Living with a larger family full of kids and critters and homeschooling the whole crew, a house can get in disarray and fast.
Here is an age-appropriate chore chart to help get you back on task. We recently re-implemented this with even our older kids as a reminder of what we can all work on together. (We did not add any pet or farm responsibilities here.
Making chalkboard clipboards are very easy and they are usable over and over again. They are great for “in the car” activities, traveling, and chore charts for the wall. Our family uses them for all 3. We are making new ones today for the missing one and for our 2 new boys as well.
wooden clipboards (These are sold at walmart or kmart or target for less than $2 each),
bottle of spray paint (chalkboard) – I found this at our local Ace Hardware
blue painter’s tape
Foam stamps and paint
Blue tape the “Metal Hinge” and spray paint the entire front of the board. After 24 hours, remove the tape carefully. Stamp your child’s name on the board and tie matching ribbon at different lengths on the hinge.
Over the last year, we have had our ups and our downs with everything. Their therapist and I have been trying to work through the food hoarding and stealing and we think that we have found what is working.
I added names to the sides of plastic shoe boxes. These are the SNACK BOXES!!! Each child gets 15 snacks added to it on Sunday night. They can choose to eat them all in one day, or keep them for all week. The very first day, Breckin at 8 snacks, but soon came to realize that he only had 7 for the rest of the week. The girls are pretty smart. They will eat some of their snacks and then put back what they don’t eat for later.
Now, the first thing that the boys do when they get home from school is ask if they can have a snack… and they know what box is theirs!
We have been experimenting with this for 3 weeks and we have seen no other food hoarding or stealing for that time. YEAH!!!
Keeping 7 kids organized is a task in itself. I am often asked how can I manage to get all kids where they need to go. I have a calendar… actually I have MANY calendars. I have an online calendar that my husband can access through google. This allows him to post to the calendar and it emails me when he does. I have a paper calendar that I carry. I seem to like that one better than the online one. And I have a new one just for kids.
This is a removable vinyl whiteboard that is sticky on the back. This allows me to write a schedule for all of the kiddlings to see. Breckin gets many anxiety issues with not knowing a schedule and routines are very important to Berlyn. Since they are both reading now (at least Berlyn can read his name), they can both check each day and know exactly what is going on (or at least that something is going on that day) without coming to mom to check. The kids get so excited to see their names on the calendar for an activity. I tend to write them in color code as well (That reminds me to pick up some new white board pens while everything is on sale)
Having many calendars can often times be a problem if they are not “sync-ed”. Every morning before I get kids up and going, I check my emails and check all 3 calendars just to make sure that they all match for that day and the week. Then, I adjust as needed.
So, no matter how much I don’t want to go someplace, I still can’t use the excuse that I didn’t know about it… it is bound to be on one and then all 3 calendars here at our house. … Getting there on time? That is a totally different matter. 😉
On the first of the month (or what ever day works best for you), each of you children receive ONE roll of quarters in a jar. Mom also needs to have a roll of quarters as well.
Every time a child in our home is disrespectful or mean to another (and mom or dad hears or sees this happening) then that child owes the other a quarter. If they backtalk mom, mom gets a quarter. Mom can hand out quarters to any kid who is going above and beyond – doing a chore without asking, being extra nice, etc.
If a child runs out of quarters in the month, then, they will have to do an extra chore for each time that they act out.
One the first of the next month, the child will get to keep ALL quarters that they have in their jar to save or spend… And mom starts over with a new roll of quarters.
This has worked AWESOME with our new little boys… They do NOT want extra chores and LOVE to help extra around the house to earn quarters.
After the adoption of our 2 boys, I have been asked MANY times if Larry and I are finally done having children. We are told OFTEN that 7 kids are a lot … A HUGE family! I have to disagree with them. We are not finished if God wants us to have more. We know that God will only give us what we can handle and Larry and I after the birth of Shelby knew that we were destined to become parents – the best parents that we could be. We look at families with 10 or more and and I am in awe of how they all work together.
