Before I get started on this one let me just reiterate that although I really do give it my best shot, I’m not the greatest home manager. I can’t keep up. A couple weeks ago I forgot to go to the wedding reception of the oldest son of one of my favorite families…maybe it was because my head was still spinning from having our fridge, dishwasher and A/C all go out that same week and I was grasping at straws to get the repair-people there quick enough. I could use some home management skills myself because stuff like that throws me for a loop.

My best home management ideas are back in this post.

But here goes what I’ve got on the specific questions lately:

You mentioned all the swimming your kids do, so do we. Where/what do you do with all the towels & suits in between swims?? [My kids] leave theirs all over the place and their suits end up wherever. Hope you have ideas to help on this.

We have a very scientific method of dealing with wet towels around here. It’s called “leave-your-wet-towel-scrunched-up-in-a-ball-wherever-you-feel-like-dropping-it.” Then have your mother come get stomping-mad about it and remind you for the hundredth time that that is her very biggest pet peeve. Can you tell we have your same problem over here? The goal is to hang up towels over the fence until dry, then roll them up and put them in this metal bucket thing we have for the next person who needs them. The plan is for swimsuits to get hung on the doorknobs in the bathroom until they are dry and then put away. But obviously that is not happening. Always something to work on.

Do you make your kids keep their rooms clean? How do you enforce it when they are 4-6 years old? When my kids were toddlers, we cleaned their room together and they did great. Now they are 4.5 and 6, and getting them to clean up is a HUGE battle every day. It wears me out!!

Yes, Dave and I definitely enforce clean rooms. (That does not mean, however that on any given day you could come over and find them spotless. It’s just that we put a big emphasis on it.) It sounds like you’re on the right track with starting out cleaning the room together. I’m a huge believer in working with kids and showing them exactly what needs to be done to have a clean room (including dusting off the dresser, nightstand, organizing drawers, nothing under beds, etc.) Our rule is that they have to have their rooms clean and beds made before they leave for school every day. I think we magically lucked out that we connected the natural consequence of “no hanging out with friends” after school if they neglect these duties. The thought of not being able to hang with friends happens to scare the pants off my kids when they are in elementary school because they know from experience that we’ll really follow through, and they happen to adore their friends. Once they get older it seems like it just becomes a habit.

On Saturdays part of their outlined “Saturday Jobs” (the job charts are in this post) entail the detail bedroom work (cleaning out under beds and in drawers, etc.) so I think they just realize they may as well keep up with it during the week or their Saturday is shot.

There have been stages when they were smart enough to realize they wouldn’t have time for friends after school anyway and they’ve left their beds unmade but those phases haven’t lasted long because I guess it’s not worth all the nagging they get if they don’t.

You’re right, it’s tough when they are around 4-6 because it takes some training and time to teach and it is SO much easier to do it yourself. Lucy doesn’t generally jump to the task when I ask her to clean something up…she needs quite a bit of supervision and bribing at this point. But we totally expect her to pitch in and gradually she’s getting the fact that those expectations aren’t going anywhere. It’s nice to have older kids to help her too and set good examples.

It takes some training (and blood and sweat sometimes too) but it makes me happy to go past their bedrooms and have them all straight and in order (most of the time).

How do you find time to prioritize prayer and scripture study around everything else that’s going on in your home?

I’ve been really, really working on my Personal Progress goals lately and there’s a section on striving to do personal prayer and scriptures every day diligently for three weeks. I thought I kinda did that, but once I started tracking I realized I wasn’t actually so hot at it. Sure, we have family scriptures and prayer each morning, but I was letting my personal prayer and reading slip a little. So I carved out time every morning before the kids woke up to squeeze those in. Just fifteen extra minutes. But those fifteen minutes made the rest of the day go so much better. Throughout my life I have to keep learning over and over and over again that those two things make the difference in so much of the rest of life. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I know if I start my day of with scripture and prayer everything seems more calm and organized.

Ok, please expand on the friends Q&A and the 6 pm rule {from this post} – is that always? Because it seems like you have posts and pics that must take place after that time and seem to involve friends. I’m a bit in awe of this because we struggle quite a bit here with the friend thing…Please expand on the 6 pm rule!!

The 6:00 rule is our guideline. As a general rule, kids go home by six unless a friend happens to be staying for dinner. We’re good with that every once-in-a-while. The kids’ dinner-guests join in for our reports on “happies and sads” for the day and we encourage them to have a “lot or a little” of everything on the menu (this is our rule on trying new things) which may or may not scare them off the next time :). If our kids aren’t home by 6:00 from friend’s houses they have to do the dishes as well as an extra job which whips them into shape most of the time. BUT we realize we do have to have some flexibility here and there, and we go through times where we slack off a little. I really, really try to have dinner ready and on the table at 6:00 but I cannot say that it always happens. Elle has tennis on Tues and Thurs from 5-7 and we have piano lessons on Tuesday afternoons and gymnastics throws us for a loop as well. Plus, when I don’t plan out the meals well we get off schedule. But with all the homework and reading and practicing that needs to be done as our kids grow older we feel like we really need to protect our family time. 6:00 is what we aim for and we do our best.

