Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Take that, Laundry Monster!

I must confess…I feel a little ridiculous posting this.  I imagine most decent mothers and homemakers have been doing this very thing since…well…forever.  But just in case anyone out there is buried under a pile of laundry with no foreseeable hope for the future…I will share the story of the new system that has completely changed the face of my battle against the laundry monster.

If this is all a re-run for you, you are welcome to use this time to throw in a load of laundry.

First…a before shot.  There is no picture.  I don’t need that kind of humiliation.  But allow me to describe the situation:

I have a laundry room.  I realize that puts me in the minority of women lucky enough to have a door to close on the whole mess when it gets out of control.  I don’t have to lug laundry to the basement; my washer and dryer aren’t out in view for the world to see.  However, it’s a small, windowless room, into which my children always thought they should just chuck their dirty laundry.  In the last several months, the small space has become even smaller due to the fact that I put a big, industrial shelving unit in there so I could store my little girls’ clothes where they can’t reach them.  (Ugh…that’s a story unto itself!)

So picture the scene:  Small room with laundry all over the floor.  Very bad.  And the worst part is that the pile was ever-replenishing:  As I would process load after load of laundry, more would show up to take its place.  Very discouraging.  This really caused problems because little things—like socks and child-sized underwear—always worked their way to the bottom of the stack, often putting me on the receiving end of an inquisition:

Mom…why I don’t have any panties!  Where are all the socks?!  I’m out of bras!

Very irritating.

Well, it’s not altogether pretty, but here’s what I did:
  • I found four tall laundry hampers in the house.  None of them match.  But such is life at Stately Bennett Manor!
  • I labeled them with words and pictures.  (I took pictures of some of our actual clothes rather than waste time searching through magazines or catalogs.) 
  • My categories are #1) underwear, socks, towels, sheets, white clothes; #2) anything made of denim, Kuk Sool Won uniforms, and camouflage pants; #3) dark colors; #4) everything else.
  • I called the kids together and gave them a brief tutorial.
  • I quizzed them by handing them pieces of laundry off the mountain and asking the kids to file them correctly.
  • They caught on so quickly (and actually thought it was so fun!) that, in no time, they had sorted Mt. Laundry to its very foundation!
  • I located and swept the laundry room floor.

Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn't it?
Now, in truth, I subdivide my laundry a little more than that…and I regularly run into something that has been mis-sorted…but since the closet that serves as the home for our laundry system is directly across the hall from the laundry room, I don’t even have to leave the room to get the wayward article into its rightful place…and it’s improving my hook shot!  And going through the “Everything Else” hamper to separate bright colors from more muted ones is really not a big deal as far as I’m concerned…especially compared to the conditions I’ve been working under for over 20 years!

When it’s laundry time (so…every day), I assess which basket is closest to overflowing, and that’s where the day’s battle starts.

Sam, Hannah, and Mercy (who really was having fun!)
And here’s the most amazing thing:  I’ve had a clean, well-organized laundry room ever since!  The kids are sorting faithfully!  Every day, I overhear one of them ask another something along the lines of, “Is this a ‘dark’ or an ‘everything else’?”

They’re learning how this part of life works, and that will only make it easier to teach them how to take over for me as soon as they can reach the dials and knobs!

Oh, wait…maybe my next acquisition should be a step-stool!


 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 
Proverbs 31:21

The laundry closet serves double-duty as the school closet.  Talk about one-stop shopping!

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