Dear Mama, You can Conquer this Mountain 

Laundry. Mount Washmore. The never-ending chore.

Laundry! Once so clean in the moonlight!

Folded neatly and stacked tight;

It was beautiful then.

But the family must work and play and soil it and then,

I do the laundry, Yet again! 

(Set to the tune of “Memory” by Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Did you know that there is a hidden joy to laundry? Did you know that you can look in your hamper and smile? Did you know that it is possible to stroll through your house and not find a chair heaped with clean clothes? Did you know that you can go weeks without hearing your husband say that he’s out of clean socks? That all of this can be accomplished on autopilot? And even a toddler can help?

A load a day keeps Mt. Washmore away.

That’s it. Only handle one load of laundry every day. Sort, wash, dry, fold, iron, and put away one load – and stop.

Starting this method is the hardest part, but once you have managed to keep it up almost every day for two weeks, the clothes begin to behave themselves.

What does this even look like? FlyLady and Diane taught me how. Especially if you are a visual learner like myself, I recommend looking through Diane’s “Morning Routine.”

As for my own laundry routine, I try to avoid this chore on Sabbath, and I try not to start until I have fed the infants and gotten dressed for the day. Only then do I grab the dirty clothes basket in my bedroom and take it to the laundry room. There, I sort clothes into my lovely set of hampers that we received as a baby shower gift.


The bags are removable. So, if someone is taking my laundry to wash whilst I recover from illness or  childbirth, they can simply grab a bag on their way out. If my own machines are being repaired, the bags are easier to transport to the laundromat than baskets. Yes, I love this thing!

 

By “laundromat” I mean the closest neighbor who will permit my use of their equipment.

Anyways. I am the only one in the house who sorts things into the proper hamper, but that’s okay. Daughter throws her clothes into the hamper closest to the door, so I made that bag the children’s hamper. Husband throws one outfit at a time on top of my sorting system, so that takes maybe three seconds to sort out every day. No sweat. Whichever hamper is fullest I dump into the washer, start it, and then I get on with my morning.

Sometime before lunch, I have Daughter help me switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. The most fun part for her is in the afternoon. My toddler loves shoving the clean basket into the laundry room, dragging out the clean clothes, cleaning out the lint, fishing out the wool balls (fabric softener), shutting the door by herself, and shoving the clean clothes away to be folded.

Then, Daughter can put some of the little items away for me as I’m folding. Once everything is folded, I finish putting away the laundry that Daughter is still too short to manage. Nearly anything I can put on a hanger, goes on a hanger, so all the shirts, skirts, nice pants, and onesies fall to me. Since it’s only one load, though, a little effort gets it done easy. “All done!” we say. “Let’s have a chocolate!”

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I am paranoid about dressers toppling on my adventurous climbers, and I like the ability to find clothes quickly. So, I keep a hanger on the child’s closet door for all the onsies, shirts, or dresses. Pants and socks fit into a light storage basket with the diapers and wipes.

 

Grab an oblong hanger off one of those gift blankets from Baby’s shower, and snap the onesies on it in plain sight. 

Keep an empty diaper box by the crib. Once you realize your child has outgrown a garment, throw it in the box. When it gets full, tape the box shut, label it, then stow it away or give it away.

Helping me with chores has given my daughter a good sense of accomplishment, and I enjoy having her company. I also notice our communication skills get stronger as we work together. Her help certainly saved me a great deal of teeth-grinding agony when I was pregnant with twins and unable to bend or twist.

Our little balls of energy are ready to play games with us to learn how to run their own lives one day. Age appropriate responsibility can help tone down sour attitudes, believe it or not. Have fun teaching them early, while the mundane chores are still fun for them to master.
There you go. That’s the way I keep the laundromonster in check and have some fun teaching my little one while we do it together. Check out those links above. This method is adaptable to people who work outside the home, or work odd shifts, too. With a little change in attitude, you can do this!

How I fold and put away sheets. Disclaimer: This method has not been approved by anyone’s Aunt Mirna. My camera’s microphone is defective, so please bear with the audio quality.

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Dear Mama, Who just Gave Birth

I’m sorry that you can’t go home soon enough, that your baby can’t be discharged yet, that everyone is demanding answers from you when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, that your labor didn’t go as well as hoped, that breastfeeding and pumping are hard, that you don’t have much support, that you aren’t bonding as you had hoped, that someone didn’t treat you kindly, that you are in pain, that your hormones are whacked… whatever has saddened you after that initial joy of birth, I’m sorry.

