I have been spending the last few weeks getting our house and routines ready for a sixth member of our family. I know things will be VERY busy once we get David home. Not only will we be adding an active toddler to the mix, that toddler is going to have a lot of medical and therapy appointments to add to our already full schedule. My goal is to get rid of the excess in this house, and streamline routines as much as possible. Here are some things I'm doing/planning to do...
1. Girls' Laundry Baskets - Our three girls share a bedroom and one big laundry hamper. I just do all their laundry together - much more efficient than three small loads. One afternoon, as I was spending my usual hour or so sorting and folding their clothes, I decided there HAD to be a better way of doing it. I had already started to leave their folded piles on their beds for them to put away, but I was still spending a good chunk of time with the sorting and folding. So I headed to my friendly neighborhood dollar store and bought three little laundry baskets. I wrote the girls' names on them with a Sharpie. Now, I sort their clothes into their individual baskets as I pull them out of the dryer. It takes me maybe an extra 5 minutes to do. The girls are responsible for folding and putting away their own things. I thought I was going to have to "let go" of my idea of how the clothes should be folded and the drawers should look when they're done, but actually, they take great care in their job and do it very well! Time saved: approx. 1 hour every 5 to 7 days! Works for me!
2. Socks - Back when Hannah and Rachel were really little, I bought them identical socks in two different sizes. When I did their laundry together, I went nuts trying to distinguish the two sizes as I matched their socks. I bought two of those mesh lingerie bags at Target. As each girl's socks came off, they went in her bag. Then I ran them through the wash in the bag, and pairing was much easier when they were done. There are now three bags in the laundry. Each bag has a different color ribbon and they hang on a hook by the hamper. The girls put their dirty socks in them, and then get their bags back filled with clean socks to pair and put away (see #1). Do you have any idea how happy I am not to have to do that?
3. Towels - Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a real fan of big families. I mean really big families, with, say, 10 or more children. (Must have been those years of growing up as an only child and watching every episode and rerun of The Waltons.) I enjoy reading blogs and websites by and for large families, and sometimes take away some good ideas (I figure, if they work for a mom with 10 kids, they can work for me!). This one I've read many times in many places and am ready to use myself. I am weary from all the laundry, particularly towels. We have a variety of bath towels, mostly blue, that we have acquired over the years. It's hard to remember exactly which blue towel you used the last time you showered, so you just grab a clean one. I am assigning each family member a color and will buy bath towels in each color for each person. That way, we can know exactly which towel is ours and reuse it. I figure that will save me the time of at least one, possibly two, loads of laundry per week, not to mention money saved in soap and electricity costs.
4. School Papers - Back when Hannah was in her first year of Preschool, I saved just about every scrap of paper and artwork she brought home. Each year, the papers collected in various bins and manila envelopes throughout the house. Then Rachel started Preschool and started bringing home her own piles of paper. Now, Abbie's in school. The piles were out of control! I went to the post office and picked up a bunch of those large, rectangular flat-rate boxes. Each girl has one box for each year of school. I printed labels for the tops and sides. I put their work for that year in the box. If I can't fit it all in the box, some of it has to go. They're a good size because they give me enough room to fit a fair amount of work inside, they stack flat, and are uniform in size so they will stack nicely on shelves in the basement. Oh, and unlike plastic bins, they're free! And as for their large works of art, I'll head to Hobby Lobby and pick up a large artist's portfolio to store those works in (I'll use a coupon, of course).
5. Keepsakes - Everyone knows I'm a "saver" - I am sentimental about stuff and save everything! So our basement and drawers and closets and shelves are full to overflowing with not only useful stuff, but "meaningful" stuff. Then I read this post by Rachel at Small Notebook. Rachel remembers the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Toula's grandmother gives her a box of special keepsakes handed down through generations of women in their family. Then Rachel tries to imagine that, instead of a beautiful box, Toula's grandmother gave her the key to a storage unit, filled floor to ceiling with "keepsakes"! (Go read the post - the accompanying photos are just great!) I'll always be a "saver" - it's in my genes, I think. But I am learning to rethink keepsakes and memorabilia. I am starting to let go of a lot of stuff.
Next Post: Nesting!