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Mom’s Everything Bag: Organizing & Saving Time

Mom’s Everything Bag: Organizing & Saving Time

Moms today have it incredibly easy since the invention of smart phones. We can pay bills, make homeschool plans, take pictures of our cute kids and share them with family and friends, all with a few flicks of a touch screen. I recently handled our entire Christmas from my phone during nursing sessions, everything from ordering gifts and dinner ingredients to writing and sending cards.

That’s about all that makes modern motherhood easier; we still have toddlers who throw fits, teenagers who test the limits, and loads of worldly dangers to help our kids face. Anything that can make our days easier is a welcome relief. That’s why I devour Mystie’s blogs and why I wanted to share one of her golden nuggets with you.

The Portable Command Center

As a mom of four, three of whom are three years old or under, I find myself all over my house all day. I joke that the reason I don’t workout is that I get a workout running up and down the stairs and hauling babies and toddlers all day. Really, I just don’t like working out. I’m sure none of you have that problem.

When I sit down to do something homeschool-related with my 8-year-old, I may be nursing upstairs or in the living room, feeding the toddler at the dining table, or hiding away from sleeping babies in said third grader’s room. I never realized how much time I spend going to get that “one thing we forgot” in the other room, though I’m sure my 8-year-old realizes how often I send him to grab something from elsewhere; I can’t yet count on the next oldest to actually bring the thing to me.

Enter Mom’s Everything Bag.

Call it a toolbox, portable command center, or whatever. I call it an everything bag because it has everything I need (not actually everything).

Mine is a craft tote bag that I picked up at Michael’s for about $17 on a 40% off sale (I also saw them at WalMart for the same price), but Brandy got hers from Amazon for around $5.

Whether you choose a craft tote with a thousand pockets like this or a simple plastic tote like Brandy’s, the important thing is that what you need fits, and is accessible. I have a closet full of backpacks and other bags, but the fact that I don’t have to unzip pockets with this bag is a huge win when I usually have one hand occupied with a baby. Everything’s accessible and visible.

Necessities

You’ll want to personalize your own bag, but here’s what I put in mine just in case you need some ideas:

  • Water bottle. I’ll never kick the coffee habit, but at least this way I have no excuse not to get at least some water in everyday.
  • Pens & pencils. Lots of color here, both because they’re fun and also because I grade with colored pen. Pencils for the kids because they are forever searching for a pencil even though they know we’re doing school and they have their own supplies.
  • Kindle, iPad, iPhone. I keep different electronic resources on different devices. Now they’re all at hand so I don’t have to push pause on school to go find the Kindle or iPad. This alone has saved a ton of time.
  • Timer. We don’t use this for a lot of things, but needed to formalize how much time we’re spending doing certain things. My guy likes to know we won’t be doing math forEVER.
  • Mom’s commonplace book and bullet journals. I try to model writing about the things I’m reading, hence the commonplace. And my bullet journal keeps my to-do list and notes on other projects I have going.
  • Kid writing journals. I have the kids write everyday, and somehow these get lost constantly, so for now it’s a million times easier for me to keep track of them.
  • Catechism, memory work flash cards, ruler, play clock, sticky bookmarks. The miscellany will change, but right now we’re using our catechism and flash cards for Morning Time, ruler and play clock for math, and I always love to have new sticky bookmarks handy.

There you have it, my toolbox/portable command center, my Everything Bag. Thanks to Mystie and Brandy for the idea!


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Rhiannon Kutzer

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1 Comment

  • Brandy Vencel September 25, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Okay that tote?? Totally cute! Love it. 🙂

  • Leave a Reply

    Nice to meet you!

    I’m Rhiannon.

    You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

    Rhiannon

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    • Maybe you’ve never had a loved one on a ventilator, so you don’t know. I have. You don’t know the fear in your gut as you await the next minutes and hours until the doctors bring you updates and treatment plans.
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You don’t know the darkness and silence next to the bed of your (beautiful, vulnerable) person, kept alive by a machine. The respiratory therapists making adjustments to help your loved one’s brain get enough oxygen so she can make it to tomorrow.
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I have been there and I never want to go back. God and an army of prayer warriors got us through that. Our person is still vulnerable. There are people in your life who are vulnerable.
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We were at that bedside with decades of collective medical experience on our side to develop best practices and treatment plans, and learn from mistakes made on other patients.
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Our loved ones who end up fighting COVID-19 with the help of a humming ventilator will not have that benefit. This disease is just too new.
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If you’re a leader of people, your job right now is to take care of your people. Be honest. Take this seriously. (We can do that without letting fear take control.)
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If you’re an employee, protect yourself, so you can protect your family. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, eat your vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, take some vitamin C.
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Above all #STAYHOME to #flattenthecurve so that you don’t end up by that bedside with not enough resources. Stay home, so that when the vulnerable person in your life needs it, they’ll have access to the ventilators and care they need.
    • FYI, your #Navy #submarineforce is still operating...even in the Arctic. My guy is finally out from under the ice! And I finally get pictures of his #ICEX2020 adventures. Unbelievably good to talk to him, even if we don’t get be with him in person #thanksCOVID #staythefhome #beagoodcitizen #submarinerscantsocialdistance
    • Blue Wyoming skies and wind blowing in the curls. Magical.
    • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
    • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
    • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting

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