TOS Review: Motivated Moms Chore Planner

Motivated Moms Review
I’m excited to bring you my first TOS review in 2014! I’m more excited to share that it’s for a chore planner that’s actually usable and helpful! I’ve tried different systems over the years, but I couldn’t stick with anything. Email-based programs didn’t work for me, because I get too much email anyway. The reminders would either get lost or become overwhelming. I tried using task managers in calendar programs to set up daily tasks, but that became cumbersome and overwhelming. Paper wasn’t going to work, because I hate to waste paper. I didn’t want to make a new list every day. Then, thanks to TOS, I discovered Motivated Moms.

The planner is available as an ebook or an iOS app. A few weeks before our review period started, I downloaded the iPhone app. It’s available in a paid version, with more features, or a two-week free trial. I got the trial, because I just needed to know if I liked it enough to apply for the review.

Motivated Moms Review
The app is great. You can color-code the tasks, and things move off the page as you check them off, so they’re not in your way.But I’m not the only person in my family, so I wanted everyone to be able to see the list. Fortunately, you can print from the app. If you have a wireless printer connected to your phone, it’s super-easy. If not, I’m not sure how that would work. There are Crew members doing full reviews of the app. You can read those more more information.

I did use my wireless printer. The color-coding doesn’t translate to the printout, but you can see we just used initials. Completed tasks do move over to the printout as checked items. (Follow the link at the bottom of the page to see in-depth reviews of the iOS app.)

Motivated Moms app printout

 

Except for the printing, I loved the app! Specifically, I loved the system. It’s broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks. (Probably some quarterly stuff, too. I didn’t dissect the task list. That’s why I have the planner.) It’s all there as part of your list for each day, so you don’t have to go to a separate page for less-than-daily chores.

Once I was fortunate enough to be accepted for this review (yay!), I selected the Motivated Moms Chore Planner, because it allowed me to print the whole week onto one page. (While working on this review, I see that selecting the Half-Size Chore Planner would have enabled me to print two weeks on one page. I’m not sure how I missed that, but know that’s an option if you’re as paper-conscious as I am.)

The planners all come with the option to include a daily Bible reading plan.

Motivated Moms Review
Planners are also available in color or black and white.

I was originally going to send the ebook to Office Depot to have it printed and put in a 3-ring binder, but I decided to just print it at home one week at a time. Had I actually had the whole thing printed, I might have actually noticed that there is a two-week menu planner at the back. Probably not, as it’s at the back. It’s in the description of the planner; that was something else I missed. I just wrote that week’s dinner menu on the side of the page.

So, I’d print out the week’s task list, and mark off the things we didn’t need (like watering plants). I’d use a highlighter to color-code the remaining items. Some things weren’t coded if there were things that anyone could do as needed, like taking out the trash, or things we all do, such as taking vitamins.

This weekly Chore Planner lists all the daily chores in one section, with a checkbox for each day. The boxes aren’t labeled, but I just jotted the days of the week at the top to help us keep track. Individual days’ tasks are listed on the other side of the page.

Motivated Moms Chore Planner

As you can see, we didn’t get everything done every week. No perfection here! Another good thing about the week-at-a-glance page is that you can do extra things if you have time or pick up an uncompleted task later in the week. And if you don’t get to something, you know it’ll come around again, and you can do it then.

I love that it has tasks like “clip children’s nails” (if you’re like me, you notice that when they start looking like Dracula), “pamper yourself” (I have to! It’s on the schedule!), and order credit report (does anyone remember to check those regularly?). My biggest accomplishment while using this system was cleaning out my purse and wallet. I clean out my purse every few months, but apparently it’s been a really long time since I cleaned out my wallet. I found my voter registration card. From our former address. Where we lived ten years ago. I should do that more often. Too bad I didn’t find any hidden money in there.

I did find it confusing that every other week, “plan menus” was on the Sunday list, but “inventory refrigerator contents and plan meals around leftovers” was on the Monday list. Wouldn’t it make more sense to either do them both at the same time or at least get check the leftovers before planning the week’s menu?

The only thing I didn’t like about the ebook (which isn’t a complaint, really, because it’s an ebook, and this is kind of obvious) was that I couldn’t remove the items that don’t apply to us, as I could with the app — like feeding the pets. Unless you count the kids, we don’t have any pets. It wasn’t a big deal; I just marked those things off. It’s just something to consider if you’re trying to decide between the app and the paper planner.

How to get it

Choose from 16 different ebook versions $8 for a 2014 planner

 

Click to read Crew Reviews
 

Crew Disclaimer

Can a Homeschooler Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?

I’ve posted several times over the past few months about decluttering. I’m not talking about just cleaning out a closet. I’m talking about 30+ moving boxes of junk that I’ve moved around the country with me — some of them for 26 years. I have two boxes left that I didn’t get to before I moved again this week. My ex-husband found four small boxes (mostly books, of course) and one large box (only part of the contents were mine) that I left when I moved out. Because I couldn’t find all my stuff because we had too much crap stored in the basement.

I grew up in a very cluttered home. Not dirty. Just cluttered. Well, some of the shelves were dusty, because who has time to dust four million what-nots? (I exaggerate. There were probably only three million.) I was just as bad. I collected unicorns. And Precious Moments figurines. And those cute Avon perfume bottles. And Garfield toys and figurines. And books. Lots and lots of books. Everywhere. My mom had lots of those, too, And by “too” I mean both of us had way too many books.

I was in my late twenties before I started even thinking about getting rid of anything. It had never crossed my mind. It didn’t matter that some things had been boxed up the first time my family moved when I was twelve. (If you’re really clever, you can now figure out how old I am.) Then we moved again six months later, in another cross-country move. Again, three years after that. I moved three times within the same town, then once to another state, and every time I moved, more stuff got put in boxes, and less stuff came out of those boxes. Who needs thirty boxes of anything? (Unless it’s chocolate, then we can talk.)

I went through some of the boxes, donating things, tossing some — and labeling and resealing half-full boxes. Why? I have no idea.

A couple of years later, I started selling my figurines and unicorns on eBay. I had so many that even after years of stumbling across them and selling who knows how many, I still found a large box full of Garfield figurines this summer.

So, here I am, moving again, and even after getting rid of all the stuff over the past few months, I still have So. Much. And I just don’t need this much stuff. And that’s just MY stuff. I can’t even talk about the kids’ playroom. When we moved here, Jack was 2 1/2, and there was one small bin of toys. Now we have two long shelves (8-10 ft) full of small bins–used to sort the small toys–as well as four huge bins on the floor — all of which are mounded up with toys. And the 50+ stuffed animals. And the thousands of Legos. All over the floor.

My ex has major hoarding issues, as well, and now that I’m back here (living in the basement — I seem to be forever living under other people), I’m reminded of how bad he is about that. So we all need work. X claims he wants help cleaning out, but the only way he’ll actually get rid of stuff is if I lock him out of the house and throw it away myself. It’s not my stuff to throw way, though.

But I can only start with myself and see what happens. Mainly because I’m so tired of trying to find places for all my stuff. I had two ebooks downloaded (collecting free ebooks was something I had to stop because I realized I was hoarding free ebooks as if there would never be enough to read) about minimalism so I read them both tonight. Don’t be too impressed. They were both only about 100 pages. They are books about minimalism after all. (Neither of these are free now. They were $2.99 each at the time of this post.)

I preferred Luxury of Less: The Five Rings of Minimalism by Karol Gajda. It’s written in kind of a chatty style, talking about his personal journey, and each chapter has a 30-day challenge, only one of which is to get rid of “stuff”. This book is more about your mindset.

The Art Of Minimalist Organization: The Minimalist Way To Organize, Clean, And Keep Your Home Spotless by Ben Night is more about a step-by-step process of how to remove stuff from your home and neatly store the items you do keep.

Both books are helpful in their own way. Minimalism stresses quality over quantity and being happy with your life and grateful for what you have rather than constantly wishing for more stuff, thinking that it will make you happy. Not that you can’t buy new things, but you make fewer purchases, and each one has a purpose — no impulse buys.

So, I’m looking around at the things I have here already and thinking about all the boxes I have yet to bring over from the apartment, and a good chunk of it is homeschool-related. I kept all of Jack’s old books in case he wanted to look back over them, or in case Blake wanted to. We have oodles of stuff for science experiments, and while neither kid is into crafts, Blake does like to draw, so we have all the paper, crayons, markers, pens, and pencils a kid could want.

Just *some* of the books I've kept "just in case".

Just *some* of the books I’ve kept “just in case”. Not sure if you can tell, but there are about 15 books in each stack.

We won’t even talk about the regular books these kids have. We could easily open our own little library here. (I’m not exaggerating this time.)

Then there are the puzzles and board games that every family has. Well, Blake really likes puzzles, so we may have more than our share of those, too.

One of the first things that set me on the path to decluttering and simplifying was reading something FlyLady wrote. At least, I’m pretty sure it was her. (And whoever it was, I’m paraphrasing.) If you’re a Christian, and you believe God will meet all your needs, then why do you hold onto things you don’t need or use “just in case you need it” ten years from now?

