Sunday, July 29, 2007

Laundry Lament

I got this question in last week, and thought to myself, "Now, here's a woman who's singing my tune!"

This mama writes, "I have 6 people in my house and no help from anyone-- my major problem is that the laundry is never ending I have stacks of it to do a week- how can i get more control???"

Now, take your six, add three more, and you're walking in my shoes. Laundry around my home is more like a scene from "Lion King." It's the circle of life, never ending, just going on and on and on...I've given up on trying to get "caught up." I would just enjoy those brief moments in life when there is more than one clean towel in the house and I have a pair of underwear to wear.

Here are some tips for you to stay on top of the laundry--

1. You say there are six people in your house? Put them to work! There have been PLENTY of times when my older kids had to begrudgingly wear dirty jeans or mismatched socks because they didn't launder their own clothes. My theory is when they are old enough to pick out their clothes and dress themselves, they are also old enough to participate in the laundry. Even little ones can sort clothes or help fold washcloths. And teens? Please! If you're still doing their laundry, then you really do have a problem! They are fully capable of doing the laundry, from start to finish. Enlist some help, mama. You deserve it.

2. Do less laundry. This one is easy. Clothes don't get dirty nearly as often as most people think they do. For example, I use one towel for several days. I wear my jeans two or three times. I wear the same pajamas for about four nights in a row. My theory is that if I can't see dirt and I can't smell stink, then I consider it wearable. I wasn't nearly so slack when I just had two or three kids, but I guess that's what happens when you have a house full of family and just one washer and dryer.

3. You can also make it easier on yourself by not letting the laundry stack up on you. Around here, I have to do at least one load a day just to stay on top of it. If it heaps on, then I'm in a heap of trouble. Doing one load, start to finish, is a great way to ease up on the workload.

Now it's time to hear from you. Do you have any laundry tips to share? I want to hear them!


DMWNJ said...

Purchase laudry bags (sweater size)from the dollar store; have each person place their own socks and underwear within the bags. You wash and dry inside these bags. This takes less time to sort the small stuff and no pairs to find.

Greatwife said...

I purchased a triple laundry sorter on wheels. It is great, especially if you've had back surgery. Ever since my 3 kids were about age 2, I taught them to sort their dirty clothes between lights and darks. They do this just after their bath each night. It's a fun game to them at that age and it teaches them too. Now if I could just get the boys to clean out their pockets!

carrie said...

OK, chicks. I have 2 words for you: .75/lb at your local tended coin-op. If you've had a crazy week and laundry has piled up beyond all hope, you'll never get caught up. I tend to think the time it would take to dig your way out of that mess is better spent playing with your kids, cleaning the bathrooms or cooking. Trust me, the $20 or so you'd spend is so well worth it. It's a last resort in my house, but it takes such a load off on the rare occasion I've done this.

Hannah Keeley said...

You women are SMART! I have spent plenty of time at my local coin laundry. It's a great way to get all of the laundry done in one fell swoop. It's also a great way to spend quality time with a child that really needs it (there's not much to do except talk to one another when you've got ten loads of laundry to fold).

Also, does anyone know where you can find inexpensive laundry sorters?

shoelessjess said...

Hannah... make one!
My technical director, after hearing me complain about the laundry crisis every Monday, Thursday, and Sunday in "my" costume shop, made one for me. It consists of plywood base with industrial casters (wheels), plywood walls (lined with masonite to prevent snagging... contact paper works, as well), and a hanging bar overhead. I have 7 compartments which I label with white tape depending on the show. I try to keep the "whites", "underthings" (hey... I use dollar store bags, too!), and other common categories in the same compartment show to show for consistency.
Actors have to sort their own costumes, bag their own socks and underthings, and we don't wash it if it's not in the sorter!
At home, a much smaller version can be used, but having kids sort their own laundry just brings them that much closer to gaining that "shared responsibility" value we all want. Laundry should be a cooperative effort. They are the only ones that wear and take care of their clothes, unless you frequently swap shirts with your 9 year old son.
To make time fly, we also have a CD/radio. We make bets on things like how often they'll play "Lost in Love" for that lady in Ohio, how many times our artistic director will walk in, look around, and leave, and of course, the best one of all: how bizarrely we can dress. We give eachother prizes (like balls of lint or a starburst).
Don't go the cotton-poly mountain alone, my friend. Bring a sherpa or two with you!

Greatwife said...

Okay, I checked your favorite stores' website and found that Target has 3 triple bin laundry sorters. The one I have is the deluxe chrome on wheels for $35, they have a smaller version for $20 and one in between for $23. Remember the saying you get what you pay for. Choose according to your laundry needs, picture your family of 5 loading down the bins with dirty jeans and heavy towels, LOL! I have only had to buy 4 in the last 12 years and I didnt start out with the best. So it really is a god investment. They also make them with a rod across the top to hang clothes on hangers as they come out of the dryer.

Gabriel Sullivan said...

Oh my, Oh my, I have laughed to myself, becus we are not alone. Laundry is BIG, really BIG!! I am the Mom of 4, and when I was a Stay at Home Mom before, I would get asked "what did I do for a living?, I would say "find socks that match." Well, I am back home again, becus my family really needs me here and I have to say I am happy to be back, 'finding socks that match." My family have have done all matter of things to deal with the laundry, hide it when company comes, oh ya, our new favorite place to ditch the dirty duds is the shower stall near the laundry room, it holds alot. We do this becus, we care. If it were not for the laundry our house would be mostly great.I have a friend who says don't do anything when she comes over becus it will make her feel bad about her house, I LOVE HER! So we all have it, so don't sweat it. And you know you are an awesome Mom when you are willing to smell underwear for freshness, so you don't have to wash it again. My best tip is to wash each persons clothes separately, put it into their own basket and up to their room, that basket is clean, weather they fold and put away is up to them, each room needs a dirty clothes basket.

The 4 J's said...

COIN-OP IS THE WAY TO GO!!!! I live in England (US Military) and the washer/dryer combo unit holds only 2pairs of jeans and one shirt. Can you imagine!? I was doing laundry all day long; AND my gas bill to heat the water was outrageous. I switched to coin-op and not only is my gas bill down, but I spend only $15.00 and a total of 2.5 to 3hrs a WEEK on laundry. Yep, I go once a week and knock it out. It's great! Grantid, I have a small family, but the coin-op has lots of washers and dryers so you can usually operate a lot of them at one time.

ecomama said...

Have exactly 5 outfits for each kid, one for each day of the week and nothing more, other that a hoodie or jacket and obviously winter attire. You could even go as far as cutting jeans to 3 pairs and require they wear them 2 or 3 times as long as they aren't too's also teaching them to be eco conscious as well! I do this with the pants with all 3 of my kids but the shirt thing is getting out of hand again. I need to go through and donate anything they don't wear or that doesn't fit. In reality, do they need piles of clothes to wear anyway? This way you can focus on purchasing a few quality pieces of clothing built to last and not feel guilty about spending a bit more ,as you are serving a purpose and doing less laundry as well! Another tip: Do not to have more than 2 towels per person in the household. So a family of 4 should only have 8 towels total in the house, and teach the kids to hang their towel to dry and reuse them. Hope this inspires some of you out of your laundry piles!!