Monthly Archives: January 2015

Mega Laundry for the Mega Family

Hallig Hooge, Germany, view from the Backenswarft

After I wrote the series on Mega Food Planning, Shopping and Prep, a friend wrote me to suggest a post on laundry. Laundry is not and has never been my nemesis, therefore I’m not sure this will be helpful. But I’ll give it my best shot!

Years ago I read a description (click here) of what laundry day would be like in the “olden days”. Never again did I feel sorry for myself with the laundry job. What a boatload of work that was.

Success with laundry in the mega family begins with prevention. I think this is probably true no matter what the size of the family. But the effects are definitely more pronounced in the mega family.

Get rid of clothing that you do not need. Get rid of bedding that is not needed. Sometimes with excess, comes laziness or just a harder job managing the resulting chaos. Seriously, for a kid, five outfits is enough. Add in a couple of sets of “I don’t care how filthy my child gets in these” play clothes and a couple of nice outfits and that should hold you. Since I do laundry frequently, two or three sets of PJs is enough. If all the kids have twin beds, how many duplicate sets of sheets do you NEED? Not one extra set per bed. How likely is it that all the beds will need to be changed at a particular time and you won’t be able to leave a bed bare for the 2 hours it takes to do a load of wash? How many extra towels do you really need? Do you NEED to change your towel after every shower? Could you change it every other day? It is used to dry a CLEAN body after all. I do realize that if you live in a place with high humidity, you may have to change towels more frequently, as they may not dry fully between uses.

Do laundry every day. (This is the big family guideline. When my family was smaller, I did laundry M-W-F; when it was just the two of us, it was once a week.) The only day that is always “off” for me is Sunday. Sometimes we are out all day on another day and it doesn’t get done; then I play “catch-up” by doing double laundry the next day.

Clothes do not automatically need washing just because they have been worn — particularly for someone who works in an office or who happens to be especially neat. Consider the “smell” test plus the visual inspection, and rehang the garment if it passes. 🙂 The clothes worn by active boys, and mothers of young babies, almost always need washing after each wearing.

Supervise the dressing of children. By this I mean, check up on them. Make sure they aren’t needlessly changing clothes multiple times per day. Make sure they don’t leave clothes in inappropriate places. Clean clothes have a place (dressers/closet), and dirty clothes have a place (hamper). If clothes are left on the floor (not an appropriate place), it’s harder to tell what is clean and what is dirty, and I inevitably end up rewashing clean clothes.

Bed wetters. I currently have, and have in the past had, bed wetters. I’ve had days of washing many sets of bedclothes. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is more cost-effective to buy pull ups/diapers than to wash bed clothes daily. 🙂 Not just in terms of $$ but in hassle, time and gross factor.

Up until the time I had my 4th child, I did not have a washer/dryer. We lived in apartments, and I used the laundry facilities in our apartment complex. The downside of that is that you have to go somewhere to wash your clothes, and hope they are undisturbed until you return for them (or you have to sit there waiting — not very practical when you have three kids under the age of 4.) The upside is that, if you time it right (6 AM always worked for me), you can use all the machines available, and get the whole job knocked out in less than two hours.

Enlist the help of your kids… especially the littlest ones who are so eager to help mama.

Here’s what I currently do:

My youngest helper (Stephen) is responsible for bringing all the hampers of dirty clothes from the bedrooms into the laundry room each day. I also have a hamper in the laundry room for miscellaneous items than need washing. I aim to make it convenient to put dirty clothes where they belong. Also in my laundry room is a bucket for wet laundry. Things like dish cloths, pre-treated items, etc. I try to hang these along the edges of the bucket until they are dry so that they don’t get sour.

I spot treat any stains with Fels-Naptha bar soap that has been softened in water. Best stain treatment ever.

I sort the laundry three ways. And I sort, not the kids, though sometimes I have them help me. I’ve had episodes of pink boy underwear due to child-sorted laundry. It’s not something I enjoyed.

Hot/white – undies, socks, towels, etc



If there are items that are particularly filthy, I give them their own load.

