Monday, March 2, 2009

Guest Blogger - Donna from Stop and Visit the Zoo

My guest blogger this week is Donna from Stop and Visit the Zoo. This woman is amazing (and sweet!)...amazing that she even has time to get on the computer, let alone maintain a blog. She is the mother of 9 children (and one in heaven). Ok...but she has 2 sets of triplets! Two ladies!!
I have people tell me that I am amazing having 8 children..but 3 of mine are out of the house, and of the 5 I have at home, Dave's kids (including his triplets) go to their mom's every other I feel like an impostor!! Be sure to check out how she manages her day....and notice the laundry! (And you thought you had a lot of laundry)

I want to thank Sandy for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger. Sandy, you and your site are definitely an inspiration for me on my organizing journey. I hope I can help others along their way too.

First of all hello everyone! I am Donna from Stop and Visit the Zoo. I have a large and unique family, 9 living children which include 2 sets of triplets. My oldest daughter, 17, is a senior in a science and math magnet program. She is currently working on her senior capstone project. This is a year long project that involves working with a local scientist and staying after school to do the required work. My 14 year old is a freshman at the local high school. She is in the International Baccaleurate program. Both of them are on their respective high school speech and debate teams, which also known as the Forensics Team. So they have a weekly practice and tournaments bi-weekly.

My middle four are in elementary school. One is in fifth grade, and other three are in third grade. The two boys are currently in Cub Scouts and the girls are Brownies. My oldest son will be moving up to Boy Scouts soon. Plus I have the three two year olds at home. Since they were born 10 weeks early, the currently have a monthly visit from the Infant and Toddler teacher to monitor their progress.

My husband Richard is a career fire fighter for a local county. He is currently assigned to the training academy, where he works four 10 hour days a week. I am blessed to be able to stay home with the children. Our parental activities include Richard being an officer in one of our church’s men groups. I belong to the affiliated woman’s chapter and also teach Faith Formation to the kindergartners on Monday nights. I am also the treasure of the elementary school’s PTA.

All of this background is to give you an idea that we are definitely a busy family. I am sure by now you are wondering how we manage it. The most important tool is our family calendar. We purchase a large desk blotter size one and hang it on the wall. This becomes our family’s communication center. My favorite saying is: If is not on the calendar it does not exist! So if one of the teens comes up to tell me about something they HAVE to today. If it is not already on the calendar, it is not a high priority. They learned very quickly to mark it on the calendar when they first hear of it.

Every night I look at the calendar and plan the next day. Are there appointments, meetings, events? I try to keep errands to Wednesday. For me it limits the time out of the house and makes for a smoother week. I check the menu for day and get the meat out or bring every thing upstairs and put it in the pantry. I do plan my menu out for the month. So anyone can tell what we are having and can fix it if I am not around

My oldest two daughters are out the door very early, high school starts at 7 AM here. My daughter in the magnet program is on the bus at 6:15 AM. They each have one morning chore. The oldest unloads the dishwasher and puts the dishes away. My 14 year old starts the 1st load of laundry.

What follows is the school year schedule. Most of the boy scout meeting are Monday evenings at 6:00 PM and the Girls Scout meetings are on Wednesdays so dinner those nights are a little earlier and quick and simple . During the summer, we are bit more relaxed. Stop laughing please. Yes, I can relax if I have to.

5:00 Oldest High schooler up
5:30 Richard up and off to work
6:00 AM Donna gets up, personal hygiene, devotional time, eat breakfast, computer if time allows, make sure 14 year is up
7:00 Get the middle four up, if they aren’t already up, they get dressed and eat.
7:30 Middle four do their morning chores. Straighten room, trash collected, etc.
7:30 Get the toddlers (the girls) up, dressed and fed
8:00 Finish breakfast clean up, reboot laundry
8:15 Load up the car to take the middle four to school, run errands on Wednesday
8:45 Back from school, if no errands
9:00 Play time with the girls
9:30 Reboot laundry, fold and put away laundry, morning cleaning. Start dinner in crockpot if using. Computer time for Donna.
10:30 More time with the girls, reading, playing, sometimes a video is played
11:15 Lunch time! Reboot laundry, fold, put away when the girls go up for nap
12:00 PM Girls down for nap.

This is when I can get the heavy cleaning I need to get done, done. Wash the floors, scrub the bathrooms. Or if I need to work upstairs, this is when I do it. I will do the pantry cleaning, closet organizing, etc. I may only get one or 2 shelves or drawers done, but it is done. Then I can get on the computer and play for a block of time

2:00 First high schooler home. She will check the laundry and reboot if there is any left, have a snack and then do her homework.
Between 2:30 and 3:00 Girls up from nap. Then weather permitting we will go on a walk or just play inside.
3:00 2nd high schooler home. She will do a laundry check and reboot if necessary. Snack and homework.
3:20 Leave to pick up the middle four. (The older two watch the girls while I do this)
3:45 Home from pick up., snack for the middle four
4:00 Homework. They sit at the kitchen table to do their homework while I start dinner preps. I can help them if they need it and I can get my work done too. After they are done, their book bags go into a basket in the garage. Then they can play for a bit either outside or in the house.
5:15 Evening chores. The children all have a job to do. It rotates through the days. Monday could be feed the pets, Tuesday is wipe down the bathrooms, Wednesday is trash detail, etc. Each day a different child is responsible for a different chore. Everything is posted so no one can say it is not my day.
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Dinner clean up and baths start
7:00 Evening family prayer time for those at home. Final chores for the day. Basement toy room picked up, rooms picked up. Make sure all the laundry is put away, etc
7:30 Girls bathed
8:00 Older set of triplets to bed
8:30 5th grader to bed
9:00 Girls to bed
9:30 High schoolers to their rooms for chill out time, finish up their home work, etc.
10:00 Lights out for High schoolers. Finish up any lingering things that need to get done, start dishwasher
10:30 Time I try to head to bed, some nights are later, much later

So that is our day. Do all days go as planned, heck no! More often than not only the bare minimum gets done. But I have an outline of what needs to get done. I know what I am working on in my house so it will eventually get done.


Kaycee said...

Wow. Just wow. Donna, you are amazing and have a beautiful family,

jenjen said...

Wow - I need to stop complaining! Very inspiring. Thanks Sandy and Donna!


Donna said...

Thanks for the opportunity to all you to take a glimpse into my oh so crazy life.

CanCan (MomMostTraveled) said...

Wow, you are my new hero! :)