Mom never does the laundry!

Those were the words I woke up to this morning: “Mom never does the laundry!”

Said by my 12 year old son as he was rooting through the laundry pile for The Perfect Shirt, a short-sleeve green t-shirt he’d worn two days ago.

(Yes, it’s 20 degrees outside. Yes, he knows that. To quote my favorite book in the world, it’s not cool to be warm.)

Let’s have a rundown here, shall we?

Ordinarily, I do two loads of laundry per day. We are guaranteed to have one load of regular clothing laundry every day, plus you can add in special loads such as one load of diapers every three days, sheets, towels, and anything special that needs to be laundered.

Ordinarily, I will fold the laundry the day it comes out and have it delivered back to the rooms where it belongs before the end of the day. I will put away general laundry, mine, my Patient Husband’s, and the two youngest boys’. Kiddo#1 and Kiddo#2 are expected to put away their own.

When I deliver the laundry to their rooms, Kiddo#1 and Kiddo#2 will thank me with the words, “Oh, MAN! Do we have to put away MORE LAUNDRY!?” as if I’ve just shown up with shovels and told them it’s time to dig a new latrine ditch.

Sometimes I wash the laundry but leave it on the couch unfolded, which is the kids’ cue to say, “Mom is LAZY! She isn’t folding the laundry!” and then my cue to herd them into the living room and make them fold it to show me how it’s done. They don’t do that any longer. But they still grumble if I’ve washed it but haven’t delivered it.

And now when I haven’t washed it for a couple of days, I get this garbage: that I never do laundry at all.

Kiddo#2 is having School Spirit Day today. That means they want her to wear red. I’m not sure why red, because red is not the school color. She comes to me, wailing and moaning as if I’ve told her she needs to quit school and go work in the coal mine. She has no pants. None. Nothing at all to wear. She wants me to come look.

I point out that if I go in her room and open the drawer,I will find five pairs of pants and she will proceed to tell me why each of them is no good.

She says, “But those will be SWEAT PANTS and who wants sweat pants if you’re just going to be hanging around!” And so on. I shut the door on her and got myself dressed.

She whined and wailed and sobbed for 25 minutes about this, by the way, before opening a drawer and finding suboptimal nonsweatpants she could wear. And then she wanted to know if her shirt was red enough. She is, by the way, the child who will leave all her discarded clothes on her floor until she delivers them all at once, then wants to know why they weren’t washed yet five hours later.

I cannot win with the laundry. Either I do it too fast, and I’m mean for making them put it away, or I do it and I’m mean for not folding it, or I don’t do it and I’m mean for expecting them to wear a long-sleeve shirt or sweat pants.

I was doing laundry for the family at age 11. Not exclusively, but often. By age 14 I did all my own laundry all the time. It may be time for the older two to begin to do it themselves. I’ve had enough.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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31 Responses to Mom never does the laundry!

  1. christopher says:

    Time for them to do laundry… right… LOL… Good Luck!!!

    • philangelus says:

      Let me tell you, for today, I’m just dumping their unfolded laundry in their rooms. I’m fed up.

      It doesn’t help that they will put something in the laundry if they’ve worn it once, even for five minutes, or if it happens to have fallen out of the drawer while they were pulling out something else. I’m making it into their problem.

  2. christopher says:

    I do almost all of the laundry in our home and I go through exactly word for word precisely identically (etc etc etc) what you have just described. I haven’t reached the point yet where I’ll leave her to her own devices, I’m hoping peer pressure to be clean and odor-free will eventually solve it. My 8 year old will throw in the laundry every single sleep shirt and nightgown and everything she “tries on” but changes her mind and basically anything that has touched her body for more than a minute. Yet she’ll wear her favorite underwear for a month if I don’t make sure she’s changed it…

  3. christopher says:

    Lucky you… My 3 year old is even a thousand times more helpful with laundry and cleaning in general but her older sister is always working on her, giving example that dad will always end up doing everything.

    Hey, I sent a message to your youtube account, in case you don’t check it often.

  4. christopher says:

    I didn’t see an email contact for you so I sent it there.

    My wife distributes her shoes all over the house. This does not make her a distributist though.

  5. christopher says:

    By the way, one last thing so as not to bully your combox anymore, your “kiddo” likes spaghetti for breakfast, mine likes ramen noodles. I’ve always resisted and refused because… well… just because – It’s noodles. For breakfast! After reading your post, I’ve finally given in and have just made some for her.

