How and When Do You….

This is a much updated repost. I first compiled it from a 1999 email I wrote answering somebody’s question about what we do and how we do it.

Then, when I rediscovered it and posted it, I updated with ‘now,’ the then current answers (2006). And now I’ll add my answers for 2010.

Most of the answers are different now because our house has changed and so have the ages of our children. When I first wrote this, our oldest child was 16 then and our youngest was a newborn. Also at the time I wrote this first I had been extremely ill for several weeks (at least 12), and when I finally overcame my stubbornness about going to the doctor I was hospitalized. I allowed myself to get very, very sick, and I had a long recovery time from what is supposed to be an in and out on the same day surgery. So this was what we were doing then and there for reasons that were very specific to our family.

Much of what any family does to develop a routine is based more than we may realize on things are specific to our family, our needs, and our situation. I have been amazed at how much of an affect the house we are living in has on how we do our chores, indeed, on how we have to do our chores. Your house doesn’t look like mine, your children probably aren’t exactly the same ages as mine, and I know your husband can’t possibly be the prince that mine is (you should think yours is). Therefore, what works best for me may not be at all the best thing for you.

MMmm, I should probably also explain that the original questioner was not asking to be nice. It was a very snarky demand. I’ve edited out all of her snark and a couple of her ruder questions. I left some of my snark in.
So, in this post ‘Then’= 1999 when our oldest was 16 and we had a one year old.  ‘Now’= 2006 when the oldest was 23 or so, going to university, and spending summers in Texas being Nanny, and the baby was eight.  2010 is the new ‘now,’ and our oldest two are married, one of them has a baby, and my ‘baby’ is almost 12 year old.

…when do you find the time to wash the laundry ?

Then: Once a week. The children help with it.

Now: Somebody does some laundry every single day. The Progeny do 99 percent of it. The Headmaster frequently does his own workclothes. If I help it’s in sorting and (very) occasionally folding. Mostly I am the director of schedules. Sometime later I will share some ideas about laundry. That will be after the post on the proper way to slice a tomato.

2010: Everybody else does his or her own laundry, except the Cherub, HM, and I.  He will sometimes do his own work clothes.  Every once in a while I have one of the youngest two Progeny fill a laundry basket with the laundry from my bathroom and put it in the washer/dryer for me (or hang it on the line), and I try to fold it myself- more often than not, they end up being paid to fold it, too.

fold the clothes?

Then: Mostly my dh does this.
Now: Mostly the children do this. I help very occasionally and the youngest two have gotten pretty good at it.
2010: See above- the rest fold their own clothes, although I will often help the 11 year old with his.  Okay, not often, sometimes.  We also do a lot of Blynken’s and Nod’s laundry, and I try to fold that- I say try because the FYG is really pretty quick about tidying it up and out of the way before I have a chance to help.

cook dinner ?

Then: I do once a month bulk cooking, so I fix a batch of 30 to 45 meals once every 4 to 6
weeks. That takes a day or two (two if I include shopping), and then I just
pop a pan inthe oven, crockpot, or rice cooker, or defrost salad makings.
Takes very little daily time.

Now: Our kitchen really would be a pain to do bulk cooking in. Mostly the oldest two girls do all the supper cooking. The middle girls make lunch. Breakfast is either bagels and cream cheese (we get bagels very cheaply at the day old store) or crockpot cereal, or scrounge for what sounds good to us).

We have done bulk cooking in a modified fashion once or twice. On Monday night the Head Girl would cook up five batches of, say, cheeseburger soup, freeze four, serve one. On Tuesday the Equuschick would cook up five batches of, perhaps, ham au gratin, freeze four and serve one.
On Wednesday I would make five batches of enchilada casserole, serve one, freeze four.
Pip and Jenny would each take a turn, and then HG and I took an extra turn, so by the end of the week we’d have a month worth of meals in the freezer without too much mess in the kitchen. This worked very well, but I wasn’t organized enough to keep it going in a regular fashion.

2010: Supper is mostly done by Pip and Jenny, although I have been pitching in about once a week.  I expect that will increase.

shop for groceries ?

