What’s in your kitchen drawers?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


No more kitchen junk drawer
Dear Friends,

You probably don’t think a lot about your kitchen drawers and what is in them. Today I want you to open each one and take a look. I have a silverware drawer, and I have kitchenware drawers. I have a drawer for kitchen towels and cloths. I have a drawer with plastic bags. Finally, I have a drawer with “hot pads.”

Last summer I gave up my junk drawers. During our kitchen renovation, I decluttered items from two drawers, and then I spread out the other things that were jammed into the other drawers. My drawers have a nice flow to them now.

Your mission is NOT to empty and dump all of your drawers. I do want you to pick one drawer and declutter items from it that you no longer use. That means you need to throw some things away or give some things away. I don’t want you to simply relocate items to another drawer or box.

The purpose of your decluttering missions is to get the stuff out of your house that you are not using. This is hard for many of you. You struggle with making decisions on what to get rid of and what to keep. You are fearful of getting rid of something you will suddenly need.

When I am decluttering, I pull out things I have not used in the last year or more. I put it into a box and put the box in the car. When I do my errands, I drop off my donations. Sometimes I drop of donations weekly, and sometimes, it is monthly. I wait until the box is full, but it stays in the car or van.

If you are new to decluttering daily, you can start with 5 minutes a day. As you get it worked into your routines, you can increase it up to 15 minutes at a time. The consistency of decluttering a little each day is what will help you get rid of the clutter and stay that way. It’s like a constant force keeping the clutter from building up again.

Your kitchen is used a lot, and I know you have clutter. Spend your 5 to 15 minutes a day getting rid of clutter in the kitchen, so you have a more efficient space to prepare meals.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter items from 1 kitchen drawer.

My menu plan for Tuesday is Taco Tuesday for the boys. Veggies and salad for me.

Have a blessed day!

Declutter and Detail Clean in the Kitchen

Getting Organized:

In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,


This week we are going to declutter and detail clean in the kitchen. The kitchen is one of your most-used rooms in the house. Spend 15 minutes a day this week making it functional, less cluttered, and cleaner. The flat surfaces in your kitchen collect clutter quickly. It is the one area I deal with a Hot Spot every day.


Here are you missions for the week:


Zone 2 Missions: The Kitchen


Monday – Declutter & Wipe the Kitchen Counters

Tuesday – Declutter items from 1 kitchen drawer

Wednesday – Declutter leftovers from the fridge

Thursday – Declutter items from 1 kitchen cabinet

Friday – Wipe the stove top and microwave


Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!


Have you started sorting and decluttering items from your school supplies and books. Many of us are wrapping up the school year this month. Start now with decluttering the items you are not using. Pull out the books your children have finished for the year. Make room for the new books you will be buying for next year. You just need to do a little bit at a time each week to get it done.

If you have some subjects that you know you want to make a curriculum change, start your research now. If you have a homeschool conference that is close to you, consider attending it.

This spring, I am speaking at two conferences. I will be speaking May 17-19, 2018, in Lansing, Michigan, at the INCH Conference.

Later in the month, I will be speaking at my home state conference in Winston-Salem, NC, at the NCHE Conference. It is May 31-June 2, 2018.

If you are close to either of these conferences, I would love to see you there!

Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.

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

My menu plan for Monday is beef stew for the guys and salad for me.

Have a blessed day!

Siggie - Tami Fox


Show me your progress this week!

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
How did you do with the Zone Missions this week? I want to see your progress. Many of you have been sending me pictures of your bed after you make it in the mornings. I am also enjoying your Before and After pictures when you are decluttering! It encourages me.

Send me a picture of your Living Room, Front Porch, Entryway, or Dining Room to Tami@TamiFox.com.

Since we were in two Zones this week, you had to be efficient in your decluttering and detail cleaning. You can get a lot done in 15 minutes of focused decluttering, and from the pictures you are sending me, I am seeing a difference in your homes.

Read this from one of my readers:

Thank you. Repetition. I’ve listened and listened to you, Marla and read all my emails from FlyLady, read your blogs and the key to this system is Baby Steps and take breaks. I can’t stress that enough to those wanting to be successful.
I used to work like a crazy lady and consequently burn out.
The small steps to decluttering do work when you are consistent with them. I am currently balancing a lot of projects, and I am managing them a small step at a time. I still find time to take care of myself daily, too.

The routines work. Establishing them does take a little effort, but you will get to the point that the routines are automatic. You will do them without really thinking about it. You will surprise yourself at times with getting through your routines and not remembering doing them.

