Showing posts with label Home Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Management. Show all posts

Monday, April 13

Washing the White House Duds

Laundry is kind of a never-ending thing around here….particularly when certain individuals decide they need a new outfit every time they roll out of bed. I’ve tried several systems: I’ve tried the wash and fold a load every day, which left me feeling like I was NEVER DONE! I’ve tried the do it all in one day, which left me searching for clothes for people to wear. I’ve tried the don’t ever do it, which, for obvious reasons, never worked.

I still don’t have a system. If you’re looking for a post that’s going to share a tried and true, perfect for everyone method…you will never find one, because there isn’t. Everyone has to figure out what works best for them, right now, in this season. This is mine…

None of our kids are really old enough to take on the responsibility of “doing” laundry. Yes, they’ll help with little things, when it’s exciting, but for the most part laundry falls to me and Matt {yes, he helps}, and that’s ok. Because in about 3 years I figure I won’t have to do anything {nice fantasy right?!}.

So, what do we do?

We do laundry as it comes in, when we have time, and when the mood strikes.
Wow! That seems rather “whatever” doesn’t it?! 
Yup. And it works for us.Washing the White House Duds: 3 Simple Tips for Not Losing Your Mind When You Are Losing the Laundry War, from a Mom of Triplets+ 1

There are days {and I mean the time frame of clothing lying in the same spot for over 24 hours} when clothes lay strewn about the house before I manage to wrangle them all together and in a pile somewhere near the bathroom or laundry room. Right now…not gonna lie. There’s stuff tossed about the kitchen, the mudroom, the living room, the bathroom, and the bedrooms. Probably a good 5 or 6 loads of laundry. Does it drive me nuts? Yup. But I’ve had to learn how to let it go.

Sometimes clothes are neatly in hampers or piles ready to be carried to the laundry room and washed. This usually only happens immediately following ALL the laundry being washed, and lasts until the first shower.

What usually happens is that we have a mix of these 2 things occurring. Some clothes are neatly piled, ready to go, and some clothes are strewn about. It just takes Matt or I actually getting them into the machine, out of the machine {before they need to be washed again}, and into the dryer.

Once things are dry, they kind of sit in those big blue Ikea bags until the mood strikes to fold them. Usually once or twice a week. Matt and I will put a movie on and sit for the duration folding all those bags of laundry and sorting them into piles of what goes in which draw in whose room {this makes it a lot easier to put away…one pile for each draw…I can put all the clothes away for everyone in less than 10 minutes}. Then put all of the girls’ clothes in one bag, all of the boys’ in another, then put those bags in their rooms to go in the draws.

Washing the White House Duds: 3 Simple Tips for Not Losing Your Mind When You Are Losing the Laundry War, from a Mom of Triplets+ 1

Somehow it always amazes me how much clothing there is. The boys only have 3 pairs of pants each, 3 sweatshirts and a handful of tees. The girls are another story. I’m constantly weeding through to pare down what they have, so I’m not washing the same things that don’t fit over and over again.

Here are my 3 basic tips to help tame the laundry leviathan…


Laundry Tips

Washing the White House Duds: 3 Simple Tips for Not Losing Your Mind When You Are Losing the Laundry War, from a Mom of Triplets + 1

You can only wash as many clothes as you have. What do I mean….if you have 30 shirts, you’ll wash 30 shirts, but if you only have 3, you can only wash 3. It is for this reason that our kids don’t have a ton of clothes, that I don’t have a ton of clothes, and Matt has more clothes than all of us combined {I keep working on him}.

Don’t be disheartened when your “system” stops working. That’s life. Nothing works forever. What works this week, isn’t going to work next week. Do what you need to right now to have clean clothes and not lose your mind. Maybe that’s a wash basket per room, and people live out of the clean laundry in that basket. Maybe things are color coded and perfectly folded in drawers. Maybe it’s walking around in your undies, waiting for clean clothes to dry.

Find a baseline and hold that as your standard, not Pinterest. Whatever it is, figure out what your minimum effort for sanity is and hold that as your bar. Anything above is fantastic! At this you’ll at least be able to focus on doing what you have to do, rather than being overwhelmed with what you think you should have done.

