Laundry Organization for a Large Family

As you might imagine, a household of eight or nine (my eldest lives with his grandfather during the week) creates a lot of laundry.

organize laundry in a large family on a "laundry counter top", mom of seven
Laundry Day

Laundry Counter Top.

It used to be that I could fold laundry on the couch while eating bon bons and watching my shows. These days I put a basket of laundry on a chair by the kitchen table and start making piles of folded clothing arranged in lines. I have an imaginary grid that corresponds to each drawer of each person in the family. For example, the line on the far left belongs to the youngest, then the next row belongs to the next youngest, etc. This is easier for the kids who put their own clothes away, plus it keeps the piles manageable.

I try to reserve a couple of days our of the week for just washing/drying/folding laundry.

Clothing Donations.

We utilize hand-me-downs almost exclusively. My mom will buy them an outfit for birthdays and such, but for the most part, the eldest boy, girl, and second eldest boy get new clothes. All the kids get jeans from the thrift store, as well as hand-me-downs from other family members. Even my closet is stocked from hand-me-downs from my fashionable aunt.

When the clothes can’t take it anymore (or when I can’t take seeing them anymore), we donate them to our local St. Vincent DePaul.  We sort when we hit our two seasons (sporadic winter and summer). The easiest way I have found to do this is by keeping two trash bags near my work space.   In one bag, I put seasonal items that can be stored until needed.  In the other bag, I put unwanted usable items.  The unwanted unusable items go into the trash can.

laundry, mom of seven
It’s a Match!

Pairing Socks.

No one likes matching socks, so they fill up an entire basket.  Mom gave me one of those small mesh laundry baskets that are divided into three parts.  She thought I could sort laundry with it… she’s so cute.  Instead of sorting colors with it, I use it to sort socks: Boy socks/ Girl socks/ Big Boy socks.  Ideally, the socks that come out of the dryer without their mate are sorted into this partitioned basket, so that eventually we will be able to match them up.  What really happens is that my Number 2 throws all socks into this basket because she doesn’t want to bother with them as they come out of the dryer.  When anyone needs to find a pair of socks, they can limit the search to their section of the basket.  ‘Course, you’d think they could put a little more effort into the hunt.

[UPDATE: This school year I’ve switched to a different Sock Organizational System.  I have differentiated my socks from my daughter’s socks by choosing only grey socks (since our feet are all the same size); Number 4 has all black socks; Numbers 5 & 6 share all white socks; Number 7 has smaller colorful socks.  This makes it easier for the boys to find and match their own socks, because obviously we didn’t play Memory Match enough when they were developing that part of their brains.]

Organizing laundry for a large family has become easier since enlisting the help of my Number 2; she folds the kids’ clothes and is in charge of making sure they all put their own clothes away correctly.

 

I'd love to hear what has worked for you!