Sock monkeys

Maybe laundry is loads of fun if you are thinking about the fun you had making the clothes so dirty.  Maybe it’s fun if you are planning what you’ll do to soil them next.  Maybe just the idea of banishing wrinkles brings a smile to your face.

Not mine.

Laundry is that to-do item that never. gets. checked. off.  If you were to return to the garden state and have everyone naked and unashamed for the day, you could actually “finish” laundry.

We cannot return to the garden state (unless you are planning a trip to New Jersey).  We have to wear – and maintain – clothing in this post-fall, pre-glorification world.

And, while I feel a little bit funny about writing a post about sorting laundry, a friend just asked me to write this post, so here goes!

I should preface this by saying that my mother did teach me the proper way to sort when I was growing up.  We took our laundry baskets on wash day and sorted darks, lights, and whites into individual piles.  We added those piles of whites to all the other people’s whites and washed them with hot water all by themselves.  The darks, too.  Cold water, like colors.  I know this is how you sort clothes.

But, it doesn’t work for me.  There are not enough hours in the day to do all of the laundry for nine people in a single day.

So, in comes FlyLady with her plan to tackle Mount Washmore.  A Load a Day… that idea works for us!

But, we are minimalists regarding what we keep in our closets, and I have not been able to produce a spreadsheet that allows for the right things to be clean at the right time for everyone to have a whole outfit to wear on the same day if we sort by color and weight of fabric and do laundry on multiple days.

So, in today’s world of color-fast, pre-shrunk clothing, we sort by – drum roll, please –  person (for the kids, anyway).

That’s right.  All colors.  All weights of fabric.  All in the same load.  All clean at once.

In a family our size, it helps to have a high capacity washer.

  • We have assigned unique laundry basket for every two kids to share – one bigger kid and one littler one.
  • Each pair of children unfolds their collars, straightens their socks, unrolls cuffs, and empties pockets before their clothes go into the wash (any treasures left behind are mine – baaaah haaaa haaaa ha!)
  • On their assigned day at bedtime, that bigger kid loads the entire load into the washer, adds soap, and hits start.
  • Later that night I switch the load to the dryer, and when it beeps, my husband and I fold the clothes and deliver the basket back to the room in question.
  • The next morning, they load their shelf with the delivered clothes and they are ready for the week.

I will say that Mike and I have a sorting hamper in our closet – we sort whites, colors (light and dark) and wrinkle clothes (anything that needs to get out of the dryer immediately so that I don’t have to iron).  When we change the kids’ load, we start one of ours.

Thursday mornings we wash everyone’s sheets WITH PAJAMAS.  Since laundry happens at night, PJ’s would otherwise be left unwashed.  Plus, having sheets and PJ’s clean on the same day kind of makes sense.

Fridays we do towels. All of our towels are white, so it’s an easy load to toss in – no sorting required. (The towels are solid white, but each child’s towel has their name embroidered in their favorite color and a grosgrain hanging loop that matches. The thread & ribbon are bleach-safe.  It does add a little element of fun!)

Oh – and one other little item.  At 13, our kids graduate to doing their own laundry – start.to.finish.  So our teens get out of the “paired baskets” and into their own.  Really their clothes are getting too large to fit with anyone else’s anyway.  And it’s a great age to have them start taking responsibility for their own possessions.

Just be sure to provide instruction for new responsibilities.  And it is important to pair added responsibility with added privilege. (There’s more on this in an upcoming post on “Milestones.”)

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Photo by Chambeshi