Then: Major shopping once a month. Dh picks up milk and eggs and other perishables
as needed, on his way home from work.

Now: I can order through the co-op once a month. We pick up groceries when we’re in town, and often Equuschick or HeadGirl go to the grocery store when I need them to. We are also eating a lot of deer meat (free) and pork (we raised it ourselves), so we don’t get much meat from the store (except chicken).

2010: I don’t really have a set pattern for this. My husband works at a local discount grocery store, and he often lets me know when something is on sale and picks it up for me.   On Sundays we drive right past a large supermarket with really nice produce in another town, and I will often stop to grab some.  I order from my co-op about once a month.  We still eat a lot of free or mostly free meat.  Right now I have a lot of liver, an ox-tail, and a beef heart in the freezer I need to fix.  We have not done once a month cooking in a long time.  I have an overstuffed freezer and pantry.

Clean the bathroom?

Then: My 14 y.o.’s job.

Now: The girls take turns. There can be only one.

2010:  Heh.  There could be only one in 2006 because there was only one tiny bathroom for all nine of us then at home.  Now we have seven of us at home, and four bathrooms.  I scrub the master Bathroom toilet and occasionally wipe down the counter.  The Cherub also uses our master bathroom, and it’s always too cluttered for company.  The Progeny each take responsibility for the other bathrooms and the rest of the jobs in mine.

help with homework?

Then: We homeschool so all schoolwork is homework. I help as needed, and it’s not too hard since I assigned the work. However, my older children are self-directed, highly motivated learners, and they teach me almost as much I teach them.

Now: Pretty much the same.

2010- Well, my youngest two are not so self-directed and motivated as the oldest were, and Blynken and Nod are not at all, so there is more for me to do.

vaccuum the floor?

Then: The 10 and 8 y.o. take turns doing this.

Now: We don’t have carpet. All the Progeny take a turn sweeping, swiffing, and then vacuuming the floors. They don’t get mopped as often as they should. In fact, they get mopped so rarely that I don’t think I am going to tell you how rare that event is.

2010: Carpet on the stairs.  Because of the dog and the dirt that gets tracked in from the fort outside, it should be vacuumed twice a week, but this happens only once a week most of the time.  The floors are supposed to be swept daily because I loathe both dog hair and grit on my feet.  This does not happen.  Mostly what happens is I go through the house barefoot making ‘ew, gross, nasty, yuck, I HATE dog hair’ noises and lamenting to the air, “I should not have to ask people to sweep these floors EVER,” and magically the floors get swept.

take the kids to the park?

Then: When it’s not raining outside and when everybody is well and healthy, about once a week.

Now: We have woods and a creek on our property. Who needs a park?

2010: Pretty much the same as above.  We did take Blynken, Nod, and the Boy to a park recently while we were at the Tea Party, and they loved it.

do the dishes?

Then: We have a dishwasher, and we all take turns.

Now: We have five dishwashers and their names are Head Girl, Equuschick, Pip, Jenny, and FYG. Even the Boy has started helping.

2010: We have four dishwashers and their names are Pip, Jenny, the FYG, and the FYB.  Blynken helps when he is here.  There is an electronic dishwasher to load.  The kitchen is to be done three times a day, and it really needs it four- once again at bedtime.  I was doing this pretty regularly, but then I lost impetus and quit.

wash the car?

Then: Never.

Now: The Headmaster runs it through the carwash when he thinks it needs it. The younger children have always considered it a treat to sit in the car while going through the carwash. It’s right up there with going to McDonald’s or visiting the animals at the animal shelter.

2010: The HM still runs it through the carwash  about once a month or less.

run the errands?

Then: Once a week, all of them at once.

Now: I still try to get them all in one car trip.

2010: I still prefer to get them all done at once, and I outsource a lot of them to Progeny and Husband who are going to be in town.

balance the checkbook ?

Then: Once a month.

Now: The HM does it.

2010: we operate with cash.

polish the windows?

Then: My mother washed our windows about twice a year. The 14 and 16 year old do
ours about twice a month.

