Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homemaker Monday: Trouble-Shooting Lack of Organization

Welcome to the 61st weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Kara over at "Kara's Kitchen Creations"! She wrote the most adorable post about a fun Halloween dinner you can prepare for your kids. I became so happy and actually smiled when I looked at how her "mummy pizzas" turned out. I actually said in my mind as the photo was scrolled up onto my computer screen "Oh. My. Gosh!" Look, see if you do the same...

Am I right? Didn't you smile? If you didn't, you need to do an attitude adjustment! So, Kara, thank you so much for linking up with us and teaching and inspiring us. If you want, please feel free to take the "I Was Featured" button from my left sidebar! For Kara's recipe for "mummy pizzas", click HERE. Thanks again, Kara!

MINE: This week, I am going to troubleshoot how I can improve my day to day living through better organization.

(This, or course, is someone else's home.)

On Friday, I posted a play-by-play of one grueling day in the life of me. It's right below this post. I did it, basically, because I couldn't think of anything better to blog about. Looking back, though, this may have been a mistake. One of my purposes of having this blog is to encourage mothers of large families, and those who would like to have and are working towards having a large family. As one commentator put it, "You are at once inspiring and terrifying me!" I seriously didn't mean to terrify, so I added the "POST ADDENDUM" stating that this is not necessarily a normal day for me, but that days like this do indeed occur more often than I'd like to admit. There were also commentators who didn't seem to approve of this chaos, qualifying their comments with "Hope this doesn't sound mean, but..." or "Not to be rude, but...". And that's okay. I love a good, open, honest conversation, and I feel like we had one in the comments section of that particular post.

All of that being said, I think I could look back on that day and trouble-shoot areas that could have used improvement, and try to become more organized in my daily living so days like this don't occur as frequently. And that is exactly what I am going to do, trouble-shoot, with you here, watching and learning (by my mistakes!), so here we go...

Problem #1: K, I think my first mistakes of the day occurred during the following activities...

"8:40 Spend time on a forum where we discuss motherhood, religion, blogging and the like. Spend time explaining why Mormons don't drink coffee."


"11:00 More computer time."

During a "discussion" my husband and I had this weekend, he expressed that one of my, how shall we say, okay, faults is that I have taught the kids that play comes before work. We had just returned from a trip, and instead of having them clean out the van, I told them they could go outside and throw the football for 45 minutes, then come back to finish their work. My husband did not approve of this one little bit, and stated that I was teaching them to get their reward before their work was finished. Although I tried to reason with him and explain myself, he didn't see things my say, so I called the kids in from their football throwing and told them that they needed to start working.

Although I couldn't say to my husband that he was right at that time, as I thought I was completely justified in letting the kids stretch out for a while, as I think about it now, I do believe I could use improvement in this area. Rather than spend nearly an hour on the computer in the morning, I could have used that time much more productively. I could have planned and begun preparation for dinner, so that I didn't have to throw PB&Js in plastic bags in my diaper bag, then forget to serve them at the concert. I could have folded laundry, read to the 3 three and under, or any number of things. Yes, we all need a little "me" time, but perhaps I could have chosen to get my "me" time after my work was finished, as a reward for my efforts maybe.

Problem #2: The second problem occurred during this event...

"4:05 Continue to encourage the 9-year-old boy to find his piano music for his piano lesson at 4:00

4:10 Send the 14-year-old girl to take the 9-year-old boy to his piano lesson, sans music."

Because I am not diligent about making sure the 9-year-old boy brings his music in the house and puts it on the piano after each and every lesson, it always gets left in the car, someone cleans it out, then it usually turns up in some plastic trashbag full of belongings from the van two weeks later. In addition, the 9-year-old boy became very angry that he had to spend time looking for his music, mumbling under his breath how stupid piano lessons are and how he never learns anything and how he should get to choose whether he wants to be in band or piano, but he shouldn't have to do both. This was all under his breath, mind you.

If I could have been more organized about his piano music, I wouldn't have experienced so much stress and he wouldn't have become so upset about having to go to piano lessons.

Problem #3: Next, we have these events which could have used some improvement...

"5:00 Ask the 14-year-old girl to take the 7-year-old girl to dance class.

5:00-5:30 Try to comfort 3 fussy boys who didn't get naps to speak of.

5:30 Place the now sleeping Twin A in bed, knowning that now he will never go to sleep at his regular bedtime.

5:35 Sit down while holding Twin B and talk on the phone to the 20-year-old girl.

6:00 Pick up 7-year-old from dance class.

