Ask the Moms, part 9 – Laundry mountain

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It’s amazing, isn’t it? Amazing that two teeny, tiny babies can create such a huge pile of laundry, in such a short period of time. Key to your survival as a new mom of multiples, whether you work outside of the house or not, is keeping up. Not only do you not want to run out of burp cloths (holy crap, the pile my kids were going through every day when they were six months old…) and shirts, but you don’t want the laundry monster to take over every room in the house.

And so to you, dear readers, we offer the following strategies:

  • Put in a load (nearly) every day. Many of us have a routine such that we throw in the load just after the kids go to bed, throw it in the dryer before we eat dinner, and fold/sort while watching trashy TV before bed. It may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but it’s not like you were going out for happy hour, anyways. If you do a little bit almost every day, then you won’t be hit with 10 loads to do on a Sunday.
  • Share the love. If (like me) you go to bed earlier than your night-owl husband, let him put in a load. If you have a babysitter, ask her to fold the baby things while they’re napping. If you have cleaning ladies, spend the extra couple of bucks and have them change your sheets and throw the old ones in the wash before they leave. Laundry is one of those constant, ever-present things that is easy to get burned out on if you have to do it all the time. Have other people do some, and at least you won’t feel like you’re standing in front of the dryer 24/7.
  • Don’t over-sort. Get a “free & clear” style detergent, and use it for everyone’s laundry. Don’t bother with that specialty baby stuff. That way, if there’s half a load of baby stuff and half a load of adult stuff that needs washing, there’s no reason not to combine them. Most baby stuff is fairly sturdy cotton blends, so don’t make extra work by separating darks and lights (unless you have a piece that you think is a major color-stain risk). Just throw it all in on “warm” and call it a day.
  • Keep multiple laundry baskets. If you don’t do this already, we can’t recommend it highly enough. One for mom & dad, one in the kids’ room, and if you have another frequent laundry-producing area (next to the pack & play in the den, in my house), put one there too. A single, over-filled laundry basket (which will be overfull before you even finish the load you just dumped out of it) is somehow more overwhelming than 2-4 baskets around the house. Maybe it makes you feel like you have a choice as to which one you do next? I don’t know, but it works. Some also find this helpful when it comes to folding and putting away – one load is all linen closet stuff, one is all going in the master bedroom, etc.
  • Waste not. There’s only so much we can do about all of the laundry detergent we use, but if you’re throwing in a smaller-sized load, at least make sure you adjust detergent and water levels accordingly. Also, if you’re using dryer sheets (they do make “free & clear” style ones), use the tip I got from my mom: half a sheet is plenty for the whole load. Tear ’em in half, and the box will last twice as long.
  • Re-wear. This depends entirely on your kids and their mess level. But believe me, if your kids re-wear a pair of pants that managed to avoid spitup and pureed sweet potatoes on the first wearing, we certainly won’t judge. More power to ya. Other common multiple-usage possibilities: pajamas, towels, sleep sacks, sometimes even socks for the pre-mobile set.
  • Let older kids help.  If you’ve got elementary-school kids, let them fold their own laundry! (Under supervision, of course.)  Kids as young as 7 can be taught to do their own laundry, I swear.  If you’re using any kind of positive points system in your house, kids can get points for laundry (and other chores) to be used toward favorite privileges.

Laundry is one of those never-ending chores, especially when there are two (or more) young children and babies involved. No sooner do you think you finally have everything clean, than you discover a stray pair of socks or last night’s pajamas. Sigh. But if you keep chipping away, hopefully it won’t get to the point where you have to run in fear of the monster living in your laundry baskets.

Any comments from the peanut gallery?  Your suggestions for keeping up with the laundry and keeping your sanity?

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6 thoughts on “Ask the Moms, part 9 – Laundry mountain”

  1. Great tips! One other thing I’ve discovered is Charlie’s Soap. It’s mild yet strong enough to clean even dirty cloth diapers, comes in environmentally friendly packaging (paper, coffee bean type bag). No scent, leaves no residue, works great in cold water, and is not expensive. And they ship for free from the website! I love it.

  2. These are all a lot of the same things that we do – every other night (bath night) after they go to sleep. Multiple baskets, no separating, etc. The big thing I do differently is I usually fold after work when I am with the kiddos. I can supervise them, and they are interested in “helping”. Sometimes helping means unfolding what I folded, but they are involved in daily household tasks.

    Oh, and putting laundry away. I have a rotating system, where I always put the new laundry on the bottom of the drawers and in the far end of the closet. That way I am sure to rotate through all of their clothes before they outgrow them, rather than always pulling from the newly washed clothes.

  3. I put in a load before breakfast, in the dryer during breakfast, and then have the whole day to (maybe) fold it. And we totally re-wear stuff! If the clothes are at all un-crusty and comfy, then the kids sleep in them and/or wear them the next day (this is especially true in the winter when we hang out in sweats all day indoors). Ditto the multiple laundry baskets!

  4. A budgeting trick … instead of using high-efficiency detergent in a high-efficiency washer, use a third the volume of regular detergent you would use in a “regular” washer. 1/3 the water … 1/3 the soap!

  5. My twins are 5 now. Since about the time they turned 4, I had them put away anything that goes in their drawers (underwear, socks, pjs, swimsuits, etc.). If these items are not folded properly or wrinkled it really does not matter. I do not fuss over whether the drawer looks neat or not. As long as it is in the proper drawer and the drawer is closed, I am happy.

    For daily outfits (jeans, shirts, dresses, etc.), I hang everything. If I hang it right after if comes out of the dryer then I do not have to iron. Once I put them on the hangers, the children put the clothes in the closet.

    The honest truth is that I HATE laundry. I never did before I had children but now it seems like the chore will never end. I do my best to keep up with it on a daily basis. Sometimes I slip and have to start catching up the next day.

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