Last week I talked about my desire to find a Simple Mean to reduce the chaos in our family and homeschool life. I want to find the ideal for each part of our lives, not too little, not too much, to get the most value with the least amount of disorder and extra work. That Simple Mean will be different for each family and it will probably take a bit of experimenting to find it.
Let’s talk about clothes.
With 2 adults and 4 kids, we do a mountain of laundry every week. Washing, folding, putting away, it’s a family effort. There are times that I wish that my laundry machines were not in the basement---it seems that it’s the moment Mama disappears with the laundry basket that all heck breaks loose.
But, at least I’m not going down to the river and beating the clothes on rocks, right?
When we took our trip to Michigan, we limited each family member to 5 sets of clothes, church clothes, pajamas, and 2 pairs of shoes (our special needs kid did have extras because having a skin condition that requires heavy ointments sometimes requires extra changes of clothes). Oh, and swimsuits.
This drastically cut down on the amount of space that we needed to pack our clothes. We took 1 large suitcase, 1 medium suitcase (for overnight changes for coming and going), and one small suitcase (for shoes).
It also drastically simplified laundry while we were there. There was no temptation to simply allow the dirty clothes to pile up to turn into a laundry monster, because we didn’t have a bunch of spare clothes. I did about a load a day, kept the monster at bay, and it was easy to fold it all and have everyone put their stuff away.
What did I learn?
Sometimes less really is more.
My usage of anything tends to expand to use up whatever is available.
It’s easier to procrastinate about getting something done if you have a fall back (ie, a closet or dresser full of other clothes).
Part of the reason I hate doing laundry is not that I really hate doing laundry…but that I get overwhelmed by mountains of dirty clothes that always seem to get bigger.
Having a limited supply of clothes forced me to stay on top of getting the wash done, and yet it didn’t feel like much of a chore because doing it regularly meant it was only a little (a very little) bit at a time. I could easily stay on top of the laundry monster by doing 1 (sometimes 2) loads a day, adding a few extra loads on the weekend for linens and things.
What else did I learn?
Having at least 2 brassieres is critical and 3 is better, because you never know when one will break when you are on vacation, ahem.
Having at least 2 pairs of shoes for each family member is also necessary, because you never know when your preschooler is going to tear the strap off her Croc.
Having more than one pair of socks per family member is good idea, even in the summer, because you never know when that same preschooler is going to walk through some shale slurry in the Fossil Park. In her Crocs. Of course.
What did I take away?
It’s time to go through the family wardrobe, eliminate play clothes that are too grotty, replace some shoes, and get each person’s dresser contents down to a manageable size. I’m thinking about 7-8 outfits, 7-8 pairs of undies, 2 church outfits, and 2-3 pairs of pjs per season. Peter will need slightly more than that, because he needs a clean pair of pajamas each night. And there will be other things like swimsuits, socks, and so on.
You see, I have a tendency to hoard old play clothes, even if they are a little snug on the grounds that the kids need all the clothes they can get without me having to buy new stuff.
But, with the wardrobes being a more manageable size, it will be easier to store the clothes (we don’t have space for dressers for everyone), easier to make the big seasonal shift, and easier to keep up with the laundry.
Even if I did, say, skip doing the laundry for a few days, it would only take me a few loads to get caught up, and not so overwhelming. And I would have to get caught up after a few days, with no hoard of clothes.
Next time, I’m going to talk about simplifying the kitchen. I think. I’m not sure I’m willing, but we’ll see.