Friday, February 13, 2009

The Laundry Cure

I left a comment here (click on that to get to Pretty Organizer's site) a few days ago, promising to post how I tamed my laundry monster. I suppose I should have titled this post "MY PERSONAL Laundry Cure", but I like to think what's good for me is good for everyone.

It makes me feel like I'm in charge of the world, ...or at least their washing.

When our family, I mean expanded 8 years ago to include 6 more children, the laundry was the hardest thing about it. You'd think it would be the emotional challenge of melding new personalities (which we hardly knew!) into an existing family - Or maybe just the Pure Work of it all.

Or perhaps the fact that one week I was homeschooling 5 happy children and one gorgeous toddler - and the next week I was homeschooling 9 semi-happy, stunned children and two gorgeous toddlers. But NO, through God's grace we persevered through all that and even managed to instantaneously learn how to cook for 13 people three times a day- with mega help and sacrifice by my oldest biological children....I must honestly add.

But the Laundry! It was ruining my life. So I did what all people do when they encounter serious problems in their home life.

I searched the Internet, I googled stuff, I posted on chat boards.

I tried some of the whiz-bang systems that other moms suggested, but I still came up with this equation:

Seven boys + Four girls + Two parents = One Overwhelmed Laundress dealing with a bunch of mismatched socks and jeans in the wrong drawers.

I wish I knew who to give the credit for what finally worked. I imagine it was a combination of several things I heard. But the basic keys are:

(1) Do every stitch of laundry every single, solitary day. No exceptions, but Sundays.

(2) Use these:

The great thing about doing ALL the laundry every day is that it's become like brushing my teeth or doing my hair (Except that doing my hair takes MUCH longer and I'm not always satisfied with the results...). The point is that it's not a big chore anymore. It's just a regular part of my day. No more 9 load days. No more going to bed at night without sheets because they never made it to the top of the "to-be-washed" pile. No more laundry monster.

Here's how we do it:

One of the morning chores for Daniel (my youngest) is to bring all laundry to the laundry room. I have a basket in my closet, the boys have a basket in their room, and the girl's have a hamper in their bathroom. He simply collects it and transports it.

I start one load at night, then move it to the dryer before bed or the next morning.
Then I start the other load. A no-brainer. Which is really the way these very necessary, yet mundane chores should be. Do it well, do it right, and get on to the next thing.

The clean clothes go into these cutie-patootie tubs (purchased in the kitchen they are about sink-size I suppose). One tub for each person, excluding my husband and I, because we like to share - and we don't mind if our underwear touches - as seen in this picture.

Have you ever watched boys fold girl's underwear or bras? They're disgusted, (which is actually what you want!), and they try not to put their full hand on them. They sort of pick them up with two fingers and toss them into the pile. Their nose is usually scrunched up like they just touched road kill. No wait...That wouldn't make them scrunch up....Change that to fruity hand cream.

It hit me one day that I didn't really want my boys to get used to the sight of a bra or the feel of silk bikini underwear. Perhaps you think I'm going all super-modest on ya' but I make my boys look the other way in dept stores when we pass the lingerie section, and I throw out the sale circulars from the newspaper that contain scantily clad women - - - so why do I want them fondling my Hanes?

I digress. I'm one of the few bloggers that can make a sermonette out of laundry.
Is there an award for that?

I do the towels and sheets on the weekend - or one of the children does them.

We're on a tight clothing budget, and I try to really pare down our clothes anyway, for ease and organization, so I prefer to do all the clothes myself. (I do teach the children how to do it - as a life skill and a Sick Mama Help, but they have plenty of other work to do and I'm picky about how the clothes are handled.

And now that it's manageable, I actually enjoy it. I like to think about the kids who are wore it; I pray for my husband as I hang up his no-wrinkle dress shirts - and I also get a chance to notice anything that needs mending (or tossed.)

And now that it's done daily, it's really No Biggie.

I do have a linen tub, for things like kitchen towels and washcloths.

There is one pitfall to my Almost-Perfect System. Humans are involved.
So occasionally, this happens:

Last time I looked, socks were not sold in the linen department.

And lastly, I like using the tubs because after the clothes are sorted (and sometimes even folded) into the correct tubs, the laundry is contained in one place on each child's bed until they put it away.

I hate the sight of scattered clothes - even clean ones.

When the tubs are empty, each child returns theirs to the laundry room. They nest inside each other - and I was going to take a picture of where they're stored, but I got this great idea while I was writing this. (And yes, honey, just like always, my Great Ideas involve you doing something for me.)

I'll post a picture when the laundry room is Blog-Worthy. Our house is 5,100 square feet (an incredible fixer-upper story I'll save for another post), but the laundry room is basically a glorified closet. A cute closet, a bright and cheery closet, a functional closet..but a windowless, crowded box of a closet.

The grass is always greener, you know! But if that grass leaves stains...I'll be ready!


Pretty Organizer said...

I'm in heaven! And YES, I make my boys turn their heads when we pass the lingerie section too. My oldest son said to me when he was 10, "Mom, at least you wear those things under your clothes." Too funny, he thought women really wore those out of the house like in the pictures. A great tribute to my modesty!

Excellent post. It looks like we're doing similar. I just don't have the designated basket for returning to the rooms... but when the laundry room is finished.. WATCH OUT!
Great Post!
Pretty Organizer

#1 SIL said...

You'd better at an Eli bin... cause my son can dirty his drawers!

Davene said...

Thanks for sharing your tips! The idea of a bin for each person's clean clothes was a new one to me, but I like that. I need to be disciplined like you--to do laundry every day. Unfortunately, I prefer to wait until inspiration strikes...which is usually about the same time someone is running out of clean underwear. When I was attempting to follow FlyLady's suggestions, I started doing the load a day thing, but have gotten off track since this school year started and this pregnancy popped up! But I'm inspired now!

Oh, and I like how you decorated each bin with something unique to that person. :)

lea said...

if only those labels were laminated... sigh....

brite said...

A laminator is on my list of "wants." :) Great ideas...I'm going to pass along this to Catriona. When I have a laundry room I may even get myself some cute tubs.

brite said...

and someone was posing as your #1 son-in-law...Warren can not post at work. :)

Laura said...

Like the tub idea. I try to do laundry often. Should do it every day. Thanks for the tips.

catriona said...

Thanks so much for the tips. You have given me the push to MAKE room in my laundry room for some storage bins. Even with only six kids, the "laundry runnth over." is like the poor. It is always with us. Many blessings as you continue to make your house a sweeter (and cleaner) home.

Kristin said...

well, Debbie, you may have just transformed my entire domestic life with one solitary (or would it be dual?) post. I am a put-it-off and then do-it-BIG kind of laundry girl, and pretty much always feel overwhelmed by what's waiting in the laundry room! Thank you for this and any other tip that will lead me from chaos to domestic bliss so painlessly!

Kara said...

LOVE this...Laundry is my arch enemy right now...I'm going to check out your follow up post.
Thank you!

tonia said...

Very inspiring! I think I'll have to tackle that laundry room today for sure, while I'm still inspired by this post!