Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Laundry Business

  Since my 6th child was born seven years ago I have averaged between 10-13 loads of laundry a week.  This averages out to about 4800 loads in the last seven years.   I attempted to figure out how many loads of laundry I have done since I got married, but stopped after realizing that the amount of laundry I did in the first 3 years of my marriage (when it was us and then just one child) is about equal to the amount of laundry I do in a year now.   It's hard to imagine that I now do three times as much laundry as I did as a young wife and mother.  It amazes me actually because I had trouble keeping up with it then.  Had I realized what was coming that could have been overwhelming. Actually now that I think about it there were a few years that were overwhelming.  

   I mention this because laundry and housework can be one of the hurdles to our homeschooling, or at least one of the things that discourages us.  I am sure that most of us know of a homeschool mom who is super organized on this point and has a clean house almost all of the time.  Some of us might even be that mom. 

    Just to keep it real I want to make it known that being a domestic goddess is not my strong suit, it's not written into my genetic code.  It has actually taken me the last 14 years of motherhood to figure out a good system of keeping my house clean enough and my laundry done.   Even then I think there is still room for improvement, I'm just too tired to tweak my system right now.   I am not much of a list maker or a list follower for that matter, so I had to figure all this out by trial and error.  Some of my friends could probably tell you stories of my years of error (which is why they aren't writing on my blog).

     Laundry is actually one of my more favorite chores.  I don't really have a favorite chore, but if I did laundry would be up there.  I don't mind the washing and the folding, it's the putting away and the hanging up of clothes that sometimes doesn't get done as quickly as I would like.  And I don't iron.  Actually there were several years I didn't own an iron.  Don't worry my husband hasn't suffered from this.  He is a carpenter and I am sure that people would laugh if he showed up to tile in a freshly pressed shirt, or at least I hope they would.   

      I only do my laundry once a week.  Friday is laundry day at our house.  I try to do all 13 loads in one day (with the aid of whomever is my laundry helper for the week), but a lot of weeks I end up doing a couple loads on Saturday.  I know for some of my friends the thought of all that laundry piled up would be overwhelming, but it gives me a motivation, something to accomplish.   I have tried doing a couple loads of laundry every day and that makes me feel like I am ALWAYS doing laundry, and that feels oppressive to me.

     As tedious and oppressive as homemaking tasks can feel to some of us we can make them more of a drudgery than they are.  If I look back on the 680 (or more) loads of laundry I have done in the last year that can feel like an accomplishment, but if I think of all the dishes I have yet to do and the laundry I have yet to wash that will feel like a burden.   Being a homeschooling mom can be a challenge, but we can also make it a pursuit.   We can take charge of our days and give them all we've got (which granted some days is less than others).  The mops, brooms, washers, stoves, pencils and other tools of the trade that we use can be implements of worship. 

    There are many resources available that can help with setting up a system for keeping your house in order.  To be honest most of them have not worked for me, I find them to be too structured.  In recent weeks I have taken a personality test and  I have realized the reason for this is because most housekeeping systems are put together by Beavers (or people who really like details).  I am not a fan of details, but the longer I homeschool and try to manage 6 kids the more I realize they are necessary.  I just try to limit the amount of details I have to deal with on a daily basis for the sake of my free spirit.  I have included some resources in the article to systems that I have borrowed some things from, but it's important to note that I came up with what worked for me.  It is amazing how many resources are available not just for homeschooling but for managing our homes in general.  Often when we find one that works for us we are so passionate that we tell others it's the way to go.  That leaves those of us who can't make it work feeling like there is something wrong with us or our kids, especially in the early years of homeschooling/mothering.   There is no failure here.  Failure is when we stop trying.  Sometimes we just need to try the system a little longer, sometimes we need to tweak it, and sometimes we just need to throw it out altogether.    I encourage all of you moms who read this and are struggling to ask other moms what they do, and those of you who have systems that are working for you to comment and tell us what is working.  A lot of what works for me is bits and pieces of other systems and advice from friends.    

    God's creativity amazes me.  The way that He has made each one of us and our families to be so different.  Each of my children with their own personalities and their own failings.  I have a child who wishes I cared more about details, and a child whose idea of putting away clothes means shoving them into a drawer and trying to force it to close.  We cannot expect to homeschool like our best friend, or to have as clean of a house as the super-organized mom at our church with a large family (that is not me by the way), but with the gifts and talents that God has given us we can find a way to make it work.   

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."   Colossians 3:23-24

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