Balancing God and Life, Part 5: Laundry is Spiritual
I told you in the intro some of these posts will be very practical. This is one of those posts.
Anyone who doesn’t think it’s vital to learn to balance laundry with the rest of life probably is not in charge of the laundry in his or her house. I’m just sayin’.
Which is why it becomes spiritual for me. And why I’d dare write about doing laundry on a blog about hearing God’s voice. I’m not crazy. For me, they really are connected.
Learning to stay on top of this inevitable chore has taken different forms through the various seasons of life.
Season One: Before Children
For the first 4 1/2 years of marriage when I was working full time and only washing clothes for my husband and me, laundry must have been a non-issue. Because, for the life of me, I cannot remember when I did laundry or how it affected me.
Come to think of it, I remember very little about those pre-children days—to think that I could actually come and go without having to first consider the needs of three small children sounds like another lifetime, entirely. It’s hard to believe I had five years of marriage in that state of bliss. I’m sure I spent most of my precious mental energy wishing I had a baby.
In retrospect, I only wish I would have taken better advantage of being able to finish a sentence without hiring a sitter. I had no idea how much children would alter my ability to communicate.
Season Two: One Child
When I quit my full time job to stay home with Noah, I knew nothing about scheduling my housework. Though I was extremely organized at work, I had no methods in place to manage my home. Hour by hour, I held my tiny new baby in a state of awe, wonder and sleep deprivation. I handled housework on a crisis basis only—which happens quite often, incidentally, when you don’t schedule housework into your week.
After stressing out one too many times about my filthy house, I realized I needed to treat my workdays at home with the same diligence and respect as I treated my work outside the home. Maybe even more so, because no one was there to set goals for me and hold me accountable to those goals. It was all me, baby. Well, me and my new baby, baby.
It wasn’t long before I learned that I could get all my laundry done by setting aside one day a week to do it.
For me, Monday became Laundry Day. I fiercely protected Laundry Day–refusing to schedule anything outside the home on Mondays. I actually liked staying home on Mondays to regain control of my house after a weekend with Jon home (no offense, dear).
I’d sort my laundry on Sunday night and start the first load before I went to bed. On Monday morning, I would continue to wash and dry all my loads—including towels and sheets. Fresh from the dryer, I would lay them flat in the baskets. Then I would have a nice long phone chat with my best friend while I folded and put it all away. Bonus.
By Monday night, every piece of clothing in my house was clean and properly stowed. The best part was that I essentially divorced myself from laundry until the following Sunday, when I’d sort the loads again.
The two keys to this method are
A. listening for the dryer timer so you can keep it moving along, and
B. having enough socks and underwear to get through an entire week. You think I’m kidding. I actually went out and bought more so there was no reason for me to do laundry mid-week.
Season Two: Two Children
Regarding number of children, a friend of mine used to say, “One is one, and two is TEN.” In other words having two children in the house expands household chores exponentially. “Laundry Day” morphed into “Laundry DAYS.” This drove me absolutely insane until I came to accept that I simply could not do it all in a single day.
I would still sort it on Sunday night and do the majority of my washing and drying on Monday. But folding and putting away crept into Tuesday morning. By this time, I was doing about six to eight loads a week. And while it was difficult to cram it all into two days, I loved the feeling of being free from it from Tuesday afternoon through Sunday evening.
This method worked for the better part of 8 years. Until….
Season Three: Three Children and Beyond
Having Three children in the house put me over the edge of laundry sanity. Good bye, Laundry Day…Hello, Laundry Life. I’m not sure how one small 13-month-old Guatemalan could have single-handedly multiplied my loads. But multiply them, she did. It was time for a new method. Or a high-efficiency front loading washer and dryer. I never got the new washer and dryer, so I established a new method. This is what currently works for me:
First, I bought two of these at Bed Bath and Beyond.
I put one in my master bathroom and one in the hallway outside the children’s bathroom.
I made signs to help my family know how to sort the laundry into the proper side. I taped them on the wall above the hapmpers. They aren’t pretty, but they work. (note to self…make prettier laundry signs)
This helps me immensely, because the majority of the sorting is already done, plus, each side of the hamper is the size of one large load. I can just reach in and grab the contents from that side and put it in the washing machine.
(The non-efficient, top-loading washing machine. I’m not bitter.)
I divide it into days like this:
On Monday I do two loads of the kids laundry. I wash it, dry it fold it right out of the dryer and put it away immediately. Done by 10 AM, give or take.
On Tuesday or Wednesday I do two loads of adult laundry. Washed, dried, folded and put away.
On Thursday I do two more loads of adult laundry. Usually whites and hand-washables.
On Friday I do one load of the kids’ laundry, mostly school uniforms so they are ready for the following week in the event I don’t get to any laundry over the weekend.
