My laundry system

*2006 post*

A couple of days ago I visited Joni’s site and the beginning of her post read: “I am forever trying to find a good system for keeping up with laundry.”

Now this is something I can relate to! Laundry is hands-down my least favorite chore (well, okay, aside from dusting, which quite frankly just doesn’t get done). I’m going to let you all in on a little secret and share with you- in just 8 easy steps- what my laundry system was for years:

STEP 1: Wash clothes
STEP 2: Dry clothes
STEP 3: Pull clothes out of the dryer
STEP 4: Put in hamper
STEP 5: Take hamper to my room
STEP 6: Dump clean laundry from hamper onto our bed, with hopes that I would fold it at some point that day
STEP 7: Do other loads of laundry throughout the day, dump onto bed when dry
STEP 8: At nighttime, when I wearily entered my room and wanted to crawl into bed and sleep, I was met with a MOUNTAIN of clean laundry on my bed. Did I fold and put away? Heck no! My husband and I had a nightly routine of ‘cleaning off our bed’ before we could get into bed. So you might be wondering where we put the laundry, then. Well, back to the hampers, of course.

I am so serious. That was my system. The following day I would empty all the hampers onto the bed again (this is so embarrassing, really) with the fullest intentions of folding that laundry. But again, the day would pass, night would come, and our evening routine of taking the laundry off the bed would commence. And if I did any other loads of laundry throughout the week, well, you know where it went. On the bed! Sigh. You can imagine what it was like trying to find something in those piles of laundry. Occasionally we would get fed up with the mountain and one of those late nights, we would fold and put away all the laundry.

But here is the good news: I do not do this anymore!!! I posed this question to my husband Mark the other night, “Honey, what do I do differently now with the laundry that I didn’t used to do?” His response was immediate: “You fold it.” I’m still smiling at that, because it is SO true.

My new “system” is this: I fold the laundry when it’s clean. It’s really that simple. There has been such a vast improvement in this area of my housekeeping that it truly is notable. Here’s the thing: it really does not take that long to fold a load of laundry. For all the time I was taking hauling it to and fro and digging through the clean laundry for a sock or a shirt, and all the mess it was causing in the process, it is well worth the folding-right-away effort.

A few things have helped that are worth mentioning:

Sorting: I used to sort all of our laundry into two categories: lights and darks. I now sort our kids’ clothes into separate piles of lights and darks. So I have two lights piles and two darks. This way the loads are separate; their clothes don’t mingle with our clothes. When their clothes are clean, I bring them into their shared room. I really think this saves me time sorting. And the time of bringing the clothes into a room that they won’t end up in.

Enlisting help: On Monday mornings, the kids’ laundry is done first. When it is dry, I take their hamper of clean laundry directly to their shared room. We all gather in their room. They first make their beds, and then their job is to sort the laundry. They grab an item of clothing out of the hamper and determine whose it is, then set that piece of clothing on the bed of whomever it belongs to. We do this until the hamper is empty. The baby’s clothes go at the foot of their beds (his crib is in another room). When their clothes have been gathered atop their beds, they each sit on their beds and “fold”. My daughter (4) works at folding hers and I help my son (2) with his. When he is finished, I move to my daughters bed with her and help finish folding her clothes. Then I usually put them away while they play. Then I fold the baby’s clothes and bring them to his room.

They also help me with our laundry. My daughter folds all the washcloths and kitchen towels, and puts them away. She can also distinguish between daddy’s clothes and mommy’s clothes, so she helps sort those. My son finds pairs of socks, and then wanders around helping.

Size: It is much less daunting to tackle a load (or even two) of laundry than it is to tackle the mountain that used to cover our entire king-sized bed. I’ve learned this. It is so satisfying to tackle the folding in smaller portions. It really only takes a few minutes to fold and put away one load (especially if the load is all towels! Those are my favorites!)

Motivation: I still don’t really like this chore. There are times when I grab the timer and set it for 10 minutes and say, “We’re folding laundry!” and we all (me and my children) work at it for that allotted time. This is especially helpful to do if there’s something I want to do instead, such as read, email, blog, make a phone call, or whatever it may be. I tell myself: “AFTER I’ve done 10 minutes of laundry, I will get the reward of sitting down to read that book.”

Scheduling: This is something I’ve only recently begun doing, but I love it. I’ve determined which days I will do laundry (I do it on Mondays and Tuesdays). This has been so good for me: to have a set time for doing it, and a goal for which it is to be completed (Tuesday night in our house. Before I go to bed that night, my goal is to leave no laundry piles anywhere, dirty or clean. Everything is clean, folded, and put away in its place.)

Okay, that about wraps up my thoughts on the subject. But as much as I’ve grown in this area, there is still room for much more growth and efficiency, so: suggestions are always welcome!

1 comment:

  1. Jun. 2, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Joni
    Oh boy, Stacy,

    Can I ever relate to your former "method". ;) I did have one extra step in there that you didn't seem to have called "letting the clothes sit in the washer for a few days and having to rewash them. If unmotivated, repeat the cycle again!" Ha!

    Anyway, thanks for the great tips. I was definitely encouraged by your post.

    I have begun doing the children's laundry seperate from ours and that definitely seems to help, so I echo your comments on that. I'm also going to try to do set days as you mentioned. I used to do it in one day (Monday), pre-baby number 3 days, but one day is not enough anymore. I might add Tuesday as well. Then I could be FREE the rest of the week, well maybe one more day for sheets or something!

    Anyhow, thanks for your great comments and for the mention in your awesome blog. I'll link to your site today as well so that others can see your ideas. I'll have to revisit how to do the linking thing so it might be a while. :)



    Jun. 2, 2006 - Success!
    Posted by Joni

    Cool, I did it. I linked to your site. Now this may not seem like a big deal to you, but for computer-illiterate old me, it's a big deal. Anyway, just wanted you to know you're mentioned in my post today!



    Jun. 2, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Rebeca
    Thanks for taking the time to write this. I do have two days set aside for laundry, and scheduling (the 's' word) is something I really want to grow in, becuase when I do it, it's actually freeing. I've been meaning to write about this for a while now.
    Both my kids help load and unload the dryer and Peregrine folds washcloths, matches socks, and puts his own clothes away in his dresser, so I'm trying to enlist their help as much as is possible for them. I liked reading how your kids are involved!


    Jun. 2, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Michelle
    I was thinking you could SHOW me this system "in person" on MY laundry when you come to visit in a couple of weeks!!! Good idea??? =) And, nice job on the categories list! I love it!


    Jun. 3, 2006 - for Joni, Rebeca and Michelle...
    Posted by reformingmama
    Joni- Oh, don't worry. That was part of my system, too (leaving clothes in the washing machine overnight and then forgetting them and having to rewash them. I just forgot to mention it! :)

    Rebeca- Yes. I'm really trying to grow in the whole area of scheduling, too. I resist it, but it sure makes things go much more smoothly around here! I'm going to post on that someday, too! :)

    Michelle- We're excited to come and visit you!!!! Now if those ticket prices would just drop... (and I'd love to do your laundry! I would do an excellent job!) Is that why you want us to come...?



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