Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't have all the answers when it comes to taming the laundry beast. For instance, what do I do when I find a bunch of clothes in the dirty laudnry that I KNOW haven't been worn? It could be they weren't put away properly, but it could also be that they were dug out, tried on, and discarded for the next experiment. But, I digress. It's a battle that, for the moment, I choose not to fight.
Another battle that I choose not to fight is whether or not the laundry even MAKES it to the laundry room. I used to be a total nag about this, until one day I learned the sweet relief of just saying, "Tough!" Ironically, my younger two, who share a room, are pretty good about getting their dirty clothes to the laundry room on a daily basis during their morning chore time. They both have favorite PJ's and clothes they like to dress up in to play super heroes or Indiana Jones. So, they're pretty good at keeping each other accountable for their dirty laundry. They are to take turns bringing their shared basket to the laundry room each morning. My oldest, however, used to be really bad about bringing his dirty laundry to the laundry room. He's definitely learned his lesson, though. I told them all one day that I wasn't going to remind them to bring their laundry to the laundry room anymore. And I didn't! I also told them that if they wanted something washed after I was done with laundry for that day, tough! They would have to just wait until I did laundry the next day. I usually do at least one load of darks every day, while it takes 2-3 days to get enough whites for a load. My oldest still doesn't bring his laundry to the laundry room daily, but he has quickly learned to bring it there before he runs out of stuff to wear! Of course, he is also welcome to do his own laundry. ;-) He does know how, and I do have him do it sometimes. But laundry is actually something I have learned to enjoy, and you're about to find out why. :-)
Here's how laundry works in our home. Everyone, of course, is responsible for getting their own laundry to the baskets in the laundry room. Everyone knows how to separate the whites from the darks. I have two baskets in my laundry room. In one goes all the darks and all the bath towels and wash cloths. In the other goes all the whites and dish towels and dish cloths.
I start the process. The first load of the day is always the darks, since that's what we have most of. I will start the washer and load dark clothes in, leaving the towels and wash cloths for another load. When that load is done, I will call any one of the three boys to reboot it to the dryer. All three know how to do this, from emptying the lint trap to putting the dryer sheet in to getting the dryer started. Usually the younger two do it together, but that's usually because whichever one I called was interrupted from playing with the other one, so they try to get it done as quickly as possible. LOL! After that's done, I'll start the next load in the washer if another load is needing to be washed. Then, one of the boys will unload things from the dryer onto my bed and do another reboot if needed.
And now we get to another choice to make in picking battles. First, I'll tell you what I used to do. I used to give my oldest his clothes to fold and put away. Then, I used to fold both of the younger boys' clothes into separate piles and had them put them away. Then, I used to get frustrated as they dug through their dressers and messed up all those nicely folded clothes. Then, I taught them how to fold their own clothes and got frustrated with their own frustration, and how long it took, and how their folded clothes never quite looked like folded clothes. You see the struggle? No more! I chose to make this a non-battle.
What do I now do with that pile of clothes laying on my bed from the dryer? I separate my husband's and my own clothes and put them away. Everyone else's gets thrown over to the floor by my doorway into one pile. Then, I call for everyone to come get their clothes. They come sort out which is whose and they know they have to get them put away right away. The oldest folds his. Sometimes the younger boys make a sloppy attempt at folding them, but more often than not, they stuff them into their dressers. And I am seriously okay with that. Because now, when they dig around for that cape (or whatever), I'm not stressing out about how they're undoing the work that I did. The clothes are clean, they're at least put away in appropriate drawers (socks in one, shirts in another, etc.) and they're doing it on their own. Having clothes folded neatly is simply a battle I choose not to fight. Just like their big brother, one day they will "get it," and will appreciate how much easier it will make their life to keep their clothes neat, and will be able to do it just as easily as the rest of us. Until then, at least in our home, pushing the issue into a battle is a completely unnecessary stress.