly is milk and Ben gets that on his way home from work.  Fruits & Veggies I can do every 2 weeks, and that can be stretched when necessary since I always keep frozen and canned fruits and veggies on hand. When I go to the store to buy my fresh produce then I will pick up the ingredient or two I have run out of or need for a meal I have planned. Then I stock up on whatever is a good buy that week. And when I say stock up I don't mean I stock up for the whole year or anything. I just get a couple months WILL come on sale again!

 This is just one way of doing things and if you are reading this in hopes of finding a method of organization that will work for you as far as meal planning goes, I hope it does! If not, then look around and find one that will work...there's lots of ideas and ways to do things out there!

*Having written this post a few years ago this method is no longer "new" to me but I can say it is how I have continued to do things and it still works great for me!

**I plan my meals around our calendar. If it's a day of the week that is particularly busy then I plan a crockpot meal for that day. Fridays are always an easy, kid-friendly meal like pizza or grilled cheese. I try to always have one pasta dish and one or two beef dishes (we get beef for free) to keep our grocery bill down. And you don't have to follow your plan exactly. Things come up unexpectedly or you end up with more left-overs than you anticipated. It's flexible with it and always write it out in pencil! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Time for a Valentine's Day Challenge

With Valentine's Day approaching I have to assume "love" is on all our minds. Valentine's Day isn't a big holiday in this house.It's not that we are against it or anything it's just never been a holiday we go all out for. Thankfully I have a husband who is very good at showing his love everyday and it's not with anything he can buy. He shows us he loves us by working hard and providing for us, he shows me he loves my by forcing me out of the house to get a break or doing a night feeding and he shows the kids he loves them by investing time doing things with them. While I don't think we should need a holiday to show our family we love them, it is a nice excuse to do something extra special for them...whatever that may look like for your family.

With love in mind and thinking about how I feel loved I wanted to set some time aside and look outside of our family and do something for remind them they are loved and thought about. For myself, while gifts are nice and always appreciated, I feel most loved when people go out of their way for me. When they set time aside that I know is valuable and do something for or with me. So we sat down and used time that was valuable to us and set it aside to make Valentine's for some special people in our lives. Time is not only valuable its limited so we didn't have time to make some for everyone but we did choose a few people who we felt led to do something special for. Having found a really cool necklace making kit at a ridiculously low price and since my kids do not get to see their cousins often we thought it would be nice to remind them they are loved so I had each of the boys make a necklace for each of the girl cousins. Jena even made one for my mom (who is recovering from knee replacement surgery) and my sister who lives in CA. They also made Valentines Day cards. I'm so thankful that I have kids who never grumble about sitting down and making cards or gifts for others. They are so sweet when it comes to this and usually want to continue and making cards for people who were not originally on the list.

I hope by doing little activities like this with the kids that we are instilling in them the ability to look beyond themselves and what they want or need and instead become focused on the needs of others. It is so easy when holidays roll around to think about ourselves. What I want, what I need, what I want to get out of it. I hope to train myself and our kids to instead think about what someone else needs and who we might encourage or bless. I want to encourage you this Valentine's Day to go out of your way to show someone you care, someone who maybe could use an extra dose of love. We all have seasons in life where we feel down and not as loved as we did last year or our circumstances change in such a way that we feel alone. Try to be sensitive to those around you and their circumstances and think about being that blessing to them. Think about going out of your way and being that person who makes them feel extra special loved this Valentine's Day...even if it's only for one day. I can almost guarantee the feeling of love it brings them will last well past a day!

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, 
but by love serve one another. ~Gal. 5:13

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Time to be Organized: Intro

"Let all things be done decently and in order" ~I Cor. 14:40

There are not a lot of things that I feel I am able to say I am good at. God did not bless me with multiple talents, at least not the kind that are noticeable like singing, drawing, playing an instrument, etc. You will hardly ever catch me "tooting my own horn" because there really is no horn to toot! One thing I can say confidently is that I am an organized person. Whether that is considered a talent is totally up to you but I do think it is a gift that is not given to everyone. I know this because I hear a lot of people say they wish they could be more organized so I have to assume it is not something that comes easily or naturally to everyone. I cannot function in chaos or clutter. If my sink is full of dishes and my counters cluttered up I can't cook. If the living room is littered with toys and socks (is it only my house where children take off their socks and scatter them about 5 mins after putting them on?) I cannot sit there and relax. When I walk into a room I instantly see the mess...trash cans over-flowing, bureau's covered in "stuff", carpets that need to be vacuumed and the dust...of my the dust. I see it all and it instantly puts me on edge. I function at my best when everything has it's place. When the rooms are picked up. I would function even better if every room was spic and span clean but let's face ain't happening as long as 9 people live here so I've learned to overlook a few things.

