How are your Zone Missions Going?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
We are entering the last week of the month. We practiced the habit of getting dressed down to the shoes, and we decluttered our way around the house. Are you ready to tackle Zone 5 – The Living Room this week?
Zone 5 Missions: The Living Room
Monday – Declutter the flat surfaces & detail dust
Tuesday – Go Sofa Diving (Clean out under the cushions)
Wednesday – Hot Spot Fire Drill in Living Room
Thursday – Clean under the Living Room Furniture
Friday – Wipe the Baseboards & Declutter
Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!
The Living Room can go one of two ways. It can be a seldom-used room that needs little detail cleaning, or it can be a well-used room in your home. In our house, the Living Room is well-used. We don’t have a Family Room or Bonus Room. The monthly Zone Missions help me take care of the clutter that finds its way into the Living Room.
One of the boys particularly enjoys going sofa and chair diving because he gets to keep the money he finds down in the cushions. I don’t have to do this task. He volunteers to do it.
When I need to clean under the furniture, the boys help me move things around. This is a task that you should not do by yourself. You need help, so you can do this safely.
Sometimes, I set the timer and turn on some music. Then we play a game to put away the things that have migrated to the Living Room. Yes, this happens in my house, too. Take a look around the room your family hangs out. Did they leave things that belong elsewhere? If so, have a Hot Spot Fire Drill! The goal is to put things where they belong. If they don’t have a place, then get rid of them.
If you have small children, give them a cloth and make it a game to wipe the baseboards. The goal in teaching your children to care for their home is to make it fun. You want them to have joy in blessing their home. It is not drudgery or a chore.
If you have a formal Living Room that does not need a lot of decluttering, declutter the room your family does use for hanging out. You can just detail dust your formal Living Room.

How did you do this month with your Zone Missions and the Habit of the Month (Getting Dressed Down to the Lace-Up Shoes)?

Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.

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

My menu plan for Monday is pinto beans, salad, and veggies.

Have a blessed day!

More on the Master Closet

Getting Organized in Your Home and Homeschool:

Dear Friends,
My post earlier on the week about the number of clothes I have caused some discussion. Yes, I really have one pair of jeans. They are the pair that fit well, and I like them. I can wear them a couple of days in a row if I like. The boys do that with their jeans as well.

However, I do have some leggings that I have worn this winter, and there are probably 5 pair of those in a dresser drawer. So I do have something I swap out for the jeans. (smile)

One thing that I do have more of than most people is my collection of running shoes. When you train to run long distances you put a wearing on a pair of shoes. If you can run in a pair of shoes and give them a day or two of not being used, they last longer. I typically run six days a week. Last summer, I rotated through 5 pair of training shoes. They were in various states of use, and I have retired two of those pair since then.

The same also is true of your regular shoes. If you can rotate between two or three pair of shoes, they will last longer. It gives them time to “spring” back up if they have a “springy” property. It helps them to “air” out, too.

As you can see from my picture, my shoes are stored in a cube-shape organizers to allow them to get air. If I stored them in the closet, they would not get as much open air. In the summer, they can get pretty sweaty on the inside, so this is the best way I found to store them.

If you have several pairs of jeans or tops or shoes, don’t beat yourself up. Your main goal in decluttering in your bedroom is to have adequate room for you to store your clothes without overflowing. If you cannot put your laundry away easily, you need to thin out how many clothes or shoes that you have.

Today’s Zone Mission is to detail clean under the 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!

How do I get my child to clean his room?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Dear Friends,

The question of the week has been about getting children to clean their rooms. If you tell your child to go clean his/her room, they don’t know where to start or what needs to be done.

The FlyLady has written a Student Control Journal that helps your child develop routines. Part of these routines involves cleaning their room a little each day. She is specific in what they focus on each day, and this is what will help your child the most with room maintenance. You can download the Control Journal at no cost and print it yourself.
This is how The FlyLady divides up their bedrooms into zones:

Zone 1           The Bed, nightstands and under the bed
Zone 2           Your closet
Zone 3           The floor
Zone 4           Your desk, chest of drawers or dresser.
Zone 5           Your bathroom

Each Zone can represent a day of the week. Monday can be Zone 1. Tuesday can be Zone 2. Then it follows with the additional three zones the next three days of the week.

The FlyLady will also suggest Morning, Afternoon, and Before Bed routines in the Student Control Journal. There are pages that will allow your child to write down their daily routines.

As you give this Control Journal to your children, you need to be prepared to praise them for doing their routines without you reminding them of each step. You should reward them with a fun activity like Family Game Night because you should have more time for play with their routines in place.

Developing their routines is much like you establishing your routines. They will need to learn the routines in stages. It will be difficult for them to jump in and do them all at once. Be patient with them.

