15 October 2008

laundry...what works for me~

**Edited 1.2012 - We have added two sweet little ones to our family since I originally wrote this post.  I am glad to say that these things still work for me!  My only new challenge is that my now 13 year old daughter likes to collect her dirty clothes until she has nothing left to wear.  Oh no.  No, no, no.  She can either add to the laundry on a daily basis or she can do it herself.  There's nothing worse than being done with the laundry only to have a gigantic pile of clothes dumped in the doorway.  She had to do it all once and since then I've been noticing more of her stuff on a daily basis.  :)   Oh yeah, and the two oldest boys were having a problem taking care of their room so since they apparently had too much stuff to take care of they are currently living on about a four shirt rotation.  Ah......I'm SO mean.

I've been wanting to address two things that have helped me immensely in just getting the laundry done already.
First of all, if you're like my Dad, and you're very particular about your laundry, read no further, the way I do things is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you're like me and you just want to get it done, then let us continue...
I know, I know, I make jokes about laundry all the time. The truth is...shhh...I actually really love doing the laundry. It's actually just about my favorite thing to do around here, as far as jobs go. It's extremely satisfying. It has a beginning and and an end. The clothes go in dirty, come out clean. They get sorted, stacked, folded, and they smell good. Well, as long as the diaper trash has been taken out...but I digress.

Don't worry, my counters aren't usually this clean. And the sink, well, it's usually full of stuff that is on its way to the Goodwill. Despite my ocd tendencies, I am barely out of my first trimester and have six kids, people, and I'd much rather take a bath with a good book than make sure the clothes are folded exactly 12 inches across :)

First of all, I have a pretty small laundry room. Especially for someone dealing with laundry for eight (almost nine) ten people and trying to store bulk gluten free purchases from Amazon along with everything else under the sun. I know that it's bigger than some, but it's also much smaller than others. What has helped me more than anything is having Glen install basic shelving all along one wall. It's not pretty, but boy has it changed my life! 
Before the shelves, I was pretty good about getting the laundry done, but all the clean, folded clothes went into laundry baskets, and everyone was forever digging clothes out of the bottom and making a mess. Now, everyone has their space on a shelf, along with a container for holding clean underwear and socks. I'm kind of simplistic in this area, but I don't think my kids need more clothes than can fit in their area at once. Having everything here all together is probably what made it possible for Anna to handle the laundry on her own when she was 10 and I was on bedrest with Grace. 
And it's not only the kids' clothes that stay in here. The bulk of mine and Glen's do as well. We have our nicer clothes hanging up in our closet and out of season stuff, but the majority of our daily clothes stays in the laundry room.
Like I said, if you're really particular about laundry, none of this is going to work for you, it may even make you faint, or at the very least cringe and mark me off your "Wow, she's really cool!" list, but that's okay. It's what-works-for-me. If it helps you out, great, that's the point, but if not, that's okay, too. At least now you know I'm not perfect (as if there was any doubt.)

You can't really tell from the photos, but I basically have enough room to stand between the shelves and the washer/dryer. It's a pretty narrow room. And the brown basket up high...that's where I throw all the kids' stuff I'm getting rid of that I don't want them see....shhhh.
On the bottom shelf, the two blue things are where we throw the dirty clothes. We don't sort, we just toss. If I've let the laundry pile up, then I will sort when I wash, but otherwise I just throw everything in together (unless it's new and full of dye) but typically, I only have one, maybe two, loads waiting to be washed. Sometimes I will gather up all the towels at once, but often we'll have the miscellaneous towel tossed in with the clothes. The laundry basket in the middle of the blue containers is where the clean clothes get tossed when they come out of the dryer. I toss the clean clothes in there, put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, start the next load in the washer, and the I fold the clothes. This is another key for me. I fold the clothes then. If I don't have time to fold, I just don't do the laundry.
Which brings me to my second "what works for me." ~I only do towels or sheets when dirty. I pretty much loathe going upstairs so since re-making the beds involves going upstairs it pretty much doesn't happen until either the guilt peaks or a tummy bug goes through. I know, I know.  I'm terrible.

I'm also blessed that my husband's clothes are very low maintenance.  His entire wardrobe (seriously) consists of polos, jeans, and two pairs of khakis. Being a contractor allows him to pull off the "let's pretend my shirt was totally wrinkle-free earlier but before I came to your house, I was crawling around someone else's crawl space" look. Unless he has an early morning meeting, and then he just digs around to find the most non-wrinkled shirt. (I'm just airing all my dirty laundry here...ha ha...couldn't resist.)  What I'm trying to say is that I just wash, dry and fold.  No ironing.  This wife didn't come with ironing included.

I average needing to do about two loads per day. If I'm really good about it, I can occasionally get by with one. I have a gigantic washer and dryer. My main problem is that the baby's bed is on the other side of the wall from the washer and dryer, and seeing as how naps are the number one priority around here (you think I'm kidding, I'm not,) that causes me to have to arrange laundry around his/her schedule. This means that first thing in the morning and after dinner are my best times to do laundry. The after dinner part is no problem. I love escaping the kitchen disaster while the kids clean it up, disappearing into the laundry room with its clean smells and rows of folded clothes. My problem is that when I first get up, the last thing I want to do is fold clothes. All I want is my tea and computer. And since one of my cardinal laundry rules is that if I don't have time to fold it, I just don't do it, that means the laundry was never getting started in the morning, leaving me to have to fit it in around naptime or bedtime.

