Laundry: Navigating the Neverending Mountain

Surely to goodness, laundry is an issue for every household.  We all create it, and somehow, some way, we all have to sort it, wash it, dry it, fold it and put it away so we can do it all over again.  It  just.  never.  ends.

We live in an old 3 storey house with an unfinished walk up attic that we hope to be able to finish someday, if/ when our finances allow.   Like SO many old houses, the washer and dryer were in the basement.  Up and down two flights of stairs for each step of the laundry process.  It got to the point where I just started to ignore the growing laundry piles.  It wasn’t good.  And I shuddered to think of what it would be like when we eventually finished the attic!  That’s a lot of hauling. 

So, we moved the laundry upstairs into a little alcove in the hallway of our home.  It once was the baby’s room.  At 5′ x 7′ it was perfect for a crib on the right wall and a dresser/ change table combo on the other.  But she moved out of the crib and into a big girl bed and bedroom, leaving a lovely little spot for a laundry room.  Imagine that!   Doing the laundry on the same floor where it is created.  

It has saved my sanity.  No joke. 

Okay, so I recognize that not everyone has a new little nook for their washer and dryer.  But even in the nastiest of basements, the laundry area can be spruced up a bit to allow a sorting area and a folding area.  And a lick of paint can make all the difference in the mood. 

Over the years, I have tried various “laundry management” routines.  Even without physical changes to your laundry area, perhaps these little nuggets of laundry experience will help you navigate the Neverending Mountain. 

Tip #1:  Get a Handle on the Sorting       I’ve tried various methods over the years and have settled on one that works for us all.  We have one main hamper in the hallway that everyone shares.  Every day or two, it’s someone’s job (sometimes mine, sometimes a child’s) to empty the hamper into three baskets:  lights, colours, darks.    This is a fun task for the kids.  So far, they all enjoy it and it’s a great way to involve them.  Getting them involved helps them to realize the amount of work required, and makes them a bit more careful about putting clean clothes in the hamper. 

Tip #2:  Make Time Work for You:        As a homeschooler, I spend from 9am to noon each day one-on-two with the boys.   With some trial and error, I figured out that my best time to fold laundry (let’s face it, the most labour-intensive part that nobody else can do well enough) is outside of this three-hour window.  For this reason, I usually wake up in the morning and throw in the first load before I do anything else.   Because it’s all sorted, it’s just a matter of tossing in enough for a load.  Easy peasy. 

On the days when I know I am going to be out all day, I put the wash in before I go to bed, and pop it in the dryer as soon as I wake up in the morning.  This often means that I can have it dried and folded before I head out.  This is a major time saver for me on busy days, and would be a great thing for working moms.   Fitting laundry into the schedule doesn’t have to mean doing 12 loads on your day off.   I can say that, because it’s how I used to operate and it definitely made the mountain way more daunting than it needed to be.   

Tip #3:   Make a Schedule       It doesn’t need to be on paper, but it might help you stay committed if it is.  My schedule always includes a load or two on Mondays, sometimes three depending on how much mountain climbing I feel like doing that day.  Though it varies by my other commitments each week, I also try to do a couple loads on Wednesdays and again on Fridays.  That is the day I wash the bedding.  The schedule also includes having the kids put their own laundry away as they are able.   Even the 3 year old puts away her own socks, underwear and jammies. 

I make sure (as best I can) to clear the folding tables and make sure the baskets are practically empty by Friday evening.  A clean kitchen at bedtime makes me feel so much better in the morning, and it’s the same feeling when I know I’m caught up on the laundry going into the weekend.

Tip #4:  Take a Break     Just because laundry is created 24/7, doesn’t mean it needs to be washed 24/7.  I find it’s a good idea to have ‘no laundry’ days.  Since my husband is home on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays are definitely not the days I want to spend in the laundry room.  Family time is more important than the laundry, plain and simple.  And the knowledge of a laundry-free weekend provides the impetus I need to wrap it up by Friday.  (Note:  the exception to this comes on weeks it’s been pouring and the sunshine joins us on the weekend.  In those cases, I adjust to take advantage of good clothesline days.)

Tip #5:  Count it All Joy (James 1:1)    It’s easy to grumble about the laundry.  I’ve done more than my share of grumbling over the frequency with which it is produced and the speed at which it seems to multiply.  However, I am on a quest to seek joy in all things.  Yes, this means laundry too.  

The joy of course, is that I have children and they are clothed.

The joy is that they have the ability to be active and they get dirty.

You could even say that the dirt is in direct proportion to the type of day we’ve had as a family.  Dirty socks are the sign of a good day.  Black-when-they-should-be -white-muddy-puddle-socks are the sign of a great day.  The days the kids play in the rain, race their boats down the hill and sit in the puddles to splash?    Those days are the ones that make the best childhood memories ever. 

So yes, there is joy in laundry.   There really is. 

When you find it, you might even notice a smile on your face as you fold.  I’ve caught it myself a few times.  So might you. 

Me?  I used to cringe.  I used to mutter under my breath and frequently aloud.  But lately, I’ve caught myself smiling about it more now that I’m intentionally seeking the joy.    (Most of the time anyway.  I never said I didn’t need to remind myself too.)

May you find the blessings in your Neverending Mountain.

This post has been linked to Works For Me Wednesday.  Hop on over to see more great inspiration.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mandy
    Mar 10, 2010 @ 11:25:41

    What a fun little laundry room you have!


  2. Trackback: Team Tasks: a chore system that works for us « Joy and Contentment

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