It’s a battle every mom fights daily, no matter how many children she has in the home. The sorting, the stain treating, the washing, and remembering to dry before the wet clothes mold. The folding, the putting away, the hanging. And then there is always that one kid -uh hum, my seven-year-old- that will put clean clothes into the dirty clothes hamper to keep from putting them away. There is no denying that laundry is a BEAST.
Over the years, I’ve used a few different methods for taming the Beast, based on my family size and routine at the time. These methods are not fail proof for every family, and by no means the only ways to fight the battle.
1. For the mom with very young children: One basket a day keeps the laundry monster away!
This method worked well for me when I had one child who was too young to help. It was simple really. Each day I would wash, dry, fold, and put away one basket of laundry. I wouldn’t start another load that day, it’d just wait for the next day. First thing in the morning, I’d start the wash. Lunch time was an easy reminder to switch the laundry over to the drier. When my daughter napped in the mid-afternoon, I’d watch daytime TV while folding and putting away the laundry. Unless we had an unusually busy week and many days away from home, the laundry never got backed up. I could still use this method (maybe doing TWO complete loads instead of just one), but I prefer the next method for this season in my life.
2. For the mom with slightly older small kids: Divide and Conquer!
This method works well with pre-school and elementary-aged children. I wash and dry laundry as needed. When there are three baskets of clean laundry, it’s time for my kids to get busy! I dump the clothes on the couch, put three empty baskets on the floor, and they sort the clothes – one basket each for my two girls and one basket for my husband’s and my clothes. When the sorting is done, my seven-year-old independently folds and puts away all of her clothing. There are extra steps for my four-year-old, whom I consider to be in “laundry training.” She further sorts her clothes into jammies, undies, shirts, bottoms, and dresses. I fold each pile, and she puts them into the correct drawers in her dresser. She puts her dresses on hangers, and I hang them for her. Soon, she’ll be responsible for her own clothes (can I get an AMEN!). Both girls have the ability to fold the towels, but I usually just get it done quickly while they sort the rest of the laundry. Generally, I get around to folding my husband’s and my clothes late at night while catching up on favorite shows.
3. For the mom with tweens and teens: Every man for himself!
This is how I remember doing laundry when I was a teenager in my parents’ house. My sister and I each had a basket in our rooms. It was our responsibility to bring our dirty clothes to the laundry room and then go get our clean clothes from the laundry room to put away. If we didn’t, we didn’t have clothes to wear to school! We were lucky that our mom found it easier to just wash and dry all the clothes herself, but we certainly had the ability to do it. I’m sure that as my girls mature, we’ll adopt some version of this method.