I’ve had a breakthrough in my parenting mentality this week. I will share it with you and imagine in my own little mind that my experience will in some way help someone else, although I know that in reality most people will have a raised-eyebrows, wide-eyed, chin-pulled-back, mouth-agape, what-is-wrong-with-that-woman reaction. So be it.
I enjoy doing laundry. (Hold on, it’s not time for your big reaction just yet. There’s more.) Of all the endless, thankless chores that mothers need to do, laundry is the one that gives me the most satisfaction. I enjoy sorting it, I love hanging it to dry, I feel great pride in folding everything the way I want it to be folded, and I have a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when all of the clean, folded clothes are sorted into piles on my bed ready for the children to put it away.
Unfortunately, there are some things about laundry that infuriate me. Balled-up socks. Belts in jeans. T-shirts still inside sweatshirts. Pyjama bottoms with one leg inside-out. Anything tossed on the floor. I will not wash these things. I have made it very clear that if six people all left their clothes like that, it would add hours of extra, unnecessary work to my already-full week. I have explained that I leave these items in the children’s hampers so that they can rectify the situation and I will wash those items next time I do laundry. I have repeatedly suggested that if a child knows I have done laundry all day (which they might be able to deduce from the stacks of clean laundry that they are required to put away), and there are still dirty clothes in their hamper, then perhaps there is a reason why those clothes are still in there. I have even been so helpful as to place said hamper on top of a child’s bed so that they can’t help but notice that there are clothes to be unballed, separated or turned right-side-out.
(Side note: Far be it from me to question the intelligence of my children in such a public forum, but it is quite beyond me how someone can whine and complain to me and accuse me of being mean and unfair because I haven’t washed their favourite shirt/jeans/pyjamas/whatever in weeks. Helloooo! Is anybody home in there?)
I also feel that when the children put their clothes away, it would show respect for me and gratitude for my hours of servitude if they would just put the clothes away neatly. They are already folded, and they will fit into the drawers better if they stay that way. The children will be able to find what they’re looking for if their clothes are stacked neatly in their drawers. Their clothes will stay relatively wrinkle-free if they don’t get scrunched up into little balls. This seems logical to me. And I am right.
I was recently reading an article by a mother of 12 and I was commiserating quite delightedly with her thoughts on this very subject. We were together in this! She could relate to my stress in this issue! But then her words took a surprising turn and I suddenly felt like the floor had been jerked out from under me and I couldn’t catch my breath. Just for a moment, though. Once her words soaked into my brain, I felt a wave of relief and release.
Are you ready for it? She said it’s okay if your kids don’t keep their clothes neat inside their drawers. For those of you who are anything like me, you may do your jaw-to-the-floor shocked expression now. (The rest of you might as well just close your mouths already. Yes, I really am that anal about my laundry. Get over it.) Given the level of respect that I have for this mother of 12 (based on her other writings, not her questionable sanity in having 12 kids), I really had to consider whether the last wire in her brain had finally fizzled and snapped, or if her laundry advice was actually valid and worthy of my consideration. This paragraph clinched it for me:
“Keep in mind that modifying your standards is not always a sign of laziness, but sometimes of intelligent decision-making. When we lower our standards because circumstances defeat us or we feel weak, we don’t feel good about the result. But when we evaluate the demands on our time, our children’s capabilities, and our family’s priorities, a decision to temporarily modify our standards in some area may actually be the most responsible path.” I would like to add anxiety and anger levels to the things that need evaluating in my case. And the verdict is this: I can (must) modify my standard.
I maintain that the children need to be able to actually close the drawers. But if their scrunched-up, in-the-wrong-drawers clothes are out of my sight, then I choose to keep them out of my mind. And I will be a better mom because of it.
Quoted paragraph is from mommylife.net.