home hints....

home organization and management

Let me just tell you that I love to organize! I have to stop myself from going to extremes, though. We don't live in a big house and we have a very hectic life with unexpected things coming up on a regular basis (welcome to life in the ministry...). Being a little organized saves a lot of sanity! The way that I do things may not be what's best for you. As women, we have the tendency to think that our way is the only way when, in reality, what works for my family may not work for yours. And what works this year for your family may not work next year for your family. I have changed my systems for meal planning, organizing and cleaning several times, either because our life situation changed or what I was doing just wasn't working. I borrow ideas and adapt them to fit our life. I've been a working mom, a stay home mom of three kids under three and now I'm a stay home mom with all three kids in school but have just as busy of a schedule with our ministry to the church my husband pastors. Hopefully, I'll have some ideas that will be beneficial to your life situation. What's important is to realize that taking the time to do a little planning and a little organizing can honestly make such a difference. You don't have to spend hours, but oh my goodness it's so worth not having the added stress of coming home and trying to figure out what's for supper. Oh, and I'm cheap so my methods are not only simple and realistic, but they are affordable. I sincerely believe the key to being able to delight in everyday life is to efficiently manage our homes through simple organization. It prevents us from becoming so wrapped up and lost in the everyday that we miss the blessings of everyday. If our brain is scattered then we won't have the ability to be wholly healthy...trust me on this one! I hope these categories of tips and ideas inspire you to come up with your own tools to better manage your home.

  • Clearing the Chaos 
  • Simple Suppers
  • Simple Solutions
  • Warm & Welcoming


No Need to Overachieve
So many blogs, websites and Pinterest add to our feelings of insecurity and inadequacy as women. They keep us stuck in the comparison trap; if I'm not doing everything she is then I'm a failure. As daughters of the Most High, we must learn what God says about being a woman and remove from our lives every other opinion. I am here to tell you that your body may not be perfect, your home may not be the Pinterest dream and your meals may not all be made from scratch. I do not agree with the motto that it's okay to have a wreck of a home nor to I believe that it has to be spotless every single day. It is all about balance and keeping things in perspective. It's the reason behind things; am I keeping my house neat and tidy to make myself feel worthy or is my motive to create a haven for my family? When we release ourselves from the first reason and begin living by the second, our home transforms into that haven our families so desperately need. Take some time over the next few days and simply ask Your Father to show you why you do what you do. Are you seeking a feeling of approval or is it simply your delight? Now don't get me wrong, I still hate doing dishes, but I don't have to do them begrudgingly because it's okay if the sink isn't always empty. This is not a lazy pass, but a reality pass. Step out of that unrealistic sense of duty that it all has to be perfect. Why am I so adamant about balance? When we live in the extremes of duty or diva lazy, we miss what matters most; the relationship with our family. Our time will be spent trying to get all of this stuff done causing us to constantly dismiss those around us. Their most remembered words from us will be, "mommy can't right now, I have to do...." Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that life revolve around our children, because that produces in them a wrong mindset. However, they should live with certainty that they are our priority. There are going be times where we simply have to do laundry because no one will have clean underwear otherwise! One of the greatest ways to Clearing the Chaos is to involve your kids. Stop doing it all  yourself, you are not the maid of the house. Your role as a Godly woman is to teach your children, not wait on them hand and foot. Yes, it can be more of a hassle to involve them but keep things in long term perspective; you'll be doing them a life long favor. There are things your children can start doing from the age of a toddler. My oldest is 10 and can do laundry, load the dishwasher and clean the bathroom. Make simple chore charts with a few realistic responsibilities. We call our "jobs" rather than chores and our family motto is "No responsibilities = no privileges." We don't pay allowance; we simply teach our kids that our family is a team therefore it is the responsibility of all of us to help take care of our home. No matter how hard it is to walk through the house, do not pick up that toy. They got it out, they need to pick it up. If they choose not to, they won't get to enjoy a privilege. How we do things isn't perfect and I am not saying that it is the best. However, a huge part of clearing the chaos is making every family member be involved in taking care of the home. Not only does this help you out immensely, but it gives them a sense of belonging which children so desperately need. My last Clear the Chaos tip for today is get your brain on paper! Although my Task Manager is not nearly as involved or detailed as many that I've seen (again, balance-I'm not superwoman!), it has been one of the greatest but most simple helps for me to keep a simply organized list of what I need to get done. I don't forget things or stay overwhelmed trying to remember things. On Sunday afternoon, I sit down for about ten minutes, look at my calendar to see what's coming up for the week, then write out what needs to get done. Here's the one I use:

My prayer is that you begin to realize how much of your spiritual life is tied to your everyday life. Why you do the things you do is deeply tied to what is going on in your heart. Begin by getting honest with yourself and God. Then take a few simple steps to start Clearing the Chaos. 

