“I’m never folding laundry again. I’m done. The kids go through at least 6 outfits per day. We use at least 3 towels a day. You use an outfit, I generally get spit up or food hands on me at least twice, so I go through more than one. I spend hours and hours of my life on a hamster wheel of perpetual piles of laundry, and I’m done.”
I had stomped down to our unfinished basement where hubby was sitting on his old plaid loveseat, working in the quiet, and I was dumping my frustration all over his serene existence.
He blinked at me.
“Okay. I didn’t marry you so you could be a maid. I understand.”
So, yeah. I still fold his laundry. How could a girl not, with a response like that? But he gave me full blessing for finding a “stop gap measure” to get us through this phase of having lots of little children who cannot help around the house. (The six year old does have chores — I’ll write about what we expect from him and why we feel it’s more than ok to require the children to help with housework at a later date)
So I went to Lowe’s and picked up some plastic drawer storage dressers that would fit under my laundry table.
Which was an adventure, because having twin almost-3-year-olds and a baby in the cart meant that I had no room for the storage containers, which were, of course, fully assembled.
So the 6 year old got his own cart and followed me with two of the storage containers in the main body and a smaller one underneath. He couldn’t see a thing, so I pushed my 80 lbs of children in the cart in front of me with one hand while pulling his cart behind me.
We made it out of the store with all four children and all three storage units, so I’m calling it a success, all drama aside.
But I ended up needing another one, so we went back three days later and played it on repeat. But I tried to baby wearing the infant so a twin could sit in the cart seat and a twin could walk.
But I let the wrong twin walk. Which got interesting. A little hairy, to be honest. But not literally hairy. Until he laid in the aisle and found dust bunnies under the shelves. That was literally hairy.
Anyway, now all three of the older children have all of their laundry in the laundry room. I don’t fold any of it.
That means I’m still folding linens and clothes for two adults and a lot of the baby’s laundry, but I cut a solid 50% of the item count (so many tiny pieces of clothes!) and they can’t empty their dressers when they are bored at 5am, so no more REfolding.
I’m thrilled at this point. I feel like so many problems have been solved with this.
Struggles That My New System Has Erased
- struggle to find all the pieces of an outfit.
- struggle with knowing which child needs what and when.
- have to refold laundry in the dressers after the kids try to find their own outfits.
- have piles of clean laundry getting mixed into piles of dirty laundry in the bedrooms.
- have to fold literally dozens of outfits every couple of days.
- have trouble coordinating my children with each other.
We haven’t moved the twin girl into a “girl” bedroom yet because we haven’t wanted to separate her from her brother, but that day is coming soon. I feel like this system is circumventing so much chaos because we were about to go to TWO closets and laundry going to TWO childrens’ rooms.
I have seen people go to a full “family closet system” where all of the laundry for the entire room is stored in the laundry room. I think my husband and I would both hate that so much that we might burn down the laundry room, but if that’s for you, go for it!
Especially if you are a single parent trying to simplify your chore system, it’s an idea to consider.
I’ve also seen where people put “clean” and “Dirty” towel hamper spots in their bathrooms and don’t fold their towels, but simply wash the contents of the “dirty” hamper only when it’s full, and put the clean towels directly from the dryer into the “clean” hamper without folding.
I don’t care for that idea for me, but I might get that desperate someday.
For now, I’m going to go empty the dryer and NOT fold my kids’ clean clothes!
3 Months Later — The Winter Clothes Delima
My main concern with switching to the no fold system was winter clothes. Would they fit?
Here’s the deal. After 3 months of using the system, we realized we no longer needed six sets of pajamas per kid — 3 is more than sufficient.
Why? Because they go from dirty on the kid to in the washer, then straight from the dryer to the drawer they belong in. There’s no “in between” phase of piles of unfolded laundry meaning that it’s generally less than 48 hours from the time a kid is done with an item of clothing to it being back in its drawer. The entire system is in a one-room bubble.
We Saved A Massive Amount By Buying Less Winter Items.
Because of this realization, winter clothes were a cinch to purchase. We saved a lot of money, in fact, because there were less items needed. 3 pairs of jeans and one pair of khakis per boy. 3 pairs of jeans and 3 pairs of leggings per girl. 6-8 long sleeve knit shirts and 2-4 pull over sweaters per kid. 3 pairs of pajamas each.
It’s so few clothes compared to our norm that I struggled with how small their piles were…
… until I loaded the drawers. It’s the perfectly practical amount.
The boys have button up shirts and a pair of slacks that are hanging up. The girls have cute dresses and skirts that are also hanging, as well as their cardigans. The mini drawers are still enough space for knit tights now that there’s only an emergency swimsuit (instead of three for rotation) in each drawer.
Also, the girls are in a second room now and TinyOne is part of the no-fold system since she turned 1. Gman is going to be transitioning out soon, as he’s learning to fold his clothes and has been faithfful about using his pants 2-3 days in a row and his pajamas 3 nights in a row, as well as getting his dirty clothes to the spot by the washer.
Crucial Parenting Point For Making This Work
It’s imperative that your children NOT have free run of the laundry system. That means you no longer allow them to change their clothes on a whim, or to “try things on”, or “play dress up” with their actual wardrobe. Teach them the purpose and proper treatment of clothes by enforcing that you get dressed in a way that is appropriate for your day, then keep your clothes neat until the end of the day.
It works best for us for me or hubby to go to the laundry room and select the clothes for the 3 year olds and the 1 year old and then bring them to the living room and dress them there. They are not allowed to choose their clothing because we are in the process of teaching them what outfits are for what activities, and giving them a choice causes tantrums and melt downs over something they can’t understand.
Gman is 7 now, and at the start of the day I tell him what he needs to be dressing for. “home day” means casual clothes – shorts or jeans and a t shirt or tank top. “church day” means nice pants and a shirt with a collar, as well as shoes and socks, and so on so forth.
We talk the twins through these ideas as we dress them, so that in a couple of years they will be ready to go choose clothes that are appropriate to the event.
We also enforce the idea that it is hard on clothes and disrespectful of the efforts of the one sorting and washing the laundry to go through multiple outfits in a day or to wear something that isn’t right for the activity: example being a dress with fragile materials being chosen for playing in the yard, or a pair of nice dress shoes being used for riding a bike.
A huge theme in our home is to use things for what they were designed for. Food wasn’t made for the floor, tuxedos weren’t made for farm work, crayons weren’t made to make cool snapping sounds, and etc.