The Pile

The Pile

I hate to admit it, but the pile you see above would most usually sit there for several days. It would slowly diminish as I pulled from it the things we need. It’s not ALWAYS this way, sometimes I get some of it put away, other times I get it folded and it sits that way.

This drives my husband bananas.

Chloe recently out of self pride and organizational skills that far outweigh my own has begun to fold and put away her own clothes. She has everything perfectly organized and spaced in her drawers.

I knew I needed to get a handle on this. I am grown now. A mother of three. My laundry demons had to get under control.

I come from a long line of exceedingly tidy people. My grandmother is 88 and can hardly walk. Even now everything in her house is completely clean and everything is perfectly folded. Every closet is neat and organized. My mom could whip a house into shape in no time. It was shocking what she could do.

I asked my mom once how she did it. How did she get it all done? Did she enjoy cleaning? No, she did not enjoy cleaning. She told me she timed herself. She realized that cleaning off the table only took about 40 seconds, straightening up the living room about 3 minutes. If something only took 3 minutes, why not just do it?

I decided to put this to the test on the huge pile of clothes. Three girls and a husband produce so much laundry. They essentially wear 3 outfits each a day. Work/school clothes, after school/work activity clothes and pajamas. Everything ends up in the dirty clothes pile, so it all ends up getting washed.

I got the baby down for a nap and the girls were in the playroom playing “house”. This was the perfect window for my experiment. The minute I began I could feel the excuses to stop working bubbling up inside. I was thirsty, should I check on the chicken in the oven, I wonder what the girls are doing, my back kinda hurts…. but I kept steady towards my goal and worked swiftly.

After I got everything fully folded and put away I ran to the timer to see what it said.


Not too bad, but I think next week I want to beat it.

ps. Try this too and let me know what happens in the comments below. I timed myself unloading and loading the dishwasher and cleaning up dinner, 7:57.6.




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12 responses

  1. Laundry is not my pile. Dishes are. With two kids and no dishwasher it gets pretty giant. My time on it tonight? 0. John did them. That’s my best time yet :)

  2. I feel SO much better now after seeing your picture! I have a pile like that every. single. week! 3 kids and a husband too and 6-7 loads of laundry – minimum! I try following the Fly Lady’s advice and do one load per day (wash, dry, fold, put away), but that lasts about a week and then it’s back to “the pile” again!

    Thanks for making me feel normal, Jen!

    P.S. LOVE your blog :)

    • You are very welcome Rachel! I think it’s good to be real about these things!! The only time I was able to do a load of laundry a day was when I was in Utah taking care of my mom when she was sick and we had a washer and dryer RIGHT outside the bedrooms. Now THAT is the proper place for a washer and dryer.

      So glad you like the blog.

  3. I love the idea of timing it and then beating your time next week!! I have a system after being overwhelmed for years with 4 kids. It used to be if you’re 12 and up, fold it yourself!! Now I have a laundry basket in each room that gets laundered as it’s own (I dropped the color sorting years ago – only do this for new and “bright” or “dark” things). I will sort socks and undies in with one’s towels and run that through on hot. Everything else gets cold washed with Oxyclean as needed. I’m getting a timer for each of the kids, tho. It CAN be fun, it CAN!!!!

  4. I can’t even imagine myself doing laundry every day! Mine’s once a week, usually Sunday. If really motivated, I do a load Friday night and finish the rest Saturday. With a husband and 3 kids, the dirty pile gets big by week’s end. But I virtually never have a clean pile, and this is why: I don’t like double work, and I don’t like wrinkly clothes. I know if I pile my laundry, it will be a wrinkly, awful mess–and that I hate even more than laundry because it means additional tumble press cycles or (gah!) ironing (perish the thought).

    My rule is when the dryer is done, I fold that load. Period. That gives me 10-15 minutes fudge time, while it’s on the “wrinkle guard” mode, to complete whatever I’m doing or get to a good point. Then, it’s just fold time. I try to never put a load in the dryer unless I will be home when it is done. I’d rather it wait wet in the washer for a couple of hours before switching it over, than have it wait wrinkling in the dryer for a couple of hours. As I fold that load, I put the laundry into a pile for each person and put the piles on my coffee table. As I complete more loads, I just add more folded laundry to that person’s pile until I’m done with all the laundry (making a second pile for that person if it’s getting too tall).

    When all done, I take my and my husband’s pile upstairs and put it away. (I used to often let it sit in a neat, folded pile in our room for days and take stuff out of it when I needed it, but I’m getting better!) And I have the kids each take their own pile up to their room and put it IN drawers or closets. (They’re often happy to pile it on the floor–seems so much faster–so I have to be specific.) With my youngest, I used to even go back and arrange her pile so that all the shirts were together, the pants, etc., before she took it to her room, so that she would at least be somewhat more likely to put them in the right drawer, with a little practice.

    I admit, there have been MANY a week where the girls piles didn’t get put away until another full week had gone by, but at least they were neat piles of usable, folded laundry sitting in my living room, rather than the dreaded “pile”. : )

    According to the child’s ability, you can use them too, taking some work off your own hands, plus getting them involved. Use young ones to sort the laundry (you can always spot check the piles before you start the loads), and use somewhat older kids to fold at least their own clothes, if not all of it. My mother had me doing laundry when I was 5. I also sometimes fold laundry while my husband and I are watching a movie together. (As long as there are no subtitles, I’m not THAT good at multi-tasking.)

    • I love all these ideas. It is amazing that your mom had you doing laundry at 5. That is awesome. I did get everything folded tonight!! whoop whoop!

    • Yay! (And I was a bedwetter at the time, so it was just a bit of self-preservation on my mom’s part! ;) ).

    • True, true. Most good parenting is really. I recently took my girls off all screens. No TV, no phone, nothing. Ella was doing laundry with me within the first 45 minutes!

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