Strolling through the house, I see one black sock, inside out, peeking out from underneath the couch. Its mate rests underneath the TV remote across the room.
Two pair of gym shorts, both clean enough to wear again, sit in a pile on the bathroom floor.
I will not even waste words on what the floor of his closet looks like.
As the dutiful dad, I used to walk through the house, pick up his clothes (he was pretty young), throw them all in the laundry basket, and wash them whether they needed it or not. The path of least resistance.
It did not take long for a primal instinct to rise up from within. I hated doing laundry and I had to change the paradigm. I spent too much of my time finding socks, hanging school uniform shirts, soaking dirty pants, and washing all of them. Not to mention my own clothes.
This single dad took a new approach to laundry.
- Get rid of the front loader/HE washer. I admit front loader washing machines look cool. They save on water. They use less energy. But, for me, they made doing laundry more frustrating due to the long wash cycles. I have owned both and found the top loader to better fit my needs. You can do more laundry, more quickly with a top loader.
- Work out your laundry schedule. Depending on how many kids you have, you might face a small mountain of laundry each and every day. Maybe you have school uniforms or work uniforms needing constant laundering. You might enjoy spending your entire Saturday doing laundry and chores around the house. Maybe you just want to do three or four smaller loads on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Maybe your electric utility plan dictates when you do your laundry. Maybe you go to a laundromat and do your entire week’s worth of laundry in just a few hours. Whatever the case, like your financial budget, figure out your typical needs, establish a schedule, and stick to it as best you can.
Teach your kids how to care for clothes. Take the time to teach your kids, from an early age, how to determine when clothes should go into the dirty bin or when they could be worn again. Boys typically resonate with the sniff test, so give it try. Instruct them to turn their clothes…especially socks…right-side-out before putting in the dirty laundry bin. Remind them it takes water and time to do laundry, so they need to be respectful of how many times they change clothes unnecessarily during the day.
- Have an extra set of sheets/mattress pad. You never know what might happen at night from bed wetting to vomit to Spot jumping on it after running through the mud. In those cases, having an extra set of sheets can save you from an unexpected visit to the laundry room.
- Wash towels and rugs separately. Once I washed the bathroom rug with some regular clothes. I spent the following spring taking little white balls of cotton off of all the clothes. I think they call them pills, and they are bitter.
- Bring your kids into the experience. If said with the right tone of voice and right attitude, you can invite your kids to help you do laundry. Maybe it becomes an over-and-above chore in exchange for a few extra minutes of electronics time. They should learn the basics of laundering, folding, hanging, and putting in drawers. Maybe it will encourage them to think and be more responsible with their clothes.
So, am I the only one who hates laundry? Any tips you can share?