our work

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brass Tacks and Piles of Laundry

From time to time, I get notes from moms asking questions about "daily operations" in a family like ours. I have many friends with larger families than mine. Many friends who run their homes like well-oiled machines. I have learned a lot from these ladies.

Mostly I have learned that they hatched from pods dropped from another planet! A planet I am not familiar with. A place that mocks people with my organizational
challenges and steals my DNA to figure out what went awry.

But I picked up a few "tricks" along the way that I wanted to share with those of you who, like me, have fantasized about having a housekeeper, a cook and some sister wives to share my load . . . unattractive, celebate sister wives, of course!

Keep in mind that my family consists of two parents, FOUR teenagers, a ten year old and our little angel baby who has Down Syndrome. We have some unique blessings and challenges that might make some of what I'm sharing not so do-able in your house.

Used towels have been the bane of my existence for several years. Kids forget which towel was "theirs". Teens find it gross to use the towel that someone else has used to dry his "nether regions". Towels stacked atop one another on our measly towel bar start to get gamey in just one day.
For awhile I was washing a load of towels EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
And then the most obvious remedy jumped from the J hook at Wal Mart and into my cart.
OVER THE DOOR TOWEL HOOKS!!!! I love these things! I want to find the inventor and bake him a cake. With sprinkles.
Each bedroom door in our home is now graced by a towel hook. If there are three children in a room, there are three hooks. YOUR towel stays YOUR towel and is washed with your clothes on laundry day.
This plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face solution has revolutionized my life!
There you have it...

Books, papers, pencils, the protractor, the compass, CD ROMS and journals littered my shelves and tables. I tried assigning children a spot on the school shelf that would be their own. But notebooks slid, papers hung loose, pencils and pens rolled. I had to come up with a system to organize school items that was accessible to me for nightly grading and work assigning. For us, the crate system was a gift from above.
Each child has his/her own crate with a name sticker. That crate contains everything needed for school. On top of each stack of books in each crate is a post it note with my instructions. This method works perfectly for older children who do much of their work independently but it also serves to make our not-so-independent learner feel like a "big kid". His Explode the Code and math worksheet along with a box of crayons and pencils are in his crate and ready for daily use.

Some other tips that make our days run a little more smoothly and take some of the load off mom are:

Each child has a water bottle in the fridge with his name on it. This reduces the constant use of a new cup every time someone is thirsty.

I empty the dishwasher every morning and every able-bodied child has to rinse his dishes and put them in the dishwasher immediately after use. No dishes pile up in the sink.....Nirvana!

As much as my "green" friends might cringe, we use a lot of paper plates during the day... but we also double up little kids for baths so maybe that balances out our wastefulness with our eco-friendliness . . . no?

I have much to learn in terms of running this household efficiently but the items above have pulled me closer to that goal with a minimal amount of cost and effort.
These tricks have freed up some valuable time that I used to spend washing towles or chasing down math folders.

Now the big challenge is to USE that "found time" doing things that are worthwhile and not squander it with lazy or selfish pursuits.

And THAT'S another blog post altogether . . .


  1. anyone who homeschools 6 children has earned the right to use paper plates, at least in my book. ;)))))

  2. LOL...I also used to go nuts over the towels. We also put hooks in all the rooms but we took it a step further and bought each family member their own towels in different colors! Now I know who left their towel on the bathroom floor. Still working on the school organizing. We tried the crates and it didn't seem to work so good. We will persevere. Love hearing tips.

  3. I seriously needed this post 'cause this unorganized mess is driving me crazy!

  4. Love the crates!! We use plastic baskets- but I'm getting crates now! :o)

  5. Yay, I feel somewhat organized! Each of my kids has their own color towel and their own hook (screwed into the wall) to hang it on. Each kid also has their own cup (the kind so popular nowadays that is insular and has a top and straw to minimize spilling). These are their water cups. Before, the cups were everywhere, and nobody was claiming them. Each kid has their school stuff on a shelf in a cabinet that has doors. Now if I could get MY desk cleaned up! :)