Now: The HM does them about twice a year.

2010:  The HM generally does them once in the spring.

bathe the kids?

Then: The big ones bathe themselves, and often play with the 3 y.o. in the bath. I
have a bad back and my dh bathes the baby.
I also shower with my toddlers when they can keep their balance in the shower.
In that case, bathing the little ones doesn’t take much more time than bathing
myself.

Now: Only the Cherub needs bathing. She gets a shower once or twice a week (she’s not active so she doesn’t get very dirty), sometimes at my parents’ house because they have a handicapped accessable shower.

2010: Now I generally have to give Blynken and Nod a bath once a week, usually Saturday, but I will do it on another day if they’ve been out in the fort.  They like baths but hate getting their hair washed off and it’s not always very much fun once we get to that part.  The FYB volunteered to help with this once, but the entire bathroom was sopping wet when he was through.

read a real book?

Then: I make time to do this because it’s extremely important. It takes precedence over many housecleaning tasks.

Now: The same. Plus I like it better than cleaning toilets.

2010: I do not read like I used to.  I am in between eyeglass perscriptions or something, because I find it hard to focus on the words, and have to read without glasses, but that’s not ideal.

do your hair and makeup ?

I don’t wear make-up, consider it friviolous and wasteful (both of time,
money, and the resources that go towards making it).

Now: I’m very, very embarrassed that I said that. I don’t wear make-up (except on rare occasions, more later), but I no longer consider it frivolous or wasteful when other people who do. It’s none of my business anyway.

I don’t wear make-up much because it’s expensive and I prefer to allocate our funds elsewhere, but some of the places I allocate my funds are just as optional as make-up. It tends to be particularly expensive for me because my skin doesn’t agree with any make-up except Almay and stuff from places like Eco-Bella. However- I buy some occasionally when I find it on sale. My face has never lost the discoloration from the mask of pregnancy, so if I’m somewhere where somebody is likely to take my picture, I usually wear make-up.

Then: Doing my hair is primarily brushing it and putting it in two barrettes.
Sometimes my 10 y.o. begs me to let her do my hair, and then it takes longer.
She gets fancy. But that’s also bonding time.

Now: I don’t get my hair cut and doing my hair is still brushing it, only now it’s one barrette and sometimes a ponytail or braid.

2010: What I didn’t mention in the two previous renditions of this questionnaire is that I also wear a headcovering, and have since, oh, 95 or 96.  I still don’t wear make-up except on very rare occasions, and I still don’t get my straight, thin, lank hair done.

get the kids to their various practices?

Then: This year there aren’t any.

Now: Sigh. The Equuschick has been helping out with this.

2010: Pip drives herself and the FYG to music lessons and then to the library where one works and one volunteers.

check the mail?

1999: My younger children consider it the height of privilege to go out and check the
mail on their own. I wouldn’t dream of depriving them of their three minutes
or less of daily glory.

2006: pretty much the same

2010: pretty much the same, though more pleading is required in winter.

nurse the baby?

Then: I nurse a lot while I’m online. Until my recent hospital stay the baby nursed
frequently through the night. Since I nurse on demand and I do not let my baby
cry, I nurse the baby when he wants to be nursed.

Now: I don’t have a nursing baby.=(

2010: Now my daughter has a nursing baby!

pay the bills?

Then: Once a month, when I do the checkbook. And since we are committed to living
completely debt free, paying bills amounts to the rent, a couple utility
checks, and an occasional book-club. Oh, and insurance twice a year.
And the children like to run the envelopes out to the mailbox.

Now: The Headmaster pays the bills.

2010: sadly, we got away from being debt-free, but we’re working our way back again.   He pays the bills, Either of of us deposit checks when we’re near the bank, he goes over the budget and asks me what I need for groceries each month, and we designate every other penny either to charity or a bill.  We don’t even have mad-money right now, other than Amazon money from affiliate links and swagbucks.  This is what we buy baby shower and wedding presents with.  Once we get the last 400 dollars of the dentist’ bill paid off we’ll do things a little differently.

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