I've said this before, but I always hesitate a bit before writing "how-to" posts... because I don't feel like I'm an expert on most of what I write about.
I may have some things that have worked for our family in regards to parenting, marriage, housecleaning, homeschooling etc... but that's all I'm offering. I've read some really great books on all of these subjects, and listened to some fabulous sermons on lots of these issues (except homeschooling) as well. Those are the people you should really listen to: the experts.
Also, I hope this post doesn't feel too preachy, if you know what I mean. What works for our family on a day-to-day basis might look completely different than what works for yours. We have different dynamics here than a lot of families, and things even looked a lot different years ago for us, when all of my kids were under the age of ten.
And here's another all-purpose disclaimer on posts like this: we're a work in progress. We are constantly - and I do mean constantly- upgrading our system at The Rice Ranch. Tweaking things, adding things, calling a family meeting and completely overhauling things ... we have not arrived.
And we know it.
Soooooo, with all of those disclaimers (geeze louise I make a lot of them around here), here is my handy dandy post on How We Do Things at The Rice Ranch.
Are you ready ??
Pretty slow, sometimes with a few early risers, and always with a lot of yawns.
I try to get up before the kids do, to get my prayer and Bible reading in before the day gets past me. This does not always happen- but it is my goal. I am such a scatterbrained kind of a person, that having that little window of time to fix my thoughts on God and give Him time to speak to my heart helps me so much. I'm also a big : worrier, procrastinator, and scatterbrain (did I say that already?) and I get distracted easily...I'm terrible at prioritizing too. (Gee, and maybe I struggle with a little bit of self loathing at times ?? ) So with all these great personality/character traits at work, I really, really, REALLY need the help of the Lord to run this ship.
I'm a wreck without it.
|Caleb, teaching Hayden how to high-five. Part of our homeschooling curriculum for 9 month olds.|
Last summer we changed many things about the way we eat at The Rice Ranch. We still have a long way to go, because Sam and the kids would have revolted and ordered a new wife/mom if I implemented everything I want to do over night. (I know that by .. .ahem ... trial and error.) One of the Big Changes we've made has to do with cereal.
The reason I capitalized the B and C in those words, is because that is probably how you will hear my children refer to their lives when they are older. Before Cereal (BC) and after the Big Change.
"Oh yes, that was 2012 BC, when Captain Crunch and our family were on a first name basis."
That's what they will say, I'm sure.
So NOW - 2014 AC - breakfast has many components to it. And most of them involve preparation by yours truly. There may be yogurt and granola, fresh fruit, ham or bacon or sausage (organic and nitrate free when we can afford it!) ten grain pancakes, fruit and or/ vegetable smoothies, potatoes, oatmeal, or the occasional bag of bagels... but cereal is now a Treat. With a capital T.
More on the reasons why in a future post, but I said all that to say : breakfast is a big deal now, and I love it. I love spending time with my kids in the morning while I prepare things and they devour things, because it is a great opportunity for me to connect with them before our day gets too busy.
I mean, look at that adorable face right there. Who wouldn't want to spend an hour each morning conversing over the stove with a crazy little guy like that ? Better than Wheaties, I tell ya.
So after breakfast, we attack our Morning Chores. I chose to capitalize those words as well, because they are such a sacred part of our daily ritual, that they just deserves caps. We do not do anything else after breakfast before Morning Chores commence and end.
Here's just a glimpse into what Morning Chores look like :
|Caleb, attacking his zone.|
I realize right here that there will be those who assume I am a slave driver, as a parent.
You would be right in that assumption.
However... this is what works for us.
There are too many bodies living under one roof to let things go for a few days around here.
Take for instance, a pair of shoes left lying around. If every member of the family left a pair of shoes on the floor, instead of properly placing them on the shoe rack in the garage, there would be ELEVEN pairs of shoes scattered throughout the house. And if every person in our house left just three objects lying around - a pencil, a library book, a jacket, what have you - that would 33 items spread throughout our house on a given day. Left out over the course of a few days, we would have over one hundred items to step over, making for one giant MESS of a house.
I can't function like that.
Maybe you can, and that's your way of coping - having it all spread out in front of you, so that you actually see the jacket you need, lying carelessly on the couch, or the library book peeking out from under the chair in the corner, just waiting for you when you need it.
I'm just not like that.
A place for everything, and everything in its place. That's how we roll here at The Rice Ranch.
But lest you think this means a house that is spotless, one that is at all times free of any debris or dust or dirt, here's another disclaimer:
I just jumped up from the computer to finger-swipe the inside of Hayden's mouth, because he was choking on a leftover chocolate chip from this morning. (Hello, pancakes with chocolate chips! You are not much better than Captain Crunch for my children. BUT, at least you had some protein powder sprinkled in, to redeem you a teensy bit.)
Where was I ???
Oh yes... Morning Chores.
Here's the master plan for how things are supposed to go...
