The Bathroom Closet Makeover (for only $7!)

Bathroom Closet MakeoverWhen you move into a new house for the first time, it can be overwhelming. Mainly, because EVERYTHING needs to be organized at once.

To keep from becoming overwhelmed, I narrowed things down to one project at a time. I divided my home into twelve parts, and assigned a part of my home to each month of the year. The idea is to get everything {kinda} organized by the end of the year. More on that method HERE.

I am working with a limited budget (and working around and over and under three, under-age-5 hooligans) so progress is slow, but as long as there’s progress, I’m happy. When the disorganization in by bedroom closet starts to annoy me, I can comfort myself by reminding myself that that’s NOVEMBER’s job. I’ll get there. Slowly, but surely.

For the month of September, I’ve assigned myself the bathrooms. Why? Because that’s where my disorganization has recently been driving me crazy. Have you ever tried to fish around in an extremely disorganized medicine cabinet at two in the morning, while holding a crying, feverish toddler? It’s not fun.

That’s why my bathroom closet, but my medicine shelf in particular, was a top priority. I love how deep and spacious this closet is, but it’s very easy to lose things in the back.

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The towels on the top shelf were always spilling over. Because I’m short, it’s difficult to pile them nicely once they get higher. We also have about two favorite towels that we use over and over, so most of them were just hogging space.

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First things, first. I emptied everything. And, um… Don’t let your baby help organize medicines. It’s not safe and they stink at categorizing. Pretty much, not a great idea. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

IMG_8395Then, with $7 worth of Dollar Tree baskets, I sorted everything by category. In my family, we do a mix of pharmaceuticals and more natural methods, so I found it more to-the-point to sort by problem than by brand/type. Next time my kid has a fever, I’ll know exactly which basket to pull out and have all my options right in front of me.

IMG_8402For some categories, I added these little nesting baskets (also found at Dollar Tree), to help me separate things better. I separated my Infant treatments from my Child ones, our prescription meds from regular OTC ones, and used them to sort our little measuring cups, spoons, and thermometers, like so…

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Of course, what use is it to sort stuff into categories if OTHER people (ehem, husband…) can’t read your mind later? Great excuse for making labels, I say!

To make some classy labels on the cheap, I printed off my categories in a fun font and taped them to some pretty paper.

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Then I covered them with contact paper (the cheap way to laminate) to make them water proof. IMG_8409

Then I attached them to the baskets with some velcro tabs so they’re fully removable (or swappable) later on.

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Seven dollars and about an hour later, my shelf looked like this.

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And the towels like this…IMG_8419I downsized to only a few towels (about what we use each week in this bathroom anyway), and stashed the rarely used ones on that difficult-to-reach, super-high shelf. That way, they’re not clogging up our frequently-used space, but we can still get them down if we have guests or (god-forbid) the stomach flu strikes and we need a gazillion more.

Someday (maybe on next year’s circuit), I’ll slap a bright paint color on my closet walls, so it’ll be truly pinterest-worthy. It’d be an extra $12, I priced it! Not terrible, but we’re counting pennies this year and I want to use those $12 elsewhere. For now, I’m content with my $7 baskets.

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One last thing I did was attach a dosing-reference sheet on the back of the door. Children’s Tylenol is my family’s go-to thing for teething, fevers, pain, etc. (Don’t yell at me, natural-treatment peoples! It works for us!)

Anyhow, my kids are always changing their weights (probably because I keep feeding them), so dosing instructions aren’t something I feel confident memorizing.

IMG_8424I put it in a page protector and attached it with another one of those fancy-velcro-tabs. The thing I love most about page protectors is that you can use dry erase markers to write WHATEVER YOU WANT to on them (like dosing times) and wipe it off later. Love.

IMG_8426Now that I can find things when I need them, I consider this organization project a success. Here’s me taking control of my home, one closet at a time!

It’s Been A While… And I’m Baaaack!

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As you may have noticed, I’ve taken quite the vacation from my blog. About 8 months-worth, actually. A lot has happened in those eight months. Enough to keep me busy, busy, busy (in a good way) with all sorts of life changes. However, I have sorely missed you, my readers, and all that encouraging interaction. I’m hoping to return now. If not with a vengeance, at least with some sort of more predictable visitation.

