Tossing Clutter and Expired Medications

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
Today I want you to focus on tossing items that are taking up valuable space in your home. Use your timer and work on your zone mission and monthly habit wherever it fits best in your day. Spend 5 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening if that works for you. The main thing is to just do it. This is anti-procrastination day, so take those consistent steps in getting rid of clutter.
For your zone mission, you are going to check expiration dates on the items in your medication list. If you have expired medications, collect them in a box. You will need to find a proper way of disposing of them in your area. You do not want to flush medications down the toilet, and you do not want to send them to the landfill.
The two safe ways to dispose of expired medications is to take them to your local police department, if they have a pill drop box. Ours has one of these. You can also check with a pharmacy to see if they have a safe way for you to dispose of them.
The only safe way I know to do it at home involves using water and kitty litter. You will need a heavy plastic bag and a large scoop of kitty litter. Dump in the expired medications and add water. You want to soak the kitty litter very well. Let it sit and check to see if things have dissolved. You can dispose of this bag in your trash after this process. The kitty little neutralizes the medications. I learned this from a hospice nurse several years ago.
The second part of your zone mission is to put away the items you have stashed around the house. These are the things that need a permanent home. Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing this. Don’t get carried away and spend hours putting things away.
Your habit of the month is to declutter paper. Spend at least 5 minutes but no more than 15 minutes decluttering paper today. If you are overrun with homeschool papers, focus on those first. If you have mail and bills to sort and shred, do those. Just pick one and start pitching!
Share with me something you are going to do that you have been putting off.
Your Zone Mission today is to toss expired items from the medicine cabinet and put away items from your stash and dash.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is chicken.
Have a blessed day!

Do you have two minutes a day?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
Are you swishing and swiping your bathroom daily? This one daily habit will transform your bathroom. It is a habit that takes less than 2 minutes a day. Can you spare two minutes a day to have a clean bathroom?
Pick a time of the day and swish your toilet and wipe your sink and counter. Done. Do not let your perfectionism keep you in there for 15 minutes. Just spend 2 minutes doing this.
If you have more than one bathroom, then you can switch around which bathroom you use when nature calls. Then do a swish and swipe in each bathroom throughout the day.
Today’s zone mission takes you to the bathroom to clean your waste can. You can either wash it in your tub or shower, or if it’s nice outside, take it outside and use the hose on it.
The second part of your zone mission today is to collect items to donate from your stash and dash area. You might have collected some small items that you just are not using, and I want you to put them in your box of items to donate. Then put the box in your car. Donate them the next time you are out.
These small habits and zone missions really help you clean your home and maintain it. It gives you peace and more free time when you have less clutter in your home to work around.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
Your Zone Mission for today is to wash your bathroom trash can and collect items to donate.
My menu plan for Tuesday is spaghetti.
Have a blessed day!

Decluttering Your Stash and Dash this Week

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
Are you enjoying your weekends and having Family Fun Day on Saturday? My goal each week is to encourage you to work your zone missions and home blessings during the week, so your weekends are for fun and relaxation.
This week we are decluttering in the Main Bathroom and One Extra Room.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 3 Missions: The Main Bathroom & One Extra Room
Monday - Wipe Around Toilet & Toss Stuff from Stash and Dash
Tuesday – Clean Bathroom Trash Can & Collect Items to Donate from Stash and Dash
Wednesday - Toss Expired Stuff from Medicine Cabinet & Put Away Things from Stash and Dash
Thursday – Shine Bathroom Sink and Counter & Toss Items from Stash and Dash
Friday – Mop Bathroom Floor & Do a 27 Fling Boogie
Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!
Each month when we are in Zone 3, you can pick the extra room you declutter. I have suggestions for you above, but I want you to make this yours. Get rid of things by throwing them away or giving them away. For the things you want to keep, find a home for them.
Here’s your recap of the Weekly Zone Missions.
On Monday, wipe around the toilet in the Main Bathroom. If you have more than one bathroom, ask for help and get them all done today. Then go to your Stash and Dash area and toss stuff that you do not need.
On Tuesday, clean the bathroom trash can. You can do it outside and let it soak. Collect items from your Stash and Dash areas to donate.
On Wednesday, toss expired items from the medicine cabinet. Dispose of items in a safe manner. Our local pharmacy and police department have safe recycle bins for medications. You do not want to flush expired medications or send them to the landfill by putting them in the trash. Improperly disposed of medications can contaminate ground water.
On Thursday, shine your bathroom sink and counter area. Go back to your Stash and Dash area and toss some more items.
On Friday, Mop the bathroom floor. Do a 27 Fling Boogie through your home. This is your last zone mission of the week. You can do it!
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to wipe around the toilet.
My menu plan for Monday is chicken and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Teaching Your Children to Bless Their Homes

