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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Many, many hands makes....

Light work?  Or a huge freakin mess?  That's the choice we've been faced with the past few months.  It's been a constant struggle of keeping on top of everything and unfortunately we're perpetually behind.  On everything.  After doing a big home improvement project, we finally felt that itty bitty straws on our figurative camel hump and called a huge cease and desist to everything while we figured out how to correct the current state of affairs in our home.

Things like a garage that looks like Hoarders should come in with their arsenal of therapists and dumpsters.....a kitchen I can't stand to be in because it looks like a post 8.9 on the richter scale.....every single room in turmoil and chaos, maybe surface picked up and clean, but not the way it SHOULD be.  I've been told these are the years to let some things go and just roll with it, but dude....that does not work with this many people.  I kind of NEED things to be in a certain order so that our days run smoothly and I'm not spending 2 hours looking for a pencil, then a sharpener, and THEN the damn book we need.  It's a nightmare.

I've always been on top of things like this,but I've found since being in THIS house, I do NOT have it all together.  There's a good reason for this....not just an excuse to justify it, but something GOOD happening...we keep re-configuring the house towards our eventual goal of what it will be and with each change, everything shifts.  So we have to figure out, all over again, what goes where and who is responsible for all the different areas and it gets exhausting.

So yeah, lots of chaos, lots of stress and lots of going back to the basics of what I know about time and home (and homeschool) management.  Here's what we have going on right now....

1. I cannot do the schedule thing anymore.  It's too limiting.  It means that if anyone wakes up even 15 minutes late, we're behind the rest of the day.  I've tried it and with this many people, it's too constricting to keep to a timed schedule every day.  Things happen.  There are too many variables in my day to make this a reasonable time management tool, so we're going back to routines.  Just a simple routine and basic flow of time rather than a set schedule.  That means the kids (and I) wake up and do the same things every day, regardless of what time it is.  If someone has been up late or sick, or something beyond reasonable control, they can just jump in as soon as they can, rather than jumping in behind.

2. Micromanagement.  My house is divided into zones.  Each child over 5 has their own zone they are responsible for on a daily basis.  Older children help by checking and directing, and Mom trains them on how to get it done correctly.  However, we have two "group areas."  The kitchen and the living room.  In these areas, they have micro zones.  So one child does plates and bowls and cleans the stove every evening.  Another does pots and pans and takes out the trash.  They all have jobs, however....there is always SOMETHING left behind that is "not my job..." and I've had to assess which things get left and who's they are.  But the thing is, these things aren't used enough to be a regular, so instead of assigning the cake pan to the pots and pans guy who NEVER uses cake pans, I am dividing anything left between all the dish washing children.  I've also come up with 20 different "focus tasks" for the kitchen, that will keep things dealt with without having one person, or many people spending hours on it.  All big kids will have one focus job per weekday.  I've done this with the living room as well.  I am HOPING this keeps us caught up and not having to spend hours and hours on our precious weekends doing regular household maintenance.  These are small tasks that if you had to do all 20 of them in one day would eat up a significant amount of time.  Like wipe off the ceiling fan, use glass cleaner on the cabinets, reorganize top pantry shelf...stuff like that...All tasks that will take 10 minutes or less.

3. Within in each zone there are some really big jobs that will take a while and are just part of living in the house.  These jobs are allowance jobs.  But also broken down into small  bits . So like cleaning one shelf in the fridge, rather than the whole thing because that's tough for a non-adult to take on.  The entire fridge is a $5-6 job (if it's reasonably clean, which it is right now) so $1 per shelf and door.  Wiping down walls and doors, cleaning off the bookshelves very good (removing books, dusting, putting back..) those are all paid jobs because that's how we roll here.  I am going to be posting a sheet that lists all these jobs right by the daily task list for easy reference.

4. Rotating weekend focus.  Jamie came up with a long list of things we do on a recurring basis, that as of now, we do on a crisis as needed basis.  Things like the chicken coop, the garage, the cars, clothing storage maintenance...and so on.  He's assigned all these tasks as needed on a schedule that has a Week A-D and tells us which one we'll be focusing on that weekend, to keep up with them like normal people instead of "Oh crap, we can't walk into our garage....guess we should spend all Saturday working on it..."  (When you do  home improvement, that garage can get full of random tools, wood, and all that stuff FAST)

5. I've made the same kind of list for our meal plans.  Weeks A-D.  I usually make a grocery list every single week (or two) depending on what we have going on.  No more.  It's all going on the computer.  I will have each meal plan made with it's coordinating shopping list and I will print each list as needed, cross off what I already have on hand and then shop.  My plan is to always be on the lookout for the sale items and buy them regardless of what week I'm in.  I'll just cross it off my week whatever list when I get to it.

6. Jamie liked my friend Kelli's idea for a syllabus for our older children.  So everyday they will have a set task they have to complete for school, in every subject and while we will check up on them, we will be trying to have them take control of their own time.  This has always been the case, but we haven't really put it into their hands as much as we should have, and we've have no real consequence if the work wasn't done other than they had to work on it in the evening.  However, we have now been doing Friday Game Night and it's a hit.  We ALL love it....and so...the leverage is don't finish your assigned task, you do not participate in the game that Friday.  I am hoping and praying that since we've already instituted game night, no one will want to miss it, so no one will challenge it.  It may take a kid a time or two losing it to get with the program, but I suppose that's life.

It's been a harrowing few weeks....that critical mass point where it feels like everything has exploded.  Not a great way to go about a busy life....or at least not the way to enjoy it.  Gotta get our ducks in a row, our rows in a column, our columns in a whatever comes next ;)

So that's one thing I've been up to. Making massive, detailed lists to get some sort of handle on this crazy house, but I've been doing other cool stuff too (Not an internet FAST...a DIET LOL!!  I have actually stuck to it,'s modified.  I'll write more about that later!)  For now, it's all about the time and house step at a time.

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