Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seven Secrets To Family Harmony

Here we are at The Back Door--the way IN and OUT for family and close friends.

Access to and from the garden, backyard, barn and chicken coop, the driveway or garage via this friendly portal.    Makes a certain noise when someone we love arrives or leaves.   Decorated with a variety of grimy prints around the doorknob perhaps.

What makes The Back Door of your home so important that I'd start a blog series here?

The Back Door is where your family often starts and ends a busy day.  The hubster heads to work and kids to the school bus via this door.    And they come home here, too.   It's where home begins for most of us.  And when we head off, it's often the last of H.O.M.E. for awhile, too.

For many of us, leaving home is fraught with last-minute racing around, trying to get our stuff together and chicklets trying to get THEIR stuff together (or not!).

Is it a mad dash as the hubster is heading out?   Are you often LATE because someone couldn't find the keys, a permission slip, the sunglasses or GPS?

Chasing stuff down at the last minute.  Great!  Now we'll be late! Helping the kids turns into yelling at the kids.  "Get. Your. Lunch.  Now!"  Which of course involves tears or huffiness and i.r.r.i.t.a.t.i.o.n!  Lovely.  Now we're all miserable.   Perfect!

No.  That's NOT how we want things to go as they head off to work or school.

The Back Door is i.m.p.o.r.t.a.n.t. and it affects our family harmony.

Seven Ways to Improve Family Harmony  

Organize things so that you and the hub and the chicklets CAN get out of the house, on the road, on time.   No tears.  No yelling.   No irritation.  Try these seven tips:

1.   Clear a landing zone near the door.   Use countertop or a table next to the door.  Set things out that need to go with you (or the chicks or the hub).   Lunch boxes.  Coupons for shopping.   Wallets.   Add a tray or shallow basket to keep the mail in one place.  Maybe the GPS.

2.   Hang a key rack near the door.   Avoid those thrilling and heart-stopping last-minute key-hunts.     Hang your sunglasses here, too.   And the dog's leash.

3.   Set up a bench or stool nearby.   Great place to set back-packs, purses, bags.   Line up boots and shoes underneath.

4.  Add a cork- or magnetic board.    Schedules and permission slips.   Post reminders and notes.  Shopping lists with coupons.  Hang a memo-pad & pen here.   Mail that's ready to go out to the mailbox.   Programs and calendars.   Use a chalkboard to leave messages or post shopping lists.

5.  Rig up a charging station on a counter.   Hand-held mobile devices, iPods.  Easy-to-find on the way out the door.     Get one with a small drawer for keeping postage stamps or letter openers.

6.  Hang a coat rack even if you have a closet there.   Hang cloth shopping bags after unloading, ready to go back to the car on your way out the next time.  Your apron.  Train the kids to hang their backpacks here, too.

7.  Set a wicker laundry basket on the bench or on the floor.   Toss in mittens, driving gloves and hats.  Garden gloves.  Sun-hats.  Scarves & mufflers.   Sunscreen.   Bibs.

As much as we want our Front Door to project a warm welcome to our guests who enter there, how much more should the dear ones who come and go via the Back Door feel blessed and loved?  

"Finally, [sisters], good-by.  
Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, 
be of one mind, live in peace.  
And the God of peace will be with you.  
Greet one another with a holy kiss.  
All the saints send their greetings."
2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV

Next up:  The Laundry Room . . . whiter whites and brighter brights.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Much Can You Get Done in 2 Minutes & 30 Seconds?

Do you ever challenge yourself?    

I don't mean mind-boggling challenges like "solve the problems in the Middle East" and I don't mean financial challenges like "get my checkbook to balance to the nearest penny" and I don't mean waist-whittling challenges like "do a 30-second plank without my arms trembling like a little girl."   

Nope.  I mean FUN challenges, the sense of accomplishment!   Like the thrill of wishing for Spring and five minutes later seeing a robin in the front yard!   Or racing to get the pots-n-pans washed before The Amazing Race" tv program starts!

Yep.  Now you know.   I'm a speed demon.  I love games like Boggle and The 5-Second Rule and trying to beat my record at Sudoku.   

So.  My challenge every morning is to empty the entire dishwasher BEFORE the microwave beeps with my cup of water for tea or coffee.  Two minutes, thirty seconds.  Two racks and a silverware basket.   

Not much quality control happening at that rate, but I figure if I don't catch a smudged glass or gritty bowl when putting away, surely we will when we set the table.   Plus, it's clean grit, right?  It just came out of the dishwasher.  <wink!> 

So there I was this morning, minding my own business.   Emptying the dishwasher, racing the microwave beeper, and with my split-second eagle-eyes noticed that some of my bowls are kind of tomato-y stained. Again.   I thought to myself,  As soon as we get a good sun-shiny day, these bowls are getting a sun-bath on the deck rail.

Now that may seem like a really random route to take:  racing to empty the dishwasher and putting bowls on the deck rail.   But there IS a method to my madness.

You see, in a previous lifetime, I was a Tupperware consultant so I've known this little trick for years, that sunshine will bleach plastic bowls--it only takes a few hours; they look as good as new (unless yours are as elderly as mine then they just look "better").

That thought hadn't even evaporated yet when another popped into my head.   "Aren't you glad you know stuff like that?"

Which THEN made me remember that there was a time in my life when I didn't know that kind of stuff. 

And THAT thought led to me scolding myself soundly for having my blog sit here silent and barely alive for so many months--when in fact I have SO much I want to write and share with you.    

Yes, in less time than it takes to put away four water glasses and three cereal bowls, I had thunk all these thoughts and even lectured myself.   

So, starting today <pause for a crescendo of inspirational music> I'm determined to get back on track with TTF.  And to do so with renewed purpose.   And getting back to my roots of why I wanted to do this blog in the first place.

Older woman teaching a younger woman.   Household affairs.   Tips for home-making and -keeping.    Little tricks you learn along the way either by sheer luck or trial-n-error.  Ways to organize and be efficient.  Loving the hubster and the chicklets.   Keeping busy at home.  A few recipes?  Maybe.   Basic standard operating procedure according to moi (because I'm the boss of this blog).

Yippee!   Nothing fancy, so forget the bells and whistles--just some tips, tricks and wisdom for running your home.  Since the Mind-Meld Machine broke down, we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way:  writing it in words on paper (well, kind of).    Maybe a few printables if I get my act together.   Maybe, okay--definitely some lists.

Since we're family and friends here, meet me at The Back Door tomorrow.   And we'll begin.  

Until then, ponder these words from Proverbs 31 and consider how they "challenge" you to serve the Lord in your home:
"[The wife of noble character] 
speaks with wisdom, 
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.   
She watches over the affairs of her household 
and does not eat the bread of idleness."

I'm serious:  tomorrow.  The Back Door.   Don't be late.

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