6:20 Greet boys who have returned home from football practice, am told by the 13-year-old boy that he needs black pants for the band concert, to which he is to arrive in 15 minutes, remind him that he doesn't own a pair of black pants, so what does he expect to do about this, look at the blank stare on his face, suggest that he call his cousin, who is about twice his size, to borrow his black pants."

This was nearly an hour and a half of just piddling. I could have organized and used this time to make dinner. I also should have had the foresight to ask the 13-year-old boy what he was going to need to wear to the concert so we could have avoided this cousin-pants fiasco. I know my husband would have thought of that. He is just that way. He plans out in his mind every eventuality that could possibly occur and puts plans in place in order to solve any potential related problems. I'm just not that way. I'm spontaneous, and free, creative and adaptable, disorganized and, as on this particular day, too busy and chaotic to even remember to feed my kids dinner before 9:00 at night.

Problem #4: Next problem...

"9:30 Change the twins again, dress them in their sleepers, give them a drink of water, encourage them to follow me into our bedroom, read them a story, offer them more water, to which both of them shake their heads no, lay them down, their heads on pillows on either side of mine, place their covers on them, turn out the lights, say a prayer for them outloud, then drift off to sleep with them, which wasn't supposed to happen because when I woke up, it was...

11:15 Go to the living room to find that the 13- and 9-year-old boys had not gone to bed, but instead had fallen asleep to Madagascar on the couch and recliner."

I have no regrets about how or when I put the twins to bed, but realizing how tired I was, I should have had the foresight to tell the boys that they needed to go to bed by 9:30, just in case I fell asleep. Again, I know my husband would have thought of this, but I didn't, and my kids had to pay by being tired the next day. Yes, it is their own doing and that is the natural consequence of their behavior, but still, an organized mom would not have let this happen.

So, you tell me, what else could I have improved to make my day more managable. Don't be shy, I'm up for more constructive criticism if it helps me to be a better mom and wife.

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Elder Romney's mission said...

ok Jen first I want to know why you were up at 1 in the morning writing this! My solution to all this is my planner. I cannot live without it. I write down every Sunday what I need to do during the week including what the kids need for each thing they are in and basically I get all that stuff ready then or the night before they need it. I guess Im like your husband in that aspect, Cade laughed at me yesteday when I got my license and pass out for the puerto when I was in JAnos!

But really If I dont think about things the night before they dont get done right. Thats my 2 sense!

Oh and work for the kids these days in pretty much non existent because they are NEVER HOME!

alessandra said...

I would like to express my thoughts about your post, I assume you are interested ...I hope ...
# 0 - that picture is not someone's home, is a photographic set, made with the sole purpose to make us feel inadequate.
# 1 - I am with you, about allowing your kids to stretch for a while after a trip. I am not a "duty first" kind.
And, for me, your husband would not complain about the time you pass on the internet, because he surely know how hard you work all day long.
Besides, the time you spend teaching about Mormonism you can call it a mission, isn't it ?
Moreover, being your job 24/7, if you wait to finish your work, before taking some time for yourself, maybe that time will never come.
# 2 - I think you should evaluate the possibility to plan your week, at least the most important points to keep in mind.
# 3 - Having to deal with so much children, you cannot avoid chaos and losing time.
# 4 - remember, you are not wonder woman (but sometimes I think you are).

Be blessed, Jen.

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Jeni, I love your ideas. Your organizational skills have saved me many times, like when you remind me that I have to have a special shirt for the kids' school play and sometimes you even get one for me! I need to be more like you, in so many ways!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

I loved your comment. You are so supportive! Hey, are you Mormon? Just curious.

Luvmy9 said...

We are always re-inventing ourselves, Jen. Hopefully we are or else we're stagnating and not progressing. And now, because of conditions, or medications, or maybe just plain old age, I am having to re-do things that once were working. I now find that even though I know two events exist and I am well aware of the time and day of each, that it is only about 30-40 minutes ahead of time that I realize they are occupying the same space in time and therefore I cannot possibly be at both, or give rides to both.

Bill and I try to calendar events on Sunday for the coming week and when we do, it helps, but not always, and we don't always get it done. For some reason that I can't fathom it annoys the teenagers that we do this.

Don't beat yourself up over your chaotic day or the reporting of it. It is that stage of life for you and you do an admirable, excellent job of it. Yeah, J has some good ideas and you should try to incorporate them just as you hope he will reciprocate when you have good ideas, too. Bill always wants the car unloaded immediately, too. If it were up to me we would do it later. But we do it immediately. Now, my suitcase might take a few days to unload, but that's my prerogative.:)
I miss you. Call when you have time. I called last week but never reached you or an answering machine.
PS I enjoyed your recounting of that day very much.

