SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{August 5, 2014}   The Monkey Management Binder

A few times each year, it seems, I get it in my head that it is time to organize. This summer, I’ve decluttered some cabinets, shelves, and revisited my binder systems. My Household Management Binder bears little resemblance to the original Household Notebook I created during my addiction to the Organized Home message boards. Several sections have morphed into their own binders. One of these was actually at the request of the monkeys.

Monkeys 1 & 2 are extremely busy, social little creatures. They must get that from Grizzly, because I am happier to hide out in the House of Cheaptitude. And they know if an event is not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. They have asked for their own binder to keep up with their “stuff” and make sure I’ve not forgotten something.

Right away, I knew what I wanted their binder to look like. I wasn’t positive about the contents, but the cover? Oh, yes.


I already had scrapbook paper that was perfect.

The section dividers would be nothing fancy, yet. I had some plain old Avery dividers that will work fine for now. And while the monkeys may be in different levels of their activities, they’re both involved in the same things, if that makes sense. That was how I determined my divider categories.

Both monkeys are very involved in the Church. They’re altar servers and usually serve together, so that schedule, as well as the server roster, will go in that section. They also both have catechism, one on Sunday mornings, and this year, the other, Monday evenings. Some weeks, they don’t meet at all. So these schedules, as well as their church friends’ phone numbers, will go in this section. And if they ever start up the children’s choir again….

I would also like to see each kiddo with a prayer list in this section.

Class schedules. Teacher info. Sports schedules. Usernames and passwords for SchoolLoop. This is all information to which the monkeys should have ready access. Now that Monkey 1 is in high school, there will hopefully be some club information, as well. Books to read, science and social studies fair ideas – all of this can go in this section of the Monkey Management binder.

The academy my kids attend for martial arts is not just about kicks and punches. For each belt test, the monkeys have to pass physical fitness, vocabulary, and so on.

Guess who speaks no Korean?

In this section, I have some basic info about the school, their class schedule (one is a beginner while the other is intermediate), and their vocabulary list.
We’ve also started making flashcards that are kept in ziplock baggies in this section. That was a nifty Pinterest tip – I duct taped the side of a quart sized bag, then hole-punched to keep in the binder. We’ve done this all the way through blue belt.

This is where I *plan* to keep rehearsal schedules, head shots, and résumés.

We have none of these things right now. Thankfully, neither monkey is in a production at the moment.

But these are things they will need for auditions and future plays. And we never have them when we needs them, of course.

Chores & Money
We had some long talks about chores, allowance, what is worthy of allowance, and what is expected just as a member of the House of Cheaptitude. So in this section will be a list of what they have to do because they live here, and a list of what they will can do to earn their beloved sno-cone cash. I also think this is a good place to keep wish lists, so the monkeys can set savings goals.

We’ll see how all of this turns out. Monkey 1 and Monkey 2 have taken the first step for asking me to help them get organized. It’s a positive start.

What tricks do you have for organizing kids?

~ Katie


Family photo from my favorite brother-in-law's wedding a few years ago

Family photo from my favorite brother-in-law’s wedding a few years ago

I love Pinterest.  I can spend Hours on Pinterest.  I swear, Pinterest was created especially for the House of Cheaptitude.  I have an entire board with over 300 pins dedicated to my Household Management Binder.

The one that I haven’t been using.

Because it had 6 million sections.

And I would forget all about it.

And I love organizing and using binders to organize, so what is my malfunction?

Seriously, it’s just too much crap information in one place.  I don’t need random recipes in with immunization records.  I use different information in different places.  So I’ve begun breaking it down.

Several months ago, my Money & Finance Divider broke out into its own binder. Don’t you remember?  It’s all crafty and pink and girly and cute?  I actually have used it.  Sort of.

You HAVE to have a system that works for you.

Monkey Management

Now the Monkeys have kept me hopping all summer.  Between church activities, karate, reading programs, and Shreveport Little Theater, I’ve put over 2000 miles on the PimpMobile just since May!  And Monkey 1 is starting High School this year.  So they’re in different categories now in all of their activities.  I may be rubbing off on my offspring – they’ve both asked for binders to keep their schedules straight.  At this point, not knowing how much the monkeys will actually use binders for organization, they’ll be in one binder, my “Monkey Management Binder.”  I’ve started putting it together (super cute cover!) and it will be its own blog post, just because I’m so freaking proud of it!