On Saturday morning I do towels and sometimes sheets for one or two of the four beds, because if I forget about them and they sit in the dryer for awhile, it doesn’t really matter.
On Sunday I may or may not get a jump on the kids’ laundry for the up-coming week.
Sometimes I save all the socks in a basket for my son to do as a chore (we’ll talk kids’ chores later). And sometimes I have my daughter put away the kids’ clothes. I don’t do this because it helps me, as much as I want to get them involved in the process so that I can someday work myself out of a job as Queen Laundry-Doer.
Because I pull the laundry from the dryer and immediately hang it or fold it, it cuts down on ironing. Did I mention I’m allergic to ironing?
I take most of my husband’s business clothes to the dry cleaners where they can be starched and pressed because I neither starch nor press.
If I absolutely have to, I iron clothes before I wear them. I happen to be blessed with a husband who doesn’t mind doing his own ironing when he has to. He’s actually a better ironer than me. He’s better at most things than me. Don’t hate me. I put in an early request for a husband like this.
And if all goes well, no one stresses about not being able to find clean underwear, I’m not stressed about dirty clothes taking over my home, and my laundry room is clean every day.
Give me a good laundry tip! Anyone? Anyone?
For Part 6, Interview with One of My Favorite People, Click HERE
Great post Sanday! This sounded so much like my life! LOL! At one point in the season after two children I would do all the laundry on a Saturday but then it would sit in baskets waiting to be folded and put away. Now I sort all my laundry on Friday night, wash a load, maybe two. On Saturday I will wash a couple of loads, depending on our schedule for that day. The rest of the week I try to do at least one load a day – wash, dry, fold and put away. It's working for me. The kids are responsible for putting away their own clothes. Now that's another story! And, I too, put in an early request for a husband who can do ironing, as well as cooking and grocery shopping! I am truly blessed!!
Loved this post! My trick for laundry with 2 children (one including a daughter who loves to changes 75 times a day) is to fold it straight from the dryer. My 11 year old folds and puts away his own laundry. I just started this month with my 5 year old daughter-she now puts away her own laundry. This has made a huge dent in my load (no pun intended :)). Then for the rest, I do one load a day and I have been successful in avoiding Mt. Laundry this way!
Donna…your husband cooks and grocery shops too???? I'm impressed.
Kris…my 3YO currently pees in her pants 75 times a day. I can relate.
Hey Sandy!!! I was just thinking this week how I used to only do laundry once a week when it was just me and one dog. Now, with ONE child, I do laundry at least every other day. Yep! Every other day!
I don't always fold right away because — it's just me and sometimes I'm just too pooped. So I do run the dryer for an extra 10 before I fold.
Which reminds me, there is a load in my dryer now. I have the "cleaning" rags to wash tonight — with 2 little dogs who pee 75 times a day all over my floor, I go through cleaning rags FAST.
Personally — I've always like doing laundry. I love the smell of Tide and Downey (and yes, I hvae stopped making my own detergent. You were right, there is an entire aisle at the supermarket). I've never really liked putting my clothes away but love the smell of clean laundry!
I love laying in a bed of freshly laundered sheets. I love putting on clothes that is just from the dryer clean. I love drying in towels that are so Downey fresh. I just hate putting it away.
But for the life of me, I just can't figure out why I am doing so much more laundry now than before? I mean, he's only 3 feet tall. His clothes is not that big.
Somehow the demands of laundering for me plus child is similar to the demand of my listing to God for me plus child.
I love this practical post! And thanks for reminding us that all of life is sacred – even doing laundry. Reminds me of the book Practicing the Presence of God ~ where the monk, Brother Lawrence, peeled potatoes for God.
Ana, I like the smell of laundry too. Especially, when I walk outside and smell it coming from the dryer exhaust. It's the little things…
And I'm happy to hear you are back to buying pre-made laundry detergent. I read a few more things on making your own and the annual savings is minimal. I find that paying for convenience is sometimes worth every penny.
Glenda: Exactly. That's it exactly.
This was a great post! So much I can relate too… especially the "one is one, two is ten"…I was just having this conversation with my sister…we both had our second child within the last year and have both been wondering how laundry suddenly became such a LARGE issue!!! How did it go from manageable to feeling unmanageable with one little child…I personally think it's all those itsy bitsy socks- they drive me crazy!!
i can't believe i missed this post! [i haven't been reading blogs…i will be back soon to really read that interview with your SIL. very cool.]
i actually take laundry and use it as a prayer stop. i pray for whichever person's clothes i'm folding. 🙂
i also had a friend who was having trouble conceiving and she shared that she longed for all the laundry a baby produces. pretty much changed my view of the never-ending chore. it is EVIDENCE that i have been blessed with family.