I sort darks directly into the washer. The other two loads are sorted into hampers. Any empty hampers are returned to their homes promptly. I start the darks load right away. When it’s done, I hang it out on the line if it is a nice day or put it in the dryer on rainy days. My reasoning for starting the darks load first is that these clothes are the thickest and take the longest time to dry. This gives me the best chance of actually letting the sun do the job of drying all my clothes. I don’t have a set way of determining which load goes into the washing machine next. Whatever seems the most needful at the moment, I guess.

If the weather permits, I will hang all loads of laundry out on the line. I actually love hanging out laundry. It’s quiet and peaceful. I usually bring one of the younger kids out with me (to reduce the “mom is out of the house” chaos). We have a bit of one-on-one time. I take this time to check over the clothing for rips, holes or stains I may have missed. If the clothes look ratty, I don’t hang them, I just throw them in the trash or repurpose them.

I hang all of Don’s button-up shirts on a tension rod in my laundry room regardless of whether the rest of the wash is hung out or not. This way, wrinkles are kept to a minimum, and I have less ironing to do. (I HATE IRONING!!!) [One of these days, Don will figure out how to iron his own shirts. –ed.] I also try to buy clothes that are easy-care, to reduce the need for special laundry handling/ironing.

I often enlist the smaller kids’ help in switching loads. They are shorter, and it’s easier for them to reach deep into the front-loader than it is for me. I am there with them making sure to pull aside any items that are “hang-dry” if the rest of the load is headed for the dryer.

If I am going to be away from the house all day, I’ll try to start my washing the night before. I use the delayed start feature so that the wash is finished just at the time I’m getting up. I’ll switch the wash and put in a second load again on the time delay so it is ready for me when I expect to be home. That way, I do not get so far behind. I also plan the loads that have the longest wash times for the time when I will not be available to switch loads, so that when I’m home to finish later, the process can be completed in the shortest amount of time.

After all the loads of laundry are dry (and sometimes I start this before it is all done), I sort the clean laundry into piles for the kids. Everyone folds their own clothes, with the exception of Stephen and Landen. I fold their stuff and then they help me put it away. They are starting to learn to fold their own clothes, so it won’t be too long until I pass that job to them. I will have to continue to “inspect what I expect“. I put away all of my own and Don’s clothes. In addition to his own clothes, James folds all the undies and matches all the socks. He puts these away in the appropriate drawers. He also folds sheets/blankets and folds/hangs bath towels. Noah folds all hand towels, dish towels, wash cloths and napkins (yes, we use cloth napkins). When I call out that laundry is ready to be folded and put away, I expect everyone to show up and do the job. It doesn’t usually take more than 30-ish minutes to have it all finished. I like to have it done before dinner, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, and we fold after dinner, or it waits until the next morning.

I almost never forget a load of wash in the machines. Yet, I’ve read enough and talked to enough women to know that this is a common problem. I’m not sure why I don’t have trouble with this. It’s not because I can always hear the “I’m done” chime on my machine, because I can’t. but usually something in my brain clicks and I just know I need to go switch. I have had some seasons of my life that are overwhelmingly busy (just after a baby is born, for example) when I had more trouble remembering to switch the laundry and have had to rewash. When this happens, I use timers to remind myself until I get get back in the groove, or life gets less busy. Timers are my friend… on my phone, the range, the microwave. I’m a big fan of timers. I often need the auditory cues that it’s time to do something.

Cloth diapers. I used cloth diapers with almost all of my kids. That did add to the laundry load! Especially when I had three in diapers! Diapers, I found, had to be on a schedule all their own. The rate of usage was too varied. I liked to start a load soaking at night. Then in the morning, I’d drain the soak water and wash long and hot. Then on the line they went for some sanitizing sunlight.

Bedding. The best way I’ve found to deal with this, is to give each bedroom a “day”. No bedding on Monday. That’s already a double laundry day since I don’t do washing on Sunday. Tuesday, master bedroom, Wednesday, girls room, Thursday, boy bedroom 1, Friday, boy bedroom 2. Or, just wash the bedding when it is dirty and insert with the regular wash days.

