Posted in At Home

Big Family Chores

Oh, hey!

Before I had Lucy, I talked in-depth-ish (That enough hyphens for you? Ha!) about what chores look like in our house over on Instagram.

Lucy’s pregnancy made me incredibly tired, and I needed extra help. Usually during my pregnancies, I have better control over the cleanliness of my house because I’m preparing to bring another person into our home, but this time, I was just tired and needed to delegate more. Luckily for me, this was easy to do since my kids enjoy change, and for the few months that it really mattered, they were excited to complete the tasks given.

Toward the end of my pregnancy things started to get a little hairy. Things weren’t getting done properly, (And I have pretty low standards when the kids are in charge.) and I was just kinda hanging on for dear life. In fact, our house was a disaster when I went in to have Lucy. I was not prepared at. all. since I had over two more weeks until my due date. But, that’s a story for a different day. Her story is coming to the blog soon. 😉

Anyway. I learned about breaking your home up in zones on Youtube, (Our Tribe of Many, check them out. You won’t regret it.) and I thought, “I could make that work!” And it reallllly has! The kids have the opportunity to master a skill by working on that particular area of the house every day. There’s never any question of who did what each day. By making it “their” area of the house there’s not any need to delegate each day, or arguments. “I did that chore last time! I’m not good at that!” Those conversations were eliminated.

Disclaimer: my home is pretty small. It’s 1,100 square feet, and that includes four decent size bedrooms. So, the actual living and communal spaces the kids are in charge of aren’t massive rooms, or anything. That’s why giving them each a room works for us. Maybe try splitting things up if your kids aren’t ready to take on a full room, or the rooms are large.

Here is the first chart I created: (Excuse the horrible picture, I threw this away and had to take a snapshot from my Instagram stories.)

Obviously, I went a little overboard. When we created this chart, I split up the house, and then determined which child would be capable of handling each part of the house. Then, I sat with them and we talked about the things that need to be done, and the things that should be done in that area of the house. Obviously, (or maybe not.) these were ambitious goals. Our house was super clean when we started these zones. We’d just hosted a birthday party and I did deep cleaning, so things started out as upkeep. As our house got back to normal, the zones started to get a little harder. Things get extra messy when we have a lot going on, or someone gets sick. It is what it is.

By the end of my pregnancy, the house was pretty messy again, and after I brought home Lucy, we did a big clean all together and then reassessed the zones. (Also another story for Lucy’s post. lol.)

Here is what we currently do:

Living room: Ella
Kitchen: Hayden
Laundry room: Lylah
Hallway and bathroom: Ryder and Emma

The zones are the same, just simplified. There were things that weren’t being done properly, that I just needed to take over, like dishes, bathroom counter, and the toilet. We did away with the kids living room (It was a hassle to keep clean, and a waste of space for our family that likes to be in one place at a time– and now we have a school room again! Whoop!) so that weekly task was eliminated for the kids. Mopping with the Swiffer daily was leaving a film on our floors, so we mop weekly now.

Overall, things are the same, I just picked up the things that I “let slide” while I was pregnant-tired, and simplified our chore process even further. I now wash all the dishes, and pick up the “extras,” like the school room, laundry when we wash linens, etc.

Zones have my house so much cleaner, and make weekend deep-cleans faster and easier. (We do not deep clean every weekend. I wish we were that awesome, but we’re not. Ha.) When we do deep cleans, everyone is responsible for making sure their area of the house is sparkling. I usually help out in the areas kids aren’t so great at like, the stove and oven, and wiping down walls and baseboards.

We’re going to be shaking up zones pretty soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a way to simplify your chore routine at home, I hope this helps if you were looking for inspiration! How do chores work in your house?

Posted in At Home, home education

Homeschool Critics

Months ago, someone asked my husband when I’d be going back to work to “help” him. Wouldn’t it be “nice if he didn’t have to work so many hours,” or “bring in our families income alone?” And of course, “so, you’re not going to put your kids back in school… at all?” At first, I felt offended and it kind of surprised me someone outside of our home honestly thought their judgment on how we raise our family was acceptable to speak on.

Everyone has an opinion about how you should raise your children or run your household. It’s up to you to decide whether you allow their opinion to affect your decisions.

His response was that we didn’t chose to homeschool our kids to save money on after-school care, or keep the kids out of daycare. That it was a life-decision for us, and that we had no plans on sending the kids to public school. That he did sometimes work long hours, but that it was worth it. <insert heart eyes here.>

My husbands response still makes me so proud. When we first started homeschooling he was on board, but skeptical. He wasn’t sure that homeschool was the right choice for our family, but willing to try. He grew up in the small town we live in, and was concerned that our kids would “miss out” on all the things he participated in. It was never a question of education, because he felt lacking in that aspect upon graduation. I’m happy to say that now he doesn’t just understand, but believes homeschooling is right for us.

