To Dream the Impossible Dream of an Organized Home
Does the idea of organizing and cleaning your home seem like an impossible dream? Homeschooling mother of six, Tami Fox, shares how she uses routines in her home to make it a haven for her family. She’s taught her children these routines so they’ll be able to take their wings and fly into life as prepared adults. She shares positive methods for organizing and cleaning. Tami wants to help you give your children wings, so they can FLY, too!
"Tami has taken FLYing to a new level! Not only has she educated her six children well and eliminated CHAOS, she has not lost herself in the process."~Marla Cilley, The FlyLady
1. My middle-schoolers have lots of homework, plus sports, Scouts, youth group and other activities. Where can we squeeze in household chores?
Thank you for asking this question. I know it is on the minds of a lot of parents. Middle school age children often have a lot of homework and extra-curricular activities. It makes it difficult to get in housework and get their rooms cleaned. On days when they do not have an outside activity after school, have them do their homework first. While they are doing homework, you can start the laundry and start dinner preparations. As they finish their homework, invite them to cook with you and have some time talking while you are in the kitchen. After dinner, they can spend 15 minutes cleaning one area of their room. They should also be responsible for doing their laundry and washing their sheets once a week. You can assign a laundry day to each family member, and this will help spread out the laundry over the week versus doing it all on Saturday. While they are cleaning in their rooms, you can pick one household task to do at the same time. I do one household cleaning task per day of the week, and as long as we pick up behind ourselves daily, the house is maintained. If you set up small routines each day, you can squeeze in household tasks and not have to spend a whole day on the weekend cleaning and doing laundry.
2. What sort of motivators (i.e. bribery?) will encourage kids to tackle projects around the home?
The word I like to use is rewards. Children (and adults) are motivated by rewards. If you know what your children love, then you can use that as a motivator to get them to help around the house. It does not have to be a material thing either. It can be an activity that they enjoy or simply uninterrupted time with you. For my children, they know they have to do their morning routine and school work before lunch. If they don’t have everything completed by lunch, they have to finish it in the afternoon. But if they have all of their household tasks completed and their school work completed, they have free time in the afternoon. Once a week, I try to take them on an activity that they enjoy. If we can’t go somewhere, we will do something at home that they enjoy. I have found that by filling their emotional love tanks with doing things with them that they enjoy, they are happy to help me with projects around the house.
3. I'm a working mom, and I often feel stretched too thin. Any tips for moms to help alleviate the stress?
Most moms feel stretched for time. Working moms especially feel this. By working with your family on having a teamwork approach with household tasks and cooking, you can reduce the amount of work you are doing at home. Teach your children to pick up behind themselves at a young age and limit the amount of toys they have access to.
Writing out a menu plan, shopping for the menu, and setting things up each evening for the next day’s meals reduces a lot of stress. It takes away the age-old question of, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” Keep menu planning simple. Cook in bulk and freeze meals to reheat on busy days. Use a lot of fresh fruits and veggies that need little preparation time. I tend to do my menu planning on Friday, and I grocery shop on Saturday. Some Sundays I will do some bulk cooking for the week for the refrigerator and freezer. It takes a little planning, but the pay-off is huge.
Having a good evening routine in place helps reduce your stress. If you take 15 minutes in the evening to lay out your clothes for the next day and have everything ready for the morning, you will start your day off on the right foot. I really feel it’s essential for working moms to relax and do something they enjoy for 10 or 15 minutes a day. Taking 15 minutes to walk also helps reduce stress. I often get up before anyone in my house to get in my morning walk. Moms have to take care of themselves, so we can take care of our families.
4. We have made job charts and created reward systems in the past, but we never seem to stick with them. Any tips?
The more complicated a job chart and reward system are, the harder they are to keep in place. I am supportive of a short morning task list and a short evening task list for everyone. Make a list of the basics that have to be done before everyone leaves the house in the morning. In the afternoon, the children’s task list will depend on their age, but it will start with doing homework. Then they should do 15 minutes of maintenance in their bedroom, and then they can help you for 15 minutes on a household task. In the evening, a student’s task list should include laying out clothes for the next day, getting things ready and put in a specific place for the next morning, and getting to bed at a decent hour.
The adult’s task lists would be similar in a lot of ways to the students’ list, but it can include the detail as to which household task is done each day. I am a working mom, too, and it takes 10 minutes to do most of my household tasks. I have two sets of sheets for my bed, so I can strip it and remake it in 10 minutes. By keeping tasks short and sweet, it is easy to do them and not procrastinate. That is the biggest deterrent to completing tasks. We procrastinate because we want it to be perfect. Instead, just do the best you can do on a task and move on.
Keep rewards simple and consistent. If everyone works well on their schoolwork and household tasks, then you have a family reward of some sort. It can be an activity. It can be a pizza and movie night at home.
5. Should children receive an allowance? If so, for what chores and how much?
Giving children an allowance is a personal decision for each family. In our family, we give a set amount of allowance each week depending on the child’s age. Their allowance is not tied to specific tasks, but they know they are supposed to do their tasks each day to get their reward and allowance at the end of the week. As they get older and can do more detailed tasks, they get more allowance. If my children want to earn extra money, we talk about bigger projects around the house and what I am willing to pay. They have cleaned out gutters, mowed the lawn, washed cars, and cleaned out the garage for extra money. Children learn valuable lessons about budgeting when you give them an allowance. They also learn to do extra things when they want to make more money for a big item.
About the author:
Tami lives in rural North Carolina with her husband of more than twenty-five years and their children. She has been a home educator since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Information Systems and uses her education to be a better teacher for her children. Tami is a writer and speaker to encourage moms. She writes reviews and other details about her life with her family at www.TamiFox.net.
She is in the trenches just like you and takes life one step at a time with mercy and grace. You can contact Tami through her blog or through email at Tami@TamiFox.com.
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