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Big Family Minimalism! - Page 3

post #41 of 90
For clothing, I have big plastic bins (clear ones) with a big piece of paper taped to the inside (showing outward) that has a huge size marker (aka, a ginormous "5T" that's in big, bold marker). All the clothes to be handed down in that size MUST fit in that bin. My mom is forever buying my girls new clothing, so we really need to hand down no more than the basics. The rest get donated to the second-hand place of my choice (um, there are only two in town.. I rotate ). I feel quite fortunate to now have four girls at least for the clothing part. Any investment for the oldest dd will get used and abused to the max by the time it works through the chain! Plus, after I pull out a new size when needed, if the girls need something filled in (maybe one seems to be lacking in long-sleeved shirts?) then I'll make some. .. I keep the bins of sizes-they'll-grow-into-soon in their closet (they all share a room and have a huge closet) and sizes that won't be used for a while go downstairs. As I do laundry and find items that are outgrown, I toss them into a basket I keep behind my closet door. Once the basket it full, I'll find the appropriate bin for the clothing items and pack them away.

Other than that, I'm pretty sure we just need to get rid of STUFF for the most part. I'm pretty sure that the birth of my fourth dd (just 19 days ago!) has really opened my eyes to how much JUNK we have and how much less we can live without.
post #42 of 90
Hi again! I'm really loving having less toys in the house. The kids are actually playing with everything they have now and it is soooo easy to clean up. No more chaos!

Last week I went through all the homeschool/craft stuff as well and organized/decluttered. I used those collapsible fabric boxes from Target to sort curriculum books by subject. This makes it so that my almost 2yo doesn't go and "rearrange" it all and keeps the almost 4yo playing with the craft supplies, not the curriculum books It looks nice and tidy as well. I left all the craft supplies out in metal boxes with lids from IKEA, so they are easily accessible by the almost 4yo and almost 6yo, but not the toddler. So far, it is staying really organized and I think we've found a great system.

I'm struggling on keeping up with laundry despite clearing out tons of clothes last month. And because I'm so busy with caring for my mother right now (she had knee surgery and is in a wheel chair) who lives 45 min away...I can't seem to keep up with just even basic housework. I really had wanted to work on spring cleaning but that is a total joke right now. I'm trying to be gentle with myself about it, but it is really stressful to spend most of a day helping my mom and come home to a dirty house

I'm leaning towards an even more minimalist amount of items in the house, even if I just pack away the extras rather than give them away. I'm not sure that would even work though, because if I pare down to 1 dish, cup, etc. (an example) for everyone then I'd have to wash dishes by hand after each meal. I can't see that being workable with 4 small kids. Maybe just paring down clothes, kitchen linens and towels might help. Honestly I think it is mostly a lack of time issue, not a clutter issue. I think I just need to realize that a larger family can't always go to the level of simplicity that a smaller family can.
post #43 of 90
Originally Posted by celestialdreamer View Post
I'm leaning towards an even more minimalist amount of items in the house, even if I just pack away the extras rather than give them away. I'm not sure that would even work though, because if I pare down to 1 dish, cup, etc. (an example) for everyone then I'd have to wash dishes by hand after each meal. I can't see that being workable with 4 small kids. Maybe just paring down clothes, kitchen linens and towels might help. Honestly I think it is mostly a lack of time issue, not a clutter issue. I think I just need to realize that a larger family can't always go to the level of simplicity that a smaller family can.
About the dishes, if having three dishes per kid for a day works for you, that could be minimalist in your house. I posted this elsewhere, but when I was doing dishes by hand (for a few years with four little ones) I loved having one cup and plate or bowl per kid, bonus if they were unique so I could tell whose was whose. It was easy to tell at a glance who forgot to bring theirs back into the kitchen or whose cup walked down to the playroom on its own. Limiting drinks to water only means they can use the same cup all day long, and most stuff can be rinsed off a plate with just water (or use one of these to quick-scrub them clean) and then just drip dry in the drainer. You don't have to formally "wash dishes" (fill a soapy tub or the dishwasher) to just get them rinsed/quick-scrubbed.

Even if you only do this with the kids' plates/cups - grownups have a different standard - it can save a lot of dishes and trouble. Or use paper or cloth napkins instead of plates, if you have food that is not too messy (sandwiches, for example).

But I do totally agree with you that "simplicity" can mean something very different in a larger family. I believe that most moms give 110% no matter how many kids she has. For my friends with one kid, "simple" means picking up a snack at the co-op. With four kids who have four sets of opinions/preferences and my tight budget, offering a snack at the co-op is never a simple prospect. The chaos factor is higher, crowd management is more of a focus, and the strategy has to be different.