Facing skepticism can be hard. Especially if it comes from family or friends. When we face inquisitive relatives or pessimistic friends, we have the power to choose how we will react and what we take away from the conversation.

The fact is, there’s a high likelihood you will not change their opinion. Unless you homeschool, keep your home, or raise your family exactly how they feel it should be done, they’re not going to be convinced, and that’s okay. It’s not their family. It’s yours.

When you’re faced with unsolicited opinions or questions:

  1. Don’t allow their opinions to sway yours. If you’re homeschooling, it’s because you spent countless hours pouring into all there is to know about keeping your kids home. Remember your truths, and your “why.”
  2. It’s not your job to educate everyone. It’s your job to teach your children, maybe someone else’s kids at a co-op… possibly a Sunday school class, but it’s not your job to convince someone that will never, not once, take part in your journey.
  3. Remember that God chose you to be their parent. Not uncle Bob or cousin Kate. Not your siblings, mother-in-law, or sister-in-law. You.

Truthfully, there are a hundred more memes and posts on facing adversary than the number of times you will actually face it. I think most are surprised by the support they actually receive. Questioning someones lifestyle is a bold move most will avoid. Obviously, judgment and adversary will exist. Family, friends, and strangers will probably judge what you do, because that’s what humans do. Whether or not you try your hardest to be nonjudgmental. <– Preaching to myself there.

But what’s that saying? “What’s said about you, not to you, isn’t your business.”

Posted in At Home

Feeding Our Family of Seven for less than $800.00 a Month

It took me a while to decide whether or not to post this. Our house is ever evolving. Change isn’t feared or frowned upon. If something doesn’t work, we just let it go. But when something DOES work, (Even if it’s only for a season.) we grab on tights. The one thing that hasn’t changed in a couple years though is the amount we spend monthly on groceries. Even with an increase in income over the past two years, we still try to stick to $800.00 a month or less, using our money in other places in our lives. Like bills, (duh.) fun weekends and vacations. These things mean something to our family and Herman works a lot, so it’s what we choose to do when we have him home.

Sharing this about our family feels… reeeally personal. I get pretty personal here, but this is like, one giant leap forward. I remember a point in our lives, when I would scour Pinterest for cheap meal ideas and would be astonished at the amount their “low cost” trips to the store would bring them to. I don’t feel like what we buy and how we plan our meals will do this to anyone with the number of kids we have, and you may even gawk at how on earth we DO get by.  But, I’m gonna tell ya, because what we feed our family seems to be a popular interest.

feeding my family of 7 for less than $800.png

We spend about $800.00 a month on groceries and household products. I’ve never broken down what our costs look like with just food, but we tap out at $800.00 a month. So, with that $800.00 we buy our food, (Obviously.) paper, cleaning, and hygiene products. It’s just easier for me to wrap my head around it including all those other things. I don’t want to do extra math, or separate transactions so this is just how we do it.

About a month ago I realized we were blowing through our food throughout the week and coming up on grocery day needing to go to the store or the only choice would be eating out or running to the local Dollar General, costing us a lot more money. We don’t have the storage space in our house to shop less often. We don’t even have a real pantry, so I needed to make sure what we were buying each week would last us until grocery day without any real hiccups.

Because we didn’t have a solid plan the kids were just eating whatever, whenever throughout the day using a lot of bread, tortillas, lunch meat, cheese, and eggs. They can all, except Emma, cook simple meals and make cold lunches. I like when they do this, but the way they were doing it just wasn’t working and was costing us a lot of unplanned and expensive trips to Dollar General.

I knew I had to do something, so I created a meal plan, complete with snacks and lunches (before I would just loosely plan our dinners) and after that first week I learned planning for Saturday and Sunday was a necessity or we would end up using things meant for the weekly snacks or lunches.

With this plan we didn’t even reach $800.00 this month, and I’m super happy about that. The meals we eat aren’t organic, on any kind of diet plan, and aren’t exactly the most healthy either. We do have fruits and vegetables regularly, though, and don’t buy any “extras” often, like pre-packaged snack items, sodas, or even juice.

If you click here, or down below, you can download our meal plans for every meal, plus snack, as well as the grocery list that aligns with each week. I hope this can help another family, or give you ideas on how you want to plan your meals.

