Laundry Help

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A lot of moms see laundry as the never-ending, dreaded task that overwhelms and irritates. I, actually, don’t mind laundry. I love the smells associated with it, the end results, and the fact that laundry helps me know if certain children of mine are remembering to change their underpants regularly. 😉

While laundry is not a dreaded task for me, I totally get how annoying it can be. It is always there; if there are people living in your home, there is always laundry. Even the moment you have emptied the laundry baskets…someone has dirtied something. After struggling for a long time with keeping up with the dirty clothes, I have found some ways to stay ahead of the dirty game:

1.Don’t schedule one day for laundry.

Now, I know a lot of people swear by designating one day to do laundry. I used to do all laundry on Mondays – from the time we got married until about my third child. Every Monday, laundry was done. But, the thing that got me was when someone was sick…on a Monday. It would throw off my entire week. If I was feeling lousy or the kids had a stomach bug, Mondays were ruined. I would not get all the loads done I had planned, and then the whole rest of the week I was playing catch up, while more dirty clothes were piling up! I just couldn’t do it.

So, I started doing a load a day. Mondays are still pretty heavy laundry days, when I do 3-4 loads, but the rest of the week I do about a load a day. Even if it is a small, quick cycle load of towels, I do it. Why? Because if I wait and try to throw 7+ towels in with my Monday loads, I start to feel overwhelmed again. Here’s how a typical week of laundry loads goes…

Monday – 3 to 4 loads of clothing (darks, colors, lights, and undies/socks/undershirts)

Tuesday – kids’ bed sheets, usually two loads because that is five beds of sheets. And sometimes, if I need to wash someone’s comforter, it is another load or two.

Wednesday – my bedding. Sometimes just a load of my sheets and pillowcases, sometimes I do a second load of our machine-washable comforter (our best investment…a king-size comforter that can be washed at home and fits in the washer)

Thursday – usually all towels (bath, hand, kitchen) and washcloths. Sometimes a load of darks, if we have left the house a lot and the kids need jeans.

Friday – catch up on any growing piles – colors, underwear, etc.

Saturday – When I wash the kids’ comforters on the same day, it is usually a Saturday and it is five loads (one for each comforter). BUT, I don’t wash their comforters regularly, so Saturdays are usually just random laundry load days.

Sunday – No wash. At all. Too much going on with church in the morning and evening; I learned to steer clear of doing laundry on Sundays.

2. Follow through on a load or it will take over.

Seriously, how many times do we start a load in the washer and forget it? We have to run out for something or we start some kind of cleaning project and forget all about the clothes in the washer. Then it is 6:00PM, and we remember the load that has been sitting in there for 8 hours. Ugh! That has happened a few more times than I like here. So, once I start a load of laundry, I make a note (sometimes mental, but most times literally a note on a paper where I can see it) to check on it in 35 minutes, the average time for a regular load in our washer. Keeping track of the laundry load helps me remember to get it into the dryer, so I can start the next load or just to keep it from smelling yucky after sitting in a damp, enclosed washer drum all day.

The other part to the follow through is once it is washed and dried, I have to put the clean clothes in a basket and bring the basket to where I am. I can’t just put it back in the basket and leave it on top of the washer or dryer. I have to bring it with me in order to get it folded and put away. That whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing comes into play here. If I see the basket in the living room with me, I am likely to fold it and get it out of there because clutter annoys me…and a basket of unfolded clothes is clutter, to me. I will fold it, divvy up the kids’ clothing and send them away with their items to put in their drawers. Which leads me to my next point….

3. Laundry isn’t just for Mom.

I love serving my family. Honestly. It brings me such joy. BUT, I did not wear the 35 pairs of underwear in the wash…so I will expect the wearers to put their own items away (with the exception of my husband – he works hard away from home every day, so I don’t expect him to come home and do more work that I could have simply done when I put my own clothes away). Sometimes I ask my kids to help me fold the laundry, if I am crunched for time. Usually, though, I just expect them to take their pile of clean clothing and put it (properly) in their drawers and closets. This took a little practice to get going. I had a few kids that would take the whole stack of clothes (shirts, pants, undies, sock, dresses, etc) and just stuff them all into the same drawer. No good! I had to take them up to their rooms and show them how to correctly sort and put away their items…and then made it very clear that I expected this each time and would follow-up randomly to make sure they did it. Sometimes I actually remember to follow-up and make sure, other times I completely forget – but they don’t know that! 🙂

My expectations for my kids and laundry are:

  • they must get all dirty items into the large hamper in their bathroom. I have explained that wearing a t-shirt for 3 hours while just sitting and reading does not create a dirty item. They also understand that jeans may be worn more than one day, unless they went on a hike or were rolling around on the floor in a public place.
  • whomever puts clothing into the hamper and notices it is full is responsible to move the full hamper into my bathroom, so I can see it needs to be sorted and prepared to wash (I have 4 baskets in my bathroom for sorting clothes before I even get to the laundry room. It is super efficient for me.). If it is overflowing and no one brings it to my bathroom, I simply discipline the person with the clothing on top. Simple. 😉
  • they can help fold if they want (sometimes a few do want to), but only if they are going to actually FOLD and not just wad things up and stack them.
  • they must take their clean clothing and put it into the correct places in their rooms or they will be out of clothing to wear very quickly.

4.Not eveything on our bodies is dirty every day.

This might sound gross to some of you. Believe me, we are uber-hygienic and very wary of germs and dirtiness. BUT, we have had to lay some ground rules for what constitutes a dirty clothing item with the kids. If they wear jeans out of the house and go somewhere that they will be on the floor (library, church, etc), that item will go in the hamper at the end of the day. Shirts worn to AWANA go in the hamper because our children have this uncanny way of sweating with the slightest bit of physical activity at church. Pants and shirts worn at home on a boring school day can be worn a second day. If the kids were running around like maniacs in the basement, I will probably tell them to throw their shirt in the hamper. Pajamas get worn two nights before we wash them, unless someone has an accident or spills food on them during breakfast (ahem, Ethan!). Jeans can be worn 3 or 4 days around the house before we need to wash them.

I don’t know how you all feel about the dirtiness of clothes, but I think our clothes are a lot less dirty than we think on regular days at home. It is such a waste of water and energy to wash not-really-dirty clothing. AND it saves on how many items you actually need to have for each of your children (that is a whole other post, though, that I plan to write….decluttering the kids’ drawers). If we can really evaluate the clean versus dirty items at the end of the day, we might save ourselves some irritation by not having as much in the hamper. Socks and underwear are the exception – those get changed at least once a day. We have a few with very stinky feet, so sometimes a change in the middle of the day (when they have been sweating) is necessary. And we also have a few that have an accident – possibly when being tickled by a sibling – and need to change underwear. No names, though. 😉 But, seriously, clothes are usually durable enough and clean enough to go more than a day on the body before needing to be washed.

(Another exception may be the puberty stage. I suspect my boys will need to wash shirts more often when they reach that age; they sweat getting up from the couch now, so I assume the sweat and body odor will be enough to wash their clothes more frequently in the coming years! My girls haven’t been affected by this stage much, but I plan to be careful to avoid any embarrassing B.O. issues.)

There you have it – my super fabulous efficient way to get laundry done and not be overwhelmed by it. I cannot guarantee these things will work for you, but I know they work for us. And if you struggle with laundry (or just simply hate it), try these suggestions and see if maybe they’ll work for your family too!

Do you have a laundry system? Or do you just wing it each week??

What’s your biggest challenge with laundry? Do you have any tips to help other moms stay on top of it?

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