Sorry if you are disappointed, but this is not a gossip column. Nope, I really am talking about dirty laundry and lots of it! I calculated that Allison and I do about 15-20 loads a week of laundry. Thank God for summertime where socks are outlawed except for church and swimming counts as bathing. That is why they call it sun bathing, right? But–as Fr. Jim would say–that is another topic for another day. My point is that I deal with lots of dirty laundry. So, by virtue of experience I will share some of my tricks for making this unpleasant task a bit more tolerable. My first disclaimer is that I am an Illusioned Perfectionist. This means I like to create the illusion (albeit short lived) that my home is perfect. I like to have everything in its place and organized and I like to have all the clothes washed, folded and put away creating the wonderful illusion that I am done with laundry. D.O.N.E. Done. Again this is not denial, people. This is a survival tactic. If I acknowledged the never ending amount of dirty socks and underwear it would be the definition of despair. In theory this means we do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays and an occassional load of towels on the other days of the week. In reality we do laundry every day of the week except Sundays. Being the good catholic that I am, however, I continue to strive for perfection so my advice will be based on my ideals. Also, I was given the most wonderful gift from my talented husband (aside from our 9 beautiful children) of a remodeled utility room with two washers and two dryers.This has made my task much more manageable and enjoyable. So, here you go:
1. Pick one day a week for laundry per every 5 people in your home. More than 5 people wearing clothing = more than one day per week of laundry. On the evening before or the morning of “laundry day” have any children that can push a laundry basket help collect the dirty clothes. Younger children can ride on top of the baskets. If you homeschool, call this PE and you’ve checked two things off of your list for the day. If you have a wide hallway or extra energy, of which I have neither, you could have laundry basket races and get the job done in record time. Me? I’m satisfied to get the clothing to one location without too much effort on my part.
2. Teach the children to sort as soon as they learn their colors. Of course, you have to help, but this will pay off sooner that you think. My two teens are very apt at doing the laundry all on their own. I also pick out one helper to avoid overcrowding the utility room and limit the bickering. My babies love to do laundry. They grab the clothes that I’ve already sorted and throw them back into the pile or pull them out of the washer before I can shut the door. This is always a great opportunity to grow in patience. One day I might try to make use of that opportunity, but for now I just cry out for Allison to save me from my helpers. I love that girl!
3. Inevitably you will come across the dreaded inside-out clothing. This includes the very nasty balled up socks and jeans with the legs inside out and twisted with a pair of underwear still attached. I really don’t know how they do this, but my younger girls are experts at this technique. Listen carefully because I have solved this dilema. The child with the most inside out items of clothing gets the assigned chore of turning ALL clothing in the right direction. It is a very disgusting job, so be prepared for grumbling, but it does solve the issue. My kids even proclaim who the winner is each week. The solution is really two-fold: First, it encourages them to turn their clothing the right direction and second, you don’t have to. If your husband is the antagonist here, I can only say that you might make mention of it once in a loving request and thereafter choose to offer it as a sacrifice for suffering souls. Have I mentioned how much I love my mother-in-law? She raised her son right I tell you!
4. Socks. I’ve tried lots of techniques but at the end of the day, I still have to match socks for 20 feet in 7 different sizes. The best system I have found (because I can’t do the mismatched thing–see Illusioned Perfectionist) is a basket for single socks. When we are out of socks or the basket is full, I sit down and match socks. I even turn it into a game of Go Fish to play with the kids and the job gets done with smiles.
5. I’m actually out advice at this point. I have tried having the kids put away their own clothes and then wonder why I even bothered to fold them in the first place. I don’t have the time or the energy to do it myself, so I’m toying with the idea of just throwing them from the dryer into their assigned basket just to make it more efficient. The Illusioned Perfectionist in me just can’t do it. I carefully fold and sort by child and then avoid looking in their dressers or closets so that I can remain in my happy place–much like avoiding mirrors.
Well, I’m off to change out another load. It is Monday after all.