My laundry list of complaints

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Oh, hi there. Hello. You. Yes, you.

I know you can't see me. But if you squint and look deep under that pile of laundry you can probably catch a glimpse of my hair.

Can you see me now? Good. Though it's a tad embarrassing to admit, I have to tell you something:

I think I'm drowning in laundry.

Before having my first baby, I remember lovingly folding the first load of washing I had done for my upcoming arrival.

I had washed those newborn clothes in hypo-allergenic baby-specific extra-soft washing powder.

I even added extra fabric softener too, so my baby would only ever know the feel of ultra softness against her newborn skin. (That same baby turned out to be capable of vomiting and pooing at the same time so I'm not sure how much she appreciated the added softness, but I digress).

Anyway, as I washed that first load and folded it neatly, using my large pregnant bump as a ledge, I thought ahead to all the washing I would soon do for my baby. And it made me smile.

Did you catch that last sentence, dear reader? The thought of washing once made me smile.


Washing no longer makes me smile. It makes me tired instead.

Nowadays I look at a pile of dirty laundry and I let out a specific sigh; one that summarises my feelings towards all the work that needs to be done before those clothes end up back in the cupboards again.

My husband recently tried to get the kids to help out more with the laundry. Instead of leaving their clothes in a melted puddle by the bath, he reminded them about a wonderful invention we call the 'dirty wash basket'.

I didn't realise what he had told them until I noticed that my once-large wash loads had quietly doubled.

(According to Miss Six his exact words were: "Once you've worn it, it goes in the dirty wash.")

So I staged an intervention. I sat my four-year-old and six-year-old down and started to explain about washing.

"Not everything we wear once has to go in the dirty wash," I said. "Socks and undies, definitely. Anything dirty - like with paint on it - yes. But jumpers and pants can be worn more than once before we put them in the washing machine …"

I turned around mid-explanation to see two very blank faces looking back at me.

"This sounds really complicated, Mum," my six year old said. "Maybe you should be in charge of working this out."

Can I take a moment here to admit that I never used to understand people who had issues with doing the washing? (Yes, that was a pre-child version of myself; and yes, you may laugh at her.)

Before kids I had never left the washing in the machine and forgotten about it. I never mixed colours with whites, nor towels with regular laundry.

Nowadays I think I've committed pretty much every laundry faux pas possible.

Have you ever noticed how similar 'dirty laundry' and 'clean but not folded' laundry looks? I refuse to do the sniff test and am equally loathe to re-wash clean laundry. (Life is just full of first world problems, I know.)

Sometimes, when the washing gets out of hand, I simply dress the kids before I've even hit the folding stage. Yes, the washing comes directly off the line and onto a body. At times I feel like I've cut out a whole step; at other times I find the process a little disconcerting. Where are my standards? I know I used to have them.

But I've found one good thing about laundry (apart from it giving the gift of clean clothes).

You see, when we had our third baby, who is now a year old, people were very curious about how much extra 'work' it was to have three kids.

At first I found it hard to quantify. "Um … a bit?" I'd say, searching their faces to see if I'd stumbled on the right answer.

I quickly discovered people don't want to hear such generalities. They want a number. A percentage, to be more accurate.

Like, was a third child 20 per cent more 'work' than having two kids? Or more like 80 per cent more?

Maths was never my strong point and I could never weigh up the immeasurable love I felt for my new baby, versus how much more 'work' her presence involved.

Then one day, I stumbled on the answer that people could relate to most (and which didn't require a mathematical figure).

"There's definitely more washing," I said.

Everyone seems to have the exact same reaction to that line. They smile, nod, and then let out a sigh, exactly the same one I emit whenever I contemplate laundry.

But do you want to know my dirty little secret?

Though there's more washing in my life now then I ever knew possible, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sure, doing the laundry is a boring, repetitive, thankless task. But I kind of think it's not such a big trade-off for the joy of having lots of little (messy) people in my life.

That said, you will have to excuse me. I have to go and figure out whether that pile of laundry I'm about to tackle is dirty, or clean but not yet folded ... 

Wish me luck.