sustainable normality

I told a friend in an email yesterday that I feel like donating everything we own to Goodwill and living in a clean empty house. This isn't entirely true, but it is about 40% true.
I just want my house to be... normal. Not spotless. Not perfect. Not magazine ready. Just not psycho. I don't understand how it is possible to work as hard as I do at maintaining normalness around here and still have things go crazy during the 30 seconds I am not focusing all of my energy on house stuff.

I don't want to clean my house. I want to be the best mom and best wife I can. This means balancing. I do think a clean house helps everyone, though. My two year whines less and plays more imaginatively when things are tidy. (I think he is like me-- my brain works better without all of the visual distraction). I also don't think it does my husband any favors when he comes home from a mentally stressful job and steps knee deep into a different kind of crazy.

So I've decided to start blogging about the little things I am finding helpful, both to help other people (if my "tips" happen to work for you) and to document it for myself so I remember.

During the two weeks that our internet was out, I spent every second trying to "Summer ready" my house. I just wanted to make large scale improvements that would actually make the amount of time my house is clean last longer. I cleaned out the toy box and put half of them in the attic. Luke built shelves for our laundry room. I cleaned out my crazy closet. My house was super clean and just when I was feeling smug, it will fell apart and went back to nutso.

So I am considering a total reevaluation and rethinking of my cleaning routine.

Today I am going to ask for help with LAUNDRY.

Here's the problem:

1) We have way too many clothes.

2) We sometimes wash our clothes when they don't need to be washed.

3) We need better storage for the clothes that do need to be washed.

I am going to attempt to put some of our clothes away. I only actually wear a few things. Do you ever notice something you don't think you've worn in a really long time has come out of the dryer? This happens to me a lot. It could just be my crazy family, but I really think random things get washed way too much. I also think my clothes could be spot cleaned instead of thrown in a washing machine. Not only does it waste water, time, energy (both physical and electrical), and detergent, it also takes a toll on the clothes and they end up looking ratty way too fast. OH! And I also need to stop washing clothes when I don't actually have time to wash, dry, and fold them. I often throw them in the washer just so they don't stain and then I get called away and they end up mildewy or put in the dryer and getting cold and wrinkled and all around gross.

So I am going to try to 1) pick a small wardrobe of clothes that make me happy, 2) spot clean them when I can, and 3) be conscious of what I am putting in my washing machine. I will also 4) not do laundry unless I have the time to fold it, too.

I know this all sounds obvious, but hey! I am stretched pretty thin and I sometimes have a two year old helping me put stuff in the washer. Do you have any other tips?

Okay, I just realized it is Memorial Day weekend and I am blogging about LAUNDRY.

I cleaned one room today and all my family could say is "Mama you so crazy."


  1. i don't want to clean my house either!!! i'd MUCH rather do fun stuff with my kids and husband, bake, cook, edit photos, etc.
    some days it looks like a tornado has ripped through our house... toys, books, mail, laundry, and other stuff seems to be everywhere!
    i have to remind myself that i am not the lady who used to come clean our house (she cleaned our entire house in a couple of hours). i don't have a solid block of time like that to clean... i have two kids who want me to do something fun with them. so i clean my house a little bit at a time. a room here and there while my kids are napping or after they go to bed at night. sure, every room may never be spotless at the same time, but oh well.
    as for laundry, i do pretty well keeping up with the kids' laundry. my laundry is a different story... it gets washed, but it might sit clean in the basket for days. then i wonder why i can't find the shirt i'm looking for.
    looking forward to reading more of your tips and tricks : )

  2. I'm with you on this post - my kids aren't tornado two year olds yet, but they are pretty destructive little 10 month olds already...
    The only thing I've done that has helped me with laundry is get a hamper kind of like this http://www.target.com/Whitmor-Aluminum-Frame-Double-Hamper/dp/B0017L33IW/sr=1-5/qid=1243081987/ref=sr_1_5/191-5347956-8639018?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=0&pricerange=&index=target&field-browse=1038576&rh=k%3Alaundry%20hamper&page=3 (I like ours more) and to keep it in your bedroom and sort dirty clothes into light and dark as you go. Then when one side of the hamper gets full, you wash it. This helps me because I was waiting until the whole hamper got full, and when I sorted it I might find that I had two loads of darks and only one load of lights - this allows me to stay a little more on top of things. Putting it away is such a different story...maybe you should ask my husband for advice. Recently all of his clothes are put away and all of mine are in a big pile by the bed.

  3. I am having wood floor envy RIGHT NOW.
    I get what you mean about laundry. I find that I do less laundry while pregnant because I only have a few wardrobe staples that I rotate, but I totally have a problem with doing laundry that probably doesn't need to be done. Mainly because I have a problem with dropping clothes on the bedroom floor when I'm getting ready in the morning, and then I can't remember if said clothes are clean or dirty. Drives me insane!

  4. I have no real helpful suggestions. But I do have a pile of clothes that were washed on tuesday that I somehow cannot get around to folding. It's weighing heavily on my mind.

    But your house is so lovely!

  5. I've been checking out your blog for a few months and this is the first time I'm commenting. Nancy here by the way!

    I have 2 little ones...three year old boy and a one year old girl. They are destructive together! A month ago I put away so many toys that were not used and just took up space. For some reason, I thought my son would miss these toys and surely he played with them but he hasn't missed them one bit. I agree with you that less clutter equals happier kids (and adults too!)

