Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

Check out how we roll..ha, ha, hum. (cough).  Sourdough bread rolls and loaf are rising nicely in our clean oven, "dissected " for you in this post!

Check out how we roll..ha, ha, hum. (cough). Sourdough bread rolls and loaf are rising nicely in our clean oven, “dissected ” for you in this post!

Today’s Mama Mondays post is a series of quick tips to help keep your oven clean, avoid smoke-generating spills, and maintain an even temperature for baking at low-temperatures or for long periods.  This is especially useful if you are baking sourdough bread, drying chives, or roasting tomatoes.

TIP ONE: Clean your oven using all-natural cleaners so you don’t have to worry about toxic fumes getting into your food (or lungs/skin as you clean).  I use baking soda and vinegar.  First, I spray neat white vinegar all over the interior of the COLD oven, then using a spoon I “splash” baking soda over the vinegar droplets to make them fizz.  I allow baked-on residue to soak in vinegar for a while before applying any baking soda.  Excess baking soda makes a mild abrasive that is great at picking up grease and “splatter”.  I use a damp washcloth to help rub the baking soda across the oven’s interior surface.  I wet the washcloth to remove excess baking soda once the oven is clean.  For more tips on cleaning your oven, try Open Eye Health’s natural home cleaning eBook.

TIP TWO: Place a clean Pizza Stone or Baking Tile on the bottom of your oven (or on a rack closest to the heat source).  A Pizza Stone or Baking Tile provides “thermal mass”: it absorbs thermal energy and releases it at a steady rate, reducing oven temperature fluctuations and the negative impact of doing things like opening the oven door to check on your food (although try not to leave the door open any longer than you have to even with a stone/tile).  It also helps to normalize the temperature of the oven so there are fewer hot/cold spots: this promotes even baking especially in older or irregular ovens.

My oven is sparkling thanks to the vinegar and baking soda.  The pizza stone, as you will notice, is not so clean-looking.  I did clean it, but the oil wouldn't come off.  I have noticed that since putting it in the oven damp and using it for thermal mass, all the oil stains have disappeared.  Interesting!

My oven is sparkling thanks to the vinegar and baking soda. The pizza stone, as you will notice, is not so clean-looking. I did clean it, but the oil wouldn’t come off. I have noticed that since putting it in the oven (damp) and using it as a thermal mass, all the oil stains have disappeared. My pizza stone looks brand-new now.  Interesting!

TIP THREE: Create a catching tray.  The easiest way is to place aluminum foil on a rack at the lowest setting.  It is important to create “grooves” so that any liquid spilling over a dish is caught and doesn’t run off the plane of the aluminum foil to the oven’s floor.  Filling the grooves with cheap table salt is the best way to absorb liquid and prevent food from smoking (a great tip I learned from Open Eye Health’s eBook is to sprinkle salt on anything that spills in your oven: this allows you to continue baking without setting off smoke alarms!).  If you are concerned about your aluminum load and avoid using/buying aluminum foil, you can use a stainless steel baking tray with a lip instead.  Make sure the foil/tray doesn’t cover the entire rack (leave a gap around the sides) so that the heat can circulate in the oven properly (keep in mind that adding this catching tray may add to your baking time slightly by reducing the impact of the heat radiating from your oven’s element and therefore increasing your baked good’s reliance on convection-based heat).  A catching tray makes future oven cleaning a snap: just throw out the old salt and replace!

Get in the Groove!  A salted catching tray made of aluminum foil.

Get in the Groove! A salted catching tray made of aluminum foil.

TIP  FOUR: Hydrate!  Gas ovens can be drier than electric; using a catching tray with slightly longer cooking times/more reliance on convection can also make cooking a little drier.  The solution is easy: place a ceramic or glass pan filled with filtered water either directly on the catching tray or on a rack in the setting above the catching tray (depending on how many racks and height settings you have).  If you are baking bread and don’t want it to get soggy from the steam, put a small amount of filtered water in the pan so only as much steam as needed is released; after the water has evaporated, you can remove the pan (when it is empty, using oven gloves) to speed up the cooking time.  Why use filtered water?  When the water has evaporated, the mineral deposits will be left on your dish.  Most of the time this is easy to remove with plain tap water.  However, depending on what minerals are in your water, you may not want to bake them along with your souffles, etc.  🙂  Don’t use a hydrating pan if you are trying to dry or roast something.  To keep roast meat or vegetables moist, use oil or fat and consider using a cover to keep the steam in.

