Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Doing Dishes in 10 Easy Steps

I mentioned in a recent post that laundry is by far my favorite chore.  As much as I love doing laundry, I hate doing dishes.  What I hate even more is not doing the dishes, because it creates a huge, stinky, overwhelming mess in my kitchen.  This mess prevents me from enjoying cooking, which in turn leads to eating out.  So, I have come to accept that dishes must be done. 

What is odd about our dish situation is that we no longer have a dishwasher.  In the five years we have lived here it never worked great, but last year it finally started getting dishes dirtier rather than clean.  It became the dishdirtier.  When we replaced the kitchen floor, it found its way to the dump.  What I have noticed is that it makes no difference whether we have a dishwasher or not, it takes just as much time to rinse, load, and unload the dishwasher (not even considering when the dishes don’t get clean) as it does to wash the dishes each meal.  You can even combine the breakfast and lunch dishes into one load if you aren’t cooking complicated meals.

As the months have gone by, I have found a system that works very well for our set up.  This may take some tweaking for you exact situation.  We have a double sided sink with a faucet that has separate hot and cold nobs and a sprayer.  We have very little room on the left side because the sink is nearly in the corner.  There is more room on the right side and that is where we have the dish drainer set up. 

In developing this plan I have also taken into consideration my washing team made up of myself and my 2 daughters, 12 and 7.  The seven year old is being taught how to wash dishes right now, but her main duty is drying and putting away.  My older daughter is then stuck with washing unless I feel sorry for her, which doesn’t happen too often.  She has had somewhat of a hard time following the steps so I finally printed them out and taped them to the inside of a cabinet so she could look at them as she did dishes.  They are as follows:

How to do the Dishes in 10 easy steps

1.       Fill left sink with hot soapy water half way. Right side should have enough room to rinse.

2.       Wash dishes in this order: silverware and utensils, glasses and cups, plates and bowls, mixing and cutting dishes, pots and pans. 

3.       Wash each piece and place it down in the hot soapy water after it is clean.

4.       When soapy side is full, rinse dishes in cold water, place in drainer

5.       When drainer is full, stop to dry and put away. (This can be done by the dryer.)

6.       When the water no longer has suds or if dishes don’t smell like the soap, stop, drain, and refill the sink.

7.       Follow those steps until all dishes are done.

8.       When dishes are done, wipe down counters, stove, and table. (This can be done by the dryer between loads)

9.       Wash, drain, rinse, and dry around and in the sinks.

10.   Take all towels and rags outside to dry or take to washer.

Lazy Girl Tip – Do the dishes frequently so that the job is quick and painless.  Reward yourself with an icy Vanilla Coke afterwards (or your beverage of choice).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 2011 Fall Schedule

Well, everyone is talking about their schedules in the homeschool blogosphere, so I guess I will too.  Our summer schedule isn’t complete yet, but I should start thinking about the fall schedule I suppose.  I already have the schedules for our homeschool support group and science club; no sports this year or scouts.  I have most of the curriculum I am going to use, so I can start to plan

There are always changes to the schedule during the year.  You just can’t predict everything.  I find that when I try to schedule any more than 30 minute blocks the schedule becomes my master. I do need a schedule though.  If I don’t make one, I am likely to waste the day away blogging or surfing because the kids certainly aren’t going to insist we do school.

After I collect all the outside schedules I take a look at what my curriculum plans are for the year.  I want to incorporate many more unit studies this year.  When I first started reading about homeschool, doing unit studies is what appealed to me the most.  Instead of going with that, I went with an online curriculum for the first couple of years.  Last year we switched to workbooks which were fine, but I really want more depth in their education.  With that in mind, I made a list of topics I wanted to cover this year.  I also know I want to shore up math facts and spelling for my 6th grader, math facts and reading for my 2nd grader, and reading for my kindergartener.  I also want to promote more reading aloud and memorization for everyone with simple poems/readings and famous quotes. 

To limit the time they are spending doing core curriculum and make some room for more enrichment, I have limited core curriculum to just an hour a day.  The rest of the time I want their noses in good books, experimenting, arts/crafts, playing music, or playing games that promote rote memorization. 

One serious weakness we have always had is wasting time after core work is done.  We have been leaning heavily on unschooling in that area and although I really see the benefit of this, often they don’t choose to do enriching activities.  We also never really schedule chore times.  This must change.  They need to learn, and so do I, that education is something that should be valued greatly and comes with responsibilities.  Some of those responsibilities in homeschool revolve around taking care of the home.  So our schedule will reflect these values and ideas this year.

