I’m usually pretty good at laundry until we have back to back dance practices, trips out of town, friends who invite us to the park, a mom in the hospital – really any excuse that gets me away from my typical two loads per day. It’s also hard to stay on top of the laundry AND homeschool. However, I’ve made it a goal to get the laundry done before it takes over the house. I’ve come up with some laundry motivation for mamas who wait until it’s kind of a problem. This won’t move the laundry monster out of your house, but it will help you streamline one of the most time-consuming tasks a mother must do.
My Laundry Credentials
I’m the oldest of 10 kids. I did all the laundry. Enough said. My mama still hasn’t figured out that her laundry began piling up when I moved out.
When You’re Desperately Behind on Laundry
Grab a strong cup of coffee or tea. This is going to take some deep breaths and you’re going to have to overcome the urge to torch the house. Ok, ready to get started? Here are three steps you need to take right away:
- Separate clean from dirty. I love using an unused bed for this task (your guest room or put a kid on the couch for the week – you need space). Put all of the clean laundry on this bed or couch. Put the dirty in your laundry room.
- Start washing. Don’t stop until it’s all clean. Just wash and dry and dump (carefully) the laundry in the “clean room.”
- Sort the clean laundry (while listening to a podcast or audiobook to keep you in a good mood). While the first load is washing, sort the clean laundry by person and room. If you have six people in your house, that’s six piles of clothes and a pile for towels, a pile for rags, a pile for socks and a pile for sheets. You may have an “other” pile (baby doll clothes in my house).
Once You’ve Sorted the Clean Laundry…
Now, that you’ve made some progress in organizing the laundry, let’s start taming the laundry beast. This is the quickest way to gain laundry motivation for mamas who wait until it’s kind of a problem. Here’s what you do with the “piles”:
- Take one person’s pile to your person’s storage area (dresser, closet, bins).
- Fold, hang, and put it away right there. Kind of like paperwork, you should only touch laundry once. If you fold it and lay it out to put away, you begin the neverending pile or basket cycle. Go where it lives and deal with it right now.
- Purge while you’re there.If you have time, scan for torn, worn out, too small, and out-of-season items, and take them to your discard area (I use a basket in the back of my closet. When it’s full, I deal with its contents – donate, store or sell.)
- Keep at it! Repeat the pile process until all the clean laundry is put away.
Keep Rotating and Sorting the Wash
This is how you catch up. You have to make that washer sing as my mama used to say. Wash, dry and sort the dry clothes. Put the piles away as you get enough to put away.
Shortcuts for When Times Are Truly Desperate
I’ve had too many things going on to do this process (a move, a big trip, a month stuffed with dance competitions), so I have a couple of truly desperate measures. I go to a laundromat or I pay someone to wash and fold my laundry. The laundromat is useful when you have a huge pile of laundry and some time to go do it all at once. But if time is a factor, I pay someone to wash and fold my laundry. It’s kind of expensive but it saves me time. This is occasionally worth the $10-$15 extra you’ll pay to have your laundry done.
How to Gain Lasting Laundry Motivation for Mamas Who Wait Until It’s Kind of a Problem
There’s nothing more rewarding than having every last stitch of clothing in the house put away. It happens about twice a year here, but I’m pretty good at staying on top of laundry because I don’t have a real laundry room! I have a closet in the hallway with a washer and dryer and a single hamper. I can’t stand piles because they give me anxiety. So, I make laundry a priority.
Here’s how I went from being a mama who had a laundry problem to one who keeps it mostly on autopilot.
Homeschooling changed me so much. I used to be known as “messygrl” on AOL Instant Messenger. I must have order to have peace in my house and homeschool is messy. It’s oh-so-messy. So, I went back to my roots – keeping a big family going. My mama tied tasks to habits she already had. That’s how I developed my laundry motivation for mamas system – I tied this necessary task to other hooks in my day. Here’s a cheat sheet for you. Want to download it? Subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send you a printable version.
- Start laundry while you make coffee. My mama and daddy had a paper route and would get home as I was getting up. My mama wasn’t happy if the washing machine wasn’t singing by 7 a.m. So, I do the same thing now. I wash clothes as soon as I make coffee. It’s just the right amount of time. And there’s a lot of research about tying tasks to established habits – coffee = reward for a load of clothes washing.
- Do at least one load every day. I mean mean completely – wash, dry, fold and put it away. (That last part is the secret.)
- Do laundry by room of the house. I’m not big on separating laundry by color. Most of it washes well with others. But it’s the having to put it in five rooms that kills me. So, I do laundry by room of the house – towels, boy clothes, girl clothes (my girls share), parent clothes, and sheets.
- Don’t fold it until you take it to the room! I don’t fold laundry until I’m ready to put it away. This makes it so much quicker. I’m not carrying stacks or fearing that kids mess it up. The kids and I go together to fold, hang and put it away. It’s much like packing for a trip.
- Keep a running basket of donate items. I keep a basket in the back of my closet and I toss no-longer-needed clothes in it as I do laundry, so the seasonal purge isn’t so bad.
- Keep a sock basket. I do a similar basket for our socks and it lives under my bed. I put them all in a pile when I’m sorting laundry and take them to the sock basket to match. I purge this basket about twice a year. If the socks don’t match in the laundry, I put them there and the family knows to go to the sock basket and not to ask me for socks.
- Put hampers where clothes pile up. Teach your kids to put clothes in the hamper. My kids do it automatically. They know I’ll call them back to the bathroom or bedroom to pick their clothes up. We have a hamper in my bathroom, one in the laundry closet (right outside the kids’ bathroom) and each of the kids’ rooms.
- Streamline wardrobes. The real reason you’re laundry is piling up is that you have way too many clothes. We’re down to 10-12 outfits per person in our family. Everyone has a hooded towel or bathrobe. This makes my life and our frequent travel so much easier. I’m going to write another post on this next week to show you how we make three drawers each, one closet and one carry-on suitcase per kid work for our family. It’s life-changing!
What questions do you have about laundry? I’d love to help you find your laundry motivation.