Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lightening the Laundry Load

“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.” ~E.B. White

It's hard not to take advice about joy or anything else from E.B.White. He wrote Charlotte's Web, one of the most charming children's books in existence. My kids and I listened to Charlotte's Web on CD in the car a few weeks ago. It was an old recording, read by E.B.White himself. His voice sounded like the grandfather we all wished we had, one that stepped directly out of a Norman Rockwell painting. 

It certainly helped my mind wander to the 1950's Zuckerman farm at which Fern spent her days visiting with Wilbur and all the other farm animals. I could almost see laundry hanging on the line, blowing gently in a warm, spring breeze.
Photo courtesy of Gracey at Morguefile.

Is it possible for anyone to get joy from sorting laundry? 

I suppose some people might. It could be one of those mindless tasks that becomes somewhat meditative.

Or, if you've got kids, it could seem like an endless parade of pants, socks, underwear, towels and shirts that dance into the laundry bin to torment you day after day. Could it be the road to hell is really paved with dirty laundry?

"How could I know what a monster it would become?" Kelly Hines wrote of her laundry after having a child in One Mom Lightens Her Load - of Laundry on BlogHer.

Is there a way to tame the monster?

In my house, we reuse bath towels, wear jeans more than once (if they don't get grass or food stains on them) and try to keep ourselves to one outfit a day. With little boys, this is doable because they don't care if they get a spot of something on their shirt. They've all gone through the phase around age 3 and 4 where even a tiny dribble of water on their sleeve means they need a clean shirt, but for the most part, they couldn't care less.

Still, the laundry beast rears its head daily. I'm rarely caught up. If, by some small miracle, I do get it all washed and put away, it's short lived. By the next morning, the bin is full, sneering at me, telling me to quit being so smug.

If laundry brings you joy, then that's wonderful.

Me? I'd rather pick grapes. 


  1. Yeah, no laundry joy here.
    The only joy I get is on the EXTREMELY rare event that the basket is empty.
    But I do like the washing flapping on the line :)

  2. I like the laundry on the line, too. It's definitely joyful to sleep on line-dried sheets. :)

  3. I grew up in a house with three laundry bins and we each sorted our dirty clothes into them nightly: lights, darks and jeans/coarse fabrics. Now I have the same system for my family, but with a 4th bin added for bibs, washcloths and towels since we're in the toddler stage. But I most definitely encourage the re-wearing of jeans 2-3x and re-use of bath towels all week (hey, you are totally clean whenever you use them!)