Monday, March 19, 2012

Make My Life Easier Part 1


Last week I asked you ladies for your advice on ways to make life easier. We got hundreds of comments on the blog, Facebook and Twitter. I learned so much – thank you for sharing your smartness with me. Let’s get started:

The problem: Like every other mom in the world, I am stressed out, exhausted, have no time and feel like I’m not doing a good enough job managing kids, house, work, time, activities, etc. I wondered if there were simple solutions that might help me do my job at home a little better.

What you told me: I sort of see the feedback you gave me as falling into two categories:
  • Generally Awesome Advice that Will Make My Life Easier (Part 1)
  • Specific Tips and Tricks to Help with Problem Areas (Part 2)
The first category includes three main ideas which make everything else easier. They're kind of like umbrella concepts that cover all the specific problems areas (planning and scheduling, laundry, cleaning, cooking, organization, etc.) that you identified. I plan on really trying all three of these ideas out and look forward to them making everything (if not easier) at least more manageable. That's the thing about using an umbrella, you still get wet. But if you don't use one - you get drenched. Here's an illustrative graphic of what I mean:


Without further ado here are the three umbrella concepts...

Item #1: Stop & Assess
Before I do anything else, I need to stop (drop and roll) and evaluate where I’m at. Like a lot of you, I'm trying to do too much at once and as a result, I feel like I'm not doing a good job at any of it. For me, multi-tasking doesn't mean "very efficient", it means "frenetic flapping about". I hop from task to task, so I’m not really getting anything all the way done. As a result, I feel dissatisfied and crappy because even though I’m constantly working, there's no corresponding sense of accomplishment or pay-off. That adds stress and frustration.

For example - I start something and then someone needs to be wiped or the phone rings or I get an email and what was I just doing again? As one of our commenters so eloquently put it: “I am overwhelmed and I try to just focus on one thing at a time and ...SQUIRREL!”

I know that feeling and I want it to stop. So I’m going to slow down and answer the following questions:
  • What HAS to get done? What’s the REAL priority?
  • What in your house is driving you the most nuts?
  • Who can help you?
  • What kind of person are you?
I don’t mean this last question in an indignant and finger-pointy way. As I read through the comments, it occurred to me that the suggestions that were working great for some people would just stress me out more. So here’s what I’m asking – are you a load a day laundry person or a once a week laundry person? It’s maybe good to know that before we dive in. Because trying to do something that just doesn’t jive with your personality and lifestyle isn’t helpful – it will only add stress. A lot people suggest using technology and apps to help organize their schedules, plan meals and share grocery lists. I find the idea of that more stressful than just doing the shopping. But for someone else, the idea that an app could coordinate that for them would take a lot off their plate.

Item #2: Make Your Kids Help
The goal with parenting is to raise small humans who eventually become independent, right? So they can take care of themselves and maybe even help other people or one day have small humans of their own to care for. So why wouldn't you teach them the basics of what it takes to take care of themselves and where they live? I sometimes feel that by taking care of things for my kids, I'm showing them how much I love them. But maybe I need to stop doing that so much.

Ultimately, we're not doing ourselves or our kids any favors by doing everything for them. If they share a bathroom, they can learn to clean it. They can help with laundry. They can learn to be responsible for their own stuff. (Editor's note: I learned in one of my fancy schmancy Child Development text books that kids as young as two years-old should be expected to help regularly with household chores. That means you can set the expectation now and have 16 years of help around the house. Weeeee! -Guru Louise)

Of course, at first that means a lot more work for you. And patience - OY VAY - the patience it will take to do this. Because I can sweep the kitchen in about 5 minutes. When the kids do it, it takes 20 minutes and they miss about half the dirt.

