Now life is about to change again and I'm pulling out my old planning system to assure that the house, and our lives, stay in order. My system is a mixture of fly lady , and franklin covey with my own quirks tossed in for fun and giggles. I have often been asked about this process, which is flattering, yes. So I am going to share it. But before I do each and every one of you has to stand up, raise your right hand and swear that you will not just snag my system. In order for this to really work for you and your family, you have to make it your own. Put your personal stamp on it and off you go! Oh, and you also have to understand, I mean really understand, that my home is not perfect. Right now I am sitting in my kitchen. There is a basket of clean (and folded!) laundry sitting in the living room by the sofa. There are three pairs of little people shoes tossed on the rug by the garage door. There is a little monster truck overturned on the kitchen floor and there is a Lightening McQueen puzzle (all put together by my big four year old!) laying on the other end of the kitchen table. There is laundry sitting in the dryer and toys in the bathtub. And you don't want to even hear about the garage... So repeat after me... beth is not perfect. And to prove it - my four year old showed up at day care today dressed in a black monster truck t-shirt that is at least two sizes too big for him. And I am pretty sure he had peanut butter on his face. (that's my boy!)
To review ; beth is not perfect but has system to keep chaos in some sort of order. This allows beth to breath easily, and relax with loving husband at night in tidy living room with new favorite drink, which I am too embarrassed to tell you about right now. If you agree to all that, then you can read on.
The first step to my process is a family journal. I started with a 1 inch three ring binder and decided that it was too cumbersome and so downsized to the Franklin Covey "classic" size - much more manageable. This book hangs out on my kitchen counter, where I can refer to it frequently. Our family mission statement is front and center on the first page. A calendar sits behind the first tab. This is where I keep track of all family stuff. I tried to blend my work and family schedules once and it was truly an ugly month. Day care outings, church events, play groups, doctors appointments - you know the drill.
The next tab is menus and shopping. Weekly dinner plans and corresponding grocery lists hang out here. These menus and shopping lists are created every Saturday for the upcoming week, since I usually do the grocery shopping on Sundays. For those of you who are already thinking that I am too controlling (and we are only on tab two!), I have to say that while I select a menu for each day I don't always stick to that day when preparing dinner. I know, crazy, right? Sometimes I just throw caution to the wind and make Tuesday's dinner on Monday!
The third tab is weekly chores. This is a really important section as this is what keeps the house clean and orderly. Mainly using the fly lady system I have a morning routine:
- make beds (which is easy these days since the two year sleeps in a crib and the four year old has taken to sleeping backwards and on top of his covers every night- no need to make his bed at all!)
- swish & swipe master bath (straight from fly lady)
- start laundry ( so it never piles up!)
- unload dishwasher
Zone 1 - bedrooms and office (dust, vacuum, change sheets)
Zone 2- master bathroom (very easy to complete because of the daily "swish & swipe")
Zone 3- boys bathroom
Zone 4- living room and dining room (dust and vacuum)
Zone 5- kitchen (counter, appliances and floor)
Zone 6- downstairs bathroom
Less than 15 minutes in each zone, one zone a day Monday through Saturday. The key to this is assuring the boys pick up all their toys every day, which we manage to complete about 80% of the time by pitting our four year old against the clock while we entertain the two year old so that he does not go behind his brother and undo all of his hard work by pulling the toys back out. This daily "beat the timer" game is the only way we have found to get the toys off the floor and into the toy box. If he beats the clock he gets to watch his night night show. If not, he goes to bed.
Other tips to keeping the house clean:
- tidy up the boys bathroom while they are in the tub. Wipe down the counter, sink and mirror, swish and swipe the toilet. The boys love to wipe down their tub when they are done. :)
- I use a dish brush that has a well for soap (so it soaps itself) to clean the shower. It hangs in the shower and I quickly clean one shower wall while the conditioner hangs out in my hair.
- Once a week I try to spend 15 minutes de-cluttering a zone. I set the timer so I don't get too involved and clean out a kitchen cupboard or under a sink.
The next tab has the contact info for all of the various doctors my family frequents. There is a tab with info for each child and one for the babysitter. Take out menus round out the back of the book.
This system works really well for my family. I like the small binder because this allows me to add information as needed, like when I have to be out of town and my husband needs to know what goes in the kid's school lunches, or when I am planning an event, such as my youngest son's upcoming baptism and welcome home luncheon. I can toss the binder in the diaper bag or my briefcase if I need to take it with me or I can stuff it into the bookshelf with the cookbooks. My husband can reference it if he needs to start dinner or check the calendar.
The final piece of this system is our individual clipboards. Each family member (minus my husband) has their very own clipboard hanging on the kitchen wall. We have all decorated our own clipboards and each is labeled with our name. This is how I keep the clutter off the kitchen counter. Everything goes on a board - all birthday party invites, play date notes, letters from other day care moms, school fee slips, sports schedules, music class info- you get the idea. the tons of paper we receive in the mail and drag home from day care every day either goes in the bill holder, to a clipboard, or in the trash. Nothing stays on the counter.
So, what systems work to keep the chaos under control in your family? I am always looking for suggestions!