Life after children becomes more complicated in many ways, but the domestic workload? Well, that seems to grow exponentially with every child. I fondly remember my pre-kid life of running my dishwasher every few days, feeling like my bathroom was still fairly clean days after I'd scrubbed it down, and having only a load or two of laundry every week. It's safe to say, things look a hell of a lot different now. Forget Spring, every season is cleaning time when you have a household of kids (though Spring really is the time to tackle their clutter).
Now that I'm a mom to two kids, ages 7 and 4, my dishwasher inevitably fills up every single day, the bathroom I cleaned the day before already needs some serious attention (when will my son learn to aim?!), and the laundry? Well, it never ends. Trying to reach the bottom of that hamper for longer than 30 minutes is every parent's eternal struggle, but it can be done — and without a crazy amount of effort at that. The solution: force yourself to do one load of laundry every single day, from start (collecting all the dirty clothes in your house) to finish (putting them back in drawers and on hangers).
This might sound simplistic, but I promise it will cut down your laundry anxiety immensely. Not only is one load pretty easy to accomplish — you're talking maybe 20 minutes of real hands-on work — but it also means you'll never accumulate a pile so big that it's overwhelming to even begin tackling it, which only forces you to avoid it longer. Do one load of clothing every day, then on weekends or on a weekday when you're not crazy busy, add another load or two of sheets and towels. But on most days, just complete the following six steps for the next month and see if your laundry load doesn't feel a lot lighter (I promise it will).
- First thing in the morning, scan all bedrooms and any other rooms where your kids discard clothing (socks under the couch is a big one for me) to collect them all.
- After everyone has changed from pajamas into their clothes for the day, start a load of darks, also throwing in lighter colored clothes (not whites) that have been washed previously. Turn new colored clothes inside out to prevent color transfer, and use a color-safe detergent.
- Try to start your load early enough that it will finish before you have to leave the house, meaning you'll be able to transfer it to the dryer before you have to do a school drop-off, run errands, or make your class at the gym. If that's not possible, stop by home to switch your clothes to the dryer before they sit for too long.
- Once your clothes are in the dryer, you're golden. They can stay there for a while and you can go about your day. When you do make it home and know you'll have about 10 free minutes to fold, start your machine back up to prevent wrinkles.
- Take your warm, clean clothes out of the dryer and give yourself about 10-15 minutes to fold. I like doing this while I'm watching my favorite Bravo show if my kids aren't home, or if they are home, when they're or on the kitchen counter listening to podcasts. Be sure to sort folded clothing by family member and clothing type to make it easier to return items to the correct drawers and closets.
- Leave your folded clothes in a hamper for as long as you want, but make yourself put them away before bedtime. I've timed this process more than once and it never takes longer than three to four minutes, assuming your clothes are properly sorted. Then pat yourself on the back because, today, you've cracked the laundry code.