Keeping Up

“Wow, seven kids! …How do you keep up with all that laundry?” It’s a pretty common follow-up question – especially from other moms.

For the last year, the honest answer has been “I don’t. I pay someone else to.” I’ve had a rock star of a regular babysitter who came to my house every week and did all of my laundry in one day, while I ran kids to various therapy appointments. It has been such a huge help over the last year and oftentimes saved my sanity. But God had bigger plans for my rock star and called her to full-time ministry in Guatemala. I’m crazy excited for her new life adventure. It’s also meant some re-adjustment for me.

So how do I keep up with everything, now that my laundry fairy is gone? Here’s my general system:

A hamper in every bedroom.
I keep a laundry hamper in every bedroom. They’re all just cheap, collapsible mesh bins and all dirty clothes from that bedroom go into the bin together. So, my husband’s clothes and mine are all together, my three little girls’ clothes are all together, my three little boys’ clothes are together, and my teenager has her own hamper.

Everyone in the pool!
My mother is a laundry wizard. She can conquer any stain, and very carefully taught me to sort my laundry by color, texture, etc. There has been absolutely no fault in my teaching. But I’ve learned that I needed to let my expectations of perfection in the laundry department go, or I would never keep up with it. So, each hamper just gets washed all together in cool water. I don’t sort colors or textures any more – I only sort by what room it needs to get put away in. (So the moral of the story is, I can get it done. But if you want it done flawlessly, go talk to my mom!)

One thing at a time.
I aim to do one room’s laundry a day, start-to-finish. Sometimes that gets done in one load – the little girls’ clothes often all fit together, especially in summer. Sometimes it takes two or three loads – like when my boys have changed super hero costumes three times a day for a week. I try to start a load in the morning (before I even get my babies up, if I can) and have that room’s laundry done and put away by the end of the day. This feels like a manageable amount in any given day, so I don’t feel like I’m trying to do it all at once. But it gets everyone’s clothes washed often enough that we’re never running out. It also leaves the washer open in the afternoon for things like potty accidents, wet swimsuits, dog towels, etc. – those things that you need to throw in the washer right away.

Older kids.
My teenage daughter does her own laundry. I help her with any stains or other questions she might have, and often I’ll move it to the dryer or help her fold if I have a chance. But I let her wash her own stuff within the bigger schedule. As the other kids get older, I’ll start switching them to this system too and we’ll re-adjust again.

Everything else.
Everything else gets washed on an as-needed or as-available basis. Kid bedding gets washed when it needs to be (because let’s face it, it needs to be washed fairly regularly with little ones…). Towels or my bedding get washed when everything else is done or they really need it. Dish towels and bibs get run a couple afternoons a week – my laundry is actually in my kitchen, so this is an easy end-of-the-day load while I’m making dinner or doing dishes.

Laundry is something that I consider necessary, but not important in my world. Teaching my kids, knowing them, spending time with them, investing in my marriage, being hospitable, following Jesus – those are the important things. So I’ve had to let go of some of my perfectionism in favor of just getting the necessary done. It works for me – hopefully it’s encouraging to you.

And hey, if you can hire a laundry fairy of your own, then I highly recommend that too!

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