But I’m wondering if it’s possible for a homeschooler to be a minimalist? How much stuff do we really need to homeschool? I’m not talking about how much or how little to spend. I’m talking about how much stuff we keep around. I’m not quite ready to dump all the stuff yet — even the old school books, but it is something to consider. I have no trouble getting rid of clothes or shoes (just not the boots – I may need a boot intervention), but I can’t get rid of anything that is remotely educational.

Which would probably be fine if I didn’t see pretty much everything as educational.

 

Moving: The Ultimate Decluttering Tool

Well, having your apartment flooded is a great way to declutter, too, but I hope to never to do that again. Moving, I dislike, but I can tolerate. I would like to wait until warmer weather to move next time, though.

Fortunately, I have a moving trailer and a pickup truck available this time, which will make things go a lot quicker. Especially since I finally have more furniture than just bookshelves. Also good is the fact that I’m about thirty boxes lighter now than when I moved in here! It will make moving so much quicker and easier. Now I just have to pack up seven bookcases worth of books. Tonight. Including this thing:

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So, yeah, this could take a while. And I’m sure hopeful that over the next few days I’ll find even more stuff I can get rid of.

Declutter Check-In #3

It’s amazing what a couple bookshelves will do. And that should tell you what was in most of those boxes I had sitting around…

I still have a few boxes sitting in the hallway full of stuff to get rid of, and there is still a pile in one corner of my bedroom, but I’ve made huge inroads into this mess.

Here’s the bedroom. I actually slept in there last night for the first time since we moved in almost two months ago. There are a few boxes still there. Those are boxes I’ve already sorted and combined of stuff I’m keeping and will be putting in bins – when I get those cleaned out.

I had to take two pictures, because my desk is now in the corner I stood in to get the original picture.

I had to take two pictures, because my desk is now in the corner I stood in to get the original picture so I couldn’t get the same angle.

 

And here’s the living room/dining room. Again, still a few boxes, but nothing like before.

The top two pics are before. Bottom are after. You can see the fireplace (which I don't use, obviously), and the outlets as reference points.

The top two pics are before. Bottom are after. You can see the fireplace (which I don’t use, obviously), and the outlets as reference points.

 

I think I’ve gotten past the easy stuff and the remaining stuff will take more time to go through – papers I need to sort and make sure there is nothing important before I recycle – that kind of thing. But at least now I have hope that I can actually finish sometime this year. LOL

 

A-Z Challenge: Office Space

a-to-z-letters-o

 

Office Space (one of my decluttering reports)

No, not that Office Space (though I do have a Swingline stapler – it’s black, though). My new office space. I not only have to have my desk in my room, but desks for both boys. There just isn’t room anywhere else in the house without putting one desk in each room, and I can’t help them with their work or supervise their computer time that way. So three desks and a printer table have to fit in there. So far, we’re up to two desks. I still have to get Jeffrey a desk. We have one picked out, but I don’t have room for it yet. Here’s what the space looks like so far. I’m not sure I took a picture of that corner in my “before” pictures, but you can see part of that area in the other pictures.

2013-04-17 17.32.43

 

This is part of the same wall. The outlet that you see on the right side of the bottom pic is between the table and the school desk in the top pic.

2013-03-24 17.17.21

 

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. If you want to see the other 1,700+(!) blogs, check  out the list here.

 

A-Z Challenge: Decluttering Dilemma

a-to-z-letters-dFor some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. If you want to see the other 1,800+(!) blogs, check  out the list here.

Decluttering Dilemma

I wrote last week about my decluttering mission.  My dilemma is that I am perfectionist, which as we all know, doesn’t mean that I do everything perfectly. No, what this means is that I rarely get anything done because I’m so concerned with doing it perfectly. *sigh* There are a lot of things to get rid of, and I don’t have a problem getting rid of things. I do have a problem doing a little at a time. My brain tries to tell me that I have to drop everything and get all these boxes out of here! And I was able to take a couple days last week and just unpack boxes. But the reality is that on most days, I need to work, feed kids, spend time with kids, and have a little downtime. So the unpacking will have to be done a little at a time. One box a day, perhaps. Maybe not even that much on some days. I struggle to get past this “all or nothing” mentality.

Since my last update, I have gotten rid of a jogging stroller and another smaller stroller, and nine books have gone to Paperbackswap users. I have 25 books currently in giveaways on my blogs.

While I’m working on this perfectionism, here’s a little tip for you. Not really decluttering as it applies to what I’m doing, but it will help with your coat closet and enable your little ones to “help out” by hanging up their own jackets.

Use a tension rod to "kid-size" your coat closet.

Use a tension rod to “kid-size” your coat closet.