Laundry Rituals

One of my smartest mom friends has an efficient way of doing laundry. Her husband built her house and put the washer and dryer in their one bathroom. Next to the washer and dryer are built-in shelves with bins, one for each member of the family, which serve as their dressers. When someone showers, they throw their laundry in the hamper, which, of course, is also in the bathroom. My friend then washes and dries the clothes, after which she throws them into the appropriate bin.

And she’s done! She doesn’t fold the clothes or carry them to anybody’s room. “I don’t care about wrinkles,” she says.

When my smart friend showed me her bathroom/laundry room and bragged about all the time she saves not transporting or folding laundry, I was tempted to adopt her system. Unfortunately, my washer and dryer are on the other end of the house from our bathrooms.

I could still implement her bins system if I could only get over my dislike for wrinkles. I’m simply not brave enough to buck my family’s legacy of folding and ironing clothing. These are rituals passed down through innumerable generations!

So I continue to spend hours per week smoothing, folding and ironing clothing. As you all know, it’s terribly boring, so I have plenty of time to brainstorm some positive aspects of my family’s tradition. The one positive aspect of folding clothing is that putting away clothes is a great chore for little children to do all on their own.

My second child has been putting away her own clothes since she was at least three. And since she continues to wet herself regularly, there is a lot to put away. I always make cute little piles of her tiny clothing, all smoothed and creased just right. Then I ask her to carry her things to her room and put them in her drawers, and she almost always obeys quickly and cheerfully.

She has even developed her own ritual that she may pass down to her children one day: She carries her pile to her bedroom and sets it on the floor three to five feet from her dresser. She opens one of the drawers, returns to the pile and picks up an article of clothing. Next, she shakes it out, carefully wads it up into a ball and shoots it into the drawer. “Yeah!” she yells as each item is shot into the drawer, “I made a basket!”

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