So what has happened lately? Quite a bit.

We moved into a serious fixer-upper (moldy floors, neon-colored carpet, you name it), but you’d never know from looking at it now. It’s not the most organized thing in the world yet, but it’s clean and smells nice now and (dare I say it?) is starting to look a bit classy. Now that we’ve reinstalled about everything (new floors, painted every wall, tore down rotting walls and door frames, installed new, unstained countertops, whew!), I think I can return to what I really love to do… ORGANIZE it! Cleaning and organizing really are different categories in my head. One, I put up with because I like the results, but the other I really enjoy. I’m very much looking forward to this next home stage, as well as sharing lots of pictures of our progress!

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BEFORE

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AFTER

 

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BEFORE

 

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AFTER

Also in the last year, we’ve adjusted to life as parents of THREE boys instead of two. Becket’s arrival on Christmas day (a few weeks before our move) did nothing to encourage dutiful blogging. (But he sure is cute!) And apparently he’s eight months old already.

When you sit down to do the math, it calculates out, however I still can’t figure out how that really did happen…

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Um, also, and I’ll just leave this here… I got the opportunity to run off to England and Scotland for a few weeks.

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The upside? I didn’t have to pay for our plane tickets. The downside? My husband had to stay behind due to work. So… Maybe I was a little bit crazy, but how could I turn down paid-tickets to Europe?

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Back in my regular, ol’ American house, by the end of this year, I should have a 5 year old (Gabriel), 3 year old (Matthias), and a 1 year old (Becket) in our home. Isn’t that crazy? And with my oldest turning five, we have another exciting undertaking on the horizon. Age 5 kinda means Kindergarten! Whoop, whoop!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before on the blog or not, but both my husband and I were homeschooled growing up and LOVED it. We hope to homeschool our children as well. Up until now, I’ve dabbled in some preschool fun (as much as my short-attention spanned toddlers seemed interested), but Age 5 is when I’m determined to get more structured. I’m talking lesson planning, beginning math, early reading… Let’s start this party! I’ve been looking forward to this since before he was conceived.

I should be posting the occasional Kindergarten and Preschool (since I’m going to start a relaxed version with Matthias this year) organizational post too.

So… Home organization, Preschool/Kindergarten-ish things, and whatever else happens along the way. I’m happy to be back. I really have missed you guys.

What have YOU been up to lately?

