Dirty Laundry

Sorry if you are disappointed, but this is not a gossip column. Nope, I really am talking about dirty laundry and lots of it! I calculated that Allison and I do about 15-20 loads a week of laundry. Thank God for summertime where socks are outlawed except for church and swimming counts as bathing. That is why they call it sun bathing, right? But–as Fr. Jim would say–that is another topic for another day. My point is that I deal with lots of dirty laundry. So, by virtue of experience I will share some of my tricks for making this unpleasant task a bit more tolerable. My first disclaimer is that I am an Illusioned Perfectionist. This means I like to create the illusion (albeit short lived) that my home is perfect. I like to have everything in its place and organized and I like to have all the clothes washed, folded and put away creating the wonderful illusion that I am done with laundry. D.O.N.E. Done. Again this is not denial, people. This is a survival tactic. If I acknowledged the never ending amount of dirty socks and underwear it would be the definition of despair. In theory this means we do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays and an occassional load of towels on the other days of the week. In reality we do laundry every day of the week except Sundays. Being the good catholic that I am, however, I continue to strive for perfection so my advice will be based on my ideals. Also, I was given the most wonderful gift from my talented husband (aside from our 9 beautiful children) of a remodeled utility room with two washers and two dryers.

Dual washers and dryers with a diaper changing station as bonus

Dual washers and dryers with a diaper changing station as bonus

This has made my task much more manageable and enjoyable.
Ultimate sorting and folding station

Ultimate sorting and folding station

So, here you go:

1. Pick one day a week for laundry per every 5 people in your home. More than 5 people wearing clothing = more than one day per week of laundry. On the evening before or the morning of “laundry day” have any children that can push a laundry basket help collect the dirty clothes. Younger children can ride on top of the baskets. If you homeschool, call this PE and you’ve checked two things off of your list for the day. If you have a wide hallway or extra energy, of which I have neither, you could have laundry basket races and get the job done in record time. Me? I’m satisfied to get the clothing to one location without too much effort on my part.

2. Teach the children to sort as soon as they learn their colors. Of course, you have to help, but this will pay off sooner that you think. My two teens are very apt at doing the laundry all on their own. I also pick out one helper to avoid overcrowding the utility room and limit the bickering. My babies love to do laundry. They grab the clothes that I’ve already sorted and throw them back into the pile or pull them out of the washer before I can shut the door. This is always a great opportunity to grow in patience. One day I might try to make use of that opportunity, but for now I just cry out for Allison to save me from my helpers. I love that girl!

3. Inevitably you will come across the dreaded inside-out clothing. This includes the very nasty balled up socks and jeans with the legs inside out and twisted with a pair of underwear still attached. I really don’t know how they do this, but my younger girls are experts at this technique. Listen carefully because I have solved this dilema. The child with the most inside out items of clothing gets the assigned chore of turning ALL clothing in the right direction. It is a very disgusting job, so be prepared for grumbling, but it does solve the issue. My kids even proclaim who the winner is each week. The solution is really two-fold: First, it encourages them to turn their clothing the right direction and second, you don’t have to. If your husband is the antagonist here, I can only say that you might make mention of it once in a loving request and thereafter choose to offer it as a sacrifice for suffering souls. Have I mentioned how much I love my mother-in-law? She raised her son right I tell you!

4. Socks. I’ve tried lots of techniques but at the end of the day, I still have to match socks for 20 feet in 7 different sizes. The best system I have found (because I can’t do the mismatched thing–see Illusioned Perfectionist) is a basket for single socks. When we are out of socks or the basket is full, I sit down and match socks. I even turn it into a game of Go Fish to play with the kids and the job gets done with smiles.

Do you have a white with white bottom in a size 7-9?

Do you have a white with white bottom in a size 7-9?

5. I’m actually out advice at this point. I have tried having the kids put away their own clothes and then wonder why I even bothered to fold them in the first place. I don’t have the time or the energy to do it myself, so I’m toying with the idea of just throwing them from the dryer into their assigned basket just to make it more efficient. The Illusioned Perfectionist in me just can’t do it. I carefully fold and sort by child and then avoid looking in their dressers or closets so that I can remain in my happy place–much like avoiding mirrors.

Well, I’m off to change out another load. It is Monday after all.

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I Am Tired

>How did I pick my blog name you ask? Well, I tried to come up with something really creative and catchy but, seeing as my brain cells have stopped working in the creative part of my brain all I could muster was “jillmmach” and I thought, “Wow! That will really draw people in.” Then I remembered my mom. Every time my mother has seen me for the past 30 years of my life she says, “You look tired.” “Oh, thanks, Mom! That is just what I needed to hear.” She means well. She is concerned and the fact is I am tired. I just try to avoid knowing that I appear the same way I feel. Some say that is denial. I call it a survival skill. In my head I am still 21, young, energetic and beautiful inside and out. I don’t have those dark brown circles under my eyes or any gray hair peeking through my scruffy ponytail. My secret is not to look in the mirror once I’ve finished brushing my teeth and hair. I go about my business of managing the household and making sure all 7 kids still living at home survive the day in one piece, are fed and clothed and know that it is God who gives us life and God who takes it from us. Every once in awhile I will pass in front of a mirror and catch a glimpse, but I try not to look so that I can remain in my happy place. My husband told me years ago that he liked me better without makeup. I know he still feels this way because 1. he is the greatest husband God could have given me and 2. he is not perfect and does not expect perfection from me. Although a daily bath and shaved legs go a long way.

Anyway, back to the name “You Look Tired.” I want this blog to be an honest account of my semi-humble little journey with some humor in the mix. I want it to be a source of encouragement for other women and mothers. I want it to be a place to discuss truth even when it is not politically correct or doesn’t feel good to do so. We live in a secular world and face a variety of challenges, but we are not unique from generations who have gone before us. I have 9 children and 5 grandchildren and am only 42. My children range in age from 25 to 2 and I’m young enough to have several more if that what God desires of me and my husband. I AM tired. I am tired of being tired. But, my life is full and praise God that I have good reason to be tired. I have healthy children and grandchildren to chase and feed and dress and educate and play with; I have clothes to wash and food to cook; I have a beautiful house to keep clean and maintained and a loving husband to grow in deep friendship with. Yes, I am tired, Mom and I admit I even look tired; but, I am not bored and I am definitely not lonely!