For the childless, laundry is weekly (or even bi-weekly) nuisance. You lug a basket or two to your washer & dryer (or laundromat), and in two or three hours, you’re done and everything is either put away, or ready to be put away.
Those of us with small children experience a completely different beast. It’s like singing the Song that Never Ends or being stuck in the Never Ending Story. Laundry quickly becomes a daily, or even twice-daily occurrence. And even worse, the pile never really seems to get dented.
I weep for those poor souls with kids that use the laundromat. Restrictive opening hours, and a reliance on coin use can cause havoc with a schedule. Add one or two kids running around, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
For those of us with laundry in our homes, we have other restrictions. Primarily, this comes down to electricity rates.
For those unaware, electricity is charged at a different amount based upon the time of day. This is called “Time-of-Use Billing.” During heavy usage times (typically work hours), the cost per kWH is almost double the evening (after 7:00pm) & weekend rate. There’s a “medium” usage period (roughly 7:00am – 10:00am & 4:00pm – 7:00pm), where the rate is roughly halfway between the two.
As a Dad At Home, this means I can’t just throw the laundry on in the middle of the day. At least, not unless I really love a skyrocketing electric bill. Also, leveraging evening is one of my top-5 ways to better manage time.
COVID-19 has resulted in a new “tiered billing”, which charges roughly the “medium” usage rate mentioned above for the first 1,000 kWH in a month. Every kWH above 1,000 is charged at the “high” usage rate. Although this would seem appealing, once you realize exactly how much laundry you need to do, this comes up quite a bit more expensive.
Typical Laundry Week
Your mileage may vary, but with 2 kids we get a lot of laundry in the house. One of our kids is starting to potty train overnight, and the other uses cloth diapers. I’ll do a cloth vs disposable comparison in a future article (as we’ve used both). Needless to say, with cloth diapers, there is substantially more laundry, and you’ll want to do them separate of the rest of your clothes.
Number of Loads
- Cloth Diapers – 1 load every 2 days (takes extra-long, see below)
- Kids Clothes – 2-3/week
- Adult Darks – 1 per week
- Adult Colours – 1 per week
- Medical Scrubs – 1 per week
- Kids sheets – 1 per week (rotating), with typically 2-3 as needed due to training accidents
- Adult sheets – 1 every 2 weeks
- Adult whites – 1 every 2 weeks
If you count that up, you’re looking at a minimum of 10 loads of laundry per week.
Kids’ Clothes (1)
Kids’ Clothes (2)
11:00 am Kids’ Clothes (3)
Keeping Laundry Organized
Laundry finishes after 9:00pm (or midnight on diaper nights). As a result, you can’t fold the same day it’s washed. My spouse and I team up and typically fold laundry when we’re unwinding & watching television in the evening. As this is normally the next day, keeping clean laundry organized is vital.
Thankfully, we only have a few items that need to be hung up immediately. So they’re taken care of the moment we pull them from the washer or dryer. Everything else we pull into baskets and set up on a shelf. Once folded, if we aren’t able to put it away immediately, the folded basket(s) are also put on the shelf. This makes it easy to see what’s good to go up in the morning, and what still needs to handled.
Towels, sheets & blankets don’t typically need to be folded immediately. Save these for weekends.Important Dad Tip
These are a special monster. Not only do you need to do a basic scrub right away, they take a lot of extra time & materials to wash out. Use vinegar in addition to the laundry detergent, as it kills bacteria. These diapers are going right next to your baby/toddler’s skin, so it’s important they’re sanitized in addition to washed out.
I set the washer to a medium-load with “extra heavy” soil. I also set 2-hour soak in the vinegar/detergent mix, and an extra rinse & spin-out. It took a few weeks to come up with the right cycles to properly get the smell out, but this did the trick.
I leave them in the dryer overnight and pull it out first thing in the morning. You don’t need to worry about wrinkles or folding.
- 3 hours total in Washer
- 1 hour in Dryer
- 0 minutes Folding Time
There’s a lot of laundry, and there’s no way around it. But it isn’t (and shouldn’t) tackled all at once. Nor should the task fall solely on a Dad (or Mom) At Home. Do one or two loads a day, and share the work with your spouse. Many hands make light(er) work, and this is extremely important when it comes to the never ending pile of laundry.