First of all, is it ever really done? Not for more than a few minutes it seems. And this has always been hard for me since I grew in a home of four people... Yes, the perfect little American dream family with one girl, one boy, and a set of parents. Laundry was done on one day of the week usually and consisted of probably four or five loads total. Well, how's that for a reality killer when you have a family of seven?!! I can remember there was always a load of jeans, a load of whites, a load of colors, sometimes a small load of reds, and a load of towels, etc.. Mine is quite different! Ha!
I have tried many methods to tackle the madness of laundry. And yes, I have even tried seeing it as a joyful opportunity to serve my family. That's beautiful in theory, but in the interest of true realness it is a task that must be done. Some aspects of it are fine. Some or not. I don't like putting it away and some of that is because I can not reach well to do so. I seriously can not reach my own top rack to hang my shirts. It aggravates me. And it is what it is and it must be done so I disperse some of those jobs to help me survive the madness. So, here are some methods I have tried:
- Doing laundry everyday... EVERYday doing a task you do not enjoy is well... depressing. Kudos to those of you that do it that way and it works well for you. It makes me sad. Seriously... and I know that is comical, but why on earth would I want to do the thing I dislike the most everyday of my life?!! It is simply not necessary and it creates constant chaos for me. I can not stand to have laundry all over my house in piles and that seems to be what happens with the everyday method. And I think everyone seems to create more laundry this way.
- Doing laundry once a week... I love this method. The problem is that it works really good for small families and not so much for larger families unless you want to do laundry the WHOLE day long. Being that there are other things in life that happen in one day this method does not work because at the end of 14 or so loads of laundry you are pretty tired.... or it does not get completed.
- Doing laundry for two days in row... This is better, yet then you have two almost full days of laundry going on. It's better and I have been using this method for a while and it ends up being Thursday and Friday that I do this or I do it on Friday and Saturday. Basically, more often than not laundry runs into the weekend when hubby is off and wanting to enjoy life. Guess what? Laundry hinders that.
- Doing laundry during the weekdays with a sort of "system" or "plan"... This is the method that is working for me right now. As with all things this is working for my current season, but may not in a future season. We must always assess our current season of life and be ready to change... and change... and change... Hahahhhhhaaa! I decided I really do not want to do laundry on the weekends if not necessary since it takes away from enjoying Saturday. And I don't want to do laundry on Sundays as I feel it is not necessary work and takes away from our day of rest... not that we rest. Rest is work or a project in my eyes. ;) So, on Monday morning I start the laundry and the goal is to conquer what is there with exception to my husbands laundry and that is because I want full loads and I do his laundry completely separately. By Thursday or Friday he usually has two full loads... one of pants and one of shirts. That works out well. Okay... I was not going to say this, but I know there are some they may wonder why I do all his laundry separate... man smells and oils. I am not wanting this to seem ugly, so don't twist it to be as such, please. Simply... the oils in his clothes get in our clothes and we smell like a man. Not what I want... so I do his separately. Also, his clothes are huge! He is 6'2"and a muscular guy. Six pairs of pants and you have a Extra Large Capacity washer load full. We have several hampers placed strategically throughout the house:
- There is one hamper in the kids small bathroom. This has a mix of most everyone's clothing in it.
- All towels hang on wall hooks to dry and then, are moved to a large cabinet in the master bathroom where there are two mesh hampers (one for whites, one for colors) and they only contain washclothes, towels, and sometimes sheets). Sheets are washed as needed when needed and usually because someones wets a bed or it is simply time for washing. I should have a system for this, but they get washed and for now it works.
- In the family closet are two large laundry baskets on wheels (one for hubby, one for everyone else).
- So, this sort of how I am doing laundry these days:
- Monday: I get the hamper out of the small bathroom and the "everyone" hamper out of the family closet. This is usually 2-3 loads. I start with this. I save the "hubby" hamper for Thursday. I assess what is in the two mesh hampers and usually it would be a full load together, but separately they would be really small loads. I save that up for larger loads. We re-use towels some so they do not accumulate as fast. So, Monday usually entails about 2-3 loads which I separate out all pants to one load and do 1-2 loads of other clothing. I do separate out hand washables for later and they get done whenever and whatever day I feel like it.
