How We Tackle Laundry

There are hundreds of tips out there on how to conquer Laundry Mountain, but today I’m adding my latest insights, in the slight chance that someone else still hasn’t found what they’re looking for, and thinks like me when it comes to dealing with laundry.

The Problem

I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, but never really found a great fit. I cannot get on board with the idea of doing a load each day – I like to get everything washed and dried in one day, if possible, so that I have the rest of the week to enjoy my clean clothes and not feel like it’s a never-ending chore. I get everything clean on Monday, and do ironing on Tuesday, but it’s always been the huge pile of stuff to fold which does me in. If clean clothes start to pile up at all, it just spirals out of control.

I think it’s a mental thing – it starts looking really overwhelming, and I think it will take more time than it will, so I start to procrastinate because I don’t feel like I have the time to deal with it. Also, I like the idea of my kids helping with laundry, but my energy-conscious mind does not like the idea of everybody doing their own laundry, resulting in many little loads.

I needed a way to get everything done in one day, while still involving my kids, with absolutely no laundry piling up. I finally found what works, and it’s fantastic. I’ve stuck with it for a few months now, so I’m pretty confident this will be a long-term solution. Here’s how we do it:

Gather and Sort

Everybody rounds up their laundry on Monday morning. (I chose this day because after the weekend, I always need a day at home to regroup and get everybody back on track, so I can stay consistent with doing laundry on this day.) Sometimes the girls help me sort all the loads, depending on where we’re at with school work, our schedule for the day, etc.

Choose Your Load Wisely

I alternate highly “hands-on” loads with easy loads – sheets or towels look like a big load, but they’re faster to fold and clean up, so it gives me more time to catch up on loads that are more time-consuming and full of lots of little socks and underwear.

Separate Immediately!

To avoid laundry piling up, I’ve found that I need to sort it as I’m taking it out of the dryer. This is the key that makes everything work for me! I have a laundry basket for each kid, plus one for socks, and I throw everything into the right basket immediately. For clothes that need to be hung, I make a separate pile which goes straight to our closet. (I hang as much as possible, because it’s faster to hang it than fold it.)

All that remains on top of my washer and dryer is a very small amount of clothes belonging to Ben or me. Encouraged by how small the pile is, I’m usually very motivated to fold it right away.

Involve the Kids

The girls are responsible for folding and putting away their laundry, and pairing the socks. Everett loves to put away his laundry while I’m folding it, and we usually get all of the kids clothes cleaned up on Tuesday.

This leaves almost a full, beautiful week of no laundry to worry about, which I LOVE.

Bonus Loads

While I can’t get behind the idea of doing a load a day, I’ve found that thinking of it as “working ahead” is enough to motivate me to throw in a load or two during the week, only if I have time. Because I don’t have to do it, and I won’t get behind if I don’t, I feel like it’s an optional way for me to lighten the load for Monday, and it’s fun to feel like I’m getting clothes washed in advance. It’s all mind-games, hey?! But whatever works.:)

To Hang or Not to Hang

In the past, I’ve talked about how much I loved to air-dry all our clothing. There were two reasons for this – my laundry never piled up, because I would hang everything in closets immediately, and I wanted to save energy and money by using our dryer less. Unfortunately, after doing some research, Ben and I discovered that the energy used to remove the humidity from our house caused by drying clothes was more expensive than using the dryer! If I had a clothes line, it would make more sense, but that would be time-consuming and overwhelming, which I don’t need at this point in my life, PLUS we’ve got some allergy issues around here, and I was told not to dry clothes outside because the allergens would be on our clothes.

So, we’re back to using the dryer, and I found a way to get clothes hung immediately, and life is good.

And that’s how we deal with laundry around here! If you have any great laundry tips to add, I would love to hear them, because it’s such a huge job, so if anything can make it more manageable, we should be sharing it all over the place!

What’s your laundry routine, and why does it work for your family?

 

A Week in the Life: Wednesday Photos

And now the rest of us are sick.

I wasn’t sick enough to lie around all day, doing nothing. Just sick enough to feel really grouchy.

Apparently Kaylia takes after me. She was a total grump when she woke up this morning.

Fortunately, Anika was able to cheer her up a bit.

And then they were ready for breakfast.

And I was ready for my smoothie.

I had to go without one the day before, which made this one even more enjoyable.

After that, things were slightly less enjoyable.

It was one of “those days” – the kind where nothing goes right, my sick grumpiness is making me rather unpleasant, I fold half a basket of laundry only to realize it was still dirty, and start thinking it might have been better to spend the day in bed.

But there were some good parts scattered throughout the day. I’m glad my camera forced me to see them!

Things like morning sunshine while doing school work.

And my new Norwex mop.

More laundry conquered.

More muffins baked. (For Anika’s Christmas program practice.)

And a delicious yam for lunch.

