Monday, January 18, 2016

YOU ASKED, "What do you do about...." and I ANSWERED =)

    These are questions that I get asked all the time by you, by people I know in person, by random people in walmart (true story). "What do you do about....", questions always come up for those with large families.  For this post I have kind of limited it down to more practical, day to day things.  Like socks and clothing and stuff.
      Large families or any families for that matter, need to have some sort of method to the madness for life to work.  I do best with uncomplicated systems.  I don't like paper or notes or things that need a lot of brain power to figure out.  My "systems" were mostly born out desperation and survival!  I have kept them over the years with few changes because they work!  Hope you enjoy a peek in to my world! 
Girls room
     Bedrooms do not hold toys.  They are sleeping rooms.  They have beds and books and clothing.  The less "toys" in there the better.  Now, as my kids have gotten older.  More has been placed in their room but that's because they can handle it. 
     They have always been allowed to play in their rooms but, at the end of the day, toys live elsewhere!
     When my kids were younger they all shared one sleeping room.  Then later one, we separated.  Little ones "getting trained" usually went from the baby room to a big girl room and then to the boy room.

     I love my room rules!  Starting when my kids were very little the rules was 7 pm- 7 am.  We still more or less have the same rules even with older kids.  At 7 you go to bed and if you wake up before 7 you "keep sleeping".  At 7 you may read until "Mom/Dad WAKE up the house"  until then, you stay in your room, and on your bed.  
     Kids under 5 are allowed to have some stuffed animals to play with but quietly and on their bed.  Kids still in cribs (for me that is like birth to 3 or 4) get stuffed animals and some cloth books or board books.  Babies/toddlers of course will make more noise but older kids need to be quiet.
D7b with his book box on his bed reading.  
     This was hardest to teach to the first few kids but after that it was a breeze!  Younger kids naturally do what the older kids do so when you come out of a crib, you go into a big kid room and they train you.  Very easy.
     This rule has made it to where I do not have kids roaming the house, getting into food, tearing apart their rooms, ect.
     Now that my kids are older, the under 13 crowd go to bed at 7 and read until 7:30.  The teens stay up until 8 in the general home area.  They can read or do quiet things like draw, play games, etc.
     Like I said it was a lot of work training the first few kids and one of my kids basically had to live in my room until he was 5 because he could not be trusted anywhere else.  (longggggg story)  BUT, our of the 16 1/2 years of having kids, the morning routine was only hard for about 3 years (from when my oldest was 2 until about 5).  And the training years were totally worth it!

Personal stuff totes: 
     We have 18 gallon totes for big kids and my little kids have the 10 gallon ones. When the kids get something, like for their birthday or the make something they want to keep, that is where their personal stuff goes.  If a child leaves their item out and a sibling gets it, there is a "reasonable" amount of grace given the owner to not have to share and reclaim the item.  After a while (usually, for us, a few weeks), if you leave your item out and someone else plays with it, then you have to let them play with it but, you may say, "when you are done please bring it to me so I can put it away".  
  If you leave your item out in general it will get picked up and thrown in the misc. bin.  If you run out of space in your bin then you need to go through your stuff and purge. 
     Eventually, most items kids no longer have an interest in claiming and the items get placed in the designated bin.  
   For instance, if D7b gets legos for his birthday, he will probably "lay claim" to them for about a month.  After that, those new legos that he has been keeping in his special box will eventually end up in the main lego bin.  Another for instance, when my girls were younger they had the "sweet streets doll house" stuff.  If Fg got a new doll house and people for Christmas then she had "first rights" to said items.  After a few months, they are just fair game unless being kept in her special box.
     This system has worked excellently for years!!!!!!  I did change the totes to under the bed rolling totes for the older kids and that is working great too.  It's a beautiful thing for sure =)
     Now, as the kids have gotten older, the older kids have less toys and more specific things.  The Girls in their room have additional art supplies being stored (one of my daughters is an artist), paper crafting supplies and crochet stuff.  Boys... they don't really collect things yet and we don't do video games.  
     In each big kid room, each child does have a small area to put out a thing or two of their choice.  Girls have jewelry boxes and picture frames, boy show off their bionicle creations.


