My Monday Morning Plan + Today’s Cleaning Project

My Monday Morning Project

We survived our very, very full week last week. And “survived” is definitely the word to use for how I felt… because some days I felt like I was just hanging on by a thread and being pulled in four different directions at once by people who really needed me right then and now.

I’m grateful that these types of weeks are much more of a rarity in our home these days than they used to be — and I’m also grateful that while this week is another full week, it should be much more manageable than last week.

Because last week was so packed, we got behind on laundry. So today’s cleaning project is to get completely caught up on laundry. I’m very hopeful that this actually happens because I’m kind of tired of digging through a big clean laundry pile to find something to wear. ;)

Here’s my plan for this morning:

  • Bible reading/journaling — start laundry
  • Blogging/Business work
  • School with Silas — switch laundry/start another load
  • Breakfast/Morning Time
  • Chores/quick house clean up — switch laundry
  • Get girls started on their independent work
  • Exercise/shower
  • Fold & put away all the laundry
  • Ready to go — lunch made — head to work at our office space

This evening, I’ll share a post about how my morning well and give you an update (with pictures) on how my laundry project went.

Need some motivation? Check out my post on 10 Ways to Make Cleaning More Fun.

Want to join me? Leave a comment to let us know you’re participating! If you have time, tell us what your morning plan is, too.

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5 Fun & Free Ways to Shake Off the Winter Blues

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Guest post from Asheritah of One Thing Alone

If you’re anything like me right now, you’re counting the days until the temperatures rise and all the white stuff on the ground has melted and spring has arrived. And while booking a cruise to a tropical island sounds like a great idea right now, most of us just can’t afford that.

So to help you ward off the winter blues, here are 5 fun and free ways to make the most of these last few weeks of winter:

1. Build a snowman.

I know, I hear you: delving into the snow sounds like the last thing you want to do. But sometimes, heading outside can help make fun memories that make the time go by faster. So grab a friend (or your kids), bundle up, and head out in the snow. Who knows — you might just enjoy yourself.

2. Book a Movie Night

Getting snowed in is the perfect excuse to pop in your favorite movie and enjoy a bowl of popcorn. And since it still gets dark early in the evening, there’s no reason not to plan a movie night during the week, too.

(Bonus points if you set up a themed movie night. Morrocan dinner and Casablanca? Yes, please!)

3. Catch up on your Reading List

Most of us have reading lists a mile long. Rather than scrolling through our Facebook feed our watching yet another cat video on YouTube, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read.

You’ll soon find yourself immersed in another world, and the snowstorm outside your window won’t seem half as bad.

(For tips on how to read more as a busy mom, check out this post by Crystal.)

4. Join a Lent Challenge

Typically, Easter comes right around the dawn of spring, so why not spend the 7 weeks leading up to it doing something that will give you a sense of purpose?

Lots of people give up something for Lent and find the practice very fulfilling. Others read through portions of the Bible with a group of friends.

This year, every day leading up to Easter, I’m thanking the people who make my life special. If you’re interested, you can join me in the #40Thanks challenge here.

5. Cozy up under the covers.

So this might not be for everyone, but for those of us who are married, there may be a lot of free entertainment waiting in our bedrooms. Why not take these last weeks of winter to spark the passion in your marriage and rediscover why you fell in love with your husband in the first place? You’ll likely spark a fondness that will grow all year long.

These may sound simple, but a little creativity goes a long way in making the bleak midwinter just a little brighter. Try one idea for each of the next five weeks, and before you know it, the warm sun will be warming your face — no credit cards required.

Asheritah helps overwhelmed women find joy in Jesus on her blog and through her books. She’s also the instigator of the #40Thanks movement, a challenge to see Jesus in the kindness of others. 

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How to Get Kids to Stop Whining & Help With Chores

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Do you have suggestions on how to motivate you children to help with chores and how to minimize whining? I would greatly appreciate any advice. -Amanda

First off, Amanda, I just want to encourage you: your desire to train and teach your kids to work will be such a gift to them. Truly.

You see, my parents were very committed to instilling in us the value of hard work from an early age. And I’m so grateful!

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For as long as I can remember, I had chores that were assigned to me and I was expected to do. When we moved out to the country when I was 10 years old, I was given even more chores and learned more what hard work is all about.

