Sunday, 18 June 2017

23.52 washing on the line and a little teamwork in the brotherhood

These brothers. 

They love each other, they have so much fun together, but they also tend to rile each other up quite a bit. 

One annoys the other, the other over reacts, and so it escalates into bickering, and on and on! 

Maybe that sounds familiar?! 


On another note, the boys share a room and lately have been getting into the habit of putting barely-worn, still-clean clothes (like PJs worn for just one night or a hoodie they wore just for a couple hours) into the laundry hamper (and filthy clothes back into their wardrobes?!! Whyyyyy. Arghhhh). They definitely weren't intentionally trying to make more work or put it in the wrong place, but it was more just them rushing and not taking time to properly check their clothes (with perhaps a dash of laziness), which meant I was sorting through or laundering a lot of clean clothes. Ain't nobody got time for that!! ;) 

Even after several reminders and taking time to show them how to inspect their clothes, it still didn't seem to be sinking in. When I saw their hamper overflowing once more, I decided it was time for a more hands-on lesson. Not a punishment, but just a practical opportunity to experience how much work goes into a load of laundry and why we don't want to be washing clean clothes!

I told the boys they would be getting a chance to do a complete load of laundry by themselves. Eli and Lily have done this before (I often get them to do some of their own loads during the school holidays as it's just not practical right now for them to do all their washing during the school terms!). Miles hasn't done a full laundry process before (they usually just fold and put away clean clothes), so Eli eagerly got to show him the ropes in his best big brother style!

They took on the challenge with a great attitude, I am pleased to report.

Little hands carried the overflowing hamper to the laundry. Step-stools were fetched and feet clambered up. They sorted and piled their laundry into the machine, while perched on stools. They poured in the detergent and turned on the machine (the button pressing is of course the best bit).

When the chime rang an hour or so later, they had the mammoth task of pulling damp, heavy washing all out of the machine and into a basket. Then another mountain to climb - carrying that heavy basket of wet clothes outside to the clothes line, all the way at the back of the yard. I wasn't sure it was physically possible for them, but working together, they used all their muscles and got it out there. Strong boys, taking pleasure in working hard! 

Chairs were dragged out so they could reach the line, the intricacies of pegging well enough to keep heavy clothes hanging was investigated and eventually conquered. They were doing it all on their own, and they were doing wonderfully! Then things got tricky. The age old issue emerged of two people trying to peg clothes on a spinning washing line at the same time.... each trying to pull the Hills Hoist in their direction. Soon, the squabbling commenced. Uh-oh.

I had been lingering in the garden to ensure they got themselves sorted okay and safely on the chairs. As the bickering started over who was pulling the line in which direction before someone else was ready... I almost intervened but realised I had to let them work it through themselves. 

'You guys, you have a problem but I really think you can work this out together. You have a job to do and if you work as a team, it's going to be much more fun and get done much more quickly. I believe you can sort this out, why not talk about it to find a solution!'

And with that, I went back inside. To be honest, totally unsure how this would play out!! At first voiced were raised but then all was quiet. Then giggling and happy voices. Then ten minutes later, they came barrelling back inside, shrieking for me to come observe their handiwork. Out I came, where they proudly showed me a line full of (somewhat dubiously pegged, but I didn't mention that!) clothes on the line. 

They had done the job, they had worked together, they had worked through their issues and they were bursting with pride at a job well done!

And the next day, they faithfully unpegged it all and brought in to sort, fold and put away.


The hoped-for side effect soon became apparent. They became more careful about considering what clothes needed to be washed and what could be put aside for another wear. (Sidenote: If you are the kind of home-keeper who washes towels after a single use or a hoodie after a single wear, you are probably judging me hard right now, lol!!!!!). But there has been an unexpected and wonderful other side effect too... since that opportunity to work on a project together and even work through conflict and resolve it in order to get the job done, their relationship has really blossomed and strengthened. There has been noticeably less (note, I am not saying zero!) squabbling and bickering, there has been a noticeable strengthening of their friendship. Better play together, more kindness and understanding, more team work and more enjoyment of each other.

I am so grateful. Yes, for the lessening of the laundry, but even more so, for the strengthening of their relationship. I tell them all the time that brothers can be your best friend and I really hope and pray it is true for them.

Of course, it's not a one-time-miracle-fix or 100% cure. Living with people is hard, siblings and spouses included, so conflict is an inevitable part of life together. Messy, imperfect, growing together in life. But these baby steps in the right direction are something to be celebrated. And particularly because a little challenge that I gave with one aim had an even richer benefit than I expected. 

I guess we are all just learning on the job xx

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2017.


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