Thursday, July 28, 2011

No More Blues!

"Oh... just... put on a disposable," I said, feeling a twinge guilty (and, quite frankly, defeated) as the words crossed my lips. My son was asking whether any cloth "pullups" were ready for use at the end of a long day. I didn't get a chance to do the load of cloth diapers. Again. I had the Endless Laundry Blues, and was pretty tired of singing that tune.

So I decided to do something about it.

If I'd been thinking about blogging about this adventure, I would have taken more pictures. Alas, I was focused on the task at hand and had not an extra brain cell to spare on such trivial matters.

The Sock Basket
I'm sure everyone has some version of The Sock Basket. This is the container of your choice that has the singularly loathsome task of holding all the socks, an odd hat or mitten (even during the summer this year..) and perhaps a pair of underpants thrown in the mix as well. I dreaded TSB and hated when everyone ran out of socks and needed a new stash paired. And so it sat for a good long while (I can't recall a time when there wasn't a sock basket waiting to be paired in all my married life), mocking me in my feeble attempts at tackling that dreaded project.

Then I was struck by a marvelous realization: throw them away. Just... throw all the socks away, and start over! Now, my frugal brain quickly stepped in and said "How about you sit down, pair up a dozen socks per family member... and THEN throw the rest away?" A dozen seemed like a lot, but it was surprisingly easy to accomplish. The anticipation of an empty basket made the work quick. As I gathered up the large pile of remaining socks, I may have had a bit of a crazed grin on my face. I also may have done a bit of a jig coming away from throwing them out in the trash bin in the kitchen.

That was the first step in my laundry chore transformation. It was just the sort of psychological motivation I needed to keep at it.

The Clean Laundry Pile
Washing and drying the clothes is easy. I could do that all day. Folding, hanging up and distributing the clothes into piles is not so easy. Before the baby was born, we used the playpen to put all the clean clothes in. Have you seen play pens? They hold a huge amount of clean clothes, my friends, and that's just how I liked it. After the baby arrived and took over the clothes hamper.. er, play pen, I needed a new dumping ground. Well, she'd moved from her bassinet to the playpen... so I switched the two out and started dumping the clean clothes into the bassinet. It didn't hold as much, and the pile would start falling over, resulting in a need to clean dusty, walked on clothes that multiplied on the floor around that bassinet.

Every once in awhile, I'd gather up my reserves and tackle the Mountain and get it knocked out to a small mound. What a chore, letting it build up so much! I eventually abandoned the bassinet, took it down and put it away.

So the pile moved to the now empty Sock Basket. Oh that pile moved a few different times before I found a system that worked for me!

I decided what I needed was a staging area and a place to set my piles. So I set up a big folding table in my laundry room. I only technically had enough room for it, though could not open the dryer but a mere six inches or so and had to walk between the table and dryer sideways. I liked the concept, but the execution was sloppy, so I put that table away and purchased a smaller version of it. The little beauty fit exactly right in the little nook in front of my never-used back door. This was my staging area. I would transfer the clean clothe from the dryer, up onto the table. Along the wall opposite the dryer, I set up my rarely-used ironing board, which became my pile place. Most of the piles fit on the ironing board, and the top of the washing machine is a good surface for a few other piles.

Here, let me show you:

As you can see, the room isn't.. done. But disregard that and focus on what IS done! Okay, I've got all my hangers ready to go above the ironing board. The Sock Basket (will always have that name, despite not holding any more socks!) is on the table. I am trying very hard to keep the dryer top clutter-free. It has lasted a day thus far, yay!

Make it Beautiful
Please note the colorful prints I've stuck to the door. I spend a great deal of time in this room, and I want it to be a good time. So I am going to make it beautiful. I've got lots of fabric that I find lovely, and will be using liquid starch to stick to the walls.

That fabric covers up an old mildew stain (long since dead, but yells at me every time I go in there). I have more fabric, but must get more starch, as it likes to really soak it up. Great way to add color to a room without investing in permanent things like paint. In between the two cupboards above the washer and dryer, I would like to install a shelf. This shelf will hold Pretty Things and Good Smelling Things. It may even hold a fan, as it gets miserably hot in that room.

My point is, make your working space work for you. Make it a room you look forward to entering. The kids are constantly in and out of there, trotting off with a dishtowel to (re)fold and put away or taking their pile of clothes off to their room. I fully intend on making them a big part of the laundry system, once it is well established and my routine is better oiled. You may not cloth diaper, so that particular load isn't an issue. But we all wear clothes, and they don't wash themselves, or put themselves away. Now that I've got a system in place, I truly hope that I can stay on top of the laundry and that it won't be something I dread doing.

Do YOU have any laundry secrets or tips for staying on top of things?

1 comment:

  1. What good ideas!

    With 4 boys, I, too, spent way more time than I wanted to wrestling the Sock Monster. I finally declared that each boy would have his own style/color of sock, and ONLY that kind. This not only makes sorting much easier, it eliminates the need to throw BOTH socks of a pair away when only ONE is unwearable - because ANY of a particular kid's socks can be paired with any other.


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