I refuse to do laundry.
That's a bit of an overstatement, but I really, really hate to do the wash, and I really, really hate the fold. The sorting and cycling and hauling of this never-ending chore so tedious, so mundane and omnipotent that it a joke for moms everywhere.
Except that it will make you poor. Nothing funny about that!
Instead, every week I spend about $25 to have a very nice man come to my apartment, take way a giant black bag full of soiled garments and return them to me folded, sorted and often still dryer warm. The same day. That same bagfull of laundry would cost me about $10 to do in the coin laundry, including detergent (I live in a New York City apartment) each week. I figure it would also cost about $10 per week if I had my own washer and dryer, factoring in said detergent, water, electricity and wear and tear on a Maytag.
But it really isn't about the saved $15 or the extra $15 or the wear and tear. Sending my laundry out is about economizing time and energy. Investing in laundry service makes me richer because it makes me happier.
Most people adamantly refuse to get this. I found this suggested laundry schedule on Unclutter.com. These "experts" suggest a routine dedicated to running your washer and dryer every day of the week -- your big break being Sunday, when you are permitted to lazily launder your delicates:
Monday: Launder all the sheets from all three beds. (1 load)
Tuesday: Launder child #1 and child #2′s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Wednesday: Launder adult's clothing. (1-2 loads)
Thursday: Launder towels. (2 loads)
Friday: Launder child #1 and child #2′s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Saturday: Launder adult's clothing. (1-2 loads)
Sunday: Rest, or launder a load of delicates.
Now, if you could skip this whole mess for the wee sum of $25, would you? What if you invested just half all those loaded hours in your career, a business or freelance gigs? That $25 weekly could be worth thousands monthly. Take it from me.
We haven't even mentioned the happy factor. Some people just love laundry. I have never met one of these people, and I suspect I would not like her. For me, wiping laundry off my weekly to-do list has been the most incredibly liberating exercise. Before, it was a constant gnat swarming around my mind -- what was clean when, when would I schedule a load, when to haul the dripping sheets into the dryer and to remember to take out my lacey things for an air dry.
Now, I spend a fraction of that mental energy to coordinate a single pick-up and drop off, and to make sure I have enough singles in my wallet to tip out the delivery guy.
All this laundry business is but a metaphor for how I like to live my life. My friend Laura Vanderkam is a time management expert, and wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think, and she convinced me (and thousands of her readers) of the importance of outsourcing the mundane tasks that can take over life. When you are a single mom, money and time are especially precious. Our professional lives, our kids and we ourselves simply cannot be weighed down by regrouting the tub (unless that is your thing, of course) or keeping your kids chonies sparkling white. You are better than that.
When I get on my soapbox about this topic, I often hear people -- and by "people," I mean "women" -- who whine:
"Oh, but I feel like doing laundry is just a part of life. I'd feel guilty for sending it out."
or "I feel it is my duty as a parent to teach my kids to mop the floor."
To these lame arguments, I counter:
"Do you feel guilty for using a dishwasher, instead of cleaning every grimy ork and sippy cup by hand?"
and "Do you think Barack Obama does his own laundry? And why not? Because he has more important things to do! And so do you!"
and "Really? Do you really think that your child will grow up incapable of knowing how to mop a floor in an emergency? For real?"
Today I have a weekly house cleaner, a handyman on speed dial for various projects, and a power drill, bottle of 409 and common sense for times when I find myself in a pinch. Sure, I could do these things myself. Instead I use the time these services afford me to build my business, enjoy my kids, lavish in a constantly-more-or-less-clean home and just chill out.
This post originally appeared at WealthySingleMommy.com.