In the afternoon, I delivered Anika and our five dozen muffins to church, and then came home to cook my spaghetti sauce…

…and read stories to Kaylia.

When Ben and Anika got home, we ate supper, cleaned up, got the girls in the tub, and into bed.

And then I was ready to go to bed myself. Fortunately, Anika recovered very quickly from her little bout with the flu, so Ben and I are anticipating an equally fast recovery.

Notice how most of my pictures are from earlier in the day? I guess as things deteriorated, I picked up my camera less and less…

Here’s hoping Thursday is a healthy, photogenic kind of day!

A Little Bit of Underwear Goes a Long Way

When my parents had three girls, they decided to get very creative, and come up with names for us which started with the same letters: Karla Bernice, Kendra Belle, and Kimberly Berdine.

At first, I had no issues with this, but after awhile, we found out how difficult it was to all have the same initials. Anything labelled “KBD” could belong to any one of us, so we started going with “Kar”, “Ken”, and “Kim”. To this day, whenever one of my sisters calls me “Ken”, I am instantly home. I’m a kid again, and everything is the way it used to be, for just a second.

Anyway, this is the story of how I came to have the name “Ken” embroidered on all of my underwear, and what happened when my labelled underwear got misplaced…

When I was younger, my mom would buy identical packages of Kmart underwear for my sister and me. They were all the same color, but not quite the same size. This made it extremely difficult for my mom when doing the laundry. After much confusion, she finally got fed up with the time wasted in trying to figure out which underwear belonged to whom, and announced that we would have to label our underwear.

My sister just flat-out refused to, but I obediently went to get my cross-stitch kit, picked out the prettiest shade of green embroidery thread I could find, and neatly stitched “Ken” into each pair of panties.

photo   © 2011   Lisa Risager , Flickr

As a result, my mom was happy on laundry days, and everything seemed fine. Having labelled underwear always kind of bugged me, because I was so worried about somebody seeing it and making fun of me, but other than that, life went on pretty well…

…until I graduated, and went to camp.

Suddenly, I was having to do my laundry in a very public place. All 50 summer staff members used the same washers and dryers to do their laundry, and it became my greatest fear that I would somehow overlook my underwear when emptying the dryer, and those labelled panties would end up in the wrong hands.

I became extremely conscientious about checking each washing machine and dryer after doing my loads of laundry to make sure I left nothing behind.

Every time I did my laundry, I thought about how I really just needed to get a pair of scissors, and cut out that stupid embroidery thread. It was one of those things I never seemed to get around to, though, and I made it through a few months of doing my laundry without any disasters.

The week before my birthday, I did my laundry as usual, but when my last load was ready to come out of the dryer, I was tied up with something in my cabin. My friend whom we’ll call Danae, offered to grab my load of laundry for me. I gratefully accepted her offer, but in the back of my mind, I thought, “Oh, no – I hope she checks the dryer to make sure she gets everything!”

I forgot about it, though, and went on with my week of counseling in my cabin.

On Saturday, all of my little campers went home to be reunited with their families, and I was free to enjoy the weekend with my friends. Because it was my birthday that Saturday, Danae announced she was taking me out for supper.

As we were getting ready to leave for the restaurant, one of my friends whom we’ll call Nathan, came up to me and said, “Kendra, I really need to talk with you. Privately.”

I had no idea what he might be wanting to talk about, but I explained that I was just getting ready to leave, and I would talk with him when I got back.

Danae and I had a wonderful time over our chicken fingers and fries, and I drank many glasses of water as we lingered at the restaurant before returning to camp.

By the time we got back, I needed a washroom fairly urgently, and went running through the main lodge on my way to relieve myself.

As I was running, Nathan tried to stop me with a fairly panicked look on his face. “Kendra, I REALLY need to talk with you. It’s kind of important!

He looked very uncomfortable, and I felt bad to turn him away for the second time, but as I was having a difficult time controlling my urgent need for a bathroom, I had no choice but to insist that our conversation would have to wait.

When I came back from the washroom, Nathan was gone, and I decided not to worry about his problem, whatever it was.

On Sunday mornings at camp, we always had a church service, and then ate lunch together as staff. I was sitting in the lounge with friends, waiting for lunch to start, when Nathan burst into the circle of girls I was sitting with, thrust an envelope into my hand, and said, in what seemed like a slightly wild, desperate voice,“I’ve been trying to give this to you in private, but you wouldn’t let me!”

At this point, I was really beginning to wonder what was wrong with Nathan.

Why was he so persistent? What could he possibly want to give me in private?

As it had just been my birthday the day before, I opened the envelope and pulled out the contents, completely expecting some kind of birthday gift from Nathan.

And there I sat in that crowded room of people, holding up a pair of underwear with that green embroidery thread proclaiming me as their owner.

