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Big Family Minimalism! - Page 4

post #61 of 90
Originally Posted by Juvysen View Post
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.
I try and gently suggest things.. Like, DS1 is turning 2 in a few weeks and he LOVES the brio trains at the Children's Museum so last time we were there I told my mom how much he loves them and how I wish we had some at home.. she took it from there and is getting him a train set and storage of some sort for his birthday. We are lucky too in that the majority of our family asks what the kids want/need since they live across the country and don't see them often.
post #62 of 90
Mamabearsoblessed- the biggest thing for me was working out systems for everything that make it absolutely as easy as possible- that way it gets done, with ease, as soon as needed. Im still getting there, but decluttering is one huge part, but if you dont change the system even less stuff can be overwhelming if it gets out of hand
post #63 of 90
I know this thread is old but I really want to know more about what kind of washer and dryer/hybrid is being used in the family closet. I think I love this idea but I don't know where to find it.
post #64 of 90
Thread Starter 
We have this one


It does a really great job. It takes a long time per load, but realistically it would take me even longer to do a load because I never did switch it from the washer to the dryer in a timely manner . And I still am NEVER behind on laundry.....okay, I was once, I had 3 loads to do . That is nothing compared to the laundry MOUNTAIN that used to take up my basement.

I would have done a family laundry/dressing room if I had the space, but our family of 6 lives in less than 1000sqft. That just wasn't possible.
post #65 of 90
A lot of family of 6 here LOL... Great posts and advice.
I need to come back and read through every posts, subbing...
post #66 of 90
Love this idea!!
Originally Posted by ScarletBegonias View Post
i also have 2 large rubbermaid boxes for each person in the family that holds seasonal clothes. they are color-coded: burgundy for fall and blue for spring. i also numbered the boxes 1 for dh, 2 is me, 3 is oldest dc etc.,. i can see at a glance where to put clothing if i have a hand-me-down or something a bigger kid has outgrown that needs to be "filed" in a younger kids box.
post #67 of 90
Subbing as a reminder to read the whole thread.

DH and I are hoarders by nature and things were fine with one kid, but when the second pregnancy turned out to be three kids, everything fell apart. I'm finally starting to have enough extra time to think about systems to keep the chaos and clutter to a minimum.
post #68 of 90
Taking notes! My personal motto is borrowed from William Morris:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful
Obviously I don't always agree with the definition of "beautiful" or "useful" given by dh or one of the kiddos, but it's a good guideline overall.
post #69 of 90
Bumping this up
Anyone have any new input/questions/advice/pictures to share?

Looking for inspiration as we are growing into a family of seven and sharing 1160 square feet of living space that we also share with so much stuff!
post #70 of 90
Just read through the whole thread. Am I the only person who finds it humorous that the majority of the posters "only" have 2-4 children? Not exactly what I'd call big. But lots of great ideas here!
post #71 of 90
Thread Starter 
You are right. 2 isn't big. 4 is the low end of big (by modern standards). I started this thread because the minimalism thread was all one child families, the issues of a house with an only child are nothing like those of a 4 child family!

Though I imagine the issues of minimalism in a home with 7 children aren't all that comparable to a 4 child family either
post #72 of 90
Originally Posted by thewaggonerfamily View Post
Just read through the whole thread. Am I the only person who finds it humorous that the majority of the posters "only" have 2-4 children? Not exactly what I'd call big. But lots of great ideas here!
Seems like in my area at least, once you go past two kids people think you're crazy to have a "big family". That said, I don't consider mine a big family (3 kids), but I wanted to subscribe for ideas and in case I have several more kids
post #73 of 90
Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
We are pretty minimalist compared to most people we know, especially when it comes to kids' stuff. Over time I really worked hard to figure out which toys get played with and which things can be let go of. I was stunned to see our toy collection shrink so much once I started doing this.

From the start, all of our toys are common to the family. No personal ownership of toys, with this exception: Each kid has a storage box - we just switched to smallish underbed boxes - where they can put things they want to keep, permanently or temporarily, for "theirs." Even birthday presents become common property after a day unless they are put in the box. The stuff can't overflow the box. But the boxes can't be used for hoarding things or preventing someone else's turn. If someone is in the middle of a turn with something you think should be in your box, they get to finish their turn before you start yours. This has worked well for us. It has fostered cooperation and sharing, and no need to duplicate toys, except to the extent that four might want to be playing together with something.

