A few of you have asked for the tips and tricks I have for making things more efficient around my house. I have to tell you that this is one time I am SUPER glad that I have some OCD tendencies because otherwise our house might be total chaos all the time. At present, I am still in therapy working to manage my depression, a full-time student, a single parent to four, and the full-time child care provider to my adorable nephew. I’m also an amateur photographer, crafter, baker, and…well I wear a lot of hats let’s put it this way.
My oldest child is extremely difficult. She always has been. Early on in her life, a therapist of hers said kids with her issues need a hyper structured environment. I’m so not a fan of structure…I’m really not. If you’ve read my crafty blog, you know that I wing it a LOT. That isn’t something that extends into almost every aspect of my life. Turns out though…the therapist was right and all of my children (even the three that aren’t difficult) seem to function better with a hyper structured environment.
Yesterday I found some motivation and got ourselves back on track. First, I created our January menu. This saves me huge amounts of money on my grocery bill because I shop according to what’s in the cupboards and what’s on the menu and it also helps reduce the “what’s for dinner” questions from the kids. Additionally, it saves me time and energy because I don’t have to figure out what to make or have my daughters make all over again every day. I can’t take credit for this idea though. A good friend of mine has a recipe blog and I started making menus after seeing hers. That’s why I decided to do a recipe blog too, but mine has kinda been an epic fail.
Anyway…for the menu…I plan only our dinners. And I do it a month at a time. If space in my kitchen allows I shop a month at a time, otherwise I try and do a week or two. For this month’s menu, I used this file. I just wrote in our dinners but I usually type them up. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling that ambitious. I will try to post more of my dinners on my Eat Faithfule tab. Especially on Sunday’s when we have a “mystery meal” which is a chance for me (or my kids if they want to because they all can cook) to try a new recipe.
Next, as part of this hyper structured routine of ours, is an ideal weekly schedule. Don’t flip out when you see mine…remember it’s the IDEAL weekly schedule. Slight adjustments have to always be made to the schedule daily. I didn’t include things like Activity Day Girls, Scouts, Mutual, my homework deadlines etc. It’s always been more important that we have the schedule posted and our doing our absolute best to follow it than it is freaking out over things if the day doesn’t go exactly as scheduled.
Then there’s this ticket system that my good friend Loves2Smock told me about. I first tried this system a couple of years ago and my children went CRAZY over it. They absolutely loved it. I loved it because it allowed me to stop nagging, control some of their activities (by how high I priced them), and cut some chaos and craziness from our lives. Well they are a little bigger now and in a new environment now and so I needed to revise the system. Here’s what I came up with. My kids love it. With this system, only computer and Xbox time is limited to double. So…how does that work you ask….well, my children could pay 60 tickets and play outside for 2 hours. The more tickets they pay, the longer they can play outside. However, with computer and Xbox, the cap is 1 hour. I think they spend too much time playing inside and “plugged in” and so I made this things a little pricier to do. I don’t charge them for anything they do wrong and I don’t charge them to play with their own toys. I also received some incredible counsel from my Bishop on how much better it is to have kids in your home than let them go to other people’s homes and I live near a lot of shady people so I made it so that it costs my kids more to play at someone else’s house or spend the night at someone else’s house than it does to have friends over here. My favorite part about this system though is the golden tickets. This gives me a chance to reward each child individually according to the things they need to work on when they work on them.
My middle daughter has a severe attitude problem, my youngest daughter is a bit of a hypochondriac and my son is a cry baby. The golden tickets (which are at my discretion) are things I can award for when they self-regulate these things or accomplish things they’ve had to work hard on. I just told my kids that golden tickets would be awarded at my discretion and so they might want to be on their best behavior. Now they are telling on each other for doing good. It’s a nice change….we just started this system again last night so we’ll see how it goes but my children are thrilled by it.
