Wednesday, October 10, 2012

laundry--the quixotic years

Being in a wise and sagacious frame of mind I thought I would bequeath you all some of my vast experience and knowledge on the subject of Household Management, particularly in the realm of Laundry. I'm sure you're all sitting fretfully at your computers or on your tablets, or scrolling down your phones and thinking, 'what on earth am I going to do about my Laundry?' and wishing that another exasperated MommyBlogger will just post One More Time about this important matter. Perhaps you're casting about for some scripture or spiritual insight, in which case, go read the Gospel Coalition. Or maybe you wish you were reading Simcha, in which case, go read her. But just maybe you thought, I wonder how Anne manages her laundry, in which case, read on.

My first piece of advice is to have a baby every other year so your mother will feel sorry for you and come bail you out for a month. This is important because your mother will be appalled at your table linens and the awful stains on the fronts of shirts and how many buttons are missing and things like that. She will exhaust herself selflessly on your behalf, working diligently away on laundry problems you hadn't even noticed. When she eventually prepares to go home you she will anxiously guide you through your once familiar laundry room and impress on you the importance of Doing Your Laundry Every Day and spraying Krud Kutter On Everything. She will have reorganized your whole system to make sense and work smoothly. You will weep as she gets on the plane.

So my second piece of advice is, after your mother leaves, cry for two weeks and four days until your husband notices and, in a desperate bid to make you dry up, takes over The Laundry. He will do it masterfully and consistently and you will notice, after six months, that you seem to be getting fatter and fatter. Then you will Realize that he has shrunken all your sweaters, and washed all the boys Sunday Shirts with a pen mixed in so they can never be worn again. But then he will say, I really like doing the laundry because you seem so calm and unhysterical and you will decide you don't care about your sweaters.

My third piece of advice is to watch a season of the Duggers and discover that the reason you are struggling with your laundry is because you had a bunch of children and that if you didn't have any children at all, you wouldn't feel badly about yourself because of your inadequacy about The Laundry. Keep watching and discover that the Duggers keep all their dressers and hanging things in The Laundry Room. That very day move every single clothes storage option into your laundry room.

Now you can properly address the following problems.
1. Apparently its too hard to take something off and fling it on the stairs for the person whose job it is to carry The Laundry into The Laundry Room. Everybody is exhausted and troubled by other things and has to be reminded to
2. Apparently its very difficult to find something to wear and to remedy this problem, all one's clothes have to be flung all over the floor of the Laundry Room and carefully stirred into the pile of dirty things so that there is no longer any way to discern what is Clean and what is Dirty.
3. Apparently its very difficult for the person whose job it is to carry The Laundry into The Laundry Room not to take a detour through the basement dropping socks and shirts and trousers and skirts and unmentionables in a line as if making a way to get back home if left in the forest by an evil Step Mother.

Decide, after reading a lot of blogs, that your mildly spacy ten year old should be given the task of gathering up all these scattered clothes and sorting things by color into bins. Know, in your heart, as you prepare to train her for this New Important Task, that you are setting yourself up for a whole new world of frustration and rage because Children Are So Incompetent. Decide that you're going to do it anyway and that maybe God will have pity on you and come back today, or tomorrow at the latest.


R said...

Ah, but you left out the best bit- Live in a European country wherein the use and ownership of dryers is deeply frowned upon, yet paradoxically it rains the entire winter and the relative humidity indoors remains at 70% or above. :D Have to say the first year it was a VERY steep learning curve.

At A Hen's Pace said...

I love your writing style, Anne! That's a great first paragraph.

I happen to enjoy doing laundry and the only other one who is allowed to enter my laundry room is my nearly-20-yr-old daughter. I will make myself teach my teenage sons at some point; at least they fold and put away their own. I have two kids who don't seem to grasp the concept of the laundry hamper, however. Their dirty boxers and socks reside under beds and dressers, in the closet and behind the bedroom door. Do you have any advice, O Laundry Maven?



Kat said...

My mother never let me near her washer and dryer either- she taught me how to do my laundry shortly before I left for college. However, she did teach us to sort our clothes, and the simple rule was that anything that didn't make it into the hamper didn't get washed, and we weren't allowed to do our own loads- so our choices were to wear dirty clothes or wash by hand. She certainly wasn't going to waste energy and water to do a load just for one sweater or whatever it was I thought was critical to wear. That *was* real incentive to get my clothing into the hamper.

I strongly covet Michelle Duggar's laundry room. But then, maybe that's just because all these mid-century houses built in CA have laundry in the garage, and with the rainy season about tostart, the thought of hauling laundry to and fro in the cold rain (garages are attached, but not always have access from the house!)all winter long is already filling me with dread. However, the Duggar's real key to laundry success is your first piece of advice. ;) In fact, her mother-in-law moved in permanently, and all laundry that gets done, is done by her.

Anonymous said...

Or if He doesn't return... maybe your mother will. =)

eulogos said...

Most of my kids did their own laundry, out of self defense, by 12 at the latest, and some started, at least when they wanted something clean, by age 10.
In Baltimore, I had a large laundry room. I think it was where the servants of the house used to do the laundry, as it was at the top of the back kitchen stairs and you could see where a stove to heat water for laundry been hooked to the chimney. I had two large playpens in there, one full of dirty laundry, and one full of clean kids clothes. At various times I had a milk crate for each kid in there to fold laundry out of the playpen into, but often it came down to just fishing clean clothes out of the playpen. There was a closet in there, and certain items, such as school uniforms got hung up. (And a beautiful first communion dress made by my mother, which was destroyed when the fire started in that room.)
When we moved to Newark Valley and had only a tiny laundry room off the kitchen, clean clothes were dumped on our king sized bed and folded and put away every night by the child assigned to the task that day. As some of them began to be teenagers, and to have special clothes they valued, (even if that meant the pair of jeans with the most perfect holes in the knees) they began to be disatisfied with the folding and clothes allocation of six year olds, and they would wash their own clothes after I went to bed. However, if they left anything in the washer or dryer, it wound up back in the general laundry.
Susan Peterson

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

This is quite funny - and pretty much the way I remembered it with six kiddos and six foster kiddos. Minus the helpful mother and the husband.

From the file marked "It's a Small World, After All" - in the file section "Serendipity": This was sent to me by a friend who isn't Episcopalian / Anglican and had no idea who you are. She just read it and remembered my family back in the day and thought I would enjoy reading it. I did. A thoroughly enjoyable piece of writing. Thank you.