Generation Cedar

I won’t even pretend to be an expert on home organization. My friends will start to chuckle if I try, because they know I’m as scatter-brained as the chaff in the wind.

This trait, however, causes me to look even harder for practical ways to keep things running more smoothly in our large family. I offer humble, simple ideas; this is where I hope all you moms who actually “have it together” jump in and help us!

At our house, we have implemented, off and/or on, some of the following:

  • Routine. However rigid you need this to be, some sort of routine is important, especially for children . For some, this means a daily chart, broken into 30 minute intervals (whew…makes me tired.) For us, it means we have a basic order of the day which I refer to as “our rhythm.”

Breakfast/chores/Bible reading/school reading/lunch/older children school while younger ones nap/free time/afternoon chores/prepare for supper…

  • Limit outings. Everyone is in a different season, but for us, going anywhere is a major act of Congress. We try to really evaluate the importance of an extracurricular activity against the added stress it will likely cause and make careful decisions, being very selective about our outings.
  • Chore Charts. These help take the burden off of mom needing to repeat orders each day. We have “daily” chores and “weekly” chores. On Friday, we do our dailys plus our weeklies. That way, at least the toilets get cleaned once a week.
  • Zones. Everyone has a zone or area of the house that they are to “keep a handle” on. The theory works better than reality, but it’s a good starting point. Having certain set times during the day for a quick pick up is crucial to keeping organization, especially in a larger family. Just before lunch and dinner are the two best times for us.
  • Give the youngest children a job. If they are walking, they can begin to pick up things and put them away. It certainly takes more time to train them, but in the long run, you are doing yourself a BIG favor. Encourage the older ones to help train the younger ones in this area.
  • Nipping bad attitudes. Of course we all (Mom included) have our less enthusiastic days. But as a general rule, Mom should not tolerate grumbling or bad attitudes about helping with the house. Establish that early. Solution? Add more chores. This cause and effect will finally sink in and they’ll decide to be cheerful to save themselves the trouble. Of course we’re after a cheerful heart, but sometimes the heart will follow the body.

*BTW, our attitude has a huge impact on theirs–don’t forget that!

  • Encourage good attitudes. Sometimes, randomly in the day, even if the kids aren’t brimming over with joy, I’ll just say, “I am so thankful for such cheerful children.” It’s amazing what a simple word will accomplish.
  • Universal closet. At least that’s what I call it. Not everyone has the layout for this, but we keep all our clothes in one big closet. Somehow it just seems easier to keep under control.

Those are my random hints…feel free to share yours!

10 Responses

  1. If you don’t have one large enough closet for the whole family, try a universal closet for the following: one for mom and dad together, one for the girls, and one for the boys. This is our system, and it works great for us.

  2. Kelly if you have time I would be delighted if you’d take the “mom survey” I have on my blog. If you don’t have time, no biggy but this post reminded me of it.

    The link is on the right sidebar about halfway down…I am just gathering info from women who are good Christian moms who can help me prepare for motherhood (coming up soon).

    Thanks : )

  3. I have wanted a family closet for a long time. Alas, no space! But, I do have all my boys clothes in one closet. They are all folded and stacked together. Who cares who the clothes belong to…wear whatever fits!

    Works for us! 🙂

  4. This list is worthy of printing off. Thank you! I like the idea of more chores if one grumbles. I also like the “universal closet” idea. I may look into that one. I do have a big storage room that would work for that.

    I personally use the stove timer for my boys because they have a tendency to get distracted easily and instead of picking up, they want to play with and evaluate every toy! So that helps most of the time.

  5. I have discovered that we don’t need nearly as much clothing as we think we do! 🙂

    I’m much happier with both my littles sharing one dresser. It’s a little dresser, too! Actually, I think I can fit one more in there, which by most people’s standards would be crazy, I think! The fewer outfits my boys have, the easier it is to keep their drawers nice.

    Dh and I both share a dresser, as well, though I only use one drawer on my side. We liked it better when we had one closet but this house has two tiny ones in the master bedroom. Bleck!

    As far as routine goes; we enjoy it but don’t act like it’s a hard & fast rule. For example, dh plays basketball on Thursday nights and LOVES to have his wife and boys on the sidelines, even if I don’t get a chance to really watch. The games are at 7/8/9pm. I have found that my boys CAN adjust and be flexible and I’ve quit being so fearful of taking them, and I can’t tell you how many moms I meet that can only come to the 7pm games because “junior” is on a schedule!

    The husbands enjoy it so much when their wives & children are there it just happens so rarily that I find it disturbing. I do think it is so much easier to deal with a rested child, but being tired is not an excuse for bad behavior although I think we should generally ask less of a tired child . . .

    Come to think of it, we have a “routine” that starts in the same order every day no matter if we get up at 7am or 9am. (I struggle to function without sleep so my 2yo, 7mo & I all wake up usually within 10 minutes of each other!) So we do have routine … it’s just a very schetchy one so maybe that’s why we are such a flexible family???

    I don’t know, these are just some of the thoughts that crossed my mind reading this post!

  6. Ashley,

    Our routine is like yours–it’s more of an “order” than a schedule.

    We may start at 6:30, but most often it’s more like 8:00 (I can hear all the morning people gasping 😉

    We are VERY flexible…

    I have a teething/nursing infant that gets me up 2 or 3 times a night, so that’s my excuse…wonder what I’ll use when she starts sleeping 🙂

  7. Great post, Kelly and good tips, most of which I already use but I’d never heard of the closet idea. I don’t have a closet large enough to do that anyway, but its an interesting thought.

  8. From another scatter-brained person . . . I’ve found Anne Ortlund’s _Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman_ very helpful. She tries to help women become organized in a kingdom-focused way. To help women toward this, she offers tips about clothing, filing, keeping organized with a planner (that she even uses to help her study the Bible when she has a few minutes during an appointment),etc. I think you would find this fast read helpful for the house and beyond!

    Her work can now be found bound into a volume with two other works on discipline. The 3-book work is called The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman. (I can’t say much about it yet since I just got my copy about a week ago.)

  9. Do you have any tips for moms in the throws of early pregnancy. Somedays it just seems like there is so much to get done. Yet I feel like the bottom of a shoe.

    What has helped you during these times? The more children added the busier it gets. Any encouraging words? 😉

  10. Audrey,

    Early pregnancy is especially difficult with sickness and exhaustion. I am fortunate to have a 14 year-old daughter who is virtually capable of runnint our household (and loves it!)when I am down.

    But the most helpful thing to me is to give myself grace in different seasons; Motherhood is difficult, and pregnancy and small children can be demanding. GIVE GRACE to yourself! Let the house be messier than you normally would. Do what you can reasonably do, and don’t stress about the rest!

    Same thing with little ones…better to do houswork in moderation and savor this fleeting time of holding chubby hands, than to look back one day and realize laundry distracted you from embracing them.

    Just my thoughts!

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