The earth must be shifting. Or Jupiter’s up in Saturn’s business or whatever it means in the planet world when things are miraculously out of the ordinary. I know this because I’ve kept up on laundry for—wait for it…Two. Weeks. Straight. This has only happened to me, like, maybe three times in my history of housewifery. And now that I’ve got this groove going, I’m obsessed with not losing it. Like if I see one pair of underwear in the hamper, I want to hand wash them, dry them with a hair dryer and slip them back into a drawer before they multiply and I lose control again. I actually thought I had a great idea when I skipped the laundry basket all together and started putting the clothes I took off right into the washer to sit there until I had a full load, but Brett caught me. “Babe, the washer isn’t a laundry basket.” I can’t think of one good reason why not, but he’s got the whole age-and-experience thing going for him, and he’s way cleaner than I am, so when it comes to matters of order, I don’t really have a leg to stand on.
Every life category seeps into the next, and there are big things you can learn from just about anything. So, Laundry. Life lessons in that basket, there are.
Let’s start with an easy one:
Socks get lost. Deal with it.
In the scheme of the world’s problems, we’re talking a very low ranking here. Which is exactly where most of the things over which we get bent out of shape belong—with the socks. When I feel myself getting frustrated and designating energy to something in life, I want to ask myself—“Is this important or is this just another sock?” Don’t give energy to the socks in life. Save it for the vintage sweaters.
Stop Overanalyzing and Get to the Bottom of the Basket
The biggest problem I have with accumulating laundry is follow-through. I’ll start sorting and washing clothes, starting with pulling out the favorite things I wear most, but I can never follow through to empty the entire basket because once I pull out my favorites, my enthusiasm is shot. The bottom of the basket where all the weird odds and ends build up is what kills me. I stop. I can’t deal. A Christmas-themed cloth napkin. A sash for that one dress I never wear. A pillowcase. Two mismatching socks. A doll dress (how’d that get in there?) A table runner. A romper that doesn’t fit Nella anymore. A shirt I think I hate but I’m not sure. A pair of pants with a little tear that I plan on sewing some day when everything else I’ve ever wanted to do gets done.
It’s too much decision making. Where do I put it? Do I sew it first? Do I iron it first? Do I put it in the Goodwill bag? Do I give it to a friend? Do I save it in case someday I wish I would have kept it? I end up just leaving it in the basket and walking away with the sad realization that I quit.
The thing is: You can’t stop. You have to keep going—finish the laundry!—and the only way you can get to the bottom of the basket in life is to STOP OVERANALYZING and MAKE A DECISION. The fate of the world is not dependent on whether the belt to that Halloween costume ends up in a closet or the garbage. You just have to do something with it so that you can complete the task and move on.
Listen: Bitches get shit done. Don’t make small decisions more important than they are.
You Can’t Hide Stanky Laundry.
Thought you could skip a rewash and the heat of the dryer would destankify it? Think again. When things stink in life, it’s a sign to clean it up. Spraying perfume ain’t gonna hide the stank. Face the facts. It stinks (hey, it happens). Deal with it. Do the work.
It’s Hard for Everyone.
Think you’re the only one who can’t keep up? You’re not alone. There are plenty of other women out there who pray company doesn’t accidentally open the laundry room door, mistaking it for the guest bathroom. Laundry is hard for everyone. Take comfort in the fact that you belong to a village–a tacklin’-laundry, raisin’-babies, pickin’-up-preschoolers, contemplatin’-dinner-recipes, self-analyzin’-ways-of-doing-things village. Whatever you’re facing…you’re not alone. The Laundry Village unites and supports you.
The Less You Have, the Easier the Wash Load.
Too much stuff = too much laundry, and buying extra laundry baskets ain’t fooling anyone. If folded clothes don’t fit in the drawers, you have too much stuff. Pare your closet (and your kids’ closet) down to most favorite, most worn things, and laundry will be much more manageable. Plus, it’s great incentive to do laundry when you’re running out of things to wear. I’m not naturally wired for simplicity and organization, but when I create it in life, everything’s easier and more manageable.
If You Love Your Wardrobe, You’ll Like the Laundry Job More
When I invest in quality clothes that I really love, I want to take care of them. Hanging pretty blouses to dry and folding that favorite pair of jeans I’ll want to wear tomorrow is a lot more fun than tackling a basket full of stretched-out impulsive sale buys. Likewise, life is a lot more pleasant when we choose to spend it with people and events that truly make us happy and build us up. Even the hard work doesn’t seem so bad when it involves good things and good people.
Tackle a Load of Towels to Give Yourself a Break
If all laundry looked like a load of towels, how wonderful life would be. Three easy folds and they’re done—and they all go in the same closet. Some days, all I can handle are the towels. And that’s okay.
Break the Rules—Wash Something that Says “Dry Clean Only” (gasp!)
Ooooh—dangerous. But I’ve done it many times—a delicate wash and a lay-flat-to-dry—without ruining a dress. Not all rules are meant to be followed.
If You Try and Enjoy It, You Just Might Like It
Put a rainbow on it. As much as I say I hate laundry, I admit I enjoy a nice Saturday morning when I try to like it. Brew a pot of coffee, use a favorite detergent, clip clothes to an outside laundry line and watch them flutter while they dry in the sun. Set up the ironing board, turn on You’ve Got Mail, smile and hum as you press wrinkled cotton. Line up hangers of ready-to-wear favorites and delight in the satisfaction of knowing you worked hard; it’s done. I like to think of not-so-fun jobs less as labor and more as ritual. A lot of times, it works.
I should also add that I started this post last night and at post time, there’s a new heap of clothes, already wrinkled, on my bed that need to be put away.
And speaking of getting things under control, Lainey’s very into accessories right now, but we’ve had a hard time keeping them together. They either get lost or pushed to the bottom of a drawer where they’re forgotten, so we made an accessory rack this past weekend. We used a 24-inch towel bar (spray painted it red), simple shower curtain rings and painted clothespins. The small key chain-style shower rings fit perfectly into the holes of wooden clothespins.
I’m over at eHow this week with Opinions, Opinions! How to Deal with Parenting Pressure and Support Friends in Their Decisions