  6. onebitcpu says:

    I could have sworn you were describing my children.
    Its comforting to know that this “our kids” are not the only ones who do this.

    I just wish my son would admit that folded clothes fit into a dresser better than clothes scrunched up into a ball.

    • cricketB says:

      You read my mind! (Wait a minute — you’re the guy I share a brain with, at least until the kids return mine.)

      Let’s hear it for clothes that can handle wrinkles!

      If they were on the floor because they fell, they belong to me. Same if they aren’t put away in 24 hours (48 if it’s a busy evening). Having to get them from my room made an impression the first time. We’ll be creative for how they’ll earn them back next time.

      Christopher, we may as well disillusion you now. Peer pressure doesn’t always kick in, and even when it does it’s in the wrong direction. Our son’s 11 and wouldn’t bathe at all if we didn’t force him. Also, humans usually can’t smell their own body odour.

      Based on laundry volume ours change often enough, but making them do their own laundry might tip the scales in the wrong direction. Current system is easier than the extra bookkeeping doing their own would entail. Their current chores are ones that are easier for me to monitor.

      As for unusual breakfasts, most leftovers are healthier than regular breakfast foods — and even better than most “healthy” breakfasts because they actually eat them. My only problem with unusual breakfasts I become a short-order cook and we only have one microwave.

  7. Kate says:

    My mother, like you, was always doing laundry (7 kids). We learned not to complain about it or we would be given something to sort, fold, or put away. 😉

    Anyway, we were all given responsibility for our own laundry around age 11, and I think that was good all the way around – I know I felt like the relief of not being nagged about putting my laundry away was worth the trouble of washing it myself. (Granted my clothes were rarely folded nicely after that!). We were each given a laundry hamper for our room and a laundry basket, and we worked out shifts between ourselves (bc at one point there were 4 of us, plus mom, doing laundry different days). It was a good exercise in responsibility, and I recommend it!

  8. Anna says:

    I have been staging my own protests here, too. Mostly because I’d do all the laundry in the baskets, but not anything that they’d scattered all over the house! Oh, so sorry you don’t have socks. Maybe you shouldn’t leave them in the coat closet.

  9. philangelus says:

    At least yours made it into the coat closet. Were you here back when I posted that my house was infested with socks?

  10. Jason Block says:

    Yup. I do laundry. Learned how to do it. Time for them to.

    • Ivy says:

      I’m jealous. Aside from knitting I have zero female skills. I can’t cook, won’t do laundry (the arrangement for getting it done reads like a scene in one of Jane’s novels, though I don’t recall which at the moment), and have an ongoing battle with housework. I can repair a computer, build a network, and wire up any crazy configuration of A.V. equipment.

      Then again, I know what’s going on with Dark Avengers and Blackest Night, but don’t ask me about Days of Our Lives. I’m not even sure if it’s still on the air. I should have been born in the other gender stereotype.

      • philangelus says:

        You don’t get it,Ivy. Laundry is a GEEK THING. I took over laundry when I switched to cloth diapers, and I get to use a machine and really put it to the test, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and experiment with efficiency and so on.

        I’ve never watched a soap opera and can’t sew a hem. I had to get a checklist from Motivated Moms to tell me how to clean a house. But the laundry is easy because it’s geekery.

        • cricketB says:

          Cooking is geeky too.

          Daughter experimented until she found settings that make toast the way she likes it. Son experimented with melting butter in the noodles or in the pot while the noodles are in the strainer — pot takes less babysitting to get butter evenly distributed. Noodle shape affects cooking time. A serving of spaghetti is smaller volume than a serving of elbow noodles. (Take fewer spoonfuls, because once it’s on your plate you have to eat it.)

          Ball-shaped roasts take longer to cook than long thin ones of the same weight. Yogurt can replace sour cream in stroganoff and salad dressing, but not baking — time to hypothesize and test. (Baking needs fat and/or oil, but not always as much as the recipe calls for.)

          It only seems “female” because: a) Women do the daily grind. b) Many women, including some great cooks, are afraid to experiment, so believe they have to follow the recipe exactly. c) Most things that affect the results are only discussed in advanced books, such as altitude or type of cookie sheet, so sometimes it’s hard to get perfect results in the early stages. d) Most of us don’t get a well-planned curriculum. Either ridiculously simple, or so complicated it fails — ruined meal and low blood-sugar replaces “It didn’t work. Cool! I wonder why?”

