Pinterest commanded me to make some blue raspberry Jolly Rancher-infused rum and it was pretty rad with some Sprite in it. I thought Jolly Roger would be a cool name but there's already a cocktail named the Jolly Roger. Then Michael Bolton reminded me of my favorite pirate ever:

...and we ended up with the Captain Jack Sparrow! Now to plan our next insanely expensive Disney World vacay...


Not bad for a four-year-old, right?

Organizing a busy family

We have a pretty crazy schedule, and resources for stay-at-home dads are pretty slim on the web. Of course Pinterest is a fabulous round-up site for cool info on running household, but some of the household organization approaches are so complicated it's hardly worth it. For example, we have and use a household binder, but it's not an everyday thing. We have three under five, and between the college teacher parent and the college student parent, one or all of us is constantly at the college. Our kids probably think they are enrolled at this point.

For us, the most complicated part of running our household is keeping track of communicating where everyone is supposed to be and when. Doctor's appointments, occupational therapy, visitations for little nephew with three different sets of family members, school, haircuts, uniforms, college meetings, college classes, meetings with clients for our wedding/event business, a couple dozen loads of laundry a week, just to start! On school nights, we literally "tag" each other sometimes as one runs home from work and the other dashes up to class. Who has time to write all this stuff in a binder or enter it into an app?

Meet the easiest organization system ever. This and email are the core of our household organization.

1. Owen (actually "Sluyter"--Justin's mom's side of the fam) family calendar. We still use google calendars and all those other cool tools, but there's something to be said for having the master copy everyone can sync up with in good old tangible paper. And it certainly doesn't hurt to have cool annual family calendar.

2. We've posted about the color chart before, but it's basically the easiest way to manage discipline in young kids because it's what most of them are already using at school. It's so easy: stay on green, get privileges. Note the wonky smiley face to indicate how successful one is being at achieving green. Yellow means they need to slow down, exercise caution, be mindful--the text says "try harder." (Note: at four and a half, they should not need warnings on things they already know about, so if it's something the really know they aren't supposed to be doing, we don't warn. Example: throwing toys). Orange means they need to have some time out, but it's important to differentiate that time out is most effective when used not as a punishment but as a time of reflection and chillage (Nanny 911 much LOL?). This is done by one minute per age; right now they both do four and a half minutes. It works best with an egg timer but somehow ours keep meeting demise. With a child with R.A.D. issues, this meditative time can be a key to helping the little nugget learn to self-regulate, which is a huge challenge for these kiddos. Getting a "RADish" to stay in time out isn't always easy, so we have a bunch of those little squishy toys , but any sensory device will do, like these awesome glitter meditation jars I totally want get. Since RAD and ASD present similarly and those kiddos struggle with similar issues, this can also work for some children on the spectrum. In fact, we get a lot of our parenting ideas from a friend whose child is hypersensitive to sensory stimulation, which is similar to being on the spectrum and depending on who you talk to counts. Who cares about semantics, right? We just care about results. What's cool about teaching kids to self-regulate is that if it is good for an ASD kid or  a RADish, it's usually  pretty good for a non-spectrum kid too. Yesterday at Artie's first back to school night, his teacher commented repeatedly on how sweet and calm and articulate his speech was and how polite he is. We really think this has to do with teaching self-regulation. Not to say he's perfect, but instead to emphasize just how truly helpful time-out as a meditative self-regulation practice can be.

I often hear people say "You'll change your mind about time out when they get older" or "It just doesn't work for me." While both of these statements may be true, we always keep in mind that schools manage 20 or more kids that age between one or two adults without corporal punishment for hours each day, kids who have no discipline at home, kids who have too much, kids who are cranky and tired, kids ho have undiagnosed ADHD, RAD, ASD, etc. This discipline chart works best and really ONLY works when used with unwavering consistency and paired with a tight schedule. Little kids thrive on consistency because it gives them security.

3. Giant whiteboard. This is an absolute necessity. Grocery lists, reminders, questions, etc. This is how we communicate when telephones are hard to use due to background noise, meetings, and other complications.

4. Visual schedule. This works well for pre-readers and keeps them on task. With a 6 AM awake time,and 7 PM bedtime mean the schedule is the master of our day. I picked up this one online but can' remember the site and will post the link if I find. It's a basic after-school chore version of  more advanced schedule we build our day on.

So that's it. The basics of keeping our people and home organized as simply as possible. 

How do you keep your household organized?