Thursday, February 26, 2009

HomeMaking: Conquering Mt. Never-Rest

When you have a family of 10---laundry can become quite daunting.

Especially if you would like to have a life and do things like spend time with your family, clean your home, prepare meals and homeschool your children.

I think it is important to know how to keep house whether you have 2 children or 10 because it can make or break a mom. It can become very depressing if you feel like you have a mountain of work to do everyday and feel things are out of control. Not to mention that it can be very discouraging and make a mom want to give up important things like homeschooling.

Never having learned the fine art of doing laundry at this type of magnitude, I knew I had to go to the experts. A few years ago I searched online and found the answer. Here is what we have been doing for the past few years which have brought much peace to my soul...

We used to do laundry every day and try to fold and put laundry away the same day. That never worked for us. We would end up with laundry that never made it to the dressers, baskets in the family room and trying to find an article of clothing would be a challenge if we fell behind during the weekend.

Now the method I use is this:

We do laundry still every day. All of the children take turns throwing in loads--from the seven year old and up.

We have a large, rectangular table in our laundry room with baskets on it.

Each basket is labeled with a permanent black pen: Twins, Janai, Naomi, Stephen and Ravi (S&R), Joshua, Joy, Misc., etc. the miscellaneous basket holds towels, sheets, cleaning rags, etc. We have eight baskets altogether on the table, and three big circular bins to hold dirty laundry underneath.

(I am thinking about painting my laundry room this color)

When a load or two is done we simply sort (not fold) the dried clothes into the baskets. This is wonderful because I don't feel pressure to put it away that day, it is out of sight if visitors come unexpectedly, and it is organized somewhere so that if my son needs to find a pair of socks, he knows they are waiting in his basket downstairs. I also am not worried because I know we have a folding day, so I don't feel like any of the laundry is hanging over my head all week.

So once a week (or twice if there is a lot of laundry) we will have our folding party--usually as we watch educational movie from the library. After they fold, we put all our laundry away and when that is done they simply return the empty basket back on the laundry table, in it's right spot.

(This is from HGTV--they have a nice post on laundry decor ideas here)

I know this will not work for everyone and some of you might read this in horror thinking--how on earth could she do laundry that way? Well, this absolutely works for us (even though you might have another successful way of conquering Mt. Never-Rest), when you have a bigger family and still want to maintain sanity, you sometimes have to resort to different means. Many large families have their own techniques of conquering their daily loads. How we do laundry will not look like how others will with smaller families.

For a long time I tried to do laundry like my mother. She was a stay at home mom with one child who was gone all day at school. So naturally, she was able to get everything put away perfectly before I even got home. For years I tried to emulate her example--but quickly after a few children more began to realize it was something of a 'crash-and-burn' technique for our family. I couldn't keep up and felt like a failure.

Now I have everyone from the 7 year old and up learn how to throw in the loads for washing. I barely step foot in the laundry room these days because I have trained the children to do practically everything, so it minimizes my time spent in there.

This was a life-saver for us, and I just wanted to share it with you so you can 'build up your home' by keeping your laundry under control.

I hope that if you try this method, it blesses you as much as it has blessed me!


Tricia said...

The old taming the laundry monster. Systems do work. But it's still tough. A while back my hubby 'stole' our downstairs bedroom to add an extra and dryer set and for the most part with my large family that has helped. Trying to overcome though having 2 loads washed and dried at the same time!! My 11 year old twins do a really good job in there keeping it up. We have everyone's clothes in that room on shelves and rods so no clothes are strung around the bedrooms anymore.

Leah said...

Thanks for this June; I'm always trying to be creative with our laundry methods and I'm only on child challenge in these little English houses is a severe lack of 'laundry/utility' rooms :( The 'piles' end up in our bedroom...any thoughts on this please let me know!!

Sharon said...

Great ideas! I always find mountains are easier to conquer if they are sorted or organized into smaller mountains whether it's laundry, dishes or whatever. Thanks!

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing! Our laundry tends to overwhelm me at times, and I have been pondering what might work more efficiently for us... something along these lines might just do the trick!

Julia said...

THANK YOU!!!! Thank you thank you thank you for that wonderful idea!! My husband and I don't have as many children as you, yet, but implementing something like this now will be sure to save some sanity for me for later!:) I really appreciate your blog and am blessed, practically and spiritually, every time I visit! God bless!

