Guiding Your Children to Clean Their Room

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
Take a minute and go look at your child’s bedroom. How does it look? If it needs cleaning, your first inclination is likely to tell your child to go clean his or her bedroom. This is usually not met with success because they don’t know where to start.
(You can download the Homeschool Student Control Journal from the FlyLady’s website, and it contains these Zones for their rooms plus pages to help them with the routines.)
You can help them take control of cleaning their room by giving them Zones to work in for each cleaning session.
Break the room down into Zones. Most bedrooms can be broken down into 4 or 5 areas:
Zone 1 – the bed, nightstand, and under the bed
Zone 2 – The Closet
Zone 3 – The Floor
Zone 4 – Desk and other flat surfaces
Zone 5 – The adjacent bathroom, if they have one.
Another way to break it down into 4 Zones would be to divide the room into fourths and use each wall as the directions.
Zone 1 – The wall where the door is. Clean the area along that wall and the floor.
Zone 2 – The wall with the closet. Clean the floor in front of the closet and the closet.
Zone 3 – Wall 3 where the bed is. This would include the bed, floor, and furniture around the bed.
Zone 4 – Wall 4 where the desk or dresser or other flat surfaces are located and the floor in that area.
When you tell them to clean an area in their room, you need to give them the tools they will need. If they are changing their sheets, have an extra set of clean sheets ready, so they can strip the bed and remake it immediately.
Teach them to wash, dry, fold, and put away their bedding and clothes.
If they need to do a big declutter project in their room, give them boxes labeled, Throw Away, Put Away, and Give Away. Tell them that they have to find a place for everything they want to keep.
If their dresser needs cleaning out, have them do one drawer per day for a week. If they need to clean out their closet, tell them to only pull out what they can put back in an hour. They might have to stage out how to clean out their entire closet. You don’t want to burn them out on an all-day closet clean out.
Help them break it down by shelves in the closet, the hanging stuff in the closet, and the floor of the closet. Tell them they can only keep what fits neatly in the closet.
If they need to clean their flat surfaces in their room, provide the same boxes for them to sort the stuff. Then give them the tools to dust their flat surfaces. If you can convince them to keep fewer things on their flat surfaces, they can do a quick dusting in their room once a week.
If they have a desk in their room, have them clear it off and only put back what they need to have available to do their homework. If their desk drawers need to be cleaned out, have them clean out one drawer per day.
If their bedroom floor is covered with clean clothes and dirty clothes, it’s time to introduce them to doing their own laundry. Teach them how to sort their clothes. Then make sure they do all 4 steps of the laundry process: wash, dry, fold/hang, put away.
Only let them keep the clothes that they can store reasonably in their room. They can store off-season clothes somewhere else in the house, if you have a place for that. Have them clean their bedroom floor and vacuum it.
Work with them weekly on consistently keeping their floor picked up, the flat surfaces clean, and their bedding changed.
If your child has an adjacent bathroom, you should also provide them with the tools and training to clean his or her bathroom. Teach them to do a quick, daily swish of the toilet with the bowl brush and a quick swipe with a cloth around the sink and in the sink. Once a week, they should wipe down their shower and/or tub. The daily maintenance will take less than two minutes and will eliminate the need for a major deep cleaning of the bathroom.
They can do this! You need to give them the tools to do it.
Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter anywhere in the house.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is rotisserie chicken and a salad.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Testing Thoughts

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Each state has different homeschool laws. In my home state, after age 7, our homeschool students have to take an annual standardized test. I do not like to stress them out about this test. It is to fulfill the state requirement.

As their teacher, I know where they are strong academically, and I know where they are weak. I don’t need a test to tell me that.
One thing it does help them to have an experience with a test where you fill in the bubble. They will likely experience this type of testing if they go to college.

If you child has to take a standardized test, look into your options and know your state requirements. Some private schools allow homeschool students to test alongside their students for a fee.

You can find online standardized tests that are not expensive, if you have multiple children who need to test. You can choose between an online test or a paper test depending on the company. I prefer the computerized version.

One of my children needed to take the test without a timer due to some learning issues. We found a tester who worked with him on testing without the pressure of a timer. We also used a test that was largely oral with a small component of writing.

If my state did not require a standardized test, I don’t know that I would do it. But since I have had to do this every year, it is a nice gauge for me to look back at their progress from year to year.
Do you have questions about testing? I don’t have all of the answers, but I am willing to listen if you have questions.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter your desk top.

Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.

My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and veggies.

