Category Archives: Home Management

Ordering the Days :: How This Pen and Paper Gal Runs the Show

Even though there are some fantastic online organizers and mobile apps,sometimes pen and paper is advanced as it needs to get.

For the past 8 years

of our marriage I have been a pen and paper gal. There is something that is just so intuitive for me to scribble out little notes and lists for myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

For if I was, the new daily planners that roll onto the shelves this time of year would cease to be available.

While Cozi, Evernote, and Pinterest are all wonderful and useful in their own rights, during school hours, in our household, we have a strict no technology rule that is fiercely enforced.

For Mom.

I’ve come to know what my time suckers are and have learned to curb their viciousness! Because of this, the home management/homeschool binder is almost always open in plain sight upon the kitchen counter. This is the backbone of how our household is run and how it continues to operate smoothly.

Even with the abundance of planners scattered across store shelves, I have yet to find one that encompasses all of the needs that I as a homeschooling mother and homemaker require.  Since their seams are indistinguishable, I  have always resorted to crafting my own.

The mapping out of our days is vital, and since our family strives to celebrate our faith through our Domestic Church, the use of Romcal‘s free program generator of the General Roman Calendar has been put to good use. Not only can you print out the year’s calendar with notations of the liturgical seasons and feast days, you can also upload it to several other supported formats, (so all of you Outlook and iCal users can sync up). While our family does add it to our shared electronic family calendars, I also choose to print off an 18 month yearly calendar to insert into the binder. The printed Romcal calendar is subjected to appointments, play dates, sports practices, community classes and vacation days being scribbled onto it’s squares–often times it is the first place for such items before they make their way onto Cozi.

With Romacal’s printed calendar inserted in the binder, a simple turn of the page enables me to note upcoming feast days while seated at the table for lessons, and affords me  the ability to jot down plans for our celebrations upon my Domestic Church planning sheet. This handy little sheet, with space for crafts, games, activities, books, devotionals, and recipes, along with other notes saved to Evernote and Pinterest, serves as a landing place for ideas that I stumble across and helps to jog my memory about what items I already have around the house to help honor a particular saint. I generally begin planning for the feast days we will celebrate about a month in advance, which allows time for the purchase of any craft materials and food items and the reservation of any books from our local library.

Since celebrating the Saints in our Domestic Church is not only a part of our family devotions but a component of our homeschool’s religion curriculum, pages for lesson planning are also found in the binder. An 8 columned two page spread, with ample space for notes and agendas for each subject area, along with the availability to note the dates, week of school, and special events, serves me well before adding the information into our family’s saved data storage.

Along with the lesson planning sheets, there is also to be found a page for  attendance records from Donna Young. Our state mandates three hours of instruction for a set number of days to be tabulated for each homeschooled student and this handy little form is a simple way for me to notate that requirement, as well as allows me to see at a glance if our homeschool is on track for the year. It also serves as my form to be turned in at the end of the school year to our county school board, which saves me a little bit of time and sanity come June 30.

In our home, books are abundant and are an integral part of our homeschooling day. To help manage the flux of books from the library, as well as from our own shelves, a book log is a must. For every book read as part of our curriculum, as well as those read for leisure by our daughter, each is recorded along with the date completed on this Donna Young form.

To ensure that comprehension has been maintained, we utilize Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure quizzes, also noting the score on the book log. This record can be quite impressive by the end of the school year, but it also helps to ensure that she is reading a range of genres and good literature.

Tucked just behind the book log pages is a handy little zippered pencil pouch which holds all of the year’s library receipts. Over the years I have purchased many a book that now resides upon library shelves thanks to my forgetting of due dates! While I have not completely conquered this monster, the retaining of the receipts, as well as noting immediately the due dates on the Romcal calendar, has helped to curve it immensely.

Even though schooling takes up the majority of our day’s hours, I am still the head maid, gourmet chef and personal shopper for our household, and have to ensure that all of the duties in my job description are not overlooked.