I have tried the “make your own laundry soap” recipes that float around the internet. I tried. Really I did. It is definitely cheaper per load to use the homemade stuff. But, it doesn’t work. I gave it a six-month try. The clothes looked dingy. There was an “unfresh” smell to them that was nasty to me (I am sensitive to smells. I hate perfumes, but clean has a good smell and it’s not the scent of the laundry detergent since I only used unscented.) I found myself rewashing loads of laundry on the “sanitary” setting just to get rid of the smell. The clothes felt different too. Stiffer. Like the detergent clung to the clothing.

I’ve heard rave reviews from so many people that I know. Best I can figure it is we have HARD water and the commercial detergents account for that with added water softeners (which the homemade detergent does not have),. Maybe their water is softened or naturally soft. Also, I have BOYS. Lots of boys. Lots of dirt. Filth. Grime. Perhaps the children of those who find success with homemade detergent don’t get as dirty as mine. Or maybe it’s because they don’t live in the country surrounded by dirt and animal grime. Who knows? I just felt like I should put it out there. It did not work for me. Yes it’s “cheaper” at first glance, and I’m all about saving money. But it does not end up cheaper if you have to double-wash all the clothes. It takes twice as long, twice as much power and water. Not cost-effective at all; and most importantly, it wastes my time. I have concluded that, for me, the best solution is to stock up on the fragrance-free laundry detergent sold by Costco whenever they offer a coupon special.

So, what do you do if you are so far behind that you are despairing of ever getting caught up? When you are not able to see the top of Mt Washmore? When Mt Never-rest is completely un-climb-able? Set a goal of doing a little bit every day. Instead of the “maintenance” level number of loads, do one more. Make sure to discipline yourself to get it ALL put away. Get the kids to help. They are able. It will take training, but you want them to learn anyway. It will help them in adulthood to have developed the disciplines of tidiness, routine, daily chores. As you process the loads of laundry, ask yourself if any of this is excess. Can it leave? Throw away anything that is ratty and not worth passing along. Fill bags with the remaining unnecessary items. Put it in your vehicle to donate the next time you are driving past a thrift shop that accepts donations, or offer it to a friend who has kids of similar age/gender. Or offer it on Facebook on a swap/sale group.You will not be sorry if you have less. Trust me. So much easier to manage.

Don’t let the kids get away with being slobs. Make sure they put their dirty clothes in the designated spot for dirty laundry. Make sure their clean items remain in their drawers. Don’t let them needlessly change clothes. Try to teach them to be neat when possible. And, under what circumstances it is acceptable to be messy. (They are kids after all and kids do make messes. What I’m really talking about it carelessness that leads to needless mess. Stuff that is totally preventable.)

An alternative to this slow faithfulness to dig out from the pile of laundry is to take it all to a laundromat and get it all cleaned. The advantage of this is that it is done and you can make a fresh start. The disadvantage is, it is a huge task and can be difficult to sort through that much wash all at once to get it all folded and put away. It will also not work to reprogram your brain to the daily task of laundry which is the key to keeping caught up.

I hope this helps someone. I’d love to hear comments from others. What works for you? What tips can you share of making this job simpler? I’m always eager to learn something new.


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Give grace

Note: This is a long post. Rather than trying to break it into two parts, I’m going to trust that my readers have above-average attention spans. Please be sure to read the whole post before commenting. Thank you.

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:1-4)

Occasionally I hear or read something that gets under my skin. This happened recently, when a sister in Christ made a broad statement condemning and mocking an entire group of people (a group I happen to belong to) who have made a certain choice related to raising children.

All I could think was — HOW DARE YOU?!

That brought to mind a flood of other “How dare you’s” I’ve felt over the years.

I’m going to let them out now. Brace yourself.

How dare you mock me for my parenting choices that I make to the best of my abilities before GOD?

How dare you judge me when I say my kids have food allergies and can’t eat something?

How dare you (especially you with no children, ONE child, or just a few children) judge me for the way I run my super sized family?

