Friday, November 02, 2007

Laundry, papers, and grocery shopping

Forget any nice thing I said about laundry last week. Forget I ever even hinted that I am sometimes on top of it. Laundry is the enemy. As I said in this post, sometimes I wonder why on earth God put me here, at home, with five children (and all their laundry!).

I didn't do my first load of laundry until exactly ten days after I left home (the day I ran out of underwear). Now I do more bushels than I can count. I'd never written a check, and now I'm in charge of our finances. I didn't babysit much, never even liked kids that much, and here I have FIVE of them!

Of course, I'd never been married before, and, well, I learned how to work that out. And I've come to embrace motherhood.

But of all the things I least enjoy doing (dealing with papers, doing laundry, and grocery shopping), what is it that takes up so much of my time? That's right: Dealing with papers, doing laundry, and grocery shopping.

You'd think, after 22 years of marriage and 14 years of parenthood, that I'd at least be resigned to the idea that these jobs are just a part of life. Oh, no. I still spend so much of my time and mental energy acting surprised at how much work it really is to keep this family going. Frustrated that I don't have more free time! Wishing for a reprieve! What on earth?

This morning I sent Annie (6) out the door wearing dirty socks. Yep. And Neal (12) asked me where a particular shirt was. I gave them both my line of, "If you don't put them in the laundry, I can't wash them, and therefore, you can't wear clean ones." I can't figure out where stuff goes. It's the Big Black Hole of clothing.

Which does nothing to explain why I am still washing SO MUCH LAUNDRY. See, it seems that if all these items are disappearing, my job should be getting SMALLER. But no. Instead, it grows exponentially, like so many baby rabbits inhabiting my dryer. It makes for a very grumpy morning (I had to apologize to EACH of my kids this morning!).

Then there's the issue of papers. Ugh. I've really got to get a better system. Yesterday I went through a huge paper sack (I had thrown all the papers that had been stacked up on my counter into it, right before company came recently. My, the house looked spiffy!). I keep all my bills separate and pay most of them online, so that was not the problem. It's all the other stuff - invitations, offers to change electric companies, pictures, and a gazillion bank, insurance, and charitable giving statements. I shredded most of it, but just going through it took the better part of the morning. I'm determined to go through the laundry-sized basket of papers I've been sitting on for several months before Christmas (I went through the other one last week!). Help me stay accountable, will you?

Okay, and now on to grocery shopping. Last week, Jen emailed and asked if I had any tips on saving money on groceries. I replied: NO. Other than "Don't go to the store very often," so you don't buy 5 items instead of the one you went for, I do a really bad job at economizing.

Here's how I justify it: "I'll buy this nice roast for $12 because it would cost us $40 if we went out to eat!" Yes, it's savings, but not savings-savings, if you know what I mean. We have a lot of people to feed, and I think I've just become resigned to the idea that our grocery bill could easily finance a small third-world country. I know I could do better. I'm trying to get better about sticking to a bit of a menu (I hold that word loosely) and thinking more about what my sister Rachel Anne does: use Planned Leftovers.

And now I'm off to the grocery store. Pray for me.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
Proverbs 31:17


Jen said...

I already went to the grocery...right after we dropped off and Miller to 2 grocery stores...God love him we did so well...and we even had to change a dirty diaper while at Walmart......does it ever seem easy?

Anonymous said...

Good luck! I have Mount Washmore in my laundry room, went to the store last night and spent $100 and still not sure what I bought. We have four kids and I seem to meet myself coming and going. HELP!!! I did buy the roast though! I can cook it in the crockpot all day and sometimes that is worth the extra $$ it costs! How did you make out at the store?? And don't get me started on paper - especially the junk that comes home from school!!

Elspeth said...

Oh, Katherine, how I identify with you on the groceries.( and the laundry and the paper, too for that matter) But I just came from the grocery store today and no matter how hard I try and how many systems I implement, my grocery bill still hovers around the same thing. I'm just about ready to give up. Oh, well , I can honestly say I've tried. And now, I have bills to pay so have a wonderful, God and family filled weekend.

Sherri@NoiseOverload said...


I'm so with you on the groceries. Pardon the long comment, but here it goes.

