Our Large Family Laundry Routine

Our Large Family Laundry Routine

I know lots of large families.  And they all have different laundry routines.  I finally settled on our large family laundry routine and wanted to share it with you.  After all, I didn’t have it all together and I know some of you don’t as well.  You’re looking around trying to find what will work for you.  If you’re like me you’ve tried so many different things you’re ready to settle for mediocre while wanting fabulous.

I found fabulous ladies!

 

large family laundry routine

 

So what do I do?

First, I found a laundry detergent that works for our hard well water, washing my husbands dirty oily greasy work jeans(he’s an electrician and you don’t want to know some of the places he’s crawled through), as well as my sweet little ones diapers.  Let’s face it, very few laundry detergents can do all of these things.  I though Charlie’s Soap was going to be my go to, but alas it couldn’t handle our well water.  My clothes started to smell, and the stains wouldn’t come out of my husbands jeans. 

So I turned to my essential oil company.  I love their products.  But I’d never tried the laundry detergent.  It was worth a try.  I told myself it couldn’t hurt.  So I went for it.  And now I will never go back!

If you haven’t found “the one” laundry detergent yet make sure to give this one a go.  You’ll love it.  Trust me.

What next?

Okay, so after I found the perfect laundry detergent I needed the perfect routine.  I already has a quasi routine.  Each of the kids bedrooms plus the bathroom has a hamper.  There is a child assigned to bring each hamper to the laundry room and my oldest sorts the clothes.  Clothes are sorted out by jeans, towels, whites, coloreds, and delicates.  Simple.  

I do at least one load of coloreds daily.  Jeans and towels are done every other day on a rotating basis.  So say Monday I do jeans, Tuesday I’ll do towels, etc.  Whites are done once a week or whenever I can get a full load.  How often that is depends on how many breast pads I go through and how many blankets and burp rags the babe spits up on.  Delicates are done whenever needed or every other week.  That’s about the most amount of time I can let them sit on the shelf where they collect without it driving me nuts.

Diaper Laundry too

Cloth diapers get done daily or every other day depending on the weather.  I always line dry my diapers.  When we bring them in at night I like to give them an air fluff in the dryer.  This just takes some of the line dried stiffness out so that they’re super soft on the bitty baby bum.  Check out my post on cloth diapers to learn what kinds I use and why I love them.

Speaking of the dryer.  The only things that get dried in the dryer are my coloreds and whites.  I hang dry the jeans and towels.  Previously I’d hang dry the coloreds and whites as well, but I only have one clothesline.  We use the fence that surrounds our yard to hang out the jeans and towels.  There just is not enough room on it to hang out all the coloreds and whites. Plus some of my kids are old enough they don’t want their unmentionables on the fence for the whole world to see.

Anyway, back to the dryer!  I like to use dryer balls in my dryer instead of dryer sheets.  Artificial smells are not good for you or your clothes.  Instead of those stinky dryer sheets I put a few drops of essential oils on my dryer balls.  Our clothes come out smelling clean and fresh without any harsh chemicals.  Win win for all!  I particularly like using citrus scents or lavender on my dryer balls.  Occasionally I spice it up with peppermint or cinnamon bark.

Where does it all go?

Now I feel that I should tell you about my laundry set up.  First, I have never had a brand new washer or dryer.  We buy used.  Mostly from auctions or friends who decide they want to upgrade.  My husband is a handy man and has rigged up my washing area to allow me to have 2-3 washing machines!  Yeap you heard that right.  I normally have at least two washing machines in running order.  Having two makes it so easy to do laundry.

I used to be overwhelmed with laundry.  Creating a routine really helped but I’d often forget to go switch out loads.  Or I’d go hang up the first load and forget to start a second load.  The biggest problem though was the cloth diapers.  They take a while to wash because you have the first wash cycle with an extra rinse cycle(the first wash I use detergent) and then a second wash and rinse where it’s detergent free.  That’s two full wash cycles with extra rinses.  It takes a while and by the time they’re done and on the line the next load doesn’t have time to get dried on the line.

I’m so lucky.

Enter my amazing husband and his mad plumbing skills.  It’s not pretty but it’s functional guys.  He rigged it up for a second and even a third washing machine to help make my life simpler and to ensure he had clothes to wear to work.  There may have been some times earlier in our marriage where laundry got put on a back burner but that’s a story for another day.  Our large family laundry routine has come a long way from six kids ages 3 and under with four in diapers let me tell you!  Those were the rough days.

Dryers.  I have one dryer.  With two washing machines this might not sound like a good fit in our large family laundry routine, but it is.  It doesn’t get used as much as it could because I do hang out over half of our loads of laundry.  But it does still see some use.  In the winter I don’t use it except for a fluff cycle on cloth diapers because we hang our clothes up from the unfinished ceiling in the basement near our wood stove.  But during the summer when clothes don’t dry as well inside the house and unmentionables on the fence cause tween angst, my dryer gets some miles put on it.

