It’s our last post!! Friend, this is it! We are officially finished with the “How we do it” series, by yours truly and the amazing Emily Thomas. I hope you have enjoyed learning all about the rhythms and routines that make our lives go ’round. If you missed any of the posts, I highly encourage you to bookmark this page and come back to it. I, for one, learned SO much from reading Emily’s systems, organization habits, and routines that I will be coming back for years to come!

A recap of How We Do It:

Time: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Finances: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Home: Emily’s post and Nancy’s post
Personal Life: Em’s post and Nancy’s post
Work:: Em’s post and Nancy’s Post
Relationships: Emily’s post and Nancy’s post
Spiritual Lives: Read Em’s post on Spiritual Life
Today: Read Em’s post about Kids!

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Today is all about our KIDS! I am fairly new at being a mama (I’m only 2.5 years in), but one thing I have learned in this journey: this area of your life can get super overwhelming super fast if you don’t stay on top of things.

There are a million different ways I could approach this post, and I’m very curious to see how Emily does it! I’ve decided on sharing six categories and how I approach each one!

Parenting
Work
Time
Clothes
Memories (Baby Books, Photos, Artwork, etc)
Toys

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PARENTING
There are countless resources on parenting, but I just wanted to leave you with one resources that has really helped me and Will this year. Positive Parenting Solutions is an online course that has brought order to my brain as a mama, structure to our discipline, and calm to our bedtime routines. In a nutshell, I have really felt like it has organized my approach to parenting, which is why I had to include it here. Two of the biggest benefits of this course? It got Lyndon sleeping through the night after a really rough spell, and it has made mealtimes much more peaceful with a picky toddler. Talk about organizing your parenting!! Amy McCready has a wonderful way of teaching, and she also makes herself available to answer your questions every week. I promise this isn’t an ad – I really have enjoyed this course and it’s helped us in such practical ways. If nothing else, just watch her free webinars or get on her newsletter if you can. She really sends such valuable stuff! (Fun fact: I actually participated in the filming of it, so if you decide to purchase it, you will see me inside of it!)

WORK
One thing that Em said in her Organization in Work post was that she really appreciates having regular childcare as a working mama. I couldn’t help but chime in here and simply say that I agree. Here’s how I organize my working mama life: I work 3 days a week (T, W and Th) from 8 – 5. Mondays I’ll work a bit while Milly’s in preschool and while the girls are napping, but only if I want to. I’ve found this routine really fulfilling for me as a mama and a business owner. The majority of my week with family, and 3 days working. (With Milly and Lyndon visits, too!) I might even scale it back to 2 days a week in the future when hopefully more kiddos join our family – time will tell! But having our wonderful nanny Michelle keep the girls those 3 days keeps me focused and able to do both jobs well.

TIME
There are two specific things that have helped me tremendously “time and kids” category:
1. Schedule “mind body soul time” every day with each kid. This is something that I learned in the Positive Parenting Course I mentioned above : 10 minutes a day, undistracted, connected time with each kid. I call it “Mama Milly Time” and “Mama Lyndon Time.” When you give your kids the positive attention they crave, they feel connected and more and act out less. This has been so true for us. Not to mention, it makes me feel incredibly fulfilled as a mama. Even if it was a crazy day, I gave my girls the undivided attention they deserved, even if just for 20 minutes!

2. Allow for more time to do regular household chores so you can invite your kids in. My sister told me this when I didn’t know what to do with Milly all day. “Just invite her in. Let her sit on the bed with you and watch you as you fold laundry.” I try to do that as much as I can. Now sometimes, let’s be real – the TV goes on so I get get some things done quickly and efficiently. But as often as I can, I ask “my little helper girl” to help me – and she LOVES it.

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CLOTHES
I called my sister in absolute tears. “You have FIVE kids. How in the world did you keep their clothes organized? I’m so overwhelmed! As soon as I clean out her clothes, it’s time to do it again! This first year of her life is crazy! Why didn’t I remember this with Milly?”

Kids grow freakishly fast. Clothes organization is KEY. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shoved Milly’s little piggy toes into jammies that were too small because I couldn’t find the right ones, and I still had plenty of too-small-clothes in her drawers. (Also, I shove my kids piggies into my all time favorites because let’s be real – I want them to last as long as they possibly can!)

That conversation happened about a month ago. I was a mess. So, I’m calling on some wisdom here. My sister, mama of 5, has the system down to an art. I am STILL learning it. But here is her answer to my cry-fest of 2017, and it has saved my butt!

Pretend like this is your big sister with 5 kids texting you. Thanks Sissy!

