EPISODE 2: WHY I DON’T FOLD THE LAUNDRY
Have you ever seen the quote that says: Cleaning house while raising children is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos? Let’s talk about why I don’t fold the laundry.
Let me back up to a time in which my children depended on me for all the things. Making them every meal, pouring the juice, getting the 3-ton bin of legos from the closet, aaaand doing their laundry. These were adorable and magical times that, as a mom of a tween and adult child (by the way, when this airs, Gibson will have just turned 18 yesterday and I’m like WTH man!) anyhoo, I do long for those days sometimes. But as parents, our job is to teach our kids how to survive without us. We honestly don’t have a lot of time to develop these skills in them because there’s a lot of “childing” that goes on and I try not to be a drill sergeant all the time. But I did teach (and continue to teach) my kids how to do laundry.
It started slow. Folding pants or matching socks. Then it was them starting their own loads or sorting towels and clothes. Then came hanging up clothes on hangers. WHY is it so difficult to teach boys how to put one side into one shoulder, then the other side? Their shirts were always so crooked on the hangers it was comical! But they did it. And sometimes even I did it.
And when I didn’t do it, they didn’t do it either. Slowly, it just stopped getting done. Even though the chore was to “put away your clothes”, everything just stayed in the basket. Things got wrinkled and no one cared. I mean, I cared because I don’t want my kids walking around looking like a mess. But they were perfectly okay with digging through their clean clothes basket for clean underwear. I harped and bribed but that got exhausting and I thought ya know, why do I care about this? Is a teenager wearing wrinkled jeans a negative reflection on me as a parent? Well, logically no, but I’m an enneagram 1 so I prefer for everything to be perfect and right. But these are children and they flat out don’t care. So I freed up that negative space in my brain and heart and stopped caring too. If that’s how they wanted to keep their clothes, then we can both just stop dealing with it. Now, am I prepping Gibson for a future of filth and untidiness? Maybe. But I recall my dad being grossed out by my room as a kid (not as a teen because by then I was well into my everything has a place and time personality quirks so it was always clean). At least the clothes are clean, even if they came straight from the basket.
They did have dressers at our old house and they would generally put socks and underwear and shorts/sweats and stuff in the drawers but neither of them really kept up with getting them in there. So when we moved, Marshall’s dresser was falling apart and Gibson said he didn’t want one at all. So here we are. The way it works now is that they each have 2 baskets, 1 for clean and 1 for dirty.
Basically, this just isn’t the hill I want to die on because my kids are great and do a lot of other things and have a lot of other qualities that are going to make them super great adults.
Since I was on this roll of NOT fretting about the boys’ laundry I decided to do the same thing with the towels. Once I made this change, I got so much time back in my life and it freed up a lot of resentment that I have against laundry. Laundry is the biggest bully in my life. It’s all like - I’m the boss of you and I’ll make you wash and dry me and keep you from crafting and I’ll buzz at you when I’m ready and 3 seconds later I’ll be back and we’ll do this until you die. Like I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
Let’s paint the picture: I started this back at our old old house, so probably in 2015 or 2016-ish. We had a good sized linen closet and being the 1 that I am, the towels needed to be folded a specific way so that all the towels/washcloths we had fit on the allotted shelves. I spent a good chunk of my precious weekend doing this intricate folding, only to have everyone grabbing a new towel every day, leaving the shelf empty by Thursday. That’s 3 humans (because I’m normal and can use the same towel for 4 days), taking 7 showers a week, including new washcloths. Yeah, like, all the nos. My back wasn’t happy with this folding and I was typically just leaving them in the dryer and making them just grab them from there because I ran out of time or avoided it or whatever. It got to the point that I avoided folding so often that my family made a big deal about it when the towels actually WERE in there. I would guilt myself into feeling obligated so I would try to get it done but also being a REBEL, the obligation of it made me do everything else.
I am going to say something now that changed my life and if you are feeling bullied by laundry, maybe it could change yours too. Here it is: I wasn’t put on this earth to make sure the humans in my house had folded towels. Repeat it with me. I am not on this earth to make sure my humans have folded towels. How does that feel? Listen, it’s not a right or a privilege. A folded towel isn’t even a basic need. Clean towels? Of course. Folded like they live in a hotel? Nope. Not here and not by me.
SO, since I’m a girl who is all about solutions, I bought a deep and wide laundry basket that could fit ON THE SHELF in the linen closet and when the towels came out of the dryer, they went in that basket, got put on the shelf and that’s where they stayed. Yep, my family grabs unfolded towels from a large laundry basket and this mom is HERE FOR IT. In our new house, we don’t have a linen closet that’s accessible from the upstairs hallway so I implemented a similar process. We have an empty corner at the top of the hallway and it has the same large basket, and all the clean towels live there. Next to it is a smaller basket that keeps all the washcloths and hand towels. ALL. UNFOLDED.
I will live the rest of my life never folding another towel again in my entire life.
I’m not here to lead the way for some moms against laundry movement, but maybe I can encourage you to evaluate a frustration point in your life that could possibly be relieved by making a small change. I actually enjoy the process of laundry now. No kidding! I enjoy the sorting and the cycling of the loads. Because I know that in the end, it goes into a basket and I have provided my family with clean clothes. Do I have to remind them around the end of the week to pull all their laundry downstairs? Yes. Do I have to remind them to cycle it (if it’s a time I want them to do their own)? Yes. But that’s just part of being a mom in general and I know they’ll be gone soon and I’ll miss all the piles and all the crumpled socks that are stuck inside of pant legs.
I would love to know your feelings about laundry, what you’ve done differently, what annoys you. Or maybe laundry isn’t your bully. Join me on Instagram and find the post for this episode so we can chat about it!