Parenting Perspectives: Living Life in the Depths of the Laundry Pit

[Out a few weeks ahead of schedule, my “April” column appeared unexpectedly today! Pleased to share it with you here. My parenting columns are printed monthly in The Forum, North Dakota’s largest daily newspaper. Reprinted with permission.]

I’ve been dreaming of the good old days lately.

True, the modern-day parent has been afforded many luxuries, but who has the better deal when it comes to laundry: Today’s mother or Ma Ingalls?

The simple life looks mighty appealing on days I’m confined to the laundry pit, which seems more often than not lately.

While sorting colors and whites, nose pinched the closer I get to the bottom of a pile, I fantasize about each family member owning only two outfits – one for everyday use, another for special occasions.

Imagine the lessened drama with clothing choices at nil. Oh, to bid adieu to my days as a laundry slave.

If someone had warned me before motherhood how many articles of clothing would pass through my hands in a 24-hour period someday, I’d have written a Laundry Fairy into the contract.

Every season she’d go through all five of my kids’ drawers and closets, changing up the outfits to match the time of year, saving me hours of drudgery.

She’d also spot and stop stains. No more kids complaining about permanent discolorations on their white T-shirts.

During the day, she’d fly around the house collecting assorted towels, pajamas and underwear that hadn’t quite made it into the overstuffed hampers.

And at the end of the year when all the school uniforms start sporting holes in the knees, she’d go on a mending marathon, staving off the threat of a new school wardrobe just weeks before summer.

The other day my son demanded to know the location of a certain shirt, as if I could come up with that exact piece of the 12,645,329 spread throughout our home. “Sorry,” I said, “but Google Laundry hasn’t been invented yet.”

I admit now that my father was right all those years ago when he looked into my jam-packed teen closet and declared I had too many clothes.

The thing is, I’m not a shopper, and I try to keep my adult wardrobe simple. But with each person we’ve added to our family, I’ve sunk further into the pit of Laundry Hades.

When my husband recently asked why the kitchen had been neglected, he thought I was ignoring him with my silence. If he’d come downstairs, he’d have realized I’d been swallowed by the Laundry Monster, which, unfortunately, doesn’t vomit out its victims until the end of the laundry cycle.

Look, I realize how blessed I am to have children with clothes needing to be washed. But if one more asks me to magically produce a coveted article of clothing on the spot, I’ll have to tell them to “Put a stray sock in it!”

After all, we’ve got plenty of those to spare.

Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, parent five children. She blogs on family life at

2 thoughts on “Parenting Perspectives: Living Life in the Depths of the Laundry Pit”

  1. This isn’t my personal website, but it’s been a lifesaver. I no longer have a laundry problem (4 kids, husband, 2 dogs, 2 cats) or a kitchen problem! Check her out!

    1. Thanks! I ran into Fly Lady a few years back, but I couldn’t keep up with her! I know, it’s me. I do realize that. :) Thanks for the reminder. Maybe I need to check her out again.

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