November 18, 2008

The Balancing Act: Laundry

Another stumbling block in the search for balance has been laundry. If you have more than one child, you're probably thinking I have no right to complain about laundry for just three people...but it's my blog & I can complain if I want.

My problem wasn't the small number of people in my family. It was the large amount of clothing for said people. For example, if CJ fussed because she never seemed to have any socks or underwear clean, I'd just buy more socks and underwear. It seemed logical. Sadly, it never occurred to me that I should do laundry more was one of those things I just put off as long as I could. The more I kept buying, the easier procrastination became. My rationale was that, as long as we had clean clothes, there was no need to wash what was dirty. The piles of dirty clothes would get taller and taller.

Finally, when I had no other choice, I would start washing clothes. Because I had so much to do, I'd just wash and dry. Folding & putting away were not high on my priority list. Besides, I didn't have space to put it all. I was left with piles of clean clothes and piles of dirty clothes. I could always tell the difference...but I was the only one.

When I started purging last year, excess clothing was high on my list. I did ALL of the laundry, and looked at what we had. I got rid of a lot. A LOT. It's an ongoing process. When I swapped seasonal clothing this fall, I purged from both summer and winter clothing. I hope to do that with every season change. If it doesn't fit (or we just don't wear it), I take it to consignment. If we've worn it out, I throw it away.

Now, there are no piles of clean clothes. The piles of dirty clothes are smaller and easier to tackle. I'm more apt to stay on top of things because: (1) I know we don't have much to spare, and (2) putting away what we do have is much easier.

Some other practical tips I've picked up along the way:

~R and I have three clothes bins in our bedroom. We sort the clothes when we take them off. HUGE timesaver! CJ only has room for one hamper, but sorting her items isn't so bad.

~My washing machine has a timer. It's one of the greatest inventions ever. Many nights, I put a load in before I go to bed and set the timer so that it runs just before I get up. After my quiet time, I put the clothes in the dryer. I wait to fold them when I get home (these are non-wrinkle items!). I also throw in a load before I go to work, and set the time so that it runs just before I get home. They're ready to go in the dryer when I come in, and I try to fold them right after dinner. Often times, I fold laundry as morning "quiet chore". Still, I never have more than two loads to fold at a time.

~I use 2 empty baskets when folding. One for items to go to CJ's room/bathroom. Another for ours. Everyone's responsible for putting away their own clothing (well, most of the time).

~I keep a few hangers in the laundry room. When I know I'm not going to get to folding a load for a while, I can easily take out the shirts and pants that will wrinkle, and hang them up right away.

Taming the laundry monster wasn't as hard as I thought. Now that it's manageable, I don't mind doing laundry at all. I can fold clothes while I watch TV or CJ does her homework. Not having to search for clean clothing is yet another valuable ministry to my family, and has made our home more peaceful.

If you've got some good laundry tips, feel free to share in the comments. I'd love to read them.

Next time: finding a daily schedule you can live with.


Alana said...

I had not read funny! I never used to mind the laundry, but somewhere in the last couple of years it has become one of my IRH (Irrational Hate Chores ;-). For me it is mostly a discipline fact I'm going to go fold some now ;-)

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

What practical thoughts -- fewer clothes = more incentive to stay on top of laundry. Makes sense. I do buy my kids less than I used to, because I realized that they (and I) always grab the same favorites, so it doesn't matter how many they have.

I love the idea of a washing machine with a timer. I often want to start a load, but my dryer is giving out and takes several cycles to dry, so I can't run it at night. Because my W&D are both old, we will be getting new ones sometime. That's a feature that I wouldn't have thought about that I think I might like!

Kelly said...

Love these tips! You are so right- it is having too many clothes to keep washed, folded, and put away that gives me the greatest grief- ugh!
We already were planning to purge some things this weekend- this post gives me just the motivation I need.

Have a great weekend- it's going to get colder:-)

Mary said...

As soon as I have a few other things under control, I plan to do a major clothing purge. There are only three of us but if you looked in my laundry room you would think we had six children. My son's clothing isn't bad. He has uniforms for school and a decent assortment of 'normal' clothes. I need to get rid of my clothing that doesn't fit and then mine will be fine. It's my husband. He is such a clothes horse. I'm going to have to sneak his out.

much2ponder said...

Even now with the kids grown and gone, it seems the laundry is never completely caught up. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong...but maybe some day I'll figure it out and that will likely be the same day I find all the missing socks:)

mholgate said...

Sigh. I must confess that I am guilty of washing and drying but not folding and putting away also! I try to do a load of laundry a day, since we have 7 in our family. My problem is that I need more baskets, so that if I don't get the kids' baskets back in their room at the end of the day, they will still have somewhere to put their dirty clothes besides the floor! : )

Great post. Love your honesty here.


Heather C said...

I seem to be doing laundry nonstop. I think we need a clothing purge, too. Thanks for the motivation!