How DARE you judge me for choosing to not vaccinate my kids, when you have NO idea what thought and reasoning went into that decision?

How dare you act like your choice for your family is the ONLY right choice on an issue that is NOT clearly delineated in scripture?

How DARE you criticize me for my choice to give birth at home because you choose to give birth in a hospital/birth center?

How dare you presume to be able to evaluate my personal medical issues?

How dare you assert that we have enough kids (or too many)?

These are not moral decisions. There is LIBERTY to choose. These are decisions of conscience.

There’s a lot more to many of these choices than meets the eye.

What you do NOT know are how many hours I’ve spent researching the risks and benefits, the pros and cons, of my decision to only selectively vaccinate my kids. The hours poring over the data from the CDC. The data, the details, adverse reactions from vaccines, what subset of people experience reactions, the disease rates of various infectious diseases. Whether those who got the disease were vaccinated fully, partially or not at all. The locations of outbreaks, the graphs that detail when the disease prevalence began to drop and how the drop coincided (or didn’t) with the introduction of the vaccine. I’ve discussed the vaccine issue with my kids’ pediatrician. What makes you think you know better than me and my kids’ doctor?

What you do NOT know are how many hours I’ve spent researching, and in prayer, over the decision on where to birth. And who to hire as an attendant, or whether I should have an attendant at all.

What you do NOT know, and cannot appreciate, is the faith journey that I have walked as I have lived out my choices. The research that went into the decision. The enormous personal and familial benefits of our choices.

What you do NOT know are how many hours I spent wiping bloody diarrhea off of the scorched/burned bum of a tiny baby who was allergic to more things than we could determine.

What you do NOT know are how many hours I spent holding that baby, who writhed in pain every minute of the day.

What you do NOT know are how many hours I did NOT sleep that entire first year of my baby’s life as he screamed and writhed.

What you do NOT know is that I had to figure out what was in the food I bought because no adequate labeling laws were in effect. Yep, back when you had to call every company in creation to ask whether the “modified food starch” contained wheat; because it might. And at least half the time, the person you talked to either didn’t know, or refused to tell you.

What you do NOT know is that I had to go to a mono diet of only rice until — amazingly — my baby’s symptoms disappeared, and he slept. A blessed, restful sleep with NO writhing. For the first time in his life he slept.

What you do NOT know is that I added in one food at a time every three days until I was eating enough variety to constitute a sustainable diet. It was “three steps forward, two back” for a while until I (YES, I, with no medical advice or help, because they had given up on helping us) figured out what he was allergic to.

What you do NOT know is how much time and effort it took to figure all this out.

What you cannot possibly know is that if I ingested even the tiniest bit of one of his allergens, we were back to square one with his symptoms, and the screaming and lack of sleep resumed.

What you do NOT know is the lack of help available from doctors. No testing is foolproof. Once the process of eliminating all “serious” medical conditions from the possible list is done, the work of deduction falls to the parents.

What you do NOT know are the many invasive tests that were performed on my tiny newborn to rule out a long list of horrible possibilities.

What you do NOT know is the fear I felt, as I went through this process with a tiny helpless newborn.

What you do NOT know is the difficulty of having your newborn hospitalized while trying to care for eight other children at home.

What you do NOT know is the frustration of trying hypoallergenic formulas and even “elemental” formulas on your child, only to have him react to them with screaming, bloody diarrhea, writhing in pain.

What you cannot possibly comprehend, is how it tears a mother apart, to watch her child suffer so. I have experienced this. Food allergies/intolerance are VERY real.

Why are you judging someone who says they can’t eat something? Why do you presume to think they are making it up? What sane person would WANT to restrict their diet for no reason whatsoever? There might be a few people mixed-up enough to do so. Do you REALLY think it is a good idea to lump everyone who has dietary restrictions into the category of dubious sanity? Are you kidding me?

I have never asked anyone to make special accommodations for us. A few brave, kind souls have asked and offered to make accommodations. I might inquire about food at a party or whatever, but solely for the purpose of providing for our family’s food needs.