1) Buy 2 sturdy Rubbermaid containers. One for Lyndon and one for Milly. Each year you buy the same type. So they stack nicely. Once you know you are done having kids, you don’t have to buy a rubber maid for the youngest child! Just pass those clothes along!

2) Label each container on outside with whatever size girls are growing out of: i.e. Girls clothes size 2T FALL/WINTER OR SPRING/SUMMER You may want to use 1 Rubbermaid for “SUMMER baby girl clothes”-1 year and divide it out NB/ 0-3/3-6/6-9/9-12 with in one container bc those clothes are so tiny!

3) Sort the clothes. Depending on how much energy you have… make a ‘capsule’ wardrobe for them. For example I do
3 dresses for Church
7 shirts
3 pants
3 leggings
10 Undies (esp for potty training years)
7 Socks
1 big coat*
1 light jacket*
Mittens/ hats*
2-3 Bathing suits*
Shoes (1 pair tennis shoes/ 1 pair boot* or Sandals* / 1 pair Sunday shoes- if boots or sandals can’t work)
*seasonal

This is all that goes into the box with a list on top. Then I am not packing away crazy excess. I choose my favorite things for them to wear and it is so exciting to open that box again!!

When I don’t have the energy to do this, I just throw same size all in to a box and sort the next time I need to pull it out.

4) Put excess clothes and borrowed clothes into separate bags. Give away/ return to friend or donate.

5) Other tips:
-keep an old empty diaper box in top of closet and throw clothes that they grow out of in that. Or clothes that frustrate you/ you don’t like.
-label clothes from friends right away that you have to return. I usually put their initials in the tag.
– if you get clothes ahead of season (ie: next fall- get another Rubbermaid that just says “next season.” Toss those clothes in there so they don’t clutter up drawers and closets)

6) Put Rubbermaid bin away. Fold all other clothes and put away in drawers and closets!

Wasn’t that the best??

I also LOVE Valerie’s approach to keeping her kids wardrobe SIMPLE. This is key, friends. I’ve gotten really good at giving away kids clothes I simply don’t like or that Milly doesn’t like. It eliminates lots of stress!

MEMORIES
I want to keep my babies memories simple and intentional. I organize my kids memories in 3 places:

1. Baby Books – 1 for each kid (I love the Emily Ley Baby Book best)
2. Family Yearbooks – We make 1 each year. I figured at the end of our lives all our kids can just divide these up! Take a look at how I organize all of our digital photos here.
3. Memory Boxes – I am committed to keeping 1 big tupperware box (nothing fancy) of schoolwork / artwork / memories for each child. That’s it. I’m sure it’s easy for me to say now when my kids are still so little, but I truly don’t want to keep clothes and papers that are so overwhelming they take over my attic. I really want to keep life simple and only keep the most important memories confined to the space of a tupperware box!

The idea with these memories is that I’ll hang onto all of them for my own enjoyment my whole life, but when I pass on to heaven it’ll be an easy way to give things to the kids. Each kid gets 1 baby book, 1 tupperware box of memories, and 5-10 family yearbooks. Meaningful, but not overwhelming!

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/rayfamily2017
(favorite picture by the amazing Gina Zeidler. Do you notice the pee on my leg? It was potty training weekend!)

TOYS
Before I ever got pregnant, I feared toys the most. Light up, loud toys are my nemesis. Okay they don’t bother me quite as badly as they used to, but I certainly prefer a child’s imagination over a flashy toy.

Now, my biggest philosophy is simply that kids don’t need a ton of toys. I actually believe they focus on and play with fewer toys better, because they can actually see the toy they have!

All of Milly and Lyndon’s toys fit in 2 cabinets in our living room hutch. When it starts to get over crowded (namely at birthdays and Christmas), it’s clean out time. I will store toys that Milly has grown out of in the attic, and I will clear out toys she’s just not interested in and give them away. We also send out a suggested birthday and Christmas list of toys, and we aim to keep them educational, simple, and without the flashy lights and noises!

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Lastly, I’m reading a book with the Nancy Ray Book Club right now that is incredible. It’s called “The Tech Wise Family.” In the day and age we live in, “Technology” could also have been it’s own category on this post. Since I’m not quite there yet, I wanted to leave you with the recommendation to read Tech Wise Family and determine how to organize technology in your home.

Well that’s it, friends! The How we do it series is officially a wrap. I would love to hear 2 things specifically in the comments, if you are brave enough to answer:

1. Which post did you find most interesting?
2. If you could ask me to write about something else on my blog, what would it be?

From the bottom of our hearts, thanks for following along!

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