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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer Organizing: Pools, swimsuits, and more!

This month I am having a series called "Summer Organizing" where I'm going to give you ideas for keeping things organized in the summer!




But, I can only be an "expert" and give advice in so many areas....I just can't be everything! So, I called in the "big guns" and wanted to ask my friend, Lisa, all about how to handle some areas that I don't know much about - having lots of kiddos around or their friends. My friend Lisa, of The Pennington Point, is the mother of 9 kids. All ages. So, she's got this thing down! I asked her a few questions and she gave some amazing answers and ideas for you all!

So, with nine kids and a pool – I imagine you’ve got lots of pool toys all over the place. How do you keep those organized? 

It's a constant effort. I think I have everything all neatly put away only to look out the window and see that it has all been dragged out again. Plus, it's always wet and drippy. The key I have found is to have a place for everything. We carved a spot in the garage for the bigger floats (otherwise they blow away) and I used an old ladder to make shelves for the smaller toys, masks, water guns, etc. The kids have to put it all away every single time they get out of the pool...even if they plan to use it again later.

   

Towels and wet bathing suits are another issue. My kids swim twice a day all summer and so wet clothes are in abundance around here! I didn't like the look of them hanging all over the railings outside, but I didn't want them in the house making puddles in the bathroom either. So I built a simple, out of the way, clothesline for the wet clothes and towels to hang. The kids go inside to change and must immediately take their wet things out to the line. Everyone has their own towel so I know if a towel left is on the floor who did it. They know that if their wet things are left in the house I will call them from whatever they are doing and have them take them out to the line. If it happens 3 times, they are restricted from swimming for 2 days.

 

How about kids who are constantly hungry and thirsty? How do you deal with all the kids opening and closing the fridge and pantry? I’d love to hear your ideas! 

Summer seems to be the time for snacking. I don't let my kids get their own snacks from the pantry. It gets out of control and I can't keep up with knowing what we need and who ate what. So instead, I set out snacks every day. I will cut up fruit, make cookies, popcorn, etc and let the kids have at it. I make sure everyone knows the snack is out or they will miss it....these people are like piranhas! As for drinks, well that's a whole different issue. We drink only water the rest of the year, but for some reason summer calls for extra flavor. So I keep juice and soda in our extra fridge for those special days when I want to offer a special treat. Like the food, the kids can't get those on their own, it has to be offered to them. I generally offer drinks when it's especially hot, they have been working hard or they have friends over. Even with those boundaries we seem to go through drinks faster than I can keep up with. I also keep a big jar of lemonade mix on the counter that they can use more freely. They have to drink water in the mornings but after lunch they can make themselves some lemonade without asking. It's freely available as a summer refreshment. I wonder how many of those huge Sam's Club cans of Country Time I go through in a summer....I probably shouldn't add it up. It might be too shocking.

   

What do you do on the days where it’s just so hot you can’t go outside? Do your kids drive you bonkers or do you have a schedule for that? 

Here in Texas that is a problem. Some days are so hot you get dehydrated just thinking about going outside. So we stay in....and it's a houseful of kids with extra energy and nowhere to use it. I keep a list of ideas for inside activities just for these occasions. Things like taking all of the sofa pillows off and making a fort, doing a "laser maze" in the hallway (using string taped to the walls), blankets over the dining room table for a tent, etc. Do exercises like jumping jacks, dance around, put hopscotch on the floor using duck tape, anything to let them get that childhood energy out. I will play games with them if I have time. Everyone likes to play a games with Mom!

   

 I also don't give them sugar on those days. We don't need to add to the hyperness that is inevitable. And sometimes we use those days to clean. It's a good time to get some of those occasional chores done like washing the windows or dusting the ceiling fans. As for electronic games, as tempting as that is when the kids are bouncing off the walls, we don't use them. Mine are allowed to play once a week for a few hours and that's it. The rest of the week they must find other things to do. Like when I was a girl and made Barbie houses out of record album covers all summer. Now that was good healthy fun.


Lastly, what about traveling with so many? Do you have any tips or pointers in keeping everyone sane? 


Keeping everyone sane may be too high of a goal. Besides, sanity is highly overrated. Traveling with kids requires a level of craziness. We do usually take a few short driving trips each summer and it takes careful planning. I start by writing a list on our giant white board with each child's name and what they need to bring. I keep it simple. For a weekend it's just one change of clothes and pajamas. Each child must be able to carry their own things (except the little ones, of course). I also write down instructions for each child to help get ready for the trip and they can put a checkmark when they finish the job. That way I can easily keep up with the progress.


   

And I pack a bag of toys and games for the road. They are only allowed to bring their ipods (if they have them) and I take care of the rest. If I let them each carry a bag of toys and games of their own we end up with a van full of toys that get lost and broken. No thank you. Mom will just take care of that for everyone. I also like to have some audio books ready that the whole family can listen to. We enjoy a good story. Lastly, I keep a long vacuum cleaner/flexible hose in the van. This is my "Mom phone." I keep one end of the hose next to me and the other end gets passed around to whoever needs it and they talk to me through it. I know it sounds weird, but it is difficult to talk with each child individually when there is so much road noise and they are way in the back of the van. With the hose, I can hold it up to my ear/mouth and we can have a fairly private conversation when we need to. If discipline is necessary or someone has a problem we can have a nice quiet talk through the hose in the middle of a loud, active trip.


   

All in all staying organized for summer is easy as long as I have a plan of action. I try not to let things get too out of order before we all stop and tidy up again. But isn't that true for everything in life? Put it all away before you start something new and things will flow much better!



I LOVE her ideas, don't you? Even if you don't have a ton of kids, sometimes just taking cousins or friends along with you to the beach or having them over for a swim means that you can keep things in a little better order - or travel with less craziness. What is your favorite tip you learned from Lisa

Be sure to visit her if you'd like to know MORE about caring for a big clan like that or to get great parenting tips - she's got a lot of them. Oh, and you MUST see her pool deck built-ins that she built, go HERE to see that. And last, she's having a full home tour today on her blog -- and let me tell you, this lady can seriously decorate on a budget! Go HERE to see the full tour of her beautiful home. 

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