10 Rules Of Mommy Laundry

laundry-pile

Back before I had children I remember contemplating what life would be like once I had babies. I imagined how much fun it would be to share in adventures with my offspring and how wonderful it would be to see them learn about the world around them. I knew too, of course, that there would be certain work associated with having children: more cooking, cleaning, and tending. One thing I was not prepared for, however, was the sheer amount of laundry that amasses each day when you add kids to the mix.

I have three children now, which means I do laundry approximately every ten seconds. We actually have a sixth member of our family, and it is the mountainous laundry pile that lives downstairs next to the washing machine. Laundry for days, laundry for weeks, laundry for eternity.

Since I spend such a large chunk of my life devoted to my family’s laundry pile, I have noticed a few patterns. A few rules of mommy laundry, if you will:

  1. If you touch it/smell it/look at it funny, it’s dirty.
    We aren’t risk takers! We don’t want to risk cross-contamination! Never ever ever put something that could potentially be dirty back in your drawer.
  2. Set clothes next to the laundry hamper.
    Science has proved that there are adverse magnetic fields surrounding the laundry hampers of children that make it nearly impossible for soiled clothing to actually make it in to the laundry hamper. Next to the laundry hamper, in the vicinity of the laundry hamper, even hanging on the handle of the laundry hamper is the best we can hope for our clothing.
  3. Only put one sock in the laundry hamper.
    Goodness only knows what would happen if two matching socks actually made it into the same batch of laundry. Would there be sibling rivalry mid-cycle? Would civil war break out in the dryer? We dare not find out.
  4. Leave your underwear inside your pants.
    Who are these crazy people who take the unnecessary extra step to separate underwear from the inside of their pants? When I go to put my pants back on, won’t I need to wear underwear, too? Let’s streamline efficiency here, folks, and just leave the undies inside the pants.
  5. Wear white in the mud.
    Let’s go puddle hopping! Or play soccer! Or roll down a hill! You know what is the perfect color to wear for these outdoor pursuits? White. Always white. That way you can see the efforts you made at enjoying your mud-laden experience. Clothing is merely a canvas for your creation.
  6. Leave crayons in your pockets.
    You never know when you might need a crayon, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and always leave one or two of them in your pockets. That way when your pants go through the dryer the crayons can melt and leave beautiful multi-colored wax on everything (including the dryer). Jackson Pollock would be proud.
  7. Poop in your pants.
    It’s just funny and it makes mom laugh.
  8. Eat spaghetti while wearing your “nice clothes”.
    Mom doesn’t buy us too many nice clothes, so when we get to wear them it’s a special occasion. Special occasions call for special food, like our favorite food: spaghetti. And do you know what’s even better than eating spaghetti? WEARING spaghetti! Those nice linen shirts and frilly dresses look great with a little added décor.
  9. Have diaper blow-outs when you’re wearing tight-fitting clothing.
    What fun is a diaper blow out if Mom or Dad can actually change you easily? Wait until you’re wearing a tight romper or something with loads of tiny buttons. It’s super fun getting out of these outfits once they’re smothered in poo. Mom will be so excited that she’ll do a whole separate load of laundry just for you and your little surprise!
  10. Find the non-washable paint, and use that.
    Yes, I know they have shelves and shelves full of washable paint at preschool, but why use that junk when you can get your hands on the good stuff? Non-washable acrylics are far superior. When you’re using this non-washable paint, also be sure to not roll up your sleeves, and certainly do not take any precautions not to spill on your outfit.

May your days be ever full of love…and laundry.

Lessons From The Laundry Pile

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172. That’s how many individual items composed the mountain of laundry. 172 shirts and pants and socks and towels and sheets and pairs of under-oos that needed folding and ironing and put-away-ing. Every time I looked at the massive pile I did a double-take to make sure the clothes weren’t actually multiplying before my eyes. I mean, seriously. There was so. Much. Laundry.

I wasn’t quite sure how to begin tackling Mt. Laundry, so I just sat and stared at it for a moment before digging in. I needed to formulate a game plan. As I contemplated the massive chore that lay before me, though, a funny thing happened. Not “haha funny”, but ironic funny. As I sat there trying to avoid the tedious task that lay before me, I felt an overwhelming surge of gratefulness. Let me explain.

You see, that pile of laundry was sitting there because I have laundry to do.

Each shirt, each pair of pants, each mismatched sock represents clothing that my family owns and wears every day. We have beautiful clothes that fit us properly. We have warm clothes for when it is cold outside, we have swimsuits for when we play in the water, we have rain gear to wear out in a storm. We chose our clothes from a store or received them as gifts or were given them as hand-me-downs (sorry, little brother, but this is your destiny for all eternity…or until you can start buying your own clothes). We have so many clothes that we regularly have to sort through our dressers and our closets to pick out clothes we no longer wear so we can make room for new clothes. We have so much, and I am grateful.

The sheets and towels in the pile represented extra beds that were filled in our house the last couple of weeks. Guests that traveled from faraway, exotic places (like Seattle) to visit us. Friends and family that went out of their way to spend time with us. Adventures that we shared together while they were here. We have amazing friends and family, and I am grateful.