After planning meals, checking the pantry for what we need, driving to the store, etc. Then we have to do the following:
1) Take items off shelf
2) Put
3) Take items out of cart
4) Put items on conveyer belt
for ringing up
5) Put items back in cart
6) Wheel cart out to car
7) Take items out of cart
8) Put items in car
9) Drive home
10) Take items out of car
11) Carry items in house
12) Take items out of bags
13) Put items away

Anyone still amazed that we hate this chore?

Michelle said...

I am not getting ready to brag - trust me I am NOT. There is a laundry list of things I didn't do right and could have done better. But one thing I did do was teach my kids to do their own laundry. By the time they were 12 they were fully on their own. It started out as a necessity with my oldest - I was a newly single mom and had to work. Then as the other two "came of age" I realized that it was well within their capabilities and was a life skill they needed to have. Once in a while I would say "Free laundry day! Bring me your clothes and I'll do them." I enjoyed doing it because I didn't HAVE to and they were thrilled at the "get out of laundry free" card. It worked for me. :-)

Kat said...

I don't know why, but every time I am at the check out counter at the grocery store I am completely shocked at the total. It is about the same every week, but every week I think it will be less. Why? I don't know. You'd think I would be used to it by now.

Anonymous said...

oh katherine,
I just love you b/c you are so REAL to us on your blog. I lurk almost everyday and one of these days I may actually start to blog myself......I have 4 kids and today I sent the girl kindergartener in the boy 4th grader's old school shirt b/c hers had not made it through the wash since last Friday. I wanted to say it's her own fault b/c it MUST be on the floor somewhere in her room, but I found it(after I sent her to school in the "boy" shirt) at the bottom of one of the hampers. Was it really there for a week? As for papers....please someone tell me what to do with all these masterpieces they make?
thanks again for letting us know the real you! have a great weekend!

Ginger said...

I'm SO with you on the laundry thing. This morning on my 6th load, I'd cleaned up 6 potty training accidents. Funny, or not really, how the puddles and the loads seemed to correspond. *sigh* I've GOT to remind myself that everything (including laundry and sorting through that stack of artwork/bills/etc. on my desk) should be done 'as unto the Lord.' *sigh...... It's tough to power through in the mundane tasks of life. Hang in there!!!

Wifeof1Momof4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wifeof1Momof4 said...

I would love to take this entry and drop it right into my blog today. I went back to work 2 days a week and my schedule is sooooo out of wack! URGHHHH!!!!! I just left the washroom, then past the kitchen to come to the office so I could see a room clean and clear today. The younger ones have been sick, which has put me further behind because you CANNOT wash clothes and hold a 2 year and 1 year old at the same time (thank God for the dishwasher and my right hand) ... Don't even think of looking in the washroom cabinets .. there lies a paper sack or two or three of papers to shred ...... Lord give US strength!

Unknown said...

Girlfriend! I am so laughing right now...not at you, but with you!! I know what you mean...laundry is never ending and paper seems to breed faster than rabits around here and as for being a frugal grocery shopper...well I do plan menus...but I just buy what I need and forget the coupon clipping. It would just add to my mound of! So, YOU are not alone! Good luck! And I AM praying for you.

Christy. said...

I loved your comment about putting one of your kids in dirty socks today, so did I!!! I HAVE to get to the store this weekend and buy my girls some bigger socks.....

Anonymous said...

Click and Pull at Sam's Club. You go online, make out your order before 5:00 pm the day before you need it, and like magic, when you arrive a Sam's Club, there is a cart waiting with your stuff all neatly wrapped up and ready to go. Pay, load up the car, and go home. Yes, I am aware that sometimes this method doesn't save as much money as shopping at three different grocery stores with loads of coupons, but it is a lifesaver during those super-hectic weeks that we all have. My dh works long hours, and I have to carry all five of my children, ages 9-8 months shopping with me. If I can just go in and pay, the go home with my purchases, I am super-happy.

Beck said...

Laundry is just gruesome - I decided to take the day off from my endless, endless laundry and now I CAN BARELY ENTER THE LAUNDRY ROOM! How can three small people and two adults who do NOT work in the farming industry make that many dirty clothes?

Colette said...

Here's a hint (from a single gal, ironically!) for groceries...

Check out shop local for the latest sales on grocery items in your zip code. Just type in the brand or type of food you're looking for, and it will show you the sale price from the weekly ads.

It's not fool-proof, but it may help save some $$ and time!

Joyfulness said...