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
Is your kitchen shining today? This week’s zone missions were designed to help you spend just a few minutes a day decluttering and shining your kitchen. If you did not do them all, it’s okay. Give yourself a pat on the back for what you did get done.
This week was a busy week for me, and I did my zone missions right after dinner each night. That is just where it fit in my day, and it was easy to do them as we all pitched in to clean the kitchen after dinner.
Your homeschool schedule might be very full during the day, so that is why I like to share with you how I get my zone missions done when I have a busy week.
My Home Blessings are done during my morning routine each day as the boys are getting started on school work. On Fridays, they help with the floors. It takes time to figure out where things fit, but it is well worth it when it becomes a routine.
Teaching your children habits will go with them as they grow up, so don’t be afraid to include them in blessing your home. Teach them to pick up behind themselves. Make it fun to fold laundry with your children. Give them small cloths to dust when you are dusting or cleaning the windows.
When you finish a meal, teach your children to clear their place at the table. They can scrape their plates, rinse their dishes, and put them in the dishwasher. If you hand-wash, they can help with that as long as you are careful with glass and knives.
Swish and swipe in the bathroom is another way to teach your children to bless their homes. Keep your supplies handy for a quick swipe and a quick swish. It does not have to be perfect. It’s better to do it imperfectly than to not do it at all.
Use a simple sorting process for the laundry and show everyone in the house how it is sorted when they take their clothes off.
Simple routines shared among all of the family members makes it easy to bless yourself with a clean and peaceful home.
Send me pictures of your progress this week in zone 2!
Today’s Zone Mission is to sweep and mop the kitchen.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Moving Tips

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
For the next several days, I am going to help someone I love very much move into a new home. Since I have lived in the same house for 29 years, I have not moved very many times as an adult. I also did not move a lot in my childhood, but I do understand the moving process. I have learned many things from The FlyLady, and her system can be applied to moving.
You need to take things one step at a time, and you need to let go of some things in the process.
If you have time to plan a move well ahead of time, you can start with decluttering daily. You need to think of the size of the home you may move into. Is it larger or smaller?
You will need to think of HOW you are going to move your stuff. Will you be limited to the size of moving truck you will have? You might not know the answers to these questions if you are months away from moving, but you do need to consider these things as you are decluttering. If you don’t love something, you really need to consider if it is worth moving.
When you are ready to start packing boxes, start with stuff you do not use often. Write on the box the room it goes in or the contents of the box on the outside. Then write a number 1 on it. As you pack up boxes, keep numbering them in order.
You can keep an inventory log in your Control Journal. Write down the box number, room it goes in, and the contents on your inventory list. I would suggest keeping the list in an Office in a Bag, so it is secure and nothing falls out when you zip it closed.
Your numbering system will grow, and that is okay. Don’t worry about it. The last boxes you pack will have the highest numbers and will hold your most important things to unpack first.
As you pack boxes, use your timer to keep you from over-doing it, and keep your water bottle refilled. You need to hydrate while you are packing. Toss items that you do not love and want to bless someone else with. Keep a box for donations handy, and keep a trash can handy.
If you hire people to help you load and unload the moving truck, you will need to mark boxes fragile if they contain breakable items. Use a red marker to write this on the boxes.
Use color coding with your tape or markers if you want to designate different rooms by color. If you pack food items, use plastic storage boxes or plastic zipper bags. This will help prevent spills, hopefully.
When the moving truck is unloaded, you can tell your helpers to use the notes on the boxes to put them in the appropriate room.
As you start unpacking, start with the highest numbers to access you most-used items first, and then work your way through the boxes from the highest number to the lowest numbers.
Over the course of mentoring ladies, I have learned a lot about the unpacking process. You need to deal with your boxes in a timely manner. If they stay packed up for more than a year, you probably don’t need those items very badly. Write a date on the box that you want to be finished with unpacking.
Today’s Zone Mission is to wipe the stove top and fridge.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!

