THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN IRONING KNICKERS
Dee Chadwick
02 Jan 2022
The first of my re-visits to past favourites as a part of my blogging wind-down. So where did this somewhat quirky title spring from? A client and myself were just rounding up a session and we were talking of making work for ourselves. At that point, I said that my mum used to iron bras, dusters, knickers. I then added, that there’s more to life than ironing knickers. It sort of stuck in my brain, so here goes …..

WHAT OF MY MUM & LAUNDRY?

Vivid childhood memories leap to mind of the house becoming a laundry every Monday. Never a Tuesday, always a Monday. Out came the little single tub washer, with the tub taking only a small load at a time, then running the washed things through the electric mangle – that was real progress from the hand turned mangle – rinsing by hand in the sink, and mangling again. If the weather was fit, out onto the line, if not, draped on the clothes maiden in front of the fire, filling the room, the house, with steam as there was so much water still in the clothes. Occasionally, Mum would load all of the soggy washing into her shopping trolley and walk the half mile to the laundrette to tumble dry it. She never washed there – it wasn’t done, and I was never sure of the criteria that led to the decision not to dry round the fire.

My Mum’s little single tub was a big improvement on how the lady down the road did her weekly wash – she still had a metal tub, and wash board outside her back door. Sounds like ancient history, but to me, it is part of my history – though she was the only one that I knew of who still washed like this. How well I recall seeing her doing washing when it was bad weather, muffled up in a huge coat.

So, Tuesday was the day for the ironing, and this is where the mountain of everything that had been washed was dutifully ironed, of course, with a non-steam iron. Nothing was removed from the pile that had been washed, everything was ironedand that included tea towels, towels, dusters, bras (ok they were made of cotton, but I can see my mum struggling to negotiate the iron around the cups!!) and knickers. Bless, the life of a domestic goddess in those days was not an easy one.

The vacuum cleaner was weighty, the fridge was minimal, the freezer non-existent. The work surface in the kitchen measured eighteen inches square.  Yet, without complaint, nourishing meals were produced and home-made cakes and pastries were baked. It was very much a case of, it must be Thursday as we are having lamb chops! Even now, more than fifty years since this scene was a part of my life, the smell of mint sauce takes me right back to the kitchen, the food, my Mum.

The frost had to be scraped off the inside of the windows in winter, or you could breathe on it to achieve a cleared spot to see out. On the coldest of days, I used to grab my school uniform and get dressed under the bed covers. No easy feat under the weight of blankets, eiderdown and quilt.

The single coal fire was the sole source of heating and my left hand bears a tiny scar from when I was sitting on the floor in front of said fire having a night time wash away from the ice box of a bathroom. I was sitting by the bowl and a cinder flew out from the fire, hitting me next to my eye. My reflex reaction of brushing it away saved a worst scar on my face!

THE HERE AND NOW

Things have moved on apace from my childhood – I simply fling my washing into a machine and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, it happily does its own thing, resulting in clothes that are well on their way to dryness. I get on with other things whilst it churns away.OK, I still prefer to get my washing out in the fresh air, but there is a tumble dryer if push comes to shove. I have the choices.

So, this leaves me with a lot more time left over after the domestic necessities have been sorted. My vacuum is efficient, so no need to put it to use every day, even when Georgie the cat has done his best to shed bits of fur around.  I have a freezer and can batch cook and bake in preparation for busy days, or lazy days. I have so much more time. The ironing – I know that some people do, but I don’t iron bedding, towels etc etc – if folded as soon as dry, not necessary, so only clothes – and outer ones at that see the way onto my ironing board; so no bras or knickers make contact with my lightweight steam iron. As I said, in the introduction – there is more to life than ironing knickers!! Far too many interesting, new, rewarding, helpful things to be done.Places to go, people to see, books to read, adventures to have. Why make being a domestic goddess more of a task than it need be? I’m not daft!! I guess if the queen announced a visit then I would probably put in a little more effort, but if people judge me for a bit of dust, a bit of fur or a few marks on the kitchen floor, that is their problem. So, as I still await that letter from Buckingham Palace ……. I do what I feel has to be done and no more.

As far as I am concerned, spending time ironing knickers, tea towels etcetc is wasting that precious time and we don’t have an unlimited amount of it at our disposal!

SMALLS to SMALL STUFF

OK, my underwear can never be described by any stretch of even the most imaginative person’s imagination as being small – well, I accept that and I call them my Bridget’s! How did this get so personal? As I am leaning on an open door here, I will return to the path I was actually aiming for – the small stuff – and whether to sweat said small stuff or not.