If their room is particularly cluttered, it will take time for them to clean it. Encourage them to get rid of things. Provide them with a black trash bag for trash. Give them a box for items to donate. Part of the problem with them struggling with cleaning their rooms is that they have too much stuff. They don’t know what to do with it all.

You might have to take a step back and let go of some emotions as they declutter. You might be more attached to their stuff than they are. (smile) Over the years, I have kept some of my children’s toys, but I have let them declutter and give away toys, too.

If your children have a lot of toys, you might have to help them develop a sorting system for their toys. Find whatever works for your family. You can use clear, plastic bins, or you can use plastic bins with lids. Use labels if the storage bin is not clear.

You can also do toy rotation and put some of their toys away. You can rotate them every couple of weeks. They will actually enjoy their toys more if they have fewer to play with at a time.

Each day, you need to have a pick up time in your home. The children can go on a scavenger hunt to pick up whatever they have used for the day. Give them tools to organize their toys, so they can put them away without your help.

What are your questions about teaching your children routines?

Today’s Zone Mission 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 chicken pie for the guys and veggies for me.

Have a great day!

How many clothes do I need?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
Yesterday I asked you to put away all of your laundry. How did that go for you? If it was a struggle, spend a few minutes each day decluttering clothes until you can easily put your laundry away.

There is not a cut-and-dry answer on how many clothes you should have. We all tend to have too many clothes. Some of us have larger storage areas than others. This means that some of us have more clothes.

Basic wardrobe items for me include 3 dresses per season (6 dresses total). I have 5 skirts, a pair of jeans, two pairs of capris, and some leggings. I have more tops than anything because I can rotate my skirts, pants, or leggings. I have my workout clothes and pajamas. My underthings and socks each have a drawer, and I declutter worn out items from those drawers regularly. Nothing is worse than underwear that has lost its elastic properties.

The boys each have a suit and two dress shirts with ties. They have black socks and dress shoes. They each have a pair of boots and athletic shoes. They each have 1 to 3 pairs of jeans. They have 7 to 10 t-shirts, since they also wear t-shirts for bed. They have at least one polo-type shirt that fits. I try to have three for each of them for the conferences we attend, but I think right now they have outgrown the ones they had. They have a couple of pair of athletic shorts each and a pair of swim trunks.

My experience with boys is that they have far less wardrobe requirements than their sister had, but they make up for it in sports equipment and Legos. (smile)

When the children were little, I taught them that each dresser drawer had a purpose. For the little ones, I put a picture on the inside of the drawer. When I had their clothes folded, I had them carry something, and we put it away together. A two-year-old can carry socks or t-shirts. Now that they are older, they know how to put their laundry away without coaching from me.

The focus this week is our Master Bedroom, and I know for many of you that clothes maintenance is a big part of caring for your room.
Tell me what the problem area in your master bedroom is, if it is something other than clothing. Is your dresser top a catch-all?

Your Zone Mission today is to spend 15 minutes decluttering items from your closet.

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

My menu plan for Wednesday is beef stew. Salad and veggies for me.

Have a great day!

Putting All of Your Laundry Away

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Do you put your laundry away as you fold it or hang it up? We have talked about the five steps of doing laundry – sort, wash, dry, fold/hang, and put away. Many of you get hung up (pun intended) on the last two steps.

By folding or hanging each load as it is dried, you will start to feel more in control of your laundry. Your home will start looking better and less cluttered if you also complete the fifth step by putting it away. Putting your laundry away each time you do a load will allow you to use the space you have for clothes, and it will allow you to not live out of laundry baskets.

Each week, I talk to ladies who struggle with laundry. Last week, I wrote about laundry again, and I received comments and emails about laundry. One thing that keeps you from putting all of your laundry away is the fact that your closets and drawers are already stuffed full. It takes effort and time to stuff in more clothes.

Today, I want you to put away all of your laundry. If you struggle with having enough room, you can spend a few minutes decluttering clothes. Tomorrow, you can do a little more. On Thursday, you can declutter a little more. By the end of the week, I want you to be able to put all of your laundry away easily.

With fewer clothes, you will start to feel more peace in your home. Your bedrooms will not be filled with clothes on the surfaces or hanging on furniture. Some of you have limited storage for clothes. Be creative on storing off-season clothing. I can fit both cool weather and warm weather clothes in my closet. I don’t store my off-season clothes anywhere else.

Children tend to have a lot of clothes. In many cases, they have more clothes than they actually wear. Having a large family means that I have passed clothes down the line, especially since I have 5 boys. Each season change, I spend time with each boy. We would toss worn out clothes. We would make a pile of clothing that was too small. We would pack up clothes that still might fit in a year’s time. I would label the plastic bins with a name and size.

After we went through the decluttering process, I would pull out the plastic bin that I thought would have clothes that fit them. We would go through it and pull out only what they thought they would wear. If there were still clothes left that they did not want, I would put these clothes in a box to be donated.

