I spent the next three or four years trying to figure out how one declutters. Has less. Streamlines. Questions that I had no answers for. And does it all with small children in tow. Well. I had one idea. I looked around at how we do meal prep. Everything is stored, served, prepared, used…in the same relatively small area. Not so with laundry. Laundry, in fact, is carted all over the whole darn house. Stored, cleaned, used, processed…often each part of the life cycle of laundry often happening in separate rooms. Separate floors of the house even.
What if…I asked Sparky…what if we put ALL the laundry in one area? Stored it, cleaned it, found it, kept it – all in one area? By this time, child number five had arrived and laundry had become epic. Sparky was skeptical, but willing to humour me, SO. We converted a bedroom into a laundry room. Put in cupboards, shelves, places to hang clothes, a change table and laundry sink. People would get their clothes in the evening or in the morning from the laundry room. One big giant closet.
It was BEAUTIFUL.
And then came the glorious day to move all the clothing into the centralized laundry area. And I will tell you this. You truly have no idea how much clothing you own until you put it all…ALL…in one room. Mounds of clothing, heaps of clothing, seasonal, outgrown, too big, dress clothes…it was nothing short of breathtaking.
Here is where the analogy of meals and laundry really falls apart. Dishes and cooking pots are not malleable. Nor is cupboard space. There are tangible limitations. Clothing, however, and other forms of laundry, are, for all intents and purposes, malleable and we have virtually infinite space in which we can store our laundry. Over chairs, stair railings, on the floor, heaped in baskets in the basement, in the dresser and on top of it, on the top of the open closet door, in the bottom of the closet as well as on the hangers in the closet. In the back seat of the car, stuffed in the bottom of the stroller and hung up on hooks in the mudroom.
My kids were still pretty young, between about 0 and 12, so I still had a fair bit of input on what they wore. So, presenting my idea to Sparky (still skeptical) I put forth that we could limit the amount of clothes we each owned. Six shirts, two pairs of pants, a couple of dresses for the girls, two pairs of shorts, six each of socks and undies. “That can’t work.” he said. “You wear the same amount of clothes every day. You do the same amount of laundry whether you own six shirts or twenty.” But he was willing to try, so we limited our wardrobe. It was unbelievable. I cut laundry time by 100%.
That’s a lot.
I’m reasonably certain it was just the back-up of laundry. It just doesn’t GET done because there’s always more to draw from. The finite nature of the kitchen tools and storage doesn’t allow for the Mary Poppins style of operating. You can’t just keep pulling dishes and pots out of the bottom of the closet.
Less Laundry. More time for fun. See? Self-care.