With a family of seven, I spend way more time than I care to acknowledge dealing with laundry.

In an ideal world, I start doing laundry on Sunday afternoon and have it all washed and put away by Tuesday night. I started the hard and fast rule for myself that it HAD to all be done and put away by Wednesday evening at the latest a few years ago. This was really for my own sanity. I found that if I put finishing it off until Friday, I felt bitter and angry when I began the whole process over again on Sunday.

One of my readers has five children of her own -- with twins -- and she asked me how on earth I manage all the laundry. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question, so I decided it was time for a post. Plus, with spring here at last, I know lots of our readers are ready for Spring Cleaning!

Below are a few tips and tricks that help me to stay on track with laundry. Keep in mind not all of these tips may work for you, so take what is helpful and use it and feel free to skip the tips that won’t work for your family!

1) Do Laundry Every Week and Pick a Set Day

Many of you may already do this, but for those that don’t, let me explain why this is necessary. First, doing laundry every week keeps the amount of laundry manageable and makes it feasible to get it all done in two days. Second, it allows your children to realistically help with the process without becoming overwhelmed. An added bonus: You can save money when shopping for your child’s clothes. If you wash laundry every week, you don’t need nearly as many items! Having a set laundry day helps your family get into a routine and eliminates the “I don’t have any clean pants” issue. It may seem like small detail, but it will go a long way to keeping things running smoothly.

2) Don’t Separate Laundry by Color

I can hear the gasps now, but hear me out. When you have a ton of kids, sorting laundry into piles based on color can cause utter and compete chaos. It’s a ton of work to sort the laundry before AND after when it’s clean. If you have two (or more) boys or girls close in age…sorting socks and checking all the labels on shirts can cause you to go crazy. In our house each child has their own dirty laundry basket and only their clothes go into it. I then take their laundry and wash it all as one load in cold water. I have yet to have an issue with colored or dark clothing bleeding and staining other items. When the laundry is dry, you simply put it in their individual basket and they take it to their room and put it away.

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3) Let Your Kids Put Away Their Own Laundry

Yes, it’s messy. Yes the clothes won’t be folded (see the next tip for more details), but if your kids are like mine, they don’t stay neat and folded in the drawer anyway! Even my 3-year-old can take out her pants, underwear and jammies and put them away in the correct drawer. Once my kids are five, they can neatly (or at least good enough for me) put shirts on a hanger and sort socks. I like to tell people that I’m helping create responsible adults by having kids do this task … but between you and me it saves me hours of time!

4) Don’t Fold Your Kids’ Clothes

I used to take the clothes out of the dryer and then fold them, or at least stick the laundry basket on the couch with the idea of folding them soon. Eventually, as the number of kids grew I gave up this concept. What led me down this road to ruin (as I’m sure many readers are thinking) was a certain three-year-old. When he learned to dress himself, he would dig through his drawers to find his clothing of choice. Every day I would walk past his room and see what once was a drawer full of neatly folded clothes, turn into a jumbled mess. Eventually I gave up and decided to just “wad and stuff” the clothing in the drawer and soon learned to just let him do it himself his way. I do fold the mom and dad clothing and towels (if it’s really folded depends on who you ask) because we can keep them neat.

5) Have Your Children Wash Their Own Clothes

Once my kids enter 4th grade, they begin to do their own laundry. They are old enough to put the clothes in, add powder and hit start. With no sorting colors it’s really as easy as 1-2-3! Whether or not they remember to switch their load of clothing is a mute point. I don’t mind if I have to put their clothes into the dryer because it still saves me time and energy to have them at least get the process started. I also have no problem asking them to switch a load out for me. They know to take the clean and dry clothes out of the dryer, put them in a basket and deliver them to the correct bedroom before loading the wet clothes into the dryer. It’s another one of those teachable moments that saves me time and energy 😉.

NOTE: I don’t have the kids do anything with the mommy and daddy laundry. There are too many things that can be washed, but not dried. When they help me out, it’s only with their laundry or the other kids’ laundry.