Once I had determined my mission and my goals as a mom, it was time to prepare my house and my kids. I had already instituted the schedule, which was making my life about a hundred times easier in terms of managing children. But, now I had to organize my home, myself, and my life.
Up to this point, I had this idea in my head that my kids didn’t play happily all day because they didn’t have enough toys, or the right toys. So, I just kept buying them toys to keep them busy. Well, the problem was not too few toys….it was too many toys!
They would just go into the playroom and dump toy boxes filled with toys and not play with any of it. I finally realized that the very mess was overwhelming to them and they couldn’t pick out something to play with because it all looked like a heap of junk.
I became very intentional about which toys we were going to keep and how we were going to keep them. Only open ended toys, like the ones in my classroom, were going to stay. These are toys that require imagination and are open to a new way to play every day.
Examples: Blocks, legos, craft supplies, cars, balls, sports equipment, dolls, dress up clothes, doll houses and people, kitchen playset, trains and track, sand toys, play dough, trikes and bikes.
The things I tossed: Every toy that just made noise, junk toys, broken toys and those missing pieces, most toys that required batteries to do something.
Now it was simple to put toys in bins for that specific type of toy. For instance, all the hot wheels went into one bin, all the dollhouse people and animals in another. This made it so much easier for the kids to clean up. Previously, I would say “clean up the playroom!” and the kids would just look at this overwhelming room with toy covered carpet. They didn’t know where to start. Now I could say “put the train set away” and they knew what bin all the train stuff went in.
It really was a manner of me becoming a smarter parent and teaching them how to do something. It was about me setting them up for success in the first place.
Another problem I had was laundry. I thought I had a laundry problem because I had a lot of small children. It finally dawned on me that I had a laundry problem because my kids had too many clothes.
Their dresser drawers were stuffed and overflowing which meant when they went to pull out something, the whole drawer emptied. They also changed clothes multiple times a day, especially my daughter!
I came up with a capsule wardrobe for my kids. They would only have 5-7 outfits each and 2 pairs of shoes. I made sure that everything would mix and match and one of their outfits I called the church uniform so that they knew exactly what they could wear to church.
It is funny that, at the time, some of my friends thought it was nuts that my kids only had limited clothing, and now it is totally trendy to have a capsule wardrobe and be a minimalist. I was trendy before my time!
Food was actually not a big deal when my kids were little, but by the time I had 10 kids, it became one of the main things I managed. When the oldest four were in high school, we had to have one refrigerator in the garage that was locked or they would clean me out by snacking and sharing with the whole neighborhood.
As I mentioned on the scheduling post, I did have kitchen hours to help with the food management and the mess. It was a big help during the summer months, because everyone knew when the next meal was, what I was serving, and who was cleaning it up. It was all posted on a whiteboard on the kitchen wall.
Having kitchen hours helped my kitchen stay clean, too. I didn’t have kids grabbing food and not cleaning it up all day long. They only came in for meals.
I did make most of our food from scratch. Because we have a big family, it was just more economical for me to make everything and we could not afford to eat out very often.
Spending time to learn to cook and bake was something I am really glad I made the time to do. During this whole pandemic thing, I have felt lucky that I know how to make bread, soups, noodles, etc. I didn’t feel as panicked about getting some things because I knew I could make it. There was never a shortage of baking ingredients in the stores! When this is all over, it might be wise for you to keep extra baking goods on hand. I always have a month's supply and just rotate things out as I need them and replenish the stock.