Make sure you read that correctly : the way things are supposed to go.
It is rare - RARE - that every single thing on that master plan is done. In fact, it's safe to say that hell might freeze over before we actually hit every goal we have for the day. But we have a goal. There will be looooots of deviations from that goal. Josiah might come over for an hour one morning to shoot hoops with the kids, because he works a lot, and it's one of the few times he can make it over here during the day. So we drop everything to give the kids some time with their older brother. Daddy might come home for breakfast, and we all take a bit longer to savor a rare morning with him home... or someone wakes up sick and a trip to the doctor throws the whole schedule off... or any number of things conspiring against The Master Plan...
But we do have a goal.
We aim, and lots of times we miss.
But having these guidelines hanging on a dry erase board in the laundry room for everyone to see, has helped us all to regain focus when we lose it, and at least have some general idea of what we need to get done each day.
|Hayden, emptying the dishwasher. (Note: all silverware was removed from before he climbed in there. Promise.)|
So here's the nitty gritty, for those of you who asked specifically for a blogpost about How We Do It.
Each child in our family has a zone that they are responsible for cleaning. We think of this as a "divide and conquer" strategy for getting our house in order. Rather than Mommy cleaning everything, which would mean zero time for teaching, cooking, showering, and breathing- we assign zones.
After breakfast, as I said above, every child attacks their zone. These were established during a family meeting, and everyone gave input as to what they felt they could reasonably handle. The younger children may need help with their zones, and most days I go check on what they've done and maybe help them finish their job completely. Or, I may give some pointers on how they can finish their zones themselves ( for example: telling Abbi to clean behind the toilet and not just in front of it, etc.) But for the most part, they each own their zone.
Our three teenagers are responsible for cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast. They empty the dishwasher, load it, wipe down counters, put food away, sweep the floor, and empty the trash if needed.
Jackson pushes in barstools, or straightens chairs at the table. He also organizes the shoe rack in the garage, makes his bed, brushes his teeth, puts his jammies away, and gets dressed for the day. At age seven, his responsibilities as far as Morning Chores go are minimum.
Abigail is in charge of cleaning the upstairs bathroom every day. She cleans the counters, mirrors, sink and floor, and makes sure towels are hung up nicely. On Saturdays she deep cleans everything, but throughout the week she maintains. She makes her bed, straightens up her room, and vacuums her bedroom floor.
(All children must make their beds, brush their teeth, get dressed for the day and put jammies away, etc.)
Noah is in charge of the downstairs bathroom, which is only a half bath. He also takes turns with Abbi sweeping the downstairs and swiffering it (hallway, bathroom, dining room and living room...we have all wood floors downstairs.) He vacuums the bedroom that he shares with his brothers. It's a gigantic room, and we have several sets of bunk beds, in case you wondered how we fit five boys in one room!
Tyler vacuums the area rug in the family room, as well as our bedroom ... Jonathan does the stairs in the front of the house... Caleb does the stairs at the back of the house... Abigail vacuums the landing upstairs ... yes, we are neurotic about vacuuming every day. It takes each child about five minutes, and it saves tons on carpet cleaning bills. And our carpets always look nice :)
After Morning Chores we homeschool (details on that in a future post) and then we break for lunch. The older kids help me clean up, and then the little ones go down for a nap.
Again - this does not always go according to schedule. Sometimes Hayden falls asleep before lunch and doesn't need a second nap. Sometimes Lily wakes up late, and doesn't go down for a nap til 3:30 (she's waiting for me to put her down right now!) But at some point my two youngest take naps, and this happens sometime after breakfast and before dinner :)
Throughout the day we have regular "quick pick up" sessions, if it seems things are getting out of hand. In fact, my kids are generally the ones to enforce this. If they see things are getting messy, one of them will usually ask - "Mom, can we just do a quick pick up of the house ? I can't function when things are like this."
What can I say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I always have kids helping me in the kitchen for dinner - it's usually Caleb and Abigail, but all kids do help with dinner prep in one form or another. Whether that's setting the table or getting drinks for people, or moving food to the dining room - we're all doing something to help, so that we can sit down and have a nice dinner together.
Our lives are pretty busy with church, and jobs, and sports, and a million other things, so every night is different as far as what we're doing....
|Wednesday nights we go to church !|
...but at the end of each day we always put the house back in order. The nice thing is that because of all our quick pick up's throughout the day, this doesn't take much time. Tyler is in charge of making sure the garage (a big playroom/music room/wii room) gets picked up, and everyone else helps make sure clothes go in the hamper, teeth are brushed, and bedrooms are clean. I'm usually folding laundry and putting it away while the kids get ready for bed, and Daddy always prays with everyone before we go to sleep.
So there you have it.
Zones, a master plan, Morning Chores, quick pick ups.... this is How We Do Things at The Rice Ranch.
I'd love to hear how your family does things in the comment section... and if you've blogged about it in the past, leave a link !
Happy Thursday :)