To the Mom of Littles Who Wants to Blog…

Hi Kelsey,
I also have 3 littles ages 4 (almost 5), 2 (almost 3), and a 1 year old on the 28th of this month… Since my SAH journey began with the birth of my second child, I’ve dabbled in a few different “work” activities to bring in a little bit of extra money for my family, including starting a Baby Boot Camp franchise.  I really loved doing that with two kids, but it’s impossible since the third is here.  Anyways, I have thought many times about starting a blog, but I really don’t know where to begin, or even if that’s something I should do.  What have you found about blogging?  I saw where you have recently decided to take a step back from blogging all the time.  What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about it?  Do you use your blog to make money (through affiliate programs, etc.)?  Do you feel like it requires too much time, or takes time away from your job as a wife, mother, homemaker?
Thank you for taking the time to reply!
Blessings,
Lesleigh R.
Hi, Lesleigh!
I really started answering your questions through my email account, but I’m entirely too talkative and realized my response was remarkably ‘blog post length’. Besides, it’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question. I might as well get it out here for all to see!
What would I recommend to the Mom of Littles who wants to blog? Is it worth your time? Is it lucrative? Is it even possible?
I have many thoughts on it, but I’ll have to make it brief. You see, I have a baby that’s miraculously sleeping in his crib ALL BY HIMSELF, which means, I have both hands to type. *hallelujah chorus* However, I’m not sure how long that’s going to last. So, lemme get my words out here.
Blogging. It’s fun. It takes time. It’s a stress-reliever. It can be a lot of fun. It can be a major headache. It can give you guilt where it shouldn’t. A thankful comment from someone you don’t even know on the other side of the world can make your week.
Would I recommend starting a blog? Sure! If you enjoy writing, why wouldn’t you? The best thing about blogging is that it’s a relatively low-expense hobby. There are so many free blog hosting websites, that you can try your hand at it and ditch it later on if you get bored and you’ve cost your family very little. Except for time. Writing does take time. For me, I find writing therapeutic. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I get to read my own thoughts out-loud in a more linear, organized fashion. Even if no one reads what I write, it’s good for me. It helps me think through what I really believe, want, or think.
But watch that time factor… For me, I’m a MOM first and a blogger second. Blogging can be addicting. Anything delicious and wonderful can be addicting, for that matter. One donut is good for your mental health. Twenty donuts might send you into a sugar coma. Just like donut-eating, keep blogging in moderation. Figure out the niche of your day that doesn’t cost your family mental/emotional trauma and claim it guilt-free. However, if you’re habitually putting blogging above your family’s needs, be willing to cut ties. Nothing’s that important.
Don’t expect it to be lucrative. Instead, desire to be helpful. People will flock to you if you’re helpful. People that are being helped regularly give you blog traffic which can give you income if you’ve set up your blog that way. I ran a free version of Organizing Life With Littles until I had several thousand views daily. Then I realized, much to my surprise, that I might actually be able to make some spending cash. If I were willing to put an 8-hour work day into my blog, I’m sure I could make it into a full time job that pays accordingly. However, I’m not. Your financial gains will reflect the time you put into it. A little time = possibly a little cash. A lot of time = probably a lot more cash. However, only if you’re helpful.
Diary blogs don’t make money. Helpful blogs do. Busy people don’t have time to follow the life of someone they don’t know just because. If my blog was titled ‘Kelsey’s Musings’ I’d probably have a lot fewer followers. Instead, I’m here to help encourage and organize you (to the best of my ability). Hence the ‘let me help you’ blog title. So figure out what you’re good at and advertise it. Good at crafting? Cooking? Teaching kids? Making learning fun? Staying in shape? Saving money? Emphasize THAT and you’ll catch people.
Advertise that in your blog title. For example, one of my closest Mommy friends recently changed her blog title from Little House in the Hills to the catchier title of Clean House With Kids. You see, Tricia’s great at keeping a tidy home AND she has four kids ages 5 and under. Amazing, right? (She also is out of the newborn stage so actually posts more regularly than I’ve been doing) Anyhow, she had the same great content earlier, but wasn’t advertising it with her title. Make your helpfulness obvious right up front.
Don’t get discouraged with your reader count. What if you post something and only twenty people read it? What if only six people read it? Is it worthless? Do you suck as a blogger?
Sometimes I think the digital world really marginalizes people. This is where your desire to be helpful really has to be genuine. What if you had twenty ladies come to your home and ask you how you organize your child’s preschool routine? What if it was just six? Would you feel honored then? Six, in-the-flesh Moms interested in how YOU do things? Why should 6-20 digital views on your post feel any differently?
If there’s any last bit of advice I have for you, it’d be to NOT STRESS over it. Take care of your kids first and blog when you can. A little is better than nothing. Eventually those posts will increase and gather up, whether or not you have a 5 times a week blogging schedule or a once a month schedule. For example, I still get readers on posts I wrote several years ago. If it’s helpful, it’ll get pinned and shared and spread around without you.
Pick up a few blogging books and learn how to make attractive images. Because people are visual (notice the irony of this post not having an image) and other blogging experts know a lot more than I do about things. Barnes and Noble has a stack of how-to blogging books and they also have great coffee. Get your husband to take you on a date there sometime. You deserve it, with so many little kiddos. Tell him I said so.
So, in summary, try to be helpful. Always take care of your family first. But if you like to write? Go for it!
You might make money off of it and you might not. But it sure is fun and you have so little to lose.
–Kelsey
P.S. Send me a link to your blog when you get it up!

Squashing Self-Pity

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It can happen all too easily.

