Let me just give you a little sample of where this is heading…Seven people, always well dressed. No Laundry Stress. Little Work. More time for doing what we love. Sound good? Read on, my dear, read on!
Motherhood means a constant struggle with laundry…right? (Hint: Nope)
With five little kids plus two grown ups, it’s seems obvious that I would be doing multiple loads of laundry per day, just to keep my head above water. After all, motherhood is synonymous with the stress of keeping up with the laundry pile, isn’t it?
We’ve all been there…
If you are a human person then, I’m going to go ahead and assume that at some point in your life you’ve been very behind on laundry. Embarrassingly so.
And if you are a mother then it’s also very likely that this is a fairly regular occurrence. I know. I’ve been there, for days, weeks, months at a time. I remember all to well the every day lurking anxiety of laundry overwhelm.
I’m here to shine a light at the end of that tunnel, and give you some hope that it doesn’t have to be this way forever. You can copy me, please do! Find your own version of this story and please reach out to me if you need encouragement!
In my ongoing journey to lead a simple life, I’ve come to the place where I only do about 3 loads of laundry per week, for seven people, five of whom are very active little kids! And yes, they are all (relatively) clean, and certainly well dressed. HOW?
Well, I’ll start off by telling you that most of battle with the laundry pile is won in my mind.
Yes, I’m getting philosophical about this.
You see, most of the advice I’ve seen intending to assist mothers in conquering the never-ending issue of laundry is all about a systems to control.
I’ve read about the perfect laundry bin sorting systems, the daily scheduled checklist of chores, and the helpful routines that have been developed just to cope with the overwhelming amount of laundry.
I know this is very useful for many moms, and it truly does help keep the problem under control. But for me, I just don’t want the potential for that giant laundry pile even in my home in the first place!
There was a time, with only two little kids, that I had that embarrassingly large laundry pile. I would pick out the essentials to throw in the wash because (even with full closets) there was nothing to wear. Trust me, I do not want to go back there!
Strangely enough, the way I have solved my laundry problem is more about lifestyle than systems of control. I spent years of my life thinking that these things weren’t very connected. I though I just needed to work harder, and I felt like I had failed as a housekeeper when I couldn’t keep up.
As it turns out, when I decided to get real about simplifying my life, my laundry problem…disappeared.
I am the curator of my own home…
For me, it begins with the idea that I’m the curator of what comes into my home. My home is like an art collection, nothing gets past me that doesn’t meet my criteria! I don’t want spend my life wearing and washing and putting away things I don’t even like!
I have mostly clothes that can be worn more than once…
I’ve also decided that I will only own clothing that can usually be worn more than once before needing to be washed. This means that white or very light colors clothing that can easily be smudged or stained is very unlikely to be added to the collection.
I almost always opt for items that have colors or patterns that can hide the common smudges of childhood and motherhood! This means my clothing options are more limited…. so worth it!
No sorting before washing…
With my no white/very light clothing choices, there is no need to sort laundry into different batches before washing. A few exceptions exist, like a white dress shirt that needs to be washed separately, or a new pair of jeans that should be washed separately a few times before entering the regular rotation. But other than that…No sorting necessary.
Each piece of clothing I own must meet my criteria list before it can be considered. Here’s what I ask myself before bringing something into my home.
The Criteria List…
- Do we need it? Does the person actually need this item, are they missing something in their wardrobe? Or am I just getting it because it’s free or a good deal or it sparked interest when I saw it?
- Do I love it? Will I be happy about me or my children wearing it? Or will I only wear it as a last resort when everything else is dirty.
- Does it match our style, or would it stick out like a sore thumb among our other clothes. Does it go with other things already in our closets?
- Does it fit right now? Can we wear it right now, not next season, not next year, not when we’re thinner. Life happens in the present and our closets will reflect that!
I’ve found that with each year of this philosophy, fewer and fewer things meet my standards and our wardrobes grow even smaller, but each thing we own is exactly right for us. No extras!
Can it be worn again?
And before throwing something into the laundry basket, I always take a close look at it and decide if it can be worn again. If so it goes back into the closet. If not, it goes into the basket.
I know it’s a common practice to wash clothing after one wear, but I’ve learned to take a much more old-fashioned approach to this. If something is not noticeably dirty and doesn’t have an odor, why should I create more work for myself by washing it? My clothes also last longer when they aren’t constantly over-washed.
How much do we really have?
My 5 little kids have about about 100 items of clothing between them (not counting socks, underwear and accessories). My husband and I have about 30 items between us (not counting socks, underwear and accessories.)
It’s not much, but we’re still a very well dressed family! Everything fits us, everything is adorable, and everything can be mixed and matched.
There is no option to get behind…
Even with every item of clothing, towels, sheets and linens in our house, I estimate the laundry would only be about 6 loads, so I can never get really truly, behind. Woohoo!
So wait, is this post still even about laundry, or is this lady just trying to talk me into downsizing and decluttering. Yes, I am! Because I’ve found that if I deal with the underlying issue of excess clothing, (of myself being an undisciplined curator of my home collection) the overwhelming laundry problem simply melts away.
We have one laundry basket in our home. When it’s full, I pop a wash in. This is about three times a week. Everyday we wear our best and cutest clothes, because that’s all we own!
Becoming the curator or my home collection is a skill that I hope to continue developing for my whole life. It’s not simply about having less. It’s more a question of quality over quantity, and I’ve found that when the quality requirements go up, the quantity almost always goes down.
The battle is won with simplicity…
It may seem like owning clothing would become more complicated when having to ask all these questions before letting these items into my home, but in practice the opposite is true. A little careful consideration on my part has led to a delightfully relaxed and simple attitude toward laundry.
If what I have described seems totally out of reach for you, or is seems like I live in a fairy bubble that is a far cry from the trenches of mom life, let me assure you, I’ve been there too and I’ve no wish to return. I’d love to hear from you, what you’re deal with right now, be it laundry or anything else.
The blogs and writings of other mother’s is what inspired me to begin the journey into simple and careful living. At one time it seems like just one more thing to ad to my already full plate, but now my only regret is not beginning sooner!
I takes work, and determination. But it’s worth it, and now I like it so much I want everyone to know! The laundry monster can disappear, your stress can be resolved, and you can spend more time doing what I’m doing; Filling my heart and not my home!