You are developing muscle memory in a way. My body knows that I load the dishwasher, shine the sink, and wipe the counters. It’s like 1-2-3 and done.

It’s the same with my early morning routine. I am not thinking about it too much as I make the bed, eat breakfast, and get dressed. 1-2-3.

Then, I exercise, and when I come home I shower, get dressed again, and swish and swipe my bathroom. 1-2-3.

When I go back to the kitchen, I get the boys started on school, start laundry, and turn on the dishwasher. 1-2-3.

I will check the menu plan and lay out items from the freezer for dinner and do my morning motivation video. Then, I do school with the boys. 1-2-3.

Each part of my routine has a next thing that I do automatically. Sometimes I am interrupted. Sometimes we have to leave for an appointment, but I always know where I am with my routines.
Send me some pictures of your progress OR the hopes for your progress next week!

How did your week go?

Don’t forget to send me a picture of the area your Master Bedroom!
Email me at homeschool@flylady.net or tami@tamifox.com.

Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter anywhere in Zone 1 or Zone 5.

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!

Using Rewards versus Punishments

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Do you struggle with getting your children on board with their daily routines? Over the years, I have seen much more success with my children following through on their routines when I praise them and reward them.

As children are learning new routines, they need encouragement. If you are fussing at them for not doing their routines perfectly or forgetting something, it causes them to shut down and not want to try.

You need to be clear with your children about what you want them to do, and you cannot expect them to do everything all at once. YOU are doing the baby steps to getting organized. They also need to do baby steps in mastering their routines.

For children, I suggest you start with them getting dressed down to the shoes first thing in the morning. This may mean that you ask them to lay their clothes out the night before, but you can just start today. Tell them to get dressed and ready for the day. Brush their teeth and comb their hair. This will help them to be ready for the day.

They should do this daily for a week. Praise them for getting dressed first thing in the morning.

The next routine is making their beds when they get up. This does not have to be perfect. They just need to pull their covers up fluff their pillows and move on. Some of them may have stuffed animals they arrange.

So the second week, they are laying their clothes out at night, getting dressed down to the shoes, and making their beds.

Some of you are already thinking about how messy their bedroom is, and you are thinking about their stuff that is all over the house.

After they finish their school work for the day, give them a specific instruction to deal with one of these areas. It needs to be a short and sweet mission. Otherwise, they will get distracted and do nothing. You are going to build them up to a 15-minute hot spot clean up session, but these first few sessions might be 5 minutes or so.

For instance, if their room is messy, tell them to bring you all of their dirty clothes and pick up the floor. You might tell them another time to collect any trash. Another mission would be to put their toys away.

If they have a lot of toys, you may need to invest in plastic bins and sort their toys. You can do toy rotation and not allow them to have access to everything all of the time.

Now, let’s talk about their stuff that is around the house. You need to help them corral their stuff. They need a place for all of their things. If they have more stuff than storage, you need to help them declutter.

You can let them have a yard sale of their stuff. They can use the money for a fun activity.

Throughout this process, you have to praise your children. My children know that they need to do their daily routines and school work to get a reward of an activity.

It is rare that I have used negative consequences for them not doing their routines. I do not yell or scream about their routines. If I am calling them to the house from the woods, I will yell for them to come inside, but that is the extent of it.

If you parent them in anger over their routines, they will have negative feelings about their routines. Your goal is for them to encourage them, so they WANT to do their routines.

I always get questions about families with more than one child. Sometimes one child is more willing to do routines than others. If you have a reward planned for everyone, what do you do about the child who is unwilling to do his or her routines? That is a tough one, but sometimes I have had a child sit with me while the others did the activity. I did NOT cancel the whole activity for everyone.

Work on your reward system and put it on the calendar or a chart, so you can keep up with successes and build toward the reward.

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter in the Dining Room.

Your Home Blessing for today is to toss papers and magazines.

My menu plan for Thursday is stir fry.

Have a great day!

Frustration or Blessings?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
How many of you are frustrated at times when you are interrupted while doing your routines?

Most of you who read my articles are homeschool moms, and many of you are trying to do your daily routines in between caring for the children and getting your homeschool moving along. You get frustrated because you cant get it all done when you want to get it done.

First, take a deep breath. Yes, right now, while you are reading. Exhale slowly. Let the tension in your shoulders go. Yes, I know that is where you carry your stress. Do this for a minute.

Now, think about your children. They are blessings. They are also busy and have needs. Sometimes those needs usurp your routines. If you have children under age two, they are fairly dependent on you to meet their basic needs.

