Life is More than Check Off Boxes

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Dear Friends,
Over the weekend, we attended two family reunions and a youth activity at our church. We had a wonderful time visiting and catching up with family and friends. As I sat down to write you today, I was struck with the thought that life is about relationships. Life is not just check off boxes and completing lists.
The reason why The FlyLady system works so well for me is that it includes time for me to have fun with my family. By using my routines, my basic weekly Home Blessings, and my short decluttering sessions during the week, my Saturdays are free for fun activities.
You feel successful when you get to check off boxes. I understand that. I like it, too. Just be aware that you don’t have to check boxes off 7 days a week. I see posts on social media where you push the Home Blessings or big decluttering projects to Saturday.
Take a look at your basic weekly plan. Can you set aside 30 minutes per day? This would give you time to do one Weekly Home Blessing, declutter in the zone of the week, and keep the laundry moving along.
Can you work on your basic routines each day? Keep your routines short and sweet. Your Morning Routine should not take all morning. Move it along. Resist the urge to spend much time on the computer or your phone in the morning. Do your routine first, and then reward yourself with 15 minutes to check email or social media.
Have a regular time for lunch, so you can lead right into your afternoon routine. Again, it should not take all afternoon to do this routine. You get distracted, and then you find it’s time to get dinner on the table. Your afternoon routine does not get completed.
If you have young children, I know these routines will take you a bit longer. Do your best. Some of you struggle with a shower each day. I remember that this is just a season of life. Many years ago, I had to take my shower when my husband was home to watch the little ones. If your husband travels, get your shower when the kids are asleep.
Start your Before Bed Routine right after dinner. Do everything except washing your face and brushing your teeth. You can do those two things right before you go to bed. You can put on your pajamas whenever you feel like it after dinner.
When you keep your routines simple and consistent, you will have time for the fun stuff, too. During the fall and winter, I play more board games with the boys in the evenings because it gets dark earlier. I am able to do this because I try to keep my routines simple and in place.
How are you doing with having fun with your family?
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter the Master Bedroom for 15 minutes.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash sheets.
My menu plan for Monday is chicken pie and a salad.
Have a great day!

Breaking the Silence



Dear Friends,

In the days since I wrote my post as a Prodigal Parent, I have heard from many of you. If you have a prodigal child, you often feel alone and isolated. You feel like YOU did something wrong. You don’t share with others for fear of judgement. You are NOT alone!

Most of you reading this know someone who has a prodigal child. The best thing you can do for them is to pray for them. You can offer them a listening ear. You can take them out for coffee. You can drop them a card in the mail. You can send them a text message. It helps so much just to know someone is praying for you.

There are so many things that can derail our children. We live in a world where you can carry so much temptation around with you in the form of a smart phone.

Christians struggle with the flesh. We are surrounded by images, drugs, alcohol, and pornography. Teens, young adults, and adults have a hard time fighting against these.

Some parents have lived for weeks, months, or years with prodigal children away from home. There is no set timeline. It is long and agonizing. Some parents do not even know where their children are. There are different things that cause children to leave home.

Parents of prodigals need love and support of their family and friends. If you have a friend in this situation, reach out to them. If you are in this position and don’t have anyone to talk to, find someone. You need someone to love and support with their prayers.

Break the silence. You do not have to go through this alone.


Siggie - Tami Fox

Reduce Your Holiday Stress; Start Your Holiday Missions Now

Getting Organized:

In your home and homeschool
Dear Friends,
The FlyLady started her Holiday Missions this week, and I wanted to share with you how it has helped me as a homeschool mom. I know some of you reading this are not quite ready to jump into Holiday Mode just yet.
In November and December, there are many activities to attend. In our area, there are teas, plays, parties, cookie exchanges, church activities, and family activities. The calendar can fill up fast! When you add the preparations for your own celebrations, you start to feel stressed and anxious about fitting it all in without dropping a ball.
If you start now with Holiday Planning and preparing a little at a time, you will feel much less stressed. You can download The FlyLady’s Holiday Journal from her site. It will help you have a central place to write down your notes and ideas.
This week I printed my journal, bought my Christmas card stamps, and bought my Christmas cards. I talked to my mother about Thanksgiving at her house. None of these were big tasks. But it will help me later to have these things done.
Next week, I can add in time in our school day for the boys to sign the Christmas cards, and I can start addressing them. I am making plans now for our Christmas picture that goes into the cards. Each year, we take this picture on Thanksgiving when we are all together. (For those with young adult children, you know how hard it is to get everyone together for a picture.)
During the week, I will also talk to my husband about our budget and start a list. Then I can start shopping. It helps our budget to spread the purchasing of gifts out over several weeks.
By doing these small things now, it helps me to be able to say, “Yes!” to those things I really want to do with my children. One of our traditions is to make cookies, and it is easy to fit in a day of baking when I have my cards done and gifts purchased.
It will help you enjoy the Holidays and activities more!
Today’s Zone Mission is to do a 15 minute room rescue anywhere in the house!

Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.

My menu plan for Friday is venison for the boys, chicken and a salad for me.

Have a wonderful weekend!

FlyLady Tami

Are you finishing your To Do List?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Thank you for your emails and discussions this week. One interesting note I read was about a To Do list. The reader does not have problems starting one, but she finds that she procrastinates when she gets to the end of the list.

My best advice on your To Do list daily is to keep it short, and then you will experience the feeling of being successful in completing it. She was fearful that she was not going to know what to do when she completed the list. She had security in knowing she had things to do.

Keep a Master To Do List with your Control Journal. This can be a list that you add to and mark off, but it is always there. Each day, read over the list and pick parts of some of the items on the Master List. Limit yourself to 3 small projects from the Master List.

When I am writing a book, I will have Book on my Master List. Then, I will pick something to work on for the book as a daily goal, such as write Chapter 10. Later in the process, it might be to edit Chapter 10. If I am doing a room project, I might have the room name written down, and then smaller projects listed under the room title. When I do my daily list, I pick one of those things to do.

My daily projects stay around 15 minutes, but they can be larger and take 30 or 45 minutes. They do not take all day. I cannot budget all day to a project because my routines will fall to the side.

Your perfectionism wants you to do it all at once. You have been doing it this way for years and breaking it down into small steps feels strange to you. You can do it! It takes small, consistent steps.

Where do you flounder with your To Do List?
Today’s Zone Mission is to do  15 minute room rescue anywhere in the house.

Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.

My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.

Have a great day!

Let’s Declutter Some Paper Today

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
As we have entered the third week of the month, tell me how you are doing decluttering paper daily. I have received emails and comments from many of you who have implemented this routine into your day.
Decluttering paper is a necessary habit for us. If we do not declutter paper regularly, it will take over our homes. Papers cause some of you emotions. Papers cause some of you to make decisions on what to do with it. Some of you are paralyzed when it comes to getting rid of papers.
What should you keep?
What should you toss?
Will I ever need it again?
Will my kids want to have their papers when they grow up?
I need to make a decision, so I should keep this paper.
Meanwhile, you have papers you have been holding onto for months.
I want you to take a deep breath, set your timer for 15 minutes, and start dealing with your paper stacks.

Really try to take action with one piece of paper at a time.

Trash it or shred it.

File it. (Set up files if you don’t have anything set up.)

Make that call if needed.

Decide how to handle your children’s school papers. You are not obligated to keep every piece of paper your children produce. Keep what is necessary for state laws for homeschoolers. Keep some sentimental papers. Share their artwork and writing with others. Then, whatever is left, toss it in the trash.

While you are decluttering paper, keep telling yourself to let it go. Having a lot of paper in your files is not your security. You will be decluttering paper for the rest of your life. Even in a digital age, we produce a lot of paper.

Keep practicing this habit. Write it down on your daily schedule. This habit will also help you if you struggle with keeping up with your bills because you will be going through your mail daily. Set up a file or envelope to put bills as they arrive. Make a note for bills that are on auto-pay. Make a note for statements that you receive electronically.
I want you to have cleared flat surfaces and no piles of papers sitting around your house. You can do it!

Your Zone Mission today is to detail clean the shower or tub.

Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe your windows and mirrors.

My menu plan for Wednesday is Turkey Pie and a salad. (The pie is a freezer meal I made previously.)

Have a great day!

Decluttering and Avoiding Burn Out

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Dear Friends,

Are any of you feeling burned out? As a homeschool mom, you have a lot of things you do in a day. When you start decluttering, do you keep it quick and easy?

