Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My 30 in 90 List: An Intentional Home Project

One day folks will enter this door and not be unpleasantly surprised by the clutter inside.

Quite some time ago, I bumped into the 101 in 1001 idea. Since I love making lists, I began making one, but between interruptions from my children and then subsequent computer failures, that list never got finished  Such was not the best start for completing 101 specific tasks in 2.75 years, I must say.

Then, at the beginning of August, something jogged my memory about the 101 in 1001 project and I was this close to beginning to list away again.  Thankfully, I realized that doing so would be a time waster.  Life-as-Mom these past six-plus years has proven that life as Super-Task-Checker-Martianne is on standstill, at least when it comes to grand plans. 

So it was that I caught myself about to list instead of to live.  Promptly, I determined that taking time to list 101 ideas would be wasteful.  It would also set me up for defeat.

Truly, my current season of life requires me to simplify – to think (and live!) 10-15 minutes at a time.  Any longer than that and the kids tend to wreak havoc somewhere in the house or yard, requiring me to invest double to triple the amount of time I spent doing whatever I was doing in order to face the consequence of having done it.  Too many times, I have learned the same lesson:  when I shift focus away from my children for a twenty minute or more chunk of a day, there is a frustrating price to pay.

Another thing I have learned:  Be yourself!  Living without authenticity is not living at all and, if I am to be 100% honest, lists seem strongly woven into the fabric of my being.  Even as a young child, I made lists.  (Here, I smile nostalgically as I recall the pages and pages of class lists of imaginary students that I would check off when playing school.)  Making lists; looking them over; and checking them off  may not always be the most productive thing to do, but it is something I do.

My 30 in 90 List Project

One success of my 30 in 90 List Project:  On a recent morning, the "big kids" actually woke before Jack.  What a joy it was to see them run to the door to wave bye-bye to Daddy as Daddy went off to work. 

So it was that I decided to create a 30 in 90 list.  That is 30 specific things to accomplish within 90 days with the children alongside me or in a nearby room
.  Now, I know that “30 in 90” doesn’t have the same visual appeal as “101 in 1001”, but the lower digits offered me hope of success!  Plus, it sounded better than “30 in 90, minus weekends, when I have another goal system in progress”, which, in actuality, is what my plan should have been called.

But, I digress...

As I laid out my 30 in 90, I wanted a clear framework that was more specific than just “30 things” – something that would help move me forward with specific intentions.

Since I had promised myself and my husband that I would organize the upper portion of our home before Advent 2012, I knew part of that framework had to based on that goal. 
Since the new school year was already upon us, I decided to include an academic focus within the framework.  

Finally, since I have been focused on the better living the motto of “people before things”, I decided to round out my self-created framework with that concept. 

Thus, the parameters for my 30 in 90 list became:

  • one relational goal
  • one practical cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing goal
  • and one homeschool-related goal

related to each of the upper areas of our home.


Or maybe not.

Accountability Time! 

Mike is not killing clutter (though he'd like to).  He is trying to play Jedi Warrior around the boxes that are, thankfully, no longer crowding our hallway.

It appears my goal was still too large.  (Or was my focus and motivation too lacking?)  As my the 90 days come to a close, I realize that my 30 in 90 was less successful than I had hoped it would be.

As things in my life too often do, my 30 in 90 List proved easier to create than to complete.  In black-and-white, my project was a big failure.  I do not yet have 30 items checked off.  But I am not always a black-and-white sort of girl.  I like color.  So, I am counting the project as a success despite the lack of checkmarks on my list. 


My 30 in 90 project focused helped me make progress on some things that were hitherto just thoughts and ideas.  And, something is better than nothing.  In fact, it’s enough to motivate me for my next project:  One Main Thing in Seven – a joint effort to be made by my husband and I that I may write about later.

Just What Were My 30 in 90?

Doesn't everyone have a pet slug in the entry to their home?  It wasn't part of my 30 in 90 plan, but it was a reality that made for three very happy children for a while.

