Friday, January 16, 2009

Restoring Order

In a continuing thought from yesterday - I have been feeling like things in my life are out of order.

For one who is used to having many systems and much order in place - I have let many of these things slide in recent weeks (before our trip). I am eager to get some of these systems revamped and some of them whipped back into shape.

And, like so many things - it is somewhat overwhelming to think of the enormity of this task. Being away from my house for a bit has allowed me to simplify my days and sort of step back and take a look at what needs to change in my home - what needs to be reinstated and what needs to go!

Some things I am planning to do away with:

* Shopping at multiple stores. I have realized how much time this sucks out of my days. And, by using coupons and watching sales - it really will not effect my grocery budget all that much. I plan to choose one grocery store to call my main store and shop there every other week. I used to do this and it worked great, then I got sort of pulled into running around to get the deals at multiple stores. It simply is not worth it to me in this season.

* Doing all the drug store deals. Again, I am going to choose one store (probably CVS, though it may rotate one week or another if there is something I can use at a different one) to go to each week and get the deals I can or what our family can use of give away.

* Outside commitments. When I return home, the only commitments I will have are taking Emily to ballet once a week, nursery once every eight weeks and taking cookies to the childrens shelter once a month. Right now, this is all I can manage. I need to be home and my family needs to be home - and we will be.

What will stay or be reinstated:

* Sunday afternoon/evening planning time. Every Sunday afternoon, I pull out the ads, plan my menu, sort of make a rough schedule for the week and definitely a plan for Monday. This has served us very well and I will continue to do this weekly.

* Cooking ahead for freezer. I used to have cookie dough in the freezer, cooked and diced chicken in the freezer, etc... I've let many of these things ago and they were a blessing to have - so I am eager to get back to this.

* Mother's helper: We have a teenage girl from church who comes over two Thursday mornings a month and helps me with the littles so I can get a few things done. I am there with her - but she usually is in another room where I can accomplish more. I've been sort of torn about this - I feel like I shouldn't need the help, wonder if I should have someone help with the chores rather than the playing since I am the mom, but in the end - this is what has helped me and worked for us, so I want to continue doing it.

* My cleaning schedule. I have a schedule for chores each week that rotates each day - and I've been extremely lax about cleaning of any kind! I want to return to this schedule:

Monday: clean kitchen and water plants
Tuesday: laundry, iron, clean master bath and vacuum
Wednesday: sweep and mop floors
Thursday: clean entry window, dust, clean hall bath
Friday: laundry, sheets, vacuum

* Family Nights: I have found that when I am planning lots of creative things for homeschooling or during the day, that my energy for Family Night planning is low or zero. I'm not sure what it looks like to reinstate this, but it is something I want to do.

What will be added:

* Date night: We have not been good at taking time just for the two of us. And, we agreed on a date night just after Christmas that this is something we want and need. We can't manage once a week practically or otherwise, but are thinking twice a month at this point.

* Family prayer time: It is on my heart to teach my children the benefits and disciplines of prayer - even in a very simple way for their age. I don't know what this looks like yet - but it is something I want to pursue.

* Planning, cultivating and enjoying a garden. Last year our garden was a complete flop - because I did not invest much time or energy in it. I desire this to be different this year - Lord, please help the bugs to stay away from me or make me not afraid of them.

I'm sure there are other things that should be on these lists - but this is all I can think of at the moment. Regardless, it is a great place to start and will spur some other ideas as well I'm sure!

How about you? Are your home systems keeping things in order - what needs to stay and what needs to go?


Anonymous said...

Yes,The Holiday pulled me away from many things I usally do to keep my home running soothly. This week I have been trying to do what you have been talking about in this post. Last night I found my self frustrated. I know that I need to take some time today to talk/pray with God about how to better do some things around my home.
Things like family pray have not been happening as much. Cleaning, which I like how you have days assigned to get things done. I sort of do the same thing. Really could use a date night with my hubby. But what happens is the we end up letting the teenagers go do the things they want. Leaving us with no sitter. Which will change in 2 years. When my 10 year old is 12 I will let her baby sit. Which will be nice.

I think you are wise to have some one come play with your children. This is something my daughter who is 14 has been doing in our home since she was 7. She would take the younger girls to play so I could get some thing done. It was nice, still is when I ask her to watch my 6 year old or play with him. She will take him and then I can really get some things done with out worrying about what he might be doing.
You have inspired me and seem to be thinking/pondering things that I have. Grateful for you insight.

Stephanie said...

