What dirty socks can teach you

By SimpleCrafter

By SimpleCrafter

This morning London taught me a very important lesson.

Back in the late spring I started insisting that she put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Given how busy life was at the time for me, I gave her very little direction and it became habit that almost every morning she would put her PJ’s in the laundry basket and at the end of the day her school clothes.  Needless to say I was doing a lot of laundry but at the time it worked.

Since being in the new house I feel that I am doing even more laundry than before and asked London to use the same PJ’s for at least three days before putting them in the laundry and with respect to her school clothes, if it isn’t dirty, put them away for another use.   I gave her no other directions and just assumed she would know what to do.

So this morning I went to get a jacket from her closet and noticed the dress she had on yesterday afternoon was put in the laundry basket. I essentially berated the girl when I questioned why it was in the laundry basket when it was only worn briefly the day before and was far from dirty.  Then because we had a late start to the morning I helped her get dressed.  She asked what she should do with the underwear she had on from the night before, as she had an evening shower and had only worn it over-night.  She was now visibly confused about what should go in the laundry basket and what shouldn’t.  Doh!  Poor girl, how should she know the full ins and outs of what goes in if I never broke it down in great detail.  I wrongly assumed that she would learn through osmosis or mind reading or something else unrealistic.

I apologized for not giving her all the rules so to speak about laundry and told her the following:

  • Underwear and socks from the previous day always go in the laundry.  You start fresh each morning – she already knew that you get a fresh pair each day but I totally think I threw her off this morning and it is always better to clarify or over communicate then under communicate
  • School clothes go in the laundry if they are dirty – obvious signs of dirt or doing something that makes sense to wash the clothes (i.e. farm field trip/sports activity/etc)
  • Pajamas every 3-4 days unless they are dirty
  • Towels – use them more or less for the week
  • If she is ever not sure just ask!

I just assumed she would know what to do but that was so unrealistic given that I gave her such a broad request to keep her room tidy which included putting her clothes away and using the laundry basket.  It was an important lesson not only in parenting but also as a former manager (and hopefully another one some time in the future), especially working with a diverse workforce that may not necessarily be familiar or accustomed to local norms/customs/practices.

It all comes down to communication, not just one way directives but two-way communication that involves a feedback loop.  This laundry situation is such a simple little thing but for me it was an eureka moment that as a parent I just assume that London will just know what to do, especially since she is so precocious with other things.

I believe all of us need to ask ourselves when someone doesn’t meet our expectations, whether they even had a realistic chance of meeting them to begin with, especially if we fail to communicate what we are expecting a person to do or give them the appropriate resources as the case may be to even attempt to be successful.

Now off to do some laundry…


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