I am of the belief that even though we homeschool our children, our home does not have to resemble that of a classroom with scraps of cut paper on the floor and glue smeared across tables. I have found that a breakdown of the housecleaning tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual duties helps for our entire household to know what needs to be accomplished. The list of chores to be completed also has space to note their completion dates. This has proved to be a tremendous help. Now everyone in the home knows where their attention can be focused, and we are not left to guessing as to when the monthly, semi-annual or annual duties were last crossed off the list.

Aside from keeping orderly living spaces, I am also responsible for serving three daily meals in our home. This can be a daunting task and much preparation is needed so that I am not constantly needing to pop into the store for forgotten items. Each Sunday evening I set aside time to prepare a weekly menu for all three meals, plus snacks and the occasional desert, taking care to note our schedule for the week, as well as proposed feast days to celebrate. Once the menu is set, the needed items are checked off the master grocery list, which is then tracked along onto my grocery shopping venture.

Since I am not only the main grocery shopper but also the main curriculum buyer, there is also space for all of the receipts from school related purchases and paid extra curricular activities. Although our state does not offer any tax breaks for homeschool families as of yet, the receipts help to ensure that our family has stayed within our allocated amount or to know if the budget needs to be adjusted for the following year. It also helps that all of the contact information for each item is in one place should there be a problem or missing piece from a particular purchase.

All of this, and often times more, are gathered together into a 2″ wide three ring binder which is then subdivided with file tabs. Each tab is labeled appropriately allowing for ease of navigation. The Weekly Menu, Master Grocery List, and Master Cleaning Checklist are all laminated allowing for each to be used over and over again from week to week.

Never had a homemaking/homeschool binder before?

Then I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and get organized in this New Year! You can assemble your own binder by selecting the images above and printing the pages that are of use to you.

With their help, along with Organizational Apps for the New Year and The Master Schedule, you, too, can be well on your way to Well Ordered Days.

Advertisements

Ordering the Days :: Organizational Tools for the New Year

While August and September tend to bring about more changes in the school room,  it is often January that invokes our resolve to make the New Year better than the last. Frequently, for most of us, part of our resolutions revolve around trying to stay on top of things, and once and for all, stay organized.

While for the past 8 years I have been more of a pen and paper gal myself, there are a few organizational apps, (thanks to the urging of my tech-savvy husband),  that I have come to utilize which have revolutionized how our entire family stays connected and on top of things. The best part of them all, they are absolutely FREE! so there is no reason why you can not start the year off with your best efforts to obtain your New Year’s resolution!

With all the individual people in a family, each with their own set of appointments and activities, sometimes it can be hard to juggle everyone’s schedule all at once. It can all be a bit easier with the use of Cozi, a free online organizer and mobile app.

With Cozi, a central email account is utilized along with a shared password for all members of the family, (with each member designated by an individual color),  to coordinate calendars, grocery, meal, and to-do lists, along with a family journal to jot down all of those memories no one wants to forget. There is no more need for all of those sticky notes for appointments, individual calendars, and grocery lists on slips of paper laying around.

The beauty of Cozi for our family is that it allows for the entire family to be synced into one account, using any number of devices, ensuring that everyone sees all the same information. Each Sunday evening, an email with that week’s agenda is sent to each individual family member’s email ensuring that nothing is forgotten! And Cozi can also sync with Microsoft Outlook!

While calendars and lists are nice, sometimes the need to compile a lot of different types of information from text, photos, PDFs, and links, into one spot is needed–almost like filing away into a binder.

Enter Evernote.  A free online personal digital assistant of sorts, Evernote allows any number of notes with varying content to be compiled and saved to a notebook, each being categorized according to your wishes. Evernote automatically saves aanything you input into a note so there is no need to constantly hit the save button. It also allows through the use of the right click the ability to easily move content into a note or notebook– Adding a photo is as easy as clicking and dragging into a note, and to add a bit of text, just highlight, right click and add to a note. It’s that seamless and simple.

Evernote has been extremely handy when planning in our homeschool. The ability to compile information for lesson planning as well as for liturgical feast days into one easy to access spot has been very beneficial and a huge time saver! Evernote also allows the ability to share your notebooks with others. This has been fantastic among my fellow homeschool peers as we are able to share our findings easily with one another to aid each other in preparing lessons for our families.

