One of the most asked questions Bert and I get when people see us with six children (aside from the usual RUDE/nosey/annoying ones) is "How do you stay on top of ALL THAT LAUNDRY?"
Short answer: I don't. And, I would like to point out that asking Bert this question is like asking me to solve a linear equation. He has no clue because as far as he's concerned, a magic laundry fairy appears and puts clean underwear in his drawer, or (keeping it real) in the laundry pile at the foot of our bed. Which I'm actually just fine with, since the few times he's attempted to do the laundry resulted in shrunken sweaters and whites dyed a strange shade of pink. In no way do I claim to be an expert, but I have finally found my groove, and have a pretty good handle on the laundry for the most part. I do realize by posting this, I will inevitably become horribly ill with a stomach bug or another round of the flu, and the laundry pile will reach mountainous heights in a matter of three days. (But by typing that sentence, I'm hoping to have jinxed my jinx.) So, here we go...
BIG MOMMA'S LAUNDRY and HOUSEKEEPING 101
1. Join a nudist colony.
Just kidding. Between the streaking that goes on here, and still having to wipe some of their bottoms, I see enough nekkid hineys as is. But, we do have a serious "NO midday wardrobe changes" rule, unless there is an accident that left you soaked. This mostly helps in the winter months when layers are worn by all eight of us, doubling the loads compared to summer.
2. Bigger is Better.
At least when it comes to washer/dryer sets. Last Spring, my Mom (Aka: Cookie) scored a great deal on an LG- XL front load washer and dryer set, and gifted me with it. The day it was delivered was like a thousand Christmases all rolled into one.
I've read lots of reviews from people who detest front loaders due to the mildew smell. To avoid that, I've simply left my door open when it's not in use, and especially over night. "But Holly, I don't have room to leave the door open in my house." Me neither. We have a laundry CLOSET, not a room, and it's located right next to the garage door, so it's a high traffic area. If we're home and not going in and out, I leave it open. Before I go to bed, I open it back up too. Which is something I always did with my top loader as well, because that's just what Cookie taught me. I also make sure and only use HE detergent. Almost a year in, and I can honestly say I've never noticed any kind of mildewy smell. My baby sister has had one for years, and she also practices the "open-door policy," and said she's never noticed a funky smell either. I puffy heart love my washer and dryer. It can wash an entire bedding set, without getting off balance, and in this house that's something done almost daily. (I could cut liquids off at noon, and there will still be a wet bed or two the next day. Sigh.) So if you're in the market for a new set, I highly recommend you find your own Cookie and have her buy you this set.
This applies to all things housekeeping. Now, how ever low you just lowered your expectations-- take it down another two to three notches. I consider the day a success if at bedtime each child is told "I love you" and they're all wearing (semi) clean underwear. There is no reason for the house to be spotless or for their clothes to be ironed. The house will be trashed in a matter of hours and their clothes will be wrinkled in less time than that. Something my Daddy told us many times over the years, "It's not the clothes that make the kid, it's the kid that makes the clothes." Slightly (completely) wrinkled or not, kids are adorable because of who they are, not how they are dressed. If ironing their clothes is stressing you out, stop doing it. I'm proud to say my children think our iron is a tool used only for crafting projects. I also quit ironing Bert's clothes many years ago. His arms aren't broken, and last time I checked, you don't need to be a Certified Public Accountant to operate an iron, though if you did, he would have that license as well. Another great thing about my dryer is the steam function, which takes the wrinkles out. Granted, Bert couldn't care less about wrinkles, which is why half the time he shows up practicing the "It's not the clothes that make the kid" rule as well.
4. Accept help as often as you can.
Why is it so hard for us as women to accept help? If you're feeling overwhelmed and don't have it in your budget to hire outside help, be it babysitting or a professional house cleaner (Read: MEEEEE) try doing a kid swap with a good friend. Offer to take her kids to the park while she cleans one morning a week, and switch kids out another day so you can do the same. Also, include the ENTIRE family when assigning chores. Husbands are more than capable of sweeping, dusting and mopping. Most of the time, he just needs to be asked. I've also learned over the years that the kids are able to do much more than I realized when it comes to cleaning. My kids think taking a baby wipe to the bathroom counters is fun and sometimes fight over who gets to do it. No, it's not perfect, but it gets done. (See #3) But, if your OCD is still gnawing at you and causing you to stress, you could always invest in a large dog kennel...
5. Take it one day at a time.
Some days even that's too overwhelming and you may find it necessary to take it only an hour at a time. And hey, that's okay. The best advice I was ever given was to take a deep breath and focus on what's most important right then. Some times that focus needs to be shifted to cuddling on the couch and reading a story, even if the kitchen wreaks of dirty dishes and last night's dinner is still on the table. Other times, cuddling needs to wait because the laundry can't be avoided any longer. As long as your children feel safe and loved, you're doing a great job. They won't remember how high the laundry was always piled or the crushed cheerios stuck between their toes. They definitely won't remember eating spaghetti oh's three nights in a row. They probably won't even remember you telling them to pose in that specific corner of the house because it's the clean corner and you planned to put the photo on Instagram. But they will always remember how they FELT, and feeling loved and appreciated isn't something you can make up for once they're grown and things slow down.
I hope you found my light-hearted tips to be helpful today. I just see so many moms who daily beat themselves up over not being as "perfect" as the women they see on Pinterest. I say, if you're home isn't perfect, you've always got a friend in me.
Love and hugs, Big Momma