In reading some of your emails and seeing posts on Facebook, I have noticed that many of you feel like you are accomplishing your decluttering only if you make a bigger mess and spend hours doing it.
There is a better way to declutter. You can declutter in small, consistent steps and be successful. Your perfectionism wants you to dump everything and sort through it at one time. This leads you to burn out.

During the late summer and early fall, I have tackled large home projects, and I work on them in small steps. I cannot spend 8 hours making a huge mess to clean up again. If you find out you have to move and downsize in a short amount of time, you would need to declutter deeply and quickly. Most of you are not in this situation, so don’t make your decluttering projects a huge event.

Yesterday, I dropped off this week’s donations from my decluttering. It was not a huge amount of stuff, but it was nice to get it dropped off. You do not have to fill your vehicle to go to the donation center. A small box of donations a week will make a difference, too.

If your children need to declutter in their rooms, you need to help them break it down and assist them. You need to give them a specific goal for decluttering, such as clear off a dresser or get everything up from the floor. If they need to declutter the closet, keep it short and sweet. Divide it into reasonable sections. Only have them work on one area at a time per day. Do not pile it on them either.

Decluttering can be quick and painless! Use your timer and set limits. If you set the timer and keep resetting it, you are spending too much time on decluttering at one time.

You can do it! Keep it short, sweet, and simple!

Your Zone Mission today is to declutter under the bathroom sink.

Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.

My menu plan for Tuesday is leftovers.
Have a blessed day!

Swish and Swipe Daily for a Clean Bathroom

Getting Organized:

In your home and homeschool
Dear Friends,
Happy Monday! It’s the start of a new week! Are you ready to get started?
Our Zone Missions this week are in the Main Bathroom and the room of your choice. This is the week that you can pick a room that needs decluttering and a quick rescue. Hopefully, your Main Bathroom does not need a lot of detail cleaning.
If you swish and swipe each day, your Main Bathroom will stay maintained. This one habit takes less than two minutes a day to do. It’s so simple that many of you skip over it, and then you realize that your bathroom needs a thorough cleaning.
To swish, you just need to use your bowl brush each morning for a quick swish. If you have boys, you might also need to use a piece of toilet paper to wipe around the rim. (smile) I swish my toilet each morning after my shower. The boys swish their toilet during their morning routine. I keep a Rubba Swisha in all three bathrooms in a plastic vase with water and body wash mixture.
To swipe, you just need a cloth to wipe the bathroom counter and sink. If you keep most of your things put away, it will take less than 60 seconds to wipe this down. I use a FlyLady purple cloth to wipe my sink and tub areas.
I extend my swipe time to also include wiping my shower walls and tub. It only takes a minute to wipe my walls and tub, and it helps me keep the bathroom tidy and clean.
When it is time to do the monthly detail cleaning in my bathroom, it really does not take long. I need to sweep and mop it. I go through my supplies and declutter. I make sure I have what we need on hand, and I am done.
This way, I have more time to spend on decluttering somewhere else in the house, or I have time to declutter in the garage.
When I travel, I automatically wipe down bathroom surfaces. It’s a habit that is ingrained in my morning routine.
Tell me how your main bathroom looks today.
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter the bathroom counter and wipe down.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash sheets.
My menu plan for Monday is ham and fixings.
Have a great day!

Routines and Changes in Life

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,
What routines do you have firmly in place? The ones that stick even when your world seems upside down.

We all go through seasons of change in our lives. I went through the season of life of being newly married to parenthood. There were many changes in those years. There were some routines that I had established at that time, and there were a lot of things I was not doing.

We continued having children, and with each children, new routines were forged. Schedules were changed to accommodate nap times and bedtimes. What I saw was that young children liked routines and predictability.

When I started following the FlyLady, there were certain routines that I was already doing really well, and there were things that I struggled to do on a regular basis. I did not jump right into all of the routines at once.

There are some of you who are reading this who feel overwhelmed with adding in new routines and decluttering. That is okay. You just need to start with one thing and build from there over time. The FlyLady has a practice one habit a month, so you have a pretty big grace period to work on your routines.

The FlyLady wants you to start with shining your kitchen sink for a month. As you practice this routine, and it becomes a habit, you can just jump into the current Habit of the Month. In October, we declutter paper. This is an excellent habit for homeschoolers to practice. In November, we will work on menu planning. This habit saves us money and time.

