Laundry. For so many women, this is a four letter word. For others, it’s tantamount to “Voldemort”…that which shall not be named. I’ve never heard a mother gleefully exclaim, “Yes! I get to do the laundry today!!” or “Woohoo! Time to fold laundry!” Not gonna happen. Moms often feel trapped by the monotonous inevitability of laundry. There’s no way around it. It has to be done.
I recently asked readers to list their least favorite chore on our facebook page. You guessed it. The overwhelming majority of moms responded with laundry. I wanted to share with you the system I use, and give a few quick tips.
As a disclaimer, I’d like to state for the record that I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be any type of “laundry maven.” I’m simply a busy, work-at-home mom of four, and needed a system that made laundry less of a hassle. This is what works for me. It might work for you…it might not.
*For background, we are a family of 6. Each time I do laundry (you’ll see how often I do it below), I do 3-4 loads (depending on if it is sheet-changing day, etc.)
My system is simple, front-loaded, and will not work for procrastinators. I used to meet women who told me they did laundry EVERY day. This is insane. Stop what you’re doing. If you follow this system (provided you don’t have a family the size of the Duggars), you’ll spend about an hour a week on laundry. 1 measly hour. Ready? First things first. Time for some rules.
- Laundry is a ONE day affair.
This is not a relationship with Ryan Gosling. We don’t want this to carry on for days on end. Get in. Get out. Get it over with. There is no “piles sitting around” in this plan. You do the laundry. You deal with it. ONE day. Period.
- Just say no (to distractions that is)
Under no circumstance should you multi-task while folding your laundry. This is not the time to see what the Housewives are doing. Don’t watch tv. Don’t talk on the phone. Just fold. (Yes, your kids can be in the room with you, but try to get them set up with an activity prior to beginning your folding.)
- Give it up!
Control that is. You are folding laundry for your home, not restocking tables at The Gap. The jammies you are going to shove into your 3 year old’s drawer do NOT need to be perfectly folded and creased. Seriously, your husband’s boxers do not need to be in perfect little piles. Good enough is good enough.
- Life is short
Too short to fold underwear. Far too short. The day I stopped folding my undies was liberating…liberating I tell ya!
Climbing Mt. Laundry
I hear SO many women complain about the amount of laundry they have to do each week. While I can’t make your mountain disappear, here are a few tips to make your pile more manageable. Because less laundry is a good thing..right?
- Re-use your towels
Seriously…that’s what towel hooks and bars are for. You’re not at a hotel. You don’t need a fresh towel every day.
- Wear your pj’s twice
We have six people in our family. I cannot fathom what it would be like to wash 42 pairs of jammies each week. My exceptions? All kids still in diapers get a fresh pair each night. (No one should have to sleep in something that smells like old diaper!) Exceptionally sweaty sleepers can also get a reprieve on this one.
- If it’s not dirty, HANG IT BACK UP!
This is crucial ladies. Taking the 30 seconds to hang your child’s shirt up at the end of the night is absolutely worth not seeing it in your laundry basket the next day. If your kid didn’t spill on it, and isn’t to the age where sweat and body odor are issues, hang it back up! There is no reason a shirt or pair of pants can’t be worn twice if nothing was spilled and it doesn’t smell.
You can do this! Just remember…
- ONE DAY
You must wash, fold, and put away everything in the SAME DAY. (I know this was in the rules, but this is critical for this system to work!) Start when you wake up, and get your laundry going. As soon as a cycle ends, start the next. Continue until all of the hampers in your house are empty.
When the dryer beeps…
- Hang-up Piles
Create piles on top of your dryer for the items that need to be hung up. I create one pile for each bedroom. Laying the clothes that are to be hung up does two things. 1-Eliminates wrinkles that can occur when clothes sit around the laundry basket. 2-Reduces the bulk in the basket, making your pile feel more manageable. (Attitude is everything ladies.)
Now, hang up the piles. You can wait until the last load of the day has been dried, or hang up as you go. Either way is fine. What won’t work is hanging up the clothes tomorrow. Just grab the stacks and do it.
- Immediately Fold…
As SOON as they come out of the dryer, fold all bath towels and sheets. These take up TONS of room in the basket, and make your “To Fold” pile seem crazy big. Just fold them right away. Never let them see the inside of a basket.
Immediately ball ALL socks. As I begin to remove things from my dryer, I set aside the socks as they come out, and ball them as I find the pairs. (Like I said, this system is front-loaded, and designed to get your laundry done in ONE day. If your pile seems smaller/easier to manage, you’re more likely to follow through. Folded socks help.)
- 2 baskets
I have two laundry baskets ready to collect my clean laundry. Into one basket, I toss all of the balled socks, underwear, and washcloths. That’s it. This basket is not my responsibility. This basket belongs to my kids (6 and 4). They are responsible for putting the socks and underwear away into the appropriate drawers, and for folding and putting away the washcloths. There is no reason why children shouldn’t pitch in with laundry. Teach them this skill now, gradually releasing more responsibility over time.
(This is the basket of laundry my kids are responsible for folding.)
The second basket has everything else. And, since I’ve already taken out everything to be hung up, towels and sheets, and socks, undies, and washcloths, it is a VERY manageable pile.
By following my system, this ONE basket is all I had to fold after 3 FULL loads of laundry. Easy peasy. In and out.
- Put it Away (NOW!)
The SECOND you are done folding your one basket of laundry, put your items into piles for same rooms (I have a pile for my daughter’s room, one for the nursery,etc.) and start to put it away! RIGHT THEN. Don’t go to the computer. Don’t make a call. Don’t text anybody. PUT YOUR LAUNDRY AWAY THE SECOND YOU ARE DONE FOLDING IT.
So many women complain that this is their least favorite part of laundry…..and I just want to give you some perspective. If you start doing laundry this way, it takes about 5 minutes to put it away. Also, if your older kids are around, make them help! If my 6 and 4 year old happen to be around, they are most definitely putting their own things away. If not, I just grab the stack for the boys room (their pants and jammies), run to their room, put them away, head back to my room (where I’ve been folding on my bed), and grab the stack for my closet. I keep going until everything is put away.
One of the main reasons women leave their laundry to sit is the feeling like they’re dealing with it every day….(because most of them are!) Again, wash, fold, put away, and hang up ALL the laundry in the same day. Then, close up shop. Don’t touch your laundry room again for 2 days. For example, I did my laundry on Sunday. I didn’t touch the laundry again until Wednesday. I’ll do laundry again on Saturday. I’m doing the laundry frequently enough, that the piles stay SUPER manageable (’cause waiting 11 days in between loads is what results in Mt. Laundry), but giving myself a much needed break, so that I don’t end up feeling like laundry rules my life.
If you can follow this system, you’ll be climbing Mt. Laundry in no time at all. (In fact, you can climb it three times a week in about an hour!) If you’d like to spend less time on your laundry, and more time doing what you love, just give this a try.
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