When you have a big family, inevitably one of the first comments people always make is about laundry.
How many loads of laundry do you do every week???
We definitely have a lot of laundry.
It used to be impossible for me to keep up with it, and my dining room table almost always looked like this:
Actually it hardly ever looked like that because most of the clothes never got folded.
There was more often than not a mountain of clothes on there, and whenever one of the kids couldn’t find a particular article of clothing, the answer was always the same.
Check the dining room table.
But it was unmanageable and totally inefficient and chaotic and I just got tired of looking at laundry in my living room.
So last summer I started something new, and it has worked very well.
Of course, now I have issues with piling other crap on top of my dining room table, but that’s a whole different blog post.
Anyway, I thought I’d share this system with you.
It’s not fancy. It’s definitely not Good Housekeeping picture perfect.
But it keeps the clothes out of the dining room, and forces the kids to take responsibility for folding and putting away their own laundry.
And it has saved me hours of time each week.
It’s very, very basic.
Here’s what I did.
I went into the basement and I found some plastic containers.
I labeled them with the kids’ names (I turned them around so you can’t see the names), and I put them in the laundry room.
I didn’t have enough room for seven or eight containers, so some of the kids who share a room also share a container.
Clearly the containers don’t match and they aren’t super cute. They are different sizes and different colors and some of them were used for other stuff so they have things written in Sharpie on them like miscellaneous dishes and baby clothes.
The laundry room definitely isn’t photo ready.
This would have driven me insane a few years ago before we had so many kids and I still thought that my house should look like a Pottery Barn catalog.
And don’t get me wrong, one day I’d love to have a really beautiful laundry room that is custom built and perfectly laid out and organized.
But right now I need function over form.
And this arrangement functions very well for us.
Plus, this cost me zero dollars.
So here’s what it looks like (I didn’t bother to clean anything up before I took the picture, and clearly I need to fold some towels):
When the clothes come out of the dryer, they go directly into the correct bin.
About every other day, the kids who are six and older take their own bins up to their rooms, fold their clothes, put them away, and return the bins to the laundry room.
I still fold the clothes for the youngest two, but their time is coming soon. And they do help put their clothes away. Not always, but sometimes. By the time they are six, they will fold and put away all their own stuff, too.
So the laundry situation isn’t totally perfect. But it is so much more manageable this way, and the kids are responsible for their own stuff.
Do they fold their clothes perfectly? Actually, some of them do!
The ones who don’t still fold their clothes a lot more neatly than when they were buried somewhere in Mt. St. Laundry on the dining room table.
How often do I do laundry?
I try to keep the dirty laundry basket empty. This means I do at least one load of laundry a day.
But it only takes me a few minutes to throw it in the washer, and it takes three or four minutes to sort it into the correct bins.
In a couple years when we have more money and more time, I’ll sit down with my husband and I will design a gorgeous laundry room that he’ll build and then we’ll submit the photos to This Old House, and they’ll feature us in their reader remodel edition.
Until then, this will do just fine.