    I use cloth diapers so my laundry has increased since baby #2. I find that washing a load a day and putting them away immediately, keeps me afloat. If I miss a day, I find that it turns into clean laundry sitting in a basket for several days. You have to be consistent with it - don't miss a beat. It happens sometimes but I find that if I'm on top of it, it's a good method.

    I hope you find a suitable method for your family!

    God bless your beautiful family!

  6. All I feel I do is clean. And it somehow is never clean. Figure that out. ;)


  7. I do each person's laundry on a set day during the week. Mine Sunday, Nate's Monday, Jackson's Tuesday, Jackson's linens Wednesday, the other linens Thursday. This has worked really well for me.

    Instead of cleaning a room at a time, I do one task per day. Vacuum Wednesday, clean shower Friday, etc. This would work really well, except I sometimes skip days if it's a job I really hate, and then things start to pile up! Oh, and there are certain things I try to do every day. It's hard!

  8. Your house is GORGEOUS! And, laundry is a pain.
    I've had very similar struggles lately. I've found that since having Levi, I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning and corralling stuff, and I don't want to. I can't quit though. Like Clark, Levi is nicer and enjoys playing more when things are relatively neat and tidy. I have found a few handy tricks. The biggest one is Goodwill. I've given truckloads of stuff away and am about to give even more. I gave away toys, art supplies, kitchen stuff, clothes, shoes, purses....the list goes on and on. I decided that absolutely everything needed a place and if it didn't have a place, it needed to go. To top it off I decided that I needed empty spaces (drawers, shelves, etc.). I never in a million years dreamed I'd want or need empty places in my house, but I'm telling you, those clear spaces where things could go if you happen to need a space for something, they really do something fabulous for my psyche.
    It's taken me loads of time to get it this way. I've taken it one room at a time. Some of them I've had to redo once or twice after living with them for awhile and realizing that they needed a little more work. It's been worth it though.
    Oh, my mom had a great tip for ditching kid's toys. Bag up the one's you think they won't miss. Put them in a closet or the attic for a month. Whatever they don't ask for in that month, take it to Goodwill.
    Good luck! Can't wait to hear more tips and tricks. I think this is something that most mommies struggle with.

  9. Have you ever read Walk Slowly Live Wildly? One of my favorite blogs- favorite in the way that I remember some of her posts so clearly. Like this one she did a few years ago. I needed to revisit it today. BIG closet purge happening tomorrow.

    http://walkslowlylivewildly.com/2006/11/17/clothing/ (in case that link didn't work!)


  10. laundry is probably been the most frustrating for me lately too.

    To get rid of clothes, I seen a neat trick on Oprah. Hang all the cloths so the hangers are backwards (at the top) hmm e-mail if that is confusing. Then when you wear it and put it back away hang it normally. In 6 months (or 3) anything still hanging backwards goes (to the goodwill or the winter clothes box)

    My hubby and I have a place in the bedroom we put clothes that don't need washed until worn again. So, I'll wear the same sweatpants to bed a few nights in a row. He wears the same pair of pants to work all week (eww).

  11. I seem to have the same struggles. But I have come up with a system that I am slowly getting used to and seems to be working. I do all my laundry in one day, but I don't have kids yet. I work from home and do loads inbetween work, the most important part for me is to hang it up, fold it, and put it away immediately, otherwise It stays clean in a basket till the next laundry day. Also we have certain places for all of our laundry. I have a basket at the bottom the basement stairs that we toss our pjs, towels, kitchen laundry in each day. We have laundry baskets in our closets that only dirty laundry goes in. If we want to re-wear an item we just hang it back up or fold it and put it ontop of the dresser. I also use hooks for lots of stuff. As for my other household cleaning, I have on task I do in the whole house on each day. i.e. clean upstairs bathroom on Tuesday, clean downstairs bath on friday, etc.. YOu could also do a room a day. I have found that if I keep cleaning supplies for each room stored in that room and the vacuum handy I am more likely to do it. Hope this helps and sorry for the essay comment. : )

  12. It's comforting to read someone who shares my exact pain. Our house cannot stay orderly for more than 1 hr. As for laundry...same issues...I tend to get inspired by Ikea. And...with one so close (<2 hrs away)...it is soooo worth the trip!!!

  13. My house is a little "nutso" too.

    I'm not sure how a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old can cause so much chaos and commotion, but THEY CAN.

    I'm glad you're sharing your tips. I think I need them around here. :)

  14. i don't know where to begin with my comment... should i remark on how much i love the photo you took (composition, light, mood, subject matter) or how much i love your decorating IN the photo? your house is adorable (and my floors have never EVER looked that clean.) but that's not really what this post was about, and i'd like to comment on that as well.

    laundry makes me want to barf. i hate it. i hate my clothes because i have no appreciation of what i own because i look at those "pieces" (as if i owned expensive designer clothing) crumpled in a hamper (at best) or crumpled wet on a dirty floor from having sat too long in the washer and now smelling like rot (at worst) most of the time. it's awful. and if you saw what i wear and how often i wear it, you'd be shocked to see what exists in my living room. yes... where do all these articles of unworn clothing come from???

    whew. i didn't know i felt so passionately about my hatred for doing laundry.

    my only advice is: hand it over to the husbandito. i know thats not the right proverbial wifey attitude to have, but seriously, laundry throws me over. the. edge.

    last night terry said, "i'll clean up the mess i made in the laundry room tomorrow from last weekend. i promise." (in reference to some shelving he started putting p too, actually.)

    i hate that room so much, i didn't even know there was a mess in there. i avoid it altogether.