Monday, September 26, 2022

My love affair with laundry started when I was a child. I remember the smell of my mother’s steam iron as she pressed my father’s shirts in the basement of our home in Verona while we watched Saturday Night at the Movies. There was an air of calm and peace on those evenings, with the washer and/or dryer running in the background. The outside world was tuned out while we were engrossed in watching the movie and my mother was blissfully ironing.

When I first got married I read a column in the local newspaper about the drudgery of repetitive tasks involved in keeping house, and how they can be turned into an act of love. The columnist was responding to a reader who complained about the laundry, and how it just kept coming no matter how much she kept up with it. The response went something like this…if you think about the beauty of your clothing and the joy that it brings every member of your family, you will appreciate the act of keeping the clothing clean and fresh so each item can continue to provide warmth and cover for your loved ones. What a beautiful sentiment! This is one article I wish I had saved.

That article triggered something in me that has never left my heart. I immediately embraced that philosophy and have lived/breathed it to this day 40 years later. While I am sorting whites from colors to prepare dirty clothes for the wash, I think of each article of clothing and the experience of purchasing it, the fun that my family had wearing it, as well as feeling grateful for being able to shop for clothing, underwear, socks, etc. For example, I think of my husband wearing his slacks during his daily commute to Brooklyn and how much I appreciate his contribution to our household. What I have done is taken a mundane task and turned it into an act of love.

Before our son was born, I remember vividly washing all the baby clothes as I was instructed to do in all the new Mom manuals and brochures. While Jason was growing up I loved watching his clothing grow along with him. Although he has been out of the house since he left for college and is now living on his own, I sometimes miss seeing his clothing in our laundry basket and reminiscing of experiences past based on what he was wearing at the time. I look at photos of him when he was a child and reminisce not only about his endearing childhood, but the clothing that he was wearing. His New Jersey Devil’s jersey is still hanging in his closet. So as you can see, even Professional Organizers will hold on to things that evoke pleasant and loving memories.

On Easter Sunday my washing machine stopped working. I immediately checked the internet to find out the average life of a washing machine. Once I realized that it was not worth scheduling a repair appointment, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new washing machine. As you may expect, the only store that sold appliances was not crowded on Easter Sunday, but thank goodness the sales person in the large appliance department was well versed in her knowledge of washers. We spent over 2 hours shopping, asking questions and discussing which brand, design, and model to purchase. While we were waiting for the new machine to be delivered I visited the local laundromat a couple of times to keep on top of our dirty laundry. I always said that taking your clothes to the laundromat is the great equalizer of the masses. No matter what your economic status or background, people want & need clean clothes. I enjoyed my public experience with my personal task and have a renewed respect for those who do not have the convenience of a washer and dryer in their home or apartment.

My message to you this month is to take the mundane tasks such as laundry, cleaning, dusting, making beds, cooking, or washing dishes and turn it into an act of gratitude and love for yourself and your family. Please feel free to contact me about your love affair (with housekeeping).

Happy Organizing!

Eileen Bergman has lived in West Orange since 1987 and is a Professional Organizer. She may be reached by e-mail at [email protected] for feedback and suggestions for future articles.

By Eileen Bergman

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