Simple Saturday

I received the following request for advice from a reader last week and decided to post it here for you all to give your opinion on. I have also included my advice for two reasons… 1. because you might find in helpful. and… 2.  my return email to this reader kept bouncing back to me so I was unable to help offline.

Here is what she wrote~

“…Laundry is my groundhog day & it’s really doing my & my husbands head in…. We have an 11 & 7 year old & I am sure that sometimes things go in the laundry basket rather than be put away – there are times I know I an rewashing clean clothes – but after a couple of days in the basket they have associated smells & so in they go…

I have started to think the only way, (which you might approve of) is to declutter the volume of clothes & options they have….. Do you have tips of what you did when your kids were young…

I have taught my daughter where the washing machine is & how it works but from her point of view I am sure she feels that she has no use for this information ! well not yet anyway… As working parents it’s overwhelming the sheer volume of washing that we are doing, & then once washing is done getting it folded & back to where it belongs is grinding. Any thoughts…. Is the answer always declutter ? Or can you help me out with this too. ps: I did think about putting a second tub in their room that’s the “it’s clean but I just couldn’t be bothered to put it away” tub – maybe, maybe……”

And her is my response ~

I think that you have answered your own question. It seems to me, from observation and experience, that people take possessions for granted the more of them they have. If, for example, there is always another outfit to put on when one hasn’t rehung or even used the last one that went in the wash then what incentive is there to be more mindful.

That being said, kids grow out of their clothes soon enough so maybe decluttering yours would be a waste of money unless they have clothes in their closets that are too small. Those I would get rid of immediately.

However from this point forward, as they grow into the next size, my suggestion is to reduce the number of outfits you supply them. On the lead up to this you can use the time to sit both of your children down and explain to them that they are going to have to be more thoughtful with their clothes in future because they are going to have fewer of them. Explain to them why this is without blaming, after all kids deserve an explanation and it may result in them being more willing to comply. Provide them with a system for hanging the things they can wear again, such as a small coat rack or a series of hooks. Explain to them that if they continue to wear things once or not at all and just toss it in the wash then they may run out of clothes to wear before the next wash day comes around (which will be less often than it does now).

The time it will take for their current clothes to dwindle, due to them growing out of them, will give you all time to adjust to the new routine. Your mission is to resist slaving in the laundry trying to keep up with them. Don’t pander to their desire to have whatever they want clean and ready for them at all times by constantly washing to keep up. They will soon learn that life just doesn’t work that way any more. Train them and remind them on a regular basis to wear, more than once, the clothes that aren’t visibly soiled or smelly. Underpants of course the exception to this rule.

You asked how I handled this with my kids and I would say that what I have written above just about covers it. They weren’t over supplied with clothes and they both had a little clothes rack to hang the items they could wear again. Admittedly they often hung their clothes on the floor under the clothes rack but kids will be kids. I must also admit that I probably trained them too well to reuse clothes because I often had to (and still do have to at times) remind them that some items have been worn long enough.

My son’s less than tidy room.

My son is the only one home now and he still has a habit of leaving his worn clothes on the floor until he is ready for them to be washed. If he is around on wash day I do ask him to toss, into the hall, what he wants washed. If he isn’t home I will make an executive decision. In a bid to save on water and electricity I only wash when I have a full load (black, white & lights, colours or neutrals).  However if specific items aren’t available when he wants to wear them then it is just too bad because washing individual items is simply out of the question.

Parenting isn’t an exact science and, as you can see from the photo on the right, I have not been successful in the long term at training my son to keep his room tidy or make his bed. The kids complied under duress when younger but once they reached a certain age I decided it wasn’t worth the continued grief. His is however the only untidy room in the house and the only time his bed is made is when I change his sheets but I can always close the door. I refuse however to behave as though I am running a laundry so it is either comply or go without.

The Weekend’s Mini Missions

Saturday –   Declutter some old cleaning rags that have been used too many times already. Perhaps you could repurpose some of those linen items mentioned above into new rags. Personally I use microfibre and some of mine are getting very thread bare and therefore ineffective so will be tossed this week.

