Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Improvements

 (Mandatory cute baby picture.)

Okay, so today's topic: home projects.  I love pinterest, or design blogs, or home magazines, but ultimately find them to be too... demanding of perfection?  I mean, here we are, a big family in a small house that is old, and a we really live here.  I mean, day in, day out, this house is full of children and friends and food and dirty footprints and creative play and babies and then adults.  Someone is always here, living in this house, and it is busy and messy.   There are crumbs on my dining room floor, except for immediately after I sweep them (which I do daily, thank you very much), but then there will be a snack in approximately an hour and there will be crumbs again.  No perfection here.  And you know what?  I really believe that at the end of the day, no one cares how perfect my home is.  Hopefully, they will remember how warm, or hospitable, or comfortable it was.  That should be my aim.

But back to my situation: we are a big family (with many small children) in a small house.  And I've learned that this is a wonderful thing, but also something that has certain tricks of the trade, which I am trying to quickly learn.  I have absolutely no perfect pinterest pictures to share, but I do have a couple of small improvements we've made which has made life go much more smoothly.

(Lily makes sure to supply a fresh bouquet of flowers every day)
I pulled out our changing table to loan to a friend who is due in November.  Of course it lingered in our living room for a day or two, during which time I realized that it is actually awesome to have a changing table in our living room!  (There's a glimpse into whatever the big girls happen to be doing Paper dolls?  I don't remember.  Yes, Lily is sitting on the table).  I can change a baby's diaper while keeping an eye on whatever the big kids are doing (and keeping the babies out of reach of a certain overly affectionate toddler), and everything is in one place.  So, I'm thinking we might let it hang around for the rest of the summer and put it to good use.  Besides, we can store a few books and a basket of Hugo toys close to ground level.  
Speaking of keeping things on ground level, a few months back (I believe it was when I was pregnant with twins) Ben suggested that we move the majority of day to day plates down to kid-level, where any of the children could grab a plate and set the table.  It seemed like a risky maneuver, but we went with it, and I am happy to report that I am quite pleased with the set up!  The older children are responsible for preparing their own breakfast and setting the table for dinner, and in a pinch, I can ask one of the older children to set the table for a snack.  The major win is that Zosia and Lily can now independently unload the dishwasher, which has become one of their central chores.  They leave the "hard items," things like large pots or sharp knives, but do all of the rest on their own, and truly save me a great deal of time (and gain some satisfaction in the process).
Whenever possible, I have been line drying our laundry.  I just can't bear to run the dryer when it's blazing hot outside!  I realized early on that it would be nice to have a small rack inside on which to dry our unmentionables.  It proved handy, and was also a spot to dry other often-wet things like dish towels.  As soon as the pool opened, I started finding a big pile of wet bathing suits and towels by the front door.  Every day, this pile would appear, and I would often drape our deck with wet towels, or worse, they would just stay damp until we needed them.  So, in a moment of genius, I put our drying rack by the front door.  Each child can now hang up his or her towel and suit wen they come in, and they are dry by the next time we have to use them.  It's been a huge win, and then when we need to get ready to go to the pool, we can just grab a bathing suit and a towel.  Perhaps not the most attractive living room decor, but for the sake of pragmatism, I am willing to put up with a little clutter.  And don't worry, I will move it away from the entryway when I am drying the unmentionables.  I promise.
(Mandatory cute daddy and baby picture.)

12 comments:

JLynn said...

Awesome ideas! I may just have to try the drying rack one. I love your paint colors and the white and blue accents in your home. Very pretty!

Jill Foley said...

I discovered the everyday, child friendly dish storage trick a year ago and LOVE it! My girls are older - 9 and 7 - and I wish I'd thought of it a couple years ago. Still, it's nice to have them able to get their own things and not have to do everything for them.

One and Doll said...

You know I grew up as 1 of 5 kids...and our dishes were always placed down low----even now I go to my Mom's house and open the wrong cabinet again and again and again to get the cups and plates out of one of the lower cabinets....I have no memories of my parents ever setting the table...it was always our chore! That Ben, he isa genius...and thanks for the honesty...it's chaos ain't it!

Adele said...

Thanks, JLynn!

Adele said...

I agree, Jill! It's surprising how much just that one thing does to ease meal prep!

Adele said...

Okay, Rachel, any other big family tips? Having big kids dress the little ones? Isn't there some story about peaches being put in jars?

Margo said...

love this post - SO much more interesting to me than Pinterest perfect :) Love your pragmatic ideas. I forgot we had a changing spot in our dining room until you showed yours! I think we kept things in a basket, and then just whisked the baby and basket up on the table (gasp) or buffet.

I always have a drying rack going inside in the winter - in warm weather, everything goes outside. I have an umbrella clothesline, so I hide the unmentionables between other stuff. I highly recommend an umbrella clothesline with a ground screw for town/city yards. It's much more space efficient.

Oregon-Mama said...

Your house is SO lovely - wet swimsuits and all:) I just adore your photos, Adele! What a cozy little home and life! Xo

Rosie said...

I keep meaning to move our kid dishes down to their level - they've been climbing up on the counter to get them and it really would be a better idea to move them to one of the bottom cupboards! That'll be my goal for the week :)

And I really need to work on line drying our clothes - we bought extendable clotheslines last year and they are like, 6 inches short of reaching the pole that they need to connect to! It probably wouldn't take much effort to tie some twine on the end to make it work...

Adele said...

That's a great idea! We have source in our yard, but I would prefer for not all of it to be used for clothes drying! :)

Adele said...

Thanks my dear!

Adele said...

Your comment made me remember that directly before relocating the dishes, lily (of course) had split her chin while descending from our counter. May we serve as your cautionary tale!