You might find it silly at first to find a post about dirty laundry on a homeschooling web site. But, actually, laundry is a very hot topic in the homeschooling world. Just because families are homeschooling doesn’t mean all of the usual household chores just disappear. As a matter of fact, because homeschooling families are often larger-than-average and tend to spend more time at home, laundry is something that can begin to take over if not properly tamed from the beginning.
So, the question is, how can homeschoolers best tackle the never-ending dirty laundry pile? More importantly, how can this be done in a way that doesn’t consume everyone’s time and keep a reasonably constant supply of clean clothing and linens flowing?
Many homeschoolers have asked this question and a quick Internet search will return hundreds of posts on this subject alone. Usually, families approach laundry in one of several different ways. I’ll hit upon the most common ways to conquer the laundry dilemma here, and leave you to choose one of them, or discover some combination of systems that works well for you.
One way is to have a laundry “day” during which everyone chips in and gets all of the laundry done. In larger families, two or three laundry days are usually needed to make this work (for instance, Mon-Wed-Fri). On the positive side, this method means that you don’t have to think of laundry each and every day. On the negative side however, when looking for something in particular, there is a pretty good chance it won’t be ready to wear again for another several days. Plus, you can forget about leaving the house on laundry day since this method can take up an entire morning or afternoon. There is also the matter of timing; if the dryer takes longer than the wash, this requires another juggling act altogether.
Another option is to keep the washing machine running 24/7. Every day, either at some scheduled time or randomly, someone throws in a load of wash. Maybe even two. This works well to keep the hampers empty, but creates a situation where the system never stops. Although the chore is spread more evenly throughout the week, you’ll never have the peace of mind of knowing that the laundry is ever fully “done”.
[I personally find this method best in my home, and the first thing that I do every morning is start a load while the coffee pot is brewing. It has become a habit and I find satisfaction in knowing that at least one load is done by breakfast. The remainder is handled with chore charting, described further below. I’ll blog more about different methods of sorting and folding in future posts.]
Everybody Does Their Own
As the children mature, they are fully capable of learning how to use the washer and dryer. It is a liberating experience for moms and dads when a 10- or a 12-year old is able to run a load of darks on his or her own. Taking advantage of this new skill, parents can begin to assign this job to the child instead of blending it in with the remaining household chores. It may take some time to get this method to work out just right, and it could be months before a kid stops leaving clothing all over the floor and decides to wash it. Nevertheless, this method eventually pays off, not only in clean clothing, but in understanding about consequences, self-reliance, planning, scheduling and more. Just be ready to remind, and help, for as long as it takes until the children finally get it right on their own. More than one parent can describe the extreme mood changes of a child unable to find his or her favorite pants. Grin and bear it, as this method ultimately pays off big time.
This method overlaps a bit with some of the others, but will serve as a reminder to add laundry to your already-existing chore charting system. I am often surprised to learn that some parents don’t even think about asking children to help with laundry, and do not recognize that this is actually one of the chores that kids sometimes like to do. Laundry directly impacts children, for instance when they cannot find a clean towel in the bathroom. Not only that, it can be fun to sort and fold, when you start to think about it – I have watched many kids turn laundry into a game, or fold t-shirts absently while watching their favorite television show. Point being, kids don’t mind it all that much. Adding laundry help onto a child’s chore chart makes her responsible for helping to conquer the piles that she helps contribute to, plus teaches her valuable life skills at the same time. Both boys and girls should be assigned laundry duty, although for obvious reasons you might want to think about keeping their clothes separated or teaching about the proper way to wash delicate fibers.
Whatever method you ultimately choose is up to you. It may be one of these, or some hybrid of all four. As long as the system does not involve Mom doing all of the laundry herself, you are well on your way to taming the laundry beast. Adopt one of these methods to help relieve the burden of the never-ending laundry pile and free yourself from having this chore take over your life.
[If you have a great laundry tip, please share it below. I’ll be posting more about laundry in the future, so stay tuned.]