Some people are afraid of the idea of a home birth strictly because they are worried about the “mess” in their home. With the proper home birth supplies and a midwife team that handles most of the cleanup, you will not have much “mess” to worry about.
Follow this home birth kit checklist, and you will be prepared for everything you need for mom, baby, and the rest of your birth team.
Are you planning for a natural birth? Of course, you want what’s best for your baby, but there are so many options to consider.
The more you learn, the more you may realize how much a standard hospital birth strays away from the idea of “natural” that you were going for.
When I became pregnant with our first baby over a decade ago, we actually started with a traditional OB and planned on having a hospital birth.
Without knowing much of anything, the whole idea of a home birth just seemed a little too risky when it came to having my first baby.
The more we learned through our childbirth education course and in the process of researching for and creating our birth plan with our doula, the more a home birth made sense.
At some 20+ weeks into my pregnancy, we started interviewing midwives, and I ended up hiring one and giving birth to our first baby at 37 weeks, safely, and comfortably at home. I am thankful we decided to work with a home birth midwife for that pregnancy along with the six more that have followed over the past ten years.
These are the 5 reasons that made us decide that home birth is the best way to have a natural birth:
Better and More Personalized Care
One of the main differences we saw right away in working with a midwife vs. an OB was the superior care provided by our midwife. When we made the switch, our midwife noticed some red flags regarding my pregnancy that could have easily turned it into a high risk situation.
I was swollen all over – my ankles about twice their normal size, which indicated a risk of pre-eclampsia to her. I was instructed to make some pretty strict adjustments in my diet and add in some supplements to ensure I was getting enough protein. (see The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet) She monitored my urine samples and blood pressure closely and ordered additional blood work on a weekly basis to make sure that we were making progress.
At one point, things got worse, and I had to go on a strict diet of only chicken and peanut butter to turn things around. Thankfully, it worked, and fortunately, my midwife had the discernment to make me do something about it.
Since we were unsure if home birth was even going to be an option, I stuck with seeing my OB as well. When I expressed my concern about the swelling, they recommended wearing compression-hose to help with the swelling in my legs. They noted that it was a normal part of pregnancy and that I should not be worried about it.
Additional ways that working with a midwife provides better and more personalized care:
Most midwives will approach most pregnancy issues proactively and naturally in efforts to try to prevent things from happening in the first place. Many traditional doctors will reactively respond to issues with what they have been taught to use (surgical and/or pharmaceutical intervention).
The personal attention you will receive from a midwife is far greater than that you will see from an OB. Most midwives will spend a solid hour with you at each appointment. My OB appointments lasted about thirty minutes and 90% of that time was spent waiting or with the nurse.
When it comes time to giving birth, unless extreme circumstances force your midwife to rely on a backup, she will be the one to attend your birth, stick around after, and come back for your post-natal visits. No need to deal with the revolving nurse schedules, shift changes, or gambling on what doctor will be on-call when you go into labor.
The education provided by a midwife is far superior. She can answer questions and walk you through concepts most likely never addressed by a traditional OB such as nutrition during pregnancy, proper postpartum care, optimal fetal positioning, placenta encapsulation, and all the many choices you have when it comes to having a baby.
No Need to “Fight” For Your Choices
If you are choosing to have a natural birth, you will most likely make some other choices that tip towards the natural side of the scale as well.
We spent a lot of time researching options and came up with a birth plan that explained everything we wanted. It was two full pages long, 10pt font and single-spaced.
We went over the details with our doula, and she brought it to our attention that although it was possible to make this happen in a hospital, we might spend the entire labor and birth process feeling “on guard” and have to “fight” to follow our birth plan.
This idea of not being able to fully relax during my labor because those in the room with me were not truly my advocates who wanted what we wanted for our birth and baby really bothered me. This is what made us decide to start looking for a midwife who we could trust and who had our best interest at heart through the entire process.
Some of the choices that you may need to fight for in the hospital include:
Not being induced one week after your “due date”
Letting labor take its natural course as long as there are not apparent issues
No excessive monitoring
No epidural or other pain management
The ability to provide your body with nourishment during labor
Immediate skin to skin contact with baby
Vernix to be rubbed into the skin rather than wiped off
Delayed cord clamping
To save the placenta to be encapsulated
Declined or delayed vaccine schedule
Declined eye prophylaxis
Declined vitamin K injections
No baths for baby in those first few days
Co-sleeping with baby
This also includes a number of procedures that can be avoided during pregnancy:
No glucose test (alternative done with blood sugar testing)
No Group-B Strep test
No unneeded ultrasounds
No unnecessary vaginal exams
No additional testing
Lower Risk and Best for Baby
If you take the time to research the risks and possible outcomes associated with some of the routine procedures performed at hospitals, you may quickly find that they don’t make the most sense for you or your baby.
In addition to the choices noted above that often need to be fought for, or are not even an option in some hospitals, there are a number of other benefits to staying at home that keeps things lower risk and better for baby:
Hospitals are full of sick people, staying home prevents the chance of you, baby, or the rest of your family picking up some nasty bug.
Most hospitals still use toxic chemicals to clean and disinfect – if you use clean, non-toxic products at home, you don’t have to worry about your newest member of the family being exposed to harsh chemicals.
There is no risk of baby getting separated from mom at home. You have complete control of who enters your room and can make sure that you get that one-on-one bonding time that is so crucial in those first days after birth.
Your chances of surgical intervention are lower when you choose a home birth. Not that there is no chance of a transfer to the hospital in case of emergency, but your midwife will not be making routine decisions that often lead to unnecessary intervention.
