Let's play house

Two-Story Tips: Managing a Household on Two Levels

rhonda franz two-story tipsA two-story house sometimes means double the duty, unless you’re managing the up and down of space effectively. I can’t say I manage everything well, but here are a few things I’ve learned when it comes to our family’s constant use of a staircase.

1. Simplify socks by keeping them on the lower level. This might sound like an odd tip, but if your family is like ours, we don’t always wear socks (or shoes) around the house. Since socks don’t need to be put on until you’re headed out the door, on the way to that door is the best place to keep them. Packaged socks come in a size range, and you might be able to get away with a kid or two wearing socks from one package (or maybe this is just easier because I have all boys).

We’ve got a handful of white socks and a handful of black socks, and we keep all the socks downstairs with the shoes. When it’s time to load up the car, there is no running upstairs to the bedroom, so we’ve cut out one transition in the Time to Load Up the Car fiasco.

2. Go with a wireless printer. Print much? Yeah, you need one. This advice may soon be out of date, as I suspect all printers will be wireless in a few years. You do still have to go and actually retrieve the documents yourself. Better yet, train  your kids to do that. Works well in our home.

3. Buy two of some things. Staplers, rulers, packages of Band-Aids, mailing envelopes, stamp packages: you’re going to need these upstairs and down. Also, two laundry baskets, unless you’re particularly adept at getting laundry put away, right away. I’m so not.

4. Make spaces on each level for home management. Have a place to tuck dirty laundry downstairs, in addition to hampers in rooms. We use a pull-out container (designed to be a wastebasket) inside of our kitchen island as a hamper. So, if kids come in with muddy clothes, those go in that hamper, which, conveniently, sits right next to the washing machine.

5. What goes up, must come down (and vice versa). Two home offices is a bit much to ask for, and I can’t use a separate daily planner/To Do list, so I’m constantly carrying my planner, plus a couple of notebooks, and whatever book I have a bookmark in up and down stairs. I find it works best if I keep a small bag that hangs on the banister, and I can carry everything from one level to another.

6. Keep a few cleaning supplies on both floors. It’s the same thing you would do with a stash of diapers and wipes when your children are babies. Simple counter sprays, toilet cleaner, cleaning rags, rubber gloves. You’ll be much more motivated to keep things spiffied up if supplies are within reach. (No, not really, it will just save you some steps and frustration). Don’t forget two containers of laundry spray for pre-treating spots.

7. Keep a couple of decorative, functional baskets on the steps as your catch-all. Use these containers for things that need to go up or down, and then make it a habit to clean out items and take them up or down as you go. Each family member should collect their own things to put back in the proper place.

That cool stairway photo, courtesy of 4seasons and sxc.hu, because the stairs in my house aren’t at all this clutter-free.

Suburban Haiku (There Goes the Neighborhood)

rhonda franz

Shakespeare, Frost, Wordsworth, Price: all the great literature.

Let’s call it as we see it, shall we?

Shakespeare’s work is timeless, and a simple stroll through the outdoors is never as beautiful and meaningful in any pen, than that of Robert Frost.

And no one makes keen, hilarious observations of the neighborhood, the school, and the hectic drive to work in the trendy 21st centurey quite like Peyton Price in her book, Suburban Haiku. And no one does it in fine 5-7-5 form.


There’s a bit of poking fun….rhonda franz suburban haiku review


The toddler who will take an iPhone over goldfish crackers, thank you very much.

The parents who spell their child’s common name, oh so uncommonly.

The mom who read all the PTA bylaws (oh wait, that’s me).


There are also timely, relevant topics to families everywhere…

Conservation/Green Living:

New water bottles:

Steel, filtered, BPA-free

They’ll all be lost soon.

Bad parking people:

Hey, nice parking job

Did you pay for both spaces?

It looks like you did.


Worn-out parents:

It’s perfect weather

for sending the kids outside

and watching TV.

That’s enough of a tease.

rhonda franz suburban haiku review

For more hilarity, truth, and scenes from the suburbs, get your copy of Suburban Haikuand catch up on your fine literature.

Win a Trip to Disney World with American Home Shield and Kidstructions: How Does it Work? Video Contest

Children love to watch while parents and repair technicians fix household appliances. And moms and dads know how much kids are willing to grab their own tools and hammer away while imitating fix-it projects. These kinds of experiences are perfect real-life opportunities for children to learn new skills.

Now, you can showcase your child’s curiosity and creativity by letting them explain how things work around the house.

rhonda franz American Home Shield Kidstructions video contest

American Home Shield, the nation’s largest provider of home warranties, invites families to participate in the Kidstructions: How Does it Work? video contest for a chance to win a trip to Disney World.

Here’s how it works:

1. Take a 30 to 60-second video of your child explaining in their own words how major appliances or systems in work in the home (refrigerator, heater, washer, dryer, oven).

2. Upload the video to your own YouTube account.

3. Visit the American Home Shield Facebook page and complete the required entry form.

* There are two age divisions for entries

- 18 months to 5 years old as of January 1, 2014

- 6 to 12 years old as of January 1, 2014

One prize each will be awarded:

  • Grand Prize: Family Trip for Four to Walt Disney World and a one-year home warranty.
  • Second place: $2500 U.S. Savings bond and a one-year home warranty from American Home Shield
  • Third place: a one-year home warranty from American Home Shield

Check out American Home Shield’s video about the contest:

For official rules and guidelines, please visit ahs.com/instructions

I received compensation for the “Kidstructions: How does it work?” contest blog post. American Home Shield partnered with several bloggers like me to raise awareness about this contest. All purchases and content are on my own accord and reflect my personal opinion and style. For official Company contest rules, visit ahs.com/kidstructions

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Coffee House Mom

Fights over superheroes, arguments about toy cars and planes, wrestling matches that started out as fun, but turned into something not-so-fun after someone’s cheek was pinched or one boy’s eye took a hit from another boy’s elbow: these are the conflicts that rise to mind.

It’s a new year. Maybe the rivalry will calm down (a momma can hope).

Besides, that momma also has to gets to fight. And not all fighting is bad.

I’ll be fighting in 2014. Fighting to help a child with a strong will and a lively spirit who gets thrills from doing just exactly the opposite what he shouldn’t, and whose emotions run rampant unexpectedly and often mysteriously.

I’ll be fighting to keep a gracious attitude in the midst of a day, a normal day with spills and stains and hurts and tears and yells and sometimes even screams.

I’ll be fighting the good fight of a Lord’s servant, one who loves Him, but with a heart not always full of faith.

I’ll be fighting for a marriage, a home, one (maybe two) pairs of matched-up socks, an uncluttered kitchen drawer, and an organized house.

What’s your good fight in 2014? Join Lisa-Jo Baker and Five Minute Friday.