Sunday – Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

 

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. My kids wore uniforms for elementary school and the first thing they did when they got home was take off and hang up their school clothes. If they were still clean, they could be worn another day since we only had 3 of them for each child. The jeans or clothes they wore at home were the same ones they wore the day before if they were not dirty. As they got older, it was their responsibility to make sure that only dirty clothes reached the hamper. What was in the hamper got washed. If not there (and on the floor in their room) did not. They made sure that what they wanted or needed was in the wash. I did all the laundry until they were in high school and there were days when I know they just tossed the clean shirt (too lazy to hang it up) in the hamper but it was not too often. I gave each child a basket and after the clothes were folded, they had to take their basket to their room and put the clothes away. Some weeks they just lived out of the basket. As long as I did not have to put them away, I didn’t care. I agree with Colleen. If I didn’t like how their room looked, I just shut the door. Some days, there was more laundry on the floor than in the closet but if they wanted to wear neat and pressed items, they had to take care of them. Both my kids liked wearing unwrinkled clothes so they began to hang and fold them neatly as they got older. My best tip for you is to make sure you only wash what is in the hamper and give them their clothes in their own baskets. Less for you to put away and less to wash. Also, teach them to use the washer as soon as you can. I do wish I had done that sooner. When they need that new shirt again, they’ll be down in the laundry room at midnight but hey, you won’t have to do it.

  2. As a mom of six children and with nearly thirty years of parenting under my belt, I have decided consequences are often the best teacher. From an early age, my children began helping with laundry. They brought dirty clothes to me, helped fold what they could fold, helped put clothes away in their rooms an so on. They soon took over putting away the clean clothes without my help. Around the age of nine or ten, they were taught to use the washing machine, to spray stains, etc. Once they could operate the machines, I let them be responsible for their own laundry. Each child has a hamper they keep in the bedroom. When it’s full, they do their laundry. I have instructed them about not being wasteful with water, heat, etc. and to not put clean clothes in the hampers. They sometimes still do that or have to re-wash clothes that weren’t put away and got stepped on or dirty on the floor. We have wood floors so every speck of dust transfers to anything left on the floor. Ultimately, the more clothes in their hampers, the more time they have to spend washing, drying in the dryer or on a rack, folding and putting away. My children still at home are two girls 17 1/2 and nearly 16 and two boys 12 1/2 and nearly 14. They do all of their laundry including linens. I will occasionally remind the boys that it’s time to change their sheets or to wash some clothes but I don’t have to say anything to the girls. They have all reached the age where they have favorite items and want to wear them for certain occasions, so having the items clean is a priority for THEM, not me. One son still sometimes runs out of clean clothes because he has ignored his full hamper. When his closet is empty, he gets his laundry done! Underlying the practical training is keeping their clothes to the amount needed and consistently removing things that don’t fit or they don’t want. I have always helped them in this area, and now they bring things TO me to declutter. I started out as a do-it-all-myself kind of mom but these days, I’m all about teaching my children to be independent and to take care of themselves. Life circumstances forced this somewhat as I was away when my mom had two kidney transplants and a knee replacement, but I’ve seen great results from letting my children “own” their laundry.

  3. lots of good tips here already, so just briefly my thoughts/experiences (from being the kid myself, no other experience over here, yet)
    – knobs/hooks for the still sort of clean clothes (or a chair or rack – maybe not so pretty but still better for the clothes than on the floor)
    – we put dirty clothes in one spot in our rooms (behind the door), my mum picked them up in the morning (I know, extra work for the mum but maybe it helps to keep control over what is dirty and what is still wearable? Then you can just hand the items back that are not yet going to the washing machine.)
    – I think 11 is quite early to do the washing alone but old enough to help sorting, hanging it up, folding it, understanding how much work it is … I think I did the chore of washing the family’s clothes frequently when I was 13 and older (which coincided well with being more into clothes than pre-teen)
    – talk about your ideas and their ideas of how long you can wear something (that isn’t stained)
    -try if you can establish some sort of system on which days washing gets done. Thus they can figure out themselves that they need to be responsible for not tossing their clothes into the hamper too early because then they would need to wait (at least) this and this long (and maybe longer if too much stuff landed in the dirty clothes because only full loads get washed)

