Have you ever read the old book Pyjamas Don’t Matter by Trish Gibbon? You might be able to borrow it from the library, but the title alone gives you the idea of the content. (More about this at the end of this blog)
OK, let’s tackle the subject of family laundry (Dun dun duuunnnnn).
There’s just SO much of it. All the time! It never stops, like all the other kinds of housework. And it’s so time consuming!
Can’t find a spot to sit in your lounge because everything is covered in piles of laundry waiting to be folded? Shoving clean, dry washing onto the floor with all the dirty stuff, just so you can fall into bed? Or maybe you are simply sick of putting on load, after load, after load, of dirty washing.
Or the perpetual piles of stuff that needs to be sorted and folded makes you feel completely drained of the will to live…
Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered from various sources over the last few years of helping mums and dads get organised.
This is your opportunity to choose your Laundry Sanity over Cute Outfits (which they’ll grow out of in what seems like minutes!)
First, catch up on any backlog of washing. It might take a whole day get everything clean, dry and put away, but it’s a great place to start.
Start getting rid of A LOT. I mean, shed-those-kids-clothes. Donate, donate, donate.
Most kids only need one outfit per day. Babies and mucky toddlers need more. Just enough to last until the next wash. You’ll know exactly how many you really need and how many you’re keeping just because they’re cute.
Get each kid their own colour socks, undies and sheets. Just what they need to make it to the next wash. It’s easier to pair things and so much easier to separate washing.
It’s ok to have empty drawer space. Make it a rule that you only have so much of each kind of clothing so it fits in that one box or cubby or drawer.
The less you have, the less you have to manage.
Train Your Team.
Even 4 year olds can help with laundry. Make it part of your kids daily and weekly routine.
Some mum’s will not do laundry for kids over a certain age. If they want clean clothes, or a certain outfit they have to do it themselves. Radical huh?
You know your kids, you can decide when your kids are at the right age to be able to put their dirty clothes in a basket instead of the floor. Or match up socks. Or any other part of the laundry process.
It’s like learning to pick up after themselves, it’s all about training them to become part of the Home Team. It’s also all part of teaching kids life skills, how to become functional, independent adults.
Simplify Your Systems.
The laundry space.
The laundry always comes in last. It’s a rare house that has a fully equipped laundry room.
So here’s an idea. If you have loads of washing and a big family, prioritise your laundry space. Take over a whole wall in the garage. Install shelving in an area nearby. Install hooks for baskets on a wall nearby. Put in racks and cubbies and boxes to help you get organised.
Everyone gets a basket in their room. Their dirty clothes go into it, then when the wash is done their clean clothes go back into one of the baskets and back into their room to be put away.
Or there are fixed baskets in your laundry, one for each person or type of clean washing. Put washing straight from the dryer or clothes line into those baskets. They can help themselves if they need something. They know where to look. When you can, take the clothes from each persons basket straight to their room to put away.
Partners can have their own washing basket and do their own washing too.
Wash every day. Finish each load from dirty to put-away before starting the next load. Even if it’s only a small load, it’ll be much easier to manage than tackling one or two huge loads a week.
Or wash as often as possible and distribute the clean clothes into bins for each person, then once a week take all the clothes for that person to their room to put away.
Or teach your kids to do their own washing from dirty to put-away on a specific day.
Taking off the line.
Un-peg (or sort straight from the dryer) and put dry clothes straight into a basket for each person. Then take the basket straight to their room so they can put their clothes away themselves. (If they don’t, it’s all there in the basket. They know where to look.)
Or sort into piles per person straight from the line or dryer and take it into their room.
(See Folding below.)
Stop it. Toss everything in boxes, bins or drawers, divided into the type of clothing. One box or bin for shorts, one for undies one for socks. Best clothes get hung up, and anything that wrinkles too (see Hanging.)
Or fold straight from the line or dryer into a basket then take it straight to that persons room to be put away.
Or make a folding date for yourself – watch your fav TV show or listen to a podcast. Make it a rule to fold as much as you can in the time you’ve given yourself.
Almost anything can be put on hangers. Kids can learn to do it themselves or it can be done straight from the washing machine or dryer. Invest in good quality hangers.
Or avoid buying (or accepting as gifts) anything that wrinkles (see Folding & Ironing.)
Or teach your kids how to hang their own clothes.
Avoid buying or accepting as gifts anything that needs ironing (unless you love ironing with a passion).
Or put anything that wrinkles on hangers, straight from the washing machine, and hang up to dry.
Or pull everything out of the dryer as soon as the cycle ends, wrinkles will drop out if you hang them while still warm.
If you’ve avoided wrinkle-prone materials, tossing things into their assigned container is going to make putting away much faster and easier. Especially baby clothes, make sure it’s all soft no-wrinkle fabric that washes easily. There’s no need to fold, iron or otherwise add to your workload.
Get your kids to put away their own clothes. Cute cubbies and boxes in colours your kids like will make putting things away so much easier for them. They can just toss them in or fold if they like.
Assign a place for each kind of clothing for each kid. If you have a lot less than you used to have, drawers will still work fine.
While you’re at it, teach your kids to hang up towels and make their own beds!
If you break it all down into small chunks of time or effort, family laundry will feel a lot more manageable. And if everyone pitches in and does their share, you’ll avoid laundry burnout, resentment and wishing you could burn it all to ashes.
Ps: Pyjama’s Don’t Matter is a nifty phrase to remember – it’s shorthand for : perfection is not required when raising happy healthy kids.