How to Hate Laundry a Little Less



As much as I mention laundry in my posts, you would think that I love it. The truth of the matter is, I hate it. I actually had to stop myself from using an expletive in this post.

Laundry is a never-ending task. Because unless you plan on washing while naked, you will always have a load waiting at the bottom of your clothes hamper. The only time I revisit my childhood dream of having magic powers is when I am staring down a pile of dirty clothes.

I won’t ever be able to snap my fingers and make dirt disappear, so I’ve figured out a laundry routine for our family. The below tips are not magical, but they make the chore much more bearable.

Wash every day. A family of four fills hampers at an exponential rate. If I wait until Saturday, laundry consumes the entire weekend, making me hate it all the more. It’s much more manageable to do a load or two a day.

Focus on one person at a time. I wash everyone’s clothes separately. I started this practice when it was just Hubby and I. His guy smell (which I love, by the way) was working its way into my clothes (which I did NOT love). By the time the kids came along, I discovered added benefits. There are fewer missing items when the loads aren’t mixed, and it’s easier to put clothes away.

Treat stains as you go. I keep stain remover in the bathrooms and at the changing table. There’s a much better chance to get the stain out at that moment than a week later. And, if you’re like me, you’ve forgotten all about it by the time you toss the item into the washer.

Pin mates.  A friend shared this tip with me after I complained about Lil Ma’s missing socks. At least if they’re pinned together, you’ll have a matched set when they turn up again.

Zip and snap. A load of unzipped hoodies and unsnapped bodysuits flapping in the dryer sound like the house is falling down. The load is quieter when everything is closed. Plus, it reduces the chances of a busted zipper or stretched out shirt.

Fold right away. I still struggle with this one, but you get fewer wrinkles if everything is smoothed and folded while still warm from the dryer. I hate ironing nearly as much as I hate washing, so I really should be better about it.

This system works pretty well in my house, but there’s always room for improvement. Oh! I almost forgot. Keep your toddler out of your freshly folded clothes, especially when her fingers are covered in strawberry jam.

What do you do to make laundry time easier?

Reducing Stress, Five Minutes at a Time

I planned on showing you my Ode to Denim outfits today, but two things changed my mind.

1. A friend tweeted about her need to take better care of herself. Stress from work is taking its toll.

2. Hubby, who has the girls during the day while he’s on leave from work, reached his limit. Lil Ma woke up too early, didn’t nap long enough and whined nonstop. I could tell he needed relief when he fussed at Mini Me because she didn’t want lettuce on her chicken sandwich.

After Lil Ma slapped a spoonful of peaches across the room, Hubby went into the basement. We finished dinner without him. I left a sandwich on the oven. A while later, I heard footsteps, and then the sandwich was gone.

Life throws a lot at us. On any given day, there are countless things that could change me from Bruce Banner into the Hulk.

Five minutes can make the difference. It may not seem like all that much, but I’ve learned to use the time to quiet my nerves and focus on solutions. Here are a few things I do to quiet my inner Hulk.

Get some distance. At work, a never-ending to do list and an overflowing inbox give me heartburn. Walking away from my computer for a few minutes allows me to gain perspective. When the girls are pushing my buttons at home, I’ll ask Mini Me to keep an eye on her sister while I handle some in-house errand like putting laundry into the washer.
Breathe. I hold my breath and hunch my shoulders when I’m stressed. The resulting neck cramp can last for days if I’m not careful. After the girls are asleep, I sit, enjoy the silence, and take some deep breaths. It helps my shoulders get back to where they belong.
Yoga. When the deep breaths don’t cut it, I pull out the yoga mat. By focusing on the poses, I’m able to clear my mind and let go of what’s bothering me, even if it’s just for a little while.
Online Window Shopping/Pinterest. When I’m developing a project at work or writing at home, I give myself five-minutes “breaks” after completing a portion of the task. Setting the timer on my phone helps me steer clear of rabbit holes.
Not everything is for everyone. Hubby, for example, needs about two hours in his man cave with a game controller or a remote in hand. Even if these ideas aren’t for you, I hope you are encouraged to find something that works.
What tips do you have for relieving stress?

Five Minute Baby Bag

Last week, I took Lil Ma to a birthday party. Not long after we arrived, it was time for a diaper change. The hostess graciously escorted us to the birthday girl’s nursery and offered the use of their changing table.

“Feel free to use whatever you need,” she said as she left the room.

I put Lil Ma on the floor so I could look in my bag for supplies. I unzipped it and was met with chaos. Tissues, burp cloths and clothes spilled out. I pushed the mess aside and pulled out a diaper. While trying to keep Lil Ma from going into the closet, I kept looking for wipes and diaper cream. I knew they were in there, but I couldn’t find them.

So I took the hostess up on her offer and used whatever I couldn’t find in my personal black hole.