But the point is - I didn't have to do it. And here's another perspective to consider:
"My mother-in-law is Italian – like, way Italian. And she never allowed my husband to step into the kitchen or even make his own bed growing up. Now I have a partner who can’t boil water, scrub a toilet, or do a load of laundry. I taught him how to clean a bathroom when we were still dating – and he was 35 years old! Gaaah! I love the man desperately, but he’s completely useless when it comes to anything domestic."
Item #3: Learn to say No
I hate to say no (unless it's to my husband). If someone from my kids' school asks me to do something, I'm nearly always going to say yes. Because I can. But lately, I just can't. And then in addition to feeling stressed that I don't have any time, I feel guilty that I said no. So I loved this comment:
"Say no. Why are you volunteering at school when you could be at home mending the holes in your sanity? Seriously, make a resolution to say no at least once per week, and go up from there. There are TONS of moms out there who haven't showed up for library duty, like, ever - and no one cares. No one has even noticed. Just stop extending yourself for other people unless it's something so important you're willing to let everything else go to hell for a bit."
It doesn't just apply to volunteering to help with kid stuff, either. It's making the choice to take on less. I think this comment actually wraps up all three of the umbrella concepts really, really well and is incredibly smart:
"I've learned (the HARD way, of course) to stop whenever I'm feeling stressed or rushed or overwhelmed and ask myself what I'm feeling pressured to do at this moment that is exceeding my limits of time, energy (or $ or goodwill or whatever limit I have). Then I think REALLY HARD about whether I actually have to do that thing. Maybe I can do it later or in a different way or just not at all. Get ruthless about it and say no, buy instead of bake.
Let others actually experience the logical consequences of their choices by not killing yourself to rescue them (yes, even your kids). There is only so much time and energy in a day. Even if I can't take any major responsibilities off my plate, I can always find something I'm pressuring myself to do (or letting others pressure me to do) that can be done differently or not at all, and it keeps me sane to make those evaluations and choices every time I feel my stress level make my blood pressure rise."
Tomorrow, we move onto the problems areas we all need help with (things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, organization and managing the kiddos).

xo, Lydia


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

34 comments:

  1. I have three kds and two part time jobs. I have been doing laundry like this for ten years and i swear by it. Do laundry on mondays and thursdays only. Separate into kids and grownups clothes. Wash kids in warm. Throw in early in the morning or the night before. Swith out before you leave in the morning and wash grown ip clothes in cold. Fold after dinner, make the kids who are old enough put theirs away. I have NEVER stressed about laundry ever. Oh, and sheets and towels do separately, not as often as you think you need to. I do our sheets once every couple months, yes i said months, and no one has ever been the worse for it. Towels more often of course, but one or teo thrown into the warm load when there is space.

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    1. This sounds ok... how many kids do you have? how do you decide how much clothes they should have, each? Like, my daughter ends up with waaay too many clothes, and all her seasons are out right now b/c we live in the South and it's cold and warm this month. So...weird laundry. I have three kids and just about enough energy to do laundry on M and Th only, so that sounds great. But...if each of three kids has two loads of clothes, plus there are towels and sheets in there sometimes, and there's a load of kitchen laundry (dishtowels and stuff) once a week or every week and a half, and then that's not counting adult laundry, of which we have one load of "whites," one load of husband work clothes, and one load of me clothes, pl;us a couple of hubby t's and pr jeans per week. So...how can I make that work? (as you an imagine, besides being Mount Washmore around here... it's not working. not at all, lol!) If it helps to not make me seem totally lame, my kids do collect their laundry and bring to laundry room, and they put away all their own stuff, so if I keep the kid's clothes in specific loads separate to each child, at least I don't have to sort it out! :-)

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    2. Try teaching the kids to do their own laundry or at least a part of it (note: this is not said sarcastically!). My girls do theirs (both taught about 11yo) and my boys help with theirs by doing a laundry hunt to get it all together, then they help load in the wash, then dryer, then folding (sort of). Also, I have a shoe rack with a sock basket underneath (its an actualy pretty woven basket!) so we can find their socks! Amazing trick! LOL

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  2. Oh, and cleaning. Always done on Friday, a day i dont work. My kids do three of the four bathrooms. Thy are 10, 6, 3, By the way. My husband does the vacuuming over the weekend. Sometimes the dusting too. That leaves me with our bathroom, the kitchen and the hardwoods. Totally doable! And our main floor is picked up each night. The basement may be a disaster and the girls rooms are questionable, but the place always looks pretty clean if that floor is alright. And the cleaning on friday assures that you can randomly have people over during the weekend and not have to do much to prepare.

