Here’s an inventory of some of my lists:
  • Master Grocery List
  • Dollar Store list
  • Weekly Schedule
  • Morning Routine Chart
  • Bedtime Routine Chart
  • Kitchen Clean Up Chart
  • Activity Ideas List
  • Preschool Activities Idea List
  • Homeschool Check List
  • Meal Ideas List
Do you ever find yourself making multiple trips to the grocery store because you forgot a staple food item?  Or sitting down to re-create your grocery shopping list of mostly the same items you purchase every week?  With the children do you find yourself spending time and energy repeating the specifics of what it means when you say, “Please get ready for bed”, or or, “Please clean up the kitchen”?  I was so tired of repeating myself, and the children felt badgered.  And a definition for insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result.  So!  New plan… By implementing charts and lists in our home the children learn to become more self-managing, and we all preserve our time and energy without wasting it. *smile*

After years of these problems (yes, insanity) I have finally become a very proficient list and chart maker, and have significantly reduced the occurrence of these frustrating situations.  

With charts that are consumable I print off about 10 copies at a time and keep them in my kitchen file so when the kids complete a chart and need a new one they can just pull one out and tape it to the refrigerator.  Organization is time efficient.  Our refrigerator is Organization Central for our lists and charts, and it’s one of the first things to capture our friends’ attention when they’re in our home.  *chuckle*  Many requests have been made for copies of our plans, so I thought some of you might enjoy seeing these tools, too.  Here’s a photo of Organization Central.

Each chart or list we’ve created was born out of a particular need we had.  I will show you each of the 9 lists or charts that we use every day, give a brief explanation on how we use them, and explain why they’re useful to us.

(Tip: you may click on the picture of any chart or list to enlarge it, and click a second time to enlarge even more and read it more easily)  
Master Grocery Lists

This simple idea has been such a time saver for us in that I no longer waste time sitting down every week to re-create our shopping lists of the same staple items we always use.  With the old plan of creating a list from scratch every week I would likely miss an item or few and then have to make additional trips to the store, and often I would be making dinner – or worse get half way through it – and realize that I don’t have one of the ingredients I need.
Our Master Grocery List is a typed list of all of the staple items we always want to have on hand in our pantry, and then I hand-write in additional items to the list that I need for recipes that week.  Here are additional functions of my list:

  • I type in italics beside certain staple item any specifics that my husband, Bob, would need to know if he did the shopping for me (occasionally a necessity, but rare), like what brand we like to purchase or what quantity.  
  • As food items are consumed over the course of the week we simply highlight them on the list to show that it needs to be replaced for the following week.
  • Before I take the list with me shopping I skim through it to make sure we have each of the staple items and see if additional items have not yet been highlighted.
  • While shopping I know that I only need to purchase the items that are highlighted or are hand-written.
  • I also put items on the list in order of how I shop in the store.  For example, I start at the front of Costco and work my way to the back, so I put items I’ll come across first in the store at the top of the list so I don’t waste time back tracking in the store. 

Both planning and shopping are the most time efficient I’ve found – and we shop ON PURPOSE. *smile*

Dollar Store List

Before creating this list I was forever trying to remember which items were available at our local dollar store.  Or I would make a trip to the dollar store thinking that I may be able to get it there only to discover that I couldn’t.  Wasting time – I hate that.  So, one day I walked through the entire store and wrote down everything we usually purchase there.  I then went home and typed it up for the family’s reference, and we keep that list next to the grocery list on the refrigerator so we can see at a glance if an item is available there or not, and highlight it on that list if possible.
Weekly Schedule

Our Monday through Friday weekly schedule plan at home.  Our time is budgeted just like we do our finances – planning in advance how to best use our time; taking on life proactively, avoiding chaos, enjoying a peaceful home (in general). 

In this sample chart you can see how blocks of time can be divided up in to mostly 30-60 minute blocks of time across a 24 hour period, and for each of the children and myself. Making sure each person has all of the most important things included in their day or their week, but also has balance with healthy amounts of play time, together time, work time, school time, etc.

(Click to enlarge)
Morning Routine Charts

It is a good plan to get up promptly in the morning and enjoy a productive day, however we cannot do this without having direction.  Our human nature would have us lounging in our pajamas for the first half of the day, no shower, and letting things happen when and if they ever do.  Saturday mornings are a good time for pj’s, but not Monday through Friday.  We need the children to be up and productive on their own initiative, and taking care of their responsibilities, especially with a large family.  I cannot do everything myself, and I will not waste my energy every day threatening and repeating trying to get the children to be responsible.  

Before breakfast, the children are expected to check off their entire morning chart, or for younger children, follow their picture chart and do those tasks with help.  We cannot allow blatant disobedience when we’ve given children instructions, however.  So after making sure that a child’s schedule is age-appropriate and that he or she has been taught how to implement each aspect of it, habitually not completing their chart is then a character issue that we address and implement appropriate consequences for.  Or, if they choose to mark something as completed on their chart that actually has not been done, that is deceit and they will receive appropriate consequences for that as well.  

