Have you seen the meme that asks “What is always there for you? Laundry. Laundry is always there.”? It is sad truth. You can feel like you have accomplished something major by finishing the laundry, wash, dry, fold, put away. Then as you get ready for bed, you discover almost a whole load of dirty laundry again. It is a never-ending cycle.
Years ago, laundry brought me to tears. I had six children, 10 and under. Their clothes may have been smaller, but they were at the age where they wore four outfits every day. Add in towels and bibs and sheets and blankets, it was overwhelming.
One day I was talking to a friend who at the time had no children. She said she was dreading changing the sheets on her bed. I laughed so hard, like the lost-her-mind kind of laugh. She said “bed”. If I were to change all the sheets in my household, it would have been SEVEN beds!
My routine for doing laundry was to collect all the laundry from around the house and sort it into piles. I didn’t have a laundry room. Really in twenty-six years of having my own space, I have never had a laundry room. Laundry was always either a closet in the hallway or the walk-through to the garage. On laundry days, you would see piles of lights and darks and towels. It would spill into the kitchen or dining room. As the clothes cam out of the dryer, they would end up on the sofa or on my bed and I would methodically start the folding process.
Folding was a whole story by itself. Shirts, pants, socks and underwear. With three boys and three girls so close in size to each other, it was a lot of tag reading. Laundry took up the majority of my time. That’s when I hit a breaking point. I needed a new system.
Everyone had a laundry basket in their rooms, so I started doing laundry by room. Each room was assigned a day.
- Monday – Mom and Dad
- Tuesday – Little Girls
- Wednesday – Little Boys
- Thursday – Big girl
- Friday – Mom and Dad
- Saturday – Big Boy
Of course it wasn’t perfect. Some days overlapped. But It meant I was only washing, drying and folding a load or two. And if I washed sheets and blankets and towels for that same room, it wasn’t such a big task.
As I folded, I could monitor what their needs were. Pants with holes, socks with holes, shorts that were size 8, but one random pair that was 4T? A week of laundry and only one pair of underwear? Time for a conversation!
This made it easier to transition to making the kids start doing their own laundry. They had their day and knew when to get their laundry done.
Now kids schedules changed and the weekly schedule has moved around in new seasons. Kids would negotiate or add uniforms to each others loads. It became a lesson in learning to get along and plan ahead.
Today, as I was folding clothes for a big kid that is working hard, I reflected on how many years I have been doing laundry. And there are many more years to come!