February 9, 2011

of laundry

No, this isn't another post about laundry soap, but I agree that it's strange to have two posts about laundry within a week. Really this whole thing started out with the "Structure" post. Because when Will and I sat down and revamped things like when we do homework (in the mornings now) when rooms get cleaned (a little bit every day) and when the lights go out at night (8 for the kids, 10 for me, Will is a night owl still) we also re-set some other habits and routines in our house. And one of them was the laundry. I'm not a big fan of laundry. I mean, who is, really. I don't hate it, but the older the kids get, the more we seem to have. And it suddenly occurred to me (I know, duh) that not only was Briton old enough to help with the laundry, Evelyn was plenty capable. So we started laundry night.
Up till now, I've always done the laundry as part of my during-the-day routine. Which meant that, more often than not, it stretched out over most of the week with us picking things out of the clean piles as needed. By the time I actually got around to folding it and putting it away, the dirty basket was full again and it was time to start it all again. I'm sure I'm not the only mother (or father) who has this never ending laundry cycle of shame.

Our new schedule (and we're only two weeks in so I'll keep my fingers crossed that it holds) is to get all the laundry washed and dried during the day on Saturday and Sunday and then to bring the whole big pile of clean clothes up on Sunday evening, separate them by person and then watch a movie while everyone folds their own clothes. I know, right? You'd think I would have thought of that one before.

Initially I thought I'd get some push back, hence the movie (there was also pizza and ice cream the first week, but this turned out to be unnecessary). But surprisingly the kids really like it. Briton is actually a laundry folding genius. No, really! The kid might think it's perfectly ok to store a jar full of worms in my refrigerator, but he's fantastic about folding laundry. I think it's his little engineer's brain. It's like my (chemical engineer) father-in-law's fascination with making the perfect organic fertilizer. They like the challenge and the order. Briton actually asked, get ready for this, if we could do laundry every day! Weird. I'm having visions of handing the laundry over to him entirely in a few years time.

But this new laundry set up has one snag. I had nothing that would hold a full week's worth of laundry all at once. I didn't even really have multiple things that could hold it. Every few years I buy two or three new laundry baskets. They last about 6 months before they start falling apart and then I struggle on with broken handles and cracked bottoms until at some point, I throw up my hands and buy new ones. I hate it. It's not that I'm buying crappy laundry baskets either. It's just that laundry baskets are a bit too appealing for little boys who like to use them as turtle shells and sleds and animal traps. I've had plastic and thick wicker and thin wicker and they all end up in little bits scattered all over the house. The week that we started our laundry night the whole top half of one of my newest baskets fell off. Completely. It was time to buy new baskets and this time I wanted something that would last. So I went with metal.
I picked up the largest metal tub that the local feed store had (ok, not really the largest since there was one the size of a bathtub for feeding horses. But this was the largest carryable tub) and brought it home to test it out. And it was perfect. Large enough to fit a huge pile of clothes but still light enough to carry up the stairs from the basement. I'll have to get another since it still wasn't big enough for all our laundry, but it's a big improvement. Except it's kind of ugly.

Enter the spray paint and the Silhouette Cutter. Can I just pause here and say that I really love that thing. I use it all the time. I even cut things that would probably be just as quick to cut by hand, just because I can. But don't worry, you can do this with out one. You'll just have to be more patient than I was :)!
After taping off the handles and rim (big pain in the you know what, but worth it) I spray painted the area I wanted the image on in red. What I didn't do was sand the metal first so that the paint would stick. Don't make that mistake. Because you'll have to peel off your carefully applied stencil (and half the paint) and then sand and repaint the whole thing. And you'll swear. Trust me. But not in front of your kids since you're on swear word alert already this week.
The stencil is cut from contact paper using some downloaded clip art. But if you don't want to deal with the cutting, you can buy vinyl letters pre-cut and go that route. You can even buy some pretty cool vinyl wall decals that would work to spice things up. Once the stencil was on, I sprayed the whole tub, upside down so that the paint didn't go inside, with four thin coats of French Blue. This was a real struggle for me because I'm impatient with spray paint and I tend to want to spray thick coats and get it over with. But I was firm with myself here and it payed off.

Once the whole thing was dry I peeled off the stencil and sprayed the tub, in and out, with a clear gloss coat to protect the paint from scratching and the inside metal from any water that might get in there (we are talking laundry here).

And then it was done. And I love it! I'm trying to decide what to put on the other. I like the pointed finger with "drop your drawers here" thing but I could also just do a simple "laundry" sign. What do you think? Any suggestions before I start painting the next one?