2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest! – Assignment #5


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ASSIGNMENT #5: the Living Room

Whew! We are finally on the part of the challenge where we start going room by room! This is the part that will feel like you are accomplishing something!

I start with the living room, because generally, a) that’s the easiest,b)  you might need the space to start organizing those “stations” we talked about earlier, and c) if you’re anything like me, you need an easy assignment because you are already behind and need some time to catch up. (Don’t worry, I tried to build several some days like this in, just so we all CAN catch up and make it through!)

For me, the Living Room is the easiest room in the house to prep. Because I try to keep my house partially company ready, the living room is the main room that is always “ready.” I won’t have too much that I will have to do in my living room. Books and board games will be the main focus for me here.

The other thing I deal with in our living room is knick-knacks and picture frames. Even since we moved here, there is a large stack of knick-knacks that I never found space for and pictures I never hung up on the walls. Time to reevaluate those items. Are they worth repacking again, if I haven’t missed them by now? Or are some of these items, while dust catchers, still things that will make our new place feel like “home?”

When your home is constantly changing, that is a powerful need that cannot be marginalized. And not an easy decision sometimes.

Coming up next will be the craft/hobby area of your home. Get ready!


2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest! – Assignment #4


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ASSIGNMENT #4: “Like Goes with Like”

Before we start going room-by-room, let’s talk about the concept of “Like Goes with Like.” It is this concept alone that truly has given my artsy, non-linear brain any organizational ability whatsoever. And it’s pretty darn simple.

If this ___ is like this ____, then they go together.

For example, I organize all of my holiday decorations and related items this way. If I have Christmas related books, movies, or hand towels, they go in the Christmas boxes. If I have Thanksgiving related project idea books, they go in the Thanksgiving boxes. Period. That way my bookcases and movies aren’t cluttered with the annual Christmas movie marathon videos or all-about-Thanksgiving books. Plus, anticipation and excitement builds as kids get old enough to remember certain items.

If you can carry this idea throughout your house when you organize, it will make your life so much easier. Why have towels in 20 places around the house? Have one location, and then you have only one stop when putting away laundry!

This concept pertains to large-scale moves as well. Most of what I am doing is setting our items up for the packers. And frankly, I am trying to set things up in such a way so that when we get all of these boxes again at the other end, things are easy to find and quicker to put away. (When you move every two years, the process of unpacking loses any sort of thrill.) So think about like goes with like.

Do a quick run-through of your house and put like with like. It doesn’t have to organized and pretty right now. Right now we are focusing on making sure “things that go together” actually “go” (in our move) together. Does that make sense?

One of the ways this pertains to me, especially during a move, is our books. We are voracious readers and our kids have their own mountainous collection of books as well. Books are stationed all over our house, and tend to end up scattered in many random places. This stinks when you arrive at your new location and even after packing 50 boxes, you can’t find someone’s favorite bedtime story book that they just can’t sleep without.

Before a move, I will go through all of our books and do a purge of anything I choose to donate, and then with a laundry basket collecting all the random books from the random places to group together. We have so many books that I can’t put all the books in one place anymore, that we end up with a “grown-up books” area and a “kids book area” and a “homeschool books area.”

What I have to remember; I am in the situation where we are only allowed a certain amount of weight. And books weigh. A LOT. Probably more than anything else in the house. So we have to purge, even though I regularly go through these and try to keep donating them. I should probably purge at least one more time before moving again, even if getting rid of any of books is like tearing off my arm.

The next step to apply this idea to everything else in our house. Toiletries (and stashes of extra), clothing, you name it.

Coming up next will be the living room! You’re going to start seeing real progress beginning very soon, I promise!

2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest! – Assignment #3


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Here is ASSIGNMENT #3. (Need to catch up? See previous posts in this series HERE).

ASSIGNMENT #3: Creating “Stations”

Today’s assignment is “easy.” During this challenge, you are going to need “stations” for things in process. For us, sometimes our stuff goes in different shipments, and I need to have ways to organize each of these. Perhaps as you begin, you need to create a “goes to storage” shipment (I would not actually suggest shoving stuff down in your basement until we get to the point where we start sorting/purging the basement, though!). Or perhaps you need a “goes to charity” or “prep for consignment sale” pile.