Ignoring a chart that we as their parents have instructed them to complete is disobedience and must be addressed.  To qualify, however, this is only appropriate if the parents have set an example of being productive themselves; the expectations on the chart are reasonable; the children have been trained to do those tasks, and have been given ample time to do so. If I find later that any additional aspects of their morning routine need to be completed but they are usually forgotten, those get added to their chart as well.  *smile*  For example, if a child continually “forgets” to put on deodorant after their shower than that goes on the chart, too.  And if they complete their chart but with a bad attitude then apparently they need more practice in faithfulness so they’ve earned an additional job that day.  This is accountability, and all I have to say is, “Have you completed your chart?”  Rather than playing 20 questions with each of our 9 children every single morning.  *smirk*  The children know what is expected of them and they can then easily be successful.  This is a mutual blessing.  Children like to know they are pleasing and that they’re enjoyed.  Here is our children’s current morning chart.

Our children complete all of the items on their individual charts every single day before breakfast and then we move right in to our school morning, or Saturday activities, or church.  Everyone is well taken care of and we’ve done the chores as a team – a blessing to all of us!  The children know they are a necessary and appreciated part of our family, and they receive a powerful amount of satisfaction in this.
Bedtime Routine Charts

This chart, like the morning chart, saves my sanity.  Before I created it we would ask the kids to get ready for bed and they would do a partial job.  They could say, “What – I did it” but their work was not done well or thoroughly.   So – another chart arrived on the refrigerator.  *smile*  Now we simply ask the kids if they have completed their chart.  If they go to bed without completing it then we get them up to come back and do it, and if it continues being a problem then they may need to do that particular aspect they’ve been doing poorly or skip 10 times the following day.  Now they don’t forget very often.  *wink*
Kitchen Clean Up Charts

This chart works the same way as the morning and evening charts.  And these 3 make up our primary checklists.  Again, the children know how to be successful, they are learning a great skill in how to clean up a kitchen beautifully, they’re serving their family, and we all enjoy being in and cooking in a kitchen that is clean.  When it’s done well they receive ample praise, and we always try to remember to continue to praise when we get to use the clean kitchen by saying something like, “Oh, I just love preparing food on counter tops that are so clean!  Thank you, Karen.”  (And she beams. *smile*)  I write out every little step in cleaning up a kitchen, therefore the list looks long but really it’s just very specific as they seem to “forget” items if I don’t do this.  Each night either the item is checked off and done or it’s not – expectations are clear, they practice excellence, the family is blessed, and mom and dad are pleased.  No threatening and repeating.  No insanity.  *smile*
Activity Idea List

Our children used to be in the habit of constantly asking for ideas of what they could do with their spare time, and when we encouraged them to come up with some ideas they would inevitably come up with ideas for too large of projects for that time duration, not smaller time frame activities which is what we more often have time for.  So I found myself most of the time saying ‘no’ to all of their ideas.  Needless to say, it was not very motivating for children to offer me ideas.  And the younger children cannot rehearse in their mind all of their activity choices.  They cannot know what I would deem appropriate for a 15 minute block of time, or 30 or 60 minute blocks of time.  So my husband came up with this great chart idea!  Now when a child comes to me and says “I don’t know what to do”, I can respond with, “Right now you can look on the 15 min. idea list”, and there they have a whole bunch of ideas that are time-appropriate ‘yes’ ideas! 
Preschool Activities Idea List

This is a simple list of educational activities for a preschooler to enjoy.  Our children love to play with the younger ones, and sometimes I’ll ask an older one to choose an activity to do with a younger person who needs some extra attention that day or perhaps needs less freedom.  *wink*  Or sometimes I ask them to set up the preschooler’s activity time.  Older ones are still learning what is appropriate for a 3 or 5-year-old, so this is a reference for them to choose an activity that a younger child will enjoy because it’s age-appropriate for them, and that mom will enjoy them doing because it’s time-appropriate for that part of the day.
Homeschool Check List

As we’ve had more children joining our homeschool it’s been harder for me to keep track of what needs to be completed that day; to remember who has tests which take more time in their day, and which of the children have done their music for that day, etc.  We have a white board by the kitchen table where the older kids do most of their book work, and this is where we write what each school-age person has in front of them that day (although now the list of subjects is much longer).  The kids then simply check off the box as they complete things and I can quickly and easily see everyone’s progress as the day goes on, without playing 20 questions with each of them, and they have accountability.  *smile*  We don’t get to the end of the day (or several days) only to have me discover that they haven’t done music lately, and then we have the same old conversation, “Why not?”  “I du-no, I guess I forgot.”  “You forgot to do something that you do every single day??”  *shesh*  And this list also helps me to not skip preschool time completely one day if it needed to be postponed during a busy morning hours.  I can see on the white board list that it hasn’t been checked off for the day, and I or my husband (who also enjoys seeing what’s gone on that day) can scoop up our preschooler and give them at least 15 minutes of preschool time with that little one after dinner.  

Meal Ideas List

This is just a 5×7 post-it note list stuck to the refrigerator for quick reference with ideas of meals that I can prepare fairly spontaneously with pantry items I have on hand without shopping.  Either these are staple food items that we keep on hand for those nights when I need something quick (like canned chili, spaghetti sauce and pasta, or oatmeal), or we’re having an “eat the pantry” couple of weeks where we eat left over ingredients or whatever we have living in the pantry that needs to be eaten.  *smile*
So!  *smile!*  I hope one or more of these ideas has been helpful for you!  May you be encouraged in your efforts with your family –  training kids ON PURPOSE.  We would really love to hear from you!  Please leave us your thoughts, comments, questions, or tell us of your successes and additional ideas!  We are blessed to know that we’ve touched your life.
If you would like to have any of my charts, lists, or schedules that I’ve shared you can download those from this link.