Spend a few more minutes breathing and relaxing while you are listing in your head the blessings your children have brought into your life. You can write your blessings down if you like.

Next, let’s talk about your BASIC daily routines. Each of the three daily routines – Morning, Afternoon, and Evening – have only 6 parts. They are not complicated. It is easy to make them complicated, but that happens when you add to them.

Now, if you get started on your Morning Routine because one of the children has a need that you have to meet, you can come back and finish your routine after you take care of your child. You will need the routines written down, so you can keep up with what you have done. Or you can download the FlyLady Plus app on your iPhone. It’s available at no cost in the Apple Store.

Another way to help yourself get your Morning Routine completed is to get up 15 minutes before your children and do it then.

If you have procrastinate doing your Morning Routine, I want you to do it as soon as you finish reading this. The six parts of your Morning Routine are, as follows: 1) Make your bed; 2) Get dressed to the shoes; 3) Swish and Swipe; 4) Check your calendar; 5) Reboot the laundry; 6) What’s for Dinner?

Tell me how you are doing with your daily routines. What is hard for you to do?

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter items from the Front Porch and sweep it.

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

My menu plan for Wednesday is lasagna for the boys and zuchini noodles for me with a salad.

Have a great day!

Let’s get moving in May!

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Happy May 1st! Our new Habit of the Month is Moving in May. Taking care of yourself is important. Intentional movement each day will help your overall health. If you have not exercised in a while, this habit is for you. You will start with an attainable goal. You will not be pushing yourself beyond your limits.

Spend 15 minutes a day in purposeful movement. That can be any kind of movement. You can walk for 15 minutes. You can track your steps and increase your daily steps. You can do stretching, strength training, or just play with your kids.

If you want to combine it with your homeschool, you can go on a nature walk, or you can do some exercises with your kids. My little ones used to love to do stretching and light exercises with me in the mornings. Now that I have bigger kids, they like it when I play basketball with them in the yard. We have also had a lot of fun biking as a family.

I know how easily you can put off daily exercise. I started and stopped for years. Finally, I decided I wanted to be around long enough to see all of my children grown up and see my grandchildren. I made it a point to change my exercise and eating plans to take care of my health.

Some of you have read my story, but I will share it briefly. Five years ago, I was overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and borderline high blood glucose levels. I was on several prescriptions, and I felt awful. I was lethargic.

I made the decision that I wanted to start running, and I started slowly. I walked way more than I ran to start with. I had to learn to breathe. I have asthma, so that was no small feat. I had to add on small amounts of time and distance. It took me months to be able to just run 1 mile without walking. But I kept at it. I kept improving a little at a time. I set small, attainable goals.

As I ran more and ate better, I lost weight. I gained strength and energy. I added in other kinds of exercise with strength training, biking, and swimming. I played with my kids more. They did a lot of activities with me.

Daily movement became a part of my life, and I did it by starting slow and steady. I found a time of day that worked for me to be consistent in exercising. I started going to bed earlier, so I could get up and exercise before the children were out of bed. If I did something with them later in the day, it was for enjoyment.

Thanks for sharing your ideas for daily movement. You can incorporate daily movement into your homeschool, too.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter in the Entryway for 15 minutes.

My menu plan for Tuesday is Taco Tuesday for the boys. Veggies and salad for me.

Have a blessed day!



Two Zones in One Week – You got this!

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
How was your weekend? Are you having family fun day each week? The FlyLady Missions are designed to help you take the weekend off from cleaning your home, so you can have Family Fun Day.
This week we are in two zones as we finish up April and begin May. I do not want you to stress out. Spend 15 minutes a day on your decluttering mission. Just do what you can do in that time. It will be enough. If you still have things to declutter in these Zones, you can pick back up on them during the third week of the month.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 5 and Zone 1 Missions: The Living Room, The Front Porch, The Entryway, and The Dining Room

Monday – Declutter & Dust the Living Room
Tuesday – Declutter the Entryway
Wednesday – Declutter Items from the Front Porch
Thursday – Declutter in the Dining Room
Friday – Declutter/Detail Clean Anywhere in Zone 1 or 5

Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!
As we are moving into May that brings up the topic of our next Habit of the Month. It’s Moving in May! We are going to spend 15 minutes a day in doing some purposeful movement. It can be any kind of movement, but it is important that you take care of your health. Daily exercise is a big part of caring for yourself.
If you have neglected exercise, it’s okay. Just start where you are. Walk outside for 15 minutes. Play with the kids. Do an exercise video in the living room or family room. Stretch and relax. There are so many ways to incorporate movement into your day.
Tell me some of the things you do for exercise. I rotate through several types of exercise. I run, walk, lift weights, swim, and bike. I don’t do them all on the same day, but I mix it up throughout the week.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter and detail dust the Living Room.