Of course, when the age split was such that some toys were unsafe for littles, they had to be in the big kids' boxes or specially stored by me, but we don't have a lot of that sort of thing. For awhile we had one of those four-sided Supergates and the chokable toys lived in there. As an alternative to caging the baby...we caged the unsafe toys.

As far as other household stuff goes, I got a tip here that I love: Each kid has one unique mug or cup that hangs in the kitchen. All day long they use the same cup. We mostly drink water, but if we have something else to drink they just rinse it out and hang it up. No pileup of dirty cups in the sink, no confusion over whose cup is whose, no constant all-day cup washing. Some people do this with plates, too.

My boys didn't have their own room until they were 7 and 8. The girls are still in our room. The bedrooms are for sleeping and clothes storage, and the boys have a few things in their room, but not much. I think the key there is matching storage plans to stuff, and not letting stuff overflow storage.

I think the best advice I can offer is to think things through carefully based on how they are actually used, keep just the minimum to meet the need, and make your space and stuff fit what you actually do with it. Everything else is extra and can be eliminated. And also build routines around keeping things tidy and easy to clean up.

For example, I used to think it was important to have lots of different kinds of toys (aghhh!) and keep them sorted into separate baskets (double aaaaghhh!) One of my kids' favorite "toys" is a collection of Playmobil and other little guys and things that they like to make "setups" with. It's all jumbled in one big drawer, out of sight. There was a time when I wanted the Playmobil in one basket, horses in another, etc. That was crazymaking. They get used all together, and they are much easier to clean up fast if stored that way. We periodically sort through the jumble and make a discard pile of the things that are broken or unloved/unused. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes with kids.

From the time my kids were little, we have played a game called "Keep or Toss?" where I help them speed through sorting a pile of stuff... I think starting when they are young and making it fun has helped them not resist it. But none of mine are born hoarders, which is a great blessing (I know some kids who are.)

When the living room is a mess and no one wants to help clean up, it's a clue to me that we have too much stuff/toys (and I voice this as often as necessary, LOL). On a couple of occasions, I put EVERYTHING in the garage (like a holding tank), minus ONE toy or category of toys chosen by each child. Over the next few weeks, a few critical things got brought back into play, but not much. It became clear what was used/wanted and what wasn't, and I felt fine getting rid of the stuff that wasn't. Starting from nothing and adding things back in worked way better than facing the kids with the mountain of stuff and asking them to subtract. I guess that is not specific to large families, but I do think the resistance factor is compounded with multiple kids. I think in most cases I realized that *I* was attached to having certain toys, not my kids, and my kids were fine with downsizing them.

Also I limit clothes - I sort through handmedowns and do a seasonal change of clothes twice a year, fall and spring. And I will tell them, pick six shirts from this pile of shirts that fits you... The numbers vary based on what is needed and what is manageable.

I think I also already posted about my sock baskets. We do plain white cotton socks - Hanes even color-codes the logo on the toe based on size, which is brilliant, and it's why I buy their socks. I used to color-code them with a marker before they offered that. Each sock size has a basket. Right now I have three baskets - two kids wear the middle size. In the past I had two baskets, big and little. We just toss the clean socks in the right basket. We also have special wool socks for winter that are color-coded as well...smalls are red, mediums are blue, etc. DH and I also have distinctive socks, all one kind for each of us. We never have trouble finding pairs and we never have to discard unmatched socks.

I don't fold certain types of laundry - washcloths get jumbled in a basket or a drawer (white cloths for kitchen, colored for bathroom). Kids clothes never get folded, just dropped into drawers. All four kids have the same small set of drawers - bottom drawer is pants/shorts, next one up is shirts, next one up is jammies, top is underwear/tights. So any kid can put any other kid's laundry away.

I am a big fan of having basic systems to keep things simple. I have color-coded bins in the laundry room for darks, lights, delicates, linens, and "yuckies" (was diapers but now is things like family cloth).
My kids know the system and can sort dirty laundry into the proper bins. One binful is about one load in my big washer, so when a bin gets full, a wash has to be done. The bins also have wash instructions written right on them. My 11yo does all the regular laundry and has since he was 8 (I do the delicates and yuckies).