- Tuesday-Wednesay: I just assess it as needed. These days are more random, but usually include, at least, one full load of random clothes each day and getting the two loads of towels (towels & whites) done. It is just whatever needs done.
- Thursday: This is the day to sort of "try to get it all done" (bwahhhhahhaa) or really to a certain level of completion going into the weekend. The goal is to leave little to do on Friday, none on Saturday and Sunday. This is the day to start my husbands clothes going. It is usually only two loads, but again there is usually another load of everyone clothing, possibly some soiled sheets, and possibly more towels.
- Extras: Anytime we have a rainy day my kids make wet laundry for me. Yes, as long as it is not thundering and lightening and they can tolerate the temperature they are allowed to play in the rain. It is one of their favorite things to do. It is a special event at our house which creates a special laundry event of wet clothes and towels for me to do. Anytime someone wets a bed... special laundry moment. Anytime there is swimming... towels... special laundry moment. Anytime a potty trainer is in the house (I have one now!)... special laundry moment. You get the point. It truly is madness, but we get it done. And everyone works on it. Yes, even the little ones. And this is how they help:
- Sienna ,2, can find her panties in the pile and put those in her panty basket in the little bathroom. She can attempt to fold washclothes.
- Sahara, 5, can pick her underwear out and put those in her panty basket in the little bathroom. She can fold washclothes and attempt to fold towels. She can put her folding clothes away which include pants/jeans and night clothes. Sometimes we put her clothes on hangers, but have her hang them. This is hard for her, though
- Caden, 7, can pick his underwear out and put those away. He can fold washclothes and attempt to fold towels. He can put his folding clothes away which include pants/jeans and night clothes. We put his clothes on hangers, but have him hang them. This is hard for her because he does not want to do it. He is capable and is learning.
- Sierra, 9, helps fold and sort everything else. She can put things on hangers, but is not a good judge of hanger sizes just yet. She helps put mostly her own things away, but can do others, also.
- Savannah, 12, helps fold and sort everything else, also. She is the best at helping with laundry since she is the oldest. I try not to overwhelm her with doing too much of it, though. She can do it all. Does that mean she should? I don't think so. Cody and I are the parents and the children are not our slaves, but they are required to do a fair share. The key here is a "fair" share. Sometimes that is hard to judge in a larger family. Some days require more of their help and some days I try to do the most of it, so they can do other things.
- Getting behind & playing catch-up: I want to add this last issue because we all get behind sometimes. When you have seven people and you get behind on laundry you are looking at one huge laundry day or possibly a week of several smaller loads.
- One great way to "fix it quick" is to play a three hour trip to the laundromat. We have done this and it works great because you get it all done and you can take it home and put it all away. It is constant unstopping work for those three hours with little break time if any. I start by sorting. Pick out all the jeans and quickly start those loads. Use the largest washers for the quickest solution. While those jean loads are going start sorting the rest however you prefer and start those loads. As a washer finishes put those in dryer. Because everything goes in a little at a time you are going to be in constant work mode more than likely. As a dryer finishes up fold and sort. Make sure you are sorting for the easiest put away effort once you get it all home.
- If you want to stay home, I recommend sorting into easy to fold categories: jeans/denim (if you have a ton you may want to sort by person even like me doing my husbands all as one load; pajamas (I do this often. Yes, sometimes we have a full load of all jammies! I include underwear in this load); all a specific color towel (We have green, teal, and white. I separate out white.); etc.. Seriously, if you can do a whole load of underwear, then do that. When you have it simple it makes it mindless and you can get it done quicker. You do have to invest a little more time in the sorting task at the beginning, but it pays off in the end.
And this is kind of my theory on laundry... and therefore, what drives me actually get it done: