I’m going to cheat a little bit today. At least it feels a bit like cheating. I’m taking one small success – finally getting the monster that is dirty laundry to submit to me – and breaking into the three smaller successes that helped me achieve this goal.
I’ve noticed over the last few days that FINALLY I don’t feel like my life is dominated by the laundry. I used to always have laundry EVERYWHERE. Piles sorted in the foyer* waiting to be washed, a mountain of clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, towers of laundry on the coffee table waiting to be put away, and more towers (usually toppled over) in the bedrooms that had been delivered to their proper owners, but never put in the drawers. My entire house was covered in laundry and I hated it. I truly don’t know the words to convey how much I hated the laundry and how suffocated I felt by it’s unending presence. But, as I said, earlier this week I realized that I don’t feel that way any more. So what changed?
1. Daily load of laundry. Several years ago, someone suggested that I do one daily load of laundry and I’d always be on top of my laundry problem. It sounded simple enough in theory, but I was never able to successfully implement it. I don’t know why. What is so hard about one load of laundry? For me it was impossible. It either sat in the washer, forgotten, until it mildewed and then became another day’s load of laundry, or it got washed & dried, but never folded, only adding to the heap of laundry that took up half of our sectional. Eventually, the heap on the couch was so wrinkled and covered in cat hair (it was her favorite bed) that I was unsure if it even really qualified as clean anymore. But this winter everyone got sick and things changed.
From November – January, the kids in my house passed around disease after disease. Several of these diseases had some kind of stomach bug component. Four kids with stomach problems equals lots of laundry. It got to the point that I’d just leave the washer open to collect the next round of soiled clothes, linens, etc. At the end of the day, or when the washer got full, whichever came first, I’d run the load. But I have a pet peeve about running a partial load of laundry. (If I’m gonna wash, that baby better be full. I need to get the biggest bang for my buck.) So, if the machine wasn’t already full, I’d walk around collecting items that could be washed in that load. Because I needed the sheets, pjs, favorite blankies, etc., I couldn’t just leave them forgotten. I had to see these loads through to completion. And I did. In the process, however, I also developed a new habit. Ever since, I’ve been doing a load of laundry a day. I didn’t mean to finally conquer this habit. But I did it! And I love it! And it really has made my life so much easier. No more piles. No more mortification. Just clean laundry, that gets folded and put away EVERY DAY! Woohoo!
2. Allowing kids to fold. I’ve also been told many times over the years that folding laundry is a perfect chore for little ones. I always disagreed. Socks, maybe. But not the clothes. They just aren’t neat enough. With all the laundry we were doing this winter, I had to surrender my perfectionist tendencies and let the little ones fold. The leaning towers of clothes that are somewhat folded, somewhat balled, and somewhat heaped….well, they don’t look great. But they’re certainly better than a mountain of unfolded laundry taking over half of my couch and staring me down every time I pass through the room. So I’ve surrendered to their folding. I admit: I often refold my pile before I put it away; I just can’t help myself. But no one else seems to mind. And I most definitely appreciate the help with this never ending task. So, after dinner, if I haven’t gotten around to folding the day’s load of laundry, the kiddos do it. Now there’s no more pile of clean laundry taking over my couch.
3. Utilizing the dry cleaner – and not feeling guilty about it. Another pile I forgot to tell you about was the pile of Josh’s work clothes waiting to be pressed. The fact is, I just don’t have the time to iron. The only time I can really get it done is in the evening after everyone is in bed. That’s just not ok with me. I need the evening to wind down and recharge and to spend some quality time with my husband. It’s not good for me (or anyone else) if I work straight through until bedtime. But I just felt so guilty about sending his work clothes off to the cleaners. I am perfectly capable of washing and ironing those clothes, which made it feel doubly wrong. It felt like I was being lazy and wasting money by asking them to do what I could easily do for myself. Whether there’s any truth in that statement, it’s irrelevant in light of the fact that Josh needs clean clothes to wear to work and a sane wife to run his household. By sending the clothes to a cheap dry cleaner to be washed and pressed, I gain a lot of freedom. It may be real or it may only be perceived, but the fact remains, it takes a big load off of me. And it really doesn’t cost much, just a few bucks a week. So, after swallowing my pride**, and surrendering the task to someone else, I lost another pile of laundry to deal with.
So, yesterday, as I was moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer, it occurred to me just how much I used to hate, loath, and dread doing the laundry. And, then, I realized that I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s just a simple little task that I really don’t think much about. I throw in a load before we start school in the morning, move the load around lunch time, and fold it (or have the kids fold it) in the afternoon. At some point before bed, everyone takes their own clothes and puts them away. Easy peasy. The laundry monster has officially been conquered!
That’s it for me. What are your small successes this week? Join the linkup over at Catholicmom.com!
*Our “laundry room” is barely bigger than a closet and it’s just off the front entryway. The only logical place to sort laundry in our house is in the foyer. That means, for the majority of the time we’ve lived in this house, if you showed up at my house unexpectedly, you were going to be greeted by mountains of dirty laundry. I was simply mortified every time this happened to me.
**One time, about 5 years ago, one of Josh’s coworkers commented on how good his shirt looked and asked which cleaner he used. Josh responded that I had done it. The guy was blown away, both by the fact that wives still did things like that for their husbands and how good it looked. I’ve hung on to that ever since. Somehow, I got my pride and wifely worth tangled up in the fact that I could/should press Josh’s shirts. Clearly, that was neither healthy nor realistic (for us).