30-Minute Clutter Busters {designed to help you balance work & play}

Clock on color wooden plank wallGot 30 minutes to spare? I know, moms never have time to spare. So get up early, stay up late, find 30 minutes when you’re on hold with the insurance company. Just grab half an hour and tackle one of the following tasks, some of which can actually be done in less than 30 minutes. It will help you sneak in a little work during a slight window in your schedule. This will free up some time for you to spend with your family helping you to balance work and play.

  • Dump out one drawer in the kitchen. Sort the contents into three piles: out of place, throw away, and put back. Wipe out the drawer. Replace wanted items. Put those that are out of place back where they belong and pitch the throw-away items. If you find any items that are unwanted but still in good shape, place them in a box to be donated to charity or sold at your next yard sale.
  • Balance your checkbook. Go online or use the telephone teller to see which checks have cleared and which deposits have been made; then do the math to get your current balance. Warning: If it has been a long time since you’ve done this, it will take more than 30 minutes. If you do this every week or two, it will take much less time.
  • Purge your purseDump the contents onto the floor. Get rid of trash. Organize your money. Stash your receipts somewhere where you’ll be able to locate them when needed. And consider getting a smaller purse. If you buy a big purse, you’ll be sure to fill it. Think small! A “clutch on a string” type purse with space for a cell phone should do the trick. You can always keep this inside a larger tote bag or diaper bag if you want. It will be easier when shopping if you keep your main purse small and its contents narrowed down to the essentials.
  • Clean your counters. Move everything to one side of your kitchen counters. Wipe thoroughly. Move everything to the other side. Wipe the second half. Place it all back where it belongs.
  • Disinfect your doorknobs. This is likely the most germ-infested area of your home. Everyone touches the doorknobs, but no one cleans them. Experts say to give them a good rubbing with a disinfectant wipe every so often.
  • Clean out your fridge. Pull everything out onto the counter. Wipe down the inside. Replace only what is not out of date. Pitch the rest. If any items are near the expiration date and not going to be used soon, freeze if possible.
  • Clean out the freezer. Use the same method of attack for the freezer. Discard anything that is out of date and no longer safe or tasty to eat. Can you say “freezer burn”? I knew you could.
  • Mind the medicine cabinet. Check the dates on all your meds, and decide which ones must be tossed. Rid the cabinet of any lotions, shampoos, and products you don’t need. Wipe the shelves down and replace only what you’re keeping. I do this twice a year when the time changes. That’s also when we check our smoke-alarm batteries.
  • Organize the hall closet. While you may not be able to make a dent in a large bedroom closet in 30 minutes, you might be able to straighten up a simple coat closet. Empty it, sweep it out, and wipe down any shelves. Hang the coats back up and reposition other hats, gloves, boots, and such. Consider getting plastic totes to keep like items together, further organizing the contents. Get rid of what you don’t need.
  • Purge the pantry. Remove all canned and boxed goods from your pantry shelves. Throw away what is outdated. Make a pile of what is still good but your family won’t likely eat. Donate this to a local food bank or homeless shelter. Replace items in an order logical to you. Sometimes, see if you can eat for a week with only the items you find in your pantry. I’ve invented some recipes this way. Go online to find recipes that pair items you have on hand. Shop for only what fresh items are needed to round out your meals. You’ll save a bundle on your groceries that week.
  • Fix the fixtures. If you have light fixtures that need dusting and cleaning, take care of them now. If the fixtures have many globes or tulip-shaped glass cups, run them through a rinse cycle in the dishwasher. Dry and replace.
  • Add an address. Transfer any addresses from sticky notes, letter envelopes, and Christmas cards into your address book.
  • Rearrange your recipes. Take a look in your recipe files, and toss any cards or cutouts you don’t use. Rearrange what’s left. If your recipes are in great disarray, this may take more than one 30-minute block. If so, find another friend who has the same problem. Take your recipes, meet her at a coffee house, and have an “Amazon Women” session to get your recipes in order. I did this one night, placing them all in a three-ring binder with full-size page protectors for magazine cutouts and pages designed to hold individual photos for the recipe cards. I made sections for main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and miscellaneous. When I’m cooking, if something splatters onto the recipe, it can be easily wiped off.
  • Give a movie review. Sort through your DVDs and pluck out any your family no longer watches. Save old-time favorites for nostalgia if you have a child who is particularly fond of one. Give the rest to another family who would enjoy them.
  • Spit-shine a shelf. Take time to pick through just one shelf in the garage or basement, ridding it of unwanted items and leaving it neat and tidy. If you do one shelf a day, that area will gradually get decluttered.
  • Give thanks. Anyone you’ve been meaning to write a thank-you note to? Do it now. And to make it easier in the future, place some thank-you notes, stamps, return address labels, and your address book in a basket near your sofa or in a tote bag you can take to the doctor’s office or carpool line. Grab it often to jot a note of thanks or encouragement to someone.
  • Sort socks. Have a basket or bag with single, lonely socks that have lost their mates. Dump the bag and pair up any matches. Better yet, pay a child a nickel a pair for any matches he can find.
  • Peruse your porch. Take a look at what others see when they knock on your front door. Does your front window need washing? The porch need sweeping? Are there cobwebs that could do with a good knocking down? Take a little time to make the entrance to your home look presentable.
  • Deal with your drainsPour some baking soda in your kitchen-sink drain. Next, douse it with a little vinegar. The resulting bubbling action will freshen it up. Or pour some clog-removing liquid down the bathroom sink and tub drains to prevent hair clogs in the first place.
  • Fiddle with your files. Remove three or four files from your filing cabinet. Look through them and make sure the contents are still worth keeping. If you find manuals for appliances you no longer own or outdated paperwork, toss or shred them now. Doing this regularly keeps your files up to date.

