Friday, March 11, 2011

Tips&Tricks~ Thinking Outside the Box... Even with Laundry!

Posted by ToddleToots! at 6:00 AM
This is a special guest post from a mom of 3 who has some great practical and creative ways of simplifying the daily pain in the you-know-what chores that must get done.  Especially, when we have little ones running around making everything a little more complicated or taking a little more time than it would have sans kiddos. She is a special friend of mine. She likes to think outside the box to come up with creative and resourceful ways of doing even the more mundane things to help make life more practical and simple enabling her to have more focused family time.  Please meet Nicole A! You can find her over at ThingsOnlyParentsSay...

Exaggeration! (not really Nicole's laundry problem,
but obviously somebody's)
My solution to our Laundry problem:

Laundry is not my favorite chore. Yet, I was keeping up with it well enough until I got pregnant with our 3rd child. First, you should know that our laundry room is in the basement, while all of our bedrooms are on the second level of our house. Secondly, I was a new stay at home mom with a 3 1/2 year old, a 4 monthold and PREGNANT! We were shocked to say the least. (I am one of those not-so-lucky ladies that throws up for all 9 months of pregnancy too.) Well, once the sheer shock and slight terror wore off a bit, I took a look at a few things in my life. I realized pretty quickly, that some changes needed to be made in order to accommodate where we were at in life. I needed to simplify and mainstream as many things as possible.  

One of the biggest frustrations I was having was laundry - it felt like it was everywhere. Some was in our closets and dressers, dirty laundry was on the floor in all of our rooms, we had baskets of clean clothes on the floor in our rooms as well.  Of course, we had clothes in the laundry room too - some dirty in piles, others clean but unfolded, etc. Getting myself dressed in the morning was a chore (running up and down the stairs searching for different items) - let alone trying to get the kids all dressed. I was finding myself more & more frustrated by the day. I felt like I could never find ANYTHING! 

So, one day I asked myself why I was continuing the lunacy. What I was doing wasn't working - that much was clear. So, I needed to think outside the box. I finally came up with something that would work for me and my family. I didn't have a name for it for a long time, but over the years, I've come to realize that I am not the only one out there to do this. This crazy thing that I decided to do is called a 'family closet'. 

I decided to have all of our clothes stay in the laundry room. I set up dirty laundry baskets on one side. Then on the other side of the laundry room by the dryer, I set up a series of baskets for our clean laundry - every person in our family got their own basket (or baskets for those of us adults with more clothes). I set these baskets on a table like thing, so the clean clothes stay off the ground & to give the opportunity to utilize the space under the table. We also have a closet for hanging clothes. (I call our set up the ghetto version…if you google 'family closet' you will see some pretty sweet set ups, but you can do it on the cheap & just make it functional too.) I  also decided to hang bags (like grocery bag size) off the outer edge of each basket for everyone's socks & underwear. There are containers you could buy for this kind of stuff too…but mine was built out of desperation, so I used whatever I could find. I also quickly realized that I needed a separate bin for the clothes the kids have grown out of. (I find myself going through that bin about ever 4 to 6 months - to separate out by gender and donation vs. keep, etc.) 

Here's the beauty to this set up: 
1. I can go down to the laundry room and get clothes for myself & all of my children in one fell swoop. 
2. It made it way easier to fold laundry right away & set it in each person's basket and be done with it. 
3. When my hubby wakes up to go to work - he doesn't wake me up by bumping around our room. Now, he can just wake up and go down to the laundry room to get dressed. 
4. He can also just toss his dirty laundry in the appropriate baskets right away. Which makes doing laundry easier because I rarely have to go around to each room gathering huge piles. (I occasionally have to gather socks from rooms, but even that is really is not all that often.)
5. The grow out bin is nice to have right there, because I can toss the freshly laundered & folded clothes right into it, and I don't have to do a grand sorting - I can just do it easily while doing laundry. 
6. Even as our kids get a little bit older, their rooms don't get messy with clothes & dirty laundry. 

Examples from

Here's the weaknesses of this set up (full disclosure):
1. Clothes in the baskets can become messed up pretty easily (especially when in a hurry), so I do need to take a little bit of time every once in a while to re-organize each persons area. 
2. When life is really crazy, I sometimes settle for draping each persons clothes in their baskets or areas rather than folding them…not as organized looking, but still functional. 
3. You don't really have room for other seasonal clothing, so when the seasons change, you have to do some swapping out.

Overall, the positives SO far outweigh the negatives. ESPECIALLY early on. Even though, it's not the traditional way…it really is a system that works for us. It instantly lowered my stress level in that department. Now, it's hard to imagine doing anything else. Laundry is just so streamlined, that changing it to be more 'normal' feels like an act of stupidity and making our life more complicated. 

I guess more than anything - this is me encouraging you to give yourself permission to think outside of the box and do what works for you and your family. :-)

Thank You Nicole for sharing with us one of your tips & tricks! If this inspired you, or you have a tip that has simplified your life with kids (if it's short go ahead and leave it in the comments, but if it's longer submit it for a post similar to this one), please share it with us.

Enjoy your weekend,


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