Having kids forces us to reconsider how our house is set up.  Most people go through the process of childproofing for the purpose of making the environment safe.  But as babies grow into toddlers and preschoolers, I think it’s good to reorganize to help foster independence and grow practical skills.

A great place to start is in the child’s bedroom.  As the child is learning to dress themselves, why not give them access to their clothing?  Finding a matching pair of socks from a drawer or bucket is a great way for them start being independent and also learn some important matching/sorting skills.  Use the lower drawers of a dresser or a small chest of drawers to store a selection of shirts and pants.  Teach them to pick one of each to put together their own outfits.  The reverse process of putting clean clothes in the drawers is also helpful.  Within a very short time this can be a ‘job’ or chore the child can complete on his or her own.  

The kitchen is a room parents rarely think about reorganizing for the sake of the small ones.  But the payoff here is big.  Most people keep glasses and plates in the upper cabinets.  But if you separate the kids plastic cups, plates and bowls from the ones the grownups use then you can gather them into the ‘kid’s cabinet’.  Choose a lower cabinet and load it up with the full selection of kids dishes.  My youngest is 12 and we still have this configuration in my kitchen.  Why? You wouldn’t believe how it thrills young visitors to be able to go into the cabinet and choose their own plate and cup for a meal.  It makes them feel big.  
The reverse process works here too.  Now the littlest kids can help empty the dishwasher and put clean dishes away!  Depending on the temperament of the child, they may still complain about having to do the job but I’m convinced that having responsibilities around the house like this one is key to making them feel like a competent, important member of the family.

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Continuing the laundry saga…

In the next house,  the laundry situation was much better. The location of the washer and dryer was less perilous and I began folding my clothes right out of the dryer.  It was a huge time saver to do this.

The kids were also a little older (3&4) so I got them each their own small laundry basket.  I filled their basket with their clean, folded clothes and they each put away their own clothes in their drawers.  They needed some help at first but it was well worth the time it took to teach them.  One of the chores assigned to the kids was also to help get the laundry to the laundry room.  This involved throwing it down the steps of our bi-level house…so it landed right in front of the laundry room. 

We still didn’t fold underwear or match socks.  😉

Fast forward to the next house.  

Although I was never really ‘caught up’, I had the laundry thing under control most of the time.  Since the laundry room doubled as our mud/shoe room, I saved even more time by keeping the boys socks (unmatched, of course)  right there in buckets in the laundry room.  They went straight from the dryer into the buckets.  It made getting out of the house a lot faster on school mornings as well.

When they turned 14,  the girls started doing their own laundry.  It helped tremendously with the constant inquiries about where certain items were and why weren’t they clean yet.  Besides, life skills. 😀

Today?  Well the oldest moved out 2 years ago.  The youngest started doing his own laundry about a year ago too.  So I’m sitting pretty only having to deal with a few loads a week.

With the laundry beast of my youth conquered,  I decided to spend time matching my husband’s socks for him again – like back when we were first married.  Aren’t I romantic?!  I’ve been matching them and sorting them by color into containers in his drawer now for at least 2 years.  Of course, as I was talking to him about it yesterday he confessed – he hadn’t even noticed.  :/

If you needed more encouragement to give up sock matching, that right there should do it.

Oh my goodness.  I remember there being baskets of clean, unfolded laundry everywhere back when my kids were small.

The washer and dryer were in the basement of our first house.  In spring (and summer and fall), it was normal for there to be water on the floor.  We even had a channel of concrete running through the basement to hold the water as it made it’s way from one side of the house to the other.  It wasn’t nearly wide or deep enough.  

We kept those huge, man-sized, yellow, rubber boots at the top of the stairs.  Walking up and down the old stairs wearing them was a trick.  Add a overly full laundry basket to my arms and I’m pretty sure it could have been a circus act.  Send in the clowns.

The washer and dryer had to be protected from the water so they were situated on wood pallets.  I’m 5’1” tall.  It’s hard enough getting into an old, top loading machine when it’s on the floor.  To get the items from the bottom I had to jump up and lean over into the machine, feet dangling in the air.  Imagine it with the big, yellow, rubber boots.  More clowns, please.

Obviously, the basement wasn’t a place the kids could go at all.  So each time I went down to do laundry it was a race to get back upstairs before the kids realized I was gone and proceeded to cause as much chaos as possible in my absence.   

Back then all the clothes went upstairs in a heap.  I’d fold and sort on the couch while the kids played.  Well, I mean fold, sort and try to defend my precious folded piles from children knocking them over, jumping over them, looking through them or just messing them up in general.

Then, with a little luck, the folded piles would make it back to the bedrooms… not necessarily into drawers… but, hey,  a laundry basket is sorta like a dresser with one drawer, right?!

It was about this time that I realized that time was precious and if I didn’t find some ways to cut corners, things were going to continue to be out of hand all the time.  The first to go was sock matching.  The twins’ socks all went into a drawer together and we matched them as they needed to wear them.  Ditto for Adrian.  Ditto for myself and my husband.  It saved me loads of time and headache getting the clean laundry put away.

The folding of the underwear was next on the chopping block. You’d have to know my mother-in-law and how she keeps house to know what a hard time my husband had with these new policies. I spent months learning how to fold shirts ‘correctly’ like his mom, you know, like in the displays in the store.  Still. Those extra few minutes add up and no one is likely to notice if your underwear is wrinkled.

And so the endless parade of laundry went.

Looking Back: An Introduction

December 10, 2015

So I’m old.  

Hmm.  Or is it older?  

No, my kids are older.  I guess that makes me just old.

It’s sometimes hard to believe I’m the parent of an official adult.  And I’m only months away from being the parent of 3 official adults.  :O   How do these things happen?!

If it weren’t for friends with little ones, I probably wouldn’t give much thought to the old days… back when I was a young mom with lots of little kids… just trying to survive.  But watching them brings back such memories!  I don’t know how I did it all…  Or do I? Sitting here, on the other side of all that young mother insanity, I realize I learned a thing or two along the way.  

Please don’t think I’m saying I had it all together – cause I didn’t.  Nor am I saying what I did was the best way.  I’m just sharing what worked for me and hoping that at the very least, someone somewhere will feel a little less insane.  The struggle is real!  😀
So I’m starting a series of posts on things I did back in the day to try to keep from going nuts when I had small children, no time, little sleep and a mess of a house.  Enjoy.