WFMW–Laundry Strike

WFMW It’s that time of the week again – Works for Me Wednesday!! I know, you’ve been waiting in eager anticipation for the latest hint, tip, or clever pointer from the Duckabush Blog. Well, we aim to please so this week’s topic is … laundry.

True, there might be more exciting areas of life, more spiritual and interesting ones but, really, laundry is the core of every home. Without a smooth-running system for laundry, chaos and naked children abound. Laundry is an undeniable aspect of life. What to do when faced with such a substantial burden? Outsource it, of course. Isn’t that why we have children? I have worked hard to train my older three in the sophisticated nuances of laundering and, as long as I don’t look too closely, I am very pleased with their work.

sarah and david

Sarah and David can haul laundry up and down stairs, empty the dryer, sort clothes and even pair (notice I didn’t say ‘match’) socks.

When the kids are hard pressed for cash, I will pay them 50 cents for doing laundry. They are required to 1) empty the dryer and sort the clean clothes; 2) transfer the wet clothes to the dryer; and 3) begin another load. I figure that’s worth some money if only because it allows me to sit down and blog instead of squandering the time washing clothes for the ungrateful masses.

daniel's sleeping bags

Daniel’s latest quest for cash resulted in him washing all the sleeping bags. So he did three WITHOUT any laundry soap, do you really need soap these days? Um. Yes, please.

I have a fairly small laundry room and, with seven people in the family, laundry is a constant, never-ending chore. My husband came up with a brilliant idea for helping me organize and process laundry. He went to IKEA and bought me an Expedit, a backless bookcase with 16 square cubicles.


The idea was to have a shelving system where each person in the family could have their own laundry ‘cubby’. The rest of the shelves could be used for linens, games or misc storage. During the design process we tweaked things further. I have two hampers in the laundry room – one for lights and one for darks. I wanted these two baskets to remain in the room so I needed to find a way to prop the Expedit off the ground. Again the creative team of Tim and Grandad went to work. They came up with the idea of placing the entire shelf on top of two file cabinets. Now we had shelving, hampers, AND filing storage. Brilliant!


And the cubbies always look this neat and tidy. You believe me, right.

As with my whiteboard, an important aspect of the project was ensuring my father was in town and available for some manual labor. Tim was the creative designer and financier behind the entire scheme. My dad served as the general contractor and all around craftsman — what a great team. The kids put on a movie and Grandad assembled shelves and filing cabinets and then secured everything to the wall.

grandad the handy man

It is wonderful to have such a handy father.

Now I have this wonderful laundry organizer. When clothes are dry they go straight from the dryer to the appropriate cubicle (folding, I must admit, is optional). If I’m short on time and washing several loads in quick succession, a basket near the dryer might fill up with clean clothes, but my couch and chairs and family room floor are NEVER covered with piles and piles of laundry. It’s a miracle! The laundry strike can end now.

hampers and filing cabinets

Today, in honor of this post, I made labels for each of the cubbies. Note hampers and filing cabinets underneath shelf. Seriously organized!!

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for further Works for Me Wednesday links.

Some other Duckabush WFMW Posts
Giant Whiteboard
Travel Outfits

Join us for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting
Calling Your Child
Creative Use for the Timer
First Time Obedience

Project 365 – Day 233

Share or follow

Related posts:

Tuesday Tips for Parenting – First Time Obedience

As Kathy and I continue to try our hand at Parenting Tips, this week’s turn has fallen to me. Those of you who read my earlier pointer may see some overlap with today’s offering — indeed, the game we play to teach our children to come when we call is an outgrowth of this parenting principle.

A significant aspect of raising young children involves telling them to do things, or (perhaps even more often) telling them not to do things, as in one of our oft-used obscure movie quotes: “Stop doing things!” (Hint: Steve Martin has a starring role in this 1990 film.) Sometimes I can really identify with the frustration of the FBI agent in that story, thrust into a pseudo-parental role, responsible for a decidedly over-active ‘child’. In spite of the informational trickle-down among the children which a large family enjoys, sometimes it seems as though all I do is give instructions, and a lot of them seem to be the same kind of instructions I gave just a short time before.