Happy organizing!

Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Kids and Technology (Finding the Balance)

Kids and Technology

Can I play Minecraft on the ipad?

Lydia wants to know if she can do Starfall on your computer?
Can we play Wii for 15 min.?
Can I text Anna back because she asked a question?
After dinner can we watch a show tonight?
David asked if I can follow him on Instagram?

My nightmare.
Well, one of them anyway.

There are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all.
There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago.
I have a definite love-hate-relationship with technology and all things screen-ish.
And yes, I get the irony of sharing this in a post as I type away staring at a screen.
My tendency would be to bury my head in the sand and just wish it’d all go away.

But—there has to be a balance—right?
And that’s part of our job—
To help our children find the balance and to help them learn how to keep it,
To help them learn to use technology and all things media for the glory of God.

First We Must Look at Avoiding the Dangers and Negative Impacts of Technology:

1) Overuse:
There’s a definite tendency for overuse. And that’s a real possibility for all of us. Screen attachment can become a borderline addiction (or real for some) and we must set limits when it comes to using technology and screen time.  The balance will be different for every family and should be age appropriate.

Exceptions are made as needed, but in general, as a family, we have some guidelines that have eliminated the need for constant decision making about usage.  When it comes to television, we watch a weekly show together on Thursday nights and then after evening chores are complete, our crew is allowed to watch something for half an hour while we are waiting for dad to get home (for us that is 6 to 6:30). Unless it’s a special occasion– online games or Wii games are reserved for the weekends and this has eliminated the requests for permission that were driving me bonkers.  For now, we also have decided that devices will not travel with the kids to most social functions (church, Bible study, friends’ houses etc.).

I’m not at all suggesting this is what every family should do, but the point is to have an actual usage plan.

2) Safety:
Dangers lurk on every corner when it comes to technology and this is an important discussion to have with our children.  As parents we need to explain why it’s important to never share personal information or open emails/photos from strangers and why downloads need to have approval.

There is wisdom in keeping computers and devices centrally located and for putting safeguards in place to protect our children.  Pornography is just one unintentional click away.  We must make safety a priority.
This recent article has excellent suggestions specific to creating a porn-free family plan.

In our home, our kids’ profiles must be kept private and they are not allowed to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.  And until they are a bit older and wiser, we’ve asked them not to search and click on unknown sites without our permission.  A central family docking station, ensures that all devices are accounted for.  Open communication is huge when it comes to safety…our children need to feel comfortable coming to us if something negative happens online whether intentional or unintentional.

