Today, I have been spending the day at home with three children who are poorly. The kind of poorly that requires constant laundry and scrubbing. There are two things that I am missing terribly at this moment, hardwood floors, and my large washer and dryer from Canada.
When people ask me what I miss the most from home, my answer is always, friends, driving (specifically parking), and laundry. I used to do laundry one day a week, a load would take me 45 minutes to wash and anywhere from 30-60 minutes to dry completely. I refuse to iron, I don't even own an iron (scandal), so after the clothes were dry I would fold them and put them away. Granted, with 3 little boys and one big boy in the house, some days there would be as many as 8 or 9 large loads of laundry to do, but if I stayed focused, I could do that all in half a day, while getting other things accomplished around the house between loads. I usually picked a day that I didn't teach and got it done as quickly as possible. Now, I don't *enjoy laundry, and I may have complained once or twice or every laundry day.
Our first month living in England, we were staying in a rented furnished apartment that had a small Washer Dryer. Washing capacity for a small machine is usually **6 kg, but in reality, if you want clean clothes, it is closer to 2.5 kg. This is a very small load! I found that I had to run a load every morning. I also found that the "drying" feature didn't really get things dry. After some research, it became clear that getting clothes to dry quickly is not a priority in England (the most damp place I have ever lived) and that hanging wash to dry is part of life. It seemed a great hardship, not to mention an extra step in my laundry routine. To do a full wash dry cycle, you are looking at OVER 3 HOURS START TO FINISH. Really. I texted a Canadian friend this picture,
...along with the caption, "this is my life now." I had no idea that the situation was about to get worse.
Fast forward to a month later when we had moved into our house. Part of the rental agreement included that a laundry machine would be provided, or so we thought. No such machine materialized but we did not have a definitive answer on whether or not we would be getting a machine. As a result, we (Husband and I) became the mom from 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Remember her? She sang the forgettable song, "Cheer Up Charlie," while stirring pots of steaming laundry and hanging it to dry. All by hand. If I were to view the "Cheer Up Charlie" scene in isolation, I would have believed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to be a horror film. We did laundry in the bathtub. Husband was a very active participant (he was better at wringing to dry- BY HAND). Then, we hung up our wet laundry all over the house and hoped that it would dry in less than 72 hours. It usually took far longer. We also had no heat in our house as our boiler had a broken pump, our freezing cold radiators were not helpful at all. Cold damp not quite clean sometimes crusty clothes were what we wore for about a month. Laundry piled up. We couldn't keep up. The photo at the top of this post was taken during this special time. Pictured, our dirty laundry hallway...
Luckily, we all survived. Our boiler has been repaired. We bought a washer dryer for our house, sad because it was expensive and obviously we can't take it back to Canada with us but also necessary. I am back to doing about a load a day and hanging most things to dry. It's manageable for the most part, except for on days like today when the laundry keeps piling up and is more urgent due to kids being sick. I understand that North American washer and dryers use a lot of power, and utilities are outrageously expensive here in the UK. The English appliances are also more environmentally friendly for the most part, so that is great as well. Now, if anyone has any tips as to how to improve my white loads (they are far from brilliantly white and yes I have bleach), as well as how to get fluffy towels (I MISS THEM), I would be much obliged.
*Now, before you say, "no one enjoys laundry," I must tell you that one of my absolutely favourite people claims that she enjoys doing laundry. I have asked her to move in with us on multiple occasions.
**Who is weighing their laundry loads? Not me.
Note: this blog post title is very ordinary in Canada and very cheeky in England.
Another note: A friend asked me why we didn't head to a laundromat when we did not have proper laundry facilities at home. I thought this was a valid question. The laundromat closed at 5 pm and I was just not up to heading to a laundromat alone with all my kids. I can't "control" them for that long in such a boring spot. Also, parking...
I realize that people all over the world go to laundromats with their children, I fully acknowledge that these people are far more amazing than I am.