Saturday, July 02, 2011

Organizing Chaos

I've been trying to organize some of the chaos around here lately...

I've "taken apart" and reorganized, and sorted, and TRASHED, a bunch of stuff in the 'cubby' bins inside our doorway which holds a combination of stuff cleared off the dining room table, things that we need handy for school/church/car trips, things that belong to the children but aren't in their direct possession ALL the time (such as the leapster and games), all of our mail which is saved (like bills) and... the TONS of stuff that comes home in school backpacks!

Those bins were organized last weekend, just in time for Michael's birthday party, and amazingly enough... they are still looking good!

Today I hit three bins that were 'junk' bins from places like the kitchen bar.  They are now ALL EMPTY, which is a huge accomplishment around here :).  After that, we moved on to the garage.  Still a LOT of work to do there, but we did at least organize things better, fill a few trash cans, and empty a few bins of "stuff" which had been accumulated when we've cleaned out the cars in the past few months.  :)  We also moved our van bench seat (the 4th one, which has 4 seats and we removed for use as storage for wheelchairs/strollers) out to our porch.  That way it isn't in the super humid and hot garage all summer, AND, it is useful.  No worries, we have made sure it's not a tip risk :).  And we watch the littler kids careful when they're out there because the swing is up right now too.

Now on to the guest room/storage.  I'm pretty much always trying to rearrange things in our home to make things cleaner, more organized, more efficient, and to better meet the needs of our family.  We are trying to find a way to make a 'space' for Kris to set up his Lego and PlayMobile toys where the other kids cannot destroy them :).  He has the 'loft' in the girls' room, but now that Lynae is in there, he can't access it during nap time.  He's used the dining room table for a few projects, but even there it's out in the middle of things and the other kids get to it.  Looks like the guest/storage room needs a flat table... (which we can store diapers under!).

We also have started a new rewards chart for the three "big kids" (Kristopher, Brianna, and Aleksa) for the time being.  We took something we already own (aka-- FREE--), the Candy Land game.  We changed its purpose... to being a rewards chart.  Each of the three kids has a little candyland guy to bring around the board.  Each time they get to a "surprise" on the board (like a candy cane or ginger bread man picture), they earn a reward.  The rewards are things that we also already have, or that are free to us... but that are still worth "working toward" for the kids.

Kristopher can earn 'steps' by doing chores around the house.  Anything from taking sheets off the kids' beds when I'm getting ready to do laundry, to putting a new bag in the trash can, to turning over the laundry machine.  He's been very helpful the last few days :)  In fact, he's earned the first surprise, BUT, I told him in advance that the first one was going to be me TELLING him what the second surprise is.  Since the second one is a BIG one.  :)

Kris can also LOSE steps when he does something he knows he shouldn't, like kicking at his brother!  So, he is working on good behavior AND being helpful.  And the rewards don't hurt either!

For Brianna and Aleksa, they are doing more basic chores like emptying the dryer or helping a sibling, or by listening when told to do something, like putting their shoes on to leave or putting something away.  We've decided not to use "backward" steps for the girls right now.  I haven't figured out what the girls' first prize will be, but we may do a "family" prize when the girls both reach the first surprise and all do a family movie night or have ice cream cones or something fun.  Aleksa doesn't understand the game AT ALL, but I think Brianna knows she's doing things to move her piece and that the 'special' board places are good :)  She knows what SURPRISE means!

We've found that Kristopher does great at working toward a goal, and having predictable consequences for his actions.  It's a HUGE incentive for him not to be nasty to siblings, etc... because he knows he will be working backward on his 'chart'.  Kristopher's love language is definitely "receiving gifts" whereas Brianna's is quality time, and i think Aleksa's is physical touch.

We chose to only do this with the three 'biggest' kids right now because the other ones wouldn't "get" it yet.  That's part of why we're considering "family" prizes when everyone crosses a mark since that allows the other kids to get in on the fun :).

And if you're wondering, I'd say that right now, the other kids' love languages are:
Emma: Words of Affirmation and a second close one is physical touch... as long as it's from ME or MIKE!
Wesley: Physical touch!!
James: Physical touch!
Micah: Physical touch! with a close second of quality time, I think
Lynae: Quality time with a close second of receiving gifts.

What are some fun organizing tips you have, or inexpensive summer busters?  What about your kids?  What are their love languages?  (Not sure?  Take this quiz... or have them... to find out!

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