Let me know if you want to know more about our large family laundry routine!

Homeschool History Lesson

Homeschool History Lesson

Blogging Through the ABC’s- Letter H

In our homeschool we love history.  It’s one of the things that drew my husband and I together as we met at a Civil War Reenactment.  So it’s only natural that we’d want to do our homeschool history lesson together.

Because my husband is self-employed his schedule can be different from most people’s.  He doesn’t have a 9-5 job and emergencies do happen.  He is home for supper though so our homeschool history lesson happens after supper!

 

the story of the world

 

Right now we are using a wonderful history curriculum called Story of the World.  We’re in volume 1 which covers Ancient Times right now but I can already tell that we’ll be continuing this curriculum.  We restart our homeschool year on January 1st so that’s when we started our new history.

I’ve talked to people about our homeschool a lot.  You’ll find when you’re around people who homeschool you do talk about homeschooling and what curriculum you use and how you implement it just because it’s something you’re all curious about.  When they heard how we did our homeschool history lesson I got a lot of mixed reactions.  People couldn’t believe that our kids could learn that late in the evening.  They wondered if the kids were retaining their knowledge.  They were also curious how we could work that in our schedule at that time.

It’s not always easy.  Yes they do retain it.  And we all love it!  Prior to making our homeschool history lesson at this time we would read books out loud together.  We expected our children to sit and listen and retain that knowledge.  They had to answer questions and we really wanted to make sure they understood the books we read to them.  We read things like the Chronicles of Narnia series, Anne of Green Gables, and other classics.

Switching to a homeschool history lesson really didn’t change our dynamic all that much.  We still were gathering as a family after supper and before bed preparations.  We were still reading a “story” together.  Because this curriculum is written as a story. It’s not written like a history textbook, and it’s geared towards kids.  It’s a perfect fit for us and our range of ages.

We do the activities and workbook type work the next day during our regular homeschool hours.  I can tell you that they do retain the information and normally they have some good questions for me the next day.  It’s a fun time to discuss again what we read and make sure the information sank in.  It’s also a great way to make sure that both my husband and I are involved in their schooling.  It doesn’t all happen during the hours he’s at work so that he can be present and a presence in their school lives.  After all, that’s half the joy of homeschooling!

Because we’re reading our homeschool history lesson in the evenings it is spacing it off from the rest of the school day.  I found with some of my kids that they were zoning out before we got to history during the day.  They did great with the other subjects but were schooled out by the time history came around and they weren’t retaining any of it.  This is a great way to make sure their brains are receptive and gives them a fun activity to do during the school day instead of having to sit and listen to me read when their brains have shut off.

What history curriculum do you use?  Is your homeschool history lesson fun and engaging or do your children struggle?  Mine were struggling.  I was struggling to maintain their attention and they were not learning.  That made me stressed which in turn stressed them more.  This has really eased some of the stress of our homeschool day and made homeschooling more of a joy again for us.

 

Blogging the ABCs- a new blog series

Chaos Combined

Chaos Combined

Blogging Through The ABC’s– Letter C

Guys let’s be honest here.  My house is chaos.  Chaos combined with chaos.  

 

Chaos Combined

 

In our small house we have 11 people(and a baby due in June) plus three German Shepherds and two cats.  We have four bedrooms.  They’re small but all of them are bigger than my kitchen.  The kitchen that I’ve squeezed two refrigerators and soon two stoves into.  Only possible because there is no counter space.  We’re talking small house here.

Chaos combined upon chaos.  We have currently nine children.  The oldest turned 11 yesterday.  Soon we’ll have 10 children age 11 and under.  Four of those children have special needs.  Add to that the three dogs and two cats, oh and of course we can’t forget the two parents!  This 1100 sq ft house gets small fast.

Some of the ways I control our chaos is by having a schedule.  Chaos combined upon chaos can’t be fully contained by a schedule but it’s a great way to start.  I’ve found by implementing a daily routine the kids know what is expected of them when(even if they don’t do it) and things can run a little smoother.

A major thing that has helped to control our chaos is decluttering.  I’m not sure it that is actually a word, but it’s something I do weekly.  I ask myself a series of questions.  Is this something I need?  Do I use this?  Is this something I think is beautiful?  Is this something that I value?  Is this something that is helping our family?

That may seem like a weird list of questions, but it stems from some wise words I read once stating that you should only keep things that you felt were beautiful or that were useful.  It’s very true in our small home.  Clutter makes me feel horrible.  It can actually make me feel physically ill.  So it’s very important to me that our house does not have clutter.  Clutter adds to chaos.  

The actual quote that stems from is “If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it:  Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  This quote was made by William Morris(1834-1896) and is something that I have taken to heart.  Now there are things in my home that are not beautiful that are useful or that my kids have a special attachment to.  But my chaos is not chaos combined upon chaos due to those things.  They’re not worth upsetting our household over.