Have a great day!
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Decluttering a Little at a Time

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

As we are approaching another Holiday, have you bought new clothes for yourself or your children? If so, spend 15 minutes today decluttering as many clothing items as you purchased. If you have a frame of mind to let go of one item each time you bring a new one in, you will stay on top of clutter.

If you have a lot of excess, you might need to let go of two things for each new thing. Letting go is sometimes hard for children. They have favorite clothes and toys. Just keep encouraging them to let go of things that are worn out or outgrown. Set the example by letting go of things you no longer need.

Allow your children to keep a certain number of items for sentimental reasons and establish how it is to be stored. Once they hit the limit on storage space, then you can talk to them about letting go of things again. Each of my children has a special blanket, stuffed animal, and the outfit he or she wore home from the hospital. Then, they each have a small box of special toys. The older ones have taken their things, except for the box of school papers I saved for my daughter. I still have it.

Don’t hang onto all of their used school books and school papers. Share the books you don’t need any longer with someone else. Take pictures of their artwork and share it with others.

If you have a box or boxes from your childhood, take a look at it one day. There are things there you have not seen for years. Do you still want to hold on to it?
Have you moved and not unpacked some of the boxes? You probably have some clutter you can let go of fairly painlessly. If it has been boxed up for more than a year, and you have not used it, you can likely get rid of it.

Do you have boxes hiding in your Master closet that you have been avoiding decluttering? Pull one out this week and get rid of it.

Tell me where your biggest area of clutter is. Spend 2 minutes a day decluttering items in this area.

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter in the school room and purge papers.

Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe your windows and mirrors.

My menu plan for Wednesday is taco soup.

Have a great day!
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Teaching Your Children Life Skills

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Teaching Your Children Life Skills

We teach our children from books, but we also teach them through living life. Having a balance between book learning and real-life learning will help your children be ready for adulthood. My goal has always been to ignite a love of learning in my children and give them the tools to find the answers they need. Even as adults, we are still learning.

When I am teaching my children life skills, I use the teamwork approach to everything we do around the house. We have a great support system for getting things done. We do laundry from start to finish together from the time they are young. By the time they are teenagers, they are able to do their own laundry each week and wash their bedding. This is an essential skill for when they move out of the family home.

We menu plan, shop, and cook together. When we finish a meal, we work together to clean up. We rotate through who does what aspect of the cooking and cleaning, so they have a good knowledge base of the whole system. I teach them how to follow a recipe, and there have been times when I let them follow a recipe incorrectly. They learned valuable lessons from that. It’s easy to jump in and rescue them, but it is so much better for their learning process if they make a mistake and learn from it. I have one teenager who can take basic ingredients and create a tasty meal from them without a recipe to follow. We all like it when he is the Head Chef of the Day.

Another way we learn together is in doing our Home Blessings. We do a different task each day, and we rotate who does which task. That way, each one of them is exposed to all aspects of cleaning a house. The biggest lesson they learned was that it is much easier to clean the house if you pick up behind yourself each day. They also learned that they have to sweep less if they clean their shoes off before they come into the house. A lot of the things we do or don’t do around the house are cause and effect situations.

We also work together on home maintenance and home renovation projects. This has really helped them figure out things they really enjoy that they are good at doing. We have pulled up flooring and painted, and we have done routine things such as cleaning gutters and changing air filters. If I have a project around the house, I always invite one or more of them to help me. From this, I have gained a hair stylist, a plumber, and a landscaper. Three of my children have found things they are very good at doing, and they get paid for doing it.

They have also been taught basic car maintenance and safety. It’s important that they know how to handle basic car maintenance and know when to take a vehicle to a mechanic. One of my children is fascinated with engines and has taken a small engine repair class. He had great satisfaction in taking a non-working engine from a junk yard and fixing it. The joy on his face when the engine cranked was amazing.

Teenagers also need to know how to budget and do basic bookkeeping functions. Once they move out of the house, they are responsible for making money and paying their bills. It is important that they learn these skills while they still have the safety net of living at home. We talk about savings accounts, checking accounts, debit cards, and credit cards.

Everything I do to teach my children is geared toward helping them to be ready for adulthood. So far we have two young adult children who live on their own and have jobs they love.

Today’s Zone Mission is to toss old cosmetics and declutter 1 bathroom drawer.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

My menu plan for Tuesday is cheeseburger bake.
Have a blessed day!
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Toy Patrol – Getting Organized

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


None of us like to walk through the house in the middle of the night with Lego landmines on the floor. The first thing to do in maintaining control of the toys is to purge, purge, purge. You can do this with your children’s help. Set a timer and have two bags handy. One bag is for trash. The other bag is for the toys to donate.

