So, let’s talk about how to do laundry as a mom. Because our strategy has to COMPLETELY change to stay in control of the dirty clothes in our home!
One of the biggest stressors among stay-at-home moms today is the belief that when their young kids are awake, mommy needs to check out of her other responsibilities and simply focus on them. Then, during their nap(s), she runs herself ragged trying to quickly get the rest of her life done.
I remember when my first, Heidi, was a baby, every time she woke up I would sit in her room with her and make funny faces, sing songs, read books, help her play with toys, etc. When she napped, I would literally do EVERYTHING else!
Now my third, Charlie, is five months old, and his infancy is looking a LOT different than his older sister’s! I have learned that it is important for mommy to be able to spread out her innumerable responsibilities over more time. But just as important is the fact that our kids NEED to learn the skills of self-entertaining, diligence, work ethic, and begin to learn how to carry their weight and take care of the home. I speak on this topic more in this post: (LINK)
My #1 tip in having a stress-free laundry experience is to hold out our two hands, one metaphorically filled with “kid stuff” and the other filled with “everything else”, and SMASH them together! Let us change our worldview so that we now view “everything else” as the perfect learning opportunities for our children. Teach them from the start that they can not sit on the sidelines when it come to work, serving, and caring about what is going on around them.
And it is time for us moms to realize that it is not our responsibility to do “everything else” once our kids our at an age that they can start helping!
When you are viewing laundry time (and just about every other chore in the house) as a great learning opportunity for your kids it is much easier to put it on the front burner with things like math and reading. Learning chores and responsibility is truly one of the most important parts of their education!
My Simple System
My second biggest tip to reduce laundry stress is to SCHEDULE IT!
No more flying by the seat of your pants…walking by the laundry basket and realizing it is overflowing…starting a load one morning and then noticing the next morning that it is STILL in the washing machine, so you start it again…
The first step to a laundry schedule is to figure out how often you will need to do laundry. We have a very large washer/dryer set so I am able to just do one load every other day. I believe it is best to shoot for no more then one load a day if at all possible. More then one load makes it easy for that stress feeling doesn’t creep back in.
The last step is to COMMIT! Put it in the category of feeding your kids breakfast, brushing your teeth, or putting on makeup for the day – ok, that last one might have been a bad example for some of us…but you get the idea. There are always going to be 101 other things you can think to do during that time. But if you want to think of laundry in non-stressful way, you NEED to stick to your schedule. You will be surprised how little time it will actually take out of your day!
What this looks like:
So, this is what my laundry schedule looks like:
- 7am – After the kids clean their room/make their beds/get dressed for the day I have them bring all of the clothes from their dirty clothes basket into my room. Then we take everything down to the basement laundry area. They hand me the dirty laundry, piece by piece, while I check for stains and apply any treatment needed. Then we start the load!
- 9am-12pm – Because I don’t do more then one load a day, there is no rush to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. But I do set a deadline of lunchtime because it’s right after lunch the kids nap. Since they help me with all the housework I am able to set naptime aside for lunch and computer work. So, whenever we have a free moment before lunch, the older two kids and myself head back down to the basement and form an assembly line passing each article from the washer to the dryer.
- 4:30pm – I start making dinner at 5pm so folding/putting away laundry fits in right before that. I allow myself 30 minutes but it usually doesn’t even take that long. So, by the end of the day, laundry probably takes me a max of 40 minutes. That is just 2-ish hours a week spent doing laundry WHILE also teaching my kids all of the valuable lessons I mentioned earlier!
But you are probably wondering how I get all the folding/putting away done in under 30 minutes. I don’t. The only clothes that I fold or put away are mine and my husband’s.
As I explain to you all of the things I have taught my kids to do, I want to refer you back to a post I wrote on how I did that (LINK) and a reminder that initially, it will take extra work…but it will quickly pay off!
One shortcut I took, even before my kids were old enough to help me, is that I don’t fold their clothes. I make sure none of them are inside out and hang up their fancy “church” clothes. The rest are simply put into their drawers. Why? Because no matter how nicely you fold them, two minutes after they put them on, they look exactly as if they haven’t been folded.
By the time their clothes need to be folded, they will be old enough to do that effectively. But for now, I have simply taught them to turn their clothes right-side-out and separate them into piles of clothing type so they will be easier to put away.
I also taught them to fold rags/dish towels/hand towels and where they belong.
So, at 4:30, I dump the load of laundry onto the floor in our guest bedroom. We all dive in and take out our own clothes. Then we each do our own version of folding. Because their “folding” is a lot simpler than mine, they fold the rags/dish towels/hand towels while I finish folding my clothes. Then I put away mine and my husband’s clothes while the kids put away everything they folded.
Then they head downstairs to pick an activity out of the “activity closet” to do while I start dinner. Now, did that sound stressful? Not a bit!
Bonus Tip: Ironing Station
For those of you that do your own ironing, this is for you!
It used to be that I would just let the ironing build up. When my husband started to hint that he was running out of clothes, I would try to find basically an entire afternoon to do it. By that point it was something I was truly dreading.
The next thing I tried was assigning it to one day a week, to make it a little more manageable. But there were still a lot of clothes to do by that point. Too many to be done during one naptime. It still wasn’t working out.
Well, my next scheduling attempt hit the bullseye!
Just like when you are determining how often to do laundry, you need to find your own sweet spot. Consider how many articles your family produces that need ironing throughout the week. Then divide that general number by six or seven (I don’t iron on Sundays so I divided it by six). For me, I have found that if I do two articles a day I stay on top of it.
The next step is to find a dependable time during your day when you can COMMIT to doing it. Charlie wakes up 30-45 minutes before my older two, so that is when I put it on the schedule. That is not saying that it takes me that long, I’m usually ironing for about 10-15 minutes.
I say again, if you break things down and fit them into your schedule, you will be surprised how little time they take!
My final two tips:
- Buy a quality iron. I have owned several different irons and have found that a quality iron can cut the time in half! Here is a link to the one I purchased a few months ago that has blown me away. (LINK)
- If you have an extra corner in a low-traffic area, set aside an “ironing station”. It is so much easier to not talk myself into skipping the ironing during the day if I don’t even have to get out the iron or set up the board. I have it set up in our guest room (whenever we don’t have guests staying over, of course) so I literally just have to turn on the iron, spend 10-15min ironing, and then turn it off again!
That is all the tips I have in the laundry arena. But if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, let me know! Thank you!