The Washerwoman

I think I'm getting my head around the washing, and the ironing. My previous approach to the washing was to throw the top third of the washing in the basket into the machine whenever I had a 'window'. I felt like I did loads every day. Some days, though, there wasn't a 'window', and then the dirty washing would threaten to take over, and the stuff in the bottom of the basket would start going mouldy and I would threaten to leave home. And the ironing? Well, when I emptied it a few weeks ago, the ironing basket contained ironing (mountains, including most of the out of season clothes), mending, three cushions that didn't have a home, a bag of broken toys, and surprisingly, a bag of Christmas candy canes (I knew I had bought some. Had to dash out at the last minute to save Christmas).

Now, my mother is completely domestically challenged, but she does do washing well. In fact, she can spend all day doing the washing absolutely perfectly. She gets all the washing out of the baskets, puts it all in little piles, washes it (in the twin tub), takes the grey water out to the garden, hangs the washing out, goes out later to check it, turning it upside down to dry more evenly, brings it in, folding it as it goes in the basket to prevent wrinkles, puts it in more little piles, puts it, my mum is the washing expert. I am modelling my washing days on hers. I decided I needed some days off washing, so, two days off, and one day where I only wash sheets. On the other days I empty out the washing basket, make my piles of darks and coloureds, and rags, and teatowels (because who wants to use a tea towel that has been washed with the underpants?). I soak the things that need soaking, and wash them last. I am getting to know the clothes like I didn't before. I am keeping mental notes of stains to treat, buttons to sew on. The clothes are becoming more significant. I feel like I want to care for them properly, like I want to get rid of the ones that are obviously not made properly, and cherish the ones that are. I can see how women who made their own clothes in generations past would have taken such pains with the washing process. Taking care of things, it seems, does make you appreciate them more.

Hanging out washing has always been my favourite domestic chore. Meditative, repetitive, standing and stretching in the sunshine with flappy, sweet smelling washing. What could be better? I also get to visit my vegie garden and talk to birds and neighborhood cats. I am usually dashing out during our homeschooling morning, little sunshiny moments in a crowded day.

So, one chore, out of many, is coming together. The ironing? This week, the ironing basket only contains ironing. My next task is to empty it out completely, and iron on washing nights so I only have a few things to iron at a time, and never have an ironing basket again. One less piece of clutter in the bedroom, one less horizontal surface to dump things on...

Moment of peak efficiency? When I realised I could pack the washing machine with the first load the night before, and and start the day by pressing, well, START. It seems fitting.


Anonymous said…
Washing is a big deal with our four littles (well, middles and bigs really!) isn't it?

My washing routine is this -
While bathing kids in the evening put in the linen load, nappies, face washers after baths are done and anything else fluffy that catches my eye. I use the long cycle on my front loader, about 2 hours and forget until morning.

In the morning I sort either the dark or the light basket of dirty washing and put one load in on the efficient 44 minute cycle before breakfast. After breakfast and all its distractions I hang out the washing and get the boys to jump out the wigglies. On coming inside I start another load and every hour or so wash another load until all the piles are finished. I pile the wet washing in the basket to be hung out the next morning. This way I only hang once and bring in washing once each day. Otherwise I would be sorely tempted to never come back inside to do dishes or school.

A friend and my mum both fold as they bring off the line. I try to do this but it depends which wash basket I am using. My oval one bugs me for stacking the stuff into whereas the rectangle works well. If I don’t fold off the line then the basket gets folded sometime in the next 48 hours on the end of my bed as the baby sleeps.

I hardly iron at all. In fact once my eldest asked me what it was when I pulled it out for a special occasion.

Wow, long comment. Maybe I should have made it a post. lol

Anyway thought I would share.

Good luck Washerwoman Jo. Just don’t count on getting those piles gone completely. It is like dishes, we just battle on like Sisyphus, doing our bit everyday.


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