First, I wake-up way too early to an inconsolable infant. I use the term ‘wake-up’ loosely, since really, I’ve been awake on and off since 3am. The four-year-old is yelling from his toddler bed to be allowed to wake up, which of course, wakes up the two-year-old. There’s no time to brush my hair or try to look presentable. Even if the older boys weren’t up yet, my arms are full with the baby. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wince a little. Bad wife. Poor husband. What happened to the pretty wife he once married….?

I make it to the kitchen, where yesterday’s dishes await me. Oh, yeah… I run an organizing blog. What happened to my tried-and-true evening routine? I was exhausted, that’s what. I just wanted to nurse my baby and watch Netflix with my husband. Funnily enough, pretending the dishes weren’t there didn’t make them go away. Dried cheese bits and chip pieces from yesterday’s nachos crunch under my feet, reminding me that I didn’t sweep the floor after dinner either. Oh, and the laundry’s still in the hamper. All wrinkled and cold. Bad housekeeper. Poor family. Why can’t I just get my act together?

All the children are up now, tangling around my legs and asking for breakfast while I try to unload the dishwasher. They want cereal for breakfast. Just kidding, now they want toast. They cry at me because I already poured the cereal. I snap at them (though honestly, I feel like throwing them out the window) and force them into their chairs to eat their cereal, or else. I think of that friend of mine who always cooks hot, fresh breakfasts and feel convicted. I should have made hot eggs or French toast. I should definitely have menu planned a healthier breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit too. But that would take way too much effort and the kids would tangle up my feet the entire time. Bad cook. Poor children. They’re eating way too many cheerios in their life right now.

My husband wakes up, groggy and frowning. He’s even more allergic to mornings than I am. I try to give him his space, but we collide eventually. I remind him about something on his to-do-list (bad timing, I admit). I hear some resentment in his voice and bristle. Really, in the morning, his resentment is directed at the world in its entirety. I shouldn’t take it personally. But right now, it feels aimed at me. Bad husband. Doesn’t he realize how hard I work? The least I deserve for my trials is a morning smile.

I slam the kitchen cabinets closed a little too hard, recognizing the resentment building up in my own chest. The children have the gall to ask to watch a movie. They know that’s not allowed until after naptimes. After I say no, they ask for a cookie. I threaten them with what might happen if they dare ask me for something stupid again. I take a deep breath and try to lower my voice a little. Am I yelling too much? Where is my usual calm? It must be because I didn’t read my Bible today. I slept in because the baby kept me up. The reason I’m having such a rough morning is probably because I have my priorities all messed up. I chose sleep over prayer. No Bible time. Bad Christian. God hasn’t heard from me for days.

I escape onto the internet for a few moments. I laugh at a meme or two, read a couple blogs about shiny, clean homes and better mothers, and then realize my entire morning has gotten away from me. I’ve been awake for too long and accomplished far too little. The baby is screaming now and the toddlers are fighting. I wanted to do some preschool lessons, but those dishes should really be done first. Now I feel guilty for ignoring my children for housework. But then, they do need dishes to eat off of for lunch. Also, my husband would probably appreciate something besides frozen pizza this evening. I really should cook for him more. I stink at this job. Why do I even try?

I realize that I want to be anywhere but here. I seriously consider running off to Mexico. Not that I’d know what to do once I get there. My high-school Spanish is pretty rough.

Bad wife. Bad mother. Bad housekeeper. (Bad husband.) Bad Christian.

My life is too hard. I suffer too much. Nobody understands. Perhaps I’ll bury my head in self pity and wallow there for a little bit. Maybe shed a tear or two. Woe is me.

Yes, that’ll help things get better.

Stop it. Deep breath. Do you see what just happened here? Do you see how quickly life can seem overwhelming and hopeless and terrible?

Let me speak frankly.

We women are really good at self-pity. Seriously, I think we’ve got it down to an art form. All too easily, our gifts from God (our children, husband, and home) can feel like curses to us.

I’ve had a couple days like this lately. They happen more often when there’s a newborn in the house and I’m not getting enough sleep. Especially since we’re still unpacking the moving boxes and everything is topsy-turvy inside the cabinets and closets. I’ve had to sit down and take a few deep breaths and regain my perspective on a daily basis. The guilt, the condemnation, the pity… it can hurt physically. It can make your head ache, it can make your chest hurt, it can make your heart bleed…

But that is NOT what we are called to.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

THAT is God’s will for us. Oh, and there’s this one…

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

The weapon we use to fight self-pity is THANKFULNESS.