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  3. A few things that have helped me with task management: 1) I NEVER leave a room empty handed. THere is always something that needs to be put back into another room. For example, if I head upstairs, I'm taking a few things that are waiting on the stairs to go up (and then I put them away). Or I'll grab paperwork that needs to go upstairs to the office. It only takes a few extra seconds, but seriously cuts down on clutter. 2) I use plantoeat.com for my meal planning. It does cost money per month BUT I have saved so many hours of planning by using it. It's time intensive to set up, but pays off in the end. I loaded in all my recipes. You just drag & drop onto the calendar & then print a shopping list. Meal planning used to take me at least an hour or two & it takes me maybe 20 minutes now. You can pull your recipes up on your computer or iPad when you cook. 3) Pocket Informant app for the iPad: a digital daily planner - all of my tasks & cleaning schedules are set to recurr on specific days. I just open the app, and have a small & manageable list for the day. Room cleanings run on a two week cycle... but you could pick however often feels manageable to you!

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  4. I do laundry once a week. Here is the thing...back home in Argentina, we don't have dryers, so everything has to be sun dry and we always use a clotheline. It takes time for clothe to be dry, specially in winter...so we never ever use one pair of pants and put them in the laudry (of course, if you spilled something on them is a different story)
    We use our clothe at least 3 times before going into the laundry room. We change the sheets once a week and towels is the same story.
    I have twin babies that are 10 month old so I'm doing way more laundry than before having the babies but NEVER more than 2 loads a week.

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  5. "My mother-in-law is Italian – like, way Italian. And she never allowed my husband to step into the kitchen or even make his own bed growing up. Now I have a partner who can’t boil water, scrub a toilet, or do a load of laundry. I taught him how to clean a bathroom when we were still dating – and he was 35 years old! Gaaah! I love the man desperately, but he’s completely useless when it comes to anything domestic."
    This is totally my house! My husband is also Italian, and the eldest of four boys whose mother did everything for them. After 12 years of living together, and two children later, We eventually came up with a list of "Daily Helpful Chores" that is printed on hot pink paper, laminated and stuck to the wall in our kitchen. Amazingly he now does two or three chores a day (there's about 15 on the list) that he never would have thought to do if it wasn't there on the wall. It wasn't that he was entirely lazy but he actually had NO IDEA what he could/should do to help run our household!

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    1. My husband is not Italian, and was the oldest of seven children, and this STILL describes him. I have no idea how my MIL functioned, other than just being amazing, but they taught their children to show up for meals, and not a lot of chores otherwise. No, scratch that... my DH is a great dad and absolutely does wonderful loving children. Otherwise...since everything else was MIL's job, other than leaving for work at six am and returning at 8 PM (workaholic FIL, too) nobody even lifted a finger, not even to answer the phone if MIL is in the house. It's... interesting. I grew up in a family of daughters who learned all the inside chores AND all the outside chores... and promptly after marriage became physically disabled, hindering all chores.

      It's "easier" in the short term to do it yourself and not work with your kids, but in the end, their future spouses will be SO GRATEFUL that they learned to work by your side! Not to mention future roommates in college who wil be appalled if they don't know how to even do their own dishes or wash their own clothes yet.