Regardless, I have found it easiest if I pre-plan these stations.  In this move, I will probably have a donation pile for the girls’ AHG troop’s yard sale, homeschool (books) consignment sales, donation piles to pass along galore, etc.

For your family members who are a bit clueless about this crazy challenge you’ve started, a good idea might be to label each area with a sign – “Consignment sale pile – DO NOT TOUCH.” Or “To Storage Area.” It might also help ease the mind of your significant other that you have not gone off the deep end and become a crazy hoarder piling things to the ceiling.😉

My husband is so used to me at this point he mostly just ignores me. However, I do have to point the piles out and ask him to please stop cleaning up after me; there is a method to my madness!

It might look like madness for a little bit, I admit. But there is a plan to this madness, and it will all improve soon!

Next up: “Like Goes with Like!”  See you soon!

2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest! – Assignment #2


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Here is ASSIGNMENT #2. (Need to catch up? See previous posts in this series HERE).

ASSIGNMENT #2: Decorations

It’s time to pack away Christmas decorations, so we might as well start by purging and organizing them while we do it!

1. Go to your house and get everything Christmas-related and one place. This includes ALL of your storage bins as well! EVERYTHING!

2. Make sure anything that needs to be washed before it’s put away, such as Christmas tablecloth, towels, etc.

3. Walk around the outside of your house and collect all Christmas decorations that are outside.

4. Collect your Christmas cards that you received from others wherever you might have displayed them and put them away in your scrapbooking pile to put in your scrapbook for later.

5. If you have Christmas related pictures that you display only at this time of the year – if you switch out seasonal pictures – be sure to collect those all in a stack as well.

(This is something new I’ve starting to do, because we have SO MANY pictures, and I was starting to feel like our house was being taken over! So, I’ve started to use up some of my collection of frames and fill them with specific seasonal shots (like you see here below) and only display them with that season. Now I don’t feel as guilty that I spent all that money getting a bajillion pictures AND I used up some of my leftover random frames!)


6. Collect all your little breakables decorations that you might need to wrap before packing away all in one place.

7. When I am putting out my holiday decorations at the beginning of the season because of space I have to sometimes pack up my regular decorations to have room for it all. Now is time to pull off your regular chotchkies out of your decoration boxes and set them aside.

8. Before going any further, before packing anything away, go through Moore storage boxes of what you did not take out or use the season. Purge, throw away, or reorganize. Decide what you want to continue to keep, what did you not use because you forgot you had it (need to organize), what’s broken or out of style or does not fit your house or your kids have aged out of or you just no longer want (throw out). Complete this step before going any further.

Set aside the things you’re going to keep, and the things that need to be reorganized. Make a list of any items that might need to be replaced or fixed next year. Throw out anything broken or that no longer works, and make a pile of things you might want to donate or pass along to a new home.


Here are a couple of the piles I came up with: A) Christmas plates and serving dishes – KEEP. B) Cookie tins – KEEP. C) Leftover Holiday cards and “Letter”paper. I tend to use Photo Cards now (who has time to write a letter anymore?) – TRASH. D) Random Santa hats and extra stockings, and seasonal hand towels for bathroom.(All great for wrapping breakables in!) – KEEP. E) Ziplocs. – DEFINITELY KEEP. F) Some of the girls’ holiday crafts from when they were little. – KEEP. G) Instruction manual from their nativity – KEEP. H) Extra candles for the advent wreath. – KEEP.

8a. One great tip: I keep all of my holiday books and movies together with the decorations for that particular holiday.  These are put in baskets under the tree, until presents take their place on Christmas Eve! This keeps all like with like, but also because these toys and movies and books only get to be seen and played with during that particular holiday season, it keeps everything fresh and new and fun to play with.

9. Start breaking down any items and packing them up. Ziplocs and cling wrap cam be great friends during this!

Seran wrap (plastic cling wrap) also works great for items that are too big for ziplocs. Here is the “before” of one of the girls’ nativity sets.