*Bonus: Get rid of your bulky wash baskets! We used to have them all over the house. I invested in about 10 big blue Ikea bags {a whopping $6.00} and it’s great! They’re huge, they crumple up really small, and they’re indestructible.

You can check out what my laundry room looks like HERE!

Monday, October 20

Making Organization Fun!

With all of the renovations and changes going on around here, I’ve been trying to set us back up with a modicum of organization. When kidecals contacted me a few weeks months ago about reviewing some of their labels and decals I jumped at the chance. I ordered some awesome chalkboard labels for our pantry, some washable labels for Avelyn’s ballet stuff, and some fun labels for Matt’s creations.


Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect them to show up so fast! I couldn’t believe it! It was only a few days later and I had them in my hands! Of course it was a little bit longer before I actually got to put them to use. IMG_3793

The chalkboard labels are awesome! Whenever anything says chalkboard I’m always worried about just how well they’re going to clean up. Honestly, I’m one of those who love the new-ness of a washed chalkboard, and these cleaned up just fine with a damp paper towel.IMG_4373

As for the washable labels, I was a bit skeptical about whether or not they’d actually stick to the clothes and stay on them after being washed. A lot of labels just don’t do well on clothing, especially if they’re not a fabric label.

I felt like I was having a hard time getting them to stick to the silkiness of Ave’s ballet leotard, but they stuck, surprisingly well. I’ve been washing her leotard every week and the sticker has yet to come off!

Matthew’s been having fun with the “From the cellar of Matthew White” labels, slappin’ them on any bottle he gives to someone. He’s a sucker for a well labeled bottle.

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with kidecals and their products. They work well, hold up well, and clean up well: Kind of important for labels in daily use. At first glance the prices are a bit steep, but once you take a look at what you’re getting {quality and quantity} and how well they work, it’s worth it.

If you’re in the market to do some label organization in your own home, be sure to visit their site and see what they have to offer. They always have free shipping and often have discounts codes.

*I received these labels from kidecals for free in exchange for my review of their products. That said the opinions expressed here are my own. You can read here for my entire disclosure policy.

Thursday, June 14

What Inspires Your Menus?

I’ve gotten bored with our monthly menus. I kind of do the same things over and over, because I don’t know what each day is going to bring. I don’t know if on any given day how kids are going to be, what the weather will be (I do not want the oven on if it’s 80* in my house), or whether I’ll even feel up to trying a new recipe.
This creates a problem.

Or does it?

What about using our menu schedule not so much as a hard-and-fast-schedule, but as a suggestion?
What about creating a list of meals that you would like to try, but don’t know if/when you’ll have the time/desire?

That’s what I started doing.

Now, instead of feeling like we cook the same things day-in and month-out I can feel like there’s a bit of freedom. Of course this is obvious, but it’s so easy to just make up a meal plan and end up glued to it for the month, because you don’t have the time, you haven’t thought ahead, you don’t have the ingredients and there is no way in this world are you taking 4 kids to the grocery store….alone.

Please, allow me to present….


Everyone loves pinterest (or at least almost everyone loves pinterest): Let it work for you! I’m always seeing these fantastic meals that look awesome and think “Oh, I want to try that!” I pin it. And never look at it again.

I figured, why don’t I create a board of meals that are realistic to make and something we might actually have for a regular dinner. Maybe you’ve already figured this one out, but I’m a bit slow sometimes.
Now, when I’m feeling a bit adventurous, I can glance in one place and see a bunch of different recipes that might want to try and most likely have the ingredients for.

Another tip?

Don’t rely just on pinterest for your ideas. Add the “pin it” button to your browser toolbar. When a friend posts a delicious recipe…pin it! When you get that email list that you signed up for for healthy dinner ideas, look through it quickly. If you find a recipe….pin it!

And if you’re not into pinterest or don’t want to step on someone’s toes by using it, create a bookmark file on your computer for Dinner Ideas. Isn’t that what we used to do before pinterest?

What ideas do you have to help keep your menu from becoming boring?

