A Simplified Life, Series Review!

Simplified_Life

Before summer gets away from me and life once again becomes crowded with too many homeschooling resources, parent-taxi responsibilities, and an overburdened calendar, it’s time to take a moment to breathe and simplify life. Perhaps you’re feeling like me and could use a little encouragement. Join us in reviewing this fun, simple to follow series!

With these basic, easy steps, we hope to help simplify life. Join us as we share our thoughts on how to simplify all areas of our lives, homes, and learning.

A Simplified Life: Menu Planning
A Simplified Life: Chores
A Simplified Life: Homeschooling
A Simplified Life: Educational Resources
A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities
A Simplified Life: Free Printables

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
~ Ephesians 5:15-17

Your Turn!: What is one area of your life you’d like to simplify?

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A Simplified Life: Free Printables

Simplified_LifeWe are one busy family! I imagine most families are. In order to help keep life organized and as stress-free as possible, we’ve created a variety of charts and lists to keep things in order.

On our newest page, Free Printables, you’ll find our collection of free printable sheets, made available for everyone to use. We pray these resources help your family, offering more time to have fun.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
I Cor. 14:40

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!

A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities

Simplified_LifeThis week is full of activities; yesterday we had a field trip, today we’re going swimming, tomorrow is grocery shopping, and this weekend is my birthday. Not every week is this busy, but when it is, there are some key things I can do to ensure events are as stress-free and simplified as possible.

Before planning out an event, there are some questions I should ask myself:         

•Did I pray about this? (Perhaps the Lord has other plans?)                                            •Did my husband say it was okay? (As a Christian wife, I respectfully keep my husband   aware of all our plans.)
•Will my family benefit from the event? (Not all good ideas are good for us.)                  •Will I stress out trying to make the event possible? (Do I already have too many events planned on the same day?)

If my event has passed “inspection”; off to the calendar I go. I prefer to do my scheduling on a computer, there I can schedule email reminders and sync with my mobile device. It will also allow me to add notes regarding the event, such as “pack swimsuits”.

Prep for the event by getting any necessary materials ahead of time. Certain events, such as potlucks, often require me to bring food. When putting the event on my calendar, I will make sure to add these items onto my grocery list. If I have a birthday present to purchase, that will be added to my errand list. (See Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One) The day before the event, I usually try to make sure my car has enough fuel (it is always a pain to get in the car and realize I now have to stop for gas… talk about stress!)

I map out the day of the event. Knowing what time our event starts is helpful, but that information isn’t always enough. How long will it take me to get to the event? How long will it take me to get out the door? How long does it take to straighten up my house and kids before heading out the door? Do I have anything else going that morning that also needs to be done? Several factors determine how the day will go. I don’t like leaving things to chance; therefore I like to “map out” our day. It looks something like this:

Event Time:          3:00pm (With a drive time of 1 hr.)
Leave Time:         1:45pm ( I like to have extra time.)
Kids shoes on:     1:30pm (Plenty of time to brush teeth, hair, shoes on, and get the car .)
Straighten House:1:00pm (If not decent, I don’t leave. I can’t tell you how often that pays off.)
Lunch:                  12:00 (Plenty of time to eat in peace, wash up, and grab food/presents.)

This routine works well for morning events as well. I simply plug in my start time and work backwards. This helps determine what time I need to wake up, what time my kids need to be up, and everything else that needs to get done before heading out the door.

Because the event was organized and simplified to the best of our ability, we are not rushing around trying to do things last-minute. Everything we need is set in place and ready to go.  Barring any last-minute changes, we are free to enjoy our day and anticipate a wonderful afternoon. With a simplified routine we can truly enjoy the event!

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Ephesians 5:15-17

🔔Time to Chime In: In your opinion, what is the hardest aspect of getting out the door for an event?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!

A Simplified Life: Educational Resources

Simplified_LifeOne of the joys, and hazards, of being a homeschooling family is the multitude of resources available to us. If I’m not careful, we have stacks of craft supplies littering every surface of the house, glue sticks seem to be multiplying quicker than rabbits, pencils disappear in the blink of an eye, and don’t even get me started on blank paper. (It’s an obsession for us.) Let us not forget the multitude of awesome field trips books, pamphlets, and flyers mom has collected over the years as well. There must be a simple, organized way to keep track of these resources, leaving a clean surface for us to work on and a pleasant environment to live in.

My first step in simplifying the resources available to us is to organize and downsize, if necessary. I put our resources into three main categories: Crafting, Documents, and Books.

Crafting Supplies

Crafting supplies are gone through periodically, with us removing anything old, dried up, or damaged. Then, we organize!
At our local dollar store, we have purchased clear bins in which to place various supplies. We have bins for each of the following:

  • adhesives (glue sticks, glue tape, glue dots, double-sided tape, and the like)
  • scissors (both regular and pinking sheers)
  • school pencils/erasers
  • coloring pencils
  • markers
  • crayons
  • stamps (we have four boxes for our ever-growing collection)
  • ink pads/stamp crayons
  • stickers
  • embossing tools
  • modeling/sculpting supplies
  • paints (both watercolor and washable paints, including brushes)
  • glitter
  • yarn, ribbon, and string
  • arithmetic resources (rulers, compasses, protractor, and triangles)
  • science resources (magnifying glasses, rock collections, fossil collections, and more)

Slightly larger bins have been purchased to hold decorative paper for card making and scrapbooking projects our children might wish to work on. In addition to these bins, we also have stacks of blank paper, lined paper, and construction paper readily available.

