Over the school holidays, I was looking at a picture advertising a colonial village experience. In the picture was a family doing the Laundry. You can picture it: a big tub, a washing board, a rope hanging behind where clothes are pinned. I found myself overwhelmed for my sisters from a past generation. It also put things in perspective. I mean, for me, laundry can be as simple as 1) moving dirty laundry from basket into washing machine; 2) move clothes from washing machine to dryer. Really not that hard, right?! Of course, there is sometimes more to it, but, all in all, it’s much easier these days, right?
As with my sisters from the past, so still today, there will always be Laundry. There is the (seemingly) ever-increasing volume—every week the pile looks bigger. But there is also the gathering, the sorting, the determining what can go back in the draw or what needs to be washed, and so on and so on. So, I thought for this blog I would (sorry for the pun) air my dirty laundry. Here’s what it looks like for me.
The Walk Around
The question is never: “Are there clothes on the floor?” No. It’s: “Where do the floor clothes go?” Are they dirty? Are those socks still in the shoes to be removed or can they go another day or two? Those towels hanging (or not hanging): damp and smelly or good for a few days? Yes, I do subscribe to the well-known method, the “sniff test”. The other approach is, of course, if it’s on the floor, into the laundry it goes. Once the dirty laundry has been identified, now it’s time for collecting.
This is generally just throwing it all into a random pile on the laundry floor. Completely indiscriminate. I have a friend who lives in a 2-story home where most of the laundry needs to be brought downstairs. She has found dropping things over the bannister an effective way of moving things along. Brilliant. Who needs a laundry shoot? Until she greets her lunch guests and realizes she left the pile there. Then there’s the sorting.
Now laundry really should be sorted.
Sorting Dirty Laundry
Whites, darks, colours, delicates, towels etc. etc.; you know the drill. I know some of you have an awesome system and you’re consistent with it. I’ve tried these on various occasions, but, of course, life gets busy, systems go out the window, that indiscriminate pile just goes into the machine as is. Mostly I get away with it, but you know how this goes. My husband has a few newly coloured ‘purple’ and ‘pink’ work shirts; my daughter has a not so pretty sequin and glitter dress. Now it’s in the machine, too late to do anything about it.
In the Washing Machine
Now to focus on other things. I have a front loader that does long cycles. Long cycle = long break. Long break (often) = what am I forgetting? Oops. Often, I’ll put a load on the night before so that I only have to rinse in the morning. This is all good except that mornings are often busy. So, it’s two mornings of rinsing; or, sometimes, re-washing. Finally, it’s ready to dry.
Summer is great. Even if I don’t get to it until 2-3pm, it can be dry within the hour. Winter (especially in the Blue Mountains), however, can be a different story. Here, my extra-large clothes horse is a permanent fixture in the lounge room. Even if I do choose to use the dryer (seriously, how would we live without dryers?!), some things just need to be air dried.
Taking in the dry Laundry
Now the Laundry is dry. In a perfect world, now is when it would be brought in. But this is not a perfect world, not even close. Oh well, an extra day will make it extra dry, I’ll bring it in tomorrow. I checked the weather app, there’s no rain for a few days, it can wait. Hello afternoon rain shower, you weren’t on the app. Eventually, it comes in, the dryer is emptied, and the clothes horse is empty. Now to sort.
Sorting Clean Laundry
I try to sort as I take the laundry off the line. I also try hanging it in groups for each person. But this all takes time at the clothesline. Our line is downstairs from the house, meaning the kids have to come down with me. A 2-year-old running around the backyard while I do this equates to just throwing everything into the basket to sort later. And by “later” I mean later. Two days. Three days. Three baskets. Four baskets. When I’m no longer looking for fresh clothes in the drawers, rather, I’m looking for them in the basket, it’s about time to sort and put away.
This is when children are not napping or sleeping, and I can open drawers without waking them. The cycle is finally complete! Now I can relax and drink a glass of wine with my favourite TV show. Haha, yeah, right. It’s called a “cycle” for a reason. And you are always in every stage of the cycle. But, in all honesty, the absence of Laundry would mean the absence of crazy family life. So, I’ll embrace the Laundry because it means my home is lived in and loved. At least, that’s what I tell myself as the cycle continues.