The lists I’ve included don’t include things we use in the kitchen regularly like spices, oils, and condiments. Also, when I buy things like rice that we use two weeks in a row, I know that one bag will last the two weeks and don’t buy it again the next. Of all the meals above there is only one recipe I can link for you today. All the other recipes are things I’ve made for a long time, and I plan on releasing a post next week with the recipes and how we prepare meals and snacks throughout the week.

Do you follow a meal plan? What does that look like for your family?



Posted in At Home, home education

No Means No: Teaching our children about consent

Have you ever tried to hug someone and they stuck their hand out for you to shake instead? Or, are you the one who offered your hand? Most of the time, as adults, we respect that boundary. But with kids, it’s different. Someone tries to hug a child, the child refuses, and parents will push their child to accept the affection. Sometimes because they’re close to the person, sometimes out of pressure or embarrassment. “Hug your grandma! Give her a kiss!”

Relationships are built over time. As a family member, if you’ve built a strong relationship with a child and they willingly give you hugs and kisses, you’ve earned that! But, if you’re long distance, or your paths don’t cross often, there is no reason to force affection out of, or on to a child.

I’ve been that mom. I’ve told my kids, “give your uncle a hug! He’s your uncle!” Or, “go give everyone a hug goodbye!” I’ve taken my comfortability with family members and pushed it off on them. Just because I would hug someone goodbye doesn’t mean they’re comfortable doing so.

I have one child that is comfortable giving people hugs. The rest of them would prefer to wave, verbally say hello, or shake someone’s hand. Which, I’m totally okay with. I think there’s a line, for sure. It’s definitely rude to walk into someone’s house and ignore them, but I think it’s appropriate for them to verbally greet people or wave hello.

Teaching children that their consent starts in these situations gives them the confidence to know that it extends to other situations as well. I don’t remember ever having intimate discussions with my parents about consent. I do remember a doctor teaching me about which parts were “private parts” and I remember being surprised. I didn’t realize before there were parts of our bodies that we shouldn’t touch on others, or allow others to touch. I don’t think it was intentional or that they didn’t feel it was important to have intimate discussions, it just never happened.

It’s important to go beyond the bounds of your personal comfortability for growth, but consent should never, ever leave the realm of comfortability.  No one should feel uncomfortable being touched or saying no.”

When I was in fourth or fifth grade I had my first real discussion about consent. It was with a friends mother. They lived a few houses down and across the street from me growing up. Some of the boys in the neighborhood had taken to spanking me and popping my bra strap on a regular basis. I was too embarrassed to talk to my parents about it, and worried I’d somehow end up in trouble, so I never did. But, my friend spoke to his mom.

I was terrified when he told me she wanted to talk to me, so I got on my bike and took off down the road. Y’all. This woman got on hers and followed me. When I sat down in a random front yard, she did too. She told me that it was never okay for someone to touch me without consent. I cried because it was the first time I’d ever been told that- even though I knew- and I cried because I honestly thought I was going to get in trouble. She didn’t have to do that, but she did, and she gave me the confidence to speak up.

Learning that you have consent over your own body starts young. It’s not just about teaching children where their “private parts” are, or that people shouldn’t touch them where a bathing suit is worn.

It’s about teaching them that their hands never have to touch someone/something they’re not comfortable with.

It’s about teaching them that someone rubbing their leg or shoulders can be wrong, even if it’s not a “private part”.

It’s about teaching, no matter how difficult, that their mouths too, are their own. It’s about teaching them that hugs and kisses are not a required action when saying hello or goodbye.

It’s about teaching them that it’s okay to say no.

And, it’s about teaching them that when someone else says no, it means no. That it’s just as important to respect others boundaries.

A couple of years ago I created a PDF to help teach your children about consent. You can find it here. Holidays are the perfect time to learn about consent. It’s an opportunity to show our kids that even if the intentions are good, it’s still okay to say no. Not every woman or man touching or hugging a child has bad intentions, but if they feel uncomfortable, it’s okay. It’s important to go beyond the bounds of your personal comfortability for growth, but consent should never, ever leave the realm of comfortability.  No one should feel uncomfortable being touched or saying no.

How do you teach consent in your home?

Posted in At Home

More of Them, More of Me

A few weeks ago, someone asked if I’d be “going back to work” anytime soon and assumed homeschooling wasn’t something we intended to dedicate our lives to. Unschooling, in particular, requires dedication. With the goal of learning by pursuing interests, we have to make every situation an opportunity to learn. Every question is treated seriously. Sure, I’m like any other mom, when we’ve had a rough day, or it’s late I definitely say, ‘let’s figure it out tomorrow,’ or ‘go ahead and look it up’.