Don’t sweat the small stuff is a phrase that I have often said to clients, with it originating in a book by Richard Carlson – ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – and it’s All Small Stuff’. Ssshh, don’t tell them, but I actually feel that there are times when this is necessary, so disagree with the book.  Maybe we need to break into an occasional glow over the apparent minutiae of life. It’s all a matter of using your judgement with this.

If I am organising a dinner party, not having the table laid out with candles, starched napkins and fresh flowers could well, in these days of so many consistently eating on trays on laps in front of the television, be classified as STSS (sweating the small stuff!). To me, it is an essential part of setting the scene for what I hope will be a good meal. A part of the whole, that would be missed if not present.

On a professional level, I feel that STSS can be vital to the work that I do. How would it seem to my clients if I was late, scruffy, ill prepared? Obviously not good.  The same applied to my days in teaching.  Reports were always ready at the stipulated time, I always arrived at schools on time. Such, on the surface, small stuff again, all added to the whole and as such were important. They also added to the load of time management, but so much better that I put in that effort rather than I pitched up as and when, when the other person had been there and waiting. (Memories of a previous blog here on Timing and Tardiness).

So on a professional level, not STSS isn’t a good guideline on which to base things. When does it become a valid statement?

WHEN DOES ‘DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF’ BECOME AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION?

Probably, mainly at the level of emotional and personal considerations. Back to that dinner party.  Had I, whilst ensuring that the food and table setting were as I wanted them to be, forgotten to put on my perfume and ear rings? Whilst, on the surface, similar to the other small things, in fact, as they would have little or no impact on the food and meal ambience, they slip down to become small things.  Things that only I would be aware of – and even I would forget about them once the evening began to flow. My lack of minutiae had no long term negative results, therefore not worth a single bead of perspiration. I could choose to happily ignore.

That is what it comes down to – choice. I recall a saying that my parents used to say to me, in the frost scraping days of yore – ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ Probably when I reported someone saying something that I didn’t like, or I felt was nasty. Yes, you acknowledge and do something about any physical hurt that may be being caused – the sticks and stones bit - your choice on what you do.  However, the name calling, the perceived nasty things said, they only hurt when you allow them to do so. If someone is perceived as being critical of you or yours, the problem lies with them and their need to feel that they have to be critical – it is actually a negative reflection on them, but you turn it round by rumination to be very personally against you. They are probably the same to many others. It is their negative default setting. When you take the words on board and ruminate and ruminate on them, so the hurt becomes larger with each further verbal happening, along with each further rumination, often in the dark hours when sleep is being evasive. It is not the words that hurt, rather the thought that you have given them, associated with them – the STSS - it has become your choice to dwell on the words and let them add grist to the mill of any previous words. How much healthier it would have been to ignore, or better still, to challenge the person straight away in order to prevent the recurrence of the grist being added to the mill in future. It can take courage to do this on the first occasion, but does, and will become easier. Sorry folks, but it’s another case of ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ and stopping blowing throw away comments out of proportion. We are all entitled to our opinions, but often, it would be wisest to keep such comments to ourselves. Guess this is something that most of us are guilty of at times!

AS I OFTEN ROUND UP WITH CLIENTS - THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS?

I like a quote from Carlson - “The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.”

Just as I have zero intention of spending any hour, be it sooner or later, in  ironing knickers, so too I will not allow myself to think of, to talk of small stuff bandied around by others or to shed one drop of perspiration over them. Life is worth more than that – I am worth more than that.

I have produced a set of positive affirmations along these lines which are available now in the download area of my web site. If you use them, and use them consistently, they will help to change your way of thinking around such STSS and allow so much more time and space in your life for positive, happy thoughts.

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Comments

Our childhoods were so very similar! One coal fire, ice on bedroom windows, single tub washing machine with electric mangle, but it was my mother in law who ironed everything including knickers. My mum also held down a full time teaching job and cared for my grandfather who lived with us so she really didn’t have time. I’ll miss your posts, I always read them though rarely comment, sorry. Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for commenting - it means a lot! I feel that our shared upbringing brought into play a good level of resilience that will have served us well - including over the past months. Thank you again. Dee
I really enjoyed reading this Dee. Thank you x thank you also for the reminiscence. Your description of wash day and iron day took me down memory lane. Happy New Year to you lovely. X
Thank you so much Diane - and thank you for contributing to my collection of blogs over the years. The reminiscing makes me really appreciate the modern equipment that is so very easily taken for granted! D

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