Getting Things Done With Se7en…

Folk often ask how I get anything done with all my kids milling around… and I think they mean beyond the everyday-ness of cleaning, clothing and feeding kids. Those things happen but we manage to do a whole lot of other stuff apart from the mundane and I thought I would blog a few ideas, se7en tips that spring to mind and work for us.

Some projects are a lot more fun for everyone and some are pure drag – some people love sorting and clearing clutter and others would do arts and crafts till the cows come home – we all have our strengths and weaknesses and we need to take that into account! Some jobs are good and some are bad – the enthusiasm level is really up to me. My kids love any project… even cleaning out the garage is a blast for them.


  1. You Don’t Have To Lower Your Standards: When I do decide to conquer a project on our “To-Do List” I don’t ship our kids off to the country for a few days, or even to a neighbor! They are part of our family and we work together – maybe not all with the same focus and direction! I want our kids to grow up as part of life and I certainly can’t do everything while our kids are sleeping there just aren’t enough hours in a “night.” I like projects and working on tasks and I think our kids have learnt to like them alongside me. That being said as they work they learn and master new skills, we don’t have to have settle for semi-clean cars!
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  3. Chores Will Get Done: My great epiphany here is that I discovered that chores take as long as you let them. Dinner can take over an hour to prepare or if we are busy it takes fifteen minutes to cook a pot of pasta, grate some cheese and make a salad while the pasta is cooking. We have a pretty good chore system going – it works for us, but I guess that’s a whole “nother post”
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  5. Be Patient With Your Kids: Sometimes they just need your time and attention… more than you need to sand an old table. Sometimes a baby needs to be held, sometime you just need to pay some mindful attention and read a story. Very often a toddler needs help in the bathroom. It can be maddening when you have planned to do a project and it is thwarted by a short grumpy person or a million interruptions. In the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter if you have to wait another day for completeness.Otherwise kids have a pretty short attention span – use this to your advantage. My kids are usually unstoppably there to begin with and then wander off midway and then are back for the grand finale. The one or two that linger throughout tend to be really keen and so can be given tasks to really help.
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  7. Don’t Try And Build A Barn: I once read a sporting book and the athletes were told to rest the day before a big race so the one chap didn’t run but helped his extended family to raise a barn. Needless to say his performance wasn’t exactly optimal!!! And we have an expression in our house: “Don’t build a barn.” This is the hardest thing for me, I like to start and finish in a day I am prepared to miss food and sleep in order to get a job done but a number of other people in our family don’t have this drive – just where did that work ethic go!!! Some jobs take weeks and I have had to learn to accept that. And while I like to conquer and declutter the whole house in a a day I have learnt to do it bit by bit… Start enough to finish in a day and leave it at that.
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  9. Keep The Basics Running Smoothly: Our house has a routine that we rock too and it is far easier to just keep going with that flow than to re-arrrange everything for a project. If you are planning an all day project, like a major garden frenzy then think about snacks and lunch before you get going so that at three pm when your workers are dropping like flies you don’t say: “I wonder what we should have for lunch?”
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  11. Planning Works Better For Us: I used to start a project and just ramble on with it. You know, rake some leaves and then that would lead to weeding, digging cutting rearranging, planting and… before you know it we would have a whole new garden in a day. Now I need to plan for success. I need to plan what we are going to do and I need to share the plan and if it is a long arduous task then there needs to be a tangible reward for all of us.
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  13. Set Yourself Up to Succeed: What I have done is amend our “To-Do List” to something more realistic. Instead of thinking that I need to do every craft that I see and try every craft that I come across I can just appreciate someone else’s work. We had so many crafty projects pending that I was burdened with guilt. You would be amazed how a pile of pottery waiting to be painted can stop you from ever getting onto other things! I was saving a couple of projects for a rainy day only on rainy days we never got to them we were far too busy building forts and reading books. I passed them on and we were free of the burden!
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  15. Keep It Light: The idea of “help” from little people can often send me reeling to the couch with the threat of never ever starting a project again. Needless to say you have to take the help from whence it comes, so to speak, and pop that into your plan of action! If you are planning to rearrange the furniture I have to first consult folk! If you want to declutter a room I have found that my kids are very eager to help as soon as I mention that other people, that live very near by, have no toys – then it is easier: decluttering with a purpose!

That’s it! Don’t despair things can get done and if they don’t well make sure you are far too busy having fun to get them done!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

10 Replies to “Getting Things Done With Se7en…”

  1. Hi S, Thanks so much for commenting! Especially such a positive comment!!! I hope you have a great week!!!

  2. Great tips! Sometimes it’s tough to tell ourselves “everything will be OK” in terms of our tasks — but it will! Everything will be ok!

  3. Hi J, Thanks for commenting… I know it is so hard to “rise above” and see the big picture when we have decided to achieve something!!! You take care and have a good week!!!

  4. I am so impressed with all you do. I too use Sonlight and love it. We just found out we are expecting # 7. I am trying to prepare because we never seem to finish all of our school and the newest little blessing will be here in the thick of the school year (Feb.) I was wondering do you do things outside of the house during the week. We have sports and scouts and church. They take up alot of time but I don’t know what to give up.

  5. Hi K, Congrats on the imminent #7! I confess I am a bit of a minimalist when it comes to extra-murals… I think kids need hours and hours of free time to just be kids, I wrote about it in a recent post. When I just had a a couple of kids my kids each did one art and one sport… But I have found we do more art at home than they were doing at classes and they were having more fun running on the beach than at sports classes and the thought of shifting all of them around from one end of Cape Town to another, not to mention the price of gas!, is just a minefield. Also extra-murals are not the great social outlet that homeschoolers seem to be looking for, since most of them require intense concentration from the child and not much actual time to interact! My kids do do music lessons once they reach age nine – it is a huge honor! and they love it… I am really quite strict about finishing school by lunchtime so that our days are pretty free for play-dates, projects and just messing around in the afternoons. Hope this answers your questions. Have a great weekend!

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