And lastly, well, there is Pinterest, the virtual pin board tool that has been sweeping the internet lately. While you do need an invite to be able to start pinning, (haven’t been invited yet? Contact me and I’d be happy to help!), Pinterest is perhaps the easiest organizational tool to use.  Through the creation of your own pin boards, and with the installation of the Pin It bookmarklet, much like tearing pictures out of a magazine, you are able to collect virtual inspiration from anywhere on the web and pin it to a board for later use. Not only is the image saved, but so is the  link to the original website. This allows for very eye appealing organization of images!

It has also been great in our homeschool, since there is such a vast amount of information shared on the web. Instead of having to dig through saved links and bookmarked sites, Pinterest allows for an easy visualization of all things saved, which is fantastic for organizing all of those fun ideas, craft projects and printbables for my little ones.

So, there you have it. Three FREE tools to help you stay organized this New Year. Go ahead and download them all today, and don’t let that resolution slide away!

Ordering the Days: The Master Schedule Revisited (Printable)

 

The arrival of the months of August and September tend to bring about more changes and challenges than the month of January. After a long leisurely summer break, suddenly the addition of scheduled schooling causes the ebb and flow of routines to be thrown into kinks.

While I have shared with you all our family’s schedule before, there have been a few questions that have become common in my inbox. With Lacy over at Catholic Icing hosting a scheduling link up, I thought it would serve you all well if this post was revisited and expanded upon.

First, let me preface this by saying that there are days when nothing on the schedule goes as planned. These days are to be expected. With little ones, our days can not be mapped out in black in white, so instead, plan for margins in the day. Leave ample room for life to happen!

There are several things that I have learned over the years that I hope will be quite helpful to all of you:

  • Learn to say NO! And not just to drugs. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for yourself. You will be asked to teach your parish’s CCD class, to be team mom of your son’s soccer team, to chair your support group’s field trip committee, to host a co-op in your home… All of this and more ON TOP OF teaching your own children! Know your limits and expectations for yourself and your family and stick to them!
  • Set time aside for glancing at the week ahead. Every Sunday  I set aside at least 1 hour to glance at the week ahead. I make note of any upcoming commitments, errands that need to be made, and feast days to celebrate, as well as make the weekly meal plan, grocery list and ready the workbox. Once these tasks are noted on their appointed days, I then have a skeleton on which to work. If I know ahead of time that Monday, (our regular laundry day), hosts a field trip, then I know I need to make plans to squeeze it all in on another day of the week. If I know that I will be next to our favored market on Wednesday due to art class, then I will make plans to swing by on our way home. Mapping out the week helps to limit surprises and ensures that all of my tasks are accomplished.
  • Meal Planning. In our home, having the evening meal together, seated at the table, is non-negotiable. This is the time of day when we all gather together to share our day and pray together as a whole family. To ensure that it happens, adequate planning helps keep this time of day running smoothly. Also, learn to use your slow cooker– it is a real sanity saver!
  • Set time aside for yourself. I know. I know. You have heard this a million times— but do you listen? We all need time in our day to recharge and regain energy. Try to make the time in your day to set aside just for you. Revisit old passions or pick up new hobbies, but make sure it will benefit you and you alone.

Lastly, as I am sure you will be visiting all of the other participants in Lacy’s hop, remember the importance of keeping your eyes on your own work. Don’t let the glimpses of of other’s lives discourage you! Weed through all of the wonderful advice and wisdom, but remember not to loose what He has created you to be!

.::________________:::________________::.

It is a soft and continuous rhythm, an expected order, that fills our days. More of a fluid continuum than a set schedule. Each day formulates it’s own plan, no two are identical. That being said, there are benchmarks that appear regularly, which gives our school and home it’s familiarity and consistency.

I am always curious to see how it is that other families spend the hours of their days, so here is a little peek over the fence into the inner workings of our school and home. The times are -ishy. Yes, there is a general flow, but life and messes happen, and with a built in margin, there is a lot less frustration.

7:00 The children rise and begin there morning routines and chores.

