When people hear that I have 8 kids, one of the first things they say is
I’d hate to do your laundry!
I always find this amusing and can just imagine the image in their head-A mom still in her PJs (because she has no clean clothes), sitting on the floor surrounded by baskets and baskets of laundry. Folding each piece of laundry with such love-until an unruly toddler, or a teenager with a fashion crisis comes along and TEARS the basket apart, undoing all her hard work. Nothing to do but start over…RIGHT? WRONG! Laundry can be painless, simple, and even easy for every family. Follow these 5 SIMPLE STEPS to knock down that laundry mountain!
1) Have a Plan
You’re going to be climbing a mountain and knocking it down. Would you climb a mountain, any mountain without a plan? HECK NO! Mt. Washmore is no different.
How many times have you done the night before or even morning FREAK OUT? You know what I am talking about. Your kid (or husband) tells you the night before that they HAVE to have that certain piece of clothing and the world will end without. So, there you are…digging thru piles of laundry, baskets, and the washing machine with week-old laundry in it. It’s a TREASURE HUNT! Except this treasure hunt involves nasty, dirty, what the heck is in my sons pants hunting instead of a beach and tropical flowers on an island in the middle of the ocean looking for Black Beards treasure.
Why are you doing this? Because you DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN! I used to do this. As you can probably imagine, it’s no fun digging thru the laundry. Especially when potty-training. EWWWW…But, I figured out a better way. So, here’s what I want you to do:
How many bedrooms in your house.-We have 5 bedrooms in our house.
Assign each bedroom a day of the week.-5 bedrooms means every bedroom gets a weekday for laundry.
Have a make-up day. This is a day when they can “make-up” their laundry day or wash that thing they HAVE to have for next week before their laundry day.-Ours is Saturday.
Assign a day for towels, linens, and miscellaneous items.-We have Sunday as our towel and linen day.
2) POST the Schedule and STICK to it
I can’t tell you how many times one of my kids have said
BUT MOM…I didn’t KNOW yesterday was my laundry day!
You don’t have to be super crafty to make a functional laundry list. I made mine with a cricut and Word, but you could use a whiteboard or even a plain ole’ piece of paper. It doesn’t matter how you post it. But, it does need to be in a VISIBLE place. We even use Google Calendar to send a reminder to each kid (even our 1 year old has an email…but that will be another blog post). They get a ding at 8 am and know that if they want clean laundry for the next week, they need to put it in that morning. Notice I said THEY…more on that later.
I know it’s going to be tempting to stray, but if you truly want to be successful, you’re going to have to stick to the schedule. If you stray from the schedule once and nothing happens, you’ll be tempted to do it again and again and…Eventually, you’ve strayed off the trail so much that you’re no longer tackling Mt. Washmore and your buried again.
My kids know that if they missed their laundry day, they missed it until Saturday. If they truly need that outfit, or don’t want to wear dirty clothes for the next week, they will wash their laundry on their assigned day. It sounds harsh, but when you set up a family schedule, EVERYONE in the family has to follow it or you end up with chaos again.
Make laundry a habit. In the morning, put the laundry in the washer. Set an alarm and switch it over. Then, set an alarm on your phone for the dryer. Or, put it into the washer before work and switch it to the dryer when you get home. If you do this everyday, it will just become part of your routine and you won’t have to think about or “remember” to do laundry.
3) Ditch the Baskets
Do you have so many baskets that you don’t know what’s clean or what’s dirty? Maybe you’re living out of those baskets because laundry never gets put away. Go pull out all your baskets and hampers. That’s right…I said ALL of them. Now, sit in the living room staring at all these baskets. It’s pretty overwhelming right? How many do you have? I bet you have at least 5 if not 10 or more. THAT’S NUTS! We have one hamper PER BEDROOM and one hamper for linens, towels, etc. That’s it. There are no stray baskets or hampers sitting in the laundry room.
Picture this, you are doing laundry and you forgot the basket upstairs. UGH…so what do you do? You just grab a basket from the laundry room. Before you know it, you have baskets everywhere. Then, you don’t know where anything is or what’s clean or dirty.
You only NEED one basket or hamper per room, plus a hamper for linens. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking
One basket per room is madness!
I promise you it works. Here’s why:
Dirty laundry goes in basket.
Take the basket to laundry room on laundry day.
Transfer dirty clothes into washer.
Put clean clothes in dryer.
Put clean clothes BACK IN basket.
Put clothes in basket away.
Fill basket with dirty laundry.
Start all over…
Okay Okay, a lot of you are probably saying…
You put CLEAN clothes back in the basket that had DIRTY laundry?
Yes I do! Obviously, if it needs a quick wipe down, we do that. But, having one basket per room ensures that you have to put away that laundry before you fill it up again with dirty clothes. Don’t be a stinker and just throw the dirty laundry on the floor without putting away the basket.
