Apparently, the laws of physics don’t apply to our family’s laundry basket

image My wife and I have been trying to come up with an explanation for the volume of dirty clothes that accumulates in our laundry basket on a daily basis.

In an attempt to explain this phenomena by utilizing mathematic principles, we went through the laundry, separated the clothes, subtracted how many days since the basket was empty, and then divided it by the number of children in our home — which lead to an important discovery:

We had become trapped in the bathroom after our pile of clothes fell against the door.

While it’s true we have four children between us, according to my calculations they are changing their clothes every 18 minutes. This includes through the night, when they apparently take turns changing EACH OTHER while sleeping in shifts. This would explain how they can have a closet full of clothes at bedtime, then wake up and have nothing to wear. It would also explain why their bed sheets are always untucked and strewn on the floor by morning; they are using the sheets to drag each other’s sleeping bodies back and forth to the closet.

Also included in our mathematical equation was the “X” quotient, which represents clothes that don’t actually make it home from school until the end of the year, when they magically re-appear in the closet two sizes too small.

Even though they are homosapians capable of walking in an upright position, we have to assume, judging from their pants, our children spend most of the day on their hands and knees trapping moles. As a result, we discussed the idea of getting ahead of the curve by purchasing new pants, and then immediately cutting the knees out. This would effectively eliminate 90 percent of the grass stains from our laundry while, at the same time, providing our children with knee calluses the size of Egg McMuffins. We decided against this because we realized our children would be missing an important lesson about taking care of their clothes.

We also realized we really needed to stop and eat because the phrase “Egg McMuffin knee calluses” made us salivate.

What we eventually decided on was a responsibility checklist for each of our children. This list is designed to encourage them to take care of their clothes as well as themselves. Naturally, there is a reward system involved for completing this checklist each day, such as reward option 1) Not having to go to school naked.

I will let you know if our plan is successful.

As soon as we get out of the bathroom.

(Ned is syndicated with News Media Corporation. Write to him at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box Florence, Ore. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

59 thoughts on “Apparently, the laws of physics don’t apply to our family’s laundry basket”

  1. I think I’ve finally figured out my own laundry issues: separate from your spouse, become self-employed and work from a basement.

    It significantly cuts down on the laundry needs, although it does mean I have the social skills of Mount Rushmore and dramatically increases my budget for Febreze.

    1. Lol! Don’t sell yourself short; I’ve seen those Febreze commercials. If you can get a date back to the basement blindfolded, they’ll never even know you HAVE dirty laundry.

      1. Oh man, totally cracking up over the thought of that one Ned! I really think that must be the exact scenario a lot of guys bank on. Of course, I tend to go for guys who are even neater than me—I will do laundry, but only if it actually makes it into the dirty clothes. 🙂

  2. You have inspired yet another memory ,lol We raised 4 sons + 1 adopted + all their friends who lived in our home . I did at least 5-6 loads a day and many times would pick up a pair of pants or a shirt and say ” I KNOW I didn’t buy that !” . I often thought about sending out bills to the other kids mom’s but then I would also have to charge them for the taxi rides, lunches, dinners and of course electric for the constant use of Nintendo.
    But the upside was I never had to ask where are the boys??

    1. Don’t I know it! We’re a blended family with four kids: two girls, 12 and 18; two boys 13 and 13… So yeah, I’m living the laundry-washing dream. Please wake me up…

    2. My step-daughter had a horrible habit of pulling a shirt out of her closet, trying it on, then throwing it on the floor. Repeat 3-4 times before she was dressed for the day. My (ex) wife would then assume it was dirty and wash it (and don’t get me started on why the ex was picking up a 14 year old’s clothes). And she wondered why she was doing so much laundry!

      1. I hear you! Our then-16-year-old HAD the same habit, until we gathered her clothes and put them in a plastic bag, then held on to them until she started looking for them. That’s when we handed the bag to her and told her to wash them. Problem solved 😉

        1. HAH! Same here. I loved the look on her face when we told her she had to wash her own clothes.

        1. When I told my daughter I wasn’t coming in here room anymore to tuck her in at night, she asked why. I told her it was because of the spiders that live in the clothes on the floor.

          At least she hangs her clothes up now…

  3. Hi Ned. I’m a fellow four-childer and yours sounds roughly the same as my situation.
    Ummm, I wonder if it would be possible for us to compare our “orphaned socks” basket. Maybe between us we could match up a few extra socks?

    1. That sounds like a great idea. Chances are, our missing socks teleported to your drier anyway. I think all clothes driers teleporters… it’s just a theory I’m working on.