LisaC said...

Hey, I can't remember how I found you, but I knew I had to stay and hang out! Don't be too hard on yourself-remember to be "spiritually minded is life eternal" or S.M.I.L.E. 2 Nephi 9:39. I always try to think, "Will this matter in the eternities?" PS I have 10 kids! Woohoo for large families!

Amanda B. said...

I first had to go back to the previous post and read the comments... I was curious! Interesting...

Anyway... it helps me a lot to know things aren't perfect all the time. That is actually why I don't watch "that" show on TV with the humongous family because everything seems just too organized and perfect and I just can't stand it because I feel like a failure when I watch it because i am not that calm and organized. It helps to know there are larger families out there who aren't perfect, but are doing okay and happy. Even so, I still feel like you have it together better than I do and see you as a huge example! :)

Anonymous said...

First of all, it was so fun to come over to check out your blog and see my mummy pizzas! Thanks so much for sharing them and for linking back to me. :)

Second of all, I feel like I related a little too much to your trouble shooting. We must be kindred spirits.

alessandra said...

No Jen, I'm not, is that a problem?

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Alessandra, of course it's not a problem! It's just that you made a comment about missionary work that made me wonder if you were Mormon or like you knew about the Mormon religion, that's why I was asking.

P.S. I have to tell you that I look forward to your comments every day I post. You are so cute and funny and you always made me smile!

alessandra said...

No, it's only that between cute and funny, I'm smart too ( and humble, just kidding ), and your zeal explaining your beliefs made me think you see it as a mission.
The fact that I make you smile ( in effect I put some effort in it ) may be is due to my lack of knowledge of English , that makes me express in an odd way.
You know, I'm an old Italian lady (41) who loves pesto and nutella, but not in that order.

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Alessandra, don't call yourself old because I'm 39, so that means I'm old, too! They say that 40 is the new 20 anyway!

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Those mummy pizzas look fun. Thanks for featuring them!

Silly Bus said...

It is a very nice and good post. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I was just passing by your blog and noticed the topic. I am a reformed disorganized slob (not saying you are!) Getting organized has been a long process for me, but well worth the effort, as it has had such a positive effect on my family life. We have much more quality time together as a result of not wasting time trying to find things!

A huge help to me was backwards planning. Each day, I think about what NEEDS to be accomplished by the end of the day. Like, I have to make dinner, my son has Cub Scouts so he has to have his uniform, my daughter needs to do her homework, the baby has a doctor's apointment, etc. I used to get caught up in all sorts of little projects, but they weren't the ones that HAD to be done that day! If you finish the stuff that you need done that day, then you can work on some of the extra stuff when/if you finish the absolutely necessary stuff!

Don't know if that will help you or not, but it has helped me. Good luck!


Cheryl B. said...

Yesterday I read both this and the preceeding posting, as well as all of the comments left by others on both. I then decided it'd be best if I thought things over a bit before commenting.

therefore, yes, this is going to be another of my (probably now nortorious 8-b) long comments. Remember - you said that you liked them o:-p

Jen, I don't know how your server notifies you when people leave comments, so I don't know if you recieve emails of these, if your server sends you something saying "you have comments", or if you go searching for them. Hopefully, you will find this, even though it's been h-o-w long since you did these particular postings?

"7:15 Wake up to the sound of the twins playing with the automated ATM machine in their bedroom. They sleep in my bed with me, so they often get out of bed before I do."
Why do the three youngest sleep WITH you - espically since their room is close enough to yours that you can hear them in it from your room? Perhaps if they were in their own beds they would be less likely to wake one another up (a problem you mentioned occuring that night).

Jen, a couple of the things I am going to comment on strike me as inconsistencies, yet I really hesitated to use that word - it sounds so negative and judgemental, but I couldn't think of another word that fit the sceniero's :-/ I am NOT trying to be judgemental!!! My ONLY goal is to be an encouragement!!! Honest!!! My true hope is that by writing some of this stuff, it might help you cope with / handle your life in a way that is easier on you in the long run.

