Airing the Dirty Laundry
Drifting off of Sarah s and Engie's laundry posts - from one end of the scale to nearly the other, a family of seven and a family of two. I am currently a family of one, more regularly a family of two, and still occasionally a family of four.
I was so relieved when Sarah said that she did everyone's laundry and, further, said exactly what I've always thought (but often been too chicken to say) - it's great if your kids can do their own laundry before they leave home, but if they don't, they'll learn very soon after. I actually think this about many things - I have half-joked (half-confessed) that I coddle my kids. I didn't work for most of their childhood, my husband worked hard and traveled much, the kids were often busy with school, sports and extracurriculars, and while I didn't act like a servant or expect nothing of them around the house, I didn't feel the need to be a hard-ass about making them 'pull their weight', when I was the one with the most free time to get shit done.
This has largely worked out perfectly fine. They both live away from home at least during the university year, feed themselves competently, do their own laundry, keep their living spaces relatively neat and clean, and conduct a bunch of adult business so that you'd never know that I cut their meat for them until they were 12 (funny side anecdote about this: we were once visiting good friends out west and after everyone was served, I started to cut Angus's meat without thinking, and then froze with embarrassment. I turned my head to find the other mom doing the exact same thing, and HER son was a year OLDER haha).
So anyway. Laundry. Some people I know name laundry as one of their most despised chores. I don't feel this way, although I do get that the grueling neverendingness of it can be overwhelming. It's less gross to me than cleaning up after dinner (my husband does most of that), less back-breaking than vacuuming or floor-washing, and gives me an appealing sense of setting things in order.
We don't have a laundry day. My routine when the kids were/are home is to have a hamper in the upstairs hallway that everyone puts their dirty clothes in. One of us brings this down two floors to the basement in the morning, and sometimes then brings the clean clothes from the dryer upstairs. Every night before I go to bed, I go down and get the clean clothes if they're still there, put the wet clothes in the dryer, and put a new load in the washer. This way I find that it's just a part of the daily routine rather than a big chore for one particular day.
I love the machines we bought I can't remember how many years ago. Our old ones had to be served twice before they were the age these are because they would leave black marks on the clothes or stop draining or whatever. I wish we had gotten the - what do you call them - booster things for them, which I think of every time I'm bent over with my back aching transferring laundry - but other than that I am very happy with them.
I usually alternate between hot water loads (sheets, towels, underwear - I read an article once that made it almost impossible for me to wash everything in cold water, although I see the eco-sense of it and I sometimes try) and cold water loads (other clothing - sorry, Engie, I don't typically sort lights from darks unless something is new and I'm afraid it will run. I find almost nothing does with the way clothes are made now). Every few days I do delicates load, a short, cold-water cycle with Woolite detergent for fancy stuff and bras, which I wash in mesh bags.
I hang most clothes to dry. Matt affixed the top part of a drying rack to the wall in the laundry room for me years ago which, along with hooks on the back of the door from the laundry room to the storage space (and, in a pinch, the arms of the treadmill) is usually sufficient for hanging stuff with the way the loads are spaced. Stuff to be ironed stays down on the laundry table (usually an unholy mess - I was in the process of getting it cleaned off and organized in the fall, but that energy has since departed, so it's still in progress) since the iron and ironing board are in the laundry room. I often bring everything up to the main floor to iron in front of the tv when I have a pile - if I need something quickly I just do it down there.
My laundry room is messy but a good size and I'm pretty happy with it. I love the flooring, which I picked at the same time we picked all of the finishing for our house (the house was build and in inventory, which meant we got it quickly but still got to pick things like counters and flooring, which was nice). When I said what I wanted for the laundry room, Matt, whose taste is quite a bit more conservative than mine, said that he didn't really like it. I said "yeah but who cares, you're going to spend almost no time in the laundry room", and he allowed that it was a fair point, so I got it. I still like it.
I love folding laundry, especially when it's still warm, or even when it's cold from the dryer vent being connected to the outside, because then it smells like outside. I still yearn for the clothesline from my parents' former house, the one I grew up in. We had a deck, and the clothesline stretched from the deck across the yard to the hydro pole, and there was some kind of pulley to lower it to hang stuff and then raise it up and send it soaring across the lawn, which was so satisfying.
When the kids were little I used to sneak into their rooms after they were asleep to put away laundry and surreptitiously gaze lovingly at them. Once this wasn't doable any more I would put their stuff in baskets for them and they would put it away (Eve immediately, Angus less so).
There's some complicated baggage (ha ha) around the laundry that needs to be done when Matt gets home from a work trip, especially a long one. When the kids were little and it could get really difficult being alone with them, I would sometimes feel resentful that I then had the dubious pleasure of dealing with his smelly, well-traveled dirty clothes, who were seeing so much more of the world than I currently was. At this point I don't mind at all, but he feels kind of sheepish about it.
I'm finding it really interesting how an ostensibly humdrum subject like laundry has so many patterns and permutations in different families.