Friday, November 27, 2009

Home Management: Creating a Night Time Routine

I hope THIS post got you thinking about your mealtimes, what time you eat, how much time you need to prepare, and how much clean up time you need to allot for each meal. I also hope you put some thought into what you want your children to be doing while you are busy with cooking (and it shouldn’t be the TV, either).

You should have three areas of your Master Schedule filled in: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now we are going to use those blocks of time to denote our Morning routine, our Afternoon routine, and our Night Routine. The most important of these routines is your night routine. A well-planned night routine is almost like a gift for the next day that you give yourself.

Your Night Routine consists of four steps:

Operation Get the House in Order
Think about Tomorrow
Focus on your Family
Focus on Yourself

Let’s get organized by starting with step number four first. Let’s go against convention, after all these are OUR schedules, right?

Time to be honest, are you getting enough sleep at night? Can you get out of bed in the morning fairly refreshed? We are all at different seasons in our lives and we each require different amounts of sleep to get us through. What does your body tell you? As Wives/Moms we set the tone for our home, and if you are too tired to deal with what you need to deal with, is your home going to be on pitch or is it going to be flat?

Think about what your body requires and pick a bedtime to suit it.

My lights out time is 10:30, what is yours?

For me, I require a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. My time for lights out is 10:30. That is what works the best for me since I wake about 6:30ish. When I first set my bedtime for 10:30 I would hop into bed, crack open my Bible or whatever book I was reading at the time and read until 11:15 (or maybe later). It didn’t take my body long to signal to me that was too late. I had to tweak my schedule and give myself half-hour to forty-five minutes to read before I turned out the lights. This means that I need to have everything finished and in my bed with my book at 10:00, at the latest.

Do you have something special you like to do before bedtime, journal, or pray, whatever it is give yourself time to do it, and still hit your lights out target time. I am ready and in bed with my book by 10PM.

How long does it take you to do your hygiene routine to get ready for bed? The hygiene routine or whatever you want to call it, is brushing your teeth, flossing, washing your face, etc before bed. If you are not sure, go ahead and time yourself tonight.

It takes me about 15 minutes. So with that in mind, I set my target time to get me, personally, ready for bed starting at 9:45. I know that I need to have steps 1-3 in my Night Routine completed before 9:45.

So let’s review…

What time is your Lights Out time? ________ (10:30, for me)


How long do I need to read, pray, journal before bed? ________ (30 minutes)


How long does it take me to do my hygiene routine? _________(15 minutes)


Your Target Time (9:45)

Write down your target time. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Great job! Now that we have step four: Focus on Yourself completed, let’s back up to step number one: Operation Get the House in Order.

Step Number One can begin as soon as dinner is over. Go ahead and get those dinner messes over with. This should be a whole family affair. If your child can walk they can help get meals cleaned up. My boys scrape their plates and take them to the counter, and then the six-year-old wipes the chairs and the eight-year-old sweeps up the floor. They both participate in putting away condiments if we’ve used any. They also gather up the placemats and put them in the laundry.

Ladies, train your children to help you. Start them early when they think it is fun to help Mom, don’t tell them they are too small and then turn around and expect them to want to help you at 13.

I’m blessed, my husband is willing to help out in this area and he puts all of the leftovers into containers for me and puts them into the fridge.

Do you have a dishwasher? Get her loaded up and run her for the evening. Otherwise, get your dishes done as quickly as you can. Try to wash up as many of your pots and pans that you can as you cook. If you used a cutting board to cut up some veggies, why not while they are sautéing, wash up the cutting board and knives. Keep washing until all you have to wash when dinner is over is your serving bowls, utensils, plates, and glasses.

Wipe down your tabletop, and return the centerpiece to the table. Wipe off your countertops and stovetop. Wipe out your microwave if you need to. When you are finished toss your dishtowel and cloth into the laundry basket and lay out a fresh set for tomorrow morning. I can usually get all of this done in my home in about 30 minutes. It makes my mornings go by so much better when my kitchen is straightened the night before.

As for the rest of the house, before bedtime take 15 to 20 minutes to just get things picked up and returned to their place. Have children return any of their toys that are out to their rooms or wherever they are kept, books that are out put back on the bookshelf. You know the old motto, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Make this a fun time for your children, have races to see who can clean the quickest. I’ve even given my boys tongs from the kitchen and had them use the tongs to pick up with…they called them robot hands. Be creative, and everyone should be involved.

On to Step Two: Think about Tomorrow. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make tomorrow go more smoothly?” Well, first you need to check tomorrow. Do you have any appointments, movies or library books due, do you have a game or music lessons? Go ahead and gather that stuff together and have it ready by the door. Do you need to pack your husband a lunch? Get it packed and into the fridge. Get as much done tonight that you can for tomorrow.

