Se7en + 1 Are Reclaiming the Weekends with Operation S.O.R.T.

We all have a vision of what weekends should look that, we all look forward to Friday… but to be honest our weekends have been straying away from lazing around and reading books, having friends over to linger and chat… naps, feasts and well time together. They have been replaced by a harum-scarum vague recovery from the week, chaotic dash from event to event… and last thing on a Sunday evening folks despairing because all the things they planned to do just didn’t get done… and suddenly the week is starting up again. We have things to sort and things to tidy and breakages to repair… they have been hovering over us like a cloud of gloom and taking up our air space. Every week we say… we will tackle this over the weekend and every weekend we say we will tackle this during the week. Turns out I don’t want to be tackling our projects all on my own – I want to enlist the help of my gang: “Many hands make light work…” and all that!!!


So a couple of weeks ago I introduced Operation Sort… It required a fair amount of bribery… but we got through it!!! We did!!! And – mother-fail-warning… I had had such visions of great achievement… I had so anticipated every single mess sorted… That I was really disappointed that we only managed to sort all the closets, all the kids stuff… their toys, their shelves of treasures, all the craft stuff and most of the school stuff. At this stage would some-one hit me over the head – I was disappointed that we didn’t get everything done. It took me a day or two to realise just what we had done!!! And then even I was blown away… and I have decided to do this much more often…


  1. Mark the Day as BUSY: This weekend was our first free weekend in a while, no Saturday morning meetings… no dashes to the store, nothing… free… So I marked it on the calendar as “BUSY”… there was an air of anticipation… Everyone wanted to know what “busy” meant. There were many high-powered guesses, none of them were right and all along I created a mental list of the things I would like to get done – not quite the same as what I thought we could do, or what we could actually achieve. Just a list of the things we would like to get done.
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  3. Feed the Troops: This is not the day to create fantastic meals as you go… this is the day when toast and tea for breakfast are more than enough… and lunch is sandwiches. There is work to be done. Turns out Hood #1 has wanted to learn how to make a full breakfast for the longest time and while everyone got started on their assigned project, he and the father person got started with cooking. Gotta say I am looking forward to a couple of Saturday breakfasts at home from now on!!!
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  5. Explain Your Expectations: I expect everyone, including myself (!) to clean out their closet, to go through their treasures, do one or two extra family tasks – maybe sort a bookshelf and one extra-cleaning task, like wipe down the kitchen cupboards. Cleaning out your closet does not mean tossing every item of clothing into the washer and expecting it to be returned to your closet all freshly folded at the end of the day. In fact, cleaning out your closet means putting everything that you have grown out of onto a pile, everything that needs mending into another pile and removing all things that are not clothing from the closet… I have more than one child that thinks squashing all their clothes into a pillow slip and using their closet space for lego is the only way to live…
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  7. A Time of Teaching: Because we have the whole day, we can take time to do real and sometimes innovative repairs. Take the time train young folk in the business of plumbing, for instance. When you live in a family of ten, you really need to know how to fix a toilet, put up a picture… as well as sort through a lingering pile of papers… Remember you are training and if a job isn’t done well enough then you haven’t finished training… there is no harm in repeating a poorly done job a number of times until it is a really good job and an achievement to be proud of.
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  9. Lose All Distractions: It goes without saying that our most productive days are the days with power failures… it is not so much the lack of power but the consequential lack of internet. Absolutely no screen time for anyone on a day like this. If even one person, myself included, has the privilege… everyone will be hovering around to see if they have missed anything in the big wide world. Actually this weekend was perfect because it was pouring with rain as well… and the over-achiever in me always wants to conquer the house and the garden all in one day – there was no stepping out into the freezing rain, there was no screen time for any of us… and we managed heaps.
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  11. Mention the Rewards: But don’t dwell on them… my kids see straight through rewards and will dash through any job to get to them!!! Not everyone is going to be thrilled at the thought of cleaning out their closet or sorting through their treasures… I no longer do this for my children ever – one man’s treasure is indeed another man’s garbage and too much is hanging on me tossing, or not, that precious creation, that especially saved candy wrapper. Nope, my kids have to deal with their stuff themselves, and believe it or not, when the stakes are high and they will rise up and achieve. Take lots of breaks… a tea party mid-effort is great, a story while you pack away books… let everyone stop and change jobs… it doesn’t have to be grim… you do need to stay cheerful to keep the gang onboard.
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  13. Finish with a Flourish: There is always that problem at the end of a sorting day… when you are left with a series of piles of “well stuff”… and those piles can lurk on counters, get jammed in boxes, hidden in drawers and so on forever… The trick to going the distance and getting the last bits packed up is: a time limit… and guests. Yes, guests. Guests make us go the distance – set yourself a time limit of an hour or two before they are due, because if they are arriving at five and you aim for five you will never, ever make it!!! All clutter has to be dealt with – recycling in the recycling, donate-ables in the donate corner and everything else packed away. Just one problem: At the end of a day like this you will not want to make dinner… enough already. Everyone will want a break. But what about the guests. Well a few weeks back when friends said they would love to come over and bring us dinner… I squashed the little voice on my shoulder saying: “No just come as you are…” and eagerly accepted their fantastic gift… the whole day was spent looking forward to them visiting and wondering what was going to be for dinner.
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    And the se7en + 1th thing…