Baking can be a bed of roses...when you use a hydrating pan to combat dryness :-)

Baking can be a bed of roses…when you use a hydrating pan to combat dryness 🙂

Helping of Hope: Right choice.  Cleaning your oven with all natural ingredients and catching spills in advance with a salted catching tray; using thermal mass and a hydration pan to control your baking environment.  Bright future: easy and guilt-free oven cleanup; better results in baking!

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I use one brown paper lunch bag to cover two half-sandwiches for my kids. I cut the bag in half (“snack bag” size) and used a sticker and rubber band to secure them. Each lunch bag costs ten cents; that’s half the cost of a plastic sandwich bag! That makes each of my “snack bag” equivalents five cents each 🙂

Despite attempts to remove BPA from plastics, synthetic materials still pose a vital health risk.  Pthalates in many plastics contribute to our estrogen load and increase our risk of breast and prostrate cancersVinyl flooring is a major contributor of pthalates and contains toxic chemicals banned in children’s toys.  Add to this toxic exposure that of all the plastics used for food packaging and storage, and we have an endocrine-disrupting, estrogenic epidemic on our hands…or on our sandwiches, as the case may be.

The solution is surprisingly simple: use brown paper bags to replace sandwich bags and glass jars to hold fluids that would otherwise be placed in plastic bags or plastic containers.

What about freezer bags?  This may sound weird but it works well: rub olive oil on the brown paper bags!  Just one tablespoon of olive oil will coat three to four lunch-sized bags; using your fingers, rub just enough oil onto the bag to saturate the paper and set aside to “dry” (absorb).  Double-bag the item(s) you wish to freeze in the oiled brown paper bags.  Fold the top of the bags over twice and secure with a rubber band, twist-tie, or string.  I use this method to freeze bread; I think it works better than plastic at preventing freezer-burn!

If you need to freeze fluids, oiled bags won’t work because they aren’t sealed water-tight (use glass jars with wide mouths instead): however, oiled bags are water-resistant and should be able to hold things like sliced apples and cooked beans.  Before coating your bags, make sure your olive oil passes the ‘fridge test!

The inexpensive ALDI olive oil (Left) passes the ‘fridge test, but the brand-name olive oil (Right) doesn’t! That means Felippo Berrio’s olive oil is vegetable oil with olive oil flavoring.

Helping of Hope.  Right Choice: throw out your plastic storage bags and replace with glass and paper storage.  Bright future: healthier endocrine system, reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer, less pollution in the environment, and a frugal way to store your food.

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Check out how I made this magnetized, dry-erase calendar to help organize our family chores better. Don’t have family chores? Read below to see how to set them up!

After listening to the GNOWFGLINS lesson on cooking with kids in the kitchen, it got me thinking…how can I develop a routine for doing chores in general?

I’ve already discussed doing laundry with your kids in my first blog post, including the many sensory-tasks that are involved; this time I wanted to take a step back at the big picture and see how doing chores with my kids can also encourage ME to be less sporadic with my housework!

Helping of Hope: Involving the kids in housework is a RIGHT CHOICE for the whole family and will help lead to a BRIGHT FUTURE of owning a cleaner home and nurturing independent kids.


How to Plan

I thought hard about which tasks I typically struggle to get done and needed to be done at least once a week. I choose chores that the kids could do alongside me whilst I did the hardest parts.

