Laundry can be a huge time sucker and it’s the task many Moms dread most. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to help you tame the laundry beast.
Minimize the amount of laundry you do by creating new standards of “dirty”. If you wear a pair of jeans for two hours then put on your shorts, are the jeans dirty? Not in my house. Pajamas put on a clean body at night after a bath and worn once aren’t dirty either. Ditto for a towel that blots a freshly scrubbed body. Teach your kids that dirty means it has food or obvious dirt marks on it. The exception? Underwear of course!
Minimize sorting by putting a hamper in each bedroom that has 3 slots. One for whites, one for darks, one for mixed colors. For kids that are very young, try cutting out a large circle from construction paper for each category. Tape these on the wall above the hamper to show where to put each color. Alternately, you could buy inexpensive colored bins that match laundry colors.
Train your kids to bring you their dirty laundry at the beginning of each day or at some other time you choose. Don’t turn socks right side out for laundering. Show your family members how to take off their socks without bunching them into an inside out ball. If they don’t choose to listen to your sock lessons, let them turn their own socks right side out.
You may be able to minimize sorting even more by washing more clothes together. Many times light colors can go into the wash with mixed colors if you use cold water and the items aren’t brand new. Typically only cheap clothing fades anyway so buy your kid’s clothing from the nicer stores. It will last longer and wash well.
Some important questions to ponder: Do underwear need to be “folded” or can they be neatly placed flat in drawers? What about small T shirts and shorts? Do socks need to be matched up or can they be thrown into plastic boxes in a drawer and matched up by the wearer? Important questions, these!
In some homes, the person who dirties the laundry is responsible for taking the laundry to the washing up area. If clothing doesn’t make it there (meaning it’s stuffed under beds, in corners of closets or otherwise lying on the floor), it doesn’t get washed. Natural consequences work well for laundry. The first time your daughter doesn’t have her favorite shirt that she just has to wear to the mall, she’ll remember to get it to the laundry room. When hubby has no boxers, he may be motivated to get them in the hamper too. Developing “laundry on the floor blindness” is helpful for a Mom!
Older kids can be taught how to use the washing machine and dryer. Kids ages 2 and up can help with folding and getting clean laundry to their dressers. Even a toddler can “match corners” to fold washcloths and put their undies and socks in dresser drawers. Most youngsters think folding laundry is fun. Keep this myth going with them as long as humanly possible!
Some tasks don’t take longer to complete if you procrastinate a bit. Vacuuming, for instance, takes roughly the same amount of time to complete whether you do it daily or weekly. Laundry is not one of these chores. Doing a load of laundry a day is preferable to tackling a mountain of dirty clothes that have set in stains, bad odors and maybe even mildew. Be sure to finish the job completely- putting the load into the dryer quickly so the clothes don’t sour. Then remove from the dryer promptly for folding so they don’t wrinkle.
As long as we continue to eat, sweat and move about, we’ll have to deal with laundry. Hopefully these tips will help you spend a little less time dealing with the repercussions of being human!