How We Tackle Laundry

There are hundreds of tips out there on how to conquer Laundry Mountain, but today I’m adding my latest insights, in the slight chance that someone else still hasn’t found what they’re looking for, and thinks like me when it comes to dealing with laundry.

The Problem

I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, but never really found a great fit. I cannot get on board with the idea of doing a load each day – I like to get everything washed and dried in one day, if possible, so that I have the rest of the week to enjoy my clean clothes and not feel like it’s a never-ending chore. I get everything clean on Monday, and do ironing on Tuesday, but it’s always been the huge pile of stuff to fold which does me in. If clean clothes start to pile up at all, it just spirals out of control.

I think it’s a mental thing – it starts looking really overwhelming, and I think it will take more time than it will, so I start to procrastinate because I don’t feel like I have the time to deal with it. Also, I like the idea of my kids helping with laundry, but my energy-conscious mind does not like the idea of everybody doing their own laundry, resulting in many little loads.

I needed a way to get everything done in one day, while still involving my kids, with absolutely no laundry piling up. I finally found what works, and it’s fantastic. I’ve stuck with it for a few months now, so I’m pretty confident this will be a long-term solution. Here’s how we do it:

Gather and Sort

Everybody rounds up their laundry on Monday morning. (I chose this day because after the weekend, I always need a day at home to regroup and get everybody back on track, so I can stay consistent with doing laundry on this day.) Sometimes the girls help me sort all the loads, depending on where we’re at with school work, our schedule for the day, etc.

Choose Your Load Wisely

I alternate highly “hands-on” loads with easy loads – sheets or towels look like a big load, but they’re faster to fold and clean up, so it gives me more time to catch up on loads that are more time-consuming and full of lots of little socks and underwear.

Separate Immediately!

To avoid laundry piling up, I’ve found that I need to sort it as I’m taking it out of the dryer. This is the key that makes everything work for me! I have a laundry basket for each kid, plus one for socks, and I throw everything into the right basket immediately. For clothes that need to be hung, I make a separate pile which goes straight to our closet. (I hang as much as possible, because it’s faster to hang it than fold it.)

All that remains on top of my washer and dryer is a very small amount of clothes belonging to Ben or me. Encouraged by how small the pile is, I’m usually very motivated to fold it right away.

Involve the Kids

The girls are responsible for folding and putting away their laundry, and pairing the socks. Everett loves to put away his laundry while I’m folding it, and we usually get all of the kids clothes cleaned up on Tuesday.

This leaves almost a full, beautiful week of no laundry to worry about, which I LOVE.

Bonus Loads

While I can’t get behind the idea of doing a load a day, I’ve found that thinking of it as “working ahead” is enough to motivate me to throw in a load or two during the week, only if I have time. Because I don’t have to do it, and I won’t get behind if I don’t, I feel like it’s an optional way for me to lighten the load for Monday, and it’s fun to feel like I’m getting clothes washed in advance. It’s all mind-games, hey?! But whatever works.:)

To Hang or Not to Hang

In the past, I’ve talked about how much I loved to air-dry all our clothing. There were two reasons for this – my laundry never piled up, because I would hang everything in closets immediately, and I wanted to save energy and money by using our dryer less. Unfortunately, after doing some research, Ben and I discovered that the energy used to remove the humidity from our house caused by drying clothes was more expensive than using the dryer! If I had a clothes line, it would make more sense, but that would be time-consuming and overwhelming, which I don’t need at this point in my life, PLUS we’ve got some allergy issues around here, and I was told not to dry clothes outside because the allergens would be on our clothes.

So, we’re back to using the dryer, and I found a way to get clothes hung immediately, and life is good.

And that’s how we deal with laundry around here! If you have any great laundry tips to add, I would love to hear them, because it’s such a huge job, so if anything can make it more manageable, we should be sharing it all over the place!

What’s your laundry routine, and why does it work for your family?

 

Being Intentional About Summer?

I had a small epiphany the other day.

Someone was asking me how my summer was going, which has happened around a hundred times so far, and I answered, for the hundredth time, “Great! It’s been so good, what about yours?”

And right as I was saying that, what popped into my brain at the very same time was, “You’re lying. It hasn’t been that great.”

This caught me off-guard. After the conversation was over, I thought about it a bit more, and realized it was true – I haven’t really been enjoying summer as much as I thought I would, but I’m never honest enough with myself to admit it. I’m too busy counting blessings and choosing a happy attitude, and all that.

Which is good.

But sometimes, if there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed.

So I tried to think of why, exactly, I was not enjoying summer.