The dress shirts I got to iron (I’m going to say “got to” instead of “had to” here because I’m on a roll. But don’t get me wrong. I despise ironing with a fiery passion.) were so my husband can look presentable at his job. His job that he loves and, I am convinced, was created to do. His job that provides so fully for our family that I do not have to work outside of our home. His job that allows me to wear yoga pants every day instead of dress shirts (can I get an Amen?). Our needs are provided for, and I am grateful.

The fact that I have clean, dry laundry points to the fact that I have a washing machine and a dryer. IN MY HOUSE. Does that not boggle your mind? I have my very own machines that do all the hard work for me. I don’t have to walk down to a river or draw water from a well, scrub clothes on a board with soap that I made with my own two hands, or even wait for my clothes to dry in nature’s time. It’s not even like my college days when I had to walk down to the basement in my dorm to put quarters in a machine or my Ireland-days when I had to walk through the rain and the mud to get laundry out of our garden shed. I have every convenience at my fingertips, and I am grateful.

But here’s the real kicker. 172 pieces of laundry means that there are people in this house that I get to love and care for each day. There are children who call me Mom and a husband who calls me Helper. And I GET to serve them every time I do a seemingly tedious task…like the laundry.

And even though meaningless tasks consume most of my days, I will be grateful. The pile of laundry that needs folding or the floor that needs vacuuming or the toilet that needs scrubbing or those mouths that need feeding represent more than the task at hand: they represent the people and the privilege behind them. Some day I may not have meaningless tasks to do or people to do them for so, in this moment, I choose to be grateful.

Exhausted, perhaps, but grateful.

Getting It All Done

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Last week I got to spend some time with a friend who doesn’t have any kids yet. As I was packing up the boys to head back home she asked me (a bit bewildered, a bit frightened, a bit curious), “How do you get it all done?”. It’s a valid question.

I didn’t know quite how to answer her. The short answer is: what needs to get done, gets done…and everything else can just wait. The long answer is that I have several systems and routines in place that get me through each day and each week (some weeks better than others). Here’s a little glimpse into how I get it all done–or, I should say, how I attempt to get it all done!

Cooking
I usually prep dinner while the boys are napping (most days I can get both boys to nap for at least an hour at the same time in the afternoon. If not, I just prep when one of them is napping so there’s minimal chaos). If there are veggies that need to be chopped, meat that needs to marinate, spices that need to be measured out, whatever–I set it all up while the house is quiet. Kind of like how those cooking shows on TV have everything sitting out in bowls and all they have to do when it’s show time is throw everything in a pan, cook it, and–voila!–dinner! I usually only cook “hands-on” a few nights a week. The other nights I  just reheat frozen meals or leftovers (and pizza is never a bad option for a Friday night, either).

Laundry
I literally do laundry every day except Sunday (Mama’s gotta have a day of REST!). It’s easier for me to do one normal-sized load of laundry to completion (washed, dried, folded, put away) every day than to do a marathon session attacking the dirty-laundry mountain when it gets too monstrous for me to handle. Between Jon and I having our everyday clothes and work-out clothes, the boys needing “costume changes” multiple times a day for multiple reasons, and needing to wash linens on a somewhat regular basis, I am always able to fill a whole load of laundry. Jon likes to look nice for work (*grin*) so I actually iron his shirts once a week. It’s one of my least favorite chores, but I do it out of love (and it helps that I can watch Hulu while I’m tediously ironing away).

Cleaning
I am not a particularly clean person. I like having things tidy and organized and not disgusting, but I’m not the lady who scrubs her toilets every day (yes, I know someone who scrubs her toilets every. single. day.). I have a loose schedule of when I will do the required cleaning each week: Mondays I clean the kitchen and pay bills, Tuesdays I vacuum,  Wednesdays I clean the bathrooms, Thursdays I mop the wood floors, Fridays I pick up the yard. I just do the basics, and it only takes me 10-20 minutes per day to do my “chore-o-the-day”.

Activities
I love being busy–probably to a fault. I’m a stay-at-home-mom who can’t stand staying at home all day. So, we have little outings most days. In a typical week we’ll go to Stroller Strides (my exercise class) or a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings; either park play time or library story time on Tuesdays; and BSF (Bible study) on Thursday mornings. Our little outings last for about 1-2 hours. The boys (usually) have a lot of fun on our adventures– and I need the breaks in our day for my sanity. It’s really a win-win. On the weekends we do our bigger adventures that require more time or more adults: hikes, swimming, shopping, day trips.

NOT Getting It All Done
There are some days where I’ll just decide a nap is more important than whatever chores were on my to-do list. Or the boys will actually sleep past 6:30 AM and I decide that we’re going to stay in our jammies all morning instead of working out. Or I’ll be cleaning up what seems to be the hundredth mess of the day, and I’ll call Jon and tell him to pick up dinner on the way home so I don’t have to cook. Or I will be in the middle of packing up my life to move half-way across the globe (NEXT WEEK!!!). Every now and then, I don’t get it all done. And that’s okay. In the end, what needs to be done will be done–and sometimes a break is what really needs to be done!