Circumstances such as “failure to progress” or “overdue” are managed closely rather than throwing you into a category and forcing intervention.
More Options to Labor Naturally and Best for Mom
I have labored and given birth in almost every position imaginable. With some of my babies, it was the freedom to move in ways that I instinctively felt necessary (or my midwife instinctively felt necessary and pushed me to do) that allowed for a natural birth.
With my first pregnancy, my water broke around 4am, but I didn’t start having contractions until after 7pm. I understand that many hospitals will not allow a mom to go that long without inducing or other intervention. Once I started having contractions, our little girl was born about 3 hours later.
My second baby was posterior, which required me to alternate between a birth stool and walking around the room in a wide squat like a sumo wrestler in order to deliver him. After over two and a half hours of pushing and hard work, he was born sunny side up.
My third was 10 pounds 10 ounces and had his arm up. It took a variety of positions and eventually lying flat on my back at the direction of my midwife in order deliver him. This was another long two-plus hours of pushing, but he was also safely born at home with zero intervention.
My last three were born in a birth pool in a variety of positions. I believe that the ability to move into the position that feels right can help speed up and provide for exactly what the baby needs to be delivered smoothly.
In addition to position options, the ability to eat and drink during labor is also very beneficial – especially when labor goes a little longer! It’s hard work, and our body needs nutrients in order to maintain energy and keep performing until the end.
Certain foods (honey, for example) can be helpful in giving an extra boost of energy that can be necessary at certain times, as can liquids, proteins, and more.
When it comes to considering options for mom and baby, safety and care really should be the strongest factor to consider. The four previous reasons and the related safety and care are what led us to our choice of home birth vs. hospital birth.
This last reason is more “icing on the cake” than anything else. However, once you experience a home birth for yourself, I guarantee you will have a hard time not appreciating these factors.
The option of having a water birth – three of my six have been born in the water. I did have a pool available that I labored in for all of them, but it just didn’t work out to give birth in it for the first three. In the future, I will have the rest of my babies in the water if at all possible!
There is no need to travel during labor or try and guess when the right time is to head to the hospital.
Staying at home provides a calm, comfortable, and low-stress environment. The calmer you can stay during labor, the easier things will be on you and on baby.
You have full control over the environment – who you want to be there, the temperature, the lighting, the sounds, the smells, etc.
If you already have children, there is no need to send them off somewhere while you go to the hospital. They can be in the room if you prefer, or just outside, but close by in the comfort of their own home and meet their sibling when you are ready. Most of my babies tend to come first thing in the morning, which works out well because the kids can remain sleeping in their bed and then wake up to a new baby.
As long as he is on board for having a home birth, being at home is going to also be most comfortable for hubby. He is in his surroundings where he has access to everything he needs and doesn’t have to worry about running home, leaving mom and baby, to grab all things forgotten.
If you are worried at all about complications and not having access to doctors and equipment provided at the hospital, you can take comfort in the fact that as a general rule, labor complications happen slowly over time and provide many hints or red flags that midwives are trained to pick up on. A good midwife will use her experience and discernment to know if and when it may be necessary to transport to a hospital.
If you are looking for a natural option for your pregnancy and birth, consider hiring a midwife and choosing to have a home birth.
It can sound scary in the beginning, but as you learn more about this option, you may find that it ends up feeling like the safer choice when you examine all the factors.
Have you had a home birth experience that you would like to share? Or are you considering a home birth as a possibility and have any questions? Please let me know in the comments below.
Are you naturally organized? I’m guessing if you are reading this post, you may not be. You may struggle with the idea of keeping a tidy home. Is it worthwhile? Is it important? Or maybe you feel like you shouldn’t bother with keeping your home clean and organized because there are so many other important things that need to be done instead.
Even if organization doesn’t come naturally, I believe that there are six reasons you can benefit greatly from keeping your home in order.
Why Keep a Tidy Home
To Save Time
How much time do you spend looking for misplaced items around your home? If it’s much time at all, you need to be using this time to do something more productive with your life.
Imagine being able to access anything that you need in the moment, easily and immediately.
When you keep a tidy home, each of your possessions has a place they belong, which means they are easy to find (and easy to put away).
Keeping a tidy home also makes cleaning much faster and easier. Sometimes the idea of having to pick up before you clean is enough to ensure that neither happens. If your home is already tidy, the next step of cleaning comes naturally.
Having a tidy home makes it easier to operate in. As mentioned above, you can find things faster. In addition to saving time, it also provides peace of mind.
You may not realize it if you have come accustomed to living in a cluttered home, but it does weigh on you and create stress and anxiety.
If you think about it, a messy home serves as a constant visual reminder of things that need to be done. It silently nags at you all day long while you try to ignore it. You may have gotten good at ignoring it, but doing so still takes energy, and it’s draining.
When your home is clean and tidy, spending time in it can be restful and rejuvenating.
Lead By Example
This is one of my most substantial reasons for keeping a tidy home. I simply want my kids to know how to take good care of their stuff.
Obviously, they are going to do what they want when they become adults and move out, but it is essential to do our part in giving them the skills necessary to be good stewards of their belongings.
Organization comes naturally for some and not so much for others. But it IS a skill that can be taught. Do your kids a favor and make sure they leave the nest with this one under their belt regardless of how difficult it may be to teach them.
Things are always easier to learn and pick up on when you are younger. Your mind is a bit more malleable, and the stakes are much lower.
When we fail at teaching our kids the skill of tidiness, we are setting them up for a hard road later in life. They will have a much more difficult time taking care of their own home and managing life in general. Should they decide that they want to learn to be more organized, they will struggle to do so.
