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 often...it 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.