"7:40 Make sure the 7-year-old girl is awake to tend the twins while I take the older 4 to school" Then you replied to Cassie's comment with, "The kids come home for lunch because there is no cafeteria at either the grade school or the high school. I could send them with a sack lunch, but because of the current kidnapping/extortion problems our area is having, I would just as soon have them come home." And in the posting you had also written, "4:10 Send the 14-year-old girl to take the 9-year-old boy to his piano lesson," and, "5:00 Ask the 14-year-old girl to take the 7-year-old girl to dance class." Are the schools themselves that unsafe that the kids can't eat their lunch's there, and yet the area your home is in is safe enough to daily leave a 7 year old in charge of 19 month olds, as well as have a 14 year old walk a 9 year old someplace, and later have the 14 year old walk the 7 year old someplace? How is it safe to allow them off 'trapesing' places on their own, and yet unsafe to have them stay at school during lunch time?

continued ...

Cheryl B. said...

part two -
The school our sons attended through 8th grade did not have a lunch room either, they ate at their desks. And for added 'safety' during recess's, all parents were assigned two to three times a year that they had 'playground duty'. The list was handed out at the beginning of the year so you had time to work things out - and it could be either the mom or the dad that filled your spot. Maybe something like this needs implimented if safety is a big concern. Going two to three times a year instead of back and forth every day would ease things up considerably for you!!!

Another thought on this lunch at home thing - is part of the reason you don't want your kids eating at school connected with your vegan, whole some foods choices? Are you fearful if they eat at school they will be getting foods from other kids which you'd prefer they not eat?
Again, I am NOT meaning to critisize!!! Just being my analitical self o:-p

"I think my first mistakes of the day occured during the following activities... 8:40 computer time ... 11:00 more computer time ...". Perhaps you need to limit your self to one or the other of those times, and then keep the late evening time to check back in with everything. That way you will feel as though you've 'touched bases' as well as doing your 'mission work', and yet also free up time for acomplishing other things your feeling guilty for 'neglecting'.

"It's always hopeful that the 3 three and under cooperate and play in the playroom while I do this, but more often than not, the twins are ..." Three suggestions here. #1 - install a gate on the door of the playroom so they can hear you and yet be forced to stay there and play. Or #2 - put them in their high chairs with something to entertain them - yarn and Cheerios to make necklaces from (a quick sweep up clears this area afterwords), homemade edible play dough (yes, this requires again washing the trays as well as sweeping), paper and washable markers (use wet wipes on the trays afterwords), etc. And #3 - have them have their snack time during this time.

You mentioned how you like to grant the kids a break once you arrive home after traveling, yet your husband prefers to have them unload everything first. Another commenter said that her and her husband were the same way. Maybe it's basiclly a difference in the way guys look at things vs. us girls, because we have the same situation here.
How long have you been traveling? If it's an hour of less than getting right to it is best. However, if it's been three hours or more, have them take one load with them out of the vehical, then give them a 20 minute break before attacking the rest. This is just long enough to revive their spirits and encourage good efforts. To actually be able to get them all back together to get busy, it might be good to do a group play thing during the break - tossing balls, playing tag or hide and seek in a designated area, etc..

"10:00 Start laundry, and fold two or three loads." I use to have baskets scattered around of loads waiting to be finished folding, etc.. I learned that if I MADE myself fold or hang up each item as I removed them from the dryer, it made actually getting them sorted into piles MUCH easier, as well as shirts being ever so less wrinklie to iron!! Another tip here - if you forget a load and it gets real wrinklie, add a sort of wet wash cloth to it and run again for about 10 minutes. Somehow this magiclly freshens things up :-}

Seventeen year old boys are actually men, so yes, they prefer heartier meals. I make sure I fix enough of dinner that "my guys" can put some of it in containers to take for lunch the next day. "two birds with one stone" ;-}

continued ...

Cheryl B. said...

part three -
Perhaps you should have had the babysitter change the diaper while you finished getting ready ... do you ever give the twins juice bottles? She could have done that too.

"4:05 Continue to encourage the 9-year-old boy to find his piano music for his piano lesson at 4:00" and "4:10 Send the 14-year-old girl to take the 9-year-old boy to his piano lesson, sans music.
" followed by, "how the 9 year old boy says that he shouldn't HAVE to take piano .. should be able to choose, not do both ...". First off - if he has to go searching for his lessons, that means he has NOT been practicing that material anyways, so he would be headed off to a new lesson unprepared. And since he is mumbleing under his beard (so to speack) about the whole thing, that means that you've chosen this as one of your battles with him. {You know, the old 'pick your battles' thing}. Has it really been worth the consistant fights? This battle ground has obviously become muckie.

