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You are Probably Better at Laundry than I am!

posted January 19, 2015 by Moms in Tow (Kara)

by Elizabeth Morales

You would think that after doing laundry for my family for over fourteen years, I would be an expert. That I would have learned ideal ways to maximize my time and our space to make this chore manageable. My mom does it. Mark's mom does it. They have great systems. Mine? It's horrible. I curse laundry duty. I despise it. I don't need to tell you why laundry is frustrating. You know the reasons...all of them.
I was probably pretty good at it when there were just two of us. I don't remember laundry being a chore before we had our kids. It's like it didn't exist, although I know our clothes were cleaned and folded every week. With the arrival of our first child, I actually looked forward to laundry day, as the intoxicating aroma of Dreft wafted through my home each day. Next came a baby girl. Her clothes were so beautiful and sweet. Soft fleece jammies, lacy dresses, perfect purple socks. How could I not want to wash and dry those tiny threads to keep my baby comfy and clean?
Then, we moved to Japan. That is when all the fun of doing baby laundry went down the heated toilet. Our machine was an all-in-one model. Wash and dry in the same machine. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Of course not, because it was worthless. The machine was tiny, and it took eight hours to dry a load of towels. We had no other choice, as our home could not hook up to American appliances, so we invested in typical Japanese laundry equipment (a portable clothesline for our miniature balcony), and I resorted to hanging our clothes outside like everybody else.
It wasn't horrible, as there were only four of us, and two of them were still small. As years passed, you all know that I popped out more kids, who then continued to grow. Now we have more people with bigger clothes, and so even though we have a regular washer and dryer again, we have now reached the new problem of just never being caught up with laundry...ever. 
Every few years, I try to establish a new system that will make doing laundry a little that will save us from the piles and piles of unfolded clothes, merging into one giant heap on the floor of my laundry room. Thank goodness that room is in the back of the house, where no guest would ever go unless she makes a wrong turn. It's a disaster. Our moms do not dare help with our laundry, as they cannot decipher which piles are clean and which are dirty.
I started enlisting the help of the kids about four years ago.
Here was my old method. You'll see my mistakes, I'm sure.
1. I wash all the laundry in the same temperature water, not sorting by color, fabric, etc. It's faster that way.
2. When I remember, I move the wet clothes to the dryer.
3. When they're dry, I take them out and throw them in a pile on the floor.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 every day or so, for the rest of my life.
5. When kids finally run out of clean undies, pants or whatever in their rooms, or I just can't fit anything else on top of the clean pile, I declare it to be "Laundry Day."
6. Kids scream, kick, fight, whine. I make them drop everything and help with laundry. (Even though I have done the hard part of washing and drying it).
7. We use our misfit collection of laundry baskets to transport clothes to the family room. Clothes are dumped onto the floor-recreating the big pile. The little boys like to have the clothes dumped directly on top of them (for fun, of course).
8. Everyone takes a basket, fighting over who gets to use the biggest/best ones, and then they all dig through the pile to find their own clothes.
9. An hour of clothes flying through the air on a weekend morning is not anyone's idea of fun, especially when Mark is constantly barking at the little kids to stop climbing on the pile, start helping, keep their underwear off their know the drill. Wait? You probably don't do laundry this way.
10. At the end of this part, we are always left with a huge mound of socks that nobody wants to bother sorting. Sometimes I just put it back into the laundry room till the next weekend.
Over the years, my friends and I would talk about our laundry methods. Mine seemed to be the worst, but I just didn't see another way to make it work. How could I move away from simply creating a big pile of everyone's clothes? How could I create less fighting among the whole family when I need help with this chore that is for everyone's benefit? I just do not have time to fold it all right out of the dryer-obviously the best method.
Eventually, after watching what works for the grandmas and gaining some insight from a very wise friend of mine who taught me I was handling each piece too many times, I decided to make some changes.
I purchased color-coded everything. I bought collapsible hampers for each room, which are lightweight enough for the kids to take downstairs by themselves, and breathable in case I don't get to the clothes for several days. I eliminated our diverse batch of laundry baskets (some which were way too small to be worth keeping), and found large, sturdy ones for each person. We all know which one is ours, so there's no fighting over who gets "the good basket."

Our laundry system has been modified to be the best it's ever been, and probably the best it will be while our kids are here. Yes, I know kids can actually wash clothes, too. Maybe that day will come. For now, I'm home each day, so I can do it.
I still follow my original Steps 1 through 3 in almost the same way, except I've added something new for myself. I make sure to have everyone's empty, color-coded basket in the laundry room when I'm ready to empty the dryer. Instead of dumping the clothes straight on the floor like I did for so many years, I sort them right away, directly into each person's basket. I line the baskets up along the wall by age, plus I know whose color is whose, so I don't have to think too much while I toss in their t-shirts and pajamas. It's so much easier to tackle one load at a time! (Like I didn't know that before, I just was too overwhelmed to make it happen). Once in a while, if I'm really organized, an entire load will be designated to a specific hamper. So, if the hamper comes from Reese's room, I know those clothes can go right from the dryer into his black basket. Simple!
My laundry room is so much neater now! There are still a ton of baskets taking up the entire floor, but that's because we have a big, beautiful family to clothe. I'm so thankful for them!
Have you mastered your own laundry system yet? Have you always been a pro? Are you like me and were always looking for tips?
Here are some other brilliant ideas that friends of mine had given to me through the years as I sought laundry advice:
-Keep a small plastic dresser in the laundry room just for kids' socks. Never worry about sorting or taking them to bedrooms, especially if you have kids wearing the same sizes.
-Have your hangers ready when it's time to take the clothes from the dryer. Put your shirts directly onto the hangers instead of in the basket first and then on the hangers later. Handle pieces as few times as possible!
-Install a tension rod in the laundry room for shirts that need to be air dried.
-Play music or watch Netflix while you're sorting/folding laundry.
-Teach your friends what you learn! Although one of them may seem to have it all together, she's probably a closet laundry amateur.
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