Plan Every Meal

No matter what your family dynamic looks like, the one thing that we most concern ourselves with as women is feeding the people under our care. To be honest, I don't really think that most of the things I do are any different or better than what most of you do. Many of the things that I post, I hesitate, because I know you probably already do it. I'm going to dive on out there and post this simple tip because it wasn't until just the past few years that it dawned on me that I needed to plan out every meal, not just suppers. Every time I go through the store, I see grocery shoppers just grabbing things and throwing them in the cart. I just cannot do that. While I do not enjoy being in the store for too long, I ponder over my purchases (well, I at least give it a decent consideration!). When I began my meal rotation plan, I also began planning out every meal,breakfast, lunch and snacks. The reason is because I would come home with either stuff I didn't need because I forgot I already had it or not enough snacks (or breakfasts) for the whole week. Then back to the store I'd go. I got sick of that and concluded that there must be a more logical solution to this simple grocery shopping problem. It occurred to me that it only makes since to plan out every meal, that way I don't have too much food that goes to waste or too little food causing me to make irritating extra store runs. So my "Clearing the Chaos" Tip: plan out every single meal for the entire week. This solves two problems: you have less thinking to do because you've already planned it out (and you have an answer for those pesky "what can I eat" questions!) and you waste far less time and money. The five to ten minutes it takes me to plan out breakfast, lunch, snacks and supper for the week is so worth the time. An added bonus, much of my grocery list stays the same! Now, if you're a little OCD like me, I just rotate every meal like I do suppers, but a little more simply. This allows me to buy in bulk and not have to come up with new ideas for these meals every week. 

  • Heather's Breakfast Rotation:
    M-Muffin Monday (with some fruit)
    T-Toast Tuesday (nutella w/ sliced strawberries; pb & banana; cinnamon toast; or a bagel with the toppings)
    W-Waffle Wednesday (whole wheat;topped w/ yogurt or nutella)
    Th-Pancake Thursday (whole wheat; topped w/ pb & jelly, etc)
    F-French Toast or Fritata Friday
    S-Sweet Saturday (donuts, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread)
    S-Cereal Sunday
  • Lunch Rotation:
    *This is for summer break. I do it a little different when the kids are in school & I'm packing their lunches.
    M-Mac & Cheese
    T-Hot Dog Kabob
    W-Bean & Cheese Burrito (or quesadilla)
    TH-Smorgasboard (cheese, crackers, fruit)
    F-Grilled Cheese
    S-Leftovers (from suppers)
  • Snack Rotation:
    T-Frozen Yogurt Pops (made from leftover smoothie)
    W-Boiled egg, chips & salsa
    Th-graham cracker ice cream sandwich or cheerio treats
    F-Fruit salad or fruit w/ dip
    S-granola bar or energy cookies
Since I stay home and have the time, I make up breakfast food once a month, divide it up and freeze it so that I'm not having to make breakfast everyday. However, many mom's are working mom's and simply don't have the time to bake breakfast for the entire month. You know what, that's ok! It doesn't make a mom any less of a mom. I have only done this for the past few months, to be honest. Whether you are going to make or buy your meals, it is still worth the few minutes to make a meal plan. When you plan out your breakfast meals, for example, you know exactly how long that big box of eggo waffles will last! Planning out also keeps your family from getting tired of eating the same thing everyday. This month, I am not making my pancakes homemade (it's my summer break too!). The grocery store had a sale on frozen pancakes that was cheaper than if I were to make them myself. I always go for cheaper if it's still healthy! Don't feel one bit bad it you buy rather than bake. My motto for "Clearing the Chaos" is to just do a little planning because it honestly goes a long way.

UPDATE: Since writing this post last year, my kids went and grew up on me so I've had to change how I do a few things! Well, not completely grown up, but grown up enough to tell me that they want to pick out what they eat for breakfast. Since they are 10, 9 and 7, all about to have birthday's (good grief that year went by fast!), I suppose its time. I basically do the same food, but let them pull out what they want from the freezer. Now, for breakfast for example, I just make up big batches of pancakes, waffles, muffins, french toast sticks, mini egg frittata's, breakfast burrito's and oatmeal packets once a month. I divide each food item into four bags, one for each week in the month. One freezer bag of each item is kept in the fridge freezer and the other 3 bags are kept out in the deep freezer.