And here is the after! Easy Peasy!

10. Start packing everything away back into your bins!

10a. I use any holiday related cloth items to wrap up my breakables. This saves cost and space. I also have older stockings that we no longer use comma Santa hats, that I use for this purpose as well. (See picture above!)

11. Set aside anything you are going to re-purpose elsewhere (extension cords for example). Put it all where it goes!

12. Check all the strands of lights to make sure they work before packing them away. This way you can add it to your list of to-do for next time if you need to replace anything, and can watch out for seasonal sales.

13. Label your boxes! Trust me, this makes it so much easier when you have to send someone to pull them back up out of the basement and he brings half-Christmas, half-Halloween and then grumbles as he has to bring other items  up/down over and over.

Not that I know this from experience, of course!

14. Reorganize all your wrapping paper. Etc. Our container has gotten quite junky since the girls have started wrapping gifts as well.

15. Put all the boxes away til next year!

BONUS: Lather, Rinse, Repeat for ALL SEASONAL/HOLIDAY DECORATIONS YOU OWN! If you do not do this NOW, you will need to stop and do it as you go through each set of items through the year.

My Update:

Happily, I survived!

I was able to get rid of one large bag of trash, and I was able to collect one large bag of items to pass along to someone else! This actually reduced our Christmas bins down by one! Yeay for me!

Here are some of the items I’m able to pass along to another – including some Christmas videos the girls decided to pass along as well!

Next up: Creating “Stations”!  See you soon!

2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest! – Assignment #1


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Today we begin!

Here is ASSIGNMENT #1. (Need to catch up? See previous posts in this series HERE).

I know many of you are playing along with me, pretending to move when in actuality, you’re not. You’re just along for the ride. Which is awesome, because I really do think that this will be really helpful to you. And the more of you that participate, the more support/accountability I have!

So to participate in this challenge, you need to FULLY jump into the “pretending” that you are about to execute a major move. Not just across town where you can do it yourself by the truckload. I want you to put yourself in a situation where you have to think about how in the world would you make a major move with moving trucks and all that. Or, if you were in the position where you might have to downsize your home (since I’ve just done both, both of those scenarios work!). You are going to have to look at your home, your stuff and your LIFE with a fresh pair of eyes. A completely new perspective.

And since I will actually be moving and doing all this this summer, I will be writing and talking about this with “moving language.” Of course, take from this whatever you can. I just don’t want to confuse anyone by going back and forth from “fake scenario A” and “fake scenario B”, so I will write in my own scenario/situation.

The first part of participating is FULLY CHANGING YOUR MINDSET. One thing I have learned, which I have also realized is very different from how many perceive this, is that when you have to pack up and move, and unpack and find places to put things, over and over and over and over and over and over (you get the idea), that your relationship with those things changes.

There is nothing wrong with stuff. And frankly, I’m the most sentimental person in my family. I’m the one who is into scrapbooking and preserving stories, and I am the one who is interested in family history, and I’m the one who attaches crazy sentimental value on many things. (which is much worse around Christmas time!)

However, when you have to move often in a limited time frame, you start to think differently about stuff. It becomes a chore. Then an irritation. Then a total pain in the backside. And one day you have a crazy flip out over an innocent stack of magazines, ripping them to shreds and trashing them, all while cursing the day you ever thought you’d actually read them. Or the time you realized you had over nine huge plastic bins of baby clothes. For ages 0-12 months. That because the seasons were flipped, your second child will probably never wear. And you go berserk, creating a massive yard sale campaign to get rid of them all, and eventually just start mailing boxes of clothes to your unsuspecting pregnant friends, just so you don’t have to look at them anymore.

Oh wait. That’s just me.

But you do create a very different perception to what is

a) important/necessary for living (pots and pans, kids toys, sheets/towels, etc.),
b) what’s fun to have and good for mental health (hobby items, scrapbooking stuff, etc.),
c) what you need for emotional health and or has SIGNIFICANT sentimental/emotional value (holiday decorations, stuff needed for family traditions, and other items with sentimental value), and
d) dead weight junk.

