The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Total Home Makeover: A 20 Day Plan to Renew Your Space and Spirit Review by Missica Pullen and Kathy Gelzer

Renee Metzler
Total Home Makeover
218 Rainbow Drive #11824
Livingston, TX 77399

Do you ever wish you had more time for yourself, yet still manage to keep a happy, clean home and family? I know I sure did, but it was nearly impossible for me with a crazy, hectic schedule. With a special needs child, I am always on the go from therapy appointments to doctor visits. By the time we finished school work and the myriad of appointments and obligations each day, I felt exhausted! I did not want to clean house and cook dinner only to turn around clean again after dinner. So often times we ended up with take out, or a messy kitchen that stayed messy overnight. Just when I thought I was at my breaking point, I was introduced to a little book titled Total Home Makeover: A 20 Day Plan to Renew Your Space and Spirit, written by Renee Metzler.

Total Home Makeover is a 20-day plan to help you get in control of your home, so that you can manage things better every day. Along with a plethora of worksheets and daily activities in the book, this course is made up of three phases.

Phase 1: Transform Self: This is all about you. This phase will teach you ways to manage your time and routines in a more efficient manner so that you can create order in the midst of your chaos.

Phase 2: Transform Family: We simply cannot do everything on our own, all the time. Phase 2 of the course targets the rest of the family so that they develop better, healthy habits that lead to an overall transformation in your home/family dynamic.

Phase 3: Transform Home: This is the final phase that I like to call Boots on the Ground. This is where you go room to room, creating functional "activity zones" that work with your family's unique lifestyle.

The plan is simple, each day for 20 days you tackle one aspect of reconquering your home. Day One starts with yourself, and by Day Twenty you finish with an orderly home that has been decluttered, organized, and ready to be managed more effectively so that you have more time for the fun things in life. Each day begins with a "Daily Renewal," the chat portion which contain the grit of the course. You end the daily lesson with "GET MOVING!" which is where you apply what you have just learned in the lesson.

For me, this couldn't have come at a better time. My house was out of control. I had no schedule. I had no time. I constantly felt like I was drowning in a never-ending list of things to do, and swallowed by the ever-growing mountain of laundry. It seemed as if as soon as I finished one task, 10 more would pop up demanding my immediate action and attention.

I started with Day 1, and by the evening I had finalized a solid daily/weekly/monthly set of routines. Weekly routines are covered on Day 2, but I was eager to get going. I made sure to include the seven daily tasks. I honestly had no idea how much I put off for later that is so easily taken care of immediately. It is so much easier to wash one load of laundry each day, rather than trying to fight through 5 loads at the end of the week, and never getting it all put away because I'm being pulled in a million different directions. It is easy to cook and prepare healthy meals when I meal plan, do prep work early, and maintain a clean sink at all times. It's little things like those that have had a huge, instant impact. By Day 3, I had taken inventory in my kitchen, created a menu of dinner options, and planned dinners for the next month. I was able to drop our grocery bill by around $250 just by meal planning and sticking to a list, rather than going to the store and acting on impulse. I also noted a lot less waste since we actually ate what was purchased, rather than me buying what looked good at the time and no one touching it later. Day 6 was an eye opener for my family. They did not realize the weight I was carrying around all the time. Once I calmly explained what needed to be done, and why, they were on board with helping. Now my son has 2 daily clean up times. One in the afternoon, and one in the evening. My husband has a list of "his jobs" that he can look to, so he does not get lost on his journey to a less chaotic home. He has implemented his own schedule of things to do around the house, in addition to just picking up after himself more, and doing the heavy lifting things I need done.

By far the biggest help for me was to look at the space in our home as activity zones. That is what was missing in our home. It seemed like one room just bled into another. Nothing seemed to have its own space or place, and I frequently would spend far too long looking for things. I sat down and planned out what purpose each room, and each area of each room, served our family. And then I took a real, hard look at "stuff." Yeah, I had way too much of that. We were drowning in "stuff" that served us no purpose. Really, how many long black skirts does one gal need? Not as many as I found lurking in my closet, that is for sure!

