Okay friend, when I say I do laundry once a week, I mean that I do clothes laundry one day a week for seven people. I do sheets and towels another day, but that is so minor it doesn’t really count. If your house is like my house, it’s the clothes laundry that easily gets out of hand. This system I’m gonna share with you is super simple and is something any motivated mama can do.
First, let’s talk about the bane of every mother’s existence everywhere. We find it lurking in pile after stinky pile, overtaking our laundry rooms, and spilling out into the living room, taking up residence in the bedrooms and spreading faster than frosting on a still-cooling birthday cake.
The average American family does 8-10 loads of laundry a week, and each load takes an average of one hour and 27 minutes to complete. Without overlapping the loads, that’s 12 hours of laundry every week! (But just in case you’re wondering, that’s NOTHING compared to how much laundry is done at Disney World every day, where they wash an astounding 285,000 pounds of clothes every single day.). But I digress.
I’m just gonna tell you that I haven’t always had a system. I have done laundry haphazardly throughout the majority of my motherhood.
I Needed a Plan
But I knew I needed a laundry plan when I started to pull clean clothes straight out of the dryer because so much of my other stuff was either dirty, or it was clean but too wrinkly to wear. And then there was that one time my daughter had to wear her hooded bath towel until lunch because she had no clean underwear. So. Yeah. System was needed.
I was also so blasted tired of the laundry basket full of clean clothes mocking me every time I walked past it. I had a habit of taking it around the house with me throughout the day, but I’d get distracted or decide I’d rather do other things than fold. What did it say, you ask? Here’s a sampling that might sound familiar:
“Jen, you’re a total mess. Why can’t you even find 10 minutes to fold these clothes?”
Or “Dang, lady. If you had your life together you would have folded me two days ago.”
“Are you just waiting for these clothes to fold themselves? Not gonna happen.”
“The mess you see is just a reflection of the mess in your brain.”
Those days of desperately wishing for the Laundry Fairy to show up were oh so real.
It was long after baby number 5 that I realized if I could just come up with a system, my laundry life would get so. much. better. After all, I met a mom of NINE KIDS who did 7 loads of laundry everyday. Yes, 7 loads. That’s not something any mom should attempt lightly. I knew her daily laundry thing was her jam. I knew it would do me in.
Benefits of Time Blocking
And then I learned the idea of time blocking. It’s the idea that we do specific things that correlate with each other at the same time to save mental energy and streamline our lives. Take meal prepping for example. Several women I know swear by a once-a-week meal prepping session where they make all of their meals for the week in one several-hour jam session in the kitchen. They cook all their meat, prep noodles, soups, casseroles, chop veggies, etc. in one go. They make one huge mess in the kitchen a week instead of 5 or 6 separate little messes. (I’m currently testing this out for myself … I’ll let you know how it goes!)
You know I’m totally down with increasing my productivity and finding simple systems that work. To check out my other ideas for becoming more productive as a mom, read this post here.
I decided to try this time blocking idea with laundry.
And it has changed my life. Are you ready to know how I only do laundry once a week for 7 people? Let’s do this!
How I Only Do Laundry Once a Week
Here’s what it looks like:
Step 1. Choose a day.
For me this day is Thursday. I know this is one of the free-est days in my weekly schedule. I don’t schedule a lot of things outside of the house, especially in the morning. Yes, I am typically home for our homeschool hours anyway, but this is a special day dedicated to staying at home for a good chunk of time. No appointments, no playdates, no grocery shopping, no field trips. Not only is it great for laundry, it’s seriously good for my soul.
Whatever day you choose, make your schedule as free as possible.
Step 2. Sort.
I get started early, at least before breakfast.
The first thing I do is sort all the laundry.
I make these 5 piles:
-darks for my husband and I
-whites and lights for everyone
-darks for my 2 girls
-pants, underwear, and socks for my 3 boys
-shirts and pajamas for the boys
Moving as quickly as possible, I sort them onto the laundry room floor and go through all the pockets and pull everything right side out (except for jeans, which I wash inside out). Stopping the laundry flow to sort clothes every time I switch the loads is a time waster, so I do it all in one 15-20 minute chunk first thing in the morning. Time blocking at it’s finest.