7:30 Breakfast and prayer together as a family. Father leaves for work. Collective cleaning and tidying up the kitchen.

8:00 Read aloud time conducted by my oldest for my son as I gather and order things for the school day. Usually this time consists of hand picked picture books appropriate to the liturgical season.

9:00 Opening prayers, intentions and saint for the school day, followed by catechism and poetry memorization. Occasionally a liturgical craft will find it’s way here.

10:00 – 12:00 Entries into daily journals, involving handwriting, grammar, spelling and copy work, which are often accompanied by illustrations. Latin and Math follow closely behind.

12:00 – 1:00 Family lunch and praying of the Angelus. Afterward, the children have outside play time as a little tidying up is necessary before moving on to afternoon studies.

1:30 – 3:00 Afternoons alternate between science, history  and fine art studies. Lots of reading aloud and experimentation occurs, rabbit trails are explored. In the cooler months, nature walks and park trips are frequent.

3:00 -5:00 Lots of free play and outside exploration.

5:00 – 6:00 Everyone gathers together again to help prepare the evening meal. Often audio books  or our current music study play in the background and little hands are kept busy with art projects. Father arrives home.

After the family meal, the evening hours are filled with the business of tying up the day– tiding up, reading aloud, prays and bedtime.

Then, in the morning, it’s rinse and repeat.

(You can create your own family master schedule here: Blank Master Schedule)

…:::…:::…:::…:::…

Be sure to visit the other posts in this series:

Bookmark and Share

Fluid Continuum: The Master Schedule (Printable)

It is a soft and continuous rhythm, an expected order, that fills our days. More of a fluid continuum than a set schedule. Each day formulates it’s own plan, no two are identical. That being said, there are benchmarks that appear regularly, which gives our school and home it’s familiarity and consistency.

I am always curious to see how it is that other families spend the hours of their days, so here is a little peek over the fence into the inner workings of our school and home. The times are -ishy. Yes, there is a general flow, but life and messes happen, and with a built in margin, there is a lot less frustration.

7:00 The children rise and begin there morning routines and chores.

7:30 Breakfast and prayer together as a family. Father leaves for work. Collective cleaning and tidying up the kitchen.

8:00 Read aloud time conducted by my oldest for my son as I gather and order things for the school day. Usually this time consists of hand picked picture books appropriate to the liturgical season.

9:00 Opening prayers, intentions and saint for the school day, followed by catechism and poetry memorization. Occasionally a liturgical craft will find it’s way here.

10:00 – 12:00 Entries into daily journals, involving handwriting, grammar, spelling and copy work, which are often accompanied by illustrations. Latin and Math follow closely behind.

12:00 – 1:00 Family lunch and praying of the Angelus. Afterward, the children have outside play time as a little tidying up is necessary before moving on to afternoon studies.

1:30 – 3:00 Afternoons alternate between science, history  and fine art studies. Lots of reading aloud and experimentation occurs, rabbit trails are explored. In the cooler months, nature walks and park trips are frequent.

3:00 -5:00 Lots of free play and outside exploration.

5:00 – 6:00 Everyone gathers together again to help prepare the evening meal. Often audio books  or our current music study play in the background and little hands are kept busy with art projects. Father arrives home.

After the family meal, the evening hours are filled with the business of tying up the day– tiding up, reading aloud, prays and bedtime.

Then, in the morning, it’s rinse and repeat.

(You can create your own family master schedule here: Blank Master Schedule)

Bookmark and Share

Rhythm of Our Days: Daily Schedule (Printable)

Things change daily around here, so to have one giant master schedule taped to the side of the fridge doesn’t cut it in these parts. Now, there is a rhythm to our days, but the daily comings and goings change with much frequency. And while the aforementioned master schedule does exist for our household, with so many commitments, it is rather confusing for the little guys to read.

Alternatively, I have found that this has been a great help:

Printed onto card stock and of course, laminated, I had an instant daily schedule grid that suits our family’s daily changing needs. A dry erase marker, (or we have found a good ol’ crayon), easily fills in the times.

Functional. Inexpensive. Easy.

Go on, grab one for yourself!