Here are the days/chores I picked:

  • SUNDAY: no chores. Funday!
  • MONDAY: Gardening. We’ve had incredibly warm weather this Summer in Michigan; Mama’s garden looks more like a jungle.
  • TUESDAY: Laundry. I am perpetually catching up on laundry and have no idea why…
  • WEDNESDAY: Furniture. I am ashamed to say this was an entirely new concept and very easy to do with the kids. We used damp microfiber cloths to clean headboards, drawers, table legs, bookshelves, you name it.
  • THURSDAY: Bathrooms.
  • FRIDAY: Floors. This is a bit of a fudge-day because by this time we are usually behind a chore. We take our microfiber cloths from cleaning the bathroom with vinegar and use them to scrub the vinyl floors in our house. If we are on schedule, this is a light chore and Mama goes around cleaning the baseboards.
  • SATURDAY: Shopping. I have to take the kids with me anyway 🙂 We go to Busch’s to get Amish chickens and cash, the Farmer’s Market, the health food store, ALDI, and Meijer. When we get home from the store the kids help me put things away and wash the produce.


So far it has been a huge success: our house is cleaner than ever and Mama gets to spend more time with her kids doing everyday tasks that build life-skills and confidence. We give our 4 and soon-to-be 6 year old a dime for each chore done; when they have one dollar earned, they give the first dime to Church, four dimes to the piggy bank (savings), and five dimes to a coin purse (spending). We are not a very commercial family: getting a dollar to spend every couple weeks or so is a big deal for our kids and they can’t wait to find a toy at the dollar store 🙂 Avoid TV and magazine commercials like the plague, folks!

CAUTION: if you are going to clean with your children, please do not expose them to harmful cleaning agents and chemical sprays. Try using 50/50 water and vinegar in a spray bottle for most surface cleaning. Sanitizing can be done with neat vinegar. The smell goes away when it dries. Microfiber cloths are an essential investment for chemical-free cleaning. Also stay away from artificially scented products; they attack the nervous system. Use a couple drops of essential oil on a cloth (keep the oil out of reach of children; only you should handle it as it can be fatal if swallowed) or in a spray bottle of water and amend your environment “thusly”.


How to Make A Visual Chore Schedule

I created a simple week-long calendar in a spreadsheet, using clip art for visual cues. I used the “print screen” option and pasted the image into Microsoft Paint. There is a “flip vertical” option in one of the menu options: I used it to create a reverse image that I printed on a transparency. I glued the transparency onto a piece of white card and glued magnet strips from old business magnets to the back. It sits on our fridge in plain view so everyone knows what to expect that day.


How to Use

With a dry-erase marker, place a check next to each child’s name if he completed his part of the chore that day. Make sure to show each child how to do his part of the chore the first few weeks–until he has the hang of it–before attempting to do your part alongside him. At first, keep the chore light by limiting it to 5 to 15 minutes of involvement. Increase the time spent as the child’s skill level increases. Give a reward for each day’s work and don’t forget to incorporate the principles of giving, saving, and conservative spending 🙂


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We cook our breakfast overnight!

This Mama Mondays post is barely squeezing in before midnight…I am still trying to work in a blogging routine… speaking of routines, I just finished watching the second lesson in the Real Foods Kids class on GNOWFGLINS which is all about developing a routine for involving kids in the kitchen.

I don’t want to repeat everything in the lesson here; I recommend that you sign up for GNOWFGLINS membership so you can see it firsthand (I always think of the verse, “thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn,” but that seems hardly complimentary when referring to lovely blogging ladies!  No woman wants to be referred to as an ox… 🙂 Basically, I think Wardeh deserves the small membership fee for all her hard work!)  You can also try a membership for just one month when the course is finished–so you can watch all the videos at once–if you’d like to get the most bang for your buck ($10 or so for 19 lessons and lots of downloadable, printable files to help with organizing and planning, plus access to the forums with valuable Q & A )

Advertisement overwith, I thought I’d share my application of this past weeks’ lesson.  The biggest KEY I got from Lesson 2: PLAN GRADUALLY.  Apparently, we all have routines (it’s the way we do things every day) so all we need to do is tweak them and keep on tweaking until we get to where we’d like to be.  My goals this week are to (1) get my small children involved in making breakfast and (2) since she isn’t up at breakfast time, to get my stepchild to do her chore in a way that complements the breakfast routine.