I do something very similar to this challenge every single time we move. (I’ve lost track how many times we’ve moved in twelve years.) And every single time I do this I am amazed by how much MORE stuff I get rid of. I swear, stuff breeds like rabbits or gremlins when you are not looking.

The first part of changing your mindset is looking at every single item in your house as a “stuff” that has to be moved. Whether you are limited by funds (how expensive it is to hire a moving truck) or by weight (you can only move a certain amount of weight, or only have a certain size container that you are allowed to fill) YOU NOW HAVE A LIMIT to how much “stuff” you can own, and move. That point is really important. THERE IS A LIMIT TO HOW MUCH STUFF YOU CAN HAVE (OR MOVE). (P.S. Packing materials also count in that pound limit, so you whatever amount of stuff you thought you could fit in that amount? Yeah, cut it down further.)

The second part of this challenge is a time limit. Most of the times I have done this on my own, I’ve given myself long stretches of time to go through and purge/organize – like six months, where I work on one little project a week. However, I have had to do ALL OF THIS IN ONE MONTH BEFORE. (Yes, we have packers/movers. In your own pretend scenario you might be filling that role yourself. Just realize that you might have to talk about yourself in the third person in that case!) I want that thought of time constraints running through your mind. Even if this is “pretend” for you, you must think about that countdown to get it all completed. Not only is this to motivate you to keep going and not flake out, but also, having that kind of deadline is going to start to inform the decisions you have to make, which is a vital part of the process. For my own purposes, I hope to have everything done by May 1st.

We will talk about prioritizing, sentimental value, purging, organization, and time issues more later on.


Step one: set up your detailed calendar for the month and create your plan. To do all of this in such time constraints as I’ve given us, you are going to have to be HYPER organized. (This is not easy, even for me.) The best way I’ve found to handle this sort of thing is to have my calendar completely filled in with everything I need to do, down to the last detail. This will be something you will need on a constant, daily basis going forward to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, either with this challenge or the rest of “real life.” So, make sure you account for anything you might already have scheduled. Basically, be ready to go gung-ho!


Step two: I will go into more insane detail in the future, but for today, start making lists. Of everything you personally need to do as part of this challenge. I find it helpful to categorize things. My own lists often end up several pages long, I won’t lie. But I also find it vital to write down every single little thing because I can’t afford for anything to fall through the cracks. My DH likes to create spreadsheets for himself, but personally I’m fine with a notebook and scratching things off. So make your list however you might like.

And what should be on this list? Well, remember, in your pretend scenario, you are about to make a major, life-changing move. (ie. moving across the country, etc.) So, what kind of stuff would that entail for you and your family? Sure, in real life you don’t need to go get copies of your kids’ school records and medical records to take with you, but as part of this exercise, I would encourage you to take 15 minutes today and brainstorm about ALL POSSIBILITIES. Because you might come with several things that would be very useful regardless. Like making sure you know where important family documents are at all times (kids’ shot records, birth certificates, etc) and that would lead you to writing down “create specific file for each person’s important documents” that you will do.

Once I do mine, I will give you guys examples of things that are on my list. And many of those topics will end up being future daily challenge assignments. But to get you started, in addition to the general organizational purge, collecting important documents, phone calls/appointments needed to be made, dealing with logistical side of the move, paperwork, those are sort of the topics I tend to start brainstorming and creating my lists around.


I know that tomorrow and on the next few days, there will be a lot of time where you will want to sit down and chill out in front of the TV. Bowl games, favorite shows you like to watch at night, etc. So, during this monthly challenge, I encourage you to take advantage of those times! As you go through this, make a to-do list of mindless items you can do while doing something else. Then, get everything you need for that particular chore, and put it all together right beside your couch. That way you will have everything together and ready to go, so you won’t have any excuses. I suggest having 3 “chores” ready to go at any time. Unfortunately, this month you don’t get the luxury of “downtime!” We’ll get all of that we want once the movers are gone! Don’t give yourself any chores that are going to require lots of brain power. Shredding, filing, organizing paperwork, dealing with receipts for taxes, etc are several ideas that I often do. And don’t hesitate to delegate things to other family members! DH can easily shred documents while watching a game, etc.

