Laundry Overload - Finding more time for you, and being ok with it.
One thing that I am sure to see in 80% of the homes that I walk into, is at least 1 or more laundry baskets full of clean laundry. That, or a significant pile of dirty laundry on the floor. It's nothing to be ashamed of, so get that out of your head for starters. There's no need to apologize as soon as I walk in because if the laundry situation, that your busy self hasn't had time to do. I get it. I WAS that person. But now I'm not, and I'm here to help you not be that person either.
As Moms, it's hard to know how much you can & should ask your children to do. So let me make this easy for you. If they can dress themselves, they can help you! There, wasn't that easy?
I taught Kindergarten for 5 years, and Pre-K for an additional 5. As a teacher, the State dictates what you will teach the children in the classroom. But guaranteed, one of the major things they want Kindergarteners to learn, is to be independent, and capable, and to have pride in themselves for their abilities. Are they going to do it right the first 15 times? No, probably not. But this is the PERFECT age to teach them. Their brains are like sponges. So let's get you some free time, shall we?
In my house, I now have an 11 yr old & a 13 yr old. But I have been doing this since my daughter was 3 years old. It builds confidence. It builds work ethic over time. It teaches them responsibility. And what's more, they LIKE doing it! Kids are natural people pleasers. They want to see Mommy or Daddy proud, and they eat that stuff UP!
So here's how this family rolls...
It takes all sorts
We have 4 square baskets that are labeled as follows:
Blacks & Reds
Jeans & Greys
Colors & Darks
Whites & Lights
Every night, every person in the household is responsible for putting THEIR clothes in the correct basket. They wore them right? They want them to be clean for the next time right? This is something you can start with kids as soon as they know their colors! There, one chore off your list.
Before they put their clothes in the laundry, they check for stains, and spray them. Yep, all by themselves! Novel idea right?! I can tell you one thing, it made my step-son rethink his eating habits since he doesn't like having to clean up after himself! When sprayed, they hang them up on a simple sign I made. This visually reminds me to check those clothes when they come out of the washer before putting them in the dryer, and setting that stain in!
It all comes out in the wash
Do depending on your kids ages, and how much control you're willing to relinquish. However, if they are at least 10, they are fully capable of following instructions, whether they be verbal or written & hung on the wall. And here's where the labeled baskets are your best friends...they just pick up the basket and dump them in the washer! No sorting required. No touching other people's dirty skivvies! It's great, even for US! (Side bar; When I blended families I was a little grossed out by touching little boys underwear, I'm not going to lie!)That only leaves the teaching time. Show them the appropriate amount of soap & fabric softener. If you want, take a Sharpie and mark on the measuring cup where you want them to fill it to. And ok, if you're not ready to relinquish control of the washer yet, (which can be a scary experiment!) let's at least start out by letting them switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Baby steps right?!
AH! My favorite! The best decision I ever made. (Well, it's at least in my top10 favorite time savers in my home lol!) The clothes dump. Yep. I don't fold a single item of clothing! Not one. Nor do I sort it into each persons pile. Nope, not this busy Mom, Wife, & Business owner.
Hence the dump. I used to sort everyone's clothes into piles, meticulously fold everything, and carry it carefully to their rooms so as not to spill the pile. Here they would come to put their laundry away, then they proceeded to grab things willy-nilly like and throw them in a drawer. Folding alone took at least an hour. Level of frustration: I'd say about a 5.
Things to remember when you quit: The house WILL get worse before it gets better. The laundry will pile up. The dishes will all be dirty. There will be complaints for food. You will watch little pieces of paper, the odd leaf, a piece of string and many other foreign items accumulate on the floor in front of your throne.
But there you shall sit. On your throne, on strike. And your family won't believe you mean it, until you let them know that that is where your royal hiney shall remain until people start showing appreciation by respecting what you do for them. And while you sit on thy throne, this is where you shall come to the realization, that you are not required to do everything in your home. You have other able bodied people in your home, THEIR home, that are perfectly capable of lending a hand and their time to maintaining the home that you all enjoy together. And this is where delegation will begin to become acceptable in your head, ideas will flow & your life will begin the simplifying process.
Now I dump. As clothes come out of the dryer, they less than graciously get dumped onto the floor outside the laundry room (on the nice clean carpet that my husband vacuumed that morning) where each person then comes and pulls out their own clothes and puts them away themselves. GOODBYE LAUNDRY BASKETS FULL OF CLEAN CLOTHES! Not this house. Not this Mom! And guess what? I also eliminated folding any shirts. Hangers from the dollar store are your friend. Your almost best friend. Ok, maybe that's a reach, but you get what I'm saying, right?!? The only thing that gets folded is pants. And when they get one of those pesky no-match socks, there's another simple handy-dandy sign in the laundry room for those suckers too!
And there's that. You just gained a couple of hours back for yourself every week. Chances are, you will fill it doing some other kind of chore, but the goal here, is to learn to delegate. Organization comes in many forms. Divvying up the work when possible is essential to your sanity. Throughout my blogs, you will find many suggestions that work in my home, and work in the homes of the clients I work with. That's not to say that every suggestion will work for you. Nor does it mean that you have to follow the suggestions to a tee. Adapt them. Come up with your own. But let's do this. Let's simplify your life, one step at a time...