By Holly Richardson

holly richardson author pic

Since this is “Real Talk for Real Life,” let’s have some real talk about laundry……

Have you seen that meme that goes something like this: Washing – 30 minutes, Drying – 60 minutes, Putting away – 7-10 business days?

That’s me. I don’t mind the washing or the drying but the putting away – ugh. I have a giant pile of clean clothes next to my bed right now. Will I put them away today? Tomorrow? Who knows. 

Right now I only do laundry for my husband, myself and our 8-yr old. And, I wash the kitchen towels. But, back in the day when I was doing laundry for all of the many little people in my house, I learned a few things.

One, cloth diapers were a no-go for me when I tried them and found I was washing four-plus outfits per day. (The whole cloth diaper set-up is probably better today than a million years ago when I tried it.) 

Two, kids put some really interesting things in their pockets. Crayons and chapstick ruin a load give clothes character. Dirt and rocks come clean, at least by the second time through. Little cars just make noise. So do coins. Dollar bills survive just fine but washing my husband’s entire wallet didn’t work out so well. Can you tell it took me a while to learn to check pockets?? I was afraid of what I might find, tbh. 

But wait! There’s more! 

I learned that kids didn’t like putting away clothes either. (Gee, I wonder where they got that.) I would wash, dry and put clean clothes back in the appropriate laundry baskets (sometimes even folded!) and put them in the kids’ rooms for them to put away. The next time I did laundry, guess what I found?? Yep, clean clothes at the bottom of the basket, buried by stinky clothes and wet towels and I had to rewash them! Ugh. 

That was finally the tipping point for me to have my kids start doing their own laundry. I sat the family down, gave them a lesson in sorting laundry, showed them the new laundry sorting baskets, demonstrated how to use the washing machine and the dryer and told them they were in charge of their own laundry from then on. The youngest child to have new responsibilities was about 8 and a bunch were older. 

Guess what: my stress level went way down! Did we end up with pink shirts (or sometimes blue ones with jeans that bled)? We sure did. Some clothes shrank. Some clothes had to be rewashed because they sat in the washer for too many days (um, I’ve done that too). But, they learned. I find it amusing that they still remember that family meeting that was probably more than 16 years ago. 

Now, I have to mention socks. I loathe them. At least laundry-wise. Ugh. The bane of my existence. Even though I don’t enjoy the heat, I loved that in summer, no socks were needed. Woot! We tried a bazillion different ways to deal with the sock problem. Different types of socks for each kid (that’s a lot of socks to keep track of), then we tried grouping by size, then by color – black for boys, white for girls. Nothing worked. One Sunday morning as we were trying to get kids to church I found one son with his Dad’s white tube socks on one leg and one of his little sister’s lacy white toddler sock on the other. They were both white, I guess….

I just gave up. Every few months, we would do a family sock sorting “party,” then toss all the extras with no matches. My husband and I continue that tradition with just the two of us. Bye-bye socks….Oh, one more note with socks – when I married my husband, he thought that darning socks with holes was just what you did. Why throw away a perfectly good sock just because it had a hole in it?? I had never darned a sock in my life (still haven’t). 

One last laundry story.

One day, I scooped up a bunch of towels (some dry-ish, some damp) that had been sitting on the floor in front of the washing machine for a few days. As I went to put them in the dryer, I found a very soggy, very dead mouse in the washing machine. 

What’s the weirdest thing YOU have ever washed??


1 Comment
  • Westside Laundry

    I can completely relate to the struggle of putting away laundry! It’s often the most challenging part of the process. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the anecdotes about finding unexpected items in my pockets and the adventure of dealing with socks. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in these laundry mishaps. As for the weirdest thing I’ve ever washed, it would have to be a forgotten tube of lipstick that melted and created a colourful mess in the washing machine. Needless to say, it took quite an effort to clean up!

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