Pensive Sarah
As the ‘caboose’ child, Sarah sometimes doesn’t get the word on what is required.

One key principle Kathy and I embraced early in our parenting is the idea of first-time obedience. It is pretty simple — basically it means that when you give your child an instruction, they comply, fully and immediately. Surprisingly, many parents don’t hold their children to this standard, in spite of some of the obvious benefits.

Mom: “George, stop throwing rocks into the street.”

(George ignores his Mom, throws another rock.)

Mom: (at a higher volume) “George, I said, stop throwing rocks right now!”

George : (evaluates the situation and factors in the words ‘right now’; determines that some verbal response is called for, to avoid immediate punishment.) “I’m almost done!” he shouts over his shoulder.

Mom: “I’m counting to three. One … two … two-point-five … !”

George: “Aw, Mom, I’m having fun!”

Mom: (now slightly red in the face) “I’m serious. Three!”

George: “OK, OK.” (George heaves a deep sigh and throws one last rock into the street, narrowly missing a neighbor’s car, and makes a big show of trudging up the driveway.)

Mom: (smiling for the benefit of onlookers) “There’s a good boy.”

I first heard the parenting style illustrated above, described as ‘Threatening, repeating’. Gary and Anne-Marie Ezzo asked this revealing question of some of the couples they interviewed:

“What happens when you get to three?”

They were often told, “Oh, little George knows that when I get to three, he’ll really be in trouble.” They proudly continue, “He almost never disobeys after I get to three.”

Ezzo’s compelling rejoinder, “Why not move whatever consequence happens at ‘three’, forward, so that it happens at ‘one’?”

Many parents don’t realize that, by engaging in a series of threats and repeated instructions, they are actually training their children not to obey. It sounds crazy, but that is exactly what is accomplished. The child, after only a few iterations, quickly discovers that Mom and Dad aren’t serious until an instruction has been repeated three or four times. They push the limit, as do all self-willed people, and evolve a sophisticated system of evaluating how close they are to being punished, sometimes to the fifth or sixth decimal point. As children, they do occasionally misjudge the popping veins on their parent’s forehead, and encounter consequences … but on the whole, they are able to pursue their own will and avoid obedience to a large degree. Little surprise that some children grow up and encounter difficulties with employers and law enforcement personnel — they have been trained from early childhood not to obey authority, but rather to believe that they will always, even after repeated warnings, have a last-minute chance to comply without encountering any consequences.

Cheerful obedience
No one said first time obedience couldn’t be joyful, or at least, they didn’t say it to Joshua.

I firmly believe that parents who do not require first-time obedience, are denying their child a significant blessing from God. By permitting (and even encouraging) rebellion through the establishment of such a low and unscriptural standard, the child is placed outside the ‘circle of protection’ that God erects for those who follow His commands for much of their childhood. More about that ‘circle of protection’ in another post, sometime.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

Delayed obedience = disobedience” is one of the teaching formulae emphasized by the Ezzo’s in their Growing Kids God’s Way curriculum, and I’m inclined to agree with it. A child who hears a parent’s instruction and (assuming they are able) does not immediately comply, is a child who is in rebellion. No amount of parental prevarication will obscure this truth. Please note that this article is primarily aimed at parents of children in the early years (aged 18 months to five), and in the middle years (six to eleven); different phases of parenting require different strategies, as briefly discussed in The Effective Prayer of Righteous Men.

First time obedience means that when you tell your child to drop a rock or to stop yelling at their sister or to walk away from a steep incline, they do it. If it isn’t done within a few seconds, without argument or emotional backlash, then it isn’t first-time obedience.

Shoe torture
Some instructions are more fun to obey than others, like when you are ordered to tickle your little brother.

Some parents have issues with anger, and shy away from authoritarian modes for fear that they will be negatively perceived by onlookers, friends and even spouses. This reaction is exactly backward. To illustrate this, answer this question: Which parent is more able to dispassionately and reasonably correct a disobedient child, the one who calmly gives a single instruction, or the one who has escalated through a half-dozen threats with increasing embarrassment, volume and blood pressure?

