Laundry Day: Organizing chores

When I was a kid, laundry day was whenever someone ran out of underwear, or the laundry pile in the hallway got so bad that it was difficult getting to the bathroom. Whichever came first. So suffice it to say that while DOING the laundry was something I learned young, keeping up on the laundry wasn't a skill I was taught. As a result, I've struggled most of my adult life with this task.

I have tried the "load a day" thing. Only really possible when you have laundry on-site. Mostly I found that doing so I tend to forget I've put something in the washer and it gets nasty before I get back to it.

I've tried the "laundry day" thing, where one day a week I devote to laundry--mostly this has been more successful, especially when I could go to the laundry mat and do any number of loads at once: no matter how many loads I had, it took 3 hours. This was certainly successful, but I hated having to carve out 3 hours as a block in my week. And also, laundry mats are expensive!

We went back to doing laundry as needed in the machine on site at our old apartment, and it worked out well enough. It worked much better once we had a laundry sorter system similar to this one, but ours has 4 bags per sorter and we got two of them. I LIKED having 8 bags, but since moving into a tiny bedroom we had no way of putting both racks in here, and had to squish 6 of them on one rack and do without the other two. It's been working fine, really. Towels go in the bathroom basket or the kitchen basket depending on where they are used; the rack has 6 bags that all hold a maximum of 1 load, no matter how hard you squish things in: work clothes/hot dark, sheets & cloth napkins, jeans, 2 warm loads, and a "cold/delicate" load where I stash my bras so they don't get crushed or forgotten to put into a bag, though I actually wash them in the warm load. We now have enough white clothes that I have seriously considered putting the sheets in the bathroom hamper, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. Socks, underwear and PJs (and some of Mr. Moon's t-shirts) also occasionally end up in the bathroom hamper, so when it's full the procedure is to sort a load of towels right into the washer to be cleaned, then sort the rest into their bags in the bedroom and put back an empty hamper (or one with some towels that didn't fit).

I think that the "load a day" thing could work for us at some point in our lives, but not right now. Trying to do it a load or two at a time, or between other projects where we intend to wash & dry clothes but fold a bunch at once is just not working either. We end up with a giant pile of baskets living at the end of our bed, limiting my access to my clothes and becoming a dumping ground for dirty backpacks, shopping, and getting used clothes mixed in.

So I'm trying the Nony The Slob approach: From what I gather of laundry day at their house, they get everything sorted and then watch TV/movies during any down time. To me, this seems like it would make laundry day seem like a vacation rather than a chore--it's personal time with the ability to cuddle up under fresh-from-the-dryer clothes, and as soon as each load is folded and put away we can relax again! No more than 15 minutes of effort at a time, even if all I'm up to doing is supervising.

Mr. Moon and I tried that today with some success. Our room needed a bit of a pick-up anyway, so we got a load of towels started while we "sorted" the rest of the laundry and picked up our room. During the next load in the washer, we got caught up on the folding that had been let slide before. And by "we" I mean "him" because I took a nap and had creepy dreams while he folded and watched some Jeopardy. Then we got back to it! Washed, dried, folded, watched some Star Trek, got some dinner, and you know the best part? We've done at least 4 loads of laundry today and they're all put away right now. One more in the washer, one more in the dryer, and we are calling it done even though there are still 2 more loads to do. Neither are imperative, so they can wait for another day.

I would like to train my brain to see laundry as relaxing, or at least not dread it so much. If nothing else, to make sure the clean stuff doesn't pile up. I think the key, for us, is to make IT the job we're actually doing, rather than the job we're trying to get done while we do other things. If that means we use some of the down time to pick up in our room or do some dishes, fine. If we JUST focus on laundry and get some TV cuddles time in, that's great too. But making laundry the priority seems to be the key. 
Mr. Moon and I were also just discussing making a weekly checklist of chores where things get done the same day every week, regardless of work schedule. Things like laundry day is going to have to be scheduled as an "all day affair" on a day off or a late shift, but I'd like things like sweeping, vacuuming, firebombing the kitchen & bathrooms to be things that get done regularly on a schedule. And they're all things that if kept up on won't be projects that can't be done on a workday.

I'd also like to schedule in some "personal time" for him, because it was something we agreed to do months before we moved here but has fallen by the wayside. He hasn't complained about it, but I think it would do him good to have some time outside of work where he's not doing chores or hanging out with me. It seems like during laundry day is a great time for that, because it's some built-in down time that I'd prefer he not be in the garage getting yucky then folding clean clothes. And beyond that, as soon as we can get around from behind the 8-ball, perhaps it could include some more time out of the house. Some day, maybe. I think laundry day is a great blogging day too!

Normally for something like this I would scour the internet for checklists and make a schedule, but these kinds of things are so personal! I know what things we struggle to keep up on, so I'll have to make our own. Really I intend to put the chores in wet erase marker on the white board--no need to have multiple places to house the to-do list, right? That would just make it more complicated!

So far for the list I have [one day a week unless indicated]:
Vacuum 2 days a week (once moving furniture, once just walkways)
Firebomb hall bathroom
Firebomb master bathroom
Firebomb kitchen (which really happens about twice a week, but only necessary once if we could keep up on the dishes)
Pick-up bedroom
Pick-up dining room
Sweep kitchen 3 days a week, PLUS part of firebombing
Mop kitchen 1-2 days a week, PLUS part of firebombing
[Pick-up Lounge will get added to the list once we have the Lounge set up and are using it as a living area]
What the heck is "firebombing"?
This term actually came about when I started using Chore Wars, to try to make it seem like a D&D quest. Though I'm no longer using chore wars, the term has stuck in my vocabulary and rubbed off on people.

A firebombing is like a reset button: put everything back in place, fill any refillables that need it, get everything off of and wipe down any counter spaces and such. In the kitchen, this means clearing off the counter, refilling the soap containers (one hand/dishes, one dishwasher), refilling the coutertop spice rack (which houses the most commonly-used spices from larger containers), wiping everything down including the stovetop and small appliances, sweeping and mopping. For the bathroom this is pretty much everything from wiping the counters to scrubbing the toilet and tub/shower stall (outsides too!!) as well as, of course, the floor. The living room here doesn't get trashed easily because the floor has to stay clear for the wheelchair and dishes get picked up almost daily, but at our old apartment this would be returning people's personal belongings to their rooms, re-setting any furniture that had been moved, and vacuuming (oh, and cleaning out the fire place). Things like dusting and re-organizing cupboards and scrubbing walls are projects, not weekly to-do's. Though I would love for things to be cleaned up in such a way that dusting could be a regular, easy chore. Some day, maybe.
So I'll use that master list I wrote above to make a schedule on the weekly calendar, and put a reminder to schedule laundry day each week instead of allowing it to arrive whenever it happens. I'm hoping that by putting these things on the to-do list, then the days where Mr. Moon wakes up before me he can get started on them instead of waiting for my direction on where to start. I'll need to make a point of communicating to him that on days I'm still sleeping when he wakes up, he should just get started on the to-do list as much as he can without me, and check the dinner plans for anything he can chop or pull in from the garage freezer.

What are you doing to make your home run more efficiently?


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