Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Motivated Moms Chore Planners

review by Homeschool Coffee Break
Staying organized and on top of the housework has been a challenge for me for almost as long as I've been a mom. I've tried different approaches to getting it all done with varying degrees of success. Recently I've been able to use a housework planner from Motivated Moms that makes the lists for me and reminds me of things I might otherwise forget.
Motivated Moms Review
Motivated Moms is a chore planning system that was developed over several years by Deann Polanco, Janet Russell, and Susan Cramer. The goal has been to provide busy moms with a straightforward chore planning system designed to help get the tasks done but also build in time for creative pursuits and leisure. The system was originally in a book format, but is now provided in a printable chore list format and as an app for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and Android. Motivated Moms e-books are available in a number of choices for layout.

I received my choice of a printable planner to use and review. The printable planners are organized with a view to prioritizing and simplifying, with "Daily Chores" such as making beds, sweeping the kitchen, doing laundry, and the like listed separately with a check-box for each day; and less frequent household jobs appearing on specific days. Those tasks are things like changing sheets, cleaning out the fridge, or mopping floors. There are also reminders for less frequent but important (and often forgotten) tasks such as periodically cleaning light fixtures and cleaning or changing furnace filters. The planners are available in full-page or half-page formats; with or without daily Bible readings included; in page-per-day or page-per-week layouts; and in color or black-and-white. The page-per-day planners also include hourly schedule lines to record appointments. (Click to see all the Motivated Moms e-book products.)

This is a sample page of the half-size weekly planner in color that I chose:
Motivated Moms Review
This planner prints on 29 pages, which can be cut in half to make 58 pages in 5.5" x 8.5" size. There are 53 weekly chore planner pages and two menu planner pages, as well as the cover page, and it fits into a half-size Franklin Covey planner or Day Timer.

How did I use it? After downloading the e-book, I printed the pages for the first half of the year (I stopped there because my color ink cartridge was running low. I added the task "check and replace ink cartridges" to that first week's list and penciled it in on the first week or subsequent months!) I happened to have a Day Timer sized 3-ring binder handy, so it only took a few minutes to cut the pages in half, hole-punch them and assemble my chore planner.
chore planner
At first I had wondered if it would be helpful to print on both sides of the page, but once I put the binder together, I was very glad I hadn't wasted my time figuring that out. (I am printer-challenged!) With only one side of the paper printed, I had the facing page of each week's planner to jot down any other notes I needed to keep track of. It turned out that it was very often the rough draft of my shopping list.
chore planner
I chose a planner without space to record daily appointments or meal plans, but there was enough room along side the daily tasks for me to scribble in my dinner plan and the initial of the kid responsible for washing dishes each night. My two youngest each have two nights a week to be responsible for setting the table and washing all the dishes, while the other is responsible for sweeping the kitchen and dining room and drying the dishes. There are often arguments about whose turn it is, so keeping track in the planner helped eliminate those, plus I didn't have to write in on my wall calendar (so it stays looking pretty, which is important to me). I took the following picture early in a week, and you can see that I'd already checked off a couple days worth of Daily Chores and some of the tasks listed for the first days of that week. And I'd already seen the need to edit my original meal plans. You may also notice that I've crossed out a couple of things. I like to check things off lists as I do them, but there are things in this planner that aren't applicable to my life so I cross them off so the blank boxes don't bother me. And I think this planner was originally designed for moms with very little kids, because "clip children's nails" appears every week in the tasks. My kids haven't needed my help with that for many years. LOL 
chore planner
My kids are also responsible for many of the tasks listed, such as cleaning in their own rooms, and some of the vacuuming and other similar jobs. On the days when such a task appeared, it was my reminder to check with them to see that it was done. I got a reminder every couple of days to change hand towels in the bathrooms, and while the hand towel in my bathroom was getting changed regularly by me or my hubby, I rarely thought to check with the kids about the other bathrooms. Now that simple task gets looked after every couple of days, instead of being neglected. Same with wiping out the bathroom sinks. And if it's forgotten on Wednesday, there's no need to stress because it will appear in the reminders on Friday. Motivated Moms designed it that way on purpose - if you miss something on a particular day, you don't need to "transfer" or rewrite that onto some other day and make the next day's to-do list overly long. All those regular things appear every couple of days or every week. 
housework   housework
Also, many of the 'bigger' jobs are broken down to be handled over several days in smaller chunks. I like seeing "Clean middle shelf of the refrigerator" on my task list rather than "Clean out the fridge" all at once. Even on a busy day, I can do one shelf of the fridge, and it will probably take 15 minutes or less. The whole fridge? "Ack! I haven't got time!" would be my likely response, but then the risk would be waiting until some nebulous day in the future when I would have time to do the whole thing at once, and by then we'd have more science experiments in there than I care to contemplate. 
The things I might not think about doing on a regular basis - but still need doing - are included. Cleaning the light fixtures is the main one that comes to mind. You know how sometimes there are little dead bugs inside the globes? I hate that. Also, I'm short. So when the planner reminded me to clean the light fixture in the kitchen/dining room, I reminded my (taller and less easily skeeved) son to do it for me. Woot!
What I liked best:
  • no-pressure reminders to get things done. If a particular job didn't get completed on the day it was scheduled, I knew it would appear again before too long and I would just do it then. Or do it the next day. That was easy too, because I am using the week-per-page layout.
  • checkboxes for the things I need to look after every day - jobs like wiping out sinks and clearing the kitchen counter; and personal items like quiet time and exercising.
  • bigger jobs broken down into smaller chunks over more than one day. My estimate is that all the tasks for a given day would take a total of two hours at the very most, and not always that long either.
  • reminders included for things I would probably forget otherwise, or that I might notice needed doing but procrastinate actually doing until it was completely forgotten for another month or two. A check-box motivated me to just do it (or perhaps assign the task to a kid) so I didn't have to worry about it any more.
  • adaptable. I just crossed off things that didn't apply, and penciled in things I needed to add.
What I need to mention:
  • because it's an e-book, obviously it can't be edited, so those things that didn't apply to me or were crossed off were still there on the page. And anything I needed to add had to be hand-written. As a result, my pages often look pretty scribbled over by the end of a week. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but I'm not a neat freak either.
  • The bulk of the work is scheduled for weekdays, with very little scheduled on Saturdays. While this is probably a great idea for keeping weekends available for family time, our family's practice is often to spend a good portion of Saturday doing housecleaning and home maintenance chores. So what has happened more than once since I've had the planner, is that I "catch up" a lot of the tasks from earlier in the week on Saturday. Tuesdays are my busiest day of running around every week, so I almost never got Tuesday's tasks done on Tuesday. 
Our bottom line: I've noticed a difference in how my household is running, because I'm getting a daily reminder to do those quick little jobs, and regular reminders to look after all kinds of household tasks. I like having this compact little planner sitting on the counter so I can see at a glance the things I need to look after. And since I like checking things off a list, I'm finding that it really does help motivate this mom. I'd especially recommend one of the Motivated Moms planners or apps to a mom who is newly home from the workforce, or needing to establish new at-home routines.
Motivated Moms Review
Are you a mom in need of a little motivation? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website at:

Pricing: Each of the Motivated Moms e-books, including the Half-size Chore Planner in Color that I described above, sells for $8. You may view sample pages for each layout and version, and print a sample page to see what it looks like on your printer before you order. See the website for pricing of the Motivated Moms Apps

You can follow Motivated Moms on Facebook or on Twitter.

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