And the answer that came to mind was this: “I’m not doing any of the things I was looking forward to doing this summer.”

Summer has not be meeting my expectations.

The problems is, I never realized I had expectations, until they weren’t being met.

There were two choices before me: get rid of expectations, or start making them happen.

I think I’ll do a bit of both. But either way, I need to know what my expectations are before I can get rid of them, or before I can make them happen.

I think lots of disappointments in life come because we don’t realize what our expectations are. Some people truly are easy-going enough not to have expectations, but I am not one of those people. There’s usually a picture in my mind for everything.

I definitely had a picture in my mind for this summer. I just didn’t take time to think about what it included.

I’m making a list of what I thought I wanted to see happen, and I still have a month to make some changes!

What do I need to let go of?

What do I need to plan for the month of August?

What shall we do to make this summer spectacular?

flower

Spending five days at the lake this week was definitely an excellent start to turning this summer around!

Can you think of anything you need to do to meet or change your summer expectations?

What Summer Looks Like

The sun is setting, someone’s for a hot air balloon ride over Niverville, and my hubby’s on the couch, waiting for me to finish blogging so that we can watch the first episode of the Canadian Amazing Race. (He’s sad that he’s not on it – it’s one of his lifelong dreams!)

I could go deep and spiritual here, but there’s something about a golden evening that makes me feel as though the words are few, and all I want to do is enjoy the beauty.

Let’s catch up on some summer photos – the ones I took during the last two months, but couldn’t share with you because I was always writing about favorite things.

So, for everyone who’s up for the deep thoughts I’m chewing on – they are coming. Slowly.

In the meantime, here’s a little bit of what summer is looking like around here:

watering the gardenleavesstormy skychipmonksaladflowersfernAnikaKayliaflowers

We have decided to only have salads or something barbequed for meals around here. I wish I could leave my oven off until September.

I am waiting for my next chance to shop at the farmers market. Maybe tomorrow??

We’re spending more time at the lake than we have before. (Not counting when we lived by it. We weren’t vacationing then!)

Our garden is growing like mad by now. I run out to pick lettuce, and feel like we’re all “living off the land”.

The girls keep going to bed later and later, because nobody wants to go inside on these beautiful evenings.

What are you soaking in this summer?

10 Ways to Have a Happier Morning

I love lists, and I love problem-solving.

If something is not working, chances are good that the solution can usually be found with a little bit of brainstorming, and a good list.

I’ve been doing this a lot recently, as I examine our morning routine. A bad morning routine can put everybody in such a bad mood that we’re lucky if we recover by noon.

As we’ve been making changes around here, our mornings have gradually been improving, which means we start off the day with a much happier attitude than we used to.

Here’s what’s been working for us:

1. Take care of the basics.

There is no way that I can stay calm and happy if I am not taking proper care of my body. How I sleep, what I eat, even how much water I drink, can all affect my mood. Praying desperately for some divine intervention and miraculous mothering skills is great and all, but I wonder if God sometimes thinks I should just go to bed earlier.

2. Clean up “Your Spot”.

I read once that everyone has a “spot” – that one spot in your house that makes you feel victorious when it’s clean, and defeated when it’s out of control. I didn’t think I had a spot, but it turns out that I have two: my kitchen sink/counter, and my living room floor.

If I come out first thing in the morning to a mess in those spots, I’m behind before I’ve even begun.

However, if I make sure that they’re cleaned up the night before, I come out in the morning feeling pretty fantastic about my clean house. It could be a mess in other areas, but as long as I have my kitchen counter and my living room floor, I’m good.

I highly recommend finding out what your spot is, and then protecting it like your day depends on it.

3. Get your schedule in writing.

We have a laminated chart on our fridge which Anika loves to check off each morning. I got SOOOO tired of nagging her every morning to get things done, that one day, I got some paper and markers, and I made the most thorough list I could think of. It’s even got “Clean boogers out of nose” on it. Everything that I want her to do each morning is on that list.

We have a separate list for Sundays, because we need to do different things to get out of the house for church on those days.

I still need to remind her at times to stay focused and get stuff done, but I nag a lot less than I used to.

4. Start with some quiet time.

First thing on my own schedule is getting up an hour before the girls (thank goodness they usually sleep until 8 am, I’m totally spoiled!), to spend some time reading my Bible, praying, and exercising.

I used to be very cranky in the mornings because I woke up when they woke up, and had no time to ease into my day. That is a BAD idea for me. I need my time to “wake up slowly”.

morning

5. Pick a verse for the day.

When I’m reading my Bible, I try to pick one verse or thought to keep on my mind throughout the day. Sometimes I memorize it, sometimes I write it out and stick it on the fridge, just to keep it there to come back to again and again.

