Laundry is such a pervasive problem in our homes and it can get out of control SO fast. I think the biggest part of the issue is that laundry is a multi-step process with unavoidable delays. Most other chores can be knocked out in just a few minutes, but the wash is a minimum two-hour process – ugh. That’s why you need a solid, repeatable plan to keep your laundry situation under control!
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What NOT to Do with the Laundry
Here’s how NOT to do it! The laundry around here had REALLY gotten out of control. Sometimes you just get focused on other things and it just slips away from you. And it was pretty bad at this point.
First step was to take the bull by the horns. My strategy for this was simple – I needed to make the problem VISIBLE. Part of the reason laundry gets out of control is that it’s hidden away in different hampers around the house, so it’s hard to measure it easily. I needed to get it all in one place so my family could see the extent of the problem and realize I needed their help.
I dragged it all out, one laundry basket at a time, and piled it up in the den. It genuinely made a HUGE Mt Washmore! (That’s a term I learned from Flylady) It was at least a dozen loads. I live with all guys, so they needed a clear visual like that. At the time, I was working probably 60 hours a week and my husband and two sons could create a LOT more laundry than I could handle by myself.
Then we just sorted it out and started chipping away at it – 2 or 3 loads per day. Then we’d have folding parties in the evenings while we were watching TV. The rule was it had to be ALL put away by bedtime, regardless of whose it was. Our boys were 12 and 3 at the time, so there was a bit of a disparity in their laundry skills, but I’ve always felt that this was a chore that they could and should be helping with. But they were not terribly enthusiastic about this task. They’d leave it in the washer too long and it would get smelly or it would sit in the baskets all week and get all wrinkled.
Obviously our current process wasn’t working – duh! I think seeing the extent of the problem was a game changer for us. The guys finally realized that they were going to have to do their share. So, we made a deal. Everybody but the three year old had to sort and wash their own laundry every week, all the way to the bottom of the hamper. Our little guy would help me sort his and my laundry which was all his attention span could handle.
I don’t mind folding laundry and I would rather do that so I can make sure it gets sorted out by person and by type of clothing – shirts, pants, etc. Then all each person had to do was put their own stuff away. Win-Win! It did require a little enforcement to keep them motivated, but it was so nice to not have to feel like it was ALL ME.
The End Result
Sometimes it just takes a little communication and a little cooperation between your family members and if everyone is willing to try, you can usually find something that works. Visibility is a big help to us. Laundry is a quiet problem that slowly piles up while you’re busy doing other things. And here are the crazy house, we are busy doing a LOT of other things, so you don’t notice until you run out of something you need. So I needed to make the issue very visible.
Ultimately, I set specific days for each person and I also placed recurring reminders on our cell phones. I gave them the option or either wash it in the morning or after work and school, or do it right after dinner, but the rule is that it has to be done and put away by bedtime. If not, they will wake up to find the offending pile of laundry sitting on their kitchen chair and have to deal with it before they can sit down to breakfast.
It turns me into “Vinny the Enforcer” but I’m the one who wants it done, so I get to do the dirty work, I guess.
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