Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting Organized

I have decided that this summer, I am going to get more organized. The two things that have been hanging over my head are menu planning/grocery shopping, and getting the kids to be excited about chores. So, I have come up with a new plan for each, and so far they are both working! Here is what I have done for the menu planning: Because I cook mainly from a few websites (,, and, I have decided to do some "set" menus. I found this template on pinterest and printed it out five times on cardstock. On each one, I wrote "week 1," "week 2," etc. Each week, I set up a menu, giving myself a night off every Friday night (which we already did), and saving Saturday night as a "leftover" night, which can be used for an unused recipe, leftover food, or, if all else fails, pizza. I filled out the grocery list that corresponds with that menu. I then printed each recipe out, and put the weekly menu in a plastic sheet cover (in a three-ring binder), and behind a "week 1" divider tab, followed by each recipe (also in plastic sheet covers). Each week there is also a Weekly Dessert Recipe... a weight watchers recipe that I make on Sunday and will last through most of the week. Knowing there is dessert waiting for me at night keeps me on track during the day. So the binder has a tab divider, the menu/grocery list, then each recipe for that week. Right now, I have a month's worth of menus, recipes, and corresponding grocery lists. Now when it's time to go to the store, I just pull the week's menu/list, grab my coupons, and go. I coupon according to what's on sale, not what I am making that week, so sometimes what I get with coupons won't be used until the following week. If I see a lot of perishable items on sale, I can swap weeks big deal. As I see more great recipes online, I can keep making a new weeks' worth of menus/recipes/grocery lists. I bought the notebook, the divider tabs, and three packs of plastic sheet covers all at Dollar Tree, and I already had the paper and card stock, so this project cost me a total of $5. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before. It is a bit of work up front (this took me an hour and a half), but is saving me LOADS of time in planning and writing grocery lists. Now, on to the new chore system... I have trolled all over Pinterest looking for a good chore system, but couldn't find one that I thought would work long-term for my kids. Even things like sticker reward charts fall by the wayside qickly in our home. I needed a system that didn't take much effort on my part to enforce or to reward. And I made up something that- so far- seems to be very effective. I began by buying two 4x6 photo albums. I got these for $2 each at Target. Blue for Gianni, Pink for Malia. I then took photos of the actual chores I wanted each child to do. I used the app Phonto to write the chore and a brief description if necessary on each photo. Each child has a section of morning chores (but I keep them at two morning chores, because mornings are nuts around here): Then there are a few other chores that just need to be done sometime before bed: I also bought small laundry baskets at the Dollar Tree, and wrote each child's name (and one for Mommy and Papi), and I put the baskets under the breakfast bar, and throughout the day, as I see items that are away from their homes, I toss them in the right basket. So it is also up to each child to make sure that basket is empty, and its contents are put in their proper place before bedtime. In addition to the two morning chores and the few evening chores, each child has a different chore that he/she does each day: With chores that require special products, I photographed the product as well: Now for the reward. I printed out some "chore bucks" that I saw on pinterest. This part is really easy. It's just like life: you don't work, you don't get paid. They earn one chore buck per chore. (There are no chores on Sundays.) On Saturday, they can buy prizes that I have picked up at the Dollar Tree, or the Dollar Spots at Target and Walmart. They can make up to $42 in chore bucks each week, and each prize is $20. So it costs me $2 per week, per child (potentially). I do not nag or overly-remind about chores, because none of them are pertinent to our well-being (my oldest is five, so no one is cooking us dinner or anything). I am trying to teach them self-motivation and responsibility, and in real life, you are not begged to do your job. They know that if they miss more than three chores, they can only buy one prize, and that is LOTS of motivation. :-)