Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Laundry Epiphany

I've heard it called Mt. Washmore. And while mountain is an accurate description, my mountain is always Foldmore. I can process my laundry through the washer and dryer like nobody's business. It's the next step which revels the lesser part of my character and forces my husband to play a game he calls laundry gopher when he looks for his outfit for the day. It's a game, he assures me, that he is not fond of.

Before you suggest her, yes, I'm friends with Ms. Flylady. Okay, well, acquaintances with her. I know I'm not supposed to have a mountain to fold because I'm supposed to fold it right after it comes out of the dryer. Tell that to the baby who is trying to climb the piano. It just ceases to be an emergency for me once those clothes are clean and dry.

I see the pile (and that's just half of it) and quickly remember that I have many, many other pressing duties. Yep, just about anything other than face those menacing, wrinkled piles of cotton.

I had an epiphany today, though. It came from my mother-in-law, who we store in our basement. (Don't judge. She has a rockin' three bedroom apartment down there. Your mother-in-law should be so lucky.)

A week ago, she threw some of my niece's clothes in with a load of our laundry. I went outside to supervise the girls in the yard. When I came back, I found her folding the load.


She's always so nice and always wanting to help but I find it really embarrassing. One, when anyone comes in and helps me with housework I feel it is a commentary on my competency. Second, those are my underwear, eeek!!! Third, she never let's her place look like mine or her laundry pile up.

But, whatever she thinks, she's never mean. She's always encouraging. She's really a great mother-in-law. I've enjoyed having her living with us for years, yes, voluntarily. I don't know why I'm embarrassed. She's watched me give birth. Twice.

So today, I made a comment about working my way into the pile of clean clothes and telling her the washer was available. She said she was thinking when she folded that load last week that it took FOREVER. She had said to herself, "Wow, I know why she gets behind on this!"

That made me pause. She thought it was daunting. Why? She doesn't have trouble with her own piles of laundry. What was the difference?

I realized, occasionally, I'll do a load with just tops and bottoms for Theo and I. Those are so easy to deal with. Each item makes a dent in the load and they are all essentially the same to handle. That is more like her laundry.

I know I love diaper laundry. (Sounds weird to my disposable loving friends, I'm sure.) It's streamlined: a pile for covers, a pile for prefolds, a pile for wipes. There are no decisions involved, just a repeated motion that completes the task quickly. Even loads of towels and loads of napkins and dishtowels are easy.

So, I've decided, I'm doing each child's laundry separately. John does his already but I help him fold. It's not bad because it's all sized the same. He does pants. I do shirts.

Starting tomorrow, even the baby is getting her own laundry hamper. We'll see if this will make things better. Regardless, I paid with a little embarrassment and got some empathy and a ray of hope in the never-ending laundry cycle.

What do you do to make folding laundry easier?


Carrie said...

When you figure it out PLEASE let me know! This household of five hasn't figured it out yet...

MamaHolly said...

Good to know I'm not alone, Carrie!

Angela (HsvScrapGirl) said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only one that does that. Washing and drying I can handle, but it is the folding and putting away that stumps me.

beth said...

I hate to iron more than folding laundry so that is motivation enough to run when the buzzer sounds. I have been guilty of rewashing a whole load just to get the wrinkles out instead of breaking out the iron! But yes a whole load of the little ones takes a great deal longer than ours. I usually throw a couple of towels in with the kids to keep it from being so much. Also having a "processing place" if you will-helps. Have hangers and a hanging rod close by as well as a folding table. It has to be a system. Or maybe it's just we are all wired for different tasks--please don't look at my floors!

Mary said...

I used to get offended when my sweet mom would do my dishes that were piled in the sink. I thought she was wordlessly commenting on how I'm not as good a housekeeper as she. I'd reason with myself, "well, she doesn't have little kid(s), she doesn't know what it's like"
I finally told her to stop.
A couple years pass and I realize - I was being prideful. My mother and my mother-in-law are servants. They love us and our family and desire to help and make life easier for us. They weren't doing my dishes as a comment on my incapability, but in the understanding that I have a lot to do, and this is a way they can help and DON'T MIND helping. If they minded, they wouldn't do it.
It was humbling, and now I joyously accept their dish washing! After all, they're much more experienced at it than I ;)
:) Love you.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the story of my life. (Andrew is now in there working on the towels. I promised to trade with him shortly. See later post for my first comment.)
I'll never forget our first official day of homeschooling last fall. I was so proud of the fact that I managed to wash and dry 3 or 4 loads of laundry while doing school. But that night when we wandered into the bedroom we encountered.... Mount Vesuvius!! We couldn't even see the bed for the laundry.
I'm happy to say it hasn't gotten that bad since, but oh, there are pants to hang and shirts to fold more often than not after 10pm (and I'm not proud of that).
~ Carissa

Jespren said...

I have a toddler and an infant, I don't fold their clothes. I found it's pointless in our house because either I or the toddler is going to go digging through the drawer looking for a particular item, and the clothes are just too small to keep folded in the drawer while you're seeking. So their stuff gets laid out in the drawer, never gets wrinkled because it's laid flat longwise. I wear long 'broomstick' skirts which are supposed to be wrinkly, so they intentionally get twisted/balled up and shoved in a drawer. My husband's clothes, my shirts, and the towels are the only things I have to fold. It makes folding pretty easy, except now we live somewhere without a washer/dryer so we do all our laundry once a week or so. My husband goes through a lot of clothes so even just his stuff is daunting when it's all at once! Good luck on your system