Monday, March 09, 2009
Do you have a laundry day? Do you designate a day when you do a mammoth wash and get every article of clothing crisply, freshly clean? Or do you simply do a few loads each day to keep up with the constant demands for clean clothes? I've heard the merits of both and over the years have come up with a system that uses principles from both that works rather well for my household.
I try to remember to keep the washing machine constantly humming (I say humming euphemistically, most of the time it kind of shrieks and wails), but I'm not always good at remembering things. I did sit down once and figure out that if I could just wash two loads of laundry a day, our laundry situation would be kept well in hand and no one would be tearing around on a Tuesday morning feverishly looking for another clean sock. And basically, that's what I do. Sometimes I do just a load one day, then I'll bulk up and get three loads done the next. Sometimes if I get a good chunk of time to myself and there's something particularly good on PBS (though, snort, not lately), I'll do as much laundry as I can get my hands on and throw in some ironing to boot. So, my daily laundry habits work out to averaging about 2 loads each day.
But I supplement my daily laundry habits with weekly ones. I like to strip the beds once a week. Well, I strip my bed once a week. I like fresh linens. I sleep better with fresh linens. I used to strip the kids' beds each week, too, but as they're getting older I find myself waging inner debates over the benefits of stripping the beds for them or making them do it themselves. Half the time I just shrug it off and figure I'm not going to expend that kind of time and energy on something I'm just not sure about. I do like them to have fresh clean beds, but I don't want them to have their mother following them around doing their chores for them. And if they are content to sleep in beds that are a mere step above sleeping in the backseat of our car, well, then that's their affair. Right? Oh, I don't know! Sometimes the thought of the condition of their beds drives me in there to strip and remake them no matter what. But anyway...
Long ago I designated Monday as supplemental laundry day. Or Strip Day. Not nearly as naughty as it sounds, don't get excited. Especially you, My Viking, in case you're reading this. Monday being Strip Day was a calculated decision on my part. See, I like stripping and remaking the beds and washing all the linens. I like laundry and I like beds. I don't know why. Just do. So, of all the weekly chores I've set for myself, stripping, washing and remaking are my favorites. So I decided to begin the work/school week with my favorite chore. Doesn't that make sense? There's also something satisfying in starting the week with such a physical chore and one that feels so old-fashioned to me. Despite our modern conveniences, we haven't yet found a way to modernize stripping and remaking beds. We strip the beds and remake them much as our Grandmothers and Great-Great-Grandmothers used to. It's a chore that always makes me feel connected to women from long ago. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something, providing something for my family. The ability to strip away something old and dirty and replace it with something sparkling and fresh has great appeal to me. For some reason that doesn't translate to sweeping or mopping floors, but that's another topic for another day.
So, it's Monday. Strip Day. And Spring is coming. Something about Spring makes Strip Day all the more enjoyable. I throw open the windows and listen to the birds and I peel away the dirty linens. I leave the windows open to let fresh air circulate while the mattress and pillows lie naked, airing out while waiting for clean linens. The sheets, duvets and coverlets smell so sweet and fresh and I love the damp feel of them while I'm hanging them on the clothesline. I love snapping the wrinkles out and smoothing the creases before I secure the clothes pegs. I love when the sheets billow toward me and brush against my cheek in the breeze. I love the sound of them flapping in the wind and the sight of them floating on the air. And I LOVE the smell of the linens when they're dried. Nothing beats the smell of sheets fresh off the line after being washed in white vinegar and lavender. That smell fills the entire house and always makes me smile. Tide and Downy can't touch it!
So, right now I've got my sheets on the line and more in the washer. I've noticed all my pegs are wearing out, snapping in two when I try to peg out the towels. Must add them to my grocery list. I'm also out of laundry detergent and am getting low on white vinegar. But I have to wait a while for the clothes to dry before I can wash another load anyway, so that's no problem. Maybe that's another reason I love laundry: built-in periods of rest.
Whatever the reasons, it's Strip Day, Laundry Day, and the first Warm-Weather one in a long time. I'll be out by the clothesline if anyone needs me.