So that’s for today. Calendar prep, to-do lists, and prep Get ‘Er Done projects. Tomorrow’s assignment: we will start with organizing/sorting/purging food/pantry items. The next assignment after that will be creating “stations” prepping for the major purge/sort process. Just to get you prepared!

Join Me for My 2017 Challenge- The Big Organizational PackFest!


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Each year on another board I frequent, I host some sort of “organizational challenge” each January. Previously, I’ve done a “Control the Paper Monster” challenge, and a “Closet” challenge. (A copy of which, can be found here.)

This year marks another move. AGAIN. I’ve become somewhat of a moving guru having done my own form of this challenge %^%#! times in the past %#$@# years, I’m inviting you along for the ride with me through the process. Please join me in THE BIG ORGANIZATIONAL PACKFEST! Let’s face it; I would appreciate the company and support, not to mention the accountability!

So, what you might want to know before you join up: this is a long, all-encompassing challenge, with one assignment each week! (I used to shove it all into one month, but I have so much going on, that focusing on one area per week is about all I can handle.) We should be through everything by May, because my move is in June!

I will go into much more detail in future posts – but the premise of this challenge is that you guys will be pretending to join me in my upcoming move!  This is not a “move down the street” kind of move. No, I want you to think of this as a major, life altering move: maybe moving across the country or overseas, or perhaps moving AND downsizing to a MUCH smaller living situation.

As you can imagine, there is a lot that goes into that sort of move, but what we will be spending the bulk of this challenge focusing on will be the prepping for the move – purging, sorting, organizing of our “stuff.” Also, we will deal with planning, organizing, scheduling type tasks – many things I have to do for my own move, but as you will come to see, they will set you up to have a much more organized year and home for the rest of the year! I promise you will enjoy the fruits of all your labors! That’s one of the reasons I start this type of crazy challenge in January, to take advantage of everyone’s “New Year’s Resolutions” enthusiasm and energy.


A couple of Pre-Assignments:

1) Gather needed supplies. Garbage bags, file folders, boxes, dumpster, whatever. Walk around taking a quick tally of what you are going to need. AND THEN GO GET IT. So you won’t have any excuses. (And hopefully you can get some good deals while things are on sale.)

3) Catch up on the daily stuff and see if you can get ahead. Kinda hard to organize closets and sort clothes if they are all in the dirty pile, right?


Just to warn you!


Please feel free to blog about your experience and tasks, and join up with us here by posting in the comments, etc. so we can all commiserate support and encourage each other this month! Don’t worry about starting late, just join in and catch up!

I do not have a graphic yet for this challenge. Does anyone out there want to volunteer their help??

Add your own comments below, to let us know that you’re joining us.

The Spoon Theory, with Kids

The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino

What they leave out of this is when you have a family, and you have to start taking THEIR spoons. And then you have to pay even more spoons for the guilt that makes you feel. 

One reason my kids are so responsible is becuase they HAVE to be. They help around the house so much because they KNOW I can’t. They have to pitch in, because sometimes it takes every spoon I have to just get out of bed, and they know it. We all budget MY spoons, and kids shouldn’t have to think about that. Those are spoons no kid should have to pay. 

Even on my good days I still have to budget those spoons like crazy. Do I have enough spoons to take them to the pool today? MAYBE, if I just sit on the side and do nothing. Or, I thought I did, but then underestimated how many spoons it would cost. 

There is so much they miss out on, becuase I just … can’t. Or, I COULD, but what will it cost me moving forward? And this doesn’t even include the extra that I take from my spouse as well. 
You never get a chance to stop thinking about those blankety-blank-blank spoons. Ever. 

And that is what happened this week. I was doing well, and then, BAM, put of nowhere, I hit the wall like a big on a windshield. I pushed just that one inch too far, one “system” I relied on didn’t work, and that’s it for me. I ran out of spoons and I’m now paying the price. It’s been almost a week now, and I’m still as bad off as I was on day one. 