Be grateful.

Be thankful.

Recognize your blessings.

Did your baby (or toddler) keep you up last night? Give thanks that you have a child, a gift and heritage from God. There are many women who battle with infertility. Their arms and hearts are empty. They would switch places with you in a heartbeat. Give thanks for the cute, little culprits who like to argue and deprive you of sleep. They are a blessing. And they won’t always be this little. Thank God for their squishy cheeks, and needy cries, and complete satisfaction while nursing (even if it’s for the millionth time that night).

Is your home a battle to keep up with? Thank God you have a home. Thank God for the dishes to eat on and wash, the food to prepare and clean-up after, and for the sticky fingers that leave peanut-butter-and-jelly handprints on your French door windows. They mean you are blessed. Thank God for the washing machines and the refrigerators, for the dishwashers and microwaves. Not everyone throughout time has had these convenience. Thank God for the milk that comes in gallons (instead of the cow that kicks, moos, and needs milking outside). Thank God for heating, air conditioning, and other modern mercies. Thank God for the internet, that can give you cooking inspiration or show your child what a puffer-fish looks like at the click of a button.

Thank God for your husband, even if he does wake up grumpy in the mornings. Does he say rude things on occasion? Does he not appreciate everything you do?

Well, I have news for you. He’s a sinner. And so are you. You’re not so perfect either. Look past what you can, confront him with what you must, and give him a lot of grace as you would like him to do back to you.

Is he faithful to you? Do you worry about him running off with another woman? Does he play video games from morning till night and let you support his lazy bum? Does he beat you and your children? No? There are many wives in the world who have husbands that do.

Give thanks for your husband, even in his rougher days. Give thanks for his work ethic, his gentleness with your children, even when he makes a mistake and criticizes your cooking or the state of the kitchen. Even when he doesn’t understand how hard you work. Stop and ask yourself… Do you really understand and appreciate him for all he does do?

Do you have some aches and pains? That sciatic pain driving you crazy?

Are you dying of kidney failure? Do you have a loved one suffering from cancer? There are people with worse aches and pains than you.

Battle self-pity with gratefulness. Rid yourself of that broken spirit that dries up your very bones. A cheerful heart is good medicine, especially on the hard days.

Things I’ve Learned from my Blog-cation

I’m a go-getter by nature. I set my goals and I get to them one way or another. That’s just how I’m wired. It’s a gift from God in many ways, but it also has its downsides. When I don’t reach my goals, I’m tempted to feel like a failure, even when I shouldn’t.

This blog has been representative of both aspects in many ways. I’ve seen OrganizingLifeWithLittles rise and go further than I ever expected. This time last year, I was being featured on radio and on several big-name blogs I’d followed for ages. It was thrilling, exciting, and inspired me to work harder on it. I set my goal to publish three times a week minimum and answer every single blog comment in person (because every single one is read and appreciated).

But then, the same God who blesses us, also likes to slow us down a little sometimes. He likes to be sure I keep my feet and heart where they are supposed to be. 2014 was a rough year. I got pregnant with Becket, and with the pregnancy got very sick as usual. I stayed sick longer and got back on my feet later than I had with my other two. By mid-2nd trimester, I had two needy children who had watched too much television lately and a house that definitely didn’t look like I ran an organizing blog.

I had to choose… Write about organizing like a hypocrite or catch up on the chaos in my real life. I chose the latter. I loved on my children and tried to restore order in my home. Just in time to discover that we were moving across country!

We bought a home eleven hours away that needed quite a bit of work on it. This meant several back-and-forth trips for my husband, while I held down the family, at-home business, AND tried packing up the house without him. That process took months. Did I mention how little energy I have in life when huge and achey and pregnant?

Anyhow, Baby Becket arrived on Christmas Day, healthy and handsome. A beautiful token of God’s promise to make all our efforts worthwhile. I felt like I had run a race and reached the prize. Well, almost, since we still had the move in early January.

