How to Win at Life Via The Laundry Basket
Life is full of precious moments. Sure, you have your weddings, your births and child milestones. Those kind of go without saying. But I’m talking about something way more mundane and utterly satisfying here, like that time when I was 9 months and 10 days pregnant and managed to shave my legs without nicking ANYTHING, and that one day I got to pee in peace without a small person barging into the bathroom. You know, things like that. Then there was the time when I saw the bottom of the clean clothes laundry basket. No, don’t spit your coffee out in disbelief. It really happened and I am not ashamed to admit it was quite the sight. I stared at it for longer than socially acceptable, admiring its plasticky beauty, taking in its curves and gorgeous, GORGEOUS beige emptiness. This pound shop buy was for the first or second time in its 10 year existence, free from the weight of wrinkled clothes and unpaired socks and it looked and felt amazing.
Like a fitness trainer to a rock star, I spoke proudly of how I helped the basket get its groove back, again for longer than socially acceptable, over wine, on a Saturday night while my partner nodded in that half numb way men do when they are sheltering themselves from questions such as ‘does my bum look big in this?’ But all good things come to an end, old habits die hard and the bastard basket just couldn’t stay away from a new load. I swear it had joined forces with the washing machine in a vicious circle of never ending laundry meant to feed its sick fabric addiction. The dirty clothes bin, make that two because that’s how many we have even though we’re two adults and one child, were also honorary members of the club. And we never saw the end of it. One more top, a sock left forever alone without its pair, probably siphoned away by the washing machine into the land of unpaired socks through a special exit tube down the back, sheets, underwear, the 25 outfits your toddler goes through in a day _ I blame Peppa and her bloody muddy puddles _ Mount Laundeverest, as I decided to baptize it, was and is the bane of my existence. This Jabba the Hut-like creature not only reduces you to a pair of jeans, two t-shirts and a party dress but it toys with your mind like a proper sociopath.
Depending on the day and let’s face it, hormones, I can persuade myself that I can climb it, and place a victorious flag on the top (read: sit for two hours and fold until my soul is folded away with it and all joie de vivre is duly annihilated). Sometimes I ignore it, most times I knock it in a ranty tirade of insults, and less often, like an intrepid rescuer, I actually go in there, shoving my hands inside, convinced I can find a top, locate a missing shirt and regain some semblance of control over this beastly pile of garments. Most times, though, I just go and buy more clothes because there are only so many unpaired socks you can justify wearing. And what have I really achieved here, apart from throwing money at the evil garment industry and worsening the planet’s landfill disaster? A week or two of locatable, harmonised outfits before they are lost forever to the laundry monster.
Once a week we get a cleaner in for a couple of hours because we both work and frankly I’d rather shell out than add toilet scrubbing to a weekend of cooking, picking up toys, feeding Mount Laundeverest with at least two loads, chasing a hyper toddler and cleaning the kitchen 300 times a day (how many bloody cups??). But does she ever come close to the beast? Of course not. Only 30 percent of the load actually needs ironing but there would have to be some massive sorting out beforehand and that would take more hours than I’m willing to pay her for. Sometimes, on those nice hormone days, I magically manage to select a few items for ironing. And then, after their warm encounter with the iron, there they sit. In the closet. Glowing beautifully in a still, organised line, an actual metaphor for everything my life is not. So, taking it as my own personal art installation and calming therapy rolled into one, I just stare at it. As long as I don’t wear any of these items they will remain a clean, ironed option offering me the illusion of a life in laundry control. Which of course means control is utterly lost and Mount Laundeverest wins.
Forget parenting, forget work challenges, this is your real life battle and the one that will serve as the blueprint for everything you do and achieve during your time on earth, should you be able tackle it. I know this because I have researched it online for five whole minutes and there are people out there with “systems”, charts, rotas and cleaning calendars and they are HAPPY. These people are winning at human existence via laundry dominance.
If you manage this, you’ve got life by the balls. If you manage this you’ve pretty much digested the contents of 25 self-help books and actually put it into action. If you manage this you’ve amassed a wealth of techniques that will see you through everything life throws at you. Boss being a bit of a dick at work? You’ve figured out how to have socks in pairs, you can face up to him with your eyes closed. In-tray overflowing? This isn’t overflowing because you know what real overflowing looks like. You’ve got this. Kids testing you to the limit? Now that you’re laundry free you can actually threaten to lock them up inside the washing machine. ALL. PROBLEMS. SOLVED.
As I sit here in my jeans, t-shirt and grey and blue socks, I am mentally cheering the people with the cleaning charts on. Seriously, you too should give it a go. It sounds utterly enlightening and positively liberating. And once you figure how to do it, charts and all, share the wisdom in digestible bullet points, will you? It sounds truly life affirming but I’m shattered from half climbing Mount Laundeverest and I’m gonna need a nap. Then I’m going to kick the rest of my pile to the curb and stare at my two ironed shirts in the closet.
It’s one of those days.