So, what to do...
I figured out a little trick that while amazingly simple, has kept the laundry flowing like never before. One of the last things I do at night is fold the clothes out of the dryer. That means that when I get up, all I have to do is throw the clean, wet clothes into the dryer, and start another load in the washer. Simple, I know. But it's what works for me. And since I started doing this, I've not been behind on the laundry once. Try it, you might just find that it works for you too.
(HC, I promise I'm getting to your question. It's somewhat more thought provoking than laundry, so I've kind of been procrastinating, but I promise I'm getting to it!)
And now, if anyone has a "what works for me" when it comes to getting kids to actually put the clothes in the hampers and learning the difference between still clean vs. dirty, I am all ears.

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Tisra said...

Wow. Our laundry "room" is just the hall leading to the garage which we've also had to make a pantry. I should take a picture, you'd hardly believe how small. But, I love the CONCEPT of having things folded in there... we just don't have space. Laundry is a forever issue for us. I fear adding the 4th child, because it never ends right now with three! But, I agree, that folding needs to happen straight off the line (or out of the dryer in winter or on rainy days). Otherwise, we end up with what we affectionally call in our home, "the Laundry Monster"- a huge heap the size of Mt. Everest in the middle of the living room floor waiting to be folded and put away. And THAT is scary!

lillianb said...

i refer to our clothes that come out of the dryer and never get folded as "mt. saint laundry." it can be massive!!

Earthmama said...

Oh I just love your ideas!! I also love your blog. It's going into my favorites list right now!!

Rachel Wilson said...

ok friday is great for us. Our internet was out yesterday sorry I couldnt let you know sooner. We are super easy to find! Hope you can make it.

Wendy said...

I used to get frustrated with Reanna because when she wore something that didn't seem dirty to me, it didn't end up back in her drawers. I got wiser.

Now, esp since it takes a major miracle for young kids to keep clothes clean all day, their clothes go in the dirty hamper as soon as they come off their bodies at night, no matter if they might seem clean enough to wear again. Clothes in the drawer are clean... If I spot any clothes on the floor, the offender gets commanded, I mean, asked nicely to put the clothes in the hamper.

Now that Reanna is older, she has figured out that she can wear her favorite clothes again if they aren't dirty...

As far as folding goes, I don't let myself take anything out of the dryer until the previous load has been folded. Thst way, it can't pile up.

HC said...

We have 6 kids so I know the endless job of laundry! However, my husband and I ARE particular about our laundry - but I've still found a good system, I think!

First, we have trained the kids (the older ones ages 7-12 when we started this) that 1)if the clothes don't smell (and we've shown them how to properly smell and the areas that need the "smelling"), 2)if they are not dirty, and 3)if they are not stained - then they do not go in the laundry. This not only cuts down on the load sizes, but also, it helps the fabrics maintain their wear. Which helps on the budget when you can pass them on to younger siblings when they're outgrown, or simply save yourself for having to buy jeans (or other clothes) - AGAIN!

Second, Mondays and Thursdays are my laundry days. So, Monday mornings and Thursday mornings - first thing - EVERYONE takes their dirty clothes to the laundry room and sorts their own clothes - darks, whites, towels, delicates and stains. I spend the day washing - which is usually about 5 loads (est.) - fold and put them away in the appropriate persons basket. Then, before they go to bed, they are responsible for hanging up their clothes, and/or putting them away themselves.

ALSO, we have 3 bathrooms. We also have 3 boys and 3 girls! The girls' bathroom, the boys' bathroom, and the master bathroom. Each bathroom has its own color of towels with matching washcloths. This way, when we throw all the towels in together, we all know whose towels go where and whose responsibility it is to put them away.

However, don't think for a minute that when I got this idea I went out and splurged on buying matching towels and washcloths. This process took 2 years to come to full completion (and matching)!

P.S. I too, love doing laundry! And, I too, love "holeing" myself up in the laundry room :0)

P.P.S. Thanks for acknowledging me in your blog-I'm waiting patiently for you!

HC said...

OH!!! TWO exceptions on the rules of if its dirty or not!

1)We train the kids that underwear and socks are ALWAYS dirty after being worn once! And 2)towels are used twice, and washcloths once.

Sorry I didn't add that earlier!

Mrs. Querido said...

Love your blogging style :) I was chuckling along in some parts...

But, alas, unlike you, I loathe doing the laundry. Oh, the sorting and washing and drying part is okay. But the folding and putting away is the part I dislike with a passion....lol.

So, I procrastinate and it piles up...not a good plan I know. I am trying to reform my ways..lol.

Loved your post :)

Kristin said...

Our laundry room is unbelievably small, too. It is so small that it isn't possible to open the dryer door completely. I have two shelves about the washer and dryer that are used for cleaning supplies and such and a hanging bar for any clothes that need to be hung to dry. As for putting laundry away, our current system is to have two bookcases in our bedroom, one shelf per person. Anything that needs to be hung goes into the closet, which has two hanging bars. We haven't found a system for socks, underwear and stockings yet. The currently sit in a big tote that everyone is constantly digging through and making a mess of.

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to read your page but I can't see the print. It blends with the background too much.

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November