Recipes & Menu Planning

This binder is pretty cool, too.  I have my frequently used cookbooks and recipe cards, of course.  But this binder has freezer cooking information and ideas, menu planning ideas, frequently used recipes, recipes to try, shopping lists, etc.  I’m planning to make a menu board, also (Thank you, Pinterest!) This is going to be my kitchen brain.  And we all know I’m fond of playing in the kitchen.


O. M. G.  2 of the people in my house have had hospital stays in the past year.  2 have had surgery.  I think I’m getting EOB’s or bills on a daily basis.  Binderizing is a good solution to keep up with all of this mess.  Each family member has a divider, behind which are EOB’s, receipts, bills. When an EOB comes in, it will be stapled to the matching bill or receipt.  Easy Peasy.  I’ll also have a reminder sheet in the front so I remember who needs to be scheduled for what appointment for what doctor, etc. each month.

Mommy’s Idea Book

You know all of those pages you pull out of magazines because they’re so cool and you’re going to craft/cook/exercise/etc. just like this article? Yeah.  I have a mountain of clipped pages.  Because Pinterest just isn’t enough.  So that paper pile will be sorted, categorized, and put in a binder, too.


Now for the good stuff.  My re-vamped Management Binder.

Household Management Binder

There are 60 million ideas on Pinterest for setting these up.  I absolutely love the printables and such people have come up with.  I’m astounded by how many etsy sellers specialize in Management binders.  While I may tweak some of what I’ve seen, I’m creating my own.  I love crafting and I have the resources and I make the time, so why not?  There’s nothing wrong with buying stuff or using other people’s forms.  But I’m too cheap for all that.

I made a cute cover, using lots of quotes about family, and a picture of the four of us from my favorite brother-in-law’s wedding.  The back cover is pics of the monkeys when they were little and adored each other, with a sweet quote.

My dividers were super simple.  I printed out titles and glued to cardstock, trimming with other scrapbook paper. These went in frosted page protectors. Then I made tabs from cardstock and stapled to my dividers.  Easy Peasy.  The most important sections in that binder, I believe, are the Planning Section (Master Calendar!) and the Phone section.  My cleaning routines will probably end up in a small binder or notebook at some point.

For the most part, this binder is to help out the rest of the House of Cheaptitude.  I have my poop pretty much in a group, but they need to function if I’m not here.


So that is part of what I’ve been up to, in the midst of errands, organizing and cleaning, ferrying monkeys all of North Louisiana, and playing with craft supplies.  What have you been doing all summer?


~ Katie




Happy New Year’s Eve, y’all! I am out of bed, showered, and wearing clothes (not my sweats, Real Chick!) by 7:44 on my school break. This is an accomplishment!

I’ve been a total Pinterest junkie the last several days (when I should be lesson planning, cleaning, etc.) I’ve been searching and pinning organizational ideas. I did an entire series this year on a household binder. I love binders. I had the best of intentions.

The forms are all on my computer while the binder collects dust.

I found the coolest idea on Pinterest – a command center instead of a management binder.  So I got out my handy dandy 31 Gifts organizer, labeled some file folders, and so far it’s working ok.  I  have a “to file” folder and a mail folder (so the mail doesn’t get lost on the kitchen counter!), s well as a folder for each family member.  All folders need to be addressed on Friday, if not sooner.  There’s enough room to include my finance binder (I’ll post about this later), and the pockets on the outside hold list pads, for groceries, to do lists, etc.

This organizer thingy fits on my unused telephone stand in the kitchen, so it’s near my calendar as well as the kitchen table – where we’ll be having weekly family and budget meetings.

It’s not the household management binder I had envisioned, but that’s ok.  The binder is coming.  The command center works for right now!

Take what bugs you and fix it.

What project are you tackling in the new year?