My menu plan for Monday is cube steak for the guys and salad for me.

Have a blessed day!

Show me your Master Bedroom!

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
How did you do with the Zone Missions in your Master Bedroom this week? I want to see your progress. Many of you have been sending me pictures of your bed after you make it in the mornings. I love seeing you practicing the Habit of the Month!

Send me a picture of your Master Bedroom Tami@TamiFox.com. I want to thank my reader who sent in before and after pics of her progress in her Master Bedroom. She has a peaceful place to sleep!

This week I spent some time working on my master to do list. I need to plan out the steps for a few big projects, and it helps me to write it out on my list.

Next month, I am speaking at two conferences. I need to have my talks prepared. I need a packing list, and I need to have items for my booth. Each task can be broken down and worked on a little bit each day.

My son is getting married on June 16, and I have several things I am working on for it. Using a step-by-step approach, I can accomplish a lot of big projects. I did the same thing two years ago when my daughter got married.

One of our bedrooms needs new flooring and painting, so that is going on my big list. We will start small with decluttering and packing up things. Then, we will move into picking colors and pulling out the carpeting. Next, we will paint. Finally, we will have new flooring put down. Then it will be put back together. It will take time, but it will get done.

You can take any big project and break it down into steps. You have to let go of perfectionism and wanting to do a whole project all at once, and you need patience with yourself. But you CAN do it!
How did your week go?

Don’t forget to send me a picture of the area your Master Bedroom! Email me at tami@tamifox.com.

Today’s Zone Mission is to clean under your bed.

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!

Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Since I have been homeschooling for 15 years, I get lots of questions from people about homeschooling. One question I get often has to do with homeschooling older children while having preschoolers and/or toddlers in the house. I thought it would help if I put together some things I have done over the years that helped me juggle the needs of school-age children and my little ones.


When I am planning lessons for my older children, I try to find simple ways to include my younger ones. For instance, when my older children learned about flight and the physics behind flying, I read picture books about flight to my little ones. We made paper airplanes. I would provide simple craft supplies for preschoolers to make picture while talking to the older children about flight.



I also found that it helped if I had “stations” for the baby to play safely in different parts of the house. Fortunately, there is not a rule that you have to do school in one place in the house. We move around the house doing school, and the baby is more entertained by a change of scenery from room-to-room. Here’s a picture that is several years old, but it shows examples of how I included my babies and toddlers in our homeschool day.


As you see from the picture above, I had several little ones participating in the read aloud time. Not pictured are my two elementary-aged children who were reading books on their level about flight. By using the hands-on method of learning, I can plan activities for a very large age range.




When the older children studied the Boston Tea Party, we included the younger ones in the craft part of making the “tea” boxes. The baby was also included in our “tea party.” I found so many easy to read picture books for the American Revolution time period. Of course, we read and acted out Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow.


Reading to babies and toddlers is foundational to their communication skills. It is so easy to include them during the homeschool day with easy-to-read books. If you have children who still read out loud to you each day, the babies and toddlers can be a part of that time of your day, too. There is no such thing as too much reading to babies and toddlers.



Other ways to engage learning in young children while older ones are working on school is dependent on the age and skill level of the toddler or preschooler. As soon as my children are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths, I provide tactile activities for them. A little one can sit in his/her high chair beside of you and work on fine motor skills by eating or playing with toys.


I kept a pack-n-play near our school area for the little one to have a place to move about and play while we work on school work. I didn’t want to always contain them in a high chair or by holding them because I wanted them to be able to move around and learn skills.



As my toddlers grew into preschoolers, I would provide matching games, sorting blocks, salt dough, chunky crayons, and other age-appropriate craft materials. If I didn’t mind a mess, I would give them non-toxic paints or paint-with-water books.


Toddlers and preschoolers also need large muscle play time. Often, the older children would take short breaks from school work to play with the little ones. This is such a beneficial time to build relationships with siblings. Babies and toddlers should never be made to feel like they are in the way of your school day.



Don’t be afraid to let your little ones experience arts and crafts. You need to provide lots of opportunities for them to be creative and learn how things work.


Field trips are another great way to involve little ones in what the older children are studying. Some of our favorite homeschool memories have come from field trips. It amazes me what my children remember from these trips.



