Large Family Hacks – Built In Step Stool

Our family spent the evening with another large family (12 children) we’ve been friends with for many years.  I am always inspired when I visit their home, not only by their faith and joy, but by the little tips and tricks they have put into place to make their home run smoother.  It made me realize there are many things large families do that are a matter of efficiency and survival that would be great to share with others, no matter their family size.

So, I decided to start a series here on Raising Arrows entitled Large Family Hacks for that very purpose!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! | RaisingArrows.net

Today’s Hack is from last week’s visit with our friends.  Over the years, they have been slowly building their home debt free, adding to it a little at a time.  One thing they added in the bathroom was a built-in step stool that is the perfect hack for a large family!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} | RaisingArrows.net

This step stool can hold up to 150 pounds!  It is housed underneath their bathroom sink on a metal track.

The reason this is so great for a large family is because there are so many ages and stages in a large family.  You might have teenagers and toddlers and everything in between trying to use the same sink.  Having a step stool you can slide under the sink eliminates the “kick the stool out of the way” game.

Additionally, large families need even their littlest ones as self-sufficient as possible.  Having an easy way to reach the sink to brush teeth or wash hands is a great way to give little people something they can do on their own!

It would even be a great addition for fixing little girls’ hair so you don’t have to bend down so far!

Built-In Step Stool {Large Family Hacks} | RaisingArrows.net

There are a lot of different plans out there for this type of thing.  This one from Ana White calls for making use of the toekick at the bottom of the vanity.  This one I found on a woodworking forum has some extra perks built in.  This one has storage space inside the stool!  (I’m always looking for more storage space!)  No matter how you build it, it would be a great addition to any bathroom you want to make small child friendly!

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! | RaisingArrows.net

Visit the Large Family Hacks page

The Large Family Living Pinterest Board

Large Family Living Home Page

My New At-A-Glance Schedule {2015}

Make your day run smoother by using an At-A-Glance Schedule! | RaisingArrows.net

For those of you new to Raising Arrows, let me quickly explain what an At-A-Glance schedule is…

An At-A-Glance Schedule is a rough sketch of your day.  It is not a schedule for the entire family.  It is Mom’s Master List.  It isn’t super structured or binding.  It is a bare-bones approach that keeps you on track without making you feel guilty.

I was looking back at my old At-A-Glance schedule and realized how very outdated it was.  We haven’t had piano lessons on Wednesdays in well over a year!  Ideally, an At-A-Glance schedule would be re-assessed as circumstances change, or at the very least, every year.  It may not need to be changed every year because remember, it isn’t a tight schedule, so you won’t have things like “Baby’s Nap” on there or other things that change often.

This past weekend, I quickly worked through my old schedule to create one I believe will be a good fit for this year.  By the way, when I say “year”, I mean “school year.”  About this time of year, I am going through all of my homeschool materials and resources to see what I need for the upcoming school year, and figure out what that school year should look like.  (I like to be able to share with my readers what the intricacies of our homeschool looks like, so expect upcoming posts that highlight the changes for the 2015-16 year!)

It really is very easy to revamp an old At-A-Glance Schedule once you have the template of your day, so if you can find the time to put together your first one, any that follow will be very simple to make!

{affiliate links included}

Here is a quick guide to creating your first AAG:

1.  Write down the natural rhythm of your day.  If you get up at 8 am, don’t write down a wake up time of 7 am.  If you start school at 10 am, don’t write down 9 am.  This is the REAL routine you follow.  There will be time later to decide if you need to change your routine.

2.  Make a list of the things you would like to do in a day that are not on your “natural rhythm schedule”.  Don’t get crazy, but do get it all out.  This is a good exercise in realizing what things you THINK you should be doing, and the actuality of what can be FIT in to your schedule.  This list is there to help you work through what’s in your brain and start releasing the guilt you have for not doing EVERYTHING.

3.  Prioritize, Plug In, and Cull.  Sometimes all it takes is being purposeful and plugging it in.  Sometimes you have to have the sense to just let it go.  By writing out the things you WISH you had time for and comparing them to the natural rhythm schedule you wrote down in #1, you can see if you really do have the time for those things.  For instance, I would love to get back to sewing, but this isn’t the season for that because there are other things that NEED to be in the schedule.  I can let go of the guilt of not sewing because I know the things I have plugged in are PRIORITIES.

When you have a list of things that truly NEED to be on the schedule, then you can think about where they go.  Again, your AAG is NOT a full-blown schedule, so you are not looking for a place to plug in every single thing, but rather you are making sure there is enough MARGIN in your day to accommodate the things that are truly important.

Margin by Richard Swenson is a good book to help you understand the WHY and HOW of margin in your day.

4.  Write it out, type it out, post it.  I always write a rough sketch, go over it in my head, go over it with my older children and my husband, and make sure it is doable and everyone who has a choice is on board with it.  Then, I type it out, laminate it (with this laminator) and post it.

I always make more than one copy.  One copy is near my “office”, one is on the refrigerator, and one is with my homeschool materials.  (In the new house, my “office” is separate of my homeschool materials.  You’ll notice in this post, my office and homeschool area are the same.)  The reason for this is so that you truly can see the schedule AT A GLANCE!  It’s everywhere you are when you might need a little EXTRA focus.

