How Do I Begin?
For many people who want to do better in an area, the question is, “How and Where do I start?” I remember about 25 years ago, helping a young lady who was in MUCH debt. She was determined to do better in that area and so she bought a book on being Debt Free. Well, I am all for reading about how to do something, but I am very aware that a book does not make you debt free. DESIRE, DETERMINATION and a WILLINGNESS to apply the principles make one debt free. It was, however, a deep desire of hers to become debt free, and I am happy to say she did just that. What a joy it was to see her pay off old debts that had been “written off” by the stores. It was the RIGHT thing to do. To do this, she denied herself frivolous things: eating out, sipping on expensive coffee drinks, buying too many clothes, etc. She only purchased things that were on sale, whether the grocery store, Wal-Mart, etc. Bargain hunting became fun. Within a year, she even established a savings account. It can happen! To this day, she is very thankful, and still incorporates these principles.
It’s much the same with organization and planning. One could buy books on being organized or how to plan. This book might cover many things, like storage options, procedures to follow, etc. But the question still remains, “Do you have the desire, determination and willingness to apply principles to become more planned and organized?”
This month, I would like to share a few principles that I use- and I would say that most organized people use- that will make your life less chaotic and more organized. It all begins with ROUTINE. Routine is a procedure or course of action. It involves pre-planning and work, but it yields less stress, as well as comfort in “knowing” that certain things are always done, and in some ways, always done the same way. I am not insinuating “boring.” I am saying, it’s things that we do with regularity that all family members can count on. Doing this actually provides security in the home- for kids especially- but also that your husband can rely on.
On a daily basis, put these things into action:
Make it a point to get up each morning about the same time-earlier rather than later. Make this a routine/schedule. Upon arising MAKE YOUR BED and pick up your bedroom. Have your children do their rooms. Kids of 2-3 yrs. can make a bed (not perfectly, but a start!) and pick up their rooms (toys in bins, clothes in closets, etc.), if they have not done that the evening before. (*If your little children are still sleeping and you know they need the sleep, use this precious time to read your Bible and do a task or two that needs to be done before you have little feet in the way. Don’t waste this time by sleeping in.)
Choose to make yourself and your children a good, nutritious breakfast. Do not rely on easy, EXPENSIVE things from the grocery store that are devoid of nutrition. To do this, you must be prepared with the right groceries in your cupboard. Think of eggs and toast, oatmeal and berries, fruit smoothies, etc. Be creative. You can make enough smoothies (full of fruit/yogurt/spinach, flax seed, etc.) for a week, freeze them, and then take one out the night before and thaw in fridge. No fuss or mess in the morning! The same can be done with egg bakes in individual muffin tins.
Always pretreat stains when you remove your clothing. Sort in baskets that might be “whites,” “darks,” “dress clothes,” “towels,” and “workclothes.” With it organized this way, it is easy to throw in a load or two of laundry in the morning. Remember to FINISH that load. Be determined.
Consider, during this morning time, what you will have for supper. If it is an especially busy day, perhaps it will be a crock-pot meal- which means that you might need to take out meat the night before. Again, think ahead. Make your meal and get supper going. Another thing that I like to do, is when I buy hamburger, I like to brown several pounds ahead of time. I add onions and garlic, but you do what your family likes. If I have a busy day, but we still want sloppy joes or taco salad for supper, it’s very easy to lightly brown this again (even if frozen!) and add the tomato sauce and seasonings. If you know it’s a stay-at-home day, perhaps it would be fun to try a new recipe and enjoy with your family. Again, you will need to be prepared. This is where good grocery shopping habits will help you. I almost NEVER have to go to the store to get an ingredient. My fridge always has lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, sour cream, cream cheese, fresh lemons and limes, etc. I try to always have potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc., on hand to round out that crock pot meal. I always have chicken, pork chops, etc. in my freezer. All the ingredients that we normally use in everyday recipes, I try to have available. If it is a new recipe, but you have thought ahead, it’s easy to pick an item at the store when you are doing your shopping prior to this meal.
Even with this busy morning, you will still have time to get your kitchen in order, tidy the bathroom, etc. Cleaning your floors, vacuuming rugs, etc., should have a scheduled appearance! Maybe 1-2x a week.
Lunches can easily be left-overs from the night before. In fact, we always grill extra 1-2 chicken breasts so that we have an easy meal the next day. Here’s another suggestion: be prepared when you have an errand to run at meal time. This may cause us to develop the bad habit of eating out or stopping for “fast food.” This is not good for the budget, nor is it good for your children to “eat out” all the time. Habitually grabbing a sweet drink or french fries, because you had not planned ahead, is not wise. If you always have peanut butter and bread, fresh veggies, fresh fruit, good crackers, etc. on hand, each of those is easy to take along, so you can feed them quickly, when necessary. A $5-10 quick meal for a child, just because you have not planned ahead, is not the best way to spend money OR feed your kids. Their taste buds will be “changed” to desiring greasy, salty, sweet food. Don’t do that to them. It’s hard enough, later in life, to deal with weight/health issues, without programming their cravings when they are little. Take that $10, and invest in quality food for times like this. Please understand: it’s none of my business if you like to “treat” your kids to a piece of pizza at SAM’S after you shop! I would just caution you to be aware of the cost and the nutritional value of the food you give them.
Teach your children to help set the table for meals, and clear the table afterward. Moms, learn to delegate. Make chores age-appropriate, but even a 2-year old can take napkins to and from the table. Yes, initially, it will be MORE work for you, because it includes teaching, but don’t be lazy! Just do it!
After supper, if you’ve been busy all day being productive, there should be time to enjoy the family. Summertime gives time to be outside- maybe a picnic, ball games, a bike ride, having a cup of coffee with your spouse while the kids play. Look forward to this. You can, if you are organized and planned.
Before bedtime, ALL toys need to be picked up. Dirty clothes need to be put in laundry baskets, and dishes all washed; countertops clean; floors swept; chairs wiped of dirty hand prints; bathroom picked up after baths; meat taken out of freezer for dinner tomorrow.
This may seem like a “pipe dream,” and since I do not have children, I hope you don’t ask “What planet is she on?” I saw my mother, with four children and hired men year ‘round, no clothes dryer, no
microwave, no McDonalds to bail her out, DO ALL OF THIS EACH AND EVERY DAY. It’s all about setting your priorities. Diligence and Routines are so helpful. Decide on a day to begin!