If someone asked you to name one of the biggest household chores you hate doing, what would it be? For a lot of people the answer is laundry. It’s a pain in the neck and it never seems to end. If you have kids, you’re constantly turning socks right-side out and extracting underwear from jeans just so you can sort it all. Then, after washing, drying, and carefully folding it all, you hand your teenage son his neatly stacked clean clothes just to see him:
a. Throw it all together in an overcrowded drawer,
The whole thing is an exercise in frustration. We’ve been working to resolve this through desperate attempts to get the kids to help with the laundry. It’s sort of working, so I thought I’d share my suggestions here. I came up with 10 Steps to work your way to laundry freedom.
Step 1: Get them to help gather laundry
Step 2: Have them put away their own laundry
Step 3: Ask them to move laundry from the washer to the dryer
Step 4: Fold towels and put them away
Step 5: Teach them to fold their own clothes
Step 6: Teach them to use the washing machine
Step 7: Teach them to sort the laundry
Step 8: Have them do the entire process by themselves
Step 9: Make corrections
Step 10: Bonus - Teach them to iron
This went on longer than planned so if you actually read this far then I thank you. If you are looking for some laundry tips, I found some good ones at TheSpruce.com.
I’ll try to write this without complaining.
A week before Easter our six-month old dishwasher broke. Typically when an appliance breaks in my house I attempt to fix it myself but since this was so new I called in for warranty repair. Unfortunately it took a couple days before someone could look at it and then another week and a half to get the part. I know there are people with a lot bigger problems but not having a dishwasher for our family of five was kind of a pain in the neck.
Our evenings are busy enough without spending time washing dishes by hand. My wife and I each pack a lunch for work everyday and the kids usually pack a lunch about once a week. The kids added to the problem by continuing to use dishes as if they didn’t care that we were hand washing everything. That’s probably because they really didn’t care.
The whole traumatic ordeal has forced us to think more about how many dishes we use on a regular basis. It’s a lot. I’m not sure the kids learned much since we didn’t make them help out with the dishes as much as we probably should have. It seemed like by the time we finished with all the craziness of each evening, they were going to bed late. Then my wife and I would end up doing the dishes later.
After two weeks of hand-washing, our dishwasher is repaired and we appreciate the convenience more. We used to get lazy sometimes and leave anything that couldn’t go in the dishwasher until we felt like washing by hand. Sometimes things would sit there for a couple days before we got around to hand washing.
I’m trying not to do that anymore by accepting the fact that the hand-wash items are just part of the evening clean-up routine. After I take care of anything that can go into the dishwasher, I just quickly wash anything that’s left. I love being able to go to bed without dirty dishes sitting around.
Now if I could just figure out what to do with all the papers and stuff my kids put on our kitchen island.
One thing I’m proud of is that even though we are a busy family always on the go, we almost never eat fast food for dinner. In fact, most evenings we still manage to eat dinner all together at the table. Of course, having a teenage son who seems to never leave the table except to find more food gives us more time to gather everyone else around. Last month, I discussed some of the things we do to keep our sanity through all of the running around but today I’d like to talk about some of the quick and easy things we keep on hand to eat.
We love almonds
and they are great for you but they can be expensive and the roasted/salted/flavored variety you find in the store are not exactly the healthiest thing for you. My solution? I buy 10 pounds of raw almonds at a time from D & S Ranches in California. I dry-roast about a pound at a time in the oven and keep them in a sealed glass container for everyone to eat. The extra is stored in the fridge to keep them fresh. It’s not easy to shell out that much money for almonds, but the bulk purchase brings the cost to about $7.50 per pound.
To roast them, I put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 6 - 7 minutes. Then I stir them up a bit and put them back in for another 6 - 7 minutes. You have to pay attention to because they can quickly go from perfectly roasted to having a burned flavor. When they are done, they should have darkened a little and you should hear a crackling sound. I just leave them on the baking sheet to cool. Keep in mind they will continue to cook a little more after you remove them from the oven. I eat them in my Greek yogurt every day.
If you buy raw almonds, you should know that the FDA requires raw almonds to be pasteurized. There are two methods to doing this and one involves a pretty nasty chemical that is banned in many other countries but allowed by the FDA. That’s why I order from D & S Ranches because they do not use chemicals for pasteurization.
We also keep a bag of baby carrots on hand.
We realized a long time ago that regular carrots by the bunch are cheaper, but we just are too lazy to wash, peel, and cut them. Now we just buy the baby carrots and I eat them every day. If we put them on the table at dinner time the kids will dig in too.
There is always a bunch of bananas on our counter.
They make a great snack or breakfast. If they get too ripe, my wife makes banana bread with them. If we can’t keep up on banana bread for some reason, we peel them and put them in a bag in the freezer to use for smoothies. We also keep frozen blueberries in the freezer for the same purpose. The fridge is also stocked with apples, pears, and oranges.
For breakfast, my kids seem to alternate between cereal and pancakes.
