Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Plan-It School Series: Preparing for Household Responsibilities

Caution: You are about to enter The Disorganized Zone. In this sector of the universe, crock pots are never plugged in. Laundry piles are as high as Mount Everest. Opening the refrigerator door qualifies as a science experiment, and mops, brooms, and dusters are mythological creatures. Enter, if you dare….

Episode II: Hey! Why's the Chicken in the Drier?

The scene opens with Homeschool Dawn in her kitchen gathering ingredients for that evening's dinner. She is preparing a crock pot meal which must cook for eight hours. The time is 7:30 a.m.

HSD (reading her recipe): Okay, I need chicken. Oh no, I forgot to put the chicken in the refrigerator to thaw yesterday.

HSD takes chicken out of the freezer and places it in the microwave to defrost. The chicken needs thirty minutes to thaw so she decides to start a load of laundry. She opens the lid on the washer, turns the dial, and reaches in the cabinet for the detergent.

HSD: *GROAN* No more detergent here. (She looks in the pantry where there are three boxes of fabric softener sheets, two bottles of Shout, five bottles of Febreze, and forty-seven bottles of Dawn dish washing liquid. She is a Grocery Gamer, after all. However, there is no laundry detergent.) Boys! Put your shoes on. We need to go to Wal-Mart… quickly!!

Ten minutes later…

Wilbur: Mommy! I can't find my shoes.

Orville: I can't find any socks. Wilbur took the last pair.

Wilbur: I did not. My socks were in my shoes.

Orville: How could your socks have been in your shoes if you can't find your shoes.

Wilbur: Oh yeah… well, I still didn't take the last socks.

HSD: Let's not argue about who did what. Instead let's find Wilbur's shoes. Orville, there are clean socks in the drier. (Orville leaves the room) Wilbur, where did you take your shoes off yesterday?

W: I don't know.

HSD: *sigh*

An hour later socks and shoes have been found and the trio have returned from Wal-Mart with laundry detergent. HSD pours a capfull in the wash and throws in a load of clothes. The trio head to the classroom to begin school.

HSD: Yesterday, we read about life on the farm. Farmers grow their own food and raise animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens…. CHICKEN!!! *GASP* I forgot about dinner. Boys, get out your math workbooks and complete the next section while I get dinner started.

HSD runs to the kitchen and hurriedly throws the ingredients for dinner in the crock pot. She puts the lid on and switches the dial to "low". She returns to the classroom, checks the boys' math work and finishes the lesson on farms. It is now time for lunch, and the trio return to the kitchen. The boys go to the kitchen table and HSD goes to the washing machine to switch the laundry. She discovers she left the lid open, and the wash cycle never began. She quickly closes the lid and goes to the refrigerator to get what she needs to fix lunch.

HSD: Where is the lunch meat? I just bought some yesterday.

W: Wooly (the plush toy lamb) got hungry last night, and I made him a sandwich.

HSD: Where are the carrots? I just bought those yesterday, too.

O: Uh, Mom, I ate them.

HSD: When?

O: This morning with breakfast. I realized yesterday that I need more vitamin A. It promotes healthy vision, you know, and carrots are chocked full of it.

HSD: I guess it's peanut butter sandwiches and raisins then.
W and O: *groan*

After lunch the trio returns to lessons. It is Monday and time to clean the bathroom. HSD helps the boys begin their assignments and then gathers her cleaning supplies. As she walks toward the bathroom, the phone rings…

HSD: Hello.

Caller: Hello. Mrs. Olive Plants, my name is Rainbow and I'm with the Foundation for the Preservation of Fungi Growing in the Serengeti. Would you….

HSD: No thank you. We are not interested.

HSD returns to her cleaning chores. One minute later, the phone rings again.

HSD: Hello?

Caller: Hello, Mrs. Olive Plants. This is Rainbow, again. The fungi are in danger…

HSD: As I said before, we are not interested. Please, do not call again.

HSD returns to the bathroom. Moments later, the phone rings once more.

HSD (trying not to be hateful): We are not interested. Please, stop calling.