Once January arrived, I was feeling wonderfully refreshed physically (post partum is always easier for me than pregnancy!). I made my mind up to return to blogging with a vengeance. 2015 would be the year for regular posting again!

There was just one little thing I had left on our to-do-list. Move! Finally, we packed up our little home in Illinois and arrived at our new home in Virginia. It was beautiful, and my husband’s hard work during all those months away clearly showed. But there were boxes, and still are, in every corner, and settling in with a newborn and a bunch of littles didn’t happen overnight like I naively hoped.

Oh, and I had NO internet. We live way out in the country now, on a gorgeous mountaintop that I love in so many other ways. Except for the no-internet part. The withdrawals were hard, but it was an opportunity to focus more on my little family and home, an opportunity that was good for all of us.

Finally, the internet-people arrived for the installation yesterday. My four-year-old hugged him and thanked him for bringing Netflix back. I felt like hugging him too, but I restrained myself.

Anyhow, here I am. I had grand plans of a month-by-month series, which I still intend to do, but January has completely flown by without me. I still have some Organized January posts, but I’ll be posting those in February like a complete class act.

So this post comes as an explanation, and almost an apology, but not quite. Why not? Because I don’t think I could have or should have done any differently. I think God taught me in 2014 that I have more basic priorities at the moment.

I love this blog and I love you all, my amazing readers. But I’m a Mother and Wife, first and foremost. I make a happy bit of extra income from this blog, but that was accidental thing to begin with and never my calling.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t consider myself a professional blogger at all. I’m a hobby blogger at best, and if I’m honest with myself, it’s best that I keep things that way. I don’t need that extra guilt on my to-do-list. You know… that other thing I really should do but haven’t yet. That’s just not my stage of life right now.

What stage of life am I in?

I’m in the stage with three little souls to raise. Three little souls who can’t yet buckle themselves, feed themselves, go to the bathroom on their own, or sleep through the night yet. It’s doggone hard work, but I know it’ll be worth it in a few more years. Life won’t always be this crazy.

Eventually, if I play my cards right, I’ll have three young men in the house who can take out the trash and wash the dinner dishes for me. And maybe then I’ll have time to blog three times a week.

One can hope.

(NOTE: I’m still intending to blog. Don’t get worried! I’m just going to return here on an as-possible basis. And if I don’t respond to your comments, it’s probably because I’m holding a baby and have only one hand to type. I still read and appreciate each one!)

Some Wisdom for the In-Laws

Some Wisdom for the In-Laws

(Guest Post by Lois Brown Loar)

Since I have been a mother-in-law for 15 years, and a grandma for 13 years, perhaps I can offer some encouragement to you with those you are dealing with, and thoughts on how YOU can be the best mother-in-law and grandma you can be.

First of all, my husband did not have very good in-laws. My parents were loving parents, and they were terrific grandparents. But they were not good in-laws to my husband, or to my brothers-in-law and sister-in-law.

My in–laws were kinder, but I had some issues with them over the years now and then, as well.

So, as I observed behavior, how it made my husband feel, how it made my children feel, and how it made me feel(!), I made a mental list of in-law do’s and don’t’s that include issues with grandchildren. I also changed my thoughts on a few things as I grew in the Lord, in age, and in wisdom. Some are humorous, some are serious, some are sad, some are cheerful.

So, I give you a sampling of my list and my reasons:

1. Except in case of medical emergency, don’t call married children before 9 a.m. on Saturdays before they have children. Want grandchildren? Call after noon. This only does not apply if they call me first before noon. Once they have opened the door, I can call. Also, do not call after 8 p.m.in the evening.

2. Do not stop by without calling first. If you can’t avoid it, no looking around at the mess, and especially no commenting on said mess. Since we all have cell phones today, I see no reason to not call ahead and giving the couple time to hide the dirty dishes in the oven. the dirty laundry in the bedroom. Again, if you happen to see any of this, no comments allowed. None. Nothing. Nada. zip it. Remember, unless they live in YOUR home, you are a guest in theirs. (Living in a parents’ home adds some different dynamics that I’ll address later.)