"Simple" to me sometimes means that all four kids have the same thing in different colors (to prevent fighting). In some families, having it all the same color is simpler. Anything that makes me not have to think so hard gets points for simplicity in my book. LOL.

Good luck, and try to adapt your expectations to your abilities, even if that means letting some things slide while you're helping your mom.
post #44 of 90
Such great ideas here I came over to get some ideas as I'm currently decluttering/organizing/minimizing. We have four children and live in a four bedroom house (but our living space is limited. We have a narrow living room and smallish kitchen and the rest of the space is bedrooms).
I keep the boys' toys in the living room (The girls are 11 and 15 and keep their things in their rooms). The boys both have challenges keeping things organized. My older son is legally blind and has a huge problem finding his toys if they aren't organized well.

I honestly want to get our "stuff" down to a bare minimum because I can't deal with all the clutter. The thing is, we don't have a ton of stuff but because it's not well organized, it seems to wind up everywhere....then our closets get filled up with clean laundry (because I don't have time to hang it up and I don't have a dresser in our bedroom...the kids have dressers). I'm just sick sick sick of all of it

Anyone care to share their laundry/linens/towel ideas?
post #45 of 90
Thread Starter 
I just LOVE our family closet!!! Each person has a minimal amount of clothes. We just moved our laundry machine to the family closet and put in a new closet organizer. Dh, ds1, and I hang our stuff on the top rack. Ds2, and both dds hang stuff on the bottom. Above each closet bar is a shelf for folded pants. I also put a 15" wide shelf in the closet. There are 6 shelves so we each get a shelf equipped with a basket for socks, underwear, and pajamas. Again we own a minimal amount. Everything must fit in the closet or out it goes. Since the laundry is right there it is easy to toss in a load. It goes in dirty and comes out clean and dry (I am in love with the hybrid.....have I mentioned that yet? ).

I also installed shelves above the washer/dryer for extra blankets. We donated all the linens and only own one set for each bed. I kept one extra queen flat sheet in case of and emergency. The flat sheet can fit on any bed (we have 4 twins and a queen between us all) while the mess gets laundered. Otherwise I wash all the sheets at the same time then remake the beds the same day.

I LOVE this system because I am never behind on laundry......if I were to fall behind we would go naked . My biggest laundry challenge has always been stacks of clean laundry in baskets just waiting to be folded and put away. That or a stack of dirty stuff waiting to be washed. I finally figured out that if we could live without it while is was in some stage of laundering then I could probably do without it permanently. Now I do a load a day. In every morning, then immediately hung from the machine. I have 2 hampers (one for towels and one for clothes) and NO laundry baskets. It is SO easy. I save so many hours a week that I get giddy just thinking about it

I just love my system. So easy and efficient.
post #46 of 90
FreeRangeMama, Have you worked out a good system for the little bits of washing that dont go in the closet??

We have a family closet now and are just working out the kinks in the system still. I LOVE it so far. But I get annoyed by random things that are in the loads and need to go in other rooms, for example in the kitchen we have cloths for washing the counters and cloths for random cleaning/messes, and towells for spills (which seem to be constant), then there's towels and flannels from the bathroom. Sheets that need to go to the bedroom (and like you we only have one set too which I also LOVE). There's not very many of these things in the wash, but there's always *something* that needs to go to all the other rooms. I cant really let some of these things build up in the family closet (where clean laundry is sorted) because some needs to be returned to their rightful place to get used straight away again.

And at the moment I still have all the baby clothes and nappies (for my littlest) in the nursery/bedroom because thats where the change table is and I cant fit anything else in the family closet. Its well organized but at capacity Her stuff will be in the family closet once she's not using nappies anymore which shouldnt be much longer (we EC). But at the moment I am letting her stuff sit folded in a basket in the family closet til its full because it helps me rotate our massive nappy stash. But its just annoying me to still have things going in every room when I fold. Would love any ideas for a better system....
post #47 of 90
Thread Starter 
I have a hamper for towels of all varieties in our room as well. Our house is pretty small so that means it is close to all the places we would use towels, rags, and cloths. We only have 6 towels (one for each of us) so that is one load. The clean ones go in the bathroom. I am considering putting up 6 hooks and getting us each our own towel and cloth to be kept on the hook. I think that would work well so I wouldn't need to have a stack of clean towel. I would just wash as necessary. It helps to have the machine in our room as it is super easy to remember to put in a load. I don't have to remember to change it from a washer to a dryer either......that was always a challenge for me to get around to.

