Monday, February 7, 2011

Cutting Ties with the Laundry Room

It seems like this is a topic I used to blog about a lot.  It was a continual struggle.   Since a friend has asked me to share how we handle laundry at our house, and it's been awhile, I thought I'd share how we currently do things around here.

I used to have HUGE control issues with laundry.  As our family grew, it got crazier.  I taught my children, from a very young age, how to do the laundry--how to use the machines, how much detergent to use, which buttons to push, etc., but as far as letting them do their own, I honestly couldn't figure out how to detach myself from the never-ending spin cycle.  I HAD to do it.  Our machines hardly ever rested.  It was a daily chore.  How was I ever going to let someone else into my chaos.

As I struggled more and more and became more and more resentful of the washer and dryer (that became increasingly inefficient), I knew something HAD to give.  There had to be something I was missing.

It was at this point that I re-learned a lesson that I'm sure I had learned and re-learned ever since I became a mom.  It was--"Never do for a child what that child can do for himself."  In order to free myself from this crazy way of doing things, I had to hand some of it over to them.

So, here's the plan.  Every child who is in middle school and older does his/her own laundry.  They each have their own day.  I get Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I do the laundry for the Warden and Inmates #4 and younger.  I also do most of the towels and other household items, but they know that if they have room for more items in a load, they can throw in towels, blankets, sheets, or whatever they can find in the laundry room that might need washing.

Inmate #1 has Tuesdays; #2 has Thursdays; #3 has Fridays.   We are to be done and out of the laundry room by midnight each day.  As of next year, #4 will have Wednesdays; he has already expressed his anxiety of going to middle school.  When I asked him why, he replied with something I didn't expect, it wasn't worry about going to another school, it was, "Because then I have to do my own laundry." 

At this point, I know there have been weeks when they've forgotten to do their laundry.  I know there have been times when they've run out of clean clothes, and darn it, I know they've not folded things at times, but the beautiful thing is.....It's not my problem!  That's what I love about it.

In the past, on my days, I've taught the little ones how to throw a load into the wash.  I've kind of let this go, but I need to reimplement this way of doing things.  #s 4 and 5 know how, but I don't ask them to do it very often.  That's going to change--today.  Won't they be excited when they get home?

Oh, the other thing we do is that I don't put one load of laundry away except for sometimes (very rarely) my own.  If I'm willing to wash, dry and fold, they get to put away.

The one thing I noticed, when we started doing things this way, was that laundry actually had an end.  I was able to cut ties with the laundry room.  It was amazing how liberated I felt.


Andrea said...

I need to assign days for my kids. Yeah they are lucky they have to do their own laundry in elementary school. :) Wah ha ha ha!! My kids have ran out of clothes too and oh well. They are learning but heck it is hard to make sure they are able to keep it up.

Unknown said...

That sounds like a good plan! I don't have quite the obsession with doing it myself because I think they can't do it, it is becasue they DON'T do it. Or it takes an hour to move clothes from the washer to the dryer. Or they get grossed out by touching underwear. (My kids are such wimps!)

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