Here is the tentative plan:

8:30 Wake and wash
9:00 Breakfast and clean up
9:30 Morning exercise
10:00 Core studies (Math, Language Arts/ 30 minute lessons)
11:00 Reset room/Recess
11:15 Special Topic studies (music, foreign language, bible, keyboarding, handwriting, etc. /15 minute lessons)
12:15pm Lunch and clean up
12:45 Break
1:00 Group Unit Study
2:00 Reset room/recess
2:15 Games/Crafts
3:00 Independent Study (reading, music practice, hobby, etc.) and Tutor Time with Mom
3:30 Afternoon Chores and  Dinner prep
4:00 Free Time (naptime, errands, clubs)
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Dinner clean up
7:30 Free Time until Bed
9:00 Wash and pick up room
9:30 Lights Out 

  • Once a month we have a homeschool support group meeting at 2pm – 4pm.
  • Once a week we have a play group for young children at 10am. This may not work out for us.  Maybe when school starts again they will change the time of that group.
  • Once a month we have science club at 1pm - 3pm.
  • Once a month there is a field trip to go with the science club lesson.
  • Once a week we will be going to church during the week after we choose a new church.
  • In October we will start back at the Y and possibly do swim team or just take advantage of the pool.  They also offer a PE Homeschool class that we will likely enroll in this year.  It is once a week during the day.

Even without Soccer, our schedule will really be packed tight.  We won’t be bored. 

Now, as always, I like to describe how we can indulge the lazy girl within.  We can’t deny our true nature, but we certainly don’t want to let it take over our lives.  You will see on our schedule that we don’t get up until 8:30.  We don’t practice “early to bed, early to rise”.  My oldest daughter and I really like to sleep in.  My internal clock generally goes off at 7:30, but I don’t want to roll out of bed running.  I like to ease into it.  I read mail, check social network messages, read the news online, and if I have time, check in with blogs I like to read while I eat my breakfast.  If the kids happen to get up this early they are free to do what they want (within reason). 

You will also see that I do like to give the kids the opportunity for at least 11 hours of sleep.  Most parents really don’t appreciate the beauty of that many hours of sleep for their kids. I learned early on that my oldest daughter needed a good 12 hours of sleep.  If she didn’t get it she was terribly cranky by 4pm and was a major contributor to her struggles in school while she was still in public school.  When we switched to homeschool the first year I would just let her sleep until she woke up.  I discovered that she would sleep 11 – 12 hours.  The better mood she is in, the easier our day is.  This is true of all the kids, although my 2 younger kiddos don’t need that much sleep all the time.  My son still needs 10 – 11 and my middle daughter can get by on 9.  If they don’t get those hours they fight, whine, and generally get on my nerves.  So, my inner lazy girl says, let sleeping babies lie. 

There are free times scheduled in.  These aren’t just for the kids.  The lazy girl in me likes to know she can use those two hours for absolutely nothing, a nap, personal time, or whatever she wants – guilt free.  Guilt free is the key there.  If I take those breaks when I should be doing something that is written on my schedule I feel guilty and honestly, is there any reason why I, a stay-at-home-homeschool mom should feel guilty about taking a nap?  NOPE.  Often on the weekends or when my hubs comes home, he hits the bed for a nap before dinner.  After a long day, humans need naps sometimes.  What’s the big deal? If it give you the energy you need to be productive and attentive, who cares?

Schedules aren’t meant to rule your life.  They are there as a tool.  Be flexible!  If you are a homeschool family, this is one of the major perks.  If your schedule is so ridged every day you are struggling to keep up, what is the point?  Be aware of the natural flow of your lives and your bodies.  Be honest about who you are, and be purposeful about scheduling your priorities as well as your free time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Laundry Tips

I love laundry!  Seriously.  I really do love doing laundry.  Out of all my chores this one has ended up providing me with the most satisfaction. It used to be the bane of my existence, and even still there are times when the laundry gets out of control.  Even when that happens, the therapeutic qualities of line drying (the way it was explained on Simple Mom) far outweighs the stress. 
Over at Vintage Homemaking they have a great article about washing laundry the old fashioned way.  YIKES!  Good tips if your washer breaks down, but I think I would still opt for the laundry mat.

Anyway, I want to share with you my tips for doing laundry.  This system is very customized to fit our family’s needs, our space, and my laziness.   Take what you can use, leave what you can’t.


I am going to start with storage because it is by far the biggest obstacle I was facing.  I went from each of us having our own closet to one family closet.  I also switched from storing our out of season and saved clothes from out in the garage to one closet.  This was a reclaimed closet that was no longer being used after we switched to a family closet.  The family closet specifically has saved me tons of time and kept my anger level under control.  I can’t tell you how many times I did the laundry fully, put it in a basket, gave it to a child to put away, and then later found it tossed all over the floor.  I was told that my problem was that I didn’t train the children properly and should have supervised them better until they perfected the job.  HA!  What a joke.  Hello! Lazy girl here! But not only that, I am a parent who expects that her children will do what she says the first time, not ignore it.  It wasn’t a job training issue, it was an obedience problem.  I certainly am working on the obedience problem, but that can’t be changed overnight.  I needed a solution that would lessen the stress of laundry NOW!  With 5 people’s laundry at stake I needed a solution immediately. 