A little explanation is in order: We make steel-cut oats for breakfast in a crockpot so it can soak overnight to reduce phytic acid (remind me to post the recipe for Recipe thuRsday!) and slow-cook to be ready at breakfast time.  We also eat hard-boiled, free-range eggs instead of taking multivitamins (the higher cholesterol should help our FXS child with her autism symptoms).  My stepdaughter’s chore is to empty the dishwasher after she eats breakfast so we can load dirty dishes into it the rest of the day (for which she gets $1/day).  According to the GNOWFGLINS eCourse, there are four “levels” of kid-cook, Swing, Line, Sous, and Head.  Right now I’m designating my preschooler and FXS kindergartener as “Swing” cooks, and my stepdaughter as a “Line” cook.  They can graduate once I figure out what those cooks are supposed to be able to do…

Here is our new breakfast routine:

Breakfast Routine: Add flavoring to oats, Boil & Peel eggs, pour drinks, pray, eat, clean.


    • [Line +] Pre-measure spices and honey;
    • [Swing] Add spices and honey to oats;
    • [Swing] Stir
    • [Swing] Serve into bowls
    • [Line +] Pour milk onto oatmeal
    • [Swing] Place on table with spoon


    • [Line +] Get filtered water from the ‘fridge
    • [Swing] Add 16 eggs gently to the pot
    • [Swing] Pour water over eggs
    • [Line +] Turn stove on
    • [Line +] Watch for boil
    • [Line +] Turn on Timer
    • [Line +] Reset Timer and turn off stove
    • [Line +] Scoop out eggs into bowl
    • [Swing] Peel eggs
    • [Line +] Chop eggs in half; sprinkle salt
    • [Swing] Distribute eggs (4-D, 4-M, 3-A, 3-C, 2-E)
    • [Swing] Place on table


    • [Swing] Shake yogurt milk
    • [Line +] Pour yogurt milk into cups for everyone
    • [Swing] Place on the table


    • [Swing] Scoop portions for D and A.
    • [Swing] Scoop any leftover oatmeal into a glass jar with lid
    • [Line +] Wash and dry oatmeal crock
    • [Line +] Wash egg pot and return to stovetop
    • [Swing] Wipe down table
    • [Swing] Rinse dishes
    • [Line +] Place bowls/plates/spoons in dishwasher or sink
    • [Line +] Wipe counters and stove
    • [Line +] Sweep floor

It seems like the trick is to break everything down that you already do into smaller, age-… sorry, cook-appropriate tasks and add clean-up in there.  My goal is to teach and encourage the girls in these steps this week!

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Save your glass bottles and jars…it’s fancy, non-toxic storage for FREE

Today’s Mama Mondays post (a hope-filled tip from this Mama to you!) is about a handy solution for gift giving, personal product creation, and storing your precious homemade sauces, soups, and spice mixes.

As we start researching into healthier food options, it’s inevitable that we run across the dangers of consuming certain foods stored in metal or plastic.  One-by-one I started switching from canned foods and plastic-contained foods to foods that are fresh, in a box, or in glass (except freezer & dairy, those are the two categories we have left to change).  I switched from canned vegetables to frozen & fresh vegetables, canned beans to soaking and cooking my own beans, and just recently I switched from canned tomato products to fresh tomatoes.  I stopped buying olive oil in plastic bottles and only buy it in glass jars; I do the same for Maple Syrup, honey ($20 for 5lbs raw at my local Farmer’s Market), salsa, coconut oil, spices…etc.

So once you start switching to glass jars and bottles for everything, what do you do with them once they are empty?  SAVE THEM!  The fancier they are, the more you should collect them!  Glass bottles and jars make for wonderful, inexpensive, unique and thoughtful homemade gifts.  Regular glass jars are great for storing items in the ‘fridge and freezer!  Here are some suggestions for different bottles/jars and their uses:

Keep in mind that most commercial jars are not tempered like proper canning jars; for example, you’ll need to be very careful when thawing commercial glass jars by increasing the temperature in a bowl of running water very gradually (or by leaving them to thaw overnight in the ‘fridge or on the counter for a few hours) otherwise the bottom will explode off!  I’ve lost some precious chicken stock that way 😦  However, these jars are FREE!  Technically, you are recycling them within your home.  I store mine on the top shelf (it gets quite bare when I’ve made large batches of stock, yogurt, dressing etc).

