Mindfulness, Laundry and the Meaning of Life

by Penny Cook

Sibylesque laundry quote

Well…while you were sleeping, or tossing and turning, depending on how you do the night, I was washing in a laundromat in New York. It’s a first world problem I know but bear with me. You never really think about washing when you live in a house with a washing machine so let me describe living in a house without a washing machine…(and a dishwasher and microwave, neither of which I mind being without).

Sibylesque washinginstructions

Throwing on a load of washing is such a non-thought about domestic action, which we take for granted but if we break it down, there is an awful lot more to it than meets the eye. Firstly, if the washing machine is not in the house, your initial consideration is getting dressed. How often do we ‘put on a load’ straight from sleep and in pjs, often as the opener to ‘getting through the list of chores.’ Not so now. Getting dressed is a must as, although there are some strange sights in New York, I don’t want to be one of them. So fully dressed I gather the dirty clothes and shove them in 1, 2, 3 or 4 bags, grab the TIDE and the BOUNCE sheets and head on down the stairs, out the door and along the street. A long 2 blocks where I’m very consciou of the hidden curriculum and social structures. Are you carting your laundry in a trolley or in bags? How much do you have? How dirty are you and how often do you wash? (Only saw your sheets 4 weeks ago); what…no fabric softener? Remind me not to put my clothes in the machine you used! Hmmm…will your tea towels go in with your whites in a big $4 dollar machine or will you go the extra dollar to separate your laundry in 2 x $2.50 washers? This is the subculture … people don’t actually say but … washing is no longer a domestic habit. It’s a scary chore.


Travel TalesPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. She is currently consulting as an Early Childhood specialist in New York. She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …..it’s never too late!! Other posts by Penny Cook include From Here to God-Help-Us: XS Baggage and Travel Tales.


Image source: Unkown


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