Habits of Tidy People

I am inspired by these tips! The “reset” she describes is what I call my “hotspots.” It does feel better having my sink shining and my flat surfaces cleared!



So Many Toys

We live in a small house, and we can’t afford to let the toys get out of control. Here’s a look at my system. I hope it can help!

It’s easy. It happens behind your back. While you were keeping tabs on family, laundry, and dishes, the toys multiplied, and now your house is eaten by a blob of kiddie clutter.

Instead of scoop-shoveling the toys every night or crisis cleaning every time company comes, pick up all those toys just once.

Preferably perform this task while little ones are napping or hanging out with their grandma.

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Sort the toys into these categorical piles:

1. Broken/Trash

2. Unloved/Giveaway

3. Loved/Keeping for Years

If the timer goes off before you’re done, just stop, pour a cup of coffee, and get off your feet for a minute. Enjoy drinking that whole cup while it’s still hot. Then get up!

Set the timer again repeat until you’ve gone through all of the toys.

Pull out those trash bags and empty diaper boxes you have hanging around and fill them up with your sorted toys.

Take the trash out. Bye!

Bag up the giveaway toys and haul them out to the car. The next time you go by a charity shop or thrift store, drop them off.

Fill the diaper boxes with the beloved toys. Keep one or two of these boxes out to play with. Stow the rest of the boxes out of the kids’ sight. If they seem to be bored and think getting into trouble is more fun than their toys, pack those toys up and swap them out with a “new” box out of storage. They love rediscovering their familiar favorites!

I try to keep toys restricted to blocks, books, balls, dolls, and trucks, with only a handful of special toys in the mix.

With a small batch of toys out at a time:

  • Children learn to share, trade, and wait. Instead of everyone constantly distracted, they learn to deal with one another.
  • A few beloved toys will be better cared for than a mountain of mediocre stuff.
  • The few, basic toys leave more room for imagination and creativity.
  • A two-year-old can run around and pick up every toy in a few minutes. Make it a game! Without a monstrosity staring them down, kids don’t feel helpless when it’s time to clean up.
  • Adults gain a foothold of sanity. You still step on Legos, but you don’t have to wade through random knee-deep junk every day.

To maintain this system, you have to be very picky about what comes into your home. Don’t buy a toy unless it can fulfill a particular need. Request books and movies for their birthdays, instead of a floor-full of fancy toys that will be unloved in a month.

When you switch boxes of toys, reassess whether these things are worth the space you’ve relinquished to them. Would someone else love it better? Do we really have room for this? Could it serve a better purpose as profit for charity, rather than clutter in you home? Is this just trash? Or do your kids really love and use it?

I have bought only two toys this past year. The first was a jumpoline for the toddler. With our new life cooped up with premature twins and avoiding the crowds in cold season, she was bouncing off the walls. So I got her something new to bounce on, instead! The little jumpoline is now useful for all three kids, and will be handy during blizzards or other cases of cabin fever. The second toy was a box of second-hand mega blocks. It has been some nine months since I brought those home, and the kids have played with those things every day since. We sure got our money’s worth!

These are all the toys I have loose in the house right now. My big helper loves picking up so I can vacuum. She is capable of handling this moderate pile all by herself! We can be company ready in minutes. The freedom!

Does this post give you any inspiration? Have any ideas or examples of your own? Leave a comment!

He’s the Abba

Random thought as we are reading through Exodus:
Why does Scripture have to be SO repetitive?
He’s the Father.
When you have kids, you realize how much you have to keep saying the same thing over and over and OVER if they’re ever going to learn what you’re telling them.
Our Heavenly Father repeats Himself. He knows we won’t learn and apply His words the first time. It must permeate our minds and hearts over time. When you realize the King of the Universe will persist in teaching His children, it is easier to accept that you will need long periods of persistence as you teach your own children.
Also note how much “I am the LORD(YHWH)” intermixes with His commands. He could have said Who He is at the beginning and left it at that. Instead, throughout His house rules He says “because I AM the Dad and I said so.” We can also hold our God-given authority as parents to solidify our instruction. “Because I said so,” is enough. As children mature, they can have reasons explained to them, but the security in our authority remains.
They say kids don’t come with a manual, but I think we have a pretty clear parenting guide in the Bible.

Essential Oils For Immunity

Isn’t this flu season insane? My family is not getting out much, all of us are keeping up on vitamins, and some are even sleeping with potatoes in their socks. We’re keeping oiled up, as well.

Here are some essential oil products I use.

Thieves Spray – Comes already formulated in the spritz bottle. A must for grocery carts and grubby boy hands. No longer safe for oral application.

Crowd Spray – In a 2-3 oz bottle: combine 1/2 tsp witch hazel, 20 drops Melrose, 7drops Thyme, 10 drops Geranium, and 5 drops Peppermint. Top off with distilled water. Spray on car seats, bags, covers, blankets, and people.

Immune Boost – In a 10ml bottle: combine 40 drops Lemon, 20 drops Frankincense, 15 drops Thieves, 15 drops Peppermint, 20 drops Tea Tree, and top off with carrier oil. Roll on bottoms of feet. I have dabbed it on perfume points, but be careful. Citrus oils in direct sunlight may burn skin.

If you do catch something, here are a couple of invaluable oils that have given us relief.

Congestion Relief – Equal parts of: Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint. Apply on clothes, blankets, or on feet and chest as can be tolerated. Applying undiluted (neat) on young children may be inadvisable.