6. Turn on the music!

I don’t actually like listening to music during the day. Weird, since I love music and I’ve taught piano for years. But my favorite time to listen to it is when I’m driving, and can focus completely on listening to it.

When it’s on as I’m going about my day, I find it distracting and sometimes slightly overwhelming. With homeschooling, and housework, and everything else that demands my attention, I find there’s only so much noise I can take in at once.

However. When it comes to the mind, and learning to “take every thought captive”, music is the best way for me to be continually reminded to get things on track.

Ben’s been turning on the worship music each morning so that I won’t forget, and it makes such a big difference to have it playing. I think I could get used to the “extra noise”!
7. Plan a breakfast menu.

Giving kids a choice for what they want to eat may sound like a good idea, but it’s never worked out well for us. They always want different things, it takes so long for them to make up their minds, and the whole thing kept dragging out so long, that one day, I just quit.

I made up a breakfast menu, stuck it on the fridge, and now the girls know exactly what to expect.

It has completely cut out the complaining about what we’re eating for breakfast. It’s nothing fancy, and we usually stick to eggs, oatmeal, leftover pancakes in the toaster, that kind of thing, but it switches things up a bit, and it saves so much time.

breakfast

8. Stay away from sugar.

When we were living at camp, I noticed how Anika always crashed hard, mid-morning, after those big, sugary breakfasts that were served at the lodge. It made homeschooling a nightmare, so we decided to experiment, and only allowed her to have sugar on weekends, when she didn’t have to do school.

It made such a huge difference! She eats sugar-free jam or a little bit of honey on her pancakes during the week, and it’s this big treat to get syrup on the weekends. At first, she hated it, but now it’s just normal.

I’ve noticed how it affects me, too. Usually, I have my green smoothie for breakfast, but every once in a while, when the pancakes are fresh, I’ll grab one.

And oh, my goodness – it makes me feel completely different. I cannot believe the difference in my mood. I don’t do well with carbs, especially first thing in the morning, and I find myself extremely irritable after eating anything like that.

9. Stay calm.

My movement therapist once explained to me that a muscle at rest is ready to move in any direction, at any moment. A tense muscle, on the other hand, has to relax first, before being ready to move in the new direction.

I find it’s the same with moods. When I’m relaxed and calm, and something unexpected comes up, it’s far easier to go with the flow.

But it I’m rushing around, we’re running late, my morning’s frantic and crazy, it’s only going to get crazier. I’m too tense, not ready and available to move in the direction I need to go. I’m trying to remember to take a few deep breaths, and calm down.

10. Be flexible.

I can make all the lists I want to stick on our fridge, but I cannot guarantee a perfect morning, every morning. Life happens. And that’s good – it’s the way it should be.

I need to be ready to ditch the lists, when necessary.

And maybe not every morning will be perfect, but lots of mornings are pretty good.

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I’m trying to begin each day with this verse on my mind:

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

sunrise

How can I be glad in it?

What can I do to help things run more smoothly for my family?

In what ways do I need to become more disciplined so that I can be the wife and mom I need to be?

It’s a work in progress!

Any tips you’ve come up with over the years? I’d love to hear them!

(If you want some extra reading, Micheal Hyatt wrote a great post called How to Become A Morning Person. His first point is quite brilliant.)

Leave Room For Surprises

I like to have a plan. I love schedules and lists. I always feel happy and organized when we are following The Plan.

Fortunately, I married Ben. He helps me to forget The Plan, when necessary.

He encourages me to be spontaneous, and after being married to him for twelve years, I am finally learning that sometimes, the unexpected and unplanned is the best part of all.

When we were visiting Victoria last time, we did a bunch of the usual tourist-type of things. We went to Butchart Gardens, toured some famous, old buildings, hung out by the harbour front. We had a great time doing all of that stuff (and it was all part of The Plan).

But the best part of our trip was spontaneous.

We were driving along the highway when we saw a sign that said “Hatley Castle”, and Ben said, “Hey, I remember reading about that! Let’s check it out.”

I would never have thought of doing this on my own. I would have been too focused on getting to our next planned location.

But we stopped, and went exploring.

Hatley Castle was built by a rich family back in the early nineteen hundreds, but is now the home of the Royal Roads University. We couldn’t tour the inside, but we stumbled upon some amazing gardens on the property.

