As wives and mothers I’m not sure there is any other chore that causes us to feel more defeated than the family laundry. Next to washing and putting back the dishes it is a job that is never completely finished. Inevitably, just as we finally fold those last few pieces for the day everyone prepares for bed, leaving us with another full load to be done in the morning. It is part of the cycle of homemaking, and while this endless succession of washing and rinsing is not how I think any of us would choose to spend our time it is a chore that will always need to be done.
I know it may seem impossible, but there was once a time when tedious tasks like the laundry were much more complicated and cumbersome than they are now. Things such as cleaning, cooking, and washing weren’t conveniently packaged into boxes specifically designed for each task. The processes were longer and required much more care and preparation than simply opening up a can of green beans or popping in a dishwasher tab. The clothes that were being washed then were the same ones that been handmade by a mother doing the best she could to provide and care for her family. I am sure that she didn’t just grab an armful of clothes and aimlessly shove them in the washer as I tend to do. There was a process that needed to be followed in order to make sure what they had lasted: stains, rips, and tears needed to be addressed and mended. It was a task that was given much attention partly out of need, but also out of pride.
In some ways I think the beauty that can be found in these menial tasks has been removed by convenience. Quite possibly, there is much joy that can be gained from the work that is to be done if we take ownership of the opportunities given to us to love and provide for our family, especially if we infuse a little bit of creativity into the process.
Rhonda Hetzel, in her book The Simple Home touches on these tasks being an opportunity to show love when she says:
There is a kind of simple elegance in using and cleaning household linens. Clothes, sheets, towels, curtains, and kitchen linens always look better when they’re well cared for. When I see them in homes I visit, fresh and neatly stored away, especially when they have quite an age to them, I get the feeling there is a lot of love in that home.
To be honest, our laundry room is a place I have never enjoyed. It is an awkward room that connects our dining room to our 2nd bathroom, it’s position in our floor plan just doesn’t make sense. Not only that, this room also serves as our cat room (they are messier than my children), every morning I wipe down all of the surfaces and we sweep twice daily just to try and keep up with them. There is no natural light in these two rooms and though they have no door separating them they were each painted a different color, one being dark black. This space just didn’t have much going for it and definitely was a place I just wanted to close the door on and walk away. But, this room also provides tangible ways for me to express love to my family and is a space that will always be used, so I want it to be a room I enjoy. Thus, something needed to be done.
Using her book as a guide, I am working to make my laundry room a place that feels intentional and creative. Here are some ways you can bring life to your laundry room, as well.
- Start with a clean slate. Wipe down all surfaces with a clean, damp rag. Take care to move the washer/dryer and clean behind and underneath them. Remove all items from inside/on top of the cabinets and countertops; scrub them down as well. I began with a fresh new coat of paint, but that’s not normally a necessary step.
- Remove anything that does not belong in the laundry room. Many times this room becomes a catch-all for other things. If it does not serve a purpose in doing the laundry or cleaning the home, find a more appropriate place for it. This is a great time to minimize and de-clutter. When I was going through this step, I found things stashed away that we hadn’t used in years. Our home is relatively small and keeping things we don’t use, and never will, just for the sake of keeping them makes it really hard to find space for the things we love. So, I tossed…freely.
- Organize the things you will be keeping in ways that make sense. For me that included 4 zones: laundry (detergent, wool dryer balls, mesh bags for delicates, drying rack, and iron), household cleaning supplies (borax, baking soda, Castile Soap, white vinegar, rags, essential oils, and spray bottles), floor cleaners (brooms, vacuum, mops, and dustpan), and because this room is dual purpose my final category was cats (nail clippers, brushes, toys, litter, food, and bowls).
- Consider usefulness and beauty of items needing to be replaced. Instead of running out to purchase the first plastic broom you find when your other one breaks, consider replacing it with a wooden one that you wouldn’t mind leaving out or having propped up against your wall. Glass canisters, wooden brooms and brushes, and wicker baskets are all functional and pretty replacements for their plastic counterparts.
It is amazing what a week (or two) of your time, some paint, and re-organizing will do to a space.
This coming year I am working month-by-month to tackle some of the topics covered in Rhonda Hetzel’s book The Simple Home. This month it was the laundry room and in August we will be working through the chapter titled: Domestic Crafts, Sewing, and Household Linens. There is one project in particular that I am really looking forward to. I would love for you to follow along if you like.
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