3. Further, negative comments about your child’s spouse to your child or your grandchildren is off-limits. Especially to the grandchildren. This can result in NO ALONE TIME with your grandchildren until they are teenagers. They can visit you alone at that time….enjoy the attitude.
You need to remember that your grandchildren love your child’s spouse as deeply as they love your child. You will only push them away from you if you criticize their parent. And they will lose respect for you.

4. Recognize that your child’s spouse WILL be raised differently than you raised your child. They are uniquely created to meet needs in your child that you may not know are there. You will feel some friction with him or her, but you need to be the “bigger” person and understand that they have many years of growing and maturing to do. Allow them to do it. Allow your child and spouse to create a “new” family, separate and different from yours, but still a part of you. Unless asked, your input is not given.

5. Allow your child and spouse to fail. They will grow in maturity and experience faster if you let them know you are there if they need you, but that you will not butt in. And then, don’t butt in.

6. NEVER gossip, share, ask for detailed prayer requests, or otherwise report negative activity about your child and spouse with other members of your family. Including your child’s siblings!!! If your child wants the rest of the family to know, they will tell them, or tell you it’s ok to tell others. But, no judgemental conversations about any of it with other family members. Memorize this line, “If you really want to help your sibling, pray for him/her. If you want to know what’s going on in your sibling’s life, I’ll give you his/her phone number.”

7. Be ready to let go of your child shortly after they turn 18. Trust that you have done a decent job raising them, and their mistakes will only make them stronger. TRUST GOD with your child. Remember, He loves them more than you do.

8. Think the best of one another. Submit to one another in love, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Pretty sure that’s in the scripture. Search it out.

9. Do not support bad behavior by your child. Don’t make excuses for him/her when they do something wrong in their marriage. Pray for them.

10. Pray for your children’s marriages. Your children’s healthy marriages will reap huge rewards for your grandchildren.

11. Do not lend or give money to your child with strings attached. Once you have given it, forget it, unless there is a written agreement on paying it back. Even then, to not comment or attempt to control how they will use it. If there is a possibility that they will use it in a way that offends you, or that you cannot live with, don’t lend/give it. Just don’t.

12. When your adult child marries, embrace your new son- daughter-in-law as your own. Do not ever think that anyone isn’t “good enough” for your precious baby…..because your precious baby is likely not “good enough” for that person, either. Determine to treat them with love and respect and earn it back from them.

13. Do not insist on being called “mom and dad” by your child’s spouse. They may have a couple different feelings about that. They may be very comfortable with it. Or they may feel that that honor should only be held by their own parents, because they have a great, close relationship with them. Or, they may have had a very dysfunctional relationship with their own parents, and the terms “mom and dad” do not bring good memories. Allow them to call you whatever they are comfortable with as long as it is respectful. Maybe, if you make them feel loved, perhaps they will honor you with the title “mom and dad”.

Grandparent stuff:

Grandparent: Do ask before giving large amounts of sweets, toys, or money
Parent: Don’t freak out over the occasional small gift of a piece of candy or an inexpensive toy. Or anything smaller than $1.01. Your child’s grandparent is not trying to buy their love….they are trying to bless your child. Sometime, they might desire to give a larger gift. Hopefully, they will ask you first. But if they do not, try to think the best of them. Tell your child , ” God blesses us in many ways and from many sources. This time, He used Grandpa to bless you, and your gratefulness to both Grandpa and God is important.”

Grandparent: Don’t do, spend, give any more to one than you are willing to try to do for all. If you have 20 grandchildren and can’t afford to do it for all, don’t do it at all. But DO find things that you can do with or for all. (I hold “cousins camp” for 3-4 days/nights every other summer. Child must be potty trained and ok with staying overnight away from parents. Age 4 is usually the youngest age. Play games inside and ouside, to appeal to the variety of ages.)

One of my sons’ favorite memories is playing SkipBo with my mom. Didn’t cost a thing. Just time to make some little boys feel important and smart enough to play cards with a grown up! Also, mom always bought ice cream and cookies when we would be there. Not pricey, but the kids LOVED it, and it’s a sweet memory of grandma.