     Limit and have somewhere for them to go.  In the past and when I had more little people,  I turned the hall closet into the toy closet. I stuck a plastic shelf in there and all my toy bins fit. It was wonderful. The more you simplify it, the easier it will be to keep track, clean up, and cut down on fights. 
The ONE misc toy bin on our
homeschool and book shelf
     I found out that no matter how much they had they still played with the same 3 categories mostly.  Girls: doll houses, dress up and tea parties;  Boys: vehicles, legos, action figures.  So I limit, even if something else seems cool, I would not buy it because it would have "no home" in my home.  Aside from the main stuff, we also had a tote for craft/coloring, blocks/trains, stuffed animals.... which I limit to 3 or 4 per person (do the math that is 30-40 stuff animals in my house- more than enough)
     If you do keep toy totes in their room, maybe try and get all the toys in the closet. The closet is OFF LIMITS. If a child goes in there and takes something when they shouldn't, like at bedtime, they get disciplined AND that tote is now "in time out" for say... 3 days, in mom and dads room. That's right! everyone suffers from that one. There is a corporate effect to our sin!
So if sister #3  sinned and played with the toys when she should have been sleeping, that affected everyone!  Now sister #1 and sister #2 can not play with dollhouses either. This train of thought will actually help the kids to encourage eachother to make good choices.  Some exception may apply like maybe you decide that the 2 other girls can play with them in your room but not the offending one.  It's a judgement call.
     At this point in time with my youngest being 5, I only have one small bin of misc toys that fit in the black ikea box on our ikea shelf.  The little boys have legos, hot wheels, some dress ups, and their misc. bin (which holds their action figures and misc toys).  The older boys mainly just play outside or with legos.  The girls do lots of artsy stuff.
     We do not do video games or computer games (outside of schooly stuff).  During my kids' free time, they play outside, play board/group games, lego's, read and do arts and crafts... and their own made up stuff.


     We put a towel rack up in each bedroom (would have done the bathroom if I had large bathrooms). Each child has their own color towel and they have 2 each. One stays in the cupboard and one hangs up. 1x a week we "switch out". This way I know who is leaving their towel on the floor.

Clothing and "The dot thing": 
     Using a dark sharpie:  First boy/girls clothes gets one dot on the tag, when it gets passed down to the next boy/girl you add a dot and the third you add a dot, ect. With 6 boys I went up to 4 dots and then started over again. In hind sight, I think I would have liked starting over at 3 dots.  It was no big deal starting over as the size difference in clothing from the original dot owner  to the "start over" dot owner is clear enough that there is no confusion.
    In later years:  For the girls, I only mark their pants.  They know whose shirts belong to whom.  For the boys I will either use the dots or write the first letter of their name.

                                            Whose clothes are whose?: 

E5b gets his clothes out in the
morning to get dressed.
     As far as "who gets what"- ummmm- no.  You don't get to be picky.  You get whatever DOT you are. You get what you get and you don't throw a fit.  If it's your dot and you are that dot, you wear it.  
     For like 12 years H14.9g and M13g were both 2 dots.  There were very few exceptions to our "fair game" rules.  For instance, Jackets- you had your own.  Or if you got a special shirt or dress for your birthday.   They were always very respectful of things like... if Hg got a shirt for her birthday, that was "her shirt" but it still got 2 dots on it and went in the same drawer as all the other stuff.  
    Also, since I condensed their clothing to one category, I didn't have as many things. So if Fg got 5 pants, 7 shirts and 3 dresses, then Hg/Mg got 8 pants, 10 shirts and 6 dresses. Fair but within reason that they had a bigger wardrobe in the 2 dot category.


     I dot PJ's too and they usually only have 2-3 pairs each. They wear one set for a few nights (goes under their pillow in the day) and then swap out. Littlest kids have more pairs because in the winter I double up (skinny pj's under the one piece footed zip up pj's) and, in general, they tend to need to go through more pj's.

What about under things?: 

     Buy them different stuff. Fg has one brand of underwear, The Reds (H/M) another, and Chg another. Same for socks, tights, bra's, etc.   I either put a dot in or I stitched 1 line or two lines, ect. Again as they get into their teens, I mark less because "they know". 

Limiting clothing:   

     We limit... and I just encourage you to limit. Limit the amount of clothes to what you actually want to wash. If the kids took all of their clothing out and dirtied them in one day, is that an appropriate amount of laundry? If you would not want to do more than 4 loads- limit it. I limit by amount. they get 5 pairs of pants, 7 shirts ect... I keep a tote on the top shelf of the closet full of more things so that if an item is stained or ripped I can "go shopping" in that tote for replacements.  

Clothing expectations: 

Behind the door are their dresses.
      I will first talk about what worked for years and then with what we are doing now with older kids.  
     We don't have dressers in my kids rooms because there is no room and I found I liked it better!  (If I had a room to use as a family closet I would- just say'n). Okay, I have done it different ways based on the room and what I have.  My favorite, and is still mostly in use, is the 3 drawer totes. 
     Each child has a 3 drawer tote. The bottom drawer is pants, middle is shirts and top in socks/undies. (For those that share dots, the socks are in one persons totes and the undies in another). 
     We don't really fold clothing:  We throw socks and undies in a drawer, pants and shirts get rolled neatly and put in a drawer and I have an open tote to toss all pj's in. This was do-able for them. It was frustrating when I required everything to be folded. Once I "let go" of that, things were smooth sailing!

     That is the system I used FOR YEARS! (like until Fg was 13), eventually my older kids got to the point where a lot of their clothing was just too big to fit, so we do it a little different now.

     The girls still use the 3 drawer totes.  Shirts and skirts get hung up. Bottom drawer is rolled pants, then under things and then pj's. Dresses get hung up.  
Top two drawers are undies and socks
The bottom two are for pants.  Two
boys each share one pant drawer.
NO FOLDING, just toss them in!
     The 4 older boys hang up all shirts and they go in sections in the closet that are divided by green, sparkly hangers. They share a mega drawer thing for the other stuff.  Pants for two boys in one drawer and pants for two others in another.  Socks in one and undies in another of the little drawers. Their PJ basket is in the closet and they have a small plastic thing that sits ontop of their hefty drawers for white t-shirts.

     The two youngest have one drawer for all their PJ's and then all of their other clothes get thrown into their own black bin.  Yes.... thrown.  I don't even care anymore.  Plus it's easy and they can do it.  The bins are marked with a pinned on tab so each boy knows which bin is his.  
     I find it amazing that A) so much actually fits in there and B)as long as you don't buy things that wrinkle, then the clothing is not really wrinkly.  It's all good folks!

     I have a bin for swimming stuff that sits at the top of a closet because we go to the pool all the time and half a closet in the little boy room is full of my older kids' Cotillion clothing.  Jackets get hung in their locker on the porch and snowgear stays in the shed until we need it.  And there ya go!

     I hate doing socks- they annoy me.  I also don't particularly like un-matching socks on peoples feet.  I know, I know, it's "in" but not at my house!  We pin our socks together with one safety pin.   When we take them off, we simply pin them together before they go in the wash. This way they stay together!  When we put our socks on, the safety pin stays on one sock.  
     And let me tell ya!  You would never believe how many times that safety pin "saved the day" when out and about and someone needed a safety pin!  True story! 
     Now, someone always forgets to pin them (or doesn't take the time to) so I do have it on my chore list that at the end of the day someone goes through the sock box and matches and pins.  The "sock box" is just the laundry basket that gets used to get stuff out of the dryer.  No magic there- lol.  
     If socks have holes or rips; they get thrown away.  
     Also, everyone gets different "kinds" of socks.  Older boys all wear black socks.  They all wear the same size so they have a general sock drawer.  Three younger boys have different kinds of socks- this way it makes for easy sorting.  Older girls have white socks (never black (no mater what design the boys still end up with them!).  For the sake of less snarking, theirs are the same but color coded even though 3 of them wear the same size.  The three older girls have white socks but the blue strip is F16, the purple is H14, etc.  Last girly has little feet and has her own "kind" as well.  

Chores:  See this post =)

Tooth Brushes:  Gotta go here for that

Dining Room:  click here for that

     Alrighty, that wraps it up!  Is there something you are still really wondering about?  Have a question you want to ask?  Leave it in the comments!


  1. Thanks for the great post! I am the mom to 14 (nine still at home) and loved this. It is always fun to see how other moms manage their large families.

  2. How do I sign up to get your blog? I can't find a place. Love your ideas, many I already use but some I haven't. We only have 5 of our own right now but we are a foster famity so our numbers fluctuate greatly! I love finding ideas I can add children to easily!

  3. all of the "subscribe" buttons and links are on the right hand side. There are quite a few options from FB to email. Let me know if you need more help! I am glad you are finding some things you can glean!

  4. How do I sign up to get your blog? I can't find a place. Love your ideas, many I already use but some I haven't. We only have 5 of our own right now but we are a foster famity so our numbers fluctuate greatly! I love finding ideas I can add children to easily!

    1. all of the "subscribe" buttons and links are on the right hand side. There are quite a few options from FB to email. Let me know if you need more help! I am glad you are finding some things you can glean!