50: Sometimes You Need to do the Laundry

50: Sometimes You Need to do the Laundry

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Sometimes You Need to Do the Laundry

Without labor nothing prospers.


“Mommy, will you play this with me?” My two-year-old peered over a mountain of heaping laundry baskets. She clutched an UNO Moo! barn in her hand.

Ugh. I looked at my daughter, then at the laundry, then back to my daughter again. I thought of the advice I’ve read countless times on blogs and Facebook quips — those popular phrases meant to encourage frazzled moms.

“Days are long but the years fly by.”

“Rock and don’t sweep, because babies don’t keep.”

“A messy house is a happy house.”

So true! I believed that!

But then I stared down a pile of grubby socks and realized — enough, already. This family is one day short of recycling our dirty underwear. Sometimes the laundry just needs to get done.

I swallowed hard and gazed straight into my daughter’s pleading eyes. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but I cannot play right now. Mom has to do some chores.”

Suddenly, a strange sense of empowerment tingled through my veins. It felt a little like rebellion. Yes! I must do the chores! And that does not make me a bad mom!

Quite the opposite, I think.

My house is nowhere near immaculate. I stopped trying years ago, when I discovered babies are messy and moms need naps. But I wonder — have we gone a little too far? Do we encourage each other so much to spend every waking moment relishing fleeting childhood, that any time spent otherwise is deemed a waste or selfish? We don’t guilt each other about our dirty floors anymore, and that’s great. But now, instead, are we sheepish about cleaning them?

I’m taking a stand for mothers everywhere.

It’s okay to clean.

Or to cook. Or to spend a morning running errands, paying bills, making phone calls and folding towels. That’s what grown-ups do. And how else will our kids learn unless we demonstrate?

After all, life is not a big game of UNO.

Recently, I read an article about a local Amish family. It was a diary of their typical week, written by the father of six grown children. Each day consisted of chores, cooking, and family devotions. The grandkids ran in the barn while the older children milked cows, and everyone helped make pies for the family bakery business. They were all faithfully devoted to one another as they worked side by side from dawn to dusk.

Could it be that the real call on a family is not for the parents to serve the children, but for everyone to serve each other for a greater purpose? It’s up to us parents to teach the kids how — by example. So sometimes we work, and sometimes we play. Strong families are built with both.

“Sweetie, I have a great idea.” I set my daughter’s game on the table and clapped her hands in mine. “You can help me put these clothes in the wash. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

“Okay, Momma!” Her face lit up. “Can I push the buttons, too?”

“Absolutely. You are a good button pusher.”

“Yay!” She squealed with delight as if I’d just asked her to play, well, UNO Moo! or something.

Amazing. It took an Amish diary to show me what a toddler knows at heart. Work is play.

Looks like I’m going to be getting a lot more laundry done around here. We might need bigger underwear drawers.

~Becky Kopitzke

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