When I envisioned my future family life as a young person, I never had visions of doing the dishes. every. single. day. Also mysteriously excluded from my future family fantasies was the mountain of laundry that mocks me from the dining room table day after day. I have recently decided to name this mountain and just welcome it to the family. So now, whenever someone enters our home I can just say, “Come on in! You already know my kids, this is our dog, Bailey, and this is Rocky, our laundry mountain. Can I get you something to drink?” It just addresses the elephant in the room, and simultaneously lowers expectations for the rest of the house.
[bctt tweet=”Mysteriously excluded from my future family fantasies was the mountain of laundry that mocks me.” username=”oldbarncompany”]
But seriously. Why do we have so many clothes? If there are this many clothes on my table, then my family should be walking around naked somewhere! But no, instead, my daughter and I complain we have nothing to wear, and everybody throws a fit when it’s time to dismantle Rocky and actually put away our laundry and we spend the next two hours fighting over doing the laundry instead of playing catch outside. It’s too overwhelming, it will take too long, it is just too much. We want LESS LAUNDRY and MORE of the GOOD STUFF!
[bctt tweet=”If there are this many clothes on my table, then my family should be walking around naked somewhere!” username=”oldbarncompany”]
So while I am certainly not a great example of always having the laundry done and put away, I am constantly trying to find a system to “lighten the load.” And I have found a few ways to shortcut the whole process that work for our family to reduce the amount of time spent washing, drying, hanging, folding and putting away.
This keeps us from taking out a new set every single day. We are generally clean before getting into bed, so wearing a fresh set of PJs every night is not necessary and only adds to the laundry pile. If there are 10 sets of pajamas in my kids’ drawers they will manage to use all 10 sets in 1 week, so I have removed that possibility and greatly reduced unnecessary washing.
Ask yourself if the grungy towels that your husband uses in the garage, or the old ones you keep for really nasty messes really need to be neatly folded. For me the answer is no, I’d rather spend that time doing just about anything else. In our house, these get tossed unfolded into the drawer pedestal under the washing machine. Underwear? It’s just going to get all jumbled up in the kids’ drawers anyway, so why take the time to fold it neatly for the trip to the drawer. Same story with the pajamas.
I hate matching up socks and I have given it up. Out of the laundry pile, all kids socks get thrown unmatched into a basket kept by the back door by the basket of shoes. I try to always buy the same kind, same brand when it’s time to restock so they all match each other. The kids pull out 2 socks as they get ready in the morning…no need to waste my time playing matchmaker.
I know many people will want a fresh towel after every shower, and I get that, but if you had a towel that disinfected itself after each use, you could use it all week before needing to wash it. These Norwex Bath Towels have silver, which is antibacterial and antimicrobial, embedded into each fiber so as it dries, it actually purifies. If each person has a double hook in the bathroom for their 2 towels, then this also means towels don’t need to be folded, just hung up on the hooks after being washed.
Having less to wash means having less to wash. Maybe if the pile was smaller, we wouldn’t get so overwhelmed by it. If my kids have clothes all over the floor of their room and closet, then maybe they have too many clothes. Do I really need 4 navy cardigans? I think having too many clothes may cause us to take clothes for granted and therefore not keep track of them and not take care of them. One of my kids left his jacket at school and said it was okay because he had another one he could wear…I heard, “Since I have another one, I don’t really need to take care of that one.” We have too much and others don’t have enough, so let’s donate the extras.
When laundry comes out of the dryer, all of the items that we do not fold (towels, pajamas, underwear) get thrown unfolded into each family member’s basket. The socks go straight to the sock basket by the back door. Only what’s left gets folded or hung on a hanger to be put away. Each family member can put away their laundry, even our 6 year old. We have these baskets in or laundry room. They slide out and have handles for carrying them to the rooms to be unloaded.
These 3 little guys reduce static as they lift and separate your clothes in the dryer making the laundry dry in less time using less energy. Yay! Bonus: you can stop buying dryer sheets and fabric softener which contain some of the most toxic chemicals found in the home. These chemicals are bad for everyone and the environment, but especially anyone with allergies, asthma, or eczema.
When the pile is big and overwhelming, turn on some music, get yourself in an easy-going state of mind and have fun doing the laundry together. Talk while you fold, this could be good non-eye-contact one-on-one time to talk to your son. Hang out while you hang clothes. Just because laundry is a chore doesn’t mean it has to be a bore. Some of the best moments in life can happen when we are doing daily tasks.
I’m certainly not claiming to have this all figured out, but this helps me feel a little less overwhelmed by the laundry mountain and I hope it helps you too! Let me know if you have any other ways to handle this never-ending chore.
I have never heard of drier balls before, what a great idea! And since I usually have to restart the drier to get the load all the way dry I would imagine these would save on the electric bill if they helped my laundry get dry on the first cycle.
I’m also with you on not folding everything. Definitely don’t fold underwear, and I also don’t fold any of my kids’ clothes because they are 2 and 4 so when they get something out of a drawer they toss the whole thing looking for it anyway.
Thanks Jordan! You are right, Dryer Balls DO save money on the electric bill since they help your clothes dry about 30% faster!
I love these tips! (And those dryer balls you mentioned. We love ours!)
We have greatly reduced the number of clothes we have (except for my husband, who needs work clothes and casual clothes)–teaching my girls not to throw EVERYTHING into the dirty pile (especially that sweatshirt they only wore for 20 minutes) has made everything easier. Why not use everything we have and skip the waste?
Thanks! Your tip about not putting clean clothes in the dirty clothes pile is definitely something my kids still try to do…we need to work on that!
Jessica, you’ve got some fun and innovative ideas here! We had the sock basket as well – now that my kids are grown we actually just got rid of it. My bad was that I still had socks from when my youngest was little in there! I’ve found those old socks make great rags for dusting, etc. I also like the idea of minimizing as much as possible! As a society, we accumulate TOO MUCH and if we really thought about it so much of it is disposable. Like your son and his jacket. Great idea to keep it fun! I often said the only way to get TV time was to fold laundry while you watched. Sometimes they were super slow getting it done – dragging it out for a specific show, but it was a good way to teach them about working and getting things done. Great post!
Oooh, I love that idea of having them do laundry while (and in order to have the privilege of) watching TV! Thank you!
I’m a total weirdo. I actually enjoy doing the laundry. I’ve found that the key to staying on top of it is making sure it is all done on the same day. So, every day I do at least one load, dry it, fold it, and put it away. I have two kids (2 & 7 months) so we have a fair amount of laundry. There are plenty of chores I don’t enjoy, but doing the laundry is oddly satisfying for me. 😛
I had no idea people were bathing with a new towel every night in their own house. I also didn’t know people were wearing a clean pair of pjs every night. I would go insane with that amount of laundry!
Great tips! To add to tip #2, I have started rolling alot of clothes. So much faster than folding and looks neater in the drawer. I picked up this tip from the Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. I roll my kids pajamas, husbands undershirts, and all our tshirts.
My first answer to doing less laundry was to teach all my kids to do their OWN laundry at age 8. Taped simple, easy to read directions – with pictures – above the washer & dryer. Amazing how quickly they learned to wear their clothes more than once. Also keep the doors to their rooms closed. THEY are responsible for cleaning their own rooms. I too buy socks & underwear: one style, brand and color for each child .
My biggest question is: why don’t the new dryers DRY clothes. Doesn’t matter the brand … They don’t dry, break easily, and in general VERY expensive pieces of junk!!!!