I’m not a fan of the cereal even though I ate bushels of it as a kid and usually added sugar to it. I have to admit though, it’s an easy breakfast that the kids can handle themselves. Our tradition is to make pancakes from scratch on Saturday morning. We cook a huge batch so that there are always some left over. Those go in the fridge and the kids warm them up in the toaster during the week.
The recipe we use is on AllRecipes.com but we double it (except for the sugar) and also use a mixture of white and whole wheat flour. We also thaw out some of those frozen blueberries and add them for blueberry pancakes. Occasionally, we mix it up a little and make waffles instead but the kids seem to prefer pancakes. I remember calling waffles “bumpy pancakes” when our oldest was young so he would eat them!
We also have a few go-to meals we seem to make frequently that I’ll save for some other time. We aren’t always the healthiest eaters, but I think we do OK. I think it’s important to teach kids early what is a good snack and what isn’t. I always have part of that song from the 1980’s stuck in my head: “The best foods come in wrappers of their own”. Enjoy.
I recently started a new hobby because i think everyone should have at least one and until I started blogging I didn't really have any.
I have tried golf but still can’t figure out how anyone can justify blocking off 3-4 hours on a Saturday without feeling guilty you aren’t hanging out with your family. I was terrible at it anyway. I was better at brewing beer but again, it’s difficult to set aside a few hours in one block. I gave up on hobbies for years but reading about the health benefits to having some kind of relaxing activity in our lives (like here, here, and here) motivated me to find something.
You may know that I like books even though I keep talking about getting rid of more. When I was on a trip a few months ago I found myself wandering around O’Hare airport in Chicago with some time to kill. Naturally, I wandered into a small bookstore squeezed between two hallways and there I discovered some nice journals by a brand called Moleskine. I’m still not sure what it was about them that I liked so much but they were good quality and came in several different sizes and colors. I was tempted to buy one but the anti-stuff side of me teamed up with the travel-light voice and prevented me from doing so.
Later, I started thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t make my own. Why not learn a new skill and bind my own journals? Shortly after returning home, I picked up two books from the local library and looked through them for ideas and a supply list. It didn’t look that hard to cut, sew, and glue paper. As it turns out, one of the main stores in the country that sells bookbinding supplies is close by and I had no idea. If you’re interested check out Hollander’s store or website. You can also find a lot of supplies on Amazon.
So now, aside from the never-ending hobby of getting extra junk out of my house, I’ve turned my basement bar into a bookbinding station. Don’t worry, there’s still room to mix up a drink or pour a beer.
I didn’t have to buy that many supplies. I bought some special needles, a roll of waxed linen thread, an awl to punch holes, a good paper cutter, and a cutting mat. We already had a sharp hobby knife and a metal ruler although I’m already replacing them with better ones. I bought a stack of thick 9”x12” paper on Amazon.
Here’s a couple pictures of the first thing I made.
It’s nothing fancy. It's small at 4 1/2 x 6 inches but it fits in the side pocket of my backpack nicely. I made the cover from an old folder I had laying around and attached a bookmark made of the same folder. Right now, I’m making a smaller journal but the cover will be thicker and hopefully I’ll do a better job sewing this time.
I enjoy bookbinding and it’s usually very relaxing for me. I like the precision of cutting the paper and yet, the freedom that you can make pretty much anything. The book can be large or small, thick or thin, open spine or covered, plain cover or wrapped in paper.
The biggest irony of this all is that I hated art class when I was a kid. I thought it was a big waste of time sitting there coloring, painting, cutting paper, or whatever. I was never interested in any sort of art. I liked Math and Science and that was pretty much it. I remember missing many recesses in the first grade just to finish coloring some stupid picture that I didn’t complete during class time.
I still hate to color, but I have gained an appreciation for many other forms of art. Maybe it started when I went to bartending school and saw the beauty in a perfectly poured drink like a bloody brain (OK, maybe not the best example) or one of the variations of a pousse-cafe. Now, I appreciate the artwork in good photography, quality writing, music, and in a well constructed book.
I’m not saying everyone should start binding their own books, but you should try to find some activity that’s relaxing and exercises your artistic side. There's always knitting, crocheting, painting, and lots of other "-ings" to try. Pick one and give it a shot. If it's not for you, try another one.
I think most of us could stand to slow down more often and stop trying to multi-task. Maybe you can start by getting out your kids’ crayons and colored pencils and go make something.
We’re all desperately trying to find more time in our day. We find it in different ways but usually something gets sacrificed in the process - whether its sleep, a healthy meal, time spent with family, time spent doing our jobs, or time for ourselves. Maybe all of the above? My family is far from perfect at managing our time and I never seem to get enough sleep, but we do have a few tricks that help us keep our sanity and still get to piano lessons more or less on time.
Like I said, we’re far from perfect but we almost never eat fast food and we manage to eat dinner together at the table most evenings while still having our kids involved in a couple activities each. I hope that something here will help you tame your schedule a little so that you can enjoy some family time together too.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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