How We Manage Our Laundry: Large Family Logistics

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This is the second of an ongoing series addressing how large family logistics play out in our home in relation to household organisation. If you’ve ever wondered how we manage in any area of household management feel free to ask, either in the comment box or send me an email.  

 

1st Post: How We Daily Keep House

 

Last month we tentatively shared with you how our family ‘Daily Keeps House‘ and were amazed at the interest and encouragement shown, the comments we received here and on facebook and the private emails have motivated us to continue this series. It appears that you do not find chatting about large family logistics boring at all which was part of my hesitation when I first posted. I was also nervous of sharing as I didn’t wish to give anyone an impression I was stating ‘this is how it must be done’. Large family organisation is not a one size fits all as every family is unique and each have their own way of running their household. Many factors contribute to how a household functions; parents’ personalities, expectations and upbringing, family dynamics, the ages and number of children. The operating of a household is also fluid affected bu with various factors; the arrival of new babies, children growing older, children leaving home, illnesses etc. As I share our household management strategies with you please understand this is not to say, “this is how it must be done” but rather “this is what is working for us, currently”.

 

Laundry is an ongoing and never ending undertaking for a large family and in managing the ceaseless bombardment of clothing many a family will meet their Waterloo. Winning the Laundry War was for many, many years simply beyond me, there was always a load or two waiting to be washed and the lounge was perpetually overflowing with laundry waiting to be folded. So what happened, why today does our washing rarely back up and our lounge is always clear of washing? Simply some of our children became old enough that we were able to implement a new system that for us has been life changing…

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Why Do We Now Win The Laundry Wars?

Each child is responsible for their own laundry. Each child has their own Wash Day and are responsible for; sorting and loading their clothes in the washing machine, hanging their washing on the line and taking them off, and folding and putting away their clothes. This is not a system we could have implemented when all our children were young, it’s one we began only five years ago.

 

At What Age Do The Children Become Responsible For Their Own Laundry?

At age seven our children start becoming involved in managing their own laundry. A seven year old is quite capable with assistance of; wheeling their clothing bin to the laundry, helping sort their clothing, adding detergent and adjusting and starting the washing machine (under supervision), helping to hang their washing and take their washing off the line (standing on a stool), helping to fold and put away their own washing. A child younger than seven is capable of helping with these tasks and they often do but we don’t expect them to assist regularly with their laundry until then. Apprenticing a child this young means by the time they are nine to ten years of age they are capable of managing their laundry on their own without assistance. Of course a sweet request may see me help them hang their washing or help with their folding from time to time.

 

How Does This System Look In Implementation?

When we initially began using this approach it felt odd to be taking dirty washing from the bathrooms back to the clothing bins in the bedrooms but now it’s ‘second nature’.  After five years our children are now in a firm habit of following the plan for managing their own washing. As younger children become older, the need arises periodically to re-invest time into training, time well spent.

 

Where Are Dirty Clothes Stored Between Washings?

Each child has a clothing/wheelie bin in their bedroom. They deposit their dirty clothes in the bin or if changing after showering they carry their dirty clothes back to their room to their bin.

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What About Wet Clothes?

The children either put their wet clothes/swimmers on the lid of their clothing bin or they take them to the laundry to be thrown in with the next load.

 

What Happens If A Child Misses Their Wash Day?

You always have first priority on your wash day. If another family member missed doing their washing on their wash day, they must wait until the ‘Wash Day Person’ completes their washing before they may do theirs.

 

What About The Other Laundry; Younger Children’s & Linen?

Whilst every family member over the age of ten does their own washing, PC washing his of a weekend, we have a seven year old still in training and two children under seven whose washing has to be done. Training the seven year old, washing the smaller children’s clothing and the bulk of the linen is my task, our teenagers/adult daughter wash their own bedding. We wash several loads of linen each week, once every second or third day, when there is sufficient to warrant a load. Whilst I wash and hang, the ‘Wash Day Person’ tends to remove the linen and the person whose area job is the hallway generally folds, with a younger child receiving assistance. Folding the younger children’s washing is also part of my task.

 

Are There Any ‘Bottlenecks’?

Folding, the reality is once the washing comes off the line and goes into their bedrooms the children may leave their washing sitting in the laundry bins for days, I’ve learnt to ‘turn a blind eye’. As our lounge is no longer perpetually overflowing with laundry I’m mostly good, though I do ‘grumble’ when we run out of laundry bins or clean clothes spill out onto the floor, therefore folding eventually happens by the end of the week.

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What About Ironing?

Our ironing is mainly; dress shirts and pants for PC for work, dress shirts for PC and our boys and dresses, skirts and tops for myself and our girls for Church wear.  Whose task it is to do the ironing changes periodically, currently PC irons his own clothes, and I iron our boys’ Church shirts and the ‘need to iron’ clothing for our girls and myself, of which there is little. Every so often I ‘touch base’ with any child over ten to ensure they are learning ironing skills.

 

Managing to subdue your laundry into some semblance of order is an unceasing, relentless battle, a battle I lost for many years, it was only as our children became older that I was able to implement our current system. If you are buried under a towering mountain of clothing, struggling to crawl out with only small children to assist you, I reassure you, time brings miracles, one day life will be easier. If you have older children and are currently buried under that mound, I’m cheering you on, tenacity and organisation are your lifesavers, you can find a solution to suit your family. Holding you in prayer, supporting and encouraging you.

 

  • Do you have any further questions as to how we manage our laundry?
  • Any laundry management tips you’d like to share that work well in your household?

 

Next in our series we’ll be sharing how we grocery shop only once a month.

Is there any particular area of our household management you’d like us to explain in detail?

4 Responses

  1. I still wash all our laundry (eight children now) and hang it out to dry, but whoever is the “laundry helper” for the day often brings it in, and is supposed to sort it. Each of the seven oldest children (18 down to 4) is responsible for putting away his/her own clothes, and the oldest 6 each has another category or two of laundry to fold and put away. The oldest does her own and mine; the second does his and my husband’s; the third does his and the kitchen towels; the fourth does his and the bathroom towels; the fifth does his and all washcloths/cleaning rags, and the baby’s clothes; the sixth does his and the baby’s nappies. They are supposed to get everything put away by 9:15 the night that it’s sorted, or they have to sort it instead of the next laundry helper! It’s working pretty well, although we do still have baskets of laundry in the lounge at times. Right now there’s nothing!

    • Emma,
      Isn’t it great when we hit on a system that works for our family. Familiar with this system, similar to ours five years ago 🙂 Then our oldest began studying outside our home and needs changed.
      So lovely to hear from you, and you’re not far away in NZ 🙂

  2. I think we may be moving toward your system. Right now we have a system for beginning laundry and folding about 2 loads a day, but of course there’s much more to be done and sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, depending on how well the baby sleeps during the day, etc. Leaving it to my eldest daughter to “keep the laundry moving” has, alas, not worked very well since it seems I have passed down my absent-mindedness. My husband does his own clothes for work and my daughter has just started doing her own clothes, so I definitely see us moving in that direction.

    • Angela,
      You’ve had lots of changes lately with G leaving home, and K becoming older and her timetable changing and with new baby Rose and her needs, yep can see that it’s a period of change. Good news is somehow whilst we were blinking your little boys are no longer little {probably not how it feels to you my friend, but does to me ;-)} and are quite capable of stepping up (with some training) and assisting. Encouraging you and cheering you on as you find what works for you. xxx

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