Large Family Stress Reduction: Streamlining

It could be said that most of our time is spent dealing with all of our “stuff.” We have to shuffle it around, polish it, maintain it, categorize it, pick it up, stow it, etc.

This is only exacerbated when your family has been multiplied by love!


Along with all the junk, children and parents alike are carrying loads of stress, and they are not getting along well, and everyone is looking around for some deep spiritual or emotional reason when it may due to a single, heinous culprit; clutter!

Clutter is not just the row of figurines on a shelf or the stack of unread mail on the counter, it is also anything we have added to our lives that actually subtracts from them. This can include:

  • Craft supplies
  • Toys
  • Complicated machines
  • Complicated schedules
  • “Bells and whistles”
  • Electronic media
  • Entertainment
  • Furnishings
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Activities
  • People
  • Curriculum

Let’s face it; “extras” aren’t always extra. How many things do you find yourself sighing over, or stumbling over, or worrying over without thinking. Is it really necessary to keep every picture a child creates and place it on the fridge? Who says our children must have five pairs of shoes a piece? Is it really wise to try and fit 8000 square feet of furniture into a 1000 square foot house? How many grocery bags do I really need to save? How many old toothbrushes will I really use to clean around the toilet? Will my children be stunted if we are not running from one activity to the other all week long? Will the church close its doors if we are not there every single meeting? Will we cease to exist if we do not have enough i-gadgets? Will our children really go crazy if we don’t allow them to play video games?

This is what this mom of many has learned over many, many years caring for many, many people; the direct route is usually the best route, so I always try and

keep it simple sweetheart

Here are some of ways this is accomplished:

  • My washing machine has a control panel with more buttons than the space shuttle, but I only use two cycles. My refrigerator also has a control panel with more neon than Las Vegas at night, but I only pay attention to what kinds of ice I want; chipped or cubed!
  • My morning routine fits nicely into a zip-bag, my wardrobe consists of six shirts and six skirts (with a few outfits for special occasions), I wear one pair of shoes in the winter, one in the summer.
  • I have four tabs that I keep track of on my browser; the others I add or subtract as necessary. I keep up with only 5-6 blogs, I keep Facebook to no more than 20 minutes a day.
  • We have four breakfast choices, lunch is sandwiches, and there are about eight different dishes that I plan for dinner, and all of these are rotated as needed (as long as these bases are covered, we are free to add something special if we want to).
  • Outside activities are very few; only the ones where we are truly contributing and learning.
  • I floundered around for years homeschooling with different methods and materials until I discovered the most direct route: Eclectic Education materials (like the McGuffey readers, Ray’s Arithmetics, and Long’s Language), “living” books, and notebooking.
  • I love beautiful things, but even these can become burdens. I keep a few choice items set out, but I tend to think that a few fabulous decorations are much better than a horde of ticky tacky curios and momentoes.

Besides pairing life down, I am also a huge fan of purging (I call this having “pitch and burn” sessions). In fact, writing this post is reminding me of all of the things I need to go through very soon…

  • Glasses and dishes–you know, the ones that are chipped, or stained, or awkward, or simply ugly!
  • Shoes–the season change is a good time to go through and check the condition and sizes of shoes, then keep a list of who needs what for those spontaneous garage-sale times, etc.
  • Clothes–this also comes with the seasonal change. We pass our clothes down as much as possible, but there are times when things just wear out (or we have kept things that are awful looking in the hopes that hanging them in the closet will somehow improve them).
  • Papers–this is a big one for me, since I tend to dislike going through piles of bills and the like, and filing seems like running in place.
  • Food–have you ever bought a can of lima beans thinking that somehow you would be able to sneak them into a pan of soup, but your children are too astute so that your plans are foiled, then you keep that can of lima beans in the cupboard for five years, always trying to bring it to the front so that you will be reminded to use it but push it to the side in favor of the green beans? Well, purging helps me come to grips with the fact that 1) spending money on food my family will not eat is wasteful, and 2) if I ever make a mistake and purchase something distasteful, I should have the sense to donate it before the “best by” date so that someone else can enjoy it!

In order to do a good job of purging, I have to get in the mood, so I actually have a playlist on YouTube which I have labeled “Cleanin’ Music,” which is lined up with get going tunes. I get containers and bags ready, and I even sit beforehand and write out a general plan, with assignments for all of my “volunteers”!

Some people say you can streamline in small snatches of time, but I tend to need a few days in which I dig in and don’t stop until I get to the bottom of it all (my poor husband reads the signs and finds a place to hide when I begin a deep-clean session).

It takes a lot of work to take one’s home apart and put it back in order, but the results are so astoundingly refreshing it gets me excited!

Off to change my little corner of the world…

For more in this series read Getting Ahead Part 1 and Part 2.


18 thoughts on “Large Family Stress Reduction: Streamlining”

  1. Great, practical info! Even this post seems simple and streamlined to me! =) I’m curious, what are your eight meals? I

    • Thank you! I’m glad to hear it was an easy read. The 8 meals actually change according to the season of our lives (or even the season of the year). This could be easily compiled by sitting down and figuring out the meals one’s family seems to enjoy the most and are both easy to fix and affordable.

    • Yes, Nicki, there is one more in this series, and I can write more on the subject if you are still interested.

  2. Sherry, love the new layout for your site. I really enjoyed this article when the you published the first version maybe a couple of years ago? A year ago? I put much of it to practice and boy did it help. I am a tidy fanatic and really can’t think straight when my house it a mess. But some areas needed a little push to really streamline, like my sewing stash. And I put the advice you gave me a while back to work; it helped! Thank you for sharing these tips again. Sometimes it takes a several takes to get all these tips put to practice. Please keep writing! God bless, in Christ, Carolina

    • I’m glad to hear from you, Carolina! Yes, I am the same way; I can’t think straight in a mess, either. I’m glad you were blessed–Lord willing, I will keep on writing!

  3. Wonderful series – so practical and right where I am. I am picking up new ideas and reminded of old ones. Having 6 children does necessitate a more strategic approach!

    • So true! I think the success of large families depends on plans and systems; being deliberate is not an option, but a necessity!

  4. Hi sherry!
    What is the Long’s Language series you reference? I tried to do a search for it but came up empty. However, I did notice there is a Long name near your Grammar series, is this the same? Thanks so much for serving in this way✝️


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