Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snack time and House Keeping (how we do it)

In my little informal series on Organization/Goal Setting, I have a couple other tools that are working great for us right now.  

First off, we have a pre-set snack menu for every week.
It works AWESOME for many reasons.
-I don't have to do ANY thinking when snack time (4pm-ish) arrives
(ie: What is for dinner later?  What did they already have for lunch?  What nutritional components need to be met?  What food do I even have in the pantry?  How long till dinner, so how substantial does this snack need to be?)  Because yikes, by 4pm my brain is often gone.
-It means no debate/discussion about what's for snack.  I have an argumentative 5 year old.  She would have something to say about EVERY possible snack I could come up with.  This eliminates the venue for that--she knows what is for snack every day and that it never changes.
-I know what to keep stocked in my pantry/fridge.
-I serve whole/unprocessed (mostly) foods, no snack foods, sugary foods or unhealthy stuff.
-my kids learn the rhythm of the days of the week by the snack ("Oh, it's popcorn day!  yeaaa!")
-Quinn can "read" the menu and tell us what's for snack each day
-I have snack menu memorized, so at lunch I know what to serve to help round out our food components for the day 
So....Monday is popcorn.  Because Daddy gets home from work earliest on Mondays, and popcorn is a very light snack.  And very popular!  And healthy!  We just do a couple scoops of plain kernels in a brown paper sack in the microwave.  Don't add anything--it's yummy like that!
Tuesday is cheese and crackers or pb and crackers.  I like the flexibility--that way if we've already had pb that day (such as pbj sandwiches) we can do the cheese.  Daddy works latest on Tuesdays, so dinner is later that night.  Protein from cheese or pb helps tide over their tummies till dinner.  
Wednesday is fruit and nuts.  Any fruit I have on stock.  Any nuts I have on hand.  So that gives us enough variety in our weeks to keep my creative spirit from going crazy from boringness.  :)  
Thursday is toast and jam.  
Friday is granola.  

We always eat snack together at the kitchen table or our outside picnic table.  We use beautiful ceramic/porcelain teacups (bought for .99 at the thrift store!)  We eat our snack in either our wooden bowls or real ceramic plates.  I am a big fan of bringing beauty to our days, even at snack time.  And teaching my kiddos to handle delicate things gently!  So no sippy cups, no plastic bowls, none of those little trappy-snack-bowls that make it impossible to spill.  I love the beauty and joy and peacefulness from sitting down with a real teapot and watching my two year old pour tea (by himself!) into his hand-made ceramic teacup (who knows who handmade it since it's from a thrift store, but we love whomever it was immensely because it's such a beautiful little cup!).  
I spent a morning with a photography client a few months ago and got to enjoy a similar morning snack time with she and her 9 month old and 2 year old.  I watched her little guy pour cream from the cow-shaped pitcher into his tiny espresso cup (filled with mint tea) and the joy on his face when he didn't spill a drop was classic!  

So that is more ranting than I meant to put out there, but that's how snack time works for us, and I am loving the whole snack rhythm thing!  

And then onto cleaning.....

I like my house pretty clean, and so does my husband.  But we have kids.  And pets.  And jobs.  And lives.  So it doesn't ever stay that way, and sometimes doesn't get that way to start with.  And I generally won't sacrifice time playing with my babies to vacuum, so we do most of our cleaning when they are in bed.  But I also don't like sacrificing time with my honey, so we don't spend too much time on it.  :)

Here's what works for us.  
Together we came up with a rhythm for "the big stuff" that needs to happen every week.  By now we have this memorized and know what day it is and what we need to clean.  For example on Monday--We usually do our bathroom together while the kids are in the bath in there.  He does the toilet area, shower and floor and I do the counters, sinks, mirrors, etc.  I often try to get our little half bathroom downstairs cleaned sometime during the day on my own.  And our other upstairs bathroom doesn't get used much, so we clean it every few weeks (or if company's coming...don't worry, Mom!).  
Tuesday--It says pick up bedrooms (usually ours needs tidied) but we've also informally moved vacuuming upstairs to Tuesdays because it seems to work out well for us--Matt will usually vacuum while I finish bath time with the kids.  I need to change our chart, I guess.  :)
Wednesday--We vacuum and mop (if needed) the kitchen floor and Matt takes out all the trash.  Q has to bring her bedroom and bathroom trashcans to our room to be emptied into the trashbag.
Thursday- Matt vacuums downstairs while I am at craft night.  I bet he gets it done in under 5 minutes because that boy loves him some videogames while I am at craft night.  :)
Friday--Dust.  This happens about 50% of the time.  That's why I put it on Fridays, because it is the least important of the jobs and Fridays tend to get filled with other stuff.  :)
Saturday- Kitchen floor again--Matt usually does this.
Sunday--Laundry is the big thing.  Sometimes it carries over to Monday.

Why this works for us:
-We've had more extensive cleaning schedules for ourselves, and they never end up lasting very long.  We get a couple nights behind and then we kinda give up.  This one is easy enough to keep up with and ensures our house is livable.
-I always know when a task will get done next--which means I don't stress about it.  For example, if on the weekend I notice my bathroom floor looking kinda icky or hair all over the counter or toothpaste on the rug (BECK!!!), I don't stress anymore, because I know it will all get cleaned up on Monday.  Before I would try and clean the bathroom right then.  Then notice the kitchen floor looked bad, so I'd clean that, and pretty soon I'd have myself stressed at the condition of my house.
-I only do laundry once a week.  We have enough clothes to last a week, and it means there aren't always various states of laundry all over the house.  Sunday I wash (or Monday if we are busy Sunday) and dump all clean clotehs on our bed.  Matt and I have a folding party that night (Q has to fold and put away her own clothes as well) and it's done for the week.  yeehaw!  No clothes clutter in my house.
-If we miss a day, it depends how we respond.  If it's bathroooms, we usually try to catch up another day that week because bathrooms can get nasty.  If it's vacuuming or dusting or whatever, we usually just wait till the next week cause it's not that big of a deal.  We don't miss often, just if there's a big event that night (family bday party, etc.)

I cook, Matt does the dishes (I help clear the table and pack his lunch, put away leftovers, etc. during this time.)  The kids also clear their own spots at the table.  We do all dishes right after dinner.  Matt unloads the dishwasher.  I think I should keep that boy, don't you!

So that's pretty much been a great system for us and I love that it helps us be cleaner AND less stressed!!  So off to clean the kitchen floor.  It's Wedneday, right?  :)