Laundry Lessons

There is no way to make it funny or glamorous. Laundry is simply a fact of life, especially when you have children and even more especially when you have little children. My 2 year old goes through two outfits a day at the very least. Plus we cloth diaper. And we use cloth napkins and rags. And of course there are two other children and two adults….and an assortment of animals. It’s a lot and, not going to lie, I hate it. I still hate it, but I’ve figured some things out…

After my second was born I had two kids under 18 months, both in cloth diapers, and my husband was working and traveling an insane amount. And I had no family around, no help (paid or otherwise). Laundry sort of became a barometer to my mental state…when I had my act together, I was on top of laundry. The more I started to lose my sh*t, the more the laundry got out of control. And it was a vicious cycle because the more the laundry piled up, the crazier I felt — I couldn’t even control the pile of laundry, how could I be expected to control my life and raise two little kids?!?

I’ll save you all the boring details and all the things that didn’t work for me (one whole day for laundry = HELL!) and just tell you what is working for us…

  1. The kids clothes all go in one basket and I wash them all together. I do not separate. I don’t have time and, frankly, they are kids’ clothes, they are going to be a hot mess after a few wearings anyway. The only exception is my son’s white school uniform shirts (I’ll get to that). I wash when the basket gets full. I happened to get lucky on the first hamper purchase – it holds exactly the perfect amount to fill my large capacity front loader (it’s a big hamper, I’ll find a link and update – HERE IT IS). I wash their clothes probably about every 5 days. Generally I start it in the morning, flip to the dryer whenever I actually remember (for working parents, this would be when you get home), and then I fold them all after the kids are in bed. In the morning I put away what they cannot.
  2. Cloth diapers – I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone and it certainly depends on how many diapers you have (if you have less, you wash more often, but you also can’t just have 60 and not wash for a week or they will stink for eternity). The key to cloth diaper washing, for me, is to start the wash as I go to bed since it takes a lot longer (I do a prewash, wash, and rinse). Then I switch them to the dryer first thing in the morning and then put them away whenever I either need clean diapers or need the dryer! (ha!)
  3. Towels, cloth napkins, and rags – as needed but this gets done about twice a week. Hot water, but I can do a quicker wash and dry on the hottest setting, so it’s quick.  Husband is in charge of folding and putting these away – he does it while watching sports.
  4. Whites – once a week I do a small load of just whites…my son’s uniform shirts, socks, underwear, that sort of thing.
  5. My clothes all get washed together, except whites (see above). I seriously refuse to buy anything that cannot be washed in the washing machine (with the exception of a few special occasion things which get dry cleaned). Many of my things do hang dry. I wash once a week for me.
  6. My husband is in charge of his own laundry. This has been life-changing. Seriously. Laundry is bad enough without having to feel like I’ve failed when he wants something that isn’t clean or I shrink a new shirt that I didn’t realize needed to be hung to dry. He does laundry once a week as well (his work clothes go to the cleaners, which is also his responsibility).
  7. Sheets – I change all bed sheets on Sunday and I can get them all into two loads, which I do back-to-back and then just put the same sheets on the bed. I do have a second set for each bed, but why waste time folding?!

That’s it. It isn’t a “schedule” and it isn’t life changing, and yet…it is. I somehow seem to have the laundry part of my life under control these days (even if I have nothing else under control!). It probably averages to one load a day, but I prefer to do two loads in one day (I’m already in the laundry room, might as well) and then I have every other day “laundry free”, which is just mentally nice. If I start it in the morning, switch it at some random point, and fold immediately after the kids go to bed, it doesn’t feel like such an overwhelming chore. I don’t buy clothes that are “high maintenance” and I don’t stress if my kids have a stain that won’t come out (which reminds me, I should have purchased stock in stain remover when I first had kids!).

I see this topic come up over and over again in all the mom groups I belong to, so I know I’m not alone in 1. hating laundry and 2. feeling overwhelmed by it. I say figure out what works for you, try to streamline, and delegate, whether that’s kids or partner helping. Good luck!

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