We have the opportunity to prevent this in its entirety by teaching them to establish good habits now. It may take more effort on our part, but as parents, that is our job.
Teaching kids to participate in keeping the house tidy also models the idea of a solid family unit. They learn to contribute and the importance of responsibility. They even end up learning a large variety of housekeeping skills along the way.
Avoid Distraction & Inspire Creativity
A cluttered house often results in a cluttered mind. It is difficult to be present and live “in the moment” when your mind is cluttered. Don’t let your messy home compete for your attention and make it difficult to focus on other things.
A clean and tidy home allows for mental clarity and the opportunity for creativity.
Are you someone who often has great ideas while in the shower? The reason for this is because it may be one of the few parts of your day that your mind is given a break. Nothing is demanding your attention in the moment, and it gives your brain an opportunity to unleash its creativity.
Even if you don’t regularly keep a tidy home, most of us will generally do at least some picking up and cleaning before we have guests over.
If you keep your home tidy on a consistent basis, you won’t ever have to worry about day long cleaning sprints before the company arrives. Nor will you ever be stressed by the condition of your home when someone shows up unexpectedly.
Do make sure that your heart is in the right place though. Keeping a tidy home is not meant to be done to impress our guests. Nor would I ever suggest that you turn down the opportunity to serve someone in your home because of its less than perfect condition.
Keeping a tidy home for the purpose of hospitality is so that our guests feel comfortable and welcome in our house. So that they are not distracted by clutter or dirt, and that they can relax and feel rejuvenated when they leave.
This also gives us the opportunity to completely focus on our company and serving them.
Stewardship & An Act of Worship
Before digging into this last reason for tidiness, I want to specify that this is not meant to condemn anyone who struggles in this area. God does not think any less of you based on the condition of your home. He also understands that we go through seasons in life where cleaning house might just not fit on the list of priorities. Be sure to give yourself grace in reading this last section.
I do believe that God does care about the condition of our home, and in wanting what is best for you, would be pleased with you having a tidy house.
One reason for this is that we are told to be good stewards of what we have been gifted and to use our gifts to serve others. As mentioned above, keeping a cluttered home can be distracting and stressful, which can impede on you, your family, and your guests operating at your best.
Our God is also orderly in all that He is and does. In efforts to learn more about Him, follow Him, and do our best to imitate Him, it only makes sense to do so with order.
Lastly, not only does the condition of our home affect what goes on inside of us, but it is also a reflection of what is happening on the inside. A cluttered house can be the result of a mind that lacks order and self-control.
If you have been making excuses for a messy home, I encourage you to consider doing something about it. It may take some time to go from where you are now to tidy, but once you get there, you will realize that the benefits are well worth it.
If the view from your home happens to be something like cluttered counters, toys scattered all over the floor, half-opened boxes in the foyer, and a half-finished science experiment on the dining room table… I want to encourage you that there is hope! With a bit of effort up front, you can have a tidy home. And once you get there, maintaining it can be easier than you ever imagined.
And everyone knows where that place is. This is the foundational principle behind keeping anything tidy. When everything has a place, and everyone who uses said “thing” knows where it goes, there should never be a reason why it is out of its place for too long.
(With the exception of young children, of course… we don’t start really pushing this concept on them till they are around 4-5. They learn to clean up after themselves earlier, but the expectations are far less strict and they generally receive lots of help.)
Getting to the point where “Everything Has a Place” will take time. If you are reading this, I’m assuming that right now, everything doesn’t have a place. Once you get there, tidying your entire home should never take more than a half hour.
Doesn’t that sound like a dream!?!
If you are working towards decluttering and organizing your home, I suggest starting in one room, finishing that completely, and then moving throughout the house. This will give you the satisfaction of having entire rooms or areas of your home completed and will establish some momentum to help you get through the rest.
As you are organizing, try to leave open space as much as possible. For example, an open drawer in the bathroom, an open shelf or cube on a book shelf, an empty cabinet in your kitchen, or a few open inches in your closet. This way, when you bring something new into your home, it is easy to find a place for it.
Many people suggest to get rid of something each time you bring something new home, but I don’t do well with this method. I just used mental capacity to make a decision and purchase something, so I don’t have the additional energy needed to decide what I now have to get rid of. In this scenario, the newly purchased item then sits out without a home, and I don’t end up getting rid of something else at all.
2. Regular Pick-Ups
With kids (and husbands), things don’t generally stay the way they are supposed to for long. Even with the older ones, who are still learning to fight their built in drive to create chaos, need consistent reminders on how to pick up after themselves.
The one way I have found to combat this issue is to do frequent quick pick-ups throughout the day. I like to tie these pick-ups to something that we will be doing no matter what – Eating!
We do a quick pick up before each meal.
I actually will make them do a pick up before snacks as well, but this is a little more flexible. Although it is done on a regular basis, they generally still need to be reminded. I guess I have not put much emphases on requiring them to do it on their own yet… maybe when they are a little older.
As your kids grow older, it is essential that they are doing these quick pick-ups and you are not running around picking up after them. You will also need to make sure to either supervise the process or inspect the results. With any sort of child training, I suggest starting with supervision and working your way towards inspection once you know and trust their process.
3. One Bin Rule
This helps with keeping the quick pick-ups mentioned above sufficient enough to actually accomplish the job completely. If given the opportunity, my kids would bring out every single toy we own… all at once.
I am not a minimalist, so we do have a variety of toys and could easily have a disaster on our hands if everything got dumped on the floor at once. It could possibly take up to a full day to get everything back in its place.
