Every. Thing. We had tried every thing. And still, mountains of laundry loomed in dark corners of the house. For years. I was beginning to think that this was just how life would be. All those people who had it figured out, were just blessed. Because none of it worked for me.
Then I had the opportunity to hear Shelly Noonan speak. And she said one thing that changed my life, and laundry, forever.
Let your kids do their own laundry.
So I went home and thought “if this doesn’t tame the laundry monster, at least it will give me more time to do other things!” So I implemented the following, and it has been working for two years now.
Here is how I passed on the laundry and the kids conquered the mountain:
- Do laundry separately. I stopped doing everyone’s laundry together. We went out and bought each child their own laundry basket. No longer would I hear “those aren’t my socks!” and have a basket of socks no one was claiming. Their dirty clothes would now go in their own basket and they would be responsible for their own clothes.
- Assign days. We assigned each child their own day that was their laundry day. Butterfly does hers on Tuesday. Spider does her on Wednesday. Thursday is for towels, cloth napkins, and tablecloths. Afterwards, I do both my husband and my laundry together. Cricket does hers on Friday. And Monkey, who has been doing his own laundry since he was 5 and is now 7, does his on Monday.
- Complete the task. All laundry in the basket must be sorted. To make it easy, my kids have just two piles – darks and lights. I believe buying red colored clothes for kids is just asking for laundry nightmares. Clothes must be washed and dried. Then either folded or hung up and then put where it belongs. This must be completed on their assigned day. Because they are staying on top of their laundry, they usually only have two loads! On days they wash their own sheets (yes, each child has two sets – a winter and a summer – of their own sheets), they have three loads.
- Evaluate what you own. Taking the cue from minimalists, we thought about what was clothes were truly needed (plus a few loves, because we are after all a family of 4 girls and like our pretty things). If they are doing laundry once every week, do they really need all those dresses, shirts, and so on? So we blessed another family with all the clothes we didn’t need, and stopped buying new clothes unless they were replacing old ones.
- One towel per person. One last thing we also did was to buy each child their own towel. After all, they are using a towel on a clean body to dry off, why do you need more than one? If you can’t afford to buy new towels, you can always sew a different ribbon onto each towel. The point is: one per person and to be able to identify who’s towel it is.
So that is how we stopped having to hike Mt. Laundry. This system has not only given me more time to do other things, but it has also taught my children a life skill that they will use frequently when they are on their own.