From Creative Commons

From Creative Commons

Reclaiming the House

I have a weird an unnaturally strong attachment to my laundry room.

It’s not that I like it; on the contrary, it’s a never-ending battle zone. There are six of us and two dogs. Only one of us tidies well. It isn’t an adult, FYI.

Chores prep kids for adulthood. Each day, our kids do housework for about an hour. Part of the daily chore is supposed to be tidying the bedroom. Each of their initials is assigned (daily) a colour on the calendar that represents a chore:

Red = kitchen (unload/load the dishwasher, wash the counters, wipe out the microwave)

Blue = laundry

Green = take out the garbage and the recycle. Rinse out the cans when necessary.

Brown = dirt-elimination (The job might be washing a floor, vacuuming, picking up dog mines in the yard, or cleaning a bathroom.)

The kids don’t do perfect work, but none of them will hit college unprepared. Statistics show that 54% of American students who start college drop out because they can’t balance school, work, and maintain their own home. Here’s a great article about the problem that might help your kids succeed.

Additionally, I have jobs to do that only I can do, and my time’s limited. A task divided amongst six people is lightened. Plus, people who must maintain their possessions are a lot more invested in taking care of them.

It took forever to come up with an efficient system. Initially, I assigned each kid a household laundry day. Clothes, cleaning rags, mouldering towels and stale bedding co-mingled. Result? Each kid faced several loads of unpleasantness. Nobody cared how much laundry they created: they only had to do the family wash once a week. “Sunshine Girl needs her white blouse for her school concert? Who cares!” Nobody was happy, and I ended up doing most of the work anyway.

About a year ago, Hubbs bellowed, “Enough! We’re buying you all hampers! Instead of doing everyone’s wash, you’ll do your own clothes, your own bedding, and everyone’s towels!”

It’s not perfect, but it works.

Hubbs and I don’t accumulate much wash, so each of us launders our own when necessary. The chore cycle for the kids is four days long: they have to wait their turn to do laundry every fourth day. Whadda ya know? They don’t want to change outfits six times a day anymore. And if they don’t hang it up, they wear it wrinkled. Their choice. So, in a typical week, each kid does three loads of laundry, twice: clothes, personal bedding, and family towels.

From 50 triple loads a week, we’re down to 24 doubles. The cost of laundry has plummeted and so has our eco footprint. The bonus? Everyone’s frustration has also dropped.


Photo from http://www.modernmom.com/blogs/stefanie-kushner/save-money-save-the-earth-6-eco-friendly-resolutions

Now, let’s return to my unnatural attachment to my laundry room.

I’ve spent a lot of time there in 17 years. When we moved in, it was the ugliest, most depressing place in the house: partially paneled by the previous owner; overpowered by the inaccessible, stinky, enormous, concrete laundry tub; and the washer and dryer were small, inadequate and filthy. There was no storage. All Hubbs’ tools littered the floor and I almost lost a foot once, tripping over the circular saw in the doorway.

About five years ago, when Hubbs bought new, high efficiency appliances, I begged for a makeover. As Hubbs is handy, it didn’t cost a lot. Although not magazine-worthy, there were places for tools, a triple-washer and dryer, a smaller laundry sink, and a peel-and-stick floor. Laundry heaven! I actually felt giddy about my spotless sink, appliances and floor. I didn’t mind spending time in there.

And then, they got sloppy. Hubbs stopped putting his tools away. People started storing things that didn’t belong in the room. Soap got spilled. Painterjoy smeared oil paint on my laundry tub. And grooming supplies for the dogs (who bathe in the sink) sprawled everywhere.

They’re all slobs too busy to care. So, I stopped caring and started getting resentful.

Hubbs picked up a shower caddy at a yard sale, and we already had one in each bathroom. Annoying, right? But I was reflecting on the state of the house yesterday and something came to me: that shower caddy would be perfect, mounted on the wall stud above the laundry tub, to hold dog grooming supplies.

I whammed in a nail, put up the caddy and installed the supplies. Then, I scrubbed the laundry sink. It’s not perfectly clean, but it’s decent. The whole job took 10 minutes. Want to know what happened?

Hubbs spied my work and his eyes lit up. “You made a dog grooming centre out of my shower caddy! I love it!”

Just that little bit of praise has motivated me to reclaim my house (starting with the laundry room).

Do you have an organizational tip to share? Have you re-purposed an item that’s proven really handy? Are you attached to an unusual room in your house? Leave me a comment. I’d love to know all about it.