Last month we began a 4 part series about the Messy and Mundane things in Motherhood. What are the daily tasks you dread doing or tend to put off…things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning? How can we find joy and glorify God in even the most unseen tasks in our days?
When I opened my dryer full of new clothing my toddlers received for Christmas, my jaw dropped in a mixture of confusion and surprise. Every piece of clothing had blobs of orange covering them. Even the dryer drum had orange streaks. What was this? What happened!
Toddler pockets happened.
It turns out the pockets in toddler clothing are not just for show…like dress pants pockets that are actually sewed shut because they’re just for looks. I never realized toddler pockets were functional, and so I had never taken time to check them before doing laundry. But it turns out toddler pockets are legitimate pockets, and are the perfect size for holding orange crayons.
It was the perfect crime. The orange crayon had completely melted leaving no evidence of its existence except for the hundreds of orange blobs now covering every piece of toddler clothing. After many hours of cleaning, scrubbing, and re-washing clothing (I learned WD-40 removes dried on crayon…thank you internet!), I managed to return most of the clothes to a somewhat normal color. And now one of my favorite ice-breaker questions to ask other moms is “what is the most interesting thing you have ever found in a toddler pocket.”
Even before the orange crayon debacle, I wasn’t particularly fond of doing laundry. Of all the weekly tasks on my to-do list, laundry is the one I tend to put off or find ways to avoid. But as I was setting goals for 2023 earlier this year, I knew that something needed to change. While I may not relate to Snow White as she sings and dances as she hangs up the laundry, surely there must be a way for me to find joy in even this most mundane, unseen task.
After time thinking about what I want 2023 to look like, I realized that my issue was not actually the laundry. Or the washing machine. Or toddler pockets. My heart is sinful, and I actually kind of like to complain and grumble. I like to prioritize tasks that bring myself glory over tasks that are humble and unseen. I like to prioritize things that I enjoy over things that serve my family. My problem is not that I just don’t like doing laundry. It’s that I want to have the glory of the Proverbs 31 woman without having to do any of the daily behind-the-scenes work that comes with it.
So many of the daily tasks the Proverbs 31 woman did went relatively unseen. She was diligent in her work and responsibilities and humble to love and serve the family God had given her. I, likewise, want to be diligent and humble in every task God has given me to do…not just the tasks I most enjoy. Instead of grumbling that there are always more clothes to clean, I want to have a grateful heart that thanks God for giving me a family to love and providing clothes for us to wear.
As I trust God to give me joy in the humble and unseen tasks of my day, I’ve also been implementing practical things to help me be diligent in the task of laundry:
A load a day keeps Mt. Laundry away
I have tried a variety of laundry schedules, and have found the season of life and motherhood I am in plays a big role in what works best for actually getting our clothes cleaned and put away. Last year I reserved one day each week to dedicate to doing laundry, but this year I have found that doing one load of laundry a day (or every other day) has helped the task feel more manageable and made it much more like that the laundry entering the washer that morning will actually make it back into a closet by evening.
Finish what I started
Probably a great piece of advice for many aspects of life even besides laundry, finishing what I started has helped me actually get clothes from washer to closet in one day. I only start a load if I am confident I can get it folded and put away the same day. If I know we have a busy day, I may choose to do towels or sheets instead of baby clothes because I know I’ll have time to fold a few towels versus folding all of the pieces of tiny clothes (or baby socks…they’re so tiny and always getting lost!).
Because our kids are so little, the past few years we have stuck to an unscented laundry detergent. It gets the clothes clean and does the job, so that’s great. But last month I mixed things up and bought a scented detergent instead (it was on sale at Costco). Even something as small as having our laundry room now smell like a “spring breeze” has been a fun change that makes the laundry experience more pleasant. And who doesn’t love walking around smelling like a spring breeze!
So whether you love doing laundry or are reading this blog post as a way of putting off dealing with the growing clothes pile in your own laundry room, may we be women who have humble hearts that love joyfully even when our tasks seem insignificant and unseen. May we be hard workers who work heartily to love and glorify God.