I hate doing laundry. What woman doesn’t? Well, apparently, there are some women who actually enjoy it. Yes, do you believe it? One woman in my acquaintance went on for several minutes about the satisfaction she gets from turning piles of filthy clothes into neatly folded mounds of clean clothes. Another admitted that the repetitive action of folding laundry allowed her mind to rest and that she found the whole experience relaxing.
I was awed by these woman’s attitudes, and that’s when I realized the real difference between me and these laundry lovers – it was their attitude. They had good attitudes about this never ending chore in a woman’s life, and mine stunk. In each case, the 3 women I spoke with had 2 or 3 times the amount of children I have which translates to twice or three times the amount of soiled clothing as I have to deal with. I’m sure they all had the same if not more demands on their time which made it hard to get the laundry done. And yet they all had the same graceful, grateful attitude.
Something had to be done. If they could enjoy this task, then so could I, by golly. I had no idea how I could ever learn to enjoy laundry, but I decided to pray about it, and see what would happen.
It is amazing. I first prayed for God to help me enjoy my laundry chores about three months ago. Since then I have become a changed woman. I now LOVE doing laundry. I’m so surprised, I’m nearly having an identity crisis as I type this. But it’s true – I now look forward to my laundry chores, and get immense satisfaction out of the time I spend collecting, washing, drying, folding and putting laundry away.
Are you jealous? Don’t be – ’cause I’m gonna share the practical things that changed in how I approached the laundry mountain that turned it from drudgery to delight…
1. Develop a Better System
Is your laundry system working for you? Do you spend lots of time on the laundry and never seem to feel you’ve got things under control? A sense of failure can add to the drudgery and procrastination. As I discovered when I analyzed my kitchen time a few months ago, there really wasn’t a way to cut down on the time I spent, but there was away for that time to be more satisfying and less overwhelming. It had to do with the system I was using – it oozed failure. I never felt caught up, and I procrastinated about the folding and the putting way ’cause it was hard and too often doomed to failure as piles of folded laundry fell over or got stirred apart to find needed articles that had never been put away.
|A chair sits to the right of the table for Jesse to stand on when he helps.|
It took me a while but I finally realized that my problem was that I only had one laundry basket. I had laundry containers to collect dirty laundry in several parts of the house, but as for something to hold clean laundry, I only had one. So I bought two more – wide, rectangular ones so that I could put two piles of clothing side-by-side. I set them on my laundry room table (yes, even with a room and a big table set apart for the sacred chore, I still was not getting results!) to receive the laundry as I folded it – one basket for Jesse and Claire, one for Jeremy and I. Dish cloths, Seth’s clothes and everything else that belonged downstairs were set in piles in front of the baskets. Now my old, square laundry basket was for holding the clean laundry that waited to be folded. This system eliminated the piles of loose laundry I had falling everywhere, and made it quick and easy to grab a basket to put away when I headed up stairs.
The second change I made, and this was just two weeks ago, was to stop using my dryer. This actually meant I was going to spend more time doing laundry than before! But what I found was that I get a lot more satisfaction in drying it myself and knowing I’m saving energy and money as I do it. It’s kind of like when I used our french press instead of the electric coffee maker. I feel like I’m actually making my husband’s coffee for him, instead of a machine. In the same way, I have come to actually enjoy hanging my laundry to dry. But again, you gotta have the right system.
|My indoor drying system in the laundry room, right off the kitchen|
I don’t have a clothesline, but I didn’t let that stop me. I do have one of those wooden collapsible drying racks so I set that up in the middle of my laundry room. Problem – it only holds a small load of laundry. Solution? I hang all the shirts and big stuff on hangers which in turn hang from a sturdy piece of wire that’s tacked along my laundry room ceiling. I don’t like the fact that this fills up my laundry room but it’s a laundry room, for Pete’s sake – that’s what it’s for!
Now, it takes usually a full 24 hours for a load of laundry to dry, but as long as I do a load every day, I can stay on top of the laundry. And the advantage to indoor drying is that it works in winter and summer, rainy days or sunny, and you don’t have to haul heavy laundry baskets to the clothesline.
3. Cultivate willing helpers.
Folding laundry by yourself is such a drag. Get your kids in on the job. Jesse’s been folding washcloths and burp rags with me for several years. Claire doesn’t quite have the attention span or motor skills yet, but she loves when I assign her the job of pulling all the dry laundry off the rack and into the laundry basket. She thinks it’s the best game, and identifies each person’s clothing as she pulls it off, yelling “Ba!” (brother), “Da!” (Daddy) and “Be!” (Baby) Meanwhile Jesse works away at the burp rags I hand him, and is meticulous about his piles. You don’t mess with his piles. When it’s time to put things away, he holds out his arms and plays ‘forklift’, dutifully delivery piles of washcloths, towels, and burp rags around the house.
|Claire in the laundry room with her helping apron.|
I praise them and thank them constantly, genuinely grateful for their help and companionship. Thus, when I call that it’s time to do laundry, they come running like I’ve announce an ice cream party.
4. Don’t fold the laundry
Ha – caught you with that line, didn’t I? What I really mean is, don’t fold all of it. Some things don’t need to be folded, like underwear, rags, and small pieces of clothing. I don’t fold my kids clothes very much – just what it takes to get them to fit on their pile in the basket. My excuse is that it all comes unfolded when we rifle through their drawers trying to find an outfit anyway. So, I make neat piles, but don’t bother to fold the stuff that doesn’t need it. This is where you can actually save some time.
5. Do a little every day
When I began my new drying system and realized it meant I’d have to do a load a day to keep up with the piles (rather than multiple loads once or twice a week as in the past) I rebelled. I did not want to do laundry every day! I wanted there to be a least a one or two days in my week that I had NO LAUNDRY in any form to do. But that was really impractical. What would you prefer? Doing laundry all day long once a week, or just 20 min. a day for 6 days (Sunday being a day of rest)? The thing is, if you spread out your laundry over the week, doing a little every day, it never feels overwhelming! Yeah, you may always have a little laundry lying around in some state of dirtiness or dampness or needing-to-be-put-away-ness, but it’s always just about 20 min. of work and you’re done.
This is what it looks like at my house…Today, I washed a load of whites after breakfast (2 min. to collect, sort, and get it in the washer). When it was done, I called the kids into the laundry room and hung it up. They don’t help much with this part, but I kept them in the room with me so I could monitor and we could chat together.
Hanging the laundry took about 15 min. And then I was done with laundry for the day, ’cause I can’t do any more until it’s dry! That’s what it feels like to be ‘done’ with the laundry.
|You know you’re behind with the laundry when your child has nothing but underwear to wear!|
Tomorrow we will fold the dry laundry, and I’ll get a load of darks going while we fold. By the time we’re done folding, the baskets will probably be full, then, as I make trips upstairs later in the day, I’ll carry one up and quickly put it away. As I get around to it, I’ll pop in the hang the dark load, and then I’ll be done for the day again.
Next day – fold dark, wash light load, and then skip happily out of the laundry room, once again feeling accomplished and peacefully underwhelmed (the opposite of overwhelmed!).
6. Don’t forget to pray.
God cares about your laundry pile – because He cares about you and everything you carry. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your daily tasks, ask Him to give you wisdom to reevaluate and make sure your system is efficient. He did it for me. Ask Him to give you patience with your children as you train them to help you. And ask Him to give you a new perspective on your task, and suddenly, you may find yourself going from drudgery to gratefulness, just as I did.
It’s time to share your tips! Have you ever had a breakthrough that’s helped you deal with the laundry mountain? How many loads do you do a week? Do you enjoy doing laundry?