My children know that when I give them an instruction, I expect it to be obeyed immediately and completely. Those who fail to meet that standard are immediately corrected, sometimes by having to repeat whatever I told them to do several times in tedious repetition, or facing an immediate proportional consequence. I have found that by establishing a consistent standard of first-time obedience, I can avoid much of the conflict that other parents seem to experience. My children are characterized as well-behaved, gracious, cheerful and pleasant people to be around, largely because they are not in rebellion against my authority, which I hold in stewardship from God.

So why don’t more parents hold their children to this standard? I think there are several reasons; here are a few that occur to me:

  • Ignorance – many parents have never seen first-time obedience modeled, and it hasn’t occurred to them that children are capable of meeting a much higher standard than is commonly seen on the playground or in the supermarkets.
  • Laziness – some parents don’t take the time and effort required to establish a pattern of first-time obedience. In the first couple of weeks (before your children discover that you are not bluffing), it means getting up off the couch and correcting a child who didn’t obey. It means inconvenience and extra effort, usually when you are tired and inclined to overlook the misbehavior. The happy news for lazy parents is that, once established, the standard of first-time obedience does not actually require that much maintenance.
  • Misguided Philosophy — this one is the hardest to address. Some parents actually think that it is inappropriate for them to exercise authority over their children. They believe that they should ‘reason with’ their toddlers as equals and avoid direct commands or instructions. Some over-react against extreme authoritarian models they saw as children, while others have simply abdicated their parental responsibilities. Sadly, parents who cling stubbornly to this parenting model will tend not to avail themselves of advice of this nature, in spite of evident positive results.

Reading an early draft of this post, Kathy tells me that it sounds a bit harsh. Additionally, I haven’t really done a very good job of communicating our passion for capturing our child’s heart for God, and the painstaking processes we employ in training and teaching our children. She is often a good judge of how people perceive me, so I’ll address that.

First, it is not my intention to denigrate others, rather to offer some hope and a path to more effective parenting. Secondly, I cannot over-emphasize the critical need for a parent to establish, through time and gentle teaching, a solid relationship with their child. Without a deeply-rooted foundation of love, first time obedience will merely produce outward conformity without touching the heart.

A contrite spirit
Sometimes a rebuke produces a contrite spirit, and sometimes it doesn’t.

From a practical standpoint, the establishment of a high and clearly-defined standard is kinder than having a vague and intermittently-enforced standard. Why should my child have to factor in my mood, the time of day, recent history and the relative humidity when calculating how quickly to obey me? Better to make it clear and simple, so they can focus their energy on the important fun of being a child. My relationship with my son or daughter (like my relationship with my boss or my wife) will operate more smoothly and without resentment when expectations are clearly communicated.

Puzzled David
Just when you think you’ve got those tricky parents figured out, they surprise you …

First-time obedience is also a matter of trust — my children obey me quickly and completely because they can bank on my love and my willingness to lay down my life for them and for their good. I don’t order my kids around like robots, fulfilling my whims — rather I try to be sparing with my commands so my children can obey me knowing that I am asking them to do the right thing. I seek to instruct them, not out of selfish motives, but in submission to God and for the common good.

If you are characterized as a threatening-repeating parent, it will take some effort (mostly on your part) to change. You’ll want to sit down with your children and apologize for not being consistent in holding a scriptural standard of obedience. Upon reflection, you may also want to express to God a repentant heart, and ask Him for help in making a change in your family. Then clearly explain to your children that you will require first-time obedience (without argument or delay) for anything you tell them to do (or to stop doing). If you consistently correct anything that falls short of this standard, you’ll find that you have trained yourself (and, by extension, your offspring) within 3-6 weeks, depending on the age of your kids.

Although by the very nature of this post, I have set myself up as some kind of ‘parenting authority’, I strive for humilty, and I welcome any comment on this topic, especially if you feel I am in error. My desire is not to offend, but rather to offer help to other parents through a strategy that I believe to be godly, simple and effective.

