One Step at a Time

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, but all the blog buzz about new beginnings and One Little Word choices got me thinking about the things I’d like to change. Most of my thoughts centered around things like wanting to get things tidier, make more stuff, go more places, do more interesting things together as a family, save (and make) more money and get more active. It really all boiled down to wanting to get more done.

Which means that if I had a word for 2012, it would probably be MORE. But I don’t like the way that sounds. Greedy sounding, right? But it’s not like I want more diamond shoes or ponies–not that I have any. I’m not Belle singing, “I want much more than this provincial life.” Life is good. I’d like to have the same wonderful life I already have, but with the volume turned up.

That is overwhelming. Those are overwhelming thoughts. It’s so MORE oriented that it’s too much. But, one step at a time, it’s totally doable.

Step 1- Laundry

The area I’m focusing in on first is cleaning. If you every wonder, “How do they do it all?” the answer is a super messy house. We’ve always been messy. Like, super messy. You have to step over things to get from one end of the room to another messy. It takes an entire 24 hours of cleaning to make the house presentable for visitors messy. That messy. And it’s not like our family is going to magically change that over night. But the messy is stressful, and I want cleaning to be a) routine, b) efficient, and c) a team effort.

So, with the mantra One step at a Time in my brain, I started my project for the year by rethinking laundry. This was kind of a test run for One Step at a Time, because laundry is mostly my department (so I didn’t have to focus on getting the whole house on board right off the bat). My problem is that I like doing laundry, but I hate sorting it, folding it, and putting it away. So mostly I only like the putting it in the machine and the switching it over part. Which is like, 5% of laundry doing. So common was a big pile of dirty laundry in our closet (which, again, is also the laundry room) and baskets full of clean laundry that you have to dig though to find a pair of clean socks (good luck).

Before we moved to the house, it sort of made sense to get backed up on laundry. Laundry required quarters at the loft, which we were always running out of, and we had to wait to use the machine we were sharing with the whole floor. But now that we’re in Holly House with our very own quarter free washer and drier right in our closet on the second floor, there’s really no excuse. Obviously some changes were needed.

Master Closet

I only have a before picture of our closet. The back wall there houses the washer and drier.

The resolution was super simple. First, the sorting. I hate sorting laundry, so instead of everyone having their own dirty laundry baskets, I put three laundry baskets in Jake’s and my closet: one for delicates, one for whites, and one for everything else (Jonas’s laundry is still separate, I do all of his together with baby detergent). Everyone is responsible for putting their laundry in the right basket as soon as it is dirty. This made things so much easier: I don’t have to sort or dig though to find enough clothes to do a load. I can just see when a basket is full enough to make up a load and then I do it. Awesome.

The second issue was the baskets of clean clothes that had trouble getting to their proper destinations. To fix this, I put a small table in our laundry room and made a rule for myself that laundry in the drier must be immediately folded and not put into a basket. I hang up Eliza’s clothes on hangers and hang them over the drier, I hang Jake’s and my shirts up as I go (our clothes are hanging on the bar in the photo, so I can literally hang them up without moving), and fold what needs to be folded and put away. The baskets are officially only for dirty clothes or transferring folded stuff from one room to anther (as it should be). The folded stuff doesn’t always get put away immediatly, but it is nice and neat and ready to go.

We’ve been keeping this up for four weeks now, and it is great. No one ever has to look for clean socks. I spend a lot less time on laundry. And there’s never any piles. That, friends, is awesome.

We’ve been working on a few other steps as a family, but we’re taking it slow. I’ll be sharing each step after we call it a success.

What would your first step be? How do you keep laundry under control?