I wash all the towels, cloths and rags together on the sanitize cycle. It gets folded out of the machine and put away right away. I have a minimal of dish cloths and towels and just wash as necessary. My youngest is not in diapers anymore, but when she was I just kept the diaper pail in the bathroom. Our house isn't big enough for a change table so that has never been an issue Clean diapers were stored in the cupboard under the vanity and I just rolled out a changing pad and changed her on the floor. It worked out well to keep everything centralized like that. Baby clothes just got stored with the other clothes. If we have another I will keep with that system. Babies always are in our room anyway so it just makes sense.

It really works well for our set-up. Space is a minimum given our square footage vs. family size.
post #48 of 90
I really wanted to do a family closet but unfortunately we just didn't have the space

I think it's a super idea and would cut down on so much of the schlepping.
We have our washer and dryer in our kitchen opposite of each other. There is no room anywhere in the kitchen to have any sort of folding/sorting station so the laundry inevitably winds up piled on top of the dryer or on the dining room table.

Actually as we speak I've cleaned out several bags of clothes/toys etc from the boys' room and my room It's so hard to get rid of clothes that are good...but we all get overwhelmed if we have a lot to put away. I think this will help with the laundry situation.

You are all so inspiring! I think this should be a permanent sticky with all the great ideas listed in it
post #49 of 90
Originally Posted by FreeRangeMama View Post
I have a hamper for towels of all varieties in our room as well. Our house is pretty small so that means it is close to all the places we would use towels, rags, and cloths. We only have 6 towels (one for each of us) so that is one load. The clean ones go in the bathroom. I am considering putting up 6 hooks and getting us each our own towel and cloth to be kept on the hook. I think that would work well so I wouldn't need to have a stack of clean towel.I wash all the towels, cloths and rags together on the sanitize cycle. It gets folded out of the machine and put away right away.
It never even occurred to me to wash the random non-family closet items together and walk around putting them away all at once, thanks I will try it today. We have so much washing I usually just put a load on whenever one builds up. So that means there are always random bits and pieces in there to drive me crazy.

As for bathroom towels, we have a few for just in case but now we do bath robes instead of towels. We have a shower/bath with a wide screen on one side which we put the hooks on and hang them along there. The hooks are like a double hook- one on each end. So the hook hangs over something then you can hang something on the other end- hard to explain, but they are so handy! I love doing bathrobes instead. They are so much warmer and snuggly, especially for the little ones.

And for the poster who said they dont have room for a family closet, we actually sacrificed the smaller second bedroom in order to make it the family closet. The very large master bedroom is the nursery and family bedroom. I bought all this gorgeous (and expensive!) nursery furniture that I cant bear to let go of yet, but I think I will probably have to when we need more beds to go in there. We dont find a typical 'lounge room' necessary so the other large room is a play room. We have a very family/kid-centred home, but that's what is important to us so it works.
post #50 of 90
Sign me up! I've been making noise for years about decluttering, and I really want to do it. I posted about our work in the living room here. I'll admit I'm a little bit of a hoarder and my goal isn't so much to get rid of everything but to store in nicely so we can get to it as needed. I have both an attic and a basement that aren't suitable living space, but are great for storage.

My biggest struggle is bedrooms. I have three boys in one room and the girl in the other, and the boys' room is just really tight. We only have three bedrooms and I really don't want to have to give the master bedroom to the boys.
post #51 of 90
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
My biggest struggle is bedrooms. I have three boys in one room and the girl in the other, and the boys' room is just really tight. We only have three bedrooms and I really don't want to have to give the master bedroom to the boys.
This may be a whole other topic, but I hear you. We have only two bedrooms in our house. Three would at least be do-able long-term. DH and I are planning to move our bed into the office when the girls outgrow the family bedroom! (Hopefully not for a couple more years).

The boys' room is quite small, and the girls share with us (also a small room). Two things: bunk beds, and designating the bedrooms primarily for sleeping and clothes storage - other activities and storage go in other places. The boys have a few other things in their bedroom; they each have a shelf. But if we had a third boy in there, I'd move all the non-sleep non-clothes stuff out. Also, under-the-bed boxes have helped us keep the floor clutter down.
post #52 of 90
A lot of good ideas here, we are also a 4 child family and were hoping to move but that is looking unlikely at the moment, i'm clearing out my room so i can take up old knackered carpet to make room for our new laminate flooring, i also want to clear our under stair cupboard because it is absoloutely full of junk but i'm getting skip tomorrow so anything that is no good will go in there.
I also need to sort the bedrooms as well and organise the kiddies clothes because they have too many clothes they don't wear.
post #53 of 90
I don't think I could do a family closet myself... it's honestly the only thing I have left completely and solely under my own control and I refuse to give that up! I love standing in front of my closet with everything arranged just the way I like it and no one can mess with it, ha!