Caller: Um… Dawn, this is Ms. Daisey, your small group leader. I just wanted to remind you that you are bringing the snack to our meeting tomorrow.

HSD: Meeting tomorrow…? (looks at calendar) Oh, yes, thank you. I had forgotten.

HSD rushes to the kitchen and whips up a snack for the meeting. From the classroom, Wilbur calls for her. He does not understand his assignment. She works with him until 4:45 when Dad walks in the backdoor.

Dad: Hello family!

HSD: Hello, dear. You're home early.

Dad: Actually, I'm late.

HSD: You're late? What time is it?

HSD suddenly realizes that it is almost 5:00 and she has not cleaned the bathroom. She rushes back to her work and completes it by 5:30. She washes up and returns to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on dinner. She opens the crock pot.

HSD: Oh no!

Dad: What's wrong?

HSD: My crock pot must be broken. It is cold, and the food is not cooked.

Dad comes to the kitchen and takes a look.

Dad: Um, honey. The crock pot isn't broken.... You forgot to plug it in.

The family goes to McDonald's for dinner, returns home for family worship, then goes to bed. Just as HSD starts to drift off to sleep, she is shocked awake by a thought....

HSD: Oh no! I forgot to put the laundry in the drier.

A compliment I often receive is "you are sooooo organized". Here's the truth. I am a complete and utter mess. The organization that those who know me personally see has been earned the hard way. I have learned through many, and I do mean many, mistakes to make notes, have a routine, and keep a schedule and planner. It is the only way a forgetful gal like me can keep it all together. From time-to-time, my system unravels, and what follows make my drama above seem mild. However, here are my top ten tips that help me prevent disaster (most of the time):

10. I turn off my telephone's ringer during school hours. There is enough to do without adding unwanted phone calls to the mix. Even though we are on the no-call list, we still get wrong numbers, campaign calls, and the occasional telemarketer. I keep my cell nearby and ask family and close friends to call that number. If I don't have the cell for some reason (like I let the battery lose its charge), I screen calls. Either way, I let my family and friends know that I will pick up for something important. However, I politely ask them to keep calls to a minimum because the phone ringing easily distracts my boys and gets me off task.

9. The Job Jar has been a lifesaver. We pull two-four jobs from it per day and make the time to complete them right away. The kids are actively involved in keeping the house clean. As keepers of our home, we moms are the managers of its upkeep. I emphasize the word managers and give you permission not to feel like you are the servant of your home. A good manager is a servant at heart. We must roll up our sleeves and be hard at work ourselves and lovingly care for our families. In fact, there are some jobs that I do not want my children completing. However, a good manager also knows when to delegate and teaches her crew how to be successful.

8. Keep a file of recipes. Whether on your computer, in a index card file, or in a folder, have a good number to choose from and keep them handy. Color-code them or file them according to ease of preparation. I save my favs to my computer. I have files for quick dinners, formal dinners, easy sides, slow-cook sides, etc. I love http://www.allrecipes.com/, too. You can join and keep an online file of recipes available at their site. I have been able to find a recipe there for almost anything I want to cook.

7. Make menus and keep them on file. I don't always have time to plan what we will eat each week. Having a few menus on file allows me to pull one and get a shopping list together quickly. Consider joining Menus4 Moms. It is free to join. There are ads and offers you have to click through, but I have found their service extremely helpful.

6. Stockpile! I find it incredibly helpful to have at least two of each cleaning/household product we use in the pantry. I join http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ two times per year for the purpose of stocking up at rock bottom prices. Just be careful not to get addicted to buying dish washing liquid because you can get it almost every week for 25 cents or less. This happened to me, and I really did end up with 47 bottles of Dawn (ironic, isn't it?).

5. I put one load of laundry in the washer at breakfast. I remind myself to make sure I close the lid! I move it to the drier at lunchtime, and fold and put it away before bed. If I do this everyday, the laundry is less likely to pile up, and I don't resort to stacking piles of clean laundry on the bed to ensure I put them away before bed, only to end up moving it all to the couch so we can go to bed only to move it back to the bed to ensure I put it away before bedtime, only to move it to the couch… you get the point!

