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Do half of it – or think of a different way! Wednesday July 2, 2014

Last week my husband came back from church with some advice for me. "I was talking to Suzanne;" he said "And she tells me she advises her clients to unload just half the dishwasher at a time."

I looked at him, slightly confused and wondering where this was going. "You see, if they unload the whole dishwasher it wipes them out for the day; but if they unload half and then have a rest, they can do the other half later."

Well, I see what he was getting at, although Suzanne's clients are the very elderly with Alzheimer's, and it's a bit galling to receive the same advice she gives to them. Probably good advice though.

So yesterday was a good day and I decided to tackle Mount Ironing (as it had got to the state where I was sure I could see snow on the higher peaks). So, having fitted the iron with crampons and climbing harness, we embarked together on the lower slopes.

My usual methodology with ironing is to switch off my brain and just go steadily through the pile, applying flat heat and steam to whatever comes out next and keeping going until the basket is quite empty and I fall over from exhaustion. Maybe I would have done that yesterday too, but the iron decided it had done enough a quarter of the way through and tripped out on me. Checking the plugs and changing the fuse didn't help so I was forced to retreat ignominiously and leave the glorious ascent for another day.

Instead I sat with my youngest daughter and watched Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts (recommended if you like light-hearted froth with some genuinely witty one-liners).

When my husband came home he gently pointed out that, if I had followed my usual pattern of ironing, I would be totally exhausted and unable to do anything at all for the next two days. He then winked at the iron and it smugly turned on its red light and began huffing steam in an odiously self-satisfied way (I'm living with a conspiracy, I tell you: even my household appliances are involved!).

The Rock of my Life then remarked that he was quite capable of ironing his own shirts and that it would be a much better use of my energy just to iron the children's school things and let them wear crumpled pyjamas and tee-shirts and jeans; that, in fact, most of the ironing didn't really need to be done at all. (This from a man whose normal cry is "Standards must be maintained!" and "You just can't get the staff!").

So we did just that. Mount Ironing was conquered (if not in quite the way I had envisaged) and I am not exhausted today.

I now just have to learn to live with the fact that even I can't tell that the children's tee-shirts haven't been ironed, once they've been wearing them for five minutes anyway, and that maybe I've been wasting my time ironing all these years!

A Moodscope member.

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Theresa NZ Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 7:13am

excellent advice!

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 7:38am

Dear Mary,
It appears as though we live in a parallel universe! Mount Ironing in the South West looms ever larger but you have made me chuckle. So glad you sound chirpier.
Best wishes,

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 8:28am

Love your posts Mary - you are refreshingly honest! I actually find ironing quite therapeutic and like that sense of achievement when the basket is empty.
However we're on holiday in Ireland for 3 weeks so have had to do some washing - I decided not to waste time or energy on ironing. How liberating it has been! We're wearing slightly wrinkled clothes and guess what? The world is still turning! Definitely a lesson learned for me. Take care Ellie

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:01am

Lovely post Mary; the hardest thing for me is letting go of "my" way of doing things - oh and acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, when it comes to knowing me, my loved ones (usually hubby) are right. Glad you are having good days again. Frankie

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:25am

I find that listening to a talking book is a really good way to help with mount ironing , it can let the brain chill and I take breaks after say 2 chapters.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:33am

I don't even own an ironing board anymore, so agree ironing is a conspiracy to keep us women chained to the home. O and maybe some men. I'm glad you've seen the light Mary it's an unnecessary task. Folding well is the answer. Best wishes. Julie.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:34am

I haven't ironed anything for 4 years now. I like to think I'm saving the planet by reducing my energy footprint at the same time. < thumbs up > :-)

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:51am

I've been telling my friends for years that ironing is a criminal waste of time and resources. It can be very satisfying to iron a lovely cotton skirt or shirt, but on the whole there's no need for it. Delighted that you are free! Kind regards Anonyma.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:53am

Dear Mary,
Perhaps because I live in the US, where jeans and irons never, ever meet, I am inclined to think yes, you are right to wonder whether all the thousand hours you spent ironing were necessary. Whether necessary or not, however, I'm sure none of those hours were wasted.
When you were ironing all your children's clothes and your husband's, keeping on even to the point of your own exhaustion, you were taking care of the ones you love. Ironing was an act of self-sacrifice in service to particular others. It was an act of love. Unhappily it carried its own doom. It was exhausting, and then exhaustion served to separate you from the very ones for whom you ironed.

Fortunately on this most recent occasion it seems your household appliance conspired to lead you to a happier way. The lesson of laundry day is that by NOT conquering the mountain you can take even better care of the ones you love, and better care of yourself at the same time. You can give your daughter, instead of a stack of ironed t-shirts, an afternoon of your company and a shared pleasure. By this exchange you will both be restored.

The ironed t-shirts, in any case, would very soon have gone the way of all clean laundry, but the memory of the afternoon mother and daughter spent laughing together will linger. I hope you will never again give your all and more to leveling a mountain of laundry. I hope instead you will go on taking care of your daughter and of the Rock of Your Life by preserving yourself for them. joharry

Ali Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:53am

That's really helpful advice, thanks ever so much. I've got a big load of ironing to do today so am just going to do what I absolutely have to and break that down to bite sized chunks. Love it!

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:57am

Ironing - don't do it!! I was in my twenties when a friend recommended I should forget the ironing. I took her advice and haven't looked back since. So, buy clothes that don't need ironing and save the iron for your Sunday Best. Sheets, t-shirts, jeans, tea towels, underwear, hankies etc. etc. DO NOT NEED IRONING.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 10:43am

Dear Mary
I know it is not funny. But how you write it is so funny. Could you please write a roman?!
Love, I

Idiosyncratic Eye Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 11:41am

There are definitely more important and more valuable things in life than ironing. :D

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 1:05pm

Mary, you put a smile on my face here in Chicago IL this am. You are such a wonderful, funny writer. Good on you for putting up the iron!

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 2:28pm

Who irons anything in this day and age? Nicely done though!

Richard Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 2:36pm

Mary, as ever your writing speaks to many.
Just this once, I have a plea. I am beginning to struggle. I believe that my mail is being tampered with, have complained to Royal Mail, with not much success. Since moving to my new flat, I am beginning to feel rather isolated and paranoid. I have formed a good band ( it took three weeks ) and we rehearse on Wednesdays. An artist today told me that "there are a lot of big fish in a small pond here". My confidence is being chipped away, and I don't really have a family member or friend back home that will really understand this. Warmest regards, Richard Harrison.

Anonymous Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 3:40pm

This piece reminds me a Dennis the Menace cartoon I read as a child that stuck with me. It was a single panel. Dennis's mom is ironing, and he and his pal Joey are watching. Dennis says, "It's called 'ironing.' It's what you have to do if wrinkles make you nervous."
I've made it a point that I rule, and that wrinkles can't make me nervous.

Mary Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 3:59pm

Hey Richard, I'll try to find you on facebook if you're there and send you a friend request (I don't do much on Facebook but it's a good start). Have a huge hug and know that the Moodscope community is absolutely rooting for you. I want to see some Moodscope blogs from you as your poetry/songs are lovely. Hang on in there. Ask Caroline to send you my email so you can have some extra support. More hugs and warm wishes, Mary

Mary Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 3:59pm

Love it!

heather Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 5:41pm

Grab it the second the washing machine stops - shake it. Drip dry or fold loosely before drying . Smooth it when dry and fold again. Stack it. Next to nothing needs ironing - the things that do rarely see the light of day again in our house ! I remember those formidable mountains only too clearly ! How depressing they were !

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 8:01pm

OK Richard: lots of Richard Harrisons on FB. Are you friends with Akiko Sato? If so, then we have another link! Otherwise you'll have to give me a clue.

heather Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:06pm

Really nice to see your face again, Mary. Hope things are looking up for you. Heather xx

Libby Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 9:47pm

Love the humor you inject into your blogs, Mary. A wonderful saying which has helped me tremendously over the years:
You have the right to do less than is humanly possible! All my life I believed that I had to do my very best, but when I heard this, I knew it was the Truth.

Mary Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 10:05pm

That is a real word of wisdom: thank you Libby.

Mary Wed, Jul 2nd 2014 @ 10:06pm

Working on it!

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