Instead, I’m talking about laundry because laundry is something everyone can pretty much agree upon. Everyone has laundry. Not everyone loves doing laundry.
It’s inevitable that large families will have tons of laundry. Kids who love to get messy outside, kids with special needs who regularly need changes of clothing due to reflux and accidents, then the regular ole laundry of daily clothing, hand towels, bath towels, etc., well, it’s a lot to keep up with.
I like the way our system works, so I thought I’d share it here in case it’s helpful to anyone out there who’s struggling to keep up with the never-ending mounds of laundry.
It helps tremendously that we have two washing machines and two dryers, but prior to this year, we operated with one of each.
We have one laundry room where we keep two bins for clothing. We only separate it into lights and darks to save time and to reduce laundry loads.
Every capable person in our family is responsible for putting his/her laundry into the correct laundry bin in the laundry room. No one is allowed to keep dirty laundry anywhere else—it must go into the laundry bins or it won’t get laundered.
To save time with sorting the laundry, each person must be responsible for making sure his/her laundry gets put into the correct bin of lights or darks. (This is not a no-fail system because inevitably someone puts an item into the wrong bin, but for the most part, this saves gobs of sorting time.)
To help the kids facilitate the sorting process, I made a color coded sorting chart and taped it to the front of each laundry bin.
The labels are crooked and the Contact paper has bubbles in it, but, hey, it gets the job done!
Since we have a two-story home and our laundry room is upstairs (where all of our bedrooms are and most of the clothes-changing occurs), I keep smaller containers on the stairs to collect various laundry throughout the day. When we have a dirty washrag or a dirty sock or a dirty bib during the day, instead of running it upstairs to the laundry bins, we toss it into one of these containers on the stairs. (The containers on the stairs are just shoe-box sized clear containers that we set on the bottom two steps of our stairs, out of the way of traffic.) At the end of the day, my hubby takes the containers to our laundry room for me. Love him.
Every morning, I toss the bin of darks into one washing machine and the bin of lights into the other washing machine. At or before lunch (lunch is the reminder in case we forget!), both wet loads get tossed into the dryers. By early afternoon, the laundry’s ready to be folded.
Each of the older girls has taken turns as the laundry folding person, but recently Naomi (age 20) volunteered to always fold the laundry and deliver it. What a blessing this has been!
I labeled laundry baskets with the names of each person in our family to assist with the task of sorting laundry as it’s folded. Each basket has two names on it, coordinated by who shares bedrooms/closets. As Naomi folds a piece of laundry, she sets it into the proper owner’s basket. Then, once the last piece of laundry is folded, all of the clean laundry is already sorted and ready to be delivered.
Each basket is delivered to the appropriate bedroom, and it is the laundry owner’s responsibility to put his/her laundry away every evening. I put away the laundry for Selah, Cooper, and Conner since they’re unable to do this chore.
Then a new day comes and so does a new round of laundry. I’ve found that if I don’t do laundry daily, I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up and can’t ever get on top of the laundry loads. For us, one day of laundry fills the bin of darks and half fills the bin of lights, but I can’t wait to wash the lights because much of it is wet washrags that will mildew if not washed daily. (We use white washrags to clean each of our little ones’ faces and hands after each meal, as well as to wipe down the table and countertops after each meal.)
Towels/linens are laundered once per week in the afternoons, once the regular daily laundry bins are moved from the washer to the dryer. I don’t have a set day for towels/linens because of my crazy schedule with doctor’s appointments and therapies. I just do it whenever I have an afternoon at home and it works fine for us.
I’d love to hear your laundry tips—leave a comment!