3) Costly Words:
Words have the ability to cause great damage and it’s so easy to quickly make a comment online without realizing the hurtful impact.  It is important to explain that a text, email, comment, or post is often irretrievable and that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  As a family, studying James is a great place to start when discussing how death and life are in the power of the tongue.

4) Missed Opportunities:
The choice to engage in screen time is also a choice to not do something else. Technology often replaces good conversation and face to face relationship building. It can isolate family members from one another and it can lead to a loss of other interests.  When we start noticing that our children are choosing screen time regularly over other activities, that’s usually when we implement a technology Sabbath.

5) Lack of Courtesy:
It’s also important to stress courtesy when it comes to all things screen.  And sometimes it’s as simple as the basics– when you are in the company of someone else, it’s unkind to be glued to your phone.  If there’s any opportunity for conversation, it’s rude to not make eye contact and engage.  These are words we must preach to ourselves as well.

docking station

Then We Must Encourage the Positive Aspects of Technology:

1) Building relationships and friendships:
Technology creates a wonderful opportunity for building connections and encouraging others.  If we can help our children view it in this light, technology can be a blessing in their lives and in the lives of others.  We want to help them consider:  Who can I encourage with my comments?  What friendships can I strengthen by online connections?  What family members or friends can I reach out to?

2) Developing Skills/Creativity:
Creativity is limitless when it comes to technology and it’s important to encourage our children to develop skills in this area.  Many excellent typing, programming, and coding programs are available.  Our boys enjoy stop motion and creating videos.  All of our children enjoy photography.  These are skills and interests that God can use in their lives and we want to encourage their curiosity and delight in these areas.

3) Sharing the Gospel:
Technology offers incredible opportunities for sharing about Jesus’ rescue mission to save us, bring us forgivingness and how He made a way for us to live in deep, real relationship with God.  We want our children to approach technology with a heart to “(make) the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

4) Keeping us in the tension:
It might be easier to just do away with it all, but instead we have to listen for God’s whisper that we may be out-of-balance or over-balanced or missing– Balance.

It might be simpler if God just gave us Commandment #11– Do not use Facebook.
But instead, He gives us a relationship where we must come to Him regularly, willing to lay it all, all the techno-everything-options, at His disposalTechnology and all things “screen” create this opportunity for our children as well.

I am sure there are many other positives and negatives that I haven’t considered…
And I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.

For now though, I’ll just admit that I did eventually get a smartphone.
Smile.
And truthfully, I use it, enjoy it, and find it very helpful.
But it’s a constant battle to keep the balance.

And it’s in that place of tension that I want our children to stay…
Where they are constantly asking–

How can I use this _________ (insert your device of choice) to bring glory to God?

Our God is a God who redeems.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” ~Psalm 24:1

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Being Balanced Starts with Your Thoughts: 3 Truths to Cling To

Daisies in the morning.

What if I told you the best solution for being balanced doesn’t have as much to do with what DO, rather with what you THINK.

My parenting years started as a crisis. I was a teen mom, and from the moment my son was born I thought I had something to prove. When my son was nine months old, I married an awesome Christian guy and attempted to be the perfect mom.

I cooked and cleaned with gusto. We had craft and story time. I guided my son in doing chores when he was only two years old. I volunteered at his preschool, and when more children were added, I became the young homeschooling mom who had her kids in church, in sports, in dance, and in art.

And I thought I was going to lose it! I was an emotional wreck. I did my best and it still didn’t seem “enough.”

During this time, God began working on my heart. As I read His word, devoured Christian books, and surrounded myself with godly women, I realized that I needed more balance—not only in my life, but in my thinking!

I talk about this in my new book Balanced. My life changed when I realized:

  • What I do isn’t as important as who I am.
  • What God can do in my life and what He’s capable of doing can be two very different things—I don’t want to limit Him.
  • My outward goals are only reachable if I submit my inward soul to God.
  • When I realize that I’m God’s child, and that He has a special plan for me and my children then peace comes. I don’t have to try to prove myself. Instead I simply look to God for guidance and approval.

