Thursday, April 22, 2010

day 112: other home management systems, part ii of ii

Home management systems continued from yesterday:

1. Maintenance Moments With Mom (MMM)—A couple of times a week the kids and I have a fifteen to thirty minute work session that I fondly call MMM (not to be confused to my special time with Kara that is also called MMM—Magazine Moments With Mom!). During this time, we just tackle a disorganized area of our house. For instance, right now we are working on our books and bookshelves, sorting things to sell for our daughter’s Missionary Marketplace, an ebay store in which she is going to sell things to help raise her monthly funds for her new full-time mission position. I am amazed how much we can sort and organize in a couple of sessions a week—if we do it consistently. If you don’t think that fifteen or thirty minute organizing increments would make that much difference, consider these two thoughts: (a) How do you eat an elephant? ; (b) organizing specialists say that it takes twenty minutes a day to keep organization systems up. What can four of us accomplish in an hour or so a week?

2. Family Work Days—The older kids and I used to call these “Big Work Days,” but I don’t have the stamina and our kids soon did not have full days to devote to projects around the house (especially once they started college during high school (duel credits) or jobs or ministries. So now, I realistically call them Family Work Days and am grateful for whatever time we have and however much we can get done. Family Work Days are reserved for seasonal cleaning, outdoor work, etc. We like to end Family Work Days with something fun and relaxing, like movie and pizza night.

3. Mega Cooking—Twenty years ago this summer I was expecting our fourth baby in eight years, and I hit upon a book called “Make a Mix Cookery.” I started doing many of the recipes in there and soon had a freezer full of pre-prepared meats, sauces, etc.—and was just a short step and a couple of months away from what I now call Mega Cooking—cooking meals, entrees, and any other “make ahead/freeze” recipes that I came up with. Later I discovered that Freezer Cooking was the hip thing—and there were actually books published with recipes. (I had been using Make a Mix recipes and experimenting with my own.) When the girls were home, we had long, and actually enjoyable, cooking days. We loved it—and Kayla (our oldest daughter, missionary girl) and I still cook together whenever she is home or I am there as it is truly one of “our things.” Through the years, we have had Mega Cooking weeks in which I took a week off from school in order to make hundreds of meals and entrees and put in the freezer. Now we have shortened versions of that in which any of us from two to five of us go to the kitchen and cook and freeze. I have streamlined it to where we always do, say, all ground beef entrees, or call chicken breast entrees, etc. I love having freezer meals and mega cooking times help me get some of those in the freezer every month.*

4. Family cooking night—In a few minutes, I will post this blog and gather in the kitchen with Ray and the three boys for family cooking night! We enjoy gathering together to slice, dice, and julienne—as we talk or listen to audio books or radio dramas. Tonight we are making homemade pizzas. Many nights we prepare salad ingredients or stir fries. Oftentimes when we have finger foods or other dishes to carry in, we will work together to make them. And I have to tell you, when we need to, we can have a meal on the table in no time flat!

5. Mom’s organizational methods—As a long time homeschooler of several children, I have learned many, many techniques for organizing and getting things done. I have too many to list here; however, I will explain my best daily method for getting things done—my A-B-C approach. The weekend before the coming week I open my “Weekly Planner” (the pages that have the seven days laid out on a two page spread). On the half of each page that lists the days, I write beneath each one what we have going on that day. On the other half of each page, I write A+, A, B, C, and Later. Under each letter, I write things that I need to do (besides my daily schooling and work around the house). I put the most important things under A+, then A, and so on. I add to this as I think of things, always keeping my planner at my fingertips. Then when my week begins I do the regular things I have to do each day FIRST. Then I move onto A+ or A and work on anything I can get to. (For me, these include writing lessons for our books, blog writing, editing; they also include cleaning projects, such as cleaning out the freezer or other non-daily tasks; they also include anything special I want to do with or for my kids, such as lunch with Cami, edit Kayla’s final paper for her; they include anything special for school, such as doing library holds, lesson planning, extra (non-daily/normal) lessons or help that someone might need, etc.) In any given week, I may not get beyond any B’s at all. Sometimes I do! However, I know that I am accomplishing the most important things—and the remaining things can go on next week’s list.

*Note about mega cooking—this large cooking skill has allowed our family to bless and help so many people through the years. We often cook parts of or all of banquets/lunches for our daughter’s disability ministry; we have cooked for people with sick family members, deaths in their families, and new babies. Mega cooking has given our children so many skills in math, kitchen work, organization, efficiency, and more. It has given them tools to help others in their times of need. I can’t say enough about cooking together as a family!

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