When I first meet people and tell them that I am a full time homemaker with a household of 7, I can almost see their faces turn into posters of pity, thinking that I must be buried under loads of dirty dishes and laundry; that my house must surely be perpetually messy and I spend my time chasing after young, disheveled, banshee like children about to climb all over the furniture or take crayons to my walls.
Thankfully, I have paid my dues in that area and those days are long behind me. My brood is mostly made up of teens and young adults now, but that doesn’t mean that the chores for this full time homemaker cease to exist anymore.
As you can imagine we generate a lot of laundry in our house. This may come as a shocker and I am probably going to come off as a discredit to my fellow homemakers, but I do enjoy doing laundry. I know many others may despise this necessary chore, but I find a certain relaxation in it.
First of all let me say, that even though I do the majority of the laundry, the rest of the family does help out and does what is necessary. Secondly, we do not have a designated “laundry day”(with the exception of bedding, that gets done every Sunday) where all the laundry is completed in one day. We do laundry just about every day. I guess you could say it is done in moderation, just like any successful, diet, exercise, or budgeting program.
I read and hear all the time how exasperated people get when they talk about doing laundry. This always makes me laugh. What is it about laundry that gets people so beat down? You dump the load into the machine, close the lid and press a button. It’s not like the old days where you had to drag your clothes down to the closest river and beat your clothes on a rock, or even more modern, pull out a bucket, washboard and the most skin irritating soap known to man and scrub until your fingers bleed.
Our system is a pretty easy one. Everyone has a clothes hamper in their rooms, when it starts to get full, they are to empty their items into our clothes sorting system, kept in our garage. Our sorting system is made up of 4 large plastic hampers that are designated, one for whites, one for jeans, one for towels and one for colored clothes. When those hampers are brim full, it is time to wash that load.
We do save some money on our cleaning products. For many years, we had used commercial products, but then I started reading about more cost efficient, homemade products. I was very reluctant and skeptical to try any of these, but one weekend, I decided to make a batch and experiment for a week, if we didn’t like it or it did not do a sufficient job, we could always switch back to the commercial brands. I am happy to say, that it worked out and we now use a homemade version of laundry detergent, thereby, slashing our cost on detergent, “thanks Mary Hunt of Everday Cheapskate”.
Our machine’s are high capacity, energy and water efficient brands and we wash everything in cold water (unless hot is really needed to get something sterilized). I would love to be able to tell you that with all that laundry for 7 people that we save a ton of money by line drying. I love line dried clothes, it was the method we used when I was a kid in the Northeastern part of the country there is nothing like the smell of sun bathed, crisp linen sheets or clothes. However, here in Texas, it is just not feasible. While yes, we have plenty of sunshine, we also have plenty of dust and allergens being blown around most of the time.
I remember the first time, I insisted to my now husband that I wanted a clothes line in the backyard of our old house. With some reluctance on his part, I finally got my way. When the day came that the line was up, I could not wait. I did a batch of towels in the morning, got them out and up on the clothes line before I headed off to the office (back in my working days). Later that day, when I had come home and proceeded to take the clean, dry clothes off of my line, I noticed there was a sticky green/yellowish film on each and every towel. Turns out, spring pollen had thwarted my efforts that day to try to save on energy, because now I had to re-wash the load and run it through the dryer. That is how it is here in the Metroplex, there always seems to be something floating in the air. If it’s not pollen, mold, ragweed or other allergens, then the dirt and dust from all the construction in the area certainly will hamper this kind of effort.
So our dryer gets used on a daily basis as well and while we know that this appliance is a money sucker, we do what we can to minimize the monetary sting. We have invested in a set of wool dryer balls to help with static and minimize wrinkles, instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets; we dry back to back loads as to ensure maximization of residual heat; we clean the lint trap at the beginning of each load; and every 6 months, we pull the machine out away from the wall and clean out the venting system in the back of the machine.
After the machines are all done doing the hard work, I then get in some much needed down time. I bring my baskets of dried laundry into the living room at a time when no one else is occupying it and start folding and making individual piles for each owner. Depending on the time of the day, I may turn on the T.V. and catch up on the news while tending to this chore, but more often than not, I do it in silence and use this as my reflection time with my life and with God.
When all the piles of clean, neatly folded laundry is completed, they sit for a short time in our living space. Before dinner hits the table, each owner has come to get his or her piles and they are responsible for putting them away, just as on Sundays, each person is responsible for re-making their own beds once the bedding has been laundered. Believe it or not, and I am not making this up, when each kid comes to collect their piles, they do genuinely thank me or I get a kiss on the cheek. And I don’t even pander for it, maybe that is part of the joy I get from doing this task.
Now many of you might not have these same kinds of luxuries, such as older kids that can take care of their own clean laundry and linens. Maybe you have to fold, hang up and put away every stitch of clothing, maybe do some ironing and maybe you have to make every bed in your home, and while I agree this might seem like a cumbersome chore, I believe it is all part of homemaking.
Don’t forget, this has become yours and my chosen profession, because we feel it is important to sustain a well balanced, happy home and family; and like with any profession, it may come with some big and tiresome job responsibilities, but it also has a great benefit program.