Let’s talk about laundry. I have a long, sad history with laundry resulting in many depressing (or funny, depending on your perspective or my mood) scenes.
There was the summer my little girls complained they did not have any shorts to wear. I had no idea what they could have done with the summer shorts I had already bought them, but we went out and got them some more pairs… Fast forward to November that year when I had a laundry spree and uncovered several pairs of like-new summer shorts. The very same shorts I had bought for the girls in the spring. They hadn’t vanished after all. They had ended up in the bottom of the laundry pile, never to see the light of day the rest of that spring, all summer long, and well into fall.
Another time, we had just put our house on the market to sell (literally, the day before). It was a Saturday, my husband was out of town, the girls were playing Barbies or Polly Pockets or one of these things that results in lots of teeny tiny toys scattered far and wide, there were dishes all over the counters, and I was doing laundry. I had just gotten started, so dirty laundry was everywhere. There was Mount Laundrymore with a trail of smaller peaks of color sorting piles leading from the laundry room through the kitchen into the living room. The smaller pile of clean laundry was overflowing the couch waiting to be folded. Both the washer and drier were running. This was back in the day when everyone had an answering machine. Ours was in the kitchen, and passing through, I noticed a message. It was our realtor. He was showing our house to a family at 2:00 pm. It was 12:45 pm.
Ironically, I was trying to catch up on all the laundry that day in preparation for house showings, but at that moment, 1 hour and 15 minutes from potential buyers walking into our house, we were nowhere near show house ready. We went into crisis mode. The girls helped, gathering Barbies and Polly Pockets and teeny tiny toys like maniacs. I scrambled to stash that laundry. I didn’t mind having laundry in the laundry room basket, since that is a normal place for laundry to go and would not raise any eyebrows. But I had so much laundry that the pile was as tall as the laundry appliances… I stuffed the majority of it into the appliances themselves. You could not have run any actual loads as tightly packed as the washer and drier were! I ran the vacuum, threw dishes randomly into the dishwasher, sprayed air freshener all over the house, then grabbed the girls and ran. We were out of the house just in time for the realtor to show it. It all worked out. The family that looked at our house that day bought it.
Then there was the time I was sorting Mount Laundrymore with my daughter and showing her how to sort it all by color and type. “It’s more of an art than a science,” I explained. Possibly inspired, my daughter posted a picture of our laundry pile on Facebook. I was mortified! I never wanted anyone to know how perpetually far behind my laundry really was! But, when I saw the caption she posted it with, “It is an art mom says”, I was a little touched. All moms are touched with they realize their kids are actually listening.
These horror stories belong in my past now. For nearly a year, I’ve had Mount Laundrymore conquered! There were a few elements that came together for my summit to succeed.
1. I quit the FlyLady way of doing laundry. FlyLady advocates doing laundry daily. She uses the term “reboot” to mean moving your laundry load through its phases. Sort the laundry and put it in the washing machine before leaving for work in the morning. After work, “reboot” the laundry by moving it to the drier. Before going to bed, “reboot” the laundry by taking it out of the drier. It’s a concept that has worn a path through my brain from the number of times I told myself I needed to reboot my laundry. The problem is, I have ADHD. I can tell myself one million times that I need to do something, but that does not mean I will do it. FlyLady has an answer for that as well. She says if you tend to forget your laundry, don’t start another load until you have completely finished the first one. I tried for years to follow that advice. What happened is that I would have one load of laundry that I was trying to remember to reboot, but I would keep forgetting and have to run it again because it soured in the washing machine or had wrinkles set in because I left it in the drier. Finally, I went to a weekly laundry day and never looked back.
2. I put myself first. You know how on an airplane, they tell you if the plane is crashing you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others put on theirs? I realized that laundry is like the oxygen mask on an airplane. I have to take care of mine first. It might be the same logic behind the expression, “If mama ain’t happy, no one is happy,” but it’s also the fact that things go better for my family if, in my role as wife and mother, I’m less stressed out, and having clean clothes to wear reduces my stress level considerably.
3. I got help. Maybe it was because I switched to a weekly laundry day, which left the washer and drier empty of forgotten wet or wrinkled clothes for the rest of the week, and therefore available for anyone else to use. Maybe it was because I set an example by focusing on doing my own personal laundry first. Whatever the reason, the rest of my family started pitching in to do their own personal laundry too. My husband has always helped by doing some of his own laundry, but having the girls do their own as well made a huge difference in keeping Mount Laundrymore down.
4. I entertained myself. Laundry is boring. I started taking my iPad into the laundry room with me so that I could watch 30 Rock streaming on Netflix while I sorted or folded. It changed my entire attitude about doing laundry. I actually started looking forward to laundry day! That’s how I watched all seven seasons of 30 Rock.
I’m still far from perfect in the laundry arena, but my laundry game has improved dramatically this year. I just wish I had figured out some of these things a few years ago!