By Stacey | Posted on June 17, 2009 | 1 Comment
I am always telling my family and others to get rid of unnecessary extras. The less you have to manage, the less time managing your stuff takes. Since there’s more to life than managing things, we should always be ready to do with the least that is needed to make our life work. Well, usually. Over the years I have decided there is a list of exceptions to the “less is more” rule.
- Groceries, soaps and paper products: Within the constraints of your budget and good planning regarding expiration dates, etc., it’s practical and useful to have extras of food, all kinds of soaps and paper goods. We have had way too many close calls on toilet paper. You know, when you go to rob a couple rolls from one bathroom to supply the other and realize you are holding the LAST PRECIOUS ROLL. Enough said. There are lots of people these days storing up food and the like for various reasons. You can adopt some of their techniques or create your own strategy to begin creating a surplus on your own garage shelves. Practicality, not fear, can be the motivation.
- Diapers, wipes, baby care essentials: Same as above except trade the LAST PRECIOUS ROLL for the LAST PRECIOUS DIAPER! Yes, dampened paper towels can replace wipes in a pinch, but wipes are undeniable handy. Also, make sure you have an extra of your favorite diaper cream or you and spousie are going to be deciding who holds the crying child with miserable bumster while the other makes a run to the store (usually when it’s dark or raining).
- Vitamins, medicines: Our family has a cabinet stocked with vitamins and natural supplements the way some people have a full medicine cabinet. When sickness strikes, our immune-boosters are ready to go.
- Bandaids: We have six kids, three are boys, and we allow running in the house. Any other questions?
- Hairbrushes and nail clippers: This may just be a personal quirk of our family, but we are always looking for hairbrushes and nail clippers. “Don’t you people ever put anything back after you use it?” you legitimately ask. I’ll be honest, sometimes yes, sometimes, no. We’re working on it. If one of the girls brings me a brush and I sit in the kitchen or living room and fix 1-2 girls’ hair, I sometimes lay it down so I can begin school or whatever right away.
- Silverware: Dishes are like laundry and sometimes even the best homemakers get behind. An extra set (or two, or three) is not hard to store and can be such a blessing when the last meal’s dishes didn’t get cleaned and dried for one reason or another. And how are you going to host a gathering with your favorite large family if you don’t have a huge amount of silverware?
- Bowls and Plates: We have ceramic tile in the kitchen, so we lose a bowl or plate about once a month! Even if this is not the case at your house, having extra dishes on hand can be so nice! My focus has been on acquiring extra bowls because we regularly buy paper plates. If there are no real plates clean, paper is always there. But disposable bowls are more expensive, and so we rarely buy them. If we eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, and soup for lunch, it’s really nice to have a double set of bowls. I have Corelle dishes in a beige color so I can buy extras for about $3 each at the store and replace them when needed. Your taste may not be suited to any Corelle styles, but if it is, I highly recommend them. They are lightweight, resist breakage (except on my ceramic kitchen tiles!) and can be replaced piece by piece.
- Children’s books: We LOVE books at our house. We love all kinds of books, but I want to focus on children’s story books here. We have some that are almost a part of the family because they have been read and reread to our children. Now our olders can read them to the youngers. We usually acquire our books at garage sales, used homeschool curriculum sales, used book stores, or for gifts. The department store, Kohl’s, has been selling some amazing hardcover books for only $5 each! If you go there anyway, look for displays near the front doors. Books are instant cuddling and interaction tools. Grab one or ten, whatever you have time for, and call some or all of the children! You can read word for word, or improvise with silly additions. You can pause and ask questions, or use dramatic voices. We have almost always had a daily reading time with our little ones before their afternoon naps. When children are older, they love to hear chapter books read aloud. A good story is just as good as a good movie, and the whole family can sit in the living room and do things with their hands (like sew, sketch or color) while one person reads.
- Peelers, hand-held can openers: Peeling goes a lot faster with more than one person doing it! Employ your eager helpers in the kitchen and let them join your peeling or can opening party.
- Salt and pepper shaker/napkin holders: If you serve your food or part of your food from the table (vs. buffet-style on a counter or bar) meals will go much smoother if people can reach what they need quickly. In addition to 2 sets of salt and peppers, you might consider putting out multiples of condiments or butter.
- Large stainless steel mixing and serving bowls: I couldn’t function without my 2 huge bowls. I mix in them, wash veggies and fruits in them, and serve in them. We try to avoid putting hot things in plastic bowls, so these are perfect for mixing my hot rice with other ingredients to create a casserole.
- Toasters: I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, or have had to resort to the old-fashioned cookie sheet and oven method.
- Cloths for kitchen and bathroom: You’ll never have to do without, no matter how behind on laundry you are. You could always dry off on a clean pillowcase or sheet. (Yes, I’ve done this! Will you still be my friend?!) But there’s no easy replacement for a cloth!
- Undies and socks: This is the same thought as the cloths above. When the going gets tough, having extra undies and socks means that even if most everything else is staring at you from the dirty laundry mountain, your family members can at least bathe and put on clean undies, even if their outer wear could use a wash. (Can anyone else relate to having the laundry get that bad? For us it usually follows days of everyone being sick and Mom and Dad just trying to keep everyone comfortable and hydrated and “vitamin-ed”.)
- Pillow cases and sheets: Children provide us a host of opportunities to change sheets: bed-wetting, leaky diapers, sickness, etc. Be prepared with extra sheets and cases, even if they don’t match! In a perfect world, we would strip all the beds, walk straight to the washer, wash and dry all the sheets, and replace them on the same day. I don’t live in a perfect world, and maybe you don’t either.
- Pillows: Bed-wetting has not been a big problem on the whole, but one thing I’ll tell you. Pillows often ended up getting wet when the sheets did! I never could understand how this happened, but we were glad to have clean, dry pillows waiting in the wings. We won’t even talk about all of our bouts with stomach flu or bloody noses. . .
- Blankets: See above. These are also great for tents and impromptu picnics on the living room floor.
- Crayons: Siblings color together better when they don’t have to grab for the only red, or orange, or black, etc.
Buy your extras a little at a time. Your budget and your spousie will react less strongly.