At this point, the quick pick-ups are not going to cut it.
We established the “one bin rule” to help solve this problem. We try to store all similar toys in a bin that makes sense for them. This means that for every new toy purchased, a new bin has to be purchased as well. (if it does not go with an existing toy that has a bin already)
It also means that there has to be a spot on the shelf for it. (I’ll admit that at this point, we don’t bring a lot of new toys into the house.)
In addition to the bins, we have a few other areas throughout the house that contain toys. There is a toy box, a basket under the bench at the foot of our bed, and each of the kids has a few spots for their own personal belongings. For the purpose of this rule, each one of these items is individually considered a “bin”.
As you have probably guessed, the rule is that they are only allowed to have one “bin” out at a time. If they want to play with something else or do something else, they have to pick up and put away the contents of the bin they currently have out first.
There is a little flexibility on whether the one bin rule applies to the family as a whole or each child individually. It really depends on what they are doing. I just pay attention to what is going on and let them know if they are pushing it with the bin limit. The older ones will generally ask if they can take something else out if someone already has one bin out.
4. Sweep Method
I’m not going to promise that implementing these ideas will mean that things are always going to stay perfect. There will be projects that are done or meals that are cooked that are just going to end in a larger mess than normal.
When you are faced with a mess that could easily be considered overwhelming, I suggest using my sweep method.
I find I use this method most in the kitchen, so I will use that as an example.
When my kitchen is a disaster, I start at one corner and work my way through “sweeping” my way across the room.
I generally pick the corner of my kitchen with the smallest piece of counter space. I work at cleaning that up entirely – remove anything that doesn’t belong, clean, and re-place the items that go there.
Once that spot is done, I move over to the spot next to it (my stove). Remove, clean, re-place, and move on. I do this all in order but generally, skip over the sink until the end.
This method breaks the job down into small manageable tasks that are not overwhelming. As you look at what you’ve done, it provides a sense of satisfaction and the momentum needed to get through the entire job.
5. Develop Good Habits
Establishing good habits can make all the difference in the world. If you work on just one habit at a time, something that once seemed impossible can come together like a piece of cake.
Here are some habits to help ensure a tidy home:
put it where it goes right away / don’t take short cuts
if it takes less than two minutes, do it right away
set a timer to stay on track
order your daily routine intentionally
establish an evening routine that includes a final pick up so you have a tidy home to wake up to
make sure to always review work your kids have done
use this methodology elsewhere (i.e. in your car – clean it out after every trip!)
Do you currently have a chore system that you follow (or try to follow)? Do your kids do their chores most days without complaining or forgetting? Do they do what is assigned to them well, and to the same standard that you would do them?
If not, give this 5 step method a try and teach your kids how to do chores the right way.
It does take some time and patience up front, but soon, you will start reaping the rewards of hassle-free chores done well. And let me tell you, it’s so worth it!
There were a few things that held me back from teaching my kids to do chores the right way in the beginning.
One was simply a matter of time and patience (well, the lack of them, that is). It takes a lot of both of these in the beginning.
Some years ago, I was not very intentional about the balance in my life. I have always homeschooled my kids, so it was not that they were not receiving my time and attention. However, I was not looking at the big picture to make sure that I was putting in effort and training where it mattered down the road.
The second was a misconception that my kids were not capable of doing chores well enough to justify the effort on my part… only to have to re-do them myself.
I have learned that with a little extra training time, young kids are competent. You do want to make sure to come alongside them in this process. Closely observe them to know what might be frustrating them because they are not coordinated enough, compared to what they just don’t feel like doing.
There are also a few things we need to go over first…
Consider the Ability of Your Child
In researching for this post, I found that one of the most searched terms related to kids and chores is for age-appropriate chores.
I don’t think this is a terrible starting place, but I encourage you not to follow some strangers advice on what chores would be best suited for your child.
The best way to figure this out is through trial and error, knowing your child and their abilities, and just figuring out what works.
Start With a Routine
If your child does not currently follow a set routine, start here. Not only does it teach them the importance of balance and taking care of themselves, but it is also easier for younger children.
Routine type items, like brushing their teeth and hair, getting dressed, and taking care of their dirty clothes, are an excellent place to start. As they are ready, you can add in making their bed, tidying their room, etc.
It’s also good to work on an evening routine as well. If you struggle with chaos hitting every night, having an evening routine (for both you and the kids) can do wonders.
Move On to Meals
Mealtime chores, such as clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the table, and vacuuming or sweeping the floor are a great place to work on the 5 step method below.
Mostly because they happen at least once a day, and often three or more times if you homeschool or have young children at home. Also, because they occur in a central location where it is easy to work with more than one child at a time.
Work on One Chore at a Time
As you start to move into more complicated chores, be sure only to train one task per child at a time. The goal is mastery at a single chore, so you want them to be able to focus on this.
Many chores don’t need to be done on a daily basis, but I encourage you to do so while you are in the process of training.
You can mix things up a little bit… so if you are teaching your son how to clean the bathroom and have more than one bathroom, feel free to do a different one each day. Just try to keep some consistency in the process of cleaning each of them.
Ignore Chore Charts, Systems, Etc. (to start)
Chore systems can be great, but as you are getting started with teaching the foundations of doing chores well, they are entirely unnecessary.
They make things more complicated, and the simple act of choosing one can be overwhelming in itself.
Once you have moved along in the process and your kids are doing more than a couple chores each day, it may make sense to start looking into a chore system to follow.
