Archive for the ‘household management’ Category

The teen years have a reputation for being the worst years for raising children, but I disagree. A well trained teen can be marvelously competent. Take the time my gall bladder nearly blew up and landed me in emergency surgery. Our three children were 17, 14 and 12. For several months, with a little help from Dad, they completely took over all the cooking, housecleaning and laundry. The two older ones also planned and completed all their homeschool lessons independently.

When parents take the trouble to teach children good work habits, skills and attitudes when they are young, it really pays off when they get older. Here are a few tips for teaching school age children the basics of those housecleaning chores they will need to handle all their lives. (more…)

Read Full Post »

When our three children were small, I ran our household by the Crash Crisis system. Every time I took on a special project, the household unraveled into a giant mess. I would spend a couple days making costumes for a children’s musical, and then spend the next week fighting depression while I tried to dig out of a disaster zone and get the household back on track.

Fortunately, when we began home schooling, I learned a better system: the Minimum Maintenance (MM) system described in Totally Organized, by Bonnie McCullough.

The heart of the system is recognizing that “keeping up is easier than catching up.”

“Every house has a minimum daily requirement to keep it running smoothly,” McCullough explains. Once you know which jobs must be done and which can be skipped, you need to accept your home’s minimum requirement and see that it gets done. You don’t have to do it all, but someone in the household has to oversee the process.

For most families, the minimum daily requirement includes

  • keeping up with laundry
  • meals and meal cleanup
  • keeping down the accumulation of clutter

For me the heart of MM is McCullough’s clutter solution: spending a focused five minutes picking up each room in the house (10 or 15 minutes in the kitchen) before leaving the house or starting any projects. McCullough recommends that you use a timer and wear an apron or shirt with pockets. Start by picking up the biggest items first, and then work down to the smaller items that can be collected in a basket or pockets.

It’s amazing how much work you can accomplish in five minutes.

“Work fast and don’t clean too deeply,” McCullough says. “When you see jobs that need doing, jot them down on a project list for later, during cleaning time.”

“Never feel so defeated by a tornado-struck room that needs several hours work that you don’t do anything at all,” she warns. “Just a few minutes in the room will keep it from getting worse.”

Begin your pick up routine by keeping in mind the “First Impression Principle,” McCullough suggests. “This means when you enter a building, if the first impression is one of neatness, you assume the whole building is clean. Most people don’t notice smudges on a windowsill, they notice clutter.” So decide what a caller at your door sees first, and start by picking up that area.

This simple routine made a huge difference for me. In our home, each of the children was responsible to do three focused, five minute pick ups (their bedroom, plus two other rooms) before starting the school day. (The kitchen was equivalent to two rooms and got a 10-minute pick up.)

That helped us start lessons in a tidy house instead of trying to work in a mess. When we left the house early for a field trip, it felt good to walk in the door later to a neat living room.

Of course we had plenty of lapses, and the house could get badly cluttered during the day, with everyone home most of the time.

But MM taught me that when my house felt out of control, I could get fast results and feel much better if I focused on it for even 30 minutes. If the kids pitched in, the whole house could look dramatically better in only 10 or 15 minutes.

This pick up time can be modified according to an individual’s preferences and needs. You can set the timer for five minutes to work room by room, or set the timer for 30 minutes and run all over the house picking up. If you have small children, you can do it in five minute bites.

Houses do need cleaning. You can’t give that up entirely. But throughout the year you can make what you have cleaned stay looking nice longer by using this clutter solution. And it’s a great help during the holiday season. As long as you keep up with your minimum essentials, you can put your house “on hold” for quite a while in order to take time for special Thanksgiving and Christmas projects and holiday events.

© Becky Cerling Powers 2003

Do not publish without attribution


Read Full Post »

The teen years have a reputation for being the worst years for raising children, but I disagree. A well trained teen can be soooo competent. Take the time my gall bladder nearly blew up and landed me in emergency surgery. (more…)

Read Full Post »

On Sundays… Don’t forget to include space for play times when you plan the family schedule for this week. Staying home to play with your children nurtures them and builds trust and communication. It can be a great stress reliever for you, too.

On Mondays… Remember that children need lots of warm approval. So try to express your appreciation not only when they do a super job, but also during their awful stages when they do only passably well after being told what to do.

On Tuesdays… Be sure to encourage your children in their efforts in school. Show an interest in their schoolwork and hobbies. Listen to and talk with them. Praise their work and display it.

On Wednesdays… Let your children snack on the salad you plan to serve for supper if they are ravenous during meal preparation. Or else put out a big plate of fruit slices or raw vegetables—carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, etc. This will take the edge off their appetites with one of the most nutritious parts of the meal.

On Thursdays… Remember that an allowance is a good tool for teaching children age 9 and older to save and to budget money for different purposes. Children under age 8 or 9 may not have the patience yet to save money or the emotional readiness to make the kinds of decisions required for a simple saving and spending plan.

On Fridays…Be aware that creativity tends to be messy. So teach children how to deal calmly and efficiently with the inevitable messes that are part of the creative process. Show them how to cut paper over a wastebasket or cover working surfaces with newspaper before starting to paint. Let children know that cleaning up after themselves is part of the creative process.

On Saturdays… Keep in mind that children get their first impression of God from their relationship with their parents. Constant unrealistic demands from a parent can have a bad affect on children’s spiritual development, building a sense of failure and false guilt. As adults, these children often reject God as non-existent or view God as a stern, distant being whom they must constantly placate.

Read Full Post »

             My sister phoned yesterday. In our conversation she mentioned that she is developing osteoporosis, and she warned me that her doctor said that women like us who need to take thyroid supplements are more likely to have problems with osteoporosis. We traded ideas for increasing our calcium absorption, like making sure we get enough vitamin D from the sun. I mentioned my practice of making bone broth, and she took notes.

            Now I’ll pass along the tip to you.

            It’s hard for the body to absorb calcium from supplements. Milk and milk products are much more easily absorbed, unless you are sensitive to milk, like me. I’m lactose intolerant. I only drink milk if I need a laxative. So my favorite source of easy-to-absorb calcium is the yummy soups and stews I make from homemade bone broth/soup stock.

            Whenever my family bakes, roasts, or broils a chicken or turkey, I make bone broth (also known as soup stock) from the carcass and bony parts. The basic idea is to extract as much minerals, flavor, and unrefined gelatin as possible out of the bones by boiling them in water. Here’s how: (more…)

Read Full Post »