Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sisyphus




I'm linking to Baker's Dozen 'All-in-a-Day' series.  This is an older post, but really, how much does laundry change.
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(This may seem a little jarring, on the heels of yesterday's post, and at first I wasn't going to do it.  But then I decided that it was the best approximation of my life that I could find... the ridiculous and the sublime next to each other all the time.)

You, know Sisyphus, right?  The guy in the Greek myths who had to roll the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down before he reached the top causing him to have to roll it back up again the next day?  I often feel like him when confronted with the job of doing laundry for 11 people.  It seems it is never ending and the hill is very steep.

I have tried many laundry systems over the years, but had to reinvent how we did it every time our family grew.  I started out doing laundry just one day a week.  (Imagine!)  I loved it.  I could get enough done that people had clothes for the entire week and I only had to think about it once.  That lasted through the first couple of children and then I had to go to two days a week.  Eventually I, by myself, was doing laundry all the time.  Something had to change.  It was time to draft enlist help.

I assigned children to help me move laundry around, but I was still doing the bulk of the sorting and folding.  My idea was that I would fold it into the children's baskets, they would come to my bedroom and collect their baskets and take them and put the clothes away.  Can anyone see the flaw in this plan?  I didn't at first.  The flaw was that the children would rather have the folded clothes live in the baskets in my room and find clothes there rather than put the clothes away.  I would go to sleep looking at piles of laundry and it was the first thing I saw upon waking.  Trust me, it is not a good way to start the day.

Which takes me to my current system.  It takes three of us to get the laundry done and then everyone is responsible for some type of folding and putting away.  The biggest difference from the previous plan is that it all stays in the basement until a child brings up their basket to put the clothes away.  I don't have to look at it anymore.  Here's how the job is divided up:  D. is responsible for moving the dirty laundry from the bottom of the laundry chute (a heavenly invention) and taking it into the laundry area of the basement.  I then take over and sort the laundry into piles and start the loads in the washing machine.  I tried to give the sorting job to someone else, but evidently my system is just quirky enough that no one but myself can understand it.  And when I start the loads I can double check things for stains and debris in pockets, etc.  A. (who is on laundry duty this year, last year is was B.) then moves the wet laundry into the dryer and is also responsible for sorting the dry laundry into everyone's baskets.  It is a fairly big job, so she doesn't have other daily chores she is responsible for.

So, I know what you want to see.  What does the laundry room really look like on any given day.  Well, here it is:


I actually consider this pretty caught-up.   The piles on the floor aren't overwhelming (trust me on this) and made-up mostly of towels and bedding that don't really fit in the sorters.  The pile on the right are clothes that children neglected to turn right side out.  I refuse to do this for them so there they sit until someone misses something and comes in search of it.



Here are the washer and dryer.  I'll save my thoughts on the front loader for another time.  They do hold a huge amount, though.



And this seeming disaster really isn't as bad as it appears.  What you are seeing is the clean clothes sorted into people's baskets (or just onto the table if that person forgot to return their basket to the basement).  The really full basket in front is K.'s, who doesn't fold his own clothes at the moment.  B. is scheduled to do it, but he can't really because K.'s dresser is full of clothes that don't fit and there is no where to put the ones that do.  I need to take care of that.  In the meantime we live with this.

It is an imperfect system, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there really isn't a perfect laundry system that exists.  But everyone has clean clothes to wear and I don't have to wake up and immediately be faced with piles of laundry.

Now, because I know if I don't post pictures of G. and L. regularly I will receive complaints, here they are enjoying P.'s birthday cake the other day.  G. is in the wooden high chair and L. is in the white one.




2 comments:

sandwichinwi said...

I would love to hear your thoughts on the front loader. I have one (my second, as the first one died after 5 years:( ) and like it.

My system (for only 7 people) is to pay someone a nickel to do the laundry. Washing earns a nickel. Drying (or hanging out) earns a nickel and folding (which includes bringing in and sorting into baskets and delivering to rooms) earns a nickel. Thus each load is worth 15 cents. My money-hungry oldest generally commandeers all the nickels for herself. Laundry gets deposited in each person's room and they are responsible for putting it away (for free!).

Actually, all jobs in our house are worth a nickel and Rose Bud generally pulls in between $8-14 a week (more in the summer, less now that she's at school).

My less-motivated-to-earn children are salaried and must do whatever I ask them to do whenever I ask them to do it (plus a few daily chores).

I love to see how other people do it. Thanks for sharing!

Blessings,
Sandwich

thecurryseven said...

Ah, my front loader. I'm just not sure I would buy another one. For all the reasons I like it... large capacity and water usage there are some things that drive me nuts.

Three stand out:
1. The really high speed spin does a number on clothes. I have had more clothing wrecked by this machine than I ever had with any other machine. Anything with straps (though I've had it happen to arms of shirts as well), will sometimes get so twisted that the tension snaps the fabric in half. Even with making sure all overall straps are fastened, I'm never sure if they will come out whole. It is aggravating. I also have mysterious holes appear in clothing that never appeared with any other machine.

2. It takes more maintanance because even with leaving the washing machine door open when not in use, smelly slime appears on the rubber gasket and needs to be cleaned off. I also have clothes come out smelling not so nice if they spend any longer in the washer after the load is done than necessary.

3. A minor point, but you can't throw a forgotten sock into the washer after the cycle has started. My type-A tendencies are really disturbed by socks not going through the wash with their partner.

So there you have it. My love-hate relationship with my washer and dryer.

e

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