Chaos combined upon chaos to me is excess clothing and laundry. It’s my kids having so many clothes that they can’t decide what to wear.  To help control this chaos I have a minimalist approach to our clothing.  Now don’t get me wrong here.  All my children have plenty of clothes.  This is something that I often have to do though.  My kids have a set area for their clothes to fit in.  If their clothes are overflowing and spilling out it’s time to purge some clothing.  

I used to store tubs of clothes for the off season and I don’t do that anymore.  That has decreased my chaos because I don’t have stacks of tubs everywhere in my storage area!!  They were not beautiful and truly they were no longer useful. You see, I’m blessed to have people who care about us and give us their hand-me-downs.  My mother and I are both great seamstresses as well.  Of course, the chaos combined that is my life doesn’t exactly give me time to do much sewing, but my mom volunteers to do our mending.  She also works at a thrift store and can get us clothes if we need something specific.

So you see the chaos combined that is called clothing clutter was something that I could eliminate from my life.  It made me happier and decreased our clutter and our chaos.  It also helped my children to not become overwhelmed when they were choosing clothes for the day.

Another way that I have decreased the chaos in our life is to be a bit creative in our storing of things.  I buy things in bulk.  We’re blessed to have a friend who can get us buckets with locking lids.  I store our bulk goods in these and place them in our cellar.  That decreases the space they take up in our house but allows me to be a good steward of our money.

Another creative storage that I was able to do last year was to buy a pot rack.  The pot rack hangs over my dishwasher.  I can hang our pots and several baskets filled with teas and coffees and sippy cups, etc on the hooks from that pot rack.  I can also place pots and bowls on top of the pot rack.  That really helps because as I mentioned, I have almost no counter space which creates chaos on my available work space.  

I could go on with other ways on how I decrease the chaos combined upon chaos in our house, but I’ll save that for another post.  Make sure you take the time to pop over and read the other Blogging Through the ABC’s posts as well.  I’m really enjoying this series and hope you are too.  Hopefully I’m not just rambling!!

 

Blogging the ABCs- a new blog series

Stockings are Hung

The stockings are hung. . . . or not.  Christmas can be stressful when you have a small house and a large family!  Keep reading for a few of the ways I’ve learned to make my Christmas easier.

 

stockings are hung

 

1- We don’t have a Christmas tree.  Well at least not inside!  We do buy a potted tree every year.  It sits on our porch and the kids can put some homemade ornaments on it if they wish but nothing that will harm the animals or the animals can harm.  Then, after Christmas we go and plant the tree somewhere on our property.  This gives us the bonus of watching our tree grow and increasing the trees on our property.  Think wind break!

2-  The stockings are hung. . . . not.  We don’t have anywhere to hang our stockings.  I do have super cute stockings that my mom has knit for all of our children(as well as myself, my husband, my brothers, my cousins, etc).  I do get them out and we do have stockings for Christmas, but they don’t appear out of their storage tub until Christmas Eve.

3-  I’m not a huge decorator.  Like I’m horrible at it really.  But we try to do some small things to help the children have fun and feel that they’ve accomplished something.  Some years we make paper snowflakes and hang them from the curtain rods.  Some years we make paper chains and hang them from the banister or curtain rods.  One year we did nativities out of paper and posted them on our windows.

4-  We always do Christmas cookies!!  It’s so much fun to make cut out sugar cookies and decorate them.  Yes it makes a mess.  Yes it’s hectic.  But really it only involves two rooms(hopefully) and the mess is easily cleaned but the memories last forever.

 

stockings are hung

 

5- We are big on traditions.  We always have chili on Christmas Eve.  My parents started this when I was small and I’ve kept it alive in my own family.  We always have cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning with hot cocoa.  Once upon a time when I was growing up this was donuts(store bought- such a treat) but as our family is large that’s not feasible.

Other traditions involve opening our stockings before breakfast but after chores and after reading the Christmas story.  The stockings are hung might sound better but they look pretty setting on our window shelf just the same!  Then comes breakfast.  Yummy!  Then a time to enjoy and play with anything from our stockings.  Next comes lunch.  After lunch is when we take turns one at a time opening one present.  That way everyone sees what’s received and it makes it last ALL afternoon!  Supper is small and snacky normally.

We like to watch Christmas movies!  Watching Christmas movies starts right after Thanksgiving.  The kids and I love it!  Some of them we watch with daddy and some without.  He’s not a fan of all of them.

 

stockings are hung

 

 

6-  Christmas presents remain in hiding until Christmas morning.  Or to be truthful whatever time on Christmas Eve I finish wrapping them and putting them under our window shelf.  Due to space in the house our presents tend to remain in the garage or locked in a trunk until just a few days before Christmas.  Then they come in the house and I work on wrapping them when the kids are asleep at night.  But they still remain hidden out of view until the appropriate time.  We have inside animals and young curious kiddos that I don’t want to tempt!

Do you have any ideas for celebrating holidays in small spaces?  Any special traditions you want to share that your family does each year?  I’d love to hear them!!