~ Katie

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I had the most honorable of intentions for the money section of my household notebook. Have you heard the old adage about the road to hell? So as I refocus on organizing my life – yes, I fall off the wagon every year – I am looking for a way to get my money under control.

Don’t mess with my money.

My favorite source for organization tips is Pinterest. I found several bill binder ideas and took what I liked best from each. The main thing for me? I’m vain. If it’s not cute, I won’t use it!

Scrapbook supplies and a view binder started me off. This is a 2 inch binder. I used 12×12 papers and trimmed to fit. The fleur due lis was a touch of fun.imageimageimageimage

And, having leftover scraps, I repurposed part of my empty can collection:

The inside pocket is dedicated to incoming bills. I’ll record the bill and amount on a calendar and slide the bill in the pocket until it’s paid. That back inner pocket is labeled for taxes – W-2 and 1099 forms should be coming in soon.

I put a zippered pouch at the very front for calculator. I will probably put a checkbook and stamps in there, also, for snail mail bills. Behind the pouch is a checklist of bills for the year. The “regular” bills will be listed and checked off as they’re paid. I found the form I’m using right now on Pinterest, but plan to create one of my own.

The first divider has several things behind it.  Grizz and I sat down last weekend and completed a budget form (again, one I found on Pinterest).  After we finished crying, we worked on a debt snowball form, which was pretty cool.  If we follow the snowball to the letter (huh-lo, have you met us??) we could actually be completely debt-free in about ten years.  Including the house!  Unfortunately, life often gets in the way.

In this “bills” section, I also included a 2014 calendar.  As bills come in, we’ll record the information on the calendar and file the bill in the pocket at the front.  As we pay the bills, they’ll be crossed off on the calendar, marked on the checklist, and filed away.  Friday night is when we’ll sit down and go over money, pay bills, and so on.

The next divider has an envelope for receipts.  I tend to just chunk (technical term, folks) receipts into my purse when paying with my bank card.  I’d like to keep up with all the receipts to reconcile with our bank statements when they come in.

Next, I have a section for bank statements.  My plan is to keep 2 months at a time for ready reference in the binder. As the new ones come in, we can file the oldest ones away.

My “Pens” can contains different colored pens to color code the calendar.  The monkeys have some of the same activities, but as they get older, they are doing more of their own thing, too.  I figure color-coding lets me know when Grizz needs to assist because I have to be in two places at once!

One of my other goals this year is to get back on the envelope system.  Granny-at-the-Farm often reminds me that is how I functioned all through college.  Admittedly, my envelopes back then were dedicated to drink specials each night of the week, but I digress.  A few years back, Grizz and I attended the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, and the cash in envelopes was a huge take away for me.  I’m able to pay most of our bills online.  I kind of don’t trust the monkeys with cash for cafeteria money.  But gas, groceries, and dining out?  Absolutely I can do envelopes.

So I’ve also been trying to find cute envelopes, but the prices on Etsy make me cringe…I may settle for making them myself so they can coordinate with the rest of my cuteness!

Anyway, this is what I’m trying out right now.  What do you think?  Any questions or ideas you’d care to share?

~ Katie

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This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ Katie

Have I mentioned that my Bunco Babes like my ideas but hate my vocabulary? They believe “cheaptitude” has such a negative connotation! And, honestly, when you really think about it, who wants to be cheap?

I do.

Cheaptitude is a positive attitude about frugality.  Cheaptitude, for me, has been an entire lifestyle change. It involves repurposing, decluttering, couponing, budgeting, organizing, and examining your life in a whole different way.

I like cheaptitude. I love cheaptitude. I live cheaptitude. This is as positive as you choose to make it.

Jeepnmom is having fits with me.  She is having trouble figuring out how to make all of my ideas blend and work at the same time without becoming overwhelmed – or her family throwing her out because her CDO isn’t meshing well with the Life of Cheaptitude.  Which leaves me trying to figure out how I make it all work together.  There is a reason all of my pieces are separate posts!

And I don’t have the answer.  I just do it. I have perfected nothing.  My house is a wreck and I forget that my big monkey has to serve Mass every time the church doors open.  I’m just better at all of this than I was in the past.

