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 Replace only what is not out of date.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

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

Celebrating the holidays is a wonderful family time, but complicating the celebrations is easy to do. With a house full of children and the many responsibilities of a day, I wanted to share these 10 holiday celebration timesavers to ease the stress – and workload. Nothing fancy- just simple shortcuts to save time.  Perhaps one or two of these ideas will help you in holiday preparation or celebration!

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

1. Plan your work; work your plan.

Even if you’d not typically a planner, taking a few moments to write lists can save a ton of time in the long run, whether it is for meals,shopping, or a schedule.

2. Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.

3. Keep the decorations simple.

Candles are always easy and elegant. A fresh wreath makes a huge impact.

4. Prepare Christmas breakfast ahead of time.

Whether you choose an overnight casserole or simply bake the muffins and freeze ahead, having at least some portion of Christmas morning breakfast prepared allows for more time to enjoy family.

5. Reflect before running “out to the store.”

Can I do this task at a more suitable time in regards to traffic, work hours, etc?

6. Simplify your holiday schedule.

Allow  time margins to enjoy each event, rather than rushing from one to the next.

7. Prepare wrapping supplies and print gift tags in advance.

Whether you are a “wrap as you go” person or a “do it all at once” person, having your supplies in one organized place can be pivotal. You can find a wonderful set of free printable gift tags with Bible verses right here.

8. If you need to mail items, do your best to make one trip for cards and all packages.

9. Limit the number of “new” holiday activities.

Trying five new cookie recipes may not be the most efficient use of time. Drop it down to two and then try the others later in the winter when time is not as tight.

10. Capture teaching moments in the moment.

Use the cuddles around the fireplace for meaningful conversation! Here’s a simple example of making the most of the moment to simply embrace the true reason for the season.

And there you have it- just a few ideas for holiday celebration timesavers!

Do you have a holiday celebration timesaver that keeps you sane?

We’d love it if you’d share it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Rachel-RachelWojo.com

The Naturally Clean Home

This week’s Ultimate Healthy Living ebook bundle includes several books on natural cleaning.

Once you start using vinegar and especially essential oils to clean, I don’t think you’ll ever go back to bleach and Comet.  I’m especially in love with using lavender and citrus oils as I clean.  Now “clean” doesn’t smell like chemicals, but like true scents found in nature.

If you’ve been wondering how to get information or get started on natural cleaning, this bundle has some great resources!

One website I’ve gone to a number of times is DIY natural.  I’ve found their cleaning recipes and information to be helpful and effective.  Now their book is available in this bundle!

Green Living EbooksDIY Natural Household Cleaners includes:

  • 60+ tried and true money saving, natural homemade cleaner recipes for your kitchen, bathroom, laundry, wood, windows, walls, air, and more.
  • We give you a list of the simple, inexpensive, and non-toxic ingredients needed to get started… you most likely own many already.
  • Access to our discounted “Essential Oils Starter Kit” taking away all guesswork from using essential oils. Note: the coupon code in the book for an additional 5% off has expired because it was leaked on the Internet.
  • You can save hundreds of dollars every year, the more recipes you make the more you’ll save.
  • You can make hundreds of dollars every year by making these recipes and selling them at your local farm markets, food co-ops, etc.
  • You control the ingredients and know exactly what is going into your cleaners.
  • You’ll be teaching children stewardship and creativity.
  • You will lead and inspire others in positive change.
  • You will expand and improve upon your skill set.
  • Reject a consumeristic mindset and rebel by creating and doing the right thing.
  • Decrease your reliance on store-bought products.

Another book you’ll get with the bundle on natural cleaning (and natural everything else) is Green Your Life.

Green Your Life is a basic guidebook for anyone interested in living a greener and more natural life!

It is 250+ pages organized into 5 main categories:

  • Cleaning
  • Personal Care Products
  • Baby & Child Care
  • Around the House
  • In the Marketplace

Each section includes practical, easy to make changes that you can begin implementing right away to move your family toward a natural and eco-friendly life!

More books in the bundle that will help us learn about green living are:

Some of the benefits to natural cleaning that I’ve experienced are:

  • cost-effective
  • child friendly
  • therapeutic scents

In the bundle, you’ll also get 12 weeks of mentoring sessions!  Included in those sessions is one on greening your home and one on using essential oils.

What a great way to get started living green!

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