a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Laundry: the Never Ending Chore

Has anyone ever fully emptied a laundry basket?

Even with all the modern conveniences, laundry time can be a real hate in large families. At least in the old days they didn’t have many clothes and the work was physical. Today the work is mostly mental --- trying to remember what belongs to who, and emotional --- socks that are orphaned in the washing machine.

In the socks department, I have tried everything short of painting colored bands around our boy’s ankles and telling them to pretend they were wearing socks.

For many years I was too insecure as a mother to let them wear mismatched socks. When it became faddish to wear shoes without socks I was too dense to realize the laundry benefits and I foolishly fought it. At the beginning of each school year we would try a new approach to outfitting our five sons in socks -- different colors, styles, or stripes for each boy.

One time we purchased the plastic rings made for keeping socks companionable during their off-duty times. Even when, by some miracle, the kids actually used the rings, it only solved the orphan problem. It still required my remembering who was assigned what sock-ring color.

I thought I'd found the answer
I thought I was finally going to get help many years ago when I attended an Effective Homemaking class, held in the instructor’s home. It was obvious something was amiss when she said it was okay for us to look in any of her drawers and cupboards. She was obviously not a normal homemaker!

What most folks consider drudgery was her life, her fun, her fulfillment. It was not very helpful, but somewhat amusing. Had I been older and more self-assured it would have been downright hysterical. She had ten children and each was assigned their own color. She identified each child’s clothes by carefully placing a few stitches of their color in inconspicuous places.

Even if I were to do that (which I definitely would not) I could never remember who had which color. Besides, we handed too many things down the line. No doubt a family of ten had to pass down clothes also, but . . . I’m also sure that mom received great satisfaction in carefully picking out stitches of one color and redoing with another.

Since I learn much by taking advantage of other’s ideas, the visit was not a waste. When I see possibilities, I determine if I can adapt, modify or simplify in any way.

Long live the Permanent Marking Pen!
I modified and simplified and X’s saved my day. A permanent marking pen works well, and quickly,   in obscure places.One X marked the clothes of the oldest son, XX marked the second’s clothes, etc.     At hand-me-down time an additional X was added to the items.                                                              

If you have several kids, make small x’s . . . It is hard to fit five xxxxx’s on a t-shirt label, although the inside of underwear waistbands could go on forever!

I don’t know where you are in life or organization skills but I want to let you in on a game I created for my desperate times----just in case you ever need it. Young children love to play.

Socks and Marshmallows---the game!
The children sit on the floor in a circle. You dump a large pile of clean, unmatched socks in the middle. At the word GO, walk around the outside of the circle with a bag of marshmallows. (Feel free to substitute a healthy snack or any cheap treat of your choice.) Every time someone matches a pair of socks they receive a marshmallow! The success rate of this game depends somewhat on the ages of the kids but more, how appealing (or rare) the reward is.Works especially well in the afternoon when they are
getting hungry and probably need some kind of snack anyway.

Has ANYONE ever reached the empty bottom of a dirty laundry basket?
I bought an armload of baby clothes at a garage sale and then, in bright light, discovered most of them sported formula stains. Not just stains but set-in stains! I put a stain remover I discovered in an issue of The Tightwad Gazette to the test. They all came out spotless. Use only on colorfast fabrics.

The Wonderful---Honestly Really Works---Stain Remover for (but not limited to) Formula-Barf on Baby Clothes
1 cup powdered Cascade dishwasher detergent
1 cup powdered Clorox II
5 gallons hot water (as hot as it comes from the faucet)

Mix in large plastic bucket. Add stained items and soak overnight. Remove from the solution and launder as usual. Half the recipe if you only have a few items.

Thanks to Desert Saints Magazine for the graphic from my original article.

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