More times than I can count, though, I’ve overheard the comments on the fact that I or my child is eating something different. The speculation that it is not necessary. The accusations of extreme behavior.

WHY DOES IT MATTER SO MUCH TO YOU??? Just let us eat in peace for goodness’ sake. We don’t want to look any more freakish than we have to in order to keep ourselves healthy.

I find it interesting that, while there has often been speculation (I’ve heard it with my own ears) about the necessity of the diet I and/or my children have had to be on, no one has ever offered to come over to tend the wakeful screaming child when he could not sleep from the pain. No one ever cared enough to help wipe the bloody diarrhea off of his butt as he screamed in pain.

I was once a haughty, proud, judgmental mother. Because I believed breastfeeding was best, I (silently) judged every mother who bottle-fed.

Then God allowed me to have a sick baby. One born with congenital heart disease. who had difficulty gaining weight. One who had to have supplements. Now I was one of those mothers who had a bottle in their child’s mouth. And I understood. There could be a perfectly good explanation for choosing the “inferior” way to feed a baby.

Bottle-feeding is not the enemy. It’s just another way to feed a baby. Not my preference, but a valuable alternative. I was humbled. And ashamed of my prideful, horrible, rude attitude. I had now walked a road that gave me empathy and understanding for others’ choices.

Years ago, when I was a mom of one, I was privately (secretly) critical of a friend who confided in me the struggles she was having with her infant son. He was allergic to so many things, and she had to dramatically restrict her diet as she breastfed him. She could only eat chicken and carrots.

Absurd, I thought. How could he possibly react through her milk. Silly. She must be imagining things. It was years later that God allowed me to experience firsthand how very REAL this situation is. I walked a new road that gave me empathy.

There are a million more issues where judgment is passed, and one mom is critical of another. Here are a few of the things I’ve been criticized for:

The behavior of my autistic child. Admittedly horrible at times. But NOT the result of poor parenting or lack of discipline, and NOT because my child is a brat.

The fact that we chose to get a diagnosis and “label” our kid. Labels can be helpful in understanding. They do not have to define. I’m confident we made the right choice.

Baby wearing. I LOVE to carry my babies. Why do you have a problem with that? I don’t care if you opt to carry around a car seat or push a stroller. That felt more awkward to me. What is your problem with that????

Behavior of boys. Boys are rambunctious. Boys are NOT girls. I’ve been criticized for letting my boys be boys. Especially by “girl moms”. Get over it. There is a time and place for boys to learn to sit still. My little ones are learning. I work with them. They get practice every Sunday during church. But boys are made to move. I let them move whenever I feel it is appropriate.

Size of our family. I cannot tell the number of people who have tried to make this their personal business. IT IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS!!! I do not ask you for support. I do not ask the government for support. It’s our decision to have the number of kids we have. You have NO right to meddle. Think just for once about what I am contributing: TAXPAYERS! How else will your social security benefits ever be paid?

What activities we have chosen (or not chosen) to be involved in. I’ve gotten “It’s only one night a week” from other parents. Really??? And what about all the other kids who also want their night? Do you suppose we might place a priority on being home together as a family more than fifteen minutes a week?


Much of the time, these judgmental comments are not spoken directly to my face. But I do hear them, and sometimes I read them on Facebook. I don’t think the speaker/writer is aware that I can hear/see. If they were aware, I don’t think they would deliberately speak their sly mocking, judgment, and presumption.

But I wish they would.

If you have a question about a choice someone has made or feel they are making an error in judgment, WHY are you talking to a third person about it? GO TO THE PERSON YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT! I don’t mind honest discussion/debate. I don’t mind if someone comes to a different conclusion than I have, or makes a different choice about what is best for their family.

We are all individuals. It’s normal and natural to make different choices. So, if you don’t like the way I am doing something, GIVE GRACE and respect my RIGHT to choose as I see fit. Don’t assume I’m somehow less informed or educated because my choices are different.

Keep your mouth shut and pray for me. OR initiate a respectful convo with me.

