This photo has not been staged


“Who dumped the clean laundry onto the basement floor? Who? Who?” [Voice of rising rage.]

“I had to find my soccer shorts! If you’d just fold it, I wouldn’t have to dig around.”

If you’d just fold it … [muttered]. Get down here and put it back into the basket.”

“If you’d just fold it …”

“When exactly am I folding this laundry?”


“Last night I was at your soccer game until 9 o’clock.”

“Oh, right.”

“And I was in my office working all day today. Do you know my earning potential?”


“Neither do I! But I’ll tell you my earning potential while I’m folding laundry.”


“Exactly. Nothing.”


“Someday, you’ll have to all do your own laundry. You could each have your own laundry hamper in your own room that you’re in charge of.”

“Nice. My own hamper.” Pause for thought. “Won’t that waste a lot of water?”

“You wouldn’t do laundry every day. You’d do it maybe once a week.”

“But …”

“You’re right. That’s not going to work. The sports clothes! They stink. You can’t wash those once a week.”

“Maybe we could all fold our own laundry.”

“Maybe. Or maybe you could take turns folding laundry. Everyone could have a laundry night. It’s hard to find your own laundry in the basket when it’s all mixed up.”


Fast-forward to 8:30PM, same night, post-soccer practice, post-late supper, post-bedtime snack. Carrie folds two giant baskets of clean laundry at the dining-room table. At the other end of the table, her family enjoys a games night: Settlers of Catan. (Carrie doesn’t enjoy playing games, so this is not quite as unfair a set-up as it sounds.) An hour passes, perhaps more than an hour. The game ends. The laundry is folded, carried to rooms, placed into drawers. Carrie glances into the hamper in the upstairs hallway. It’s already nearly full.

(Solutions, friends? How does your family handle its dirty laundry? Help wanted. xo, Carrie)

Life in the summer lane
How to break down resistance


  1. Kerry Clare

    We don’t use our dryer very often, which means hanging up the laundry is a chore BUT it eliminates the “folding laundry” chore, as the laundry is folded when the clothes are taken down, easy peasy. The thing about the hanging laundry chore is that you can’t put it off, while the laundry folding can be put off for ages until there are mountains of the stuff. It’s efficient, in more ways than one. BUT probably not very practical in a family of six…

  2. m

    Our laundry situation isn’t where yours is yet, but I read these posts and see my future. I’ve started to teach my eldest (8) how to use the washing machine. He’s too short to be able to reach to the bottom of the drum, so he can’t do his laundry yet, but I’m working on giving the boys the skills so that they’ll be ready to do their own in a few years. I like the idea that they do their own laundry. Perhaps your eldest two can do their laundry together? Or their sports laundry?

  3. Margo, Thrift at Home

    WOW, this blog is gorgeous! I wasn’t coming here for gorgeous – just your writing and insights, but wow, it looks good around here. I need to talk to Cliff 🙂

    Anyway, laundry: I developed my own system after being taught by my mother to fold an entire basket of laundry and carry stacks of folded laundry to put away. Instead, when I’m getting laundry off the line, I sort it as I go into two baskets: one for the kids’ room (upstairs) and one for me (downstairs). Their basket goes to their room and I order them to fold laundry at some lull in the schedule – it’s one of their regular chores. (And sometimes I throw it all in one basket and then get a kid to sort it into the two baskets) When they complain about folding laundry, I tell them to keep their clothes cleaner. They are terrible at folding laundry, but at least I don’t handle it and it gets (sort of) in their drawers. The other basket goes in my first-floor bedroom. I fold it in little pockets of time and put items directly away. This means that it often takes several stints until the basket is empty. If I pick up the phone or if I’ve got 5 minutes before I need to leave, I usually fold a few tees and put them away or grab a handful of clean napkins and walk them out to the dining room. Folding laundry thus becomes a time-filler task instead of demanding a large block of time (a rare thing in home life with children, right?). Well. That was long, but this is the kind of homey detail I love!

  4. Susan Fish

    My solution is that I love doing laundry and hanging it out to dry. And also I do laundry every two days so it all fits on the clothesline and is not daunting to do. For anyone. It is a task I generally choose to do myself but my kids know how to do it and do it willingly when asked. We also fold at the clothesline, which helps.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *