Wining Wife®

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Category: Cleaning and Organizing

Finding an Afterschool Routine

English: Don't waste your time and do your hom...

English: Don’t waste your time and do your homework! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaving homework, dinner schedules, and bedtimes to chance has a tendency to create chaos and frustration during possibly the only family time of the day. Establishing a routine does not have to mean never allowing for flexibility, but it gives parents and children alike the feeling of comfort that comes from knowing what is expected.


Children may begin to receive homework assignments as early as Kindergarten. Oftentimes in these early educational years, it falls to the parents to motivate children to finish their homework. Even in the later part of a child’s education, he or she may need structure and guidance. Some families choose the time directly after school to get homework done for the day. Others feel it may be better to allow children to decompress after a long day of concentration and constant social interaction. Should a child complete homework before or after dinner? The answer to that question depends upon the dinner, extracurricular activities, and bed times for each family. Determine which times are best for your child to sit down to homework. Once a routine is established, there should be less fighting about getting it done, fewer homework assignments turned in late, and happier parents and children.


A dinner schedule that works for the whole family is beneficial to everyone. Predictable meal times will encourage children to refrain from ruining their appetite with snacking. Children and parents should work together to put dinner on the table for a family meal. For some families that might mean one person either cooks or picks up food on the way home. Someone else then sets the table, and another family member fills drink cups.


Bedtime is another aspect of the afterschool routine that should be consistent. Younger students require more supervision and earlier bedtimes. Whether you incorporate a time for reading together or alone, children will benefit from an opportunity to lie quietly and cultivate the habit and skill of reading for pleasure.


Afterschool routines may change from year to year and from family to family as there are many factors involved such as age, siblings, and parents’ work schedules. Maintaining a consistent and reliable routine will give your child a feeling of stability during the formative years of his or her youth.




Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars and many more and also of List Mama Blog: Lists for List-Lovin’ Mamas.


The Clipboard: Many Uses for This Overlooked Tool

English: A common clipboard.

English: A common clipboard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of years ago, I “rediscovered” the clipboard. I found it in my old box of college junk. I don’t think I ever really used it in college, but I thought I would give it a second chance. I put it in my computer desk, and it just sat there unnoticed for another year. All of a sudden I found myself working a part-time job (in addition to my day-job of raising three young children), starting a MOMS Club, and creating a business from scratch. One day, I just picked it up when I needed to carry something around to make notes. That was the day my clipboard became my most indispensable tool.


Currently my clipboard contains the stuff of my life: my Menu Planner for October, my Menu Planner for September (for reference), my Weekly Planner for this week, my Weekly Planner for next week, my Halloween Party Planner for the get-together we are having at the end of the month, my notes on what I want to include on the agenda for my MOMS Club board meeting, a list of recommended books for the book club, an itinerary for last week’s houseguests, my Monthly Cleaning Schedule, a list of articles I’m planning to write, articles I’m editing for submission, and this article which I prefer to write freehand and then type into the computer later.


A clipboard doesn’t require holes to be punched in the paper it holds. Pages and notes can quickly and easily be added or removed. It is portable, sturdy, comes in a variety of colors, and has a handy spot for my pen when it is time to get to sleep. A clipboard allows my inner preschooler to manipulate pen and paper. I may go where electricity may not be found and give my eyes a rest from the bright lights of a computer screen. Surely a woman who needed to prepare her daughter’s birthday party between doing several loads of laundry and bathing her children was the original creator of the clipboard. Maybe she had a letter to her Kindergartener’s teacher to write while her 3-year-old played on the playground. It is highly likely that she had grocery lists, to-do lists, and Christmas card lists to compile while waiting in the Dentist’s office. That woman knew she needed a firm, dry (non-sticky) place to write that she could carry with her as she went from one task to the next. Mrs. Clipboard, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!




Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find more than 500 printable lists, checklists, and planning pages to tote around on your clipboard and put your world in order.


Preparing Your Child for Back to School

Get organized before your children go back to school

Get organized before your children go back to school

As the first day of school approaches, parents and children alike begin to run the gamut of emotions: excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety. For those who will be experiencing a child’s very first day of school, you may feel torn between the joy of leading your child through a momentous milestone and the sadness of knowing that your child is taking yet another step out from under your influence and protection. However, preparing your child for school can have the beneficial effects of soothing nerves and strengthening bonds. Here are a few ways to help you and your child transition easily into the next important step

Make a big deal out of gathering school supplies. Set aside time during the evening or weekend to focus on the needs of your student-to-be. If possible, arrange time alone to dig together through items you already have or to make a trip to a local store for a little back-to-school shopping.

  • Celebrate the last hurrah of summer. Choose your favorite summer activity and make a point to say goodbye until next summer. Take some pictures of your child in front of a recognizable object, such as a tree in the front yard or the swing set in the back yard for an opportunity to see the dramatic progress and growth from summer to summer.
  • Get into the academic mindset with an inspirational movie about life in school. There are flicks from every stage of learning. Talk about what you see in the movie that relates to students, teachers, homework, and school spirit.
  • Begin a few weeks early to adopt the routine of a school day. Help children get back into the habit of early wakeup and early bedtime. Add some more structure to the day by assigning an activity/reading time. Everyone grabs some type of reading material or workbook and works quietly on their own.
  • Give your child a proper sendoff. Whether it is a favorite activity, a party with family and friends, or a special dinner, let your child know how special each new stage of education is and how proud you are of his accomplishments

The start of the school year is a time to start fresh. Children wipe the slate clean of the previous year and begin anew. Communicate your expectations and offer your complete support as your child prepares to embark on her next great learning adventure.


Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars (all found in Student Planning) and many more.

How to Clean a Seriously Wrecked Kitchen

Big cooking days (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) create HUGE messes in our household. You spend the entire day cooking – and trying to clean as you go – but naturally, you’ll wind up with something that looks like a bomb the kitchen. Sometimes, you get so busy feasting, that when you look back on your kitchen, it’s all you can do afterward to put food away and leave the kitchen for “tomorrow.”

Here’s our kitchen after Easter. It was a MESS. Normally, I don’t cook too much for Easter for the three – now four – of us, but with a baby and a ton of veggie backlog from our CSA, I decided I wanted to make a HUGE amount of food. Wining Husband, Tiger Boy, and I decided that we’d clean the kitchen “tomorrow.”

This kitchen is a mess!

This kitchen is a mess!

The first thing I do when tackling a wrecked kitchen is get all the dishes out of the sink and sort them by type – utensils, cups, glasses, bottles, plates, bowls, mixing bowls and food prep items, and finally pots and pans.

I get the utensils to soaking (remember, Easter was two days ago*), and I thoroughly clean the drying area. I clean the counter, then the drying rack, and make sure that I have a nice clean space for the dishes to dry. I also take a moment to clean the drying rack – because ew!

Now you might wonder why I’m not using a dishwasher – well, let me answer that for you in a sentence. Our dishwasher doesn’t drain properly. That creates a problem when cleaning up. By all means, if you have a dishwasher, use it. Remember, though, that knives, pots and pans, wine glasses, and fine china should not go into the dishwasher.

Clean off an area for the drying rack. Ah, that looks so much better already!

Clean off an area for the drying rack. Ah, that looks so much better already!

Once the drying rack is ready, I go ahead and tackle as many of the utensils as I can. I stuff that drying rack full! Once it’s full, if there’s enough room in the sink and I’ve cleared out all the knives (because nothing is worse than cutting yourself with a knife while doing the dishes because you forgot it was in there), I move all the mugs into the soaking side of the sink. Then, I move everything over closer to the sink to await its turn.

Once another counter space is clean, I clean that area while dishes soak and I’m waiting for the dishes in the rack to dry. I wipe down the washed dishes with a clean dishcloth and put them away, then set about the next load. Once all mugs and utensils are clean, I move on to bread plates, then bowls, then dinner plates. Then I move on to the food prep dishes. Finally, I tackle cutting boards and then pots and pans. The only horizontal surfaces left to clean in the kitchen are the oven, microwave, appliances, and immediate sink area.

Sort dishes by category, and wash from cleanest to dirtiest. As counterspace is freed, clean the counters.

Sort dishes by category, and wash from cleanest to dirtiest. As counter space is freed, clean the counters.

Once all the dishes are clean, I wipe down the cabinets with lemon oil, give the counters one more washing, and put all the dishes away. Then I clean the microwave, oven, and sink area. Finally, I tackle the breakfast nook, and sweep up the floors. All appliances get a good wipe down with a Clorox wipe.

Now, the kitchen is restored! Keep in mind, this isn’t a deep cleaning, it is just a cleaning to get the kitchen out of wrecked shape and into sanitary, cooking, condition. I’m glad I have leftovers, because I’m seriously beat.

It's clean!

It’s clean!


*Note – I wrote this post two days after Easter. I got busy taking care of a sick baby…and so now it’s just now being published! Oh, and we finally got a new dishwasher!

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