Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Laundry, my way...Laundry Helpers


Now that we have covered sorting, but before we get to washing, I would like to talk about laundry helpers.

I would say it is safe to assume that most of the laundry in your house is handled by you, beginning to end, if you are the female head of the household. I have been doing the laundry in our house, mostly because the division of household chores runs pretty much to the indoor/outdoor, since we were first married. At first it was because I just liked the way I did it, as he is not as much of a perfectionist (or not at all). I preferred to not let clothes be ruined for the sake of experimentation. Then when we had babies and I was at home, it was my job. His job was at an office, and still is, and my job is at home. I know there are women out there who would argue this point with me, but I am hopelessly old-fashioned and I leave the "his" chores at home to a brief honey-do list which can be accomplished on a Saturday morning, usually those requiring his upper body strength, and whatever putzing he chooses to do on  his own.

Anyway, about the laundry helper. We all have different situations at home, and your household system of doing laundry, i.e. geography, is very personal to you and your house. But chances are, unless you have a cleaning lady who does your laundry for you, you could use a helper.

I have a laundry room in the basement. It's nothing fancy (or even finished), but it allows me the space to do laundry as I prefer. However, until I build myself a family closet (my dream), we shed our clothing on the second floor in the bedrooms and the baths. That means someone has to transport the laundry down two flights of stairs to have it washed and dried and back up the stairs to be put back in our closets/drawers. Until about five years ago, I did that myself. It's good exercise, eh? I also carried the wet laundry from the basement to the outdoors on days when the weather permitted hanging on the line. Then, I developed a hernia requiring surgery, and a year later ruined the hernia repair and had surgery again. If that wasn't enough, two years ago I had a hysterectomy and pelvic reconstruction, and my doctor sternly warned me not to carry heavy laundry baskets ever again. He told me to put a small amount of laundry in a small basket or get someone else to carry it. Period, no exceptions. I'm pretty good about that now, and that's where my laundry helpers come in to the picture.

Such a cutie, age 5.

Even the smallest people in your house can be laundry helpers. Not to carry heavy baskets, obviously, but for many other little tasks that can make doing laundry easier for you. I have a husband and two very large sons at home to carry heavy baskets, but if you have only a husband and little people, leave the carrying to your husband or purchase some small baskets. Even if you have not had surgical hernia repair or pelvic reconstruction, you still need be kind to your body (I have been told by medical professionals that we -- women -- compensate for our upper body weakness by using our abdomens to lift heavy things, which can eventually cause too much stress).

Little people can be helpers in other ways. Every morning chose one little person (a different one each morning)  to help gather up any wayward clothing that needs to find its way back to the hamper. Be specific when training. Don't tell him to find the dirty clothes in his room. Tell him to find any clothes that are under his bed, behind the door, in the closet, in the corner, on the furniture and bring them to the hamper. Eventually he'll get it and you won't have to be so specific (and then he'll turn 13 and will have to be retrained, but that's a post for a different day). Once he brings them to you, you can discern if they are truly dirty clothes and sort them. When he is old enough you can train him to sort.  I mentioned that I have a three-hamper system so that my children can sort for themselves, but the oldest at home is 18 years old and he still is not completely reliable (nor is my 50-year-old husband), so keep that in mind when you set your expectations for your little people. Is doesn't hurt to ask, just don't expect perfection.

Little people can also help to collect hangars. We'll get to why you need hangars later, but anyone who can reach the closet rod can collect empty hangars.

 The pit stop between floors.

Each time you go to the laundry area, decided whether or not a little person can help and bring that little person with you. If you homeschool, it's helpful to bring whomever is having the most wiggles at the moment. In my house it's usually Faith, unless I need some big guns to carry a basket. When you get to your laundry space, your little helper can take clothes out of the dryer, put clothes from the washer into the dryer, run for hangars, fetch clothes pins, clean out the lint filter and, of course, slam the doors closed -- whatever needs to be done that doesn't require much knowledge of laundry. Eventually your little person will be a big person and he, or she, will know how to do laundry. I did not train my two eldest children, and so I apologize in advance to their future spouses. Live, and learn.

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" Milton Berle 



  1. Ok, I have been feeling AWFUL that I don't hang my laundry this time in TX. (Last time in TX there was a line already out there just for me.) This time, there is no line. There is a shed and a tree on which I could possibly hang a string ...but what do you think? Will the birdies poop on my clothes?

  2. Elisa, The only time you should have fear of bird poop on the clothes is when birds roost above them. I have tall, tall trees above my clothes lines and have never had a bird poop on the clothes. Knock on wood!

  3. Elisa, I have a clothesline in the back of the house (LOVE having a clothesline!) and a bird feeder out front. In the 12+ years we've lived here, the birds have only targeted the laundry ONCE.

    And if you don't want to use the "string from a tree" method, I got one of those umbrella clotheslines last summer and it works quite well.

  4. I am enjoying your laundry posts ever so much!

  5. Stay tuned, Elisa, and I will show you a great alternative to the outdoor clothesline.

    Thank you, Jenny. I am so glad.

  6. Glad you have your laundry helpers to help your load become lighter. We have clothesline at the back of our house, because I love the smell of fresh air and sun on our clothes.:-)

  7. Thanks everyone. I'm just loving these laundry posts, because I love the smell of fresh, cleaning, outdoor-hung laundry! Barb, I hope you do a whole post on ways to hang dry your laundry. I looked into an umbrella thing, but we are military, so we couldn't put concrete in the ground.

  8. It is ironic that you would talk about laundry helpers in this post as I was JUST thinking of this today!! We have our bedrooms in the basement and our laundry room is there, as well, so unless I hang clothes on the line (I do for my cloth diapers as often as the weather lets me, but the others are really hit or miss) I do not have to haul clothes up and down the stairs. The exception is kid socks (that always seem to come off upstairs) and of course on bath nights (as the tub is upstairs). Tonight I tried something new (for me) and had my 2-year-old and 4-year-old taking dirty clothes down to "their" hamper, rather than having me make an extra trip or two up and down the stairs, or try to carry it all while going down (usually hauling the babe, as well). The kids LOVED it! Soon I hope to train them well enough to collect it and take it down on their own, as they pick up trash and throw it away. Who said chores could not be fun, right? :)


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!