Friday, August 08, 2008

Systems failure

I must say I'm not liking the schedule this week.

Take two-a-days, for example. FOUR (count 'em!) trips per day to the high school. Yes, it's character building for the kids, and I did feel a bit sorry for Allie-14 running in the heat and all. But what about for the parents? Those of us whose days are cut into thin, thirty-minute ribbons? Character, schmaracter. I have all I need of that. I can't wait until she can DRIVE!

And then there's the issue of how things generally fall apart when no one is there to supervise (or when one is only home in 30-minute ribbons). In this case, things began to fall apart the first day I packed a box which included things like our Chore Clips. I finally got those back in gear last week, after an entire summer without them. So now, instead of repeating myself a hundred times to pick up the socks left in the living room, I can calmly write it down and point to the clip. "Yes, I would be happy to fix you a sandwich as soon as you complete the items on your list." Oh, that feels SO GOOD.

The dishes situation is one I've needed to address for a long time. It drives me crazy when the dishwasher is to the right of the sink, and people think they should plop their dirty dishes directly on the counter above it. Then one has to move everything to the left to get all the encrusted cereal out of the bowl, then again to the right to load it up and/or hand-wash, because with a family of 7, there is NEVER room for everything in the dishwasher.

(All this trouble because our ancient dishwasher is really not a "washer" at all - it's a Very Hot Rinse Cycle.)

No, the process should go left to right. Obviously my kids weren't getting it with verbal instruction, so I posted some signs.

Counter to the left of the sink (note the dirty pitcher waiting to be washed. Lovely. But in the right place, so I'm happy.):
Left sink (I like to keep a coffee cup of soapy water in this one so those of non-loading age can place their silverware in it, rather than randomly on the bottom of the germ-laden sink, or worse, in the bottom of a greasy pan of who-knows-what. Who wants to stick their hand in that to fish them out?):Right sink:Counter to right of sink (there are usually some pots and pans drying here, so seriously, folks. Don't get my clean stuff germy!):
Of course, my limited success in that venture led to other labeling. It's sad when there are so many baskets in the laundry room that you have to label which ones are "dirty."

Or when it is NOT obvious that the overflowing pile of dirty sheets and towels is the place to put YOUR dirty sheets and towels. It's that entitlement mentality ("Oh, you mean you want ME to put MINE there, too? I thought I could just drop mine on the floor, because I'm special."). We're working on it.
Kinda like my pitiful post the other day. I'm discovering that the "familiar" for me includes not only the home itself, but also the systems that helped keep me from losing my sanity my home run more smoothly. I can't bring my old house here, but I can do some things here that used to work there. I think that will make us all feel more at "home."


Maureen said...

Oh how I can relate to those 30 minute ribbons of time! I have two teenagers and 3 elementary aged kids. Not only did I make several trips back and forth to the highschool for practices and what not, I also had to make a few trips to the elementary school as well.

I know all too well how hard it is to get started on chores or a project only to have to play beat the clock before the next round of driving here and there!!

Last year I never felt I was ahead, never had a block of time to take care of things. It was comforting to know someone else has these same struggles.

As far as the labeling, that is brilliant I am getting out my sticky notes right now! Have a wonderful weekend!

Jen said...

Yea..I tried to get back on track this week when Madison went back and it did not I will try and start over on Monday.....we are calling today a mini

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

yes, yes, YES! I can't tell you how many times I've said, "put dirty dishes in the left side of the sink only, leaving the right side always clean for rinsing veggies or other work!!!"
And you are so totally right about a family of 7 having more dishes than will fit in washer. I bought the older 4 kids plastic plates and cups at the dollar bin at Target, and put names on them. If they want to eat or drink, then they'd better have their own dishes clean and ready to use. That way only one set per kid goes in the dishwasher per day. (We do use nicer plates at dinner, though.)
Amen, sista!

Susanne said...

I love the familiar and the older I get the more I like it.

secondofwett said...

And I thot just my kids did things like putting dirty dishes into the sink...right beside the they're all of a sudden going to grow legs and hop into the dishwasher themselves......and the clean clothes or sheets I've found on the basement floor in the laundry area because somebody just had to have a laundry basket! I just love being a mom!:>)

Phoebe said...

I really like the labeling idea. I'll have to remember it for when mine are a bit older!

Anonymous said...

Uh, WHAT does that Post-it say???
"Stop - keep empty to wash sh_t" ? No way.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

I've gotta make me some a them signs.


Now where are the post-its? And the Sharpies?


Katherine@Raising Five said...

Anonymous - Uh, no...that would be "STUFF." I guess I need to check my handwriting, or my blog is going to lose its "G" rating! Sheesh!

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

I love your ideas. They're practical and easy to implement.

Family O'Foxes said...

Great ideas. I like the chore card to write down stuff that needs to be done but u don't want to keep reminding them to do it. When they ask to do something fun you can ask them if they got their chores done.
Does that card have to be done by bedtime? or does it roll into tomorrow?

Katherine@Raising Five said...

family o'foxes - for the younger kids, I only put down a few items they can reasonably finish, say, in a morning. For the older kids, if there are bigger projects, I usually make those due by a certain date (all the better if they have plans on that day!).

Unfortunately, I am not a big stickler (this is something I'm working on!) - things do roll to the next day because we are often busy in the evenings. But at least we don't forget them altogether, which solves a huge problem for me!


Mo said...

Hi! I clicked my way to your blog somehow (maybe through WFMW?) and absolutely love your writing.

This post cracks me up! I am the youngest of 6 kids, and my mom also had to resort to visual signs in order to get things through our thick skulls. We are all grown now, and to this day still give her a hard time about them.

She had several, but my favorite was one she hung above the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom - complete with illustrated instructions on how to replace the roll when it's empty. She also had one above the kitchen phone labeled "Only call me at work in case of an emergency" and then had a picture of a stick man with his head falling off. That one came about after several calls to her at work (she was an ER nurse) for questions like "Can I have one of these bananas?"

Thanks for sharing your heart! I love stopping by your blog!