Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

If you’ve been to this page, you’ll see it hasn’t been updated for a while. That’s because I’ve moved! I followed where a lot of my thoughts (and comments!) were leading and (trumpet intro, please!) I have a new blog at

There are a lot of great things happening there, like much more frequent posts, including:

Come on over and join us there!


My #1 organizing tip

…is to have a book for your household! Whatever you call it (control journal, homemaker handbook, shalom bayit book, family manager notebook, akeret habayit assistant), this is a crucial book for keeping your household running smoothly.

I call this my shalom bayit book (SBB). Shalom bayit is Hebrew for peace in the house – which is what we want to create with this book!

My SBB is a 2 inch binder with dividers physically, but even more importantly, I have each of the pages on word document. I update each of them each year and in the planning process. My SBB tells me what I used last year, what worked well, what didn’t, and has a list of menus and planning from previous years that I can reference or even copy again! I also have a very helpful list of what I have and where it is stored. I have the pages printed out for me to write on and adjust as needed, but what I really appreciate from year to year is having them on the computer to go in and update.

I will be putting these documents into the “printables” section of my new website as I go. I’ve started linking some of the Rosh Hashanah planning there already. Please visit OrganizedJewishHome and let me know what you think! Subscribe to get updates as things are loaded there (there is a box for your e-mail in the upper right corner or if you prefer a feedreader, there are buttons for that, too).

Chores for kids…with simcha!

Chores are important for kids. They are  part of the family, and part of being part of a family is help out!

But giving the chores to kids doesn’t necessarily mean the adult in charge gets to take the day off and lounge in an easy chair. It actually takes more time to “train” the kids in, and then to correct sloppy work (occasionally). It’s definitely an investment in future relaxation, though.

My chore methods for my kids is something I am updating often. Here’s how it goes right now: each kid does two chores (or groups of smaller chores) each day; one upstairs (bedroom and kids’ bathroom care) and one downstairs (common area care). This is because they should help with their own stuff (upstairs) as well as something that may not be directly tied to them but is a family area (downstairs). Each one has something different, but usually related.

For example, Wednesday’s upstairs chore for each of the older boy is to prepare their room for Bot and then clean up after. (Bot is our WONDERFUL robotic vaccuum cleaner who I love! Here’s a link to what I mean: BOT) That means getting things up off the floor, setting Bot loose when no one is currently napping, putting him back on the recharger, and putting everything away again. The downstairs Wednesday chore is sorting socks (one kid) and kid underwear (the other), folding appropriately, and putting into the owner’s room.

I have our playroom cleaned and vacuumed twice a week (each given a specific area of responsibility), the kids’ bathroom and our downstairs powder room cleaned up twice a week, their rooms cleaned up once a week, their school area cleaned up once a week, entryway cleaned up once a week by each, etc. For each of these, I have specific measurable tasks that they need to do, both written and depicted so they can fully understand.

Each child’s chore cards have the day along the top, the child’s color down the side, the chore(s), and then a checkmark on the back. And each is laminated (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my laminator–or as my 4 year old used to call it, my lemonader?) The cards are hung on two side-by-side hooks – one for still-to-be-done chores and one for completed chores. Each child can tell at a glance what comes next (see photo above).

Where does the simcha come in? It comes from the child knowing what is expected of them and following a routine, and doing it both correctly and independently. This system minimizes nagging and encourages the child to do their work on their own. (The kids know no playdates until their chores are done and just do them. Yay!)

When you assign a child chores, it pays to go through it exhaustively with them, explaining what you want done. Then do it again. Then check their work and explain whatever needs more work. Then check it randomly, always gently correcting when needed. It’s a lot of work for the grown up, but really worth it when that easy chair calls…in a few years, I guess! 😉

I love my lemonader!

OK, that’s my laminator to all you non-4 year olds out there. I bought one last year, and it was a great investment. I personalize something for myself and then laminate it and two great things happen: 1. It doesn’t get destroyed and 2. I can use dry erase markers on it and erase and restart as needed! This is a fantastic way to keep track of things and checklists–and I am a die-hard list maker.

What do I have laminated around here, you ask?

Why am I breaking out my lemonader this week? After I finish test running them and am sure they are working for me, I have a few new things  to laminate:

Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah…and so much more!

It’s time to start thinking about Rosh Hashanah in more concrete terms. It’s a three day Yom Tov this year! I’ve already seen the sale of seats and even lulav and etrog/esrog, so it’s not too early. It’s rosh hodesh Elul!

Here is what I’ve done or am planning to do so far this week:

  • order seats for shul
  • pay shul dues (ours have always been due about now for the different shuls we’ve belonged to in our travels)
  • consider and probably order lulav and etrog for dh (still looking for less expensive “learning” one(s) for ds7 and ds4.5)
  • new tzitzit for ds 7 and ds 4.5
  • order pjs for all 4 kids (our tradition–they are always needed around this turn of the seasons!)
  • order/find needed clothing for kids: adjustable waist Shabbat pants for ds7, additional pjs for ds 4.5, new dressy outfits for all
  • purchase new special something for kids–legos? clics? Something to add to their simcha (joy).
  • order/find new something for me (outfit? tichel?)
  • check with dh about his clothing needs
  • take care of kittel, if your dh wears one for Yom Kippur
  • plan our Rosh Hashanah homeschooling lessons and projects
  • plan menu (but with all the simanim (special, ritual foods) we use, that’s a whole post by itself!)

20 bag challenge


I want to get rid of the extra stuff in my family’s life and lighten our load. We donate things that still have life in them, and I am also starting to sell things on Ebay and Craigslist.

It feels so good to get rid of excess clutter. I’m not going to be using so many of these school books, clothes, smaller shoe sizes, etc. And the kids’ clothes – if I haven’t put them into it by now, I can part with it. We are blessed to have more than enough.

My goal is to sell and give away 20 garbage bags  by the end of this summer–August 31. I will update as I go. Anyone want to join me?


Why has life become so crazy for many of us?

We run frantically from activity to activity, bring home bags of food and goods from stores, and store closets of things “just in case.” Our culture values stuff, and we obliging collect it!

How many extra pairs of shoes do you have? How many unread books–or those you won’t read again? How many kitchen appliances that you rarely if ever use? What takes up your storage space?

What’s worth keeping and what’s not? It’s something that I struggle with. I have every size of kids clothing stored (but have had three boys going through them), maternity and nursing clothes (used 4 times in the past 7 years), and then different sizes of clothing as I go up and down in sizes. It feels like so much, but I use them with my pregnancies and kids!

I constantly worry about throwing things into the Goodwill bin because I might need them–but I actually might. Plus my wardrobe needs have changed. I don’t need quite so much professional clothing in different sizes. I need to let go of some of it and lighten up.

Then there are the things I use only on occasion – waffle maker, griddle, and more. What’s worth keeping?

Still working on that. All of this stuff can really weigh a person down! I’m planning on setting up a bag goal when I get back from my family’s house. Anyone want to join?