Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Make My Life Easier Part 3

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you for advice on things I could do to make life easier, juggling too much crap, lots of kids and the fact that I'm a schmidtty at being a housewife. Your comments and suggestions were awesome. But there were so many of them that we had to write multiple posts. Your comments fell under the following categories. (To read more on any of these topics, just click on the links.)
*Coming tomorrow

For the complete list of suggestions, click here and read through the 200+ comments. Today we'll discuss Laundry and Cleaning.

1. Find a system and stick with it
Maybe it's doing one load every day. Maybe it's doing everything on Sundays and folding while watching TV until the wee hours. Perhaps, if you're very smart, you hand the whole the thing off to your husband. The point is, find a process that works for you and then just do it every single week.

2. Mesh bags
Get a bunch of them and store them next to your hamper. One for socks and one for things that shouldn't go in the dryer. That way, pairing up socks becomes a lot easier and having all your non-dryer stuff in a mesh bag means it's easy to pull it out and not accidentally ruin something.

3. How to iron your clothes
One reader said this: "I iron things in the dryer, if necessary." Very smart.

4. The One Hamper Per Person Method:
While I think this idea is genius (in fact, I already do it for my 6 and 8 year old) - it would drive Kate directly to the nervous hospital in a vintage 1958 snit.
"Here is my biggest tip for slackers: each kid has their own laundry hamper. When it is full and/or kid hollers that they have no more clean pants and where is their soccer uniform, you dump the contents in the laundry. No sorting. Wash on cold. When they are done, you take the entire load and dump it on their bed. Then you sort into piles--NO FOLDING! Just a pile of shirts, a heap of pants. You make the kid stuff the pile in their drawers--NO FOLDING! And each kid's laundry is done this way separately from everyone else's! The no folding and no sorting different people's socks has changed my life."
5.Other ideas
Here's some other really good information from some people who have clearly kicked Randy the Laundry Fairy in the gonads:
"I had my dryer vent cleaned out and now my dryer works faster" (This is also helps prevent a major cause of home fires so good to know!)
"Those gazillion laundry baskets in your house? Make sure they are ALL THE SAME SIZE. Check out Target during the Dorm season. The Sterilite baskets usually go on clearance for between $1 or $2 (I've gotten them for 75 cents - SCORE!). When they aren't used, they are stacked together and don't take up much space. I also have a ton of the big Tide lingerie bags (Walmart has them the cheapest and they've got a VERY fine mesh so bra hooks don't poke through and catch everything else) that non-dryer clothes go in. They are kept right by the laundry baskets so I can easily throw things in there, then in the basket. When I pull stuff out of the washer, I know it can't go in the dryer."
Cleaning the House
For Pete's sake! Don't forget about choreplay!
1. Lower your expectations.
Don't kill yourself. It doesn't have to be perfect. Really. Don't forget what's really matters - time with your kids that you can't get back or just taking a minute to catch your breathe. Because ultimately, is it really that important? One reader shared these words:
"Jill Ker Conway made a speech to a graduating class at Smith College that has become so legendary there that I thought it was a myth (then I made friends with someone who graduated in the 70s and was there for the speech, and she assures me it is true). Basically, she said: "Dust Has No Moral Value. Do not judge yourself by how clean your house is. Instead, judge yourself by how much meaning you find in your life and how much good you do."
2. Rotate chores
That way no one gets sick of having to do the same thing all the dang time.

3. The Flylady's “One Hour Power Clean”

So many people mentioned how wonderful and helpful The Flylady has been for them. She has this thing called the "One Hour Power Clean" where everyone pitches in and works their tails off for one hour per week. The amount you can get done is apparently stunning.

4. Doing the Dishes
This task drives us all nuts. And now matter how you do it, it's irritating. But this lady has found a method that makes it easier so we thought we'd share:
"I don't run the dishwasher at night. Rather I run it after breakfast. Because I HATE unloading the dishwasher in the morning rush. It is easier to unload it in the evening while dinner is cooking, or sometimes after dinner. So I toss the breakfast dishes in and then start it. Has changed my life!"
5. Keep wipes everywhere.
Their handy and if they're right there, you can just wipe down the counter top in the bathroom after you finish washing your hands. These can be the Lysol-type wipes or even...
"Baby wipes. Everywhere. There is nothing you can't clean with baby wipes, and they are not toxic or smelly - I have them stashed under every counter and in every room. When I have that moment of "Holy mother of God, does NO ONE see the fungus in this sink??" I can just swipe it out with a wipe and then get on with whatever else I was doing."
6. Clean the bathroom while the kids are in the tub
Oh. Mah. Gah. I mean, I'm right there anyway. Usually playing Words with Friends and saying "Bathwater stays in the bathtub!" for the 9,000th time. How did I never think to do this?