I do not get embarrassed easily, but I’m sure my face was red as I stuffed that miserable pair of underwear back into the envelope. One of my friends beside me said, “Oh, that’s what Nathan was stuffing into your mailbox yesterday. He was using a pencil so he didn’t have to touch them.”

Suddenly Nathan’s desperate pleas for communication were all starting to make sense….

It turned out that he had kept my underwear in his cabin for an entire week, trying to figure out how to return them to me. He admitted the name “Ken” had thrown him off for a bit, seeing as he didn’t know any girls by that name, but he’d finally figured out that they belonged to me.

He had put them into my mailbox on the weekend, but when I didn’t check my mail, he began to get worried about who might all notice there were panties jammed into my box.

So he took them back out, and finally presented them to me publicly (which was so much better than just leaving them in my mailbox..!?)

That very day, I got out a pair of scissors, and removed every trace of embroidery thread from my underwear.

And I learned a very important lesson: Be careful what you put your name on.

I’m talking about so much more than panties here. Be careful what you claim as yours. Be careful what you broadcast as being connected to you. You have no idea when something’s going to slip, and end up in the wrong hands. You have no idea when someone will be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When you live your life in a way that’s above reproach, you can have a clean conscience. You don’t need to worry how people will interpret things. Misunderstandings can usually be cleared up, if you haven’t been making careless mistakes.

Basically, I’m saying that those silly panties kind of taught me about integrity. What have I labelled? What has my name on it? Where is it going to go? Is my conscience clear?

If I can answer “yes” to those questions, then I can breathe easy, and stop “checking the dryer” repeatedly, wondering when someone’s going to catch me.

Have you ever been caught in an embarrassing situation you could have avoided? Anything out there you wish you didn’t have your name on?

Around Our House Right Now

I was fully intending to write something deep and meaningful today.

But it became clear to me that today is not the day for deep and meaningful, so we’ll go with comfy. This is my comfy post about what we’re doing and enjoying at our house right now:

1) We are colouring pictures like mad women. Or maybe of mad women. I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell.

Either way, Kaylia is cranking these babies out, and I’m loving the puffed sleeves.

2) I got a horrible haircut. It was so bad, I thought I’d have to get it re-cut right away. But then I started using the tips from this tutorial for doing my hair, and now I can face the world with a smile once more. The haircut has been redeemed.

“It’s the Small Things” blog is amazing. I often use the different hair tutorials on it. Basically, if you ever see me with hair that looks somewhat good, it’s because of her blog.

3) Anika is learning to do the laundry all by herself. I have no idea at what age most kids learn to do the laundry, but around here, it’s happening strictly because of chocolate.

Anika was complaining, because Kaylia was getting chocolates every time she used her little princess potty, and Anika thought it was unfair that she wasn’t getting any chocolate. I explained to her that Kaylia was getting chocolate for learning to do something new and difficult for her, and if Anika wanted to learn how to do something new and difficult, I would gladly give her chocolate, as well.

Since it was Laundry Day, I told her she could get a chocolate for every complete load of laundry she did for me.

It was a wonderful day. Chocolates all around for everybody, and much less work for me. 🙂 I think there’s a lesson in there for us all – laundry would always be more enjoyable if it meant a chocolate per load!

4) I’ve been listening to this fantastic online class about hormones, energy, and moods. So eye-opening! I learned all kinds of things I never knew before. Like why I crave something sweet in the afternoons, and then feel gross after eating it.

I really like listening to or reading anything by Lisa Byrne. She explains how the body functions in an interesting way, and is all about providing people with practical tips for improving health, and life in general. I especially liked her thoughts on listening to the rhythms of the body in this class. Sometimes we feel tired, but we push ourselves instead of resting. Sometimes we feel energetic and outgoing, and sometimes we don’t, but we feel forced to get out and be social anyway, instead of allowing ourselves the space to be a little quiet and laid back.

Sometimes I do need to force myself to do things I’d rather not, but I think there is much room for learning how to go a little easier on myself, and listen to what my body is trying to tell me.

Sometimes. Right now my body is telling me to go eat rice cakes with almond butter, but I’ve already had eight of them today, so I’m guessing this would not be the best message to listen to.

5) I’ve been hanging up more pictures.

It’s taken me forever to get around to ordering prints for frames I wanted to put up, but I finally did it. Then I was going to sit around some more, waiting for Ben to hang up those pictures for me, but after all of the inspiring comments on my post about doing stuff by myself, I suddenly realized I should just get my butt in gear and get it done.

And really, with the incredible velcro available for hanging pictures, ANYONE can do it. It takes hardly any time. No more excuses. And your frames are safe. That stuff sticks so well, I have trouble getting the frames off the wall to put new photos in. Detailed instructions are available here.

6) Ben is reading The Hobbit to Anika.

I think he’s pretty excited about introducing the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to his girls. When we got married, he brought all three Lord of the Rings books along on our honeymoon for me to read. They’re kinda his favorite.

Fortunately, Anika is loving The Hobbit, and apparently even Kaylia is taking in more than we thought. Last night at supper, she was looking at her distorted reflection in a shiny pot on the table, and suddenly announced, “Look at me! I look like a hobbit!!”

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And that’s what’s going on at our house right now.

What have you been up to? Anything you’ve been enjoying recently that you’d like to pass on to the rest of us?

What I Think About While I’m Cleaning My House

Because I’m sure you’re all dying to know…

But really, people should talk about that kind of thing more, because when I moved out on my own, learning to “keep house” was a bit of an adjustment. My parents taught me to work and I had to do my fair share of chores around the house, but I never had to run the place. My mom was so good at it that she made it look effortless, but when I had to do it on my own, suddenly it wasn’t so effortless anymore.

It was lots of work, and not all of it was very enjoyable. I have to admit that in the beginning, I used the approach of “Let it all go for a week, and then have one massive, intense, dreaded cleaning session on Saturday.”

There are two problems with that: Things can get really messy in a week, and a messy house makes me really grumpy.

I had to clean to stay sane, but I didn’t like to do it. But there was one particular Saturday when everything changed for me…

I was dusting my house one morning when I got a phone call from a friend. She asked what I was doing, so I said I was housecleaning, and she said, “I hate housecleaning, so I’ve decided not to do it anymore. Then I’ll have more time for my hobbies and the things I actually enjoy doing.”

I thought about that a lot that day. And I remember, very clearly, that I came to a decision as I was wiping my window sills. I thought to myself, “If I have to choose between cleaning or hobbies, I would have to choose cleaning. I cannot stand to live in a dirty house. Does that mean that I can never have hobbies?” And I had a moment of inspiration: Cleaning would be my hobby! I would do it till I liked it.

And after that, something changed. Every time I chose to clean, I recognized that I was choosing to do that over something that I enjoyed doing, so that I could have the pleasure of living in a clean house.

I was focusing on the end result rather than on the housework itself, and that is what motivated me. I stopped attaching emotions to the things that I needed to do. Who sits around complaining about how much they hate brushing their teeth? You just do it without attaching emotion.

Since then, I have obviously discovered that there is time for enjoyable activities as well as housework, but I think that what I decided that day still affects my attitude. I don’t allow myself to think, “I don’t like washing dishes,” or “I hate folding laundry,” because I have to do it whether I like it or not. So while I’m doing those things, I think about how much I will enjoy my clean kitchen and my neatly folded laundry.

When I was a little girl, my parents gave me a poster that said, “Lord, help me to do with a smile those things that I have to do anyway.”

I did not appreciate the truth of that back then, but I really like it now.

Today is laundry folding day, and I’m actually looking forward to it – all of my favorite clothes are sitting in a laundry basket, and I can’t wait to have them all neatly folded and put away.

This makes me sound like an extremely positive, upbeat person. I’m not, really. But I’m working on it!

Learning

People often ask Anika what she’s learning in homeschool, and she doesn’t answer that question very well. I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t like talking about school, or if it’s because she doesn’t remember anything she’s learned! With Kaylia around creating a small tornado, I sometimes wonder how good of a learning environment we’ve got going on. She gets into EVERYTHING. No, that’s not true – she has yet to climb the kitchen cupboards!

But she’s fun and cute, and I take pictures of the messes and keep the pages of her scribbles, because someday I’ll miss it!

So the things we’ve been learning? Here’s a list of my favorites, unrelated to school (You can ask Anika about school next time you see her, and see what she says!):

1) Sorting laundry! Dark, white, and pink. We have 3 baskets, and the girls think it’s a game to sort all the dirty clothes. Kaylia hands the clothes to Anika, and Anika throws them into the right basket:

2) Cooking Skills. We got out the play food today, and Anika was extremely creative in her creations. She announced that she was making “Roasted Monkey Biscuits.” I told her that no one would want to eat that, and she whispered, “Don’t tell anyone there’s monkey in them!” She informed me that “they help you get lots of protein!” She also said that they’re what everyone eats in Russia. When Ben told her that they don’t have monkeys in Russia, Anika said, “They get the monkeys from India.” And all of this is said with a straight face, and without missing a beat.

3) Sharing! We’re making progress! Some of you will remember this post. Well, things are looking up! The girls still fight over toys, but there are beautiful moments of sharing, as well! (Thank goodness.) Anika is actually letting Kaylia play with her dolls:

4) Talking! Kaylia is saying more words all the time, but her most recent thing is saying names. This weekend, she finally started saying “Anka”, and her own name has somehow become “Tay-ta”.

She’s also finally started saying “Mommy” in the last few weeks, but it works for a lot of things besides me – “jammies” are “mammies” and “yummy” is “mummy”. You have to listen carefully for the vowels…