For the record, just because “30 in 90” did not fully work for me over the past few months does not mean it will not be an effective approach at future point when focus, time and motivation coincide better  Nor does it mean that the idea could not work for someone else.  So, I am sharing the nitty gritty of my list below as fodder for my own later progress as well as inspiration for others:

  • Increasingly stop what I am doing when Mike leaves in the morning to see him off and, then, say a prayer for him and his day.  (Hopefully, the kids will model after me.) – Check!  Going well!  Not 100%, but nothing beats Jack (and sometimes Nina and Luke) standing on the stoop with me, all of us waving to Daddy and blowing him kisses as he drives away.  What a simple, but joyful way to start the day with love and relationships!  I highly recommend it!
  • Clear the clutter off the stoop and scrub its “floor” down. – Check! The stoop is clear and Clean.  Getting it that way was a Practical Life activity for the kids and me that taught me a thing or two.  Hoorah.
  • Create and implement the use of a Practical Life Skills Tidy Time card. – Partial check.  The card is designed, printed, but not yet in use.

  • Increasingly stop what I am doing when Mike comes home each day to offer him a proper welcome.  – Hmmm.  Stopping a thing in motion (particularly this Mommy in motion) can be so difficult!  Gotta work on that.
  • De-clutter:  Pair down our shoe explosion; “weed” entry shelf;  attack and organize front closet. – Well, we “edited” out all the kids’ outsized shoes, but still have a long way to go with this checkpoint.
  • Create Hand Cleaning and Nature Nook.  Housing for our pet slug took over the space where I was going to put our Hand Cleaning and Nature Nook, so. I aborted this goal.  Our slug “Flash” didn’t make it, so we’ve just removed his home and now the space is again ready for work.

Living Room
  • Enjoy focused floortime or face-to-face outdoor play with each child individually on a daily basis. – Partial check.  You’d think it would be easy when you’re with your children almost 24/7 to do this, but getting true 1-to-1 time can be challenging.  It’s high on my priority list for my 42nd year to schedule such time in more regularly until it becomes a regular habit.
  • Create Space“Edit” out some furniture; remove some toys and books. – Check! I removed some of the furniture, toys and books, so there is more space.  However, the room still feels crowded.  It is somehow overflowing.  I need to keep at it.
  • Make a plan for better utilizing the kid’s kitchen in living room until it finds a home in to-be-created downstairs family room.  Then begin implementing the plan. – Ideas are simmering on the back burner of my brain, but implementation... No check.

  • Celebrate together through monthly Liturgical Teas. – Check!  We even had a second impromptu one in August.  This is a habit we are all enjoying the formation of!
  • Spend at least the equivalent of five minutes daily de-cluttering an re-organizing for better family food culture. – Okay, so I needed to revise this checkpoint early on because I did not spent five minutes a day each day we were home and also ended up not being home for a week when we went to see the in-laws.  I thought I could catch up by spending about fifteen minutes a day on the days when we are actually home for the remainder of the 90 days when I initially revised my plan, but, um...  failed!  Oh, to have little mice to help make my dream of kitchen organization a reality.
  • Revive and maintain Produce Power campaign. – Check!  I revamped what we are doing and we are making strides in getting more produce power into the kiddoes!  Whoo hoo!

  • Enjoy breakfast and Circle Time on deck whenever weather is fair and we are not in a rush to get somewhere.  – Adapted Check.  We started doing this on days when the kids didn’t request the front yard, which is their preferred spot these days on many mornings.  However, as the EEE risk (deadly mosquito disease) got high in our area, we began staying inside in the early a.m. and at dusk.
  • Organize space better for learning, playing and dining. –  No check, for the reason above.  When we are outside, we tend to stay in the front yard, further from the mosquito-breeding wetlands out back.
  • Create and implement the use of a Practical Life Skills Tidy Time card. – No check yet.

  • Stop when passing one another in the hall to acknowledge one another with smiles and love. – Sad to say, not a full check yet.  I can be so narrowly focused when getting from literal Point A to Point B and the kids tend to follow my lead on this.
  • Get the boxes back out and the “art space” up.  – Check! A quickie art space is up thanks to our Piet Mondrian study, and I finally kept my promise to Mike and cleared the boxes back out. 
  • Create and implement the use of a Practical Life Skills Tidy Time card. – The card is designed, printed, but not yet in use.

  • Get back to Tubby Fun Focus. – Um, a water issue between the bathroom floor and the basement nixed this checkpoint.  We have not allowed tubbies for over a month, just quick showers.
  • De-clutter and label closet, cupboard and drawers (again).—No check.  I found that trying to do anything in the bathroom when the kids are around just begs for disaster as they entertain themselves in the small space of the bathroom with me – or worse – get into things elsewhere.
  • Begin better oral health focus.—A weak check and no excuses for it not being stronger.  We really need to get on this, especially since Luke has turned into Mr. Shark with grown up teeth growing behind baby teeth.  Dentist appointment, here we come.

