I’m always looking for new ideas for both holidays and planning/organization. I’d love to hear how you plan for the coming year and how you plan ahead for special occasions and holidays. And for those interested, I thought I would share what Bill and I do together the last two weeks of the year in preparation for the year to come. There’s no magic to it. It’s simple and works for us. Here goes:
- We always like to begin by answering Don Whitney’s “10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year” (oddly enough, there are actually 31 questions)–We do this to help refocus our spiritual goals and hearts for Christ
- Next we work to come up with a financial plan of how to handle our “extra” money– I begin by budgeting each month for less than Bill makes in his full-time job. This leaves us some additional money from those paychecks along with the money from his part-time job salary, and our tax return. Then, as best we can, we break down where we want all that extra to go (homeschool, conferences, vacation, sports, home improvements, etc.). We find this to be helpful in making sure we don’t see money in our account, spend our money impulsively, and then not have money for things later that would have been greater blessings for our family.
- After we know where all the “extra” is going, we plug important set dates (visitors, VBS, meetings, etc.) into our calendar. Once we know what dates are taken, we begin to work on putting potential dates into our calendar for the new year. We do this for things that might not happen if we aren’t intentional about planning ahead. For our family that means we schedule two romantic weekend getaways for Bill and me, without the kids, one week-long family vacation, one long-weekend family vacation, conferences we’re interested in attending (which we determine after working out our extra finances), and finally, two personal retreats for each of us.
- Once the budget is done and the dates are all set (as much as we can) I go through each and every file folder to clean out what we no longer need. If this didn’t happen each year, we could seriously buy a second house just to hold our paperwork.
- I always find it helpful as a homeschool mom to re-evaluate my homeschool schedule to see if changes need to be made for the next semester. This can include dropping, reworking, or adding a subject to better fit our needs, making changes for developmental changes in the children (one child may now be mobile who wasn’t at the beginning of the year, so I would schedule in activities more suitable for her needs; a nap may be dropped so I now have to find 1-2 hours of additional things for a child to do, etc.), or a circumstance change. The biggest change we’re making for next semester is going to a four-day home schedule because of a co-op we’re involved in every Monday. It wasn’t working for me to try to do school at home in addition to school at the church building on those days.
- And finally we continue with lots of habit training (taking time out to work on a specific habit using games, books, etc.) with the kids. This involves mainly reminders about previously learned habits (hygiene, interrupting, obedience, etc.) and working on one or two new things (potty training, cleaning, drinking from a real cup, etc.). Though I attempt to reinforce all of this throughout the whole year (we don’t ever have a time we don’t expect obedience, for example), I find it difficult to take as much set-aside time for hardcore training on some of these during the school year, so work during breaks usually makes things run a little smoother when the new semester begins.
Like I said, not very magical, but it has really helped us set up our home for more peace in the new year. What do you all do?