The toys that you are keeping need to be sorted into types of toys and have a place to be kept. This will be the start of your toy rotation. For us, we sort by cars and trucks, Legos, building blocks, trains, Nerf guns, and balls.

For our daughter, I used to sort hers by dolls, stuffed animals, kitchen toys, dress-up clothes, building blocks, and doll house stuff.
By sorting their toys by type, I would allow them to keep 1 to 2 plastic bins of toys. The rest went into the storage area in the garage. Every month or so, we would take a bin out to the garage and switch out.

When I was homeschooling my two oldest, I kept a bin of special toys for the little ones that they only got to play with during school time. I would rotate those out regularly, too. This gave them something different to play with during school time and allowed for quiet play while I was teaching.

While not considered toys, I also sorted our craft materials by type, and I allowed the children access to certain craft materials when they wanted to make something. I kept the paints and glitter glue put away higher than the littlest ones could access. I also kept markers stored higher in the cabinet as well. I encourage them to make things and to be creative, but I kept control of the items when I had lots of little ones. If it doesn’t fit in my storage area for crafts, then we don’t need it.

If you have a child who is resistant to letting go of toys, you can use a few approaches. First, talk to them about other children who do not have as much as they have. Encourage them to donate toys to other children. There are many homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters who need toy donations. For small toys that you get in kids’ meals, many school teachers like to have donations of these items for a class reward jar. Operation Christmas Child also accepts donations in the fall for shoe boxes filled with small items. There are many ways to donate toys.

Another way to encourage children to let go of their excess toys is to let them have a yard sale and keep the proceeds. Children can be very motivated to sell toys they are not playing with if they are saving their money for a bigger ticket item. Let them start a yard sale box this winter, and in the spring, you can help them pick a date for a yard sale.

After you and the children have decluttered and sorted the toys, you need to decide on where you want to them keep their toys. Many children keep their toys in their bedrooms. This can lead to making it difficult for them to maintain their bedroom, so you might consider having them keep their toys in a playroom, family room, or basement. By not keeping the toys in their bedroom, you are giving them less stuff in their room, and this leads to a more peaceful place for them. It’s hard to fall asleep with clutter and stuff all around you.
As I have older children and younger children, I have kept the quality toys that I want to have for my grandchildren to play with in the future. I have kept our wooden train set and several of my daughter’s dolls. My two youngest still play with Legos and building blocks, and I don’t ever see myself purging those items. But I have no problem letting go of cheap, plastic toys. I want to foster a peaceful, learning environment for my children.

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter bathroom counters and wipe down.

Your Home Blessing for today is to wash sheets.

My menu plan for Monday is shepherd’s pie and a salad.

Have a great day!


Zone Missions: Zone 3
Monday – Declutter bathroom counters & wipe down

Tuesday – Toss old cosmetics and declutter 1 bathroom drawer

Wednesday –  Declutter in the School Room — Purge Papers

Thursday – Declutter your Desk Area

Friday – Declutter Anywhere in the House
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Starting Your Day off on the Right Foot

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool
Starting Your Day off on the Right Foot



How does a typical morning start for you? Over the years, I discovered the secret to starting my day off on the right foot. I get up at least an hour before my children get up. Some mornings, I get up two hours before my children. This allows me to do my morning routine and have a little quiet time before the children are up and need my attention.

Of course, when I had babies and toddlers in the house, I did not get up that much earlier that they did. In those years, I tried to get up 15 minutes before they did. This gave me time to go to the bathroom and have a cup of coffee.

Most of us have had the experience of barely being able to go to the bathroom alone once we have children, and it’s nice to not have little ones banging on the bathroom door or sticking their hands under the door. Now, I do have to go to bed at a decent hour if I want to get up before the children get up. If I am staying up until midnight, it is harder to get up before the children get up.

What do I do with my early morning time before the children get up? My morning routine is important to me. I like to have time to eat my breakfast and drink my coffee and have my quiet time. Then, I will do some exercising.

Exercise DVD’s and online videos are awesome for early morning workouts. Having a treadmill or elliptical machine in the basement or garage also makes a great way to work out before the children are out of bed. After I exercise, I get my shower and start a load of laundry. Then, it’s time to wake the children up and start their breakfast. Then we are all ready to start school after their morning routine and breakfast time.

While I have used this schedule for our homeschool, it is also applicable for those who work outside of the home and have children to get ready for school.

By starting the night before with laying out clothes and putting things needed near the front door, you can have a smoother exit from the house. You will also want to get up before your children, but you might only get up 30 minutes to an hour before them to get your morning routine accomplished before you get them out of bed.