7. Make the kids help
This was one of the three big things you suggested but we're saying it again now. YOU'RE DOING THEM A FAVOR by making the care and upkeep of the house their responsibility, too. It's their home. You guys are a team. Working together on housekeeping and making that a normal part of family life is a really good thing. And just because they're little, doesn't mean they can't help. As a matter of fact - the little ones usually want to help and they are much more capable than we often give them credit for. Here's an example:
"I had a child to in order to become a parent, not a maid. My daughter is 4 and she's a big help around the house. I'm already training her to do her own laundry. I sit her on the dryer and she loads the washer. Together we load the dryer. I fold, but she puts away. She also sets out her own clothes the night before. She has her own broom and if she makes a mess she sweeps it up. Actually she can be annoying with the broom if I'm trying to sweep something up on my own she insists on helping. If I'm cleaning and she's underfoot I hand her the dust cloth and she dusts the dining room table (and all the little holes and slats in the chairs that are perfect for her tiny fingers). Another option is to let her wash the windows. The low ones anyway. I spray the Windex but she wipes. She wipes out her own sink. Before she gets out of the bath she wipes down the sides. That makes it easier for me to clean later if I don't have layers of tub crayon residue to deal with. If she uses my shower, she has to squeegee the door and walls. I have to beg her to get out sometimes. She knows how to replace the toilet paper roll. She takes the recycling to the garage. She helps unload the dishwasher (she can do the silverware herself, but the rest she either hands me or puts on the counter for me) and she loves to load it."
This is a Shark.
8. Another idea
Here's another suggestion (that I know is true because my kids will punch each other in the face over getting to use the DustBuster):
"I'll tell you, my girls will bicker over who gets to vacuum the floor if they're using the Shark. Get one - it's lightweight, picks up a lot of stuff and it's really easy for the kids to use. No cords to trip over, they're sharing in the running of the household and you get to look at the corners that no longer have days/weeks worth of food/trash/WTF is that??? Even the Dirt Devil has a lightweight vacuum for cheap (Dollar General or Family Dollar, but probably more expensive at Walmart or Target). They'll do a lot more around the house when they realize it benefits them AND they aren't barked at to do it."
Stay tuned, tomorrow we discuss your suggestions for Managing Kids and Their Stuff and Staying Organized.
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. I'm so excited, I could pee my pants! 2 different mentions. AWESOME!! Hope they help and things are improving! Since you're doling out advice, feel free to let me know if you have any moving tips. I reached a week or two ago ( I'm local ) to see if you had any ideas for our area. We're less than two weeks away, and suddenly Husband decides we need to get moving quotes. ACKKKK!!!!

  2. Yes! Those little laundry bags keep baby socks from disappearing. And velcro bibs from ruining everything you own (I gave up on those and use a bib clip and flat diaper / burp cloths now... they're bleachable!). And bra hooks from unraveling sweaters.

  3. Another thing - if something is wrinkled, hang it up on the towel rack while you shower. The steam from your shower gets the wrinkles out. An old boyfriend taught me that trick.

  4. With 4 little kids, I turned my main floor laundry room into a family closet. Shirts hung above washer and dryer - and in order: dad, mom, kid 1, kid 2, kid 3, kid 4. I have a big Costco pantry shelf in there too, with baskets - one for each child's bottoms, sweaters, jammies, and one basket for all kid socks and one for all kid underwear. No more dragging baskets up and down stairs, all washing, drying, folding and putting away done with feet of each other. Plus kids bath in the bathroom next to laundry room, and change frequently. No more pulling clothes out of dressers during nap time either!

  5. I can't believe I never thought about a laundry bag for my bras an other non-dryer things. Hubby really tries to not put them in the drier, but sometimes they sneak in there anyway. Emptying the dishwasher during dinner prep is another great one!

    Me? I try to remember to rinse out the coffeemaker and reload it during dinner prep so I don't have to deal with it right before bed.


  6. Love love love the comment about "dust has no moral value" I might frame that and hang it....well at least write it on a postie and stick it on the fridge.