Payment for Chores
I strongly encourage you not to pay or reward your kids for doing their chores.
The goal of training them to do chores well is so that when they are launched into the “real world,” they are well prepared and fully capable of being good stewards of their belongings. (I do also appreciate the payoff of them being good doers of chores while they are still at home.)
We do not get paid to do our chores or take good care of our possessions. We all do what is needed to participate and contribute to our family unit, and this should be no different for children.
This does not mean that kids shouldn’t have the opportunity to earn money. Once they handle all personal responsibilities, it is a great idea to have additional “jobs” available that kids can do and be rewarded with money when they have done good work.
Follow These 5 Steps and Teach Your Kids to Do Chores Well
#1 – Demonstrate
Start by showing your child how something should be done. You want them to understand what they need to do, but be careful not to take too much time on this step.
Kids are eager to do, and they get bored quickly. Make this process brief and don’t try to explain too much. You can do your explaining as they are doing and revisit the demonstration if necessary.
#2 – Do Together
This is where you will spend a lot of your time. Kids will enjoy this part because they like spending time with you, doing something together, and receiving the one on one attention.
Go through the entire chore with them, walking them step by step through the process. Give them 100% of your attention so that you can help, correct, and praise accordingly.
Don’t forget that your child is perfectly capable of doing a good job; they just need to be taught to do so. Fight the urge to let them off easy. If you don’t, it will be far more challenging to re-train them on how to do something the right way down the road.
#3 – Observe
The transition from Do Together to Observe should happen quite naturally. As you notice your child needing less help or correction, start to take a step back and let them complete the task on their own.
Continue to pay full attention to what they are doing, but start holding onto any feedback until they are done. If there is something they didn’t do correctly, or skipped altogether, encourage them to review their work. Teach them how to self-critique and to become a problem solver without you having to hold their hand every time.
#4 – Review
As you feel your child is gaining confidence and doing a great job with the chore, you are working on, start to ease your way out of the equation. Work to the point where the child is completing the chore on their own, but be sure to thoroughly review their work when they are done.
Continue to review their work, every time, until they have established consistency and trust.
Don’t skip this step, or they will most definitely learn to take shortcuts. It is far more effective to catch these slip-ups right away. If they go on for some time without your acknowledging them, it will be more difficult to break this bad habit, and you will likely need to move backward in the process.
You will also want to start utilizing consequences at this stage. If chores are not done right (as you have taught them to) and in a timely manner (a discussion you can have with them on what is acceptable) – there must be consequences. Be sure to use a consequence that does have an impact on your child, but does not discourage them.
You must learn to be consistent and not get into the habit of reminding them along the way.
#5 – Audit
Once your child has established consistency and trust in performing a given chore on their own over time, you can then start to cut back on your review process.
Start slow, by skipping a review here and there, and then continue to drop off more and more. If you start to notice any backsliding, quickly move your way back in this process and go back to whatever step necessary to get your child back on track.
Also, remember to use consequences, be consistent, and don’t ever resort to nagging them to do a chore.
You will notice that I did not include a time frame on any of the steps above. Every kid is different, and they will all take different amounts of time and effort at each step.
Get to know what works well for each of your children in this process. If something seems to be taking forever, consider backing off on that task and trying something else. They might just not be ready for it.
Here’s to raising children that are capable and productive participants in society. Share any ideas or questions you may have in the comments below.
Prepare for tomorrow – set out items you will need, clothes, lunches, meal prep, etc.
*Save yourself the headache of having to fold blankets and fluff pillows – consider adding a storage chest to your living area for storage.
Use the download provided below to print off each week and check off as you go.
You can also laminate, put inside a page protector, or behind glass. Use a dry erase marker to check off and clear each week.
Take a few minutes to estimate how long each of these tasks will take and make sure there is room for them in your routine. (If you don’t have a great routine in place, check out Establish Your Routine)
Try using a silent alarm on your Fitbit to remind you when you are supposed to move onto the next part of your routine. You can also set up alarms on your phone, but I prefer to keep all ringers and notifications turned off at all times to avoid distractions.
Once you get good at using the Daily Cleaning Schedule, move on to follow a weekly cleaning schedule as well.
Something Different to Try
Rather than assigning tasks to a certain day of the week, we group our chores by colors. Each day, based on time, energy level and anything else that might be going on, I choose what color chores we will do.
Taking it Further
If you could use some more help getting your house in order, check out Dominate Your Domain, my online course where you will learn how to follow homemaking systems that work best for you and your family.
Do you have a daily cleaning routine that you follow? Let me know what you would add to or leave out from the list above in the comments below.
Sometimes it is hard to keep your family on the same page. I know that when things are busy, weeks can go by where I continue to build my “need to discuss with hubby” list… but those conversations keep getting set aside. This is why we created the Weekly Huddle – and committed to doing it once a week.
The Weekly Huddle is how we make sure that we stay on track – as a couple and as a family unit. It is a time to connect, share, support, and hold each other accountable. And… as long as it is implemented consistently – it has a lasting positive effect on our family and your marriage.
How the Weekly Huddle Works
Hubby and I set aside at least 1 hour (2 is better if you can spare the time) each week to have our Weekly Huddle. We have ours on Sunday morning at 6am, before the kids come downstairs. We used to do our huddle on Sunday afternoons while the kids played outside or watched a movie. After playing around with our schedule a bit, we decided we would prefer to have that time in the afternoon to relax, have an early dinner, or do something fun as a family. Now that we have made the switch, I love having our huddle completed first thing in the morning.