I have my meals planned for a week at a time. One of my most valuable uses of time is to go ahead and check my recipe for the next day’s dinner. Do I have all my ingredients? Do I need to let anything thaw?

I keep one of those little yellow notepads by my fridge and anything that I need to remember to do for the next day I start jotting down a to do list. Did we use all of the peanut butter and need more? Put that on a running list you keep on the refrigerator door.

Do you know what you are wearing in the morning? Does it need ironed? Do you have pantyhose? Keep asking yourself, “What can I do?’

Anything to make your day better, do it!!

Step Three: Focus on your Family ask your family if they need anything for in the morning. It’s not normally anything too major. Often my husband will ask for me to make some phone calls for him, or check on some prices for him. Etc. My boys usually don't ask for anything outstanding to do, but often I’ll get asked if we can go for a walk, or play a game tomorrow. It gives them something to look forward to.

Okay, you remember your target time? I want you to figure how long before your target time you need before to get your night routine completed. Because I still have to get my children ready for bed I start my Night Routine around 8PM. I actually try to have my kitchen ready to go after dinner and then I do the rest of the steps about 8.

I want you to now write up a Night Time Routine for yourself. Figure out your target time and work up to it starting with Step One.

It might look something like this:

Step One: Operation get the house in order. “A place for everything and everything in it’s Place” Start picking up the house. Ask kids if they need anything for tomorrow.
Bathe kids, brush their teeth, potty, prayers, and lights out by 8:30

Step Two: Think about tomorrow, “What can I do to make tomorrow run more smoothly?” Check calendar, check recipe etc.

Step Three: Focus on the Family “Do you need anything honey?”

Step Four: Focus on Yourself. The Hygiene Routine

Then go ahead and plug it into your Master Schedule

Congratulations! Over a third of your Master Schedule is finished!!

I know this looks overwhelming but you can do this. Remember a good Night Routine is like a gift you give yourself in the morning. Managing your home is your responsibility, you have to do it anyway, so why not do it well?

As always, leave comments, questions, or suggestions for me.

~Home Management Homework~

Work on my Night Routine, I owe it to myself and my family to be organized
Work it into my Master Schedule

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

A few weeks ago, my FIL called and asked if we liked sweet potatoes. We absolutely love them so I gave an excited "yes!!" Apparently my enthusiasm prompted him to bring us THIS:

Yes, that is a 5-gallon bucket of sweet potatoes, thanks for asking!

I imagined our Thanksgiving meal might look something like this:

  • Turkey with sweet potato stuffing,
  • Sweet Potato Rolls,
  • Sweet Potato Casserole,
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes etc.

I happily remembered my favorite Sweet Potato Casserole. While it won't use up ALL THOSE SWEET POTATOES, this recipe is over-the-top delicious!

Sweet Potato Casserole

2C. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1C. Sugar

2 Eggs beaten

1 Stick Butter

1 C. flaked coconut


1/2 C. Self-Rising Flour

1/2 C. Sugar

1 Stick Butter

2 T. Water

1C Chopped Pecans

Mix sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs butter and coconut together and spread in ovenproof 1 1/2 to 2-quart glass dish. Mix topping and spread on top. Bake 1 hour at 350 (till topping is crusty clear through)


Other Thanksgiving Ideas at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been avoiding this 'blog for awhile. I wanted to avoid typing the inevitable. Yet, here I am.
My Grandfather passed away a week ago Sunday.

Yes, 6 months and 1 day after my Grandmother.

It just doesn't seem possible that they are both gone.

Yet, I have the assurance that they were believers and I will be reunited with them in heaven.

But it hurts now.

My Popaw was a WWII Normandy Beach Veteran and was given full military rites at his funeral. It was POWERFUL.

I just wished my Popaw could have seen it.

(Front Row, first on the left is my Grandpa)

I love you, Popaw! You always will be one of my heroes!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why did God Make Mothers?

Barbara Curtis had THIS on her site offering different children's opinions on some great questions. I got quite the giggle out of their answers and began to wonder how my own boys would answer them.

The following are their answers:

Why did God make mothers?
8yo: To take care of their children and so men wouldn’t be lonely.
6yo: So they could care for their children.

How did God make mothers?
8: He took Adam’s rib and made it into a mother…well, a girl.
6: Just saying the words, “Let there be woman!”

What ingredients are mothers made of?
8: Mud, skin, and water.
6: Dust and sand.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
8: Because she teaches me about God and he made that choice that I should be taught the way I should be…you know, stuff like that.
6: So she could care for me.