I’d love to know what a “day in the life” looks like… generally speaking of course! What are you aiming for? It sounds like you exercise in the morning? How does that work?

We are still trying to finalize our daily routine but as of right now this is how our mornings go:

6:00 — Max and Elle are up

6:15 — Elle practices

6:35 — family scriptures

6:45 — breakfast

6:55 — Max leaves to catch the bus

7:00 — breakfast clean-up, watch hair-do tutorials on the internet :), sign school schedules, pack lunches, backpacks, etc.

7:30 — Elle leaves, the younger girls get dressed, make beds, etc.

8:00 — Grace and Claire leave, Lu gets dressed, we read, run errands, etc.

Still trying to get used to the afternoon preschool thing for Lucy…still more tweaking needed.

As far as exercise goes, last year I did exercise almost every morning at 6:00 because we had more time…Max didn’t have to leave ’til 7:30 and so our whole routine was shifted later. This year I’m still trying to get my groove on with my P90X and Insanity switch-off. So far I have tried doing it at 5:30 and also doing it while the girls are doing their after-breakfast jobs. I kinda like that because I can direct/talk to them while I’m working out but it makes for some pauses to help find a lunch box or sign a note for school.

After school is still tbd because we are still trying to sort out what we are ok with the kids being involved in this year. I’m trying to hold off on things as much as I can and trying to find a good balance.

How much time (roughly) do you spend on blogging each day? You blog so often and your blog posts are so well thought out, full of pics (which of course need editing, compressing, etc) and often carry important messages, yet we all know you’ve got kids and obligations like the rest of us.

I always wonder this same thing of other bloggers who seem to post regularly. My own answer to this question over the summer was “way too much!” In general am a big fan of the “scheduling” option in blogger…I can write a bunch of posts and schedule them to post whenever I want if I know I’m not going to have enough time one week, etc. But summer stuff throws me for a loop because first of all I take way too many pictures, and second, I have so much I’m dying to record before school takes over (which it already has, and I have like 823 more pictures I haven’t even looked at from summer). Although it would be nice to say I’m doing this for blog readers, I’m really doing it because I’m a journal-keeper by nature. I feel compelled to record life before it slips away from my memory.

During the summer I want to be with my kids and family eeking out all the time I can with them during the day and then I want to be with Dave when he gets home, or with my family at Bear Lake, blah blah blah so this summer I generally ended up editing pictures and pre-scheduling posts in the wee hours of the morning. I realized that needs to come to a halt when I got feisty with a poor lady at the art museum the other day. I need more sleep.

I have so many thoughts and theories continually running through my brain that I wish I could just stop and write down, and there are so many thought-provoking questions from readers that have made me really contemplate how Dave and I parent. But there are also continual needs of a big family looming in front of me and I always have to make sure they are coming first. My big goal for the year is to be “present” with my family and friends so I’m always trying to find a good balance between “being there” and recording just how “being there” came off…and actually sleeping every once in a while 🙂

The short version of this answer (which I should have posted first) is that I spend a very varying amounts of time blogging each day. I have a bazillion “drafts” from random thoughts/pictures and if I don’t have much time I just finish one of them and schedule it to post the next day. Some days (now that school is in session) I have more time and I’ll go through a few batches of pictures and get them ready to post. I just take it as I can do it and go from there.

And I rarely blog over the weekend. That time is sacred family/Dave time.

Have a great one!

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  1. I can't believe I'm the first commenter here, that NEVER happens. Actually kinda nervous now…ummm…

    This was a great post and you answered my question first about the towels/swimsuits, lol. What I finally did was any towels and suits caught laying around meant you didn't get to swim that day or if it was already late then the first swim of the next day you had to miss. Well my kids instantly started hanging their things out to dry and putting them away!!

    I do have a question about the 6:00 rule, how do you always have so many friends over often and at that time. We always have soccer here and my jr. high kids don't even get home till 4:15 some days and by the time we catch up and start homework and make dinner and clean up dinner it's 6:00 already??

    I can't believe how early Elle gets up either if she doesn't leave for over hour later. We usually wake up the kids with about 20 to 40 mts time to wake up and get ready. That's great you squeeze in so much in the mornings, that's nice.

    Thanks for sharing all these answers, it's always fun to read them.

