Library Sunday

I love watching my kids at the library.  They all love to look at books, even the baby.  We spent about an hour browsing, reading and playing at the library early this afternoon and had a blast.  It makes me sad to think that some kids either do not enjoy books or do not have access.

I spent a little bit of time research and reading about some of the State of Maryland and Montgomery County’s offerings and found a lot of great resources that I will be using with my kids in the near future.  I also found a great list from Scholastic Parent and Child of some well-loved and well-crafted children’s books.  I think everyone I know with kids will love the list.  There were a few on there that I didn’t know about that I will have to pick up next time we are at the library.

Scholastic Parent and Child’s list of the Top 100 Greatest Children’s Books https://www.scholastic.com/100books/pdf/Top_100_Childrens_Books_of_All_Time.pdf

Maryland’s e-book and audio book library

http://maryland.lib.overdrive.com/5A478311-F1DA-477A-9D57-D65B707D54AD/10/50/en/Default.htm

Montgomery County’s All Children Excel

http://montgomerycountymd.libguides.com/content.php?pid=539117&sid=4434501

Blogging the Holidays

I know so many creative bloggers who put up beautiful posts during the holidays featuring delicious recipes and fun crafts for kids.  I did my fair share during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but during the month of December, life always hits me head on and I drop off the face of the blogosphere. Someday I’ll get into the organized place I need to be in order to blog the holidays but this year was a swing and a miss.

December is a time of much activity in our house.  My birthday was the 14th and sweet Isabella turned one year old yesterday.

My best friend (and cousin) comes home for Christmas on Saturday and I can’t wait to see her!  She lives and teaches in Israel and other than a few weeks in the summer and a few days near Christmas, we never get to see her.  Add on a visit from Isabella’s wonderful and amazing godmother who will be in town this weekend (I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU STACEY!), Christmas and Michael’s birthday on the 27th and we are going to be busy right on through the New Year.

Only three days left of school after today so I’ve got quite a bit of cramming to do.  Maybe I should pay for an extra day of daycare this week…

 

Some Silver Linings

Pretty rough couple of days playing the juggling game. In truth several really great things have emerged.

1. We finally had one of our projects come through DC’s permitting process. Now I just have to donate a limb in order to collect it.

2. My kids are happy. Even when I spent waaaaay too many hours in the office three days in a row, they still greeted me with smiles and love.

3. My desire to make big changes has never been stronger. I see the things that need to shift in a more defined light when things are tough.

4. I have an amazingly supportive, devoted and loving husband. He definitely still has whatever it is that made me fall for him in the first place and I love him more every day.

5. Coughing burns calories. I think.

Taming the Laundry Monster: A System for Getting it Done

Laundry RoomIn the depths of your home lurks a scary beast that no parent wants to face: The Laundry Monster.  Some parents put off laundry for as long as possible.  One mom I know has even bought new clothes for her children in lieu of doing laundry.  The laundry monster creeps up on us all.  Alas, unless we want our children to go to school with spaghetti stained shirts and stinky socks, the Laundry Monster must be tamed.

Below is my system for taming the beast.

Organize

First, organize all of your laundry supplies into one place, preferably in the laundry room.  Gather your preferred detergent, any stain fighting product you may use, fabric softener, dryer sheets, hangers and any other miscellaneous supplies and put them in the designated space.  Shelving above the washer and dryer are the ideal space to store these supplies, but a nearby closet or a portable caddy will do in a pinch.

Segment

Next, divide up your laundry to make a big job easier.  Whether you have two people in your family or twelve, everyone should have a place for their dirty clothes.  Assign a laundry basket or hamper to each bedroom and one to each bathroom.  Label the bottom of each basket with the name of the room where it belongs.  Instruct the inhabitants of each bedroom, whether child or adult, to put their dirty laundry only in the basket in their own bedroom.  Towels should be placed in the basket or hamper in the bathroom where they came from, not the bedrooms.  From now on, schedule laundry based on the rooms it comes from.

Schedule

Pick a schedule that works for you, not someone else.  Whether you choose to do laundry daily or weekly is up to you just make certain you are consistent.  Assign each room a day so that the occupants of that room know when their dirty laundry absolutely must be in their hamper for it to get washed (if you are doing laundry once a week the day will be the same for everyone).

In an ideal world, clothes would always land in the hamper when they came off, but children (and spouses) need reminders from time to time.  Set a deadline for when clothes need to be in their designated spot.  My deadline is 8 AM on the appointed day, but if you are an early riser you may set the deadline as the night before so that you can get a jump on the laundry in the morning.  If your children (or even your husband) want you to wash something, it needs to be in the basket or hamper at the appointed time.  Otherwise, they will need to take care of it themselves or wait until next week.

