So as we have been settling in its been more than obvious that if we can streamline or make something or anything easier we all benefit from it. And so as I was thinking if our large family benefits from something it is possible that other large families might as well or even smaller families.
So I’m going to start with laundry. It is not my favorite thing. It is one of my least favorite things. And seriously when you add it up…in one week (assuming no accidents) we have 49 sets of underwear…98 socks…49 shirts…and it goes on and on. That’s all assuming everyone only wore one set of everything all week long and no one spilled their cereal all down the front of their shirt 5 minutes after putting them on (which happens to be a daily occurrence usually…the kids just switch up whose turn it is to do it). And I use to really watch and make sure everyone wore clean clothes every day…now I don’t really care if it is the third day that someone is wearing their favorite shirt….it means I have 2 less shirts to wash!
Another thing is that I try and be environmentally friendly. The sun can dry my clothes for many months of the year and then I run my dryer less and the clothes last longer. In fact I don’t use my dryer from about April till mid October if I can help it…and in the winter I hang up many clothes on racks with fans going. I have been known to hang sheets and things that dry quickly outside in January when we have those rare warm days in the 50s.
Laundry can suck the life out of you. At least it does for me, so I try to do all our laundry only one day a week. Then its all done in one day and not dragging out forever. I only have to suffer once a week. I do have a high capacity washer which does make a difference. And I only do sheets every other week and bath towels when I remember to. We live in a dry environment so I don’t have to worry about the towels molding or something like that.
To start I have three baskets in the laundry room and so when the kids take their baths each night, they put their clothes in the designated baskets. There’s a basket for underwear/socks/cleaning rags etc, a basket for “light colors” and a basket for “dark colors”. And the designations are pretty loose. Kids can sort colors at an early age and the 3 oldest do a good job, and the younger 2 are catching on. I have a 4th basket in Clint and I’s closet. On laundry day I haul ours upstairs and sort it all into the same three bins. We also have a little wet bag for clothes that are wet or dirty from a bathroom accident. And I just keep it simple.
I usually start with the underwear/sock bin and if it doesn’t fill up the load completely I pull from one of the other baskets (usually the darks because that one always seems full). When I am done washing then it is time for the clothes line. We have a very long clothes line that is retractable, I think it it 30 some feet.
As a mom with many kids I have learned I can’t do it all on my own and that I only wear about 1/7th of the clothes that I wash each week…and so I’ve told the kiddos that they have to help. And usually they are glad and willing to help. Usually I have a few of them pull socks out and hang those on the drying rack and then I load the bottom of my shirt up with clothes pins and the other two kids bring me clothes to hang up as we work our way down the lines. It takes way less time with all the help.
Before I hang up the next load I pull off what is dry and as I pull it off I quickly fold it. I hand it to a waiting kid who stacks it back in the basket. I use to just take the clothes off and put them in the basket but then it meant that I was then going to have to pull it back out to fold it again…I just combined the last two steps. I have the kids match and fold the socks as well as they dry. Together we can get a load hung in a matter of minutes with everyone working together, it can take 45 minutes or more if I’m on my own.
Usually I can get everything done in 3 loads, if its a sheets day as well it often takes me 4 loads. As much as I dread laundry day, the kids really look forward to it and ask if it means that they get to do “speedy delivery”. “Speedy Delivery” is a game that they made up where I sort the laundry that is folded into different piles for different people and they take a few items up and put them away in the correct closet or drawer and then race back down. Giggles fill the house during “speedy delivery” and you would think we were doing something super fun besides putting away laundry. Clint usually stands at the top of the stairs and helps direct traffic to the different rooms/closets/drawers. In the winter when we do use the dryer, I have cardboard boxes that I have cut and taped together (like this- https://gymcraftlaundry.com/diy-kid-sized-shirt-folding-boards/). The kids usually race each other to see who can fold their shirts the fastest.
With the bed sheets, I fold the flat sheet and the fitted sheet and then put them in the pillow case and then put those in the kids closets. That way if there is an accident in the middle of the night, someone gets sick, or when it’s time to change sheets everything is all together.
So hopefully some of my tricks and short cuts will help others. More hacks for large families (and small ones too) to come in the future.