About an hour later, Lil Ma was getting cranky. I went back to the bag and fished around for what felt like ages before I found a baggie with baby food.

When I got home, I was determined to get the bag in order. It took less than a minute to figure out the problem. Instead of checking the bag’s contents before packing, Hubby and I would just grab new supplies and cram them on top of the old ones.

Five focused minutes has my diaper bag ready for the next trip. Here’s what I did.

1. Toss. I found two crusty spoons, a half-eaten jar of food and a gaggle of dirty clothes. I shudder to think how long those things were in there. Besides being a waste of space, they’re just gross.

2. Reduce. While I do need a supply of diapers when I run an errand, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll need 10 of them. Cutting down to four or five saves space. I keep a few extra in the car for emergencies.  
3. Refill. My wipes container, once I found it, was empty. The zip bag I use for extra clean clothes was empty too. I refilled them both.

4. Compartmentalize. I have a gazillion cosmetics bags from various free gifts with purchases. Those are perfect for holding little items like tissue, lip balm, lotion, or diaper cream.

5. Repeat. To maintain order and keep science projects at bay, I’ll have to do a clean out after each use.

I’m going to take my newly organzied bag on the road tomorrow, so I’ll see how it goes. It will be a win if I can find the A&D ointment.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Five Minutes for Chores

My house is a wreck. This is nothing new, and I should be used to it by now. Barbie dolls, rubber ducks, and cloth blocks are scattered from room to room. The kitchen table is covered with mail, cups and empty plastic bags.  Puff cereal, stuck to Lil Ma’s clothes from her last meal, falls to the floor as she walks.

The neat freak in me will not let it go. Clutter makes me restless. Before I can settle down for the night, I walk through the house, trying to get it into a tolerable state. Sometimes, it takes longer than I’d like.

As I watched Mini Me push a pile of toys to one side of the floor, I had an epiphany. She is old enough for chores!

So, instead of running around like a mad person with a garbage bag tied to her waistband (yes, this is how I clean), I spent five minutes writing up a list of quick chores that my eight-year-old daughter can accomplish.

1. Picking up toys. It only takes my daughter a couple of minutes to pick up the toys from our family room floor and toss them into nearby bins. As soon as Lil Ma understands the phrase “clean up time,” I’m going to have her join in.

2. Emptying the trash. It’s up to Dad to get the garbage to the curb, but Mini Me can empty the bins in our bedrooms and bathrooms once a week.

3. Loading and unloading the dishwasher. We have a good system of placing a dish in the washer immediately after use, but that system falls apart when the washer is full of clean dishes. Mini Me knows better than Hubby on where things go, so there’s no reason she can’t lend a hand.

4. Sweeping/vacuuming. She’s tall enough now!

5. Putting away laundry. This is one of my least favorite chores, so I’m more than happy to pass this along.

6. Really cleaning her room.  For too long, I’ve let her get away with cramming papers and toys under her bed. She is old enough now to decide what stays and what goes.

Now that we have the list, Hubby and I have to be consistent and patient. I’ll admit, I occasionally have to stop myself from fussing or redoing her work. The surprise for me was that my daughter wanted extra responsibility. I think it makes her feel more grown up. And, with the exception of putting away laundry, she seems to like it. I’m not sure how long that part of it will last, but I’ll enjoy it while it does.

Five Minutes for Meal Planning

Is there such a thing a a five-minute meal? Probably, but I have no idea how to cook one. I am learning, though, that investing five minutes in planning keeps me from puttering aimlessly in the kitchen. Pepperplate has a cool site and app that allows you to store recipes and build meal plans. You can import recipes from popular sites like Real Simple and Cooking Light, or you can manually add your own.  It does take some time to assemble your stash, but once you have it, you can create a plan and generate a shopping list in no time.

Reading the Plan: When I first got the app, I spent two hours inputting recipes and creating meal plans. That was all well and good, but they were of no use because I didn’t look at them until I was ready to cook. Taco night quickly fell apart because I forgot to defrost the main ingredient. Spending a minute or two the night before allows me to make sure I have all the everything and that the ground turkey is defrosting overnight in the fridge.

Breakfast for Dinner: Every Wednesday, our family has breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, waffles, biscuits, eggs — any breakfast item is eligible. The cooking time for most items, especially if you use premade mixes and batters, isn’t all that long. I prefer to make breakfast from scratch, so I take a few minutes Tuesday night to measure out dry ingredients.

Crock Pot Meals: One thing I love about winter is the chance to pull out my crock pot and make a bunch of tasty soups and stews. Five minutes of opening, chopping and dumping turns into dinner 8 – 10 hours later. There are probably some summer meals that are crock-pot friendly, I just have yet to meet them. And, if you aren’t familiar with crock pot liners, get involved. It makes clean-up super easy.

If you have a tip for getting dinner to the table in a snap, please let me know!