Are your routines becoming habits?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
Dear Friends,
What routines do you have firmly in place?
The ones that stick even when your world seems upside down are your habits.
We all go through seasons of change in our lives. I went through the season of life of being newly married to parenthood. There were many changes in those years. There were some routines that I had established at that time, and there were a lot of things I was not doing.
We continued having children, and with each child, new routines were forged. Schedules were changed to accommodate nap times and bedtimes.
What I saw was that young children liked routines and predictability.
When I started following the FlyLady, there were certain routines that I was already doing really well, and there were things that I struggled to do on a regular basis. I did not jump right into all of the routines at once.
There are some of you who are reading this who feel overwhelmed with adding in new routines and decluttering. That is okay. You just need to start with one thing and build from there over time.
The FlyLady has you practice one habit a month, so you have a pretty big grace period to work on your routines.
The FlyLady wants you to start with shining your kitchen sink for a month. As you practice this routine, and it becomes a habit, you can just jump into the current Habit of the Month.
In October, we declutter paper. This is an excellent habit for homeschoolers to practice. In November, we will work on menu planning. This habit saves us money and time.
The routines are practical, and they work no matter what season of life you are in. If you have small children at home, you will practice some of the habits with them. If you have older children, you will include them in blessing your home. They will also practice some of the habits with you, like getting dressed down to the lace up shoes.
Throughout the summer and this fall, we have been through a very difficult time with our family. Even on the hardest days, my routines stayed firmly in place. I am so accustomed to my routines that I don’t think about doing them. I just do them one thing at a time. This gave me much peace on a day that felt less than peaceful.
The only times I skip parts of my routines are the times when I am so sick that I cannot get out of bed. I keep my routines basic with what The FlyLady suggests. Each part of the routine has a purpose. There is no fluff.
If you are having a lot of change in your life, practice the routines until they are habits. It will help you have a feeling of peace.
Have you decluttered paper this month? After you finish reading this, spend 5 minutes tossing paper. Then check on your kitchen sink.
It’s anti-procrastination day, too. Share with me something you are going to do that you have been putting off.
Your Zone Mission today is to scrub your kitchen faucet.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is chicken and rice.
Have a blessed day!

Top 10 Things You are Procrastinating

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 

Dear Friends,
Each night I take a look at my calendar for the next day, and I look at my master To Do List. I write down 3 things I want to do the next day. Some days that might be a portion of a bigger project.
I have learned a lot about being patient with the time it takes me to do a bigger project. When I work on a large project around the house, I do something small to put it back together. I am discerning about what I put back and where I put it. I have a giveaway box for things I do not want to put back when I am redoing a room.
Bigger projects are hard to do when you are homeschooling. You have to choose a time that you can have your school schedule changed for a day or two. For instance, if you need to paint a room, choose a time to do it when you can take a break from regular school work. You can teach your children life skills with painting a room, but you have to realize that the paperwork part of school work might be on hold for several days.
Some of you put off parts of your basic routines, zone missions, or home blessings. In talking to many of you, I can list the ten things you put off the most in caring for your home.
The Top Ten Things You Procrastinate:
1.  Swish and Swipe
Spend 2 minutes a day doing a quick swish of your toilet and a quick swipe of the sink and counter. Make it easy by not keeping a lot of items on your counters. I find it easiest to do this right after my morning shower. It is a habit that I don’t think about it. I just do it.
2.  Laying Out Your Clothes for the Next Day
For many homeschool moms, you wonder why in the world would you need to lay out clothes the night before. Laying your clothes out the night before saves you time in the morning. You won’t have to think about what to put on. Your clothes will just be there ready to put on. You won’t skip a beat and can get dressed in a flash!
3.  Dusting
Some of you have a mental block about dusting. It’s a holdover from being told there is only one way to dust by taking everything off the shelf or flat surface and dusting each item one by one. During the Weekly Home Blessing, your dusting time is just supposed to take a few minutes. You use a feather duster and dust quickly around the items on the flat surfaces. When we do the monthly Zone Missions, we move things around to detail dust.
4.  Cleaning Out the Fridge
Who has a science experiment or two in the back of their fridge right now? Take 10 minutes each week to evict the leftovers and science experiments. This is best done on the day you put the trash out. Once a month, we have missions in the kitchen. Use one of those missions to check expiration dates on the condiments in the fridge.
5.  Vacuuming
Some of you like to vacuum and make pretty lines in your carpet. When you are raising a young family and homeschooling, vacuuming is one of the things that you don’t get around to as often as you used to. That is ok. Once a week, spend 10 minutes vacuuming the high traffic areas of your home. Vacuum around the stuff that is on the floor. Once a month, you can use your Zone Mission time to move furniture and vacuum around it. The biggest tip I have for you in floor maintenance, is to teach your children to pick up behind themselves on a daily basis. That one thing will help your floors look better.
6.  Sweeping and/or Mopping
When is the last time you swept and mopped? This is something that is done well as a team. When we do out floors, one person sweeps, and a second person comes behind them with the mop. It goes so much faster that way. Someone sweeps under the table and in the entryway daily. It is a quick two-minute mission that helps keep my floors maintained.
7.  Decluttering Paper
We all have paper, and this month our focus is on getting rid of paper daily. Use your timer and let go of paper. Play a 27 Fling Boogie in getting rid of paper. Get rid of 27 pieces of paper per day. You will see a difference by the end of the month, if you are consistent with this Habit of the Month.
8.  Paying Bills
For many reasons, sitting down to pay bills gets put off. I have heard many reasons for this one habit. It is a part of running a household. It’s not fun, and sometimes budgets are really tight. But you need to sit down once a week to pay bills and review your budget. This will keep you from overspending.
9.  Going to Bed at a Decent Hour
Who are my night owls? Our days are full and busy and noisy. Once the kids go to bed at night, it becomes Mommy time. There are many ways we like to spend our quiet time after the kids are in bed. Use a timer and don’t get sucked into electronics that keep you up too late at night. You need your rest, and if you want some quiet time, set your alarm to get up before your children in the morning.
10.  Getting Dressed to the Lace Up Shoes Each Morning (See #2)
When you lay out your clothes at night, be sure to include your shoes and socks. Ask your children to do the same thing. Then, you have everything you need to get ready in the morning without thinking about it. You are also going to be able to get everyone out the door quickly if the need arises.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. These are just the ones that I have learned in mentoring ladies the last three years that they need to work on regularly.
Tell me what you are procrastinating. Am I on target with my list?
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
Your Zone Mission for today is to wipe your kitchen counters.
My menu plan for Tuesday is hamburgers.
Have a blessed day!