Project 365, Day 232


Share or follow

Related posts:

Rachel’s Giveaway

In honor of Rachel’s beautiful new room, she is hosting a giveaway. These two adorable little animals need new homes.

fetch and ears

Fetch and Ears are good buddies.

Rachel was so drawn to these Beanie Babies that she bought them twice. :) Although her younger siblings would be more than willing to love Fetch and Ears as their very own, Rachel wishes to share them with you.

sarah holds the cuties

Sarah is our Beanie Baby model.

In order to participate in Rachel’s Giveaway, please leave a comment and answer one of the following inquiries:

1) Hippo or Peacock?
2) Ocean or Lake?
3) Why Fetch or Ears would be happy with you in 72.5 words or less.
4) Vacation home — Lithuania or Sri Lanka?

Rachel will pick two numbers (at random) on Friday, August 24th.

sarah and fetch

sarah and ears

As you can see both Fetch and Ears are in excellent condition and still have their original Ty tags.

Thanks for playing!

Project 365 – Day 231

Share or follow

Related posts:

My Beautiful Room by Rachel

Camp was awesome! I had a great time. I’m so glad I went.

harmony springs

gathering stuff

Good Bye Harmony Springs! Let’s grab our gear and and get out of here.

When I walked in the house, my dad told me to go put my pillow away. I went upstairs, wondering why my bedroom door was closed. I thought maybe they had cleaned my room. Sometimes when we’re gone Mom organizes and picks up our rooms. I saw a bunch of paint out in the hallway. The boys said they had painted Daniel’s ceiling on Friday. When I opened my door I couldn’t believe my eyes.


My mom was standing (hiding?) in my room with the camera. I was so shocked to see all the changes to my bedroom that I immediately backed up and closed the door. It was unbelievable.

where did she go?

Sarah: “Where did Rachel go?”

I didn’t think they would do something like that while I was away! The room was gorgeous! The first thing I noticed was the painting and all the beautiful stickers over my bunk bed. Everything looked wonderful. I LOVE my picture collage. All my best friends are on there as well as Sarah and her friends. It’s just perfect.

this is beautiful

Dear Mom and Dad, Daniel, Joshua, David and Sarah,

Thank you so much for painting my room and putting everything in order. I spent over an hour playing and just sitting in my wonderful, beautiful, lovely room. Thank you for making my homecoming a great experience. It made me want to cry.


Some Before and Afters

march 2007

March 2007

maiy 2007

May 2007

sarah's in bed

Sarah steals the top bunk while Rachel is away.

new desk area

All freshened up and decorated.

More pictures on yesterday’s blog.

Kathy (proud and happy mom)
Project 365 – Day 230

Share or follow

Related posts:

Decorating the Girls’ Room

Steps to Decorating Your Daughters’ Room

1) Send oldest daughter away to camp — this cuts down on the protestations and tears when you declutter and throw away precious pieces of paper, scraps of ribbon, old toys and crafts made from beads and glitter glue.

Rachel sets off for camp

rachel's tipi

Rachel conceals her sadness at leaving her beloved family for a week behind a huge smile. She doesn’t look the least bit nervous or worried about camp. What an actress!

2) Take large plastic bin and several paper bags — fill containers with random toys and knick knacks, put everything else in the trash.

3) Trick rest of the children into helping in the finest tradition of Tom Sawyer — do this by saying things like “Maybe I’ll let you paint.” And “Well, I don’t know. It’s awfully hard to paint, we’d have to clean up all these toys first.” When I see how they enjoy painting, they remind me of the guys who do house painting in Lancaster.

4) Arm oldest boys with rollers and then stand back to watch the paint fly — it helps to fill their rollers for them the first dozen or so times (unless the ‘carpet splattered’ look is your goal).

daniel and joshua

joshua displays our blank wall

daniel puts on a coat of purple paint

Daniel and Joshua’s leisure time is in serious jeopardy now that I’ve discovered what amazing painters they are. I couldn’t believe how fast the room was completed. What room shall we do next, boys?

