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The KEY, by guest columnist Courtney, aka “One Mom of Many”

The Key

by Courtney aka “One Mom of Many”

How does a parent of many keep up with it all . . . dishes, laundry, cleanliness, et cetera, and lots of kiddos?

I cannot truthfully claim to stay on top of it all all of the time, but I think I can honestly say that we keep a pretty good handle on things the majority of the time.  How is the question.  The answer can be summed up in one word – efficiency.

Children are not born with this estimable quality, but with practice and patience it can be imparted.  In a large family this is a must!  I am very fortunate to be married to “the most efficient man in the world.”  This definitely helps in the “efficiency training” of our children.  If I am not on it 100% of the time, I know he is.

von trapp





(NOT my family, but clearly an efficient one.)

Photo credit: Sound of Music

What I did when I realized that our lives were careening out of control was to look at the things which were giving me the most trouble.  Where was the most time/effort being wasted?  It was time to implement  the “efficiency experiment.”

One of my worst problems was laundry.  I did not have trouble getting the clothes clean, but getting them folded and put away was another matter.  Any horizontal surface ended up being  home to the laundry monster.  For a while, the ability to locate the couch under the mountains of clothes was nearly impossible.  And forget trying to actually find a particular article.  Pffft!  So I created the “family closet” – IN the laundry room.  I cannot claim credit for this idea, but I CAN attest to its efficacy.  It works great!  The laundry goes straight from the dryer to the hanger/drawer of the owner.  Much tidier, and the laundry monster is now merely a dark dream from the past.  On the other end of the laundry spectrum is the problem of dirties.  Heaps of dirty clothes can pile up pretty quickly in a large family (who am I kidding, my own closet can attest to the fact that one person NOT doing her part can make a huge pile in no time).  So we trained the kiddos to remove the dirties from the dirty bodies and immediately put them in the appropriate laundry hamper.  Voila!  No piles of yucky clothes here and there, and the laundry is already sorted.  The two year old twins are even pretty good at knowing what goes where, and the baby is eager if not always accurate.  Here is where the training comes in.  The kids must know to do this and how.

much better laundry monster





Not my own laundry monster, but you get the idea.

Muuuuuuch better!

Dishes were another problem area for me.  If I let even one meal slide, it became like an insurmountable mound.   Three meals a day plus snacks can add up to a lot of dishes.  To help out this busy mom, we have taught our kids to take their own dishes to the “dirty side” of the sink and toss out their own trash.  It may not seem like much, but a cleared table and all the soiled items together makes the dishwasher loading go much more quickly.  The seven year old has been given the chore of unloading and putting away – a task that he doesn’t mind because he gets to use his own special stool.

Using time efficiently is not the only way to help our household run more smoothly.  Good use of space is another big issue – especially in large families.  We intentionally chose to buy a house that might seem too small for a growing, large family – 2,000 square feet approximately.  We labor under the belief that bedrooms are generally just for that.  To sleep in.  The living spaces is where we gather and live together, and the great outdoors are our heaven on earth.  Because of this choice we must use the space we have carefully.  Bunk beds have become our best friends.  We have two so far, and one of them is a triple.  Its super sturdy and super cool.  Our kiddos love it!  Toys?  We seem to have a ton, but they can be contained in one medium-sized toy box and a small closet (outside toys, not included).  We have the kiddos go through every so often, cull through, and get rid of those which are broken, missing pieces, or just have lost their appeal.  We even try to buy them efficiently.  How much fun can be gleaned from this toy versus that one?







One of our “best friends”  

Enjoying some of that outdooriness

Clothes are another space hog.  When they become too small or unwearable, they are cleaned and packed away for the next needy kiddo, or tossed into the rag box to continue serving as car cleaners.  Every four to six months, my husband and I go through the house in general and purge things which aren’t being used and give them to other’s who are more in need of them. 

This “efficiency experiment” has become a way of life for us.  Whether the issue is time, space, energy, money, or some other topic, being efficient has payed off greatly.  Waste has become an enemy and an abomination to me.  I hope, and think, we are teaching our children to use their time, space, energy,  belongings, et cetera wisely and efficiently.

courtney best pic



“One Mom of Many”