  4. I believe that teaching them to help with the laundry is a great start. It is a life skill that they will need to be able to do. It can be hard for them to appreciate how much work is involved if they are not helping out, so getting them involved is a priority. Maybe it would be helpful to assign a laundry day for each child, assuming that they have enough laundry to equal a full load. If this is not feasible, do one load a day, that way you can keep up with it without having to do it all at once. It will also make it easier to get it put away right after it is done in the dryer, so it does not wrinkle as much. If you can get them to wear their items more than once, if they are not soiled (excluding underclothing), it would be very helpful. Jeans especially should not be washed as often as they tend to wear out quickly. Keeping clothing amounts at a minimum helps too. Not only do they have less options, but due to constant growing, it may save money in the long run as well. Sometimes it is a matter of them learning a lesson and if they are not at least willing to help with the laundry, then they may have to wait longer than they want for clean clothing.

  5. I have 2 girls, ages 11 and 14. They a smallish basket each for the in-between clothes (e.g., jeans or shorts that can be worn again) and a shared laundry basket. We generally wash a few loads of clothing on Saturday or Sunday. I’ve tried to avoid the “laundry fairy” approach of dirty clothes disappearing from their room and clean folded clothes magically appearing. So, they are responsible for bringing all their laundry to the washer; then they fold and put away their own clean clothes. I do think limiting the number of clothes and having them help with the process can help decrease the amount of laundry you have to do. A 7-year-old can fold at least some of their own clothes and put them all away.

  6. My first question would be, “How many clothes do they have?” I would definitely go through their clothes and toss what they don’t want or wear or don’t fit until there is a manageable amount. If you want to do laundry once a week, make sure they have 7-10 possible outfits, just in case you don’t get it done on the day you planned.

    I used to get frustrated about my kids leaving toys out. Then I had to face myself and realize that I was the one buying the toys. (clothes in this case). I was partly at fault by getting them too much. When you have less, it is easier to keep on top of things. But, if it makes you feel any better, we can all understand just how you feel!

  7. The rule in our houseis if it isn’t in the bag it doesn’tget washed. I recently bought some cheap different coloured bags and have been teaching my sons (7 and 4) what colour clothes in which bag. They really enjoy this, they often shout out which bag Mum for this? and it saves me or my husband time from sorting laundry, ad we just pick the bag up when it’s full and wash. When there older I will teach them how to use the machine etc. To take their turn in helping out with chores.

    • Hi Emma and welcome to 365 Less Things. I like your separate bag system and especially that the kids are really getting into the idea and sorting as they go. Good for them and you.

  8. I’d re-emphasize the importance of having hooks somewhere for clothes that have been worn once but are not ready for the laundry – those not-dirty-enough-for-laundry/not-clean-enough-to-go-in-the-drawer.

  9. We learned very early that we had to take care of our clothes. We had enough outfits for 5 school days plus several outfits for play and several for church. Mom had certain days that she did a particular kind of laundry. If it wasn’t in the hamper then it didn’t get done until the next week. We had to put them in our closet on hangers. If my brother left them somewhere else and they were wrinkled or soiled he had to wear them that way. He quickly learned to put them where they belonged. We learned early to help with things. We had chores and we weren’t paid for them. We just did them as part of being the family. We were taught to play with one toy or toy set at a time and put them away before we took anything else out to play with. Everything we had whether in our rooms or elsewhere in the house had its place and when you were done you put it away. It’s not to late to start.

  10. Laundry and Children
    At age 7 my children were taught to use the washer and dryer, to fold and put away their clothes. They each had their own laundry basket. They brought their basket up and put the clothes away or they had to go to the chilly laundry room to get clothes in the morning. A couple of times of that happening in freezing MN winters changed their behaviors fast! By age 11 my daughter was doing most of the family laundry as her chore. My thinking is: how can anyone grow up if they think they have personal servants and what they need (food, clothes, housing, money) just shows up magically.

    I also provided hooks for clothes or told them to put still clean clothes back in the closet. This was a lot easier when they did their own laundry! I also reduced the number of clothes they had—usually 5 school outfits, 5 play outfits and a couple of dress-up outfits. I did the same with toys—about 5 play sets, 5 books, 5 puzzles etc. out at a time and then rotated them. They had comforters that they just pulled up to make the bed, I never had to yell about messy rooms! They always played lovingly and creatively with the toys they had out. Our home was orderly and peaceful. I am not saying I am the star parent—my spouse and I have demanding careers and needed to simplify life; as well the desire to teach the children skills they need as adults. I have to admit I am kind of appalled by how little is expected of children now. Abundance with no responsibility does not create the kind of adult I wanted my children to be.

  11. Hooks.

    Growing up each of us kids had hooks attached at different heights & spacing on one wall in our respective bedrooms. Lots & lots of hooks.
    Yes we had our clothes hanging on a wall like decorations but it worked for our family.
    My brothers were more apt to hang up their jeans & shirts if it involved the least amount of effort.
    The wall hooks solved that problem.
    Yes it looked odd to outsiders, but it made life for Mom insanely less troublesome & we kids would hang up our clothes on the hooks without fail.
    Made for easier clothing selection especially when I got into my teen years & learned how to layer & accessorize.

  12. Hi everyone, I’m back from 3 days away and am just catching up. Laundry. OK, I’m sure you’re all going to think I’m crazy but I actually really enjoy doing laundry a hundred times better than I do cooking or baking. And I get a bit OTT ’cause I like clothes and linens folded a particular way but that’s my quirk and am happy to fold laundry.

    I have 3 teens and each bedroom has a bin for dirty laundry and I happily trot around the house collecting laundry and setting of the washing machine before I leave the house in the morning and before bed at night.

    I’m going to confess that I put my son’s clothes away. I was never going to have a neanderthal son, he was going to be domesticated and a shining example of my good parenting. Alas, he didn’t buy into the plan and so I figure that whoever he eventually marries can whip him into line, like I did his father.

    My older daughter is good at putting away her clean laundry, alas younger daughter needs a bit of prodding, but she feels part of the problem is her drawers, although they are nicely decluttered now, they aren’t the right sizes/dimensions to be useful to her. I agree in principle, but think her lack of enthusiasm for the art of organisation is a factor too.

    The biggest factor in the whole clothing-laundry equation is quantity of clothes.

    Since I did Project 333 I have a completely different perspective on wardrobes. This has rubbed off on Dayna (middle child, older daughter) and Courtney (youngest) is trying. The rule is to only buy what you absolutely love and will wear to death. Also to figure out a number of items – not in total like Project 333 – but how many pairs of jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, dresses, did she need for a functioning wardrobe to suit her life right now. It was a lot less than they expected, so they try to stay within those ideals. So they naturally have to stay on top of their laundry as they have fewer ‘reserves’ tucked away in the drawers to fall back on. The numbers aren’t set in stone, if an event comes up and she needs something suitable, that’s fine, its no use being rigid when a teen is actually trying, but by and large she has stuck to the parameters she set herself, and she does shop around before settling on an item. In the old days, we would have bought whatever took our fancy, even if we already had clothes that were barely worn at home.

    Yes, their clothes do wear out. But as they shop from cheaper teen stores like Factorie, Jay Jays, Valley Girls etc, I’m ok with them getting something new and fashionable because I know its going to be worn and worn and worn. I know for a fact that they buy less than their friends but no one seems to notice that they don’t have as many clothes as their friends – probably because their friends wear and re-wear their favourites anyway!

    • “so I figure that whoever he eventually marries can whip him into line, like I did his father.”

      LOL – And I wonder how it is possible that adult men behave like little boys… no offense, but you mothers would do a huge favour to your future DILs if you would raise your boys to men who are capable of running a decent household on their own. 😉

      • In principle I agree with what you are saying here Lena but my defensive side is screaming “Don’t make judgements on motherhood unless you have been there. It isn’t as easy or as cut and dried as it might appear.” I for one know what all the “right things” are to do when it comes to parenting but in practice sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, enforcing what is seemingly right can have the opposite effect for some children, depending on personality, than it will on others.

        Even as a parent it is extremely unwise to pass judgement on someone else’s parenting and other peoples children because that can soon come back to bite you. The opposite is also true, I have thought my own parenting was lacking when seeing how other parents operate then later on their “well” disciplined children ending up rebelling. So there is a fine line in every situation, too strict or structured or not enough.

        • Colleen – I totally understand where Lena was coming from but thanks for the defence of motherhood.

          I was going to have perfect teenagers, we’d all get on, it was all going to be about respect and being responsible, yada yada yada – how hard could it be to have a good relationship with someone who was almost an adult etc etc etc.

          Till I ended up with three teenagers, who by comparison to some I know, are pretty good kids. But to quote Nigel Latta (a clinical psychologist who does a tv show here) teenagers just aren’t right in the head. And they’re not. Its just natures way of making sure we can cut the apron strings. If they stayed cute and fluffy, we’d never let them go.

          At this point I pick my battles with my son in particular as we’re similar in temperament. He’ll have moved on soon enough and I won’t miss picking up after him, but I will miss the humour and that charm that teenage boys have.

          • Hi Moni, you are so right. Sometimes getting them to comply is a challenge. Luckily some kids learn better from example than from enforcement and he might just turn out to be the conscientious one in the end. You just never know. I have seen this happen enough times to know can be true. Push him too hard and when he leaves he may be reluctant to even come to visit and no mother wants that. This I have seen also.

      • Lena – LOL – my hubby is a better cook than me, so I am grateful for that and he is good at building things. So he isn’t good at the whole laundry idea, but it works out well because I really like doing the laundry.
        Alas my son, I can honestly say I tried but he just doesn’t have the inclination. At least I have gotten him to the point where most of his dirty clothes go into his laundry basket. On the plus side he is totally unmaterialistic by nature and apart from a stack of old, retired skate board minus the wheels and trucks, there isn’t much else in his room.

        All I can say to my future DIL is that I tried, it will probably be different when it is his own home and he’s living with someone he wants to impress. In the meantime the 30 seconds it takes me to put away his clean washing is better than finding clean stuff mixed in the laundry hamper.

        I think most wives/girlfriends have their own variation on how they like their home to be run, so he’ll have to adapt wherever he ends up, unfortunately he’ll have to make more of an adaption since he’ll be starting from zero but……..hey, I did warn him.

        I have a friend who tells her son when he objects to learning to cook and clean (he’s only 11 so still under her influence) that he needs to know how to do this because theres a 50-50 chance his wife won’t know how either!

      • lol, you made me laugh. I totally understand, it must be one of the not so easy things to raise kids, especially teenagers, I remember being one, and yeah, I feel sorry for my mother, occasionally. 😉

        Moni you are right, its not promised that girls know that stuff too. I never really liked running a household. it dawned on me around the age of 25 that my refusal to just do it is only affecting myself and noone else… so I changed my attitude and learned how to get it done easily. including tips from here. btw, my november challenge is seriously successful. I found that whenever I have a big cooking session, that it helps immensly to clean right after the meal. for small things like glasses, cups and cans, its ok for me to leave it there. since two weeks, my kitchen is cleaner and easier to maintain and I find I am using not as much stuff anymore. my kitchen might be ready for the next round of decluttering.

        • Good one Lena, my little brother, now forty, always said he was never having kids and so far hasn’t. He said he knew what he was like and wasn’t about to inflict that on himself. I can tell you that due to his teenage years I was reluctant to have any myself.

        • Lena – my November challenge is a bit challenging today as I’ve just got back yesterday from being away.

          One thing I am taking note of, is some items are more effort than others to pack away quickly and easily, so I’m asking myself to try and figure out what make some things more tricky, is the shelf too full (if so what can needs to go?) is there something that gets in the way? would somewhere else be a better location? that sort of thing.

          • Hi Moni, although the mission is not as easy as I made sound it is having the desired effect. You are giving thought to why things are a problem and what solution you might be able to devise to remedy it. I am finding the same thing myself.