5) Hand out tiny rollers to youngest children — this is risky but pays off in raising future painters. Be sure they are dressed in attractive paint smocks. Be prepared to banish them from the room as wet paint begins to cover the walls, making even turning and walking around difficult.

sarah waits her turn

david paints

David and Sarah did a great job helping paint the walls.

6) Spend hours edging — this is a difficult step as the younger children are still eager to help and return to the room often. Putting their hands on the walls to peep inside, they ask, “Why are you STILL painting, Mommy? What’s taking you so long? I thought we were done.” At the same time this disturbance is going on, the older children have escaped out into the back yard for some dodge ball and aren’t available to scoot little ones OUT of the room. Continue working, despite interruptions. Don’t worry about things like dinner, laundry or dodge ball injuries.

7) After painting is completed, go shopping — at this point it is advisable to bring another girl along, preferably one who shares the newly painted bedroom. If she is still upset about being sent away while painting (see step 5), use shopping as consolation.

8) Visit at least two stores in search of curtains, shelves, bedding, decorations, coat racks, and inspiration. Check wallet and credit limit. At this point it might be determined that inspiration is too expensive. Be sure to return home with at least one or two purchases to justify outing.

ribbon curtains

Sarah and I found these curtains at Lowes. We also bought some wall stickers of flowers and hearts. Too cute!

9) Weigh the cost of a trip to Ikea, which involves gas, time and money spent on out-of-budget extras, against a quick spin over to Wal-Mart. Window shop online, as much as possible.

10) Convince oldest son to mount new curtain rod — hand him a power tool. Saying, “I wonder how this drill works?” usually grabs a boy’s attention. Challenge him to put together the cheap, Wal-Mart bookshelf in under 20 minutes. Using a stopwatch, offer to time him for extra motivation.

11) Beg, plead and bribe dear husband to mount shelves and new hooks in the painted room. This can also be a tricky step. It helps if you have chocolate and diet Coke on hand. If necessary (use with caution), remind him of his words, “Definitely you should paint the room. I think it’s a wonderful idea.” These statements imply support, assistance and some time with power tools.

coat rack, hats and plaque

This is the wall you see as you enter the girls’ room.

12) Place knick-knacks and toys back on desk and new shelves. Hang other decorations — be careful to declutter a second time as toys are returned to the room. Filling another bag of either trash or giveaways is recommended.

shelves and desk

Rachel’s desk by the window with animal hammock hanging from the ceiling and new shelves alongside.

13) Touch up spots on the ceiling — remind self to schedule training session with assistant painters before next paint job.

14) Pull old quilt out of closet and hang — don’t worry if the walls are busy and covered with other things. The point is to OVER decorate. Remember everything darling daughter has said over the years about this beloved quilt, made for her as a toddler, (even if the stitching is poor and the quality sub-par). Be amazed at how the colors of the quilt just “happen” to coordinate with the paint colors chosen by the girls.


wooden letters

Tim’s sister painted these beautiful letters for Rachel one year. Now, to convince her to do some for Sarah. Hint, hint.

15) Spend several minutes chortling with glee as you imagine the joy and surprise on dear daughter’s face when she sees her new room. Ponder her words, “Every summer you say we’re going to paint my room … but we never do it.” Cherish the opportunity to redeem yourself.

16) Stay up until 1 am (or later) using Publisher to create a photo collage of daughters’ friends and family. — be a perfectionist and work on each picture meticulously to crop, center and outline it.

photo collage

17) Complete finishing touches — hang collage, vacuum, take photos, write blog, etc.

sarah pie

Now, to convince Sarah to give the top bunk back to Rachel.

18) Rest.

There you have it — the steps of our little Breaking and Decorating in Rachel and Sarah’s room. Rachel returns from camp tomorrow. I’ll be sure to record her response (staged or otherwise) for the blog. Thanks for reading! We had fun. :)

Project 365 – Day 229

Share or follow

Related posts: