I’m not sure which topic of conversation or question generates more questions than laundry or meals for families. I’m thinking that both are either areas of great frustration or testing or are grounds for great victory or great defeat. As for meal times, women generally ask me questions that are more logistical or are more along the lines of creativity and time-saving methods (I’ll share about some of these tomorrow). Women are generally more able to get that area of homemaking “mastered” or taken care of than they are regarding the dilemma of… the laundry.
Laundry. There’s always more laundry.
You know… I’m pretty sure the LORD has this necessary part of living for more reasons than just the clothing that meets the eye -for laundry sort of represents other things in our lives… attitudes, actions, words, and decisions we might make all sort of pile up and either need to be sorted out, cleaned up, washed in the pure water of the Word… and on and on.
I think child training is sometimes sort of like laundry. When children are trained daily, dirty habits don’t pile up, smelly attitudes don’t overflow the hamper of the mind, but (!) when the training or washing isn’t tended regularly, then the mountain of stained consciences or musty manners seems to steadily grow. Laundry’s taught me lots of lessons through the years, that’s for sure. Lessons of success and lessons of failure – lessons that have firmly cemented in my thoughts right ways of handling situations and the disastrous consequences of not handling them either quickly or properly.
It’s at the dryer that I’ve had some of the most meaningful talks with the LORD. When I fold clothes, I think of and pray for the owner of the pieces of clothing I am folding. When I turn socks or pant legs or sleeves, I pray for them to turn from ways not pleasing the LORD. When I’m shaking out and then folding some other type of garment, I pray for old habits to be shaken off, to be covered by the grace and mercy of the LORD. I pray for my husband, for the hard work he does that produces some stains on work clothes, the hard work he does that allows for the purchase of all the different sorts of clothing, sheets, blankets and towels. And I have much for which to be thankful – it’s sobering to me to consider it all. These are just a few of the types of things I talk to the LORD about when I’m standing at the dryer.
Now, I don’t stay there long, for it is also my goal to be very speedy about that job so that it’s never a mountain of worries to me. One thing I learned a long time ago was that laundry is to be done then and there and to never take piles of laundry anywhere else in our house if at all possible —and— to *never* sit somewhere and fold laundry (especially the no, not ever(!): bed or sofa!). Laundry’s not a hobby or a pastime – nope, it’s a job and it’s a job to get done quickly! I timed loads for a while so that I would know how much time a load actually takes to wash or to dry or to fold and I timed the folding of laundry while sitting on the sofa or bed and the time spent was at least doubled, certainly! I think another key is having everyone take a part… one person daily responsible to bring the laundry to the laundry area/room. Another person or several persons to put it away after each load or a couple of loads. But surely, not piles left unattended. Accountability… it’s about as key here as in any other task of life. I simply ask the child(ren) if the load was put away in the right places… and then I do check… usually very briefly.
So, motherhood definitely means laundry – and lot’s of it! But the laundry doesn’t have to be drudgery or a noose about the neck. I think Kim over at Large Family Logistics says 4 by four – maybe that’s on laundry day. And I think that’s some pretty good advice. For me, laundry schedules have sort of changed an evolved over the years and certainly when we’ve had a baby in the house. Anyway, I think if a mama gets a load going before breakfast and another after the dishes and then another before lunch and (if need be) another before or after naptime, she’ll be doing really well. For a large family, three or four loads a day is very normal and after a while, laundry is really “second nature” and can be overcome with little thought and no real arduous effort. I think the key is keeping it all always done and enlisting the children’s help to put stacks away after each load. Besides, keeping attitudes and manners clean, laundry (and all other chores) is a great trainer of character. If a child doesn’t learn to work and to work well, he/she will not be a disciplined or obedient child in other areas, either.
So, laundry is motherhood’s friend. It says and does so much about and for her.