Parents of large families…..remember that having lots of kids was YOUR choice, not your parents’. If they can’t afford a lot of expensive gifts, or if the noise level in your house is overwhelming to them(….hey, I had 12 kids, including 8 noisy, rambunctious boys….and I am shocked at how quickly I go on noise overload with a lot of granchildren around….I suddenly have more compassion for my mother-in-law who could only take so much noise…..) It does not mean that they don’t love and appreciate your children…..it just means they(we) are getting old. It stinks…we don’t like it either…. So, try to help them arrange time to spend with one or two of your children at a time. It’s probably more in their comfort zone and the kids will get some great personal time that will build memories for them.

Remember that as your parents age, they are seeing the end of their earthly life draw near. I just turned 60. I have lost friends to death. I have lost a sibling to death. I have friends fighting life threatening diseases and conditions. I am fighting diabetes. We want to make our moments with our children and grandchildren count. We want our grandchildren to have pleasant memories of us, as we may not see them graduate from high school, get married, have babies.

If we have health issues, our crabbiness may be due to health issues that we haven’t told you about, or that we have told you about. We may not be sleeping well. We may be afraid. We may just never feel physically good. We may be depressed about that.

A piece of candy for a child, and little gift or “field trip” to the ice cream shop can give a lift to an elderly grandma or grandpa and make them feel useful.

Oh, yeah….feeling useful and needed. It diminishes greatly once all our kids are grown, and gets even worse as we age and physically can’t do the tasks we used to do. Please allow us that little pleasure of the smile on your child’s face when we give them a piece of candy.

Just some thoughts as I finish raising my last two teens, try to be a good grandma to 17 grandchildren…….so far……., and face the fact that I may have fewer than 20 years left on this earth. I may not have tomorrow, of course, as we all should be aware of that. But, no matter what, I don’t have another 60 years. I look forward to being with Jesus, of course. But, I would like to finish well, to leave each person in my family confident that I loved them,

So, parents, embrace your parents and your in-laws. You will be the in-laws one day. How will you want to be respected and loved? Be the daughter-in-law you want to have some day. Embrace the people who raised your husband. They will never be perfect, but few people can resist love and acceptance.

I know this is long, but I’ve been at this for 40 years and on both sides. I hope this helps you see your chidlren’s grandparents through Jesus’ eyes and helps you to be amazing in-laws and grandparents yourselves.

An Organized January

An organized January!It’s January! A new start to a New Year!

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to fresh starts and new beginnings. This year definitely brings a lot of newness to our family. We have a new home to adjust to (and decorate!) and a new family member (who’s doing great, by the way). Being organized is going to be more important than ever, since we’ll need all the extra sanity we can get around here.

I’m going to try something a bit new on the blog this year. At the beginning of each month, I’m going to post my goals for the month. It’s basically an updated version of what I posted last year, if you’d like to peek ahead…

My Month-By-Month Plan for the Entire Year

If the project merits it, I’ll do a post spotlighting how I completed each project. You’re welcome to join in the fun as well! Tell me what YOUR goals are for the month and lets keep ourselves accountable.

Here’s what I’m aiming to accomplish this month. You’ll notice I have a lot of planning and revamping projects on my to-do-list. With a little planning in the beginning, I hope to make the rest of the year more INTENTIONAL on all fronts. Hooray for less wasted time and effort!

January goals

If you’re wanting to eavesdrop and follow along with my goals, now’s your chance to cross the first thing off your list.

Who of your close friends and family has a birthday in January? Chances are they frequently get forgotten in the after-Christmas bustle, so now’s the year to remember them and make them feel special. Look in your calendar (or facebook, if need be) and jot down what gifts you need to purchase. If they need to be ordered online, get it done now.

As soon as the gifts make it home from the store (or are delivered to your doorstep), wrap them and stick them in a designated cabinet or closet shelf. Let’s get in the habit of ALWAYS having those gifts pre-purchased and ready to give when it’s time. Be sure to write important birthdays into your calendar if you need to be reminded!

Who’s ready for a more organized and intentional 2015? Let me know what goals YOU have this month!