This routine has made my mornings start off so much more peacefully, and it is worth going to bed earlier at night to have my smooth morning routine.


Today’s Zone Mission is to wipe the stove and microwave.

Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.

My menu plan for Friday is pizza and a salad.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Too Many Activities and Tight Schedules

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Do you always feel like you are rushing and not accomplishing anything?

Over the years I have talked to a lot of women about home organization, and how hard it is for them to maintain a clean home. When we start talking about outside activities, we discover that it is difficult to keep home cleaning routines in place when the schedule is so busy.

Lots of outside activities equals less time at home. If activities keep you out of the house several days a week, it is hard to get the laundry done from start to finish on a regular basis. Piles of laundry start forming, and if it is not getting folded and put away, you will likely find clean laundry in the midst of the dirty laundry.

A basic cleaning schedule is also hard to maintain. You will have to be creative with the time that you do have at home to keep the laundry done and keep the house clean. You will have to use a teamwork approach. Everyone needs to pitch in and help. A huge help in keeping your home clean is to ask each person to pick up behind themselves.

If you have too much stuff, you need to declutter. If you have a place for everything, it is easy to put everything away. If you have perpetual piles of stuff to deal with, spend 5 minutes a day purging. Keep a box in your car at all times with items to donate. When you have a few minutes to declutter, take the items to give away to your car immediately. That will get it out of your house.

If you schedule is so busy that it stresses you out daily, consider dropping some things from your schedule. I have limited outside activities for the past two years, and my stress level is so much lower. My children are happier, too. They have enjoyed the slower pace to pursue things they enjoy, and they have been able to do that from home. The goal to have a clean home and less busy schedule is the peace that it will bring your family.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter leftovers from the fridge.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and veggies.
Have a great day!
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I am not perfect

Growing up most of us heard a common phrase when we helped around the house. “Do it right the first time, or don’t do it at all.” This one phrase has frozen many of us into inaction. We don’t want to start cleaning because it might not measure up to an unrealistic expectation.

I am not perfect. My house is not perfect. My kids are not perfect.

My goal is for us to make forward progress each day. Some days we stumble and fall. Then we get back up and try again.

If you have problems getting motivated to bless your house because you don’t have time or energy or want to do it perfect, I want you to tell yourself, “Good enough is good enough.”

By this I mean, if you do a quick dust of your house, that it is good enough. You don’t have to move every single thing to dust every week. Dust around your decorative items. Once a month, you can do a detail dusting and move the decorative items around.

You can use this same philosophy with vacuuming the house and sweeping. Hit the high traffic areas once a week. Once a month, do a detailed vacuuming job. That’s when you move furniture and get underneath your furniture.

Once a week, do a quick mop unless you have small children. Then you might need to do a quick mop daily, if they are in the floor a lot.

You can also make your bed quickly in the morning and just be done with it. You don’t need hospital corners and a stack of decorative pillows put out. Get up. Straighten your side of the bed. Fluff your pillow. Do the same on the other side, unless someone else is sleeping there!

How about the bathroom? You can do a daily wipe down of the shower/tub, sinks and counter, and clean the toilet in less than 2 minutes. I have timed myself. I do this every single morning after my shower. That means no more deep cleaning my bathroom.

Everything I have talked about above boils down to setting up routines and making small steps forward. The goal is to just do them, so there is time to have fun and enjoy life! Once you get into these habits, you can do them in minutes a day or in a minutes each week. It’s all in your perspective. Banish those negative thoughts.

Your Zone Mission today is decutter one area in the kitchen.

Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe your windows and mirrors.

My menu plan for Wednesday is spaghetti and a salad.

Have a great day!
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The Benefits of Routines

Developing Routines

We’ve all heard it. Routines make your life easier. Routines bring a sense of calm to your life. Where do you start establishing routines?

Over the years, I have learned to pinpoint those routines that we do daily that are necessary to life, such as eating and drinking. Then, there are other routines that are important, such as a daily bath and brushing your teeth twice a day. After that, there are lots of routines that will improve your quality of life and bring peace into your life.

When life is busy, having routines helps you get through the craziness by giving you a sense of order and purpose. Adults and children both do well with routines. It’s important to note that we should not become driven by the clock to rush from thing to thing.

The routines are our guide, but there are times and situations when you revert to the most important routines and the extra little routines you enjoy might go to the wayside for a bit. Don’t let yourself get so caught up in your routines that you are a slave to them.