So let’s address the first step in the Journey to Cheaptitude.  Honestly, the first thing to do is determine your purpose and set some goals.  Is the clutter in your house making you crazy?  Did you or your partner lose a job and you have to tighten the purse strings?  Are you worried about how smoothly your house would run if you were unavailable suddenly?  Why are you exploring Cheaptitude?  Determine your purpose.  What are your long and short-term expectations from a life of Cheaptitude?  Set your goals.  Once you know your purpose and goals, you can work on putting all of these puzzle pieces together.

Household Management Binder

One of the pieces of the puzzle is a home management binder.  I have several other posts (11, I think) about the sections in a management binder.  My way is not the only way!  It’s just the way it has worked for me.  Tweak it, modify it, make it your own.  As I’ve stated before, my original binder looks nothing like the one(s) I’m compiling now!  A quick Google search can take you to some great starting places.

In my particular baby step system, the first thing you need to do in setting up your binder is gather your supplies.  Some of the basics I use are:

That’s really all you need to get started.  Put all of your junk in your binder and you’ve completed the first step. Easy Peasy.  You may have all of this stuff on hand already.

If you’re feeling spunky and want to get started on filling up your binder, I suggest the Emergency Information section.  This one is pretty easy and you’ll feel accomplished without taking a whole lot of valuable time.


I’m not a naturally neat person, nor did I marry one.  However, my house is not dirty.  And I’ve tried, over the years, to streamline the process.  In order to do this, take a pen and piece of paper and go into every room in your home.  In each room, list every possible cleaning chore that occurs in there.  No joke, right down to cleaning the reflector bowls in the stove.  This list for each room will be potentially overwhelming.  I’m sorry, but it’s the way it has to be.

Now that you have your lists, go through with a highlighter and mark the 5 essential chores for each room. These should be the 5 things that have to be done in order for your home to have a semblance of clean.  Some people call this list the Magic Minimums, some call it Company-Ready chores.  These are the things that need to be done on a regular basis to keep you satisfied with your home.  For example, mine includes “no dishes in the sink, countertops wiped down” etc.

Decide on a frequency for your chores.  I need to dust every week, but the laminate floors need to be swept daily.  Assign a frequency to every chore.  Slide this list into a pocket in your binder.  We’ll come back to it!


Budget is not a favorite word with most people.  But it is necessary when adopting Cheaptitude. Again, set a purpose and goals, because this helps make your budget stick.

When Grizzly and I attack our budget, we start by listing our total, after-tax income.  Then we list our fixed bills (mortgage, car note, etc.), our variable bills (utilities, gasoline, etc.), and our occasional bills (monkey lunch money occurs August-May, air conditioner service contract is renewed once a year).  We include due dates and amounts, and we plan for savings.  Every time my paycheck hits the bank, $10 is automatically transferred into our household savings account, and it takes an act of Congress to convince me to move it!

I strongly suggest a Google search for budgeting tips and forms.  Personally, I like to see it on paper.  That helps us visualize what we can cut back and how we need to redistribute things.

If one of your goals is debt reduction (as mine is), check out Dave Ramsey.  We attended the Financial Peace series a few years ago and it was eye-opening.  I’m snowballing now and it’s working well.


I love food.  I received some amazing goodies during Teacher Appreciation Week, but what stands out is the food (love some meat pies!)  Organizing your food and meal situations is a huge part of Cheaptitude.

Take your handy dandy pen and paper and go to your pantry/cabinet.  Make a list of everything that is in there.  Highlight those things that you always use, always need to have on hand (12 boxes of cereal, anyone?  3 jars of peanut butter?  My friends know I have weird stockpiling tendencies).  Do the same with your fridge and freezer(s).  The highlighted items should form the basis for your grocery list.  Those are also the items you can make your main focus for couponing and stockpiling, huge money savers.

What meals can you make with the standard items in your home?  Planning meals ahead saves time, energy, and money.  Use your coupons, weekly circulars, and family favorite recipes to build a basic menu plan.  I am a huge proponent of freezer-to-crockpot meals – inexpensive, healthy, filling, and tasty.  It is less intimidating to plan a week at a time in the beginning.  Use what you have, and plan one night for leftovers.

