This post is for people who have giant mountains of laundry in their houses. It is a not a post about how to have a sensible, workable, successful laundry system. Other women have written about those, women who are wiser, women who are more disciplined. This is about crisis laundry. I am a woman who has a very bad laundry situation.
After a few weeks of intense basketball playoffs and tournaments that collided with soccer season and a string of unexpected doctor appointments and my failure to work one of those brilliant systems, I have twenty loads of laundry to do. So here's what to do (because, well, I've been here before, so I know what to do).
Bring all the dirty laundry to one location, preferably somewhere out of the main traffic areas of your house. This is not a short-lived operation. Yesterday, I had Patrick carry all our dirty laundry to my large master bathroom. Sort the laundry. This is laundry triage. The first pile is "Daddy's Laundry." All of Daddy's clothes go there and they are washed first. The second pile is towels. These are the second to be washed. That means that when Daddy gets home, all his clothes will be clean and he will have his choice of clean towels. If he ignores the piles in his bathroom, he can operate under the illusion that laundry is all caught up and his wife is an exemplary homemaker.
Then there is a pile of jeans. Everyone's jeans (except Daddy's) go in this pile. It gets washed third and we can know with certainty that everyone will have bottoms to wear very soon. Then, there are piles of lights, darks, pinks, sheets, and dishrags. I confess to have already washed all diapers before the grand laundry project began.
Laundry moves from the bathrooom to the washer and then the dryer and then ends up in the family room. The only exception is that first load of Daddy's Laundry. That gets taken back upstairs and put away immediately (remember the illusion?). As we progress through the piles upstairs, the pile downstairs grows. By the time the first game of the NCAA basketball tournament begins, there is a healthy pile of clean clothes on the couch.
You tell a bunch of eager boys that the only way they will be allowed to sit here in front of the television and watch hours of basketball is if they fold clothes. Timeouts are for the putting away. It works. They fold. They put away. You are quite sure you are a genius. At the end of the first day of March Madness, you only have 15 loads left.
And then the baby throws up in the van on the way to soccer practice. Your mind lurches in fast motion. More sheets in your future. More towels. Several changes of baby clothes. How many people will throw up? Where will they throw up? How much more laundry will they create? Stinky barfy laundry will move to the head of the triage piles. And it will not wait its turn in the master bathroom--ew.
Dear Lord, thank you that it's only the first round of the tournament. Thank you there will be almost endless games all weekend. Thank you for an abundance of clothing, for high efficiency washers and dryers, for laundry detergent and Mrs. Myers lavender dryer sheets. And God, thank you for basketball, for oh-so-many reasons.