Saturday, March 1, 2014

Motivated Moms - A TOS Crew Review

In January I was delighted to learn that the Review Crew would have the opportunity to review one of the Motivated Moms Ebooks or the Motivated Moms iOS App (with full year server access). Each Motivated Moms planner gives a house cleaning schedule designed to help moms incrementally work through housekeeping tasks in a thorough, organized fashion. The goal is to get everything done without getting overwhelmed. I was delighted to be selected to review one of the Motivated Moms Ebooks.

I selected a planner that has each day on its own page, and also includes a suggested Bible reading for the day. It turns out I am not actually reading the Bible suggestions that are listed each day, but having them on my daily page is still helpful as it reminds me to read where I am each day (which is currently in Luke). The planner is for the full 2014 calendar year.

When I received my planner in January (by electronic download), I immediately
printed out several weeks worth of pages, double-sided, and three-hole punched them, and set up a notebook. My original idea was to keep the current page in a sleeve protector and, using a Vis-a-Vis marker, check items off as they got completed. Well, we couldn't find the Vis-a-Vis marker (in my present state of clutter), and we couldn't check items off when they were in plastic, so I started going through the daily lists checking them off,as I went along.

At one point, though, I found that, although I keep the notebook right there on my kitchen counter, there is a tendency to just not open it. Since I wasn't marking off on the page anyway, I then started putting the current day's page into the outside pocket of the notebook so I could see it without effort. (I couldn't avoid it!) 
Some days this has worked; other days I open the document on my computer to see what needs to get done. Having it on my computer, too, helped me get motivated and get my keister out of the chair and get busy. I didn't even have to walk into the kitchen to find out what needed to get done!
Then one day, when I was in the notebook refiling pages and pulling the next week's pages out, I found my husband hadn't read my mind. I found that he had been working diligently to assist me. He was writing in calendar commitments so I would know the evenings he had to go out. How cool is that? So I shrugged, and and put the pages back inside the notebook and started using it the way it was meant to be used. As I got each day's items done, I checked them off. (Yes, it's a black and white planner. My printer was running out of black ink!)

There is so much satisfaction in completing items on a list when get them completed!

This Motivated Moms system has helped me a great deal on some days. On some days it has contributed to discouragement. I don't consider this to be a fault with the program; the fact just is that there is certainly a "learning curve", or more accurately, a "discipline curve". If you are not in the habit of doing certain things daily, you are working to discipline yourself to begin to do them daily. If you aren't in the habit of looking at a "To Do" list throughout the day, you are working on developing the discipline to look at it throughout the day. If you don't have certain daily times set aside to work on doing housecleaning tasks, just developing that habit can be very difficult. So the Motivated Moms system can at times feel overwhelming.  

Or it can motivate you. It's all a matter of where you allow your mind to go. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is a tool for me to use; it is not a slave-driver. Like anything in my daily walk, if I fail to get something done, I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just try afresh the next day. If you have the right mind-set, the daily page can be your challenge for the day, instead of a list of daunting tasks.

And this may sound silly, but by about week 2 I had figured something out: I can get more stuff on my daily list done on days when I stay home than I can on days when I have to go out and do errands. My past two months have held various doctor, dentist, orthodontist, and allergist appointments, not to mention massive quantities of snowfall (translate to mean hours of shoveling snow), and a refrigerator needing to be replaced. So I need to not beat myself up too much for how hard I am finding this house cleaning schedule. I asked for this product because I knew I needed to improve, not because I wanted to prove how good I already was at housework!

There is another aspect to this program that I didn't utilize well, but that I hope to continue to work on. Rather than the printout of the day being Mom's "To Do" list, it can be looked at as the family's "To Do" list. Each family member can contribute to getting the day's lists checked off ("lists" because there are "daily" items as well as items special to the particular day). For example, at night our dishwasher gets loaded and turned on; in the morning my sister unloads it. Every day the kitchen and entry are to be swept; I don't have to be the one who does it, my son can. Daily making of beds can mean each person makes their own bed. 

The folks from Motivated Moms even suggested a method of assigning tasks (similar to how their app works) where you assign a color to each family member, and then indicate which tasks they are to do by highlighting each task with a person's color. So far I haven't succeeded at this method. In my house right now it is mom's job to read the planner and then either do the tasks (or get some of them done, anyway) or assign the tasks ("Hey, Miner, please make your bed!").

So, now that I've hinted at how this experience was for me personally, let me tell you a little more about the product.   

Motivated Moms Ebooks come in a variety of styles. You can choose a version with colors (colors can be very motivating!), or a black and white version (less expensive ink). You can choose a two-day-per-page version, left and white (uses less paper), or a page-a-day version (works better when you have ADD or learning-issue family members). You can choose a version that gives you a daily Bible-reading plan (which I chose), or a version without that, if you prefer. The daily check-off list gives reasonable daily items to complete (making beds, laundry, sweeping, etc.), and the day-specific tasks spread maintenance items out throughout the year in a way that keeps the house up relatively painlessly (tasks like wiping ceiling fan blades or wiping off a refrigerator shelf). The pages on the planner I chose also have space to write in special tasks (doctor's appointments, for example), and the day's menu plan. (I already write my menu plan on my kitchen calendar, so I did not change that previously established format.)

I am really glad I had the opportunity to review this product, and will continue to try to improve my use of it as this year progresses. I have to work around personal challenges (but then, don't we all?), and have never gotten every item checked off on any day, but I choose not to be discouraged by that. Instead it is a challenge to me to continue to juggle my days to try to allow more time for housecleaning and house-maintenance activities that need to get done that are not! It is also a challenge to me to improve my managerial skills, train my son to carry more responsibilities, and help my family to use the Motivated Moms Ebook to work more as a team to keep this house running smoothly.

I thought about posting a bunch of "Before" and "After" photos of my house. Unfortunately, there are still way more "Before" photos than "After", and I don't mean I forgot to take photos. The sad truth is that my house is just a work in progress, but I knew that. That's why I wanted the Motivated Moms Ebook. But just for fun, here are a few photos:


 I culled from my shelves games that we are going to give away:
 And books we will get rid of:
There's also a box of books I'll try to sell, and a crate of books I'll post to PaperbackSwap.

So, while my house still has a long way to go (photos that I will not post here), I have gotten a lot done while I have been prompted by the Motivated Moms Ebook to do so. I will continue to work, using the Motivated Moms Ebook, to try to make even more progress.

The Motivated Moms Ebook sells for a very reasonable $8; the Motivated Moms iOS App (with full year server access) costs $7.99 (or $1.99 for the first month and $0.99 each month thereafter).  Give it a try. You might like it! I do!

To read more reviews of the Motivated Moms Ebook or the , click on the button below to go to the Crew Review Blog.
I received one full year's Motivated Moms Ebook in exchange for my review of the product. I was not told what to say.

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