Our laundry room is very small -just wide enough for the washer and dryer with about half a foot to spare and it's also the pass through from garage to kitchen (about 28in between the dryer and the wall, so when you open the door to the dryer you are backed into the wall). We got some bin drawers to put on top of the washer dryer so everyone has their own and I just toss stuff in there from the dryer and people put away their stuff in their own time and I also got these http://www.instahanger.com/ to hang stuff temporarily as it comes out of the dryer, which I just absolutely love since they are out of the way for when we go in and out of the house... I would have no place to hang stuff without these.

We keep all our clothes in the closets -no dressers (I moved all our dressers to the living room, kitchen and garage to store stuff in those rooms). We did the hang track shelf system so we could adjust things with our kids' growing and changing needs. They have shirts hanging on the bottom and then clothes just stacked on the shelves above, so it's easy to see everything at once and we just limit clothes to what fits.

With dishes, for breakfast and lunch the kids all rinse off their plates (the little ones go the sink immediately and wash up while the rest of us put stuff away and clear off the table and counters), then the older ones, and we just put them in the dishwasher to dry for the next meal, so they are out of the way and also ready to go if for some reason we end up using different dishes or heading out... I run the dishwasher every night and unload it in the morning. I remember reading a poster here that mentioned it was worth her sanity to run a load every day even if it wasn't full and I thought that made sense so I started doing that as well... but truthfully, I don't think I have ever not had a full load. I must've just been doing a lot more handwashing then I realized previously. I sometimes still have to wash a few pots and pans after it's running at night.

Heh... I was going to add that we only buy or keep things that we all agree on and can all use, besides what we can fit into our own space of clothing closet... but I think I said that already and most of the above as well... so repetitious am I!
post #54 of 90
My laundry solution was to have one laundry basket per room... so, right now we have 3 bedrooms, ours and the kids. Each kid has their own room currently but that will change this summer since we are having #3. The boys have their own laundry basket, the baby will have its own, and me and DH have our own. I don't separate by color I just wash everything on cold. Then everything that comes out of the dryer goes back into the same room. Works out pretty well most of the time. We will see how well this plan works once the baby makes its appearance!!
post #55 of 90
This thread is for me. I'm desperately striving for this. We have a smallish house, 6 people and a ton of stuff. Our biggest pitfall is clothes and toys. I sew and thrift shop. I make a ton of clothes for my kids, because sewing is my hobby and I have to have something to sew, lol. I just recently started to quilt, but I don't like it as much as garment sewing. I also love a bargain. I'm working on it. We're also trying to purge about half the toys. It's getting better, but it's taking a really long time.
post #56 of 90
Where do you all store your dc's toys? Our house, like I previously mentioned, is 4 bedrooms but our living space is small. I have the boys' toys in the living room because if I put them in their room, they wind up scattered and unorganized. They both need help initiating play and finding their toys so the living room is best for us but I still struggle with how to organize them...any suggestions?
post #57 of 90
Thread Starter 
We keep many toys in the living room. My girls keep dolls and play kitchen stuff in their room, and the boys keep a few favourites in theirs as well. Otherwise all the common toys are in the living room. We don't have as many toys as most people and that really helps! I keep them all in this:


We also have a big wicker basket full of blocks in the corner and some puzzles and games on the bookshelf. Due to our small space we really can't keep much more and realistically they don't play with much else. Playmobile, a wooden castle or dollhouse each, some stuffed animals, a doll or two, playsilks, and some basic dress up stuff are more than enough for the four of them to share. The girls also have a fully stocked play kitchen and doll cradle so their room is like a play house. They have hours of fun making endless combinations of games with these few things.

Several years ago I got rid of our larger items, mismatched or awkward to store stuff, plastic toys, things that didn't inspire lots of creative play, and stuff I found likely to break easily. Being ruthless in that process really helped me clear out space. We don't have much room and I want to be sure what we DO keep in our house is worth giving up the square footage! Plus, I found with lots of things available they were often overwhelmed and didn't play with any of it.

Right now if they dump every single item on the living room floor during play I can still clear it up in 15-20 minutes. Less when they help. I LOVE that, easy to clean means it actually *gets* clean.
post #58 of 90
We're expecting #4 very soon.