I’ve started asked my 8 year old to help me with this sorting process to make it go faster. And I just had the bright idea to get my kids to go through their own pockets and take their hampers to the laundry room the night before. I’m already imaging how organized I will feel to walk into the laundry room on Thursday morning to all of my obedient laundry children just waiting to be washed and cleaned! Ha!
You may be wondering about the color sorting, or lack thereof. Other than setting aside the whites and the super lights (like blush, cream, and powder blue), I just wash it all together. Don’t be upset, and please don’t tell the laundry gods who might get mad. But … it really does work out just fine. And I’ve never had any article of clothing bleed dye onto anything else. I do wash all denim inside out before its ever worn, and it’s been no trouble.
Step 3. Start the wash and set the chime.
You better believe that I have the chime for the completion of each washing and drying cycle set as loud as it will go. As soon as I hear it, I get myself to the laundry room to switch it over. I’m even such a nerd that I try to race myself every week to see if I can get through all 5 loads faster than I did the week before.
And just to prove my nerdiness a bit further, I try to maintain super positive vibes flowing from me toward my washing machine. I mean, I could have to use a washboard and the whole plunge and scrub method that Tom Cruise taught Nicole Kidman in Far and Away. Hmmm … actually if Tom Cruise would come and teach me how to properly plunge and scrub, maybe I don’t need that washing machine so much anyway. Just kidding. Sort of.
Step 4. Fold as you go.
Every time a load completes in the dryer, I pull it out and drag it to wherever I am. And I just start folding. Typically, I bring my basket to our homeschool room. Let me just tell you, it is totally possible to read Peter Pan aloud and fold laundry. I can play Candy Land and fold. We can listen to a read aloud book or a podcast and I fold. I fold during bedtime story time. Basically, I fold like crazy throughout the day, knowing that I am earning myself 6 clothes-folding-free days.
As I fold, I put the clothes into baskets (one for the girls, one for the boys, and one for the adults) and then deliver the baskets to the room where they belong. Better yet, I have my kids “drive” the baskets to the proper room.
Step 5. Put it away.
At the end of the day, we put it all away. My husband and all kids who are over 8 years old put their own laundry away. Once it’s folded and in the basket, I don’t touch it again until I sort it the next Thursday morning. I still help my 6 year old and 4 year old put their clothes away to preserve my hard work.
And voila! All the clothes laundry done once a week!
A Few More Things
A few more things have made doing laundry once a week work like a dream for me.
I involve my kids.
At least once time on laundry day, I ask my older kids to transfer the laundry and start the next loads. I reason that if they are capable of operating an iPad with expert precision, they sure as heck can start a washing machine.
I set aside a day just for sheets and towels.
It’s Tuesday. So on Tuesday morning, I have my kids strip down their beds and bring me their sheets and pillowcases. And lest you be impressed, I only do one kids’ room a week and they switch off weeks. So yes, they go a full two weeks without having their sheets cleaned. But that’s WAY shorter than it was before I started my bomb dot com laundry system. When their sheets are done, they go straight back on their beds. No need to fold sheets EVER. The towels are one quick load that I fold during story time. Easy peasy.
My kids own clothes for at least 8 days.
This means at least 8 pairs of underwear and socks, and enough pants and shirts to make it that long. And honestly, they own way more than that. My kids know that laundry happens every Thursday and they are to plan accordingly. No late night loads for the random Frozen sweater for the Saturday birthday party. Maybe this makes me a mean mom, but I had to draw my line in the sand and this is where it is. The ONLY time I’d do an extra load would be if someone wets the bed or gets sick during the night. Which does happen, but thankfully it’s almost never.
I focus on gaining 6 clothes-laundry-FREE days per week.
Sure, doing it all in one day is a lot of work, but when my mental game is right, I feel like I’ve basically conquered the world every Thursday! I mean, for 6 days I don’t even look at the hampers, and I’m free from that mocking voice of the clean but unfolded laundry basket!
What do you think, mama? Please let me know if you want to try doing your clothes laundry once a week!
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