Laundry! Just the word itself usually brings about serious dread! I can always picture the heaps and heaps of dirty clothes waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting) to be washed, the clean clothes waiting to be folded and the folded clothes waiting to be put away. Laundry was never done. Laundry was an all-the-time every-day stresser. No clean clothes in the drawers, the clothes that were clean and folded were suddenly unfolded and unclean, the list goes on. I wanted to conquer the laundry monster and tame it, control it, bring it back to where I was in control. So, after Christmas we found the usual "Mom, I have no clean clothes in my drawer (and they were right)" situation happening yet again. We spent hours washing clothes, drying clothes, folding clothes and finally, finally (even delaying school just so we could get it done) putting all the clothes away. And since then, since that day 2 weeks ago, I have been completed caught up on laundry. And I like it. No, I LOVE it! Does that mean there is no dirty laundry in the house? No, of course not! We are 7 people, we make a mess. We pee our bed. We throw up. We spill our food. We play in animal "matter". We make a mess. There is dirty laundry right as we speak. But, there is also closets full of clean clothes. And, in these two weeks, I have learned some lessons. Some valuable lessons that I know will allow me to rise above the patterns of the past and follow these new, much better habits. Here are the lessons learned (in no particular order, more so to remind me of the great thing I have going than to tell you what to do!):
- Never leave clean, folded laundry out where the littlest members can undo your hard work. If you cannot put it away right away, put it somewhere safe. For me, this is back in the laundry room (which was previously not an option due to the probability that it would be considered dirty laundry and rewashed!)
- Do two loads of laundry every day. And, since I have stayed on top of things, that actually means I don't need to do laundry on Thursdays (Homeschool Co-op in the morning and office work in the afternoon leaves little room for laundry) or the weekend! Imagine that! A weekend without having to be chained to the washing machine! It really is freeing!
- Get the kids to bring their hamper of dirty laundry for sorting on Tuesdays and Fridays. This prevents them from spilling over the top (remember, we have both boys in one room and the three girls in another - we need to empty them often).
- By doing laundry on a regular basis, the 4 laundry sorters are all that is needed. The loads have been reduced to only 4. Before, no joking, with the once every 2 weeksish laundry marathon, we would have 2 black loads, 2 denim loads, 2 pink loads, 1 light blue load, 1 dark blue/grey load, 1 white with bleach load, 1 lights load, 1 color load plus all the bedding and towels (these may actually be on the low side). My 4 laundry sorters were stuffed full plus there were piles all.over.the.place! By doing laundry every day, all the loads stay in those sorters, my many laundry baskets are empty waiting to be used and I can actually walk to the washer/drying without tripping over piles of clothes!
- Lost socks are found!
- No more complaining there is no clean underwear. No more looking through baskets of clothes on Sunday morning to find clean tights or dresses to match the tights that are actually clean.
- The favorite clothes are almost always clean.
- When your clothes are washed so frequently, you don't actually need that many! The kids drawers are stuffed full! We needed that much when I didn't actually wash them but now? Now we need to sort!
- Jason no longer needs to help with the laundry. I feel more like I am being the wife I should. I see all these household chores as ministry opportunities for me to minister to my husband and kids and when I fall short, I feel like I failed. Yes, I am well aware that should not be the case but now that I am doing what I want to be doing, blessing my husband with clean clothes, I feel blessed in return!
- Oh, having a dresser for the clothes instead of cubbies right above the laundry hamper is a much better idea! In our "old" arrangement, most of the girls clothes were in the closet. All dresses and sweaters are hung up, the pants, shirts and pj's were on a shelving unit with cubbies for each. The problem was when they took out the one thing they wanted, 3 more fell out onto the floor and by the dirty laundry. Somehow it made its way into the dirty laundry and I was washing clean clothes. I had bought a long dresser I intended to use as a vanity in the new house. I decided to change out the buffet I was originally using as a change table/toy storage for the long dresser. All the girls clothes (minus the hanging stuff) is now in the dresser and the toys are in baskets in those cubbies previously holding the clothes. Now, if the clothes fall out when they are taking out their clothes to wear, it is no big deal. It is not close to the hamper so I can just pick it up and put it back. Or they can. Yeah, right! Like I said, I can!
- The kids can put away their own clothes. The boys have been doing it for a while already! What a huge help! They are 6 & 7 and completely capable of doing this chore. I don't even sort their clothes, I just put them in a basket, put the basket in their room and tell them to put it away. They know what belongs to who. The girls' laundry I still sort into piles. RJ (4) is very good at putting them away, Ali (3) is helpful as well and baby girl Ari (1) is already learning to do it. Monkey see, monkey do, right?! :) It may not be put away exactly like I would do it but it is put away. I can always fix it later!
There! My lessons learned! Maybe you will learn a tip or two. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some laundry to put away!