Ace said...

Great post. We really have to do what works for us, kwim?

Some people savor laundry and enjoy it, I just want it out of the way.

Also, I believe it is a life skill and my three year old helps put her laundry in the washer, pours in the soap and vinegar, then takes everything out and puts it in the dryer.

The one year old helps (she empties the lint out and helps put stuff in)...if they can do it..anyone can do it.

Three year old also hangs her clothes on hangers and fold them. One year old helps (when she isn't undoing everything LOL).

I set my goal to work myself out of a job and have my kids RUNNING the household from about 14 on until they leave so they can learn and make mistakes under us. So my plan is to get them to that point from now to then.

I WILL not be that woman I ran into at the store the other day complaining how her 30 year old son (no job, plays video games all day and lives off of her) still doesn't know how to do laundry.

That would be....HER fault :)

Love the pictures, it should be a pretty place (we spend so much time there). I say paint away and post a before and after!

Many Blessings :)

Sarah Mae said...

I love the title of this post!

I only have three kiddos, but I LOVE this laundry idea - thank you thank you thank you! Now I just have to figure out where to put my baskets because our washer and dryer are in the kids playroom...

Marqueta said...

Thank you so much for this post! We also get behind on the laundry-I love the idea of a family closet, too. We'll have to see if we can squeeze a shelf into our little laundry room for baskets!



Anonymous said...

Thank you for these great tips! I've been struggling lately with laundry and really think that your ideas will help our family of eight.

Bethany Hudson said...

Thanks for sharing your method! I only have a family of three (and one on they way) at the moment, but I'm filing tips away for the day (God willing) when we have many more bodies to clothe.

One tip that in my childhood I found helpful for the monster of the laundry (SOCKS) is to have each person put their socks in a mesh drawstring bag. This keeps one persons' socks all together and you don't have to worry about matching up the wrong person's socks when you're sorting. Each person can just fold their own socks: Or just dump their bag into their sock drawer!


Amy Evans said...

Laundry used to be a never-ending problem in my home as well (We are a family of 6). One day I sat down and make a schedule for my laundry (one day I do whites, one day stuff that goes in the dryer, one day I do clothes to be air-dryed, etc.)

I no longer have piles of laundry sitting around my home or overflowing laundry bins, and it saves a lot of time not having to dig through piles of clothes to find certain items.

Another thing that has helped is to avoid excessive amounts of laundry by re-using bath towels and hanging clothes back up after they are worn for a short time (such as my kids' clothes they wear to church on Wednesday evenings).

I think the key in any household is to target problems and then find solutions that work and that are do-able. What works for one family won't necessarily work for another. But as always...organization is the key!!!

Jenn said...

Thank you for sharing ... this was very helpful to me.

Cherry said...

Thank you so much for sharing your tips on conquering laundry. I have 3 (soon to be 4) and am wondering how in the world I'll be able to keep up with everyone's laundry and do cloth diapering too (which I truly enjoy). Thank you for giving a glimpse into how a "large" family does it. It's nice to know I won't have to give up homeschooling in order to have clean clothes! (Not that I ever would).

The Shindels said...

Great idea! With our current family of three, doing laundry in one day isn't such a heavy burden. It IS a burden when I try to do too much housework in one day. Therefore, I have a chore schedule. (i.e. bake on Tuesdays, vacuum on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday, etc.) I schedule one or two chores a day so that everything gets done at least once every two weeks. And if I miss a day, I don't feel the list growing longer, I simply do it the next time that chore day comes. And if I get it done, I feel like I've accomplished something. Maybe this routine will work for some of your readers!

Anonymous said...

I love that color too!! Beautiful, and the name of the post made me smile. Thanks i REALLY like your blog.tammyp

Mrs. Lindblom said...

I loved your phrase "Mt. Never-Rest"! There are definitely days when I feel like I'm climbing up that gigantic hill!
We only have two kids right now (both under 3) but your laundry tip will be something I will definitely be keeping in mind for later years. My two-year-old son already loves to help me put clothes in the washer and dryer and help me carry the baskets into the house from the garage.

Anonymous said...

One laundry hint is to use a diaper pin for each pair of socks. Really helps to not lose any and saves time in matching them.

Anonymous said...

The pin idea for socks works wonderfully!! What do you do about wrinkles?

Brenda said...

