Saturday, September 05, 2009


With eight children, I have to pay a great deal more attention to this area then I would like to. If I didn't, well, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. Being a firm believer in children learning Life Skills I have enlisted their help.

First of all, we have three laundry hampers; one in the hall by the children's bedrooms, one in my bathroom where everyone bathes, and one in the laundry room. I begin as soon as a child is old enough to stand teaching them to put their dirty laundry into the closest hamper. Don't get your hopes up here though. We do not have stacks of dirty laundry laying around, but I did have to pick up after my eleven year old the other day. Theoretically, if we keep at it they will get it eventually.

Every morning, during chore time, my five year old drags the two hampers into the laundry room and dumps them into the one in there. My seventeen year old sorts them into one of four baskets; things that bleach, things that fade or are very dirty (jeans), middle colored non faders (prints), and things that need special treatment, (red things, hand washables, etc.). I have a separate bucket for cloth diapers. She spray- treats any stains as she sorts.

I have marked all the clothing according to the owner; one X on my oldest daughter's clothes, XX on my second, XXX on my third's, One . for my oldest son, .. for the second and ... for my third. My eight year old sorts the clothes from the dryer into each person's basket. Anything that is not marked goes into my basket. He then moves the clothes from the washer to the dryer and turns it on. He dumps one basket of clothes into the washer, adds soap and bleach if necessary, and turns it on.

Each child over four folds and puts their own clothes up as part of their chores. The ones under four leave theirs in the laundry room. I tried putting them in their rooms, but they always ended up all over the floor. This way I can monitor them better to keep everything in the right place. I would love a family closet (a place with everyones closes in it, usually just off the laundry room), but our house is just not big enough. The laundry room is closer to my bathroom where I dress the little ones anyway. This saves me a trip across the house.

When I go to fold my clothes, I mark and put up any children's clothes that were put in my basket, fold and put up mine and my husband's clothes, and the diapers and put the towels into my oldest's basket, the hand towels in the second, and the wash clothes in the third child's, and the napkins in the fourth for them to fold latter.

If I run a second load sometime during the afternoon, we stay caught up almost effortlessly. I always do the diapers because they take special treatment, such as a pre-rinse.

Socks are done a little differently. I gathered up all the socks in the house and donated them to a local women's shelter. I then bought socks with pink toes for me and my oldest. She wears the same size sock I do, so I just bought enough identical ones for both of us and put them in my drawer. I bought white socks with gray heels and toes for my fourteen year old and white socks with gray feet for my eleven and nine year olds (they wear the same size sock and so they share). My seven, five and four year olds received a bag of pure white socks (plus a few frillies for church.) The baby has those cute baby socks that they always outgrow or lose immediately. My husband bought himself black work socks. Now when it comes time to do socks, I just have to sort by color. Any odd balls will match something eventually.

You may do the math and think I have not allotted enough loads per week for a family this size. I encourage the children to wear the same clothes all week. We are home where no one else can see them anyway. If they play in the mud or run enough to get sweaty, I have them change. But otherwise, if it doesn't look or smell dirty, it isn't dirty. This not only cuts down on laundry but the amount of clothes I have to supply each child with, making it much more economical for our large family.

Bedding is changed once a week or every other week. We don't use top sheets which really cuts down the amount of laundry. Each child that can, strips their own bed. I help the middles make them up still, though my oldest two have got the hang of doing it by themselves. After vacation, a spell of illness, or when I have a lot of blankets needing washing I go to a Laundromat and get it all over with at once. I have been known to take up a full third of a large Laundromat. The one I use not only has several large machines, but a playground also. A few books for my oldest to read to the youngers and some snacks and they are happy for the whole time. My biggest hints in handling a Laundromat; make sure you have more then enough money, sort your clothes before leaving home, and take my mother to help. She is indispensable.

Mount Neverest, as Luanne Shacklford calls it in her book Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling, is conquerable. It just takes thought and planning.

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