SST # 4: The Laundry Edition

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330I’m going to cheat a little bit today. At least it feels a bit like cheating. I’m taking one small success – finally getting the monster that is dirty laundry to submit to me – and breaking into the three smaller successes that helped me achieve this goal.

I’ve noticed over the last few days that FINALLY I don’t feel like my life is dominated by the laundry. I used to always have laundry EVERYWHERE. Piles sorted in the foyer* waiting to be washed, a mountain of clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, towers of laundry on the coffee table waiting to be put away, and more towers (usually toppled over) in the bedrooms that had been delivered to their proper owners, but never put in the drawers. My entire house was covered in laundry and I hated it. I truly don’t know the words to convey how much I hated the laundry and how suffocated I felt by it’s unending presence. But, as I said, earlier this week I realized that I don’t feel that way any more. So what changed?

2014-02-26 16.39.281. Daily load of laundry. Several years ago, someone suggested that I do one daily load of laundry and I’d always be on top of my laundry problem. It sounded simple enough in theory, but I was never able to successfully implement it. I don’t know why. What is so hard about one load of laundry? For me it was impossible. It either sat in the washer, forgotten, until it mildewed and then became another day’s load of laundry, or it got washed & dried, but never folded, only adding to the heap of laundry that took up half of our sectional. Eventually, the heap on the couch was so wrinkled and covered in cat hair (it was her favorite bed) that I was unsure if it even really qualified as clean anymore. But this winter everyone got sick and things changed.

From November – January, the kids in my house passed around disease after disease. Several of these diseases had some kind of stomach bug component. Four kids with stomach problems equals lots of laundry. It got to the point that I’d just leave the washer open to collect the next round of soiled clothes, linens, etc. At the end of the day, or when the washer got full, whichever came first, I’d run the load. But I have a pet peeve about running a partial load of laundry. (If I’m gonna wash, that baby better be full. I need to get the biggest bang for my buck.) So, if the machine wasn’t already full, I’d walk around collecting items that could be washed in that load. Because I needed the sheets, pjs, favorite blankies, etc., I couldn’t just leave them forgotten. I had to see these loads through to completion. And  I did. In the process, however, I also developed a new habit. Ever since, I’ve been doing a load of laundry a day. I didn’t mean to finally conquer this habit. But I did it! And I love it! And it really has made my life so much easier. No more piles. No more mortification. Just clean laundry, that gets folded and put away EVERY DAY! Woohoo!

2014-02-26 17.08.112. Allowing kids to fold. I’ve also been told many times over the years that folding laundry is a perfect chore for little ones. I always disagreed. Socks, maybe. But not the clothes. They just aren’t neat enough. With all the laundry we were doing this winter, I had to surrender my perfectionist tendencies and let the little ones fold. The leaning towers of clothes that are somewhat folded, somewhat balled, and somewhat heaped….well, they don’t look great. But they’re certainly better than a mountain of unfolded laundry taking over half of my couch and staring me down every time I pass through the room. So I’ve surrendered to their folding. I admit: I often refold my pile before I put it away; I just can’t help myself. But no one else seems to mind. And I most definitely appreciate the help with this never ending task. So, after dinner, if I haven’t gotten around to folding the day’s load of laundry, the kiddos do it. Now there’s no more pile of clean laundry taking over my couch.

2014-02-26 19.26.143. Utilizing the dry cleaner – and not feeling guilty about it. Another pile I forgot to tell you about was the pile of Josh’s work clothes waiting to be pressed. The fact is, I just don’t have the time to iron. The only time I can really get it done is in the evening after everyone is in bed. That’s just not ok with me. I need the evening to wind down and recharge and to spend some quality time with my husband. It’s not good for me (or anyone else) if I work straight through until bedtime. But I just felt so guilty about sending his work clothes off to the cleaners. I am perfectly capable of washing and ironing those clothes, which made it feel doubly wrong. It felt like I was being lazy and wasting money by asking them to do what I could easily do for myself. Whether there’s any truth in that statement, it’s irrelevant in light of the fact that Josh needs clean clothes to wear to work and a sane wife to run his household. By sending the clothes to a cheap dry cleaner to be washed and pressed, I gain a lot of freedom. It may be real or it may only be perceived, but the fact remains, it takes a big load off of me. And it really doesn’t cost much, just a few bucks a week. So, after swallowing my pride**, and surrendering the task to someone else, I lost another pile of laundry to deal with.

