I hate laundry. It is probably the greatest contributing factor to the overall messiness of my house at any given time. I don’t mind washing and drying it…I really don’t. It’s just that I often forget that it’s in the washer, and then it has to be washed again. Or I don’t have enough red clothes or delicates for a load, so they sit there and piled under for so long that I forget that they are there.
The thing that I hate most about laundry though, is folding and putting it away. Confession–we usually just get dressed from the couch/baskets. When I get all fired up and actually fold and put away clothes, it confuses by husband and oldest son. They can’t find anything to wear. Sad but true.
This struggle with laundry isn’t a new thing. I remember my years of high school at the Alabama School of Math and Science (a boarding school for nerds like me…I loved it!) where I would go the whole 6 weeks between trips home without washing clothes. Of course, this meant that I collected a LOT of clothes and learned to wear clothes more than once (a good and bad habit all rolled in to one…). It also meant that the whole weekend I was home, the washer and dryer never stopped.
One of the habits that has most enabled this aversion to laundry is the collection of clothing. I rarely get rid of clothes, and I frequently receive hand-me-downs or gifts of clothing. Because of this clothes-hoarding (let’s call it what it really is people), I CAN avoid washing and putting away clothes. Even if I can’t find the top that I would really like to wear, there is always another one that will work close at hand. Who cares if I have 25 t-shirts? That means one is always clean, right?
Until recently, I didn’t fully realize that the AMOUNT of clothing that I owned was one of the reasons that I so hated doing laundry. I would often say, “we have too many clothes,” but I never really acted like I believed it. I would occasionally get rid of a few pieces that were severely damaged or just ugly, and I told myself that I was purging. Ha!
In the last few weeks, I have really gotten serious about reducing the amount of STUFF in my house. I am tired of living in a house that can’t really be a home. Our stuff is out of control. It is time for change. I have spent a good amount of time reading through blogs on minimalism, frugal living, and cleaning/organizing, and I have made some major realizations about my life and home.
I always have gotten frustrated when I tried to organize my stuff. Marla at FlyLady.net helped me to realize that the “a place for everything and everything in its place” rule only works when clutter is not taking the “place” of the things that I actually use and love. Simple concept, but earth-shaking to my way of life. She also helped me to realize that my perfectionism is one of my greatest liabilities. I won’t let myself achieve anything in small steps. I force myself to try to do everything immediately, and by doing so, set myself up for failure every time.
A few minimalism blogs that I discovered helped me to start a war on my over-consumption and over-stuffed house. I don’t need all of this stuff to be happy. In fact, the more I get rid of, the happier I have become. The blogs are theminimalistmom.com, becomingminimalist.com, and thenonconsumeradvocate.com. Since my “awakening,” I have purged 24 large garbage bags of stuff from my house. Most of it was clothes. Most of the clothes were mine.
I have been doing a lot better about keeping up with the washing of clothes since I got fired up by the purchase of a new washing machine, making my own laundry soap, and a general cleaning fever. We also had to take the laundry room door off the hinges to get the new washer inside the room. We had planned to switch it so that it would open out, but we didn’t get around to it immediately. I got a baby gate for the doorway to keep the little man out, and I have decided that I really like it this way. No door means that the laundry room is never “out of sight and out of mind.” I also keep the room much neater because of its visibility. It’s great!
My cleaning fever has not helped me conquer the laundry couch issue though. As you see below, I have reduced the pile to the point that you CAN tell that there’s a couch underneath the clothes, but it’s still not a usable piece of furniture.
The Laundry Couch
It’s MUCH better, but not fixed. So, as I was standing at the couch, trying to make myself fold clothes, I went into full-on ruthless purge mode. Here’s the result:
Casualties from the Laundry Wars
I purged two full black garbage bags of nothing but MY clothes. This is after the weeks of purging that I had already been through, so my husband was baffled when I walked in with huge armloads of clothes AGAIN. I am getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit right, doesn’t flatter me, doesn’t go with anything else that I own, and that I have too many of. I don’t need 24 solid colored t-shirts. I’m keeping a few of the best ones and getting rid of the rest. It doesn’t matter if I WILL wear it. What matters is whether I have 6 of the same thing! If I still have something that I wore when I was dating my husband, it’s time to let it go.
One other piece of wisdom from the FlyLady: when you donate something that you don’t need, you’re blessing someone else. When I let go of a dress that I really loved once upon a time, I can have peace about it because I know that someone else is going to love and enjoy it now. I’m not putting it in the trash. I’m sending it to bless another person. That thought just makes me smile.