When I first told the kids that I was going to hang the clothes to dry instead of using the electric dryer, they cried. Can you imagine? What kind of a monster do they imagine me to be? It turns out that they thought I would be making them wear wet clothes to school. And that we were going to look like the poor family of the neighborhood (which we probably are) with all of our embarassing laundry hanging in the yard for all to see. This is the kind of stress I cause my children without meaning to. I wish they had a normal mom, I really do.
So, being the happy-go-lucky monster mom that I am, I got over that pretty darn quick, tied some clothesline across the pipes in my basement and started hanging laundry. After hanging the laundry in the basement for about a year now, I am here to tell you that it is not only really easy, but when I do it consistently, I see a big difference in my electric bill too. This is a good thing!
I have learned that creating routines, associating drudgery with reward and removing barriers are the keys to doing the things you want to do, but don’t do. Although I think it would be better, I know I would not be willing to consistently take a load of laundry outside and hang it, so I hang laundry in my basement. I know I need this to be quick and easy or I will not take the time to do it, so I don’t even use clothespins. (My basement may be drafty, but there is certainly no breeze strong enough to knock the clothes off of the line.) I just sort of shake out the clothes and drape them neatly over the line.
My morning routine is this: pop out of bed fresh as a daisy, feed dog, fold laundry which has dried overnight, hang a load of laundry, put a load of laundry into the washing machine, let the chickens and dog out, do a few exercises and reward myself with a cup of caffeinated tea and writing time.
My evening routine is this: finish cleaning up from dinner, send kids up to do homework or get ready for bed, fold laundry which has dried during the day, hang a load of laundry, put a load of laundry into the washing machine, and reward myself with a cup of caffeine-free tea and a few minutes sitting with a magazine or writing time before bedtime routines begin.
Each person in the family is responsible for bringing his or her laundry up to their rooms and putting it away. The socks go into one basket and are sorted when it gets full. If I am out of my routine and need to keep the laudry moving ahead, I enlist the help of the kids. Each one knows how to sort clothes into darks and whites and how to start a load of laundry. (I find it astounding that these are the same children who claim to not know how to “stir” a pot. Just when I think I might be doing a good job training them to survive in the wide world, they find ways to keep me humble. )
My routines take all of about 20 minutes each time. Really – no big deal. The best part if that it keeps the laundry moving and prevents an insurmountable pile of laundry from building up. Hanging laundry makes your clothes last longer and keeps your dark jeans dark. It seems like it would be more work to hang the laundry, but it actually solves more problems than it creates. Seems like a plenty perfect solution to me!
Do you hang your laundry? What kinds of things do you do that drive your kids crazy?