My kids want me to go to the pool today. They want me to get in the water and play with them instead of “reading a book.” And I can’t. And now my “spoons” are costing them spoons too. And sometimes that just sucks.

Does the Pot Have a Right to Pride?


Even more difficult to extract is the pride that drives judgmental Christians to mock the Spirit’s work in a man seeking his Creator. That sin could take decades to discover. Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing.

I’ve learned some thing extremely important over the last few years. The pride of assuming that “I” am always right, that “I” know everything. 

While there IS a definite TRUTH and RIGHT, often we are all somewhere on a spectrum of that being revealed to us inside our hearts. Because how in the world can you really really KNOW until you have lived it? In His infinite wisdom, He might have chosen to reveal certain items to ME, not be because I deserve it or are worthy, but because of the change that truth is supposed effect. In ME. It is to expose our lack. 

To presume I know ALL right and wrong, even if I do, would put me in a place of pridefulness, and then judgmentalness. 

Two things we are expressly warned of – pride and judging. Pride in my own self, as if my mental faculties could presume to grasp the infinite scale of God’s work and plan. 

God’s goal was never for us to be “RIGHT”, it was for us to be HOLY. 
And so, even when I feel “right”, even when I know the “truth,” my place is not to be preening in that knowledge, but to be humbling myself and bowing low. LOW. Because that fall from pride is far, and the splat when one hits the ground isn’t pretty. 

Every time we feel this “rightness” it should drive us. Not a drive to “preach” or judge, but pray with compassion for that person. To shell out buckets and buckets of undeserved love, heaps and heaps. Just as it was given to us.

Because we as pots that are perhaps more formed than a newer piece of clay, know that the Potter’s wheel can HURT. We’ve been there. And we’re still there. 

Because none of us are fully completed. 

Not yet.

Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 3


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This is part of a series, Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.

7. Set up Systems. Make Your Routines and Life Easier.

Another thing I’ve been working on over time, is setting up a “command center.” It’s still in process, but is slowly taking shape!

First, I have one small area specifically for the girls. It’s a bulletin board in the hallway between their bedrooms and their bathroom. This is for their “morning routine charts” (more coming on this later) and they can also pin up items they want to keep there.

I also have an area in my office – a hanging file holder from Thirty-One Gifts – where I hold items I don’t want to lose. (If I can lose it, I absolutely will!) Bills, gift cards, membership cards that we have, etc. Also, because our office room is right by the front door, I also have copies of of our HSLDA membership cards and homeschool information here. Pennsylvania is one of the most regulated (difficult) areas of the US to homeschool, and I had my first run-in with the local school board right after we moved here. So, I’m a bit paranoid, yes, but if needed, I can quickly and easily grab contact information and have it ready.

Newest, is our “command center” in our kitchen area – actually on the side of our fridge! We have a large open-concept main floor, and this is easily accessible and viewable. Along with magnets holding important numbers (exterminator, energy company, etc) We have added several magnetic dry erase boards. One is for the girls – I list their daily school assignments and chores on it and they wipe them off as they complete them. I might add another next year, so my oldest can get used to start being responsible for her own work assignments.

I also purchased a calendar dry erase board this summer. Originally I was going to make a very fancy menu planning list that I’ve seen on Pinterest,  but at the rate I’m going, it will be years before that actually happens. This was done and easily adaptable to my needs. We’re still working on making this work for us as a family, but at least now we’re not waiting on needing to make it pretty too. (I also bought a bunch of dry erase markers during back-to-school sales at Staples at a fabulous price!) Sometimes I’m embarrassed by how much this little thing excites me, but if it solves my dinner dilemma, it’s worth every single penny!

8. Have Fun! Enjoy Your Summer and Get Outdoors!

After doing this all summer it feels a bit that I have been “drudging” all summer. I have, to a certain extent. BUT, I would recommend you take advantage of all the summer has to offer– get outside, soak up the Vitamin D, and enjoy the sun! All too soon, winter will come and we will all be stuck indoors moaning over the 6 feet of snow blocking our front door! Enjoy it all while you can, build up those memories of pools, Popsicles, and homemade ice cream with your kids!