We have a dynamic in our household that people with 2 children just don’t understand. Is is chaotic? Yes, at times… but when is it not chaotic for someone with 2 or 3 children too. Is it loud? YES! But again, I wouldn’t change it for anything. We always have something going on… we always are on the go with activities together. I have a home office where I do 75% of my work from. … I am essentially a stay-at-home mom. We have 4 children who are homeschooled and 3 who are public schooled. We are back on the foster care and adoption lists for a little girl (or 2) under 4 years old.
How with work, school, homeschool, and everything else on my plate do I juggle everything that I do? Recently at a CFT (team meeting for our boys with CPS and therapists) Larry and I were asked what our strengths were of each other. Larry had one for me that I was not aware of… He said that he thought that my greatest strength in the household was my ability to juggle all of the kids and get them to where they needed to be while still being an amazing mom. WOWWIE! I am honored to think that my husband “sees” everything that I do with the kids.
I have been asked an MANY occasions what the essentials in my household are. Here is my “mom” list.
I know that my house will never be spotless, nor should it ever. Our house is very well lived in and it is NOT a museum. Our house will at times be cluttered and really messy. Do we clean, YES, all of the time! Everything does have a place and will make it there as soon as I stop playing with my children!
Kids schedule organization is essential. With any number of children in your household, you need to be organized with a calendar. I have both a print calendar that I keep on my desk and take with me in my “Mary Poppins Purse” and I put everything online on my Google calendar that my husband and oldest daughter can access from their phones. Everything is color coded by person.This makes it SO much easier to know who needs to be where and when.
Take time to do something fun with your children every day! I try not to get stuck in a mundane routine… Over and Over and OVER again causes for BORING! However for many children routine is very important so block a “time” every day.
Get a hobby that you can include your children.We cook… and BOY, DO WE! All of my children cook. We make everything from scratch and make up so many recipes. They don’t always turn out. But we do write down all that we do create together.
Always, always, always eat and pray together every night. This will allow you to visit with your children, learn who they are all over again. You can have your “family meetings” during dinner. Our are loud and full of laughter. We do not sit quietly and I love every minute of those giggles and talking about your day moments. Soon enough they will no longer be at home to do this.
To deal with the loud and crazies, create a “quite area”. In my office, I have a chalkboard wall, a glider rocking chair, children’s books and quite felt and wood toys. This area is a quite zone for all children who need to have alone time.
To streamline your household, plan out your meals in advance. I know what I have in my pantry, in my freezers and in my refrigerators all of the time (unless I have an older kids help themselves to something. Last week I was missing 2 bell peppers… come to find out my oldest 2 kiddos ate them for a snack – REALLY? A Bell pepper for a snack? At least they LOVE veggies!) We know exactly what we are making for dinner when I get up in the morning to make my day go easier. Most of the time, I load up my solar oven pans in the morning and let it cook all day!!!
Recruit children to have their own toys, help with clean-up and to help others with their chores. With as many little hands that are in our home, I know that we can accomplish ANYTHING! Use children in the skills that they are best at. Elwyn LOVES to be in the garden. She loves to pull weeds and calls that her private time. Berlyn does NOT like to do yard work, but he is really good at organizing things in bedrooms. We use each child with their own special gifts.
Make the most of time that you are kidless. I work when Larry is off. I work at night after kids are in bed and during “brain-rest” time. I chose to work like this so that I can give 100% to my kids.
Lastly, remember that every day is a new day. It has to be or you will make yourself go crazy and pull out all of your hair. You will NOT accomplish everything that you planned every single day, but you can give it your best shot each and every day.
I don’t know about the rest of you but mom’s office and mom and dad’s bedroom seem to be the place that most items are thrown when a kid is “cleaning” up. I have been getting really tired of picking up scout clothes and the kids not being able to find their dance shoes when they need to… or even my photo props not being in the right place when I need them. Having 7 little “helpers” (and I do use that lightly) sometimes makes for 7 little tornadoes in my house.
