Laundry. Ugh. How is it possible to have this much laundry? Doesn’t it often feel like the pile of dirty clothes seems disproportionate to the number of people living in your home?
My current summer strategy on laundry is: everyone just stay in bathing suits and we’ll swim. This is also my current summer strategy on bathing.
But when bathing suits don’t suffice, I’ve been honing in on a laundry strategy that is working. For the past few years, by mantra has been
A load a day keeps anxiety at bay
Again, I’m still not sure how it’s possible to accumulate a load worth of dirty items every day, but apparently it is, and so I wash one load a day most days. When we lived in Philly, this meant descending to the dark unfinished basement via rickety stairs and dodging the creepiest insects- cave spiders (they’re actually crickets but look like big spiders and jump up to face-level!) All of this, as you know, was often done pregnant, seeing as I’ve been pregnant the past 7 years. This leads to my first and second points:
1. Ask for help as needed
2. Get good laundry bins
Micah began doing the heavy lifting up and down the stairs and it really helped. He also purchased three of these laundry bins from Bed Bath & Beyond and I LOVE them. They’ve been a part of our laundry routine for 5 years now and have held up great. Lightweight, durable, and they have handles that make it easy for little ones to lug. I also use them when packing for road trips- they stand upright in the trunk perfectly and I use them to organize kids’ clothes/diapers, toys, swim gear, etc. until I get to our destination. Then one becomes our laundry bin while away. I highly recommend these gems.
But if you’re like me, the actual washing and drying of the laundry isn’t the problem; it’s the sorting, folding, and putting away of the laundry.
My mom is THE. NEATEST. clothes folder in the universe, and she also gets giddy about ironing. I, sadly, did not inherit that gene. So from day one of marriage, I told Micah that, though I love him and care about his appearance, ironing will not be within my scope of practice and that socks may or may not be sorted into pairs. He happily took responsibility for his own clothes, has not once complained, and has really helped alleviate the burden.
Now that the children are a bit older, they have become part of the daily clothes sorting & putting away regiment, which brings us to points 3-6.
3. I end each day by running a load in the washer as I go to bed. In the morning, I move it to the dryer. By the time the kids get to chores, the bigger boys get clothes out of the dryer and pile them onto my bedroom floor. I have a pretty large- and pretty sparse- bedroom, so it makes for the perfect staging ground.
4. Arrange each child in a different corner and then begin throwing their clothes at them as they laugh and get rowdy.
I used to have them sort their own clothes, But things were getting crazy.
And things were also getting lost. Like a brand new winter shirt I had bought Mia, which she wore once before it was never seen again…until I packed up winter clothes and found it at the bottom of Sam’s dresser. There’s also a lot of growing bodies and rotating hand-me-downs. A pair of shorts that belonged to Silas one week will become Sam’s the next week. Lot’s to sort out mentally. So for now, I sort the clothes and they receive them.
5. Each child is responsible for putting their clothes away. And I am responsible for not panicking over how disorderly that appears.
I’ve set the bar reeeaaal low here- just get clothes into your dresser. I have released my grip on how and in what state this occurs.
And amazingly, the kids don’t look all that wrinkly and disheveled. Or if they do, I haven’t cared to notice. That, or this Southern humidity is smoothing things out. I did just recently teach the big boys how to fold their shirts and shorts, so we’re making progress.
6. To make this process easy, each boy has a whopping 2 drawers per dresser, the top for tops and the bottom for bottoms. Easy peasy. Caramia, however, has a full 4 drawers because, well, skirts and shorts and tights and leggings and….#girls.
She also gets a closet because dresses.
It took quite a few hanger casualties before I purchased a shower curtain rod to serve as a lower level so she could more easily/less aggressively reach her dresses.
As for the baby, I acquired an old about-to-be-thrown-out dresser and lovingly refinished it with the help of a friend and Annie Sloan. If you don’t know about chalk paint, you’re gonna wanna look that up. This refinished gem sits at the top of our stairs next to the laundry room so I can access the baby’s clothes even if a little person is napping in the bedroom. #Priorities.
I think this system works for us for a few reasons.
- We don’t currently own nice clothes, so our care can be a little less, well, careful.
- We don’t own a lot of clothes, so even the ‘big’ pile of laundry ins’t overwhelming.
- Consistency. A load of laundry every. single. day. With few exceptions, this is just how we roll.
- Lowered expectation to accommodate our reality. My launderers are ages 3-8. I can’t be too picky. I’m grateful for their (most of the time) cheerful help, and my priority is to have our clothes clean and out of sight. If that means in a wrinkled pile in a drawer, so be it. I’m not going to die on that hill. And, thanks to this laundry schedule, I also won’t be buried alive under a pile of dirty clothes!