or how to train the average male to do his own laundry…for life!
Many years ago I was at a friend’s wedding seated with other friends. A rather traditional bunch in which I was clearly the most forward thinking at the table. As a variety of speeches were made and toasts offered to the new couple, many innuendos alluding to old school expectations regarding housework were evident. The majority of these couples were young and many of them were one-income families with young kids. I was one of the few at the table from a two-income family. Everyone at the table decided to watch my reaction, which was observant silence, until the friend to the right of me talked about how to get her husband to help with the laundry… All eyes were on me.
Then it started. I asked what laundry was this husband not doing…his own or the family’s (i.e. the kids). It turns out that “Romeo”, being the chief breadwinner, felt he was exempt from any laundry duties including his own dirty clothes. Betty Crocker was busy taking care of four children and trying to keep up to Romeo’s extensive laundry. After a few moments of conducting further fact-finding, the dirty details were divulged. This boy was wearing many different outfits during the day, going daily to the gym, the office and then dressing down for casual outings with “his friends” and so on.
Answer from my end …really simple. Just don’t do his laundry he will get the picture. Well apparently this would not work for Romeo because he will just go out and by “more” clothes. This friend reminded me that I had been known (in the circle I moved in) as the one who motivated her newlywed husband to amazing ownership of his personal laundry in spite of being raised by a mom who did all the laundry in the house.
I had to start somewhere, “Where does your husband leave his laundry?” The answer was so typical “In piles on the floor.” Oh good this will be much easier than I thought.
Start collecting all the laundry the dear boy leaves around the house and place in a green garbage bag and then hide the bag. DO NOT REVEAL the location. Check for clothes in gym bag and do likewise. The most important item to collect is underwear. All of a sudden you will notice Romeo taking an interest in the dryer and where the laundry is stored. Do not get prematurely excited that he is now interested in the laundry. Under NO circumstance reveal the location of the intimates. You will have to get creative where you can store the evidence. Be smart and do not choose such places as his golf bag or behind the lazy boy in the TV room. Pick hiding places like where you keep the mop and bucket to wash floors (or where the vacuum and/or other cleaning supplies) reside.
As the circle of clean undies dwindles the gym guy will become more frustrated and head out to buy new underwear (preferably white). Either way just continue capturing the dirty linen and hiding it. Romeo will suddenly start paying attention to where he is leaving his laundry. He will suddenly become very considerate and mindful of where he drops his drawers. Do not give in and think this the training is complete. This is just the beginning.(!!)
Hiding the dirty clothes will get harder and harder as the dear husband begins to retrace his steps and takes better notice of where he is leaving his clothes. One day he will snap and announce that he has no more undergarments and demand to know what is going on. Smile sweetly and tell him you will make it a priority to locate his finer things and see they get washed. Then proceed to the local department store and buy a package of the exact opposite colour and style of the undies he usually wears (if he wears white buy dark coloured and vice versa hopefully in a size smaller and 100% cotton). Call up the husband at work and offer to do something like make a special dinner or watch a movie. Sweetly hand him the new (incorrect) underwear you just bought. This will hopefully be met with some appreciation for effort (although not always).
Next day husband likely to roar again when he realizes the only clean stuff he owns is the dreadful stuff you bought. You know you are doing well when you hear that he has cancelled his workout at the gym and he wants to know if you have found ANY of his laundry. Wait until the husband has vacated the premises for more than a few just a few moments. Now locate all the dirty gym clothes /underwear lot and put everything in together (the more colours in with the whites the better). Throw some random favourite clothes (ones you never liked anyway) and then pour about a ½ bottle of Javex bleach in and set the wash to very hot and the most aggressive cycle possible.
Remove from washer and dry on hottest setting possible. Do NOT worry that certain prime locations in the underwear are threadbare (or less) nor that the once white underwear is varying shades of pastel tie-dye or that the dark underwear has large spots of what looks like a highlighter marker was used. JUST DRY and do not add fabric softener. Lovingly fold the fresh, moth-eaten, shrunken undies and stack in a laundry bin. If he is not home… phone him and tell him you have great news… you found the laundry and got it all done for him… it is waiting in such and such a place.
Believe me, when he catches up with his stuff you will NEVER again be ALLOWED to touch his laundry, (far less wash or fold it) and he will never again take off clothes and leave them lying around anywhere…even twenty years later.
After regaling the table with my domestic version of “home economics 101” I do not think anyone believed me. Dark looks around the table as this crew of ladies all thought I was nuts.
Many years later, after forgetting about all of this a friend called me because the gal I had spoken with at the table (so long ago) had made the mistake of innocently shrinking her husband’s sweater and instead of passing it off as a random accident apparently some saucy girlfriend (myself) from years ago was blamed. (No wonder that couple never invited me over.) Too funny!
I hear all those guys from that table have been doing their own laundry for years…(!!)
The Garden Goat