    To the part about kids helping....I learned to make granola cleaner (cleaner made from non toxic stuff like vinegar) and I put it in spray bottles for the kids. They can spray their own mirrors/windows/sinks/toilets and I don't have to worry. They also love to wear the big playtex cleaning gloves. Every now and again I go in and get the bathrooms with the soft scrub with bleach but in between they clean with the safe stuff and I don't have to be there at all (I can be doing the freakin' laundry)

  7. Another hint from your friendly neighborhood nag...I use two baskets in the hallway- one for whites/lights, one for darks- when one gets full, we take it down to wash (or I set it aside for my son to wash- it's his chore) and we put out an empty basket- no sorting for me because they do it every time they change clothes! :)

  8. My (almost) 3 year was just BEGGING to help me dust. Seriously. BEGGING. "Mommy I (w)anna clean. Mommy I do it." He left the couch watching Thomas to come and help me DUST!!! What the whuck?? Now, it may be because dusting is a rarity in this house. Like - pretty much never happens. But, I'm trying to do a little of some cleaning each day so our house doesn't get out of control. It's working. It's *working*!!! He may have found himself a new job!

    PS - I hate cleaning toilets the most. It's nasty. I don't leave "dribbles" all over the bottom part and pube hairs and nastiness. I sit, wipe and flush. Sooooooo, since I am usually the one who cleans the toilets in our house (my husband is great, I can't lie or make him out to be a monster... he does a LOT around the house... he just doesn't ever seem to be inclined to clean the bathrooms...) AND since we have a toddler I'd love to potty train anytime now (if he would only be willing and not traumatized by the whole experience) AND since we have a 12 month old who loves to play around the toilet (yup, he flushes and plays with the toilet paper... something the older one still to this day has never done...) WELL let's just say it grosses me out that they are near the nastiness... regularly... EVERY day. Wow, I suck at being concise... Soooooo anyway - I asked my husband to make me a deal. If I was gonna be the one to clean the toilet, fine - but he MUST wipe it after every pee (or start sitting to pee... but he wasn't keen on that idea...) EVERY time before he flushes, he is to take some toilet paper and wipe the rim. That way it never becomes caked-on-need-to-scrub-want-to-barf-pee. Voila! It's only been a week since I made this request (after the original post got me thinking how we could make cleaning easier around here...) but it is amazing. The toilet is fairly clean even when it's not freshly scrubbed. I don't panic if someone stops by and happens to be male (and will therefore need to lift the toilet seat and see our horrifying grossness...) Just one step toward mastering this whole grown-up phase I seem to be stuck in. :)

  9. Who in the hell pairs up socks??? Should I be DOING this? Since I have three kids and three of us have the same size feet, I "color code" their socks. Captain Obvious has black socks. Man-child has black socks with a colored ring around it,G-Man has the cool three-ringed socks from Gold Toe, The Sarcastic Mom (me) has white socks and Gorilla Man (husband), he doesn't really count. Because I loathe matching socks, this makes my life much happier,therefore, my family is much happier. I fold underwear though. Does that make me weird?

    Girls, have you ever thought of putting up a "Donate to Rants" button? You're content is AH-mazing and I would gladly donate a few bucks to keep you writing. If all 28,000 donated just $12 bucks for the stinking year...HOLY HAMSTRINGS BATMAN! You may not have to get a part-time job. Unless you really are tired of your kids and can't wait to get out!

    I LOVE you guys. In a I'm-glad-I'm-not-the-only-mom-who-sucks kind of way. I've had to change my pants more than once from reading this blog.

  10. I agree that the laundry idea of dumping/washing/no-folding would not work for all people. I rarely demand that my kids fold their laundry neatly, but after no one can shut their drawers anymore we have to pull everything out and kind of start over! Love, love, love these posts. Hilarious and helpful - my fav combination!

  11. I was out to lunch when this quest was introduced. I have a fantastic sock solution. When my girls were little I bought one daughter only green socks and the other only pink socks. Every pair of pink or green were the same exact pair. This made mating socks a dream. Once they had the same shoe size as me, I bought dozens of pair of hanes white footie socks. We all wore them. Of course, I had trouser socks and they had uniform socks for school but for the most part my sock mating problems were over.

  12. How is it possible that I have been keeping house and raising kids for 20 years and never knew about the value of lingerie bags?! What an incredible idea! Walmart, here I come!:)

  13. My son and daughter are 3 &4 and wear the same size socks. I got a ton of the same white socks and we keep a grocery bag holder by the shoes. They stuff their clean socks in the bag at laundry time and pull one out at a time in the mornings. No sorting, no confusion, and no stray socks.

  14. When taking washing off the line, i fold the towels and roll socks as i go. I also take the non-ironing stuff off first and then the ironing stuff. Then the layer of ironing can go straight in the hamper and the towels in the store chest. no extra sorting!

  15. I can't believe I never thought about a laundry bag for my bras an other non-dryer things.




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