While I’d love to have a learning room dedicated to just this aspect of our lives, we are using the space we have available; which means we have to be creative in how we store our resources. Thankfully, there is a fairly nice sized closet in our family room which fits this purpose. My wonderful husband installed shelves in the closet, and this is where we store our supplies. The bottom shelves hold our curriculum for the year, along with our portfolios. The shelves above hold supplies our children use on a regular basis: paper (of all kinds), writing and coloring instruments, arithmetic supplies, and painting supplies. The shelves at the top contain items I would prefer be out of immediate reach to littler kiddos: ink, stamps, scissors, glue, and more expensive crafting supplies/tools.

The children have access to this cupboard, and the supplies, all day. When we are not doing formal learning, they are encouraged to use the resources made available to them. The only rule is that they clean up the mess they’ve created.

Documents

Over the years I have collected quite a selection of field trip ideas, along with pamphlets and catalogs from various companies. Storing each of these would take up a bulk of space and keep my desk cluttered. Simplifying this collection is a must.

In recent years I have slimmed down my field trip pile by filing such information on Pinterest. Here, websites can be saved along with a pertinent note regarding cost and/or location. Gone are the piles and seeing an organized ‘board’ is a thing of beauty.

Company catalogs are also recycled or donated. A bookmark file has been created on my browser for just this purpose. Each company I like to peruse or purchase from is listed under a homeschool folder in my browser, always available and leaving more free space in our home.

Documents pertaining to my children’s learning, tests and the like, are automatically filed in their portfolios, removing this clutter from our learning space. My children’s written projects are usually dated and filed in a box we purchased just for this purpose, with a file folder for each child. 3D projects are photographed, kept for a period of time, and then removed when our children seem to have lost interest in keeping them.

Books

Last, but definitely not least, is our every growing resource of books. This is probably the hardest area to organize. Not because we can’t, but because we always adding to our collection and are constantly running out of room! Some shelves in our home are double-decked.

Art books, animation books, and all things pertaining to Christian studies are to be found in my husband’s study. Most of our children’s literature is to be found in the girls’ room. A vast collection of comics is in my son’s, along with a decent supply of Audubon guides, DK books, and the like. The family room contains the classics.

…..

Thankfully, organizing our learning resources isn’t hard, nor very expensive; merely time-consuming. But, once you get the ball rolling, it’s hard to stop! Simplifying and organizing our resources better helps us understand which supplies need to be refilled or refreshed. We are also teaching our children to be responsible, organized, and good stewards of the resources available. Plus, it’s much easier to access when you know where everything is! No more time wasted trying to find those pesky, disappearing pencils or that field trip pamphlet you just filed.

A simplified life makes things easier, and leaves more room for fun!

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
I Corinthians 14:40

🔔Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to throw away your children’s projects? I know we do! What helps you determine when a project needs to be placed in the circulatory bin?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!

A Simplified Life: Chores

Simplified_LifeThe first ministry I have been given is to be a Keeper of my home. The Lord has shown me this must come first. If my home is not in order, I might want to reconsider participating in outside activities until they are.

To help me with this, and to better teach our children how to properly care for their own homes, a chore routine has been established:

Our routine is as follows:

Mondays: adult laundry and bathrooms (thorough cleaning)
Tuesdays: children’s laundry, floors, and dusting (blinds/furniture/ceiling fans)                                                     Wednesdays: linens and bathrooms (thorough cleaning)
Thursdays: kitchen cupboards/hallway walls (whichever needs it most), grocery shopping
Fridays: library and errands
Weekends: surface cleaning of any areas in need

Considering it is currently summer time, now is my opportunity to put this schedule to the
test. Is this working for me? Perhaps I need to change some days around to make things work better. I also want to start taking notice of when is the best time to do my chores. I don’t necessarily set a specific time, but setting up blocks of time gives me a general idea of where I might have “free time”.

Chores being designated and set in place, I now want to start having the kiddos get in on the game. Even my youngest helps out. Each of my kiddos is given a task and we all work until the job is done. Our kids need to learn the value of a job well done, working together, and being responsible. Mommy handles the washing of the laundry, but the kiddos help fold and put their own laundry away. Mommy cleans the basins, but the kiddos do the mirrors, floors, and counters in the bathrooms. We have the joy of working side by side and encouraging each other in doing a good job. They will often hear me saying, “Good job, little man! Keep it up honey, you are going to be a pro at keeping your home when you are a mommy, T!” The kids learn to enjoy their chores, have fun working together, and take pride in their work. To help keep track of everyone’s chores, we have created THIS fun chore chart.

Two things I should point out. One, while the kids are young, they are going to make mistakes. Try not to clean up their messes in front of them. Wait until they are out of sight and preoccupied, then straighten things up. This will prevent them from getting discouraged, but still keep your house to the level of clean you might like. The second is this, be prepared that the kids will complain from time to time. Let’s be honest; work is work! Don’t give in and do the chores yourself! You are only making your job harder in the long run and robbing them of the joy of responsibility.

With a routine set in place and a fun chore chart printed, we are taking yet another step towards simplifying life.

“For each will have to bear his own load.”
Galatians 6:5

🔔Time to Chime In: How do you keep track of your children’s chores? We’d love to hear about it!

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagram, & Pinterest!