Many people become frustrated when trying to organize because they try to do too much at once. I suggest conquering one thing at a time. I would start with laundry. I mean real laundry. If you want to take everything out of your closet and get rid of the stuff you haven’t worn in a year, etc., go ahead, but I wouldn’t start there. Laundry is one of the things we women complain about most. And the thing we seem to have the hardest time managing.
Take it from me, and from my first roommate, my sister, and from my college roommates, and from my after-college friends: laundry is a big challenge for me. When I was living at my parents’ house, the solution was easy: shove everything under the bed.
In college, however, there isn’t much room under the bed, so my friend/roommate JoLynn* and I invented the washer closet. Throw whatever you have worn on the floor of the closet, and when you pick it back up, it is clean. Sweatshirts can be worn longer between washings if you simply turn them inside-out. JoLynn and I got along fine with our mess, until we moved into a triple with Sharon*. Sharon was really neat. There was an imaginary line on the floor of our room. On one side was JoLynn’s and my mess, on the other side was Sharon’s neatness. To this day, I don’t know how Sharon survived that year.
When I moved into my own apartment, things were not much better. If someone wanted to sit on the couch, I put the laundry on the floor. If more than two friends were coming over, I shoved the laundry–yep, under the bed and into the closet. One time I cleaned my apartment, actually cleaned it, before my friends came over. They said, “Catherine, you have a real floor!”
I want to interject that my rooms/apartments were never dirty or smelly. I just had a hard time managing the laundry–and the dishes, but that’s another blog post.
Here are some steps you can take to make the laundry more manageable:
1. Buy enough pop-up hampers that you can put each load into it’s own hamper. We have a hamper for bathroom towels, etc., a hamper for dishtowels and dishrags (alright, cloths, my family always called them dishrags no matter how nice they were), a hamper for jeans, one for socks and t-shirts, one for whites, one for darks, etc., however you sort. I think we have 10 hampers. I know, that seems extreme, but it makes laundry a lot more manageable. When you have dirty clothes, just throw them into the appropriate hamper. When the hamper starts getting full, throw the clothes into the washer.
2. Buy a TON of hangers of all kinds. Ones with the notches for tank tops, sturdier ones for sweatshirts, and ones with the clips for pants. I use plastic. I’m not into the fancy stuff. When you take clothes out of the washer, put them immediately on hangers–that is, if you have a clothesline. Let them dry on the hangers and then put them in the closets. If you use a clothes dryer for your clothes, hang them immediately out of the dryer. Resist the temptation to put them in a basket.
3. Buy enough clothes baskets. We have about seven or eight. If we take socks, towels, etc., out of the dryer, and don’t have time to put them away, we leave them in the baskets. They are still already sorted and are neatly and easily stored in a bedroom until there is time to deal with them. If you have cats, you will have to store them in a cat-free zone, or there will be cat hair sticking to you when you towel off after your shower.
4. Teach your kids to do laundry. My daughters have been doing laundry since the age of 10. I started them off with towels and taught them to sort the towels (when I say towels, I mean towels, washrags (again, washcloths) and hand towels) into dark and light loads to help the learn the idea of sorting. They graduated to jeans (washed inside out after checking the pockets) then t-shirts. By the age of twelve or thirteen, they were helping me keep up with the family laundry. By the time they were in high school, they were doing their own laundry.
There are a few rules to go along with teens doing their own laundry:
-I bought each of my daughters three towel sets. When they get to their last clean towel, they know they have to throw in a load of towels–everybody’s towels, not just their own.
-No partial loads. If someone has a partial load, they have to include other family members’ laundry in with it. Yes, they pull their clothes out of the sorted hampers and wash just their clothes unless they have a partial.
-Everyone washes his/her own underclothes, and we don’t combine loads on those.
5. You have to have enough closet and drawer space. If you don’t, have enough space, buy some containers and store your clothes in those, under the beds. Again, have specific clothes go into each container so that you aren’t searching around for what you need.
If it takes you 6 months, I highly encourage you to make taming the laundry the first step. It will free up an amazing amount of time, especially if everyone, not just one person, is throwing in the towels. (I just had to put that pun there.)
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