Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New year, new systems

Last week I sat down with my Kitchen Journal... (Wait! Have I never told you about the Kitchen Journal? Another day. )

So I sat down with my Kitchen Journal to plot out this school year's schedule. This year, I have kids on only three different schedules. But still I had figure out which mornings were preschool, which days would fit the gym or karate or grocery shopping, when to hold scripture study and homework time. It's really a beautiful plan and I do believe there's a spot for everything, but it's far too boring to share.

Here are some new innovations in this year's schedule:

1. Homework time

We've always done homework time after dinner, the idea being that when kids come home from school they need a break. So we let them play for a couple hours, do choretime and dinner, then homework. The problem is a certain child who shall not be named who is magically talented at taking advantage of the family's busy evening schedule to evade homework altogether and who practically flunked out the fourth grade as a result.

New plan: Kids come home from school to a clean kitchen table, whereon Mom serves snacks. No one gets up from the table til homework is done. The great thing about this--as with all good discipline systems--is that it puts the choices and the consequences on the children. If you want to fuss and whine about homework til your playtime is over, that's your choice. I hover in the kitchen and do prep cooking for dinner while I supervise.

2. Mom's scripture study time

So now I have to confess: my personal scripture study schedule has been a mess since I got married almost 16 years ago. Bedtime never seems to work consistently because that's my moment to be with Mark. Last year I determined to get up early for my own scripture study before family scripture study. I bought a comfy second-hand chair and put it in my office. Every morning I walked down to the chair, opened my scriptures...and spaced out. I'm really stupid when I'm sleepy and I couldn't focus myself to absorb one verse.

New plan: My scripture study time is 2:45 in the afternoon. (Are you bowled over by the genius of this bold plan?) This is after my two hours of work but before Jesse wakes up from his nap and 25 minutes before Roscoe gets home from school. I fix myself a little snack and sit down and read. My afternoon/evening hours are the most demanding part of my day, and this gives me a chance to balance and focus myself before I dive in.

3. Clothes Levi

This one is pretty silly, but I can't tell you how helpful it's been. My Levi has strong feelings about clothing. Most every morning he dumps out his drawers, scours through his clean laundry bucket, even riffles through the dryer in search of...what? A different blue t-shirt? And he cries and gnashes his teeth because he doesn't like the waistband of the available pants, or he wanted a long-sleeved shirt, or these socks are too stretchy. It's way too much drama for morning. (See above for my issues with morning.)

New Plan: Each night Levi makes a Clothes Levi on his bedroom floor. Somehow the choices seem less fraught the night before, and he lays out those clothes in seconds flat. The rule is he's not allowed to change his mind the next morning. Seriously, it's changed my life.


  1. Ahhh, one of the things I love most about starting a new school year is the "new plan". You've got some great ideas too. I copied your Kitchen Journal idea earlier this spring and have really enjoyed having it.

  2. From Mom:

    One of the most powerful scripture reading experiences I have ever had was when I was able to put all children to nap or school and then eat my lunch ALONE while I read. Changed my life. I still can't pick clothes in the morning. Too hard a decision on a foggy brain.

  3. ONLY three different schedules? Oh sheesh. This is a part of my life that I CAN wait for.
    The scripture study thing sounds pretty stinkin' smart to me. I am blown away by your genius. And Mom's comment about naptime and lunch hits a little close to home. Read scriptures instead of turn on the TV the second the kids go down? Ingenius!
    And Clothes Levi. Truly brilliant. You know I always love your systems - I can't wait to see how these work for you.

    I know our schedule needs some major re-do-ing but I am waiting until I see how things go when Naomi starts school next week before going there.

  4. Oh, I just love the shiny new feeling of the beginning of the school year! I love your systems.

  5. I just noticed that your profile picture has bites out of the apples now! How funny!

  6. I'm in awe of your organization! You definitely have to elaborate about this kitchen journal. When I did daycare the rule was homework was first. I tried letting the kids play for half an hour, but it never worked. And I only have 2 different schedules to keep track of this year instead of 3!

  7. I love you. This post is what blogging is FOR.

    We've always done snack/homework first. It's just better. It's a weight off their shoulders, too.

    I love your scripture idea. Hopefully Jesse doesn't decide to change HIS routine.

  8. I love new systems. I hope these help simplify your life. I just have a baby right now so no homework yet but I think getting it done right after school is a great idea. And, finding time for yourself to study scripture is great. Don't you think there is so much more time in the day when that gets done?

  9. Great ideas! I really appreciate the scripture reading plan. Because I likewise have had a hard time since getting married. And the "Clothes Levi" is brilliant!