We follow a “Weekly Huddle Page” to make sure we cover everything. This includes a general agenda and a “goals” workspace for each of our family members. There is also space for “Action Items” and “Future Discussion Topics”. I also prepare our weekly “Budget Report” before the meeting.
We include the “Weekly Huddle Page” in each of our planners. I keep mine behind my “Family” tab and Hubby has his at the end of each week (his planner is a little less elaborate than mine).
Weekly Huddle Agenda
Each week, we try to stick to the same agenda to make sure that we cover everything:
Review Responsibilities, Tasks, & Routine
The meeting begins with a discussion on what everyone’s responsibilities are, both inside and outside of the home. We make sure that everyone is doing ok with their current responsibilities and move around if necessary.
Next, we take a look at our schedule as well as each of our daily/weekly/monthly tasks. We make sure that everyone has a reasonable workload and that things are getting done well. If not, we move things around to ensure that no one is spread too thin.
Set & Assess Projects & Goals
We try to make sure that we are constantly improving ourselves. To help with this, we keep a master “Habit List” for both of us as well as each of the kids. We pick one habit each week and make that our focus. Most of the time, we will focus on one habit over many weeks.
As habits are established, we still continue to list them – generally the most recent two along with the newest we are working on.
This is also where we discuss current projects and goals. These are also pulled from a master list that we add to often. Having this as part of our meeting helps us keep each other accountable in making our dreams happen.
We also pick habits and goals for the kids at this point. During Sunday night dinner, we discuss these with the kids what we would like for them to work on. The kids also complete their “weekly assessments” at this time to reflect on how they have been doing.
As our kids get older, they are able to have more input on what they work on each week.
Here we discuss how each of our children is doing – emotionally, developmentally, in their school work, etc. We discuss their needs as well as any issues they may be having and how we can best parent them. Often, these conversations result in action steps that we record on the “Weekly Huddle Page“.
We spend some time discussing how our marriage is doing. We try to include a recap of the past week – what went well, what could use improvement, and what bumps in the road we may have encountered. This may also lead to some more personal conversations of various nature. We both try to keep a running list throughout the week on things that would be good to bring up in this part of the meeting. This is a great way to make sure that you are continuously working to improve your marriage.
We go over six questions every week, which I talk about in this video. There are then two additional questions that we cover that rotate over the course of fifteen weeks. The goal here is to make sure that we are discussing things on a regular basis, and ideally before they become too big of an issue.
We keep a written prayer list with both current prayers and praises. This helps us remember who and what we should be praying for on a daily basis. It is also fun to look through and find the prayers along with their answered praise reports. It is always a good idea to date these as reference points when you are looking back on them.
Monthly, I prepare a Financial Overview worksheet each week to get a quick snapshot of our current financial position. I also put together our Budget Review form weekly that shows how much we have remaining in each of our spending categories. This helps provide all the information we need to make solid decisions on what we will purchase the upcoming week.
Wants & Needs List
In attempts to be intentional with our money, we keep a “Wants & Needs List” that anything over $50 gets added to before it is purchased. This list has a category listed for each spending line item on our budget.
We spend some time reviewing this list each week to ensure that we are looking at the big picture in making all financial decisions.
This time is set aside to discuss anything work related. If nothing is pertinent, we do a basic rundown on each of our companies to make sure we are not missing anything. This is also a great time to discuss “What’s Next” for each business.
If you are not self-employed, this would be a great time to discuss how things are going at his and/or your job.
Review the Calendar
We examine our calendar from last week and make sure everything was addressed appropriately. We then move onto this upcoming week.
This part of the meeting is the main reason why we found it made sense to have our Weekly Huddle on Sunday. It gives everyone a very clear picture of what is happening in the next seven days.
Game Plan for the Week
Lastly, we discuss a game plan for the week. This is more than what is on the calendar, but more of a collective look at everything that was just discussed to make sure that we all have the same takeaway from the meeting.
There is also a few open lines to include additional conversation topics. This is for adding items that have come up through the week but have not been discussed yet. Commonly, these items include upcoming holidays, birthdays, trips, or other irregular events.
After the Huddle
After the meeting is completed, I try to make a point to transfer the future discussion items to our task listing (if discussion needs to be had by or on a certain day) and/or a future Weekly Huddle Worksheet. I also transfer all of the action items to the appropriate person’s task list in Toodledo.
After having our Weekly Huddle, it feels comforting to know that everyone is on the same page and we have a good, solid plan to face the week with.
The communication is beneficial, but even more importantly, this creates a connection between hubby and I that seems to get missed when we are not intentional about it.
You may find that your first couple Weekly Huddles last longer. If this is not something you have been doing regularly, it is easy to need more time on this. After a couple weeks, you will get into a groove and be able to finish up the meetings, and actually discuss everything you need to, in about an hour or two.
Download our Weekly Huddle Page add it to your “My Essential Planner”, and use as your meeting agenda and make changes as they fit for your family.
I hope this helps bring your family together onto the same page.
I would love to hear how you implement the Weekly Huddle in your family. Share in the comments below.
There are many different reasons why people choose to ditch the disposables. Some do so to save on costs, some to reduce waste. I personally prefer using a higher quality product, which often comes with reusable alternatives.
Whatever your reason might be, I’d love to help and encourage you to move forward in the process of giving up some of these products in your home. Here are 12 disposable items to stop buying and alternatives to take their place.
1. Paper Towel
If you are an avid paper towel user, you probably use it for everything, and the idea of getting rid of it all together sounds crazy. Coming from a recovering “avid paper towel user,” I can say that it is possible, and you may even like it.
