I started doing this two months ago, and I want you to do it, too, because I think you will be glad even though it will sound crazy when I tell you:
Do a load of laundry every single day.
I know. I know.
That sounds ridiculous, and you're rolling your eyes, and you're about to close this post and maybe the next one will be more applicable to your life because who in their right mind would want to do laundry every day?
Stay with me here.
This is what we used to have:
Piles of dirty laundry of varying sizes at the foot of the bed, on a chair, and in the bottom of the closet. A load in the washing machine that had to be run three different times over the course of the week because we kept missing the window to put it in the dryer before it got super stinky. A dryer and a laundry hamper full of wrinkly, smushed up, sad-looking clean clothes that we had to root through every morning to find something to wear.
This is what we have now:
Clean underwear that's folded in our drawers. The ability to wear something today and know it'll be available again two days from now in case I want to wear it for that meeting/dinner/trip. A family who hasn't asked once in the past three months where [insert item of clothing here] is.
Instead of spending a crapload of time catching up on a mountain of laundry every week, I put a small load of three people's clothes + some napkins or dishtowels or handtowels or something in to wash as soon as I wake up. It takes me about 3 minutes. They're done washing by breakfast, so I put them in to dry right before I sit down to eat. That washer-dryer switchover takes about 2 minutes. When I get home later, I send them around in the dryer for 5 more minutes to get the wrinkles out, and I fold them. Sometimes it's that afternoon. Sometimes I don't get to it until after our kiddo is down for the night. The load is so small that I don't dread the folding and putting away. The folding takes me 10 minutes max, and the putting away takes maybe 5 minutes.
Only once in the past three months has this system broken down. We came back from a trip, had an overnight guest, and had a wet sheets situation all in two days. It took me a few days to get back on track. And the thing I take from that is: I was able to get back on track.
I don't have a huge wardrobe. Maybe 5 shirts for the season. Two pairs of pants and two skirts. And I ALWAYS HAVE CLEAN CLOTHES IN MY DRAWERS NOW.
If I miss a day here or there, it's cool. I can just do a medium load the next day. And I STILL HAVE CLEAN CLOTHES IN MY DRAWERS.
If I need to pack for a trip, it's not a big deal. Because I HAVE CLEAN CLOTHES IN MY DRAWERS.
Try it. I'm serious. If you have more than two people in your family, try it.
This is about your baseline level of mental health. For real.
If you wake up late and have to rush one spouse, two kids, and an imaginary friend out the door, you will all have clean, unwrinkled clothes to jump into.
If your kid pukes/spills/uses-a-sharpie-marker all over you right before you leave for a board meeting, you will have clean, unwrinkled clothes waiting in your closet.
If you need to make an emergency trip out of town on three hours' notice, you will be packing clean, unwrinkled clothes in that suitcase.
Sounds good, right?
Let me know how it goes.