Well, I hope everyone had a good Christmas holiday with their families. I had a really full week last week. It was quite busy, I hardly even had time to check my email, much less blog about all the stuff I wanted to blog about. I never got to put my pics up for my tackle, I didn’t get to put my nativity pic up on Christmas Day, I didn’t get to write about what Christmas means to me or anything clever. Oh well. It’s just a blog, right? 😉

One of the many good things that came out of my experiences in the Organizational Challenge is that I decided to get the rest of my problem areas in the house under control before the new year. In the middle of trying to do all the stuff I wanted to do for Christmas, I have been working on my house this whole time, too. It’s not THAT big of a task, but trying to get things done AND stay on top of the house work has taken a lot of time. Not to mention that I got behind on housework while I was finishing the challenge – especially laundry- so I had some recovery work to do, too. It took some time, but I am caught up on all the daily housework (minus the damage done by Christmas Day, but we’re finishing the rest of the clean-up today.)

Now, there is only one week left in 2006 and I have a few problem areas left on my list: 1.) my closet, 2.) the bookcase in my living room, 3.) the pantry, and 4.) the rest of my bathroom. I also want to get my desk and filing cabinet in order and my photos and photo albums, but I am not expecting to get those done until after the new year. We shall see.

I’m looking forward to having everything in order. 2007 is going to be a fresh start for me and my family. I am resolving to live clutter free. I am determined to stick to it, too. The kids still aren’t crazy about cleaning, but I am finding ways to get them to help and to make it easier for them to help me.

First, I am eliminating the amount of stuff they have to help keep clean. I did some of this while working on the challenge, but some of it didn’t get weeded out enough at that time. For example, the baby dolls and doll stuff all fit in it’s allotted toy box, so I didn’t weed them out at that time. Now, I want to go through them with the kids and decrease the number of dolls we have by a few and the amount of doll stuff we have by a lot.

Second, I am containerizing as much as possible. If some of the toys in the toybox are kept in containers (like the barbie stuff or all the little people animals for the playsets), it will make it easier for them to dig through the toybox and find what they want, pull out all the toys in the set at once, and keep them all together. When they are done playing with them, they have a box to go back into and that alone helps with cleanup time.

Third, I am reminding them to put the first toys away when they are done with them, before they pull out the next thing. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I don’t remind them before they’ve already pulled out more toys. Sometimes, they don’t get all the things put away. But sometimes it does work, and whatever does go back into the toybox is something that doesn’t have to be picked up later. Just putting things away (even if only partially) is reinforcement for developing good habits. Eventually, they will get it.

Fourth, I am looking for creative ways to encourage them when it is time to pick up the entire floor. For example, “let’s see if you can get your floor picked up before I can get my dishwasher loaded,” or “let’s get everything on our lists done and we’ll sit down and play a game or invite a friend over,” or “let’s pretend we’re on a boat and there’s water splashing in and we gotta get all the toys off the floor so they don’t get wet!” 🙂 Whatever it takes.

So far, we’ve been doing pretty good about keeping things cleaned up. Things do get messy – hey, we have three kids – but they get cleaned up pretty quick, and that’s a good thing. The kids got a pretty good amount of stuff for Christmas (not from me– from all the grandmas!) and we put almost everything away on Christmas evening. That was a first, really. I’m trusting God to keep stretching me and growing me as I learn which habits are the best and learn how to stay on top of things. My desire through all this is to be the best steward of my home and belongings as I can be, and to teach my children to be good stewards as well. For one thing, I believe God expects us to take care of the things he gives us. It shows others what is in our hearts. Secondly, we are not rich, and I believe that one of the ways we are called to make the most of our budget is by taking care of what we have to make it last as long as possible before needing to be replaced. Thirdly, taking care of our home and keeping it clean and orderly is an act of love towards each other.

I look forward to 2007, though I am always sad at the change of the year. Don’t ask why, I guess I am just sentimental. But this year, I look forward to the change with anticipation. 2007 – a new year – a CLEAN year. I hope and pray God gives me what I need to accomplish that.

Philippians 4: 12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!