Free Glass storage on the top shelf!

So have hope, you CAN avoid the dangers of plastic and canned storage SIMPLY AND CHEAPLY by insisting on buying products in glass containers and then REUSING them over and over again to store your own homemade goodies in!  It’s much easier than you might think 😉

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Today’s Mama Monday focuses on how to get your children cued in to their environment and develop a sense of time.  Whether you have an autistic child, sensory processing disorder child, a child with attention deficits, or an otherwise normally-functioning child, these tips and techniques can help your child to engage their day (and play) better!

Use Visual Cues to Organize Possessions!

[Note: the following steps can be used to organize adult possessions like craft items, tools, papers, or books also]  Toys can get overwhelming, especially the little ones.  Some of the toys your children need to play with get lost in a sea of flashy (but rather useless) gizmos.   Helping of Hope: you can quickly reduce the clutter to 1/3 or less!  Here are some steps I took to streamline our play routine and I think they will work for you too (this is especially fun to do at Christmas; if your children are older, you can tell them you are making room for their Christmas presents: they may even be willing to help!):

  1. Pull out the toys your children NEED to play with (educational toys, art supplies, a favorite doll or stuffed toy to practice caring for others, toys that encourage imaginative play, a couple of toys your child is emotionally attached to, etc)–no more than 10 unless you have a designated play room–organize and put in accessible places;

    Toys were overrunning our living room until we got these inexpensive storage bins from a Family Dollar store. These are the toys we want our children to play with most often; Art, Puzzles, Trains & Dinosaurs, Dress-Up, Dolls & Horses, Play-Dough, Duplo blocks and Musical instruments.

  2. Separate the rest of the toys in three piles, one to discard, one to circulate, one to organize and put away.
    • Try to put as many (if not all) of the battery-powered, non-educational toys in the discard pile.  They cost extra money to keep (batteries) and can limit imaginative play; even if they were expensive, they aren’t worth the storage space.  Unless your child plays with it frequently, or you are willing to help them use it regularly, discard it.
    • Try to put all the promotional (fast-food children’s meal), stocking-stuffer, party-favor, and other tiny toys in the discard pile.  These toys are to children as junk mail is to adults; they keep accumulating and keep you from the important stuff.  It might be worth getting into the habit of throwing these toys away on the same day the children get them, after they go to bed, or as soon as they lose interest.  Chances are, they will keep getting more in the future!
    • If you have a lot of one particular type of toy, try to divide it equally across all three piles, with the toys your children like the most in the organize pile, the toys you want your children to play with in the circulation pile, and the toys neither of you like or use that much in the discard pile.
  3. Donate the “Discard” pile to Goodwill, Once Upon a Child, or another charity/consignment store.  If you have younger children, just tell them you are cleaning up their toys; don’t let them see you getting rid of anything or every toy in the bag will become their “favorite” instantly!  You can load up your car in the evening after they go to bed.
  4. Bag or box the toys in the “Circulate” pile and store them out of view and out of reach.  In a few months, switch out the toys in the organize pile with the toys in the circulate pile.
  5. Organize the remaining toys into accessible, open bins or shelving.  If it is out of sight, it will be out of mind and there will be no point keeping it!  One of the cheapest solutions is to get wire shelving from a local Family Dollar or Discount Retail store; you can organize the toys into cubes.  If toys are small and likely to fall through the gaps, buy a cheap plastic basket that will fit in the squares to put the smaller toys in (like Beanie Babies or toy cars).
  6. GET VISUAL!  This will take time.  You can buy printable labels or business cards and use a downloadable template with your choice of document software (I use Open Office) to type text and insert pictures; printing on plain paper is fine too, but you will have to cut out the rectangles and stick them with tape.  Having an electronic document to print out is especially helpful if the labels or cards become dirty or worn because you can always reprint them.  Or, use your art skills and some markers to draw/write your own.  YOU MUST INCLUDE PICTURES that are as close as possible to the contents of the baskets, tubs, or squares.  This helps children to locate toys (very helpful when it is time to put them away); they can practice sorting, categorizing according to use or appearance, and recognize what activities they are actually engaging in (“I am playing with cars” as opposed to “I am playing”).  Here are some examples of the evolving organizational process in our home:

In the Beginning…our children’s closet when they were but babes! The same baskets we used to organize their diapers and infant clothing we now use to organize their toys!  Notice how we use differently colored hangers to separate clothing; color coding can help direct children (or babysitters) to the correct items.