  2. Dawn, we live in a neighborhood crawling with kids which means we generally have kids coming and going pretty regularly. There are some random days when all the kids just stay home and no one shows up at the front door, but most days we have a gaggle of neighbors. We are SO grateful for that…our kids have such great neighborhood friends. BUT we just have to be careful about carving out our own family time amidst all the fun;)

  3. Each kid here has two big pool/beach towels; we all know which one belongs to whom. So if we find a wet towel, that child gets called over to hang it up. We have a 16 wooden pegs in the pool shed and 12 pegs for hanging on the fence–I nag and we hang towels ALL. DAY. LONG.

    We do the same thing in the house with bath towels, except each child only has one each. (I bought the same nice fluffy big ones in different colours.) They get washed regularly and put right into their own laundry baskets (also colour coded) on a rack in the laundry room, which they need to put away when I'm done a few loads once a week.

    Reading this over I think I sound a little militant, but really, the individual colours have really helped keep things more organized around here. (Towels and baskets.)

    We are hoping to all eat together at 6:45 am this year–I just don't know if I'm going to like getting up so early every day (oldest going to high school which is Gr. 9 here. )Do you find you have to go to bed earlier than you like because of the early mornings? We like to be up until 11:30/12 pm, but I'm not sure that'll keep happening now.

  4. Brilliant ideas on the towel & swimming costume ideas:)

    Just a couple of suggestions: If they're not picked up & put away how about bringing Gunny Bag out or making them buy their own towels & swimming stuff?

    By the way, I wish their was a like button for people's ideas that I could click on like on facebook!

  5. My kids are finally approaching the age where they can handle their chores without too much nagging, but it did take a long time to get there. I think when kids are little, you just have to stick with it, even though it feels like they'll never get it. Then eventually, they do, and you think, "Hey, this isn't so bad!"

    My kids do really well when we write family goals down, so they can see them and be apart of their creation. For example, right now we're working on reading the entire Book of Mormon together as a family. We made a chart and stuck it on the fridge, listing what chapters we needed to read on what day. If we miss a day, holy cow, do the kids make us accountable! They feel really bad if we get behind on our chart, and they make sure we catch up. It helps when we are all working together to accomplish something, rather than feeling like it's a priority for the parents, but the kids don't really care.

  6. Hi Shawni,
    I was wondering if Lucy did or does joy school ?
    P.S: Loving all the advice! Thank you so much for all of it, you truly deserve your young mother of the year award !

  7. Today was such a great day to read your answer to my room-cleaning question, because we fought about it and it made me feel crummy. Our rule is that they have to have their room cleaned before bed and then their bed made in the morning before they leave for school (they are too busy getting ready for school to get it messy before then – thank goodness!) I feel bad a lot of times, because I think they should be able to clean by themselves, but it's pretty obvious they need lots of help and motivation still (though sometimes I catch them in the right mood or find the perfect motivator and they are ON IT!) Right now I'm 30 weeks pregnant and having a lot of pelvic pain issues, so I really can't bend down at all – that's making it even harder to help them. I SO SO SOOOOO wish they could figure out if they pick up after themselves as they play, they won't have such a nightmare task later, but they just do not seem to get that AT ALL, no matter how many times I remind them!

  8. PS

    I LOVE all the suggestions and ideas in the comments of this thread – I'm going to keep coming back to read more!

    We DO eat dinner together at 6pm every single night pretty much with no exceptions. But that's easy now, I can already see now that my oldest is in 1st grade – it's going to get harder. That makes me really sad, and I hate the thought of activities and other people interfering with that sacred time at our house.

  9. Hey! I have a question for you my daughter wanted answered! She was wondering: Where does Elle get all her cute clothes? Where does she usually do her clothes shopping? We're going school clothes shopping this week and want some ideas for good stores! Thanks!

  10. If the towels don't get hung up in their assigned places, I toss them on the kid's beds. At bedtime there is some weeping and wailing, but they remember to hang up their towels for quite awhile after that. (Not just swimming towels, but bath towels too.)

  11. Hi Shawni,

    I really enjoy reading your blog! I live in NYC and have gotten to know a couple of your brothers and their families. I've really grown to love the Eyre family!

    With that said, this may not be the place for my question, but I am wondering what a good camera is for a first time photographer for higher quality pictures. Your photography is wonderful, and I love that your older kids enjoy taking pictures too. Do they have their own cameras, and if so what kind? On the topic of photography, what programs do you use to edit your photos?

    Thanks so much! With our first baby on the way, I want to be able to capture every moment and add the photo element to our own blog/ family records.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas on Q&A Fridays and always!!

  12. I hung some hooks on the outside of our house RIGHT next to the back door so you can't help but see them when you come inside. That has really helped our kids remember to hang up their wet towels ~ and as a bonus, then they are right there for when they need them next time! 🙂

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