So, yesterday, as I was moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer, it occurred to me just how much I used to hate, loath, and dread doing the laundry. And, then, I realized that I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s just a simple little task that I really don’t think much about. I throw in a load before we start school in the morning, move the load around lunch time, and fold it (or have the kids fold it) in the afternoon. At some point before bed, everyone takes their own clothes and puts them away. Easy peasy. The laundry monster has officially been conquered!

That’s it for me. What are your small successes this week? Join the linkup over at Catholicmom.com!

                                                             

*Our “laundry room” is barely bigger than a closet and it’s just off the front entryway. The only logical place to sort laundry in our house is in the foyer. That means, for the majority of the time we’ve lived in this house, if you showed up at my house unexpectedly, you were going to be greeted by mountains of dirty laundry. I was simply mortified every time this happened to me.

**One time, about 5 years ago, one of Josh’s coworkers commented on how good his shirt looked and asked which cleaner he used. Josh responded that I had done it. The guy was blown away, both by the fact that wives still did things like that for their husbands and how good it looked. I’ve hung on to that ever since. Somehow, I got my pride and wifely worth tangled up in the fact that I could/should press Josh’s shirts. Clearly, that was neither healthy nor realistic (for us).

SST # 3: Recharged and Rejuvenated

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330This week has been such a beautiful gift for me. Since November, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in crisis mode, barely holding it together, simply hopping from one near catastrophe to the next. But, this week, everything changed. For the first week in a very, very long time, we had a fairly open calendar and no one was sick. It gave us a much needed opportunity to just function like normal, to get back to our normal routine. And it was glorious! To top it all off, the weather was beautiful! 60s and 70s and a lot of sun. What a gift!

  1. The kids have played outside every day since Valentine’s Day. This is so good for everyone involved. They get to burn off some steam and take in some vitamin D, while I have some downtime to get caught up on my school work, chores, or even just sit in the sun and rest. It has really had such a positive impact on our whole week.
  2. Josh and I had a really nice date night. On Monday nights, Josh and I have a sitter so we can go to our Bradley class. I really enjoy the class in general, but I especially love doing the class with him. It’s been so good for us to work through all the material together. And it’s been especially good for me, helping to heal some of the
    My Valentine Cuties!

    My Valentine Cuties!

    “wounds” I had incurred from our last crazy birth experience. (Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about it, but I’ll spare you for now.) After class, we went to Marble Slab and brought home our yummy treats to enjoy while we watched our DVRd episode of Downton Abbey. It wasn’t anything fancy or special, but it was a really great night together nonetheless.

  3. The kids are really starting to mature and act more responsibly. Since I stayed up much too late on date night, I ended up sleeping in later than I usually do the next morning. When I got up, I found that kids had done all of their “morning jobs,” had breakfast, and were starting on school! I was so very proud of them! Normally, they would have just taken advantage of the situation and turned on the TV. I asked the boys how/why they decided to get to work and Andy proudly proclaimed that it was his idea. He said he was being the “man of the house.” I was so thrilled and impressed!  (Thank you, God, for occasionally allowing me to see fruits from my efforts!!)

So there you have it. This week’s small successes. What are  yours? Join the linkup over at Catholicmom.com!

Mass: It Fits in the Schedule!

massWhen I first imagined myself homeschooling, one of the perks was the ability to take my kids to daily Mass. Three years later, that is finally becoming a reality. As with so many other areas where I feel called to grow, I had a list of excuses of why it just couldn’t work. My most prominent excuse was our schedule.

