Friday, March 9, 2012

Washing Laura Ingall's Clothes--An Update

If you missed the original post, you can find it here.

This has been a learning experience for us all.  My original intention was to limit the amount of work I would have while we were working on rehabbing my father-in-law's home, but I found that it wasn't so simple.

The very first night that we lived at Dad's, my toddler began by vomiting.  Thankfully we found a set of replacement sheets in the linen closets, but I had no replacements for the pajamas.  I tucked her in bed with only a diaper on, and the doubts began.

I knew going in that there were at least two shortfalls with my plan.  First, our pioneer forefathers lived rather isolated during the workweek.  Even when they did visit each other, body odors were considered a normal part of life--unlike in our artificial world today.

Secondly, our pioneer mothers did their best work while spouting an apron.  I brought smocks and old clothes to wear while we were painting, but that offered little protection from tomato or coconut oil stains.

Over the next few weeks, I found that there were other things I hadn't fully thought through at the beginning of this experiment.  First, a toddler needs a different outfit almost every day.  Life happens differently before nerve endings are myelinated, and the clumsiness that accompanies that accessorizes our clothing in undesirable ways.  Her clothing just couldn't wait until Wednesday to be washed.

We brought a few extra outfits for my toddler.

One of my older girls is an occasional bed wetter.  When we started on the GAPS protocol, even though we cheated regularly, her occasional problem began to visit us nearly every night.  Bed sheets couldn't wait until Wednesday to be washed.

We brought a few extra pair of pajamas for my daughter.

( On an interesting side note, we noticed that on nights where she worked toward the Bowman squat (recently expanded here) she was invariably dry.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But we're keeping at it, just in case.)

I hadn't planned for growing children.  As soon as we arrived, all four of my girls went through simultaneous growth spurts.  It was almost laughable.  At home, I would just unpack a few boxes in my basement to meet the needs with either hand-me-downs or last year's clearance.  When we reached home, we were so busy that I found it difficult to find the time to unearth proper clothes.  (In fact, I found it more difficult to keep up with the laundry when we were home, since the girls wore new outfits every day, but we weren't home long enough to wash them.)  Hardest hit was my eldest daughter, whose only pair of work-worthy jeans were already last year's size.

In the beginning, I made sure that we packed our oldest, yuckiest looking clothing so that we wouldn't have to worry about stains in a work zone.  That was during the time that I naively thought we could get the job done in just six weeks.  Now, it's looking like three months, and I've come to the realization that our oldest clothes just can't survive this many weeks of constant wear and tear. I didn't blink when the knees wore out.  It irked me when my darling daughter decided to tear up her pants, in the hopes that they would look better as shorts.

When they developed holes in the back end or in the groin, I knew it was time to replace them.  The question remained though: what was the wisest way to replace them?  I certainly didn't want to bring something that looked nice.  Eventually, I found a few extra pair of pants (that were still modest) in the quilting pile and brought out replacements.  The jeans pictured here have all found their way to the trash bin now.

If I had it to do all over again, I would make some changes--the same changes outlined above.  But over all, I believe this has been a worthwhile endeavor.

Linked with Monday Mania and Simple Lives Thursday.


  1. would you mind expanding a little on the things you would change? I see that you pulled out some jeans from the quilting pile, but since we are trying to cut down and simplify laundry and clothing, I'd love some more details. :)


  2. An excellent question, Chara. If I had it to do all over again I would make sure that we started with clothes that were in good enough condition to last the long haul, I would bring extra bibs and smocks and make sure to pull them out quicker (I don't mind just letting the smock dry and reusing a dirty smock the next day), and I would bring a change of pajamas. The only thing I wish that I could figure out is how to keep those confounded socks in pairs.

  3. Buy the same kind of socks. This is what my son does: He found a type of sock he really likes, and we bought 2 weeks' worth at once. No sorting! Just throw 'em all in a drawer.

    I haven't been able to find the perfect socks for me, but as soon as I do, I'll be doing the same thing. After all, are socks *really* a fashion statement??

    1. I totally agree. Each person in our family has their own individual sock type (although we allow my husband to have two, one for business and one casual). Unfortunately, we only brought enough socks to last us for the few days we'd be in town. Invariably, we'd end up with an odd number of socks for half of the girls, so the last few days they'd be complaining that they were wearing dirty socks.