I found some locking 15liter containers on sale and began filling them for the top of my closet.I used my cricut machine and cut permanent vinyl for the sides. Now, the labels are sure NOT to come off either. Vinyl is a wonderful and magical thing. I picked up some permanent outdoor vinyl (and some wall vinyl on a different day) from Pick You Plum. LOVE THAT DAILY DEAL SITE.
In my goal to conquer the kid clutter, I have in fact, found a solution in my house to make getting ready for activities faster because I am not wasting time to find that neckerchief for one of the many scouts that I do have! And as you can see, bathing suits got a box as well… SO MUCH EASIER to get the 4 littles into their suits and everyone can find them, because mom stashed them!!
Having an organized pantry is important in your kitchen. It allows for less time during meal preparation and a much better feel in your kitchen. I know that I feel a whole lot better when I walk into my kitchen and know exactly what I have in my pantry.
We do dehydrate a TON of veggies and herbs from our garden that I use in a variety of cooking when I do not have fresh available. I know that if I bag them up in zipper bags, then I can’t always find what I was looking for when I need it. We also store all of our mixes in gallon sized jars.
In my pantry, I use mason jars in both pint and quart and recycled gallon size pickle jars work great for mixes and bulk food.I don’ t loose anything this way!!!
I also use chalkboard labels so that I can change the label on them if I need to (There are many out on the market. I posted a link to the least expensive that I found on amazon.com.) The changable labels come in handy with our homemade instant oatmeal container. The kids always know what flavor is available!!
It does not take a ton of money to make your pantry be usable. (Yes, those are milk crates as extra shelves as well!)
Trying to organize the 7 of us has, at times, been an EPIC FAIL! There are certain things however that I really keep organized, because it makes our life just a bit easier! And trust me when I say that this is easy to maintain as well. Even my kids, when helping with laundry, can find the correct baskets to put items away with this system.
My linen closet is one of the most important things that I do organize. I always have the fear that someone in the middle of the night will get sick and I will need to change the sheets, but can’t find any fitted sheets or any pillow cases. I can just imagine myself trying to comfort a crying child while DIGGING through the closet, just making myself even more flustered. I still cannot imagine the horror that I would go through and would probably wake up the entire household in the process.
I started out by picking up a few of the $3 laundry baskets from the dollar store. They fit directly on my shelves in my linen closet. I also picked up 2 gallon zippy storage bags at the store. A twin set of sheets fit perfectly in these – I know BRILLIANT! I fold down all matching sheet sets – the fitted, the flat and the matching pillowcase along with a dryer sheet and fit it into the zippy bag. I then throw these into one of the laundry baskets in the closet. This basket is now the matching sheet basket!!! What an easy grab if I need to change sheets in the middle of the night (or any time for that matter!).
The kids pull their sheets off of their bed on their laundry day (another post on this next week) and grab a new sheet bag from the closet. The empty bag goes back in the basket so once I wash and dry their old set, it gets folded right back into the bag and bask into the basket in the closet. The rotation begins! And everything stays neat and tidy in my closet for the next person, the very next day to grab their new set of sheets.
I found some twin comforter sets at Target for $10 (marked down from $69.99) so I bought 4 and have left those in the bags. (For those who didn’t already know, my husband and I are on a waiting list for both foster kids and foster adoption along with emergency intake of kiddlings for singles and siblings 12 years and under, boy or girl) I wanted to have something new for new family members. The bags that those comforters come in are useful for my organizing. And will come out of the bags once we get kids. Those sets will go back into the bags if the kids don’t stay with us permanent.
I also have a laundry basket in the closet for just table clothes, baby blankets, afghans for the living room snuggle time, extra pillow cases, etc.
We change our table clothes at least once a day in the dining room sometimes twice or more. My kids are messy eaters! But, the table clothes do cover up my old table that needs refinishing. I don’t bag up table clothes like I do sheets, but I do fold them and keep them in their own basket. A HA! The Table Cloth basket! We even have smaller baskets in my pantry for our cloth napkins (don’t use paper in this house).
After the organization got going, I got rid of any sheets that I did have all 3 pieces except for the extra pillow cases. Goodwill was more than happy to take them, although, I wish now that I kept many of them to make skirts and dolls for my girls.