Thursday, November 20, 2008

Laundry System

Laundry on a Clothesline by Steve Raymer
Laundry on a Clothesline

When my children were very young, I didn't really have any sort of a system for laundry. I just did loads when we ran out of clean clothes to wear. :) We were constantly searching through the laundry basket to find some item of clothing. I don't know that I saw the bottom of that basket for years. This, of course, resulted in lots of tension around the house when Peter needed a baseball uniform for the game in half an hour and it was crumpled up on the laundry room floor, or Mike needed his blue dress shirt to wear to work and it was wet and sour because I left it in the washer all night.

I was finally forced to change my ways when we put our first little house on the market. Cindy was a tiny baby and all seven of us were crammed into three bedrooms and 1300 square feet. I cleaned and de-cluttered like a madwoman for a week before the "for sale" sign went up (with lots of help from retrohousewife).

I soon came to realize that often realtors would only give 15 minutes notice (if that) before bringing clients by to see the house. I HAD to stay on top of things. The large laundry room was a great feature of the house and I wanted to show it off. That couldn't happen if they had to climb over a mountain of dirty clothes to even get in the door. :)

That was when I decided to get a system in place to make sure that my laundry stayed done. My goal was to keep the laundry done often enough that there was never a huge pile or laundry forgotten in the washer or dryer.

The first thing I did was to buy a larger laundry basket. Seven people make a lot of laundry and even if I did laundry every day, one of those tiny round baskets wasn't going to work. Next I had a talk with the kids. Everyone but Cindy was big enough to put their laundry in the basket every morning (even two year old Marcia). If their laundry was found anywhere but the basket...early bedtime.

I decided that with the size of our family, I needed to do laundry EVERY day to stay on top of it. I got into a routine of starting a load first thing in the morning (I still do this) and I also realized that I had to fold and put away the clean laundry immediately. No more piling load ofter load on the couch or my bed to fold "later". I had the kids help me listen for the buzz of the dryer and remind me to get the clothes out.

Once I got into the habit of doing laundry every day it was such a relief! It was amazing how it lessened the stress level in our house. No more frantic searching for matching socks, no more clean clothes left to wrinkle. I finally mastered the laundry and it was no longer mastering me!

Each aspect of housekeeping has to be planned and thought about. I guess my plan was hoping that if I ignored Mt. Washmore long enough it would go away. :) If you are in a laundry nightmare, I want to encourage you to learn from my mistakes. Sit down and work out your own laundry system. If you have lots of small children at home, as I did then, your system will of course be different than an empty nest couple or a couple with teenage children.

Let's conquer Mt. Washmore! :)

P.S. We sold the house in only four weeks and got our asking price.


Lisa said...

Maybe I'm strange, but I actually enjoy (and look forward to) doing laundry! I throw a load in first thing in the morning too. It just seems to start the day on a "clean" note.

Melody said...

Oh, I agree with you. We have to do laundry every day otherwise it is a nightmare.

Lorri said...

I ususally start a load of laundry when I get up and then pop it in the dryer when I get home from work. This keeps me on top of it every day.Love your blog!!

Moxie said...

I love the smell of fresh laundry!!! I used to save all laundry for one day on the weekends (family of 6 here) OH MY what a disaster that was!! I literally felt like each week I lost a whole day of my life to laundry, not to mention it seemed like every one else was having fun but me! Now I am on a system much like yours and life is SO much better! A load or two each day is easy! Plus now the kids are a bit older and they have been trained to help in this area! It is such an injustice that Mom's think they have to do everything by themselves (well at least I did)!! My wash zone is big enough to have one small shelf. I bought 5 smallish baskets (one for each child and DH and I share the other). I fold straight out of the dryer (haven't ironed in YEARS now-woohoo!!!) then put each item into the persons basket it goes to. Then if things get filled I just direct the children to put things away. Lord I can't even imagin being an empty nester how things will change? Cooking for two will be the hardest adjustment! I don't think I even have pots small enough for that!!! LOL!

