A Few More Thoughts
17th January 2012
To begin with, I solemnly promise that, having opened the Pandora’s box of topics that is Housecare, I will not allow myself to use this blog and your patience as a platform to validate my all too frequent assertion that I Do Tricky Stuff At Work.
So if you found my last post to be the height of self indulgence, please allow your attention to wander and meet me back here later in the week for some music.
I was surprised and flattered and a little overwhelmed at the response to my last post, and I keep thinking of more things to say on the subject of laundry and, really, my philosophy of housekeeping. So I’ll get them down really quick, and again, if you’re bored beyond the point of tears, please just smile & skip.
I want to say in front of God & The Internet & everyone else that, like all of the busy moms I know, I function in survival mode a great majority of the time, my lingerie drawer is a mess, and the floor under my bed is hatching a beautiful collection of dust bunnies. My house has plenty of dirty little secrets, in other words, and I am not trying to project the idea that my house is always spotless and I wear pearls and an apron and high heels while I make a ham every night for dinner (although I do think that sounds just lovely). The only thing I have to offer is the truth of my own experience, and since I am blessed with friends who are gifted, verbose, and insightful, I tend to host a running Q & A with them in my mind as I go about my day, and I’d love it if you’d join us.
Although many of you found my previous post about my BFF Ramah’s laundry system helpful, a few people voiced some reservations. I’ll address those now.
Q: Won’t your clothes be all wrinkly?
A: My answer to this question is twofold. First, my clothes were always wrinkly before I implemented the laundry system. The whole reason I felt compelled to adopt Ramah’s system was that folding the laundry wasn’t an option for me. I wanted to do it, I tried to do it, sometimes I actually did it, but the burden of guilt about this overwhelming task I could never complete hung over my head like the sword of Damocles. So it was important for me to realize I wasn’t choosing between folded laundry and unfolded laundry. I was choosing between unfolded, chaotic laundry that overwhelmed my laundry space, my living space, and my bedroom, and unfolded, tidy laundry that has a home on neat shelves in clearly labeled baskets. Second, this system in no way prevents me from folding the laundry. If someone in my family happens to be fastidious about their clothes, they are welcome to grab their basket and fold their laundry. I like for my jeans to be folded, so I fold them. I don’t care so much about my workout clothes being folded, so I toss those in the basket. My husband likes for most of his clothes to be line-dried, so I hang those in the laundry room as I am switching loads. The possible variations and adaptations to this system are endless, but I always have to remember to distinguish between what’s REALISTIC and what’s IDEALISTIC. I’m not choosing between folded laundry and unfolded laundry. I’m choosing between an unrealistic ideal and a reality. I’m choosing between pressure and relief. Between guilt and surrender. So for every household, this will look a little different, and every person has to determine what they will REALLY do, not what they WISH they would do, and plan accordingly.
Q. Where do you put the baskets?
A. I have a couple of chrome shelves (from Target or Costco) in my laundry room.
My laundry room hasn’t always been big enough to house the laundry center, but the laundry center has become so integral to my sanity that even when our house was so tiny that the (stackable) washer and dryer were sandwiched between the kitchen stove and the bathroom sink, I carved out a space in my bedroom for the laundry shelves. I just can’t do without them.
Q. What about the clothes that need to be ironed?
A. Ahhhh, I’m so glad you asked!
I’ve said it before: I wish I was someone who enjoys ironing. But irons are dangerous, they’re time consuming, they are HOT, they take forever…again about the sword of Damocles. The reality is, I won’t get around to ironing in a timely manner. I reached a breaking point when, just after our second baby was born, my husband went to work for two straight weeks in un-ironed clothes. He could have ironed them himself, but it turns out he hates ironing even more than I do. So one day as I was telling Ramah about my ironing dilemma, she said, “So you need to find a way to apply the laundry system to ironing.” Total stroke of brilliance. I did some research and invested in my steamer, which changed my life yet again. I found that my steamer doesn’t quite replicate the crisply starched look you hope for from a freshly dry-cleaned shirt. But again, I wasn’t choosing between starched shirts and steamed shirts. I was choosing between rumpled, wrinkled shirts and freshly steamed shirts. Realistic vs. idealistic. So upon their removal from the washer, I hang the permanent press clothes to dry, and then I spend a few seconds with the steamer and melt the wrinkles out of them. Voila!
So, if you’re somebody who has no trouble laundering and folding and storing all of your family’s laundry, congratulations! Maybe you could come fold some stuff over here? No doubt you’ve hit upon a solution that has eluded the rest of us. But, if you’re one of the rest of us, welcome to the club! Here’s to embracing what’s realistic and experiencing a little freedom to enjoy the important things in life. Like this: