Originally Posted by ShellieC
Quick version of what I wrote and lost....
Have you used freecycle?
Do you miss towels or do you use a lot of paper towels for big cleanups?
Do you have spare clothes ofnthe current size for replacing wrecked kids clothes or do you get them as you need them?
Do you have a blog (you have a fasinating life!)
Do you wash all colors together & has it ever been a problem? ( what about reds and diapers?)
Thanks again for the great responses!!!
Sorry! I've been on mothering.com for years but I hardly ever post (I'm a huge lurker on this board).... so I'm having to figure out how to reply and do quotes and stuff.
I think I just put a smiley in there. cool! This is fun!!!
Ok, first off - great job! You did a ton! That is awesome! Don't worry if things initially get more crazy. That's how it usually is for us... we make a change (like switching to 1 set of dishes per person)... and it takes a week for me to put the extra dishes away, to drop our old dishes off at the thrift store, and to bring the boxes the new dishes were in to the recycling center, and to get used to the new system of hand-washing and putting away immediately (we're still working on that one, LOL). So for that week we've got stuff everywhere and I'm thinking "this is going to make my life easier??!!!" but it did. just took a while.
Now let me see if I can answer your questions:
Freecycle: I want to like freecycle. I really do. I have gotten rid of some stuff that way but I nearly lost my mind. I usually drop off whatever I can to our local thrift store. If it's big then I put it in the craigslist free section or put it at the end of our driveway with a "free" sign on it. That works really well. I prefer the craigslist free section to freecycle because it blocks my email address (so I can completely ignore emails without getting reamed).
Here's my entirely passive-aggressive guide to listing stuff on craigslist for free:
list it, then completely ignore the emails asking only if the item is still available. Also completely ignore all emails that use "U" instead of "You" and "R" instead of "are"... etc. The first email you get that is written by a polite person and is a few sentences long and perhaps tells you what they are going to do with said item and thanks you in advance.... that sort of thing... email them back and give them your address. Those are the people who will actually show up. If they don't (never happened to me with my mean system), then reply to the next polite email. When it's gone just delete the posting and forget about all the people in your inbox who want to know if u still have it.
Do I miss towels or use paper towels -
I don't miss having more towels. Now, keep in mind that we keep 3 extra put away in an easily accessible location... so if I get behind I can always pull them out. This is what I have figured out, though: if you never have (or can never find) x (fill in the blank: clean dishes, towels, washcloths, underwear, shirts, kids shoes, socks, etc, etc) it is because you have too many of them. I used to have 12 bath towels and 12 beach towels in the regular rotation... we were always needing towels!!!!! The more you have the less you have it available. That's at least how it goes in our house. So, in our house, if a child has 4 pairs of sandals and is playing in the bushes in the front of the yard and comes in later missing a sandal - well, the next morning I would just pull out another pair of sandals. By the time we would get to having 4 single shoes I would have no idea where to look and looking would require a lot of effort because if I have 4 pairs of sandals for each child then I probably have a lot more excess stuff to search through at the bottom of the closets and under the bed etc... so finding missing sandals is an absolute chore. In the summer we keep one pair of shoes per child... so when that sandal goes missing we can remember vaguely where the child was playing. All my closet floors are empty (I keep a basket in a cabinet in the kitchen for shoes and dump them in there) and our house doesn't have much stuff in it, so looking for that extra sandal doesn't require that much effort.
So, back to the towels: I don't miss having all those towels, because now we always have towels! We always have towels sort of because I'm forced to do laundry easily (although that would mean because we've run out of towels, which we rarely do).... more because doing laundry isn't this gargantuan task anymore.
I don't use paper towels, never have. Before downsizing stuff, though, that translated into tons of towels (dish towels, special towels that fit on the end of my swiffer-like mop, old washcloths, new washcloths, etc). I used to tease my husband for not choosing the appropriate towel for the job (ie: child spills a tablespoon of milk on the floor and he would clean it up with a beach towel and throw that onto the laundry pile)... but that got me thinking: how much of a towel do we really need to clean up stuff??? So I started playing around and my kids were thoughtful enough to give me lots of scenarios for wiping up all kinds of things and this is what I figured out:
you can clean up anything with a washcloth. even an overflowed bathtub. Big mess? get a bucket or a bowl and wring the washcloth out repeatedly into the bucket. You don't need to do a load of towels everytime there is a mess on the floor.
And then I started thinking about what my magic washing machine does when I turn it on. I look at my washer as doing some special cleaning job that "officially" gets everything clean. But in reality, a washing machine behaves rather simply: it pushes sudsy water through the fibers of your clothing and then rinses. So I could do that in my sink with my little washcloth and a small amount of water and it would be no different than my washer doing it (ie: it will be just as clean, or as I found out, more clean than my washer can get it). So, I could do my little clean up job, then take my wash cloth and a bit of bar soap and wash it in my bathroom sink and hang it up and voila: i've eliminated all those towels I was washing, drying, folding and storing to take the place of paper towels.
Do I keep spare clothes for the kids - right now, yes. I haven't quite figured out kids clothing all the way yet. I picked out a capsule wardrobe for my girls 2 years ago, then reacted to that by binging last summer... and we still are dealing with the excess from that. So we keep them put away. I would love to have some put away... but not much. I will say that I have found that if you have the equivalent of 3-4 outfits for each child you WILL have to replace them with more mid-season, and if you are buying them new that can work for or against you (ie: you can buy them on clearance because the new seasons clothes are out already or you can end up unable to find clothing for the season you're in). Anyway... I'm still figuring out how best to do kids clothing.
Do I have a blog - no. I've totally thought about it because it would be fun to have commenters to share ideas with because there isn't much info out there on going minimalist with a big family.
do i wash colors separately -
No. my husband is the only one in this family brave enough to wear white, though
I don't wash reds separately either. Because we are moving next month I'm not currently cloth diapering - but I normally wash diapers separately. I'm hoping to experiment with diapers when we get there to figure out a more minimalist approach. So far I've drawn only blanks (besides EC'ing but we're a bit late for that).
Our laundry system works for us but it would be a nightmare for someone who likes to wear white. Actually, separate or together, whites and lights are a lot of work. I just don't go there.
My husband has one white button-down shirt and that's it. He washes it with everything else (all his work clothes - which for him are dress pants and shirts) and it lasts a long time for a white shirt. For undershirts I buy v-necks so no part of it pokes out if he unbuttons his collar. If he gets in a car accident and ends up in the emergency room everyone will know the awful truth: I'm a laundry rule breaker and all our whites are dingy. sigh.
Anyway... this works for us because I'm totally okay not wearing white (with all these kiddos I would spend most of my day fretting over white anything, I think). But I know people who love having white in their wardrobe and for them it is worth the extra work. So I don't think my laundry system will work for everyone, and good thing, too, because I enjoy all the cool summery outfits people put together with white items... totally cute but not for me right now.
Oh, and did I mention our sheets are black?
Really, I would paint my walls black if it wouldn't totally depress me.
A busy psychedelic pattern would work too, but we're trying to sell this house, LOL!
(and for walls and trim I'm crazy enough to like white, which is why I have to have painters in this week. sigh)
Okay, I think this is the end of my novel.
Oh, for those who asked: we are moving to Portland. I've actually never been to OR at all. We were given the opportunity to all go out there this summer to check it out but I decided I'd rather move out there sight unseen than spend ANY extra time in an airplane with my kids. Our kids are great, but I'm not looking forward to this trip