Hoarding Stockpiling

One of the tricks to saving money is buying things when they are at their best prices, and buying enough to last until they’re at a good price again. When I started stockpiling, I focused on some of the things that we constantly run out of and spend the most on.  My friends think I’m crazy, but I try to keep 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry at all times.  I have two monkeys, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy ( they should come with warning labels), and Grizzly loves a bedtime bowl of cereal. Ergo, 12 boxes.  When you shop with a purpose, and shop regularly, you get familiar with when you can get a good price on things.  And I’m not particularly brand-loyal, which helps.

I also stockpile toilet paper, shampoo, and shaving needs.  I haven’t purchased a deodorant in a year.  And everyone still smells pretty fresh.


Isn’t it ironic that right after discussing stockpiles I want to talk about decluttering?  My stockpiles are not clutter.  My stockpiles are in established areas that have been set aside, specifically purposed for stockpiling. Decluttering is a whole different thing.

All of us have some kind of clutter in our lives.  Clutter takes up valuable space, energy, time, etc.  I’ve been working for a long time to declutter my home.  I focus on small areas, a drawer or a shelf is a great place to start.

Clear the entire area and clean it up.  Then sort all of those items into categories: put away, throw away, give away, donate.  If the items do not fit into the purpose for that space, find them new homes!  You’ll be amazed at what leaves your home.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.

I used to set a timer for decluttering.  It works.  If you set a timer for 15 minutes and devote your energy and attention to one area that is bothering you, you can accomplish a lot.

I’m not such a timer girl anymore.  I have a another trick I use to make decluttering “fun.”  A friend of mine, PT Lady, calls me when she’s cleaning toilets.  Well, Jeepnmom and I talk usually once a week, at least, and while we chat, I declutter.  Knowing that my kitchen drawers have been a steaming hot mess and bug the poop out of me, she even texts me occasionally that it is time to tackle a drawer.  It makes the chore more fun.

Routines and Habits

I hear all the time that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  I think the same pretty much applies to getting routines in place.  Schedule yourself some time each day to declutter, binderize, clean, plan.  I like 15 minute increments, personally, because that’s about the longest I can have time to myself and I can get a ton done in that short amount of time.

I guess these are my suggestions on how to get started and putting it all together.  I don’t have this system perfected, but what system ever is?  It’s a work in progress, and yours won’t look like mine.  But maybe this will get you started (JEEPNMOM!!)

What else do I need to throw in here to help jumpstart your journey?

~ Katie




English: pool party decoration

English: pool party decoration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s not as overwhelming if I refrain from numbering the sections.


This is the section with all of the information I need for being a hostess. It will include storage locations for specific decor, menus with the necessary recipes or location of said recipes, theme ideas, shopping lists, etc.


Apart from Bunco and the occasional birthday party, I don’t host much of anything anymore that requires much of any kind of thought. But I have always loved to entertain and would like to get back to that.




  • ideas for theme parties/get-together:  I have lot of magazine clippings for this.  In Family Fun Magazine a few years ago, I found an awesome “Pool Party” birthday theme that would work for any summertime kids’ party.  It has ideas for decorations, food, and the coolest cake.
  • guest list with contact info and notes: I will do this because Grizz & I don’t always communicate when we’re inviting folks over to cook out and I never need to invite Real Chick over when Peter Pan is going to be here.
  • recipes/menus, sorted by event:  while Magical Mystery Beans are an ideal side dish when we’re grilling steaks with our friends, they’re not ideal for an Italian-themed meal with business associates.




  • decor: where to find whatever is needed for whatever holiday, along with a list of items to purchase.
  • gifts:  ideas for the different people I have to purchase gifts, along with clothing sizes (particularly for the monkeys)
  • schedule:  where we are expected to be and when.  There is often a lot of confusion with this, although my grandmother always hosts Christmas Eve mid-to-late afternoon and my in-laws have Christmas Day, but it will be easier if we see it on paper.  The monkeys have a variety of church commitments during the various holidays, so I have to consider that when scheduling things.
  • menus/recipes:  if we’re hosting a holiday at the House of Cheaptitude, I want to handle it.  I want to make the casseroles, the desserts, and so on.  It bugs me to be expected to do the potluck stuff that happens most holidays.  I like to host and part of that includes feeding my guests.  If you don’t like my cooking, there’s a Taco Bell up the street, Jack!