  15. Forgive and Forget: If you follow our blog at all you will know, I am a lone minimalist in a house full of hoarders… and while I can claim a Saturday every couple of weeks as a “Saturday Sort Day” I have to leave it the rest of the time. For myself, I can continue to discard and sort and donate… nothing makes me more deliriously happy than getting rid of lurking stuff… but for the rest of the time – while I can expect our family to keep things clean and tidy… I can not expect them to clean out, toss out or “any”-out for that matter. If I discover a huge task… it just gets added to the list until the next time there is BUSY splashed across a Saturday on the calendar. I don’t dwell on it and I don’t worry about it…

The funny thing is that while no one really wanted to get going, dare I say, even I would have rather have been reading a book… we all got into it and jobs got done, masses of mending and clutter got sorted, and piles on counters were dealt with. There is still a pile of books to mend and a box of papers, a shelf to put up and so on. But the sense of achievement all round – of tidy closets, mended toilets, sorted bookshelves and conquering the paper war… You just can’t beat that feeling!!! For the next few weekends at least, you can expect to find us lazing on the couch, reading a couple of books, and going for ambles… together we have indeed reclaimed our weekends.

6 Replies to “Se7en + 1 Are Reclaiming the Weekends with Operation S.O.R.T.”

  1. Aargh I can totally relate to this post and we’re just a family of 4. I hate coming home from church on a Sunday and then have to do sorting out of bedrooms so we don’t have to look for school shoes in the lego box on Monday. I have wracked my brain for ages trying to find a way to limit the chaos and I’m afraid our kids just have too much. Yesterday I told them they could each keep 10 treasures and I was suprised at how well my daughter (5 years old) did at this. She didn’t want her Barbies any more (weird). Now that they have chosen what they LOVE I can go in and bulldoze through the rest to give away. Well done xx

  2. Hay Tami… Tell me about the stuff!!! We have very limited toys and they each only have one shelf for treasures… but I think the “everything times eight” scenario!!! It’s more than that… it is “the projects” that are pushed to the side for “the next project” and the piles of of stuff that gets shuffled around!!! Day to day tidying but these mountains of other stuff can get a mother down – somewhat!!! Anyway I am thrilled that jobs have been done and not all by me!!! – Mission accomplished!!! Hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

  3. You are my hero! Well done! Love love love love this post! I need to do this!

  4. Thank you Tammy!!! So glad you enjoyed it!!! Who would have thought that one of our best and co-operative family fun days was spent doing home maintenance!!! Just goes to show… your kids will never stop surprising you!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

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