Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Nemesis

...semi-conquered. I have been using the following system for close to 2 years now. I started writing this post in March of last year, as my drafts dates tell me anyway. Haha. So much for getting things done!! But now that I have done laundry like this for awhile, I can say for SURE that it works for me.

If you know me well, or even semi well, you will likely know that I HATE laundry. Ick.
My laundry room is in the garage (also known as The Death Trap), which is so full of tools, paint cans, air compressor hoses, and lumber (yay for hubbies in construction:-/)...that actually, its not a laundry room. Its a washer and a dryer in the garage. I don't have space for awesome laundry room-ish things and organizing systems...not to mention that, even if I had the's too dirty...Sawdust, and all that construction stuff. I take the clothes down, place them in the washer, then dryer, then bring them immediately back into the house. Which means laundry is always in my house, on my couch, etc. Obnoxious.

I have used laundry baskets before with little success. Baskets have a few problems

a) they are just the right height for crawlers and young walkers to pull clothes out
b) they tip over too easily
c) they are too sturdy...flip it over, and its a stool. Sit in it and "ride" and it's a car...
d) *never ending* inspiration for how kids can re-purpose said basket during play

So basically, although I had baskets a-plenty, I still had piles of clothes on the floor, and empty baskets being used for everything BUT holding clothes. What kind of a crazy Mom do you sound like when you forbid children to play with laundry baskets?

To all you naysayers, I say this: Thinking "inside the box" has had me miserable and behind for 8+ years (since marriage...I didn't do my own laundry before that. Spoiled, yes, thanks Mom). Enter a little creativity, and I am happy and up to date, I dare you to say that I'm not doing it right, or that it's not good for the clothes. I dare you:-) I also dare you to find anything wrong with my clothes...although most of them are pretty old, so don't look THAT close:-)

Here's the deal - I bought a few of these:

They collapse and are just generally not very fun to play with somehow. Score one for Mommy. I bought 4 smaller square ones, and 1 larger round one. The big one is Brian's. The small ones are ours: Me, Boys, Kenna, "extras" (towels, sheets, rags, blankets etc).

This is how my system works.
1. Place empty laundry basket in bedroom. Place all dirty clothes in basket.
It takes more than a week to fill this basket, it holds Brooks & Grey's clothes. Kenna's takes about 2 weeks to fill, full...but I she doesn't have quite enough clothes to last her last long. Generally, each basket is done weekly.
2. This basket when full = 1 large load. When the basket is full of clothes, take entire basket of clothes, and put ALL clothes in washing machine.

3. Wash them.

4. Dry them.

5. Place all clothes immediately back into the basket they came out of.
Out of dryer, and back into hamper. Just stuff 'em all in there

6. Take basket to appropriate bedroom. Tell kids to put away their clothes.
Boys! Come put your clothes away!

7. Place empty basket in its place and repeat process every week.


I'll start with the explanations. I'm one of the busiest people I know. Haha. Ok, maybe not. Some of you are crazy busy. But if you can translate number of children under 6 years old to equal some sort of algebraic equation to indicate level of business and craziness...I'm up there on the charts. 6 children 6 years old and under. You really have to see it to believe. You might actually be surprised at how calm it {usually} is! Anyway, to simplify life, where I can, I keep our clothing simple. I don't buy or even accept/keep handmedowns with difficult care instructions. If it's handwash only, I do not own it. If it's dry clean only, I do not own it. Actually, the only article of clothing we own that is dry clean only is Brian's suit and my wedding dress. They get about the same amount of use, haha! Yup, he only has one suit, since he has so few occasions to wear it, it is senseless to spend money on more. I own precious few items that would need to be "gentle cycle" only. These things are worn so infrequently, that this is really not an issue. Bras and such go into a bra bag, which I keep in my hamper, so they get washed with everything else and do not get ruined. We are not fancy people, we don't dress up for fancy dinners or parties - for lack of time, money and desire, really. We have a simple, laid back, anything-goes style that suits us.

I do not sort clothing*. I wash everything with everything else. Darks with lights, jeans with undies, whites with reds, you name it, I've washed it along side something I shouldn't have. Guess what? I have never once had a colour bleed or fade, or actually really noticed any ill affects at all. But again, like I said before, our clothing is quite hardy and definitely not special. I spot spray immediately things that I notice get stained (while eating for example) and then wait for it to be washed when the basket is full. As I load the washer I double check all pockets and give a brief once over for stains that need spraying.

*I am not an idiot. Are you doubting me? haha. No really, if we get a brand new red shirt, I wash it with a load of dark brown towels or rags first, just to be safe that the colour won't run. Sometimes, after continual use, perhaps Brian's white undershirts can use a wash with bleach, so I will do that. It's infrequent - perhaps every 6 months, so it's not a big deal to collect them all and do that one special load. I hate bleach and do not make a habit of using it unless necessary.