In setting up how they earn their tickets, I did the same thing. The things that are most important have the highest total. It is important to me to be on-time to church. Church now starts at 1pm (yes I know that means I need to revise the schedule) and so there’s really no reason to be late. To be on-time it means we all have to work together to get ourselves ready to go and out the door and when we can pull it off, it means 100 tickets for each of them. Having chores done correctly daily is also something very important to me. They can earn 50 tickets a day for doing their chores right. I have another document that outlines what I expect done on a daily basis and on weekends when it’s “heavy cleaning” time. They must do their chores per the expectations to get the tickets…no exceptions. and it’s all or nothing. You don’t get half tickets for doing half your chores. Done right also means I don’t have to tell you to do them either. I made sure the kids all knew what I expected of them for the chores as well and they do. Additionally, we’ve become lax about family prayer and scripture study so there are ticket earning opportunities for these things as well.
Last night while explaining the schedule and ticket system my middle daughter who I lovingly have resumed calling Ranga decided to murmur. She was “never” going to get her tickets for being on-time to morning prayer because she just couldn’t get ready for school that fast and she didn’t think it was fair she couldn’t get up before 7am and and and. Guess who had 10 minutes to kill before she had to leave for the bus this morning and who earned her on-time to morning prayer tickets today though…yep Miss. Ranga.
I purchased raffle tickets at the dollar store. As it stands right now, each of my children have 750 total tickets they can earn. Our system is set up so that they can earn about 200 a day. If they embrace this system like they did the previous one, I will transition them to a point system and make corresponding point cards and an “order” sheet. Something that they can physically hold and look at and see to track what they’ve earned and what they’ve spent. Like I said…it’s only the day 2 into the new system so I’ll keep you posted. I will say this though, one of my son’s first questions this morning was “when do we get our tickets from yesterday”. I think this will work out just fine!
Finally there’s FHE and family scripture study and prayer. This is something I have REALLY struggled with because I’m the first member of the church in my family. I don’t think I’ve honestly ever even heard my mother utter a prayer so I’m not sure she even knows how to do it. At any rate, it’s something that is vital for harmony in the home and it’s something my children thoroughly enjoy. Call them crazy, but there’s been arguments over who’s turn it is to read the scriptures and teach the lesson and they’ve asked to have FHE every night. For those of you who are not LDS and don’t understand or know what I mean when I say FHE or Family Home Evening, please click this link to learn about the program.
Usually I have looked to LDS Living Magazine for FHE lessons. They are quick and easy and my children have loved them. I’ve printed out years and years of them and they are easy enough that my children can teach the lesson as well. Sometimes though I change up the activity or game. Another good friend of mine has been kind enough to share her format with me and I am transitioning to her format because my children are getting older now and I think they are ready for a little more “meat” to our weekly lessons. Last night’s scripture study kinda proves that. I’ll get to that part in a minute. I will share my modified version of her format soon. I have decided that we are going to do one or two quick easy LDS Living lessons, one “meaty” lesson and one family fun night monthly. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m curious how you structure FHE. Do you have a monthly theme? Do you just wing it? Do you base it off of things they’re working on in Scouts or Activity Days or Faith In God or Young Women’s? What has or hasn’t worked for you? I’d love to know.
Ok…now finally there is scripture study. I have purchased all but one of the …for Latter-day Saint Families titles. These are $50 books at Deseret Book and honestly…worth every single penny. As we resumed our scripture study, I decided to use these books as a companion to our OWN scriptures and not just as our scriptures. The full scriptures are contained in the book with notes and study helps and stuff at the bottom and we have learned so much. My hope is that perhaps by having our own scriptures in our hands as well, it will encourage my children to take notes in their scriptures, become more familiar with them and underline things they feel are important. Mariama Kallon once said her scriptures are her therapist and I want my family to rely on our scriptures like I have come to rely on my therapist.
So last night we sat down to do our family scripture study and my youngest daughter pulled out our church history book. I explained we were going to try something different instead and that this year we’d be studying the Book of Mormon instead. We had one of the most intense scripture study sessions ever which is why I know my kids are ready for some meatier topics and lessons in FHE. We never even got into the first chapter of the book, instead we talked about what it is and why it’s important we study it and some of the history around it. It was wonderful. I’m excited for our FHE lesson tonight (we missed having it on Monday, the officially sanctioned day) and for our scripture study afterwards.
I hope this helps some of you out there who also find themselves at the intersection of OCD and Chaos or even Well Intentioned and Chaos. If you use any of the things I’ve shared, please let me know how they work for you and if you have something you’re already doing that is working great, please share it!
Till next time my friends!