We have been pretty open on this blog about how isolating motherhood can be sometimes. Yes, it is a wonderful job and we are very grateful for it, but it is hard some days when the only person you are talking to is under the age of one (or two…or five) and the only adult conversation you’ve had is with the Starbucks barista.
It’s interesting, because I can’t think of any other job with more of a need for community than motherhood. One thing that I greatly appreciated about my life in public accounting was how easy it was to chat with my coworkers. It’s almost a necessity in the audit world to be able to walk down the hall and hash out whatever accounting problem you’re dealing with to your senior or manager. I can imagine this is probably true for most companies.
Online, you’ll find LOTS of communities geared towards moms. Whether it’s blogs or forums (hello, BabyCenter) or even Pinterest, there is a plethora of information out there if you are looking for it. Sometimes it can be a little too much information, if you know what I mean. In the digital age information overload is the real deal. Not too mention the crazies (ahem, over-zealous people) that happen to post something super off the wall that you know deep down doesn’t relate to you but still gets inside your head just enough to make you second guess yourself. C’mon. I know I’m not the only one here.
The other day I was kind of wishing there was a mom break room out there where we could all come together and compare notes. I mean, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this “mom of two” thing, but what if there’s some life hack out there that would make my life just marginally easier? Like the fact that if you freeze a banana and put it in a food processor, it actually makes really fabulous ice cream? Or the trick to taking off a onesie after a diaper blow out without cutting it off or getting poop in your baby’s hair?? (P.S. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click THIS LINK and go to #15). I literally just learned this six months ago.
And so, I thought it might be fun to start a little blog series here that is a way for moms of all shapes and sizes and number of children to come together and compare notes. I’ll probably add a post every few weeks or so. Just look under the tag “Mom Files” and you’ll be able to see all the posts from now on. P.S. If you have anything you would like to be discussed or added, send me a note and I’ll make sure it gets included.
To kick things off, I posed a question to a mom group that I’m part of on Facebook: What are your favorite mom hacks that make your life easier? Totally open ended, because I was interested to see what people would come up with. Hands down, the most talked about subject was laundry.
Let’s be real. It doesn’t matter if you have one kid or ten kids, keeping up with laundry is quite the task. Really, we had problems keeping up with laundry when it was just my husband and I. That seems so silly now, because we didn’t really know how easy we had it when it was just the two of us. Chalk that one up to “Things I wish I had known before I had kids.”
Here are a few tips to help you tackle those piles of laundry that are always multiplying:
Establish a routine. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom. Maybe you work 40 (or 50+) hours a week. Perhaps you homeschool. Or send your kid(s) to daycare. You might have enough kids that you rock the Catholic mom van proudly. You may have one kiddo and be cool with a small car. Doesn’t matter who you are, your schedule is completely unique to you and your circumstances. The key to laundry happiness is finding a routine that works best for your schedule.
Wow, I sound like a salesman. That was a pretty good pitch, though, no?
Maybe I sound super pitchy about this one because it’s the hardest tip for me to follow. When I reached out to the mom group, there were some moms who said they do one load a day. This is something I strive for (it’s actually listed as a daily goal on my Powersheets), but sometimes I don’t get it done. I think it’s the consistency thing that I need to establish. One mom puts a load of laundry in the wash before she leaves for work, throws it in the dryer when she comes home, and folds it before the kids go to bed. Amazing. I’m actually in awe about this one because I usually can manage to get the load in the wash but very rarely does it get to the dryer in time to be folded before bed. I’m going to work on this one.
Another mom mentioned that she likes to set aside certain days to do laundry, rather than doing one a day. I totally get this idea, too, because it’s easy to feel like you’re doing laundry all the time if you are actually doing it every day. Having dedicated days can fit into a busy schedule because you know exactly when laundry day is going to be, and you can set aside time for it. Again, the kicker here is giving yourself enough time to fold and put away that laundry the same day. Whoa. Mind blowing.