  13. I can only give my experience as a child.
    That is: I always “hung” clothes on the floor over night. However, we always had to bring them downstairs ourselves – else they wouldn’t have been washed. So, usually, I brought that stack on the floor to the bathroom downstairs (where the washing mashine was) in the morning when brushing my teeth. Sometimes as a teen, I would have been lazy and run out of clothes, but my Mum didn’t mind that at all and it would have been my fault if I had had to go to school in pajamas. Therefore, I usually catched up with bringing that stuff downstairs rather soon. Still, even if it was downstairs, you couldn’t bet that it would be washed right away. It would be washed within a couple of days, but if that was too late for us children, we had to wash that stuff on our own (I think we knew from about age 10 how the washing machine worked). We were often made to hang up laundry, however ironing was usually Mum’s task – but here as well the same rule: if you had to have it fast, you had to do it yourself. I remember ironing one “special” shirt for school in the morning, because I “needed” to wear it. We had a rather smallish wardrobe each and even smaller was the amount of clothes we really liked and wanted to wear often. I remember as a child I basically had one stack of shirts and sweaters and one stack of trousers in the wardrobe. Plus a few (!) dresses and skirts on hangers. That being, it wasn’t really hard to put laundry away either. I would prefer stacks for that reason, by the way, as clean laundry is stacked in the basked and you only have to lift that stack and put it in the dresser/wardrobe/closet and not hang each item individually. If you don’t iron and stack in the basket, but just tumble dry them, that may be different of course.
    To finish: I had to change sheets myself. Mum would announce when that was necessary and all of us had to change our own beds. (when small, we were helped with the difficult parts, but we were involved in that process even at a very low age)
    Reading that, it might seem, my Mum was a rigid person, but far from that. I never felt that way as a child, it was clear that everyone should help in a household. She DID do most of the laundry, but according to her own schedule, she wouldn’t accept pressure from us. So, if we children had problems with our tasks in that line (bringing our dirty laundry to the bathroom in time etc.), that was entirely our own problem and we would have to come up with solutions (wash a load ourselves, iron ourselves etc.)

  14. My kids are 3 1/2 and nearly 6 so great to read laundry advice now. Hooks seem to be a theme.
    Miss 3 went through a stage of 8 outfits a day which she all deemed dirty. Restricting the numbers of outfits available helped a lot. Master 5 has needed convincing that PJs need washing after a week. They put items in the laundry when instructed. They have fun working as a team to carry the clean baskets to their rooms. Both are learning to put clothes away, 3yo only does one drawer so far. The 5yo has decided he likes his folded as long as someone helps. They can help sort clean laundry but it seems to involve jumping on it so that doesn’t often happen. They can hang socks etc on hanging clip pegs. Will perservere with keeping them involved as I can see its worth it in the end to start young.

    • Hi EB and welcome to 365 Less Things. With children that age my advice is to introduce chores as a game. If it is fun to do you can be guaranteed they will be only too happy to do it. Get creative.

  15. I did my own laundry since the age of 12 – when my non clothes-savvy mother put my favorite shirts through the dryer. She also had a habit of making clothes she didn’t like (non of which were even remotely scandalous, even now I don’t like things too skimpy. It could be that she didn’t like the color or the fit.) disappear. My solution to that problem was to do my own laundry and keep tabs on my clothing. My brother learned the same shrinking lesson at age 15 – post growth spurt where every half inch of sleeve length mattered.

    Not the best course of action but it worked. Now I do laundry once a week or every two weeks: everything in cold water to save electricity and everything but tees and undies hang dried.

    • Love the disappearing acts, almost like avoiding shopping and other fights!

      • Why do you love that a mother would throw out a daughter’s clothes without consulting her?

        My post was intended as a what not to do . . . destroying clothing both intentionally and unintentionally.

        • I read snosies comment as sarcastic. might be, I was wrong.