Sounds like you have some good ideas in the works! I have had to make changes like that in the past six months and it has helped so much - I started shopping at one store (that doesn't even take coupons) and Sam's Club for all our groceries. Simplifying my errand time with my girls - with three you only have so long before they are done running errands.

My husband has also blessed me (just recently) with someone that is going to do deep cleaning in our home, the stuff I can't ever seem to get to. I'm so excited - it may not be a permanent thing, but for now I'm going to be so thankful!

Chrissy said...

Excellent list, Monica -

I'm going through the same process.

As to family prayer time, that is something we do at bedtime. We have family story time, where Hubby reads a few pages of a book aloud (Currently we're doing Swiss Family Robinson), then Hubby leads us in a prayer and we add any individual requests we may have. This is of course, above and beyond any scripture reading we may be doing.

Have a great weekend,


Julie said...

Oh, Monica,
We didn't travel far during the holidays, yet I feel the same way. I definitely need to restore some order around here.
About the mother's helper: I think it's a wonderful idea. I wish I could find something like that. It's great that our littles are comfortable under someone else's watch and don't need to be in the same room with us constantly.

Melissa said...

Monica, great post! I have been sensing a need to establish a better routine in our home. Because I only have one child I sometimes feel like I can wing everything, but this causes disorder, and now that Jane is close to one, I realize that winging it is not doing anyone any good. So, I don't know what things need to go and/or stay at this point, but I do need to pray about a schedule that works best for everyone in our home. I remember Pastor Carl saying, "If you only do what seems good, you will miss out on what's best". It's easy to get caught up in good things, isn't it?!?!?!

letterstoelijah said...

We recently started family prayer time. The key for my family is not to expect perfection. We start with the youngest and end with my husband. We discuss briefly what we will pray about. Eli, my almost 4 year old, says the same thing for about a week. It's about doing every day. It's about have your kids see you pray. It brings us together as a family. And most important, we are honoring our Father.

Simple Life said...

I love reading your post. I live in SC also. I read about your gardening. I would love to do a garden this year but I have no idea what to plant and when. Can you help me??

I think that gardening would cut our food budget some and with the new year we have decided to make better choices with our eating habits.

Thanks agian for your blog it makes me strive to be a better christian, wife, and mother.

Wendi said...

Your list sounds good. I am doing my main grocery shopping at the first of the month. I too got catch up in catching the deals. I am only doing CVS, and hitting additional grocery stores if the deals are exceptional. I found that I was spending too much time chasing the deals.

I am currently cleaning out the clutter and am working on a new schedule.

Hope all of your changes improve make things more manageable!

Liisa said...

I've been really inspired by this post to look at an evaluate the things in my life and restore some order. I especially appreciate your thoughts on shopping at one main store rather than running all over. Living in a small town that has been a time sucking issue for me as I have been going to a bigger town and running all over there to different stores. That is going to change among other things. Thank you!


Be Thou Exalted said...

Just a comment on the Mother's Helper. As a teen, I went over 1x a week and helped watch our neighbors children. For me personally, it felt good because I knew I was helping a mom out and being a blessing. Now as an adult, I look back and realize what a blessing it was to be a blessing to someone else. And it taught me a good bit about parenting as well.

Jenny said...

Wow...what a timely post! I've been thinking about the exact same things. I'm in dire need of a new daily schedule and routines. Somehow with my morning sickness and then Christmas we've fallen off the track...and my house shows it!

I, too want to start a garden this year. I laughed when you said: "Lord, please help the bugs to stay away from me or make me not afraid of them." :) I'm right there with you!

Thanks so much for writing about how your going to restore order. It gave me some great ideas and the motivation to reclaim the life I want for our family.

Have a great weekend!

Tracey said...

My "system" are totally out of wack at this point...I have the next month to find some way to get a system so that when i go back to work the house won't fall apart. Ugghh

jen said...

Won't list all here, but our date night is something I have come to treasure.
We havedecided to incorporate more family prayer time this year. All the dtails are not in place yet, but we are working a verse for the day and a family prayer journal that we go over at breakfast.I really want our children to get in the habit of going to God about everything. Our verses for the day are chosen from our theme for the month. January's word is peace.

LynnMarie said...

After reading your list, it still sounded like a lot to cram into each week but I'm sure you can do all of that.
I so agree with the date night for you and your husband. At some point in life, it will be just your two again and it is a terrible thing to look at your husband and wonder "who are you?" Date night is so important for all of you, not just you two but for the children also. I've been married over 36 years and we had date night most of those years. It had made our lives better because we still know each other.
As for my routine, I have a cleaning schedule as well and it works very well.
I asked God to help me live a more simple life and he is helping me do that by allowing my car to die and we can not afford a second car at this time. So we are living with just 1 car and we are learning to go without. It is hard but still we are learning. Be careful what you pray for!