There wasn’t a person in sight, and we had a wonderful afternoon exploring all the little paths and bridges. We had packed a lunch that day, and ate it in a little gazebo overlooking a beautiful pond.

We took pictures all over the place, and experimented with using the timer on our camera.

Whenever I think of that trip, the gardens at Hatley Castle have always been my favorite memory.

We made sure to take our girls there this time around.

Turns out, things have gotten a bit touristy since the last time we were there. We had to pay to get in, and there were other people around. It lost the whole “secret garden” kind of feel to it. Still as beautiful as ever, but not quite the same as last time.

After we were done exploring the gardens, we drove around for a bit, and ended up on a road that went right by the ocean. Ben said, “I want to pull over.”

And that was the beginning of this trip’s best memory.

It was beautiful and perfect.

We gathered shells and pretty rocks.

Anika and Kaylia played tag with the waves.

The waves won.

I’m so glad Ben wanted to pull over.

After we found dry shoes and pants for the girls, we went to our hotel. As soon as the bags were unloaded in our room, Ben said, “Let’s go exploring.”

I would never have thought of doing this on my own. I would have started settling in and unpacking.

But I’m learning. So we all went exploring, and ended up in the hotel’s rooftop garden.

I’m so glad Ben wanted to explore.

There are times when we need a plan. It can be a good thing.

But there are most definitely times when we need to be spontaneous, and stop to experience the unexpected.

Pull over by the ocean. Visit the rooftop garden.

It could be your favorite.

Linking up with:

Saying “Yes” to Rest

My wise friend once reminded me that every time we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else.

After talking about this for a little while, we decided that obviously, the opposite must also be true: Every time you say “no” to something, you’re saying “yes” to something else.

You might be thinking, “Good grief, what’s the difference?”

For me, the difference lies in what is verbalized.

When I verbally say “no” to people, choosing to take more time for rest and space and family, I don’t go back and verbally commit my “yes” to myself or to my family. I feel like I’m saying “no” all the time, to everything, when in reality, all those times I say “no”, I’m actually saying “yes” to other important things, even if I don’t speak it out loud.

I get tired of having to say no. But if I think about what I’m actually saying “yes” to, I start to see what I am gaining.

Last weekend, I had a choice to make regarding a “yes” and a “no”.

I had reached my limit. I had pushed and pushed myself the whole previous week,  and it had been a crazy one.

By the weekend, I was just done.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday afternoon, and I had really been looking forward to it, but I knew I needed to stay home. If I didn’t, my sweet family would pay for it the next few days. I needed to make sure I got enough rest to be ready for Monday morning.

So, I said “no” to the potluck, which made me feel disappointed and a little bit guilty, but I kept reminding myself of how the week would go if I didn’t just stop.

I sent my family off to the potluck with a pan of brownies, and I went to bed for a good nap.

When I woke up, I spent as much time as I wanted and needed for reading my Bible and praying.

I ate whatever I wanted to, without any unhappy girlies around to tell me how much they did NOT want to eat pasta with raw tomato sauce. (It’s my new favorite food, and it tasted about 10 times better without the complaining!)

I spent a few hours writing.

And then I took my camera, put on my rubber boots, and I drove to every spot I’ve been wanting to take pictures of for the last month.

So many times, we’re rushing off somewhere, and I see something beautiful, and think, “Oh, I wish we had time to stop so I could take a picture!”

I don’t need to think it anymore – at least until I find some new spots! But the old ones are all covered. I tromped around in the fields and ditches to my heart’s content, and it was absolutely wonderful.

I got all filled up with fresh air and sunshine, enough to last me through the next few days of clouds and rain.

I said many, many yes’s that day, and I loved it.

By the time my family came home, I was ready to greet them, feeling rested, refreshed, and ready for another week.

When I heard what a great time everyone had at the potluck, I felt many twinges of regret. It would have been great to be there. But I also knew how necessary it was to spend some time by myself.

Our yes’s and no’s always cost something. I keep forgetting that, because I need to choose one or the other so many times in a day.

This week, I’m hoping for the wisdom to see which choice to make, which answer to give – for the sake of my sanity, and for the good of my family!

How are you doing? Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed because you said “yes” a few too many times? Are you finding space and time to say “yes” to the things which bring rest and refreshment?

Slow

I love summer at camp. I really do. And I always dread the end of it.

But the week after camp is always a good change of pace. We don’t live life by the ringing of the bell – we have our own schedule again. And it is completely quiet – very peaceful. I actually have time to realize that I was tired.

As much as I wish that summer could go on forever, realistically I know that we could never permanently live at that pace! So this week has been good.