Over the years, as we've added more and more little people I have learned how to organize our things, and life in general, in such a way that we function like a relatively well-oiled machine. I have shared some of these ways with you in the past and I am going to revisit them as I start this series on organization. I by no means claim to be an expert. I only hope to help you if this is an area you struggle, by sharing some things that work for me. My first post on organization is about calendars. Without them I couldn't function! I wrote this post a couple years ago and after looking over it I can honestly say I do everything exactly the same still so it really has worked for us! The only husband couldn't take it any longer and made me purchase a calendar that began on Sunday!


A Time For Calendars, Calendars, Calendars!

Remember the days when our young minds could retain anything and everything and we never needed to write things down. Remember when you could recall a friends phone number without looking it up...several friends numbers in fact! Those days for me were long gone after baby number one but after baby number 5 I'm lucky to remember my own phone number let alone anyone else's. The same goes for commitments and Dr. appointments, etc. In order to keep our busy family on time and where they need to be on the right day I invested in a dry erase calendar board. These range in price and size so find one that fits your families needs. I got mine at Rite Aid I think for about $10. It's magnetic and fits on the fridge right next to the phone so as I'm making appointments and agreeing to be places I can write it down immediately. I also have a small yearly calendar that is on the fridge right next to it for appointments that are in the months to come. This is not a fool proof system (remember the story of the surprise birthday party we showed up a week early for...) but it has helped me a great deal in keeping us where we need to be and when. Now I am so dependent on my dry erase calendar that I don't know how I managed without it. I keep track of the kids school things on it, church activities, appointments and engagements. I realize that people have phones they can put this stuff into but the benefit of the dry erase calendar is that it's there for everyone to see so we all know each other's schedule and can just look at it and see what we have going on.

For my husbands benefit I have to add that if you are considering buying one consider whether or not you care what day of the week it starts with. Ours starts with Mon. as opposed to Sun. and it has thrown my husband for a loop.

***I have been asked since writing this if I color code my calendar. My answer is no. We are just too many people that it would be more confusing that way. Plus I don't think I'd find enough colors! I know some people color code their calendars for different categories. Doctors appointments are green, school related, red, and so on. I don't choose to do that but it's definitely one way to go.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Time for the Superbowl

Now before anyone goes getting any ideas that I've decided to worship the idol of sports rather than God today let it be known that I am home sick (STILL!) with an awful head cold and two babies who are also not 100%. I did listen to a sermon on the radio, which I will say I couldn't have disagreed with more (just because they are famous preachers and on the radio doesn't mean they are always right!) and managed to spend some quiet time in prayer. Now let's get on to the business of this post...the Superbowl!

I could not care less about the Superbowl. I enjoy sports an average amount but I enjoy them more live, in person or actually playing a sport. The idea of sitting around the TV for hours watching others play sports really doesn't interest me mainly because I am the sort of person who is sitting there thinking about all the things that could be getting done. Not to mention we do not have cable so have never been able to watch it before anyway. But this year on Fox Sports you can stream it for FREE, today only, and since I have 4 boys who love any and all sports we are going to let them watch it...well some of it anyway. Since everyone else is talking about Superbowl parties and the yummy food they are making I didn't want to be left out of that part of it so I've been busy finding recipes we can enjoy while watching it...and no none of them will fit into your diet meal plan if you're on one!

On the list of foods we will enjoy today (well the rest of my family will anyway, I'm not sure I'll be up for eating much) are...

Crockpot Terriyaki Chicken

Baked Potato Casserole

Three Cheese Pinwheel Appetizer

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Watermelon Frosties

...and maybe we will throw fruits and veggies into the mix at some point too!

If you will be enjoying the Superbowl today and passionately rooting for "your" team to win then I wish you the best of luck! But if you are like us and really just in it for the food then to you I say, "happy eating", and please share your recipes!