Okay folks, gather round. I will forthwith dispense all my various and sundry secrets and magic formulas for running a household involving a small nation of people, and sum up every household-related question that anyone asked in my Open Season post. Are you ready? Here goes…
- Get up in the morning. This seems obvious, but it is harder than it sounds, especially if it is cold, rainy, dark, gloomy, or Tuesday. Or if you are going on less than 3 straight hours of sleep at night.
- Look around. See something that needs to be done.
- Do it.
- Repeat #’s 2 and 3 all day long.
What? You wanted specifics? Sheesh, you guys are particular AND nosy!
Just kidding. You know I love specifics. I live for them. They are my lifeblood. Or at least my lifelymph.
Mrs. Mordecai asked “How many gallons of milk do y’all go through in a week?”
Answer: Somewhere around a gallon per day, so seven (wicked cool math skilz, eh?). Plus some almond/soy/rice milk. Recently I decided we could do without the rBGH (honestly, we have no need of more hormones in this house, thankyouverymuch), so we buy our milk from Braums, although someday I would love to have a little dairy cow all of my ownty-own. That would be so very naturey and organicky and homegrowny.
Heather and Tricia (I have no link for Tricia, but we all know that the Sneetches without stars on their bellies are every bit as special as those with) wondered how scheduled I am.
Answer: As you may have gathered from the synopsis of my daily plan (above), my grip strength with regards to daily planning is somewhere between “relaxed” and “dead fish.” I have tried to maintain rigorous schedules in the past, but inevitably I fall back on the FBTSOMP* method in the end. I make lots of plans on the spur of the moment, and schedules don’t appreciate that. Plus they are awfully accusatory and snarky, those schedules. Whenever I have one sitting around, it just can’t resist reminding me of all the things I haven’t done, the things I will never get done because I am sadly human, and the fact that I am pathetic and hopeless. When that happens, I tear the thing to shreds and laugh maniacally until I feel better.
That said (and because HappyMommy asked), I have to say that I am pretty organized. I am anti-scheduling but very pro-organization. I told you I was bipolar! By organized I mean that I have an abhorrence for clutter and therefore work very hard to have a place for everything. Also, I regularly de-toy-ify and de-clothes-ify. Keeping toys and clothing to a minimum makes life easier. Probably the single most clutterfying element in my life is homeschooling. Curriculum, papers, projects, and the like constantly threaten to take over. Okay, okay, so does the scrapbook paper, but at least that’s pretty.
Sharon asked “What does a menu look like for your house for the week/month, if you make one? Do you have a master shopping list? What are your must have convienece items?,” Adrienne (non-star-bellied sneetch) asked “How do you grocery shop for a family that big?,” AM (also star free) asked “Who cooks dinner?,” smilinmom22 (starless) asked “What is your family’s all time favorite dinner menu?,” Donna Mc asked “how many pizzas do y’all have to order for Pizza Night?,” and Stacey (no star) asked what dinnertime at my house was like.
That’s a lot of questions about groceries, my dear readers. Truth is, I really don’t understand why the Powers That Be can put a man on the moon, but they cannot invent a pill we could pop that would take care of all our dietary needs + fill us up for every meal. It would make my life so much simpler.I find groceries excruciatingly boring. But because you are precious in Jesus’s sight, I will give you the answers:
Answer(s): I make weekly menus, on a good week. I usually plan for four or five dinners, and the other two days are FFY**. I will admit that there are weeks in which every night is FFY, however. I do not have a master shopping list. I live a half a mile from super Wal Mart, and I go twice a week. The first trip is major, the second trip is for basics like bread and bagels and TP. Yes, we tear through bagels at the same rate as toilet paper. Bagels are tastier, however.
When the children were all under the age of ten, I would simply wait until My Beloved came home to go grocery shopping, and I would go alone. Or we would all pile in the car and go together. Nowadays I usually take a child or two over the age of ten with me. I only fill one cart due to the extreme (and evil) accessibility of the groceries to me, and the fact that I have one fridge/freezer combo. No, I do not have a second fridge, or a separate freezer. I know! It’s a crazy world.
I am not a great cook. I don’t like cooking. I like baking, but baked goods don’t make well-rounded meals, apparently. We recently switched over to a 98% vegetarian diet, which hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I thought it might be. Thankfully I have a husband who is easygoing when it comes to food (his favorite food is pretty much cold cereal), and my little kids were picky already, so nothing changed there. They still say ICKY! to what I put in front of them, so why not make it even healthier?