Overall, this is taking me longer than 20 days to complete, obviously. I cannot overhaul my family and home in less than a month. But each day in the book is a starting point for the next step in the makeover. There are some Book Days that I have spent only 1 day on, while there are others that have taken me a week to complete. All in all though, I couldn't be happier with the results. Life is less stressful, family time is happier and more productive. I can now have my home "company ready" in less than 30minutes. We have specific zones for everything, and life flows more smoothly. With my family doing their part, I do not feel so overwhelmed any longer, and my mood has greatly improved. We are saving money each month, and putting it toward fun activities we can all do with the free time we now have. Overall, I would highly recommend this to others. It has worked wonders for us.

-Product review by Missica Pullen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017

Another Review:

Total Home Makeover

Renee Metzler

Ambassador International

(864) 751-48441 University Ridge, Suite B14

411 University Ridge, Suite B14

Greenville, SC 29601


Total Home Makeover is a home, time, and family organization system that includes a 20-day implementation plan. Written from a Christian viewpoint, the author places the vocation of mother and homemaker in a place of value and influence.

Author Renee Metzler states the book is written for any age woman, working or stay-at-home, and especially moms, whether organized or not. While probably most helpful for those struggling with life and home management, I’m sure many could benefit from the many great ideas contained in the book.

Each chapter begins with a “Daily Renewal.” This is made up of a Bible passage, a prayer, a journal prompt, and space to write. I appreciate the way the author envelopes home management efforts in Bible and prayer and her view of homemaking as a godly profession.

The chapters also contain a “coaching session” on a particular aspect of homemaking, a list of assignments and the supplies needed to complete them, and some tips for making the tasks more enjoyable. Renee Metzler’s personal stories about her organizing journey, scattered among the chapters, were a favorite part of the book for me.

The book is divided into three sections. Phase One addresses daily and weekly routines, meal planning, office tasks, errands, laundry, and general planning techniques. The description of proactive versus reactive routines makes a good case for designing systems that put you in control of your days.

Renee Metzler borrows some ideas and morphs some catch-phrases from the FlyLady such as hot spots, shining the sink, wiping the bathroom, taking breaks, using a timer, and living in chaos. She does, however, include the FlyLady’s website as a reference at the end of one of the chapters.

The second section of the book, Phase Two, covers family organization. She advocates a reward system for children’s chores which some families may want to change up according to their preferences. There are two chore charts for children—one for ages 5-9 and one for ages 10 and older. Many children younger than five could complete the chores on the first list, and of course, parents will want to tailor the chores to their households. Also in this section, housecleaning methods are explained, and the author effectively busts some myths on the accumulation of stuff.

Phase Three is a room-by-room approach to organizing your home. The rooms included are the porch and foyer, laundry room, home office, family room, kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, master wardrobe, children’s bedroom, bathrooms, and storage areas. I found her suggestion to first think about what takes place in that room and plan accordingly helpful.

One day per room is optimistic, given time constraints and other responsibilities, but the author says you can adjust the plan to fit your life. The basic strategy in this part of the book is to create a floor plan based on activities, clear the room and sort everything, document donations (space is given in the book for this), and put the keepers in appropriate containers. Her admonition to put trash and charity stuff where it goes right away after an organizing session is great advice. I was challenged by what she wrote about learning to manage what you already own before buying more stuff or upgrading your home.

The back of the book has a one-month planner with forms and instructions for planning months, weeks, days. There are also values and goals worksheets, meal planning and grocery lists, as well as daily and weekly to do lists.

Total Home Makeover ($11.99) is an attractive, easy-to-use text, workbook, and devotional all wrapped up in one. I think many women would find this plan helpful in organizing their time and space.

-Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2017