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  6. This is great - I used to be an efficiency expert in my old life, then totally lost the plot as a mum for a while, until I remembered how to prioritise and decided to do that with my life as WAHM. Now I am constantly checking in with myself "do I really need to do this?" " can someone else do that for me so that I can do something more important?" etc etc. And, I'm teaching my 5 yr old to do the same...in the morning, I keep checking with her - "is that helping you get ready for school or slowing you down?" Just have to make sure I don't turn into a nag.... :-)

    Oh, and speaking of kids - our daughter is going through Montessori schooling - and they are all about helping kids learn to look after themselves, don't do anything for them that they can do themselves, cos then you're just standing in their way, & undermining their confidence. Already my 5 yr old is telling me how to do things better :) Its a little like living with a teenager already, but on the other hand, other than hanging around to make sure she stays safe, and providing hot food and a warm bath, she is wonderfully self sufficient for a 5 yr old, and it gives me more time to spend just having fun and exploring with her, and doing the things I really need to do. One of the big things we've learnt with Montessori though is not to push them before they are ready, so there are still some things she's a baby on....but its balanced by the things she is independant on, and I can see how proud she is of herself when she works out how to do chores that I've been doing herself....just like a grown up. I think its well worth finding and ready a couple of Montessori books to get an idea of how to help your kids become selfsufficient - short term pain, long term gain.

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  7. Laundry as soon as the dirty hamper gets full-- sometimes everyday and sometimes every 3 or 4 days. That is only hubby and myself. Our kids do their own laundry-they have since age 8 and 5. They are teenagers now, and if the mountain of dirty laundry topples out into the hallway or smells, I tell them to do it. No real laundry issues here. It is no stress, no mess.

    I dry Swiffer hardwoods everyday. Kids do it as well sometimes. Kids vacuum their rooms every weekend. Kids sometimes clean bathroom. House is clean enough for me. If others don't like it, tough sh*&!

    I pretty much cook from scratch every day except Friday night pizza. I don't go crazy with printed meal plans and such though. I just look in freezer/fridge the night before and decide. The kids help out with cooking sometimes (for example my daughter made the salad last night) but they do set the table, clear the table, and load dishwasher. Sometimes they will hand wash the pots and pans as well.

    You are helping your kids so much when you let them be independent. My son is 17. I think about soon he will be gone and he will have some life skills with him. I'm not perfect-he still doesn't have a part time job yet-but he does know how to cook and clean! He also does his own ironing-I know any future mate will LOVE that! My daughter is 14 and she knows limited skills and she needs to try harder at attempting things. Letting them try-and fail- is a life lesson.

    As for the school volunteer, don't get guilted out. You don't have to do everything, and quite frankly nobody cares if you didn't come as a library volunteer that one day you forgot or overscheduled yourself. Sure, there is always that judgy mom that looks over what you have brought for the party--you know your store bought cupcakes versus her Martha Stewart masterpiece cupcakes-but guess what.. screw 'em! Who cares? The kids sure don't- they stuff their face with whatever handy treat there is. Those Martha Stewart moms are always insecure and make sure they are the best so they can be in charge of something. Here's some hope- once your kids get into middle and high school- parent involvement in the classroom pretty much comes to a grinding halt. Sure, there are music boosters, theater boosters and club moms, but day to day involvement in the classroom doesn't really happen. Some middle schools begin in 4th-5th grade grade so really there is a light at the end of the tunnel! As for volunteering for parties, I always told my kids to volunteer to bring the easiest stuff-napkins, cutlery, paper plates, cups. If I forgot to go to the store (and I did), they could always scrounge from our kitchen.

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  8. Wonderful post! I can't wait to hear more. And if you figure out how to be patient while your kids learn to do their chores reasonably well, make sure you come back and share that too, K? :)

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    1. You have some good advice farther down but here's some more: when you are just beginning, only have the kids help with chores when you are in the right frame of mind for it. If you are doing a load of the kids' clothes and don't care how wrinkled they are, let them learn to fold. Or if dinner's simmering and there's nothing to do for 30 minutes but you kinda have to stay nearby in case it starts to boil, that's a good time to start with loading or unloading the dishwasher, or wiping down countertops (btw, slightly diluted white vinegar gets out 99% of bacteria and does a decent job on globs of food). When there's a mess of toys and you can't even walk on the playroom floor and you're about to lose your Schmidt - cleanup time! If you have multiple kids, make it a competition who can do "x" thing faster. My son who's 2 loves to put something away then "what's next?" He can even get a small pile of his clothes into his room with them still folded!