Happy Fall, Y’All! We are decluttering in the Kitchen this week.

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 


Dear Friends,
We are moving along into the fall season. It’s still quite warm here in North Carolina though, and I am wondering if the pumpkins used for decoration are going to be baked pumpkins. It is nice riding around and seeing porch decorations and staying cool with the air conditioning on in the car.
This week we are decluttering in the Kitchen. Your kitchen is where you cook and nourish your family. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day caring for your kitchen.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 2 Missions: The Kitchen
Monday - Clean and Wash Your Kitchen Trash Can
Tuesday – Wipe the Kitchen Counters
Wednesday - Scrub Your Kitchen Faucet
Thursday – Wipe the Stove top and Fridge
Friday – Sweep and Mop the Kitchen
Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!
If you have an island in your kitchen, that is a clutter hot spot. I know this because I have one. It is a daily routine for me to work on the kitchen island clutter. It has to be a part of my routine, or the clutter would take over the whole island. Spend 5 minutes a day decluttering the flat surface in your kitchen where your clutter accumulates.
Here’s your recap of the Weekly Zone Missions.
On Monday, empty your trash and wash out your kitchen trash can. It’s surprising what is lurking down in the bottom of your kitchen trash can.
On Tuesday, wipe your kitchen counters. You might have to declutter a bit to do this, but don’t turn this into a big production. Use your timer to keep you focused and on task.
On Wednesday, scrub your kitchen faucet. If you haven’t shined your kitchen sink this week, go ahead and shine it while you are cleaning the kitchen faucet.
On Thursday, wipe your stove top and fridge. If this goes quickly, wipe all of your kitchen appliances that are sitting out on the counters.
On Friday, sweep and mop the kitchen. This is your last zone mission of the week. You can do it!
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to empty, clean, and wash the kitchen trash can.
My menu plan for Monday is round steak and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Taking Time to Take Care of Yourself