I realize that you also need one-on-one teaching times with older students. One year I had from preschool through 12th grade, so I know this fact very well. What I can tell you that I learned is that you can be creative in where you fit in the one-on-one time for each student.

As a homeschooler, you are not constrained to doing school work between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. If your high school student needs you to help with algebra or writing, then work that time in during nap time for the little ones. You might have to work with your older students on difficult subjects when your husband is home and can help.

One year, we had some “night school” times when I focused on teaching the older children difficult concepts while my husband played with the baby. It is not ideal to do it that way because I think Moms need a break in the evenings from school work when possible, but you have to find a way to works for your family.

Schedules and routines are very important for children, especially young children. I tried to keep our outside of the house activities to a minimum when I had a lot of little ones in the house. We had certain times of the day where everyone knew what was supposed to be going on.

We were not slaves to the clock. But we had regular times to get up, eat, do household tasks, do school work, rest, and play. It helped everyone to know what was coming up next. Of course, there were days when we really needed a change of scenery, and we would pack up and go to the park, library, or science center.

Sometimes we just needed an outing.

There are lots of other ways that people have successfully balanced homeschooling older children while also having little ones in the house. I welcome comments and questions.

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter items from one dresser drawer.

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

My menu plan for Thursday is stir fry veggies.

Have a great day!


Homeschooling with Many Young Children

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
(This is a reprise of an article I wrote in 2006. Several of you have asked about homeschooling with young children, so I am sharing this with you today.)

How do you homeschool a houseful of children? And why would you want to homeschool that many children? Wouldn’t it be easier to send them off to school all day? Couldn’t you get more done, if your children weren’t around all the time? You have how many children? Are they are all yours?

These are all questions I have encountered since we began our homeschooling journey. I thought my reader would like to read some of my responses to these questions. In doing so, I hope that you are encouraged.

Starting with the first question, I will tell you that homeschooling 5 children while pregnant was a busy year. Add to that a dying grandparent to visit every day and three surgeries for two of our children, and it was definitely one of our harder school years.

Would I change anything? No. So the “how of homeschooling a houseful” starts with prayer and planning and mercy and grace. I pray about our homeschool. I pray that I teach the children exactly what God wants me to teach them. I use the unit study approach for most subjects. I have picked math curriculum based on each of my children’s different learning styles.

When we had a day when we wanted to visit my grandmother, we went to see her. When we returned home, we worked on our schoolwork. When a child had to have surgery, I gave all the children the day off from school. We would make up the day later. They have been known to do two days’ worth of work in order to catch back up. I do have a lesson plan.

The children know what is expected each day, and they know that we can adjust it if necessary. This summer, we are focusing on spelling, reading comprehension, and math skills. I know which child needs review in which subject. We are using Spelling Power to bring up our son and daughter’s spelling levels. I have never tried this program before, and we like it.

Why would I want to homeschool 5 children (and more, if God sends them to us)? Simply, because God told us that He wanted us to homeschool our children. We take the passages in Deuteronomy and Proverbs very seriously. My husband and I want to train our children for the Lord. We want them to know what the Bible says, and we want to direct their education.

We have sent our oldest two children to public school, so we know that parents do not have input into what their children are taught or exposed to in public school. Our relationship as a family is stronger, since we began our journey as a homeschool family.

Wouldn’t it be easier to send them off to school all day? No, we have had that experience. And it makes the evenings very busy and chaotic. We also have spent hours getting a child to complete her homework. Would you want to work at your job all day, and then come home to 2 or 3 hours’ worth of additional work?

There are more time-consuming parts of sending your children off to school. You have to get them transported back and forth each morning and afternoon; you either have to get them to and from the bus or drive them or carpool. And there is the fund-raising, parent-teacher group, the push to volunteer at the school, and many other things that take a lot of your time.

Couldn’t you get more done, if your children weren’t around all the time? No. I did not get as much done in the hours that the children were in school compared to what I get done now. The time they were at school, I had to take care of a preschooler, so I only had the few hours that he napped to really get anything done around the house. Now, we have a schedule each day, and the children help out with household tasks. They will play with the younger children while I work on tasks.

You have how many children? Are they are all yours? Normally I get these questions from people when we are out in public. God laid it on our hearts to leave the number of children we have up to Him. Since we have given that area over to Him, He has blessed us with more children.

I would love to hear any comments about what I have shared today.

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter items from one dresser drawer.

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

My menu plan for Wednesday is regular pasta for the boys and zucchini noodles for me with a salad.

Have a great day!