We also don’t sort our colors. Lets be honest for a second…How many of you actual sort the laundry by color? I mean, it’s what we’ve been taught but who has time for that? I’ve rarely had a color mixing disaster. Obviously, if it’s new or an item that is going to bleed, I will make sure to wash it separately.
An easy way to sort laundry is to wash all the shirts, colors, undergarments (we don’t buy white) first. But, ONLY from the basket for the room that is scheduled today. Then, throw the jeans from that room in the next load. Sure, you are doing two loads of laundry but if you use the tall hamper like we have, it’s going to be more than one load a day anyway.
4) EVERYONE Does Their Own Laundry
You heard me right. Your kids can do their own laundry. Okay, my toddlers don’t “do” their own laundry. But, the 2-year-old can certainly push the hamper to the laundry room, help me load the clothes into the washer (they love putting in the detergent) and dryer. They even “help” me put the laundry away. Your older kids and teens can also do their own. My 7 and 9 year old can do their own laundry.
I love this system.
Get all your kids/rooms a mini detergent bottle from Dollar Tree. Put their name or room on the bottom in sharpy. (Prevents the “that’s my bottle”) dilemma. Their going to keep this bottle as their own.
Put dryer sheets in a baggie. Put their baggie in their cleaning bucket.
Refill both as needed from your big bottle. (I charge a couple of points per refill…that’s another blog)
I put this system in place because our laundry room was a MESS! When they first started doing laundry, the kids were dumping the detergent straight from the bottle instead of measuring it. The dryer sheets were everywhere. It’s like the fun tissue game my toddlers play. Boxes are magic! You pull one out and another one pops up! We were wasting money and the laundry room was a place I avoided like the plague.
If your able, get a locking cabinet. This has been a LIFESAVER! I have one for laundry stuff and one for cleaning supplies. With the supplies locked up, not only is it safer for little ones, but you can monitor usage. I put my bottles of detergent, dryer sheets, clothes pins, stain sprays, oxiclean, Pinesol (works great on stinky laundry) and other cleaning things in here.
Teaching your kids to do their own laundry can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. We teach our kids to do all the household chores. How will they learn if they are not taught? When you follow these steps, you are building that foundation for learning to be more independent. (Although it feels nice to be needed)
I do, You Watch-This is our first step. We start this at a young age. Remember the 1 year old helping? He is learning while I am doing.
I do-You Help. My 2 year old is helping me do laundry. It may seem like their “helping” is taking longer, but you are setting that foundation to move on to step 3.
You Do, I Help-My 7 year old and 9 year old are at this step. They still need a little help to remember how much soap, which setting to use, etc.
You Do, I Watch-By the time they are 10, hopefully they are ready to tackle all the laundry tasks themself. Once I watch them a few times, they are good to go.
Make laundry a habit for your kids. They can put the laundry in the wash in the morning, switch it over when they get home from school, and put it away before bed. Stay consistent! The more they do it, the quicker the habit will form.
5) Cut Down on the Clothes and Linens
With 10 people in our house, we had a TON of clothes. My kids had clothes that they never wore but ALWAYS seemed to be dirty. I went room by room taking everything out of the closets, bins, drawers, and floors. Then, I dumped it ALL on the floor in the living room.
Now, if this sounds super scary…it WAS. I just created this HUGE pile of clothes in my living room. What the heck was I going to do? The first thing I did was grab 2 garbage bags. One was for trash/stained clothing and one was for donation/sell clothing. Then, I grabbed a couple bins. One was for off season clothing and one was for pass-down clothing. I had a laundry basket for KEEP in closet/drawer clothing. This is our in season stuff. Shorts if its summer or pants if it’s winter, etc.
Go through EVERYTHING. Put it in the proper bin, bag or basket.
Look at your KEEP basket. Do your kids really need ALL of this in the closet?
We only keep enough clothing for one week of laundry. This ensures that they either wash their laundry, or wear dirty clothes the next week. We have 4 pairs of pants/shorts/skirts. One sweater or hoodie in the summer and one pair of pants in the summer. You get the idea. Take anything that you want to keep for spares (in case of ripped, torn, etc.) and stick it in another bin.
What do I do with the bins and bags?
Take those donation clothes and put them in your car. Don’t forget to drop them off the next time you go out.
Put your off season clothing away. Our’s is in the storage room. Make sure you label it well! When the weather changes, switch the bins out. Don’t forget to trash or get rid of anything you won’t need next year!
We only have one towel per person in our house. Well, we have a couple spare towels for guests but everyone has their own personal towel. They can wash their towel on sunday or they can even wash it on their laundry day. Everyone has their own color or design on their towel. We keep them on hooks that hang over bedroom doors. They don’t get stinky that way and I know when someone leaves their towel in the bathroom!
This is what works for our family. I hope it helps! Leave a comment below with your tips and tricks.