Thursday, May 25, 2006

Laundry (and other irrefutable laws, like gravity)

I use 20 lbs of laundry detergent in 9 weeks. In an average week I wash 4 loads of whites, 3 loads of brights, 3 loads of darks, 2 loads of towels, 2 loads of sheets and a load of delicates. I run the dishwasher every single night and usually have a small load of handwashables as well. We drink nearly 8 gallons of milk a week, use a loaf of bread in 3 days and can polish off a box of cereal in one sitting if Christopher is eating with us. We drive a 12-passenger van, own two baby swings, two cribs, a cradle, bunk-bed, moses basket and two play-pens. I have 5 children, 7 and under. We are Odd.

My goal in life is to get all my chores done in as little time as possible while adequately training my children to eventually take the task over entirely. I have so far brainwashed them into putting dishes away correctly, managing their own toys and putting folded laundry in the right drawers. My text book is Confessions of an Organized Homemaker which literally saved me from a mountain of unnecessary work. The key to success you might ask...

Bins. Containers. Boxes. Baskets. Holders. I actively work to give everything a home. A labelled home. A labelled home that contains all the pieces, accoutrement, parts, piles and stuff that accumulates in a home of seven. I have baskets for burpies (thereby freeing me to cease folding them neatly), and sleepers. Containers contain toys and toys and more toys. An 18-month old can put toys away when it is just dropping it in the box, instead of lining it up neatly on a shelf. Labelled dresser drawers tell the older girls which one houses what so they can efficiently help with putting clean laundry away. And labelled laundry hampers (this was just recently discovered, and as you can see I am not quite done with the Michelangelo-esque cave paintings) help older children who read place their dirty clothes in the right bin while little ones can follow the pictogram for the same effect.

I now get giddy at the sight of storage aisles and container stores. The smell of plastic can be intoxicating to me! Sometimes I think I have gone nuts. I have too many bins and I am making WAY too big of a deal out of this. And I am sure I would live just fine without all my boxes. But then I appreciate anew the convenience of this system when we need to get the next set of clothes down for Leah and wouldn't you know it - the 2t are clearly marked in a see-through bin sitting in my garage. I love it.

I have so much still to learn about managing a large household. I find it ironic on a regular basis that I grew up in a house of two, including my mom! We practically had our own wings of the house. And now here I am trying to squeeze every ounce of function out of my home and wondering, already, where we will put the next baby. Wild.

So if you have tips, suggestions or patented organizational techniques please pass them my way. Along with your prayers they are one of the things I need the most!

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