  • Increasingly go to bed at the same time as Mike in our room, not the kids’ room.—Big fail thus far.
  • Reduce clutter; label anything remaining “on hold” in the room.—I have made slight progress with this, but only slight.  The paper monsters that leered from so many other areas of the house found their way into our room and are taking soooo long to get through.
  • Reorganize homeschool resource shelf.—Reorganized, but disorganized again.  Obviously, the plan needs revamping.

Boys’ Room
  • Spend five or more minutes of Mommy and me time a day.—Jack and I are doing this consistently on the days when we are home at his nap time.  Luke and I are not nearly as consistent and sorely need to be.  That boy needs his mom-and-me room time.
  • Revamp “storage areas” (closet, desk and shelves).—Partial check.  Luke and I started this, but never finished.
  • Ask children to spend time at least three times a week with me maintaining the room.—Partial check.  Not up to three times a week and need to be.

Girl’s Room
  • Spend five or more minutes of Mommy and me time a day.—Failing, but not always.  On the days I spend time with Nina in her room with “just us”, she beams.
  • Revamp “storage areas” (closet, shelves, etc.).—Failing and facing explosions.
  • Ask children to spend time at least three times a week with me maintaining the room. Partial check.  When do attack tidies and maintenance in Nina’s room, it always seems to come with a fight.  Not good.

The Most Important Check:  Reality Check

We want to freely experience more of this.  Thus, my determination to get to more of my 30-in-90 goals must remain steadfast, even if attacked through a different approach.  A decluttered home, where learning and relationships thrive daily will afford the freedom for LOTS of days off elsewhere.

As reality evidences, my list was too ambitious and my discipline too lacking to get all 30 things done in 90 days.  It also shows that some rooms had little to no progress, tasks related to learning goals could use some focus and relationships are strong, but habits that help keep them that way could be better attended to.

Perhaps if I reduce the clutter in my brain and on my list by narrowing things down from a 30 in 90 approach to a One Main Thing in Seven Days focus, I will experience greater success with everything.  As I mentioned before, that is exactly what Mike and I are planning to do.

SPD Connection

When I am smart, I set the kids up with sensory diet activities before attempting to attack any to-do's.

 I thought that yesterday would be the last time I posted this month, but when I realized my 90 days were up, I began assessing my progress and felt inspired to log it here.  Thus, another October post and another word on SPD:

All moms know that it can be difficult to advance with clearing, cleaning and organization (as well as to attend to other projects) with little ones underfoot.  Moms of children with SPD know it can be even more challenging to do so when a “sensory kid” demands extra time and focus.  Although I can hardly blame the condition of our home on Luke’s neurology, I will say that all the time and energy that we spent with therapies and behavior issues prior to changing Luke’s (and our entire family’s) diet certainly did nothing to help things.   

Further, even since changing Luke's food diet, it can still be difficult to get things accomplished on the occasions that I neglect to pay close attention to his sensory diet. When I get into go-mode and forget to ensure that Luke gets enough vestibular and proprioceptive activities in, or when I leave him to make his own activity choices for too long, things get ugly.  I usually end up having to come to a screeching halt to deal with fall out.

Likewise, as my husband periodically reminds me:  just as Luke’s neurology has affected my efforts to declutter and to make headway on other projects, my failure to effectively reduce mental, physical and schedule clutter affects Luke’s neurology.  Mike and I both truly believe that having a less-cluttered, tidier home (and schedule) would benefit Luke.  My mental clutter overflows into Luke's over-active brain, it seems. Physical clutter adds yet another dimension of input that Luke's system has to process.  A busy schedule creates too many transitions, which are tough for Luke, just as they are for many kids with sensory issues.

There is always work to be done.

Resetting in the sunshine makes the task list less daunting.

Thankfully, we know the value of play and time for resetting, too.  It keeps the smiles on our faces and the light shining at the end of the task-tunnel.  For intentional living is more than task lists; it is breathing in the goodness of life.

1 comment:

Heather said...

This is an awesome list! And what a great idea to put a time limit on it. I think that might be part of my problem, I make lists with no end in mind. I may have to model something like this for my own family, although it might have to be after the holidays which are always insane around here - we will stop "official" homeschooling the week of Thanksgiving to give us more time to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year :-) But, this could be an amazing project for the dead of winter!


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