If only Mass were earlier. Or later. Either would be more manageable. How could I possibly go to Mass at 9AM and have any semblance of a reasonable daily schedule? How would we ever get anything done?

While visiting with a friend recently, we were chatting about the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves in the context of our homeschools. In the course of this conversation, I discovered that one of my unspoken expectations was that we must be done with our school day by lunch time. Why? I don’t really know. Other than for bragging rights. You know, something along the lines of, “Oh look how efficient and productive we are. We finish school by lunch and then have the whole day to play and enjoy childhood.”  Yup. That’s about how my thought process went.

Discovering this was a major revelation for me and, best of all, released me from my scheduling hang up. Granted, it took me a few days to come to terms with this revelation, (Yes, I’m ever so graceful when it comes to change.) but once I did, our whole day opened up! I love our new schedule and the icing on the cake is: so far, we haven’t gone past lunch time with our book work! It is so true that when we make time for God, he allows everything else to fall in to place.

Just in case you’re curious, this is what our day looks like right now. I know my family well enough to know that there are many areas I can’t put tasks in order or schedule them into 15 minute increments. In these instances, I simply schedule blocks of time. The routine in that area may vary some each day, but I allot enough time for us to get it all done. This flexibility is also incredibly useful for the days when we’re not exactly “on schedule.”

6:00AM – Mommy’s alarm goes off. Ideally, I get up and exercise, but, unfortunately, I have a rather strong tendency towards sloth. Some Most days I just hit snooze.

6:30-8:30 AM – Everyone gets ready. We get dressed, I shower, nurse the baby, serve breakfast, etc.

9:00 AM – MASS!! Truly, the highlight of our day. Sometimes, thanks to my not-so-angelic children it’s also the low point. Thanks be to God, even when it’s the low point, it’s still the highlight!

10:30ish – We get home from Mass. It just depends on how long we chat afterwards.

10:30ish-12:00 – Formal lessons and bookwork.

12:00PM – We stop to pray the Angelus and sing the Salve Regina.

12:05 – 1:00PM – Lunch and free time.

1:00-3:00 PM – QUIET TIME! (It’s almost as good as Mass.) The little ones (and cranky ones) nap. Other options are reading, praying, or quietly working on a project that requires no assistance. No group activities allowed. In the future this will also be a great time for studying, test taking, researching, etc. (This concept may seem odd. One day I really will write a post about the value of silence to further explain why I find this so important!)

3:00PM – Those who are awake pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

3:15-5:30PM – Finish lessons (if needed), art or science projects, chores, free time.

5:30ish – Dinner.

6:00-9:00ish. Family time. Baths. Prayers. Goodnight!

9:00-10:30PM Mommy and Daddy time.

10:30PM – Lights out everywhere. Sweet dreams!

Despite having our day planned out, I am certainly not opposed to impromptu water gun fights or trips to the park or visits to/from friends. This flexibility is one of the many things I love about homeschooling and one of the reasons our family chooses to school year round. But that’s a topic for another time…

Little Life Lessons

As I was loading the dishwasher earlier today, I was watching Andy and Jack sort the laundry. Let me back up and say, I absolutely detest doing the dishes. My sweet husband usually does them because he knows how I loath them, but he hasn’t been home much this week thanks to his new promotion. Anyway, the boys were having a ball. Throwing laundry like basketballs. Tossing it on the other’s head. Joking about putting whites in the dark pile. In a matter of a second I experienced the following: At first I was annoyed at the ridiculous amount of noise. Then I was like, “What’s so great about sorting laundry anyway. Stupid kids.” Then I had an epiphany. Maybe I wouldn’t be in such a fowl mood about doing the sink full of dishes if I approached life a little more like them. Thank God for my boys and the little lessons they teach me each day. May I never become blind to those lessons and may I always have to courage to implement them in my own life. I love you Andy and Jack and I’m so blessed to have you in my life!!