Monday, September 5, 2016

Systems that Keep Our Family Sane

Tomorrow something wonderful is going to happen.

For most of you, this day came in August. For us, this celebrated occasion always happens the day after Labor Day. 

I am ready, oh so ready, for SCHOOL!
[Cue the confetti and applause track.]

I am ready for Schedules.
I am ready for Systems.
I am ready for the new normal.

My husband and I are always trying to come up with better systems to control our chaos. With seven savages, ranging from toddler to high school, it can get crazy really fast. 

And I ask you, what better time of year to rethink and restrategize than September?

I love hearing how other parents tackle things like laundry and fighting and so here is the deal: I will share some of our systems with you and you can share some of your systems with me and we will all become more and more brilliant and wow our children.

Of course, what works divinely for our family might be a total headache for your family. And what is perfect today might fall apart tomorrow. We have had to revamp every single system we have. 

Gosh, we parents are some resilient folks.

Here are some of our current favorites:


Anyone else find themselves staring at stray towels lying all over their house? 

Before, the answer was always, Not mine! I didn't put it there!

After a million sighs, we finally just went out and bought new towels. Since every kid has their own color, they are now so busted.

Mom's Quarter Box

The new home for things left laying around. 
Want them back?
For a quarter, they can be yours again.
All proceeds donated to charity.

Garfield comics, homework slips, lip gloss and mouth guards are welcomed with open arms into this lovely community for the neglected. The way we see it, we can either get really grumpy at our kids for their poor responsibility OR we can be completely quiet about it and use actions. 

At any time, the kids can pay the ransom for their stuff and have it back. But once or twice a year that box gets full and then we set it up like a garage sale. The kids can buy their own stuff back if they want and whatever is left is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The little ones have scored big.

The Quarter Box was a great way to introduce the Tithing Jar.

All money goes directly into a special jar that we set aside for specific projects. It started with a great organization called "Pure Gift of God" which supports families in the process of adoption started by some friends of ours. When the jar is full, we pick another project. Our latest is Bibles for restricted nations in Asia. 

Which brings me to...


Do you ever hear yourself telling your kids the exact same sentence for the thousandth time? 

"We give God the first 10% of all of our money to remind ourselves that everything we have belongs to God."

We really do believe that. God doesn't just get 10% and we get 90%. It all belongs to him and we need that reminder often. 

So the kids can choose to give to the Tithing Jar, to our local church or toward a sponsored child. 

It's a pretty simple system and it has worked for us.


Less simple. Less neat and tidy. Much more smelly.

After kid #6 joined our home, I realized that I was spending hours just folding our clothes every week and I started seriously questioning my laundry system.

Currently this is the way we do laundry:

1. Every Monday is Wash Day. But unlike the women of old, I never actually finish on Monday. Every kid is responsible to get all the clothes down the laundry shoot and baskets into the laundry room. 

2. I start a load.

3. I yell at a kid to switch loads.

4. The kid can never remember what I mean.

5. I explain it for the 20th time.

6. They help switch loads. Hurray!

7. They help sort loads into the appropriate baskets. Hallelujah!

8. Everyone seven and older, folds and puts their own laundry away. Joy to the world!

9. My clothes and my husbands clothes sit clean and wrinkly in a basket until said husband gets tired of wrapping a towel around his waist to dig for undies.

The hubby thinks this one needs a little tweaking.

Bedtime Prayers

Our kids have always wanted us to pray for them before they sleep and we have asked them to pray for someone else first. Our kids tend to think the world should revolve around them and we keep reminding them that other people exist too. 

Every night they would ask, Who should I pray for?
I got tired of doing all of the thinking so we came up with a plan. 

Monday- Family (In taking care of people, we can't forget our own family)
Tuesday- School 
Wednesday- Missionary
Thursday- The World (India, an unreached people group, refugees, etc.)
Friday- Church (The local one)

Saturday and Sunday they can choose whomever they wish.

We traced a hand on paper and assigned each day a finger as a visual. 

It helps us be more intentional about who we are praying for and gets the kids out of the rut of only praying for their grandmas and best friends.

Raising kids and running a house is a big job and I know you parents out there are doing your darnest best too. We are in this together! And we need each other.

Now it's your turn. A deal is a deal.
What have you found that works well for your family? 
What systems are you rocking and would be willing to share? 


  1. Hey Carissa! I enjoy your quick tips on raising kids. We only have two & I figure someone who has survived (so far) 7 kids is someone I should pay heed to:) One problem I run into is the toys, toys, toys. Not sure how to live minimally in this area. Have you learned what works for you, or have you given up & designated a whole room for this stuff?!

    1. Oh gosh, the toys. They can make me a crazy person. My favorite thing to do with toys is rotate them. We put some in storage and then every few months we swap a few out. Less toys in my path and Yay! the toy is new again. Also, we encourage generosity which sometimes means the kids give their toys away. Another yay!