I went to the laundry twice on holiday. Hoping to forestall at least some of the post-holiday pile of washing. But no matter how hard I try, no matter what hopeful strategies I put in place, a few hours after we’ve arrived back home, my laundry looks like a volcano. A volcano that’s spewing smelly, slightly damp, filthy clothes, whose aroma indicates that new life is beginning to burgeon within its mass.

I met a lovely young woman on holiday recently, who proudly announced to me that she does an average of five loads of washing a week. FIVE! Most of her friends have two loads of washing a week maximum, but she has five.

I think she mistook my stunned silence for admiration at the amount of washing she produces. I was definitely admiring, but not in the way she thought, just in a more wistful, wouldn’t-it-be-wonderful kind of way. Five loads of washing A WEEK! It’s unimaginable.

Three days of hard work and approximately 18 loads of washing later, I got to the bottom of this weeks’ pongy post-holiday volcano.

I was a little cross with my husband because he had 14 pairs of shorts in that pile of washing. When I’d specifically asked him whether he had any washing when I did the laundry three days before we left Bali and he said no, he didn’t. He was probably trying not to give me any work while I was on holiday, but it’s a Catch-22 situation: I either work a little on holiday or I work even more when we get home.

The largest laundry volcano in my family’s history was after a 2-week holiday over Christmas and New Year, with 4 young children in a resort that didn’t have any laundry facilities. That time, I had 33 loads of washing. That is the Crowning Glory in my long and laborious history of Laundry Tasks. It took 5 or 6 days of me and the washing machine working hard for 18 hours a day to clear that pile.

Apparently, when Miele test their washing machines and guarantee them for 20 years, they base it on my friend’s five loads of washing a week. Or less. The Miele repair guy confirmed that I’d gone past that number in 4 years.

My average for washing (the repair man kindly worked out) was between 25 & 30 loads a week.

That’s 1,300 – 1,500 loads a year.

Which means that, making allowances for the number of children increasing over the years, since Jamie was born, I’ve probably done somewhere close to thirty thousand loads of washing.

Now, bear with me here while I extrapolate a little. If each load takes an average of 20 minutes to sort, put in the washer, hang out or put in the dryer, fold and put away (I’m not even going to look at the ironing here), that means that I’ve spent 375 DAYS – as in 24 hour days – more than a YEAR – doing nothing but laundry. 375 full days! Holy moly. No wonder I feel like time is slipping away from me and I have no idea where it’s gone. Now I know: it’s that bloody washing volcano that’s continuously erupting and reproducing in my laundry.

PS I was just looking for a picture to go with this article and I came across numerous posts about how to clear your laundry pile. Really? Do people actually need to be told how to do the laundry? And of course the laundry isn’t completed till it’s dried, ironed, folded and put away. OF COURSE it isn’t. Do people actually leave piles of laundry around, waiting to be folded or ironed? That is a sure-fire way to overwhelm, people. Just put the washing away already. If you want any tips on how to stay organised, message me, I have an abundance of experience in this area!

PPS My Miele washing machine lasted for 12 years before it finally went to the big scrapheap in the sky. Actually, it was still working but I got a new one (another Miele) because I felt that it had done its job and it was due a well-deserved rest/retirement.

Here are some more articles that you might enjoy: