Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why I Have Piles of Laundry With a Cold House and Am Still Happy.

Today is laundry day.  Laundry has never been an especially beloved chore for me, although since I bought my high efficiency washer and dryer I've stopped absolutely hating it.  I'm willing to do 9 loads a week, but 27 was just too much!  Right now my laundry may be gathered, washed, and dried, but it has NOT been folded and put away for 3 (maybe even 4) weeks.  I do have a very good excuse.  Alright, I can't really excuse not doing it, just explain how I can stand to live with the piles of laundry 8 people create in 3 (maybe 4) weeks.

It all started last January when we received our first winter electric bill in this leased house.  It was 4 digits.  After Peter pulled himself off the ceiling, we did some major revisiting of our cold tolerance.  The problem is that this house has no central heat and air.  It also, as far as I can tell, has minimal insulation.  And when the owners put an addition on they installed electric baseboard heating.  So the older part of the house uses oil and the rest is electric.  Electric heat stinks (that could be taken literally, ever leave a plastic toy on an electric heater?)

Since the house we own still hadn't sold when the lease here was up, we signed on for another year.  This winter we tried to prepare for the cold.  We moved my craft room upstairs to the younger boys' old room (electric heat) and put all four boys into the old craft room downstairs (oil heat).  Since the room isn't large enough for 2 bunk beds and dressers, we left all the clothes in the older boys' old room.  We then shut off those two rooms so we could only heat as needed.  (We also have some paranoid-to-see-the-next-bill troll who keeps turning off the electric heat in the master bedroom and kitchen with his angry trollish wife, blue lips trembling, threatening to keep the whole house at 75 degrees if she finds it off again.  But that is a different story.)

Anyway, it took me 1 whole week to realize the boys new "dressing room" was the perfect place to sort laundry.  It is, after all, mostly empty.  Plus, half the household's clothes actually belong in there, so less put away work.

Do you see the flaw?

I can shut that door.  Because the room isn't heated, I have to shut that door.  I never have to see the heaps of laundry and without their mountainous monstrosity taunting me daily, I can ignore them for weeks.  Three weeks (maybe four) to be exact.  I even (turned on the heat and) sorted them into everyone's piles one week then left them there to be dug into by family members searching for a pair of jeans or clean shirt.  Although they search quickly, motivated by their under-clothed bodies in an unheated space.

Tomorrow I am determined to tackle my laundry, subduing the mountain into tame mounds of folded T-shirts, pajamas, and underwear.  Mostly because I can't find my favorite pair of warm socks and my feet are tired of being half frozen.

You may wonder why we choose to stay in this house after we knew we would pay a fortune to heat it and still shiver all winter.  Surely not for a convoluted excuse to not fold laundry?  Surely not because I enjoy trying to get four boys to fall asleep in one tiny room.  You're right.  I wouldn't stay cold for that.  I submitted to chilliness to wake up to this every morning:

(Even when it looks more like this.)


  1. I'd probably sleep in a tent to see that view - and I'm seriously cold-phobic.

  2. Charlotte, you're right. That view! I'd probably sort laundry in the snow to see it!

    People don't have a real appreciation for how much work goes into clothing management - from the laundry to the evaluating growth of the kids, rotating clothes for seasons and sizes, buying new ones (on sale the year before...) Half of what I do when sorting, is this pass-me-down thing that, no, no one can help me with.

    Good luck and wear fleece!

  3. You make me feel so normal! If only I could buy a high-efficiency folding and putting away machine! Goodness, I loathe laundry but am rather fond of clean undies. Such a tough call. I've been known to leave clean laundry in a PILE for a week (maybe two).

    And after reading about you heating issues, all I can say is thank goodness for Natural Gas! My heating bill (for a house kept faithfully in the low 70's) is still under $200 per month. We'd never make it with utilities that high even if we wanted to for the view!

  4. My clothes remain in a huge pile, on our couch, for weeks too!

    I was telling my husband the other day a great idea for our future home: a kitchen with a door. This way, if I am tired and don't want to to dished, I can close the door and not feel guilty.

    Looks like you have already used that idea for laundry. Excellent, I might add.

  5. Seriously, the whole talk about laundry had me so drained until I saw the pictures, so amazing. Besides, I kind of like the image of you opening a door and sending a boy or girl diving into a heap of clean clothes...with or without the use of a UCBA ("under clothing breathing apparatus".) I have my own bit of laundry that needs attention, I think I will lie down for a while first.

  6. We have kept our house pretty chilly this winter yet our bill is still about the same because of rate hikes. Oh well. It could be worse. We could be using as much electricity as last winter and the bill would be higher because of the rate increase.
    I hate laundry. We set a pack-in-play up in my bedroom when the baby was born and it quickly became a place not for the baby to sleep but for me to toss clean laundry into. I don't think I have been "caught up" on laundry since September.

  7. Laundry is such a pain sometimes! :)
    I have heard that it is the rage in some places (like Utah) that they are building huge laundry rooms on the main floor, designed for everyone to store their clothes there as well. Not a bad idea.... although I don't know if my clothes will always get folded right out of the dryer. :)

  8. Oh laundry, it's such a pain. I have no problem washing and drying, it's the folding. HATE IT! AMEN, if I didn't have to look at it I would not do it either.

  9. I hate to be cold but I hate high utility bills too. Pray for the house to sell then you can build and energy star and be warm and have lower bills too.

  10. You're right - it's hard to feel sorry for you when you wake up to views like that. Sorry :)

  11. That is an amazing view!

    We have electric heat. Every month our bill is around $1100! It's horrible. We just accept it and turn up the heat. We are ripping out the electric heat before next winter though and we are very excited! I might actually get some spending money now. ;)

  12. Claudia- That view is the only reason I haven't lost my mind, waiting over two years for our house to sell.

    Linda- Clothing management is the bane of my existence. One of my kids keeps dragging out the summer clothes and I keep finding them going through the laundry. They never get worn, just washed, folded, put back with the summer clothes and back in the hamper. It is truly a mystery.

    Brenda- So.I've.Noticed. A.Trait.Shared.By.Sisters.

    Cynthia- When we finally sell our house and buy one it will NOT be electric. Now I want an HE folding and putting away machine. I am definitely low efficiency with it!

  13. Ambrosia-I'd like my kitchen closed off like that, too. Definitely not seen from the front door. In this house you walk into house through the kitchen. I'll tolerate a lot for that view.

    Emma Jo- I like that mental picture, too. Come enjoy the view anytime you need to avoid laundry, too!

    Jeanette-We seriously cut back on the heat, but the bill is still higher than we'd like. And my feet are always cold! Laundry spend more time in piles than in drawers at my house. It's really kind of sad.

    Jamie- I've heard of those,too. I wonder about privacy issues, though. My kids are getting a little old to be looking at each other undressed.

  14. Dreamer- if it stayed folded longer than the time it took to fold it wouldn't be so bad!

    Mom- That is our plan exactly. We're sick of uninsulated houses.

    Susan- I can't even feel sorry for myself. Although you can feel bad for me when we inevitably have to move away from the view. One gets used to it rather quickly.

    Alyson- What is up with our state? I think every house we've looked at has no central heat and air. I can't wait to not have electric heat anymore. It is a total pain.

  15. Charlotte, we have a polar potty in our apartment that has no heating vent. So every winter we will all go upstairs (13 of them) to avoid going to the freeze your cheeks off one). Sounds like you need to pare down to a weeks worth of clothes per kid. Oh, wait...that's still an insane amount. Maybe bring back the housekeeper to do folding:)

  16. My sister had similar heating issues a few years ago and so all her kids got nightcaps for Christmas. No..not alcoholic beverages...those old-fashioned knit caps that people used to wear to bed. So every night, her 4 children scramble around their house trying to find their warm caps so they can fall asleep. I don't know why, but this image always makes me laugh. Maybe you should take up knitting. Of course, then you'll have at least 8 more pieces of laundry.

  17. Elizabeth- We don't have much more than one week of clothes (which makes waiting all the worse because we are forced to dig right away). I always run up the stairs because I am scared of what I'll find in any bathroom except the one in my room. I consider it my exercise for the day!

    Cami- Pretty sure they wouldn't keep the nightcaps on, we did all get snuggies from my mom which we use to keep warm in the evenings.

  18. We have that same turning-down-the-heat troll at our house. Then he leaves for work and my fingers turn to ice while I am doing laundry and I discover the heat is way down and it is a very good thing that the troll is at work or his trollish wife would threaten to use the oven and clothes dryer to heat the house if he messes with that thermostat one. more. time. (Deep breath.)

  19. Charlotte, thanks for becoming a follower. And no worries about the comment snafoos. (sp?) It made me laugh--something I would do, have done and will do. :)

  20. Dude. I can't believe your house hasn't sold. And a 4 digit bill, seriously? That is out of control.

  21. It IS a beautiful view.

    1. My house is always cold.
    2. My laundry is always a labyrinth of sorrow behind close doors.
    3. I like you. :)

  22. The Queen- It drives me crazy!! I start to get really cold and look at the thermostat and feel like screaming. The funny thing is that in every thing else he is the spender and I am the cheap one. But I can't do anything when I'm frozen in place.

    Elizabeth- Thanks, I'm trying to be better at following blogs I like.

    Kim- No joke. We have a pretty interested party right now, but they are working on getting the financing (we've hinted we are willing to practically give away the house).

    Steph @ D & D- Thanks! It's nice to know I'm not alone.

  23. That view is AMAZING. Wow.

    I don't fold or put away our laundry either and I can't shut the door on it. I just step OVER it. Because I am lame. :)

  24. I love the view! Where do you live? I grew up in a coastal state, and even though I enjoy Utah I do miss the water.

    And did I count 6 kids? Yeah, laundry is my downfall in my housekeeping list, and I only raised 4!

  25. gosh those pictures are so beautiful. you guys really are blessed to be living there!

  26. Wow. I would have stayed, too, for that view! I'm glad I'm not the only one that let's the laundry pile up. I finally fold it after 9 or 10 loads. I used to do it right away and realized it's just too much to keep up with. We do one or two loads a day. But there is no room to keep the finished load in so I just throw them on our bedroom floor, hoping one day Mr. V will think WOW, is that a huge pile of laundry on the floor? and that he'll start folding spontaniously. Alas, he hasn't seemed to make that sort of connection yet so I keep up the experiment.

  27. I see an obvious solution to both your problems: just let the kids wear all their laundry in layers. Then you don't have to fold it and they all stay warm!

    I did stumble onto a solution of my own recently. I decided it was unfair of me to expect my kids to clean their rooms if I couldn't even keep mine picked up. So we made a deal: (maybe I like colons better than semicolons) They don't have to clean their room or make their bed until I get mine all the way clean; but they are not allowed to complain that they can't find something or don't have clean clothes. My thinking was that seeing their messy rooms while I did things downstairs all day would finally motivate me to clean my own. Not so, however. Instead, (love those commas!) we all have messy rooms, but I'm only doing three medium-sized laundry loads each week. Woo-hoo!