As my youngest outgrew clothes, I gave these away. I did not hold onto them. Each child has one special baby outfit, monogrammed blanket, and a pair of shoes. Other than that, I have not kept clothes for sentimental reasons. I chose to bless others with the clothes we do not need.

As we are entering warmer weather, purge clothes deeply. You do not have to keep everything you have been given. You do not have to keep everything you have purchased.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

Your Zone Mission for today is to put away all of your laundry.

My menu plan for Tuesday is grilled chicken and salad.

Have a blessed day!

Make Your Bedroom a Place of Peace and Rest this Week

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
Each month during the fourth week, we declutter in our Master Bedrooms. Our bedrooms are a collection place for stuff that needs a home. We store things in our rooms until later. This week is “later” for you. Make your bedroom a haven of rest and peace.
Take a look around your room. What do you have in there that is just taking up space? Can you move it to another place in the house or get rid of it? Think about a nice hotel room or vacation home. How much furniture is in the bedroom?
If you can reduce the amount of furniture in your room, it will help you when you do your monthly zone missions.
Zone 4 Missions: The Master Bedroom
Monday – Declutter the dresser top and dust
Tuesday – Put away ALL of your clothes
Wednesday – Declutter from your closet
Thursday – Declutter from one dresser drawer
Friday – Clean out under your bed and sweep (or vacuum)
Set your timers and then take a break when it goes off!
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter the flat surfaces in your bedroom and dust.

My menu plan for Monday is pork chops and vegetables for the guys. Salad and veggies for me.

Have a blessed day!

Life is not all rainbows and unicorns.

Getting Organized in Your Home and Homeschool:

Dear Friends,

Life is not always easy. Most of the time it is hard. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not always what you thought your life would be.

This week has had several emotional landmines for me. If you have read my blog during the past year, you know that I have had some difficult situations in my life. Things are much better now, but there are times when I am working on something and the feelings and emotions come back to the surface.

The last two days have had several reminders of the past year. I looked up some quotes to encourage my heart.

“You have to remember that the hard days are what make you stronger. The bad days make you realize what a good day is. If you never had any bad days, you would never have had that sense of accomplishment.” – Aly Raisman

On the hard days, it is important to take time to take care of yourself. Each person has different things that they do for enjoyment. But on a hard day, you may need to remind yourself to take care of the basics of self-care.

Here are the top 10 things I do when I am having a hard day:
1)      Find a quiet place to sit and pray
2)      Read my Bible
3)      Drink my water
4)      Rest
5)      Eat
6)      Talk to someone
7)      Write down my blessings
8)      Delegate tasks
9)      Re-evaluate my schedule
10)    Add “white space” to my calendar

You have to take time to take care of yourself. You cannot take care of your loved ones if you have run yourself into the ground. You might have to say, “No” to some opportunities that you really want to do.

When you continually say, “Yes” to every opportunity that comes to you, you will eventually use up the “white space” on your calendar. This “white space” is the part of your calendar where you don’t have something scheduled. This is the part of your day when you can do something to take care of yourself.

When you are overbooked and overcommitted, the first things to go are your self-care things. You eat on the run. You sleep less. You forget to drink your water. You try to do everything yourself because you do it best. You don’t have time to talk to a friend. You push until you can’t push any more. You forget to take a shower or brush your teeth.

This cycle sets you up for sickness. It can set you up for health problems, too. It can make you cranky with the ones you love the most. It can make you feel bad about yourself.

Stop worrying about letting others down if you delegate a task or simply say, “No.” If you say, “Yes” to too many commitments you are letting yourself down.

The best quote I found today is from Calvin and Hobbes.

“Today is a good day to have a GREAT day!!!”

Today, I am purposing to have a GREAT day! How about you?

Today’s Zone Mission is to detail clean the tub/shower.

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

My menu plan for Friday is pizza and wings for the boys. Date night for the parents.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Siggie - Tami Fox


Scheduling and Homeschooling Young Children

Getting Organized:

In your home and homeschool


Homeschooling in 2009

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your emails and comments about schedules and routines. One thing I have learned in 18 years of homeschooling is that no two school years are alike in regards to scheduling. Sometimes no two days are the same, depending on the ages of your children and how many children you have.

Some of you are in the stage of having young children. Teaching young children at home is a lot of fun, and it is also a lot of work. When you have several young children to teach and a toddler or baby to entertain during school, you will feel like you go from one thing to another over and over.

This stage will not last forever. Combine reading aloud time to include all of your children. When you are teaching phonics or math, have the other children stay close to you while you are teaching. You can occupy them with snacks or crafts or toys.