The routines are practical, and they work no matter what season of life you are in. If you have small children at home, you will practice some of the habits with them. If you have older children, you will include them in blessing your home. They will also practice some of the habits with you, like getting dressed down to the lace up shoes.
Throughout the summer and this fall, we have been through a very difficult time with our family. Even on the hardest days, my routines stayed firmly in place. I am so accustomed to my routines that I don’t think about doing them. I just do them one thing at a time. This gave me much peace on a day that felt less than peaceful.

The only times I skip parts of my routines are the times when I am so sick that I cannot get out of bed. I keep my routines basic with what The FlyLady suggests. Each part of the routine has a purpose. There is no fluff.

If you are having a lot of change in your life, practice the routines until they are habits. It will help you have a feeling of peace.
Have you decluttered paper this month? After you finish reading this, spend 5 minutes tossing paper. Then check on your kitchen sink.
Today’s Zone Mission is to clean the stove top and microwave.

Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.

My menu plan for Friday is pizza and a salad.

Have a wonderful weekend!

What are you doing for fun in your homeschool?

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool


Dear Friends,

Have you been having some fun in your homeschool this year? Hands on learning and field trips can help you inject some fun into your learning.
Some of you are happy when you plan lessons and check off boxes. Educating your children is more than that. Educating your children should include giving them a love for learning. A love for learning does not just come from checking off boxes.

My young adult children still enjoy learning. By using hands on learning in our homeschool, my children have learned science and history and truly enjoy those subjects.

Use dramatization, projects, music, reading, and experiments to make it fun to learn concepts. Drawing and art mediums help your children process information on a deep level. By using the creative side of the brain for art, they are allowing the other side of their brain to absorb the math lesson they learned earlier in the day.

Choosing a field trip once a month to go along with your science or history topic will bring these subjects to life. It does not have to be a big field trip. We have enjoyed quiet field trips to the local science center to observe the animals in the aquarium.

This fall I have two field trips planned that will enhance our study of colonial history. What do you do to bring fun into your homeschool?

Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter under the kitchen sink and check supplies.

Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.

My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.

Have a great day!

The Top 10 Things You Are Putting Off Around Your House

Getting Organized:
In your home and homeschool

Dear Friends,
Happy Anti-procrastination Day! This is the day of the week that you pick something to do that you have been putting off. Many of you are masters at putting things off. Somehow, you start to think that things will go away if you ignore them and put them off long enough. This might be true of some things, but for most things, you just need to do it. (I almost said, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” LOL)
Why do we procrastinate? One big reason we procrastinate is perfectionism. We tell ourselves that we do not have time to do it. You might not have time to do it all at once, but you can get started on it.
Think for a minute about that one thing you have been putting off. What is it?
Another argument you come up with for procrastination is that you are too busy. A way to deal with this thought is to schedule 15 minutes in your afternoon routine to deal with things. I know many of you are balancing busy schedules, so am I.
Each night I take a look at my calendar for the next day, and I look at my master To Do List. I write down 3 things I want to do the next day. Some days that might be a portion of a bigger project.
I have learned a lot about being patient with the time it takes me to do a bigger project. I have worked on my master bedroom for the better part of a month as I painted it. Each day, I do something small to put it back together. I am discerning about what I put back and where I put it. I have a giveaway box for things I do not want to put back in my room.
Some of you put off parts of your basic routines, zone missions, or home blessings. In talking to many of you, I can list the ten things you put off the most in caring for your home.
The Top Ten Things You Procrastinate:
  1. Swish and Swipe
  2. Laying Out Your Clothes for the Next Day
  3. Dusting
  4. Cleaning Out the Fridge
  5. Vacuuming
  6. Sweeping and/or Mopping
  7. Decluttering Paper
  8. Paying Bills
  9. Going to Bed at a Decent Hour
  10. Getting Dressed to the Lace Up Shoes Each Morning (See #2)
This is in no way an exhaustive list. These are just the ones that I have learned in mentoring ladies the last two years that they need to work on regularly.
Tell me what you are procrastinating. Am I on target with my list?
Your Zone Mission today is to clean out the fridge one shelf at a time.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe your windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is spaghetti and a salad.
Have a great day!