When the day comes for a particular room, grab the basket from that day’s room (or the first one on the list for that day) and run it completely through the cycle.  Any item requiring delicate treatment or separate washing (think indigo jeans) can be set aside and dealt with in bulk at the end of the week, but with colorfast technology and the durability of today’s clothing many items that our grandmothers separated out can be washed together.  Treat the clothes for stains, wash them, dry them and fold them.  When you are done, put them back into the basket for that room.

If you washed any items that require hangers, hang the item and lay it across the top of the basket.  Deliver the clean, folded laundry back to the room it came from and put it away.  You now have an empty basket ready to be filled for next week.

Sheets and Other Misc Items

Sports jerseys and equipment, dry clean only items and sheets all must be dealt with.  In our house, they get their own day.  Every week, I wash half of the sheets.  On Saturdays, the occupant of the day’s assigned bed is responsible for pulling the sheets off of their bed and bringing them down to the laundry room before breakfast.  Having two sets of sheets for each bed in your house is nice, but processing laundry through and getting it finished is nicer.

If you want to use a different set of sheets so that the beds are made in the morning just make sure the dirty sheets don’t live in the corner of the laundry room for the next two weeks.

Delegate

You don’t and should not have to do all of the laundry by yourself.  Teach your children the laundry basics when they are young and by the time they are ten or eleven, they will be able to care for their clothes on their own. Take the time to show your children the laundry care instructions on the labels of their clothes.  Teach them how to fold and put away items and how to use the machines.  They won’t do it perfectly at first, but they will learn.

Follow through

Once you have your system in place, stick to it.  Post your schedule and let your family members know their assigned days.  Commit to following your schedule and laundry will become as routine as brushing your teeth in the morning.

Be mindful that every new routine will experience hiccups.  Know that even if you forget to run laundry one day, all is not lost.  Pick up where you left off and shift your schedule as needed.  The Laundry Monster is tamed by persistence, not perfection.

Taming Entitlement

Grace's "stormcloud" face.

My Gracie girl has tendency to pout when she doesn’t get her way. But she’s learning!

Today, an epidemic threatens American children.  Encouraged by parents who fret over their supposed delicateness more than they challenge their inherent strength, these children may be doomed to remain children forever.  Where sixty years ago, the greatest generation overcame the odds and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps after the Great Depression, kids today show signs of becoming generation “me.”

A few years ago as I sat folding laundry for four for the first time, I woke up to this stark reality.  I realized that I was not empowering my daughters to become the successful adults I know they can be.  Instead, I coddled them in a childlike state where, I realized, I kind of wanted them to remain.  That isn’t REALLY what I wanted for them, but in the moment, it was what felt good.  To care for them and protect them.  To do nice things for them.  To give of myself for the people I love.  These actions in and of themselves are not detrimental, but the day can easily come when, in doing these things, we deprive our children of their independence.

I realized that it was time for me to rethink how I approach parenting.  There are so many things that I want my children to be, do and have but I can’t do it for them.  They need the skills to do it themselves. It starts with being appreciative of what we have so that our children will be appreciative of what they have.  None of us is perfect, but we can all do better.

What is one way you are working to tame entitlement in your children?

Thankfuls

Once again, I am participating in the #thankful “Thanks-A-Thon” where I share one or two of the people and things I am thankful for every day.  I hope that some of you will consider joining be and putting up a Facebook status, Twitter post or Instagram post of things you are thankful for every day for the rest of this month.

November is my favorite month of the year.  Full of all of the things that make the holidays wonderful (along with Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year) without the crazy that inevitably comes with Christmas.  Every day when I take the kids to school I am struck by the beauty that this season holds.  The leaves are changing and we finally have a bit of a chill in the air.  Just last week I changed all of our closets over to cold weather gear complete with sweaters in rich autumnal hues.

Halloween is finished and Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner.  What are you thankful for this season?

“Effective Family Meetings” in St. John’s Parent!

Cover of StJohnsParentBeing a mom excites me.  It is a never ending challenge to get bedtimes organized and homework checked while making sure that everyone is getting the required amount of mommy time, attention and love.  I have never found anything as rewarding as parenting, but writing comes in a very close second.  When I see my name in print, pride kicks in.  It’s that same gleeful feeling inside that I feel when my kid kicks a winning soccer goal or (especially) when my son holds a door open in order to be a “gentleman.”

Last month, one of my articles hit the stands in Florida as a feature in St. John’s Parent.  I’m pretty proud of the article on family meetings as it is something I do with my own family every week.  If you have a chance, check it out.  You can click here to access the full issue.  My article is on page 10 of the magazine.