Stop Dry Cough – In a 15 ml roller bottle combine: 1 tsp carrier oil, 4 drops Lemon, 4 drops Peppermint, 4 drops Thieves, 2 drops Lavender. Apply to feet, chest, and back. Worked very well on my two-year-old to help her sleep.

Above all?

Crack down on unnecessary stress. Don’t get so wrapped up in a project that your system crash and burns. Get off your feet AND off your phone for 15 minutes a day to do something enjoyable. Music, catnap, face mask, breathing exercises, soak your feet, read for fun, practice guitar – do something to recharge just a bit. A little will go a long way, and if you don’t take time to maintain your body now, it will develop symptoms to make you take time for maintenance!

Many thanks to Safta, for providing us with numerous ways to strengthen and maintain our children’s health.

Meal Preparation

Once we got home from a run to town, I put the fresh vegetables in a bath of water and vinegar to soak. When I threw vegetables straight into the refrigerator, they wouldn’t be seen again until they were beyond use. Putting them directly into the sink is now my first rule to prevent waste of money and food.

Moved them around, soaked, rinsed, drained, etc.

Still gotta eat, even on grocery day. The beef, carrots, and celery had already been prepped last week. All I needed was to dice a potato or two, fry it all in coconut oil, blend in some rice flour and water, and we had a quick stew supper.

Getting things going. Starting a salad while mixing beef with a variety of vegetables and spices into jars for storage.

Beef was already cooked, so I fried up some T-bacon bits to add to the green salad and to the chicken salad. Prepping meat means that I can stretch one or two pounds of beef and a couple of chicken breasts to last all week. This is more important now that we have four households using a beef at once.

Stirring up some potatoes au gratin. Butter, rice flour, half and half, and cheddar cheese will make a sauce to drape over sliced potatoes. Not sure precisely when I’ll serve this, but the seasonings will have a day or two to permeate the whole dish while it refrigerates.

Baking chicken to use in two meals.

Ready to bake when I need potatoes au gratin.

Chili chicken salad and chicken casserole ready and waiting for tortillas, bread, rice, or potatoes. Those decisions are still open to spontaneity.

I seem to have forgotten to get picture of the eggs boiling. (Because a visual of pot of eggs makes any blog post better!) A batch of boiled eggs provides us with to-go breakfasts, snacks, and something extra for salads. Boil in salt water for about 12 minutes (I’m over 4,000 ft elevation), cool, and refrigerate in a separate carton. I can peel a boiled egg fast by cracking one end and then rolling it on the counter under my hand with firm, gentle pressure. The shell slides right off.

A crock pot of rice will be used for breakfasts and adding to prepped meals. Now we need tea for tomorrow.

Sweet tea, chicken salad…

Large green salad, yes my kids go through a lot of milk, beef&rice, pizza toppings, extra potato slices for frying, carrot sticks…

Boiled eggs, veggies for omelettes, T-bacon, eggs…

Chicken casserole starter, hummus, borscht starter, and potatoes au gratin. I’ll have to wait till the avocados are ready to make the guacamole.

“Shine your sink!”

Time to kick back. Goodnight!

The Best Benefits of Meal Prep

  • Save money.
  • Save food; No waste.
  • No running out of an item before I get to use it in particular meals at the end of the week.
  • Overall better management of products I normally only buy once a week. Driving an hour round trip to the store with three littles is not something I do every other day.
  • Flavors have a chance to meld together. You know how some leftovers taste better than the original meal? This method can bring out the best taste the first time.
  • I don’t have strapping, starving, twin boys tugging at me while I’m trying to use a knife before every meal. Most of my cutting is done once a week while they’re asleep.
  • Helps reinforce my meal planning habit.

The Downside

  • I don’t know when to pause to keep from overdoing it. When we go in hung-ho, we tend to burn out. Once in a while I should sit down for two minutes to drink some water and regroup.
  • I am not available to read many bedtime stories. Considering I’ll have more time and less suppertime stress for the rest of the week, it may be a fair trade off.

What is your meal prep rhythm like?

Menu Planning

Keep It Simple

This month, I have been refreshing my FlyLady Babysteps with FlyLady Diane’s videos. It doesn’t feel like much effort, but after a couple of weeks I looked up and found that the house was pretty well running itself. It is astounding to see a little diligence go so far.

Today’s video covered Menu Planning. The purpose is not to have a pretty, well-made, printed plan in styled font. Grab a cup of tea, set a timer for 15 minutes, and think about what you want to fix.

I commonly plan only three suppers a week. The rest is easily filled with leftovers and pantry goods on hand, or with meals at relatives’ homes. The first time I wrote a list of go-to meals, I scribbled ideas on a sticky note and stuck it on one of the pages in a page protector in my Control Journal. I still use this years later. See? It doesn’t have to be perfect.

For breakfast, we usually stick with various egg combinations. As long as there are eggs, T-bacon, and a few fresh veggies in the fridge, breakfast is covered. Husband picks cereals and toast for more variety.

Then for lunch, I keep bread, lunchmeats, cheese, salad, hummus, chopped veggies, guacamole, corn chips, salsa, a batch of boiled eggs, and canned soups stocked. These can be mixed and matched from day to day, like grilled cheese and tomato soup, chips and sandwiches, chef salads, or a large finger food plate. Some of these items are great snacks to have on hand so you can dodge the cookies calling in the afternoon.

This plan developed over time, so don’t rush yourself trying to get everything just so. Meal planning is meant to make life EASIER! Just take 15 minutes, and scribble down what you want to do this week. That’s it. Try it out!