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  9. Also... I agree, my two year old loves to clean! I give him a big pot of water set out on some towels in the kitchen. Give him a few cups & funnels & he has a blast soaking down the kitchen. Then I squirt out some non-toxic floor cleaner & he will help me push the towels around the kitchen floor "Mopping". He also loves to dust (again, I use a homemade non-toxic cleaner)! Keeps coming up & wanting me to squirt his rag. Even if his dusting isn't very effective, it keeps him occupied long enough so that I can do the real dusting.

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  10. Having children help is the best advice offered in this post. My daughter is an ace at folding towels, washcloths and dishtowels (we're working on shirts now...) and three weeks ago, when she turned up her nose at the two breakfast options I offered, I started into my "This is NOT a restaurant" rant, but shifted gears and taught her how to scramble an egg. "But I'm not allowed to touch the stove!" "You are now." The pride in cooking by herself was amazing. A huge self esteem boost! (And has caused a shift in her 7 year old career goal -- last year she wanted to grow up to be a "street performer or a mime" - now she's going to be a chef... :)

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  11. Kimberly- I can tell you about being patient while your kids learn chores. Part of it is explaining it well, part different expectations, and dare I say modeling the chore you want them to do. I couldn't just say to my kids clean the bathroom- I had to show them that it wasn't just lysol wiping the sink, it was doing the toilet, scrubbing the shower tile, cleaning the mirror with glass spray, etc. They had to pay attention. And if they didn't do it correctly, they had to do it again or even a 3td time until they got it right. And it was immediate. If they knew I was checking the bathroom and it wasn't to my standard, they sure got moving to do it correctly. Sure they got mad but they got over it. My motto is "Do it right the first time and you won't have to do it again" Works well with preteens and teens.

    I had lower expectations for younger ones. I knew that loading the dishwasher would be challenging and it may not be loaded the way I liked it, but it was still done. Same with laundry.to this day my son makes one HUGE laundry load-doesn't separate colors. It works for him and I don't say anything. (it is HARD!)

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  12. Nice job Lydia! I almost fell out of my chair at the "what kind of person are you", because I am the person who can't let something ride (ie, if there is crap all over the kitchen floor, out comes the dyson, even at 9pm). So thank you for including that.

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  13. I don't even care about the chores, I just want them to stop the bickering!! And go back to school, Spring Break is 10 days too long for me!

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    1. ROFL... the rule in our house is, if you have time to bicker, the TV or whatever screen you're bickering over becomes off limits, and your CHORES triple. If you have time to whine, you have extra time to work. Of course they do have regular chores, but man... that stops the bickering COLD.... :->

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  14. At my house, we call stopping to assess the situation: dealing "Clear and Present Danger." Deal with whatever is about to hit you in the face first and then move on to the next thing. It's not an elegant solution, but it's turned out to be a pretty effective one. ( http:///mominwotcultures.com )

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  15. My big "NO" lesson happened when I started dating my second husband. I was already doing PTA stuff, and then we added Scouts. I was feeling a LOT of pressure to impress the "old guard" at the church that raised him and said yes to anything I was asked to do. It only took a few months for me to become MISERABLE! He finally realized what was going on with me just as we started wedding planning to boot. He sat me down one night and made me promise from that moment on, I would run everything by him first. From grabbing coffee with a girlfriend, to agreeing to cater a baby shower, I asked him FIRST.

    Now, let me tell you, it went against every cell in my being. I was independent, I didn't need a *man's* PERMISSION!!! Are you freaking kidding me????? But, I did it. Those first couple of months were HELL for me. "Bake brownies for the bake sale? *grumble* I have to ask permission first". I was humiliated. And hubs would often tell me no, because there is always someone around who can. The more I turned down, the more free time I had, and I could work on getting all of my other crap done. Soon, the grumbling changed to, "Brownies? Let me check my schedule, I'll let you know in the morning." Sometimes I could, sometimes I couldn't.