We have 1 closet in the entire house. Actually, it's a BIR. It's in our master bedroom, and I keep everybody's clothes in there. We also have 2 dressers in our room, 1 of which gets used as a change table. We have a crib in our room and I keep extra linens in boxes under that. I also keep towels and bathmats in boxes under our bed. We have 2 full bathrooms, but I find it easier to bathe all the kids in the ensuite so our dirty laundry and clean pj's are all in the one place.

I have all boys and hate shopping, so the kids have a "uniform" of sorts. At the start of every summer, I buy like 5 pairs of board shorts and 10 t-shirts for the eldest, and then pass down whatever I can. By the time they hit the youngest, there's usually 3 pairs of shorts left and about 5 t-shirts, so I just make up the difference as needed. I get the same shorts and t-shirts (plain, colored) on sale at the end of the season every year, so they cost about $7 for shorts and $3 for t-shirts. The boys get 1 pair of sandals each and that's it. In winter, I do the same thing with jeans and long-sleeved shirts, with 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of sneakers, and sweatsuits for sleep.

Preschool clothes can be in sorry shape because my son trashes them with craft and paint and the like. My eldest has a school uniform so that makes things easier.

When we're home, all the kids are either in undies or "house" clothes inside, which keeps everything clean. I keep 1 set of playclothes for each in a dresser on the back deck and that's what they wear if they want to play in the yard after school or whatever. I only wash them at the end of the week unless they're feral as I figure it's just sand and dirt for 2 hours each afternoon and I refuse to waste that many clean clothes for the kids to go gardening or playing in trees. They all have a set of rainboots and that's what they wear out back even in summer as it protects their feet (we have a lot of spiders and such here) and means their feet stay clean, which means I don't wind up washing floors every day.

All the kids take off their shirts when they eat or wear a bib -- even the 5YO. Not in public, but at home. That cuts down on staining and means I spend less time spot-treating stuff and have more to pass down.

I do ALL our laundry on Saturday. That's it. I start in the morning and am done by day's end. With clothes and all linens, it comes out to about 6 really large loads. Most of it goes on the line but I'll chuck it in the dryer if it needs finishing. Hubby and I fold it all when we're watching TV either Saturday or Sunday night, and it gets put away within 12 hours.

We're not a Waldorf family as such but Waldorf-inspired, which helps on the toy front as we don't do plastic, or electronic, or single-purpose etc... etc... And our kids are all media-free, which means I don't have to find space to store however many DVDs or computer games or what-have-you.

I haven't gotten a handle on dishes yet so need to keep working on that! It seems like we always have tons of cups and bowls piled up around the sink or on the draining board, and drink bottles do my head in. Ditto food storage containers and lunch boxes!
post #59 of 90
WE are waiting for number 4 this summer too!!
We moved from a big house with lots of storage to another big house with lots of storage last summer. I totally cleaned out in the months before our move. I purged and made leaps and bounds to minimalize our crap. It was wonderful, though we still ended up moving things I just couldn't part with.
Our dc (and we too) are blessed with people in our lives who give us so much. But it has become insane. I can't bear the messes!! It took ME 2 DAYS TO CLEAN DS ROOM!!! 2 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is now tidy and has been that way for almost a week, he cleans up anything he played with and puts away before climbing into bed (or immediately preferably). This is our general effort but things still become a mess in time.
DD1 is 9, ds is almost 7, dd2 is 2.5 . I feel overrun. The table is heaped with LODSANDLOADS of clean laundry. Tere are papers and toys and books EVERYWHERE. I hear the gravel drive and panic because someone has come unnnannounced and will see my pit .
I know what I need to do. I need to thin the toys. Thin the clothes! I have already begun with the change of season.
Thank you for this thread.
I have lots of great organizational tips to share and haven't/don't always have such chaos aeround me butu have lost my focus and motivation lately.
This farmhouse is burying me. It is 2600sf, we have 5 bedrooms and 2 baths. It is old and cold and needs repair galore but we love it and we will not move again. This is our forever home. I just need to get to a place where I can make the changes and repairs because right now I feel so bogged down with chores and overwhelmed I cannot even fathom the big stuff never mind my garden and yard work. We have 3+ acres and I am looking forward to homesteading a bit, that was the whole purpose of buying this farm but look around and think 'yeah right' . How can I homestead with a home of chaos?!
I want to enjoy the sunny days coming but feel like I can't until the inside home is under control.... agggggg!!

I'll be back with some beneficial tips and maybe not such a frustrated rant Sorry for today. I do sometimes have good points .
post #60 of 90
We have wonderful loving people in our lives that are big on gifting us large items... unfortunately, my kids don't really play with the large noisy toys they're given... soooo, I'm still trying to figure out how to handle this without offending the people who love us.
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