Clothing Joy and Pain

The other day we received an unanticipated package. “A package!” both girls yelled, as their Psychic Possible Gift Perception kicked in. The return address was my mom, so the girls  clustered like cats around tuna while I gestured for space with my scissors. Dangerous but effective.


New scarves for me, M, and J! Yippee! Nothing like what my mom calls a “happy present!”

And here’s the cutest part:

I mean, come on. How cute is that? “Nanahoney” is her grandmother name because she was planning for “Nana” but the first grandchild was confused because my Dad always refers to her as “Honey.”

Everyone was quite excited and in fact I couldn’t post about the scarves right away because J wore hers to sleep and I couldn’t get a photo.

As for the more painful side of clothes, it’s laundry. Sigh.

You know, summer means wet bathing suits and towels, but with the clothesline, the whole family is pretty well trained. And then the cool weather (and travel soccer) comes around and my hamper is full constantly. And it’s full of things like:

  • Pairs of jeans that have been worn for only minutes before a wardrobe change
  • Footy pajamas that are pristine and smell pleasantly of fabric softener
  • Shin guards
  • As many as 6 sweaters at a time

Alright, so I walked right into the shin guard thing. Recently I discovered that with a baking soda scrub-down followed by a wash in the delicate cycle, even the most repugnant fumes can be squelched. But now M wants this treatment after each game or practice, and even if I were up for that, shin guards aren’t designed for consistent washer abuse.

I have asked nicely, explained, reminded, and nagged. So I got a bit of a bee in my bonnet.

Usually these bees result in slightly overwrought essays. But this required something different: a flow chart. I found a free flowchart web site and set to work.

It occurred to me, sometime while I was trying to line up my arrows, that I might not be the only person who suffers from Laundry Challenges. So I made it generic enough to share, and TA, DA! It’s a Laundry Flowchart! (I couldn’t get it to show up on this post, but you can click to a pdf file. Update: Deb from Kids Out and About helped me, so now it’s below–click for a close-up. Thanks, Deb!) It is not aesthetically perfect, but it does get the point across.



J loves the flowchart. She asked me to read it to her and explain exactly how it works. She appreciates it.

I taped it just outside the girls’ rooms.

M hates the flowchart. She thinks it’s humiliating and it’s treating her like a baby and she knows what to do with all of her laundry (a “dammit” is unspoken, but implied, here).

In protest, M turned the flowchart backwards, facing the wall.

I fixed it, conceded that she would be permitted to turn it around during play dates, and explained that the one surefire way of getting rid of the flowchart was to demonstrate her vast laundry knowledge on a daily basis with appropriate disposal of the various items.  Her pair of pajamas lounging on the hall floor was offered as Exhibit A, and the discussion was closed.



  1. HollowSquirrel

    I LOVE the flowchart and will print it out for my husband. And children. But let’s start small.

  2. Michelle

    I love it too! Husband laughed and suggested that suuuurre our 2 & 6 year olds will follow that to a T. Perhaps I should have more pictures if I’m hoping for any success at all from those two! Too cute not to file away for future reference, though! 🙂

  3. Oh good, everyone! Actually, I wasn’t sure if perhaps my laundry standards are just much lower than everyone else’s. Here’s hoping someone will start following it, right?

  4. Sara

    Ohhhh, that is hilarious AND fantastically useful. Now, one for dishes? While my kids mostly drink water (yay!) they refuse to believe me that they can use one cup for water all day, and just refill it, instead of putting it in the sink with dirty dishes.

  5. @Sara, oh I have that problem, too!

    Although in my case it feels like half the time their hands are so grubby or greasy that I can’t bear to refill the water glass, either.

  6. Christine

    You are awesome! Is it appropriate to laugh and do the happy dance? You are, as always, my hero! And no, your laundry standards are not lower…..we (as a society) are far too fixated on squeaky clean. A pair of jeans or a sweater should be worn more than once before getting washed….unless it had something spill on it. Less washing/drying euqals longer-lasting clothes AND washing machines! Keep up the good work!

  7. Stephanie

    AWESOME. I anticipate a flurry of flowchart-making in the near future. What WOULDN’T this be useful for?

  8. @Stephanie–Thanks! But I don’t know–it was a time-suck.
    @Christine–Thanks! Oh, yes–it’s not that I’m lazy. This is environmental activism.

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