You can use Norwex cloths (or other microfiber) to clean just about anything that you previously used paper towel for (counters, windows, toilets, mirrors, carpet, upholstery, etc.). Skoy cloths are a multi-use disposable that are super absorbent to clean up spills. Dish towels, huck towels, flour sack towels, or bar mop towels all work great for bigger messes, drying dishes, and more. You can also keep a collection of old towels on hand for extra nasty jobs and just throw them away.
Mama Pads or menstrual pads are one alternative here. This one is a lot easier to wrap your mind around and work out logistically if you are already doing cloth diapers (because they can all be laundered together). Again though, they are much healthier for you and much more comfortable. The menstrual cup is an alternative to tampons, and there is an increasing number of brands out on the market to try.
4. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is one that a lot of people steer away from not using. They will stop using everything else on this list, and more, but refuse to move to “family cloth.” I’ll be honest and say that we have not taken this step yet, but I have to say it is tempting for a number of reasons. Especially as we are still in the trenches of cloth diapering, there is really no reason not to try it.
5. Bottled Water
We have used bottled water during certain periods of our lives for one reason or another. Whether it be bad tasting or bad quality water that comes from the tap or a lack of ice (I like my water cold!), sometimes it just happens. Water consumption is essential, so whatever it takes to get you to drink more/enough – by all means, do that. A few tricks to avoid bottled water include having a water bottle you love (and maybe something for warm drinks as well) and using a high-quality water filter that gives you delicious tasting water.
6. Paper Napkins
Paper napkins may or may not be something that you even use. We actually just used paper towel and never really bought paper napkins. Regardless, when if you ditch the paper towel, you still need an alternative to use for napkins if you don’t want everyone sporting their own full-size dishtowel at dinner. Try using cloth napkins – most people have these on hand but just never use them. There are so many inexpensive options out there, and they can be washed right along with your towels.
Tissues is another one that we have given up buying, but rather than using a reusable alternative, we just use toilet paper. I love the idea of turning to handkerchiefs though! I’m sure that they are much more gentle on your nose, (especially when compared to toilet paper) and there are so many fun options available. This is next on our list to implement.
Most likely, you are either a straw family, or you’re not. If you are, you realize how many straws you can go through in a week. We happen to be a straw family, and I fought moving away from plastic straws forever (despite how bad they are for you) because I hated the idea of using the stainless steel alternatives. The concept of a metal straw clanking against my teeth severely bothers me… kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard. I am happy to share that there is another option that I have fallen in love with. Glass straws! Not only can you get them in different colors, but they also have designer and personalized straws.
9. Paper Plates & Plastic Silverware
Many people will turn to paper plates and plastic silverware when they are looking for convenience. If you are in the middle of a move or camping, these are simple things that can make logistics so much easier. It is also easy to fall into that mindset of convenience and take advantage of them when they not quite needed as bad. The easiest way to stop using them is to just not buy them and stick with your regular dishes. I love the fact that we can gradually add to our dishware without having to purchase a whole new set.
10. Coffee Filters or Pods
If you drink coffee and use coffee pods or coffee filters, you have a number of different alternatives to turn to. It has been a number of years (maybe about 15) since I’ve drunk coffee more than a couple of times a year, but when I used to, I remember that nothing compared to fresh ground coffee made in a French press. You can find high-quality coffee beans in bulk, and there is zero waste. Another option would be to turn to loose leaf tea. There are so many delicious and healthy options out there… we may just be a little tea obsessed in my home.
What disposables have you been able to stop buying in your family?
To begin with, you may be asking, what on earth is a Mealtime Basket? It’s pretty simple, and almost just what it sounds like. A Mealtime Basket is a container of some sort that you keep easily accessible during your family mealtimes. This container houses a variety of books or other materials that can be read and enjoyed during your family meals.
We started this tradition in our home a few years ago after I heard about morning time. I loved the idea behind it but hated the thought of trying to add an additional hour to our homeschool schedule.
I had almost given up on the idea altogether when I realized that we spend about 30-60 minutes at each meal, sitting at the table together. We were not utilizing much of that time in the best way possible, so we created the Mealtime Basket and decided to give it a try. We discovered a number of benefits to this concept and one of the best parts is that it works for all families, whether you homeschool or not. So here are 5 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Mealtime Basket:
1. Prevents Unnecessary Messing Around
When we are reading, discussing, or working on memorization from our Mealtime Basket, it captures the attention of our younger kids. This gives them the opportunity to finish up their food while also listening to what is going on… without getting distracted by little things or siblings and messing around at the table.
2. Offers Additional Education Opportunities
Using a Mealtime Basket provides an opportunity for you to educate your children in areas that you may not otherwise have time. This gives you a chance to cover a number of different topics, including cultural, foundational, character and more. The options are endless, and we can include topics, scenarios, and life lessons that could easily go untouched without this intentional experience.
3. Multi-Level Learning
If your children are in school, they are most likely accustomed to learning in an environment where they are grouped with other kids their age. It is so good for them to have an opportunity to learn as well as help teach along with different age groups. Doing so along with their siblings also has the added benefit of helping to build and nurture those relationships.
4. Tradition of Mealtime
When you use a Mealtime Basket, you are establishing the habit and tradition of coming together and taking time out of your day to relax and enjoy your meals. This prevents some of the common tendencies in our society to rush through meals or turn to the television for distraction while you eat.
5. Family Relationships
Lastly, but most definitely one of my favorites, is the bonds that are built and relationships that are developed during this family time. Between the reading, the prompted discussions, and other activities that take place, it can bring your family together in a way that might be missed otherwise.