Pick your hamper stance. This was by far the most fascinating part of my “Tell me everything you know!” experiment. I didn’t realize there were so many options for how to use laundry hampers. I wonder if maybe part of it our mental conditioning based on habits we formed growing up in our parent’s homes? I don’t want to get too deep about this because, we’re talking about laundry here. It is an interesting thought, though, and frankly this was the whole reason I wanted to start this blog series because it’s nice to hear what other people are doing.
A few ways you can use your hampers:
- Have one in every bedroom
- Have only one for everyone in the master bedroom (or laundry room)
- Have three for everyone (colors, whites, towels)
Right now we’re in the one in every bedroom camp. It’s easier for me to put the girls’ laundry in their own hamper when needed. With that being said, it is also a lot easier for me to forget to wash their clothes on a regular basis. Usually it is not until I go to dress B one morning and realize that she’s out of pants, and then I’m like “Ack! Looks like you’re wearing pajama pants for today!” I’m sure those are her favorite days. I also convince myself that some of her pj pants can pass as regular pants but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie.
Anyway, having all the laundry in one central location is a great way to keep track of how much laundry you actually need to do, and what needs to be done first. I could see this being a benefit when the kids are a little older. Also, separating between colors, whites, and towels is a great idea. That would be a great exercise for older kids (in other words, kids that know or are learning out how to separate).
Before we move on from this point I feel the need to point out that washing towels and sheets are also very important and usually the most neglected, at least in my house. I think the best way to combat going an embarrassingly long time without washing either is to dedicate a hamper and a specific day to washing these. Even if you do a load every single day, knowing that towels and sheets are done on Saturdays (for example) might help you remember to do it. Just a thought.
Plan ahead. This is a little less laundry related and more clothing related. Some great tips popped up under this category. For instance, many moms plan out their kids’ outfits for the week and put those clothes in the dressers (the rest are in the closet). That way, the kids still feel like they can choose their outfits but you don’t have to worry about them choosing pj pants with a fancy top (just me?). Another mom suggested buying clothing in sets (like from Costco) that way everything matches. I think that’s a great idea for moms with littles. One thing I have notices is that Carter’s is really consistent with their colors so even if you stick with a certain color theme but you don’t purchase in sets, chances are the clothes are going to match anyway. That is one reason I love Carter’s so much (even though their clothes run insanely small).
Putting bins or empty shoeboxes in dresser drawers can help keep socks and underwear separate. We do this and it’s awesome. Someone else suggested keeping a bin with the kids’ socks downstairs (rather than upstairs) so when you’re prepping to leave the house you’re not running upstairs to find a pair of socks. Talk about a time saver. I don’t do that currently and am usually running to find a pair 60% of the time. It can stall the leaving the house process and when you have a toddler, that can be a costly mistake (in terms of time and snacks to subdue/bribe).
Another pro tip? Don’t throw your clothes in the dirty laundry after wearing them once. This is one that I struggle with remembering. It’s become a habit for me to put everything in the laundry at the end of the day because, chances are, my shirts have some sort of spit up or milk or food residue on them. Same goes for the girls’ clothes. I’ve noticed, though, that I can usually get more than one day’s use out of my jeans. And B’s pajamas can also be reused an extra night or two…except for those days where she decides she wants to play in her pj’s for another hour or so after breakfast. Moral of the story is to just be conscious about what you’re putting in the laundry pile at the end of the day! Not only will it keep your laundry pile down, but it also technically is good for the environment (you know, because of fewer washes? I’m kinda on the fence about that argument because if you have kids you’ll be doing a lot of laundry anyway. But, I digress.)
What about you? Is laundry a struggle for you or do you have a good routine down? Don’t be shy, we want to hear about it! Sharing is caring, especially if it means helping someone else find ways to be more efficient with their time (yes, I’m talking about me). Sound off in the comments or shoot us an email!