    Now? I only do the things I REALLY want to do, and rarely find myself floundering or stressed by the "other" stuff. I have lots more time to spend with my 4 kids and great hubby. I'm so thankful for him stepping in like that, best present he ever gave me.

    **************************

    Laundry: hubby only has 3 sets of his uniform for work. When 2 get dirty, I do laundry. Then one load of whites once a week.

    I deep clean one room everyday, so it never gets out of hand.

    @ Kimberly, who asked how to teach kids to do chores... I started with mine very early. The annoying Barney clean-up song goes a long way for just basic tidying. But for an actual "chore", pick a chore you think would be a good starting point - we start with dusting - and have them do one table, then 2, then add more as they get better. Then add another chore.have them work with you instead of waiting for naptime. Good luck!

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  16. What great advice! I need to take some of this and do it myself

    http://2bestfriendschubbyroadtoskinny.blogspot.com/

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  17. This is great! You guys have already inspired me to take a long hard look at my life and this is very helpful in doing so. Thanks to everyone that actually has their lives together enough to help :)

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  18. My guy also suffers from "Italian Man Syndrome." He could not do anything for himself but order in food when we met. Now, my Italian MIL wants to do everything for my daughter and I had to stop her. Not so fast! I want my daughter to grow up knowing how to take care of herself! She was miffed at the time but seems to have come around. Unfortunately SIL just announced that they are raising the nephew-to-be the same way her mom raised them. Now I will have one more kid to teach to be self sufficient.

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  19. Oooh, I just remembered a tip that I forgot to put on the last post.

    The "one-in-one-out" rule! (Or if you're really ambitious, "one-in-two-out" rule). -That sounded dirty-

    For every item you bring into the home that isn't a consumable (food, toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, etc) one item must go out (send to the trash, goodwill, etc.). The item leaving must not be normal trash (that empty T-box doesn't count). For example, I bought a new gardening tool last week, but also found two pairs of pants in the seasonal clothing migration that didn't fit anymore that I could get rid of. Major way to de-clutter! You can do this with the kids too (no, no, don't trade in two kids for a new one) but if they bring a new toy into the house, they have to give one toy up to goodwill.

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  20. These are all so helpful...thank you to all who commented! I have the HARDEST time relaxing, because ever since having my son, it seems there is ALWAYS something around the house that could be done. In fact, it is sometimes a cause of conflict between my husband and I, because I can never sit down and watch a movie or enjoy a cocktail without simultaneously folding laundry, sorting/reading mail, making grocery lists, etc.

    I am looking forward to my son getting a little bit older and having him partake in the chores a bit ;)

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  21. Love, love, love this post. Excellent advice. Also i've learned to lower my standards. We have four children from 3-10 and things can just not get done the same way as when we had one child or NO children. I have had to let go of a lot of those issues (always having a decent looking house, etc.). Again, thanks for such great advice.

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  22. Ways to Make Your Life Easier : www.yesemails.com/interestingemails/25ideas/ BOOM! Internet-style.

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  23. I agree with this list, expect about the part the suggests saying "no" to helping out. The only problem with saying "no" is everyone around here seems to be saying it. I would like my kids to have a few fun special school activities every once in awhile, a party or two, a few field trips etc. but so many parents are now saying "no" we may have to eliminate even more activities. We only have 2 parties a school year, 29 kids in my daughters class and here I am begging people, the week of the party to come in for 1 hour to help out. I would like to say "no" every once in awhile too, but we are down to 10% of the people doing 100% of the work. I have 3 kids and work part time too people - maybe we need a bullet about everyone start saying "yes" a least once every few months - or sad to say - parties, field trips, carnivals etc. may be a thing of the past....

