Each stage of parenting has its own unique lessons. When your children are infants, you learn how to do anything one handed, how to pee with someone on your lap, and that you CAN function on less than four hours of sleep.
When your children are toddlers, you learn that there is no upper limit on the gross things that kids will touch. When my youngest was three, she asked me to close my eyes and hold out my hand, and when I did, she dropped a turd into my palm. I did not flinch. I didn’t even ask whose poop it was. During the toddler stage, you become completely desensitized to gross. “It can’t get any grosser,” you think.
When your children finally reach school age, you are confronted with some hard truths. At this point, you have probably spent six or more years building up your expectations of When They Go to School. This time is going to be a utopia of sleeping through the night and letting people wipe their own butts. It is all going to be so easy! So much free time! You’ll start wearing eyeliner again! And they will finally stop being so gross and maybe even start picking up around here!
Honestly, these expectations were all that kept me going for a few years. If you are an infant or toddler Mom who is clinging to expectations of the Golden Age of School…keep clinging. In fact, don’t even read the rest of this post. Go take a nice baby wipe sponge bath and grab a handful of Goldfish. Look at this cute baby hippo. Come back next week.
When your kids reach school age, you learn that it is going to be a long, long time before they stop being gross. For many of us, this comes as a shock. “This person is smart enough to grasp basic algebra”, we think, “How can he not know that you shouldn’t wipe boogers on the wall?”
So many mysteries begin to arise during this time. How do they manage to come out of the shower dirtier than when they went in? What are they even doing in there? What is this sticky substance? You found it where?? Oh my god, just take it outside.
We expect our kids to handle more responsibility with less supervision as they get older, which is good. But most of us don’t anticipate the steep learning curve involved in Not Being a Disgusting Human. The laundry hamper becomes a particularly perilous place. When your children are young, you can be pretty sure you know what is in their hampers because you are probably the one who put it there. Not so with school-agers. We expect them to put their own laundry in the hamper, so you honestly never know what you are going to find in there. Sometimes it’s a pile of clean, still folded clothes. Sometimes it’s a tube of cherry chap stick that’s been wound all the way out so it feels like a little turd when your finger sinks into it. Sometimes it’s an actual turd.
If you are a new parent of a school age child, you may be struggling with the laundry hamper. Luckily, I have some helpful resources, like this guide I posted last week. In my experience, this guide is wonderful for making your children laugh hysterically before they resume putting whatever they want in the laundry hamper. This week’s resource is for you, the Laundry Do-er (whoever you may be). If you are or will soon be doing the laundry of a school age child, it is imperative that you adopt some new techniques. One of these that I have found helpful is the Two Finger Method.
The idea behind the Two Finger Method is to minimize contact with the dirty laundry. Many novices will grab an armful of dirty clothes and hug them to their chest. This maneuver is called the Full Scoop, and it’s a big mistake. Never, ever, perform the Full Scoop unless you are certain that only your laundry is in the pile.
To execute the Two Finger Method, grasp each garment individually with two fingers only. Shake the garment lightly while holding it away from your body. Wait to see if anything runs out of it. If the garment is clear, chuck it into your carrying basket or washing machine.
I’ve included this helpful illustration:
As you can see, the Mom on the left has performed the Full Scoop. She is clutching an armful of dirty clothes, and lord only knows what else is in there. The Mom on the right is wisely using the Two Finger Method, maximizing the distance between her and the laundry.
I hope this has been helpful. Us school age moms have to stick together. Don’t tell the infant moms about all of this yet. Let them enjoy their baby hippos and fantasize about a time when they will be able to pee by themselves.