Meredith said...

I am probably the only "frugal blogger" who doesn't do the drugstore deals.

There are so many moms in my area that the shelves are always wiped out before I get there.

Like you, I've decided that the race is not worth my time, at least in this season of life!

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica -- this is a great list of worthy goals! I will be praying for you as you return home and begin to establish (or re-establish) simple routines that work for you. Love you, Mom

a mom of many said...

Great posts these two days. I think we are all inspired by the begining of a new year...a clean slate...a chance to start over fresh!
In our family of five children(9-2) we found a devotional that includes a lesson, an activity,& closing prayer keeps everyone somewhat involved.
A great one we use is "Family Devotional Builder", by Karen H. Whiting. For littles I think it helps if they can see as well as hear why we are involved in something. Here is to a wonderful, blessed new year!

Ashley said...

I've been thinking of this but honestly haven't come up with a good system yet... but I need to soon. Everything here (more than not) has been out of balance since Nov/Dec -- and I need order restored! ;) Thanks for being a inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Six months ago I started having a girl come over one afternoon a week to play with the kids. I had the guilt factor going on for a while but she really turned out to be a blessing to us! My kids love her and are so excited when she comes over. She always has a little something special planned for them. I get so much done on these afternoons because I know the kids are ok and are having fun. I use this time to do some bulk cooking, bookwork, laundry, whatever.


Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

We have a few things that we need to reinstate like date night. It could even be at home so we don't spend a lot of money. We are going out tonight to start that. I'm going to put the rest on the calendar.

Getting more things up in the freezer is something I need to do again as well.

We have a family reading time in the evening and read a chapter out of a book and then have a devotional and prayer time most days of the week.

What I need to do away with: spending too much idle time on computer

Anonymous said...

I am planning some similar changes. I am finally emerging from my all-day morning sickness, and I'm ready to get things in order again. I, too, realized that I need to shop at fewer stores too, and make sure nutrition stays more important than good deals. And after a few months of no cleaning schedule and lots of help from my husband (who did great but not quite the way I do it, if you know what I mean), I want to get back to some kind of order. I look forward to hearing how things go for you!


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Monica, so smart of you to weigh and consider all of these things. I think so many of us forget to take the time to think and to plan. I agree with you in that these activities are so valuable--especially if you understand that what we focus on grows. Thinking about what is lovely and good (and I believe that a degree of "orderliness" can be classified under these labels) will only bring you more of the same. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject--you're so inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I too homeschool three little ones.
I have found that making our family night activity include schooling activities is very helpful.
For example, I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to the girls. I read by lantern light and my husband was there at the table with us. We then played a game at the table together and ate popcorn.
Hope this helps you:)

Anonymous said...

thank you for your post-it always encourages me when I find other women are coming back home.

I have been feeling a pull towards home in a new way and plan to do some of the same things you are. I will keep you in my prayers.

I would like to help you ease your concern about a mothers helper. I have had a gal come for several years now and I think of it as an investment and as my planning time. I can get so much done in a small amount of time with someone else playing with my kiddos. And it is a fresh face for them.

Thank you again for sharing how you are committing to your family!

Debra said...

Great post! I love the idea of a planning time - I always struggle with that but it makes sense to set aside a specific time each week.

I, too, am cutting down on the # of stores at which I shop. I would like to try to get everything at my grocery store but have decided that I need to make the Walmart trip about once a month. All that driving takes up alot of time.

I am finding that having a schedule of chores for each day helps so much and I plan to be home everyday but Tues (I scrapbook that day @ a friend's) and Friday (errand day). Things come up, of course - like taking the dog to the vet - that can't wait but for the most part it makes things run smoothly.

Just my 2 cents on the Mother's Helper. It's okay to have someone else play with the kids - I know my daughter enjoyed interacting with someone besides me every now and then. It turned out to be good for both of us. Yes, I felt a little bad sometimes but it was only for a few hours and she enjoyed it.

Thanks for the ideas!

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

Don't fret about the Mother's Helper. It is a good experience for the girls to play with other adults - in the "olden" days this would be accomplished through a closely located extended family. It is suh a blessing that you can give them this opportunity and still be present to monitor and guide!

And what a blessing for the helper to learn about littles - so many mothers today have never been around little kids and they don't know WHAT to do with them!

Mary Ann said...

