Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tips for the New Year

If you are like me, you are always looking for little gems, tips, hints, helpful pieces of advice that make the difficult parts of your life more manageable. But, if you really ARE like me, you can also over think yourself into a corner looking for the perfect method or just the right way to tackle that challenge heading your way whether it is a fast moving schedule or a 2 ton line of dirty clothes.

Dawn is working on a new system of notebooks for seasonal planning. I am intrigued! One part of my brain wanted to rush right out and tried to replicate her system immediately. The rational side is going to sit back and see how she makes it work for her family and think about how it might work for mine. I might take some small little notebooks on a test drive before jumping into the project full steam.

With the start of a new year, some people are searching for a way to do things better and some people are sharing their own methods and insights gleaned from their own personal experience. Places like A Servant's Heart can be a great source of information and inspiration, just don't let your brain ruin it for you!

Not all of Gretchen's ideas or anyone else's ideas will work for your family or for mine and the trick is to figure out what you can apply before your brain shuts down and leaves you pouting on the bench (can you tell we have been watching a lot of football around here!) For example: I read her line about everyone over the age of 12 doing their own laundry and chuckled thinking about The Professor making plans for turning 11 in a few weeks. Whoops. So should that mean that Husband and I are the only ones licensed to operate a washing machine? Well, no. In our house, while the children are not responsible for doing their own laundry from start to finish, they are responsible for sorting, sometimes folding, and putting away. We also have a front loader which means that they can start a load all on their own and switch the loads when asked. That works for us, but may not be possible if you have a top loader.

I totally agree with her about toy boxes now, but there have been times in our life when a toy box was the best solution. When I had three under three and our life hadn't yet succumbed to the tiny toy brigade that seems to creep in as children get older, a large toy box worked to contain the things they played with on a regular basis but wasn't so cluttered that they had to dump and search to find them.

Most of the kitchen gurus out there will tell you that stocking your kitchen and pantry with food that has been well thought out and planned is a beautiful thing. I have been using a two week rotational meal plan for a while and have enjoyed the order it has brought to my kitchen and shopping routines, but all the illness going around here has taught me that some flexibility is very necessary. A surprise trip to the doctor's office at 4pm followed by that time wasting conspiracy known as rush hour traffic means that the chicken that should have been seasoned and roasted at 4:30 to be on the dinner table by 6pm just isn't going to happen. Had I foreseen that my day would end with fluorescent lights, stethoscopes and oxygenation monitors, I would have popped it in the crock pot in the morning; but I didn't.

So, when this time of year rolls around, and you feel the urge to give your routine/house/classroom an overhaul, enjoy the stories and advice, the glimpses into someone else's life and the successes they are enjoying by figuring out what works best for them. If you feel inspired to try to incorporate them into your life, give it a the old college try but remember that while we are all made in the image and likeness of God, He isn't using a factory of mass production.


  1. Well said! Once I realized our family doesn't fit the supposed mold, peace quickly came to me!

  2. This hits home right now, especially with my oldest sick and my youngest following in his footsteps with a familiar cough.
    I also like Dawn's ideas. Even though my little guys are two and under, I am starting a Catholic Binder of ideas that include Feast Day recipes/activities, your coloring pages, seasonal activities, book titles, etc. etc.
    Thank you for a well written post. Lots of mothers are experiencing what you to tackle the laundry, dishes, and scrape up some lunch.

  3. Here is another excellent website for making a notebook binder. It just goes in your kitchen drawer and has everything from an emergency phone number list to babysitter permission slips to a great cleaning schedule that doesn't overwork you. You can also put recipes and menus in it as well. Hope you enjoy checking it out.

  4. I think the the underlying theme of Dawn's blog is not, "Succeed with each new idea" but "Keep Trying". She's the first to admit that she's always trying new systems of organization and some fail to live up to her family's needs. But she's an inspiration to me because she doesn't cower in fear and procrastinate on the ideas she has. She charges ahead and if something doesn't work she tweaks or tries something new.

  5. I also meant to add that I really liked your post!

  6. I couldn't agree more! I love reading what works for people and reading someone's new approach to tackling a particular problem. I just know that my reaction is to jump in feet first without taking time to evaluate why what works for someone else might not work for me and then I usually end up disappointed. I am eagerly anticipating Dawn's updates on how she is using her new system and, like I said, I might try it in a small way first to see if it works for my family before I dive in completely. It is more of a self control problem on my part that it is any kind of criticism of Dawn. I would be crushed if she thought I was criticizing her idea in the slightest!

  7. Oh Charlotte, you weren't being critical of Dawn in the slightest! Your post just gave me the opportunity to commend Dawn for a trait that I need to work on and that's facing the fear of failure and trying something new. Sometimes I feel inadequate when I read how some women seem to be very much with it in terms of organization but for myself, I have learned that the key is to at least "Try". And I completely agree with you that systems have to be tweaked constantly or dropped for the sake of our individual families. And I think this applies to other things in our families' lives including homeschooling methods and traditions. And I also think this comment is getting so long that I just need to work up the guts to call you someday for a chat. :-)

  8. I love this: "Remember that while we are all made in the image and likeness of God, He isn't using a factory of mass production." Thank you.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!