What's for dinner? Isn't that the dreaded question of the day?! Figuring out what to fix for meals used to be one of my most dreaded chores. I would become frustrated because I'd get stuck in a rut of preparing the same meals over and over or I would just end up doing quick, unhealthy meals. Thanks to a wonderful pastor's wife that I had when my kids were babies, I learned how to better plan. My method for meal planning has changed several times over the past few years in my attempt to best fit our family (well that and I'm notorious for always looking for a better way to do things...it's kind of an obsession!). Before I dive into explaining my method, know that my way simply may not work for you. The best advice I have for feeding your family with simple and stress-free meals is to come up with some type of plan. Otherwise, you will find yourself strung out, frustrated and spending more money that you have to spend. Whatever suggestions you find helpful, simply adapt them to fit your family. I never do something exactly the way someone else does simply because my family isn't their family. 

Solutions for Simple Suppers:

  1. Decide how often grocery shopping works best for you; once a week, every two weeks, one a month. For a while I bought groceries once a month. However, that did not last long because I was missing good sale prices. I now shop once a week, however this depends entirely upon what works realistically with your schedule.
  2. Get simple meal ideas and recipes together. Some of my favorite sites to find meal ideas are Pinterest, food.com, allrecipes.com, sixsistersstuff.com.
    • One of the biggest keys to simple suppers is finding recipes with very few ingredients. Just about every meal I fix has 5 or less ingredients (with the exception of spices). This saves time and money.
    • Find recipes that use basically the same ingredients. Most of my  Mexican meals use ground beef, black beans, cheese and salsa. This allows me to buy one large pack of ground beef for the month because I can cook up the meat, divide it into 3 or 4 freezer bags to use for that many "Mexican Monday" meals. Also, when I find beans or cheese on sale, I know to buy enough for 4 Mexican Monday meals. I make a large container of salsa once a month to have on hand for all of my Mexican meals, as well.
  3. Make a Meal Rotation Plan. Before you write me off on this one, let me explain. I have only done this for the past two years, but it has been the best change in meal planning that I've ever made. Getting stuck in a "what to fix" and "I fix the same thing all the time" rut is very easy, especially when you consider how many meals we have to come up with over the years! We get to where we can't think of anything else to fix, so we just go back to the same stuff. The flip side is that it's also too much trouble trying to find new recipes all of the time. Even though I'm a stay home wife/mom, I don't have the time for that.I came up with this meal planning system because it takes out all the guess work of remembering what I fixed last week, it eliminates trying to figure out what to fix for the next week and I no longer get stuck in a rut. I have my meals for the week planned out in less than five minutes with this simple solution. Here's what I mean by a Meal Rotation Plan:
    • Make a simple document with the 7 days of the week and space under each of the seven sections to make a list. (I'll have some posted soon that you can just download, as well!)
    • Name your days. 
      Heather's: Simple Sunday, Mexican Monday, Italian Tuesday, Quick Wednesday, American Thursday, Family Friday, Sandwich Saturday

      Other Ideas: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Crock Pot Wednesday, Breakfast Thursday, Favorites Friday, Soup Saturday

      *The important thing is to come up with what you like to cook and what your family will eat. Don't make it complicated!
    • Divide and list your recipes and family's favorite meals into the days. For example, every Mexican dish I make is listed under Mexican Monday, every pasta dish I make is listed under Italian Tuesday, every "normal" dish is under American Thursday and so forth. I go a step further and divide my days into the type of meat because it helps me when buying meat.

That's it! Now I just rotate through my list. Every once in a while, I'll add recipes to my list that I want to try, but only a few times throughout the year because I don't want to redo my list too often. You would not believe how this meal plan has eliminated those last minute grocery runs or drive thru suppers.

This Week's Menu:(Week of July 2)
QUICK WEDNESDAY- *It's a Holiday so we will be with Friends!
AMERICAN THURSDAY- Grilled Pork Chops & Roasted Veggies
FAMILY FRIDAY- Frozen Pizza(of course whichever kind is on sale!)
SANDWICH SATURDAY- We have a wedding to attend that will have a dinner reception!
SIMPLE SUNDAY- Crockpot Au Jus Subs 

Family Favorite "Simple Suppers"
*Recipes coming soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment