Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Laundry

Laundry has always been one of those things that I just couldn't get a handle on. When I was a little girl, about 11 years old, my mother became terminally ill, and I had to pick up and start doing all her household things. I was an only child, so the job fell to me. So . . . I learned to do the laundry and other things on my own, because my mother was too sick to help me learn. She was one of those mothers who would rather do it herself than teach me how to do it, anyway (and I am that way too, to a great extent). So I muddled through those years, and after my mother died, my dad remarried. My stepmom had a hard time keeping up with the laundry too, and so my natural SHE tendencies really flourished and grew, right on into my marriage.

After finding FlyLady, I would have spells when I could keep up with the laundry really well, but most of the time . . . it was the same old thing. I didn't understand the concept of doing one or two loads a day. Laundry EVERY day??? Oh, I didn't even want to think of that! So I'd let it all pile up in one hamper in our bedroom for several days. Then I couldn't find any underwear for the kids, or my dh would run out of socks, or I couldn't find a decent shirt to wear to go shopping. How many Saturday nights I spent washing clothes for Sunday, pulling them out of the dryer on Sunday morning just in time for church! Several times one of my boys would spill something on his good shirt on Sunday morning, and I'd have to wash a load of clothes on Sunday afternoon for him to have a clean one for that night.

I finally figured out that one of the problems I had with laundry was sorting. So I asked Wes if I could buy one of those three-section laundry bins. That is one of the best decisions I have ever made! Now I could sort our clothes as we took them off, and I've taught our children to do the same. We sort into dark clothes, light colors, and whites, and I have a basket beside the bin for towels and sheets. It worked perfectly for us!

Now that I had the sorting problem solved, my problems with laundry were over, right? Wrong! I still wouldn't do a load every day, but I'd let the sections of the bin overflow, and then get upset when the clothes got all mixed up! So I finally decided I needed to do "some" laundry every day. I didn't set an amount. Just some. Well, some days I'd remember to do a load, but as soon as it went in the washer, I forgot about it. I have washed the same load two or three times because it would sour. This is wasting expensive laundry detergent and fabric softener, not to mention gallons of water.

If I'd remember to put the laundry in the dryer, it would end up sitting in there after the dryer stopped, sometimes until I'd remember to do another load in a couple of days. Then everything was wrinkled - really wrinkled. If I'd get it out of the dryer, it might sit in the basket for a day or two, maybe more. My dh was getting more and more frustrated, and my children were beginning to get frustrated too, because they never knew if their clothes were dirty, in the washer, dry in the dryer, or dry but in a basket somewhere. Something had to be done!

This has been my story until the beginning of this month, believe it or not. When FlyLady made the new habit for September to be one load of laundry a day, a bell went off in my head. If I could do one load of laundry per day, from start to finish, I would at least keep the laundry under control, if not completely done. So the first day, looking at the overflowing bin, I decided that I would take it one load at a time that day - wash it, dry it, fold it, and put it away. I did that, and it wasn't too bad. So I did another load. By the end of the day, I had done five loads, and they were all dry and put away. The next morning, I had one load to do, and that was all! I could do that!

So every day this month, when I come downstairs to begin the day, I bring one load of laundry with me and start it before I do anything else. By the time breakfast is over, that load is finished washing, so while my breakfast helper begins cleaning up the kitchen, I go and put that load in the dryer. My dryer has a buzzer. When that buzzer goes off, no matter what I'm doing, I stop and go to the dryer and get the clothes out, carry them upstairs to my bedroom, fold them and put them away. I iron anything that needs to be ironed that day as soon as all the laundry is done for that day. Some days I do more than one load, say maybe a load of dark clothes and a load of towels. Mondays are when we change our sheets, so I have sheets to do on Monday in addition to the one regular load. But most days I only have one load to do. Think about that! In just about 15 minutes a day I am keeping our laundry done. Maybe less, now that I think about it: two minutes to load the washer, two minutes to put it in the dryer, five minutes to fold it, two minutes to walk around the house putting it away - 11 minutes. If I need to iron anything, it's usually just two or three pieces. So add five minutes to iron two shirts, and it's still only 16 minutes. All the time the clothes are washing and drying I'm getting other things done - and I don't mean things online, either! LOL

When we stop to think of the modern conveniences we have, we really have no excuse not to keep our laundry done - and my fingers are pointing squarely at myself here. My grandmothers grew up doing laundry on washboards. They did it all on one day, and it took all day. They had to start early in the morning because the clothes had to hang outside to dry, or on racks in the house if it were raining or freezing outside. Then the next day they had to iron all those clothes. How blessed we are to have machines to do all that washing and drying for us, and lightweight electric irons to make ironing quick and easy, not to mention all the wrinkle-free fabrics we have that make ironing unnecessary!

This got much longer than I expected it to. I don't know if it will help anyone or not. I am really quite ashamed to let people know how messy and unorganized I've been all my life, but maybe my being honest about it might be what someone else needs to help them see that they aren't the only one struggling with laundry or other things. So if you made it this far, thanks for reading. And if you're shocked at the hopeless slob that I am trying to overcome, then just pray for me!


Tammy said...

I can relate to this as well, Susan! I have been married 5 + years, and the first 3 years I had to do my laundry at a laundromat. I actually had a better handle on it then, because I HAD to do it at least once a week, and I always folded it before I brought it home. One thing that I always said was, "I can't wait till we have a house, with a washer and dryer." Well, I wasn't counting on having to go downstairs to do my laundry. I don't know what it is about those 12 steps that keeps me from doing laundry, but they do! Thanks for the inspiration!!! (And sorry this was so long of a comment. =) )

Carolyn said...

Wow! This could be my blog Susan! Except for the part where you are better now! haha!
I think my laundry right now in my bedroom is overflowing.........
I think I"m gonna go do a load after I run the one in my washer through again! Gulp!