My friend Martha from church recently tried to convince me to start making my own laundry detergent. Now, I realize that you might make your own, because a lot of women online do — but I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME FOR ADDING MORE WORK TO MY DAYS!
At least, that was my reasoning.
Seriously, though, I am not Super Woman. Or Pioneer Woman. I am already doing too many things, and if I add one more thing to my list, I’m afraid I might crack open. I’m perfectly content with using store-bought laundry detergent, and I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR ADDING MORE WORK TO MY DAYS!
But she kept bugging me.
She kept telling me how much money she was saving. It was costing her something like $.04 per load. (I haven’t figured it out personally.) It did a fabulous job cleaning her clothes. Her Sean works on a chicken farm, and it even cleans his dirty jeans.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. I don’t have time for this!
Then I went over to her house, and she proudly showed me how easy it was to grate the bar of soap (“Took just a couple minutes… it’s like butter, Anne”). Then she paraded me down to her laundry room, and she showed me how a cup of this and a cup of that, plus the grated bar of soap… shake, shake, shake… and voila! Soap! And it does a hundred loads! (I haven’t figured this out myself.)
Hmm… Well, I probably did have time, but why? My husband likes the soap we were using just fine… and he’s picky about things like that. A submissive wife wouldn’t try new things all the time if her husband liked what she was already doing.
Then my husband found out about it. Her Sean talked to my Kraig, and the guys talked about how skeptical they were — but how they loved it after trying it.
So, last week, when I went grocery shopping, I placed my normal laundry soap in the cart. (Cha ching…) My husband said, “Wow, that’s expensive. We should try the soap that Sean and Martha use.”
“Oh, honey, I DON’T HAVE TIME TO ADD ONE MORE JOB TO MY LIFE!”
“Yeah, but if it works that well and saves that much money, maybe we should think about it. Do they sell the supplies here?”
(Groan.) “I have no idea.”
“Well, let’s look. Fels Naptha soap bars… yup! Borax… yup! Washing soda… yup! Isn’t that all we need? And wow, this stuff’s cheap!”
(Groan.) “Shouldn’t we also get some regular laundry soap? What if we don’t like this stuff? BESIDES, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR ALL THIS CRAZINESS!”
“Oh, I’ll grate it for you, Anne. I’m stronger than you, and it won’t take me long. You just mix it together. It’ll be easy!”
So what could I say? We marched home, where he promptly kept his word and grated up the soap bar for me. (Took like 3 minutes, if that. I suppose I could have done it, but since he offered…) I dumped the soap flakes in a plastic container, and added 2 cups of Borax and 2 cups of washing soda… Shake, shake, shake. I grabbed a two-tablespoon coffee scoop we weren’t using, and I dumped some soap in our washing machine. I added a ton of the dirtiest jeans I could find.
And they all came out beautifully!
So the moral of my silly story is that some “labor-saving” ideas aren’t worth the time — and others? Well, Martha, you win!
Here are some more labor-saving housework ideas we use in our home:
- I make a menu every week, writing it on a special menu form I made and posting it on the side of our refrigerator. When the week is over, I save my menus in a 3-ring binder. Next Labor Day, my menu is all planned, saving me 30 minutes a week.
- My rule for choosing what to make for dinner is that it can take no longer than 10-20 minutes in the kitchen for prep work and no longer than 10 minutes at the end to go from oven or stovetop to table. Racing the timer helps me achieve this.
- We eat the same kind of foods on the same nights each week. Sunday is pot roast, Monday is hamburger-something, Tuesday is chicken-something, Wednesday is Mexican, Thursday is Try-Something-New, Friday is pizza, and Saturday is crockpot or leftovers. This saves me brain energy.
- I use a grocery list that is already mostly filled in with items I buy each week. I’ve also arranged it in order of the aisles in the stores where I shop, so I can zoom up one aisle and down the next, and be outta there in 15-30 minutes. I keep a pad of paper on the side of the fridge to write down items we run out of during the week. It only takes a minute to add these items to my pre-made shopping list.
- You probably seen this picture on my blog before, but my refrigerator is “Command Central.” Honestly, my brain is permanently located here. The left side of the fridge (which you can’t see in the picture) even has all the recipes posted that I use often.
- We keep kitchen tools where we’re most likely to use them in the kitchen, so we don’t have to reach too far or walk around too much. For some things (like scissors and bowls), I even have duplicates on two sides of the kitchen — because I’m that lazy! Seriously, though, this really speeds me up and makes my life easier. My son Andrew, who always dries the dishes, is very good about putting things back where they belong, too.
- We try very hard to wash our dishes right away, before any food has time to harden on. This really saves us a lot of time! We especially try to never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. (Okay, maybe a couple cups.) I must admit I cheat, though — my kids usually do the dishes.
- I keep a container of baby wipes under each bathroom sink, and I use one to wipe down the sink, counter, and toilet rim almost every time I’m in there. This helps our bathroom stay nice so I only have to “deep clean” it once a week. I also spray down the shower when I get out of it each morning. (Now who will be the first to comment and tell me I should make my own baby wipes!)
- We keep our shoes all together in a nice shoe holder in our hallway. (My dad made it for me.) When our shoes come off, we’re supposed to put them away — right away. (Usually this happens.) This helps a lot, because I personally think that losing shoes in a busy house like ours is the number-one way to add a lot of work and time to my day. Aaack!
- The same goes for my purse, the diaper bag, the keys, my husband’s wallet, the kids’ church bags, football equipment, and mail to take to the post office. We try to have “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If the kids want to see Mom get upset, they know it’s easy. Just put something away only inches from where it belongs. (I’m likely to make them put it away ten times or run laps around the house or something else to help them remember.)
- I wear an apron a lot. (Okay, so now I look like a pioneer woman!) The apron must have big pockets. These pockets contain my lip balm, sticky notes, a pen or two, a thermometer, my voice recorder, and my mp3 player. Oh, and miscellaneous toys and hair accessories found around the house during the day.
Now let’s hear your ideas! (Anything except the homemade baby-wipe recipe…)
Happy Labor Day,