What kind of little girl was your Mom?
8: A blonde-headed one, with a brother named M, and I am named after her father.
6: She was little and had long hair.

What did Mom need to know about Dad before she married him?
8: What he was like.
6: If he needed children.

Why did your Mom marry your Dad?
8: To love him and to have children.
6: To have children.

Who's the boss at your house?
8: Daddy, he’s the really bossy one, so he’s the boss.
6: Daddy.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
8: Dads have p*nises and Moms don’t…and girls get grossed out more easily and men work hard and kill things and Moms cook and everything.
6: They look different, they have different bodies.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
8: She does the computer.
6: She cooks.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
8: She is perfect! argue 10% less with Daddy, because they argue once a year.
6: Make it so she didn’t care about me being bad.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
8: I like her just the way she is.
6: That she would let me play the Wii all by myself, all of the time.

Weren't those great? How would your children answer the questions?

Why not ask them and post the results!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Student Loan Groans

I was recently on the phone with my student loan lender getting my loans placed back into deferment.

After having children, my priorities changed, and I decided to stay at home with our children.

Unfortunately, the lovely debt I racked up while earning my degree didn't get the memo that I was now a stay-at-home Mom and not making an income.

My husband had heard about Income Based Repayment Plans and applied to see if he qualified. From my understanding, IBRP means you pay what you can on your loans and after 25 years (25 years!) the loans will be discharged.

My husband was very happy with the amount they told him to pay. It was very manageable with our income.

I tentatively asked about IBRP and was under the impression that my husband's income would be factored in. However, it is based on MY income, which I've mentioned before is $0.

My income based repayment amount is $0. I CAN stay home with my kids without the guilt of those loans.
I was shocked!
Then I wished I had heard about this 8 years ago!! I would have 17 years left until discharge.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baking Day Update #1

I got a late start on baking day.

I've still made pretty good progress when you factor in that I've homeschooled and potty trained on top of everything.

So far I've accomplished:
  • Feeding both breakfast and lunch to the children.
  • Full-Day of Homeschooling
  • Marinating pork loin for dinner
  • Half-Gallon of milk cooling in crockpot getting ready to be turned into yogurt
  • Spice Vanilla Granola (tastes great!)
  • Granola Cookies (amazing)
The two boys chipped in and helped make cookies. I had to keep reminding them not to lick their fingers when they were cooking. So hard to remember, I know!

Of course, I had 2-year-old Princess Pea to keep busy. I decided to bring her play stove and sink into the kitchen with me. I gave her some plastic bowls and spoons to play with and she happily kept herself busy.

Whenever the timer on my stove goes off she yells out "Beeping," which is also what she refers to her play stove as, a "Beeping." :)
I have more that I want to do, just thought I'd update while eating lunch!

Baking Day Game Plan

I'm joining Baking Day today!

Here is the game plan.

First, I'm going to make a marinade for dinner and get it marinating some pork sirloins. That way my husband can grill for our dinner and I won't have to do even more cooking!

The next step is to make some yogurt in the crockpot. I like to make a half gallon. I flavor one jar with vanilla stevia, and the other jar, I leave plain to use in recipes.

I'm going to use my oven to make both Spiced Vanilla Granola and Granola Bar Cookies.

Then some Chocolate Zucchini Bread (I can't wait to try this!).

After that, I'm going to prepare 2 whole chickens and separate out the meat for two meals for the freezer, but I'll be making those tomorrow.

I'm also going to attempt to make spaghetti sauce using the abundance of fresh tomatoes from our garden.

That's the gameplan.

I'll be twittering and 'blogging my progress if you want to follow along!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here is our Menu Plan for this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm going to join Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom for a Baking Day!

This is my first attempt at batch cooking and I feel ready for the challenge (and what a challenge it will be as I'm homeschooling my 1st and 3rd graders, and potty training my 2-year-old).

Here is our plan for Breakfasts:

  • Yogurt Parfaits and Granola

  • Boiled Eggs and Fruit Salad

  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

  • Banana Crumb Muffins

  • Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • Pancakes and Bacon

  • Apple Oatmeal Crisp

Our Lunch Menu:

  • Peanut Butter and Honey

  • Baked Potatoes topped with Cheese and Broccoli

  • Chicken Tenders with Raspberry and Honey Mustard Dressing and Salad

  • Pita Pizzas

  • Crock-Pot Mac and Cheese and Broccoli

  • Leftovers x2

...and for Dinner:

  • Chicken Stir Fry, Brown Rice

  • Chili and Cornbread

  • Asian Pork BBQ (didn't have this last week)

  • Chicken and Dumplings, Baked Apple Crisp

  • Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish Rice *

  • Sloppy Joes, Smiles

Check out other Menu Plans!