4. I often cook a double or triple portion of each planned meal and freeze the extra servings. On nights that I am in a hurry, or forget to plug in the crock pot, my homemade frozen dinners make an easy, healthy, and inexpensive meal.

3. I make a list of what I need to do the next day before bed each night. I number the items on the list by importance and complete them in that order the next day. I highlight those things which must be done the next day to help me remember. The next night, I finish any highlighted items before going to bed and bump any other unfinished chores to the next day's list. Also, I give myself about four blocks of time during the day for chores. I find it works well to do school in small chunks with chores scattered in between. If I try to do too much of either at once, I start to feel overwhelmed.

2. I give myself days off from school here and there for big jobs like spring cleaning. I give myself breaks for planning, too.

1. I limit my daily computer time. Blogging is a great pastime, but we must be careful that it does not keep us from our responsibilities. Set limits to your online time that work with your schedule. Some days, I have two or three hours for online time. Some days, I have none. I have a morning routine during which I check my e-mail. If something requires a lengthy response, I save it for later. I also check my blog traffic. At lunch, I read any new posts by my favorite bloggers. In the evenings, I write for my blog as I have time.

Blessings and Happy Planning!
Return soon for Plan-It School Series: Preparing for Discipline


Christy said...

Hilarious, and I'm so glad I'm not alone. If it weren't for schedules and lists, I'd be lost. :)

K Low said...

I can identify completely! I have been known to run the washing machine with no clothes in it or to leave the dryer with wet clothes never pushing the start button all night long. I once even looked at my sons to ask where my daughter was. They kindly replied, "Um, your holding her, Mama." Yikes it is scary what we moms can find ourselves doing. Thanks for the tips!

Jessica S. said...

Great Blog...about telemarketers: we don't have that issue in Germany...I guess it's against the law for here, but we do get plenty of paper ads in our mailbox! I also use TheHomeSchoolMom.com for their forms and get the weekly menus for planning! It is a wonderful website... Happy managing!! I do need for help with delegating my sons!! Thanks for the tips!

Heather said...

Have you been spying on our house?

Berry Patch said...

Dawn - I'm really enjoying your "Plan-It" series. We're on the TOS Crew together. ;-) This post made me think of how often I go through the day feeling like I got nothing done but was super busy. LOL

Heather said...

This is not your friend Heather, but Dan her husband:
I am sure, that like your dear husband, when I arrive home 'after leaving it all on the battle field of work' hoping to walk in to the aroma of a splendid crock pot meal to find the same 'technical difficulties' as your crock pot sometime encounters, that {nice run on sentence he?} like your husband, I take deep breath -- inwardly baffled at how difficult it is to plug that pesky crock pot in -- and then respond affirmingly to both my wife's intelligence and sanity. Then to rapidly get shoes (any shoes!) on our four sprouts and gracefully descend upon the nearest Mexican resturant. I know I work hard, but I really know that wives/moms like you and my wife work hard at a whole different level of multi-tasking than I wise enough not to attempt --- except the times when I am home alone with our cubs and darling wife is necessarily out doing battle in the stores and shops of our fare town.

argsmommy said...

Household management is my biggest struggle, but I've really been working on new routines this summer. I love all your suggestions -- thanks!

BluePixo said...

When children see that the family is working together toward a goal, or working together to make life better for one or more members, they are much better able to understand that doing the work of the household is a form of power. They see that their work contributes to the good of all, that they are appreciated, and that they make life better when they pitch in.

*BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*

Molly said...

I just bought myself a new planner yesterday, after missing an appointment for the 2nd time this week! I used to be able to manage my whole life "in my head", never forgetting anything and multi-tasking constantly.

The purchase of the planner represents progress, I guess. At least now I am aware of the fact that either my life is too complicated these days, or my brain too fuzzy....the days of keeping it all straight mentally seem to be gone.

Now if I can only remember to use my planner!!! Sigh...