Even if a lot of bad things did not happen during birth, post-partum recovery can still stink. After my first successful pregnancy and birth, it seemed like everyone else was enjoying my new bundle while I was left to endure misery on my own. I told myself, and others told me, that a healthy baby is all that matters. That may be the most important thing, but mom’s blues matter, too. Perhaps no other human will understand your emotional and mental state right now.

The heart knows its own bitterness, And no stranger shares its joy. Proverbs 14:10

‭It is very difficult to talk and find someone who will only listen to your feelings without interrupting or explaining your needs away. Though they mean well, your loved ones may make you feel as though your feelings don’t matter…that you don’t matter.

It hurts.

However painful, though, this is the fire that will temper your strength for the years to come. You will need to tend to many of your needs by yourself, now. Your healing will be up to you. So keep taking care of yourself physically and the feelings will eventually heal, as well.

With a little one depending on you, it is important to take care of yourself first. They say that if there is an emergency on a plane, adults must first put on their own oxygen masks, so that they can remain conscious and help their children with their masks, too. For baby’s sake, please take a few minutes to freshen up every day. Then you will have the sanity to tend to baby’s needs for those continuous hours.
What does taking care of yourself look like? This is my self-care regimen that I do after the first daylight feeding and before “bedtime” at night. Whether I feel normal or down, am pregnant or recovering from surgery, I do these things daily to be sure I am cared for, before I face all the other needs clawing for attention.

  • Wash your face. Grime, sweat, yick, be gone. I splash water over my face, flush the dirt and germs out of my eyes and nose (prevents frequent colds and allergies), and pat dry. This takes ten seconds.
  • Brush your hair. Simply running a comb through and refreshing your ponytail helps you feel more put together.
  • Brush your teeth. If you’re an attachment mom, it’s still okay for baby to whine for two minutes while you take care of your oral hygiene. You might need to spend your money on baby’s braces someday. Don’t waste cash on your own dental issues, when you can simply prevent damage with a toothbrush. I recommend fluoride-free toothpaste.
  • Apply deodorant. I prefer Thai Crystal spray, because it has no aluminum.
  • Take medication, vitamins, and/or apply oils. This, I have to do to manage my thyroid issues. RAW Garden of Life vitamins help me feel much better.
  • Put on something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a favorite pair of earrings, a nice lotion or perfume, a pretty scarf, or a quick dab of makeup, find something you like and use it. I put on some lip balm or gloss.
  • Sticky notes on my mirror remind me to do these things every day, saying, “face, hair, teeth” and “balm, oils, deodorant.” When establishing a routine, these written reminders are vital.

I don’t worry about getting dressed when we first bring baby home. We mamas need some upkeep, but staying in pajamas for those first days gives your unconscious mind permission to nap at any moment. Visitors tend to behave more gently when they see you in sleep clothes, too. Then after a while, it will be time to apply a tad more maintenance to stave off the blues.

When I get to two weeks post-partum, I get dressed “down to shoes” every day, so I can be ready go or do anything at a moment’s notice. Need something out of the car? Is a dog trying to play rough with another critter outside? Do you have a moment’s notice that you can hitch a ride to town for groceries today? Dress for  the unexpected every day, and the unexpected will be powerless to stress you.

Keeping these habits has gotten me through college days; establishing my own household; recovering from a stillbirth, a vaginal birth, and a C-section surgery; and having my twins in NICU for five weeks. I mean it. Take care of yourself for a few minutes daily, and you can get through a lot.

Ultimately, my Heavenly Father carried me through every transition and crisis. Self-love alone does not help anyone much. By prayer, love of my Maker, caring for the body and soul He gave me, and loving my neighbors as myself, I got through. Though they aren’t my savior, these self-care routines have been instrumental in keeping my spirits high and my attention focused on the One Who matters most.

Well, Mama, I guess I’ll be talking to you again in about a week. You have done a good job, helping your little one grow and make it to the outside world. Now, take care of yourself!

*Thanks to Marla Cilley, the FlyLady, for her constant encouragement and inspiration.

This post is the first in a series called “Dear Mama.”