Big Family Minimalism! - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 90 Old 03-30-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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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.

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#62 of 90 Old 03-30-2010, 10:07 PM
 
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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
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#63 of 90 Old 05-13-2010, 02:00 PM
 
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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.
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#64 of 90 Old 05-13-2010, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have this one

http://www.lg.com/ca_en/home-applian...-WM3988HWA.jsp

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.


 

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#65 of 90 Old 05-17-2010, 01:34 AM
 
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A lot of family of 6 here LOL... Great posts and advice.
I need to come back and read through every posts, subbing...

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#66 of 90 Old 05-17-2010, 09:41 AM
 
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Love this idea!!
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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.

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#67 of 90 Old 05-26-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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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.

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mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#68 of 90 Old 05-28-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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Taking notes! My personal motto is borrowed from William Morris:

Quote:
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.

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#69 of 90 Old 06-04-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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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!

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#70 of 90 Old 06-05-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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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!

Katie, mama to Katherine 19, Christian 17, Johannah 15, Nicholas 10, Genevieve 8, Matthew 5, Andrew 11/16/09 10#6oz home waterbirth and madly in love with  my husband, Scott

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#71 of 90 Old 06-05-2010, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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


 

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#72 of 90 Old 06-05-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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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

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#73 of 90 Old 06-05-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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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:
http://myblessedhome.wordpress.com/
click on organizing and household management

Katie, mama to Katherine 19, Christian 17, Johannah 15, Nicholas 10, Genevieve 8, Matthew 5, Andrew 11/16/09 10#6oz home waterbirth and madly in love with  my husband, Scott

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#74 of 90 Old 06-05-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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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".

Katie, mama to Katherine 19, Christian 17, Johannah 15, Nicholas 10, Genevieve 8, Matthew 5, Andrew 11/16/09 10#6oz home waterbirth and madly in love with  my husband, Scott

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#75 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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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
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#76 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!


 

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#77 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 05:34 AM
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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.
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#78 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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look, just because i have a minimalist number of kids. . . LOL!
Hey, are you calling my kids clutter?



j/k


 

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#79 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 08:54 PM
 
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Hey, are you calling my kids clutter?



j/k

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#80 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 09:02 PM
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lol

i suppose they are not clutter if they are useful or beautiful.
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#81 of 90 Old 06-06-2010, 09:41 PM
 
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they are not clutter if they are useful or beautiful




(And ditto a pp... in my neck of the woods, two is considered a "full house" in terms of kiddos. When I was pregnant with #3 I had a midwife ask "this was a mistake right?" in reference to the pregnancy, and I actually get comments from strangers because we have a third! I always want to refer them here so they can meet families that really do hit the mark of "lots" )

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#82 of 90 Old 06-07-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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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!
True, but I have found over the years that families who have several close-in-age children can have similar logistical issues to families with lots of kids, and those kinds of logistics just aren't often covered well anywhere but the "large family" boards and threads, in my experience.

I had four babies in 5-1/2 years and had two sets of "two under two." Most of the families I've found online with the kinds of clutter logistics and efficiency logistics that I have faced (and that I think this thread is meant to address) have been either families with closely spaced babies, families with lots of kids, or both.

So even though I am well aware that I have "only" four, I had four in carseats at once, two in daytime diapers and four in nighttime diapers, two or three sharing nursing, four who were not yet good at helping with cleanup, etc. With those kinds of overlapping needs and no big kids yet to help out, four feels like a big enough family to post in a thread like this. I know most people IRL seem to go a little crosseyed when asking me how I manage, or especially how I managed when they were all little.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#83 of 90 Old 06-07-2010, 07:14 PM
 
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I've been lurking here though I only have 3 of my own...but I run a home daycare, so weekdays during the day, I have 6. Big family logistics are therefore pretty familiar to me.

I have *got* to implement the `one mug and dish per person per day' rule. We already have a klean kanteen filled up for each person every morning, but it is the cups of milk and herbal tea (for the older ones) that are killing me.

