Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Laundry systems

There are so many ways to go about taming the laundry monster, I thought I'd share how we keep laundry under control around here. This is how we've been doing laundry for years with some tweaks here and there.

1. I only wash dirty clothes! That seems like a no brainer, but think about it. How often do you put clothes in the hamper simply because they have been worn? PJ's in the hamper every morning? When I realized how much of our clothes really were not dirty when we were washing them things changed around here. Kids generally wear their clothes for 2 days, maybe more (unless they really are dirty), same with PJ's. This not only saves time, but it saves un-nesessary wear on your clothes.

2. We sort directly into a lights hamper and a darks hamper. This saves sorting time and since the hampers are kept right next to the washer and dryer it is easy to get loads started.
3. Monday, Wednesday, Friday washing. We wash clothes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only; unless we really need to on other days. I think this helps me feel like this is not such a never ending job. We do wash rags, towels, sheets, and diapers on other days but those things don't take the same effort that washing clothes do.

4. Help! The kids help with most of the laundry. I start my kids at about 3-4 years old (sometimes even 2) folding rags/towels/napkins as some early training for folding clothes. My older kids all fold and hang the clothes for us. Some have asked to help with the ironing, so we're working on that too.

I'm sure that this system will need more tweaking as our family grows and our needs change, and kids get bigger (and smellier), but for now this is working very well for us.

I'll share some stain fighting tips here soon too.

What works for you?

I'm linking to Organizing Junkie.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking care of mom: Nap time

Check out my other Taking care of Mom posts!

Since my oldest kids were very little we've always had nap time in our home. Once some of the kids got older and grew out of naps it switched to quiet time, but either way is serves the same purpose. To let everyone rest! After lunch is a good time to send everyone their separate ways, so that they can all come back together refreshed and ready to be together again.

This time allows mom to take a nap if she needs one (during pregnancy, after having a baby, and just one of those days that calls for a nap). After a few hours of caring for little ones, teaching, cooking, helping to resolve conflicts, and home management sometimes we get a bit overwhelmed. Having a couple of quiet hours in the middle of the day can help us regroup.

The older kids usually have some chores or school work to do. Smaller kids are assigned an area and activity such as "the living room with the wooden train set" or "the doll corner" The smallest kids (ages 3 and under at least) take naps.
I also use nap time to get some quality one-on-one time with the kids. They each have a day that is "theirs" and they know I'll be finding something special to do with them on that day. Sometimes I have them work on some special task with me, other times we will share a treat and talk. One of my littles is growing out of naps, but still needs her rest; she also LOVES to sleep in my bed so on her special day we snuggle up in my bed together and watch a movie.

After nap time I'm generally rested and ready to move on with our day with more energy and we are all happy to be coming back together since we've missed each other!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are having a lovely time with your family and enjoying the day. If you are stressed and feel like you are spending too much time in the kitchen and not enough with your family here are a couple of quick tips to try out the next holiday (Christmas?).
1. Do your shopping early. Most of the things you will need can be purchased at least a week in advance. This way you can avoid the crowds and be rested for the cooking you are going to be doing.

2. Make everything you can ahead of time. Last week I made up and froze our yams/sweet potatoes. I'll make my pies up a day or two in advance also. Some prep work can be done early too (like chopping vegetables). Look at your recipes and see how you can split these things up.

3. Use a turkey roaster for your turkey. This frees up the oven for the rest of the foods you need to cook. This keeps you from needing to do a last minute scramble to get everything in right after the turkey comes out. Since the roaster can be used as a crock pot too it comes in handy all year long for a large family (or just making large batches to freeze/share)!

4. List out the foods you are making in the order they need to be prepared. My list will look something like this.

-Put the turkey in the roaster in the morning.
-make bread/rolls
-wash, peel and boil potatoes
-prep sausage stuffing
-cook yams and stuffing
-make salad
-cook corn
-mash the potatoes
-make gravy

As each thing is done I'll cross it off of my list. When I figure out what time we plan to eat I'll put times next to each thing on my list so I know when I should be starting each one. This will allow me to enjoy my time with my family between tasks and not be worried about what I'm missing.

 

5. Let them help! If you have a large family or just a couple of little ones then chances are you have some helpers too! Let them help you. Accepting their help does two things for you, it lightens your load AND (more importantly) it allows for some quality time together!

6. Plan some simple activities, games or crafts to be done during the day so that the family does not just end up sitting around doing nothing. Our kids have been preparing speeches (from Thanksgiving books or verses from the Bible) to give.

Relax and enjoy your day. Remember it is not having a perfectly cooked gourmet meal that matters, it is the fellowship that matters. A simple meal made with love is going to be so much more special than a fancy meal made with strife.

I'm linking to Organizing junkie today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking care of mom: Time with God

Sometimes in the business of life the first thing that we let go is the most important thing we can do to take care of ourselves. That is time with God; time in prayer, and time in His word. All Isaiah 55 reminds us of God's faithfulness, but verse 11 is especially relevant here

"so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

When we spend time in God's word and praying (talking to Him), he is faithful to work in us. His word does not come back void!
It is hard to find that time though when the baby wakes us early, the kids need our attention, everyone needs to be fed, there is laundry to be done and food to cook. With the seasons of our lives our time with God may look different too.

Right now I've got a 3 month old baby, and 6 other kids. We just moved to a new state, and I'm trying to get our lives back in order from that. My time with God consists of our family Bible reading, scripture memorization and prayers with my children and as a family, a monthly Bible study (and the prep for it), and constant prayers said through out the day. God is faithful to work in me through these times. As we settle in I hope to get back to keeping a prayer journal and going through a book of the Bible and keeping a journal of what I'm reading/learning.


As I work with my children if I'm picking verses for them to learn (often my husband is picking verses for them) I try to pick verses that apply to things going on in our lives or character traites the child is needing to work on. Since it is my child and he/she learns from me, chances are that whatever character trait they need to work on, I need to work on too! Isn't it great how God uses our children to teach us?

What do you do to keep in God's word?

 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bath towels


Large families have lots of bath towels (or at least they should), but those towel racks in most homes just don't hold that many. What to do? Sure you could wash and fold those towels every time they are used. Or the kids could just throw them in a pile to get icky and smelly. Those don't sound like good solutions though. This is what works for us.

*The kids' towels are color coded. No more "who's towel is this laying on the floor?" or kids just grabbing a new towel because they don't know which one is theirs.

Hooks! These boards with hooks already on them can be found at Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, and I'm sure plenty of other places have them too. This is what has worked for us for years. Anyone else have any solutions the bath towel dilema?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking care of mom

We've all heard the saying "if mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy." I don't like that saying. It brings to mind the mother that the whole family must cater to; life is miserable for the rest of the family if mom is not happy, getting what she wants or doing what she wants. That is just not what we as christian wives and mothers are called to be. We are to be putting the needs of others first (Matthew 22: 36-38); caring for our husbands, children, and homes (Titus 2:4-5). However as with any good lie there is some truth to it.

When mom is tired from too little sleep, sick from poor nutrition, emotionally drained, and feels frumpy and ragged she tends to be a bit unhappy. Maybe more than a bit unhappy? Downright grumpy and snappy? Mom sets the tone in the home, so when she is not happy it is hard for the rest of the family to be happy. It can be hard to find that balance at times; new babies wake us in the night, our children need direction and love almost constantly, and then there is the "endless" work around the house. It is important to take care of ourselves so that during those times that life really gets crazy we can handle it and keep a tone of peace, joy and love in our homes.

In the coming weeks and moths I'll be doing some posts on some of the simple things I've been doing to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family.

I'm linking to Raising Homemakers today.


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Large Family Logistics

About eight years ago I had three children, ages three years and under. I was far away from family and since we are a military family I was just developing friendships in the area we were living in at the time. I was treading water trying to keep up with the kids, cooking, cleaning and everything else there was to do. About that time I found Kim Brenneman's blog Large Family Logistics. It was such a blessing to me as I implemented the tips and routines she suggested. Things became much more manegable around the house!

I was so excited last year when her book Large Family Logistics finally came out! My kids gave it to me for Christmas knowing that I was wanting it. Between morning sicknesses, new babies, and moves I had lost many of the routines that I had found so helpful and forgotten many of the tips. Opening her book was like getting together with an old friend that had not been seen in quite some time! I've been enjoying going through her book and re-learning, putting many of these things back in place with the routines that we did manage to keep.

Her book was so easy to read. It is well laid out and does not even need to be read from cover to cover. Just open it to the chapter that you need to work on. Now that we are settled in our new house I'm working my way through the areas in the book such as Laundry day, Kitchen day, office day etc. We had routines in place but they can always use some tweaking and this was a chance for a fresh start! I'll post later about what we are doing for our routines in each area.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Introduction

I'm starting this blog as a place to share what I'm learning about managing a large family and to encourage other moms of many (or maybe not so many). I've found over the years that I love seeing how other families make it work, from organizing the home, finances, cooking and homeschooling, to quality time and relationships. A thought shared, a picture seen, these things can get the mind going helping to inspire solutions to problems or just fine tuning what may already be working.

I'll be sharing here what I've learned along the way, and what I'm learning now too. I'm far from having this all figured out, and just when I think I may at least have some things going well something changes and I'm thrown for a loop! That being said I'd love to hear from others in the form of comments, guest posts and maybe even some link ups. What do you want to hear about? What areas do you struggle with? Please let me know. Do you shine in some area? Let me know your idea for a guest post either through comments or the "contact me" button!