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 

Dear Friends,
How are you doing with your self-care? Busy moms tend to put off self-care. They take care of everyone else. They burn the candle at both ends. They get tired and burned out. They skip taking care of themselves.
When you think about self-care, you don’t really know where to start. You feel guilty for thinking about taking care of your needs.
A wise woman said something to me this week, and it stuck with me.
Life takes time.
Allow yourself time to take care of yourself.
-       Caroline
Let that sink in for a minute.
Taking care of yourself is an important job. Your health depends on you taking care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, you are taking care of your family’s caregiver.
This same wise woman told me that she had an important job. It was to take care of herself, so she could take care of her family.
She has learned well from what The FlyLady has been telling us for years.
Simple Steps to Taking Care of Yourself:
1)     Get enough rest
How many of you stay up late at night?
When you stay up late at night, it makes it hard to get up the next morning. Often, even when you get up, you are still tired. Working on your Before Bed Routine, and pay careful attention to the last step.
Go to bed at a decent hour.
Some of you have babies and small children. You might be awakened at night. If you are the season of life with little ones in the house, establish afternoon naps or rest time for everyone. Use an alarm, so you don’t fall asleep for too long in the afternoon. This will not help you get to sleep at night, but a 30 minute power nap will give you a little boost when you have interrupted sleep at night.
2)     Drink water daily
Do you know how much water you need to drink daily?
The best way I keep up with how much water I drink is to take my weight and divide it in half. That is how many ounces of water that I need each day. In the summer, I need a bit more than that. But it is a good general rule of thumb in determining how much water you should drink daily.
Water cleanses your body. It hydrates you. It gives you energy and keeps you from being dehydrated. Drinking water helps your skin. Drinking water has many benefits. Use a refillable cup or bottle and drink up!
3)     Exercise
Your body needs daily movement.
Movement stimulates your circulatory system. It helps boost your metabolism and gives you energy. I know that sounds like it would have the opposite effect, but regular movement helps your energy level to go up.
You do not have to have an elaborate exercise routine. You can go outside with your children and walk for 15 minutes around the yard while they play.
You can play ball with them in the yard. You can get up early and do an exercise video before the children get up. You can find a friend who wants a walking partner and walk daily.
Don’t let lack of finances keep you from exercising. You do not have to spend a lot of money to exercise. You need a decent pair of tennis shoes to support your feet.
4)     Eat healthy food
Eating healthy can cost more at the grocery store than pre-packaged convenience foods, but you will reap rewards in better health. Eat a balanced diet that suits your body’s needs.
I love bread and pasta, but my stomach hurts when I eat gluten. I have had to eat more vegetables and gluten-free foods. It’s worth the research in finding gluten-free alternatives. I am always reminded at the Holidays when I have tasty treats that are not gluten free and my stomach pain comes back.
Use your menu planning time to plan new recipes. Incorporate more vegetables in your menu planning. Prep food ahead of time to make it easy to cook each day. Teach your children to cook and enjoy spending time teaching them healthy food options.
5)     Relax and do something you enjoy
Do you remember what your hobbies use to be? Do you still take time to do any of them? Your interests may change over time, but you need to do something you enjoy on a regular basis. You need to relax and unwind. Being a homeschool mom is a lot of work, and you need to take care of yourself.
6)     Have a regular date night
Do you have regular dates with your spouse? You need this time for your relationship. One day the children will be grown and gone, and you will want to have a good relationship with your spouse. You don’t want to get to that point in life and realize that you have neglected your marriage relationship. This is still a part of self-care even if it involves someone else. Nurture your relationship.
Hopefully, I have given you some ideas and inspiration to take care of yourself daily.
Send me pictures of your progress this week in zone 1!
Today’s Zone Mission is to dust high and low in the Dining Room.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Have a wonderful weekend!

What do I do with my children’s artwork?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 

Dear Friends,
Someone asked me to write about my children’s artwork and keepsakes. How do I know what to keep and what to toss?
With six children, I have to be careful with how much of their school work I keep. I have found that when they grow up and move out, they don’t always take their keepsake boxes with them. (smile)
When we do our school work, I toss worksheets fairly often. Usually, I toss them weekly, but with my high schoolers, it is more like monthly. If they write a paper that I want to keep, I put it in a binder for that school year. Most of our work is done on the computer, so it is just saved there.
If they have a notebook or binder for a subject, such as science, I leave their lab sheets and worksheets in there for the school year. During the summer, I will clean these out and toss most of it. Occasionally, I will keep a diagram.
During our years in 4-H, each of the children made project books yearly. I still have all of these in a crate. There are not a lot of them, and they fit nicely where I have them stored. A lot of effort went into the project books, and I kept any ribbons or awards they won in each booklet.
We have done a lot of hands on learning and created a lot of projects. For some of these, I kept the project intact, but for most of them, I have pictures of the project on my computer. It’s fun to look back at those projects and pictures, but they do not take up a lot of space in my house.
In my school cabinet, I have a drawer that holds some artwork from each child. It’s not a huge stack, but it is the stuff that makes me happy to go back and look at from time to time.
When I pull out my Christmas decorations, I have a couple of boxes of hand-made ornaments. I cherish these and enjoy the memories that come back to me each year as I go through these boxes.
You can enjoy your children’s artwork and projects, but you do not have to keep every single thing they make. First, toss the easy stuff, like worksheets. You don’t want to take up valuable storage space with math worksheets.
Then, go through your children’s artwork. Establish a place to keep the special items. Take pictures of everything. You can have one memory box for you, or you can set up boxes for each child. That is a personal choice you need to make.
Share some of your children’s artwork with friends and family. That is a way to bless someone else with your child’s efforts, and it is a way of making your child feel special to brighten someone else’s day.
Do any of you have a special way you store your children’s artwork?
Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter in the interior area of your entryway. This may be your launch pad area.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is sweet and sour chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!