Friday, June 26, 2009

Laundry: Reloaded

Sorry I haven't posted earlier today; in addition to spending way too much time posting comments to this thread under a great post of Rod's over at Crunchy Cons I've also been cleaning my house.

We fell into a "Friday cleaning routine" this past school year, and have mostly maintained it during these early summer weeks. I used to spread the cleaning chores out over the whole week, but started finding that so much of it needed to be done again before the weekend that it just made sense to consolidate the heavier elements of routine cleaning to one day, and do spot-cleaning the rest of the week.

There are good and bad points to a system like this one. The good is that we all know that Friday afternoon will be set aside for chores, everybody pitches in, things move along smoothly most of the time. The bad is that if there end up being plans for a Friday, or some such thing, it takes me some time to catch up again (thinking that things will get done on Saturday is usually foolish optimism since Saturdays have chores of their own to deal with).

Still, for the most part this system works for the regular chores. I'm still looking for ways to get to the "weird chores you only do once in a while" on a regular basis, and tried signing up for the Flylady daily emails; but the whole first week I was getting the emails, if I recall correctly, her "concentration" was on the guest bedroom and hall bath, two rooms we don't actually have in our house (okay, so there's a bath in the hall, but it's a full bath that the children use, not the kind of bath where you keep the guest soaps and little dainty finger-towels--assuming you actually have any of those, and don't run out to buy them right before guests show up). So I stopped paying attention, and haven't actually checked that particular email account in a while, which isn't helping me figure out a better cleaning routine.

In all honesty I have to admit that the occasional chores aren't the ones that are really giving me a problem these days. That dubious honor has to go to the laundry.

I used to enjoy doing laundry. In a house full of toddlers a basket full of folded, clean laundry represented a triumph of the human spirit, and a finished chore, both extremely rare things. I would throw a load of laundry in every morning, and wash at least one load every day. I kept up with all of it: grownup laundry, baby laundry washed in baby detergent, soft clean towels and sheets, occasional extras like blankets and stuffed toys--it all got done.

The one thing I hated, back in those days, was an overflowing laundry hamper. My first day home from the hospital with my first baby, I did laundry. I wish I could say that I did it with a spirit of gratitude for our recently-purchased washer and dryer that kept me from having to wait to take it to a laundromat, but alas: I did it with that new-mother crankiness that wonders where on earth the army of magical pixies or sprites who will Take Care of Things while you recover and snuggle the baby are, and just why nobody warned me how much heavier a wet towel was going to seem right after childbirth.

But I used to be quite proud of my ability to keep up with the laundry. And then something happened.

My girls got bigger, and started doing their own laundry.

You would think that this would have helped, not hindered, the "keeping up with the laundry" process. But you would be wrong, because what happened is that I no longer have the ability to throw Thad's and my laundry in at a moment's notice in my slapdash and ramshackle way, because it's all too likely that one of the girls is in the midst of finishing up her two main loads of clothing but wants to wash, on a delicate cycle, one of those Darned Clothing Items for Women which either Shrinks or Bleeds and thus must be washed in complete solitude, on the lowest water level, and the gentlest of cycles, before being hung up to drip dry.

To be fair, I have my share of those things, too. I laugh out loud at tags that say "Hand Wash." Hand wash where, exactly? In my nonexistent laundry sink (why, oh why, don't they put those in new houses?) In the kitchen sink, with the drapey skirt folds trailing into the disposal? In the children's bathtub, assuming Hatchick isn't playing a game of "Viking Ship versus Polly Pocket" to beat the heat? In the master bathtub that needs a new handle and often doesn't plug properly?

So the "Hand Wash" things get sorted by color and grouped together whenever possible, but then they have to be washed. And by the time the items are out of the washer and hanging up to dry (occasionally revealing, in the gentle drips, what color they would have turned everything else if you could wash them with other things) I forget that I was planning to start laundry, usually for the excellent reason that it's now time to start something else, like, say, dinner.

I'm working on new ways of keeping up with the laundry; specifically, I've taken to nagging the person whose clothes are still in the washer or dryer (or both) to hurry up and get them done, and I've also taken to doing laundry extremely late at night when no one else wants to wash anything. My next step is probably going to be to get one basket for those items which are supposed to be washed with great care, so we can combine them more easily by color and do more of them at once.

But I'm thinking about the future, and realizing that there's a reason so many homeschooling moms and daughters wear denim jumpers. Denim doesn't have to be washed separately. A denim jumper can be worn more than once.

And it can go in the dryer.


Anonymous said...

When my friends were raving about fly lady I checked out the site, in particular her basic suggestions, like cleaning the kitchen sink. Anybody with a stainless steel sink knows you don't use bleach on it (it will make it rust) and yet there were her instructions for filling the sink with bleachy water. I checked and now she adds the advice for stainless steel to "rinse it off" and use a brillo pad to buff it. Nothing about what will happen if you DON'T rinse it. That was enough to put a giant FAIL on her for me.

Charlotte (WaltzingM) said...

Maybe get one (or two) of those 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot and let the girls hand wash their delicates in there?

Jeannette said...

I can't help you here; I realized at about 10 AM yesterday, outside for the day and far from home, that my shirt had spent a little too much time in the washer before going into the dryer. So I smelled a little worse than everyone else in the 90 degree heat. Blech.