Now for the Cons - Not many that I think of, actually. I guess it could be construed as a con that I do not sort clothing. But I never sorted clothing even when I didn't have this laundry system, so for me, not change there at all. Another con - perhaps (more about it in the pros) is that we may be slightly more wrinkly, especially for the kids. Do I look like I care? In case you can't sense the sarcasm there, I do not. When it's important, we'll iron it quick before we put it on - things are important about 2 times a year, as it averages out. Not a big deal.

The Pros - No more missing socks. They are all in the same load and get matched back up. On the off chance that one is alone in the basket, it's pair is likely under the bed, I just throw the lonely pair back in the hamper to get re-washed next week...knowing its pair will be found by then and it'll matched at that time. A HUGE deal to me to not have to sort through all the missing socks anymore, because we don't have any!
Lonely socks, left after all laundry was put away. Leave them in the hamper, they'll be matched next time, for sure.

Another pro - no laundry flying around my house. Whether it is dirty or clean, its in a hamper or a dresser. Simple. And this one is HUGE to me.

Another pro - not as much folding for me. Here is where the wrinkly comments from above plays in. Kids - they are so messy anyway. And they like to change clothes 27 times per day. So they rip out everything from their dresser and stuff it all back in. And then I get upset because "look at what you did, that was all Mommy's hard work!", "why are you changing?", "what is the matter with you it's 1000 degrees outside and you're in a wool sweater","what is the matter with you, it's 30 degrees out there and you're in shorts, demanding a hot chocolate because you're cold". You get the idea. I find it better to generally not ask. I don't know where they came from, but they're crazy. When we are home, they can wear whatever they want. It's been a standing rule, and one I think will not be lifted anytime soon (and thus far has never been challenged)...when we leave the house, *I* dictate what is worn. No questions asked.

 Enter my brilliant idea. Why fold them in the first place, since they will be unfolded and "ruined" in 1 day anyway. Enter second brilliant idea - they are old enough to put away their own clothes. So I've taught them how to fold socks and fold things as they put it away - and they do it themselves. As they get older I may have to re-force better, but they do pretty well. They fold (at least in half) their items and place/stuff them in the drawers, and it suits me just fine. I don't have to do it, and I don't really care that they stuff them, and I don't really care if they change their outfits every hour on the hour, because they are picking up their things and learning to be neat. Neat enough for their age anyway. Kenna is more careful and likes to hang most of her clothes (knock yourself out, girl), Brooks is a stuffer and so is Grey, naturally, since he's still young. This is not something I choose to make a big deal or stress about. It's clothing, not the end of the world. I will live, they will live, and so will everyone else.

All that to say, the only clothes I fold are Brian's, and mine. Brian's hamper holds 2 loads, since it's larger. But only folding his 2 loads, plus mine 1...pretty manageable. It's almost like I don't have children. Oh wait nevermind. I can hear them. They still exist. Somehow it's easy to bring up his hamper, dump it on the couch, fold everything quick and done! When you fold it right away like that, fewer wrinkles. Less to iron later. Etc. I've eliminated the temptation to put all folded clothes back in the basket, and then just rifle through and use the basket as a dresser as needed. The folded clothes don't really fit back in the soft hamper, so I have to pick them up and put them away. 1 load = one trip to bedroom. Pants on the bottom, then shirts, socks and undies on top. It's quick and it's over.

Last Pro - it WORKS for me. This system really really does work for me. I implemented it about 1.5+ years ago, and on weeks when it's been crazy here, and I let it "slide", I end up with piles all over the house, feeling like I can't get control of the laundry that is breeding on my floor. It adds a silent, behind-the-scenes stress to my life. Who needs that. When I follow the system I set out, I feel ready, I feel in control of it, I feel it's easy to master. One simple load per day. Or two if I want, or even all of them on the same day. It doesn't matter to me. There is something very stress free about doing 1 load of laundry and not seeing any other laundry flying around that needs to be done. It's not like, Oh I just did all this, and still so much to do. It's like wow. Done. Accomplished.
This is one load of Brian's clothes, ready to get put away. Yes, I washed all of these things in the same load together. :-D

I know the neat freaks and the OCD are probably going crazy right now. ...I don't care:-) The point is not at all that I think you should adopt my lazy methods, the point is that you should challenge yourself to think outside the box and make your life (and chores and chore schedules etc) work for you! If there is something you hate to do, find a way to make it more tolerable...a way that does not involve consuming chocolate while you do it, that is:-)

**I will accept absolutely NO responsibility if you dye all your whites to pink by accident. I am quite diligent in my lazy methodology, so I have avoided such mishaps. I don't think you should do what I do, just explaining my ways. If you decide to make similar changes, tread cautiously until you know how it will work for you. I will not buy you a new wardrobe if you ruin yours.

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