What are two tasks just about every family must do on a weekly (or daily) basis? If you guessed laundry and dishes, you are correct!
I’ll start with talking about laundry. An entire blog post (or video below with the same information if that’s better for learning) about laundry? Yes ma’am!
The thing is that laundry and dishes are something almost all of us mommas have to do on a regular basis. The other thing is that I’m not here to tell you an exact laundry routine that will be life-changing for you. Do you know why? Because one routine might be life-changing and sanity-saving for one momma and that same routine might be far from ideal for another momma. We all have different personalities and schedules, and we each have unique seasons of life that we’re in.
I’m here to encourage you to think about creating a laundry routine that will lessen the chaos throughout your week and will be ideal for you and your family. I have experienced firsthand (and witnessed others accomplish the same) decreased stress from having a routine around tasks that are an inevitable part of our lives!
Here’s a 5-step process for creating a routine around laundry:
Step 1: Take inventory of the way you currently tackle laundry.
- How many loads of laundry per week are you averaging?
- Do you handle all the laundry? Does your spouse help? Do your kids help? Do you tackle your own laundry and assign kids and spouse to do their own?
- How long do you leave clothes in the dryer?
- How long do you leave unfolded clothes in baskets?
- How long do you leave folded clothes in baskets?
- You need to assess where you are at when it comes to laundry before you can determine where you would like to be.
Step 2: Through the inventory process, can you determine what areas could stand improvement?
- Dirty piles to washer quicker?
- Dryer to basket quicker?
- Unfolded basket to folded basket faster?
- Folded basket to drawers/closet faster?
Step 3: Determine what laundry routine method works best for your schedule.
- Do laundry 1-2 times per week (called batching laundry)?
- Do laundry a little at a time (daily or more than 2 times per week)?
Step 4: Pick a time on “Laundry Days” that you’re least likely to have other distractions stop you from starting and sustaining a laundry routine.
- Are mornings best for you? Early mornings before the kids are up? Mid-morning?
- Do you want to do some laundry during a lunch break or other time in the afternoon?
- Are evenings best? Before the kids are in bed or after?
Step 5: If you’d like other family member involvement, share the plan with them to get feedback and buy in, then start!
- Please don’t forget to regularly assess how it’s going; make adjustments to times/days if your routine is rocky to see what schedule works best for you!
- Don’t try to force yourself into a routine that doesn’t work for you!
- Don’t give up on a laundry routine because the first plan didn’t work as well as you thought; reflect on what could be improved, make adjustments, and try again!
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, that sounds so lovely, but how in the world can I make a routine stick and an example sure would help for inspiration!” You’re in luck, my friend, because I’d like to share how I created a routine around laundry and am free from having to fit it in or forgetting about it until I’m out of socks!
I first assessed how I was tackling laundry. I was simply starting a load when I noticed the hampers were full (Step 1). I was allowing our hampers (or lack of clothes) dictate what time was best in my schedule to do laundry instead of choosing a time that works best and a frequency that prevented overflowing hampers. Once the clothes were out of the dryer and in a basket, I was very good about folding them and putting them away, but my weakness was forgetting about the laundry in the dryer (Step 2). I looked at my typical weekly schedule and determined that I’d rather do laundry a couple of times a week instead of doing laundry daily based on time I knew I could carve out (Step 3). I decided that I’d break up washing versus drying/folding/putting away and decided that Tuesday and Friday mornings were ideal for washing clothes (except I would start one drying load), then Wednesday and Saturday mornings were ideal for drying/folding/putting away (Step 4).
I wasn’t sure if waiting a day between washing and drying would result in weird smells or other issues, so it was an experiment when I started the routine. I picked a week that I noted would be a typical week in our house to start the new routine. My husband was on board with the new routine when I told him and asked for input; our girls gave it the thumbs up as well (Step 5).
Tuesday morning arrived, and I declared “Laundry Day!” to our girls. As I’d given them instructions prior, our oldest gathered the clothes in her hamper, helped our youngest with the clothes in her hamper, and they both brought them in the laundry room and put them in the washer. They know to do the same on Friday mornings.
I typically do 3 loads on Tuesdays and 4 loads on Fridays. I wash the kids’ clothes, our clothes, then towels on Tuesdays and the same 3 loads on Fridays plus I alternate between sheets and washing our dog’s beds and blankets. I have 5 stackable laundry baskets; having multiple baskets have been worth every penny! As a load finishes in the washer, I just pull it out and put it in a basket. At the end of the day, I have 3 baskets of washed laundry (or 4 on Fridays).
On Tuesday and Friday evenings, I go ahead and put the girls’ clothes in the dryer so that one load has started before the end of the day. The other 2 (3 on Fridays) loads of washed laundry are in the baskets waiting for the next morning.
I have not noticed any smell or other issue from having the washed clothes wait in the baskets for the day. I have found the method beneficial as the load takes less time to dry the next day as it air dries some in the basket. Oh, and another tip related to decreased drying time! Wool dryer balls! I have had six dryer balls for a while and notice they decrease drying time and leave our clothes, towels, and sheet softer; I also put a little lavender or lemon essential oil directly on the dryer balls to add a pleasant, yet not overpowering scent! Here’s an affiliate link to the ones we have: https://amzn.to/2KUPBY9.
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, it’s drying/folding/putting away time! Wednesdays I’m able to recruit our girls to help fold towels and put away their clothes (with some assistance for our 2.5-year-old). On Saturdays, my husband helps, too!
I’ve learned as a mom that anything I can teach our girls to do, like having our oldest feed our dog or in this case, help with laundry, is a win-win! Our girls feel empowered, helpful, and proud while it’s a task off my plate! I’ve had to embrace uneven folds, but I’m here to tell you it’s been liberating and exciting to give them more responsibilities! Both our girls cheer “dream work!” when I say “Teamwork” to finish the line “Teamwork makes the dream work”.
What happens when schedules go awry and the unexpected happens and throws you off routine? Dust yourself off, recognize that life happens and routines don’t have to be anywhere close to perfect, and just get back on the routine as soon as you can. If you’re thrown off your routine on a regular basis, it’s a great time to assess and see what you can change about your routine to make it stick. I can promise you that the more you can automate tasks that must happen, the less mental brainpower they require and the more time you have for other priorities! I’ve noticed that the longer I sustain my laundry routine, the more efficient the routine becomes, taking less and less time to accomplish!
Please remember that routines are NOT one-size-fits-all. My routine above may be a disastrous routine for another fellow mom! Again, we’re in various seasons of life with unique personalities and schedules.
Need additional help on habits and routines that stick and have the wonderful potential to transform your day-to-day? Please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’d be happy to help you!
Stay tuned for the next post about dishes!