When I ask God to show me His dreams, I’m usually blown away. God has done wonderful things with my life. I’m a author of dozens of books, a speaker, a radio host, and an adoptive mom, but this only happened after I stopped my striving.

Instead I took Henry Blackaby’s advice:

“See what God’s doing and join Him.”

I had to give of myself to seek God, but that’s where balance was found.

That’s still where it’s found.

When my inward soul is centered on God, then I understand what’s really important. His goals become mine, and they often look like giving, serving, and loving in everyday moments. It’s putting people before projects and somehow finding success there.

What do you think about yourself and your life? Maybe you struggle with those thoughts. Instead, I encourage you to ask what God thinks. And be prepared to see yourself and your life in ways you never have. When your thoughts change, everything changes and you open yourself up to God’s thoughts.

And as you dwell on God’s thoughts, dreams, and plans, balance will be found.

Leave a comment below and tell me about your struggles and triumphs with balance, and I’ll give one person a copy of my new book, Moms’ Night Out!

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

4 Sanity-Saving Tips for Balancing a Large (or Any) Family

4 tips on balancing a large family

When I was a little girl, there was hardly a time that you didn’t see me taking care of dolls. Lined up in a row, I would talk to them, feed them, change them and you know- the whole life routine. I always wanted to be just like my mom and I feel incredibly blessed that God saw fit to provide my large family dream.

After growing up in a family of 9 children and having a tribe of my own, as part of The Better Mom series on balance, I’m sharing 4 tips for balancing a large household. Can I tell you I’ve not hit the professional household manager mark yet? Please know as you read the tips that I consider myself an experienced learner, but NOT a perfect expert by any stretch of the imagination. With that disclaimer, here we go:

1. Write out a definition of “balance” and be sure it is realistic.

If “balanced” means you can eat food off your kitchen floor at any point in the day, then the definition itself is out of balance.  One of the best illustrations I’ve seen on life balance was a wheel, not a scale. Life priorities should be in the center of the wheel and activities around the outside.  As the wheel turns, activities will vary in position. At certain times of the day, a baseball game might be the top activity or focus. Then when it’s time for bed, nighttime routine needs to be the focus. I like to think of balance as: “living with enough structure for our family to function well, but with enough flexibility to enjoy living.”

2. Keep a family calendar and use it consistently.

Many methods of calendaring are available, whether you use your smartphone, paper calendar, or Google calendar. The method is a preference; the point is to find a system that works well for you and your family. Keeping a family calendar has been a critical component of striving for balance in our home.

3. Set your calendar limitations; do not over-schedule as a family.

With the number of bodies in our household, there is a lot of daily action, interaction and logistics. Knowing who has to be where at what time and making it happen can take its toll quickly. Discover your own limitations and set them firmly; communicate the boundaries to everyone involved. For example, my children know that Mommy and Daddy only allow them to participate in one extracurricular sports activity per season.  This is just what works for us and everyone knows the rule.  Another tip that has worked well for us is to have one day a week with no appointments scheduled during the day hours. For us, Friday has suited well for this purpose. If someone asks to schedule an appointment on a Friday, I simply say: “I’m sorry; our family doesn’t schedule appointments on Fridays.” With 8 people living in the house and multiple others floating in and out, having one guaranteed appointment-free day each week can be sanity-saving.

4. Accept and solicit assistance when you know it is needed.

This point was a tough one for me to learn. I enjoy taking care of my family and I want to do it. All the time. But honestly, I can’t do it well and do it consistently without some help.  As our family has grown and needs have changed over the years, we’ve:

  •  hired babysitters as we could afford
  • accepted help from neighbors
  • requested assistance occasionally from our church family
  • and bartered child care with other families.

It’s not always easy, but in the long run, I can tell you it is worth it. For those you blessed with family members living close by, enjoy their help and don’t be afraid to ask when you know you really need it. Raising a family is a marathon; not a sprint.

There you have it! My top 4 tips for attempting to keep the Wojo tribe lassoed in and still enjoy large family life to the fullest.

I’d love to know: Which one is resonating with you?

Rachel

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...