To develop routines, take a look at your daily and weekly schedule. Decide what things you need to accomplish in the evenings before you go to bed. By having a solid evening routine in place, you are setting your morning up for a peaceful start. What things make you happy to have ready in the morning? Put these things in your evening routine.

Mine are, as follows:

  • Set up the coffee pot and set the timer.
  • Look at the calendar, so I know what I am doing the next day.
  • Check the weather.
  • Lay out my clothes.
  • Make sure my sink is shiny.
  • Check the menu plan for dinner the next day and move frozen meat to the refrigerator to start thawing.
  • Lay out anything I might need if I am leaving the house early.
  • Wash my face.
  • Brush my teeth.
  • Go to bed.
That might look long or complicated, but I can do it on auto-pilot. I have done it for years. Very little changes in my evening routine even when life is crazy. All of these things work to make my morning start off smoothly, and we all like to have that.

My morning routine is much shorter than my evening routine, unless you factor in the time it take me to exercise. I have streamlined my morning routine to the basics that need to be done before I start school with my children.

It would be very similar if I have a job to go to every morning. My morning routine starts before I wake the boys up. This means I get up very early in the morning, but I prefer it that way.

My morning routine looks like this:

  • Get up.
  • Make Bed.
  • Bathroom stuff.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Quiet time.
  • Check the calendar.
  • Exercise.
  • Shower and get dressed.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Start a load of laundry.
  • Lay meat for dinner out to thaw.
  • Feed the boys.
  • Start school with the boys.
After the boys eat, we spend a little time on home maintenance and cleaning.

They also get dressed and brush their teeth and make their beds. It really moves along like clockwork. I have taught them these routines since they were young. I rewarded them for becoming independent and helping around the house. While they are doing school, I generally do little things around the kitchen and laundry room that keeps me close for help with their schoolwork.

I do have designated teaching times with them, too. We all know just to do the next thing on our lists, whether it is schoolwork for them or house stuff for me. I have certain tasks around the house that I do on certain days of the week. Each person has a designated laundry day for clothing and bedding.

We have lunch and move into our afternoon routine. This is where I have the most flexibility. Most days I am either writing or doing online consultations in the afternoons. I start dinner right after lunch, so it cooks while I am working.

I finish up laundry, and I do any cleaning or decluttering that I did not finish in the morning. I often run the dishwasher in the afternoon, so it is ready to fill up again after dinner. I do one or two loads of laundry per day. The boys help with this task. It’s harder to make a list for my afternoon routine since it is so varied from day to day. The main constants are preparing food and laundry.

By developing these basic routines, our home stays clean and free of clutter. We work together in small pockets of time to accomplish our tasks. The work around the house does not just fall on my shoulders. We use the teamwork approach. I don’t have resistance from the boys because I have spent the time teaching them and rewarding them for a job well done.


Your Zone Mission today is to declutter the kitchen counters and wipe them down.


Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

My menu plan for Tuesday is Taco Tuesday and a salad.

Have a great day!
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Little Steps Make a Big Difference

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool



As I have been traveling to homeschool conventions the past two weeks, I am struck by my little routines keeping us organized and moving along. I have stayed in a couple of different hotels in different states, and I have stayed with family in between the convention weekends. Three of my boys have been with me. To say that we have traveled with a lot of stuff is an understatement.

When we need to pick up, each of us takes an area, and we can be done in 15 minutes. When we shower, we put our dirty clothes in a bag. When I was able to wash our clothes mid-way through the trip, it was so easy. We worked as a team throughout the process, and it was not overwhelming.

We used the designated bags for trash in our hotel rooms. The maid service was able to come in and out of our room easily to replace towels and washcloths and collect the trash.

We were able to pack up fairly quickly because of the way we each kept our suitcases orderly.

This makes me thankful for the routines we have established at home. They carry over to our travels, too. This has been a working trip, but we have enjoyed it and had fun. It is because we just use the small steps we have learned from The FlyLady, and these small steps have become habits. (Just ask my boys if I can walk away from a sink and not dry it down to make it shine.)

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter for 15 minutes in Zone 1 – The Front Porch, Entryway, and Dining Room.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash sheets.
My menu plan for Monday is hamburgers and a salad.
Have a great day!


Zone Missions: Zone 1 and Zone 2

Monday – Declutter Front Porch, Entryway, and Dining Room

Tuesday – Zone 2 – Declutter and Wipe Kitchen Counters

Wednesday –  Declutter 1 Area in the Kitchen

Thursday – Declutter Items from the Fridge

Friday – Wipe Down the Stove and Microwave
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