First off, I think it's wonderful that you have someone to come and help you with the children. I grew up Mennonite and in our community(as well as others, I'm sure) it was common for the young teenage girls to help out the busy mothers. I started helping my aunts with their little ones around 12 and continued helping others as I got older, often helping to care for the babies during canning season when the gardens and preserving took a good bit of time. Doing this not only gives girls experience with kids and homemaking but also is a way to develop a love for serving others.

Don't be too hard on yourself, Monica. You have your hands full with 3 little ones. I babysit two 2 year old boys and am exhausted just from the 8 hours or so that they are here. :-)

I've let a lot of things slide. My cleaning schedule. Hospitality. Sewing and crafts. Cooking and baking beyond what is needed that day. Date night, too. I need to figure out a new routine since the one I have isn't working for me.

What is working- doing laundry on two set days each week, general clean-up each morning, making lunches for the two of us the night before.

I've been simplifying my grocery shopping too. Just today I wrote out a new updated master list with all the things that we normally buy. I used to have one and then as I've changed our eating habits, I hadn't gotten around to making a new one. This is handy so I know what I should keep in my pantry and I can walk around with my list before shopping and check off what we're getting low on.

If you have a Sam's Club nearby, you can shop on their website then pick it up at the store at no extra charge. That may be an option for you with the little ones. Some other grocery stores provide a similar service, which may be worth looking into for very hectic days/weeks.

Great post, Monica!

Erin said...

The holiday seemed to throw a wrench into my good intentions. And now with trying to get ready for my husband's return from his deployment I feel even more distracted and out of order. There are numerous things that I want to take care of and am hoping to get back into a routine once hubby gets home on Sat. Thanks for opening up about your struggles and helping me to remember that it's ok to get out of whack. It happens and I just need to get back on track.


My Blessings From Above said...

You're post is very timely for me. I need to restore order here desperately. I have too much clutter and little motivation. I homeschool my boys and some days that is all we accomplish. You have inspired me.
As far as shopping. Back in the fall I decided that I could only do CVS. It is only about 5 minutes from my home. I had to let Walgreen's and Rite aid go for the most part. If there is a great deal I will go. For instance this week there was an awesome Rite Aid deal on diapers and I did go and do that. Otherwise this is the first since fall I have been there. Walgreen's is a half hour from my home and I cannot justify running there unless I am going in that direction anyway.
When I frist started doing the drug store deals I found I was obsessing about missing even one. I have now given myself permission to skip many of the deals and concentrate on just CVS and my grocery shopping.
Thanks for the inspiration that it is ok to cut back and spend more time on the things that are truly important.

Anissa said...

Date Night Thoughts:

We do swap nights! We swap date night with some friends - they watch all the kids while we go out, then the next night (or next wknd) we watch the kids.

1. The kids have a lot of fun with their friends
2. When it's our night to watch the kids, I get more involved with them than I would on a regular night - plan a fun meal, plan a craft, plan games, etc..
3. IT'S FREE!!

We swap with 2 families giving us 2 date nights and 2 kid nights a month.

Best wishes getting back in order! Chaos reigned for us last week after being on the road too long over the holidays!


Jessica said...

Hey Monica ~
We've come to treasure our date nights and I actually posted about that this morning. I'm so thankful for my husband who helps me to focus on my marriage before focusing on the kids. It has become a priority for us.
As for the mother's helper. That sounds WONDERFUL!!! Do you pay your teen or is it a volunteer thing? I would love to have something like this in place so I can get some deep cleaning done. The boys sleep on opposite nap schedules during the day. I'm trying to change that, but it's hard.
Thanks for the suggestions. I need to get into my homeschooling and really dig in and plan. I started off like that but getting back into the routine has been hard.
Let us know how it's going in a few weeks!!

Phebe said...

Hi Monica--this is the Walmart bathroom lady!!!! I still CANNOT believe that I ran into you there and I read your blog--amazing!! I've been exclaiming over it all afternoon...

Your girls were adorable and I'm so glad we met, even if it was in the Walmart bathroom! :)

I like your ideas for simplifying your time. I too am trying to sort through my life right now. Beginning homeschooling has been wonderful, but I've had to take a serious look at what's important and what's not. I've given up several outside commitments and even things at home that are just too complicated--especially meals/recipes that are too time-consuming to prepare...

I love your pics of Odyssey. That's one of our favorite hangouts too--especially when the weather's bad. Wasn't it awesome today, though? 50+ degrees!! Hey, if your kids want someone to hang out with at Odyssey sometime when you're here, let me know!! ( --Phebe

Lee said...

We do prayer time with my 3 year old as he's getting ready to go to be at night. That is a special time for just he and I. We tuck him into bed and I climb on top of the covers and ask him "What do you want to talk about with God tonight?" We both really look forward to it and it's teaching him that prayer is just talking to God. After we chat, he tells me if he want to pray for have me pray. Most of the time I pray, but once in awhile he surprises me and wants to pray. I love it.