Please share with me your own ideas to help your year run smoothly! What do you suggest??

Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 2


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This is part of a series, Getting Ready for Another Homeschool Year! Part 1 can be found here.

I find that most blog posts about preparing for a homeschool year, focus solely on curriculum choices and setting up your homeschool area. While those are both very important (and fun!) topics, I believe there are more tips that we can share that will make your life as a homeschooler EASIER!

4. Fix What is “Broken.”

At the end of last May, I had several ideas about what had stopped working for us in our homeschool experience. Well this summer is the time to make those changes! First, I changed my work schedule to the mornings, so I could free up our afternoons and then be able to take advantage of more extra-curricular activities and homeschool park days. I wasn’t sure how this would really work out, but blessedly it has been great!

Because of this, the girls were having to take all of their homeschool items out of the “classroom/office space” every morning and spread out over the dining room table, and then put it back every night. That was fairly disruptive (and I was often having to nag them to constantly put things away). Yet, they love their school desks and didn’t want to get rid of them! So, this summer I did a re-arrange. I moved the table for their computers back into the office space – they can do their computer-based work with headphones while I’m on client calls – and their desks are now in the kitchen area where the table used to be. Now their desks can hold all of their workbooks, etc and they can sit their and do their workbook work in the mornings. We haven’t tried it out yet, but I think it work well.

Having their table in my office allowed me to create a “charging station” for the tablets, and I can now keep stronger visual control over their electronics. This is something my husband and I wanted to implement, but weren’t quite sure how.

5. Purge Out the Junk! Clean It Out!

I took a lot of time this summer to clean out the classroom/office space. While moving items around, I also took the opportunity to clean out used curriculum for sale, throw out old papers and do a deep clean of the space. This morphed into perhaps a bigger project than I intended, but has turned into a very-overdue entire spring cleaning of the house! I know it sounds crazy, but I am looking to having it all done. These are all the cleaning projects that I put off during the year because I have no time, things like cleaning out the inside of the fridge and wiping out the cabinets that have gotten gross, straightening and organizing the linen closets, and even shampooing carpets.

It’s also a good time to purge the girls closets of clothes that are too small, and purge out their playroom. I then was able to take advantage of the back-t0-school sales so that we replace what they needed for the fall.

I think of this as setting myself to start the year off right. And also, get all these annoyances out of my way.  (Really, you have no idea how much I am looking forward to this all being done!)

6. Deal With Dinner.

Dinner is the ultimate worst. Not only is it the witching hour for the kids, but I feel mentally drained as well, and at 5pm the last thing I want to think about is what I should cook for dinner. I dread it. Not the cooking, but the thinking and deciding. So much so, that I went on strike all summer – forcing hubby to be in charge (he didn’t mind as much, he just grilled every single day). BUT, even that much helped him understand what a total pain it is to do. And my being Celiac, and needing to have only gluten-free meals, really doesn’t make it easier.

Since our favorite “meal assembly store” closed down last year, we’ve been scrounging. Working without a meal plan is just no longer working. One of my long project this year has been to organize our recipe stash and set up my own system for frozen meals. I tried my first big prep session this weekend, and I think we can make this work for us when we get the hang of it. I even tried out several new recipes that seemed like they would freeze well, so I’m looking forward to having meals ready to pull out this fall.

This won’t take the place of prepping/cooking completely, and hubby is now fully on board with helping out more with meals (now that he realizes how much work is involved). He will probably continue to grill as long as the weather holds throughout the fall. I stocked up our freezer with a run to Costco, so as long as we pull it out to defrost (the catch) in the morning, we should be able to ready for meals with just minimal grocery runs for fresh items.

I also recommend having multiple crockpots ready to use! Both of mine died over the summer, and I took advantage of the “off-to-college” sales to replace them. With our evening schedule now much busier, I will rely on them, and on frozen meals, constantly during the week. And I’m constantly scouring for new, healthy, easy, gluten-free meal recipes!

Coming up next, I have a few more tips to get ready for your homeschool year! Please share with me your ideas! What do you suggest??