Do tell

Recently I noticed that all of a sudden the dirty laundry at our house has practically doubled, and I can't keep up with it on my two designated laundry days. Today I figured out why.

It's Spring! The kids are outside a LOT more than they were even a couple of weeks ago, and their clothes are filthy when they come indoors. The past couple of days I cringe when they want to go out in the mornings because my practical mind immediately goes here: "That means a whole new outfit for each child when they come in, and I know they're going to want to go back outside at least once again later today." And I can hardly tell them to stay out of the dirt.

I've been mulling this over, and I've wondered how some of you other mothers handle this? I've contemplated having a set of okay-to-get-dirty clothes by the back door and then whenever they go out, they can put those on, but that seems like an awful lot of work, too. But... are there other options? What do you do?


  1. Hi Stacy,
    We have the same issue here. The one thing I do is I try to throw their clothes in the wash right away after they've been outside/gotten pretty dirty and then they hang out around the house in their robes or undershirts and underpants with dress up clothes over top (both of which they love).
    Then the 'guideline' is that they can't play outside again until their clothes are clean & dry. I think it implements a sense of balance in them, as well as an awareness that they don't get to wear unlimited changes of clothes every day. (Unless they are dress up clothes!!)

    I can't wait to read some of the other responses to this because I'd love more ideas!

  2. Yep that's my world. Living on a walnut farm is dirty buisness! :)
    The kids have farm clothes they put on the morning if we aren't going into town. They each have at least 7 sets of those clothes both for cold and warm weather. Most are hand me downs that have already seen a season of wear. When we go to the store or wherever I don't want to look like a neglectful mother with filthy children, they change before we leave. They have nicer outfits designated for those times.
    As for laundry, if the clothes are terribly nasty, I do a load that night. They fold them in the morning and put them away or put them right back on. On top of the washer which is in the mudroom with a door the kids use to come in from outside, is a red bucket. Even the yougest knows, wet clothes go in the bucket to be washed that day.Otherwise they are sorted into the right hamper.
    I don't care how often they change, the trade off is cleaner furniture and rugs.
    How's that?

  3. Playclothes! I have them change into their playclothes before they go to play in the backyard/creek/treehouse, etc. They keep their playclothes in their rooms separate from their other clothes, folded nicely (most of the time). If their clothes do end up wet, then they need to take care of it by letting it dry or putting it in the laundry room. I let them play in garage sale items that I don't care if they are stained. The kids instictively KNOW when they are dirty enough to throw in the dirty clothes hamper.

    I started doing this when we moved to this house, I didn't need to deal with it before. It has worked well for us. They can get dirty, I don't stress about it anymore!!

  4. Stacey-
    Wow. You are far more efficient than I am to throw clothes directly into the washer! I like your idea of building an awareness that they don't get to wear unlimited changes of clothes everyday! That's what I'm after!

    I'm glad you responded... I was wondering what you do on the farm! :) I love your practical bucket idea, and from the sounds of it, I guess I'll have to keep doing the extra laundry, huh?

    Thanks! I think most all of the kids' clothes are playclothes. What they can't wear outside is hanging up in their closet. But I like your idea (and Dana's)of having some designated sets of strictly playclothes in a certain area.

    Thanks for your comments, ladies!

  5. Here are my tips.
    ~Independence: choose play clothes that are elastic and loose and teach them to put the on and off themselves. So when they say they want to go outside, no problem just as soon as they change into their play clothes and put their own boots on. In the time it takes them to do that I can usually do some dishes or nurse a baby!
    ~Hooks: when they come in they can hang their dirty clothes on a hook to use later in the day (if possible). They change into clean clothes right by the door so these clothes do not even come into the main living areas. They each can hang their own clothes. Also, dirty clothes can be used multiple days for more dirt play.
    ~Stocked bin: for our youngest (who ALWAYS needs a change after being outside) I keep a bin in the mudroom that has a spare set of everything (diaper, socks, pants, etc.) a washcloth (because he always needs a wipe down, and tissues (when it was cold outside he always needs this too). That way it is all there and I don’t have to go anywhere else in the house when he is ready to come back in. I restock this each time I do the laundry.

    My goal this summer is to teach the oldest how to run the washing machine and have him help by starting the muddy clothes when they come in. OH! And make sure the mud clothes can all be washed together (all darks) so they can all be one load.
    Love ya, Amy

  6. Hi Stacy;

    Well we only wear play clothes in the yard...Princess Giggles changes when she comes home from her half day school (soon to be over-Praise the Lord!)

    Now that the weather is nice I don't care how dirty they get...unless we have an afternoon appointment, then I ask that they stay out of the dirt and play in "cleaner" areas (so far they are all obedient-even the boys ages 3 and 4). We eat most days on the dirty bums on the cast iron furniture isn't much of a come in and use the bathroon...they are ALL trained to take off your shoes in the garage!

    At days end I make sure there is enough time for a bath (we do two to a tub for the 4 small ones) and then hit the jammies.

    If they are extremely muddy they strip down in the garage and walk up to the tub in their skivies (no idea how to spell that ;-)

    I encourage them to play hard...Bruce and I were just commenting on Saturday how blessed we are, because they all play so nicely together...all day, all day ;-)

    *if the clothes are super dirty I do an immediate load...sometimes on a double rinse cycle.


  7. I've noticed a definite decrease in laundry since we reduced the number of clothes they have. I gave each kid a "town" outfit, and they have a couple of "play" items. Their dressers are nearly empty.

    They used to come in and change back and forth all the time...getting clean clothes for each adventure. Now they don't have the option.

    I just wash a load each day and they seem to have plenty to wear.

  8. I like Tonia's comment about just having less options in the drawer. I think we have way too many items in the kids' drawers and between the regular clothes and the dress up clothes, there has been a lot of clothing discarded in not-so-great places.
    I try to throw our dirties straight into the wash when the kids come in and take them off but often the mud is still in the clothes after a wash...? Not sure why it's not coming out. I'm starting to think more about some designated playclothes, especially for our youngest. She's our first girl and she just can't be wearing all her pretty pinks and pastels in the "mud pit" her older brothers play in. I think she just needs to wear overalls out there...
    with love,


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