5.  Tweak as needed.  I know, I know – I ALWAYS say this, but it’s true.  I was an English major – every paper was a rough draft!  Every SCHEDULE is a rough draft!  This gives you permission to change something.  HOWEVER, just because your AAG didn’t work the first or second, or even third time you tried it, does NOT mean it isn’t the “right” schedule for you.  It simply means it is NEW.  If after a week or two of really trying, it still doesn’t work, THEN tweak.

You will find that your day RARELY goes the way you plan, but having an At-A-Glance Schedule will help keep you on a track that moves forward and makes sense.  It is never meant to tie you down or stress you out!

Would you like to take a peek at my new AAG?  You will notice a couple of things:

1.  We are late risers.

2.  I sometimes (not always) rely on audio and video to keep the younger crowd occupied during a section of school that requires me to stay focused on the older crowd (I just put it on the schedule as an option).

I’m also including some links at the bottom of this post that I’ve written about specific items mentioned in the At A Glance Schedule.   These will help you understand more about how our day runs and what I mean by certain sections on the schedule.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY AAG!

Helpful Links:
Morning Chores
Quiet Time with Small Children
Another Take on Quiet Time
Christian Mom’s Guide to Blogging
Table Chores
Schooling the Little First
Easy Homeschool Lunches
Laundry Ideas
Special School
Art & Artist Time
Special Night

Get Your Home in Order with Mystie’s Help! (Coupon & Freebies!)

If you feel you need to get your home in order this year, Mystie Winckler’s products are some of my favorites!  In addition to her ebooks Paperless Home Organization, Declutter Your Head, and Simplified Dinners (which also comes in a gluten- and dairy-free edition), she now has a self-paced course that will help you organize not only your home, but also your head and your heart: Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done

Simplified Organization eCourse Discount

You can read my full review of the Simplified Organization ecourse
HERE

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done contains videos, audios, worksheets, and action items, as well as access to a private community where you can get support and accountability from Mystie and others working through the material. The course is now also available in a module-by-module format, where you can pay $17 per module, one at a time.

Now, for the deal you don’t want to miss…

During the month of January, you can use the discount code:

startnow
for 25% off
any of Mystie’s products!

But if you buy the full Simplified Organization course in January, you’ll also receive a free copy of Paperless 125Paperless Home Organization

and

SimplifiedDinners125Simplified Dinners!

Read my review of Paperless Home Organization HERE,
and my review of Simplified Dinners HERE.

Simplified Coupon & Free books!

CLICK TO ORDER!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 12

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 12 - Christmas Celebration Week! | RaisingArrows.net

Follow along with the series!
CLICK HERE

How did you do with the Week 11 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 12!

{affiliate links included}

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

This week you will be enjoying Christmas with your family and friends!

Week 12: Enjoy Your Christmas Celebration Week

[ ] Enjoy the Holidays with family and friends! Take time to drive the neighborhoods to enjoy holiday lighting displays. Enjoy family traditions and special meals.

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 11

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 11 - Final Shopping & Wrapping Week | RaisingArrows.net

Follow along with the series!
CLICK HERE

How did you do with the Week 10 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 11!

{affiliate links included}

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

This week we will finishing up any shopping and wrapping, as well as planning some fun family activities!

Week 11: Final Shopping/Wrapping Week

[ ] Last Minute To Do List! Using the calendar page provided, jot down last minute to do items to be completed, holiday parties, concerts, and family activities.

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

Preparing for Peaceful Christmas – Week 10

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 10 - Meal Making & Decorating Week | RaisingArrows.net

Follow along with the series!
CLICK HERE

How did you do with the Week 9 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 10!

(affiliate links included)

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

This week we will be getting some freezer cooking, holiday baking, and some decorating done! Fun!


Note from Amy:  This is a very fun week!  Try to get at least one freezer meal prepared (check out my Freezer Meals Pinterest Board for ideas).  This is also a great time to put together cookie trays to share with neighbors and send to work with your husband.  And of course, we can’t forget the decorating!  Make it special with a Decorating Party!


Week 10: Meal Making & Decorating Week

[ ] Prepare Some Freezer Meals! Prepare some favorite meals to put in the freezer for the hectic days ahead. Turn to your Freezer Meals list & Recipe Cards (filed under the Holiday Menus & Recipes section) and use it to check off as you complete dishes and put them in the freezer. Keep this list handy so you know what dishes you have in the freezer. Cross them off as you use them during the holiday season.

[ ] Holiday Baking! Turn to your List of Baked Items to Share/Give Away and the Holiday Baking Recipes (filed under the Holiday Baking section) and use to check off as you complete baked goods and put them in the freezer. Note: You already had one Holiday Baking Day, so take note of what you have in the freezer already! You may not want all your baked goods to go in the freezer now. Make sure you do some holiday baking for your own family to enjoy, as well as finishing up baking for others.

[ ] Decorate for Christmas! Involve children in memory making! Use the calendar page provided to plan some special things to do with your children this week. See my list for some ideas!

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!