Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dirty Laundry Confessions

I HATE Laundry. I hate that I have to throw it in the wash and then wait for it (and forget all about it and have to re-wash it) and then throw it in the dryer and wait some more, and then worst of all -- fold it and put it away.

I.KNOW. Our ancestors scrubbed their clothes on a rock alongside the riverbank and beat them with a washing stick or cleaned them with ash or lye. As time went on (and if they were lucky) they sent the clothes through a wringer before hanging on the line to dry. I GET it, blah, blah, blah, we have it easy. Still. I HATE laundry.

Laundry is something that, unless you go commando for extensive periods of time, is never-ending. It's never truly completely caught up. And then there is the dreaded sock basket which houses all of those abandoned socks whose mates somehow disappeared in the washing and drying process.

For years, I tried to stick to a laundry schedule. As time went on and more kidlets joined the ranks, the busier our lives got, and the laundry multiplied. To be honest, the sock basket housed so many singles, I eventually started a 2nd sock basket. I'm pretty sure there were pairs in there somewhere, but it was so crowded, the chances of a sweet reunion was slim to none. 

Things in the laundry department got really bad when I went through a period of severe depression. It was all I could do to get out of bed, let alone accomplish anything productive. Washing laundry became an "as-needed" task. The pile in the laundry room quickly grew into a mound, and then a sea, resembling something close to this picture I found on google images:
Once, we were invited to go to Disneyland with some friends. I was so far behind on the laundry and I was working 40+ hours a week and I was in school, there was no way I could get it all done and packed before we left. What did I do? I made a Wal-Mart run for essential socks and underwear and bought each kid a few new shirts and shorts off the $5 rack. Yes, there was an element of shame.

I needed to get a handle on the laundry. Upon returning from our trip, I handed each kid a garbage bag and told them we were going to start digging. "If anything is ripped, badly stained, or no longer fits (yes, they had been sitting that long), throw it out. I'm not washing it," I told them. We worked on and off for the next several days and probably tossed 5 garbage bags full of dirty laundry to the curb. 

Next, I informed each child they were to start doing their own laundry. (They had all already been taught, but I hadn't enforced it up to that point.)  Even with the new plan in place, we still had a ton of laundry. Kids would complain that so-and-so left their clothes in the dryer, etc. and eventually, clean clothes would end up in unfolded piles on the folding table until eventually the table became overloaded and the laundry began slipping and co-mingled with the dirty duds on the floor.

I always used the excuse that I didn't have a "good" laundry room. One day, when I get a laundry room like this (see below), keeping up with the laundry will be easy. Eventually, even I grew tired of that excuse.

I got each child their own basket. I tried to stay on top of it. Towels and throw blankets would end up down the laundry chute, and for some reason it was just expected *I* would wash it all. Ugh.

Then, while packing up to move to this house a few years ago, I gave fair warning before bagging up clothes and taking them to the dump. I decided right then and there, my kids had TOO MANY clothes. It was hard to stay on top of the laundry because everyone would wait until they ran out of clean clothes until they'd wash some. And they each had so many clothes they by the time they ran out, they'd each have 4 or 5 loads! But, of course on any given school night, they'd only have time to wash 1 or 2 loads. Essentially, we were all behind, all of the time.

New Rules at our New House. In addition to everyone being responsible for their own laundry (the youngest was 6), I also assigned each child a laundry day. This has worked well. 4 kids get M, T, TH, and FR. The hubs and I get the weekend and Wednesdays is a "free" day, in case someone isn't home on their day, or there's something important they need to wash. If they want to switch days, they can work that out themselves, but every week they are to do all of their wash on their day. 

Other things that have helped: If someone leaves their laundry in the dryer and they are not home to retrieve it, the person needing the dryer gets to deliver the clean laundry to said owner's bedroom. They are not to just dump it on top of the dryer or the counter in the laundry room. 

As far as towels, each kid has their own hook in the bathroom for their own towel. They are supposed to wash their own bath towel with their laundry. On occasion I ask for all the towels and I will wash the lot of them, as I also have dish towels to wash. But so far, it hasn't been too bad.

We no longer have a sock basket. Matchless socks get to hang out in the individual's sock drawer. If a match ever shows up, great. If not, they eventually toss the sock in the trash. 

We had a back-up a while ago when some blankets needed to be washed. The hubs solved that with a quick trip to the laundromat so all of the blankets could be washed at once.

As far as my own personal battle with the laundry... I've resorted to my husband's way of doing things and now I hang almost everything up. It is so much faster for me to pull things out of the dryer and stick them on a hanger (we've got a closet rod in the laundry room), then it is for me to lug a basket and sit and fold. I even hang tee shirts and jeans now! I know, crazy. This leaves very little for me to fold (underwear, socks, sweaters and pjs) and I quite like it!

Folding towels has never bothered me and I still don't mind doing that. They're fast and easy. As far as folding the other stuff -- sigh. I've even tried to fold while watching a dvd or something. It just takes twice as long. I have found the key for me is the less I have to fold, the more apt I am to stay on top of the laundry, because folding takes 5 minutes, literally. Of course, it also helps that my husband does a great deal of our laundry too. We work together on this and it's great. 

We've had our current house listed for about 3 weeks and I have to say our laundry room has remained spotless! Even though it only took TWENTY YEARS to finally figure out which laundry habits work best for me (us), the word laundry no longer gives me hives or makes me hyperventilate. I've also learned just because I hate it, doesn't mean I can ignore it. Kind of like paying bills. It has to get done. 

I love that the kids have been extra diligent in staying on top of their laundry, since the house has to be constantly clean for showings. But I am also hopeful we will all stick to our new laundry routine once we move, again. 

Are you a master or a slave to your laundry? I'd love to hear your comments!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

supply and install laundry chutes
I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post.