Once upon a time you had a task that occurred approximately twice a month, perhaps less. It could be delayed in the event of laziness, unexpected fun plans, a bad hair day. There was little real consequence to procrastinating. It was a necessary inconvenience but could also be completed and checked off the to do list with relative ease, not thought of again for at least a week.
Laundry Day: Haul all the dirty clothes to the laundry room and dedicate hours to getting it all washed and dried in one setting.
Do you know the very first step to managing laundry without gut wrenching angst? Saying goodbye to laundry as project or goal (as in, I really need to catch up on laundry this Saturday) and accepting it as a daily task. Laundry Day is for college and single life. If you want your home to function smoothly, you must make peace with this truth. Just as dishes must be done every day, laundry must be tackled consistently.
Heart check is step two, as any daily act of service will expose ugly parts of our hearts. At one particularly low point in my busiest season of motherhood I recall distinctly needing to have my perspective changed. I was so resentful of every load I washed, dried and folded I was turning into a Scarlett O’Hara worthy martyr. We had four children and two adults, equalling around 14 loads a week. It wasn’t pretty. As I began to pray for God to renew my spirit with a desire to serve my family, God kindly showed me reasons to be grateful for all those dirty clothes. It wasn’t anything revolutionary- just a reminder of truths I had lost in the piles of dirty underwear and stinky jeans.
Hey, see all those clothes? They are here because the people you love the most are here- alive. Healthy. Out there moving and sweating and living. You only lose the clothes if you lose the people.
Ahem. Additude adjusted. For that moment.
But without a solid system to tackle that daily beast, it’s so easy to head back down the path of complaining and misery. So, the last step for managing laundry is: find 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every night. For real and for serious girls, the whole entire system is a 15 minute, twice a day plan. Now if you, like most women, have some crazy pile of unfolded but clean laundry, you are going to stop washing any clothes on day one and two, if necessary. You will just take your 15 minutes to fold. Once all currently clean clothes are folded, you begin by throwing one load into the washer in the morning. (That first day will only take about 5 minutes in the morning) In the evening you transfer wash to dryer, and start one new load and go to bed.
The next morning, you will need the full 15 minutes. Set a timer- I promise you won’t need more. Open the dryer and fold the clothes right from the dryer and stack them on either the top of the dryer or in an empty laundry basket. Next you transfer the wash to the now empty dryer and start another load in the wash. Then walk away.
In the evening you repeat the entire process. So in one day you will have two loads of clean and folded laundry. You will always have a load waiting to be folded and a load ready for the dryer. How you get the clothes put away is up to you. In our house, my kids are big enough to put up their own laundry, so I have them come collect it once a stack gets too tall to keep adding to. I put away mine and the hubs. You can decide based on your family if it is better to delegate that part or do it yourself. But either way, the system keeps you with a constant supply of newly washed clothing, it takes a total of 30 minutes a day and it prevents the massive piles of unfolded clean clothes from taking over your dining room table or couch.
The hardest part is to stop washing so many loads. You have to force yourself to do each part of the laundry process in one 15 minute segment, instead of washing and drying all day but procrastinating on the folding. The other tip to make it more efficient is chose the same 15 minutes every day. Mine is first thing while I drink my coffee, and right before I start cooking dinner. That part is totally up to you and on days when your routine is not normal, you can always vary your timing, but I have found it helps build the habit if you find a regular time every morning and evening.
That’s it. You will always have dirty clothes, but with this method you will always have clean clothes as well. What you get to lose- Laundry Drama.