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  24. Add another thing to the list of reasons why I love RFML! I feel like I am constantly at war with my house and I know I'm not going to win. BUT it helps to remember that even though I may lose the war (as I will NEVER have the spotless house I dream of) I can win a few battles everyday -- like I managed to clean up the kitchen after dinner so I can wake up to cleanliness the next morning. Or I did ALL of the laundry. By the time everyone was in their pjs there was another full load to do, but for a moment in time I smelled victory instead of dirty socks. Thanks for reminding me of that!
    Also, I saw this last night and thought it was genius! If only I had sent it to you sooner. http://imom.com/tools/training-tools/clutter-jail-tool/
    Concept: Clutter Jail. If the kids leave it out, it goes in the clutter jail and they have to draw a card out of the community chest and complete the task to get their stuff back. Free printables! Not only does it encourage them to clean it up the FIRST time, but when they don't you can get them to do EXTRA CHORES! SO. AWESOME.

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  25. If you are a "human doing" rather than a human being, the reasons are easy to see and the solutions far simpler that all the advice here on how to spin the hamster wheel faster.

    Way too much stuff.
    Homes way too big.
    Hyper over scheduled families.
    Insanely distant driving needs.
    Consumption driven lifestyles.
    Cleanliness fetish.
    Overcommitment at work.
    Underpaid for labor.
    Disconnect from nature/environment.

    The list goes on. As for the solutions ... the essential one is to disengage from all the idiocy that drives the mania. By accepting the prevailing nonsense about what is essential to a good life, people become ensnared in an impossible situation. And driving a lot of the stress are vanity and envy, by which we ache to be something - that has been artificially created to scam us to buy something, or for which we ache to possess something - the cost of which can destroy one (and one's family) in its pursuit.

    The rushed, frantic, driven (literally), consumptive, anti-social modern consumerist lifestyle - that so many posters seem to believe that clever strategies or systems can resolve - is itself the problem and cannot be organized out of, or corrected by folding laundry with one's feet while preparing dinner and simultaneously scheduling school activities.

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  26. The smartest thing I've ever done was to teach my 12 year old son to do his own laundry...yes, I'm a slow learner. After finding the still nicely folded pile of clean laundry buried under filthy sweatsocks and boxer shorts, the devil on my shoulder was jumping up and down telling me to scream until I was hoarse. Luckily, I listened to the angel (with the tarnished halo) and taught him a 'life skill'...I just love that phrase. It's been the awesomest two months of my life!

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  27. Let others actually experience the logical consequences of their choices by not killing yourself to rescue them (yes, even your kids).
    So true!! The saying in our house to my boys has always been, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    Miss the bus, they walk. When it rains and they tell me I am mean and they will tell the teachers, I tell them to go ahead and make sure you mentioned you missed the bus. (they are in high school)
    We are raising a generation of helpless people and frankly it makes me a bit nervous.
    My boys are much more independent and reliable when the consequences of their actions affect them, both bad and of course, lots of good. Even small children feel a sense of accomplishment if they help.
    The best advice I ever got, was lower your standards and let your family help. No one old ever wished they cleaned more and were more stressed when they were younger.

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  28. Laundry once a week? What planet are you on? I have 5 people - 4 go to gym or do high school sports. The stench would knock us out. I have a chute (praise God) that dumps straight to the laundry room. I have 4 labeled bins (everyone should be able to sort based on this LOL). They are White, Light Colors, Dark Colors, Cold/Hand Wash. Every day you sort. When a bin is full - generally once a day - you wash. Instructions for washing are on the label. I generally do the wash and someone else going by will dump it in the dryer and take it out. Here's where the system breaks down - my eldest daughter's chore is to fold the laundry and put it on the long counter grouped together by person. We wear a lot of wrinkled clothes. She does this about once a week. We all dig if we want something before she "gets to it." I am not and will not do it for her. I will iron my own stuff if necessary. Everyone else is on their own. I had a modified system before I had the chute. There was a hamper in everyone's bedroom and I did a morning pick up. Part of the whole system is that my children are responsible for their chores. If I do them, then I am defeating the purpose. I sometimes don't bitch about it until it gets out of hand (thinking possibly they will learn to do it more quickly if it takes 10 times longer than it should). They are also learning that other people are affected by their actions.

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