I've stopped using the dishwasher. It is more ergonomic to just wash the dishes and put them away. And they get cleaner.
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#84 of 90 Old 06-08-2010, 10:09 AM
 
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Some fantastic ideas, here! As a mama of "only" 4 kiddos :, I've had to rethink some of my methods- amount of clothing and storage for stuff being 2of the big ones. Oldest dd had 27 short sleeved shirts (that all fit!) at one time- if I let that continue, we'd have 108 shirts to deal with, wash and put away during the summer months : I stopped buying storage containers for toys/puzzles, etc. When the amount of stuff is more than the space we have to store it, some stuff has to go until everything fits again. I don't believe in making all of the kids' toys community property, so each one has their own stuff, stored in their rooms and downstairs in the playroom. But it all has to fit in the space allotted, and they do get to help me decide what goes and what stays- if they can't help me choose what goes, then I choose for them. (And I shamelessly toss all Happy Meal toys the day after they come home )

We also had 4 kids in car seats, 3 under 5, etc. I totally agree that the spacing of kids is more relevant than number of kids sometimes. Although, even with a 10yo to help, 4 kids is nutso most days :

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#85 of 90 Old 06-08-2010, 08:16 PM
 
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SO nice to see a thread devoted to larger families. I've been reading and thinking, so please forgive me for jumping in with a lot to say...

I was very organized when I had one child. Somewhat, with two. When the third arrived, it was a struggle, but I could do it with enough coffee and effort. Four and five are really testing me....chaos, noise, legos, madness. I will not mention the laundry, and today - you may not look into the bathrooms. What on earth do they do in there?

Now, we homeschool also. DH is away 3-4 days a week for work. I am really, really making an effort here to GET RID OF STUFF so that I can focus on what really matters! We would love to list our home in the near future, and find a couple of acres. The thought of staging our home is overwhelming, but I have time, a clipboard, and a whole-lotta coffee!

I've been making progress, but need a little help in getting the family on board. Over the five years in this home, we've amassed an impressive amount of nail holes, corner dings, and baseboard scuffs. The toys have reproduced! I have too many little shirts, single socks, and books, books, books! The carpet upstairs is horrible! I was turning a blind eye to these things, which was a mistake. Or not...maybe I was overwhelmed and busy having happy babies. Whatever the reason, right now I feel the clutter pressing on my happiness, and I'm ready to throw open the windows, shovel out the crap, and let the kids see that the stuff doesn't matter! I want to see bright, open, sunfilled spaces!

I'm trying hard to be content, but motivated. Feeling sad and sorry gets me 'stuck'. One book that helps me is "Material World" by Peter Menzel. I take in the amazing photos of how people live all over the world (and not just next door, down the street, or in the media). It's a great object lesson for the kids, and a good place to start when deciding if we really need this or that. Blogs are sometimes and inspiration, and sometimes a big fat bummer when I'm comparing. I use them sparingly. Same with magazines, HGTV, etc. Even with one child, my reality, my needs, and my budget were pretty different from the 'norm'.

Big long post wrapping up here...For me, step one in organizing a big family is a mental process...finding a vision. Why am I doing this mama, homeschool, AP granola thing? What am I trying to achieve? What should my ideal (present) home feel like? (My goal is a peaceful, cozy, nurturing, sunlit space with simple well loved things. Neutral, light colors. Stack of books, bowl of oranges, pile of pillows....I'd love to read about others!) I try to have that picture in my mind before I order the baskets, chuck the toys, scrub the grout, etc. Mothering and organizing a large brood feels like trying to hit a moving target most days! I've wasted so much time and money trying to find the stuff that would make me organized. I'm getting wise to that fact that some quiet time thinking about what I want the space around me to feel like, look like, smell like brings everything into focus.

