It’s that magical time when children go back to school and you try to find the
kitchen counter. Now is a fabulous time to reset routines, establish cleaning
patterns, and find free time for you – so that everyone in the family will feel
Life Coach Connie Sokol shares three ways to refresh your fall routine.
Reset basic routines. Sit in a comfy chair—preferably with a tall
lemonade—and simply consider the main routines in your family’s life. What
are the key times you are all at home and what are you doing? Where are the
main messes and how can you contain them? For example, when children
come home from school they have two things on the brain: snack and play.
You have two things on the brain: what’s in their backpack and hearing about
their day. Consider how to make those simple things a routine. For example,
create a Kids Counter—one small counter space, baker’s rack, or side table
that is strictly for children’s papers. Use office stacking trays (in great perky
colors) and label one per child. When they come home, have the snack on the
counter and chat; meanwhile you grab the backpack and sort what’s to do
(goes in the backpack) and what’s completed (put in the labeled tray). Easy
peezy, lemon squeezy. After they’ve chilled (and preferably you, too),
homework time can begin with a “bring your backpack to the kitchen table.”
While you’re cooking dinner, they’re making homework magic.
Cleaning zones that work. If you have children, you have free labor
—I mean, a great opportunity to teach important life skills. As a mother,
you’re privileged to let children clean, cook, and do self-care to prepare for
future adulthood (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). For cleaning zones
that actually work, again, sit down in that comfy chair and think (see a
common thread?) Consider the areas that are most vital: entry way, kitchen,
living room, family room, etc. They now become “Zones”. Assign each child a
zone (if there aren’t enough children, recruit neighbor kids in exchange for
ice cream) and rotate the zones every two weeks. Children’s bathrooms and
bedrooms are not zones but their own responsibility to deep clean once a
week (deep clean means more than a tidy, i.e. bread crusts and overdue
library books out from under the bed). If you’re children aren’t as familiar
with cleaning, create a Job Card—don’t wait for die cuts and matching paper.
Simply type four to five steps to complete a zone, put it in a plastic sleeve,
and tape it to the back of a nearby door. It’s ideal to model first what you
need done, and definitely reward great work with allowance or extra
computer time. While this may sound daunting, it is—but only at first.
Monday is our day for Cleaning Zones (plus rooms and bathrooms). Years
ago it took three hours with six young children; now it takes 45 minutes, but
still with occasional whining. To make it that much sweeter—for you—choose
a Zone Supervisor, a child to check that the zone is complete. A thorough
supervisor gets extra computer time (and great experience with negotiation
skills and siblings).
Free time for you. With the two above routines of Kids’ Counter
and Cleaning Zones, you should already be seeing your fabulous free time
expand. But if you need a little more, consider a few ideas. Choose a no-
chore day (try Friday) or a deadline for mama’s chores (i.e., 9 to 5). Choose
one regular day for basic errands such as groceries and household items, and
let the family know—”Last call for poster paper—after that, those shoes were
made for walkin’.” And choose your time of day to be off-duty (because a
mother’s work is never done—it pulsates in the corner like a 50’s horror
movie). My children know I love and adore them, until 9 p.m. Then out comes
the Wench Mom, a strange and scary being who is better left alone.
Try one or all of these thoughts and I can honestly, truly, with a money-back
guarantee, promise you a more refreshing, peaceful, and fun fall ahead!
Connie Sokol is a mother of six, a national and local presenter, former TV
and radio host, and columnist for Deseret News. She is the author of Faithful,
Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, and Life is Too Short for
Sensible Shoes. Connie shares weekly woman/wife/mom life tips, products,
and a fabulous blog at www.8basics.com. She delights in
spending time with her family and eating decadent treats.