Monday, September 06, 2010


Our new school-based lifestyle has undeniably brought areas of inefficiency to our attention. We are pretty much inefficient at everything. But we are taking baby steps in the right direction and I want credit for them.

#1 Breakfast
One or maybe both of my sisters gave me this idea. Instead of short-order-cooking, or rattling off the same long list of choices every morning and waiting an eternity for each girl to decide what she wants - there is no time for this! we are always running late!-, we have made a chart that tells what is for breakfast each weekday. The girls love the idea (thank goodness) and illustrated the chart themselves. We taped it inside a cupboard so no matter who is getting breakfast, we are on the same page.
#2 Lunch
I don't have a lot of creative, nutritious ideas for packing a school lunch. Sorry. Hazel loves peanut butter and jelly so that's what she gets every day, plus a fruit, a veggie and something else like cookie or goldfish or pretzels. But my friend Heather, who has three kids in school (bow down in awe), gave me a great tip that I have been doing from day one. Genius, really. I make a whole loaf of bread into PBJ's, then put them back in the bread bag and freeze them. So instead of making a new sandwich every single day, I just make a bunch every 2 weeks and pull one out each day.
#3 Salad Dressings
Does anyone else's fridge door look like this? What is in these bottles and how old are they? So when Ken's dressings were on sale recently (5 for $5), I bought five flavors we actually like and threw out everything else. I did take the time to rinse and recycle the bottles. Just saying.

#4 Kept Woman
I mean, not really. I am married to Ed. But this term is what comes to mind every two weeks when the housecleaners come. Yes, we hired a cleaning service. The people that send the brochure that says, "Life's too short to clean your own house." I still feel guilty spending the money on it, but it is my own sacrifice, coming out of the household budget that I manage, and it is such a relief to know my house is getting cleaned. The best I seem to be able to do is just Level 1 - picking things up and putting them away. Rarely deep cleaning with products and brushes and stuff.

Not Streamlined
I still need help streamlining laundry - so pathetic when my family is getting dressed in clean but wrinkly clothes out of bins that have not been folded - and keeping the family room/playroom picked up. We have a house rule that only two bins/boxes/kinds of toys may be out at a time, but I don't seem to be enforcing it very well. I seem to have too much else to do. Like not fold laundry. And not clean my house. Um. Okay. Still working on...everything.

How about you? Have you streamlined anything lately? Or have something that's been working for you for awhile?


Shells said...

You are lucky your school let's Hazel have PB&J. Our school doesn't allow any nuts of any kind. It is limiting, but my kids don't really like PB&J anyway. We do deli meat sandwiches, usually made in the morning as we are heading out. 2 pieces of fruit (apple, banana, nectarine, clementine, plums, etc) and we try to fit in a vegetable (cucumbers or tomatoes usually). And a dairy, cheese stick or yogurt or yogurt drink. Then a juice and sometimes a small sweet. Our school doesn't allow chips, nuts, or soda in packed lunches. I try to enforce that since I think it makes good health sense.

Menu planning for dinners also saves time, but you have to put in the time up front, which isn't always easy. I tell myself I will do a load of laundry away, but I live in piles and piles of clean and unclean laundry - so don't follow my example there. Now that the kids are old enough, I do make them put away their own clothes after I fold them into piles on my bed. And quite often, they help me fold their clothes too. That's been nice.

One other thing I used to do, was to have Hilde's clothes ready for the week on Sunday. We would put everything she would need for each day on a hanger and then in the morning she would just take down the next hanger and put those clothes on. It worked very well, but of course, she has uniforms so they are easy to hang up.

JillEE said...

no kids in school - but I am going to steal the sandwich idea for me and Jeremy :-)

Heather M. said...

We seem to have a good breakfast/lunch routine that works for us, but I'm trying to streamline my life/schedule. Presently working on a binder to hold everything vital to our everyday life: calendar/kids schedules, pocket for current non-online bills, pocket for each kid's current stuff, my daily lists, each store's list to add to as needed, etc. Every year I try to stay really organized and it falls apart. I'm hoping this works, since everything vital (I mean that or it will be a bust) will be in one place and I can keep it with me at all times (or at least in the car, since I seem to live there after school). The housecleaning part: jealous of that. :)

Kelly said...

I'm so using that sandwich idea! Just like you said, it's genius!!!

I love reading your posts. I laugh, sometimes cry, and today, not feel so guilty for having a sink full of dirty dishes! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who cleans but doesn't fold clothes. The only thing the family can count on is having a warm meal every night.

We also have the toy bin rule and I don't enforce it well either. Instead, I yell really well. "If you don't want to clean it, don't take it out!! It would be a lot easier to clean if you didn't have every single toy on the floor."

Anonymous said...

--My mom made a rule for herself that she had to fold the clothes before they cooled off. She says that until she did that, she just always had tons of laundry. Now she folds them straight out of the dryer, never transporting to a second location to sit in a heap.

(As a single mom, I can't do that because I am almost always starting to dry a load as I'm heading out the door.)

--Everyone who watches TV must fold clothes while they are doing it.

--Lily assembles most of her lunch the night before, I add the temperature sensitive stuff the morning of.

--All clothes (including socks!) (and underwear) must be picked out and laid out the night before.

--all toys must be cleaned up in order to eat, that way, the toys at least get picked up before lunch and dinner. Also, it encourages the kids to play outside more, because they don't love the clean-up.

I have to have everyone ready and out the door by 7 every morning, so we don't have much wiggle-room for mistakes.

Whitney said...

I'm a new visitor to your blog (I found it through some ladies in the Bensonhurst ward.). I LOVE LOVE LOVE the breakfast menu idea. When I have kids in school I'm totally using it!

Lindsay said...

Oh, gosh. We could definitely do with a breakfast chart like that (more for me, and less for my kids, but they would certainly benefit, too). I also love the sandwich idea!

Having to go to the laundromat has helped me to streamline laundry, but someday when (or if) I have a W/D in my house, I think I will keep the system as much the same as I can because I really like it. Tuesday morning is my designated laundry day. I get up early and go before Blake goes to work (so he can stay home with the boys). Because I have access to so many washers and dryers, I can get it all done in about an hour. Then I haul it home and fold it ASAP and iron as soon as Caleb's down for a nap (he likes to climb on the ironing board, so I can't iron when he's up). Seriously, on a good day I'm able to get it all done in 3 hours (3 not very fun hours, but it gets done and that's what matters). My mom did something similar with her in-house W/D -- just had a designated day for laundry and didn't go to bed until it was all folded and put away. It amazes me how much more in control the dirty clothes are when I stay on top of it each week. But anyway, laundry stinks no matter how to look at it, so good luck!

-Sydney- said...

I streamline lunches by having all the sides (crackers, pretzels, carrot sticks, applesauce, fruit etc) portioned out in little reusable containers in the pantry or fridge. That way I can just grab 'em and stuff 'em in the lunch bags. Ziploc makes a convenient little 1/2 cup size container and I have a zillion of them.

Laundry. . .ugh. . .I can't really decide which is better--doing a little every day (so you're ALWAYS doing laundry) or tackling the laundry mountain once a week :) Not my favorite chore.

Erin said...

Love every single one of these ideas!

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