  • Baptism/First Communion/Churchy Stuff:  I need a list of things I need and things I need to do.  I like to have a small party at my house for these milestones, including favorite meals for whoever it is and maybe a cake from my girl, Cake Lady.
  • Birthdays:  ideas for cakes, decor, themes, gifts, etc.
  • Graduations
  • Baby/Bridal Showers
  • Barbecue
  • Bunco
  • Poker Night


I wasn’t joking when I said this is the section to make any kind of entertaining at the house come off without a hitch.  Mine is full of magazine clippings!  I’m sure there are other lists to include in this section.


Do you do a lot of “formal” entertaining?  Are you a list maker when you host an event?


~ Katie






{March 28, 2013}   How to Start This Journey

Jeepnmom is getting frustrated with me. She loves my ideas but tells me she needs direction for starting this journey and implementing everything at once. It’s a tough task for me, since that’s not the way I did it.  I took ideas and plans from here there and everywhere and have adjusted things to fit me. I started with The Household Notebook, which I have told y’all fell to the wayside. I tried decluttering sessions, read books, watched lots of HGTV….I didn’t start out any particular way.

As a chick, I like a challenge. As an educator, I love to teach. So I am working on it.  Keep watching.

– Katie

Ten Sections??  REALLY?  This is why my binder is being separated – manageability.  I will keep similar sections together, but looking at my binder in its most recent form sends me into sensory overload.  It worked before, but not so much now.

Back to the task at hand.

The next section is Church/Activities/Hobbies.  This is where I keep a lot of contact information, membership information, and schedules.  The things in this section at my house should be:


  • Altar Server Schedule:  Monkey #1 serves (scheduled) about once each month but fills in a lot.  Looking at the schedule, I can actually kind of tell when he’ll show up for Mass only to be thrown in a robe at the last minute.
  • Altar Server Contact List:  If he can’t serve on a scheduled day, it’s up to me to make a trade.
  • PSR Schedules:  PSR is our church’s Sunday School.  Monkey #2 meets on Sundays before Mass, but Monkey #1, since starting Middle School, attends on Wednesday – I guess this is staffing and space.
  • Youth Group Schedule:  Usually on Sunday nights, the Middle School Youth Group sometimes has Saturday activities, week night projects, etc.
  • Youth Group Contact Info:  I have yet to use this, but I’m sure it will be handy at some point.


  • Karate:  I try to keep a copy of the class schedule, phone number, address, etc.  I have to call the school pretty regularly because things slip my mind.
  • Bunco:  I play Bunco once a month.  At our anniversary bunco, we were given manuals for our particular group.  This includes member names and addresses, guidelines, sub list, etc.  I’m a teacher and a disorganized one, so my folder goes missing for weeks at a time.  I believe my binder is a safer place for it.
  • Pool:  It would be lovely to have Grizzly’s pool schedules and team info in my binder so I would know ahead of time where he’s playing, when he has an off week, etc.  This is something I’m still working on.
  • Running Club:  Monkey #2 loves the running club at school.  I’d love to have an accurate schedule.  She’s missed 2 weeks due to misinformation from a sponsor.


  • Hunting stuff:  Yeah, this one might be a binder in itself.  I’d like to have an inventory of what hunting stuff Grizzly and the monkeys have, maybe a price book for ammo, lease information so I know what/when/how much to plan for fees.

If I have the schedules in place, I can transfer easily to a calendar and keep up with things more handily.  We have a lot more activities during the summer, like library days, Kids Bowl Free, and play dates.  Grizzly usually gets suckered in to “one more season of softball.”  It’s easier to keep track when everything is in one place.

Other things that might be included in this section:

  • Weight Watchers meeting info
  • Camps
  • Tutoring info and schedules
  • Community Ed Classes
  • Vacation Bible School info
  • Craft classes – I know Michael’s and Home Depot offer classes and workshops, and a local fabric store offers sewing classes, which interests me!

