If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have laundry issues. It’s the area of homemaking that I’ve always struggled with the most.
For years, I tried system after system to attempt to fix this issue:
- I tried the one-load-from-start-to-finish-everyday system.
- I tried the only-do-laundry-one-day-a-week idea.
- I tried divvying the laundry chore between my kids.
- I tried Laundry Parties.
- I tried doing certain kinds of laundry on certain days (towels one day, whites one day, etc.)
- I tried encouraging my kids to re-wear things over and over again.
- I religiously cleaned out closets and drawers so that we didn’t have too many clothes.
- I hired out the laundry chore for a few years.
- I’ve even considered having our family become nudists… okay, just teasing. 😉
Yes, I’ve pretty much tried it all. While these systems can be great and work well for many families, none of them seemed to work well long-term for us.
You see, I work full-time and have weird hours in order to homeschool. My husband works weird hours, too.
I travel regularly. And our family travels regularly. We also have an ever-changing routine because we’re an entrepreneurial family and our kids are very involved in their respective activities (something that we’ve decided is a family priority for us).
So all of these things mean that neat little systems we try only seem to work for a total of three days for us and then something comes up that derails the whole system.
This might sound like I’m making excuses, but I’m not. I’m just stating reality. It’s a reality that we’ve chosen and what we feel God has called our family to. And we’re very settled in it.
But it has meant that systematic approaches that work beautifully for other families, don’t work so well for ours.
As a result, for years I’ve felt like a laundry failure. Every time I’d pass a towering pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded I felt mocked and taunted by it.
“You’re not a good enough homemaker!” “You can’t get your act together!” “All the other moms can seem to create and keep laundry systems and you can’t.”
Yes, I felt shamed and discouraged by the laundry pile.
In the last few years, I’ve learned to replace so many of my own incorrect deep-rooted beliefs with the truth. I’ve stopped feeling like I was a misfit. Like I didn’t have anything to offer. Like I wasn’t good enough.
I’ve realized that I do have many gifts and talents. I have great worth and value. And I want to own my gifts and talents.
So, in embracing this, I’ve been challenging myself to also stop listening to the voices of guilt and shame that I hear in my head when I see the laundry pile.
Instead, I’m working on making peace with my laundry pile. With the fact that our current life choices mean things can’t be tied up with a neat little bow. That things will be a little (or sometimes, a LOT) messy. That it’s probably a given that I’ll never be fully caught up on laundry on a daily basis for long periods of time.
And I’m okay with that. Because I refuse to be defined by my laundry pile.
I have many homemaking gifts and talents. I’m great at keeping clutter at bay. I’m great at sticking with a budget. I’m great at keeping paper piles to a minimum. I’m great at keeping up with dishes. And our home is usually 15 to 30 minutes to being “Company Ready”.
You have different gifts and talents. You might never be behind on laundry. You might have an incredible system that works beautifully for your family. I’m so happy for you and want to learn from and be inspired by you.
But I am going to stop comparing myself to you and feeling like because I am not following the same system as you that I’m therefore a failure.
You see, that’s the “system” that I’ve discovered and that’s giving me so much freedom for the first time. To realize that there are more important things than always being perfectly on top of the laundry. That it’s okay to get a few loads behind in favor of investing in my marriage or hanging out with my kids or spending time with a friend or serving in our community or even sleeping.
It’s really and truly okay. My laundry pile does not define me.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to keep baby-stepping my way toward better success with the laundry. Or that I don’t want to continue to learn and try ideas I hear from others or read about on a blog. But if they don’t work for me or only work for a short time period, that’s okay.
So, all that said, here’s my laundry “system” or at least my current philosophy for approaching laundry:
1) Be Grateful For the Laundry Pile
A clean laundry pile means that we have clothes to wear. It means we have more than one outfit per person. It means we have options in our closet. All the clothes are a reminder of the wonderful people I get to share life with. These are blessings that many, many people would love to have and I don’t want to take them for granted.
2) Try to Work on It a Little Each Day
I usually have great ambitions each day to get a load or two or three done from start to finish. But that’s just not always possible and that’s okay. However, I try to spend at least a little time — even if it’s 2 or 3 minutes! — on the laundry each day. Every little bit counts.
If I have more time, I can make a much bigger dent in it. I like to set the timer for 10 or 20 minutes whenever I can and work on it. I usually have the kids help put away while I fold and we can tackle a lot in a short amount of time.
3) Make Sure We’re Not Washing More Than We Need to Be
The less laundry we wash, the less there is to fold and put away. Making sure that we keep our closets cleaned out and pared down helps to cut down on laundry.
I’m also working on encouraging our kids to not put clothes or towels in the laundry that aren’t truly needing to be washed.
4) Have Our Kids Help Me
This has been key for us to not get hopelessly behind on laundry in the past year. Kathrynne’s job is to start the laundry every day and to help with folding every day. I also have Silas and Kaitlynn help with putting their laundry away.
Even though we’re rarely ever completely done with laundry, by working together in short stints multiple times per week, we usually have enough clean clothes to wear that we’re not digging through the pile to find something to wear (not saying that doesn’t ever happen, but it’s not an every day occurrence like it once was!)
5) Keep Trying & Experimenting
I’m holding out hope that I will one day be a Laundry Ninja. And so I want to keep learning and trying new things. You never know if something will work for you unless you try it!
I’m signing up for the Stress-Free Homemaking Course (not currently available online) and am committed to trying the system that Holly outlines in it in hopes that it just might be the perfect fit for us.
6) Continue to Give Myself Grace
In the midst of my experimenting, I’m also committed to continuing to give myself grace. To reminding myself that what works for one family won’t necessarily work for our family. And to remembering that a laundry pile doesn’t make me a failure. It just means I’m human and that life is full of other wonderful things that are taking higher priority right now.