I haven’t folded my boys’ laundry for a month now, and it. has. been. GLORIOUS.
My boys are ages 6 and 4, and they create a massive amount of laundry. Between their love of throwing “mud bombs” (help me, Jesus), spilling 3/4 of everything they eat on their shirt/pants/shoes, and the fact that getting to the potty on time is hard because “I’d rather be playing,” all I do outside of all the other things I do, is LAUNDRY.
Since starting our homeschooling journey this fall, laundry has just felt like one of those insurmountable tasks that makes me want to weep just thinking about it. I don’t mind the putting the clothes in the washer. I don’t even mind taking those clothes out and placing them in the dryer (I don’t always remember to, but that is a different story). What I mind, is spending hours and hours folding laundry that literally seconds later will be covered in mud, food, pee, and whatever toads regularly carry on their person. (Theo is always carrying around a toad. I mean…I can’t even.)
So, about a month ago, I told the boys that folding laundry was now their baby. God speed and God bless. Momma tired.
I do all their laundry in one day and then pile it into a massive laundry basket. I then set said pile of clean laundry between them and their own individual empty laundry baskets. Step one, I say, sort the laundry. Pull out what is yours, throw it in your basket. Step two, fold your laundry. Step three, put your own laundry away. It doesn’t have to be perfectly folded (it never is), it doesn’t have to be put away in clean stacks (it won’t be), and you don’t even have to get the right clothes in the right drawers (it’s all relative at this point, folks); all they have to do is get the clean laundry sorted, semi-folded, and put away. Step four, pour yourself a cup of coffee or glass of wine and congratulate yourself because when people look up the definition of “mom win” it’s a photo of you, not folding your boys’ laundry.
Now, apart from the obvious wonderfulness of this new development, I have a few additional key reasons behind this shift in duties.
- I just can’t keep up with everything. Homeschooling has been pretty all consuming. I don’t believe it will always feel this way. I will find better rhythms. I’ll get more efficient. This will start to feel like second nature. But for now, it is a new skill and therefore requiring all my attention and effort. Laundry has to get done, along with all the other normal duties of having a home and family. But it was time to divide and conquer. I have to take a few things off my plate in order to add new ones. So…in came homeschooling, out went folding the boys’ laundry!
- This is an easy chore for the boys to do, and it’s important to me that part of our homeschooling experience includes teaching life skills, responsibility, and stewardship of the many blessings in our life. If I only teach the kids the basics of an education I will have failed miserably. I have them home with me so that I can teach them how to live, and live well. One of our family values is independence. Another is service. Starting the boys off at an early age managing their own laundry teaches them to work together to take care of their home, their belongings, and all of us that live with them.
- The boys have more energy than rabid squirrels. I don’t even care that our laundry days take, quite literally, all day. What I care about is that it gets done, and that they are occupied with a worthy task. They yell and jump around and take their own sweet time with laundry day. And if their little sister gets involved then you can just go ahead an add an extra hour and a half to the task. Bea loves to pull laundry out of the baskets and throw it wildly over her shoulders with a squeal and the boys yell and hop around and run to see who can get to the clothing item the fastest and throw it in the basket before she does it all over again. All in all it’s just one big game where mommy is the winner because she is watching all this go down, rather than picking it all up.
How does the saying go? God bless this mess?
It is a mess. But it’s a beautiful one. And we are certainly learning and growing through it all. I genuinely don’t expect them to do the job perfectly, and I don’t expect them to do it “my way.” I gave them the task and the expectations, and then set them free to work. And you know what? They do! It’s wild and chaotic, but the end result is what matters most. And that result is not perfectly folded stacks of laundry. The result is little boys, learning valuable lessons and skills that they will hone and perfect over the coming years. But for now, as long as it gets from the dryer to their dresser, I say we all win.