Did you read my mind? I just asked about this today on my blog. I found a link that had great pics of large family laundry rooms/family closets.

We folks with small family have a lot to learn from you guys with larger families! Thanks for sharing this.

ktwalden said...

I loved your title and your wonderful post! Your blog always has the most beautiful pictures...

Anonymous said...

"What do you do about wrinkles?"

Iron them. :-)

It helps to take shirts out of the dryer as soon as a load is done and hang them up right away, but not totally.

ladyofvirtue said...

This is pretty much how laundry is done at our house, with a few modifications. I have used the term "clothes-folding party" for years now--I have often used this time to read aloud from our favorite novel and nurse the baby while everyone else folds. We use our 96" long dining table as the folding area now.

Sherry--Large Family Mothering

~Tami said...

It's been on my mind the last few months to get my kiddos help with rebooting the laundry. I think I will. Thanks.

Aubrey said...

I grew up as the oldest of three girls. When the younger two were shuffled off to bed, my mom, who worked in work force as well as the home, and I would sit down and fold laundry as we talked about everything from favorite bubble bath scents to who I was hanging out with at school. Because of that precious night-time ritual, I have never minded doing laundry. In fact, I rather enjoy it the majority of the time. It makes me think back to those nights with Mom. I have four kids under five years old now. Laundry is taxing, but I still find it to be a bit cathartic. This is a good thing, as keeping a home was never something I learned before having kids. To be able to enjoy one of the biggest chores of our home says a lot. I hope to create ways to teach my girls true contentment in all of their household chores. Even if it means staying up late with Mom to fold socks or stack dishes!

Virginia Knowles said...

The other name for an endless dirty laundry pile is "Mt. Washmore"! We have 10 kids -- 8 at home at the moment since one is married and another is in Bolivia for a few months on a mission trip. All of the teens do their own laundry from start to finish. All the younger ones (age 3 and up) can fold and put away their own. For my three boys it really helps if I sort their clean stuff into individual baskets. Otherwise, they won't claim the stuff and it stays in the basket in their bedroom and gets dirty stuff dumped on top. To tell their clothes apart, I have dots in the collars or waistbands -- one for my oldest son, two for the middle, three for the third.

I put a container of clothes hangers in our laundry room so I can hang up stuff as soon as it comes out -- otherwise, someone will cram our nice clothes into a ball in a basket of clean clothes.

We take the bulky linens (big towels, blankets, etc.) out to hang on the clothes line in the backyard. It's always refreshing just to step out for a few minutes.

The laundry is still never "all done" at our house but I try to keep up with it the best I can and not worry too much about it.

My 19 year old daughter who is in Bolivia has to wash her clothes in the river, so I can't complain. She actually said it was fun after the first time she did it. Not sure how she feels about it now that she's been there several weeks!

A year or so ago I wrote an essay called "My Glorious Dishtowel" that some of you might find inspiring if you are weary of serving your families in mundane ways. You can find it at

Mrs. Vinca said...

I love your post!

What seems to work for us is a day for washing towels and sheets (Monday), a day for washing half the kids' clothes and half the grown up clothes (Tuesday), a day to finish up that washing (Wednesday), a day for washing odds and ends, (Thursday), and a day to make sure all the nice clothes are washed and ready for Sabbath (Friday). In between these loads, I soak the stained stuff overnight in the washing machine.

I can't wait until my children get older/can help out. I only have two who can fold clothes right now out of seven kids. Time to exercise patience, I guess. :)

Anonymous said...

That is how I was raised doing laundry as the youngest of 8 children. We had a laundry system almost exactly the same as yours. Once the older 4 children moved from home, then I pretty much just took over the laundry and washed, folded and placed laundry in the appropriate rooms for people to put away their own laundry.

Now that I am an adult, I keep a laundry hamper in the main bathroom. When it is full, it gets carried downstairs and sorted and loads are washed as soon as we have enough for a load of whatever color/fabric.

One tip that I do have, is to keep a bar of old fashioned lye soap or some sort of laundry pre treater near the clothes hamper. In our case it is in the bathroom. Then when you change out of your clothes for the day if you have any spots that need to be treated they can be treated BEFORE they go into the dirty clothes. This cuts down on the time when sorting through clothes to place into the wash, and no surprise stains. Once you get into the habit of doing this it is second nature to check your clothing into the hamper for stains.

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