Because I is tired, I is Mom, I is normal-ish. 😉

The truth is, sometimes we forget that just because something is the ‘normal’ or a most common way to do things, that it’s not always the right way for one family, person, or situation. What sounds impossible, wrong, or inconceivable to you, doesn’t mean it is any of those things for another.

It’s been a while since I’ve written something of substance for the blog. I’ve just not felt up to it lately. Haven’t felt connected. Recently, I had two different people tell me they enjoyed the words I’ve put together in these post and it gave me just enough of a boost to get back to it. So, I picked up this piece I started last summer. Yes, last summer. I still feel the same way, and it’s on my heart right now.

When doubt creeps into our minds, and into our lives, remembering what it was like to drop my kids off somewhere and leave them for the day, only to pick them up at dinner time, is usually enough to set me back on track.  To remind me of why we do this.

Sometimes when I’m frustrated with my kids, what I need is more of them.

I know this sounds wild, y’all. Don’t get me wrong. The mere idea of more of your kids when you’re frustrated probably makes your face crumble. Who wants more of their kids when they’re feeling overstimulated? But let me explain.

I recently picked up a full-time job. I was away from my house nine-plus hours a day, for five days straight. Someone else was parenting my children. You might be thinking, “woah, that’s a bit extreme,” but it’s true. For twelve “awake” hours in the day (minus the hours’ small children nap.) someone else was coaching my children on how to behave and was solely responsible for their well-being for nine of them. This, is just one of the many reasons school teachers receive such high praise! They’re raising children!

But, it takes a toll on kids’ ability to follow parental expectations. It’s confusing. Leading to them “forgetting” how to behave when with me. We end up in a constant battle of “so-and-so lets me do it when I’m with them” and “but, you’re home now, and you know what is expected of you here.” 

But, do they?

Can they, as small children, remember and hold fast to the rules of one place and then come home and figure out what you’re expecting of them?

I remember when I wrote this. I felt helpless at home. The kids were spending their day at my mother-in-law’s house while I went to work over the summer. She’s a good parent, and an amazing grandma, but what’s acceptable at home, isn’t necessarily important there and vice-versa.

Rules are hard. Especially when you’re young and there are so many other things that you’re trying to remember. Social expectations and rules that apply to certain locations can be difficult to remember as adults, let alone as a child also learning to do simple things like count and tie their shoes.

During this time Ryder was newly four. I remember meltdowns when he’d get home because I wouldn’t allow TV time. I knew he had unlimited access to games and shows at Grandmas so I would require electronics to be off. We had to get up early, so everyone had to come in, eat, shower and go to bed. I realize that this is natural for some families, but for us, it wasn’t.

I was high-strung and frustrated. I hadn’t seen the kids all day, and instead of wanting to spend every second with them I was barking orders and getting ready to do it all over again the following day. It just didn’t work for our family.

As a parent, and one blessed enough to be able to stay home and teach my kids in a self-paced, loving environment, it’s my job to help my kids not only enjoy their childhood but benefit from it. We weren’t enjoying much during this time.

I needed more of them and they needed more of me. I needed them back into our routine. They needed their normal, and it was up to me to provide that for them again.

Most sources say that kids are able to comprehend rules fully between the ages of five and twelve. Maturity and personality play a big part in that age gap, as well as the intricacy of said rule. When kids are small, we tell them “no” repeatedly and they pick up that touching/tasting something makes adults scowl, so they stop. They don’t understand why, but humans are naturally inclined to please.

I learned that summer, that because I have the ability to stay home with the kids, I could teach them not just to follow blindly, but to understand that there are rules everywhere you go, and no one will ever have the same rules. We learned that structure and routine looks different in every home, and that unschooling and spending time together as a family is what works best for us.

We’re aware that what we do, and how we do it isn’t normal. We are aware that our life isn’t for everyone. We learned that summer that while that extra income was nice, it wasn’t worth the time away from home for me.

We don’t live in a bubble. If my husband lost his job tomorrow and couldn’t get another, I’d get a job. I don’t think our kids would go back to school even then because it’s not part of our plan, but we do well enough to not have that worry right now. We live simply, use all of our resources wisely, and don’t buy new, but we love the people in our life more than things and choose to live this way by choice.

Remembering that summer is always enough to keep me on track.

Are there things in your house that work well for your family that might seem odd or wrong to others?Copy of Remembering why we choose this life (1).png