Sorry this post is so long, but I have so many ideas. I posted about my spot system here before, too, for laundry. I can't take credit for it, but it is brilliant. Oldest kid's clothes get one Sharpie spot on the tag, second kid's get two, third kid's get three, etc. When you hand something down, add a spot. My kids could sort and put away laundry at age three with this system (and DH, too, LOL).

Also, it really helps us to have trash and recycling containers in every area where those things are generated - kitchen, bathroom, office, boys' room, craft/homeschooling area, laundry room. Stuff is more likely to get tossed promptly (instead of left lying around) if there is an appropriate receptacle. Of course, food only gets eaten in the kitchen or dining room, at a table...or so the rule goes. After years of that rule they still can't follow it 100%, but we try.

And it helps us to have a shoes-off house...helps keep the floor clean - shoe shelf and boot basket in the entryway, basket of slippers right there as well, and the sock baskets are also in the entryway (because that is where they are used).

Anyway, sorry if this is a bit disjointed, but I wanted to contribute! Maybe I will think of other things to add, or maybe I will learn new things from all of you.
Great post I bolded the things we do, too. Best thing I ever did was pitch 2 baskets full of socks and unmatched socks and went to Hanes only with each person with a different style. Now socks go right into each kids basket to get thrown in the sock drawer. No unmatched sock bin, and I know at a glance who threw their socks on the floor!

We have stainless water bottles that are all different. For the summer, I think they will stay on the counter or table only and that's the drink for the day.

Each kid has a different color towel and we have hooks in the bathroom. Again I can tell whos is on the floor and each person has 2 towels and I wash right off the hook and replace.

I am also working on getting rid of 90% of our clothes. We just have way too many from hand me downs etc. I have come to terms with the fact that my kids don't like sweaters, turtlenecks, stretchpants or need more playclothes. If it is not spectacular, unstained, not holey and going to fit the next kid in line, its gone.

I've been reading a lot of great ideas here:
click on organizing and household management
post #74 of 90
I hope no one thought my observation was a criticism. That why all the I just found it interesting.

I spent a lot of years acquiring stuff. But now I am finding that having one thing for each person that functions well and we love is better than tons of thrift shop/garage sale/hand me down things. My 12 passenger van (on a 15 passenger wheelbase) still stops at garage sales. I am just very picky about what actually comes home with me. Now it is things we actually need and not just "good stuff" or a "good deal".
post #75 of 90
Well, speaking for myself, we are big in theory I plan to have a very big family (If Im so lucky) so am organizing my home to reflect this as I know I will be too busy down the road to do much home organizing And most people think 3 kids is going a little overboard, four you're starting to go crazy or you dont know how to use birth control. Anything more than four and there's something mentally wrong apparently
post #76 of 90
Thread Starter 
I hope no one thought my observation was a criticism. That why all the I just found it interesting.
Not at all, and I am always happy to hear the experiences of the wise mamas with older kids and more kids than I have

We have been very busy. Rearranging, repainting, getting rid of several LOADS of stuff. Yay for the abscence of crappy, broken, who am I kidding I am never going to fix it furniture in my basement. It is an unfinished basement that can never be finished, so really just wasted space. I fixed into a nice playspace for the kids. They love it! And now the toys all live down there. My >1000sqft upstairs actually feels kind of roomy!
post #77 of 90
look, just because i have a minimalist number of kids. . . LOL!

i still learn here, btw. the storage of seasonal in bins that are numbered and color coded was great. in the altenrative (since i don't have bins and didn't want to buy some), i used our suit cases. we have 4 (two big, two carry on), and i filled the two carry on ones with the seasonal clothes in vacuum sealed 'space bags.' one is for me (i have lots of srping/summer/fall jackets), the other DH and DS. so, that works nicely. i put mine in the red suit case.
post #78 of 90
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
look, just because i have a minimalist number of kids. . . LOL!
Hey, are you calling my kids clutter?

post #79 of 90
Originally Posted by FreeRangeMama View Post
Hey, are you calling my kids clutter?

post #80 of 90

i suppose they are not clutter if they are useful or beautiful.
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