The Toddler Years: we put everything in accessible bins and baskets so items would be used. This was before we found out one of our girls had Fragile X Syndrome with Dyspraxia, Attention Deficits, and Autism.  Wire shelving comes in very handy!

Fast-forward to today…”circulation” toys on the top shelf, labels for all the toys, outfits on colored hangers, shirts and jackets on white hangers. “A place for everything and everything in its place!” makes it easier for kids to keep their toys clean and cuts down on clutter.

Use Visual Cues to Organize Time!

If you have a child who has difficulty sequencing events or needs to develop a routine; if you are an adult who struggles with staying organized or suffer from memory loss; if you have a busy schedule and need a way to communicate in absentia with older children or adults; a visual flip-schedule is a wonderful prompt to help accomplish certain tasks.  A visual flip-schedule is particularly useful when developing a sense of time and routine, avoiding the Summer Slump, getting ready for school season, getting chores done, and homeschooling.  Children can take turns flipping the pages as each item is accomplished (or at designated times); you can also use a flip chart to communicate with your older children so they can complete tasks independently while you are otherwise occupied (“Out to Garden: Clean your floor” or “Having Quiet Time with Jesus: Help yourself to breakfast”)

It is important that you don’t over-schedule or become rigid with times; this is an assisting tool, not a slave-driver.  Some personalities are driven to keep rigid schedules, others resist them like the plague.  If you are trying to accomplish more in your day, it will be tempting to put extra activities in the chart.  Prompts give you no power to do what you aren’t already able to do; keep your expectations realistic, organize the MINIMUM sequence of events you need to get through your day; as time “opens up” and your skills develop, you can add extra activities and may be able to wean yourself off a visual schedule altogether.  The purpose of a visual schedule is to help your body and brain internalize the schedule through visual sensory information.  If you get off track, you can reuse a visual flip-schedule to get back on track.  Children will benefit from a visual schedule until they become old enough to motivate themselves to get tasks done on time.

Our first visual flip-schedule (a ring-binder bent backwards). I learned how to use these from our local Community Bible Study’s Children’s Ministry. They are a great way to keep children moving across a 2.5 hour intense children’s program. In a relaxed setting, as at home, they can encourage a variety of activities throughout the day; if you keep the categories general, you can do different types of the same general activity on different days of the week.

The easiest way to make a flip-schedule is to bend a binder backwards and secure a piece of cardboard–as the base–to the leaves of the binder with packing tape.  To make pages, cut construction paper down to letter-size, paste a descriptive picture and short phrase to the paper, and hole-punch to put in your binder.

This is the first page on our visual flip-schedule. I printed out a calendar (reverse image) on printable transparency film and secured the printed side down with spray adhesive to a piece of white paper. This way I can use dry-erase markers to check the day, date, month, season, and year. It is a great way to teach time to the kids!

To make a sturdier flip schedule, make your own Trapezoid out of cardboard (I used a cardboard “envelope” that a photo-book came in) and rip the metal ring-clasp section out of an old binder: poke holes in the top of your trapezoid to fit the studs through and hot glue the ring-clasp section.  Insert the construction paper pages as before.

Visual Flip Schedule Prayer Page | A Helping of Hope

We used our flip schedule to encourage good habits like having a devotional time each morning! The girls memorized this fairly quickly, even at three and four years old.

If you are particularly savvy and create an even number of steps, you can put the last “half” of the steps in reverse order on the back of the first set of steps: when you have completed the first set of steps, you merely turn the schedule around and keep flipping.  This reduces the total number of leaves in your flip schedule by half.

