Changes are a comin’

 Posted by on January 3, 2011  Add comments
Jan 032011

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks evaluating our household. I’m sure most of us do that this time of year. For me, this New Year has been especially thought provoking. With a new baby in the house, and the reality that I have FOUR BOYS beginning to sink in, I’ve been pondering a few things that need to change.

I guess it all started a few weeks back when I was having one of those mornings… the baby had been up since dawn and crying every minute that he wasn’t eating. It was 10:00 and no one except the baby had eaten breakfast. I was still in my robe, frantically toting screaming baby through the closet trying to find one thing I could wear that would fit this in-between body I have acquired. The boys were all being fairly patient, knowing better than to step on mama’s toes at a time like this. But leave it to my eight year old to find just the right words to cap off the morning.

Oldest says to me: Have you figured out what is for breakfast yet?

Me (because unfortunately sarcasm is one of my gifts): No, right now I’m trying to figure out how to get dressed!

Eight-year-old chimes in with a laugh: Ha! I figured that out a long time ago!

Me: Well, try doing it while holding a screaming baby.

Eight-year-old: I won’t have to. I’ll be at work.

I fought the temptation to plop the screaming baby in his smug little arms and head out the door. Miraculously I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t even open my mouth. I just secretly began plotting in my mind all the domestic skills these boys would be learning in the coming months.

We’re starting with laundry. Now, our laundry system hasn’t been terrible until lately. Toting all the laundry has been one of that same eight-year-old’s chores for a couple years now. It was his job to take my empty laundry basket upstairs and gather the laundry out of all the hampers and bring it downstairs where I would sort, wash, and fold. Then he takes the basket  full of washed and folded laundry back upstairs and everyone puts their own clothes away.

The problems with that system have been multiplying as quickly as the pile of unmatched socks. One, my boys seem to get dirtier as they get older. The task of sorting their socks is not a pleasant one. Two, somehow despite the fact that all the laundry gets folded neatly and separated into individual piles for individual children, they don’t get put away that way. Someone is always wearing someone else’s clothes. Why am I the only person in the house who knows which clothes belong to whom? Three, the laundry basket that goes upstairs with the clothes in it never seems to come back down. Apparently laundry baskets are fun to play with. Consequently my laundry ends up piled on the floor in my closet rather than in its basket.

With a new baby who needs to eat constantly, I’ve had plenty of time to sit and ponder the laundry issue. Here is what I came up with: Each child now has his own basket, including the baby. They were $5 each at Wal-Mart. I wrote their names on them with Sharpie because I couldn’t find individually colored baskets anywhere. Each child who is old enough to walk is responsible for carrying his own basket downstairs, emptying the pockets of rocks and dead bugs, and unrolling the smelly donut socks, and sorting them into the appropriate piles. For the moment I am still doing the washing and folding (we’ll tackle that one down the road a bit). Then the boys carry their baskets back upstairs full of their own clean, folded laundry to put away.

I was so excited about this that I didn’t even wait until January to start it. We started just before Christmas and it is working great so far. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me!

  20 Responses to “Changes are a comin’”

  1. We do the same thing around here. Each child has his own basket and is responsible for their own laundry.
    It is the only laundry plan that has ever worked for us.
    Happy washing!

  2. “I just secretly began plotting in my mind all the domestic skills these boys would be learning in the coming months.” Love that!

    We have been doing much the same, although I could use a few more baskets. And I think we need to work on the emptying of pockets since the 12-yo’s new mp3 player got washed the other day :/

    • Yikes… did the mp3 survive?

    • The same thing happened with my son’s ipod last year, and, amazingly, it survived! We just put it on top of the fridge (only to keep it out of reach), and a few days later it was working fine. I think we needed to replace his earphones but that is no big deal; the main part still worked. So maybe your son’s will dry out and work again also!

  3. I can’t stand the socks…the rest of it is not so bad to fold, but pairing socks is a nightmare. I make a game out of it for my boys…whoever gets more pairs of socks wins!

    Here is what we do…
    Thomas(7) sorts the clean laundry into piles for each of them. He can also fold and hang up his laundry. I am contemplating teaching him to work the washer and dryer this year.

    Timothy(5) puts up his clean and folded clothes, he actually looks forward to it!

    Tracy(3) “helps” put his clothes into the drawer.

    They all three help gather the laundry when it is time to wash.

    I like the idea of them each having their own basket, seems it would make it a little simpler!

    • Love the idea of turning the sock matching into a game! I might have to try that today!

      Sounds like you’ve got a great system Heidi. I’m impressed that Thomas can handle the folding. We’re not there yet :/

    “I just secretly began plotting in my mind all the domestic skills these boys would be learning in the coming months.”
    You are soooo funny!!! Sounds like a wonderful plan though!!!

  5. Congratulations to you!!! I, on the other hand, did exactly as my mother did and decided to be in control of everything around here. I didn’t even wash dishes or do laundry when I got married!!! So I recently decided to let go of some of those things and let me say…it is VERY hard to teach a 20 year old to do laundry when she’d rather wear the clothes dirty instead of being home long enough to wash!!! But we’re getting there. And as a result, Seth is learning more domestic skills from me. He’s actually learning to cook and he does my “tall” house chores that I can’t reach (like spiderwebs). 🙂

    • My mom did most everything in our house too, so I struggle sometimes in “delegating” things to the boys. sometimes it is just easier to do it myself! But I want to make sure they can do these things for themselves when they are on their own. I was clueless when it came to keeping house when I first got married!

  6. Kendra, thanks for sharing the real life. The words from the mouths of our own little ones do prompt us often, don’t they?

    I love the practical. I believe laundry can count as all kinds of school subjects as well as life skills!! Here, have your own basket and be in charge 🙂 We’ve used dish buckets for a while but it’s time to graduate to big baskets for the big kids.
    You’ve made us all smile on this Monday.

  7. I love the basket system! I’ll wash whatever gets to the laundry room. I need to poke them a bit to get them to empty their pockets though. I hope that works out for ya. I’m sure I’ve washed a bug or two, and we a have stone washed jeans. 🙂

  8. You go, girl! What great future husbands you are creating, who will know how to help around the house! My girls have put their own laundry away since age 3 or 4, and began washing and being totally in charge of their own at age 12. (I could have done that earlier, but I love the smell of detergent and clean clothes, and I have girls, who aren’t that dirty, so I didn’t mind!) =) You are right about teaching domestic skills. Whether they are girls or boys, I am shocked at the number of college students I’ve known who didn’t know how to do laundry or even make their beds. These are important skills not just in themselves, but for the discipline and responsibility the tasks build in an individual.

  9. HI! I found this blog on Pinterest. I have 4 boys and we share two of the same names…Grant and Sawyer! That is crazy! I am excited to find this new blog. I am always needing new, inspiring ideas to keep the household running. 🙂

    • Hi Liberty. So glad you found us! I hope you’ll find lots of inspiration here. And what a coincidence about the names!

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