sanity saver 4: limit laundry

sanity savers: a semi-regular series in which I share quirky tidbits and habits discovered in my quest to avoid panic, head trouble off at the pass, and uphold law and order in the West (or wherever you hang up your spurs).  While I certainly don’t think all of these ideas are completely original or something you’ve never heard before, I hope you find my ramblings helpful, inspiring, or adaptable for your particular situation.
For this week, we leave the kitchen, and head down the hall to the laundry room . . .
When I worked full-time, and even after I became a most-of-the-time SAHM, I was, and still can be overwhelmed by the laundry beast.  Unexpected dinner guests, a trip to the doctor, a bad hair day, you name it–it doesn’t take much to fall off the laundry wagon and find yourself facing mountains of laundry on the weekend, with seemingly no end in sight.
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Even with a helpful husband pitching in with washing, drying, and folding, I constantly felt like a laundry failure.  And, I absolutely hated my weekends being consumed by such drudgery.
A casual question: “Why do you have so much laundry?” and a brilliant suggestion: “Why don’t you set yourself a limit?” from an acquaintance shifted my perspective and defined, and then removed my self-imposed expectation, replacing it with a realization: all the laundry does not have to be done ALL the time.  Maybe some of you are reading that, thinking “duh”, but, for this perfectionist, it was wonderfully freeing.
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Here’s how laundry works at our house, now:
1.  TWO LOADS PER DAY—That’s my limit.  If I worked full time, it might only be one. 

  • Every other day I add in a third load of diapers and wipes, but since they’re so easy to fold (stack, really), I consider that a non-issue.
  • I sort into four categories: jeans, colors, whites, and towels.  All the laundry has the opportunity to be washed every two days.  I only wash full loads, but I’ll sometimes combine jeans with towels or colors.
  • Everyone has more than enough clothes to wear for at least a week (and that’s being conservative)—if you’re getting your laundry into the sorting baskets on a daily basis, you should always have the full scope of your wardrobe to choose from.

2.  FOLD & PUT AWAY EVERY DAY—I give myself one day of grace on this . . . sometimes things just don’t work out, and I have a still-unfolded basket waiting to be dealt with, but I deal with it ASAP in the morning.  I’m still perfecting the get-it-put-away-every-day piece, as I always remember that I need to put Spud’s clothes when he is napping (genius, I know). 

  • I fold Cowboy’s, Spud’s, and my laundry; Jr. and Bug’s are sorted directly from the dryer into their baskets in the laundry room, and they deal with it from there.
  • I put away Spud’s and my clothes; Cowboy’s gets stacked on the bed so he has to put it away before he goes to bed at night (hmmm . . . maybe I should do that with my own, only fair, right?)
  • If you didn’t catch it, Julie wrote a great post last week about cleaning and laundry.

3.  WEAR CLEAN CLOTHES AGAIN—Cowboy and I have been re-wearing our outside layers for two, and sometimes three times for awhile, now.  He wears coveralls at work, and I don’t have to be in the “public eye” every day, so why not?  No one at the grocery store is going to know that I wore the same pants and shirt yesterday.

  • We recently encouraged Jr. and Bug to try the same idea, and it has made a noticeable dent in the amount of laundry I do.  (They don’t wear the same thing two days in a row, but put clean, worn-once clothes back in their closet/dresser, and wear it again on another day). 
  • Spud’s a toddler—‘nuf said.

Other things I’ve noticed . . .

  • If I stick to my laundry limit, I am often able to skip doing laundry one day during the week, and sometimes for the whole weekend.  I don’t know why, but it works.
  • Our water bill has dropped slightly.
  • When I really don’t want to fold the laundry, I time myself, and am always surprised at how little time it actually took.  And then I’m glad I did it.

What laundry tips and tricks do you have?  What works for your household?

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