Saturday, April 2, 2011

Command Central

2011 has been a tough year. Not just for our family but many who are close to us. Financial strain, losing cars, homes and businesses. Death, miscarriage, illnesses and horrible truths beyond comprehension. It seems like not one person I know has not been touched by tragedy this year.

Our family has had it's share of trials. Things I never thought we would have to face. It is hard during those times to see the positive. It is hard to see the meaning in what we are all going through. I have found myself trying to find God in all of this sadness. Lucky for me God spoke right to my heart on several occasions. Sometimes I think he must feel like Bill Engvall, "here's your sign."

We had so many strangers reach out to us even before we knew we needed it. Friends rallied around me in my times of weakness. We found a new church home that has been amazing for my kids. As many wonderful things have happened as bad, the bad just seem to call more attention.

In all of the stresses of the year I have found myself struggling to manage my time. Seven kids, a homeschool, a home and a farm overwhelmed me into periods where I could not dig myself out. Where I seamlessly managed things in the past I was drowning now.

It was time to get some control. I had watched friends and fellow bloggers try programs, binders, chore charts, etc, but they all seemed like just as much work as they were help and anytime I had tried to implement one in the past I quit because it wasn't a good fit. Or the program was so time consuming I never got around to actually doing the tasks I had organized.

I decided to start with our daily time management. I had actually ordered the Maxwell's books a long time ago with the intention of getting more organized but putting it into action seemed daunting. "Managers Of Their Homes" is a wonderful book. The basic idea is to schedule out the entire day of each person in your family. They provide all the worksheets and the final poster for this. In the end the time it took to make the schedule and the chart was well worth it. I used Velcro to hold the time tabs onto each slot so I could change and rearrange without the tabs falling off all the time. The tabs are color coded which worked well for us because we already have assigned colors for homeschool. The program is a wonderful fit for me because I change things often and with very little effort I can adjust my schedule if I need to. It also makes it very clear when I have to say no to the things that inevitably come up. If you want to learn more about The Maxwell's ministry click here.

Knowing what needed doing was one thing but getting it done was another. I was tired of riding the kids to get anything completed. With so many pre-readers and a son who has difficulty with self control I knew we needed something special. Having just started doing workboxes I knew the tag system worked well for my kids so I decided on a tag system chore chart. Ours are color coded of course and are scheduled morning and evening and weekend. I know there are many versions like these floating around out there but I had to make my own. Living on a farm we have chores like feed turkeys and haul wood that just don't come in the common array.

I have literally hundreds of tags. I found this storage box at Michael's. It divides them up perfect and makes it so easy.

So here is command central in action.

I also post a series of charts from Doorposts. The "Blessings" chart is helpful in recognizing and encouraging Godly behavior in our children. The "If-Then" chart provides consistent Bible based discipline and consequences that are lined out in advance. The "Brother Offended" chart helps the kids remember the steps to resolve conflict. The "Go-To-The-Ant" chart is my personal favorite because it is a character quality chart and let's face it who couldn't use a little help remembering how important character is. We also have a calendar of outside activities and monthly menu.

It might seem overwhelming looking at it all but really a small amount of time and planning has taken all the guesswork out of daily life. There is a real sense of peace in knowing that no matter the unexpected we can count on our days and months having a routine and schedule. Just knowing what is for dinner and that the ingredients are in the cabinet is huge! Knowing if one of the kids lies to me I pull the tab and the consequence is lined out is a big thing. Knowing that I can get it all done because it is there in writing for me to see is liberating. I can let go and let God. That stability makes life's ups and downs more manageable.