I encourage you to give the Mealtime Basket a try in your family. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or planned out. Just grab a couple of items that you think everyone would be interested in and start incorporating them into your mealtime.
What do you think you may include in your Mealtime Basket?
The minimalism lifestyle continues to gain in popularity as a rejection of the voice of modern culture that says one’s happiness is dependent on the accumulation of things… that busy is better, and that it is ok to allow technology or devices to run your life. There are positive points that come from the minimalist movement, but unfortunately, it goes a bit too far in some areas and at times in the complete wrong direction.
What is Minimalism
There are a lot of opinions out there regarding what exactly minimalism is. Many minimalist will say that it is more of an internal mindset than it is about any of the external actions. I can appreciate this, but much of what I hear and read from people getting started with minimalism, it often begins or becomes more about the actions.
Some of the popular themes that are associated with the minimalist lifestyle include:
Simplifying most areas of your life
Getting rid of your stuff (some even go to the extreme of limiting the number of belongings they will hold onto)
Living without attachment to things (sentimental or otherwise)
Living lightly in general
Holding onto only the possessions that bring you joy
Again, this is a hard concept to adequately define because there are so many different ideas out there. If you are curious to learn more about the movement, I recommend observing some minimalists and how they do things. There are a number of documentaries, books, articles, and entire blogs devoted to minimalism.
Why Should You Avoid Minimalism?
As mentioned above, minimalism was brought about as a counter-initiative to combat materialism. It sounds like a great idea, because when most of us really think about it, idolizing our stuff just isn’t a good thing.
Pride and Suffering for No Real Reason
The problem is that in attempt to do away with materialism, the focus often ends up remaining on stuff. Here are a few examples to illustrate how this ends up happening with a minimalist lifestyle:
People get so obsessed with purging and pairing down that it becomes a competition on who can live with the least amount of things. They regularly count their possessions, and the lower numbers are touted as a status symbol among other minimalists.
Some put themselves through a process of anguish and morning as they part with their book collection, old letters, photo albums or other sentimental objects – all for the sake of minimizing their belongings.
Does it Spark Joy
The concept of only holding onto possessions that bring you joy is a whole other issue in itself, that once again leaves the focus on your stuff. This teaching comes from a book by Marie Kondo titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”
In determining “does this spark joy?” Marie Kondo stresses the importance of holding an object in your hands when answering this question because you are not able to feel the energy and connect with the object unless you are physically touching it.
She then goes on to humanize objects… Noting that folding over your socks is cruel because they have such a hard job when on your feet and need a good rest, in the proper position when they are waiting for you in your drawer. She mentions that you should not stack clothes because it is just not right to force the bottom articles to bear the weight of everything else on top of it. She also stresses the importance of thanking your belongings for their service to you (oh, but don’t worry – if speaking out loud to your belongings makes you uncomfortable, you are welcome to do so silently, and it will have the same effect).
I could go on, but I’ll spare you… the point being, once again, the focus is still on stuff, just in the opposite direction of materialism.
Taking it Too Far
A comparison here would be eating disorders and going from one extreme of obesity (materialism) to the other extreme of anorexia (minimalism). You will note that both of these two eating disorders are focused on an obsession with food (or lack thereof it). Materialism compared to minimalism do the same thing with the obsession with stuff.
Hurting Our Children
This is the main reason why I immediately ran away from the idea of minimalism from the beginning. There is a bit of publicity around the idea of taking away all your kids toys in order to solve the issue of them not taking care of their stuff.
I do agree that this is a great first step, but it also misses an essential part of the process of parenting. Our job is to train our children in all ways possible so that they can thrive in the circumstances they live in. The act of just taking all of our children’s toys away (or most of them) does not teach them how to manage anything outside of simplicity.
When they go out into the world and decide not to adopt the minimalist lifestyle, they will be at a great disadvantage, because you have not taught them the skills necessary to be a good steward of what they have been gifted.
Often times, when a generation chooses to parent with extreme concepts, the following generation tends to overcorrect and go to the other extreme.
On the Flip Side
So, we’ve covered the idea that there are aspects of minimalism that can be damaging, but so is materialism. Rather than adopting an extreme belief or moving too far in either direction, I’d like to cover some concepts that are important and that can lead to an intentional and fulfilling life.
It is a good idea to hold onto things that you will most likely never use. Especially when there is no sentimental value, and it would not break the bank to replace if necessary.
Don’t stress yourself out over getting rid of things. “Stuff” does not deserve this much attention, one way or another. If you are ready to pitch something, great. If not, as long as it is not hindering resources, keep it for now.
Understand that possessions do not bring happiness. If you find yourself becoming dependent, obsessed, or owned by your belongings (or lack of belongings), this is something that should be addressed.
Possessions are a gift from God. We should be thankful for what we have, with the understanding that it could all be taken from us in an instant. The goal is to be at a place where our love of life, our joy, and relationship with God or others would not be affected either way.
We should be good stewards of the gifts we have been given and live open-handedly. These are two traits we also need to be modeling and teaching our children.
Overspending and debt are not healthy or biblical habits when it comes to acquiring things.
Having nice things is ok. Buying for quality over quantity can improve how you treat your belongings and also end up saving you money in the long run.
Always practice contentment no matter how little or how much you have.
So that covers a few reasons why you should avoid the minimalist lifestyle and consider adopting a few alternative concepts to live an intentional and fulfilling life.
I’m sure there are many different opinions on this idea of minimalism, and I’d love to hear yours. Is this something that you have chosen to take on as a family, or are you staying away from the concept entirely?