My neighbor, who I adore, came home the other day while the kids and I were playing outside. While we were chatting she began pulling out of the trunk of her car numerous laundry baskets FILLED with dirty clothes! It took me a minute to realize what she was doing, but as soon as it registered in my mind I asked her why in the world she had so much laundry in the back of her car.
“I help out my daughter-in-law every week so that she can stay on top of it all.”
Alright, so, if I’m honest, this sort of blew my mind. In a great way. Not only has she been an amazing neighbor to me, but watching how she loves her family, both her own kids and her grandkids, has been one of the absolute best parts about living next door to her.
However…for the rest of us…for those of us who do not have family just down the street, or someone coming to pick up our laundry to help us not get overwhelmed, or the ability to pay for a laundry service…if you’re one of those who has to figure it all out on your own too…then maybe this post is for you!
As our family rapidly grew I’ve had to think through new ways to be able to get done what needs to get done in more efficient ways. What is required for my family now wasn’t necessary a few short years ago.
New people in the family means new systems for the family.
No doubt, laundry is one of those.
The thing about laundry is that it truly is never done. Might seem crazy, but I’ve only just realized this within the last couple of years. I always had this mindset that I would get the laundry finished and then move onto the next task or to-do. But no. That’s not how it works. Laundry is only done until evening time when the fantastic five change out of their days’ clothes and put on PJ’s. And then it’s all back in the hampers again.
Here’s the thing…You’ve got options.
Option 1: Get it all done in one day.
Option 2: Get it done all throughout the week.
Option 3: Don’t do it.
Option 4: Pray like madd that a fairy god mother shows up (like my neighbor) and takes it away dirty and brings it back clean, and folded, and helps you put it away.
Clearly, option 3 and 4 aren’t really options. Giving up, letting it swallow you up, or downright ignoring it won’t help at all. Coming up with a plan that truly works for YOUR home will.
Let’s look at options 1 & 2. There is no right or wrong answer here, this is really a personal choice. It may depend on your personality, your schedule, or your preferences. So take an honest look at how you are wired, what you want, and what your needs are and start there.
With option 1, you have a sense of accomplisment, but it is far more work at one time because you’ve waited so long between washings.
With option 2, you never feel like you’re finished, but your loads are smaller and you can fit it into the normal ongoing rhythms of your life.
There’s a pro and a con in both. For me, I’ve chosen a “blend” of option 1 & 2. Here’s how it works (for now) in our home…
Step 1: WASHING: I normally start laundry on Sunday morning. I’ll begin gathering all clothes up from the various hampers around the house on Saturday night, but I’ll start the first load on Sunday morning. If that first one finishes before we leave the house for church, then I’ll toss that into the dryer and then begin washing load 2. By the time we get home, load one is done drying and load 2 is done washing and I switch it out and throw in the next one. And so on, and so on….until it is all washed.
Step 2: DRYING: As each load finishes drying I take those loads out and literally toss them onto the floor in a heaping pile in my living room. I’m usually done washing/drying it all by Sunday evening, but if not, then I’ll use the first part of Monday morning to finish it off.
Step 3: BASKETS/BINS: Here’s where it starts to get practical. I’ve created bins for sorting. I have 2 large baskets for gathering laundry from the hampers around the house, as well as for moving the clean, dry clothes from the dryer to the living room floor.
But I also have stackable bins that are labeled. I have 6 of those.
I’ve labeled them: DAD, MOM, KATE, OLDERS, LITTLES, and MISC.
(Note: Because they are so close in age, my older two boys wear the same size as one another, and my younger two kids do as well, but create your bins based on what needs your family has. Miscellaneous is for leftover socks, towels, wash cloths, swim suits, dish rags, etc….anything that wouldn’t go in the other bins.)
These bins can stack up high on top of one another, or they can collapse for easy storage. I bought them at Walmart, super cheap.
The labels are homemade. I bought these from Michaels.
I used iron on letters for the writing. Any font or color will do!
And I love the chalkboard tags as well!!! Find those HERE.
I have a jar on my craft table that always has twine in it, so I used that to tie the labels to the bins.
Step 4: SORTING: This is when it starts to get fun! Whoa! Yes, I actually said fun. On Monday afternoon, when homework is finished, I bring all of the kids into the living room. We put on music and all sit together by the sky high pile of laundry. We spread out the bins with the labels on them, and I go over with each child which bin says what name on it.
And then the throwing begins!!!
Each of us grabs an item and tosses it into the correct bin until the pile is gone and the bins are filled! I always hope and pray that no one comes to my door on Monday afternoons. Clothes are everywhere!!!
This is what it looks like when it’s all finished being sorted. My daughter loves it because she sees that it is all getting in order, she likes things neat and tidy. The boys love it because it’s kind of like basketball! We laugh and play together, all while getting this huge job done.
**Extra Tip: For the older kids, I sometimes step away and have them do this while I am making dinner on Monday night. It’s a great way to have them work together, as well as not be right under my feet in the kitchen.
Step 5: FOLDING: The Princess, now 9, folds her own laundry. I spent some time with her awhile back teaching her how to fold correctly and she is now more than capable and actually enjoys it. The older two boys still need some coaching on how to keep things straight, but for the most part they too are able to fold. I fold the clothes in my bin, my husbands bin, the MISC bin and the younger 2 kids’ bins.
**Extra Tip: We have chosen to hang ALL shirts. We have dresser drawers for all of the pants, pajamas, shorts and underwear, but every shirt is hung up. This makes folding easier because I simply need to lay out and stack all of the shirts. It also makes picking out clothes for the day easier since they can see the front of each shirt.
Step 6: PUT AWAY: Once the clothes have been sorted and folded, I take each bin up to the corresponding room in which it belongs. Again, my daughter is responsible to put away all of her clothes. And the older boys need a little bit more assistance and supervision.
**Extra Tip: I take the stacked pile of shirts and lay them on the floor by the closet doors. I then get out a large amount of hangers and place those on top of the shirts. This is a great chore for smaller kids (age 2 and up) because putting hangers on shirts is relatively easy, even for young kids. I then follow up and help them place the shirts in the right place in the closet.
Steps 5 & 6 are the ones that are the most time consuming, which is why I said it was a blend of both options 1 & 2. I will usually consider it “done” after the sorting is completed and then will return to the folding and putting away sometime on Tuesday.
The rest of the week I still do some laundry loads, but it is simply on an as needed basis, or if there are extras for that particular week. Sometimes I will rotate whose bedding is needing to be cleaned, or rotate the bath towels or swim towels. I’m still doing other loads of laundry on other days, but I do not return to the “clothes” part of it until the following Sunday.
Even though I know the bins are filling up the remainder of the week, I personally, thoroughly enjoy feeling like laundry is accomplished early in the week.
I’d love to know what you do!
Do you have any tips that we all could benefit from? What works in your home? Or what laundry difficulties do you still need help with?
Oh, and if you’re one of those amazingly blessed women that have help with your laundry every week then comment below and let us celebrate with you the people who love you so much!!!