Wednesday, May 16

Why Housekeeping Today is More Difficult than 150 Years Ago

Despite the advent of things like: Washing machines, dishwashers, vacuums, cleaning services, indoor plumbing and roombas, there is a very LOUD gripe amongst homemakers that their job is NEVER done.

I think about how, in the past, Sundays would be a day in which no one would do any cooking, cleaning or other kind of work. It was a day meant to be spent in thought and prayer and leisure. Despite all of the aforementioned “helpers” we still become the weekend warriors.

I don’t know about you, but cleaning my house is never done. There is never a moment in which I could sit back and think, “wow! The laundry is all washed and away. The toilets and shower are scrubbed. The kitchen is immaculate. The windows and baseboards and walls and floors and ceilings are scrubbed. The beds are all stripped. The rooms are all clean.” It’s just not going to happen. Well it might, for a moment, but that’s about it.

Which got me thinking. People are usually saying how much easier us homemakers have it now than we did a 100 or so years ago, we certainly do. But, in all fairness, they had it easier than us too.

*Their laundry could be done in one day for the week, because there was only 3 outfits {if that} per person:PioneerWoman 2 work clothes and 1 Sunday outfit (and they were probably wearing one of them while doing the laundry). They didn’t have 40 t-shirts, 10 pairs of jeans, 15 pairs of underwear, 30 pairs of socks ad nauseam per person.

*They didn’t need a dishwasher, because everyone had one plate, one cup, and one set of utensils. In most families each person cleaned their plates etc after each meal, but even if they didn’t…there wasn’t more than a few plates, cups, utensils, and some pots.

*They could clean their entire house in less than an hour, because their house was most likely one or two rooms that had a total square footage of maybe 200sqf, and barely had any furniture.

*They had no, if any, toys or other “clutter” items. People didn’t have the option of buying thousands of different toys, books, tchotchkes, or any number of other “necessities”, particularly those of the baby variety. Without them, there were a lot less things to clean up.

*Kids were expected to HELP. Not like today when it’s now considered child-abuse to expect your kid to clean their room and help around the house.

What ways do you think people had it easier keeping-house in the past?

Monday, May 7

Revamping Dinner Time

With the store now closed I've been forced to return to life without my own personal grocery store; meaning, I have to plan ahead. I can't just call Matt up and ask him to bring home steak or ground beef or chicken for dinner, because there isn't any, unless I want to start dealing with frozen stuff.For this I will miss the store.

Before we had the store I had started writing up a monthly meal plan, which was really helpful, because I knew what I needed and what was coming up on the calendar. Sometimes we deviated from it, but for the most part it really helped me to keep tabs on what we had in inventory, what we've eaten a lot of, and what would be a treat.

I created a section in my Home Management Binder specific to cooking: I'm actually now using it. I've created an entire list of meals that I can cook, both with and without recipes. There's about 50 or so recipes in my arsenal ranging from meals for company to throw-togethers. Now I can plan menus for the entire month within 10 minutes.

Matt and I sit down with the list of prospective meals and what we have in the house that needs to get used up and we fill out the calendar with significant things that are going on and then plan the meals accordingly.

I can't tell you how much easier it is to not sit there every day and think "What am I going to cook tonight?" Matt always jokes that I call him for two things during the day, to see how he's doing and what he wants for dinner.

Oh, and there's a little trick I want to share with you: Plastic page protectors and wet-erase markers! I print the current months calendar from word, slip it into the sheet protector and go to town with the marker. It doesn't just wipe off, but I can easily make some changes with a damp tissue (I don't recommend your thumb with spit, it doesn't come off of skin so easily, that's just what I've heard ;-).

The other thing that planning ahead really helps me with is that I can make sure I have the groceries I need on hand. Obviously, I don't get out much: 1) The grocery stores are now 45 minutes away and 2) there is no way I can take 4 kids grocery shopping with me (I can't pull 2 carts full of kids, while filling a 3rd cart). I have to plan for someone to come over and stay with the kids for the day so that I can go out and restock.

If you're really interested in trying to plan ahead it will save you lots of time and actually some money too, because when I go shopping now it's with a mission and I only go once, so there's less chance of me buying things we don't need (like peanut butter Oreos and jars of Nutella). There's also a great book to help you with figuring out the best way to create a monthly meal plan and shopping trip.

Go ahead! Try it! You won't know if it works for you unless you do.

Do you have any tips or advice that you follow to help with the "what's for dinner" hum-drums?

Thursday, January 26

Home Management Binder ~ Part Quatre { Fin }

If you missed the other posts about my Home Management Binder, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The whole idea behind a Home Management Binder is all well and good, but the there is really no point to it if you don't use it. I will admit it right here that I don't use my binder all the time, mostly because almost all of it is in my head. All the recipes, the cleaning schedules, the contact information: Yep, it's all up there in the noggin.

The things that I do use:

Our financial breakdown: Every two weeks, when Matt comes home with a paycheck, I sit down and look at our financial sheet while filling out the bank deposit. Every few months I look over my breakdowns and what money is actually in the bank accounts associated. My purpose is to make sure that no one suffix is getting too much or too little money deposited.

Cleaning Lists: I use this list when I am on cleaning spree. It helps me to keep tabs on everything that needs to be done in a room before I can say it's clean; I feel like I get something accomplished when I can cross it off. It also helps when I have someone (our neighbor's daughter or a friend) in to help me do deep cleaning: I'm able to put the list on the counter and not have to constantly answer the "what comes next" question.

Triplet Schedule: This one sits on the counter top at all times. Every diaper and every bottle is marked on there, along with how much they ate and their weights (if I weighed them). I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, because if they don't hit their eating goals for the day I kind of freak out. Overall though it is helpful to be able to see, at a glance, what's going on and what comes next.

As for the things I don't use on a regular basis, such as emergency contacts and calendars, they do come in handy. The contacts and medical information are readily available if someone is here babysitting and something happens or they have a question, they can look right at the binder and know who they need to contact or any pertinent information about each of the kids.

Our calendar is helpful because I can scribble things down in there before I get them on the wall calendar, or if things are months in advance (such as the babies' appointment in June). The meal calendar is helpful, but honestly, I have yet to sit down and fill one of these out, simply because we're eating a lot of freezer meals right now or things people have dropped off (we used to do this though).

There you have it folks! My Home Management Binder in a nutshell. It's still a work in progress, but that is how it should be. The point of the binder is to be a help, not something that doesn't change or address your current needs. Go for it! See if it's something that will help you. If you do a post about it, please, let me know. I'd love to check it out!

Monday, January 23

Home Management Binder ~ Part Trois

If you missed the other posts about my Home Management Binder, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I'm the queen of lists, I love them, I love scratching things off, I love seeing progress. That's one thing that is great about a Home Management Binder, I can keep lots of lists together in one place. When creating all of the different sections and documents to go in my binder I started with a list of the different sections that I would need, such as: Contacts, Schedules, Household, Finances, and Cooking.

Under the Contacts section I have a page with all of our pertinent contact information, particularly emergency information in the event that something happens and Matt and I aren't home. We have a list of our doctors, our {multiple} contact numbers, emergency services numbers; as well as the kids medical information.

Also I keep a list of everyone's addresses and phone numbers here for quick reference, so I don't always have to pull up our Christmas mailing lists when I want to send someone a card or thank you.

Schedules includes our daily chore schedules, as well as weekly. There's a section in there to keep track of the triplets food/sleep/diaperings and Ave's bedtime routines. I also keep a years worth of monthly calendars in there, so that we can write down doctors appointments or any other things we need to schedule well in advance.

The Household section is the most intense. Remember I said I love lists? I've been keeping a list of chores for years; every single thing that needs to be done in every single room/space in our house, in order for me to consider the space immaculately clean {meaning it would be ready for its photo shoot in Better Homes and Gardens}. I've also included a list of projects and one-time chores that need to be done in this section. There's a convenient one page sheet that can be taken out, or a large sheet for each room to take them on one at a time.

I also have a section in here about how we do our laundry: How things are sorted, how the machines run, but particularly how the cloth diapers are prepped, cleaned, dried, and put back into circulation. I also have signs for those things hanging in the laundry room, so that anyone who decides to stop by can jump in.

Finances is a very straightforward and easy section, for me. This is one area that many people put a lot of time and thought into for planning their budgets and keeping track of all of their bills and savings. We're not your average family, we own a grocery store, and other than paper goods, produce and cleaning supplies, we get everything from our store. I do have a breakdown of Matt's paycheck, with all of the allotments for putting money aside for bills and savings. The rest of our finances are taken care of online, we only receive 1 or 2 bills in the mail every few months that I need to worry about.

The last section is Cooking. I haven't put much time into this section, because many friends and family members have been dropping off meals for us, and being that Matt is either in the store every day or stops by on the way home we eat what is in the store. Sometimes I do plan meals in advance, but for the most part we've been flying by the seat of our pants. Last winter we worked on a monthly meal plan and will be going back to that soon. That's where I keep track of that.

I also keep a running list of all of the different meals I make, most of them are things I don't even need a recipe for, but I also include recipes in this section for favorites that are less familiar. It's so helpful to have all of those things in one place!

One of the things that really helped with creating the pages and sections of my Home Management binder was goo.gling. There are so many freebies out there that people have made available for download, as well as great ideas for different sections or ways of organizing the binder.

*Disclaimer: I don't know why the pictures are so yellow. It's a nasty day here and I think it's from using my flash. Sorry. I'll try to update later with better pictures.

Friday, December 23

Home Management Binder ~ Part Deux

If you missed the other posts about my Home Management Binder, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I managed to pull together a lot of the supplies needed to create a binder from things I already have at home (I have a major weakness for school supplies). The big things you need are:
*3-hole punched plastic sheet protectors
*Binder tabs
*Printed forms and information
*Post its (come in handy for marking changes to update sheets later)
*Computer paper and printer (if you like things "fancy")

The other part of my Home Management project is putting up instructions in our laundry room for people to know how to use our machines, as well as how to wash diapers/clothes. The only supplies I needed for that were a few cheap frames from wa.lmart.

I ended up spending maybe $15 on all of the supplies needed for my project, I had some and others I had to get.
You can see that my supplies are very basic and really nothing fancy, but they'll do the job. You can go totally crazy though with color coding, special graphics on your forms, pretty-fying the outside/inside of your binder. Whatever is going to get you to actually USE the binder is a bonus.

Keep tuned for Part Trois! I'll be posting all of the bits of information I have pulled together for our binder, as well as all of the pages I've created. If you've created a Home Management (Command Control) binder I would love to hear about it!

Tuesday, December 20

Home Management Binder ~ Part Un

If you missed the other posts about my Home Management Binder, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The other day I posted asking for your questions and one of them was whether we had a game plan for life after these three are born. Simple {and hard} answer is "No", because I have no idea what to expect.

BUT I have had something in the works for a while: A Home Management Binder. With not knowing how many people we will have helping out, and knowing that no one, but me and Matt, knows how to wash cloth diapers, I decided I needed to take the time to create some sort of system of information.

A while ago I read the book Large Family Logistics (LFL), which was helpful, but not really, because the assumed norm of having one kid at a time doesn't apply to us. In general there was a lot of great information for ANY size family on getting organized. One of big things the author did discuss was creating an information center and a sort of system to your daily/weekly/monthly life.

I googled for a while (there's lots of ideas and lots of FREE things too); finding different ideas of what should be in it, ideas for layouts and formats, and referenced the LFL book. The hardest thing about this is what works for one family won't for another so you've got to really play around with ideas and designs, which I did months ago, but I never put the binder together.

I got my latest issues of Better Homes and Gardens today and for the new year they had a section on creating a Command Center Binder, with a free download (it has a lot of great information in it). That sealed the deal...I'm going to sit down and get this information pulled together. I've already done a lot of the leg work in creating the computer documents.

I'll be posting Part Deux, once I've pulled all the supplies together, to show you how I'm creating our Home Management Binder!