So what else do you think could go in this section?

~ Katie


My to-do lists seem excessive and redundant to many people.  However, listing is my way of functioning.  (Is there a learning style for that?)  Repetition develops habits.  After I’ve used the same checklist for a while, it just becomes a habit and I don’t really need my list.

One area that needed addressing in The House of Cheaptitude was morning routines.  We have two adults, two monkeys, and a four-legged monkey buddy to get moving each day.  Often I find myself already in my classroom and my phone rings because “Monkey #2 says her coat is in your car.” Or “Monkey #1 left his gym clothes on the kitchen table.  How are we handling this?”

Of course, one-half of we is across the bridge and preparing for a day of educating eighth graders.

This is one of those problem areas where checklists and routines come in to save the day.

Many of those tasks that we complete in the morning can either be done the night before or at least set up to be done.  Here are some of the things on my night-time list:

  • Finish kitchen chores:  Nothing is ickier than waking to a full counter and dirty sink.  I like to take care of everything before bed, when possible, running the dishwasher at night.  If I have spare time in the morning, I can put things away.  Otherwise, Monkey #1 can do it after school.
  • Prepare any sack lunches:  I pack my lunch every day for work.  I’m a creature of habit: peanut butter or cheese sandwich, a handful of tortilla chips, and something semi-sweet, like a granola bar or applesauce cup.  The monkeys only want to pack a lunch when there are cookies around.
  • Prepare for breakfast: I make sure the cereal containers have cereal in them because I hate the way the monkeys open boxes.  I also make sure we have bowls and spoons clean (don’t ask!)  Some organizing gurus suggest setting the table, but the monkeys eat at different times (one leaves a full hour ahead of the other) and Grizzly and I don’t have a sit-down breakfast.  Besides, if I take the time to lay out bowls and spoons, that will be the day the monkeys want toast or waffles.
  • Set the coffee pot:  My coffee pot has a timer, thank goodness, and when I get up most mornings that black gold is waiting for me.  If yours doesn’t have a timer, set it up anyway so that all you have to do is turn it on in the morning.  It saves a full 3-5 minutes.
  • Lay out clothes for the morning:  The monkeys always put them in the same spot, the coffee table.  My monkeys are in uniform schools, which should make it easier, but really doesn’t.  Their closets are arranged by function (school or home) and color, which makes grabbing an outfit simple.  However, if I lay out a red shirt, that’s the day we wanted to wear navy.  When the forecast says it will be 32 degrees in the morning, Monkey #1 lays out shorts. We do check the weather forecast, and clothes need to be laid out right down to shoes, belts, and coats, if needed, so that parental units aren’t receiving those “I can’t find my sneakers and the bus will be here in two minutes” calls.  My work clothes are always on my dresser before I go to bed, and I very rarely change anything up the next morning.
  • Set your launchpad:  I do not have a “launchpad” right now, but the monkeys have to have their school bags packed and sitting by the coffee table before they go to bed.  My school bag is always either by my bed or in my comfy chair in the living room.  Everything is situated for “pick up and hit the door” in the mornings.
  • Check your to-do lists and calendar:  The night before, I check my calendar to see if we have anything major going on the next day, such as activities or meetings.  I double check my running to-do list and add anything to my daily list that I need to.  For example, on faculty meeting days, the monkeys hang out with PaPaw after school.  I don’t have to hurry home and can stop by the drugstore or the grocery if I need to. This also lets me know if I need to defrost anything for dinner or if I can just chunk a Crockpot meal in the Crockpot on my way out the door in the morning (more usually the case)
  • Make sure everyone has their alarms set to the correct time and actually turned on. Yes, there are some stories to go along with this.

My alarm jolts me out of bed between 4 and 4:30 every morning and I have to be out the door by 6:15.  By planning ahead and having consistent routines, I actually have leisure time in the mornings – to fold clothes, start the crockpot, or watch the news.  Instead of being rushed in the morning, my nighttime routines have squashed the chaos, allowing me to relax.

Do you have nightly routines?  Are your mornings a muddled mess?

~ Katie

Nightly To-Do List

et cetera
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