When my three children were young I used to think that my life would be much improved if I could install a launderette similar to the picture above!!
However hard I tried there always seemed to be a massive pile of washing on the landing which was surprisingly easy to walk past without noticing!!
The pile would eventually get so big that it could no longer be ignored and I would spend the best part of a couple of days washing and trying to dry the clothes for a family of five! Doing the washing was probably one of the most stressful parts of trying to run a home with three young children for me. Looking back I think ' surely once you've put a load in, you don't have to think about it until it's finished the cycle?' well - yes! But when you are in the thick of it logic and common sense don't always seem to make an appearance!
I had a lot of help, especially with the ironing when the twins were babies and toddlers, very often the grandparents would leave one day with a pile of washing and come back the next day with a dry, ironed and folded pile of clothes for me to put away! But they never really got to see the true extent of the problem! I was canny and kept the bulk of the pile out of sight so no one would really know the scale of the issue!
So, how did I eventually come to gain control over the mountain on the landing?
First of all came the 'do the absolutely necessary items of clothing' approach. I made sure that all underwear and socks and all uniforms were washed and dried and ready for when they were needed. The theory being that once these were out of the way I could sort the rest of the laundry and wash it when I had the time. We all know where this is heading, don't we?!
We all looked very smart going to school and work but any other time we were a load of scruffs!
But it was progress - I had the beginnings of a plan. I also started following The Flylady around this time. She advocates doing a load of laundry everyday. This seemed to go against everything I thought was how you ran a home! I thought Mondays were washday, Tuesdays were grocery shopping etc etc.! http://www.flylady.net/d/habits-of-the-month/august/
Following The Flylady's routines even a little bit did begin to have an impact on the mountain of washing. My problem wasn't getting all the washing into one place, it was getting it sorted before putting it into the machine, remembering to get the completed washing out of the machine, getting it dry and putting it away after it was dry.
5 BASIC STEPS: GATHER, SORT, WASH, DRY, PUT AWAY.
As I have said, GATHER was not a problem. I needed to find a solution to SORTING my washing pile. I bought two washing baskets - the tall, round, plastic kind and put them where Mount Washmore lived. One for dark and coloured clothes, one for whites and lights. I explained to the children how the baskets would work and surprisingly, as they were still quite young, they seemed to take to it rather well! (It was about this time, I think, that Phil decided to do his own washing - this made life just a little bit easier and I can't thank him enough!) I would then take one basket down in the morning and that would be the days laundry. Because I could take the whole basket down and scoop a load straight into the machine, step 3 WASH was easy. Reminding myself to empty the machine, to DRY the clothes at the end of the cycle was less of a success and even to this day I can occasionally go into the kitchen and look at the washing machine and wonder 'when did I put that load in'?! Only occasionally though! We have a tumble drier and as a mum to three little ones I can openly admit that it was a life saver. Not having damp clothes all around the house on radiators and banisters was brilliant. Nowadays I rarely use it but times change and the family has grown up. The final step - PUT AWAY, seemed to be the hardest to get into a routine and the area I had to most consciously put a lot of effort into, but it came eventually.
Over the years I have tweeked how the whole washing routine works for me, and as family members leave home - and come back again - it means that there is always room for change. But we no longer have a Mount Washmore on the landing!
Not having a washing routine is expensive. Not only was I having to buy clothes because the children were constantly growing, I was having to buy replacements for clothes that would eventually turn up in the wash!
2. Your routine will be unique to you. If you are struggling, I would suggest starting by finding a routine which suits you by talking to other people and looking online. Then, once you begin to see some progress, begin to tweek it so that it suits your lifestyle.
3. Enjoy the process of creating a routine which will create calm from chaos in your home. It will take time, and will keep changing. Like everything to do with organisation and decluttering it is an ongoing process.
Enjoy the end result. You are a winner.
* As we are 5 adults now, we do our own washing. The family members who work full time do their washing at the weekend, whilst those of us who work part-time wash on different days of the week. I (ironically since it is the area where I struggled most!) tend to be the 'Person Who Empties The Washing Machine And Puts The Clothes On The Clothes Horse'!*
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