Armchair Housewife said...

Ok, here's my story, and it's interesting you posted this because I was just thinking about laundry last night.

There are only two of us, Hubby and me. We live in an apartment (and have since we were married) so laundry has always been either laundromat(thankfully no more) or a shared machine in the basement of whatever building we were living in. I have worked full time since we got married (although, praise God, that is changing starting Dec 1) so I have had to do laundry on the weekend.

I would love to be able to put a load in first thing, but because the machines are shared I can't leave anything, I have to be there to change it over as soon as it's done, and with work that hasn't been possible. BUT, what my new plan is that I will put a load in as soon as I get *home* from work (and on my new off days, first thing), and change it over after dinner, because even with two people it's too much to try to get done on the weekend, when you're trying to get other stuff done.

Anyway, thanks for the encouragement, I need it! :)


Mrs. Homemaker said...

I am always amazed that three little boys can make so much laundry! When we moved back to the states from England, the first thing we bought was a washer and dryer! They are easily the most used objects in my home, beating even the microwave. :-) I agree that when I am keeping up on the laundry, mornings go so much easier. The kids appreciate getting to choose their clothes in the morning, and I don't have to search for socks that actually match!

Mt. Washmore.... to cute!

One Christian Mom said...

We recently started a laundry routine, and it has helped us tremendously. It is unbelievable what can get done with just simple plans in place!
Now, if I could only stick to them all the time! :-)

Little Missy Homemaker said...

Oh, my I am so embarressed to share this....My husband helps me fold the laundry too often. It seems to be the last thing on my mind. I think I need to rethink my system so I become more efficient and not need his help. Thanks for blogging about this, it truly will help me.

I'm tagging you to share 6 random facts about yourself. If you feel like sharing go on over to my blog and cut and paste the rules. I won't be offended if you don't, hey, your probably doing laundry anyways, lol.

Kate said...

I have always done laundry every day and also iron and put it away every day. Here in New Zealand we hang our washing out on the clothes line. I don't like putting it into the drier as after a while it becomes smelly. We have plenty of sunshine and if it rains I hang it on clothes horses and put it into the garage.

Sandy said...

Great post! Everyone def. has their own systems don't they? I just can't keep the laundry going every day - I'm a 'get it done all at once' girl, and then everyone puts theirs away.
I love that, Mt Washmore!

the voice of melody said...

Doing laundry everyday is a great idea, especially with a large family like yours. There are only 3 of us but I still find myself doing a load almost everyday, since my little boy is in a couple of sports activities and my husband is the coach. We have school uniforms, sports uniforms, our regular clothes, sheets/blankets, towels, etc. It never stops does it?!

I better go throw a load in. Enjoy your Sunday and new week! :)

Lynn said...

This was a great post.

Once upon a time my laundry system was simple: Monday wash day. I washed load after load all day Monday, folding as I went. But eventually, as the kids got older and had school clothes/ after school sports clothes/ evening clothes/early a.m. workout clothes, it became clear that once a week was not going to cut it. I started doing what you're doing, putting in a load of laundry every morning, and trying to keep up with it as it came in. It worked great! Thanks for the reminder that routines are not necessarily a constricting thing, but can be quite freeing :)

WhiteStone said...

With me, in my early days of marriage, it was dishes! For the first time in my life I was out from under my mother's rule and I could do dishes when I Wanted to and not if I didn't Want to. Then I discovered what a terrible chore it was to wash three-day old crusted on skillets. I learned Fast! LOL

Terri said...

I have to do laundry every day or else we would be buried.

Melissa said...

Thanks so much for this post! There's just my husband and I for now, so I've learned that doing laundry just two days a week is better than a little every day. It's neat to see how it works differently for the different size family.

I totally agree with folding and putting away clothes ASAP, it makes me feel soo good to do it that way!

Melissa :D

Robin Feltner said...

I love the look of clean laundry on the line. So retro. Love it!