Monday, September 22, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys, Regardless of Toys

Regardless of the amount of toys, my boys will be boys, and they have a hard time cleaning up after themselves.  As of late, it has been a battle to get them to move a muscle without the "Clean Up Song," or threatening an early trip upstairs for bedtime.   This momma has also been frustrated with the amount of small Lego's, puzzle pieces, flashcards, cars and 'Ninja gear' that the boys have been enamored with since winter.   I needed to put a stop to the chaos.  With supplies I already had in my home (due to buying things at a clearance price and storing them for a rainy day project), my agenda to get the boys motivated for picking up after themselves took shape. 

First I started with these $1.00 pencil cases that I scored from Office Max when before school sales were in full swing.

I got all matching flashcards or instruction books within their own pouches.  I had mentioned above that the boys play with small 24 piece puzzles quite a bit.  By the time they have the box opened the first time, it is destroyed so I simply cut out the cover of the puzzle box, put all puzzle pieces in the pouch and sealed the deal.   I was giddy!

Next game the major project I have been putting off for weeks:  Organizing the toy bins (echo, echo, echo......)!  Every single toy in the living room went through my hands.  It either went into the donation paper bag (within arms reach), the garbage pile or one of the toy bins that housed their favorites.  Any small toys or 'dinky' things that I knew they didn't play with any more weren't given a second thought; they would be donated.   My boys are abundantly blessed with toys and books, it is a good life lesson to show them what kindness in giving (and not asking for anything in return) can do for them.  My prayers are that they carry this into their grown-up lives.  

At the start of sorting, I categorized and proceeded to take a picture of the themes that were developing so they could be placed on the outside of the toy bins.

As soon as everything was in its new 'home,' we both got excited and HAD to play with the Potato Heads (they appeared happy).

After the pictures were taken, I edited quick in Picasa and proceeded to print.  I grabbed the clear packing tape and ended up with pure perfection.

A way for the boys to easily categorize and put things away.  Everything has it's own home!  The items that don't fit in the smaller toy bins were placed in the large clear  'toy bin' so they can easily see what they are looking for.  Jessie and Woody were happy to 'Round Up' all the toys.

Once all was said and done and crumbs were vacuumed off the living room floor, I went out to the kitchen to find my son playing with the laundry basket 'jail' --not wanting to give it up!   I just can't win!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dream: Command Center COMPLETE!

As silly as it sounds, I have been dreaming about a 'Command Center' in my home since the first time I came across the idea on Pinterest, two years ago.  Throughout the last few weeks of getting both boys going in their school year, and I. trying to organize the completion of nursing school with acquisition of a new job, there have been a LOT of papers flying around this house!  Every day the boys come home there are about four or five pieces of information I need to digest, artwork to smile at, things to sign and dates of upcoming events that I can not ignore. Not to mention that backpacks are thrown about randomly in the house (drives me *#BONKERS#*)!

I am a relatively organized person and when I began to understand the volume of 'incoming' I knew I needed to address it all PRONTO!  I had four different areas of my house that were frequently visited by me or the boys on a daily basis and I wanted to have ONE location where it all came together.... Hence, the Command Center. 

This is what a regular week of papers looked like in my home after searching through it one or five times to find 'that one paper,' I knew had a date for the 'thing,' with the phone number on it....

I needed to find a system in which I could easily drop information and such (after I made a serious consideration to 'File 13' initially it or not).  I also wanted to have my regular incoming mail and receipts (I save them for two weeks usually and then shred).  As I had my incoming mail and receipts holder on my fridge, I also brought that into the Command Center.  Here is the simple filing system I developed for all three of us in the household; mine has 'Random, Upcoming and To-Be Filed. 

When I am on the phone with someone or am coordinating any of our schedules I need to be able to grab anything in regards to all three of us in a quick moment.  This is hopefully going to save me from looking totally dis-shelved during communications.  For those who do not know the joys of having a household split 50/50 with children, it is a balancing act between not only 'the ex' but the boy's friends, school/daycare/bus drivers, extra-curriculars, grandparents wanting to visit and special activities. 

As the boys have been getting older, I have asked more of them around the house.  Nathaniel is very happy as of late to help get Boomer his dog food on a regular basis.  Both of the boys like to race each other either getting dressed or getting into their PJ's.  I have figured out that the best way to encourage this is to have them participate in a 'chore chart.'  The boys love to grab their step-stool and pick out three goals for their week.  They like to fill up as many days as possible as they know they can score an allowance (50 cents) when they fill up their week on all days with mommy.  (If I give it all in pennies they think they are millionaires!)  So this chart needed to make it into the Command Center as it is addressed frequently.

There were many ideas I had to implement into this Command Center but the most important was to have space for jotting a quick note, my big planner calendar, a clock, a weekly menu (when I get a free second I review my Google Calendar with pre-set meals and throw them on the board; saves me hours of contemplating).  I wanted to have a drop-zone for the boys backpacks when they came home and a place that I would be able to address the paperwork right away.  So.... THIS is what came to fruition in a quick two hours.  I am a VERY happy momma tonight and may or may not have sat and stared at it for 30 minutes as one of my dreams came true!