Lessons in Laundry

Laundry. I’ve done a lot. Especially in the last 3 years, because in Zimbabwe, most homes employ permanent domestic help. Here in Cape Town, I am the domestic help. But then I counted my children, and realised I actually have 4 domestic helpers. Boo yah! And I pay them in muffins. I have taught them so well that Joshua and Aiden can even claim to have won a pegging game that they played on a Youth camp. You never know how  laundry can enrich a family y’know.


So, here it is. A lot of it is centered around socks for some reason. The rest is fairly easy, especially since boys only really wear underwear and don’t have need of much clothing. Schools insist on a uniform though, which can be very frustrating to boys.

  1. Luminous socks are a winner. Locate your friendly local sock factory shop and buy lots of different colours, very bright or patterned, of every size. Easier to pair together, and easier for siblings to spot when pilfering of their favourite socks is attempted.laundry


2. If a sock is put into the laundry basket scrunched up or inside out, do not man-handle it (woman-handle? Errr, just no-touchy.) It MUST remain that way throughout the washing and drying process, and be returned as such onto the relevant clothes pile. This is called natural consequences. There is often more than you bargained for in those socks, especially if the lawn has been recently mown, and they’re too lazy to bend over and slip them off  before going outside. Rather let the culprit deal with the crunchy, leafy, sandy delights, and, if there’s a special bonus, the plaster that was on their bleeding toe.


A rainy day in Cape Town. Everything is hanging everywhere. Aiden’s bike was inside and it also had underwear on the handlebars.

3. Whilst leaving socks untouched, DO go through pockets. Lego and lunch-box waste aside, there is nothing quite like the horror of opening the machine to find a tissue/note/info-slip-from-school-that-was-supposed-to-be-signed has disintegrated throughout the entire load, as if the Abominable Snowman self-destructed in there.

4. Do have a regular lecture about not playing soccer at school in socks only. It’s all (shoes and socks) or nothing (barefeet).


Soccer socks. Seriously? NO.

5. When socks get too old to wear in public, they become what is known as ‘bedtime’ socks. Go with this one. It is easier to wash a few pairs of socks than to wash bed linen when feet are dirty at bedtime. And yes, my children do shower, but there is no pair of slippers that will weather what happens after bathtime.


Aiden’s beloved bed socks. I see them every wash cycle.

6. When you end up with the renowned lost sock, do not throw it away. Store it until you pull old duvet covers out to use, as you will find the missing sock inside the cover from that time when you lumped all the linen together with the clothing because you had too much washing and not enough patience. Duvet cover! I tell you, it’s a revelation. The self-satisfaction of pairing them together after 8 months is untold. When I discovered this, I did wonder why there wasn’t a society that I could notify about this amazing revelation. I’m sure I should have gotten some money from this?

7. Beware of the eleven-year-old. He will use socks- new socks with specifically CUT holes- for his Wolverine/Ninja fantasies. I just don’t know anymore.

The eleven-year-old will also take perfectly good socks and fill them with bird seed to make…well, I don’t know what to call them, really. A sockwithbirdseed. Usually to sock your brothers over the head with, pun completely intended. Sock-it-to-ya, that’s what they’re called. I did wonder why the budgie was binging until I ended up with tens of single socks, to discover that the partners had been filled with seed and used for hours of endless play. Which, with all things considered, is worth the cost of the sock; just need to teach them to use pairs, duh, not one sock each from 4 different pairs.


I found this ‘sock-it-to-ya’ IN THE GARDEN. Does anyone else have laundry growing in their garden??


Turns out he uses them to store his cars, too.

8. When children are helping with laundry, it is recommended that you keep your own underwear in good condition, otherwise when they find bought-for-comfort, elastic-perished, colour-now-unknown undies, they hold it up in a pincer grip and announce, Whose is THIS?!  Such memorable laundry moments lead to good retail therapy the following day, usually in pink/with lace/frills.

9. Buy protective goggles or a gas mask for when you are sorting the dirty clothes and tipping the laundry into the machine, otherwise your eyes will begin to water. 8 sets of school socks and 2 sets of cross country running kit will do that. Or just hold your breath and make your eyes slitty like I do.

10. After the first child, the memory begins to fade, so it is better if you can hang the wet washing within sight, like on the fridge, otherwise two weeks later, you will be wondering where your favourite shirt is, only to find the Cape’s southeaster landed it in a muddy puddle below the washing line outside.

All I can say is, my future daughters-in-law owe me big time, because these boys know how to peg, fold and sort. Although good luck to them with the socks, grass and tissues.


May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.

Lots of love,


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