User Post: How I stay on top of the laundry mountain

I have four kids so you had better believe that laundry is one of those never-ending chores that is always threatening to overwhelm me. Even though i would like to just keep buying new clothes for the kids instead of washing their old ones, I recognize that this isn't the best solution to my problem.

Here are a few things I have learned in my years of laundry experience that are allowing me to keep the laundry monster from rearing its ugly head, at least most of the time!

  • Keep a separate basket for lights and darks: With only a few reminders my kids (and husband!) can remember to throw their whites or lights into one basket and darks into another. This reduces the amount of time it takes to get ready to wash a load of laundry. Even the kids don't remember every time, there is still a lot less time involved in sorting a few mistakes than in sorting everybody's dirty clothes into different piles. This makes it easier to accomplish my next tip...
  • A daily dose is easier to swallow: When I get up in the morning, I quickly throw a load in the washer (sometimes I even put one in the night before, then all I have to do is turn the washer on!). I know at some point during the day, I will be able to find a spare five minutes to throw that load in the dryer. I know some people prefer to have one day set aside just for laundry, but I just don't have a day that free. Between carpool, volunteering at school, writing, breakfast, lunch, dinner and clean-up, I don't have a day that can be devoted solely to laundry. If I give myself the small goal to do one load a day, I stay on top of the pile and avoid getting completely overwhelmed. About once a week, I find that I don't have enough laundry for a whole load, so I enjoy the luxury of taking that day off.
  • Fold everything right from the dryer: I used to collect a big pile of laundry from multiple loads and fold, fold, fold while watching my nightly television show or a movie. Unfortunately, the clothes were more wrinkled and many nights I just felt too tired to do more than lift my remote hand to change channels or adjust the volume. If I stand right at the dryer and fold everything as I take it out of the dryer, I find that the folding takes up less time, which means less of my day is devoted to folding laundry. My clothes are less wrinkled and, again, the task is much less daunting.
  • Enlist the help of small hands: Kids can pretty quickly and easily learn how to sort the dirty laundry into the appropriate categories of light and dark. Once the laundry is clean, I sort everyone's clothes while I am folding them. Then I take each child's pile right to their room and put it on the end of their bed. They know that at some time during the day they need to put away their clean clothes. I have started letting them help put away their socks and pajamas as young as two-years-old. Until they are older, I often help make sure things can fit in their drawers, but I definitely make this a chore to be done by my children. If I didn't do this, I doubt our clothes would ever get put away since this is my least favorite part of doing laundry!
  • Keep a single sock stockpile: I don't know if this is exactly a great tip but since I hate matching socks even more than I hate putting away clean clothes, I just collect all the socks that I can't match immediately when I pull them out of the dryer. When those socks are overflowing their designated bag, I choose a night to dump out the whole bag and match whatever I can. The rest go back in the bag until the next time I feel up to the thankless job of sock matching.
By streamlining my laundry routine according to the above suggestions, I have found that doing laundry is a lot less daunting than it used to be. My kids are thankful because they don't seem to run out of clean underwear as often as they used to.

For that I think we should all be grateful!

photo by s.ovett

When Melanie is trying to tackle laundry and other household chores, she likes to blog at tales from the crib and at (after)life.