Anyhow, I'm not close to being 'there' yet. I really hope to learn a lot from all of you, and look forward to reading more!


simply being a mama to 5!loving, living and learning at home...
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#86 of 90 Old 06-24-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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Digging up an old thread

We are a family of seven living in 900 sq.ft. and I battle this constantly. My hubby is on the hoarding side too so it make things much more difficult. We have a boys box for their toys (mostly legos and blocks now that they are older) and a girls set of shelves with bins. I usually can keep this up pretty well. It has gotten better as time has gone on. My problem mostly is outdoor things like skates, skis, skateboards, etc. We rent so a lot of options are out for us.

I do find the "how many per kid" question a difficult one. Does anyone have any ideas on this? I do find that many things I keep are sentimental to me or dh not necessarily the kids. I think just reading this thread has helped me get a little more motivated!

~Lanie mom to Layne, Liam, Maren, Meridian, and Melora
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#87 of 90 Old 06-24-2010, 09:37 PM
 
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I am really enjoying this thread. We do the one water bottle per child( I actually managed to find seven different colored ones at one store, on sale even!!!) We use the same bowls/plates throughout the day, washing quickly between meals(no dishwasher). I have to say that we got some very pretty ones from the Asian market and it is more of a joy to wash them and see them drying on the towel than the old mismatched ones. :P Beauty can make the mundane bearable. One of our more troublesome areas is our homeschool materials...books and craft items and nature basket treasures. I need to cutdown the books but I know I will need some of them again. There are bookshelves in most of the rooms. I strive to keep them organized and for the most part I do.
Another frustration for me is the closet. I have all the winter coats and fall jackets in my closet and oh my goodness! there are a ton of them! It looks like a store lol. I tried the space bags but my cat pops them every time, so I suck it up and have bulky coats on one whole wall.

Wendy,loving wife to Brian, happy mama of Trinity(15), Christian(15), Gavin(13), Logan(11), Griffon(9),Jubilee(7), Epiphany (4), and Lucian Danger( born 18 April 12) <3
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#88 of 90 Old 06-25-2010, 01:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimplyMama View Post
Big long post wrapping up here...For me, step one in organizing a big family is a mental process...finding a vision. Why am I doing this mama, homeschool, AP granola thing? What am I trying to achieve? What should my ideal (present) home feel like? (My goal is a peaceful, cozy, nurturing, sunlit space with simple well loved things. Neutral, light colors. Stack of books, bowl of oranges, pile of pillows...
Excellent point and I have the same vision for my house! I want big pillows and bowls of oranges too!!

Here's me I married then we had dd15 , dd11 , ds10 , and then and now we and I blog!
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#89 of 90 Old 06-26-2010, 03:11 PM
 
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Subbing for ideas. Baby #5 is 6 weeks old and I'm wanting to do a total overhaul of our home and get rid of stuff. We need it.

Wife to DH(10/02) Mom to DD1('03), angel1.gif('04), DS1('05), DD2('07), DS2('08), DD3('10) angel1.gif(08/11), angel1.gif (09/11). We follow Jesus, praying.gif, quiverful, homeschool.gif,cd.gif ,winner.jpg,familybed1.gif,femalesling.GIF, and we are a food allergic family.

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#90 of 90 Old 07-11-2010, 01:13 AM
 
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Hi! Expecting baby #4 in a couple weeks, so I feel like we're getting ready to make the leap into big family territory!

So far I'm loving the one place setting per person idea as far as dishes, and I've just today purged three trash bags full of toys and stuffed animals from my kids' rooms. Yesterday I finally let go of more than half of the girl clothes I've been hanging onto that dd has outgrown (our latest addition is a boy). The clothes were hard to let go of, because I still hope that someday we might add another little girl to our family. But I simply can't keep all these clothes for years and years.

Love this thread!

Wife to a wonderful dh and mom to four beautiful kiddos, dd (3/04):, ds1 (1/06), ds2 (10/08), and ds3 (7/10)
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