(IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Before I write this post I’m going to go ahead and state for the record that I love my children and I think they’re all three beautiful special snowflakes and I consider myself very, very lucky to get to stay home with them at this stage in their lives. None of this negates that; I just like to complain.)
There are people in my life — childless people, mostly — who think that as a full-time mom, I have a cushy job. I suppose that’s true, empirically — it’s not coal-mining or brain surgery or high-seas piracy; but what it lacks in physical exertion it makes up in emotional fatigue. There is nothing physically demanding about meal-planning or dish-washing or fisticuff-interrupting or fishing coins out of the Wii. But what there is — especially since I’ve gone back to school — is the exhausting feeling of never finishing everything that needs to be done, that everything I do is a compromise, that nothing is getting my best work. I can never achieve Inbox Zero. And there are so many tasks that undo themselves as soon as I’ve done them — meals get eaten, dishes get dirtied, somebody pees on the toilet seat. (Whoever decided to put hinges on toilets obviously was unfamiliar with the urinary habits of little boys.) As soon as I’ve vacuumed, there are cheerios and play-doh crumbs in the carpet again.
And the laundry.
Laundry is my nemesis. I can get our dirty clothes washed and dried, but that’s where the process falls apart for me. After that, laundry ends up piled in the corner of the living room, waiting for me to fold it and put it away. Every morning, the boys can’t get ready for school because they don’t have any underwear or pants or socks or whatever in their dressers, and I have to dig through the mountain of clean laundry to find them some. And this usually occurs before I’ve had my coffee, so just imagine my pain.
So a few weeks ago I decided the laundry situation had become untenable. There was simply no way I was going to manage to fold everything and put it away, and because I was holding out on dealing with the pile until I had time to actually see the process through to completion, it was getting completely out of control. The giant mountain of clean clothes was growing past the point of being surmountable. It was littered with the frozen bodies of sherpas. I had to admit defeat.
I waved the white flag, which turned out to be a pair of briefs with Spider-Man on the butt.
So I bought a stack of laundry baskets. I designated one for each family member. And I sorted the pile of clothes into the baskets. Without folding. And then I put each basket in front of its corresponding dresser. And now when someone needs clothes, they can rummage through their very own laundry basket and find themselves something to wear.
It will probably be wrinkled. But I will not have to find it for them.
This new laundry method will not pass the Martha Test. In fact I suppose it’s less a “shortcut” than a “significant lowering of standards.” But with all the time I’ve saved myself, I can now sit on my couch and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas, because I am a queen of domestic efficiency.