"5:35 Sit down while holding Twin B and talk on the phone to the 20-year-old girl." I'd advise you NOT give this time up!!! At least the part of talking to the 20 year old girl. It is way to important - to BOTH of you!! :-}

"am told by the 13-year-old boy that he needs black pants for the band concert, to which he is to arrive in 15 minutes, remind him that he doesn't own a pair of black pants, so what does he expect to do about this, look at the blank stare on his face,". My line once they turned twelve became "failure to plan or clue me in to things on your part, does not consiture an emergancy on my part." Now true, that did not mean the problems disappered - how nice that would have been!! :-D But it does start instilling in them self responsibility of sorts.

"after exhausting all babysitting strategies, stuff half PB&J sandwiches in baggies in my diaper bag, along with wet wipes and diapers." For what it's worth - yes, the babysitter should have been lined up earlier. As for the PBJ's - perhaps you should keep a supply of 'breakfast cookies' on hand and already in baggies that you can grab and run, as well as snack size baggies of dried fruit, cheese sticks, etc.. Makes grabbing and running ever so much easier!!! Also, if they see you place things in a cooler type lunch box, which you attach to the diaper bag, THEY are far more likely to ask for it's contents - thus helping to prevent their not havine eaten ....

"6:45 Realize that the 3-year-old boy is completely, stark naked, yell at him and make him cry, feel bad, then help him get dressed and brush his hair." Is the 3 year old using his tears because he knows you will feel bad and get him dressed? 3 years old IS old enough to know not to completly undress oneself unless told to. Is he using his tears as control over you? Just a thought.

"become annoyed that I wasn't informed that there would be baked goods because I bought no money," Weekly, stash some cash in a small zip purse inside the inner pocket of your diaper bag. If you end up not needing it that week - bonus :-D

"Enjoy a few numbers with both twins on my lap," Pick up some very small sized back packs. Each child is allowed to pack three 'quiet' type toys to take with them ...(you might want to keep a rubbermaid container of such type of 'toys' on a shelf that they can only play with in such situations). You might also want to put each kids snackie type food in their own bags ....

Perhaps if the kids were in their own beds in their own rooms, and you sat in a rocking chair in there singing them to sleep, you would be less likely to fall asleep yourself.

Watching House with the 17 year old boy is as important as talking to the 20 year old girl!

continued ...

Cheryl B. said...

part four -
Perhaps if you had had everybody sit down for dinner together once arriving home, then even you would have eaten, and you could have then gone straight into the Bible study time together. Another tip here - invest in crockpots or roasters!! While cleaning up the kitchen in the morning during which time you have occupied the youngest ones, toss something into the crock pot or roaster to cook at relativly low temps till your arrival home. I LOVE those machines!!!

I have decided to do a Monday posting of my two calenders and file box soon. I've told about them in the past, but I think it's time to do so again. You, as well as many others, might benefit from starting them yourselves ;-}

Well, I've hit you with more than enough stuff for now. Honest Jen, I AM your FRIEND!!! Hope you can see that!

p.s. I told you this was l-o-n-g ... o;-p

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Hi Cheryl! Thanks for all your good advice. It is well taken! I can't really address all you said right now, but I can explain my choices about feeling safe with the kids doing one thing, but not another.

The reason I don't like the kids to eat lunch at school is because there have been kidnapping threats directed to the school and the kids would be there for an hour without adult supervision. Teachers are not scheduled to have "lunch duty", as with schools in the U.S., so I do feel uncomfortable with it.

The 14-year-old girl actually drives her siblings to their activities, she doesn't walk them, and their activities are about 2 minutes away.

When I leave the 7-year-old at home, there are also trusted work men working on the property, the door is locked, and it is about 5 minutes that she is alone. I do feel comfortable with that.

Anyway, hope this explains some of the inconsistencies!

Thank you for taking so much time to post this advice. It helps, and I appreciate you!

Cheryl B. said...

Hi again :-}
The school our boys attended through 8th grade was a private one and the teachers stayed in the classroom through the kids lunch time, they then went to their lunch's while the kids went to a half hour recess. On extreme rainy days, or extremely cold days, the parents were assigned halls of classrooms .... I wouldn't be comfortable with totally unsupervised while there have been threats either. Nope, nope, nope.

I forgot about two factors - that you have the hired men, whom have truly grown to care about and for your children. And that living in Mexico, your kids can drive before they are 16. Sorry!!!!

I figured by writing out all I was thinking, it would do one of two things. Either give you ideas to incorporate which you would find helpful - or - you'd get frustrated by my interfearance, which in turn would make you reconfirm to yourself why you do certain theings the way you do, which would then make you see your overall picture in a more positive light. Either way - you'd win :-D