I spent hours when I was in the my early teens working in the garden, watering trees, and mowing our huge yard. At the time, I didn’t necessarily love the chores, but looking back, I’m so grateful my parents taught us the value of hard work and instilled in us a strong work ethic.

In fact, I believe that a strong work ethic is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me. It well prepared me for the struggles and setbacks I’ve encountered in the years since I’ve moved away from home and has helped me continue to persevere even when I might feel exhausted and ready to quit.
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Practically speaking, here are 5 ideas to help minimize whining and encourage your kids to work:

1. Start Small.

Don’t overwhelm your kids with a bunch of new chores at once. Start your children out with one or two simple chores and then gradually add more as they catch on and improve.

In addition, make sure your children need to know what is expected of them when you assign a chore to them. If you never let them know what you expect of them, it will only result in frustration for you — and for them!

Need some age-appropriate chore ideas? Check out this post with some chore ideas for kids of different ages. (Keep in mind, though, that each child is different. What might be simple for one 4-year-old, could be utterly overwhelming to another.)

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2. Be patient.

Training requires repetition. Don’t expect a child to do a job well at first.

Think about when you first started learning to ride a bike or drive a car. You didn’t automatically know how to do it.

You had to practice. You had to slowly learn. You had to make mistakes.

It often takes a lot of repetitive teaching, gentle correcting, and practice before a child can do a job well. Don’t expect perfection–especially when they are young. What matters is that they are putting forth effort and trying their best.

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3. Teach By Example

It’s well be said that, “More is caught than taught”. We can’t expect our children to work hard if they don’t see us working hard.

One great way to encourage them by your example is to have your child work alongside you. Most children love to spend time with Mom, no matter what it is you’re doing. So take advantage of this and enthusiastically invite them to help you with whatever chore you’re working on.

While you’re working together, talk, sing, laugh, and praise them repeatedly for helping you. Let them see you working hard and enjoying it.

Yes, it takes longer, but it’s worth it! I remind myself that my goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job, so the sooner I can teach them to work alongside me, the more help they’ll become as the years go by!

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4. Make it Fun

A few ideas:

  • Turn on Music. We love to turn on upbeat music and sing and dance while working — it’s fun, it makes the time go by quickly and it makes chores much more enjoyable!
  • Have a Race. We often set the timer and have a race to see who can finish their chores first. Or, you can race against the clock, instead of racing against each other or see how many things we can collectively pick up and put away within 10 minutes. When we all work together quickly, it’s amazing how much we can get done in a short amount of time!
  • Use Child-Sized Brooms & Mops. My children got mops for Christmas one year from my parents and it was, by far, the hit present. All the cousins spent the morning cleaning Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen tile after the presents were opened! And their enthusiasm for using them still hasn’t waned!

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5. Find the Good & Praise It

It’s easy to want to focus on pointing out all the things a child does wrong and where they need to improve.
Instead of dwelling on what they didn’t do right, focus most of your energies on praising those things they did well.

Encouragement and affirmation go a long way. In the same way, criticism and harsh words can do a lot of damage.

Make it a goal to praise 10 times more than you point out areas for improvement. Not only will your words of praise build up your child, but they will motivate and inspire them to continue working hard and developing the character quality of diligence.

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Reward Ideas:

Working for a reward is always more motivating! Figure out what motivates your child and then use that as a reward.

  • Have your child work toward a larger prize. This could be something like a toy or DVD or a date with mom. Create a reward chart for them to track their progress.
  • Give instant rewards. It’s a standing rule at our house that once all of your chores and homework is finished for the afternoon, you can watch a movie or have 30 minutes of iPad time. None of our kids want to miss this time so they are highly motivated to get their chores done!
  • Download an app. Both MyJobChart.com and ChoreMonster offer the ability to assign, track, and reward kids for chores. With MyJobChart.com, you can set up an Amazon store and assign points per chore and prizes for points earned. Once a child completes a job and you sign off on it, they earn points. They can then cash out these points in the Amazon store for prizes you’ve pre-determined.
  • Consider paying your children for some chores. We have paid chores and non-paid chores at our house. The non-paid chores are chores you do as part of contributing to our family. The paid chores are extra chores you can elect to do and get paid for. This system has worked well for our family. You can read more about how it works here.

