Managing the many needs of a large family is a very challenging task. I know, I know, I signed up for this. I knew what I was getting into. I am up for the challenge. One of the biggest challenges of having a large family. is the laundry. Since I'm sure I'm not alone here, and since I've found a system that works really well for us, I'll share it. By the way...I've been using this system successfully for three years, so it is proven.
The first step in streamlining the laundry was to buy a high capacity washer and dryer. It wasn't cheap...I think we paid $1500 for the washer/dryer set. But it has been worth every penny. I can do 10 towels in one load. Excellent!
Each child has his/her own laundry basket. I do all my laundry in one day in order to simplify life. I currently have Friday as my laundry day, and I don't schedule any appointments on Fridays. On Friday morning, every child brings his/her laundry baasket to the laundry room. I run loads like this: Bubbles' & Piper's clothes, Sunny's and Pepper's clothes, Sweet Pea's and my clothes, Daddy's clothes, towels. I do sheets every other week, and always on a Saturday so the kids can make their own beds.
When I buy clothes, I don't buy things that require any special kind of care. If I can't wash it in a mixed load, I don't buy it. It saves me the hassle of having to sort by whites/colors etc. Pretty much this means I don't buy anything white for the kids, which is common sense anyway! Ha! Every August right before school starts, I throw away all the kids' socks and underwear and start fresh. I buy enough socks and undies that there is a pair of socks and undies for each outfit the kids own. I keep any leftovers in a bag in my closet so I can replace them as needed throughout the year. I buy different patterns of undies for each girl. I buy all white socks to simplify the matching process. When I buy the new socks, I write each child's initials on the heel of the socks so I know whose is whose. This is especially helpful because when I find dirty socks spread around the house, I know who the culprit it. If the kids get part way through the year and are coming up short on socks and/or underwear, it is their own fault and they have to buy more with their own money. I have 14 complete outfits for each child--two weeks' worth.
When the load comes out of the dryer, I sort it straight out of the dryer into the appropriate baskets. I change over the load, and carry the fresh dry load to the couch. I fold each child's clothes separately. I fold and put pants/skirts in one pile, and tops in another pile. I also make piles of socks and underwear. Sweaters and hang-ups go in the bottom of the basket, unfolded, to be hung or put away. Pajamas get folded and put into the basket. Next, I match outfits and put them into gallon-size ziploc bags. Each bag gets a shirt, pants, socks, and underwear. I zip the bag and put it in the laundry basket. When that child's laundry is complete, they come get their basket and put away their clothes. Each has a dresser with a drawer for sweaters, a drawer for pajamas, two drawers for bagged outfits, and a drawer for bathing suits/leotards/bras/etc.
During the week, when the kids get dressed, they put the empty bags in their dresser. On laundry day, I have a tote by the couch, and they put their empty bags into the tote for me when they bring up their dirty laundry.
I fold all my hubby's clothes and he puts them away. I fold the towels and the kids put them away. Snapper is almost 14, so she handles all her own laundry, from start to finish.
It may seem like my system requres extra work, but believe me...it's worth it. Here are the benefits.
1. My kids go to school wearing appropriate clothing that is clean, looks nice, and fits the weather.
2. My kids remember to change their underwear every day. Bubbles, Piper, and Sunny all still struggle with proper hygiene because they learned nothing about self care when they lived with their birth parents. If I don't insist on undies being changed every day, they will never change their undies. This system takes care of that issue.
3. All the clothes get worn.
4. Dressers don't become a disaster.
5. I never hear "I don't have anything to wear!"
6. I am able to keep track of what fits, what needs spot-treated, what needs to be replaced.
7. I can always tell when they've been leaving laundry in the bathroom or stuffing it under their beds. When I am folding and find myself missing a shirt or two, or a couple of pairs of underwear, I send them to find it.
8. It helps greatly with overall cleanliness and order in the bedrooms.
9. It curbs my urge to buy excess clothing. I always know what we have and what we need.
10. It allows me to get all my laundry done in one day. If I want to go two weeks without doing laundry, I can, but it makes for a longer laundry day.
My MIL sometimes gets on my case about it. Bubbles is almost 12 and Piper and Pepper are 10. They are old enough to do their own laundry. That may be the case, and they do know how to fold laundry. But in our home, I've chosen to do laundry this way for this season because it works for me. I like being in control of the laundry. There is so much in my life that I can't control, that having a properly working system makes me feel really good. And I like clean kids in clean clothes in clean underwear. This is the only way I can guarantee that. LOL!!!
Here's a photo of last week's clean laundry. Isn't it pretty?