If you are struggling with teaching several levels of lessons, remember that small children need short lessons. Their attention span is going to be between 5 minutes to 15 minutes at a time. So plan on alternating activities. Pushing through a 45-minute lesson will be taxing on both of you. I know that small children can drag their feet on lessons, so plan on a sitting activity, and then follow up with an activity that gives them some movement.

Use the trickle-down theory on teaching your children. Teach to the oldest and let the younger ones learn what they can. Over the years, you are going to repeat a lot of what you are teaching. Read a short history lesson to all of your children at once, and then ask them to re-enact it. They can make props or dress up. They will learn so much more this way.

Children in kindergarten through second grade need to learn the basics of reading, writing, and math. You do not have to teach them a full science less and full history lesson, too. You can do short and sweet lessons for these subjects and do history three times a week and science twice a week.

You do not have to be supermom homeschool mom! You don’t have to do everything your friends are doing. Teach your children the way that suits their learning styles and your family style.

Today’s Zone Mission is to mop the bathroom floor.

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

My menu plan for Thursday is Taco Thursday for the guys and veggies for me.

Have a great day!

Do you need to declutter unexpired medications?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
When is the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? Some of you might not have an official “medicine” cabinet in the bathroom. I keep our vitamins and medications in a box in a kitchen cabinet. So I am using this term loosely, but it is likely something you do not go through on a regular basis.
Several years ago a hospice nurse taught me how to dispose of medications safely. You can use this type of method, or you can contact your local pharmacist to see if they have a program to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription medications.

You want to guard against contamination of ground water, so you do not want to flush unused medications. You also do not want to just throw them in the trash. You need to protect pets and children, too.

The method I was taught was to take the unused medications and put them into a plastic bag. Add water and kitty litter to the bag. Let it absorb, and then you can safely dispose of the entire bag and its contents.
You can use other things besides kitty litter, if you don’t have any on hand. Baking soda and water would also work. You could also use old coffee grounds with additional water added.
Set your timer and get your supplies out for safe disposal of the expired medications. Start checking dates and clean out these medications. They are serving no purpose for you when they are out of date. They are taking up space, and old medications can be hazardous.
One year, we had an abundance of medications for our nebulizer. Before they went out of date, I donated the extra medication to a local crisis center. They were thankful to get them, and I was able to give them away since we could not use them all before their expiration date.
You can do some research and make some calls to see if there is a free clinic with a pharmacist who can use any unexpired medications that you no longer need. I know this happens on occasion when a doctor prescribes a medication, and it does not work out for you.
Please be careful and responsible with prescription medications.
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter expired items from your medicine cabinet.

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

My menu plan for Wednesday is chicken stir fry. Salad and veggies for me.

Have a great day!

Do you have laundry issues?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Do you have issues with your laundry? With a large family, my laundry routine has to be established. I have to follow through on it when I start a load. But I was not always great at doing laundry. When I was first married, I really did not like doing laundry at all. There are probably a few of you reading this who feel the same way.

Back then, I did laundry on the weekends since we both worked during the week. I had grown up with a family who did laundry daily. I did not do my own laundry very often before I was married. I was not a big fan of taking up my Saturday doing laundry.

As I started having children, the amount of laundry increased exponentially. Somehow adding a small baby also meant that laundry seemed to double or triple. For years, I struggled along with doing my laundry as a part of my daily routine. I tended to put it off as long as possible.

The laundry did get folded as I did a load, but I did not put clothes away often. We lived out of laundry baskets. If I put laundry away, it was typically on Saturday, and it took a while.

After I had my third child, the internet was growing in popularity, and I found The FlyLady in a Yahoo Group. I started readhing her emails and was slowly FlyWashed. I adopted routines, and I was doing at least a load of laundry a day.

As my family grew, I needed to do more than a load a day to keep up with the amount of clothing we went through in a day. Small children are inquisitive and messy, aren’t they? (smile)

My next step was to do two loads of laundry per day. I added this into my morning and evening routine. I taught the children to sort their clothes into a white basket and a dark basket. I had another plastic bin for towels.

With doing laundry this way, I was able to keep up with the clothing and towels. But I still had a lot of bedding to wash weekly. We had six beds for the children plu our bed. With seven beds in the house, I decided that it would be better to wash the bedding for one to two beds per day instead of trying to do all of them on Monday.

This lead to my deciding to do a load of laundry during each part of the day – morning, afternoon, and evening.

Now, we only have four beds in the house to take care of each week, and I have assigned the boys to a laundry day each week. That is the day they do their bedding and clothing. I will help the youngest one, and I will combine loads if they are small loads.

Over the years, my laundry routine has changed. It is as efficient as I can make it. Each of us puts laundry away daily, and we do not live out of laundry baskets.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

Your Zone Mission for today is to declutter items from under the bathroom cabinet.

My menu plan for Tuesday is grilled chicken thighs and salad.

Have a blessed day!