The family closet solved all of the issues I had regarding storage.  First, it lessened the number of flights of stairs we had to travel.  The laundry room is in the basement and the kids rooms are on the second floor.  The family closet is on the main floor.  A closet next to or in the laundry room would be better, but, we’ve got what we’ve got. Second, the two smallest children’s bars are at their height so they can reach it. Before, they were too high for them to reach.  This allows them to be able to he with putting away and getting out their clothes. Third, there are less folded clothes.  They all were assigned one drawer in my room for only socks, underwear, and nighties. Fourth, because there is limited space in this closet we had to store our seasonal clothes in another location.  This prevented the kids from messing with those clothes.  They would often use them for dress up, or just wrongly believe that a sweater could be worn in 100 degree weather or shorts in 45 degree weather.

Because of the reclaimed closets, I was able to use my storage in a way that made more since for us.  Like I mentioned, I was able to dedicate one closet to unused clothing storage.  Another closet was dedicated to craft and school supplies, and another to toys.  Two of their rooms don’t have closets in the room, but instead in the hallway.  This made since for storing community items like toys and supplies. 

One other change that came about was I now keep a box in the laundry room for clothes that don’t fit.  When the box is full, or overflowing as it is now, I sort through it, bag up what is going to Goodwill, label the box with clothing size, put it in the storage closet, and replace it with an empty box.  I have no need to save boys clothes because my youngest is the only boy, and there is no reason to save the youngest girls clothes.  Now there is no reason to save my older girl’s clothes because her body type is so different from my younger daughter.  Most everything will now just go to Goodwill or another charity.  

The form that our family closet takes right now won’t always fit our needs.  I can see that my oldest daughter will very soon want her own closet back for privacy reasons.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  I really like having her clothes there, but this closet fits us now only because the two smaller children have small clothes.  As everyone grows I don’t see how I am going to make it work.  There may be remodeling in our future.  A closet attached to the laundry room? 


Before doing the laundry we collect it from the usual spots.  Most of the time it is all located in my room, but we do have to check the other bedrooms and common areas, including the car, because people undress in the oddest places. 

I sort it into lights, darks, underwear and socks, sheets and towels, special care, and usually there is enough for a red load or two depending on how long it has been since I did the laundry.  I start with what is needed most, usually underwear. 

I don’t do any presoaking usually, but I think I am going to start incorporating this into my routine, especially when it comes to underwear and socks.  They never get as white as I would like, but I don’t want to use too much bleach.  Hopefully, presoaking will help with this.


As I said, I start with what is needed most and just go from there.  I am very careful not to use too much detergent.  I was trained to use the amount the container recommended, but in recent years I have found that you can go with about half as much.  I wash most of our clothes in cold unless really smelly and then I just use warm.  I wash underwear in hot. 

I am also careful as to how many clothes I wash in one load.  My washer is pretty good, but I can’t use the maximum load because they just don’t get the agitation necessary to really get clean.  Luckily, I still get a large load in because our washer has an extra-large basket.


The clothes line is my preferred way to dry most items.  This saves our family a significant amount of money every month.  About $30 a month when I use it full-time.  I don’t do much line drying in the winter.  If my line was a little closer to my back door I would, but as it stands, I would risk breaking my neck.  I do dry towels and underwear/socks in the dryer.  My family HATES when I dry undies outside.  I do occasionally pin them to hangers and just let them dry in the laundry room or shower.  I gave up on drying towels outside.  I HATE how rough they end up. 

Instead of pinning the clothes to the line, I hang the clothes on hangers and put the hangers on the line, held in place by one pin so it doesn’t slide.  I don’t actually pin the hanger, I just place the hanger next to the pin. This saves so much time.  I used to spend lots of time hanging the clothes on the line. The novelty of this wore off after about a month.  I still hang sheets and large items the traditional way. 

Back to Storage

After clothes are dry I put them away into the family closet.  It is quick to grab them off the line and put them right into the closet.  Before I had to spend another 20 or 30 minutes to take them off, bring them in, fold or hang, and put away.  Often we would do this before bed and I would just not put them away. 

My biggest problem as a homemaker is not finishing my projects.  The easier I can make a project, or the smaller I can break a project down, the more likely I am to complete it.  This goes back to my laziness levels.  I make fun of being lazy, but really, I have so many things I would rather be doing like learning, blogging, spending time with the kids, taking a nap…lol…anything is better than chores.