  4. 1. my kids(4) have done their own laundry since they were around 11, so by grade 7 and they each have a week night assigned to them. How much laundry they do, is dependent on how many things they wore. All I do is supervise and it’s made my life infinitely easier and I have taught them a life skill. All I do is:
    a.) remind them it’s their laundry night
    b.) setting the timer in the kitchen so I can remind them to change it over from washer to dryer and then again from dryer to room
    c.) going up to check 15-30 minutes later to make sure it was folded or hung up and put away

    2. you really need to put a disclaimer on some of your writing because reading it while enjoying a sip of coffee can be completely hazardous when reading certain portions, such as, ” This includes through the night, when they apparently take turns changing EACH OTHER while sleeping in shifts. This would explain how they can have a closet full of clothes at bedtime, then wake up and have nothing to wear. It would also explain why their bed sheets are always untucked and strewn on the floor by morning; they are using the sheets to drag each other’s sleeping bodies back and forth to the closet.”

    omg..i snorted coffee up into my sinuses..thank God it was cold

    1. Coincidently, as of last week, we have been assigning laundry duty to the kids. It’s amazing how quickly the laundry pile has diminished since then! You were way ahead of me on that one!

      And thanks for the disclaimer suggestion. I’m just glad it was cold coffee in your sinuses and not something carbonated. I once got a kid to squirt strawberry milk out of his nose. I still have nightmares…

      1. Awesome! The next step to attain personal parental freedom from servitude, is after “Introduction to Laundry 101”, is to hold a family meeting to have the “Responsibilities of Household Management 2.0” talk! Divide household chores up and assign a length of time to them.
        For example, cleaning the bathroom properly, even accounting for rushing, takes 15-20 minutes. Cleaning out the inside of the fridge in preparation of going grocery shopping, also takes 15-20 minutes. HOWEVER, the grossness factor of cleaning the bathroom compared to the fridge is worth double the time and so if someone is assigned to clean the bathroom, then the person who cleans the fridge has to do that as well as another job…to make things “fair”.
        Discuss how the burden of these jobs and the time it has taken to do them, has fallen onto the parent shoulders and how that is no longer fair, now that they are young adults, sharing your space. Kids are all about “fair” and by using the word it gives it power, since they can’t dispute the fact that it really hasn’t been fair to you.
        If they do not want to participate in performing the chore themselves, then they can opt out by paying a sibling or a parent to do the task (time management and negotiation skills). If no one wants the job they can certainly “outsource” and hire someone else to do it, but the bottom line is that the chore is THEIR responsibility.
        At their ages, they should also be enrolled in “Introduction to Culinary Preparation and Presentation”. Why should the burden of cooking fall solely on the shoulders of the oldest people in the house? Simply put, it shouldn’t. To start, each child should be taught how to prepare one simple meal and then be assigned a night to make dinner for the family. ( I conveniently make it the same night that they do their laundry on, since that night is a write off for them socially, anyway ).
        At first they act as your sous chef, then the roles change and you become theirs, finally you simply supervise and by week 4, the kitchen is theirs while you give yourself a manicure or play suduko as they manage the meal. Once this is going smoothly, you teach them how to make a 2nd meal and all of a sudden you have nights a week that you aren’t cooking and you have all this pre planned variety at meal times. Oh! And you taught awesome life skills to the kids at the same time.
        I am telling you, child management will change your life.

        1. Great stuff, and a direction we’ve begun moving toward in great haste! Any school clothes shopping or extra curricular activities are directly connected to responsibilities at home, which we see is a smaller version of the whole idea of contributing to your community. If you aren’t taught the value of contributing at home, as well as personal responsibility vs consequence, you can’t expect it to magically appear once they are on their own.

          And being that I was a chef for 10 years, trust me: these kids are learning how to cook! I don’t want any of them to get married because they can’t feed themselves. Plus, for my boys, it will be a welcome bonus for whoever they marry 😉 They need all the help they can get!

          In short: I like the way you think.

              1. when u have a lot of kids close together you have to become a household manager instead of the housekeeper…this gives me freedom and preps them for future women. i want to be able to tell their girlfriends…”i did the best i could” in training them to be good men…

    1. Hahahaha! I’ve actually wondered if perhaps the kids were making extra cash by offering a secret laundry service to their friends, with “drop-off and pick-up” at the back door each day between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

  5. My husband I gifted each of our children with a very special lesson on their 13th birthdays.

    Laundry lessons.

    We did not anticipate the fight for the washing machine each Sunday or the embarrassment of letting our children go out in public with wrinkly, pink (used to be white) school uniform shirts.

    1. That’s fantastic! With our youngest daughter, my wife and I actually collected all the dirty clothes (which were actually clean) on the floor of her closet for a week and saved them in a bag. Then, we wrapped them and gave them back to her for Christmas 😉

  6. The only thing in your favor is the mystical force that removes one or two socks from the dryer during each load of laundry. This should help alleviate a few moments of sock-matching at the end of the torture.

    P.S. You could always tie the laundry together and escape out your bathroom window!!

    1. Hahahahaha! It’s funny you mention that. I happen to believe clothes driers are actually secret teleporters, which is why things disappear from the: socks, underwear, the blouse I washed that wasn’t supposed to go in the drier…

      And if I am ever planning a prison break, expect a phone call…

  7. Four kids over here too. I have a sign above my laundry room that says “The NeverEnding Story”. Except it’s not really like the popular 1984 fantasy kids movie. It’s more like Apocalypse Now.

  8. i believe you left out the algebraic factor of the ‘clothes that we’re too lazy to put away or cannot fit under our bed’ in your equation.

  9. I did that to my Mom one time too many. The next thing I know I’m doing my own laundry. I never knew how good I had it…

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