Last week someone asked me how I handle our laundry.
While I am still working on some areas of my life, in the last year I have managed to come up with a system that works well for us and allows me to stay on top of the laundry situation.
Up until November or 2017, my dining room table was the dumping ground for laundry (and anything else people decided to put there).
The only time we ever used the table or that room to eat was on someone’s birthday or Thanksgiving.
It was perpetually a disaster.
Sometimes I’d manage to get everything folded only to have a kid swipe everything off the table and onto the floor because it still never actually got put away.
Last year I reached a breaking point, and I was no longer willing to live like that.
Not only was the dining room unusable, but we were forever searching for clothing and I was wasting a ridiculous amount of time.
Plus, I really wanted to use my dining room to eat, because I LOVE my dining room.
Besides my office, it’s my favorite room in the house.
So last November when we did the customary dining room clean out so we could eat Thanksgiving dinner in there, I committed to keeping the dining room clean.
And I have not reverted to my old ways at all.
We eat all of our meals in there.
Weekday breakfasts look like this:
Sometimes I even get to sit down with the kids in the morning before everyone heads off to school!
This was unheard of before!
This is where discipline equals freedom.
Staying on top of the laundry meant coming up with a system that works and then using the system all the time, no matter what.
But now my kids get to eat civilized meals every day, and sometimes I get to enjoy that with them.
So what did I do differently?
I committed to keeping all the laundry in the laundry room.
My laundry room is the back wall of my downstairs half bath.
It’s not big. At all.
But I am fortunate that it’s on the main floor and not in the basement, and it’s right off the kitchen.
So it’s not a pain in the ass to get to.
It’s currently in limbo as I wait for my husband to build me a custom set up that I’ve designed, but even with that, it still works very well for us.
It is not Pinterest pretty.
It actually looks awful.
But we are going for function over form right now.
Eventually it will look pretty.
But being efficient and functioning well is much more important to me right now than looking beautiful and finished.
Here is my bathroom:
My laundry area is that wall on the left side of the bathroom.
It’s not big at all.
Like I said, it’s under construction right now.
I have a table on top of a cabinet to make things work until I have my new system in place.
It’s not pretty, but it functions very well.
There are six baskets.
Numbers 3 through 7 each have their own basket, and one is mine.
Number 7 labeled them with everyone’s names on a piece of blue painter’s tape until I figure out how I want to label them looking pretty and fancy.
Number 1 and 2 aren’t living at home now, so they don’t have a basket, and my husband likes to do his own laundry, so he doesn’t have one either.
There is also a container under the basket on the left.
That is for random socks.
The room is so small I can’t move back far enough to get the whole wall in the picture.
Every morning my alarm goes off at 4 a.m.
I get up and walk into the kitchen. I have the coffee made the night before, and I pour myself a cup and then heat it up for a minute and forty five seconds in the microwave.
While the coffee is heating up, I walk around the corner to the bathroom where the washer and dryer are.
The dirty clothes container (an old Rubbermaid container — again, not pretty, but functional) is right outside the bathroom in the mudroom.
I take the dirty clothes that are in there and throw them in the washer.
Then I put on my workout clothes.
I keep my workout clothes in my laundry basket, and I put them on right away so I am ready to workout at 5 a.m. in my “workout room.”
All of this takes me about ninety seconds, and then my coffee is ready, and I take it into my office and get some work done until I start my workout at 5.
This is my routine. It’s totally a firmly established habit now.
After the kids get on the bus, I throw the clothes from the washer into the dryer.
If there are enough dirty clothes to do another load, I’ll throw it in the washer, but there is usually just one load a day.
I probably do about ten loads of laundry a week total.
In the summer the kids are responsible for sorting the laundry. During the school year they will sort it on the weekends and sometimes after school if it’s not a busy afternoon, or I’ll sort the laundry later in the morning from the dryer into everyone’s baskets. There is another laundry basket just outside the bathroom that I throw towels into for now, but eventually when the new set up is completed, that basket will also be in with the other baskets.
I try to fold towels right away. With four kids on the swim team we go through a lot of towels.
Since we leave for practice every afternoon from the mudroom door which is just a few feet away from this bathroom, I keep most of the towels folded right there so when the kids are packing up their swim bags they can just grab a towel from the top of the washer.
On the days we don’t have to rush out to swim practice, the kids take their baskets up to their rooms and put their clothes away, and then they bring the empty baskets back downstairs.
Doing this every day or every other day really prevents the laundry from getting out of control, and it only takes them a couple minutes.
Some of the kids are super neat about folding their clothes and fold them Marie Kondo-style (I taught them how to do that about a year ago).
Some of the kids just shove their stuff into their drawers.
I don’t force them to fold things a certain way, and I don’t check their drawers (but I do check their rooms).
This basket system works very well for us. And the kids really do most of the work.
It’s not the worlds prettiest set up, but it has kept my dining room table clutter-free for thirteen months now.
Sometimes I wish I had a big, spacious laundry room, but that would also give me an opportunity to get lazy about sorting and putting everything away immediately.
Having this tiny space forces me to stay on top of things.
And it works!
If your laundry is out of control, consider doing a load a day or every other day so you aren’t spending half a Sunday catching up.
Then get yourself a system. It doesn’t have to look like a magazine laundry room. It just has to work.
Finally, involve the kids. Even a two-year-old can sort laundry!
Sure, sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to stay disciplined.
But not having to search for pants or socks or underpants or that shirt while also being able to have meals as a family in a clean and uncluttered dining room makes it all totally worth it.