It’s best to find images that most closely resemble the ACTIONS written on the pages. These images are standard clip-art. I highlighted phonetic combinations of letters to help our kids learn to read.

[UPDATE: I am just now figuring out that I need to write these posts the night before…I guess if you are Pacific Standard Time, you might just get to read this Mama Mondays post before you go to bed!  I apologize for not getting it out sooner.  Now all I need to do is write my Transformation Tuesdays post and I’ll be all set.  Tomorrow will be a “two-for”!]

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On Mondays I’d like to give a tip for parents on how to “create room for hope”; strategies and techniques to simplify life and clear the way for making right choices.  This is the first installment of what I’d like to call “Mama Mondays”, not that it is just for female parental units, but because it is from this “Mama” to you!

Simplification Idea #1: Do less laundry (bed-wetting solution).

The more complicated modern life gets, the more we yearn for the simpler lives of yesteryear.  Why were their lives so simple?  I suppose we could point out the evils of technology and the information age…but that would sort of invalidate what we are doing here!  I’m sure our ancestors would have loved the internet, just as we do…think how much time it saves to send communication and share ideas (although it can be hard to prioritize information with how much of it there is out there.  I understand.)  I think the biggest reason lives in the past were simpler is because they had less stuff.  There was less to take care of and fewer distractions from spending time with people.  Moving on to laundry, we have so many clothes and sheets; they all have different washing instructions on them because of the variety of fabrics they are made of.  We would rather buy 50 garments that are cheaply made than 5 garments that we repair and keep for a long time.  We discard stained, shrunken, out-of-date clothes and bag them for Goodwill, and then go out and buy a lot more.  We spend ages folding, ironing, hanging, freshening…a lot of money and a lot of time later, we and our homes look “good” but our lives are that much more complicated!  To uncomplicate your detergent/softening routine, click here.

This is what I have to deal with on a weekly basis… too many sheets!

For our family, our laundry situation is made worse by the fact that we have a Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)  child.  FXS children can take much longer than their peers to learn to use the potty (some learn at 10-12 years old) and they can become unsettled by changes to their routines.  Repetition and practice are the only ways to help them make the connections they need to acquire more skills and it is often a painfully slow process.  So child #2 wets the bed.  Often.  We used pull-up diapers designed for older children for a long time, but that only made it too comfortable to want to change.  So now we take short naps in our underwear and wear diapers at night.  Overflows happen all the time, even with diapers, even with no eating or drinking 1 hour before bed (although it really does help).  I often have to change the sheets twice a day.  This is exhausting and I finally realized something: I don’t like sheets.  I can cut my laundry in half if I didn’t have to wash two sheets, a blanket, and sometimes a pillowcase twice a day.

Much better! A solution the kids and I can live with!

If you have a bed-wetter in your family I think you can benefit from the following tip: get rid of the sheets and buy your kids a sleeping bag!  Sleeping bags are lots of fun and come in many cool designs.  PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW IF YOU KNOW OF AN ALL-NATURAL MATERIALS JUNIOR SLEEPING BAG.  We bought child #2 two, inexpensive 100% polyester sleeping bags from a local grocery store (don’t forget the waterproof mattress cover, and wash them with Soap Nuts to get the manufacturing chemicals out).  One to put on the bed and one to switch when the one on the bed gets wet.  Problem solved!  Three items that need to be folded and stored replaced with one that I can roll up in the linen closet!  Child #2 loves her sleeping bag and child #3 wants one too…my laundry routine is about to get a lot simpler.  I wonder if there’s a pretty sleeping bag for adults….

Another way to make laundry simpler is to share the load!  Have your young children develop their coordinating senses, learn to categorize, and identify colors by helping you sort, load and unload the laundry; older children can learn responsibility and develop family team skills!  What other tips do you have for simplifying your laundry routine?  What have you gotten rid of that you really never used or needed?

I hope you enjoyed this Mama Monday post.  If you know of busy parents out there who could benefit from reading this post, make sure to share it with them through one of the many options below!

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