I have to admit, since my youngest has been mobile – laundry around here has kicked my butt. That’s right. I said it. Kickin’ my butt. I used to have it under control. Wash a load, dry a load, fold a load, put away a load. Now, I wasn’t always perfect at it, but generally speaking that’s how it went. Then about a year ago, things changed. I couldn’t get it together. I couldn’t ever get caught up (and what does that even mean anymore anyway?). But we’re talkin’ mounds of clothes. Nobody could ever find anything. I had a huge pile in the laundry room of dirty clothes, dirty laundry strewn about the house, and the ever-looming pile of clean-to-be-folded. I began asking around for advice. Something had to be done. Maury said her kids did laundry. Really? Imagine that! And Brandy said she ditched all her towels and bought color-coded towels for each child – it’s immediately obvious who left their towel lying on the floor and it’s some serious cutting down on washing when each child only has one towel for several days.
Step one in taking back the laundry power: minimize. I sorted all the play clothes and told each of the older children (ages 6, 5, and 3) to pick 3 pairs of “around the house” shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 5 shirts, 2 sets of jammies, all the underwear and socks that actually fit them. They actually liked doing this. They kept their favorites and had no problem giving up all the others.
I have managed to keep our clothes clean – I run a fairly constant load of wash almost daily. But the folding and putting away has been very difficult for me. So until I master each load as it comes out again, I just let the clean clothes pile up and we have “laundry day” once a week. That’s the time that we all go in and fold together while the baby’s sleeping (he destroys everything we’re working on, if not). And then I started throwing clothes, towels, and washcloths in the 3 bigger kids’ directions. I tossed all bigger-boy looking clothes at the bigger boys, I tossed all girl clothes at the girl. I seperated all bath towels and rags into piles. I instructed the girl to sort her undies and socks into one pile and all other play clothes into a pile. She is not required to fold them – just put them in the appropriate drawers – all crumpled for all I care, at least they’re put away. And she digs through the drawers approximately 50 times a day for “just the right outfit” anyway. Why fold?, I say. When this is completed she is to fold the wash cloths and hand towels. I do the putting away on those.
The boys, being a little older, have a little more responsibility. They must sort the big combined boy-clothes pile into which clothes belong to which boy. Then they are to put them away. I still don’t care if they’re folded or not, just put away. They’re the ones wearing them and they are only worn around the house. Who cares, I have other battles I have to win. Amazingly, so far, they have opted, on their own, to fold each item of clothing. Once that’s done they move onto folding bath towels. They even came up with games of racing each other and counting down to see who could fold the most the quickest. Beautiful, I’ll take it!
So, last week I went bold and as the clean towels were folded I put them in the back of my closet. I found some brightly colored towels on sale and the kid’s each picked their favorite. Since my kiddos are still so small they have a hard time getting them onto the rack or hooks. So I bought 2 pairs of hooks, hung them within reach of their little arms, and then sewed ribbon on the edge of the middle of their towels so it would be easier to hang.
While they are sorting, folding, and putting away I’m sorting the baby’s, mine, and my honey’s clothes, and hanging up all “go to town” clothes. And I’ve found they really like doing this. We’re all together working on a common goal and usually laughing about who’s winning with the towels and talking about upcoming events and things they’ve enjoyed (or not so much) lately.
It’s working for us and I feel so good about it. But since much of this is new to us, I’ll keep you updated if this continues to go so well.
Happy folding, folks!