Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WFMW - Laundry schedule for families with children

An IRL friend of mine posted on Facebook that her son has worn the same pair of underwear for several days because he was out of clean underwear. Hey, if you have kids, you know what she's talking about. My kids have run out of clean underwear before I've gotten to their laundry, Heck, my husband has run out of clean socks or underwear before I've gotten to it. I've even gone on laundry strike because there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all. To top it off, I know a family whose husband called her while she was out shopping and he asked her to pick up some new underwear because it would be faster than waiting for the laundry to be done.

When you add kids into the mix, it seems like laundry multiplies exponentially. Especially when you have girls or kids with sensory disorders who change clothes 20 times a day or simply because you are busy and just not home to do it. Hey, don't get me started on laundry doing itself - all you have to do is throw it in and move onto something else until it needs to go in the dryer. Throw it in and leave the house - let it run. In case you missed it, back in February my dryer motor caught on fire. If I hadn't been home, our house would have been destroyed. I don't run the dryer when I'm not home anymore.

So, I came up with a plan and tried it out. My girls have to wash their clothes on Tuesdays and Fridays. It's just long enough in between for them to accumulate enough to not be overwhelming (1-2 loads). They share a room and a hamper, so they have to work together, but I helped with suggesting who does what. Child B takes the clothes to the laundry room and puts them in the wash. (I'll share why in just a minute.) Child A or B takes them out of the washer (top-loader) and hands them to Child C so she can throw them in the dryer, which she loves. Then they all sort, fold, and put away their own clothes. They are nearly-5, nearly-8, and 10-1/2 - all very capable of the task assigned to them.

Then I get the washer and dryer on all other days to do anything else that needs to be done. If we are out all day on a Tuesday or Friday, there are enough other days to be flexible to give the girls the next day. I don't always keep up with getting the rest of everything folded or put away, but it's much better than having piles of laundry in some state of completion for all 5 of us.

This works for me in more than one way, it gets the laundry done, but it also helps incorporate therapy into Child B's routine. She has graduated from occupation therapy for sensory processing disorder. This is a good thing, but it doesn't mean her sensory disorder is gone. Simply put, we incorporate many therapeutic activities to meet her sensory needs into her daily life so she doesn't rely on formal therapy. Using her physical strength and as many muscle groups as possible is calming for her. It's hard, but calming in various ways. Some kids may have hyper-activity, anxiety, aggression, etc., so a physical activity is calming for their nervous system by using that energy productively. Pulling, pushing, or carrying the laundry basket to the utility room helps B. She can choose which one best suits her mood. It seems like a small task, but the benefits are great for her ability to get through the day without feeling agitated. After all, how would you feel if you felt like the tag from your shirt was rubbing all over your body? That's just an example of how these kids feel, though not exactly and not for all of them.

With this system there is no arguing over who is going to do what or who did it last time and whose turn it is.

Our laundry routine works for me. To read other tips, suggestions, find easy recipes, hop on over to We Are That Family and check out Works For Me Wednesday.


  1. Great post! Laundry is awesome for sensory-kiddos. My youngest lays on top of your dryer, and reaches into the washer for the clothes. The proproceptive input from pulling out the wet clothes is terrific.

    You should consider writing for the new SPD Blogger Network Group blog! You can find more info on my blog. : )

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. HEY!!! Imagine my surprise to click over here from The Homeschool Village to this unknown blog (Midwest Region blog links) and see some very familiar faces smiling back at me!!! I love those little faces!! :-) I didn't know you blogged!!! YAY!! Anyway...I'll be back now that I know you're here!! (BTW...I'm on the The Homeschool Village Panel for the next two months!!) See you soon...


  3. If only my caveman had worn the same underwear because he was out of clean ones. He wore the same underwear for 3 days (and at least two more times for 3 or 4 days) because he doesn't like to change. Sensory!! I caught him because there was no DIRTY underwear in his basket. If he were doing his own laundry I probably wouldn't figure it out till we needed gas masks. Haha!