My neighbor is a single parent of two, just like me, and he and I complain about many things -- often and with passion.
But our single biggest complaint? The laundry.
At his house, he takes the load out of the dryer and drops it onto his La-Z-Boy in the living room, where it ends up staying -- for a while. The fact that it's the La-Z-Boy is not lost on him. The clothes end up sitting there and getting more wrinkled day after day until he eventually is forced to put it all away because a new load of clothes is dry.
I had a different method. We were practically living out of the laundry room. Half of the clothes were dirty and waiting to be washed or dried, and half were clean and waiting to be hung up or folded or put away elsewhere. I spent a good five minutes each morning in the laundry room looking for something that someone needed immediately.
To find some solutions, I did a little research. And while I'll never be Martha Stewart (I'm sure her laundry room is so clean that she doesn't even wash clothes there), I found a few things that work for me -- and may for you too.
Organize it: Empty out your laundry room and clean it until it sparkles. This will motivate you to keep it clean and will go a long way with your new philosophy about loving laundry. Next, stock it well with brushes, bleach, stain removers and cleaning agents. Gather the spot pens and dryer sheets and line them all up on a shelf or behind a cabinet door. Just be sure it's all handy and accessible.
Buy necessities: Depending on the size of your laundry room, add either a full-sized ironing board or a smaller one that can be attached to a wall and collapsed when not in use. Add shelving or a table for folding and lots of hooks. Keep a basket of clothes hangers and another basket or box of sewing supplies.
Decorate it: Create an inviting space by adding some beautiful wall art or painting it a bright, clean color. Add some scented candles and a comfy chair that allows you to sort and fold while sitting. Bring in a radio, TV or CD player and your favorite CDs. Make a large pitcher of lemonade and with a tall glass of ice, head over to your new favorite room.
Think outside the box: If you are adventurous and have the space, consider taking over a nearby room or the smallest room in the house and remaking it into the family closet. You can get stand-alone clothing racks and store your dressers and shelves in this one room where all the family clothes live from then on. It will be one stop to drop off all the clothes, and if you are lucky enough to have family members similar in size, with the same taste, you can double or triple your wardrobe. It has saved me hours of putting things away, not to mention how wonderful it's been to have empty closets in our bedrooms. We now use our closets as mini offices for books, CDs and paperwork. Even if you opt out of the communal closet, try the other ideas and you will find yourself loving laundry soon enough.
* Paula Sirois is a Florida-based writer who specializes in family life and frugal living for www. RetailMeNot.com.