When you are a Large Family Mom, one of the biggest tasks of your daily life is…Large Family LAUNDRY. You cannot hide from it, run away from it, or buy your way out of it(unless you hire someone to come in and do it for you!)
Whether you love it or hate it, laundry in a large family is as inescapable as death and taxes.
Having a large family laundry system helps take the guesswork and the angst out of this chore. If you keep up with your system, you won’t get behind. If you DO get behind (everyone does, no worries!) you will know exactly what you need to do to catch up.
I’m going to show you exactly how to create your very own large family laundry system. You’re not going to want to copy mine because your family needs are going to be different. But don’t worry, I will let you see exactly what my system looks like.
I am going to to give you the tools you will need to get your laundry under control, keep it under control, and bring it back under control when life happens.
1. Assess Your Large Family Laundry Situation
Every one of my large family management systems starts with this first step. Before you can start drafting a new system for your home, you have to make an accurate assessment of your needs.
Do you know how many loads of laundry you must do in order to stay completely caught up?
If you do not know this number, it’s time to figure it out. Now, in order to get this number, you have to be 100% caught up on laundry the day before. You need to start at ground zero.
So step 1 in assessing is to get 100% caught up.
Step 2 in assessing is for the next three days stay caught up, and keep track of how many loads you have to run each day to stay caught up.
Step 3 will be to figure your average loads per day. (add up all loads from the three days, and divide by 3).
Now you know how many loads you will need to do per day in order to stay caught up.
This number is going to vary for each family based on number of children, ages of children, size of your washing machine, extracurricular activies involving more laundry, etc.
The more older children you have, the more loads (because their clothes are larger and take up more space). If you have large capacity machines, you will have less loads.
My current number is only 1.5 loads per day. We just got a new large capacity washing machine two weeks ago, and it cut down my average loads from 2.5 to 1.5. At first, this sounds incredible (and it is wonderful to have to put less in the washing machine), but I am still folding the exact same amount per day, so I’m only saving myself maybe 5 minutes per day with the larger washing machine.
The other number you are going to need to know is how many minutes it takes you to fold the average load of clothes. This is simple enough.
Just time yourself three or four times while folding a load of clothes, and then take the average. It takes me four minutes to fold a load of clothes, two minutes to fold a load of bath towels, and my daughters fold the kitchen towels and washcloths for me.
Bottom line: know your numbers.
2. Plan Your Large Family Laundry System
Now that you know the average number of loads you must wash each day, you can start planning your large family laundry system. I’m going to show you how my laundry fits into my daily schedule, and that will help you start to see how you can work your own system.
After I have taken my morning shower, but before I put on my makeup and do my hair, I throw a load of clothes into the washing machine.
After breakfast, I go upstairs and put the clean load into the dryer and start the second and last load of the day (if I’m caught up, if I have extra loads I fit them in later).
I go back upstairs to turn the second load over while all of the children are occupied with schoolwork or playing (I ask an older child to keep an eyeball on the youngest children). While upstairs, I make sure to get the first load folded.
After lunch, I put the younger kids down for a nap, while I am upstairs, I fold the second load of laundry. The children put their own laundry away at bedtime.
So now it’s time to plan your own large family laundry system. Start off by looking at the flow of your day. When do you have small pockets of time when you can step away for just a few minutes? When does it make the most sense in your day and schedule?
Get started with your first load as early in the day as you can. I always wait until I don’t mind waking the children (this is why I wait until after my shower instead of right upon waking). I personally like to get finished with the actual washing as early as possible. This makes it so much easier to find pockets of time to get the folding done.
I very rarely spend more than 10 minutes at a time folding laundry. The only time this ends up happening is if I have had a very busy day, and if I’m behind.
If I’m behind on my laundry, then I have to fold more than two loads a day to catch up.
3. Implement Your Large Family Laundry System
Implementation is always the hardest part of any system. I don’t know about you, but I can plan systems all day long. But when it comes time to actually follow-through…I get distracted.
I have found, for myself, that I would much rather do a little bit of laundry each day, than skip a day or two at a time, and then have to play catch-up. For me, two loads of laundry a day is totally doable. But four to six loads a day (what I have to do to catch up from taking 1-2 days off) feels downright depressing!
I used to take Sunday off from doing the laundry. I don’t anymore, just because I hate playing catch up. For me, Mondays are hard enough without adding an additional 2-3 loads of laundry to the mix.
This is a personal choice though, do what works best in YOUR house!
Here’s a few tips to help you streamline your process:
- When you fold clothes, sort them into each person’s pile at the same time.
- Teach your children to put their OWN laundry away neatly.
- Insist that your children put their clothes in the hamper (these are my favorite because they don’t break) so that you don’t have to waste extra minutes gathering clothes.
- Teach your children to put the clothes in the hamper turned the right way (not inside-out).
- When your children are old enough, teach them to turn the laundry over. Sometimes its not convenient for mom to run upstairs and do it, but you can enlist help!
As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that a lot of the streamlining comes from teaching your children good habits…
I’ve created a laundry printable for you. This should help you out as you are figuring out your numbers. The printable will also help with finding small pockets of time throughout your day to fit in laundry tasks.
The bottom line here is this: Just because you have a large family doesn’t mean you have to become a full-time laundress. This is a chore that can easily be fit into little pockets of time throughout your day. This just takes a little forethought and planning.
What about you? What are the ways that you streamline your laundry systems?