Waving a Used-to-Be-White Flag at My Laundry Pile

Laundry is getting me down, y’all. Way, way down. To the ground. Underneath my giant laundry pile. This is another one of those things that I completely saw coming before baby because everyone warns you. Think of a stereotypical stay-at-home mom stock photo: it’s a lady with spit-up in her hair, wearing a sweatsuit, and looking exhausted while slumped over next to a huge mound of laundry. It’s expected, but it still sucks.

My laundry ate my living room.
My laundry ate my living room.

The surprising thing to me was that, while baby’s clothes do add about an extra load per week, the actual amount of time spent and the number of loads of laundry required post-baby is quite a bit more than that. This can be accounted for in time spent scrubbing and soaking stained pieces of clothing and also in having to do more of my own laundry. Whereas I used to wear everything a few times before washing, these days I find that baby makes my clothes generally more sweaty, dirty, and stretched out with each wear. And with all the guests we’ve had over the past months, I’m washing the guest bed sheets constantly. I can’t keep up!  It’s even worse now that baby is on solids. Oatmeal (baby’s favorite food) is easy enough to rinse out, but ever since we started on daily prunes, I am scrubbing on my hands and knees pretty much daily.

Part of the problem is clearly that my standards are unreasonably high. Maybe it’s my first-timer syndrome kicking in, but I hate it when baby’s clothes are stained. I don’t wear stained clothes, so why should my baby? And it would be great to save stuff to hand down to a hypothetical, hopefully female second child, should we decide to and are able to have one.

So I’ve decided I can’t take it anymore. I give up. I am waving my used-to-be-white flag.  I need to do less laundry, and I need to spend less time on the laundry that I do.  To that end, I have made some laundry resolutions that I am implementing in stages. (In case you’re wondering, the final stage is the one where I just throw my hands in the air, dye everything we own black, and accept a lonely, stinky, unwashed existence.)

1) Some parts of baby’s outfits can be worn/used more than once without washing. Crazy concept, I know. Tops are not really an option since there is so much freakin’ drool these days, but things like pants (that don’t get pooped on), and her bath towel really don’t need to be washed every time.

2) I’m not sorting anything. Everything goes in the wash together – baby stuff, grown-up stuff, sheets, towels, whatever. I’m sure there is some reason beyond fabric and color integrity that someone would like to use to convince me that this is a terrible idea, but I don’t care. The amount of time I spend sorting laundry is not ok, and I have come to terms with the fact that true white is not a color that exists in our family.

3) Going along with #2, I am taking a stand against hand washing. I have a few select pre-baby gentle cycle items that I’ll set aside, but everything else right now is going in regular cycle, cold water, with “free and clear” detergent. I am doing myself the favor of not buying any new clothing items that require special washing.  “The touch, the feel of cotton…”

4) High chair dress code has been changed to “diaper only.” I got into this routine of putting a terry cloth bib under a plastic bib, and even that didn’t stop the purees from finding every exposed sliver of clothing.  Trying to avoid getting baby food everywhere is completely impossible, so short of having my kid wear a poncho (though I’m sure the prunes would make their way under there too), this is my only option.  Thank goodness it’s summer!

Check out that double bib action (and her adorable mug!).
Check out that double bib action (and her adorable mug!).

5) I am going to make an effort to lower my stain standards. I still want my kid to look nice, but I need to also accept that she is a baby, and things get stained. And maybe I should let go of the fantasy of passing along her clothes to her nonexistent little sister one day. And I am especially going to work much harder at not caring about stains on the damn changing table cover or on bibs. Being stained IS THEIR JOB, Emily. Geez.

I think that this all sounds fairly reasonable, but I am wondering whether my laundry practices are similar to other people’s. What are some of your laundry vices? What measures have you taken to make the laundry process easier?

6 thoughts on “Waving a Used-to-Be-White Flag at My Laundry Pile

  1. Awesome post Emily. I commend you’ve sorted laundry this far. With one kid, laundry was a chore but not consuming. Somehow, two kids equates to four times the laundry. I generally leave our mountains of clean clothes unfolded in our basement, then snoop down there every morning in search of clean underwear 🙂 Totally inefficient.

  2. Good God, the laundry. My dry-clean-only stuff is shoved FAR in the back of the closet still, even almost 6 years into parenting. I hate folding and putting laundry away. I do not iron unless really, really necessary, and I am with you on the cold water and kid detergent for all of us. I really didn’t get how huge this part of parenting is until I lived it!

  3. Haha, TOTALLY agree. Some of my kids’ clothes were NASTY by the time they were “retired” because I refused to pre-wash or scrub. EVERYTHING kid-related goes into the same wash and if it says “handwash only” or “dry clean”, it goes straight to Goodwill because I just don’t have the time for it!

    Oh, and I just recently discovered oxy clean (how did I not find that stuff sooner??). Miracle powder!

    Great post!

  4. Preach it, sister! I haven’t sorted laundry for years since my kids were born. Except for one accident with a red shirt, nothing sinister has happened. It’s summer, so let your cute baby be diaper-only as much as you need her to be. I promise, her therapist will never know. Cheers!

  5. I think you have a good plan, Emily. You gotta prioritize. Don’t let the laundry win. I got over feeling bad about not having un-stained things to hand-me-down by buying cheap stuff to begin with. Seriously, who was I trying to impress? Target and Wal-Mart onesies do not heirlooms make! Use ’em, stain ’em and chuck ’em!

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