If you clicked on this post thinking I might be revealing some of the sordid details of my past or present life, you may be disappointed. I’m not saying there’s not some sordid details, it’s just that’s not what this post is about.
This post is actually about my dirty laundry! It’s a sequel to a previous post about my dirty laundry in which I complained about all the laundry I had to do. Most of you know what I’m talking about, that seemingly endless pile of dirty laundry.
In my previous post I complained about it, I maligned it, I reviled that perennial pile of dirty laundry.
Since then I’ve come to accept doing laundry as my lot in life. I’ve conceded that it will never end. I’ve recognized that dirty laundry will endure and so must I!
Although I’m really just a fabric care technician, a launderer, I suppose I like to consider myself to be a bit of a philosopher, (Does that make me a “philaunderer?” Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). And I like to believe that there is a lesson to be learned in most everything we do. So, there must be life lessons to be learned from doing the laundry.
Once I admitted to myself that dirty laundry is my life, I decided I would try to be “one” with the laundry and see what it had to teach me. And I slowly began to realize there are definitely some parenting lessons to be learned from the laundry tasks..
That’s right, you can become a better parent, maybe even a better person, by doing the laundry and learning what the laundry has to teach you.
So here’s three lessons I’ve learned about parenting from my dirty laundry…
(1) Have you ever noticed that every piece of dirty laundry doesn’t fit into a certain machine cycle or color class? Does this red and white blouse go in the dark pile or the light pile? Does it have to be completely white to be washed with the whites or can it just be substantially white? Should this sweater be washed on delicate or casual? Maybe it should be drycleaned,
Kids don’t always fit into the groupings we’d like them to be grouped in. Sometimes they don’t meet our expectations and sometimes they exceed our expectations. Sometimes they are good kids and sometimes they are mean kids. They don’t read on level but they sure show a lot of artistic expression. They can do it themselves, yet they want you to help. They can be so aggravating and they can be so affectionate. The bottom line is they are kids. Their emotions haven’t fully developed, so they are here and there and everywhere in their behavior. You can love them and accept them for the kids that they are, but you can’t compartmentalize them.
So, I just throw all the various pieces of laundry in together on the normal cycle. In fact, I don’t really need all those other cycles. And the clothes come out okay and just as clean and dry as if I had sorted them into all these little piles.
So will the kids!
(2) I’ve learned in doing the laundry that a little fabric softener in the wash cycle will help keep the wrinkles out in the dryer. And that sheet of fabric softener you put in the dryer is fantastic for cleaning all the lint off the dryer filter.With young children (and most people of any age, for that matter) a soft word and a soft touch are much more effective for straightening out the wrinkles in their lives than are harsh words and even corporal punishment. I’m not necessarily saying that you shouldn’t use tactile measures for correction, but I am saying that harsh words can hurt and damage little souls.And, I am constantly reminding myself that the only voice my little souls hear is my loud and assertive man-voice and they also need to hear and to learn a softer, gentler, kinder approach to learning how to live their lives.
(3) As much as I dislike the washing and the drying, it’s the sorting, hanging and folding of clean clothes and sheets and towels that stifles me the most. I guess because it’s so labor-intensive. I can go and do something else while the washer and dryer cycles are running but I have to stop all other productive activities to perform the mindless activity of sorting, hanging, and folding clean laundry. And it seems that every pair of underwear and socks gets turned inside out while being washed and dried (I don’t know which one did it, maybe both). And then all the sorted and folded laundry must be hung up or put away in the proper drawer, shelf, or rack. It’s boring!Now, I like my life to be planned, organized, and structured. But kids are spontaneous, haphazard, and whimsical. But we want to impose our ordered adult reality on their disordered childhood. Adults are all about work. Kids are all about play. Adulthood is boring. Childhood is exciting. And you just get one chance at it.
No matter how much you try to impose order on childhood, it just doesn’t stick. And, you can’t let it frustrate you. Let them be kids, let them play, let them have fun. Childhood is an adventure!
Just go with the flow. And include a lot of prayers and a lot of love and understanding. And they will turn out okay.
So, have you learned some lessons about life from the laundry room? If the dirty laundry hasn’t spoken to you, maybe you’ve acquired wisdom from washing the dishes or you’re the sage of sweeping and mopping or the pundit of furniture polishing. What have you learned about life from housekeeping?
And one more thing. Is it appropriate for a four-year-old to cook dinner and a five-year-old to mow the lawn? Just wondering how soon I can get them started on some of the housekeeping and yardwork around here…