So I happen to be sitting next to my pile of papers and if I turn around, there's that laundry that needs to be put away. Does make me feel better that I'm not the only one who struggles with my attitude about those never ending tasks. (I didn't like babysitting either... what am I doing with four kids?! They're sure cute though!)

I had the awesome pleasure of having my sister-in-law live with us for the month of October. She was incredibly helpful! Now that she's gone, I'm at a loss for how to get it all done!

Julie said...

Don't hate me laundry baskets are all empty right now. Well, until everyone takes off today's clothes and throws them in.

It only took me three days of going no where and doing basically nothing else to acomplish this feat. Now, if I can just stay caught up.

I am trying to do better on my grocery budget too. It seems the only place I can really only cut back. Let me know if you discover any helpful tips on this one.

Have a great weekend,

Janice said...

As the 18th commentor I realize you may never see this, but I love your blog, and this post is me! As a fellow mom of 5...A few solutions... some easily do-able, others not so much!
1. First Floor Laundry is your friend! Kids by the age of 8 can do their own... not well, but they learn fast!
2. Socks can be disposable. (I realize this is in Fantasy Land, but humor me!)
3. Clothes bought at the Goodwill or Salvation Army are much easier to part with when they get the stain on that "I could never get that out so I might as well toss it out!" We pack for camping every year with some clothes that I plan to toss out. They make great fire starters, and the "back-home-again" laundry is much easier!
4. Lobby wherever you need to to get an Aldi Grocery Store in your area! Saves me Mega Bucks!
5. When all else fails, remember ... it will all be there for you tomorrow! If you can make your drive to actually "accomplish it all" go away for just a few hours... (very hard to do, I know!) a day spent with the kids filled with fun can do a world of good for them and us!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I love when you just say it like it do that all the time. Guess that is why I love your posts!

I am not good at the grocery store savings. I have that same thought, "well it is cheaper than going out". Not to mention, my hubby does the grocery shopping, so he often forgets the coupons, but I figure that the money I am NOT saving is made up for in the fact that HE goes :)

Hope your trip was successful!

KIN said...

I could have written this post. :) It sounds just like me! I was not prepared to be a stay at home mom of 4; but that is where I'm called to be. I can so easily get discouraged with the day to day grind of doing the same things over and over and over. It was nice to hear that there is another person out there that struggles sometimes too!

Melody said...

I think those three things must be the things that plague every family. Especially the paper, I have it everywhere. I have several laundry basket size piles plus since we don't have home delivery (it goes to a P.O. box) I have a never ending pile of paper in my van. It is funny, they never tell you about all this stuff before you have kids. :)

fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

Oh dear friend, I hear ya! Just take a deep breath and know that you get a do-over tomorrow. And, you get an extra hour of sleep this weekend.

I would imagine with seven under one roof, you could pay an extra mortgage with the amount of the grocery bill. I grew up in a house of six and it took me a good year after I moved out for college to figure out I didn't have to cook for a small army anymore! I would make enough spaghetti to have "planned leftovers" for two weeks :)

Lana said...

Can I just say that I love love love you. I love that you are so cool and put together and do so many awesome things with your life and in your family and yet you still struggle with the same struggles I have. The Laundry, The Grocery Bill, etc.

Have a great day and thanks for sharing!

Kate said...

Oh I was hoping when I got to the part about Jen asking you for money saving grocery shopping advice that you would have an answer. Alas, you sound just like me.

We ate 10 dollars worth of salmon today because it's good for our hearts. Good for our hearts except for the near heart attack that I suffer each week when the clerk tallies up the total. Two carts of groceries is NOT cheap even if you just eat peanut butter and jelly all week. You're a kindred spirit what with all the laundry and paperwork and grocery shopping we both deal with.


Virginia Revoir said...

Oh my gosh, this was just so funny and so like me. I have five kids also and i feel like the laundry load just builds and builds. I'm terrible with papers and I will put them under counter right before company comes. Then one day I'll open it and wonder how they multiplied. I can never bring my husband to the grocery with me because he picks out more snacks than my kids! LOL! He really builds the cost of food. Soooo, I totally understand. :o) I never used to really like kids, yet I have five of my own, I never did a load of laundry till I moved out. Some days I just love where i'm at, but when I'm tired or just flat out exhausted, I wonder what the heck I'm doing. Just so funny... but I understand you, sister!!