Jenny said...

I will have to admit that as I was reading down your list of things to cut out, I selfishly thought, "don't pick blogging, don't pick blogging!" Is that selfish or WHAT? :)

Stephanie said...

This post has been very inspiring to me! I have been considering cutting back on the deal finding as well and what you wrote gave me some perspective on it! Thank you!

Thumperdd said...

I love your post. It's inspired me to rethink what works and what doesn't. I think we normally get into the habit of adding things but never take any away.

As for the family prayer time, I have implemented a time first thing every morning for family prayer and bible study. I homeschool also and I felt it was important to let my son know that we always put God first. Therefore, bible study is always our first subject.

Also, I find that by putting God first every morning it sets the tone for our day. We immediately connect with the servant mentality and put ourselves on the back burner. If something happens and we end up off schedule toward the end of the day there is no guilt or concern about where we will fit in our God time. God came first.

Hopefully this is something my son will remember as he gets older and prepares his own home.

In Christ,

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

Thanks for your honesty here Monica! You are such and example to me of a Godly wife and Mama who pursues her families best! I'm thankful for you!

May God give you wisdom and grace as you pursue your goals for 09

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh with you about praying for the bugs to stay away from you when outside to garden!

You see..I have the same problem...except it's HUGE yellow jackets that come out of no where and get right beside me :)

Thank you for sharing.

Deanna said...

you voiced what I have been feeling lately. I don't know why it is that this holiday season put me so behind on my housework and other areas of my life. I did make a similar list and I am really wondering if I can stick to it. Right now I've got a sink full of dishes and my master bathroom needs a good scrubbing. I am just not feeling inclined to do it though. I should get a helper in at least once a week to start the process of keeping things in order.

I'm with you on sticking to one store. I buy groceries at Wal-Mart and Whole Foods for special items. That in itself deleted my need to go to CVS and Walgreens. It has added more time to my day doing this so now I just have to figure out what day a certain chore needs to be done.

I'll be back for more inspiration! I'm going to copy your list and type it up and put it on my fridge.

Deanna :)

Unknown said...

Great is so nice to sit down and figure out what needs to go and what needs to stay! A few go's for me:

-extra homeschool/learning type things that my littles just don't need yet
-unnecessary trips to town,store, or library just "to get out" of the house
-extended Internet time! I need to monitor how much time I spend online...:)

Things to stay or get started again:

-date nights (A BIG AMEN TO THAT, MONICA!)
-consistent time in the Word
-healthier baking/cooking
-creating biweekly menu's and shopping lists...homeschool schedules...MAKES LIFE SO MUCH EASIER!
-get debt free

Thanks for posting this! It helps get me motivated!


Unknown said...

Monica, These are some great goals and ideas. I have become extremely lax in all things related to the keeping of our home, throughout the holiday season...really starting in November. I deend to return to some structure. I think my goal for this week will be to revisit what works and doesn't and lay out some plan, similar to what you've done, so that I can get back on track. Thank you for the motivation!

Kathy said...

IF only going to one store does effect your budget you can make that ONE store one that price matches. :)

I am thinking through the same things you are. At this point of my life I ahve a 12 yo boy, a 10 yo boy and an 8 yo girl. They want to play with our 2 yo and 6 mo old and I feel guilty. I dont want to have my olders raise my littles but there time together is so special. There is a balance in there and I know that you will find it. I also like what someone commented and extended family and how this would normally ahppen and we wouldnt feel bad about it. That made sense to me.

Melody said...

I think that is a wonderful list.

I find that is easier to just shop at one store. I am sure that there are other stores that have some things that are slightly cheaper but I don't have the time to devote to finding them.

I hope everything goes well for you as you try to get your schedule back in order.

Rebecca said...

I am in complete agreement with many of the same things! I had the exact same thought about the whole grocery shopping and drug store deals. I'm going to do one store a week - and leave it at that. It just takes up way too much time. We also are aiming for a date night at least twice a month. I'm glad you had an opportunity to take a breath and examine what needs to be changed. Thanks for sharing - it's very encouraging. :)

noahandlylasmommi said...

That is great. Good for you for doing what you need to for your family. I tend to overextend myself quite often and just end up stressed out and unhappy. I will definintly stop doing that.

Jordan said...

I haven't read all the comments, so this may have been asked before. Would you mind posting your cleaning schedule and walking us through it? I've been working on finding a good schedule for myself and haven't hit my stride yet. Thanks!