Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WFMW - Laundry schedule for families with children

An IRL friend of mine posted on Facebook that her son has worn the same pair of underwear for several days because he was out of clean underwear. Hey, if you have kids, you know what she's talking about. My kids have run out of clean underwear before I've gotten to their laundry, Heck, my husband has run out of clean socks or underwear before I've gotten to it. I've even gone on laundry strike because there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all. To top it off, I know a family whose husband called her while she was out shopping and he asked her to pick up some new underwear because it would be faster than waiting for the laundry to be done.

When you add kids into the mix, it seems like laundry multiplies exponentially. Especially when you have girls or kids with sensory disorders who change clothes 20 times a day or simply because you are busy and just not home to do it. Hey, don't get me started on laundry doing itself - all you have to do is throw it in and move onto something else until it needs to go in the dryer. Throw it in and leave the house - let it run. In case you missed it, back in February my dryer motor caught on fire. If I hadn't been home, our house would have been destroyed. I don't run the dryer when I'm not home anymore.

So, I came up with a plan and tried it out. My girls have to wash their clothes on Tuesdays and Fridays. It's just long enough in between for them to accumulate enough to not be overwhelming (1-2 loads). They share a room and a hamper, so they have to work together, but I helped with suggesting who does what. Child B takes the clothes to the laundry room and puts them in the wash. (I'll share why in just a minute.) Child A or B takes them out of the washer (top-loader) and hands them to Child C so she can throw them in the dryer, which she loves. Then they all sort, fold, and put away their own clothes. They are nearly-5, nearly-8, and 10-1/2 - all very capable of the task assigned to them.

Then I get the washer and dryer on all other days to do anything else that needs to be done. If we are out all day on a Tuesday or Friday, there are enough other days to be flexible to give the girls the next day. I don't always keep up with getting the rest of everything folded or put away, but it's much better than having piles of laundry in some state of completion for all 5 of us.

This works for me in more than one way, it gets the laundry done, but it also helps incorporate therapy into Child B's routine. She has graduated from occupation therapy for sensory processing disorder. This is a good thing, but it doesn't mean her sensory disorder is gone. Simply put, we incorporate many therapeutic activities to meet her sensory needs into her daily life so she doesn't rely on formal therapy. Using her physical strength and as many muscle groups as possible is calming for her. It's hard, but calming in various ways. Some kids may have hyper-activity, anxiety, aggression, etc., so a physical activity is calming for their nervous system by using that energy productively. Pulling, pushing, or carrying the laundry basket to the utility room helps B. She can choose which one best suits her mood. It seems like a small task, but the benefits are great for her ability to get through the day without feeling agitated. After all, how would you feel if you felt like the tag from your shirt was rubbing all over your body? That's just an example of how these kids feel, though not exactly and not for all of them.

With this system there is no arguing over who is going to do what or who did it last time and whose turn it is.

Our laundry routine works for me. To read other tips, suggestions, find easy recipes, hop on over to We Are That Family and check out Works For Me Wednesday.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I blogged so much in November that I think I blogged myself out. Not really. But this month has been so busy, trying to get Christmas shopping done without the recipients catching on to what they may be receiving, baking turkeys to freeze for winter dinners, baking cookies for gifts... Pushing the girls to get their school work done so we can have a winter break. Time seems to go so quickly and some things just fall to the side sometimes. This time is was blogging.

But something happened today that I'm laughing about now. I wasn't a few hours ago. It was all I could do to hold back my tears. It wasn't awful, just one of those things that happens and I'd like to share it with you.

Have you ever gotten into an elevator and your kids all dive for the buttons at once? Has anyone ever accidently pushed the emergency alarm button? Yeah, I know how that is. We've gotten a system worked out now so each kid knows before we get in who is going to push the button. But I remember those days when my girls were still learning their numbers and would hit the wrong button. There is just something about that red button that draws their finger to it, isn't there? Yet, everyone outside the elevator must figure that it's just a kid pushing the button. After all, how many times have you gotten off an elevator and had somebody standing there attempting a rescue operation because the alarm went off? It's never happened that way for me. Nope. No one ever figures the alarm is going off because the elevator is stuck. Especially when there are children present.

Not even today.

When it was really stuck.

With my 3 girls and me in it.

We were at a library where my kids participate in a writing program taught by a couple of local children's authors. After their classes were over, we had a few errands that I had hoped to finish before the kids reached their threshhold of cooperation. Child C was disgruntled with Child B about something and some punching had started. It was definitely time to head out.

We got on the elevator, "1" was pushed to take us up from the lower level, and the doors closed. I took advantage of this private time in the elevator to remind the girls that hitting it not ever OK towards each other. Not ever. If I remember right, I went on about "What made you think it was OK this time?" and "Why would you hit her back when you know hitting is not OK?" Then I stopped. I realized that we should be getting off the elevator by now, why aren't we? We were not moving. "1" was still illuminated. So I pressed the door open button and nothing happened. I jumped up and down to see if I could make it move. Yeah, right, I know. But it was that or panic.

I pushed every button there was and nothing changed the situation. I rang the alarm bell. I rang it again. I held it in and let it ring. Nothing. What did I expect? Someone to yell at the elevator and ask if we were OK? Yes, I did expect that, but it didn't happen. My 4-year old, C, started to cry.

That's when it hit me, no one pays attention to the elevator alarm because kids push it all the time!

The pressure of tears was getting stronger and I knew if I lost it, I'd have 3 panicked kids. I realized I was starting to get hot, so I told everyone to take their coats off so we wouldn't overheat. As my coat dropped to the floor, I saw the little door. You know, the one with the emergency phone. I pulled it open and pushed the button. This is not something I've ever given much thought to and I just assumed it called the front desk. No, it calls 911. I told them where I was and that I was stuck in the elevator with my 3 children. I waited, but heard nothing. Not a confirmation, not an assurance that help was on the way. Nothing. I said, "Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?" Still nothing. I had no idea what was going to happen or how long we'd be there, but in my mind I was thinking, "The library is going to close and we will still be in the elevator." (The library wasn't scheduled to close for another 5 hours or so, but this is where my mind went.)

Then the door opened.

I remember saying to the girls, "We will never take the elevator here again. There are perfectly good stairs right over there!" Then I looked ahead of me and saw the ladies at the circulation desk just staring at me. As I choked back tears, I told them, "Yes, we were stuck in the elevator. The police are probably going to show up in a few minutes. Have a good day."

As we pulled out onto the main road, the first police car pulled in, so I circled the block and returned to find the fire chief and another police car. They took some information from me and we left again. It wasn't until I was almost home, half an hour later, that I started to wonder: How would one know that someone didn't just accidentally push the alarm button? What are the procedures in businesses for this? It just makes me wonder.

I wonder how my kids will react next time we have to get on an elevator. There was a time when B was afraid of revolving doors. But that's a post for another day.

Have you ever been stuck somewhere?