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Amanda?

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Free one-year National Parks membership if you have a 4th grader!

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If your child will be in the 4th grade next year, your family can get a free National Parks Pass to give you free entry into national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

Here are the details:

To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, we are kicking off the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Soon, you will have access to your own Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

The Every Kid in a Park pass will be available for the 2015-2016 school year.

The program isn’t open yet, but if you sign the petition here, they’ll email you when it’s open.

Thanks, My Frugal Adventures!

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Try hockey for free this Saturday (ages 4-9 — 300 locations nationwide!)

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USA Hockey and over 300 local associations across the country invite you to come try hockey for free on Saturday, February 21, 2015. Participating locations encourage kids ages 4 to 9 to give youth hockey a try as part of the 8th Annual Hockey Weekend Across America.

Click here and enter your ZIP code to find a participating location near you. Locations will have limited equipment available for use.

Thanks, Capitally Frugal DC!

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MOMS: Why You Need to Give Yourself a “Time-Out”

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Not too long ago, I was talking with a mom and I was saying something about the books I was reading. She immediately shot back, “Oh, I love to read but I don’t have time to read because of my kids.”

My heart wanted to break right in two. Having kids is a lot of work. Trust me, I get that.

And it takes a lot of time and effort and work and sacrifice. Motherhood is no walk in the park.

Having your first child flips your world upside down and means that your schedule is no longer your own. You have a whole new set of responsibilities and to-do’s. Not only that, but you have a person who is now depending upon you and your spouse for their sole survival.

It’s a BIG thing. It’s nothing to shirk at. And it can suck the life right out of you — if you let it.

Which is why I’m about to say something that just might step on some toes…

Are you ready? Buckle your seat belts and hold onto your hats, because in the last few years, I’ve become pretty passionate about what I’m about to say:

Motherhood is a lot of work and responsibility, but it is NOT an excuse to stop using your brain and intellect, to stop enjoying life, and to stop taking time for things you love.

There, I said it.

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It’s high time we quit using motherhood as a reason to no longer live life to the fullest, no longer feed our soul and intellect, to no longer enjoy hobbies and relationships like we once did.

Because here’s the truth: one of the BEST things you can do for yourself, your marriage, and your kids is to take time to refuel and refresh yourself. To stop and savor life. To make time for things you love.

Think about it. If you’re just constantly giving and giving and giving out to others, if you’re just pouring and pouring and pouring into your family, if you’re just wringing yourself dry to meet the needs of others and you’re never taking time to replenish, refresh, and refuel, no wonder you feel exhausted and spent!

No wonder you have nothing left to give. No wonder you’re so tired. No wonder you feel brain-fried.

No wonder you feel like you might just snap right in two if one more person asks you to do something or if one more child hollers “MOOOOOMMMMYYYYY!”

As women, we are capable of a lot. We can multi-task. We have “eyes in the back of our head”. We can pull all-nighters when our child is really sick. We can juggle a lot of balls.

But at some point, when a rubber band is stretched out too far for too long, it’s going to snap. At some point, when you keep running on empty, you are truly going to run out of gas and be stranded on the side of the road. At some point, the lack of sleep and running around like a chicken with your head cut off will catch up with you and knock you flat.

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And that’s why I cannot say it strongly enough: Moms, give yourself permission to take time for YOU.

To do things you love.
To have coffee with that friend.
To work on that hobby.
To read that book.
To update your scrapbooks.
To work in the garden.
To S-L-E-E-P!
To piddle around in the kitchen.
To engage in stimulating discussions.
To study new things.
To try new things.

What fills you up? What refreshes you? What makes you come alive? What gets you really excited about life?

Set aside some things you think you “have” to do or “must” do or feel obligated to do to carve out some space to invest time into some of those things you truly love.

Investing in yourself is not selfish. Instead, it gives you more energy to be able to pour more into your relationships, your marriage, your job, and your kids.

P.S. If you wish you could find time to do things you love but you just don’t think you have any extra time at all in your schedule right now, I encourage you to check out Jessica Turner’s book, The Fringe Hours.

I got to read a pre-release copy of the book a few months ago and highly recommend it. It’s a must-read for all busy moms!

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