        • Hi Aurelia. I think Snosie was being sarcastic. I don’t think she meant to offend you. It was really awful what your mother did to your clothes. As I had a mother who had the bad habit of doing “disapearing acts” with toys, so she didn’t have to buy birthday gifts, I know this can be really hurtful. But you have to see it in a positive light. However forceful, it made you learn take care of your stuff and what not to do. When we are faced with this kind of behaviour we learn to value what we have ant take really good care of it and not crave more and more. So no one meant to offend or joke about a bad thing, just made a light comment that with your mom being like that, she certainly didn’t buy you too much clothes.

  16. I know we had a laundry box in the room for dirty laundry – but I also can remember that I was messy and sometimes the fresh launry got mixed up with already worn and dirty. I know I had some serious fights with my mum about that, it changed when I was responsible for the laundry at the time when I was old enough to stay up late. [we have a cheaper night electricity (10pm every day, and the weekend) so the dishwasher and the washing machine got filled and it was someones job to switch it on.] I dont remember when I learned how to use it, I did however start ironing the families washing early, I always liked ironing. I dont however do it myself, because if you watch how you hang your clothes, there is no need for ironing at all.

    I can still remember searching for certain clothes that got “lost” in the house due to the cycle of box/dirty basket/basement-basket/washing machine and drying line/awaiting ironing-basket and done ironing basket. it felt like there was always at least two third of my clothes somewhere in that cycle. I know it helped me enormously to limit the number of clothes, therefore get a more frequent load of washing and quickly get the items back into the wardrobe. If I ever will have a family, that will be the case for everyone. fewer items, quicker cycle, no more searching for clothes items.

  17. I don’t know how young I was when I started doing laundry (washing and ironing) for my mum. I was certainly no older than twelve. If we wanted to earn more pocket money to spend during vacation times we had to do more work than the everyday bed making, dish washing and table setting.

    My sister and I would do the washing on Saturdays especially around Christmas time when we were also expected to pay for Christmas gifts for our siblings (5 kids total), parents and possibly grandparents if there was visiting involved. Also there were six birthdays within a month and a half either side of Christmas as well.

    I might add to begin with we were working with the old wringer style washing machine and hand rinsing in tubs. We did eventually have a machine with a spin cycle (twin tub) but still had to rinse by hand. Non of this fancy schmancy automatic machine for us, oh no!

    When ironing, to keep it fair, we would divide the load so we got an even share of the easy and more difficult items.

    For us the dirty clothes basket was kept in the one bathroom the seven of us shared. So it was as simple as throw the clothes in if they were dirty or take them back to your room to use the next day if they weren’t. We had no problem, that I can remember, at sticking to this rule because our supply of clothes was limited and we would likely run out if we didn’t. If I remember correctly the washing was only done on Saturday each week.

  18. I wash every night for myself, husband, 12 and 14 year old sons. I only do one load and everything goes in it regardless of color or fabric. I encourage everyone to buy non-white clothing. I’ve told them if they want their whites to stay white they will have to handle it on their own. Towels and sheets are on their own schedule. I fold in the morning while I am making lunches and breakfasts. The kids know to put their dirty clothes right into the washer so I do not have to go looking for them. This system has been working well for us for years and the boys do not have very extensive wardrobes (their choice) so that factors in as well. I did not have a washer/dryer for years when I was younger (college and after) so I am still (twenty years later) happy not to have to haul it all to the laundrymat!

    • Henave – I love the no whites idea but alas my kids school uniform has white shirts and our towels and linens are white so its easy to make up a load. I have always thought it would be cool to have to use a laundromat, though I think I have assumed there would be one in the building and I’m probably basing this all on watching The Big Bang Theory where it seems to be a social centre.

      Now that the weather is getting better I should really start pegging out rather than using the dryer but I’m on a bit of a tight time schedule at the moment and I love the towels being fluffy.

      Unfortunately, I am one of those OTT people, who likes the laundry folded a particular way and just can’t share the chore.

  19. From that photo, your son’s bedroom doesn’t look very bad, Colleen. When my daughter was young, I needed a shovel and backhoe to even get into her room! 😉

    • Yes Becky actually he could be a lot worse. He usually only has on the floor things he is planning on wearing again. In the other half of the room there is an enormous desk which is covered in uni work at the moment but even that is only organised chaos.