Ask questions. Seek understanding. You might learn something. You might even (scary thought) change your mind about something.

OR you might get ME to change my mind as we discuss an issue. Above all, seek understanding. We are all in this super-HARD job of life together.

Although I have walked a lot of roads, I’ve not likely walked your particular road. It’s easy to judge what I do not know, see, experience, taste, touch. Easy, and WRONG. What I have learned is to say (to myself mostly). “I do not understand this situation. I do not have experience with this situation, I will reserve judgment and give the benefit of the doubt. I have not walked THIS road.” GIVE GRACE PEOPLE. it’s NOT THAT HARD!!!!


One eats meat, the other not,

To his own master he stands or falls….

Give grace.


Filed under Children, Home, Odds and ends

Looking Forward

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. Seems like they are usually made with feelings of regret or dissatisfaction in mind. Unhappy with the current status, seeking new, different, better in the new year. Unfortunately, it seems as though this just sets one up for failure. It’s easy to have good intentions. It’s the follow-through that gets you.

In spite of my dislike of the tradition of making resolutions at this time of year, I do find myself reflecting on the current state of my life, assessing what I have done well and what needs to change. As I’ve pondered, I’ve arrived at a list of goals for myself. I’ve tried to accompany each goal with some specific action points so it’s not just wishful thinking, and so I can measure my results.

I’ve considered various categories of my life, and found that I naturally had one or maybe two goals that fit in each category. They are as follows:


Study the Bible – I read my Bible pretty much every day. Sometimes I listen using the Bible app on my phone. But it is a regular, consistent part of my life. I find it harder to manage the time for in-depth study. I have selected a Bible study guide to use along with a study Bible, and will aim for one day of more in-depth study each week.

Scripture memorization – I work on this with the kids over breakfast. Again, I use the Bible app on my phone to listen while we eat. However, I want to memorize verses that are particularly applicable to me and the struggles I face. I have decided to participate in this accountability group which should have the result of me memorizing two verses per month:

Personal Development

I am enrolled in a course on herbal medicine. I have struggled to find the time to study. There is always sometime that is “urgent”, requiring my attention. I am blocking off one evening per week to study. This is scheduled on my calendar.

Character development

I aim to yell less. I came across this post the other day and found it helpful in acknowledging the many reasons why I yell (not the least of which is just to be HEARD over the crazy loud din that exists in a home of many children): Anyhow, it’s one thing to have a goal to simply yell less, it’s quite another thing to identify the issues that result in yelling, and deal with the SIN that is at the root. Ouch.


De-clutter – At the very least, one item should leave our house for every new item that comes in. Once a week, on Thursday, I aim to either list items for sale on Craigslist, eBay, etc., OR donate a box of unneeded items to the thrift store. My goal here is to have our home ready at a moment’s notice for hospitality, and to reduce the work I have to put in to maintain this place. I think we do OK here, but could definitely do better.

Pay attention to paper clutter. Create and train myself to use a tickler file. Don’t let the “to be filed” pile spill out of it’s container. (I really hate dealing with paper!!!)


I aim to gain strength and lose __ pounds. (Never mind the actual number.) I am currently going to the gym consistently one day per week. I aim to add another day. I will add a class that is taught by my personal trainer. I also have an eating plan that I think will work to help me to pay more attention to what I eat, by forcing me to eat more regularly and not “forget” and then get over-hungry.

There are a few other goals not detailed here that are either private or more joint goals with my husband. Financial, parenting and marriage.

Ultimately, the point of setting goals, and working to achieve them, is to make wise use of the time God has given me. None of us knows how many days/weeks/months/years we may have left to walk this earth. I want to live a life as much as possible without regret. Floating aimlessly along this journey of living will not yield that regretless result. There are many scripture verses relating to planning and time usage and management. I find it quite convicting and motivating to read through them. Psalm 90:12, Colossians 4:5, Ephesians 5:15-17, and Luke 14:28 are a few good ones.

Anyone joining me in goal setting this New Year? Anyone want to be an accountability partner? Leave me a comment.

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