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Challenge: Get organized!

Small Fails = Big Wins....Organization trial and errors....

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Well - as I look around my home - I'm almost certain I should not be typing anything in the organizational arena. However - our system works, as good as can be expected.

HERE'S THE DEAL: I can be lazy. My boys (11 and 13) have decided, after millions of gentle and not so gentle reminders, they are capable to doing their part for THEM, because it's not really MY job to make them happy. In all honesty - it began because I wasn't the best at getting up on time, because I love my bed - and my kids love their bed - and disturbing them sometimes just seemed wrong. BUT - they prefer to get to school on time without rushing in the morning - and I understand the importance there - so we purchased highly agitating alarm clocks. We placed these horrid contraptions far away from their beds so in order to make the sound stop, they had to physically GET UP. Turned out to be the best thing EVER. They get up when they want, (they experimented with times, and chose the most comfortable for them but still worked with the timeframe), They get dressed, (we are working on making beds), they come upstairs and begin making their lunches. (We previously discussed healthy lunch options - and they make amazing ham sandwiches, mean PB&J's, or ham and cheese roll ups, sometimes taking left overs from the night before) -The rest is easy to bag up or put in a container - they prefer to make their own lunches because apparently I wasn't sending enough food - problem 982 solved...I usually fix them a hot breakfast while they make their lunch and get together what they need for school. (Though, this week my oldest son decided he was going to cook ham and cheese omelets for us - WIN.)

WHAT HELPS THE MOST? We have a check list they refer to every morning...on this list is: Brush teeth, Comb hair, take allergy medicine, water bottle, homework in bag, deodorant!!!, gym clothes, (anything else they need to do - which prevents me asking them the same questions EVERY DAY...) The morning check list is one of the best and most productive pieces of artwork around. And they LOVE it because they don't have to listen to me...and they do it and feel good knowing they aren't forgetting anything. (and so do I). We have a set time, which we all agreed on, we are to leave the house by every morning. (8:00 am). This allows a more leisurely drive to school - stress free (and extra time in the event we forgot something to turn back around). This means they start the day feeling confident...which they need every ounce of to get through a day at middle school. ; ) *Confession: I have a bad habit of not driving leisurely - so including my kids in on the decision of what time to leave the house - makes me accountable for being ready at that time also: a win for everyone in our community.

AFTER SCHOOL: The trusty afternoon checklist is available! Things like, lunch, homework, gym clothes, water bottle, things for mom to view, etc. We have a back pack station...they put their bags here every day, they empty their lunch box, place their ice packs in the freezer, and their lunch box in the proper spot for the next morning. The water bottle is placed by the sink or in the dishwasher...they grab a snack and do their homework IMMEDIATELY - there is no doing anything else until homework is complete. (This limits the development of the nasty procrastination habit, I should know...). If they need help with homework and I happen to be working - they have a spot they put their paper, when I see something in that bin, I know they want me to check it or they have circled something that they have a question on...Once that is done - they are free to read or ride bikes, watch some TV, etc. We have a no video game playing during the week rule, and a no phone rule after 8pm. They aren't the most popular rules - but they don't really buck the system because of consistency. We are very sport involved so we usually have practice or something anyway...Boundaries are amazing. Use them and teach the value of them to your kids...

ENFORCEMENT: So - as with any routine - things don't always go as planned.... I make a point to allow my boys to learn using natural consequences which have proved to be extremely effective. Consequences that are directly related to the error. For example: inevitably - one will forget to take their lunch box over and put their ice pack in the freezer...I have a "get out of jail free once policy....meaning, I'll help you if you make a mistake once....after that - I expect you to remember - If this is the 2nd or 3rd offense, I WON'T mention to them that I see their lunch box isn't where it belongs - and the next morning - they go to the lunchbox spot - and have to back track - they realize, ugh....I didn't do it right when I got my lunch is going to be kind of grossly room temp.... It rarely happens again. Or, if their gym shorts are rancid and smell....but they failed to take them out of their backpack and start a load of laundry - they get to wear them stinky...I won't typically wash them that morning and run them up to them at school. (Having the checklist is a great source of accountability - it removes the "I forgot, or I didn't know" excuses)...I'm not a mean mom....I'm just fully aware that I'm tasked with rearing MEN....not boys...We discuss what it means to be a part of the family and why we all are responsible for contributing, we all have a role (that we aren't paid for) - and why it is integral to our success to have a routine, boundaries, and respect for each other and our home. That everyone is happy when MOM is happy....oh wait....that's not right....everyone is happier when we work together. That's right....that's how it goes. wink wink.

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