That said, there are a few things my family will all devour in short order. Homemade pizza. Vegetable and tofu fried rice. Mandarin orange salmon. Black bean burgers. Speaking of pizza, I don’t order it anymore. Something so delicious that can be made for pennies per person at home should not be purchased for filthy lucar. When I make it at home, two extra-large pizzas feed everybody. Yes. I’m serious. Big eaters we are not.
So my menu includes lots of bananas, apples, avocados, tofu, noodles, eggs, fish, lettuce, edemame, yogurt, cheese, rice, black beans, garbanzos, and bread. Must-have convenience items would be french toast sticks (I didn’t make my kids give these up; they simply make my mornings far too easy), and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies, which my two year old pretty much lives on. They make his poop orange, by the way. I knew you’d want to know.
Sometimes my eldest daughter will cook something. Mostly, however, it is my domain. When it comes to cooking I just want to get it done. I’m tired by the end of the day and I don’t want to stand in the kitchen any longer than I have to, which has translated into get out and leave me alone if you ever want to eat to my kids, which means they do not know how to cook. Yes, this is a failing of mine, I know. If you want to come over and teach some of them to cook, then by all means get your butt over here.
Dinnertime at my house, when we all sit down together (not much lately, but I am determined to change that soon), is noisy. Some nights more than others. Usually we have several conversations all going at the same time, which to an outsider might seem pretty crazy, I suppose. I haven’t enforced a lot of rules other than for the love of all the fuzzy bunnies in the green green meadow, chew with your mouth closed or so help me I will wire your jaw shut, which means my oldest son can be seen “eating like a caveman” (according to his sisters, albeit a caveman who at least chews with his mouth closed) more often than not. Something else for me to work on. Or maybe I’ll let his wife do it.
Thus ends the groceries answers. And there was much rejoicing.
Several people asked about laundry. I answered the laundry question a little while ago, with this post. All I can add to what is written there is the simple truth that we have a few rules regarding clothing. First of all, what you put on in the morning is what you wear all day. No playing dress-up from your own drawers. Given that we homeschool, there is no need to change from “school clothes” to “play clothes” upon returning home, which helps. Also, we have the “look and smell” test at the end of the day. Look at your clothes. Are they dirty? Smell your clothes. Do they smell gross? If the answer to both of these questions is “no”, put them back in your drawer. Yes, sometimes grungy clothing gets put back into drawers. But usually it works.
Please don’t ask me any more laundry questions. I might cry.
And then there is the chore question, which “AM” also asked. Every night each child has an assigned room or area of the house that they are responsible for cleaning up. These areas rotate every two weeks. If anyone says “but it’s not my mess!” they are reminded that at that same moment someone else is cleaning up THEIR mess. If it is a particularly huge mess (like someone made a gimungo tent out of sheets in the living room, or DS#1 has a movie set in place somewhere), they will be asked to remove their portion of the disaster, but generally it works well. The littlest children are called upon to clean up their own rooms. Dishes are My Beloved’s domain. All else pretty much falls to me, which has worked because I Am Anal.
Part of my problem is that I have always been really bad at delegating. My Dad’s philosophy of “If you want something done right you do it yourself” lodged itself very firmly in my frontal lobe early on and let me tell you, that sucker has a tenacious grip (both the philosophy AND my Dad, incidentally). As I get older and more decrepit I find myself getting better at ordering people about, however. So there’s hope.
Somebody or two (please forgive me, whoever you are; I’m simply too pooped to look you up) asked if the older kids help with the youngers, and to what extent.
Answer: We do not “assign” an older child to a younger child as some families do. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s never really felt necessary (although we tried it after the birth of #7 and it fell by the wayside, probably because it felt rather regimented, and we already discussed my abhorrence for regimentation***). If I need a teen to brush somebody’s teeth or wipe somebody’s butt or make somebody a sandwich, I just ask them, and they do it. Most of them do it happily, and sometimes they will even change a diaper or get someone ready for bed completely unbidden. They all truly do love the little ones and enjoy being around them the majority of the time, perhaps because they haven’t had to think of them as extra chores.
I don’t know if it’s easier to have tons of kids rather than a few, or not. I know that it’s easier to do some things now that I have older ones around, but other things have become harder, and some things have had to completely fall by the wayside due to our extreme numbers. I try not to make my kids into personal servants, although I also want them to see the blessings of servanthood in a larger sense. This is the balance I am seeking, although I don’t anticipate finding it this side of heaven.
*Flying By The Seat Of My Pants
**Fend For Yourself
***not a real word