          • Ivy says:

            Sharron can do that very well. Me? I burned butter yesterday.

          • philangelus says:

            It’s easy to burn butter.

            Cricket, I almost never follow a recipe unless I’m baking a dessert. For everything else, I will generally look at five recipes for the same thing, see how everyone else did it, then close the recipe book or shut off the computer and then make it the way it makes the most sense to me. 🙂

            That made it fun when my BIL wanted my meatball recipe, though. “Um, you add breadcrumbs…no, I don’t know how much, but a lot…I don’t know how much a lot is….look, why don’t you just watch me?”

        • Ivy says:

          I live in an apartment. We don’t have a laundry machine, we go to the laundromat that has the cheapest thing they could get away with. The geek factor here is somewhere in the deep negatives.

  11. wallydraigle says:

    I think all five of us started doing all our own laundry the minute we were tall enough to reach all the knobs. For me that was around the age of 8. Mom still did general laundry: towels, sheets, etc, but if we wanted a load of our dirty clothes done, it was completely up to us. Your kids have it gooood. 🙂

  12. Anna says:

    Hmm, no, I missed that one. But that happens here, too. She started stuffing her dirty socks into the coat closet to make sure she had at least one pair. hee
    The other two drop in front of the door and shed all offending items like shoes and socks.
    The last one will keep his socks on, for now. Just wait until he gets a taste of toe jam!

  13. Patient Husband says:

    It’s interesting how different families are. I recall my Mom being afraid that I would end up somehow breaking the washing machine, so I ended up learning how to use one mere weeks before I went away to college. She changed radically with the later kids, though.

    • cricketB says:

      One friend, over-achiever in school, had a mother who didn’t think she should spend time on woman chores. For first spaghetti sauce as a newly-wed she dumped raw beef into the tomato sauce.

  14. cricketB says:

    Burnt butter is great (unless it’s gone black). Stir-fry cooked noodles in it, add fresh Romano cheese and black pepper. Carmelized onion and beaten egg if you have the time. Yum.

    The examples listed above, and general confidence in the kitchen, were learned through trial, and, yes, error — aka geeky experimenting. Recipes are like first drafts or writing exercises. Good place to start, but bad place to stop.

    As for the cheap washing machines, done that. It’s the machine’s fault, not yours, just like a new knitter with cheap needles. I was thrilled when my very own machine arrived at our first house!

    • Ivy says:

      I always tell my students, never mind the needles–buy good yarn. Some knitters actually like the cheap aluminum kind (The Yarn Harlot favors those). Needles don’t matter. The yarn is what you’ll end up wearing, and sadly, we’ve somehow lost a sense of what material is appropriate for what garment. If I see one more cotton winter hat, I’m going to cry. Worse, I found a charity where, if I give them some merino hats done in worsted weight they’ll sell them to be a smaller number of cotton hats done in fingering weight. Because obviously the last thing a homeless person should be worried about in the winter is warmth. They give out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so this had best not be about wool allergies, and the idea that wool is itchy comes from too many manufacturers using long staple wool for next to skin garments, which is an other example of people not knowing the right material for the job.

      • philangelus says:

        I like the aluminum needles because they’re slidier. I can’t knit on plastic needles. I’d rather knit on pencils.

        • cricketB says:

          What are the grey ones? Not aluminum. Arrow brand. That’s what I’m used to. I’m not sure about my new resin-impregnated bamboo. Nicer because of the cable join and length, need another pair of socks to get used to the texture. I can’t be bothered matching to the slipperiness of the yarn.

  15. colleen says:

    When my 12 year old son complained that his favorite shirt had not been washed yet, I proceeded to teach him how to do his own laundry including ironing. His 8 year old brother was doing his by 10 or 11. Now they are both married and my daughters in law love me. Both sons can cook (really well!), clean and do laundry. Of course, they still complain that they were slave labor but I cannot wait until they have children. I will just smile and nod! 🙂

    • philangelus says:

      Grandchildren will be God’s vindication on us as parents for all the things we went through raising them?

      My mom says the curse that always works is “Someday you’ll have a kid just like you!” and nowadays, she claims that she didn’t really say that to me, the unspoken meaning “like the brat you’re being right now” (which I was definitely being) but rather “You’ll experience all the joy I did.”

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