Ok, so I guess I forgot probably the most important part, the part you were all wanting to know: how do you get all that laundry done?? This may be my most exciting post yet.
About twice a week (no, no specific weekly schedule like much more organized moms), when someone is running out of socks or I realize the laundry hampers are about to eat us, I decide to do laundry. I have two hampers tucked away in a little nook in our upstairs hallway labeled “Lights” and “Darks.” When the kids put in their dirty laundry, they sort them for me as they go into the hampers. The standing rule is that they have to wear their jeans at least twice, sweatshirts at least twice, and shirts and undergarments ONCE. If they are obviously dirty or stink (though I don’t have teens yet), they go in after one day. I have the kids put their shirts in after one day because they have school germs all over them, even if there is no ketchup. But I often wear mine more than once. If it doesn’t have stink, baby snot, or mud from playing basketball in our mud pit behind the garage, then why does it need to go in the washer? Just because I’m American and that’s what Americans do? I’m trying very hard to avoid Americanism in much of what we do, as best I can.
Here are our laundry baskets. (The above Scripture is more from Isa 43:1-7, along with the verses over the mantle that I mentioned in my previous post. The Africa puzzle was our adoption fundraiser and has, on the back of the pieces, names of the people who graciously gave money to help bring our kids home.)
When it gets full, I carry overflowing baskets down two flights of stairs to the basement. Yes, I know it is not efficient, and yes I am going to fall some day when I get old, but our house is 130 years old. I am blessed to have a pretty large front loader and dryer and can get huge amounts of clothes done in a load, so I can usually fit it in 3 loads, once or twice a week. I set the timer in the kitchen to remind me to switch the loads to the dryer and I go about my day. Either that day, or the next…or the next, when I get tired of looking at the baskets of clean unfolded laundry filling up the den, and of picking up what Eva drug out, I declare to the kids that it’s time to fold laundry. It’s not their favorite thing to do, but they are getting more used to it. I used to let them watch TV while doing it, but I was constantly fussing at them to keep going. So now I put on peppy music instead and things go much better! They each find a spot in the den (TV room) and I start throwing clothes at them. I can quickly pick out whose is whose and so to keep the arguing down, I toss them what is theirs and they fold it. Then usually the boys fold Michael’s clothes, the girls fold Eva’s, and I FOLD MY OWN. Yes, I have let go of the need to make sure all their stuff is not wrinkled and is organized properly, but I still want mine done RIGHT. I send them up with their pile to put away, and it is gone! No more waiting around to put it away till I discover I need the baskets again. No more me sitting for 3 hours to fold everyone’s stuff neatly. 30 minutes and I don’t have to look at it anymore. (Now I do get a little nauseous when I see inside some of their drawers, but I try to close it quickly and the feeling goes away. When the kids start caring that they have wrinkles, then maybe they’ll do a better job. I will say that at times, though, that some of their items get rejected with a “Not good enough” stamp, in true Dave Ramsey form.)
One thing I realize that God has gifted me with is a mind that likes to focus on efficiency. (Though it’s an obvious curse as well. I have to work on my attitude when I think that my way is the best way of doing things. Well, because it is.) I have a degree in math. I am very spatially oriented. I can pack a ton of stuff in a small space though I am always seeking new ideas. I love to parallel park. I multitask, to a fault at times. And so sometimes I am energized by the fact that I have 5 kids and we have to go somewhere— “I can do it!” (Getting there is not always pretty though.) So I wonder if being a mom of a lot of kids is more of what He had planned for me in using those gifts, even more than being called to do calculus…. I can count to 7. And we all wear clean clothes. Well, mostly clean.