If there is a more Sisyphean task than laundry, I don’t know what it is. There is no such thing as being caught up on laundry; someone always needs clean underwear and socks, and then the towels need washing and the bedding needs to be changed. Until we all transform into a nudist society, we will always have dirty clothes to wash, until the end of time. It reminds me of Newman’s breakdown on Seinfeld, about the unrelenting nature of the mail. To paraphrase:
The laundry never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s never a letup, it’s relentless. Every day it just piles up more and more and more and you’ve got to get it done and the more you get done the more keeps getting dirty and then there are sheets and TOWELS!
To find some perspective, doing laundry isn’t what it once was. Gone are the days of scrub boards and wringer washers and lugging heavy baskets of wet laundry to hang on the line, the way our grandmothers used to do. Now that I think about it, I should probably never complain about laundry again, since the machines do all the work for me.
It’s not the doing of the laundry that is my downfall. For me, it’s the folding and putting away that seems overwhelming at times. There’s something about a giant, fresh-smelling pile of clean laundry that strikes despair into my heart; the thought of all those socks that require matching can make me fold like a gambler dealt a terrible, no good hand. In fact, I have recurring dreams in which I am doing absolutely nothing but folding laundry. Even my dream self is bored; always folding, the pile of unfolded laundry somehow never diminishing.
Still, the laundry needs to be done. Someone needs to do it, and that someone is generally me. Since I like clean underwear, and since being faced with a mountain of laundry is very bad for my mental state, I have devised some tips that have shown me how to find zen in the laundry basket, even while doing the world’s most boring task.
Live In The Moment
There is no “after” the laundry. There is only the laundry itself. Feel the warm fluffiness of the fresh-from-the-dryer towels and the fresh scent of the newly washed karate gi. Marvel in the miracle that only a little while ago, those towels were soggy and grimy, and the karate gi smelled like sweat. Om.
Make It Fun
Party in the laundry room! Crank up the music, turn on the disco ball, and sort those colours and whites!
- Use a product, such as Arm and Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent, that will leave your clothes clean the first time you wash them.
- Karate class is in 30 minutes and the gis are still in the dryer? Throw a fluffy dry towel in with the wet clothes to speed up the process.
Poor Chewie. This is a good reminder to read labels!
Make It A Family Affair
Teach your children how to do their own laundry; even young children can help sort and fold small articles. The bonus is that when they have flown the nest, they will not trundle home every weekend with a garbage bag full of dirty clothes. Hmm. But I do want my future grown kids to come visit, so now I’m a little mixed on this one. I guess I’ll just have to make lots of desserts.
Just Get It Done
I hesitate to bring this up lest you think I’m even more boring than my dreams would indicate. Sometimes I time myself just to see how fast I can fold and put away a giant load of clean laundry. My record is 6 minutes to fold and 3 minutes to put away, which really says something about what I do for fun. The bonus is when I don’t feel like dealing with the laundry basket, I think, “But in ten minutes it will be all over.” I should have been a motivational speaker.
Don’t Let It Pile Up
As I’ve said, the laundry never stops, so it’s important to keep on top of it to prevent a Lucille-Ball-in-the-chocolate-factory situation.
Throw a load in while you’re making dinner, throw it in the dryer after dinner, and – this is key – immediately fold it and put it away while the kids are doing homework. Now that I’m looking at Lucille’s chocolates, something’s occurred to me.
Use The Reward System
Tell yourself, “If I fold all these clothes and put them away in the next twenty minutes, I get a chocolate.” Chocolate is always a good reward; money is even better.